Another golf season upon us… I decided to do something different this year. For the past two seasons, I have been stuck with a 14 handicap, which I have been unable to improve upon. This
year, my goal is to approach a single digit handicap. With that in mind - I begin the season by setting up a fitness regimen (see Golf Fitness) and taking golf instruction - not just a lesson - but a whole series of sessions. I had heard of Chip LaMarre's method of "Connect The Dots" and was aware of his instructional video of the same name, and decided to give it a try. After viewing the
tapes and taking 4 lessons at Marino's Golf Center, I have noticed several improvements. 1) My swing feels more free and natural 2) Practicing often does not aggravate my hip ( a chronic ailment) and I am not sore after a long session- probably because my swing feels more free…3) I am hitting the ball more crisply and consistently 4) With the shape of my divots as proof, my swing is developing along a straighter plane (not so much outside/in).
These are great developments which inspire me to keep working at it - and to continue a consistent "golf fitness" training program. After an early spring round at Marsh Oaks, I am even more encouraged. Following are excerpts from Chip LaMarre's CONNECT THE DOTS instructional program. A good description of this method would be - the golf swing made simple. Chip has given me some
excellent swing thoughts to follow, focusing on one thing at a time. Rather than breaking down my entire swing, we began by focusing on small details and working up to a complete swing. For more info from Chip or to purchase the highly recommended video (1 or the series of 4), contact Marino Golf Center on Jefferson near Metro Beach (810) 465-6177. Marino Golf Center also has an informational page on our practice facilities site. (click here to enter our practice facility pages).
Chip LaMarre has been an instructor since 1987 and has given over 2,000 lessons in that time span. Here are some of Chip's Tips - which might prove very helpful…
GRIP AND SETUP In order for the head of the club to be moving on a consistent path at a high rate of speed, the posture and grip must be correct every time. Consider the 3 F's in your setup (the following description is for a right handed golfer).
- Place the grip of the club below the crease of the 4 fingers of your left hand below the FATTY part of the hand. If the shaft is placed correctly, you should be able to hold the club in your left hand, parallel to the ground, with the main pressure resting on the base of your index finger below, and with the FATTY part of your hand above your pinky pushing downwards. (it should
not be easy for someone to pull the club out of your hand). The thumb should not be "straight up and down", but across the grip on a slight angle.
- For the right hand - simply place the pad of your right thumb over your left thumb - and use the index finger as a FISH HOOK (training clubs like the Momentous Swing trainer have grooves in their grip to facilitate the proper alignment). The key is to
separate the knuckles of your right index finger from the middle finger. This FISH HOOK and separation will allow you to move the thumb along the side of the shaft (across on a slight angle - not straight up and down).
- Extending the FANNY - as in closing the door when your hands are full of groceries - will make room for your arms to swing and help you to attain the correct posture.
FATTY part of your left hand, FISH HOOK grip with your right index finger and push your FANNY out. These tips will help create a comfortable and correct posture. Let the arms hang straight down with the club in your hands - you will form a triangle under your chin., which will become the pendulum. This triangle is attached to the body - the body leads the clubhead. By swinging the triangle in a pendulum fashion, the head of the club can't help but pass through the ball on a consistent path.
FULL SWING "CONNECT THE DOTS"
DOT 1 - The TAKEAWAY is critical to effective shot making. From your setup, move the triangle to your right side as if you are handing the club to someone next to you. The dot is belt high - as far back as your arms are long. The club shaft is parallel to the target line
(and to the ground) and the edge of the toe points straight up - keeping the club face square. Extend your arms back naturally - don't reach!
DOT 2 - (TURN TO THE TOP) The transition from dot 1 to dot 2 is caused by the turning/rotation of the left shoulder. The dot is somewhere between your left shoulder and right ear (location of dot 2 is unique to each golfer depending on their physique). You
know you have reached the second dot when your shoulder touches your chin - this is a signal to stop rotating). Over rotating may cause a tilt, reverse pivot, and ultimately - a power loss or slice. Remember to turn, however - not just lift the arms to get to the second dot. Your right hip should turn back, not sway sideways!
DOT 3 - (DROPPING INTO THE SLOT) The "magic move" that separates the good from the average golfer. The purpose is to get the
lower body back to the centered position so the face of the club can whip through the ball on an inside path. To get to dot 3, simply turn the belt buckle back to the ball. The lower body initiates this move and the arms respond. Remember - the lower body has turned against the upper body creating considerable torque. Keep it there! This is a power source. The 3rd dot is lower than the
second, but above the first. If you can look in the mirror at this point you will see that the shaft is on a 45 degree angle, and the butt of the club points at the target line - the right elbow is snug against the rib cage.
DOT 4 - Dots 1 - 3 are preparation. Dot four is IMPACT. From dot 3 release your arms. The hands should be in front of the ball when
contact is made. The right knee should be bent through the ball, and the left leg supports the rotation of the left hip. The shoulders remain square to the target line even as the hips turn aggressively to the left. You should feel as though you are hitting the back of the ball with your right pants pocket.
DOT 5 - (EXTENSION) Up to this point, only half of the circle has been completed. By rotating completely on your right toe, you will get
to dot 5 - which is identical to dot 1, except it is on the left side of the ball. The right arm is extended while the left arm is "soft". The shaft is parallel to the target line. The right shoulder has moved its way under your chin and the toe of the club is pointing straight up. You should feel like your entire right side is turning through the ball. Trust your swing - don't push or force this move. Dot five is a continuation of the transition from dot 3 to 4.
DOT 6 - (FINISH) This dot is relatively easy because it is simply the conclusion to all the energy that has been previously released. Similar to dot 2, this dot will reflect your body shape. The key here is to rotate completely so your chest is facing left of your target. A key can be your right elbow pointing left of your target. The dot will be somewhere above your left shoulder - between your ear and left
shoulder. At the finish - you should be completely on your left toe.
That's it ! Practice each dot in succession - making sure each dot is correct before you go on to the next dot. A good way to practice is to go to dot 1,2 and 3. From dot 3 - toss the club right up until the finish.
For more info - contact MARINO GOLF CENTER (810-465-6177) to purchase any or all of the CONNECT THE DOTS video set - or
ask to set up a lesson with Chip. The videos can be shipped! A good approach to learning this system is to study the first video or two of the set - then contact Chip at the Marino Golf Center to set up a lesson or a series of lessons. The top price you will pay for a series (5) of private lessons is $120. Semiprivate lessons for 2 or 3 people at a time are about half the price for the series of 5.
For those of you out of this area - look up a professional instructor at a golf course or practice facility near you. You can often tell after 1 lesson if the instructor is "relating" to your needs - and if future sessions will be fruitful. In our web catalog (detailed listings) are listing pages with tons of information on golf courses all over Michigan and Ontario. These pages will tell you if each property has a
driving range - and thus, offers lessons. Contact numbers are provided for each property. Also - check out our practice facility site for info on lessons at a property near you. Please E-mail us if your favorite course/range is not listed. Finally - we have listed some addresses for web sites which provide a steady source of articles on golf instruction. Click on any address to view the site.