Little Things Lead to Big Scores

Little Things Lead to Big Scores

If you ask golfers what you need to do to shoot low scores, they probably would say things like hit the ball far and straight and make putts, and they would be correct. Shooting low scores requires a certain skill set that is honed through years of dedicated practice.

To achieve these skills, golfers everywhere spend countless hours on the range and practice putting green, working tirelessly to improve. They may also receive professional instruction, which focuses largely on mechanical technique. A certain few may further seek out help for the mental game in the form of books or visiting a sports psychologist. All of these skills are necessary in order to play the game and to shoot the lowest scores possible.

But often overlooked are the little things that can wreck a score. Newly crowned United States Senior Golf Teachers Cup champion Grant Gulych has three things he considers important. “I always figure if I don’t have penalty shots, don’t three-putt and don’t make double bogeys or worse, I have a great chance to win,” said Gulych. Those who average around 90 – bogey golfers – can certainly alter their play to avoid penalty shots and three-putts. However, avoiding double bogeys for 90-shooters can be problematic, so they can amend this advice to avoiding triple bogeys.

Noted teacher Hank Haney says that to prevent big numbers on the scorecard, three things must happen: no penalty strokes, no three-putts and no “two-chips” (taking more than one shot to reach the green on short pitches and chips). The first two mirror Gulych’s list, while the third is something that the late USGTF examiner John Nichols always said. Nichols put it another way, describing it as “making sure your miss is on the green.” It underscores how important it is to make sure you have a putt instead of another chip. This may involve becoming more conservative when the golfer is short-sided (where there is not much green to work with when the ball is off the green), and accepting a longer putt instead of trying to get the ball close.

Mark Harman, USGTF national course director and newly crowned CGTF and United States Golf Teachers Cup champion, has what he calls his “cardinal sins” to avoid: three-putting, missing a putt from under four feet, making bogey with a wedge approach and making either a six or a double bogey or worse on the card. In winning the CGTF and U.S. titles recently in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Harman did not have one cardinal sin on his scorecard.

What do all of the items on Gulych’s, Haney’s and Harman’s lists have in common? All of them are seemingly easy enough to avoid, but all of them are also advice given to and by excellent golfers! So if low handicappers and pros struggle with these simple items, imagine what the club golfer faces. Harman, for example, says that he routinely averages two to three strokes lost every round by not avoiding his “cardinal sins.” Gulych, while an accomplished champion, doesn’t emerge victorious all the time, which means he commits the errors on his list when he doesn’t win.

Each item on these lists highlights how important it is to avoid the little things that can lead to big scores. For example, the tee shot on a particular hole may be fraught with danger everywhere. The driver may not be the best play, so the player should use the longest club that he trusts will hit the ball into the fairway. When it comes to penalty strokes, the golfer needs to take extra care to shoot away from the penalty area or hazard, and not take unnecessary risks. It can be tempting to take Phil Mickelson- type risks, but the golfer needs to ask himself what the penalty for failure is. Most of the time, the risk is not worth the reward.

On the greens, most three-putts are because the player’s distance control was lacking. Go to any golf course and you will see players mainly practicing from the 10-15 foot (3-5 meter) range. Very rarely will you see golfers spending adequate time practicing from outside 30, 40, or even 50 feet, but these are the very distances that three-putts become common. Most golfers are likely to have at least one or two first putts from long range, and these become almost sure three-putts because they never practice from there.

Yes, it’s the little things that destroy scores faster than a lack of ability to hit long drives or laser-like irons. Avoiding these little things are in the realm of most golfers, including average golfers. They just require an attention to detail, more conservative play, and common sense. A good coach will instill this mindset into their players, and the players in turn will see the rewards on the scorecard.
The Three Swings of Wright Balance: Which One Are You?

The Three Swings of Wright Balance: Which One Are You?

By Dr. David Wright
USGTF Contributing Writer, Oakland, California

Our 25 years of research has yielded the following: In summary, we are able to do simple body measurements, provide a student with stance widths that recruit different “core regions, “and match stance widths, posture and grip to their playing core region for maximum power and consistency. There are three ways to swing a golf club. These swings come out of one of our three core regions.

The following is an illustration of nine core regions that are identified by a printout from the results of the measurements of stance widths that recruit precise core regions. Each core region has different stance widths, posture, grip and swing characteristics.

The nine core regions within three main core regions

These nine core regions relate to one of three golf swings as follows:

Lower Core Swing

The “lower core,” regions 1, 2 and 3, entails the area from the navel to the pelvic floor. Players in this region have the widest stance width of all players. They “test” for greater strength in their lower body and they have the ability to place their trail arm inside their hip in the downswing. Lower core players are body swingers. They have the strongest grip, the greatest shaft lean, and the greatest trail shoulder tilt at address. When we measure the posture angles of the lower core player, their spine angle and thigh angles are equal. Their spine and thigh angles are 151 degrees or less when measured 90 degrees to the ground. Their ball position is center to center- back to accommodate the greater shaft lean. The butt of the club of the lower core player will point toward the target-side thigh.

The lower core player has a short thumb due to gripping the club so that the bottom of the grip crosses the second pad up on the middle finger of both the left and right hands. This grip “in the fingers” is what produces the greater shaft lean and stronger grip. Shaft lean is a natural position produced by the grip.

The lower core player starts the sequencing of the backswing with their upper core as the shoulders, arms and hands turn as one unit. Their trail hip turn is deep and the target-side knee points to the front of the ball. The wider stance width facilitates a restriction of the hips in the backswing. The lower core player has the greatest separation of the upper and lower body in their backswing. The plane of their shoulders approximates level at the top of their backswing and/or they sit down and level their shoulders before starting the club down, similar to Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. Their center of mass is over their trail hip at the top of their backswing and their trail hand is “under,” with the forearm of that trail arm perpendicular to the ground.

In the downswing, the lower core player begins with a rotation of their hips and their shoulders, then the arms and hands follow, just the opposite of the backswing sequence. The trail elbow is seated inside the trail hip in the downswing, similar to Ben Hogan, and the shaft plane crosses the trail arm and drops further as the butt of the club points at the lower core at impact. The hips are 75 to 90 percent cleared at impact and the delivery to the ball is under, with an extension of the clubhead down the line.

The lower core player’s balance is over the center of their arches at address and through the swing. This is an important point we will revisit. Again, note that the lower core player’s balance is over the center of their arches. The lower core player gets their power from the ground using linear (horizontal) and torque (rotational) ground force with minimal to no vertical forces through
their swing.

Ben Hogan is the poster person of the lower core player. His swing was the model for many teachers for decades, myself included. And why not? A player of Hogan’s caliber should be emulated, but maybe not. Read on and you begin to see how unique each of us is.

Current lower core tour players include Johnson, Spieth and Paula Creamer. In spite of the proliferation of Hogan’s model, lower core players are rare in men. I am a lower core player. My legs were always the strongest part of my body and still test the strongest to this day. Lower core players are more often found in women players due to the fact that the greatest lean muscle mass in women is in the middle and lower core. Men, as a rule, have greater lean muscle mass in their upper core. Our research shows that the lower core male is a rare breed. Out of 90 elite male players and 10 elite female players in a study of ground reaction force one of my colleagues is doing, he found six percent tested strongest in their lower core. If he had an equal number of women in this study, we would find that the majority of the women would be lower and middle core players.

Upper Core Swing

The upper core, regions 7, 8 and 9, includes the base of the sternum to the neck. Players in this region have the narrowest stance widths, the least amount of shaft lean and a forward ball position. Their stance width is well inside their shoulders. The upper core player’s shaft lean is just inside the interior groin of the target-side leg, closer to their midline than their target side thigh.

The upper core player has a long left-hand thumb due to gripping the club so that the grip crosses the first pad up next to the palm on the middle finger of both the left and right hands. This grip position is what produces the minimal shaft lean and weaker grip. Shaft lean is a natural position produced by the grip.

The upper core players “test” for greater strength in their upper body and their trail arm will only “seat” at the side of the rib cage when tested, much less than the lower core player. The upper core player is unable to seat their trail arm inside their hip in the downswing. Their trail elbow is outside the trail hip on their side. Upper core players are arms and hands swingers. Their weak grip and grip position produce the least shaft lean and the least trail shoulder tilt at address of all the players.

When we measure the posture angles of the upper core player, their spine angle is much greater than their thigh angle. The thigh angle measures 158 degrees or greater at address.

The upper core player starts the sequencing of their backswing with both their upper and lower body. Their trail hip turn is deep and the target- side knee points well inside the back of the ball. The upper core player has the greatest hip turn and the least separation of the upper and lower body at the top of their swing, and the plane of their shoulders is vertical. Their center of mass is over their target side at the top of their backswing and their trail hand is on top of the grip, with the forearm of that trail arm “flying,” two things I attempted to “fix” in too many players. When I would see that upper core players with their center of mass on the target side, I believed that was a “reverse pivot” and the “flying” trail elbow, I believed, needed to be inside that target-side hip, just like Mr. Hogan. Why not? That worked for Mr. Hogan and for me. Why not everybody else? Fortunately, the great upper core players did what was “natural” for them. They use terms like covering the ball and release of the arms and hands.

In the downswing, the upper core player is already target side. They begin with a rotation of their shoulders and hips. Many upper core players will describe a feeling of an “over the top” swing as they begin to work on their new motion. The trail elbow is “outside” the trail hip in the downswing. As the hips reach parallel to the target line, there is a change of direction upward, and the upper core player often comes out of posture, rising through impact. The hips have minimal clearance at impact due to the direction change upward and also due to their balance being on the balls of their feet. The arms and hands lead and exit quickly left in the release of the club. The club points at the upper core at impact. Rising through impact is a must for the upper core player. If you tell  an upper core player to stay in their posture through impact, you will see an immediate power leak.

The upper core player’s balance is over the balls of their feet at address and through the swing. This is an important point we will revisit. Again, note that the upper core player’s balance is over the balls of their feet. The upper core player gets their power from the ground using torque (rotational) and vertical ground force. The upper core player has very little, if any, linear/horizontal motion in their golf swing as they load to their target side with a big trail hip turn, elbow out and on top position at the top of their backswing.

Current upper core tour players include Patrick Reed, Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickleson and a significant percentage of those playing the PGA Tour now. The only upper core women’s tour player I have seen is Laura Davies. Upper core players are rare in women.

Middle Core Swing

That leaves us with the middle core player. The middle core player is the hybrid. They have characteristics of the upper and lower core player. They have the “gold standard” swing. The middle core, regions 4, 5 and 6, entails the area from the navel to the base of the sternum. Players in this region have a stance width in between the upper and lower core players. They “test” for greater strength in their middle body around their torso and they do not have the ability to place their trail arm inside their hip in the downswing. Middle core players are both body swingers and arms and hands swingers.

The middle core player has a “neutral” grip, with the bottom of the grip crossing the first knuckle joint of the middle fingers of the left and right hands. This grip position produces a neutral grip, and their shaft lean is between the upper and lower core player, as is their stance width.

When we measure the posture angles of the middle core player, their spine angle is slightly greater than their thigh angle. Their thigh angle measures between 152 and 158 degrees, generally in the 154 to 156 range. Their trail arm seats just at the trail hip in the downswing.

The middle core player starts the sequencing of the backswing for the first 12 inches or so with their upper core as the shoulders, arms and hands turn as one unit, then the hips release. Their hip turn is greater than the lower core but less than the upper core. Their target side leg points just inside the back of the ball. The middle core player has separation of the upper and lower body between the lower and upper core in their backswing. The plane of their shoulders is “neutral” at the top of the backswing. Their center of mass is centered over the pelvis at the top of their swing. Their trail hand is on the side of the grip at the top of the swing, and their trail forearm is perpendicular to slightly “out,” relative to the ground.

In the downswing, the middle core players begin with a rotation of their hips, and their shoulders, arms and hands follow, just the opposite sequence of the backswing. The downswing shaft plane crosses the middle core and the butt of the club points at the middle core at impact. The trail elbow is seated at the trail hip in the downswing. The hips are 45 to 60 percent cleared at impact and the delivery to the ball is on the side with a release 45 degrees (diagonally) to the target line.

The middle core player’s balance is just forward of the center of the arches and behind the balls of the feet at address and through the swing. This is an important point we will revisit. The middle core player gets their power from the ground using linear (horizontal), torque (rotational) and vertical ground force, all three power sources.

Current middle core Tour players include Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Ernie Els and Justin Thomas. LPGA Tour players are middle and lower core. Each of these middle core players share a bit of upper and lower core characteristics.

Balance Points of the Different Core Regions

Now let’s revisit the points of balance in each of these core regions. Everything I have described here is related to balance. The lower core player is over the center of their arches and their ball position is center-back in their stance. Without a club, and with a ball on the floor or ground center-back in a wide stance, set up in a posture so your weight is over the center of your arches. Turn your trail hand so your palm is angled up toward the ceiling at a 45 degree angle. Now, turn back to the top of the swing with your weight still over the center of your arches and your trail hand in that “strong” position. Notice that your center of mass is over your trail hip side. Now start your downswing with your hips and notice how easily your hips turn through to finish in that center of arches position.

Now let’s go to the balance and setup positions of the upper core player. Set your weight over the balls of your feet, move the ball forward and narrow your stance. Now turn your trail hand to a “weaker” position so that it is angled toward the floor at a 45 degree angle. Now, turn in your backswing with your weight over the balls of your feet and your trail hand angled down with a forward ball position. Don’t fight staying on the target side. That is where your center of mass is going, so let it go. If you “move off” the ball as your first move, you won’t feel that target-side center of mass. Just rotate around that forward ball position. Remember, the upper core player uses rotational and vertical ground force. You have the rotational force in your backswing and downswing. Let’s find the vertical force. Stay on the balls of your feet and start your downswing. Notice how your hips “stall” at impact and you change direction moving upward. There’s your vertical ground force. Notice how quickly your arms and hands exit left as they pull your hips through. Also notice the feeling of “covering” the ball.

Lastly, let’s go to the middle core motion. Set your stance width just inside your armpits. Move your ball center to center-forward in your stance. With a flat palm, point the fingers of your trail hand straight ahead so that your trail hand is perpendicular to your body. Set your trail arm elbow just forward of the middle of your body and on your trail hip with your fingers still pointed straight ahead. This is a “neutral” trail-hand grip position. Set your weight just forward of the center of your arches and just behind the balls of your feet.

Now with your fingers pointed straight ahead, slowly begin your backswing with your shoulders, arms and hands. When your trail hand reaches 30 to 40 degrees to your target line, release your hips and continue turning. You should feel very centered in your backswing over your pelvis. Now turn through to the finish starting with your hips, keeping your balance just forward of the center of your arches and behind the balls of your feet. You will notice a release of your hips that is greater than the upper core swing and less than a lower core swing. You may notice minimal lateral motion back to the ball and a tendency to come up and out of posture. Notice that you are somewhere between the feeling of an upper and lower core impact position. The middle core player uses the ground in all three forces, linear or horizontal, torque or rotational, and vertical or launch.

If you are interested in exploring more about Wright Balance as it applies to your playing or teaching, take a look at the e-book on the homepage at You will find the history and the brain trust behind the research and several hundred pages of illustrations of tour players from upper, middle and lower core regions.

USGTF honorary member David F. Wright, Ph.D., holds two doctorates. His areas of specialization are in research, the psychology of learning and psychophysiology. He was a member of the full-time faculty of the University of Southern California School of Medicine for four years and he has been a member of the clinical faculty of the School of Medicine for over 25 years. Dr. Wright has been a golf teaching professional since 1982. He is the author of four books on golf and numerous golf magazine and professional journal articles, videos and audio CDs. Dr. Wright conducted a three-year golf research project in Dr. Frank Jobe’s biomechanics lab at Centinela Hospital in Los Angeles from 2004 through 2007. He has been described by Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine as the “balance expert” and in Golf Digest of Japan as the “foremost expert on balance” and “…leader in balance instruction across all sports and industries.”
Thirty Years of Constant Change

Thirty Years of Constant Change

There’s an old saying, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” That applies to the golf industry somewhat, but no one can doubt the seismic changes the golf landscape has seen in the past 30 years.

This year, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the United States Golf Teachers Federation. But when we think back to the beginning of 1989, things were markedly different, not only in the golf industry as a whole but also specifically in the golf teaching industry.

Golf schools thrived. Nationally recognized schools such as Golf Digest, Roland Stafford, Craft-Zavichas, Ben Sutton, Mt. Snow, United States Golf Academy, and of course, The Florida Golf School and the Illinois Golf School were attended annually by thousands of students from everywhere. The latter two were owned and operated by Geoff Bryant, who was able to successfully enter the golf school industry in the early 1980s with locations such as Club Med Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and Rolling Hills Country Club just down the road in Fort Lauderdale. With the success of those early locations, The Florida Golf School soon expanded to other destinations such as Daytona Beach, Clearwater, Lehigh Acres and Pompano Beach. Summer sessions were held at the Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, Illinois.

Golf in 1989 was different than what it is in 2019. Wooden-headed drivers were still the norm and balata golf balls were played by tour players. Metal spikes still click-clacked on cart paths, and the back tees at most courses topped out at around 6,800 yards. Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Curtis Strange ruled the professional game with drives that averaged in the 260s-range. Going for a par-5 in two shots was a big deal, and most of the time a fairway wood was required. Greens at tour events usually read around 9.5 on the Stimpmeter, and major championship events featured greens that rolled at a lighting pace, 11 or so. Pebble Beach could still be played for around $150, and premium golf balls cost around $2 per ball or $24 per dozen.

Getting back to the teaching industry, while golf schools were thriving, local professionals were doling out individual lessons, but most of the time students were getting a teacher who had not been properly trained – if he was even trained at all. And note that the use of the pronoun “he” is not an accident in that last sentence. Women professionals were few and far between unless they belonged to the LPGA. The system back then was that the head professional was supposed to help his assistants learn to teach, but in fact most would-be professionals were tossed out on the lesson tee and expected to figure it out for themselves.

In this backdrop, Bryant had a difficult time finding the qualified and personable teachers that he sought. So in 1989, he ran an ad in Golf Digest that said, “Learn to teach golf. The profession of a lifetime.” In September of that year, 12 candidates showed up at Lehigh Acres to learn the craft of teaching the game, and in January 1990 over 40 came. This signaled an historic sea change in the way the golf teaching industry would conduct itself, and golf teacher training and education would never be the same.

Those early classes featured a multitude of examiners with a wide array of teaching experience, imparting their wisdom to their charges. In turn, the newly-minted members returned home and successfully started their own teaching businesses. This change was so profound that at a PGA of America national meeting in the early 1990s, they realized that the USGTF had usurped its position as the “leader in the field of golf instruction,” and changed the way its members were certified as a direct result.

The dawn of the internet age in the late 1990s and early 2000s meant that online learning was taking place at colleges and universities, and the USGTF soon expanded into this area when it began offering Associate Member courses through online training. Looking into the future, plans are in the works to offer webinar-based certification classes and the ability of USGTF Master Teaching Professionals to certify members at their home facilities.

Golf itself today would be unrecognizable in many ways to golfers back in 1989. Small wooden-headed drivers have been replaced by 460cc titanium and composite drivers; metal spikes replaced by state-of-the-art plastic spikes that actually offer better traction; balata balls replaced by multi-material rocket-ship golf balls; par-5 snow routinely reached in two by professionals, and greens that Stimpmeter at 10-11 for everyday play at most top-end facilities. Rules are different in 2019, including taking drops from knee-height and leaving the flagstick in the hole while putting.

But even with these changes, some things do remain the same. Players of every ability want to improve. The challenge of getting a 1.68” ball into a 4 ¼” hole remains the same, even if the color of the ball is not always white anymore. Getting out into the fresh air and sunshine with friends is still sought after, even if occasionally a few times during the round one or more of the foursome have to check their smart phones.

But most of all, golf remains the enjoyable challenge that it has always been. And that part is sure to remain a constant for as long as the game is played.
Tools To Grow The Game

Tools To Grow The Game

By Dane Wiren and John Leighton, GOLF AROUND THE WORLD – You can follow them on Instagram @GolfTrainingAids

The golf industry has been working hard on ways to grow the game. As the founder of the first international values-based junior golf camps in the 1970s, Dr. Gary Wiren gives this advice:

“The biggest problem we face is reaching prospective players in non-traditional settings. Plenty of people want to learn to play golf. The key is keeping the instruction simple while ensuring success. Make it fun and they will come – that philosophy works at any age.” – Dr. Gary Wiren

The points made by Dr. Wiren are, first, don’t go to a golf course or driving range to recruit new golfers; they are already there. Move away from the course to reach players in non-golf settings, namely schools, churches, city parks, community centers, senior care facilities, YMCAs, etc. Secondly, technical jargon should be replaced with simple instructions that allow the player to see, feel and understand the game. Lastly, keep it fun. Golf is a game wherever it is played.

If you had to pick one indispensable tool to teach the game, what would it be? As the general manager of a company whose mission is to work with teachers to find the most useful teaching products, I can shed some light on what products are proving their worth on the lesson tee. Below are three groups of products: perennial favorites, what’s hot now, and the most useful kits for teaching beginners. After all, growing the game not only means recruiting new players, but keeping the ones you have happy. Everyone wants to improve their game!

Here are the 10 top aids that have been on the market for more than 5 years. There are hundreds that are useful, but these are the top of the charts: Swingyde, Orange Whip, Impact Bag, eGolfRing, Impact Ball, Alignment Rods, Impact SNAP, Putting Alignment Mirror, Putting Arc T3, Power Fan.

Next, let’s look at 10 products you don’t want to miss that have come to the aid of the golf world more recently. Consider this a recommended reading list for your next lesson plan. Some are great visual aids, others measure speed or precision, while some will make your life as a teacher a little easier: The Hanger, Chip Tac Toe, Acu-Strike Mat, SmartBall, PuttOUT Pressure Trainer, SuperSpeed Sets, Perfect Practice Putting Mat, Strike Spray, Colour Path Golf System, Total Golf Trainer.

But the question remains, what is the best way to start someone off right? How do you teach a person golf where traditional golf may not even be allowed? What is the best “first touch” golf system?

The answer is Wally Armstrong’s Go Start Golf kit. Wally is a USGTF member and lifetime Tour member who has invested over 30 years bringing our great game, with safe equipment and fun teaching methods, to first-time players of all ages and abilities around the world in every setting imaginable.

The coaching kit provides his AirGolfFlyers, which teach the game of golf and a feeling for the four shots of golf, all while playing. Wally calls this his Play-To-Learn golf method. Participants learn the rules of golf and the terminology as they’re developing their swing feelings. There are many fun games that can be played indoors or outdoors using AirGolf. Once these basic swing, distance and direction skills are acquired, the student transitions into ShortGolf. ShortGolf provides safe and fun First Touch equipment that you can utilize in your lesson plans to get them hooked and grow the game.

Moving away from the golf course and using a proven First Touch training system that can be used anywhere and will bring more players to the game. Keeping your lessons fun and focused will keep them playing for life.

Dane Wiren is general manager and John Leighton is customer relations manager for Founded in 1984, the company offers the largest selection of teaching aids in the world. Discounts are provided to USGTF members.
Target Marketing: Enhancing Your Sales and Marketing Effectiveness

Target Marketing: Enhancing Your Sales and Marketing Effectiveness

By Jill J. Johnson, USGTF Contributing Writer Minneapolis, Minnesota

Your customers can be grouped according to a variety of different identifiable characteristics that reflect their specific needs and interests. These needs and interests impact their attitudes toward purchasing decisions. Each of these groups is called a target market. Target marketing is the response to identified market needs. These needs will differ for groups within the total population and they can change over time. Target marketing can turn challenges created by changes in our economic environment into opportunities to better achieve your organizational goals.

While it may seem very limiting to narrow your market, the truth is you cannot be all things to all people. It is difficult and costly to develop effective promotional messages or reach your most likely purchasers if your target is too broad.

There are three major components to developing effective target marketing for sales results. First, you have to clarify your market segments. Then you have to engage in data mining to verify the market opportunity really exists. Finally, link your target market to your operating, sales and promotional strategies.

1. Clarify Your Market Segments

A solid framework for evaluating your target market incorporates many different variables to develop your customer profile. The key is to begin to identify the distinctive patterns of attitudes, desires, concerns, and decision-making criteria for them. By understanding these elements, you can focus your marketing approaches to more effectively reach your target audience and to influence their purchasing decisions. Customers are more likely to identify with messages specifically tailored to their individual needs.

Target marketing typically incorporates an assessment of the demographics of your customer base. There are many demographic variables that can be easily identified and measured. A few examples for a consumer market include such aspects as age, gender, income, or marital status. Business customers can consider aspects such as employees, revenue, or years in operation. Knowing where your customers live or work is another method for evaluating your target market. Geography is typically combined with demographics to measure market size.

The psychological profile is an exceptionally important variable in target marketing. Under-standing your customer’s personality, buying motivations and interests provide powerful opportunities to develop communication messages designed to trigger a buying response in your customer.

Other variables may influence your customers ‘purchasing decisions. These can include generational differences or customer brand loyalty. They may be highly influenced by other people being involved in their purchasing decisions. Do you need to position your marketing messages to influence decision influencers, too? Clearly assessing these target market segments provides a gateway for creating better marketing messages to ensure your customers and their decision influencers are compatible with your options.

2. Data Mining

The second critical step to developing your target markets is to quantify your market size. You do this by data mining. Data mining involves analytically reviewing your internal customer and comparing it to external market information. Look for patterns and relationships to help understand your customer’s buying patterns and opportunities to influence them at each stage of their buying decision cycle.

Start by reviewing your Internal Customer Data. Prepare historical summaries reflecting several years of data. Most people only look at one year of data – this is not sufficient to help you determine if your market has achieved its maximum potential or is on a decline. Look for trends and patterns. What types of profiles can you create of those who buy from you? When do they buy? Who is most profitable to you? Start evaluating how effectively your marketing approach reaches them and matches their purchasing decision approach.

Then, conduct a detailed review of the available External Data. Assess how your current customer profile matches up with the real market opportunity. Do the demographics show a potential for long-term growth? Does the data show anything else that might impact your sales success?

3. Tie Your Target Market to Your Promotional Activities

Promotion must be customer oriented and matched to how, why and when they buy. Whereto they look for information to solve their problem or meet their need? It is not about what you want to sell them. You will need different marketing messages for those who are at the awareness stage gathering information than those who are ready to make a final purchase.

Match each of your promotional efforts to your target market. Clarify in detail how it benefits or provides value to them. What needs of theirs does it meet? How does it meet their needs in ways your competitors cannot?

Make your prospective customers understand how you will help them solve their problems or meet their needs by using your target market insight to customize your promotional messages! Tie your promotions to their decision-making cycle and move them through their purchasing decision-making stages in a deliberate and effective manner. Heal their pain points!

There are numerous promotional options beyond sales activities that can help you communicate with your target market. These include advertising, public relations, social media, collateral materials, direct mail, email campaigns, website, ours, presentations, networking, participating in community events, open houses, trade fairs, using giveaways and generating referrals from satisfied customers.

The effectiveness of how you communicate your value to your customers and key referral sources will determine your ultimate sales success. Communicate with them in the ways they expect. Develop a matrix to clearly define each target market you want and need to influence. Then identify how you will use each promotional opportunity to communicate with and influence each market segment.

Final Thoughts

Using target marketing provides you with a disciplined approach to crafting highly effective marketing messages that have the potential to drastically influence your sales. The process of target marketing is ongoing and dynamic. You have to work hard to keep up with your market and discern when it is changing. Changes can be subtle. You will need to adjust your strategies to change with them or you may have to find new customers to remain a viable business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill J. Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.
A Puzzle for the Teacher

A Puzzle for the Teacher

By Mark Harman USGTF Course Director Ridgeland, South Carolina

Let me give you a little background about myself. I’ve been teaching golf since 1989 and have been the USGTF national course director since 1993. That’s a long time! In my journey as a teacher, I’ve read many books, had many discussions with other teachers and am involved in a Facebook group where golf teachers from around the world congregate and throw ideas around. I’ve taught everyone from beginners to professionals.

The easy part of teaching is seeing what is wrong and what needs to be corrected. With the vast majority of players, even good ones, there is a clear path to improvement the player must take in order to achieve their goals. But there are still times when a student presents a puzzle that is difficult to solve. I think this happens to all teachers, no matter what their abilities are. This is especially true when the player is an extremely good player, or even a great player, and they want to improve.

The annals of professional golf are littered with players who tried to get better through changing their swings, only to find that what they previously had was what worked best for them. These players never again found the form that made them what they were.

At the USGTF certification classes, we advise prospective teachers that repeatability is more important than conforming to some sort of model. The trick is in figuring out when a student has the most repeatable swing they can execute and changing it will result in making that student worse, even if the changes make the swing more fundamentally correct according to an accepted swing model.

I teach at an indoor facility with a GC Quad from Foresight Sports, a launch monitor that gives me every piece of data about the ball and club that I could ever want. We also use high-speed video with two cameras running simultaneously. Combining the GC Quad with the video, there is absolutely no doubt as to what a particular student is or isn’t doing. Despite all this technology and my years of teaching experience, two dilemmas presented themselves to me recently where there may not be a clear path of what to do. I will present them, along with my thinking about why I took the course of action with each student that I did.

The first involves a young champion golfer who is the best for his age in the entire world. Yes, the entire world. I will not give his accomplishments in order to preserve some sense of anonymity for him. Although I am not his official coach, his father trusts me enough to consult with his son and to give him occasional lessons.

This kid has an ability for golf that is freakish, reminding one of a young Tiger Woods. Whether he becomes a major champion or never makes the tour remains to be seen, but for now he loves the game and is highly motivated. During his swing, he pushes off his right foot with such force that his right heel is well off the ground during the delivery position (club shaft parallel to the ground and butt end of club pointing to the target on the downswing). His father believes he should have his entire foot on the ground at this stage of his swing, as do the vast majority of tour players. The kid is so talented that he is easily able to do anything you ask him to do.

I voted that he keep pushing off his right foot and letting the heel come off the ground well before impact. My reasoning was threefold: 1) his swing repeats; 2) it’s a very natural move that kids make because the club is proportionally heavier to them that it is to adults, and 3) when he kept his right foot on the ground, his swing no longer looked smooth and fluid. His current swing also looks very much like what Justin Thomas does, and so far his career has turned out all right. Supremely gifted golfers also tend to find the swing that works best for them, because they are so in tune with their bodies kinesthetically that they can feel what it takes to hit good golf shots time and time again. My belief is as long as he doesn’t stray from the accepted general fundamentals – and it’s hard to see him doing that – he will continue to develop and improve.

The second dilemma involved a 51-year-old who has a handicap index of +1.3 and wants to get better. He aims with an open stance and his clubhead swing path through impact is approximately four degrees to the right of the target line. He does this because coming down, he drops the clubhead somewhat under the original shaft-plane line he had at address. Swinging in this manner risks “getting stuck” and having to flip and time the hands properly during the release.

He wanted to have a swing that is more on-plane, and during our first lesson we worked on this. I showed him how he needed to do this and the necessary drills. We left it at that. A couple of months later, he came back and had the exact same swing he had prior to the first lesson. I told him that because he did not change his swing in any appreciable manner, he needed to keep what he had: open stance and swinging inside-out. Zach Johnson and Tom Lehman immediately come to mind when you think of current players, not to mention Lee Trevino in the past.

He mildly objected because he wanted a swing that was more “correct.” I told him that his swing path was incredibly consistent, so why change it? The only problem he had was the occasional hook and block, and that was because his grip was too strong. A full release led to a hook and holding off the release led to a block right, so he was attempting to hit it at the target by half-releasing, which is the worst thing you can do. We weakened his left-hand grip slightly and had him fully release, which led to a beautiful little draw. The only problem was because his swing path was so far to the right, the ball kept finishing to the right of the target. Opening up the stance more than he had been doing was the easy solution to that problem. He now was able to fully release without fearing a hook and the ball was now finishing at the target.

Had this student brought a more on-plane swing to me for the second lesson, I would have kept him on that path. But because he didn’t, it seemed that his natural tendency to swing inside-out was too strong for him to overcome. Although the instruction I came up with left the student with a more “incorrect” swing according to presently accepted swing models, it fixed his problem and led to more consistent ballstriking.

Other teachers might have had the young champion golfer keep his right foot on the ground longer, and to keep directing the 51-year-old golfer to swing more on plane – and they may well not be incorrect. When there are multiple courses of possible action to take with a student, take time to think it through and then trust your instincts. Doing so will serve you well when faced with these teaching puzzles.
Golf’s Quiet Victories

Golf’s Quiet Victories

Dustin Johnson makes a winning putt, and all the world knows about it. The same goes for Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Their exploits are shown on television on a weekly basis, and with our 24/7 coverage of golf on Golf Channel and other media outlets, their victories are known far and wide.

But what about the “quiet victories” that are known only to their participants? These victories may involve nothing more than playing for pride, all the way to thousands of dollars being wagered on the outcome. No matter how large or small, though, these quiet victories remain outside the realm of public knowledge, even though they occur thousands of times each day.

There are approximately 15,000 golf courses in the United States, and during peak season there are about 1.5 million people playing golf daily. If you consider that perhaps 10 percent of these people have an average wager of, say, $10 on the line, that comes to over $10 million that changes hands every seven days – more than a typical professional golf purse for that week! Not to mention the countless smaller events that take place, such as state opens, mini-tour events and amateur tournaments that offer merchandise certificates. It is safe to say that the amount of money that is won on the golf course through these means dwarfs what the big boys are playing for each week.

But money isn’t the only driving force in competitive golf. The pride of winning a drink off your buddy, or even just for bragging rights, happens every day that the game is being played. USGTF president Geoff Bryant is no stranger to the competitive aspect of golf with his friends, but mainly it’s just for fun. He recently came to the final hole at his home course of Yarmouth Links in Nova Scotia tied with a friend who will remain nameless, but for purposes of this article we will call him “Charlie Whitney.” Charlie hit his approach to the final hole to four feet while Geoff was sitting at 40 feet, apparently a sure victory for Charlie. However, Geoff holed his 40-footer which left Charlie completely stunned, to the point that his four-footer never hit the hole.

Geoff’s quiet victory did not make the papers, nor did he receive international acclaim for it, but the satisfaction of coming out on top, especially when it was completely unexpected, is part of the allure of golf for many. And the prospect of quiet victories of our participants in USGTF regional, national and international events is a driving force for many who show up for these events every year.

But winning a first-place prize isn’t the only victory that can be had in golf competitions. Merely playing in such events can be a victory, as Tiger Woods has expressed in his comeback year of 2018.There might also be a USGTF member who had to overcome some sort of adversity in order to play in the United States Golf Teachers Cup. Others might consider it a victory if they scored a personal best in a tournament or even in a casual round of golf.

Then there are victories that aren’t score-related. A golfer, after receiving a lesson from a USGTF professional, might find that his slice is no longer there. That’s a victory, not only for that golfer, but for the teacher who helped him. Another golfer might find that she no longer three-putts with regularity after another lesson, again a victory for both golfer and teacher. There are also quiet non-golf victories that can be had, such as business deals that are sealed during a round. Or maybe getting someone out to the course so that person forgets about his troubles for a few hours.

All of these quiet victories happen on a daily basis, and the common denominator is the game of golf. It’s one of the many reasons that millions of people believe that golf is the greatest game ever invented. When someone is reveling in their personal quiet victory, it’s hard to argue otherwise.  
Looking Back

Looking Back

By Mike Levine, USGTF Master Golf Teaching Professional Port St. Lucie, Florida

Editor’s note: This is another in our series of articles from the archives of Golf Teaching Pro from the Winter 2014 edition. It was written by now-retired USGTF examiner Mike Levine, and is considered one of the finest articles ever to appear in this magazine. For those of you old enough to remember, it should be a fond reminder of times gone by. If you’re from the younger generation, take a walk back in time when the game was simpler and a certain innocence still existed.

Having struck my first golf shot more than 55years ago, I enjoy reminiscing about golf’spast and my own golf memories. I miss the sight of a beautifully-grained wooden-headed driver, remembering when the wooden heads seemed normal in size in relation to the ball size…masterly finished, gleaming against the green grass with a bright white ball perched in front, begging to be struck down the fairway.

I miss those smaller British balls. I believe they were the “Penfold” brand, individually wrapped in colored cellophane, and instead of numbers, the balls came marked with the symbols used on playing cards: hearts, aces, clubs, or spades. Those balls went a mile into the wind.

It was assumed by all who attempted the game that a certain level of skill would be needed to properly strike the ball. The efforts of such a task were assumed and welcomed. Equipment wasn’t expected to be able to do it for you. In golf’s past, equipment served only as a simple means, as do a pencil and paper, to allow us to express our thoughts or talents. Other than a sand wedge, equipment rarely afforded any advantage to a player. Having good-feeling grips and an adequate number of clubs, rarely the full 14, were the norms for me and for most when I began to play.

I enjoyed the mystery of the game, and the mystique associated with those who had the “secrets “and were able to propel that little white ball a much longer distance than the effort had suggested. That was the magic that hooked most of us to this game, how easy it seemed when done properly. No forcing the swing; just a smooth flow of the clubhead and the ball was propelled, as if magically, at a distance that would baffle the practitioner. The ball felt “soft” on the clubface, and the sweet spot seemed large enough for the task.

After all, skill would be needed to repeat this action. A player didn’t expect to buy his expertise with equipment. Lessons and practice were understood to be the components needed for improvement.

Golf swings were somewhat of a mystery as well, back then. Most great players of the day didn’t know every little detail of their swings. They knew how the swing felt when working well, and during those times, they would just let it be and run with it, and not be too analytical and destroy the fluid feeling. Even teachers of the day kept it pretty simple. They usually stuck only to the fundamentals or simple swing thoughts when giving lessons or helping better players. The golf swing had not been so dissected and analyzed as it is today.

The video camera’s arrival and evolution changed the golf swing, allowing players and teacher’s instant video feedback and slow-motion replay of swings and swing parts. This technology enabled detailed analysis and understanding of motions that couldn’t be adequately seen by the naked eye alone, forcing the golf swing to become what it has become today – more machine-like and mechanical in nature, and like all scientific analysis, removing the “mystery” and replacing it with cold hard facts.

We pay a price for this scientific understanding, similar to having witnessed a great magic trick: We enjoy being amused and baffled, but our curiosity nags us to want to know the secrets of such magic until our searching reveals the secrets. It is a bittersweet awareness, similar to unmasking Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. And like most of life today, doing so has taken yet another mystery and sanitized some of the joy out of the “fabric” of the mystique.

Being a society ruled by technology and scientific method, soon the golf swing would succumb to this search for perfection and understanding. Professionals and teachers alike were now using this new detailed swing analysis to build a modern, more powerful, “more perfect” golf swing. One unexpected result of all this analysis was the inevitable creation of a similar or comparable-looking and functioning golf swing. This scientific observation of the golf swing led all investigators to similar parallel conclusions about the details of what makes a golf swing tick. This is an inevitable side effect of scientific observation: All valid research leads to analogous conclusions, not only homogenizing the “modern golf swing,” but all areas of scientific inquiry.

This effect spills over into all aspects of modern living. As a society, we are becoming homogenized in what we think, see, hear, eat and believe. And yes, even in the way we swing a golf club!

The modern golf swing arguably is more powerful and allows some players to hit the ball enormous distances, but in the quest for continued perfection that most modern players are obsessed with, few of today’s players “own” their swings. The constant tweaking causes modern players to never be satisfied, to always be searching for more perfection…never quite having the “finished product.”

Modern swings are always a work in progress, whereas in days gone past, most great players would embrace their “flaws” and leave them be. The attitude of old was that perfection was not the goal – repeatability was. Most great players of the past all had minor imperfections or flaws in their swings, and were able to win majors with them and achieve greatness. The likes of Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Trevino, Snead, and the great Bobby Jones, as well as many others, all had “signature flaws.” This made their swings and many others of the era readily identifiable.

I miss those “old” swings, the ones that added style and humanity to the game…but, such is progress, even in golf.
To Be Truly Successful, You Need Grit

To Be Truly Successful, You Need Grit

By Dr. Michelle Cleere USGTF Contributing Writer Oakland, California

The definition of grit is as follows: “courage and resolve; strength of character.” I am reading Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  While I always understood this basic concept, Angela’s research in this area explains grit in much more depth.

Her research gives grit life by explaining the secret to success. There’s so much important information in Angela’s book, far too much for this conversation. However, let’s discuss it in relation to mental training.

State of sports today
Over the past ten years, youth sports have changed. We continue to see a rise of youth sports programs in the U.S.  We have pay-to-play sports outside of the public-school system, and now in the schools. And the status of sports is all encompassing. Many kids start playing sports around 4, 5, or 6 years of age and continue to try to play through college or as a professional (which is typically why they were put into the sport at such an early age).

As  a  result,  the  youth’s  identity  hinges  on  their sport  and  the  message  received  from  coaches  and parents.  Kids  are  influenced  by  the  messages  they get  about  being  good,  being  intelligent  and  being perfect,  versus  what  they  did  that  was  good,  how they improved, a new skill they learned, and/or their passion and intent.

Some of the problems associated with it is that youth sports can take over the lives of youths. And this  can  result  in  it  not  being  fun  for  them.  Why? Stress. Pressure. These youths do not have the skills to deal with the pressures.  Not to mention, youths are burnt out by the time they are in middle school and high school because they are playing one sport, year around.

How we currently think about success
Angela’s first statements in her TED Talk piqued my interest:  “What struck me was that IQ was not the only difference between my best and my worst students.  Some  of  my  strongest  performers  did  not have  stratospheric  IQ  scores.  Some of my smartest kids weren’t doing so well.”

Why?  Because  the  smartest,  most  athletic  kids attribute  their  smarts  and  athleticism  to  talent  and aren’t  always  willing  to  persevere  and  be  resilient. Their goal is making sure the outcome is perfect and they are unable to enjoy the process, to be in it. This also means they are unable to deal with challenges and adversity.  They  may  be  okay  dealing  with challenges and adversity the first time, but certainly struggle  and  want  to  give  up  if  it  lasts  longer  than that. So many times, I’ve heard from kids, “I am okay with the first mistake, but if I keep making the same mistake,  I  get  frustrated  and  angry  and  can’t  let  go of it.”

We’ve taught kids to be afraid of making mistakes. Kids who are afraid to fail don’t succeed.

What is actually true about success
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not  just  for  the  month,  but  for  years,  and  working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Perfectly said. (Source: Grit by Dr. Angela Duckworth.)

Grit shows up in different ways but has one theme – drive:
    • •Push through challenges to get your purpose
        •Be open to change and growth
          •Realize that talent is only a small part of the equation
            •Know there is no such thing as perfection and know it sets you up for failure
              •Realize there are challenges and it makes you stronger.

            How do we evolve into this new place?
            “So  far, the  best  idea  I’ve  heard  about  building grit in kids is something called ‘growth mindset.’ This is an idea developed at Stanford University by CarolDweck,  and  it  is  the  belief  that  the  ability  to  learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort. Dr. Dweck  has  shown  that  when  kids  read  and  learn about  the  brain  and  how  it  changes  and  grows  in response  to  challenge,  they’re  much  more  likely  to persevere when they fail, because they don’t believe that  failure  is  a  permanent  condition.  We  need  to measure  whether  we’ve  been  successful,  and  we have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again  with  lessons  learned.”  (Source:  Grit by Dr. Angela Duckworth.)

            She goes on to the consequences of a fixed mindset.  When  you  have  a  fixed  mindset  about your   ability,   this   leads   to   pessimistic   thinking about  adversity,  giving  up  on  challenges,  and  not attempting them at all. On the other hand, she notes that a growth mindset leads to optimistic self-talk, which leads to perseverance over adversity.

            So to evolve, you need to think growth; you need to understand that you and your actions really can change. Mistakes are not a permanent, evil beast. Mistakes are learning opportunities where you can grow and improve and advance.

            Everyone plays a role in grit: parents, teachers, and coaches
            Everyone  has  a  responsibility  in  whether  kids choose  to  take  the  path  toward  grit  and  a  growth mindset.  From a young age, kids will imitate what we do.  They hear what we say and interpret what they see and internalize it. Does that mean you have to be a perfect parent, teacher, or coach?  No.  But you have to be aware and understand that there are better indirect and direct messages you can send.

            Wise  parenting,  teaching  and  coaching  is  supportive  and  demanding  –  being  able  to  reflect  on something at which a child failed is an opportunity. It is critical to show them that they are still loved after failing and they are celebrated for it.

            I highly recommend the book Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance for all parents, teachers, and coaches. It’s a must-read! Thank you, Angela, for your expansive research in this area.
Who Is In Your Shadow?

Who Is In Your Shadow?

By Norm Crerar, USGTF Contributing Writer, Vernon, British Columbia

I am going to receive a medal. Word came via a phone call from the Governor General’s office about mid-July. For readers not familiar with Canadian history and culture, Queen Elizabeth is Queen of Canada, and as she does not reside in Canada, a Governor General is appointed to fill in for her. The post is somewhat symbolic, but it is a functioning part of our government.

The kind lady from the Governor General’s office informed me that my name had been put forward for the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Governor General had agreed. I was to keep the news to myself until I received formal notice in writing via mail within a few weeks. To say that I was overwhelmed would be to put it mildly. I had to do a search to see what the medal really meant and found that the Meritorious Service Medal, civilian division, was an award the Governor General, in right of the Queen, could confer on a person who had done something extraordinary to affect the lives of those around him or her in a positive way. I had been recommended for the medal for starting the Okanagan Military Tattoo. The short story is that I took an idea I had for a Military Tattoo to some like-minded friends, and they found some friends, and we got started talking in 2012. By2014 we had enough support and funding to put on our first event, and we are now into the planning of our sixth annual event.

The more I thought about the upcoming award, the more I started to feel bad. I was getting the medal, and all the people working with me to make the event the success that it has become were not getting anything! The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I sought out the advice of a friend of mine who happens to be the commanding officer of our local primary reserve militia. He is a veteran of Afghanistan and spent his time there flying a British Army Air Corps attack helicopter. He did a lot of other stuff, as well, in a very busy military career. When I told him about my medal and my quandary, he went and brought out his medal board. “This one here, “he said, “you get for just showing up. This one you get for doing something out of the ordinary.” He then quoted Winston Churchill: “Every medal presented casts a shadow!” We talked about that for a long while, and I felt a lot better for our time together.

But, I am still thinking, all those people in my shadow really deserve my thanks. At the time of this writing, I am just six days away from standing in front of Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander in Chief, Canada, and having her pinning a medal on me. I will wonder if she thinks of the people that were behind her, such as the first Canadian female astronaut. I know I will be thinking about all those who have been part of me being able to receive this distinguished award.

And how does this all fit in with the USGTF and teaching golf? Everything is connected! On one of my phone calls in 2013 to your president, the Old Funseeker himself, Geoff Bryant, he asked me what I was up to. I explained about the Okanagan Military Tattoo and that we were having great success inputting the program together, but were having troublefinding funding. He promptly sent me a cheque, and with that first bit of money in the bank, we started making the rounds of other sponsors and partners. No one wanted to be first! So, Geoff and the USGT Fare in my shadow and I will always be grateful. The event now has 600 performers, and our annual turnover is in the $200,000 range. The USGTF is still on our sponsor/partner/supporter page.

Are you known as the best golf instructor of your area? Of your state/province? Top 100 in the country? Who helped you get to where you are?

Who is in your shadow?
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