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By benmasongolf, Jun 28 2017 08:53AM

Does this familiar. "I can draw my irons but I slice my driver."

This is something as a golf instructor I hear a lot. 90% of the golfers I teach come to me with this problem so if this is something that you do don't worry it's very common and if you can understand the concept of why you might be able to stop doing it.

The problem actually stems from trying to make the same golf swing with both irons and the driver. Here's why.

Let's start with the subtle differences between how we hit irons and how we hit drivers.

1st of all the ball with a driver is generally teed up and with an iron it is generally on or very close to the floor.

2nd of all the ball position with a driver generally placed more opposite the lead foot and with an iron shot the ball is place more opposite the centre of the feet.

These 2 subtle differences in set up play a huge roll in how your golf ball flies. Let me explain.

If a golf swing was made and both balls positioned in their respective places (driver teed up and opposite lead foot) the golf club naturally would make contact with the golf ball positioned on floor opposite the centre of the feet first and then would make contact with the ball teed up and positioned opposite the lead foot second.

Let's think about that for a second. That means a driver hits the golf ball later in the swing than in iron does. This has far reaching complications.

Because the golf club doesn't travel in a straight line through the impact and actually travels on an incline somewhere between 40 & 65 degrees (depending on the individual) the golf club when it makes contact with the first ball is traveling in a different direction to when it's makes contact with the second ball.

This is why you can make an identical golf swing but produce to very different results.

Let me explain further. Let's say a golfer has a swing direction where when the golf club reaches the lowest point of its arc is directly at the target or 0 is described by launch monitors today. If this golfer makes contact with the golf ball before it reaches the low point (E.g. With a iron club when ball is placed opposite the centre of the feet) the club head because of the inclined swing is still traveling to the right (for the right handed golfer) and we know that if we want to draw the ball the club needs to travel in this direction.

Now the same golfer with the same swing direction of 0 hits the golf ball after the low point of the arc (e.g. with a driver when the ball is opposite the lead foot and teed up) the club head is now traveling to the left (once again for the right handed golfer) and we know this is a common reason why a ball slices.

All this is why you can make identical swings and hit two very different shots. So the next time some one tells you that you need to make the same swing with a driver as you do with an iron I wouldn't expect the same result.

To find out how to get the same ball flight with both irons and drivers or just learn to manage the different ball flights you can find me at iGolfStudio. Email me at to to get booked in.

By benmasongolf, Jun 21 2017 03:04PM

Recently I have been seeing on social media the hashtag "hard work pays off" and I think it's fantastic that people are getting the message out that if you want to get somewhere in life you need to put the hard yards in. But. It also concerns me that this message is being misunderstood by some and they are finding that they are putting the hard work in and not getting the desired results.

I'm sure we all know someone who goes to the driving range every night, they hit 100-200 balls, they chip and putt until it's dark and go out in the monthly medal and don't play anywhere near their handicap. The talk in the clubhouse is that they are an underachiever, their handicap should be lower, they should win more often because of all the "hard work" they put in. Then there is the other end of the spectrum. The golfer who practices once a week. They hit 30 shots on the range. A few chip and putts here and there. Then they turn up and win the weekend medal and the handicap keeps coming down. The talk in the 19th is that they are an overachiever and don't deserve to play as well as the golfer who has been practicing for hours.

Let me let you into a little secret. In golf and life there is no such thing as under and over achieving. Golfers tend to achieve what they allow themselves to achieve. How can that be you might ask? Let me explain.

Let's take the golfer who is at the range every night practicing and not getting better. They've heard the term "Hard Work Pays Off" so they think that's what I'll do. So they work hard. Endless hours in pursuit of perfection. Yet they are not working smart. There is no structure to their practice. No actual plan to each session on what they want out of the session and how to go about it. It's just hard work. It's quantity rather than quality. Because of this they don't really improve. You could even say that that are not really practicing they are exercising. Because of this they are not achieving better results with their golf. They are getting fitter perhaps but not better. They are achieving something but not what they desire.

Now let's take the other golfer who doesn't "work as hard". When they do go the the range they have a clear plan on what they want to achieve with the 30 shots they may hit. The practice is focused and goal driven. Each shot is carefully planned and executed. This is quality over quantity. This is why they steadily improve.

People looking in may say that the "hard worker" deserves it more because they put in the time and effort but actually the the golfer who is making sure their time is better spent is the one who reaps the rewards.

Imagine though if a golfer putting the time and effort in that our hard worker is putting in and structured their practice like the golfer who puts quality time in what could be achieved.

So next time you see the phrase "Hard Work Pays Off" think to yourself. Yes this is true but only if the hard work is of a certain quality.

Perhaps the hashtag that I have seen on social media should be replaced with "Hard and Smart Work Pays Off."

If you would like to learn how to make your hard work pay off don't hesitate to contact me and I will be able to formulate a plan with you to help turn your practice in to better scores on the golf course email me direct at to get started.

By benmasongolf, Jun 12 2017 08:44AM

During my time playing with recreational golfers I have observed how the par of a golf hole can dramatically alter a golfers approach to how a hole should be played. I have seen golfers on a 450 yard par 4 hit driver as far as they can then continue in that frame of mind and try and hit their second shot as far as possible as well believing that if they want to make par this is the best way to do so. Often this leads to them getting into trouble and making a double bogey or worse.

Alternatively on a 500 yard par 5 I see golfers playing much more conservatively hitting a steady driver and then perhaps hitting a couple of 7 irons on to the green and making a steady par.

This is the how the paying attention to the par of a hole affects a golfers mental approach to the game.

Think about this. Let's flip the two different holes around and pretend the 450 yard hole is a par 5 and the 500 yard hole is a par 4. How would the affect your mental approach to the 2 different holes. Would you blast away trying to get as close as you can to the green in 2 on the 500 yard hole as it's a par 4 and play conservatively on the 450 yard par 5.

My advice to golfers is to forget about par and focus on the best way to shoot the lowest score you are capable of. If that means laying up on a par 4 and accepting an easy 5 or perhaps a 1 putt 4 you should do it.

Thinking about par puts us under pressure and makes us strive for something we might not be capable of.

Unfortunately when we watch golf on television we are told how the top professionals are performing in relation to par when actually all they are trying to do is shoot the lowest score. We watch tournaments like the US Open and think "wow level par was the winning score" when actually the USGA have decided to change two par 5's to par 4's without altering the hole at all so instead of 8 under par winning the event level par does but the total number of strokes the winner has taken has not changed.

Next time you play golf try forgetting about the par of a hole or even the whole course and just try and shoot the lowest score you can. You will feel under less pressure stood on each tee and will be able to make sound decisions about what shot you need to hit based on whether it is the right shot to play rather than letting the par of a hole influence you to hit a shot that perhaps not the best shot to play. If this means not trying to hit the green in regulation on a par 3 so be it!!!

By benmasongolf, Jun 4 2017 06:39PM

Recently I have had the opportunity to play in a number of pro ams. This has given me the opportunity to watch how some of the amateurs I Coach play on the golf course.

Over the past few months coaching I have had golfers coming to me and saying how they hit a bad shot that costs them a few strokes and subsequently "lose" their swing. They then spend time in my studio hitting respectable shot after respectable shot, the occasional great one and the occasional poor one thrown in.

We then spend some time looking at the pattern of their shots and get down to trying to improve the golfers patterns somewhat. Often the golfer will say to me "Well I haven't hit the bad one that costs me while I've been here with you but as soon as I hit it I just lose my swing". So we will spend some time discussing the shot they hit and possible causes.

So having played in the recent pro ams it has become very evident to me that golfers don't lose their swing after one bad shot. THEY START TRYING DIFFERENT ONES.

Does this sound familiar to you. 7 or 8 holes in a row hitting a succession of good shots and a good round is well under way. Then all of a sudden you hit an awful shot. Perhaps a big hook out of bounds or a slice into the trees and the ball gets lost. What starts going through your mind? I could hazard a guess that it's things like 'what did I do wrong there?, how can I hit that shot when I've been hitting it so well?' Or even 'I can't believe how bad a swing I made there when I've been swinging it so well.' Your playing partners might even have seen a reason why you hit that awful shot. They come up with reasons such as "You swing too fast" or "You came over that one". You spend the rest or the round trying to find this swing that you suddenly lost.

I'm now going to let you into a little secret. It's highly likely that mechanically you made the same swing that you have been making on the previous holes. "But how come my golf ball has gone in such a different direction to what it has previously been going?" you might ask. Well my guess is it is because the club face at impact was aiming slightly differently or perhaps it was a miss hit. Or even the way the tee makers were pointing wasn't down the centre of the fairway like they were on the previous holes.

What happens after this poor shot is golfers start searching for reasons for a poor shot but unfortunately start in the wrong place. They start checking their backswing, analysing the amount of shoulder turn they are making, trying to move their weight through the ball in a different way. When all they actually need to do is shrug their shoulders, say I didn't quite get that one right and keep doing what had been successful previously for the rest of the round.

I believe a lot of these "lost swings" during a round stem from golf coverage on television and the endless analysis of golf swing especially after a poor shot. I was recently watching the golf coverage from an event on the PGA Tour and Jordan Speith who hits a draw as his normal shot pattern was playing a hole with water down the left hand side. The shot tracer showed the ball start down the left hand side of the fairway and curve to the left and make a huge splash in the lake that ran down the side of the hole. A horrible destructive costly shot yes. Then the analysis started. The slow motion swing of Jordan Speith's pull hook commenced. "He came right over the top of that one" the analyst exclaimed. To me the swing looked very much the same at the previous slow motion swing that produced a lovely fairway splitting high draw but the ball set off further left which tells me he just got the club face a bit more closed than normal. No swing mechanics to worry about fixing, just a human skill level that wasn't as high as the previous shot.

I can also recall how over recent years the golf swing of Tiger Woods has been picked apart by analysts and often the height he loses during his downswing is the reason for the back shot he just hit. It's interesting watching the golf swing of Tiger Woods during his untouchable years, he also lost the same amount of height during his downswing and that was never picked up on.

So back to my original point. Golfers don't suddenly just lose their swing after one bad shot. It's highflying likely the bad shot was not caused by a bad swing. It likely came about because we are all human and can't get the micro movements of our club face position correct every time, especially when swinging the golf club at high speed. So next time you hit a shot on the golf course that comes out of nowhere don't start taking your swing apart trying to find out what was wrong. Accept that you are a human being and you can't be perfect 100% of the time and keep doing what you were doing previously that was producing those great shots. You may may hit a poor one again during the round but you continue to keep hitting good ones as well.

By benmasongolf, Nov 11 2016 02:59PM

I recently read an article about how the 1st year as professional has been a struggle for a golfer who had an outstanding amateur career. After reading this I thought I would share my own experiences and some of the transitions I had to make from amateur to professional.

I was very fortunate to be part of a very successful national amateur team in the late 90's which included golfers who have gone on to play Ryder Cups win major championships and a world number 1. I turned professional in October 1999 of a handicap of +3.5 which at the time was one of the lowest in the country but it wasn't until November 2002 that I managed to earn my tour card. So why did it take me 3 years to get on to the European Tour. Here are some the things that I had to deal with to make the transition from Elite Amateur to Touring Professional.

1. Team Environment.

As an elite amateur that is part of the national team most things were done a part of a team. The traveling to and from events, the practice rounds, eating breakfast and dinner and even the clothing was a often a team uniform. We were told what time breakfast would be taken. When the travel to the course would be and what time we would practice and play practice rounds and even the format the practice round would be. You would win a tournament and celebrate as part of a team and if you didn't win you would have the team around you to help pick you back up.

As a professional none of this existed. I had to make my own arrangements for lol of this. There would be no checking in for flights as a group. Long haul flights sat on my own. I remember spending Friday nights traveling home alone after missing a cut by 1 shot with only my own thoughts. Life as a touring professional can be a lonely place even if you play well. In the event that I managed to win on the Challenge Tour. The presentation took place with the tournament director, the main sponsor and photographer and myself because everyone had left for the airport. I then sat in the airport by myself with the trophy at my side. Travelled home alone and got home at 3am while everyone at home was sleeping. My celebration was a glass of water on the plane as I had to drive home from the airport.

Interesting some of the golfers that never made the grade at a national level as an amateur seemed to transition to the professional game quicker than some of those who were part of the national set up. They were already having to deal with the things touring professionals have to deal with.

2. The step up in standard

I recently played golf with an elite amateur who told me that he had been told that the amateur circuit was around the same standard as the Challenge Tour. I didn't respond but he has a shock coming when he turns professional. I remember my first event as a pro was a Euro Pro Tour event at a course called Dale Hill in the south east of England. I played some pretty good golf and managed to finish in the top 30 and just about make my entry fee back. I thought to myself wow. I played well there and lost money. I need to step up here. I then went to stage to of the European Tour School at Emporda in northern Spain. For the first time in my golf career I collected the day's pin sheet and tried to figure out which pins I could attack. To my horror there wasn't one. 3 from edge of the green was the norm and every hole location was a potential card wrecker. This was my first experience of a course set up by the European Tour. I shot 3 under par 68 in my first round and walked of the course thinking that was a great start. I finished the day just inside the top 25. I couldn't believe it. The standard was so high and it was even the Challenge Tour. These guys had taken the most challenging set up of a golf course I had played to pieces.

I would say it took me almost 2 seasons to learn how to shoot really low scores when playing well like these professionals did.

3. The different schedule

As a Amateur because some of the competitors had jobs a lot of events where 2 round tournaments at the weekend. Only the major events where 4 rounds and most of those were played over 2 days at the weekend. This didn't give you much time between rounds and it was almost play, eat, sleep and play again. As a professional 4 rounds are spread over 4 days starting Thursday's and ending Sunday's. Usually in a different country so this meant traveling either Tuesday mornings or Monday nights. This meant there was a lot of time spent at tournaments not actually playing. Finding ways to keep entertained became challenging there was only so much practice you could do. Sometime I would have a 7:30am tee time on Thursday the not play again until 12:30pm on Friday. This meant almost a full day in between rounds. I have lost count the amount of books I read and dvds I watched. When the tournament finished on a Sunday evening it was a mad rush to the airport and often resulted me getting home in the early hours of Monday morning. Monday was spent washing my kit and traveling back to the airport to go do it all over again. During a run of 4 tournaments I would probably see my family for around 10 hours during the 4 weeks. As I have said the life of a touring professional can be a very lonely life.

4. No one gives you anything. You have to earn it.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was playing good golf takes care of everything.

When I turned professional part of me expected my successful amateur career would open some doors for me. This was not the case at all. I did speak with management companies that said once I got a card on the European Tour they would be more than happy to put me on their books but until then they could do nothing for me. This really meant finding my own way. I received no invites to events I had to earn my place in them. I travelled to Asia to try and get a place on the Asian Tour I played the MasterCard Tour and Euro Pro Tour for a season before earning playing rights on the Challenge Tour and eventually the European Tour. There were no leg ups. My achievements were down to my own hard work resilience and desire to get there.

5. Distractions

When I played in my first big event I was in awe of the enormity of it. The stands, the crowds, everything was on such a grander scale. There was also a lot my available for me to be distracted by. Equipment manufacturers with the latest driver to try, coaches and gurus with the answer to success. At the time I was playing the fitness side of golf was starting to become popular and there a lot of "fitness instructors" hanging about trying to make a name for themselves as the fitness instructor to the tour players. It became hard not to look for short term fixes to help me play well rather than stick to the plan and on a couple of occasions I made some poor decisions that led to me being distracted in a direction that did not suit me and ultimately cost me a visit to the Tour School at the end of the season.

From these experiences my advice to any elite amateur when turning professional would be to learn to enjoy your own company very quickly.

Build a team around you that you trust and are more interested in your success than their own.

Plan your schedule. It's very easy to think I need to keep playing week after week. The time spent recharging at home is very important.

Surround yourself with successful people.

Make a plan, adjust accordingly but stick to it wherever possible.

Believe in your ability. If it takes time it is not because you aren't good enough. It's because you are having to adjust to a different way of life and it's takes some longer than others.

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