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Rick Smith Golf Academy

INDIVIDUAL
LESSONS
GOLF TIPS
FROM THE PROS

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Oakland University has launched the Rick Smith Golf Academy (RSGA) at the OU Golf and Learning Center. As one of the premier golf facilities in Michigan, the center is committed to grow the game of golf by offering cutting-edge golf instruction through the highly respected Rick Smith Golf Academy.

A renowned golf instructor, Smith designed the R&S Sharf Golf Course and is excited to return to the facility with a world-class, signature golf academy offering. 

Rick Smith Golf Academies offer customized programs for all golfers – from beginners to PGA Tour players. Smith and his elite staff of instructors achieve success by focusing on the fundamentals of the golf swing, keeping a minimal student/teacher ratio to allow for personalized instruction, and using clear communication and state-of-the-art swing analysis video technology.

Call the golf shop at 248-364-6300 ext 3 for information and to schedule a lesson. 

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The following tips are offered by the Golf and Learning Center's head golf professional: 

Stretch for Success
Because your golf swing utilizes so many different muscle groups, it is important to take the time to stretch and warm up before you play. If you can, get to the course early and warm up by hitting a small bucket of balls. Loosen up slowly by hitting wedges and short irons first and then work your way up through your set to the driver.

Remember, you are just getting the feel for your swing motion and loosening up. This is not the time to start making swing changes or practicing mechanics. This is a warm up, not a practice session.

If you can’t get to the golf course in time to hit a small bucket, consider purchasing a weighted club to keep in your bag so you can swing it and stretch your golf muscles while you’re waiting to tee off. At the very least, take out your 8 and 9 irons and make golf swings with the clubs together to provide more weight and promote some stretching in your shoulders and back.

If you do these things routinely, your body will feel the difference and thank you for it.

Target Line Awareness

As you head to the practice range, there is a very important aspect to hitting range balls that you should keep in mind: Always have and be aware of your target line.

It happens to all of us, we go to the practice range with the intent of working on our golf swing, and we get caught up thinking about our turn or our pivot or one of the 10,000 other things one of the golf analysts from the previous weekend's TV golf tournament has us believing is the secret to a consistent golf swing. All the while, we neglect one of the most important elements of the game that will help us direct our ball to our desired target: the target line.

Remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That straight line ought to be your target line. The imaginary line that runs between your ball and your target is your target line. It is what we aim our clubface on, and it has a tremendous influence on our setup position.

Lay your 2 iron or your umbrella on the ground parallel to your target line when you are at the range hitting balls. Always have a reference to your target. If you don’t , you really can’t fairly judge the shots you hit.


Setup Properly for a Free Swing

Many times when we start to hit the ball poorly, the first thing that pops into our head is “I must not be swinging at the ball properly.” Sounds logical enough, but chances are the swing isn’t working properly because your setup isn’t allowing it to work properly.

The setup accounts for about 80 percent of the swing's effectiveness, or ineffectiveness. When you are having trouble, always remember to check back to your starting position.

Here are some things to consider when checking your setup position:

  • Grip pressure – keep it light, not tight.
  • Weight more on the balls of your feet than on the heels.
  • Keep knees flexed.
  • Back should be straight, but tilted forward from the hips enough that the arms hang freely from the shoulders. 
    Your right side should be set lower than the left because your right hand is lower on the club than your left.
  • If you need references or some pictures of what a good setup looks like, almost every golf book written has a chapter on the setup. Don’t overlook this very important factor to making a good golf swing.

Develop Small Success Patterns First

Small success patterns lead to big success patterns. That’s how you should view your development as a golfer. It’s that way in just about every other aspect of life. First we learn to crawl, then to walk and then to run. In golf, everybody seems to want to start out running. Everyone wants to hit the ball further, and they think the longer they hit it the better they will play. Not always true.

Golf is a game of distance and direction. Direction should be learned and practiced first. By doing that, you are giving yourself a chance of being in control of your golf ball – something not a lot of people can brag about. Learning to hit your ball straight (possibly giving up some distance at first) should help you develop a swing shape that is correct. Once you are able to repeat that swing consistently, you can start to swing a little faster to increase your swing speed while maintaining the same swing shape, and that should help to produce straight shots with more distance.

Test yourself. See how far you can hit a shot that remains on the line you are aimed on. Start by hitting five three-foot putts. If you can get them to go perfectly in the direction you aimed, move back and hit five six-foot putts. If you have success there, try five nine-foot putts. If your putting is good, hit five chip shots from just off the green to a pin about 10 feet away, then 20 feet. If direction is still on line, move on to the range and hit five half-swing pitching wedge shots to a specific target. Go to a ¾ swing with the pitching wedge, and if you’re still on line, start to hit full shots with your 9 iron and then all the way through your set.

Usually, the longer the club the tougher it is to keep the ball on line. Find out where in your set you start to lose direction, and that’s where you need to target for practice. That’s where you might need to have someone you trust watch your golf swing and help you figure out how to get on track. Remember to develop your direction first and your distance will follow.



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