Was your New Year's Resolution to improve your game during the winter months, only to have the plan foiled by the recent deep freeze that blanketed much of the country? Well, don't let the polar vortex get you down, contend the folks at GolfTEC. The network of game-improvement centers is running a Training Camp program starting this month at its 165 locations in the U.S. and Canada geared to recreational players who are trying to stay sharp before the weather warms up. The program uses GolfTEC's indoor video and motion measurement devices as part of a introductory swing evaluation. Instructors follow up with a series of 10 individualized lessons that incorporates 18 hours of video-based practice work. Players' equipment needs can also be addressed via GolfTEC's custom-fitting process. Consider it a down payment on the money you'll win off your buddies this spring while they're still shaking off their rust.
Dave Stockton's putter expertise continues to turn up in the news, as it has often since Phil Mickelson credited his help in winning the Tour Championship in 2009. This time, it was the LPGA's Suzann Pettersen, who has been working with him this week at La Costa Resort, site of the LPGA's Kia Classic.
"I spent a lot of time with Dave Stockton early in the week literally preparing for next week [the Kraft Nabisco Championship]," she said Thursday following a round of 68. "But it's definitely worked, and I made some good putts and started to feel better with my game as we played along. We're just trying to make putting the simplest thing in the bag. Hitting them shouldn't be that complicated compared to the rest of the game, and that's the philosophy we both believe in.
"Since I started with him almost a year ago, for the most part, I've been putting a lot, lot better. It's a lot less technical, which is for me probably is the biggest change. But that being said, you want putting to be the easiest thing you do on the golf course. That's what we're trying to make it."
Stockton, who also has worked with Rory McIlory among a long list of tour professionals, is issuing a DVD based on his book, "Unconscious Putting: Dave Stockton's Guide to Unlocking Your Signature Stroke," written with Golf Digest's Matt Rudy. The DVD, which also features the other two members of Stockton Golf, sons Dave Jr. and Ron, follows the book chapters: "Putting Signature," "Create a Picture," "Let It Go," "Roll Your Ball," "Why You Three-Putt," "The Mental Game," "Why Equipment Matters and When It Does," and "Troubleshooting."
The DVD can be pre-ordered here (it will be released in April) for $29.95.
-- John Strege
Butch Harmon's curriculum vitae suggests that, more than most (or all) instructors, we should listen when he is talking about golf and instruction, as he is doing in his new instructional videos, "Butch Harmon About Golf."
His clientele through the years has included Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. He, too, is the son of renowned teaching pro (and former Masters champion) Claude Harmon.
"You think about Stewart Maiden with Bobby Jones. That's great," said Terry Jastrow, whose Jastrow Productions produced Harmon's videos. "You think about Jack Grout with Nicklaus. You think of Harvey Penick and Ben (Crenshaw) and Tom (Kite). But in the aggregate, on any matrix you want to use -- number of players he helped get to number one, number of majors his players have won, number of tour events won, international players -- you cold argue that he's the greatest teacher of all time."
"Butch Harmon About Golf" includes two DVDs with more than four hours of instruction, as well as interviews with many of those with whom Harmon has worked, including Tiger Woods.
"When we first talked about it, I said, 'how do you make it great? How do you make it different? There are hundreds of these out there,'" said Jastrow, who through the years has produced instructional videos with Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Curtis Strange and Phil Mickelson, among others.
"Just doing it with Butch is a giant step. But he said, 'I think I can get my guys. I'll bet they'll tell you how I helped them.' My God, I thought, that would be gold."
They all agreed to do it, including Woods, who said this: "No one understands the golf swing nor has more knowledge about the game than Butch. He can help any golfer, amateur or pro. He is a great communicator and motivator. Simply put, I think that he is the best instructor in the world."
"The lineup he's touched, nobody could deliver like that," Jastrow said. "I said, 'really?' Butch said, 'yeah.' He talked to Tiger and said Tiger will do it. They were all happy to do it. Every single one said the sweetest things about Butch, how he's a great communicator, how much he's helped them."
The videos can be ordered through the website for $79.95, plus shipping and handling.
-- John Strege
Those who might not have the time to take a lesson now have the opportunity to do so at their desk, 10 minutes a session, live, with a teaching professional, via the Internet.
It's called Golf Coach Direct and is the brainchild of Phil Auerbach, an entrepreneur and self-described golf nut, who has played in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and is a 10-time club champion at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase, N.Y.
"What we've found is that lessons are not affordable or they're not accessible," Auerbach said. "People have limited time for golf. They'd rather play at golf than work at golf."
Golf Coach Direct takes the time and cost constraints out of the equation. "Ten minutes, $20," Auerbach said. "You just upload your swing and pick your coach."
It's a simple process that begins with video of your swing, which can be taken with any kind of device, even a smart phone. It's uploaded to Golf Coach Direct and analyzed by your instructor, chosen from among 100 of them from around the country, with whom you communicate via webcam.
"There are four different screens during the lesson," Auerbach said. "Picture the Ayatollah, Frank Chirkinian [the late CBS Sports director] in his truck deciding whether to go to the 15th or the 17th hole at Augusta National. Not only can your coach do that, he call put up a split screen and pull up a swing of yours from a different day, or one from his own locker to compare yours with, or even put up a tour pro's swing. Our library of tour pros' swings run the gamut -- Phil and Tiger, McIlroy, Mahan, a lot of great women players. Another view is when the coach comes onto the camera itself and shows you what you're doing wrong."
The instructor also can use lines and arrows and such to demonstrate where your club is supposed to be at various points of the swing. At the conclusion of your lesson, it is saved in your locker for referencing at your leisure.
Eventually, Auerbach said, he intends to add a fitness component to it as well.
"I'm proud to say the site is working incredibly well," Auerbach said. "It's a whole new age way of thinking."
-- John Strege