Marti Golf Academy Video Tip – Chip Shot

Here is a short video that demonstrates how to hit a chip shot, the “Bump and Run.” So many shots are wasted around the greens by players, stop wasting shots and learn how to shave strokes off your game with great short game techniques.

To see how to hit a pitch shot, click here.

To get more instructional articles and videos, click here.

To book a lesson, click here.

Power It Up!

Are you not producing the power and distance off the tee that you are capable of producing?  One of the most common questions I get from my students is, “How do I get more distance off the tee?”  In order to get more distance off the tee, you must learn to swing with correct angles and rotate through the ball.

You can walk down the practice tee at a PGA Tour event and see 144 different backswings and follow-throughs, but if you look very closely you will notice that at certain positions in each golf swing there are characteristics that are similar in style and form.  Let’s take a look at the top of the golf swing.  Most PGA Professionals will have a full extension of the arms and club at the top of their golf swing.  The shaft of the driver will be parallel to the ground, and the shoulders will have a complete rotation around the golfer’s spine.  Most of the player’s weight should be on their back foot ready to transfer to the left side on the downswing.

Swing-A

If you take a look at the face-on view of my swing, you can see that my left shoulder has rotated to behind the ball and that most of my body weight is on my right side.  The shaft of the club is parallel to the ground.

Swing-B

From the down-the-line view, you can see that the left arm is nice and straight, and that the butt of the club is pointed back at the camera which points the shaft down the target line.

Getting the club in a good position at the top of the swing will help you generate more power on the down swing.  Once you are in a good position at the top of the golf swing, you can create the leverage needed to increase club head speed which will give you more distance.

Some players don’t rotate enough through the swing which leads to a decrease in club head speed and distance.  Take a look at both shot sequences and notice how much the body has rotated back and through.  Along with getting in a good position at the top of the swing and creating leverage on the downswing, the power source of the golf swing is the turn with your body (core) through the ball.  If you’re in a good position and turn your body through the ball, you will create lag and leverage coming into impact.  The longer you can maintain your lag and release through the ball you will generate more club head speed in order to gain more distance.  Look at the face-on view photos and take notice of where the club head and the left arm are at at impact.  The club head is slightly behind the back of the left arm and hand and are almost in a straight line.  If the club head passes the hands and arm prior to impact, you will be decelerating through impact on top, possibly coming through with the club face opened or closed, which will result in more miss-hits and lack of distance.  A practice drill you can use to help create the correct angles and lag into impact is: 1) take your normal setup 2) choke up on the club so that there is an inch or two of grip past your hands to help you feel the butt of the club 3) practice taking ¾ swings working on getting the butt of the club working down to the ground on the downswing which will create a nice 90 degree angle with the left hand and the shaft of the club 4) maintain that angle through impact while hitting a knock-down or punch style of shoot.

This will help create the right angle of attack and maintain your lag until impact.  If you can create the right leverage and lag with a full rotation with the shoulders and body through the ball, you will be able to increase your club head speed and produce more distance.

Hit the Ball Further with the X-Factor

Hopefully, you have heard the term “X-Factor” before now. But how many of you actually utilize the X-Factor to benefit from increased distance and accuracy? In this article we are going to visit the X-Factor and its elements and benefits that are incorporated into the golf swing.

The X-factor is achieved from the differential between your full shoulder turn and turning the hips slightly at the top of your golf swing. The greater your difference is between your hip turn and your shoulder turn at the top, the more power you will create. With this coil, you will create a spring like effect on your downswing as long as you initiate it with your hips from the transition at the top. This spring like effect will increase your clubhead speed so that you can increase your distance. So as you take the club back, you want to minimize your hip turn and maximize your shoulder turn; this will give you the chance at achieving the X-factor in your golf swing. It is a simple move that should be incorporated into your golf swing regardless how flexible you are. You will hit the ball longer and straighter by keeping that “X” throughout your downswing. By utilizing the X-factor you will maximize your clubhead speed and your power at impact. You will also develop a wider arc and a good repeatable rhythm in your golf swing.

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There are a few faults in back swing that I see from my students. One bad habit that I see is that some players will reverse pivot and take the club up to the top and not transfer their weight to their right side. Photo #3 illustrates a reverse pivot. Another bad habit that I see is that some players will not turn their shoulders enough and overturn their hips on the way back. Photo #2 illustrates this bad habit of turning both the shoulders and hips too far. Both of these bad habits lead to using the upper body to hit the ball and not the lower body and your core. Both of these bad habits also narrow the “X” between your hips and shoulders and result in weakened golf shots.

As you practice on obtaining the X-factor, you will see an increase in clubhead speed and distance with all the clubs in your bag, as well as an increase in accuracy also. Remember to minimize your hip turn and maximize your shoulder turn on the back swing to the top of your swing. Also work on retaining your “X” through the downswing by initiating your downswing with your hip turn and leaving your shoulders back. The bigger your differential is, the more uncoil and spring like effect you will have on the downswing which will give an explosive impact on the ball.

Hopefully, by practicing the X-factor you will create a spring like effect in your golf swing and generate more clubhead speed, which in turn will generate a more powerful golf swing with more distance and accuracy.

Finding the Right Grip For You

Did you set a new year’s resolution to fix your golf swing? If so, did your plan involve fixing your grip? Probably not. Many players overlook how important the grip is in the golf swing. Sam Snead once said that “it is impossible to play good golf without a proper grip.” But what is proper for one player may not be the right choice for you. To help you find rhythm with your swing you need to have a grip that fits your physical characteristics. There are three basic types of grips that are used by the majority of golfers: 1) the overlap, 2) the interlock, and 3) the ten-finger grip. We are going to go over each type of grip and determine which one is your perfect fit.

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overlapFirst, let’s take a look at the overlapping grip. It was passed down by one of the game’s early great players, Harry Vardon. Many players call the overlap grip the Vardon grip. Mr. Vardon had large fingers and strong hands, so by using an overlapped grip this allowed him to grip the club comfortably and was able to limit the break down of the left wrist at impact. Using the overlapping grip has a left-side emphasis and better fits players with reasonable strength levels who also have the flexibility to make a full turn and utilize the large muscles of the back and core, or players who are very right-side dominant which causes the left-side to continually break down.

 

interlock

The next grip is the interlocking grip. It is used by those who do not have larger athletic hands. It is more comfortably suited for those who might have short-fingers, those weak in grip strength, junior players, and the majority of ladies. Jack Nicklaus used an interlocking grip, and he said he felt that “the hands were more secure and unified with this grip over the overlapping grip.” This grip has its advantages by helping the hands to be balanced and working together, but you need to be sure and not to interlock the little finger on the right hand and the index finger on the left hand too deep. This will force the right hand grip on the club into the palm rather than the fingers.

10-fingerThe ten-finger grip, sometimes called the baseball grip, is natural for most new players (beginners/juniors) to the game. Players who use this grip seek to cover more of the grip surface in order to use the right hand more and exert more pressure against the shaft so as to square the face and provide power. Players get more right hand leverage in this grip than the others due to more of the grip surface being covered on the lower portion of the shaft. This grip is recommended for those whose smaller hands occupy less area on the grip. This is also recommended for players who cannot generate enough club head speed through centrifugal force using their large muscles. Players that have big, strong hands should stay away from this grip because it can cause too much right hand leverage in the swing and create wayward shots.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a grip to go with is that the right hand and the left hand need to keep each other balanced throughout the swing. Golf is a two-sided, bi-lateral game. Over emphasis with one side will throw the other off balance and end up with miss hits. Hopefully by getting to know the other types of grips, you can better judge which one fits your game. If you are unsure which might be the best fit for your swing and physical build, I am available for lessons by contacting me at chad@martigolfcenter.com or by phone at 713-829-1967.

Proper Alignment

Are you having trouble with slices, pull-cuts, or just straight leaving the ball to the right of your intended target? If so, let’s take a look at your alignments and how you set up to the ball.

The majority of amateurs that come to me for help with their game line themselves up too far to the right. When your alignment is setup too far to the right, your natural tendency is to correct this mistake by manipulating your swing path on the downswing by coming over the top and holding off through impact. This will create a left to right shot along with a strong side spin that will move the ball even further to the right. More than most of the time, all that is needed to correct these types of shots is an alignment check.

Aligned too far to the left.
Aligned too far to the left.

 

Aligned too far to the right.
Aligned too far to the right.

During your next practice session, take two sticks, and line one of them up just left of the target on a parallel line to your target and the other stick should be lined up left of your target also on a parallel line to your target. If you don’t have any sticks, use a towel and place it between the ball and your feet or you can use two clubs. The first stick will help you in lining up your club face to the target properly and the second will help you align your feet up square to your target. Most amateurs will make the mistake in lining their feet up at the target and then as they address the ball their stance is actually closed. Your subconscious mind is going to correct that mistake by coming over the top, swinging left and holding off on the follow through to help it to get back on line which it actually gives you your slice. Since your setup is closed and your body is naturally trying to correct itself, you have now created a bad habit. So, bring yourself back to a basic fundamental concept and check your alignment. It’s okay if you setup with a slightly open position with your stance, because this will help you clear your hips and body through the ball. Take your new square alignment and practice. You will probably feel like you are in a bad position that feels uncomfortable. Trust it, step back and look at your alignment sticks and trust that you are lined up at your target correctly. You may have to force yourself to hit the ball more from the inside on your downswing and down the line through the ball.

Aligned correctly.
Aligned correctly to the target.

Keep this in mind: if your setup is poor and in a closed position, your body is trying to correct this mistake which is taking away energy and efficiency in your golf swing. Hopefully with a proper alignment, you can retrain your body to turn through the ball correctly, eliminate that dreaded slice, pick up distance and accuracy, and produce a more efficient golf swing.

Chip It or Pitch It

How many times have you been told that golf is a game of miss hits? Tour players hit on the average about thirteen to fourteen greens per round in regulation. That means that four or five times in a round they have to hit a precise chip or pitch shot to save par. One stroke on the PGA Tour can lead to a difference of $50,000 to $500,000, so to a tour player not getting up and down to save par is very significant. Now, look at a high-handicapped player who may only hit three to five greens per round in regulation. He now has more opportunities to save or lose strokes by the outcome of his short game.

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For example, let’s say that a player has fourteen pitch or chip situations in his round of golf. By him getting up and down in two strokes rather than three strokes on only half of the occasions, he saves seven strokes per round. That doesn’t take into consideration the amount of times he has a screw up or missed shot that takes more than three shots to get up and down. Those seven strokes allow someone who hasn’t broken 100 before the opportunity to break that score mark and the same goes for someone trying to break 90 & 80. So, developing additional skill on the shots close to the green will significantly be reflected in lower scores. More importantly is to know when to use certain techniques, as in when to chip the ball or pitch it onto the green.

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To help determine when to chip or pitch the ball remember this: putt the ball when you can, chip the ball when you can’t putt it, and pitch the ball only when necessary. It’s always easier to roll the ball than it is to loft the ball in the air. There is always more room for error when a player has to take a longer swing. The chip technique should be played whenever a player is close to the green but can’t putt the ball due to heavy or uneven grass between the ball and the green whether in the rough or on the fringe. If the grass is heavy or uneven and the player decides to putt the ball, the heavy or uneven grass will cause the ball to bounce and jump off line. So, the best way to approach this situation is to chip the ball onto the green and let it roll towards the hole. Chipping allows the ball to clear any questionable terrain, land on the green, and roll to the hole without interference. The pitch technique is used when a player needs a higher trajectory to reduce the ball’s roll on the green when it lands. This technique is normally required when the cup is cut close to the edge of the green, there is considerable amount of grass, sand, or water to carry before the green, or the green slopes away and a soft-landing shot is desired. Some situations won’t allow players to land the ball on the green first but require players to chip and run or pitch and run the ball up onto the green. This technique is used when plays cannot land the ball on the green and stop it short of the hole due to poor lies, location of the cup, and slope of the green.

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During your next practice session, take the time to practice different situations around the greens. Let’s take a look at photo #1. Here I am located just a few feet on the fringe. The fringe terrain is rough so I decided to take out a 6 iron and chip the ball onto the green. Keep in mind that a chip shot is an elongated putting stroke with a slightly open stance, and the majority of my weight is on my left/leading side. I chose the 6 iron to help keep the ball low to the ground which allows the ball to hit and roll. As you can see, my target is only on the green about 2-3 feet. Remember to get the ball on the green as soon as possible and let it roll the rest of the way. This will also allow you to watch how the ball reacts to the slope of the green to help you get an idea of how your next shot will be. In photo #2, I am located about 15 yards off the green. The green is elevated and I also have to carry the ball over a portion of rough which leaves me with little green to work with. This situation calls for me to pitch the ball in which I choose to use a 56 deg. wedge to do so. As you can see from the picture, the ball is considerably higher in the air. The higher the ball gets in the air, the softer the ball will land. So, I took my landing spot and moved it much closer to the hole due to having to loft the ball in the air which causes the roll to be reduced. In photo #3, you can see that I have plenty of green to work with, nothing to carry, and I’m about five yards off the green. So, I choose to use the chip technique again but I changed club selection to an 8 iron to allow the ball to get in the air just a bit more since there was a little elevation change from earlier when I was on the fringe. Again the idea is to get the ball on the green and let it roll to the hole. In photo #4, I have a bad lie in the rough which wouldn’t allow me to get the club head under the ball to pitch it in the air, so I choose to go with a chip and run technique. You can see my landing spot is still in the rough. I chose to land the ball short of the green into the slope to help take its forward momentum off the ball.

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Learning when to chip and pitch the ball around the greens is one way to considerably lower your scores and help you improve around the green. Remember to survey the terrain and determine where you need to land the ball on the green, and then choose which technique to use. Also remember that a pitch has more air time than ground time and that it flies more than it rolls, and the chip has less air time than ground time. Chips are usually firmer-wristed elongated putting style strokes while pitches are typically longer swings and have more wrists involved in the stroke. Learning to use each technique effectively will help you lower your scores and beat your weekend buddies with ease.

Quickest Way to Lower Your Scores

Golfers are always looking for ways to improve their swings to help lower their scores, but what they should be focusing on are ways to improve their putting, especially when putting consumes about 40% of the strokes during a round. The greatest challenge in putting is that there is no one set way to putt effectively. There are hundreds of different setups and methods to putting. There may be no single element of the overall putting technique that every great putter is in agreement on. So to help with all of the different variables in putting, there are three things that must remain constant: constant pressure with the hands and fingers, equal distance that the putter goes back and through the ball and consistent speed throughout the stroke (never decelerate).

Golfers must practice and devote themselves to a technique that fits their own personality and physical attributes. With practice, anyone can develop a solid, repetitive, mechanical stroke. Beyond perfecting a mechanical technique, a successful putter must also have the ability to judge slope, sensitivity to feel the proper speed, and the courage to act on his decision. Simply stated, in order to make a successful putt one must roll the ball on the correct path, and do so at the right speed. To start the ball on the correct path, one must be able to read the green correctly. To read the green correctly, one must be able to determine the slope of the green, green speed, grain, and length of putt. On top of reading the green correctly, the ball must then be struck with the right face angle at impact or having the putter face square to the correct starting line.

Putt-A-2

To help setup for a successful putt, you need to have a comfortable grip that can be repeated every time. As I mentioned before, there are multiple ways to setup and multiple methods to putting. One grip that is popular to many touring pros is the reverse overlap grip, which puts the entire right hand on the grip and brings the two hands quite close together to better work as one unit. Other variations of the grip are the overlap, interlock, ten-finger, split-handed, cross-handed, left-handed, finger-down-the-shaft, and hands-overlapped. The advantage of the cross-handed and split-handed is that the left wrist is less likely to collapse in the forward stroke. Keeping the left wrist from breaking down is necessary in maintaining a repeatable stroke and controlling the putter face angle. Because whatever the back of the left hand is doing during the stroke is going to dictate what the face of the putter is doing at impact.

Next, position your body in a taller posture than older traditional ways to allow for a longer arm hang. This produces a natural grip that finds both thumbs pointing more down the shaft. Because the player stands closer to the ball and the lie of the club is more vertical, the grip will run more diagonally across both the left and right hand. By standing closer to the ball, it makes it easier for the player to position his/her eye line over or slightly inside the ball. This new posture helps to reduce wristiness and clubface rotation.

After you have found a grip and setup that is comfortable, the grip pressure must remain the same throughout the putting stroke to help the player develop a feel for distance with the same grip each time. If you maintain the same grip pressure, it will make judging how far to take the club back and through the ball much easier, which will then help with developing distance control.

Now you need to practice. To help gain confidence in your new grip and setup, practice putts starting a foot away from the cup and make putt after putt until it becomes natural and effortless. Then start to back away from the cup and repeat making numerous putts. To help with lag putts and finishing them off, practice putts from thirty feet and three feet.

Take a look at how many putts per round you currently have. Let’s say you fluctuate between 34 and 38 putts per round. How much time are you currently putting into your practice routine for putting? Five to ten minutes before you tee off? If you fall into this category, you can drastically improve your putts per round if you can commit to practicing your stroke. Let’s take your warm-up routine when you reach the golf course; say you arrive at the golf course 45 minutes before you tee off. Instead of hitting balls and loosening your muscles for 30 to 35 minutes and spend 10 to 15 minutes on putting, let’s reverse the routine. Devote 25 to 30 minutes of your warm-up routine to practicing your putting stroke, and leave 15 to 20 minutes to hitting balls and loosening your muscles. You shouldn’t try to find a swing on the driving range; you should be trying to loosen your muscles so that you can swing the golf club. If you can’t find your swing on that day, you now have practiced your putting to help compensate for bad golf shots.

Take a look at the top 100 players on the PGA Tour at the end of the 2011 Season: Kevin Na leads the tour with the fewest putts per round average at 27.75 putts per round and Keegan Bradley sits in 100th spot with an average of 29.26 putts per round. Tour players practice their putting more in one or two days than the average golfer does in an entire month. If you were to practice more than just before you tee off, you could easily drop down to between 28 and 32 putts per round. How would you like to drop an extra 6 to 10 shots per round off your scores? Practice with a comfortable setup and grip, and manage the three things that must remain constant: constant pressure with the hands and fingers, equal distance that the putter goes back and through the ball and consistent speed throughout the stroke (never decelerate).

The Flop Shot

Escape Short-Sided Approach Shots with Ease with the Flop Shot:

I can remember back to when I was a younger trying to imitate Phil Mickelson’s short game technique, especially his flop shot. I still remember watching Phil hoist the ball in the air with such great ease and it always seemed to finish next to the cup or in the hole. So I spent endless hours on my dad’s chipping green at the Marti Golf Center, trying to perfect the flop shot. I like so many amateurs at the time were trying to imitate lefty’s flop shot. When the flop shot is done right, the ball comes off the clubface at a high launch, hangs in the air and lands on the green delicately with backspin.

As easy as Phil makes it look, the flop shot is one of the most difficult shots in golf. It is considered a specialty shot that is used just a few times per round when the condition warrant. The flop shot is best performed when the lie condition is near to perfect with a fluffy lie on soft grass. The clubface must be able to slide underneath the ball. Tight lies off fairways and hardpan lies are not always favorable for flop shots but can be accomplished as well.

To help you better perform the flop shot, you will need the right equipment. You will need a wedge with 58 degrees or more and with either 8 or 10 degrees of bounce, and at times less than 8.

To hit a flop shot off of a tight lie such as the fairway, you will need a slightly cupped left wrist, need to open your clubface almost flat against the ground so that the toe is almost touching the ground, place the ball off of your forward heel, and position most of your weight forward with an open stance to your target line. This will allow you to drive the clubhead down steeper, keeping the clubface under the ball. Don’t allow the clubhead to pass your arms. If the clubhead does pass the arms through impact, you will be adding bounce to the club which will cause you to come out of the shot and blade the ball. Make sure you accelerate the arms and club together through impact to minimize coming up and blading the ball.

FO-Fluffy

To hit a flop shot off a fluffy lie, you will need to change your set-up slightly. Again, your stance should be open to the target line, keep the clubface open, however, your weight should be leveled out more towards your back foot to change the angle of attack at impact and shallow out the bottom of the arc. This will allow you to hoist the ball in the air just like the tight lie shot. If you were to keep your weight on your lead foot and came down steeper, the clubhead would slide right underneath the ball.

DTL-Fluffy

The flop shot is not a high percentage shot but if you practice enough you should be able to take it to the course. Mastering the flop shot can get you out of the dreaded short-sided green side lies. The flop shot can sustain a good round when you get in trouble going after a sucker pin or it can provide the right momentum to get you back on track when you are struggling during a round.

Flop-Shot

You should practice flop shots from around the greens to at the most 30 yards away. A good drill is to set up three hulla hoops at 15 yards, 20 yards, and 25 yards. Try hitting 10 balls into each hulla hoop. Hopefully, by practicing the proper techniques you will be able to recover with great ease around the greens. You may not be the next Phil Mickelson, but you will surely impress your weekend golfing buddies with the flop shot.

Proper Practice Makes Perfect

I had my readers and patrons send in their golf questions that they wanted to be answered. The chosen question in return won a free lesson and a round of golf to enjoy following the lesson. Mr. Kaiser wrote, “How do you practice properly? I mean, when out on the range, what does a good practice routine involve? I practice a lot but need to know how to get the most out of it.” This is a great question since 47% of higher handicapped players never practice and those who do practice don’t practice properly.

When you visit your local PGA Professional and receive a successful lesson, the pro correctly diagnoses the problem, gives tips/drills to help correct the problem and that help you make better golf swings, but for it to be a truly successful lesson you must then PRACTICE. Seems like such an easy concept to help develop a player’s swing, but I see so many of my students adopt a technique change on the range during a lesson very quickly; however, I always hear back from my students that it did not hold up on the course.

Instruct-1

When I was younger, I had the same issue of not having the technique hold up under pressure. How doyou overcome this? Practice or over learn. As we have all heard, practice makes permanent whether it’s good or bad habits. Take a look at the top players in the world; why do they play so well? They treat the game of golf like a job. The only way you get better at your job is repetition. Practice is essential both for improvement and maintenance of present skill level. Tour players find that there aren’t enough hours in the day to practice what they need in order to stay on top of all parts of the game. However, the average weekend amateur player has considerable fewer hours to practice during the week due to other responsibilities. Therefore, the choice on what to practice becomes that much more important.

If improving your scoring is your objective, then you should spend at least 50% of your practice time on the short game. That’s right, 50%. While most amateur players fail to practice, those that do practice spend too much of their time just beating balls. Receiving lessons from a PGA Professional is great first step to acquire more knowledge of the game, but practicing it is the next step. Gary Player once said that “It is not enough to know what to practice. The real key is getting yourself to do it. The player who expects a lesson to ‘take’ without subsequent practice just isn’t being honest with himself or fair to his golf professional.”

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The most important advice about practice, other than just doing it, is to simulate actual play. Since golf is a target game, then your practice should always include targets. Create realistic situations. It takes a lot of discipline, but you should treat each practice shot as though it is on the course. Don’t always hit off of preferred lies. Hit shots off of uneven lies and out of the rough at times. When practicing the full swing, hit shots with one club, then another club, and then another, just as you would during a round of golf. Remember that sloppy practice will produce sloppy play on the course when it counts. Make sure that you practice to a target. Hitting balls is just exercise, playing to a target is practice.

One purpose of practicing is to develop confidence. A player that is trying to gain more confidence should always start their practice routine with the short irons because they are easier to hit which will then help with their confidence. When you start to think about a practice routine, make sure your practice sessions have a purpose. Research has shown that multiple short practice sessions help develop muscle memory quicker than long extensive practice sessions. So for those of you who don’t have a lot of time, don’t worry you will be fine. Write down a schedule of what is going to be practiced at what times and for how long. You and your PGA Professional should come up with a schedule of what needs the most work. The schedule should include: short and long game, specific shots, remedial work, physical and psychological training, playing and information gathering. Let’s take a look at a practice routine for an amateur that only has 2 hours or less to practice during Monday thru Friday. Physical and psychological training and information gathering can be done in the comfort of your own home.

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So the next time you are unsatisfied with your round of golf, analyze your practice habits leading up to your round and you should be able to easily figure out what went wrong. Good practice habits and routines will make for better scoring, accuracy and a more repetitive swing. So with proper practice this game can be managed so that everyone may enjoy the game and get the most out of it as they can. Just remember you can only get out of this game what you put into it.