The Local Knowlege


Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #37: Bomb It Big

Everyone wants to hit their golf ball farther! Although it helps to be built for power, anyone can very quickly learn to train themselves into a little more club head speed. 

This week's challenge was presented to me while running my Nike Junior Golf Camps in Pebble Beach. I had hired a good young coach named Jim Waldron to teach on staff and run the fitness component of our program. Jim won the Arizona Long Drive Championship Series in 2014 with a ball of 426 yards. As someone who is built for power, Jim's clubhead speed has been clocked as high as 147 miles per hour!

One morning before camp, I was awakened to the sound of a feverish lashing coming from outside the walls of our camp housing. The continuous "whoosh" was powerful, crisp and concise as if being executed by the hand of an accomplished swordsman like "Zorro" himself. As I walked out to investigate, I saw Jim working on a technique he called "overspeed training." Just like the exercise demonstrated in the video below, Jim would alternate between max speed swings with a light object and slow, elongated, muscle stretching swings with a heavier weighted club. He would spend 10-15 minutes with the practice, training three-four times per week. 

Anything you can do to work towards hitting it harder is worth the effort. I guarantee within your first time trying this exercise you'll begin to notice and "feel" where speed is lacking and how to start producing it. Go as fast as you can with the light shaft or alignment stick swing, but make sure the long weighted club swings are slow and deliberate as to avoid injury. 

Dedicate a few minutes to trying out big Jim's training routine and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

Increased Club Head Speed
Longer Drives
More Fun

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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This hole in my sweater is the best training aid ever

One of my favorite sweaters has a prominent hole in the armpit, which means it's only a matter of time before my wife discovers it and confiscates it behind my back (ours is otherwise a relationship based on trust).

I could follow my colleague David Owen's practice for holey sweaters by wearing shirts of a similar color underneath, thus masking any flaws. Or I could try to establish some previously unknown golf justification for its survival. For now, that's what I'm going with.

Check out this image pieced together by another colleague, Luke Kerr-Dineen, who also doubles as my unpaid swing guru. The orange line runs down the shaft of the club; the silver line rests on the right tricep.

On the left is Ben Hogan. In the middle, Jason Dufner. And then there's me. Impressive, right? As you can tell, one of my worst habits is a tendency for my right elbow to ride up and away from my body, costing me power, for one, but also leading to the occasional snap hook. There are a number of makeshift aids to help with such a problem -- a towel, a headcover -- all designed to force your arms and body to stay connected.

The greatest incentive, though, may be humiliation, and that brings me back to the sweater. As you might imagine, one way to obscure a hole in the armpit of a sweater is to never let the armpit be visible to the human eye. Which means you can't really lift up your arm in any haphazard manner. Which means -- you guessed it! -- my arms and my body have to stay connected.

Still not convinced? Check out this short video starring Golf Digest Senior Editor of Instruction Peter Morrice and myself. In the meantime, I am exploring ways to take advantage of a stain on one of my favorite pairs of pants.

New swing tip involving my ripped sweater! For more go to

A video posted by Sam Weinman (@samweinman) on

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New study says listening to jazz music could improve your putting

If you're struggling with your putting and have exhausted all other options, Clarkson University may have just offered you a lifeline.

According to a new study by the school published in the Journal of Athletic Enhancement, listening to music while you putt seems to correlate with making more putts compared to hitting putts listening to no music. Jazz music, in particular, saw a notable uptick in the number of putts made compared to other genres, while rock music proved the most ineffective.

The study was conducted by having 22 Division 1 college golfers (8 male and 14 female) each hit four five-foot putts from different directions and then rotate across a randomized set of holes. Different sets of music played as they hit their putts, and their results were recorded. 

Ali Boolani, Clarkson University's Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy & Physician Assistant Studies, admits that the 22-golfer sample size was small, but hopes this study will pave the way for more research that will lead to more definitive results.

And so, in the interest of better putting, here's 55 minutes of Miles Davis' music. Enjoy.

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How He Hit That: Bubba Watson's playoff-clinching bunker shot

Bubba Watson doesn't play like anybody else on the PGA Tour, and it isn't because he uses a pink driver. The lanky lefthander often curves his tee shots 40 yards from right to left, and his course-management strategy is improvisational on its best day. 

So it was fascinating to watch Watson secure a place in a playoff with Tim Clark at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China by holing a bunker shot he hit with an utterly conventional swing -- if he were playing from the fairway. "If you overlaid the swing he used there in the sand with one where he was hitting a soft pitch from the fairway, they'd look almost the same," says top Georgia teacher Brandon Stooksbury.  "He didn't do anything different because he was in the bunker.

"Bubba hit what I would call a chunk and run shot," says Stooksbury, who teaches at the Idle Hour Country Club in Macon. "His technique was specifically designed to take a lot of sand and produce a shot that came out and had some run to it. He moved the ball to the middle of his stance, instead of near his lead foot, so he could take a very steep angle of attack."

If Watson had hit the shot like a "standard" greenside bunker shot, with the ball forward in his stance and the goal of taking a thin cut of sand, the ball would have come out high with plenty of backspin before it checked and stopped. Instead, it rolled to the hole like a putt and got him into extra frames against Clark. He would birdie the first one to take home his first WGC title -- and $1.4 million. 

"It's a great lesson for the average player," Stooksbury says. "You don't have to change your swing a whole lot for the sand and do some kind of one-off thing. You just want to change your ball position to accommodate what you're trying to do. In this case, the goal is to trust the loft of the club to get the ball out and make a big enough swing to produce that big divot and move all that sand."  

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #35: Super Wedge Spin-Off

Nothing in golf is more fun than making your ball spin. Sometimes it's an appropriate play, whereas in many occasions it's not. Either way, it's always cool to see a ball dance on the greens. I remember how awesome I thought it was to see Greg Norman in his prime land a ball pin high, only to see it zip back into the water. He was hitting those Spalding Tour Edition golf balls and had a bevy of swing characteristics that amped up his spin to an unreasonable level. Although I'm sure it drove him nuts, it was truly amazing to see.

Golf is such a diverse game. The more shots you have at your disposal, the better chance you'll have of tackling any situation. As it relates to stopping power, the proper conditions (seen in video below) need to be in play to really make your ball check up. Most shots, however, may best be executed by understanding how trajectory and landing point work together to deliver the desired overall distance you're looking for.

There's a principle in physics known as the law of reflection. For example let's say you observed a ray of light approaching and reflecting off of a flat mirror. The behavior of the light as it reflects would follow a predictable "law" known as the "law of reflection." The law of reflection states that when a ray of light reflects off a surface, the angle of incidence or the angle of approach so to speak is equal to the angle of reflection.

So hypothetically, if you had a perfectly flat green and you landed the ball 90 degrees to the surface, with no spin at all, the ball would eventually come to rest right where it landed. The point is, in most situations, "trajectory" is going to offer the most predictable determinant for stopping power for most players. The steeper the ball's angle of approach is to the surface, the less it will roll out upon landing. The shallower the angle of approach, the more it will run after striking the putting surface. In reality, relative to a flat surface you'll not be able to produce the exact hypothetical scenario discussed above, however, understanding angle of reflection is a good way to start imagining how "based" on angle of landing approach, your ball might hop and advance towards the hole on basic close range chips and pitch shots which may not have a high level of spin affecting the outcome.

This week's challenge is really about having some fun elevating your "Golf IQ" and proving that you have command over your golf ball. See if you can master the Super Wedge Spin-Off and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

Elevate Golf IQ
Bolster Short-Game Arsenal
More Fun

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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How He Hit That: Ryan Moore's inside-out approach shots

Ryan Moore's swing is one of the PGA Tour's most idiosyncratic, with its early wrist hinge and upright move. It doesn't look "textbook," but, ironically, it's probably the best one for amateur players to copy -- and not just because the 31-year-old from Tacoma, Wash., won his fourth PGA Tour event over the weekend, defending his title at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. 

"Ninety percent of the slicers in the world start their takeaway by pulling the club way to the inside, and then they come way over the top on the downswing," says top Michigan teacher Jason Guss, who is the Director of Golf Performance at the Jason Guss Golf Academy at Hawk Hollow in Bath. "Ryan does the opposite. He hinges his wrists very early and gets the club in a vertical position, and his rhythm is so good at the top that he just lets his arms fall and the club comes naturally from the inside." 

On the 14th and 17th holes Sunday, Moore hit approach shots inside a foot, making two of the eight birdies he recorded on his way to a three-shot win over Gary Woodland, Kevin Na and Sergio Garcia. 

To get some of Moore's swing path in your swing, Guss suggests a simple visual cue. "Take a second ball and put it outside of your right foot, halfway between your toes and the target line," Guss says. "Hit some shots with a short iron and feel like you're bringing the club outside that ball on the way back and inside of it on the way down. Copy Ryan's rhythm as much as you can -- don't be in such a rush to make that transition at the top." 

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How He Hit That: Robert Streb's playoff-winning iron

If the goal in a sudden-death playoff is to put pressure on your opponent, Robert Streb accomplished that and more at the McGladrey Classic.

On a day when he made nine birdies to shoot 63 and get into a playoff with Will MacKenzie and Brendon de Jonge, Streb hit an 8-iron to four feet on the 170-yard, par-3 17th hole to set up yet another. When he rolled in the putt, the 27-year-old former Kansas State standout had his first career victory in just over two seasons on tour.

"The key to Rob's success is the shape of his overall swing," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs. "He makes a key move in his backswing, and at the beginning of the downswing, that regular players don't. You can see it in the two simulated images I made here, which trace the route his clubhead takes during the swing."

Streb 1.jpg

streb 2-2.jpg

"On the backswing, the handle of the club stays in front of his chest, and by the time he gets to the top, it's above his right bicep," says Jacobs, who runs the X Golf School at Long Island's Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, N.Y. "When he makes a good body transition on the way down, the club lays down a little bit and moves to a flatter position, which you can see in the yellow line. Average players do the opposite; they bring the handle back low and to the inside, and the only option at the top is to throw the club out toward the ball."

Streb's transition move produces the repeatable power and accuracy players have at the PGA Tour level. It's why he can hit a super-high, 170-yard 8-iron in a situation when average players are thinking about using a hybrid.

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #33: Put On Your Game Face

I love Superhero movies, mostly because the idea of a "hero" is really an expression of possibility.

In the story, the protagonist is often someone filled with potential, who in the "real world" lacks the strength, confidence or courage to deliver that potential in a meaningful way. It's their alter ego so to speak that acts as the medium for transforming what is "ordinary" into "extraordinary." In essence, the "hero" represents the person at their best, operating on all cylinders, free from fear, doubt or other.

Common examples we all know might be characters such as Spiderman or Superman. Each full of heart and potential, yet not quite pulling it off as Peter Parker and Clark Kent. To me, this week's challenge of creating your "game face" represents this alter ego. It's who you want to be, need to be and have to be, to deliver your true potential in the heat of the battle.

What if every time you needed a killer performance you could literally transform into a representation of your best self? The game face is the spark that ignites your passion, and the anchor that keeps you fighting all the way to the finish!

This is a fun challenge that can really elevate your game, and a powerful exercise for coaches and business leaders to try with their teams in any endeavor.

Commit to creating a "game face" that brings out your best and you can count this challenge as complete.

Peak Performance Attitude
Increased Mental Toughness
Lower Scores

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf
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Want to compare your swing to PGA Tour pros or long-drive champs? Now you can

By Steve Hennessey

Most of us golfers are swing-obsessed. We spend too much time looking at our own swings, picking apart our buddies' swings, or watching PGA Tour swings in admiration.

A new feature that comes with a redesigned Zepp golf app, which sends 3-D swing analysis to your smartphone, tablet or computer with a device that clips onto your glove, will feed that addiction.

Zepp has signed PGA Tour players Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele to a deal so that Zepp users can compare their swing to Bradley's or Steele's.

Former Re/Max long-drive champion Ryan Winther will also have his swing on the device.

Related: 19 random things that make great training aids

Swing data and key metrics from each pro's swing is comparable to your moves, and in different angles. There are dedicated sections of the app now devoted to each "Zepp Pro", where you could bring your swing in, side-by-side, to compare it to one of the pros.


Other sports—baseball, tennis and softball—are also offering pro's swings, i.e. MLB All-Stars David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Hunter Pence, or Jennie Finch of U.S. Olympics softball fame.

The Zepp Golf and Baseball apps are free to download in the AppStore or on Google Play in two weeks. And the multi-sport sensor is available in Apple, Best Buy and Verizon stores for $150. For more:

Here's a promotional video from Zepp that explains the features.

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Book Review: The Leadbetter Golf Academy Handbook

The Leadbetter Golf Academy Handbook: Techniques and Strategies from the World's Greatest Coaches, by Sean Hogan, Kevin Smeltz and Allen Richardson Triumph Books, $22.95, paperback, 224 pages


David Leadbetter, currently No. 5 on Golf Digest's list of America's 50 Best Teachers, has been highly visible on a worldwide level for more than 30 years as a teacher of Hall of Fame players such as Nick Faldo and Nick Price. His brand is also worldwide, with 26 golf academies all over the globe. The final third of the worldwide trifecta is the Leadbetter methodology and strategies, which he has promoted and taught extensively in Golf Digest since becoming a Golf Digest Teaching Professional in January 1990.

Related: David Leadbetter's archive of Golf Digest tips

Leadbetter hasn't spread his brand alone, however, and two of his academy proteges have produced Leadbetter's techniques in a well-written, smartly illustrated manual. Hogan is a Master Instructor at the Leadbetter academy at ChampionsGate Golf Resort in Orlando, and Smeltz served as Director of Golf Instruction at the Leadbetter academy at Ishizaka Golf Club in Japan. They've joined to produce a comprehensive full-game instruction book that helps the golfer feel reinforced about his technique through the use of simple-to-use drills. There are also sections on fitness, nutrition, and equipment advice, including selecting the right golf ball to suit your game.

I particularly enjoyed: The short-game instruction. The authors rightfully call a good short game "the great equalizer in golf," and they systematically break down the putting and short-game skills everyone can improve upon. What will be most effective for readers is a host of drills to ingrain technique along with good visuals on the strokes for putting, chipping and pitching.

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