Episode #31: 5 Reasons Your Golf Game Might Suck 04/15/2021
Meredith: Welcome to the Gimme Golf Podcast, powered by myrtlebeachgolftrips.com. I'm your host Meredith Kirk. Today we are going to talk about the five reasons why your golf game might suck. Here's my take on it. Everyone, I am at Litchfield Country Club today to talk about the five reasons why your golf game might suck. And joining me is our producer, Nate Dewitt. Nate, I was looking forward to this episode because it's always fun to talk about why we suck at golf sometimes.
Nate: Exactly. And I kind of know the reasons why I suck. So, I'll be interested to see if some of my things are on your list.
Meredith: Okay. All right. So for number one, I chose wrong equipment. People not having the correct equipment. For example, I've been in this business for 30 years, been teaching a long time now. This happens all the time to me, but I had a student last week. They came to me for a golf lesson. Of course, one of the first things that I look at is their equipment. I want to know what they're playing with.
So I pulled this ladies clubs and she had men's clubs. She was retired, in her late 60s. She had men's clubs with stiff shafts. She had oversized grips, men, oversized grips, and they were blades. She's a beginner golfer. And I'm thinking, "Wow, this is going to be a little challenging."
Nate: Probably plenty of money to buy a set of clubs if she-
Meredith: Oh yeah, yeah. She wants to buy a new set and now I have her on the path now. She's going to be getting a new set that's fitted and that's not even going into lie angle. Okay. We're not even going into that, but that's a whole nother thing, but I see that all the time. And then sometimes I see men that have clubs that are not flexible enough for them or they try to use clubs that are harder that are not giving them the forgiveness that they could easily tap into with our modern technology.
And then also just the general settings on drivers. Let's say somebody is a 25 handicapper and they've got that driver down to nine degrees with a stiff shaft. Well, we need to make some changes.
Nate: If this was 15 or 20 years ago, I could see that you have an excuse maybe for not having clubs, but there is so much knowledge and so many places to get club fit now that there's no reason to have clubs that are kind of close to where you should be. There's no reason for that to happen. Like say about 20 years ago, yeah. If you're playing golf, you just pull some stuff out. You'd have some Sam Snead irons that your great-grandfather used and you'd hit it around. But you didn't know.
Now we know, we have all this knowledge that we know club fitting helps your game. There's no excuses and there's not just one person in town doing it or where you live. There's multiple people that do it. Your club professional does it now. So everyone is well versed in club fitting.
Meredith: Exactly. I have a student right now that I'm working with, a gentleman who's retired. He strikes the ball really well. We're actually just working through a series of golf lessons, covering all aspects of the game. His golf clubs, Nate, I'm not joking. They are 1995. I can't remember what they are, but these are, I'm talking old school and they're not the correct lie angle. They're not the correct heads. They're not the correct shafts.
Even the grips probably have not been replaced in five years. They're like ice. They're so slick. So I told him, I said, "I'm so glad you're coming to me for golf lessons and we're getting some improvement. But until you get golf clubs that are fitted properly for you and you have the right equipment, you're just not going to get the results that you're looking for. We're not going to reach our goals until we have better equipment."
His mindset, he's old school. He says, "Well, until I start hitting these clubs really well, I'm not going to go spend money on the new clubs." So there is a group of people that are stuck in that mindset saying, "No, no, no. I need to get really good with these 25 year old clubs before I get new clubs." And I disagree with that thought process.
Nate: So that brings me to the question I want to ask you though. So, if you are a beginner golfer, when is the time to get club fit?
Meredith: You nailed it. Okay. That is the number one question that I get. When do you get new clubs if you're a beginner golfer? First off, I always suggest at least one to two golf lessons covering the fundamentals. And the reason why is this. When it comes to getting clubs fitted properly, you need to have the basic fundamentals of the golf swing. For example, if I have a student that is very upright, they're standing literally tall at address, their arms are very rigid, straight.
The handle of the club is basically shooting to the sky. They don't have the fundamentals of getting into a nice athletic position at address dropping that handle down to the navel. Ideally when it comes to striking all of your irons, you want to make sure that the butt of the club is going through the naval area, the belt buckle. That's a really good like a marker when you're looking at swing plane. So, that way they can rotate properly. It actually helps with the spine angle.
That right there is a huge factor of how the handle, how that club is lying on the ground. If that handle is too high and they're very upright and standing tall, well obviously, the heel's coming off the ground. Or it could be vice versa, if they're dropping that club down too far past the naval belt buckle, well that toe's coming up. Okay. So you don't have the correct lie angle.
So ideally what I like to do is at least a minimum of one lesson covering the fundamentals, getting into that nice athletic position, teaching them the basic fundamentals of how to set up to the ball properly. Once a student knows how to set up to the ball properly, they know where that handle needs to be at address. They know that they have that natural spine angle that comes with the athletic position, good stance, shoulders, feet, aim, alignment, just the fundamentals.
You can usually do it in one lesson. Sometimes it takes me two, but no more than two lessons. After the second lesson, they are ready to go get fitted and then I send them off and I send them off to various colleagues that I know in the business that are great club fitters. And then they go get fitted. Now I'm certified club fitter, but I specialize in teaching. So I primarily like to focus on just the teaching aspect.
I pretty much have a general idea of what all my students need during a lesson. In fact, sometimes I'll write them specs, even saying, "Hey, this is what I'm seeing. Take this to the club fitter, see what they see. Let the two of us come together and get this right for you." Because I'm actually watching them hit balls for a long period of time dynamically. I'm watching that ball flight from the grass, not just on a lie board, not on a mat, but I really want to see a student out there hitting the grass, striking the ground like they would be if they're playing.
So I really have a leading edge on club fitting when it comes to that because not all club fitters do that. Sometimes think of indoor club fitting, you're hitting on a mat. You're not even hitting grass. So there's something very powerful about getting out to the range, getting a good club fit on the actual grounds. It's a different reading. [crosstalk 00:07:32] Yeah. And especially when it comes to lie angle because lie boards, oftentimes when you get fitted, you know how lie boards work.
Sometimes lie boards lie. Sometimes they lie. So what you may be experiencing indoors on a lie board, you start getting out and it's more of a static setting. You get on the course where it's more dynamic. Sometimes that can change a little bit. It could be one or two degrees difference when it comes to that lie angle. And so that's important too to kind of have both readings.
Nate: So getting back to investments. So if you're a beginner golfer, you should not go out and buy a set of clubs right away. You should get maybe two or three golf clubs to get that lesson.
Meredith: Yeah. Absolutely.
Nate: Do not make the investment in a full set. Just get the drivers. What do you think? Drivers seven iron [crosstalk 00:08:16]. And that way, because those aren't going to be-
Meredith: Maybe hybrid. [crosstalk 00:08:20].
Nate: It's not going to be a permanent set. You may keep them in as part of your real set, but at the same time, don't make the investment if you've just started.
Meredith: Right. Exactly. And I teach at Myrtlewood Golf Club and oftentimes I'll tell students who are coming into the game, the first lesson or two, before I send you off to get your clubs, we have the top rental clubs at all of our founder collection courses. So you go to any of our courses, you're going to find the best rental sets, the best clubs on the market. So I tell people, "Listen, when you come out, we can get a rental set. You can rent a set."
Nate: They may not be your specs, but you get a look of them and say, "I like the looks of this."
Meredith: Exactly. So if there's a lady golfer, we have sets for ladies. It's going to be a lot better than grabbing your husband's clubs, coming to the lesson. And Myrtlewood is great. They're like, "Yes, you can use a rental." So you can always rent clubs one or two times before you invest money into clubs. And you're right, Nate, you do not need to have a full bag of clubs. And even students coming into the game as a beginner, they do not need 14 clubs. So I-
Nate: [crosstalk 00:09:26] people have this protection. They want to look good. I want to look like a golfer, but [crosstalk 00:09:30]. Don't do it.
Meredith: Right. No, no. You don't have to do that. In fact, I tell many of my students who are coming into the game for the first time, eight, let's start with eight clubs. Let's get really good at those eight clubs. Then we can add more in the bag. Once you have your specs, once you know the company of the clubs that you like, all you do is you contact the company and say, "Hey, I've got ..."
When you start to see, this is key too. When you, let's say you have eight clubs and you're getting really good at those eight clubs. This is when you need more clubs in your bag. When you start to see gaps and yardages in your swing. So when you get to a point where you're like, "Okay, I've got a nine iron, I have a seven iron, but I'm starting to see a 15, 20 yard gap between my seven and my nine iron. I need something in the middle." Well, it's time for that eight iron.
Nate: And then you build your set.
Meredith: Yes, you build it and you progress.
Nate: You may not need the four or five, six, seven, eight, nine. You may need a six. And that's so different than ... standard set used to be three through which. Now people don't really carry a three iron anymore. Getting back, and I know you've got four more reasons, but getting back to the gentlemen that said, "I want to get good with these clubs." As you know I just started playing golf again. And I had 97 ping irons I was fit for out in Phoenix, Arizona when I was in the golf industry.
I tried to come back and play with those. And I know you laughed at me. I ordered some brand new clubs and what a difference clubs are from now than they were back in 1997? I'm longer now with these clubs than I was when I was playing good golf. So it's so important to get clubs that are fit and actually to change clubs once in a while. Do not keep clubs for 15 or 20 years. [crosstalk 00:11:12] the game so much easier and so much more enjoyable. I guarantee if I was still hitting my pings, I probably would've quit again.
Meredith: Yeah. And I think one of the biggest changes too, especially with irons, what they've done to the face that centeredness of contact is much easier.
Nate: Now in fairness, a five iron today is a four iron loft of years ago. So people thought they're hitting the ball further, but they're a little stronger, they are. But the technology is definitely much better.
Meredith: Is so much better. Okay. Let's get on to number two. So trying to overpower your shots when you play. Okay. So, and I'm going to say this, there's a few people that like to show off and even myself sometimes, I'll try to show off like, "Yeah, I'm going to bomb this drive." And you know what happens? Yeah. I hook it, or slice it. I have an awful shot because I'm trying to overpower. And we all have a tendency at times to show off a little bit.
But I think in general, whether you're trying to show off or not, trying to overpower, trying to swing too fast, swing too hard, you're setting yourself up for perpetual failure.
Nate: Well, it's similar with the irons. If you're playing with your buddies, you think, well, you're hitting an eight iron when you probably maybe should have hit a seven iron because you want to tell them, it's like, "Yeah, I hit an eight iron." Well, you're 80 yard short, so you didn't hit the right club. So yeah, I can understand that. It's the masculinity or I can hit this club.
Meredith: Yeah. And just a little golf tip, I'm going to throw this in, when I was actually getting certified for club fitting, I got certified down at TPC Sawgrass, which was a really cool experience because as you know Nate, there's tons of tour players down there and I got a chance to meet a few of them. And while I was down there, I would ask them different questions about the golf swing. Because I'm trying to absorb as much information as I can.
One of the questions I asked was, what would be your best golf tip for the recreational golfer? Grip pressure, soft hands, softening the hands.
Nate: I wouldn't expect that.
Meredith: Yeah. Softening the hands. So I thought, wow. Ask someone else, same thing. So it was interesting. I was getting the same feedback and it was the first time in my teaching career that I really started focusing on the hands, softening the hands, and studying a little bit more about grip pressure. Well, grip pressure is really interesting. The stronger you grip the handle, the faster you're going to swing, they're connected.
So really your grip pressure really is the speedometer of your golf swing. If you want to slow down your golf swing, you're going to have to soften your hands a little bit. Now I'm not talking about softening like you're chipping or you're padding. That is a very soft, soft touch. That is a finesse. I'm talking about in full swing, on a scale of one to 10, go down to about a six. So if your knuckles are squeezing, you see any white on your knuckles, if you're gripping a little too tight, try to decrease it.
Now you're going to feel like the club's going to slip out. That's the first thing I hear students say, "Oh, the club's going to fly." Well, let it fly. It's going to fly in front of you, hopefully, but it's not going to fly. It feels that way. But if you have a proper positioning, if your grip is properly positioned on the handle, it will not fly. Even if you're at a six, even with driver on a scale of one to 10 at that six, it's not going to fly. But what it forces you to do is it forces you to state the speed limit of the golf swing. It really does.
Nate: That makes a lot of sense. Because I know I've told you, I struggle with, I have a strong grip anyway. I always did. But I struggle with takeaway being too quick. So I guarantee the two are related just by you.
Meredith: Yeah, absolutely. And what's amazing is this, when you slow down a little bit, you're going to hit shots that are actually further than when you try to kill it. And the reason why, it's all about kinematic sequencing, it's all about the sequencing on the downswing. So whether you realize it or not, there are important segments on the downswing of the golf swing. I don't like to talk about it too much because it's so easy us as humans to try to analyze it.
Because when you're swinging that fast, you can think about segments. I don't want anyone to think about segments, but there are segments that you hit on the downswing. So if you get to the top and you swing nice and easy, what happens is the hips fire first. And then the shoulders go, and then the arms go, and then the hands go, and everything goes. You're making me laugh. I'm watching Nate, sorry. He got up real quick. And he was taking a picture. It was funny.
Then everything else goes. So, it's that unwinding of the golf swing. So if you're trying to overpower and you're trying to go too fast, what's going to happen? That upper body is going to try to take control. You lose the power of the hips and that's where all the power comes in the golf swing. So, slow it down.
Nate: That's exactly what I'm working on. I just can't take it from the range to the golf course yet. It takes me about 15 balls to work in a tempo, to get that slow back swing. And it's something I get on a golf course I forget all about.
Meredith: Yeah. Just remember that three to one ratio. If you watch the players on TV or you get to an event, watch the LPGA and the PGA tour players. Now all of them, every single one of them have a three to one ratio count. You can actually count just sitting at home on the couch. Watch when that club takes off and the takeaway, it's one, two, three at the top, one through the swing.
Nate: See, I can't do that. I try to do the one, two, three. I just can't. I guess I'm not talented enough. On the range I just have this. I think my thought on the takeaway is slow motion at the take.
Meredith: That's actually a good thought.
Nate: But I can't do one, two, three-
Meredith: You can't?
Nate: ... as of now.
Meredith: So what would yours be if you were counting?
Nate: The way that I swing?
Meredith: Yes. From the time during your takeaway to the time you get to the top, what is your ratio?
Nate: Probably half a second, it sort of feels like. Half a second to full.
Meredith: See. It's funny. Look, it's hard. Habits are habits. We all create them. We all have idiosyncrasies in our swings. We all have stuff we have to work on, but that's speed I'm telling you. Grip pressure is connected to speed. So maybe what you need to do Nate is don't think so much. Don't get hyper-focused on the ratio. Think about your grip pressure next time. Just say, "I'm going to go down. I'll go down one notch." Because again, your hands are the speedometer of the golf swing. How much pressure you apply.
Nate: But I'm going to be honest with you. There's no change in my grip at this point. I interlock, it's like not going to happen.
Meredith: That's okay. There's some good players that interlock.
Nate: That's a good thing for beginners to get their grip right from the get go.
Meredith: Absolutely. So actually that leads us into our third one. Okay. Golfers not knowing the fundamentals. So you just hit the nail on the head with what you just said about the grip. So grip is the number one golf fundamental in golf. Why is it the number one golf fundamental? Well, your hands are the only connection that you have to the handle. Your hands to the golf club is your only connection.
So you got to think about that, how your hands are positioned, the precision of that, the pressure of that, all the Ps, I call them the Ps. So, that right there can make or break your golf swing. I have had so many students that have come to me, needing help with their swing. And they think that they're doing all these different things. They'll say, "Well, I'm doing this, I'm doing this. And I think this is causing this."
And I look at them. I said, "Okay, great observations there. But you know why all of these things are happening? Because you have poor hand placement on the grip and poor pressure on the grip. And they're like, "Well, what do you mean?" I'm like, "Let me show you." So you get them in the proper positioning on the handle where that club face is nice and secure, not too tight. And all of a sudden, they're hitting shots right down the middle they're back on ... and they're back on plane.
I didn't make any swing changes. I didn't have to tweak things in the backswing or the downswing. I just changed their grip. That is why it's the number one golf fundamental. It can change everything.
Nate: But it's got to be tough to change that grip of someone that's been playing for a long time.
Meredith: It is. And so this is what I say. When you're making-
Nate: How do you work around that? How do you say, "Okay, I'm going to live with that. Let's just ..." you try to make a little tweak to it. Or do you say-
Meredith: There's no little tweaks. When I fix a grip, I can't do little tweaks. So that's the one area I won't compromise as an instructor when it comes to grip. I get them in the exact grip placement right away. Even if it's brutal for them. And I say to them, this, "This is going to be uncomfortable. You're not going to like it. You're going to want to reject it. It's going to feel awkward, but you have to trust it."
By the end of the lesson. So if you're in an hour lesson and they've already hit 30, 40 balls at this point, by the end of the lesson, everybody says, "Okay. It still feels a little weird, but not as weird as at the beginning of the lesson. And then I give them homework and this is crucial. So the homework with the golf grip, if you're one of my students, the homework is this.
Every single day, once we make the grip change, for the next 10 days after that lesson, they don't have to go to the golf course, I want them to get practice, but they don't have to do this at the golf course. They just grab a club at home. They get in the bathroom, they can see a mirror or in the garage if they have a mirror set up and I want them to place their hands properly in the placement that we worked on in the lesson.
And then I want them to take their hands off, put their hands back on, take their hands off. 10 times a day for 10 days straight. It takes less than three minutes to do that. And the reason why I say take your hands off is this, it's funny. Anytime you make a grip change, I see a lot of students, once I position their hands, they'll try to keep it. And then when they get a ball, the roll the ball, they don't want to take their hands off.
Our brains, how we're wired as humans and how we create new neural pathways in our brain. This is how we create new habits in life. It's not just golf, but if you want to make changes in your life, it's all repetition. You have to do it over and over again to where you create those neural pathways and you get more comfortable. And then that way, there's neural pathways all new. It's connecting with the muscles and your muscles and your brain are working quicker and better together.
So if I have a student that's not placing their hands on the grip every day, it's going to feel awkward, but they do that for 10 days, rarely do I have anyone come back to me for the second lesson, 10 days later saying to me, "I'm still not used to the grip." Every single student says, "I'm getting used to the grip now," because they do the homework.
Nate: That's better than I ever thought, but maybe I'm just the exception.
Meredith: Okay. So, you have homework, Nate.
Nate: But I probably do it, but I don't think it's bad. I got all kinds of other bad stuff, but I don't think the grip is bad.
Meredith: Now, your swing is actually looking so much better, but that's key though. Repetition, you don't even have to hit a golf ball. In fact, studies are showing with the golf swing the past few years, that when you're learning the motion of the golf swing, the best way to learn the golf swing is in slow motion without hitting a ball. You can look in a mirror or you can just go by feel. So if you're a visual learner, having a mirror in front of you is great.
If you're a feel learner, just feeling it, or if you need feedback, have someone watched you and give you feedback, if you're more audio, we all have different learning types. But making slow motion movements of the correct movement is the fastest and easiest way to learn the fundamentals of golf.
Nate: And I would do all of that. I just wouldn't do it in the bathroom.
Meredith: Is your bathroom not big enough? Do you have-
Nate: I don't think so.
Meredith: Just go outside, just go outside and do it. So fundamentals are crucial. The fundamentals, what are they without getting too long-winded because you know I love the golf swing and I can talk about it forever? Fundamentals. Okay. The number one fundamental we just talked about is grip. I'm going to go right into the second fundamental that I teach. And these for some of you listening, if you're an avid golfer, if maybe you're a golf instructor, you might say, "Hey, I wouldn't put that as number two."
But this is my system. This is my methodology. But I think we'd all agree on these fundamentals, whatever order that you have them in. So the second one for me is going to be a target. So finding your target, obviously we need something we're aiming at. So grip, target. Third is going to be aim. Club face is connected to the aim. So when I use the term aim, I'm talking strictly about the aim of the club face. Where is that club based going? Is the club face square? Is it open? Is it closed? Aim is club face.
Then we go into the fourth fundamental, which is going to be alignment. When I'm talking about alignment, I'm talking about the body now, the body positioning to the intended target. Feet, hips, and shoulders, three different aspects of alignment that I look at with students. Usually, not all the time, because I check the hips, but I like to align the feet first using the heels, not the toes. And then I align the shoulder second. Those two usually unravel the hips.
But if aligning the feet correctly and aligning the shoulders correctly do not align the hips. And then sometimes I have to make those hip adjustments with the student. Okay. So, that's alignment. Now getting into the fifth fundamental, getting into that athletic position that we were talking about earlier. When people have the wrong equipment, sometimes it's good to go through these fundamentals first, before you get fitted for equipment.
But the athletic position is crucial. Because that athletic position gets you into a position where you can rotate nicely around your body. Remember the golf swing is just a rotation around the body. So you want to make sure that you're in that athletic position. What does it feel like? It feels like you're catching a basketball. It feels like you are nice and balanced. Again, balance is crucial.
So you want to have your feet at a minimum, shoulder with a part with all of your clubs. Now, if you're going into some pitching, chipping, putting, obviously the lower body is going to be more quiet. Feet are going to move in a little bit, but hypothetically, if we're talking nine iron to the rest of our bag, feet shoulder with the part nice, stable. Once you're in the athletic position, I should be able to come up and gently push you and you should be stabilized. You should not move.
Nate: Cool thing about the athletic position is that's transferable a lot from sport to sport.
Meredith: It is.
Nate: You've got that stance in basketball shooting free throw, tennis. So, if you've played another sport, that's where it does travel to that sport.
Meredith: And studies also show the science, we do not lose our motor learning, Nate. I don't know if you know this, but from the time that we're infants and we start crawling and then we start walking and then we start running and then we start riding a bike as children, all of those are obviously motor learning skills. So when we start playing the sports that we played early on, whatever it may be, it doesn't matter how old you are. They never leave you.
Those are neural pathways in your brain that are built. They never go away. You cannot get rid of those neural pathways. Obviously you could get into an accident or have a brain injury that could stifle that or affect that. But obviously if there's no damage to the brain, you're always going to have that motor learning that's with you. So you could be a hockey player. I have worked with students who are now retired, playing golf full time.
Haven't played sports in 50 years, Nate, and I could pretty much tell you what sports they played when they were a child. And I have so much fun with that because I could see them out there. I'm like, "You were a hockey player." "Yeah. I grew up in Canada and played hockey."
Nate: You probably can start with the grip, like a baseball grip.
Meredith: Sure. Yeah, yeah. But the great thing about motor learning is this. You never lose what you did, but you can always grow. You can always learn a new habit. You can learn how to swing the golf club. It's never too late. You know the old saying, you can't teach a dog old tricks. Yes, you can. If you're living and breathing right now, our brains are so pliable and moldable. We can change our thinking. We can change our brains. We can add motor learning. We can do that. So it's pretty cool.
See, you can tell, I just love this stuff. Okay. Wait, hold on. Last fundamental, athletic position. Once you get in athletic position, then after that point, you've pretty much hit the majority of the fundamentals right there in all of that. So you had to make sure that again, in that athletic position, that the club shaft is lying at the correct angle. And that's when lie angle really comes into importance when it comes to club fitting.
Lie angle is a huge deal, a huge deal. And I have so many students that come to me. They'd never even heard of lie angle.
Nate: It's funny you say that because it amazes me. I play with some people who are good players. Not some great players, but eight to 12 handicap. They don't know what lie angle is. And that's kind of the easiest thing to know right off. Let me look at your eight iron and let's see where the wear pattern is. So you're wearing the toe out. It's not your golf swing. It's your lie angle. So it's just funny people-
Meredith: They don't get it.
Nate: ... don't get that. That's the easy part. I don't get a lot of the other stuff, but I kind of get the lie angle.
Meredith: Right. So yeah. Fundamentals. All right, let's get to the fourth one, the mental aspect of the game. So many people get in their heads playing golf. How do you take your golf swing from the range to the course?
Nate: This is what I was going to say [crosstalk 00:29:02].
Meredith: Yeah. Or if you're playing, let's say you're a member at a club and you're playing in your weekly member tournaments or whatever you do when you're out there playing golf and you just were like, "Okay, when I play by myself, when I'm not under pressure, I play really well. When I'm on the range, I strike the ball really well. What's the missing piece here? Why can I not translate my swing up to the course?"
Nate: This is me to a tee. This is me. Of course, I don't play a lot, once every couple of weeks, but I hit balls a lot. But that doesn't mean I'm going to get better because that's totally different. Going to the range and beating balls, a lot of times, I don't have a target. I just hit balls. And if I hit a bad shot, it's like, "Well, I got another ball." That's not the case in the golf course. And this is me to a tee.
Meredith: So, I know you were saying a couple of weeks ago, the first tee's kind of the hardest for you?
Nate: Well, it's not because I'm nervous. It's because I never used to have to practice before I hit the ball. I never used to have to go to the range before I played. Now I have to. If I don't go to the range prior, there's a couple of holes that's slight to see.
Meredith: Do you feel like you try to ... what's in your mind? When you set up to the tee, do you start having fears?
Nate: No. Not at all. There's no reason for me to be nervous. It's just that I feel like when I go to the range first, and this is bad too that I know, because we've talked about this, I've got three or four things that I'm thinking about, which you should not have three or four things when you're on the golf course. Okay. Because mine is maintain, stay in your position, slow back, get the club back, turn the shoulder.
So I get the first tee. I'm not thinking about that stuff unless I've been to the range. And I look at my phone, I've got my list. So I've turned very analytical and it's like it. So the first two holes is a creep show for me, but then I play. And then it's like, it just takes me that long to get into the ... but getting my game from the range to the golf course is tough.
Meredith: Okay. Do you want to tip, should we give our-
Nate: And I know I've asked you several times, you've told me some good things.
Meredith: Well, for our listeners too, that may be struggling with the mental side because we all do to varying degrees, crossing the hemispheres in your brain is really awesome, awesome, powerful tool to help calm you down and create more equalization of your mind.
Nate: [crosstalk 00:31:34] I would say focus.
Meredith: Yeah. Focus or are not over-analyzing. So we have the left side of our brain, the right side of our brain. They have different functions. Well, it's really important as an elite player. And I say, elite, any golfer, it's important. I say this, that for elite golfers, you will notice that they cross hemispheres a lot. So once you understand you're probably like, "What is Meredith talking about? Hemispheres."
Go on Google and Google this. Okay. So you'll find a lot of great information, lot of great information just watching YouTube videos on it. But it's that hemispheric processing of our brains. So you, for example, are more analytical. I've known you for years. I would say you're more left sided than you are right sided. That's a good thing. We need left brain people. Look at all the stuff you do. Everything you do is more left brain oriented.
Right brain people are going to be more artsy types. The more, "I don't really have to, I'm not going to keep that organized. I do better just off the cuff." And these people might have crazy messy desk, but they could walk to their desk and it could be just a total disarray and somebody can walk in and say, "Hey, do you have that report on this?" They know right where it's at. Okay. They're operating more on the right side.
And honestly is one better than the other? No, they're both great. And we actually, as human beings need the both sides. So given kind of just a sample of the differences in our brains, when we get out in the course, many of us can get tense. And when you start to get tense and you have a little pressure on you, you're really going to tap into potentially more of that left side. And that's good. That's good. It's helping you get organized. And that's how you're going to win.
Honestly, that left side is really going to push you to win, but you really need to find the balance in the right side. So there's a lot of great information about crossing the Meridian of your body. So you might be like, "What is that?" Well, if I cross my hands, I'm holding both of my arms out right now as I'm talking to you, I have both my arms out straight.
If I cross my arms and create an X with my arms, I have now crossed my hemispheres. Because with my right arm, I'm using my left side, my left brain, with my left arm, I'm using my right. So, if I cross, I'm now crossing, now I can do, there's all sorts of techniques. I'm scooting my chair back. I'm showing you this. There's a great technique that I teach junior golfers who are playing competitive golf in elementary school and middle school.
I have seen phenomenal results with this crossing the hemispheres with junior golfers. I use it a lot with them because kids are so hard on themselves. I can have a bad shot and just feel like they can't play anymore. And they're great players. So you can do what's called crisscross. So again, it's all about crossing. Crossing your feet, crossing your arms. This is called a double cross. So I cross my hands. I interlock my fingers like this, and then I pull it under my chest.
So this is a double crossing here, here, like this. Nate is taking a picture of this, but we're having fun on this podcast. I did not even know we were going into all of this. This is so funny. But again, crisscrossing, tapping your knee. Like if you stand up straight, have good posture, you're standing tall, lift up your knee and tap your right hand to your left knee. Put it back down, tap your left hand to your right knee.
Do that about 10 or 15 times. Junior golfers play much better when they really tap into crossing, it relaxes them, is very relaxing. I don't know the hormones it creates, but it works. Just crisscrossing, your body really creates balance and definitely relaxes you to play better golf. And again, there's so much good information on the internet on this, but I have seen it hands-on work, especially with junior golfers. Tour players do it.
It's interesting as an LPGA teaching pro, we're always getting educated. We do continuing education. We're always learning about the game, trying to stay on the leading edge of the science coming out about the game and different things. We can the neuroscience and I love the neuroscience at the game, and we're getting so much great information now on neuroscience.
But you watch the tour players. And with what I know now about neuroscience and the golf swing, when I see them on TV or I haven't been to an event in a long time since pre-COVID, but even at an event, I notice the process that each one of them goes through. Many of them incorporate obviously pre-shot routines. And they have certain quirky things they do. And a lot of times, there's a lot of hemispheric processing crossing those meridians going on.
But it's amazing once you know it, you can actually see it. It's really cool. So it works. If you Google brain gyms, okay. Just brain gyms.
Meredith: Gym, like G-Y-M-S, brain gyms, Google hemispheric processing, crossing the Meridian that central line, crossing the Meridian, your hands, your feet, any crossing is good. You'll find a lot of really cool information on things that will really help balance the brain. And so, it's great if you are a very, very strong left side person, let's say you're a numbers person. A lot of people who like accountants, I can tell you occupations that are more left sided.
My husband, he's a doctor and mathematician. So he is very, very left linear thinking. And even when he does some of this, because I practice all this stuff on him, and he's always my Guinea pig, "Hey, let's do some of this." He can even tell the difference. So, it's pretty cool stuff. So anyway, I got off on that mental side, but that's a tip. That's some information. I'm still learning a lot about the neuroscience, but I really enjoy it as an instructor. And I've definitely seen a difference.
And it helps you translate your game frOM the range out on the course. So maybe Nate, when you go out there, do a little crisscross, little crisscrossing, relax, let your brains get more equalized.
Nate: Yeah. I get so frustrated because I can go to the range and not hit one snap hook with my driver and I get on the golf course. So it has something to do with that, for sure. Because it's like, I go to the range, I don't do this. And that's the most frustrating to me. And I've told you this and I won't pull this up anymore, but if you can't get off the tee, that is the worst thing for your golf game. That's where it just adds up. And that's where my Achilles heel is right now.
No, I hit it. I killed it. But it's just like that shot I hit on the first tee or second tee, it's a snap hook, which I don't hit at all. But I know, it's in my mind, I've talked to Dale [inaudible 00:38:25]. Once that's in your mind, you've got to just get over that.
Meredith: Right. Yeah, it's possible. It's possible. Yeah. Okay. Number five. This is kind of a weird one. When people dress uncomfortably playing golf. I see that all the time, just some people are uncomfortable playing with the attire that they have on. And I have a little ... it annoys me that golf has some of the rigidness about attire than any other courses, because I'm definitely more laid back in my approach to that, except for private courses. I totally get. That's a separate name. And I'm talking about public courses, [crosstalk 00:39:05] courses. Yeah.
Nate: Got you. I could go in many directions with this, but I know a lot of people. There's always dress codes at the golf course. People wearing jeans playing golf. I don't understand how you do it. It's like I see people wearing jeans on a golf course, which most golf courses do enforce that, by the way. I see people wearing jeans at the gym. It's like, how is this comfortable? So I can see what you're saying. But take it a little further here. Tell me exactly. Define it for women and define it for men because I kind of know where-
Meredith: Yeah. Big difference. Yeah. Okay. Let me give you an example. This is what crushes me as someone who is obviously in the golf industry. I'm an instructor. I want to grow the game. I want people out here playing golf and experiencing golf. It's, to me the most fun sport you could possibly play, especially if you like to get out and exercise and walk. Playing 18 holes, you're going to walk four or five, six miles, depending on the [crosstalk 00:40:12].
Nate: Well, some people park their car right up against the green. It's like, you got to do a little bit exercise.
Meredith: Yeah. Get out there, walk, enjoy nature. I just love it. So, my goal is to expose people to the game, let them experience it, see if they like it. So I say all that to say, getting back to the dress code, a lady golfer that I have taught in the past, she was learning the game. Awesome lady. She was a retired airline stewardess, super cool lady, learning how to play the game. Well, she doesn't know all the etiquette yet that you kind of naturally learn as you get in the game.
And she goes to a course here in Myrtle Beach and has on a golf shirt, just like I have on now, a sleeveless golf shirt with a collar. And then she had athletic pants on with sneakers, full length, athletic pants with sneakers. And the shirt was just kind of hanging.
Nate: Like tights or?
Meredith: Yeah. Yeah. Like athletic pants, like something you'd go running in or work out in, just the lady workout, athletic pants. Yeah. They're fitted. So she walks into the pro shop and she's like, "I want to get a couple buckets of balls." She's so sweet wanting to learn the game. And they said, "I'm sorry, you can't hit balls here." And she was like, "Why?" And they said, "Your attire." Now she had a golf shirt on. She had a golf shirt.
They didn't like her athletic pants. Now this was not a private course. And in fact, no offense to them. I'm not going to name the course, but it was definitely not a premium course. Okay. Sorry. It just wasn't. And so they sent her off and she's like, "That just made me want to quit." She said, "That made me just want to quit because I can't ..." She's like, "I'm comfortable with these pants." Now I was like, her pants to me, the athletic pants are much more appropriate than a little half the miniskirts you see on tour right now.
So I'm like, "Are you serious? You're going to sit there. And some of the girls are wearing skirts that are so short. It's like, literally you could see their butt cheeks. And you're going to tell me that athletic pants are going to be inappropriate for an older, middle aged woman coming out?" It's not fair. It's not equal.
Nate: Especially going to the range.
Meredith: Especially going to the range. Yeah. So that bothers me. It makes me very frustrated. Now this is something that actually personally happened to me recently, like a year ago, this was actually during COVID. This happened to me. So as you know Solomon, he's a senior now and he's playing some great golf. And Solomon is one of my sons who dresses to the nine. Like he will look like a tour player when he's out playing golf. He loves the whole tour look. So he's got the nicest shirts. He just loves looking good out there. And that's his style.
Nate: Is he brand consistent too? If he wears Adidas shirt, he's going to wear Adidas short and Adidas shoes.
Meredith: Absolutely. Totally brand consistent. So Solomon's dressed to the nine like he normally is. And this one day he's like, "Hey mom, come out and watch me hit some balls." And I'll videotape them and stuff sometimes. So on this particular day, Jordan at this time was 13 years old. He's 14 now. Jordan's like, "Well, I'm going to go watch him hit balls too." I'm like, "All right, come on." Now Jordan is not drawn to golf.
He's starting to, but out of the three sons that I have, he's the one that does not play that much. He really doesn't have much interest. So I thought, "Oh cool. Maybe he'll get interested going out there." So we go out there, I'm watching Solomon hit balls, Jordan's standing right next to me. And Jordan says to me, "Mom, can I try hitting his driver? Can I try it?" Of course, I'm taking, "Yes, he's doing this on his own." Because I'm not going to push it.
So I'm like, "Yeah, that's awesome." So I was like, "Hey, Sol, can I borrow your driver and let Jordan hit?" Sol's like, "Yeah, it's fine." So go and I grabbed Solomon's driver and I get like three golf balls right next to Solomon. And I tee one up for Jordan. Jordan hits one shot is actually, I was like, "Whoa, hey, he's got just some ability there." He's athletic. He's an athletic kid. He goes, hits another, his second shot.
After his second shot, one of the staff members at the course walked up to Jordan and said, "I'm sorry, you can't hit golf balls." And so, I immediately walked up and I was like, hey, I was like, "What's wrong?" And the staff member said, "He can't hit golf balls because of his attire." Now I'll tell you what Jord had on, Jord had on a really nice pair of Nike shoes, he had on his Nike basketball pants, and actually a really nice Nike basketball shirt. He was definitely in basketball, athletic attire.
He's 13 years old, 13, not 18, not Solomon's age, 13 years old. Of course, as obviously being in the golf industry, I'm going to be very respectful of what the rules are and everything. And I apologized immediately. I did not think anything of it because he's 13 and he was actually dressed very nicely. He just didn't have a collar on. And the gentleman said, "He needs to have a color. His shorts are fine, but he just has to have a color."
And so I said, "Jordan, I'm sorry, you can't hit any more golf balls. Just take a step back. We'll just continue watching Solomon hit." I wasn't angry about that, but I was very disappointed, that disappoints me. Now the thing-
Nate: It's on the range too.
Meredith: It's on the range. And the thing is this, Jordan's 13. This is an age we need to grow the game. I do not think that any junior golfer, this is my opinion, under the age of 18. Okay. I'm going to say 18 because once you become an adult, you're going to be more aware of what you're wearing and what not. But if there is any junior golfer that wants to come out and play golf, if they're wearing basketball clothes, let them play golf.
If they're wearing tennis attire, let them play golf. Obviously I'm against tank tops, kids obviously not wearing a tank top, not wearing a swimsuit. Come on, let's be real. I'm not talking about, they can wear anything, but let them put on whatever shorts they want. T-Shirts and sneakers, that's fine. These kids need to be out in the course. I understand the jeans, I'm with you. I'm not big on people wearing jeans playing golf.
Nate: Well, there's different types of jeans. But my point was, how do you do anything athletic in jeans? How do you go to the gym? How do-
Meredith: How do you move?
Nate: Because jeans are ... they're tight. Generally jeans are tighter. It's like, how do you do that?
Meredith: Exactly. So when it comes to the clothing aspect, again, big advocate of growing the game. When I see a junior golfer not being able to play golf and it happened to my own son and I'm a pro and it happened to me. It happened to us and this happened and I was thinking, unbelievable. Now mind you, on the side of the staff member who said he could not hit, Jordan is six foot one for 13. He's almost six, three. Now he's 14. He's a very tall kid.
So from his perspective, he could have looked like an 18 or 19 year old far off, but he wasn't, he's 13 year old kid. He still got a 13 year old brain. So it's-
Nate: So I'll confess to this being in the industry is that you try to enforce the dress code policy. When someone comes in in a t-shirt, if it's a presentable t-shirt, it doesn't have Budweiser or Miller Light written on the front, it's like, you know what, they're comfortable. Maybe it's a Nike t-shirt.
Meredith: That's what he had.
Nate: And especially in the summertime in Myrtle Beach, you get people that don't play golf. It's like some people like getting back to your point, you're dressed uncomfortable. Some people that's comfortable to them. Sometimes people don't wear shirts with collars. Heck, Tiger Woods doesn't wear a shirt with the collar.
Meredith: And the whole collar thing to me needs to go, it needs to go.
Nate: Now, the tank top, guys in the tank top is like, [crosstalk 00:48:00].
Meredith: Especially the wife beaters. Oh no, no, no, no bathing suits, no wife beater shirt.
Nate: So I do draw a line, but t-shirt long as it's not holes in it.
Nate: It's like, why go down that road? Why go down that road? And on the range, it's like ... But I will admit, I don't go to a golf course to hit balls. I go to a practice center. I'll put on a dress pair of shorts and I'll make sure I have a collared shirt. I can't do it because of the years I've been in the golf [crosstalk 00:48:31].
Meredith: I know. It's like woven into you.
Nate: It's engraved.
Meredith: It's engraved.
Nate: So if I wore a t-shirt on the golf course, I would feel dressed ... I'd be dressed uncomfortable. Because I just feel like it's like yeah.
Meredith: My husband's the same way. He's not a big golfer, but when he plays, he'll always wear a nice pair of shorts and a collared shirt. He just wouldn't feel right not doing it. What could I wear? Honestly, I wear collared shirts. I wear the golf attire, the athletic golf attire. But if I ideally could wear what I really wanted to wear, I would not wear golf shirts. I would wear much more comfortable clothing.
In fact, I would probably wear more what you see everyday today, just what I would wear if I wasn't golfing. Like golf shoes, for example, I think everybody feels like you have to have a pair of golf shoes. These are my thoughts on golf shoes. I only need golf shoes with some cleats on the bottom when it's wet. Okay. So if the ground is dewy, I need something to get me some friction. If it's going to be raining or potential rain, I need it.
Nate: And I can attest to that because some of the lessons that we've filmed, you're wearing shoes with no tread on the bottom.
Meredith: Yeah, no tread.
Nate: Just flat.
Meredith: I know, I love it.
Nate: [crosstalk 00:49:45] like leather bottom. It's like, how does she do that?
Meredith: Well, it helps my swing too and I'll tell you why. But if it's dry and it's not dewy, I want to wear sneakers because that's how I grew up. The only time I wore cleats growing up and I grew up in the air where we actually had the metal cleats, click, click, click, click, click, that annoyed me so much. And I'm only-
Nate: I miss those.
Meredith: You miss those?
Nate: I do. I miss the metal cleats because I felt so much more stable-
Meredith: Stable. Yeah.
Nate: ... on the golf course.
Meredith: Right. No, I get it. But I would only play with my cleats when I played in tournaments. And then when I would practice, I'd practice in my sneakers. So that was just kind of my system growing up. And I still do that now. A lot of people, I think, feel like they have to have the whole golf look. So you look at someone on tour and you want to emulate that, nothing wrong with that at all.
But sometimes you're not comfortable. Not everyone's comfortable wearing a belt. You know what I'm saying? Think about it. There's some people I know that never wear belts. When they play golf, they wear belts. I'm like, "Why? Doesn't that bother you?" You got to be comfortable. You know what I'm saying? So this idea of you have to look a certain way to play golf. You don't. I think that the most important thing again is when you go play golf, number one, you want to have fun.
That is always the number one goal to me, is to have fun. Number two, you want to be comfortable. You want to dress appropriately, but you want it to be comfortable.
Nate: Yeah. You want to seem natural. It's not like you want to do something different. Because golf's hard enough. It's like, you just want to go out and feel comfortable. And this has evolved so much since we got into the golf business, last 25 years, the dress code has definitely been pushed a little bit, which I think is fine. And the tour should let the men wear shorts. I think that's crazy.
Meredith: There's kind of some, I don't know if it's like a contradiction, but it's interesting. So like how golf is marketed for women? Let's talk about women for a second. So you see some of the women dressed on tour. A majority of them dress pretty cool and appropriate, and then you have some that push it. Okay. And then you have golf influencers that dress just like they're literally playing golf in bikinis and just showing off their body obviously. Because they want to get followers and whatnot.
And that's how they make their money is showing their body. So it's you look at these golf influencers who dress very risque and then you see some of the players dress that way, but not all of them. And then a woman who is retired, wanting to learn to play golf, goes to the golf course, dressed appropriately with athletic pants and a golf shirt. And she gets kicked off. Do you see? It doesn't connect.
So what the media and the coverage and the sexuality that's focused on women, it's not connecting because you go to the golf course and they're like, "No, you can't hit golf balls." And this woman was covered up. Her whole body was covered up. It doesn't make sense.
Nate: That's not like that across the board. That's just someone working, having a bad day someday at the golf course and saying, "Well, why did you do that?" If you go somewhere else, it's like, "No, you're fine." But unfortunately when people look at, they say, "I'm going to the golf course," and they have that experience, they associate that with every experience that they're going to have.
Meredith: Sure. Because that's the only experience they have. So then they can say this bad taste and that's not how we need to [crosstalk 00:53:17].
Nate: So people are enforcing rules that not necessarily rules. They're just rules there. Because that's where they feel like they've got to enforce.
Meredith: Right. So we need like universally speaking. We need some ...
Nate: And you could have those and you would still have people that would just ... their interpretation is this.
Meredith: Right. That's so true. What you just said, the keyword is interpretation and what that is. So anyway, again, dressing comfortably and obviously nothing too crazy, but dressing comfortably is huge and not feeling like you have to have the white belt and white pants and the collar shirt. Dress comfortable because when you're comfortable, you're going to play better golf and you're going to have more fun. So don't feel like you have to dress like everybody else.
Nate: I'm getting used to wearing a hat. Years ago, I didn't have to because I had hair. But now if I don't wear a hat-
Meredith: Nate, you have hair.
Nate: ... I get burned at the top.
Meredith: You have hair.
Nate: But it's amazing though just things like that. Getting used to wearing a hat playing golf. I never used the wear. It feels different. I know I'm used to it now. It takes time. If you've played golf a long time [crosstalk 00:54:22] make changes.
Meredith: It does. I actually recently started, kept my watch on while I was playing. I used to always take my watch off.
Nate: I leave mine on now.
Meredith: Yeah. I leave mine [crosstalk 00:54:32].
Nate: Because I want to get the steps in. I want to know how many steps [crosstalk 00:54:34].
Meredith: There you go. That's smart. Yeah. And then a lot of people do their yardages on their watches and stuff. But I started wearing my watch and I'm actually just getting used to that. And it was funny when Natalie Gulbis came down here years ago when she came down to Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club. When we went out and played, she had on bracelets, she had on a watch. She had long fingernails.
I'm talking like long fingernails and multiple rings on her hand and she was hitting the ball perfectly. I'm like, "How do you play?" Me, I can't have my rings. I don't have my wedding ring on right now. It's just because this time of year, I'm so busy. I keep it off a lot during the day when I'm working and stuff. Because I can't have that [crosstalk 00:55:15].
Nate: [crosstalk 00:55:15] did she wear her glove over it?
Meredith: She wore glove. Yeah. She just put a glove over it. But then on the other hand, she had on like one or two rings. Honestly. I was like, "I wish I could do that." I'm like, "How do you do it?" She goes, "I've been doing it for so long." In long nails? I keep my nails really short because that's how I'm comfortable playing golf.
Because especially with my grip, if I feel my fingernails, it feels weird to me. It was amazing. I actually respected it. That's cool. I wish I could be so comfortable with my golf swing that I could wear a watch. I could wear bracelets and it's not going to affect me. So I now added a watch. I'm like, "Yeah, I'm getting there."
Nate: The one thing I wish, I wish I didn't have to wear a glove. I look at people who don't wear gloves and say, "Man, I wish I could do that." I have to wear glove. My hands sweat so much.
Meredith: Just get sweat. Yeah.
Nate: Especially in the summertime. I don't know how people do that.
Meredith: Well, they have so many cool new gloves now that are so thin just for the sweating. There's not as thick as they used to be, like the cool ones, the gel ones. There's some really cool gloves now that are much more comfortable.
Nate: It's just another expense.
Meredith: It is another expense. Maybe it's a good expense though. All right. So we're going to wrap up this podcast. That was a lot of fun. I hope everyone listening, maybe you got some good pointers today that will help you. Maybe you're like, "Oh my goodness. Can't believe they're talking about this." This was fun though to cover these five topics.
Nate: Yeah. I had a good time. I learned some stuff.
Meredith: Yeah. Yeah. Well, me too. I'm learning too. So all right, everyone. Well, you have a great week. Come back and join us on the Gimme Golf Podcast. Hit them straight, hit them long.
LPGA Instructor Meredith Kirk details 5 reasons (they may not be what you think) why your golf game might suck. Great observations from Meredith’s countless hours on the lesson tee. Whether you are a beginner or advanced golfer you’re sure to learn something that will help your game in episode #31 of the Gimme Golf Podcast!
Show Notes/Time Stamp
to :48 Introduction
:49 Wrong Equipment. At what point should a beginner golfer get fitted for golf clubs?
11:42 Trying to overpower shots on the golf course. Macho man! Grip pressure tip to help with tempo. The importance of a good golf grip
18:08 Not Knowing the Fundamentals. Grip-Target-Aim(clubface)-Alignment-Proper Athletic Position/Balance
28:50 The Mental Aspect of the Game. Taking your swing from the range to the golf course and “hemispheres”
38:38 Uncomfortably Dressed. What is the proper attire? Women vs Men, what’s acceptable?
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