By: Ben Bryant, WGCA contributing writer In 2014, Facebook bought a small virtual reality startup company called Oculus for $2 billion.  Such a large investment by one of the world’s leading tech companies caused the world’s ears to perk up. People began to ask whether or not virtual reality – or VR – would be the next big thing in entertainment.  And so I feel it’s a good time to ask: How will VR change the future of the golf teaching industry? As it turns out, many in the sports world already believe VR is the next big thing and have begun using it in one way or another.  For example, NFL teams like the Dallas Cowboys are using virtual reality to train quarterbacks and other players.  In golf, Dell has announced the creation of a virtual reality simulation that lets participants play golf on the moon.  Right now, with a VR headset, you can experience 360-degree photos of this year’s Masters ceremony.  Some see the future of VR in live sports consumption, placing the user on the green with Jordan Spieth as he lines up a putt, or with Tom Brady on the field right in the middle of the action. A few weeks ago, I bought a VR headset made by Oculus for Samsung to test things out for myself.  The device works by placing your (Samsung only) smartphone on the front of the headset and then strapping the whole contraption over your eyes.  The first time I used it, I literally said “wow” out loud to an empty room.  It’s incredibly immersive and realistic. After a two-minute tutorial, I found myself exploring an Egyptian tomb and walking through the halls of the Louvre.   With features like 360-degree photos, I could transport myself to anywhere in the world. This has the potential to go way beyond your local indoor golf simulators.  While in a VR environment, everywhere you look you see your simulated surroundings.  The most amazing part is that you don’t feel like you’re looking at a screen.  You really feel like you’re playing golf at Augusta or St. Andrews. As a golf coach, I immediately began to envision how I could use this new technology with my players.  As a teaching tool, the implications for being able to recreate total 360-degree environments will have a profound impact on the golf industry.  Students will be able to see their swing in a whole new way – not a 2D video that only shows one angle, but a total 3D environment to truly see themselves as their instructor does.  Another opportunity may be in recreating golf courses in VR.  Suppose a player has a tournament the next day on a new golf course they haven’t been able to play yet. In a VR simulation, you could walk the course like you were really there.   Lastly, imagine both you and your student put on VR headsets and are able to meet online, on a virtual golf course, for a golf lesson, without even being in the same country. Scenarios like this may be a few years away and there are still some issues to work out.  Oculus, for its part, will be releasing a much anticipated headset known as the Rift sometime later this summer (  It won’t use your smartphone; it will have its own screen and will require a high-end personal computer to operate.  As a result, it will be expensive and non-portable.  But it will be the gold standard as far as graphics go.  However, I’m far more interested in the portable, smartphone-based headsets.  They are easy to use, inexpensive, and could be far more ubiquitous than the Rift, because who doesn’t have a smartphone?   Oculus just announced that over a million people used its portable headset during the month of April 2016. For the last 20 years or so, VR has been stuck in neutral, positioned somewhere in the realm of novelty video game, but outside the purview of practical use.  With serious investors now on board and with the sports world leading the way, and with a clear vision of how this technology can be used, we are now on the brink of major changes in the way we experience entertainment and communicate with each other. Now we live in a world where nearly every man, woman and child on earth has a supercomputer in their pockets.  With technology no longer a barrier, the promise of virtual reality has returned the worlds of business and sports are on the cusp of undergoing a dramatic transformation, thanks to VR. Like many people of my generation, my first experience with “virtual reality” was the Nintendo game system known as the Virtual Boy.  The system consisted of a large stationary headset you placed over your face and a controller you used to play games.  It was a big risk for Nintendo, but it ended up being a commercial flop.  The headset was uncomfortable and hurt your eyes.  The graphics were thoroughly unimpressive, consisting of grids of red lines used to create an illusion of depth.  There was certainly a novelty factor, but usually after ten minutes or so of use people lost interest.  That was nearly 20 years ago.  It was clear that technology was still a long way away from catching up to the idea of VR.


By: Dave Hill WGCA contributing writer Tiger Woods averaged 342 yards off the tee at the 1996 Masters, his second year playing the event. We all know how the story went in 1997 with his dominating 12-stroke margin of victory. Pictured below were his tools of the trade. What is remarkably noticeable are the two steel-shafted small-headed woods. His driver was 43 5/8 inches in length, with which he once again dominated the field in driving distance with a 324-yard average for the tournament. On holes 13 and 15, both reachable par-5s for most (but not all), Tiger had no more than a 7-iron in his hands for his second shot throughout the tournament. The ’97 Masters prompted both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to state Tiger would go on to win more Masters than the two of them combined. Coming from them, we believed it. “Tiger-proofing” Augusta National was now the modus operandi. As Augusta National reworked the length of its layout to prevent his assault on the record books, it appeared to be working; however, true to form, Tiger always found a way to win as he did so in 2001 and in 2002. Although he never slowed down winning majors through 2006 with his last victory coming in 2008, his only victory at Augusta since his 2002 victory 14 years ago was in 2005. So what happened? This is certainly a far cry from the predictions from two of golf’s greats. Was it the lengthening of the course? I believe not. Was it his competition who stepped up? Not in my opinion. Was it the equipment changes that helped golfers gain yardage overnight once a better understanding of ball speed, launch and spin conditions came about? Yes, I believe to some degree, but not for obvious reasons. The changes in equipment may have helped other players catch up to Tiger in terms of his dominance over them due to his length advantage. He may not have always been the longest on tour, but he was definitely in the top five prior to the high-tech-driver equipment era. Not only was he long, but fairly accurate, as he always led the tour in overall driving. The new equipment didn’t particularly aid Tiger in developing extra length, and if anything, it was probably a detriment with longer and lighter shafts and overall club weight. Tiger always treated the game as an athletic endeavor for which he trained physically. The advances in driver/ball technology definitely hurt Tiger against the field as it adversely affected his athletic prowess advantage, and hence affected the psychological advantage he had over the field. He may have still been able to hit the par-5s with short- and mid-irons, but now more of the field could, as well, accompanied by shorter hitters giving the par-5s a go when in the past this was not an option. The other caveat to the longer-shafted driver was a loss of accuracy for Tiger. Yes, he was Houdini with his ability and creativity in escaping precarious situations, but these were situations he found himself in less often early on his career. With the field catching up, Tiger knew he could always outwork everyone and he did, particularly in the gym. We witnessed his body change. His sinewy build became thick like that of a linebacker. Is it possible the advances in equipment were a catalyst for Tiger believing he needed to work harder in the gym in order to regain his length advantage?  With the build of a superhero, was it his way of creating a physical and psychological advantage over his competitors? He was not the first to embrace fitness in golf, but it’s one of the main legacies Tiger brought to the game.  However, did he overdo it? Looking back, we can say he lost some of his natural speed due to his thickly-muscled frame. The stats don’t lie, however. Was it truly his fault or the fault of the advances in research and development within the equipment arena? The high-tech world of golf gear today has made the game easier for most; however, it may have compromised the opportunity for us to witness the best career in the history of the game. ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 25 11.20


By: Steve Williams, WGCA contributing writer There is a communication gap between the typical golf instructor and their students.  That gap is the perception of reality by the student.  To illustrate this point, lets think about a chicken wing. First, for clarity, let me give you my description of a chicken wing: Because of improper supination of the leading arm in the follow-through, the elbow moves away from the body and the arm folds in, instead of up. The next time you have a student who has a chicken wing, record their swing and let them see the severity of the chicken wing.  Tell them that when they practice over the next week to keep the elbow close to the body in the follow-through, and make the arm fold up, instead of in. Give them a drill or two which helps them to correct the chicken wing.  Tell them to work on it diligently but not to use video to help themself. When they return in a week, record them while they hit a ball with a full swing.  Then, both of you review the video of that swing.  What I am about to say will happen 100 times out of 100 times. When the student sees the video of their new swing, they will see that they made far less progress during the week than they thought they did. If what I said is happening 100% of the time is indeed true, what would that demonstrate? It demonstrates that a student cannot trust their feel if they are to make as much progress as possible between lessons.  They simply must use video to show them what they are actually doing, instead of thinking they are making the correct move just because they feel like they are. When it comes to change, “feel” is just like an adolescent kid.  It will protest any new movement as being uncomfortable because it likes its comfort zones.  It will complain (through discomfort) that you have made it change immensely, even though the change was in reality slight. The funny thing about it is you will believe what your “feel” is telling you. In conclusion, if practice time is to be as efficient as possible, the student needs to use video at the least, every few minutes, in order to confirm whether they are making the intended change or not. This will help them to make much more progress between lessons. Good golfing!


By: Arlen Bento, WGCA contributing writer I am a big fan of consistent routines in golf.  Same warm-up, same process, same ball striking…create consistency.  I have been teaching my players the same putting warm-up for years, and I caught a segment on Golf Channel about Jordan Speith’s putting warm-up, and it looked like he stole my warm-up guide on putting.  Now, I don’t know Jordan, or any of his coaches, and I am sure my routine has developed out my many years of coaching and learning from other great teachers and players. But I was still shocked on how similar his routine was compared to what I recommend. First thing Jordan did was to warm-up feel; just find a long putt and start making some strokes.  Not a lot of thought, just get the ball rolling to a spot.  When I coach this concept, I prefer no target; I call this “Putt to Nowhere.”  Just take five balls and make a stroke to roll the ball.  After the ball stops, take a look and try to putt the next ball to the same exact spot.  If you are good, you can putt all five balls to a very small cluster.  Now, place a tee in the turf on the spot that you were just putting from and walk your way over the cluster, counting how many paces or steps you took to get the cluster.  You need to understand how far your stroke is rolling the ball on the greens for the day.  Next, take the cluster of balls and putt the balls back to the tee that you placed in the turf to identify the spot from where you started.  See if you can duplicate the stroke. Do this a few times to get the feel of the green and your stroke. Jordan then went to some mid-length putts, 20 to 30 feet, and started to roll the balls to the hole with his putter. All he was trying to do was get the ball online and rolling the ball so that it stopped a few inches past the hole. In my program, I call this “establishing the rev’s.”  If you can roll every putt 10-12 inches past the hole, you can triple your chances of making a putt.  Triple?  Yes, triple. If you are rolling a putting 24 to 36 inches past the hole, the ball is rolling at 4-6 revolutions per second.  Your read has to be within one inch of dead perfect to make a putt at that pace.  However, if you are rolling the ball to 10 to 12 inches past the hole, you are rolling the ball close to 2-3 revolutions per second, which allows you to be three inches off of dead center and still make a putt. If the ball is rolling too fast, you have to be almost dead center on your read to make a putt.  If you slow the pace down, you will make a lot more putts that catch the edge of the hole or fall in on the back end. With this theory, you may leave a few putts short from time to time, but your make percentage is so much higher that you will not worry about the one you left short when you made four more that you normally would not have made, because you were putting at the wrong pace. After working at mid-length putts, Jordan worked on 3-5 foot putts from a circle, creating many different angles and aim points. I call this last exercise clock putting.  I teach all my students to read greens like a clock.  All you have to do is find what you think is a straight uphill putt and call it 6 o’clock.  Now, based on where 6 o’clock is, identify where your ball is to 6 o’clock and give your putt a time. What you will learn is that each putt breaks to 6 o’clock. 3 o’clock always breaks right to left, 9 o’clock is always breaks left to right. Everything always breaks to 6 o’clock.  Try this routine and you will be amazed at how many more putts you will make. When you warm up on these short putts, the goal is to make them.  I want my players to start at 6 o’clock, working at making five uphill putts. Then I like them to find 12 o’clock so they can make five downhill putts.  Then go to 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock to work on right to left and left to right breaks. Jordan’s routine took about 20-30 minutes, and then he was off to the driving range.  


By: Gregg Steinberg, WGCA contributing writer While confidence is an essential ingredient for successful golf, it is as fickle as an eight-year-old boy in a candy store. One moment he wants to try the sweet Gummy Bears and the next he will gobble up the sour chews. Birdies can give you a sweet air of invincibility while a series of bogeys can make you sour on your golf ability. As he stood on the 13th tee on Sunday, Fabian Gomez had reached 20 under par at the Sony Open. He knew he had the championship within his grasp. Then he proceeded to bogey both the 13th and 14th holes. Fabian could have lost his confidence and fallen into a downward spiral of negativity. But instead, he rebounded and finished with an amazing birdie putt on the 72nd hole to finish at 20 under par and into a playoff, which he won over Brandt Snedeker. Once you begin to lose your confidence, it is difficult to gain that sweet feeling back again. When this happens, it seems as if the game has become your enemy. All you think about is the trouble rather than focusing on the desired result. Like Fabian Gomez, to play at your best under pressure, you must be able to keep your confidence, regardless of how easily the bogeys seem to be appearing on your card. You can keep your confidence with the following key strategies: 1)         Believe that confidence is your choice. Regardless of how badly you are playing and scoring, confidence is always your choice. You can continually make a statement such as “I choose to be confident” to beat away those negative thoughts. 2)         Keep a confidence journal.  Every time you had a great round, write down how you were feeling and thinking. Keep this journal in your golf bag and look at it throughout the round to get a great jolt of confidence 3)         Have a golden nugget.  A golden nugget is a visualization of a great shot. Perhaps it was that 5-iron that you nutted last week to three inches.  Before the round, visualize this shot over and over again so that when you hit a few shots, you will remember this golden moment and it will boost your confidence. Centuries ago, the renowned philosopher Rene Descartes wrote that we have the capacity to think whatever we choose. That human truth is the same today. You always have the choice to have a great attitude or terrible one. If you make the right choice, the chances are much greater that you will become the player you always wanted to be. (Bio: Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of sports psychology at Austin Peay State University. He has been ranked by Golf Digest as one of the world’s greatest sports psychologists and has worked with many PGA Tour players, including Brandt Snedeker, Brian Gay and many more. He is the head sports psychologist for the International Golf Psychology Association. To help your mental game, visit to see some free videos and articles.)


By: Dave Hill WGCA contributing writer A photograph is a still shot in our minds, a suspension of time, a memory that gives and helps of live. This article will be short. I recently lost someone close, a pillar of stability in our family. It is in these times as humans we reflect about life. None of us know our destiny. Our past offers options; we can learn from, dwell on and/or cherish our history. It is the present, however, most worthy of embracing. There is presently a 70-year ongoing Harvard study about happiness. Seven decades earlier, researchers asked a large group of young boys from an impoverished Boston neighborhood what they believe would help lead them to a happy and fulfilling life. Not surprisingly, they all answered, in some form or another, bar none: To be rich/successful and/or famous. We’d likely hear the same answers from our youth today. Four generations of researchers later, the study has revealed a conclusive finding amongst the many kids within who are now in their eighties, only one finding in spite of the plethora of careers and socio-economic standing of the study’s participants. As it turns out, some had very successful careers and others remained impoverished. Some became wealthy, and even one became president of the United States. Again, in spite of where one stood in their respective life 70 years forward, the only characteristic in common attributing to each individual’s fulfillment regarding a happy life was the personal relationships they fostered with others throughout their lives. Some were in the past and based upon fond memories. Earlier, I mentioned cherishing the past. The research participants didn’t cherish the past at all. They cherish the present to provide the best memories. I lost a family member, I lost a friend, I lost one of my brethren (he, too, was a golf professional) and I lost a golfing partner. The memories are fond. We are lucky we work in a profession that most call a hobby or a lifestyle. Some are young getting started, others are in the midst of their careers, while others are seasoned veterans. Whether young, old, or somewhere in between, the next time you are out teaching or playing the game, remember there are two relationships you are nurturing: one with an individual and one with the game. There is only one thing more satisfying than seeing the look of exuberance of a student or a playing partner hitting the perfect shot. It is the knowledge of you knowing they have taken a snapshot of the ball in a still-frame as it reaches its apex as it inevitably toward its intended target. You know this because this is the essence of the game you have lived many times. Everything feels right as the ball leaves the club and your eyes focus in on the hurtling sphere, and the present moment becomes etched in your memory forever. Cherish the shot and enjoy the happiness the photograph provides forever.


By: Dave Hill WGCA contributing writer So who is the best player of all time? Yes I realize comparing players from different eras is next to impossible if not frowned upon but in light of Tiger turning 40 it would be an interesting exercise to compare his record with those of past greats. It would be wise to start with a list of my top players from youngest to oldest: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen and Harry Vardon. HOW DO WE MEASURE? Some say Tiger is the most talented to ever play the game however this is an unfair statement as no one alive today had the opportunity to witness Vardon, Hagen or Jones and those who remember watching Hogan, Snead and Nelson in their primes were too young at the time to offer an expert opinion today. Many who did witness these players in their primes were not alive to witness Tiger. Therefore the only effective way to compare is winning % and by the numbers or is it?  FACTS TO CONSIDER
  • Some players were more natural than others (Hagen,Vardon, Nelson, Snead vs Hogan).
  • Some were coached from a young age and others not (Bobby Jones, Jack & Tiger vs Hagen, Nelson, Snead & Hogan).
  • Some players competed in 4 majors per year (Jones,Nicklaus & Tiger) and others only 2 to 3 (All professional players pre Nicklaus) due to scheduling conflicts or inconvenience of travel.
  • Some players have had career interruptions due to injury (Tiger), illness (Vardon & Jones), WW1 or 2 (Jones, Hagen,Nelson, Snead, Hogan) or injury and WW2 combined (Hogan).
  • Some had long careers (Vardon, Snead, Nicklaus) while other retired early for personal reason (Jones & Nelson).
  • Some players went through equipment transitions (Vardon from the feathery to the Gutta Percha ball), (Nelson, Snead and Hogan from Hickory to steel shafts…major transition), (Tiger from shorter steel shafted to longer graphite shafted driver and fairway woods).
  • Depth and quality of competition. Some players had stiffer competition than others (Vardon who was also part of the 1st great triumvirate), (Nelson, Snead and Hogan who were the 2nd great triumvirate) and (Nicklaus who was part of the 3rd great triumvirate and who took on many greats throughout 3 decades)
WINNING PERCENTAGE (Majors) Harry Vardon (7 Major victories/Played 1 per year except in 1900/1913 & 1920 when he played 2)
  • 21% (7 wins in 33 majors)
  • 33% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 7 wins in 21 majors)
  • 5% (Hottest major winning streak/5 wins in 9 majors)
Walter Hagen
  • 20% (11 wins in 55 majors)
  • 35% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 11 wins in 31 majors)
  • 47% (Hottest major winning streak/7wins in 15 majors)
Bobby Jones
  • 42% (13 wins in 31 majors) He played in Masters after these 31 majors and after he effectively retired from competitive golf
  • 62% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 13 wins in 21 majors)
  • 5% (Hottest major winning streak over a few years/10 wins in 16 majors)
Byron Nelson
  • 6% (5 wins in 32 majors) He played past retirement but last tournament counted here is 1949 Masters
  • 25% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 5 wins in 20 majors)
  • 33% (Hottest major winning streak/4 wins in 12 majors)
Sam Snead
  • 12% (7 wins in 60 majors) Stopped when Snead was 47yrs old
  • 26% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 7 wins in 27 majors)
  • 40% (Hottest major winning streak/4 wins in 10 majors)
Ben Hogan
  • 20% (9 wins in 44 majors)Stopped when Hogan was 47yrs old
  • 56% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 9 wins in 16 majors)
  • 73% (Hottest major winning streak/8 wins in 11 majors)
Jack Nicklaus
  • 17% (18 wins in 108 majors) 1960-1987 however he’s 25% with 14 wins in 55 majors (1962-75)
  • 5% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 18 wins in 97 majors)
  • 44% (Hottest major winning streak/4 wins in 8 majors) 36% (5 wins in 14 majors)
Tiger Woods
  • 20% (14 wins in 70 majors) 1997- 2015
  • 30% (% wins between 1st major win and last major win/ 14 wins in 46 majors)
  • 83% (Hottest major winning streak/5 wins in 6 majors) 64% (7 wins in 11 majors)
MOST VICTORIES (From this list)
  • Sam Snead – 82 (30 years)
  • Tiger Woods – 79 (18 years)
  • Jack Nicklaus – 73 (25 years)
  • Ben Hogan – 64 (22 years)
  • Byron Nelson – 52
  • Walter Hagen – 45
  • Harry Vardon – 7 (The Open and US Open)
  • Bobby Jones – 6 (Us Open and the Open)
BEING OBJECTIVE Numbers alone can’t tell us who we believe the best player of all time is however they can help but only when we delve deeper. Take Bobby Jones for example. Yes he won 13 majors with a high winning % however 6 are amateur championships in which he did not compete against the best of the best of his era (Walter Hagen & Gene Sarazen) and there was little quality to his competition. The same can be said for Vardon however we cannot deny these two great men’s raw talent as Jones played part time and Vardon was a true superstar of his era. Byron Nelson retired from golf for a simpler way of life. He had amassed a small fortune for the day and hung it up early in 1946. Yes his winning % was quite respectable in majors however he amassed many of his wins in 1944/45. His arch rivals Snead and Hogan were enlisted for service during the war years while Nelson was not due to health reasons. This allowed the latter to amass victory after victory during 1944 and his record breaking year of 1945. It cannot be overstated that had he gone head to head against both Snead and Hogan during these years his win total would have been lower. There is a strong argument for Sam Snead being regarded as the best ever based on his career longevity by winning in 5 different decades and obtaining 82 PGA Tour victories but his winning % in majors and not procuring the US Open unfortunately drops him down a notch. 3 GOLFERS REMAIN (Hogan, Nicklaus, Woods) HOGAN IS THE BEST Ben Hogan is the most curious case to examine for being placed on the pedestal as the best player to have ever played the game. It can be agreed his career was condensed. Yes there was the car accident in early 1949. Some say this made him a better player forcing him to work even harder in order to make it back to the game he so loved. I don’t buy this. His love for the game and work ethic were instilled prior to the accident and simply helped him recover so quickly. If anything the accident placed these elements into the limelight giving Hogan legendary and iconic status. Some also say his swing changed for the better after the accident. Shorter and more controlled. This too is far from the truth. Hogan did not have a professional coach/teacher growing up and first developed his swing to hit it far in order to keep up and beat the older caddies as a means to get caddy loops and earn a dollar. His original swing was born of necessity for survival. He went on to say later in life he would have developed the swing he did 10 years earlier had he had the usage of a video camera. Lest we forget he along with other players of the era were transitioning from the long “handsy” swing of the hickory shaft to a more controlled swing of the steel shaft. Hogan had figured out his swing much earlier and consolidated it with a victory at the Hale America Open in 1942 (considered by many to be Hogan’s 1st US Open victory) and immediately after the war as the flood gates opened up with victories between 1946 -1948. When we talk about a condensed career Hogan’s first years out on tour cannot be compared in today’s world. No coach, not a natural and many years of toiling until he “dug it out of the ground” and developed a swing he could rely on in the heat of battle. Then the war hit, then 3 years later a life threatening car accident shortening his career in essence for 5 more years of strong competitive golf. It is easy to surmise Hogan’s career lasted approximately 10 years in which some of those years contained a very limited playing schedule with only 2 to 3 majors played per year. Quite impressive and no one to date has played better in the majors in such a short period of time…not even Tiger. Although Tiger won 4 majors in a row, Hogan did not compete in the PGA Championship in 1953 due to the stresses on his legs caused by the car accident as it was 36 holes per day (match play). He did lose in a playoff in the 54 Masters to Sam Snead which would have made it 4 in a row. Regardless he did win 8 out of 11 compared to Tiger’s streak of 7 of 11. Jack’s record of 18 major victories at this juncture does not look like it will fall at least not by Tiger who remains with 14 and he did it in 46 attempts beating out Jack who was 14 for 55. However what stands out about Jack Nicklaus are the number of 2nd, 3rd and top 10 finishes in the majors. Jack Nicklaus in the majors 1st – 18 2nd – 19 3rd– 9 Top 5 – 56 Top 10 – 73 Cuts Made – 131 Total events – 164   Tiger Woods in the majors 1st – 14 2nd – 6 3rd – 4 Top 5 – 31 Top 10 – 38 Cuts made – 67 Total events – 76   Ben Hogan in the majors 1st – 9 2nd – 6 3rd – 2 Top 5 – 25 Top 10 – 40 Cuts made – 53 Total events – 58 If we delve even further into why I consider Hogan the best and only by a slim margin over Nicklaus I have to look at a few other factors. Nicklaus surpasses Hogan in majors due to the amount of victories 2nd and 3rd place finishes but again this number is skewed against Hogan as he was unable to compete in the British Open or in most years the PGA Championship. It is not however skewed against Tiger. This then leads us to another vital aspect; Depth but more so, the quality of competition. The tour in Tiger’s era is/was very deep in talent however is it fair to say the quality of his competitors was lacking if compared to those of Nicklaus and Hogan? The fact both Hogan and Nicklaus were part of a “Great Triumvirate” is telling in its own right. Hogan had Snead, Nelson, Sarazen, Harmon, Demaret and later Palmer. Nicklaus took on all comers in three decades and many of his competitors are iconic names today; Palmer, Player, Trevino, Floyd, Watson etc. Tiger has had to compete in essence against Faldo and Norman during the twilight of their careers, Els and Mickelson. The edge here goes to Nicklaus with Hogan second. Finally it is important to realize what a figure Hogan was and what he brought to the game. He was revered for his ball striking, course management, work ethic, devotion and passion for the game like no other. There has never been a player in the history of the game who has garnered the respect from his peers like Hogan. Tiger has stated only Hogan (and Moe Norman) has owned his swing. When Hogan was hitting balls, Nicklaus would stop and watch. Case closed in my opinion.  


By: Arlen Bento, WGCA contributing writer Now that we are near the end of the year, a lot of golfers will be hanging up the sticks for the winter season.  For many of us this means very little work on our golf swings…or does it? I am a big fan of indoor golf for player development.  I have been using video technology and launch monitor technology indoors for over 20 years and I have developed many great players starting in my net.  Many people ask me why I encourage so many students to start inside, and I always give them the same answer: It is a lot easier to teach the golf swing without worrying about what the ball is doing. I often get a puzzled look when I say this statement, but it is a true belief of mine that the golf ball messes up the golf swing when you are first learning how to play. Now of course, I understand that we have to take the swing to the range and the course, but learning the swing and building confidence is a lot easier inside.  When you take a new player out to the course or range and give them a club, it is a very awkward situation.  The grip is not natural, nor are the stance and the posture or figuring out how to hit the ball.  Most people take a grip that is comfortable, lift the club up and chop down in an attempt to strike the ball.  Usually this attempt is met with a hard thunk on the ground and a ball that slides off low and fast in the wrong direction. With an indoor lesson, you can eliminate all that initial tension and focus on what really has to happen in the golf swing.  You have to swing the club, you have to move your body and you have to let your feet shift your weight.  Once you can create a swinging motion, you can introduce the ball and the odds of making a solid contact are dramatically increased. In my studio in Stuart, Florida, I work with a lot of new players who just want to be able to hit the ball, I always joke with them, “Let’s learn to swing the club and let the ball get in the way.”   I have a great system in my studio that gives great shot feedback using two different launch monitors.   I can really simulate what it is like on the range or even the course, so the indoor lesson is much better than it was 10 years ago. So, my advice to those of you who are getting ready to put the golf swing on the back burner for the winter: don’t.  Find an area where you can swing, a place that you can work on the movement of your body.  If you can get some wiffle balls they can help.  Better yet, get a net, a nice hitting mat and maybe some technology, or find a place nearby that offers indoor golf. Please email me at or visit my website at Master Teaching Professional Arlen Bento Jr. is an award-winning golf coach, business owner, product developer and writer living in Jensen Beach, Florida.   He is the former head golf professional at the PGA Country Club at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and the director of golf at Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach, Florida. 


By: Dave Hill WGCA contributing writer The ladder of success is not created equally for everyone, at least not when it comes to sport. As previously discussed, we have our windows of opportunity as a child to exposure of a multitude of physical activities, employing the three cores of fundamental movement: 1)      Stability/balance    2) Locomotion    3) Object manipulation We also have windows of opportunity to become a coach, as we shall see.  Typically when we have a child before the age of 9 whom has been active in a variety of non-structured games and sports, the development of a future competitive athlete is possible. The word “competition” is a big one and must be fully understood, but especially so by the parents. Ah, the parents! Yes, sometimes a coach’s biggest nightmare. Lesson # 1- You’re the coach. A parent has a role to respect, which can be clearly defined from the outset: support, both morally and financially. It ends there. There must be a clearly defined set of guidelines about communication and roles set forth by the coach prior to the beginning of the season. So, is there a season in golf as pertains to competition? Yes, and it, too, is clearly defined by a term call “periodization training.”  A period can vary in duration, with the longest duration being one year. For the purpose of this article, the younger golfer’s period for golf must be shorter, due to the fact sport specialization doesn’t apply. Again, this is where a full understanding of the ladder of success comes into play. Starting at the age of 8 or 9, is often a great age to introduce a child to a new sport in a more formal and structured arena. The game and its basic rules/etiquette can be explained, along with all the fun aspects about the sport. A little technique with fun games and competitions is the rule of thumb. Remember, this is the introduction to the game phase prior to the introduction to the competition phase, starting at 11 for both boys and girls. As we enter the introduction to the competition phase, this is where the world of coaching takes hold. Occasionally there is that one child or two who stands out within every golf camp setting amongst younger kids. He/she shows talent and passion. As an instructor, do you now take on the role as coach? Because, this is the most crucial time in a child’s development as a future competitive golfer. This is a serious decision, because the young golfer (more his/her parents) will move on to someone else to fill the role if you’re not up to the task. We are in a world of specialization today, and golf is not immune. Such a decision can have life-altering effects. Coaching is not teaching; coaching is a life commitment. This is not meant to insult the teacher. It’s simply to help understand the difference between the two. As mentioned earlier, the element of “periodization training” takes a stronghold. A young golfer in the early phases of competition is less apt to need an annual plan, but a plan, yes. However, as they grow into becoming a strong/elite competitor, an annual plan (periodization training plan) is required. This comes from the coach, and demands oversight on every aspect of a player’s training (mental, technical, tactical and physical). This is a 12-month job. This is preparation outside of the paradigm of giving a lesson. This is all encompassing. This is the opportunity. This is coaching.


By: Dave Hill, WGCA contributing writer As we move forward through the age groups of the competitive athlete, there often comes a moment with kids, and particularly their parents, as to when to begin specializing in one sport. Before we move ahead, let’s reacquaint ourselves with the ladder of athletic evolution: 1) ACTIVE START (ages 0-6): Getting a child to be active a minimum of 60 minutes per day, ideally three hours per day. Over 80% of children get enough. 2)  FUNDAMENTALS (ages 6-8): Learning fundamental movements (balance/stability, locomotion and object manipulation) through simple play time. Again, a minimum of 60 minutes per day, ideally three hours per day. Less than 10% of children get enough. 3)  LEARN A SPORT (ages 8-11): Learn fundamental movements and skills of multiple sports. Somewhat formal instruction but not too much. 4) INTRODUCTION TO COMPETITION (males/11-14, females/11-13): A crucial time to compete in usually two sports of the child’s preference. The child’s preference is important, because learning is improved vastly through play and enjoyment. Developing competitive experience takes priority over winning and results during this phase. 5) LEARN TO COMPETE (males/14-17, females/13-16): The phase where a child is now considered an athlete.  Detailed annual planning is put in place along with performance benchmarks as a way of measuring against peers. Mental resiliency is developed regarding successes and failures; some specialized training is put in place, while participation in other activities (sports) is continued in order to achieve the necessary physical attributes of a well-rounded, complete athlete. 6) TRAIN TO COMPETE (males/17-22, females/16-19): Specialization phase: It is now recommended that young athletes begin training year-round in their sport of choice and highest aptitude. Benchmarks, high percentage of psychological aspects including expectations, tactics, training specificity, etc., are all implemented. 7) COMPETE TO WIN or TO LIVE (males/22+, females/19+): The phase where an athlete makes a living competing. This is the top of the pyramid in terms of a young athlete’s development. It is clear girls in general mature both physically and mentally earlier than boys and is portrayed within the international LTAD (Long-Term Athlete Development) or LTPD (Long-Term Player Develop) guide. The above phases of development are considered a roadmap for not only coaches, but for parents and an athlete’s support group (specialized trainers, psychologists, etc.). As mentioned in Part 1, there are sports such as gymnastics, diving, swimming, and figure skating (balance and locomotion sports), where children advance through the phases much earlier, and in some cases don’t effectively touch all three fundamental movement categories as required in Phase 2, “Fundamentals” (specifically, “object manipulation”), due to the fact they specialize very early in body-control sports. In these sports, object manipulation in the form of throwing, dribbling, hitting an object with your hand or an implement, in most cases, is not necessary. In golf, we need balance and stability, we need locomotion in order to develop various muscle groups used during the golf swing, and we need hand-eye coordination. For any coaches working with up-and-coming talented golfers, it is imperative these phases of development are followed to the tee (pun intended). Please show and explain this to parents who want their child to specialize in golf at an early age. Children need to play golf as a means to learn and play well. Bottom line – kids need to play and play more than one sport…period! Specialization in golf comes at a much later age in spite of the fact there are exceptions such as Lydia Ko.