You Need Commitment in 2014

Game Improvement Key is Level of Commitment

ImageThe New Year is upon us. How many articles have been written over the years about goals for one’s golf game regarding the coming year?  Slam dunk, every year, all the magazines, all the teaching pros, will be coming at you hard with their version of can’t miss systems of swinging, ways to think better on the course, and the new physical fitness push.  Fact is, not much is new in this game.  We’ve been trying to figure out better ways since before the gutta percha ball when wooden shafts ruled.  Obviously, enhanced equipment has enabled us to play better. Bigger, stronger, faster bodies on tour are showing us how important physical fitness is to our end result.

But the fact is, that “best way to swing” the club remains whatever way you are swinging it that gets you out there as much as possible. Sure, the type A’s are all screaming about “perfect practice”, convinced that a heightened degree of organization and detail to ones practice regimen will produce the best and quickest results.  Fine, that works for them.  But whether you play to practice or practice to play, you gotta get your reps in.

That brings us to the only game improvement non-negotiable:  The biggest key to your improvement in our game for 2014 is found in your level of commitment. 

Can you get out two more times a week?  One more time?  These can be 20 minute putting sessions or a small bucket of balls.  It can be playing the loop on South (1,2,3 brings you right back to the clubhouse).  Doesn’t have to be a half day of ball beating to do yourself a ton of good.  I’d rather see my students get out to practice for 30 minutes four times in a week than have two sessions of 150 balls painstakingly taking 2 hours to obsess on minutiae.

Our lives get so jammed full of obligations, responsibilities, errands, work, school, family and even with some required down time, that making time for our golf game can be a daunting task.  I challenge you to create practice times that you commit to throughout a week.  Whether you seek instruction or not (obviously I think you should!), keep these game improvement dates with yourself at all costs.  Ramping up your level of commitment will be the first and most important step on the way to game improvement in 2014.

ImageTony Roberts, PGA Director of Instruction


Overland Park GC Fairway Water Notice

Dear Golfers,

Due to the extreme drought that started last Fall and the July heat, at the recommendation of Doug Melchior, Golf Course Superintendent, we are going to take advantage of the improved weather and intentionally over irrigate our fairways for the next 7-10 days to try and re-establish a reasonable soil moisture level in the 3-6 inch depth of the soil profile.

You may have noticed brown patchy areas in the fairways where those areas have become hydrophobic (repel water due to dryness). Although the Zoysia fairways can take the heat and be allowed to go dormant during droughts, in the long term without sufficient sub soil moisture this will be detrimental to the overall health of the plant. The only way to re-wet those hydrophobic areas is to saturate them and that is what we will be trying to do. We are also applying some surfactants (wetting agents) that will help the water penetration of the dry areas.

You all know the drought has been very challenging on the golf courses but may not remember this all started late last summer and has continued for more then a year now. The good news is most turf areas will recover well when we get good soaking rains, hopefully this Fall. In the mean time we will do what we can with our irrigation system.

The water supply at Overland Park and Westlinks all comes from creek pumps we have installed on Indian Creek and although the ponds are low we still think we can irrigate as needed. Unfortunately, the water supply at St. Andrews is insufficient to allow us to do this same process at this time and we will need to wait for a improved creek flow on the Tomahawk Creek for St. Andrews.

You may have to play around some sprinklers at times and those areas should be treated as ground under repair and take relief with no penalties as allowed by the rules of golf. You will also encounter some casual water at times due to the over irrigation and again, you are entitled to relief under the rules without penalty. Carts will NOT be restricted from the fairways even though at times you will be driving through some wet areas. Please avoid as best you can.

We appreciate your patronage and support of our golf courses and hope you will understand the need to re-wet the soil profile. In two weeks the golf course will look and play much better but the main benefit is for the long term health of the fairways that had to be addressed due to the severity of the drought. Please remember this will only last for a little over a week as we plan to go back to normal irrigation beginning Saturday, August 25th.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send an email at

Jimmy Powell’s PGA Tour Event Experience

About a month ago one of Golf OP’s University of Golf PGA instructors, Jimmy Powell, qualified to play in a (formerly Nationwide Tour) golf event by shooting 68 and 70 at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate. The event (the Price Cutter Charity Championship) was held August 9th through 12th at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Missouri. We asked Jimmy to give us some insight about his experience competing in this professional golf event. We’re all proud to have excellent PGA Professionals like Jimmy representing the Overland Park Golf Division (and the University of Golf) well!

His thoughts follow:

I had a great time in Springfield!!! The golf course was challenging, beautiful and in great condition! The first day, I went to my assigned locker and noticed Lee Janzen the two time U.S. Open Champions locker was beside mine. At that point, I knew I was in the right place and got a bit nervous!!!! Later that day I was one the number one tee before my practice round and Lee Janzen came up and I introduced myself to him. I told him I was a local qualifier through the Midwest Section PGA. He told me good luck and Rock Chalk Jayhawk as he noticed I was supporting my alma mater as I was wearing a Jayhawk shirt.

Got lucky and had one of the members of Highland Springs Country Club caddied for me. He and his wife ( Dr. Palmer) allowed me to live in one wing of their Mansion for the week. This was a nice luxury.

It was very cool looking in the gallery and seeing the peoples eyes on me as I was playing golf. It was an amazing feeling!!!! The best part was walking off the 18th green and having the 8,9,and 10 year old kids in the gallery giving me high fives and telling me good job although I shot 75.  I had two kids ask me for my autograph. It was pretty cool. I stopped and talked to a couple of the kids and asked them about their game. Playing inside the ropes is an awesome experience and one I want to have many more times!!!!!

Playing golf, practicing and eating at the players lounge with the best golfers in the world was alot of fun. Us players were treated like royalty. Once I showed my players badge, we parked were we wanted to park, we practiced were we wanted to practice and eat what we wanted to eat. The players are very well taken care of !!!!  If I wanted new grips on my clubs or even to play with a new club I was taken care of. It made all the hard work and practice I have put into the game worth while.

Overall, it was a great experience and I hope to qualify again next year.

The First Step

At first you think, “oh yeah, may game isn’t as good as it once was, but if I practice some and play more it will get better.” Then years go by and it starts to become obvious that growing older is tough on a golf game. Who knew? I guess only those golfers that have traveled the back nine of life ahead of us. So what are we going to do about these back nine challenges?

One of the exciting things that has happened for me since taking the Director of Instruction for the Overland Park Golf Courses, has been the TPI training and certification I have accomplished. TPI; Titleist Performance Institute, for adults is a step that you can take to address the physical issues that influence the consistency of your golf. The process starts with a screening to evaluate your mobility and stability specifically as it relates to your golf swing. With some input from our TPI certified professionals here in Overland Park, TPI customizes a workout plan for you.

I have finally taken the first step. I took the results from my screening, submitted it to TPI and actually started my workouts Wednesday, July 4, 2012. There were a couple of moments that I felt as old as our nation, but I got through the first day and am excited to see the effects on my golf game. There are a several things I like about what TPI does. For starters the exercises are simple and adapt to the equipment that I have, which is minimal. Each exercise was presented with video on my computer and I could replay them until I understood the activity. And finally I know that TPI has experience with golfers of all abilities from tour players to high handicappers and from juniors to seasoned seniors.

I will keep you posted on my progress and any improvements I see in my golf game. It may be the back nine, but the round isn’t over. Are you ready, like myself, to take the first step in holding onto the game you enjoy?


Headed for the Back Nine

The Fourth of July, like it or not, marks the middle of the golf season for 2012. So as we head to the back nine for this year, answer these questions.

How has your golf game played out this year?Have you played as much as you had hoped to? Did you finally get your driver to play more often or add some distance to your drives? Did your short game help save some shots? While you are contemplating these thoughts, grab a Gatorade. Studies have shown that golfers that have a Gatorade or similar drink at the turn do better on the back nine than those that don’t.

If you chose to “grab the revitalizing drink” option, you more than likely will be the kind of golfer that wants to make the most of this great game that you play and love. It is not too late for 2012 and unless the Mayans are right or something else happens, there will be a 2013. Golf is a lifelong journey that continues to challenge us as long as we are able to play.

What can you do while on the back nine of 2012? For one, maybe shoot for getting out to the course, practice range or putting green one more time a week while the weather is permitting. And what if you finally got professional help with your game and addressed the elements of your game that continue to be a challenge?

Here at The University of Golf (The Overland Park Instructional Program) we are going to roll out several new options for your consideration.  Check the next couple of weeks to see the new group offerings that even will include a weekend, sleep in your own bed golf school. The best scenario to improve your golf game will always be one-on-one coaching with a professional that knows how to speak your “learning” language. But many are more comfortable with a group setting for numerous reasons. Either way, your investment in time and money will be of great value if you start hitting at least a few better shots each round or sinking a couple more putts or you fill in the blanks. And as we get closer to Fall and the last few holes of the back nine we will be offering inside activities at our indoor range facility. Keep checking us out, we will try to deliver the goods.

Paul Hooser

Beginning at the End

For most of us our first experience with the club and ball is grab the club, hit the ball. Soon after the ball doesn’t what we want, we start to accumulate information about the fundamentals of golf. Hold it like this. Stand like this. Put the ball here. Bend here. Flex there. With all this pertinent details the ball should begin to act right.

This collection of details is the start of a lifetime pursuit of improvement in the game we grow to love. But, in reality the fundamentals are the last thing to consider in understanding your golf game. The fundamentals are last for understanding golf yet first in priority and first along your golf timeline.

What kind of reasoning arrives at the previous statement? How could the first items on your golf check list be the last phase of the “How To” list. Before you get totally confused let me explain. To fully understand golf you would work your way through the following list of items.

  1. What do you want the ball to do? Answer: Go in the air or along the ground toward the target.
  2. What does the club need to do to get the ball to do what you want? Answer: Impact the ball in the center of the clubface with the clubface facing the starting direction of your shot as the club and the ball part ways.
  3. What does the body need to do to get the club to where it needs to be? Answer:  Move  the club through the ball in a path toward the target with clubface facing the target.
  4. How can you; hold the club, stand in posture, place the ball and align the body to make it easy for the body to move the club to where it needs to go? Answer: The fundamentals of golf.

So there you go. Even though the fundamentals are the first improvements you address in your golf game they are not just details, they are designed to make the game easier to play. One last fine point could be added to our list above which makes understanding the game easier, but may come close to happening just by having solid fundamentals and understanding of impact and the path described above. And that is that the shape of the path the club travels is designed by the club and influenced by the physical characteristics of the golfer. So to some degree it is the arrow as well as the Indian.

Most golfers would say that they have adequate fundamentals, but maybe not. The best way to work on fundamentals is with a coach that communicates them to you in language that you understand and that can prioritize them for you. The next best way is go to the library. Very few golf instruction books would lead you astray from commonly accepted grip, posture, ball placement and alignment. Want to understand golf more? Work back through the considerations above. They are simple.


April is PGA Free Fitting Month

April normally is the first chance around here to play much golf. The PGA, Professional Golfers Association, enlists it members to perform free fittings in April to get the season started off well for the golfers of we serve. Here at the Overland Park golf courses we are hosting a driver fitting morning at St. Andrews on the 21st and a wedge fitting morning at St. Andrews on the 28th. Additionally I have signed up to be a part of Free Fitting Month and would be glad to help you with suggesting club specifications that match up with your golfing style.

So what’s the big deal about equipment that fits your swing? What’s the big deal about shoes that fit? What’s the big deal about pants that fit in the waist?  On this one I am sure they don’t put the right numbers so you can wear your “true” size instead of the inflated numbers they use. Seriously, if you are going to have equipment in your bag, why wouldn’t you want it to match your swing? Just one item to have customized for you is the lie angle on your irons and wedges. Lie angle correct or incorrect influences the direction of your iron shots. Lie angle is the angle between the ground and the shaft of the club. On the average golfers swing more vertical than the lie angle of their irons. For right handed golfers it means the club is looking more right and more left for left handed golfers. Does that sound familiar? If your lie angle is off as I have just described you may; close the clubface for straighter shots, have a very strong grip, address the ball in the heel because you usually hit in the toe and on and on. What if your club’s lie angle matched the one you swing on? You wouldn’t have a built in miss. Then you really could say, “It’s not the clubs fault”.

So now, are you interested in having more fun playing golf or not? April is ticking away and now is the time to check off that bucket list item, “hit more consistent and powerful golf shots”. Take advantage of the fitting mornings, the driver and wedges are important to your score. If those times don’t work for you email me at If we can find a mutually agreeable time I will help you with whatever equipment questions and concerns you have. In many cases your equipment can be adjusted to fit you better. A better fit through an organized process will definitely save time and money over the trial and error, aka the driver of the month, method you have been using.

Tick, tick, tick.