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Is College Golf Calling You?

For many junior golfers college golf is the pot of gold at the end of the tunnel. The path to that goal however is a tricky one and you have to know how best to navigate it if you want to reach your destination.

First of all you need to know what options are out there. NCAA division 1 schools sponsor 300 men’s teams and 263 women’s. Division 1 schools can offer 4.5 scholarships on the men’s side and 6 on the women’s.

There are 231 Division 2 men’s teams each with 3.6 scholarships and 181 women’s teams each with 5.4 scholarships. NCAA Division 3 schools have 293 and 184 teams respectively but do not offer athletic scholarships and NAIA schools have 5 scholarships for each gender with 170 men’s teams and 146 women’s.

What does this mean to you? That earning a college golf scholarship is a highly competitive endeavor! And, notice that schools have fewer scholarships available than they typically have members on the team. That means that almost all golf scholarships are partial in nature!

How do you earn one of these coveted spots? First of all, hard work. That goes without saying. But second, with research. Make sure you know which schools have teams that you are a good fit for. Good fit means that you are capable of playing with the top 2 or 3 players. Coaches are not looking to improve their number 5 player, they get better by recruiting to the top of their line-up.

Also, do you fit in with the school academically and financially? Can you meet the requirements for admission and since scholarships tend to be only partial, is the rest of the tuition something your family can afford? These are all part of the equation when picking the right schools to contact.

That said, there is no substitute for contacting as many schools as possible. The more communications you send the better chances you have of getting responses. This is where quantity absolutely counts!

And you absolutely need a good guide. The NCAA has a great deal of rules regarding recruiting and you need someone who understands all of the ins and outs. You also need someone who has built relationships with enough college coaches to help get you recruited. Remember, one of the NCAA rules on recruiting severely limits the contact you and your parents can have with a college coach. Having a coach of your own who can speak knowledgably with these college coaches is invaluable.

At the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy we have sent more than 50 players on to college golf including an NCAA and NJCAA National Player of the Year. Our contact list of college coaches is second to none. If college golf is your desired destination, then the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy is your road to college golf.

Jeff Fisher is Director of Instruction at the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 

Don’t Do It!

250 yards to the green, desert on the right and bunker 30 yards short of the green. Better pull out your 3 wood. Nooo!! Don’t do it!

These types of decisions are exactly what cause most golfers to shoot higher scores than they have to. They make course management decisions based on what they think they are “supposed to do” rather than on what they should do and actually have a chance at accomplishing. 

For most golfers, 250 yards equals two shots no matter how you carve up that distance. So, rather than try and hit a 3 wood, which is a high risk low success rate shot for a lot of golfers, why not split up the 250 yards in a way that you can handle much easier? How about playing two 125 yard shots. This type of course management gives you a much higher chance of succeeding with both shots and the risk that comes with the 3 wood shot goes away. If you don’t believe me go out onto the course and find a spot 250 yards from the green. Hit 10 balls with your 3 wood. Sure, one or two will be great shots. But a couple more will be mediocre at best and at least a few will put you in places that lead to big numbers!

Now go back to the same spot at 250 yards and hit 10 balls with your 125 yard club. I am betting the majority of these balls are shots that leave you clear of any trouble and with right around another 125 yards into the green. From there you play the same low risk, high success rate shot that you just hit. Again, I am betting most of these shots either land on the green or right around it with very few of them in troublesome places. 

The notion that we have to play certain shots with certain clubs from certain places is based mainly on what we see on television or assume a Tour player would do. That is not going to help YOU shoot better scores! Remember that the goal is to shoot the lowest score you can and the first step to doing that is to eliminate big numbers. Get the double and triple bogeys off of your scorecard and your scores will improve dramatically! 

Jeff Fisher is the Director of Instruction at the OB Sports Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 

Get on the Course to Get on Track

Golf is a strange game. It is the only sport I can think of where the practice ground is not the same as the playing ground. In every other sport practice happens pretty much in the same area as the actual playing of the game. This creates a situation in golf where people have a problem transferring what they can do in practice to what they can do on the course.

There are many ways to try and alleviate this problem that include all different types of practice and ways to work on things in the practice area. But truthfully, the best way to get better is to play your way to better scores! Certainly a beginner or even someone who may be over say a 20 handicap needs some improvement in their technique and that typically happens best on the range. But if you are already under that 20 handicap number then I believe you can make quicker gains on the course!

As a 20 handicap or better you already possess the skill to hit playable golf shots. Sure you need to hit more of them if you want your handicap to improve but you also need to know what to do with the good shots you hit and how to react to the not so good ones. Only the golf course can teach you that. Only the golf course can truly show you how to pick targets, how to manage different lies and how to deal with the emotional ups and downs of a round of golf.

As an instructor I know for a fact that I can take 2-3 strokes off of a player’s score just by caddying for them for nine holes. Advising them on where to aim for certain shots and how to deal with certain situations. When to play safe, and when to take a risk. On the golf course you also learn how to deal with your tendencies rather than trying to make every shot perfect. Golf is not a game made up of perfect shots and if a player understands their tendencies, both good and bad, they have a much greater chance of playing to those tendencies.

Every day I have students come to me who say they want to get better. When I ask them what that means, they always seem to tell me about their swing. Yes that is a part of the equation, but getting on the course and learning how to get the ball into the hole in the fewest number of strokes possible is still the goal of the game!

Jeff Fisher is Director of Instruction at the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 

Find Your Inner Athlete

Quite often I have people come to me for lessons who say they have never really played golf before, and the first thing I ask them is if they have ever played any other sport.

Growing up pretty much everyone played sports. Maybe not organized, but everyone threw a ball, kicked a ball, swung a bat or tennis racket or even jumped rope! Within all of these other athletic movements is everything you need to know about how to swing a golf club! The problem is that because golf is seen as such a technical game, and sometimes has been taught that way, many people don’t realize that they can call upon these past athletic endeavors to help them with their golf. I call this “recruiting your athletic memories”!

All of the same sequences of movement that are used in the golf swing can be found in other sports. Relating swinging a baseball bat, tennis racket or throwing a ball to swinging a golf club is pretty obvious. But, what about the footwork, weight shift and balance involved in ice skating or the multiple movements and coordination used in jumping rope? I have even gone so far as to video tape someone swinging a golf club, then tape them actually throwing that same golf club at the target. Since the throwing motion is much more instinctive, it comes out much better and more athletic!

Golf is a sport just like any of the others we are talking about, and those who play golf are athletes just like someone who plays tennis or basketball. Yet, have you ever seen someone miss a jump shot in basketball and run over to the side of the court to practice the angle of their shooting arm? When you think of it that way, it seems pretty silly to see so many people so closely watching small parts of their swing while they are actually trying to play a sport!

Science has helped us a great deal in revealing the intricacies of what actually happens in the golf swing and why the ball does what it does and how to make your body perform at its optimal best to make you play better golf. But, what if it was as simple as ice skating or throwing a ball or skipping rope? If you can recall your own athletic memories, I bet you can get a lot closer to making it that simple!

Jeff Fisher is Director of Instruction at the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330

Moneyball for Golf

Several years ago, the Oakland Athletics major league baseball team started evaluating players by a different standard than teams had traditionally used. They basically reprioritized the stats that they thought had the most value in deciding which players to pick, and the phrase “Moneyball” was coined.

I believe we can do the same in golf. There are so many stats that we can use to evaluate our play on the course, but I think most golfers place too much importance on the wrong stats and too little importance on the correct ones. I am going to show you how two statistical categories, greens in regulation and three-putt avoidance, can change your whole game!

First of all, notice that I said greens in regulation and mentioned nothing about how close you are actually hitting it to the hole. Most players should not be concerned about where the pin is and just hit their approach shot to the middle of the green. This will give them the greatest margin for error and even a less than perfect shot will still most likely hit the green. Also, when they do miss, the ball will more likely be in a position where they have a better chance at an up and down.  

Then comes three-putt avoidance. Hitting to the middle of the green will often leave you in the 20-40 foot range for your first putt. If you can become proficient at two-putting from these distances then greens in regulation will result in easy pars and some great chances at birdies.

Focusing on these two things will also take a lot of pressure off of the rest of your game! By just trying to hit to the middle of the green, you did not feel the need to be perfect with your iron shots because you have a larger area in which you can miss and still be on the green. If you are firing at pins and hitting into the corners of the greens you must be much more precise.

It will also take some pressure off of your tee shot game. Again, if you know you are only trying to hit your approach to the middle of the green you will not necessarily feel the need to get your tee shot as close to the green as possible. You can be comfortable hitting a shot that leaves you a slightly longer club for your approach because you have made your target for your second shot much bigger.

Greens in regulation and three-putt avoidance may not be the flashiest stats on the page, but if you focus on these two you will start to put some flashy numbers on your scorecard!

Jeff Fisher is the Director of Instruction at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 

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