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


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


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



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





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


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


What was the hook that pulled you into the game of golf? Was it the 10-footer that you made for par or the up and down from 40 yards. No, it was the solid 5-iron that flew 150 yards and landed 5 feet from the pin. Golfers get more satisfaction from hitting a solid driver then they do from hitting a 40 yard pitch next to the hole. Have you ever been to a driving range and took an observation on the amount of golfers working on their full swing vs. their short game? Exactly, the difference is significant. If you were to take that same observation at a tour event you would see an equal amount of players in each area. This is one of the reasons why golfers are not getting better. The driver has become the measuring stick to how you are playing. I believe if you can pitch the golf ball consistently, you can lower your scores rapidly.

What are the short game shots? They consist of putting, pitching, chipping and sand. The number one short game shot is putting because we are doing it on ever hole. The problem is if we don’t pitch the ball close enough to the hole, the up and down becomes more difficult. Pitching the ball is by the far the number one most difficult short game shot for golfers. It is the shot that requires higher spin greater trajectory that lands soft on the green. It becomes a problem when we hit two great shots up near the green, then we decide to play tennis with our wedge back and forth back and forth. The next time you are on the course keep track of your pitch shots. At the end of every round take a look at your pitch shots from 50 yards and in. I guarantee there is a lot of room for improvement.

The issue I find when teaching pitching is the student’s awareness of where the club should be at impact. The student is either trying to hang back and help the ball in the air with their hands and wrist, or push their hands excessively forward at impact where the leading edge tends to dig. There has to be a blend of the two. The hands will be slightly in front of the ball at impact while the torso and lower body are moving to facilitate where the club is going. This will allow for the bounce of the club to work and get the desired result. It is also imperative for hitting consistent solid wedge shots. Take the time to see your local PGA Professional to get some help.

Rico Riciputi, PGA

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