I first saw Nick Faldo at the World Matchplay at Wentworth in the mid eighties and if you ever stood next to him he was much bigger than you thought,he was 6ft 3 in & 14 st, a very fit player.
He was a very focused golfer who was always trying to get everything out of his game that he could, he set about improving his technique with David Leadbetter, so he could be more consistent & win majors & he did achieve that goal, winning three US Masters, 1996 & two back to back 1989 ,1990 & three Open titles 1987,1990,1992. He came second in the PGA 1992 & US.OPEN 1988. He had 40 professional wins & was in eleven Ryder Cup teams & is the current highest points scorer in Ryder Cup history with 25 pts, & is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Nick Faldo was knighted by the Queen in 2009
He was known for his accurate iron play, particularly his long irons, and he was an excellent putter.
I have a good face on view of Nick playing an iron while preparing for the World Matchplay tournament held at Wenrworth, I hope you enjoy it.
My time at the HSBC tournament in Abu Dhabi was superb, the course was tough, and in great condition, the greens were perfect and very fast, the weather was warm, sunny, and with a light breeze.
The organisation by HSBC was brilliant, there was something for everyone in the village and the staff were very helpful and friendly.
Everything was set for the two main contenders to show their talents, Rory and Tiger, but alas it was not to be .
Rory had the worst kept secret in golf , the Nike deal announced, he had new everything, driver, irons,wedges, putter,ball, shoes and clothing, he missed the cut!
This is why sport is so fascinating, nothing can be taken for granted, no matter who you are, every week its a new challenge, different players coming into form, others losing form.
Rory said the clubs were great, he was just rusty, I believe him, he was a bit rusty and he is a streaky player, when he is on his game he is amazing, when he is slightly off he finds it hard to keep a score going, although last season he really improved in that area of the game.
Rory did not hole anything on the greens, even when he went back to his trusty Scotty the ball would not drop.
He will be back very soon, its a long season, and he needs a bit more time to get his game on song.
This brings me to Tiger, he missed the cut too, had a two stroke penalty to miss the cut by one, he hung in there , but missed a lot of fairways.
It just shows that in the next tournament he plays in, his first on the US PGA tour, he wins by four !!
Ah sport you just never know, and that is what makes it so exciting.
This is why Tigers record over his career is truly amazing, all the variables of sport, yet Tiger just kept on beating everyone every season, we took it for granted, he didnt, he knew how much work it took , the dedication it took, and there are so many players on tour with that desire and dedication, who give it everything each week.
The difference is the special ingredient called, having unbelievable talent !!
There is so much misleading and contradictory information in the golf instruction world. No wonder golfers are not improving as they should.
Anyone who wants to improve their game and get better has to start by taking a very close look at how they swing the club.
See the reality. Usually how your swing feels is not for real, feelings can mislead. How can you analyse and get feedback while you are in the moment of swinging the club ?
Video analysis is where you must start, look at your swing, see it, picture it .
You now have a reference point, a starting point so you can move forwards.
You don’t have to do everything perfectly to hit good golf shots, just remember that when you are on the range trying to analyse every inch of your swing, no wonder there is a lot of paralysis through analysis out there.
The Master Keys as I call them or the DNA of your golf swing are crucial for your golfing improvement. What are they you might ask, well go to my website and you will get the information you need to lower your scores and enjoy your golf. Golf is meant to be enjoyed ! So take a look.
Your confidence will rise because for the first time you have a plan of improvement.Its just that learning, and mastering a move like the golf swing is not an instant thing , you have to have control over the four Master Keys.
I call it the Master Keys to good golf, and really its the DNA if you will, once you have learnt it, golf becomes FUN & you become a better striker of the golf ball.
So in the main they do not know what to practice, they haven’t the awareness of what they are doing, they try to swing too hard, there is no blueprint to guide them through and keep them on course.
This sounds really worrying, golfers do want to improve don’t they?
My aim is to help you sort out these issues and get you all playing better golf and having more FUN !
What I do in my coaching is first of all give my students , if they are beginners, is a blueprint of the key things they need to do, keep it simple, not too much information, it is so easy to overload with information, it can become paralysis through analysis if the coach gives out too much info, especially if the coach is not as experienced and is trying too hard.
Less is more, it will pay off.
If I have a golfer who has played for many years and cannot make long term commitment to rebuilding their swing, guess what I don’t. Be realistic they cannot swing like Tiger Woods, so lets use what they have and work in such a way that we fix the key components and with these changes they will play better. You do not have to have a great looking swing to play better and lower your scores, you must understand what makes your swing work and then it’s maintainance, through correct understanding of your swing you can practice much more constructively.
You are not just hitting balls trying to find a swing, YOU KNOW YOUR SWING !
Well what a great week of golf at the HSBC tournament in Abu Dhabi, I hope you managed to watch it all on SKY SPORTS, Tigers return, spectacular golf, great weather and a surprise winner!
I was there filming the players and got some great footage of the top players, on the practice ground and the course, it was a very well run tournament on a really good course.
One of the highlights early in the week was when Tiger and Rory arranged to play a nine hole practice round, they got on well and were very chatty. I managed to get some super footage of drives, irons, putts, bunker shots etc, the golf legend Tiger, making a return and the young pretender with huge talent playing and practicing together, it was a priviledge to witness. I have posted some swings on Youtube and here on my website, there are a lot to see,I will keep adding to them, so keep looking!
HSBC opening ceremony
I look forward to seeing more of this during the coming season, which I believe could be a sensational year, and if these players are coming down the last nine holes in a major and we can include Westwood, Donald, Scott, Garcia, Kaymer, Day, Webb Simpson etc etc, it is what we all want to see.
They made the game look very easy ,it was a very long course, 7,500 yds and thick rough, the power they have at their disposal is phenomenal and can overpower a golf course, but to win a tournament you still have to pick the right club, judge the conditions, control your distances, hole putts and retain your concentration, accept a poor shot or bad bounce and the occasional penalty shots, and keep it going for seventy two holes.
The winner Robert Rock played so well under the pressure of playing with Tiger Woods and many people believed Tiger would win, me included, I watched them both warm up and go through their practice routines, Robert Rock looked solid, but Tiger looked more impressive and was controlling the flight of the ball so well, it looked a formality, well sport and golf is never that as we know.
The standard of golf on the European Tour is so good, the strength in depth, new players coming through, the quality of the courses, it is a great product and I shall be watching till the final event in The Race to Dubai season.
It was a brilliant way to start the 2012 European tour and see close up, the return of the TIGER !
Recreational golfers are not improving because they do not understand what they have to do to change or modify their technique, and also they do not appreciate how much quality repetition is involved in changing an old habit into a reliable new one.
Sticking at changing a old habit to a new one is very hard, you need huge discipline , it involves several thousand correct repetitions of the one specific move you are working on, and that takes several weeks of intense effort, it is the same as getting fit by going to the gym, you must do it regularly to reap the rewards.
Here is an example, if you can do one hundred correct repetitions every day for one week= 700
Repeat for four weeks = 2,800 reps you will start to really own that movement, not having to think it through. It can take between 3-5 thousand repetitions to OWN the new move
So you can see that when you go to the range and hit 100 ballswith the intention of improving your swing the results will be poor, because you are not creating the new pathway in your swing, you might be “thinking the new move” but you cannot make a swing change and hit balls swinging at full speed and do it correctly.
You cannot change a motor skill that quickly, you have to learn new pathways and build up a new pattern, which takes time, dedication and focus.
I give my students a blueprint of what they need to do technically and give them the required amount of repetitions so they can achieve their goal. Do the new movement at a very slow pace, feel and see that it is correct every time.
Slow motion moves only.
Every practice session do at least 100 reps.
Continue this routine every day for 4 weeks.
You have the information, why not start right now and really IMPROVE?
How many times have I heard this, a student wants to improve their golf swing but is frightened of making any changes.
Well it is quite normal to dislike change in our lives anyway, but if you are not succeding in what you do in your life, you had better start looking to change some things.
It is the same in golf.
What I would be very careful of is making wholesale changes to your golf swing all at once, in a desire to get things right.
Even if the student has several areas that need improvement, I make sure I know which areas to work on first, and I do not want my students to be overloaded and weighed down with lots of technique, that will only stall our progress.
I need to plan what to change , when to change, and feed these changes into their golf swing over a period of time.
Can a student do this on their own?
Are you kidding, NO WAY.
You will need help from an expert, a PGA professional who has been recommended to you, or go online and look in your area and see what golf professionals are out there, check out their website, get a feel for their enthusiasm, what training have they done, their experience. Give them a call, tell them what you want from them.
They will be happy to help you.
When a student comes to me , I always ask them two things.
1. What are you doing at the moment to improve your golf?
2. What is the most important thing to you about your golf?
This gives me exactly what I need to know, what they are doing now, and what really matters to them in their golf game.
When working with a new student who wants to really improve I make sure I really understand their swing, their pattern of movement, how this effects their ball flight, and what corrections need to be implemented.
They need to be made aware that they need time to implement some changes and they may feel a bit awkward, this is perfectly normal.
How can you change something in your swing and have it still feeling the same!
The real key here to improvement is only working on a couple of things at once, sticking with them, being patient, making sure the student REALLY understands that, and that you are a team and working to a plan.
It could be posture, maybe the student cannot turn because their posture will not allow it, or maybe they have a misconception about how to move in their swing, which is creating the problem.
So I look at the core issue that is making this golfer inconsistent and work from there.
This approach of being a team and working to a plan will create the right learning environment for the student and the coach.
It breeds confidence because the student knows exactly what to do, and why it effects the flight of the ball.
When your student has clear precise targets to aim at it really helps their focus, they are not distracted by their golfing buddies offering tips on every swing, they know their swing, they know how to improve it.
Hard to believe it was one year ago on Monday 7th May 2011 that Severiano Ballesteros passed away.
My tribute to Seve is to show again my video that I took of Seve at Wentworth practicing, it was a great experience to watch the master at work.
Here is my post on Seve and my video.
It is US Masters week very soon and it is my favourite tournament of the year, the golf course is stunning, the weather is great ,its the first major of the year, and it usually has an exciting finish.
What more could you want?
Well when I think back over all the Masters tournaments I have seen, for a european, seeing Seve striding the fairways, playing sublime golf in a matador style, hitting iron shots, drives echoing through the trees, putts holed, recovery shots, it was fantastic to see, here was a golfer that was not afraid to win, believed he could win, and he was just so good that he could win anywhere!
Seve led the way for the europeans making a huge impact at Augusta and beyond.
Here is my recollection of a great day at Wentworth in the early eighties.
Back in the 1980s Seve Ballesteros was the most exciting player on the planet, and your best chance of seeing him in the UK was at the OPEN or at the World Matchplay tournament in October held at Wentworth.
i had been going to the World matchplay for over thirty years and seen Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Tom Weiskopf, Gary Player, Tony Jacklin, Tiger Woods,Ernie Els, the list goes on and on.
But Seve was different to them all, not just in the way he played the course, there was a magic a charisma about him, you just had to watch him play golf to understand., you never new what was going to happen next, and even the impossible seemed possible back then.
I was there on a practice day so you could get much closer to the players, and on this occasion I had brought my video camera, and low and behold here was the master just arriving on the the east course eighteenth hole to start his warm up and practice.
There were only a handful of people there at the start and I thought here is a great opportunity, so I just asked Seve if he would mind if I filmed him practicing!
He said it was OK in his spanish accent and I was their like a bullet, right down the line, I was there with a friend and there are some classic comments on the video , such as,” it makes a different sound to the others”, “look at how square his divots are”, “pure”,” it makes me want to clap” “all I need to do is watch this video all night and tomorrow I will play great ”
This is what effect Seve had on us , I was frightened to take my camera of him for a second, because I knew this was very special, you might see the camera move left slightly as I was getting distracted , but a nano second of thought told me STOP you are kidding THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE!
I was so right.
I hope you take a look at the gracefull, flowing swing, his great rhythm, balance, power, a real genius of golf, he was an inspiration to many professional golfers who are playing right now and SEVE will rightly go down down as one of the greatest players in history.
What a story Simon Khan wins BMW PGA tour event at Wentworth, goes from 473 in the world to 105, wins the biggest cheque of his career £640,000, all on a sponsors invite! Ryder cup team beckons, wow what a turnaround to a career.
Simon then without much sleep goes to Walton Heath to try and qualify for the U.S.Open, arrives very early in the morning, tees off and scores of 67 and 70- total 7 under par for 36 holes gets him into a six man play off for five spots, he pars the first hole and is out ! How cruel this game can be, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
He is playing the best golf of his career so far, and as I watched him at Walton Heath he looked so composed, relaxed, and hit really pure straight shots.
This is the 5 iron into the par five.
What can you learn?
1. Simon has a very relaxed style of play, again is very fluid, fine balance, rhythm. Sets up to the ball with good balance and alignment, very relaxed posture, no stiffness in his set up.
2. Starts club back with chest and arms, very smooth flow into the backswing, no rushing at all, wrists hinge gradually and automatically, and it is all smooth and controlled.
3. As with all tour players Simon uses his lower body to start the club down, a great transition, and as you saw in Rory McIlroy a slight squat as he starts down, showing you that his lower body is working first, which then creates the correct sequence of motion for the rest of his body, feet, knees, hips, trunk, arms, wrists, club, its like going through the gears in your car, accelerating in each gear and then flowing smoothly into the next one to maximise power.
4.He keeps rotating through the ball, into a full free finish, great poise and balance. He keeps the club on plane really well throughout his swing.
There seems to be a theme to these swings of Rory and Simon, fluidity, relaxation, rhythm, balance, uses the body really well, great pivot action back and through, and great body sequencing throughout, developing hidden power, which is transferred through the arms into the golf club.
One player a boy prodigy with fantastic natural talent, another a mature tour pro who has experienced the ups and downs, who has been to the qualifying school ten times, and is now playing the best golf of his life.
Rory is on the range at the BMW tour event at Wentworth May 2010, he worked his way through the bag, starting with the wedge, I have sequences here of a five iron,3 metal and driver to show you. He was hitting easy 3 metal shots, staying low and straight, then he would cut loose and the ball would just keep rising on a much higher trajectory as he inceased his power.
What an amazing talent at 20, winning a US PGA tour event in fantastic style, I remember thinking as I watched him shoot 65-62 over the last two rounds, this is how we would dream to play golf, massive drives, laser irons and holing putts, calm and controlled, it looked so easy to him.Those two rounds were very exceptional and I believe they are going to be rare for anyone to reproduce, especially on such a high calibre golf course as Quail Hollow.
His rhythm is superb, his balance, his fluidity of movement is second to none, it is all done with such flowing grace, that here is a very special golfer, who when in full flow makes golf look so easy, even more so than Tiger, who has more of a carved out or chiselled golf swing, more man made, and of course he has made significant changes to his swing through out his career, and I believe he is in the process of making more changes now. I can’t wait to see him back at the heights we all know he can achieve. Back to Rory.
What can you learn.
1. Rory is very relaxed at set up, excellent posture, alignment, great grip, looking ready and balanced to move into his swing.
2. Starts moving his chest, and arms so well together, and as he continues to turn his right side away his wrists hinge so naturally as he continues to wind up his chest, core and hips into a superbly poised and balanced location, no excess motion as he continues to move into the transition of his golf swing.
3. He starts down with a slight squat of the legs as they and the hips start to drag and pull the trunk and the arms downwards, a superb sequence of motion, maintainig lag not only between his arms and the shaft, you can see the shaft loading, but also note how he uses pivot lag, in other words how the sequence of his body unwinds relative to each other, creating the most powerfull movement he can to hit the ball prodigious distances.
He is working very hard here and creating lots of power, yet in real time it looks so smooth and fluid, because his sequence of movement is so tremendous and flows so well into a free flowing finish, he continues to turn his right side through to a very full finish, wish I was that flexible !
If Rory can continue to stay healthy, learn how to keep his score going when not quite at his best and eliminate small errors of judgement on course, such as course management and shot selection, there will be no stopping this young man becoming a regular tour winner where ever he plays in the world and become the best european player since Seve and Nick!