Category Archives: Uncategorized

JOURNEY TO THE PGA NATIONAL CLUB PRO

What a week it was in Plymouth Massachusetts. I arrived at Pinehills Golf Club Sunday afternoon to work on my short game in preparation for the NEPGA Section Championship the following day. As I was working on my putting  I was greeted by my hosts for the week Mr. and Mrs. Wahlberg. They were so excited to see me as I was to see them. We talked for a little bit and then sat down for dinner. I have been teaching the two of them in Orlando for the last 5 years and their hospitality for the week was amazing. As jack said to me the last day, man this wouldn’t have been nearly as fun if you missed the cut!! I owe them many thanks for making me feel at home and one of the big reasons why I played so well.

Day one I teed off at 7:50am off the Nicklaus Course. I had a great ball striking day but didn’t roll the flat stick very well. It was hard to get comfortable and relaxed all day. I posted a 3-over par 75 which put me tied for 30th after day 1.

Day two I had a late tee time at 11:00am of the Jones Course. I hit the ball very well tee to green but yet again I couldn’t get comfortable on the greens. I ended up finishing the round -2 under par and moved up the leader board to tied for 12th heading into the final day. Knowing that the top 13 make it to the National Club Pro tournament I had many thoughts in my head going to bed that night.

Day three the final day, I had a 10:30 tee time off the Nicklaus Course. As I showed up to the first tee there were a dozen people around the tee box and a sign with my last name and score on it. I thought to myself wow this is pretty serious. We had a live scorer with us the entire day which was really nice. After yet again not making one putt on the front none I finished even par. In my mind heading to the back nine I though if I could shoot even par I would have a great chance of making it inside the top 13. As I arrived to the 14th tee even par, I hit a 4 iron to 100 yards out. I pulled a wedge left of the green and didn’t get up and down for my first bogey of the day. This was hard to take when only being 100 yards out on a par 4. With a short par five coming up I made a nice up and down for birdie on 16 to get back to even. With two holes to play I could start feeling a little pressure which led to a bogey on the 17th hole from 103 yards out. Heading to the long 18th hole into the wind i knew it was going to be playing extremely difficult. I hit a great drive to leave myself 204 yards to the hole. It took everything within myself to not think about outcome and just stay in the process that I have been doing the whole day. I hit a great iron just short of the green and got up and down for a total of 218 for the tournament. The cut was 221.

It was hard not to have a big smile heading to the scorers booth. This was a goal of mine for a long time and to achieve it was something special for me my friends and family. I am so excited for the PGA National Club Professional Tournament in Oregon next June!

GOLF AT HOME

Teaching and coaching is something I have been doing everyday for the past 10 years. I always ask my students before I ever see them hit a golf ball, if you had a golf  wish list what would be at the top of your list? Before I answer this I am sure you already know the answer, yes you were right CONSISTENCY. In a world where we have many commitments like family, work, friends deadlines, golf tends to sit on the back burner.

The first step to becoming more consistent is finding the time to practice and play. With that being said, you don’t always have to be at the golf course or driving range to practice. There are numerous things you can do in the comfort of your own home to get better.

The first thing can be finding the time to stretch. I make it a point to set aside 10-minutes everyday for my yoga practice. This allows me to gain flexibility in certain areas of my body, while also focusing on breathing with is every important in golf. These practices will allow you to maintain speed in your golf swing while staying relaxed and calm.

If you have problems controlling the direction of your shots, you might want to work on your grip. This is something that can be done at home with a 7-iron. When sitting in the living room watching the latest Game of Thrones episode, grab a club and kill two birds with one stone.

One of my favorite things to work on at home is my putting stroke. This is very easy to practice at home in the living room or your hardwood floor if you plan on playing Augusta anytime soon. Simply wrap two rubber bands around the sweet-spot of your putter and work on center contact. The rubber bands will give you immediate feedback on off center hits.

I hope you put some of these things into action and would love to hear your feedback!

HOW THE HANDS CONTROL THE BACKSWING

The golf swing has many different moving parts. The problem that golfers run into is that we are trying to keep an inventory of all these parts. The golf swing last around two seconds. If the mind is thinking of multiple things within that time it will disturb the rhythm of the motion. If I was to give you the command to touch your toes, you would simply take your hands down to your toes and back up. Do you think you would have to think about how to bend from your hips, abduct your shoulder blades or bend your knees? No, you would simply take your hands to your toes. So why can’t the golf swing be that simple. The movement of our hands in the golf swing will trigger an involuntary movement of the body. This will eliminate the need to think about every moving part that’s happening. Next time you are at the driving range or anywhere really, I want you to make a backswing with no club. What you will realize is that the body will move differently. You will notice movement of the knees, hips, torso and shoulders. This is a good thing. Its imperative when making a swing that you are not trying to hold things still. Make a few practice swings with no club and then hit a few balls and i guarantee you will feel more freedom and rhythm in your golf swing.

ALL ABOUT THAT BOUNCE NO DIGGING

You hear people talking about bounce and how it applies to wedges. Bounce is the angle created between the sole line of the golf club and the ground. It’s important to understand how bounce works and what degree of bounce fits your game. First thing is to identifying what type of  playing conditions you encounter on a regular basis. For those of you who are playing on dry tight surfaces this may require wedges with less bounce, this will allow the club to dig easier in return striking more at the bottom of the ball. The opposite is true for those of you playing on softer more plush conditions, you may need a club with more bounce that slides underneath the ball and doesn’t dig.  Also if you are a player with a steeper angle of attack and have the tendency to dig your wedges you may want to look into getting more bounce. If you are a player who is very shallow through impact and have a hard time striking the bottom of the ball less bounce might be what you are looking for.

WedgeBounceAngle

When hitting wedge shots no matter what degree of bounce you have on your wedge its imperative that you understand hitting down on the ball does not create more spin. The leading edge of the golf club is your enemy when trying to hit consistent wedge shots with spin and distance control. The bounce is your friend ! Now say it with me “Its all about that bounce bout that bounce no digging”. The best wedge players in the world work the club through impact with very little dig. This is how they achieve maximum spin with incredible distance control.

Setup for the consistent wedge shot

1) 60% of your weight on your lead foot

2) Ball location middle of your stance

3) Handle of the club inside of your left thigh

4) Lead foot slightly open to the target

These are are some simple setup characteristics you can take to the driving range and start applying to your game. Always remember “Its all about that bounce bout that bounce no digging”.

 

MAKE YOUR GAME TRAVEL

Have you had problems adjusting your game from northern playing conditions to southern playing conditions? PGA Teaching Professional Rico Riciputi will guide you through the steps necessary to make for a smoother transition when traveling south for the winter.

Rico spends his summers teaching at the beautiful Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic, Pennsylvania, and travels south for the winter to The McCord Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida.

The biggest adjustment to make when traveling south is your ability to read the greens. The majority of the golf courses in the south will have Bermuda grass greens compared to Bent grass or Poa Annua in the north. Putting down south, you are going to encounter grain and reading the green can get tricky. Some things to look for when putting on Bermuda:

  • If the grass appears to be shiny or light in color, the grain is going with you and will be faster in speed.
  • If the grass is darker or appears duller in color, the grain is against you and will be slower in speed.
  • Even if you are putting on a flat surface the grain can pull the ball to the left or right.
  • Take a look at the cup and see which side appears to be burnt out or worn down. That will be the direction that the grain is growing.

In the south you will possibly encounter dryer playing conditions, and not as much elevation change. This is a perfect opportunity to achieve more roll with your driver by simply adjusting the loft of your driver. If you have a 12 – degree driver, lower the loft to 10.5 degrees. In making this slight change you will produce a lower launch angle, thus generating more roll.

A big change you need to make is club selection around the greens. In the south you will not encounter as much rough around the greens. This is a perfect opportunity to master the bump and run shot. I see too many students pulling out their sand and lob wedges to hit shots around the greens that really require more roll. Less loft is really going to allow for more consistency with your short game in and around the greens, I guarantee it.

Rico Riciputi, PGA

3 STEPS TO CONSISTENCY

Golf is a very difficult game as you all know and involves multiple intricate movements. The most important thing to remember is that we cannot think about all these movements when swinging the golf club. As an instructor teaching for the past seven years I have come to the conclusion that the golf swing can be changed with three simple steps.

1) Grip

2) Alignment

3) Ball Location

If you ever watch a tour event you will notice players always working on their alignment and ball location. These are components that amateurs tend to overlook but play a huge roll in the direction of your golf shot.

The problem is most amateur players are working on things that have nothing to do with these 3 simple steps. So I encourage you all to focus on these 3 steps and nothing else, and you will find that consistency you have been searching for.

Rico Riciputi, PGA

COMPRESS YOUR IRONS

I am seeing a consistent pattern of students who are not getting the most out of their irons.  At the onset of every lesson I ask my students what are you trying to do in your swing? The responses I hear are not usually conducive to striking a good iron shot of the ground.  So trying to stay behind the golf ball or keep your head down is some of those responses you should forget.

The key to compressing your irons is to understand where your body and club need to be at the moment of impact. If you look at any good player you will notice this player has more weight on their left side for a right handed golfer at the moment of impact. This means that the shaft of the golf club would have a slight lean in front of the golf ball.  So this is where it becomes tricky. When you are making a backswing it is imperative that you do not shift to much weight or sway into your right side. It will make it extremely difficult to get back to a good impact position.

When you successfully get your body and club into the right position at impact you will notice a couple things. The sound of the golf ball coming of the face will be different. You will also be striking more ball first ground after with a divot after the ball and not before it.

Some drills the will help you get the feel of this position.

1) Set up to the golf ball with an 8-iron and draw your right foot back so 95 percent of weight is on left side only using your right foot for balance. This will help you feel where the body needs to be at impact.

2) Set an alignment rod 8 inches behind the ball. Hit some balls without hitting the alignment rod. This will help you get your weight more forward at impact so you can compress the ball.

 

Rico Riciputi, PGA

ricoriciputigolf@gmail.com

 

CREATE MORE DISTANCE WITH YOUR DRIVER

As a Teaching Professional I am consistently asked the question how can I get more distance with my driver. There are multiple factors that come into play when trying to achieve this. The first factor is SPEED. How fast are you swinging the golf club?  The second factor is CENTEREDNESS of contact. Are you hitting the center of the club face? The third factor is ANGLE OF ATTACK. Are you hitting DOWN on the golf ball or hitting UP on the golf ball? These three components will separate you from being a poor driver of the golf ball or an excellent one.

When trying to achieve more distance with your driver, remember that speed is not the most important part of the formula. Speed is the factor that is the most difficult to achieve, so trying to swing harder will only create more problems. If you can focus on making changes to increase your CENTEREDNESS of contact , you will see more gains in distance.

The third most important factor is angle of attack. Most likely you are hitting down on the driver, which will create extreme backspin and insufficient launch angles. A long consistent driver of the golf ball will consistently be hitting up on the golf ball opposed to hitting down. In doing this, the golf ball will be launching at better angles with less backspin equaling more distance.

*to achieve a better angle of attack move your ball location more forward in your stance. 

Rico Riciputi, PGA

ricoriciputigolf@gmail.com

 

 

 

IMPORTANCE OF LAUNCH MONITORS

Since the introduction of launch monitors golf instruction will never be the same. Launch monitors are changing the way we teach the game and also rapidly improving someone’s journey to becoming more consistent golfers.  A launch monitor is a doppler radar ball tracking device, these systems can track the ball in flight and provide the teacher and student with specific ball and club parameters.  The information these devices provide us with is essential to improving a students swing and game. Some of the most important factors a launch monitor can track is, swing speed, ball speed, yardage, spin rate, launch angle , angle of attack , swing path, club face and also smash factor.

When a student is getting fit for golf clubs its imperative that they get on a launch monitor. As an instructor I am  limited with what I can see with the naked eye, so having the ability to use a launch monitor there is no guessing. When fitting a student into clubs one of the most important factors to pay attention to is angle of attack and swing speed. These parameters can determine how much spin is applied on a golf ball and help the instructor select a shaft that best fits the student.

For example, If a student is getting fit for a driver and has a swing speed of 90 mph and his angle of attack is four degrees down,this golfer will be applying to much backspin on the ball and will be at a lost of distance.  Without having a device that can track these readings the instructor is really just guessing what might be best for you not only with clubs but also you’re swing.

To wrap up this article, launch monitors are an integral part of the game to fit golfers into the correct equipment, but to also help you with your swing. So don’t waste anymore time and get with you’re local PGA Professional.

Rico Riciputi, PGA

ricoriciputigolf@gmail.com

FEEL ISNT REAL

Do you ever remember the first time you heard your voice on a voice recorder? I’m sure your reaction was similar to wait that’s not me. It works the same way with seeing your golf swing for the first time. What we feel we are doing usually never matches reality. The perception of what our golf swing looks like in our mind never matches the one we see on video.

When trying to make a change in the golf swing whether it’s setup or swing mechanics, it is imperative that you take video of yourself. Time and time again I take video of students and the number one response I hear is “I didn’t know I was doing that”. That’s because the picture that we have in our mind of what our golf swing looks like is distorted. Until you can actually see with video what you are doing, the setup or swing change becomes easier.

Perception is something that can hinder a golfer’s ability to make a change in their swing. I had a student last week that was slicing the ball. I made him aware that the face of the club needed to be more closed at impact. After a few balls the pattern was still the same, out to the right. I then told the student I want you to close the face so much that you hit it into the net on the left. You can probably guess where the next ball went, perfectly straight. His perception was that the face of the club was pointing left towards the net, but in reality it was perfectly square. After he struck the ball he told me I can’t believe that went straight. I proceeded to tell him that you never know what hot is until you experience cold. Sometimes when making changes in the golf swing you have to over exaggerate the feeling of what you are trying to do to get the desired result.

Rico Riciputi, PGA

ricoriciputigolf@gmail.com