By Thomas T. Wartelle USGTF Level IV Member, Washington, Louisiana At my golf academy, our teaching philosophy and methods are innovative. We use a combination of “old-style feel” with the latest in technology. We specialize in golfers who are serious about moving to the next level. Training includes all aspects of the game with a focus on:
  • Swing Mechanics
  • Short Game
  • Tournament Preparation Techniques
  • Mental Focus for Tournament Golf
  • Fitness Training
The goal of my academy is to create a positive learning environment. We divide practice sessions into different segments: mechanics, feel, and playing the game. Students see results. They enjoy the learning process and see positive results with each session.

The Learning Process: Mechanics, Feel, & Playing the Game

A typical session involves a segment where mechanical issues are addressed. From a technical standpoint, we believe that there is an optimal swing model for each individual. This model is determined by a person’s athletic ability, anatomy, physical handicaps, thought process, and level they wish to play the game. The goal is to move closer to each individual’s ideal swing model. Ultimately, this will lead to the most important part of the golf swing, impact position. First, we determine a student’s model by an evaluation of the student in terms of physical ability and goals. Next, we extensively use the SwingModel video analysis system. SwingModel was developed by Dr. Ralph Mann, an Olympic medalist in track and field. Dr. Mann has been analyzing sports performance for over 30 years in many different sports. Briefly, SwingModel is science-based. It uses decades of research on elite athletes performing the optimal movement in certain sports. In this case, the performance is the golf swing. All elements of the body motion are followed, and the athlete’s performance is digitized by a computer. Using computer analysis, a model is developed for the maximum biomechanical effort to perform the action. The model can then be fit into each person’s anatomy and ability to perform at a certain speed. Therefore, the SwingModel is custom-fit for each individual person. It is then overlaid on a video analysis of a student’s swing. From this point, I can begin to provide the student the information he needs to progress. The real art in teaching is to be able to communicate the information to the student for his/her learning type and thought process. A valued teacher finds a way to deliver this information. It is important to understand each student’s learning process. The teacher must communicate the skill through different forms of learning. This includes visual, feel, and verbal communication. We use “input amplifiers” to transmit the information. These are the visual, feel, and verbal cues that pass the information from the teacher to the student. We prefer to use minimal verbal cues. We find kinesthetic and visual cues are much more effective at transmitting information. Often this can be a simple kinesthetic training aid such as the SwingRite or the visual aid ProAlign1000. Through research and experience, I have found that many swing flaws are created in the set-up position. When the setup is flawed, the swing becomes a series of compensations. For instance, ball position has a major impact on how a golf club is swung back and through to impact. A ball position too far back or forward greatly impacts how the body will shift and rotate throughout the swing. A ball position that is too close or too far away from the body affects rotation of the torso as well as path of the swing on the backswing and downswing. For instance, research has shown that the ball moves back in the stance in relation to the lead foot less than four inches from the driver to the wedge. The average distance from the ball (toe line to center of the ball) with a 9-iron is 20 inches, and with a driver, 32 inches. Anatomy has an effect on these measurements. SwingModel tells us exactly these measurements for each individual. This is where a training aid such the ProAlign1000 is useful in reinforcing a proper setup position. We use SwingModel to tell us exactly where the set-up position should be, then we set the ProAlign1000 in this perfect position. Now the student is obliged to set-up in the desired position. Only through perfect repetition can the proper learning process take place. The same process is repeated through all aspects of the golf swing where the student should be close to his SwingModel.

Feel and Playing the Game

The mechanics of a golf shot are just a part of the game of golf. At any level, the game involves execution of shots. Therefore, I am a firm believer in playing golf on the golf course. Regardless of skill level, the best way to learn to play golf is on the golf course. At our academy, we also simulate game experience with certain drills and techniques designed to teach a golfer how to perform on the golf course. By doing this, we instill game-time performance and repetitive positive habits.

Fitness and Athletic Ability

Fitness training is one of the largest sports industries. People are now starting to realize that top golfers are athletes, and better performance can be achieved with better fitness. We focus on getting strength, flexibility, and endurance. The golf swing is an athletic movement. One of the fastest ways to get better in golf is to treat the golf swing as a sport and train like other sports. Too often, golfers want to get better but fail to exercise the required amount to perform to their expectations. Also, exercise increases quality of life. Golf fitness can increase performance, but can also be a fitness choice for people looking for alternatives to the regular gym. For more information on any of these products or teaching techniques, please visit the following website:
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