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Sunday, September 18, 2011

August 2011 Golf Newsletter

I hope you're all having a good summer, and ignoring the default crisis nonsense by burrowing your focus into your golf games.  There's no better way to take one's mind off work and financial worry, than practicing and playing a demanding yet rewarding game like golf.  This month I'd like to discuss one of the main problems golfers have with their backswings

Many people watch golf on TV, see the pros hitting the ball way out there, and wish to do so as well.  In their efforts to hit the ball far like the pros, amateur golfers will often take their arms back as far as they can, thinking they are winding up and gathering power to unleash fury on that golf ball.  In doing so, they break down their arms (bend them alot), disconnect their arms from their bodies, and don't properly coil the body up.  So, in their efforts to get wound up to hit the ball far, they take the arms too far back and too far around themselves, leading to a dissipation of power and an unsolid strike of the ball.   

Rather you want strive for a full, tight, powerful body coil with as little arm backswing as possible.  This entails keeping the arms in front of your body with your hands up high, feeling like you've only made a half to 3/4 arm swing.  It then becomes important to use the core to take the club back, and to get your back facing the target at the top. 

Many people think they need to be loosey goosey in order to be relaxed, but the pros don't swing that way.  You want to strive for a free swing yes, but one with a firm structure and foundation.  I liken this body sensation to that of a boxer in the ring, as he throws powerful, controlled punches with muscles engaged, while dancing around lightly on his feet, bobbing and weaving.  Likewise, in our backwings we want some tension and tightness (right adductor, right hip, and right lat area), and yet a freedom to release the coil with speed on the way through, like a rubber band pulled back and then released.

Let me know if I can help you work on this 'non-existent' arm backswing, and the accompanying correct torso coil and pivot.  There are some fun drills we can do, along with employing precise placement and physics to the moves.  Let's work smarter and more efficiently, as sometimes less is needed in some places, and more in others.  

Many of us are on a tight budget right now, so this month I've reduced the package of 10 lessons to 4 lessons, with the same unit price.  You can call or e-mail me to sign up for the August special of 4 lessons for $200, balls and use of training aids are included.

Stay cool,
Christy Erb
(858) 254-6591

Pre-Summer Golf Newsletter 2011

Golfers Who Want to Hit it Further!

I'd like to go over the 'RELEASE' in the golf swing with you at this time. The release starts occurring half way through the downswing, as we start rolling the arms and hands over. In this way, the club head can properly pass the hands when striking the ball.

Weight on Left: In order to have the possibility of a powerful release, most all of your weight needs to be on your left foot at time of impact. This means driving your weight onto your left side on the downswing, bracing against your left leg. As you do this, you want to pull the club through with your left side, leading with the handle of the club, keeping the club head lagging way back of the handle as you are rolling the arms and hands over. This is called loading into the club, loading up energy in the bowed shaft, so that when you release the clubhead, all that stored energy is applied to launch your golf ball into the stratosphere.

Posting through the Ball: This means that your left leg straightens at time of impact as you dynamically release the club. When you strike the ball, your left leg should straighten as your right hand and wrist turn over your left hand and wrist (like you have a watch on your right hand that you want to read as you are contacting the ball). Another way to think of it is rolling your left palm up toward the sky as you roll your left knuckles underneath (this is the Hogan way). The back of your left hand should be straight, not concave or collapsed, as you roll the club head past the hands. This will create a powerful snapping or whipping sensation of the release of the golf club, sending your ball soaring past your opponent's!

With Father's Day soon approaching, I've got a great offer going for the special dad's in our lives. From now until Father's Day, June 19th, I am offering gift certificates of 3 lessons for $135 ( $45 savings). E-mail or call to take advantage of the best deal going this year!

Now get out there and foucus your attention on learning the mechanics and timing of the powerful release of the golf club in your swing!

Your Golf Mentor

Christy Erb

March 2011 Newsletter


With all the rain we've had lately and may have again in the next few weeks, let's use this time indoors to focus on the oh so important Mental Game.  Most don't think this is important, and are doing themselves a disservice in their skepticism and unawareness.     

How we practice is actually more important than the amount of time we put into practice.  You could be practicing 6 hours a week, pounding golf balls from an emotionally charged state, and getting nothing out of it.  Or you could be practicing half that amount of time, in a calm and purposeful way, building up a good foundational base for a consistent swing over time.  If any of you watched the Haney project with Rush Limbaugh lately, you saw Rush celebrate what he thought was a good shot, only to have Hank tell him it was garbage.  Everyone can make decent contact with the ball here and there on the comfortable driving range, another ball waiting to be scooped over to replace the one you just hit.  However, if you want to build consistency and a game that you can take to the golf course, then you need to strive to ingrain solid fundamentals.  For as you see on the course, when those aren't there, and you're under the gun on the tee box or are approaching the green, you can kiss those wayward shots good bye and add strokes to your score.

When we talk about mental game, we mean being in control of our reactions and not involuntarily reacting to the results.  It's the difference between subjectively reacting to what the ball does, rather than thoughtfully and objectively understanding what you have done or not done in the swing.  You have to hit many bad shots on the driving range on the way to building up the fundamentals of the golf swing, there is no other way it has ever been done.  If you can keep your eye on the prize - the positions, postures, and dynamics of the swing and short game - regardless of the immediate outcome, then you can actually progress. 

It is when we aren't looking for results, but are week after week and month after month absorbed by the present moment of attention to whatever swing mechanic we're working on, that results unexpectedly reveal themselves.  For just as in life, when we search for happiness or pleasure, they are more elusive than when we strive to live a purposeful and responsible life.  Happiness usually comes upon us surreptitiously when involved with life in a patient, appreciative, and understanding way, not when we are looking for gratification from the things we do.

So the question comes to you:  Are you going to allow yourself to hack away on the driving range and golf course, looking like a clueless cave man?  Or are you going to use your modern, evolved brain to tackle the golf swing step by step, one or two mechanics at a time, in a useful, wise, and productive way?  The decision is always yours, in golf and in life.

Happy March to you all!

Your Golf Mentor,

Christy Erb    


Monday, November 1, 2010

I often hear golfers ask how they can hit their iron shots more solid like the pros do. This entails hitting down and through with the club head, making a nice divot past the ball. In this way you’ve compressed the golf ball in between the club head and the ground in front of it. This is what creates that great sound of having made square impact in which the ball explodes off the club face.
One of the main problems that prevent amateurs from achieving this kind of shot, is that they don’t retain the angle long enough on the downswing. That is, they break and uncock their wrists too soon, before getting to the ball.
What you want to concentrate on to avoid that early unhinging, is pointing the butt end of the club toward the ball for the first 2/3 of the downswing. This will keep the club head nicely behind you with all the energy of your swing loaded into that club, equaling potential power.
For the last 1/3 of the downswing and on into the follow through, you want to think about releasing the club. That is, turn the arms and club over - rolling them over like you were flipping pancakes.
This movement should simulate the action of hammering a nail in. When you use a hammer correctly, the handle is ahead of the hammer head to create leverage and power. The handle then acts as a fulcrum point as the hammer head bursts forward. This is the same in the golf swing. The handle of the club will be way ahead of the club head on downswing, and then at the last second the handle stays still while the club head bursts forward.
A great visualization for this, is to see the head of a nail on the back of the ball, and to think of hammering that nail through the ball into the ground in front of it. If you have done this correctly, you will make that elusive, solid, dynamic contact we all strive to achieve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

3 Main Problems of Novice Golfers

1. PROBLEM: Trying To Scoop Ball Up

There is an incorrect objective of trying to get underneath the ball, to hit the ball in the air. In their effort to add loft, they incorrectly have their weight on right foot at point of impact. They are hitting up on the ball, trying to do the work that the loft of the club does.

1. REMEDY: Hit Down And Through Ball

Transfer weight to left foot on downswing, as you swing down into the ball. Hitting down on the ball actually makes it go in the air. Trust the loft of the club to take the ball into the air as you swing through the ball with a de-lofted clubface.

2. PROBLEM: Left Hand Grip Is Too Weak

Club is lying across palm of left hand. Fingernail of left thumb is pointed right of the golf ball. Fleshy part of left hand is on the left side of the grip. Left arm is soft and bent.

2. REMEDY: Club More in Fingers

Club lying across fingers and then wrap hand around. Need to get fleshy part of left hand (opposite from thumb) onto right side of grip. The left thumb needs to be in a diagonal position with nail pointing to the left of the ball. Crank left elbow in toward belly button so that left arm is taut and straight. It may even feel awkward and broken if in the correct position.

3. PROBLEM: Don’t Turn Body Enough on Back Swing

They use arms to take back club rather than turn of the body.

3. REMEDY: Twist Your Core to Take Club Back

Feel as though the belly button and the top end of the club are intertwined, and that the only reason the club goes back is because your belly is turning back. Feel a full shoulder turn as well, so that your back is pointed at your target at the top of your back swing and left shoulder behind the ball.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


To accept things in life, seems to be a difficult thing for many of us. To confront things as they really are, and not avoid or sugar coat them, is easier said than done. We all have a way of hiding ourselves from the often difficult truth of things, seemingly to help protect ourselves against unwanted pain. However, this does us no favors, as we are just delaying and ignoring the real issues at hand, those that need to be addressed.

In my 30 years immersed in golf, I see many golfers employing this behavior as well. They will stop at no length to avoid the reality of their golf games. They will beat ball after ball in a frenzy, getting more angry and upset with each bad shot, as they stress out in their need to hit a good shot quickly. They are looking for immediate gratification, caught up in results, and the need to feel better right that moment. We all know intellectually, that this is not a good approach to golf, or to life. Looking for a quick, feel-good fix, to cover your lack of consistent effort and discipline, only leads to a temporary distraction from the actual problem at hand.

On the other hand, we’ve all experienced the opposite, ever-elusive, effective state of living. It is that state when we maintain our focus on the path, pay attention to the details, stick to a plan, and tediously complete the mundane tasks. When we are behaving in this manner, we remain realistic in our goals and expectations, and aren’t constantly looking for results. The reward is in the doing, in this way, rather than what the doing is going to bring us. Ironically, it is during these times, when we least expect it and aren’t looking, when we happen to have good results come our way.

As golfers we need to employ this type attitude, that of being involved and focused on the process, rather than searching for a feel-good outcome. Let the outcome come when it will, but do your part by sticking to the nuts and bolts of the process. Maintain a consistent plan, and complete the small tasks thoroughly and impeccably.

So as opposed to employing a different swing thought each time we’re at the driving range, looking for our panacea of great golf shots, we can instead focus on building a solid base consisting of fundamentals.  In remaining calm and concerned with swing rather than shot, we can proceed in a step by step manner as we work on the basics, are aware of our balance, sense the interconnectedness of body and club, and notice our movements.

It takes time to build a repeating and effective golf swing, before the parts work together as a whole. In the meantime create a whole picture view out of what you have and use it advantageously.  The more patient we are, and the more consistently disciplined our behaviors on the driving range and golf course, the better we will do. When we put unrealistic demands on ourselves, which 95% of amateurs do, we set ourselves up for failure. If it is success we want, then we need to accept where we’re at, react objectively, and be willing to trust the process.   

It is the journey in golf and in life that matter, so put your attention where it really matters. Enjoy and immerse yourself in the small do-able goals, and get creative with your proficiency in them.  Don't get ahead of yourself, working on all the minutae and fancy stuff, but rather find joy in rehearsing the foundational skills you can attain through consistent on-task focus.  Paint a beautiful artwork with your life, and with your golf skills at play on the golf course.  Take charge of your happiness and well-being, they are your responsibility!

Friday, March 12, 2010

No Hero Worshipping Apologist Here

For those that think I was letting Tiger off the hook for his personal responsibility in my March 4th opinion article, “Tiger’s Failures Stem from Our Own”, that is surely not the case. I thought that what he did was as despicable and wrong as the next person. I wasn’t trying to say that he’s not responsible for his actions, for it is inevitable that we all end up being responsible for our actions somehow, and rightly so. Even OJ Simpson, who bought his way out of criminal punishment, still faces civil punishment through our legal system, and more importantly has to face the music with his friends, family, associates and the general public. He got away with murder, but his image to his family and friends will forever be tainted, and he has to live with that.

Perhaps what I was really saying, is that our society is not judgmental enough, but only when it suits us. For instance, some who think I’m not holding Tiger personally responsible, probably are still friends with someone they know who has cheated on a spouse. Or perhaps those that say I wasn’t holding Tiger responsible enough, were the ones that told Tiger’s dad that he was doing a fine job raising Tiger, not raising any objection, questions or concerns, when the young boy seemed to be obsessed with golf and estranged from the other kids.

Tiger obviously lacks the traits of a true hero, but as I say in my book written before the scandal occurred, “..we don’t know what true heroes are anymore.” Tiger is an embodiment of what extreme dedication, hard work, razor sharp focus, maniacal tunnel-vision, and singularity of devotion to a sport can do for your performance in it.

My point of the article was that we don’t care what it took for kids to get to that point of success and achievement. If we understood the process to get there, we would understand what these athletes missed out on growing up. And I argue that there are no other athletes that have had the kind of responsibility and success that Tiger has had with his ultimate celebrity status. He has been the highest paid athlete since 2001 and is a unique story of his time. In 2007 and 2008 he made more than double any other athlete, and was second in celebrity earnings to Oprah Winfrey.

I too was fooled by Tiger’s seeming perfect image, and just couldn’t believe that he had it all together like he did. I was astounded and aghast years ago, when I saw this supposed picture of perfection on and off the course, and was dumb-founded as to how he did it all. I was in a similar position to him growing up, and wasn’t able to come close to being able to handle it all with balance and healthy thinking. My mind was weak and bothered by things, so I was just baffled at how he did it. I eventually came to accept it and succumb to the fairytale, because it was the easy thing to do and I wanted to believe it. I thought he must be the exception, and there is one incomprehensible person that is of just the right disposition to carry it all off.

Thus, I was as disappointed, or more so, than others when the scandal broke, believe me. This fairy tale image I allowed myself to take on of Tiger had been broken. I wanted to believe that I had chased something worthy and something that was available, that it could have been attained. I wanted something untouchable in this dirty life of ours that tries to smear and de-value others’ efforts and achievements, as the media or public are always critical and trying to find and illuminate some of the dirt that they don’t stand against.

I disagree with Steven Kane, and do not believe that Tiger admitting to this public debacle is the first step toward his atonement. His statement seemed contrived and forced to me, and he did it because he had to, for us the public and his sponsors, so he could come back to golf without being derided and taunted on the course. Tiger Woods may have publicly acknowledged his personal responsibility, but so too did Charles Manson, John Edwards, and Bernie Madoff. Are they also reforming themselves and on their way to atonement? They knew what they were doing when they did it, and they did it for a reason. That reason is a part of who they have grown to be.

To admit personal responsibility for something, and to be sorry for it, are two totally different things. The divide between being able to change the very fabric of the person you are and reform yourself, and to say some half-appeasing words to have the appearance of change, is as wide as that gulf of space between Mercury and Pluto (wherever that lil’ bugger has drifted to in our solar system). Only God knows what Tiger is actually thinking or believing. None even knows if Tiger wants that reconciliation you speak of. Just as his bad behavior and great golf were not formed in a vacuum of our imagining, either will be his supposed atonement. Yes it is a serious issue, that is why I’m dissecting it. Serious issues often have complex underpinnings rather than readily available solutions. It’s as if the people who say Tiger didn’t live by their rules are upset and mad that he didn’t, rather than sad. It’s as if they want to be rewarded for their own good moral behavior, as if the reward in acting that way is not enough. It shouldn’t be a burden to act that way, those people should feel fortunate that they have the set of values in tact that they do, and have those principles to guide them. Tiger is unfortunate and unlucky not to have those principles instilled in his fiber, and is the less happy one for it.