Denver Golf Expo

Denver Golf Expo 2014 - Entrance
Denver Golf Expo Entrance

It’s time again for The Denver Golf Expo today and tomorrow at the Denver Mart. A friend and I arranged to meet and carpool to the event, arriving a few minutes before the doors opened. We registered for the drawings and signed up for our free copies of Golf Digest, then headed into the venue.

The first stop was the CWGA booth. The Colorado Women’s Golf Association is working to add value to the membership through additional discounts at courses in the Denver area. We signed up for their drawing and continued into the main Expo space.

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Since the event had just opened, we headed over to the PGA booths where pros were giving free 10 minute lessons. Signing up at the Golf Tec booth for an evaluation in about an hour, we walked over to visit with one of the golf courses we’d like to play this year. Wandering through the vendor area, we stopped at several booths and chatted with the representatives, signed up for drawings and collected swag.

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Heading back over to the PGA booths, we both had our 10-minute lessons. The pro, Reggie Sanchez, used video to film the swing and detail the flaws. It makes a difference knowing exactly what the problem is and how to make a correction. Maybe I’ll practice hitting my driver with Reggie’s advice in mind.

I’ve always liked this event. The vendors are very nice and I like chatting with the golf course representatives. Although today I didn’t stay for any sessions, the ones in the past were very informative. There is also lots of equipment for sale and lots of interesting specialty items. Just as the crowds started building, we headed home to pull out the discount golf coupons from our collection.

Do you attend golf shows? Let us know.

End of the official golf season here in Colorado

Here on the Front Range in Colorado, we’ve had our first snow. For many here, that marks the end of golf season. That’s very fortunate for those of us here in the Rocky Mountain West that don’t mind golfing when the weather is a bit cooler. In fact, M and I played a small executive course here in Denver on Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining and the temps were in the 70’s.

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The golf league finished on September 29. I took 3rd with a 43. The winner shot a 40 on the par 31 course. She’s won in the past – in fact I tied with her last year for first. I had a rocky summer, with my swing being a a bit challenged. I think it’s mostly straightened out after taking a series of lessons with a coach. I’m still struggling with my driver. If I’m still struggling next Spring, I may take the driver in and have it cut down a bit.

As the weather cools, we need to pay attention to equipment. I like to clean my clubs and clean out my bag. Here on the Front Range, the mice move into garages during the winter. I have a bad habit of leaving Gorp in my bag. Since Gorp is made up of peanuts, raisins, cashews, and chocolate pieces, mice love it. I’ve had one bag ruined after mice chewed it up trying to get into it for food and shelter. So, clean up your equipment and clean out the food in your bag. You’ll not want to eat it next year anyway!

What do you do to get ready for winter golf? Let us know in the comments.

 

Swing drills to help off the tee

I’ve been spending some time with a golf instructor over the past few weeks. I suddenly had a problem hitting my driver, and my iron shots were becoming much more erratic. I firmly believe that if you want to have fun while you play, sometimes it’s necessary to get professional help. And I really needed professional help!

I’m a decent player. My official handicap is 30 as calculated by the Colorado Women’s Golf Association. I’d like do get it down to the mid-20’s if possible but I wasn’t getting anywhere. In fact, my scores were creeping up instead of down. So, off to the driving range.

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The issues with my swing are myriad, but the basics include being too tense and basically not letting my swing take it’s course. I have a bad habit of slowing down before I get to the ball, then standing up just about the same time I try to hit it. There’s plenty more, but let’s just start there.

The drills I’ve been doing to help correct this are very simple.

  • Without the club I stand as if I’m addressing the ball and gently rotate my shoulders, letting my arms swing in a natural arch.  This helps to develop muscle memory when I finally do have a club in my hand.
  • Grabbing a club, I grip it lightly and trying to swing from my shoulders in a natural arc. I don’t go all the way back or complete the follow-through. I’m trying to develop the muscle memory of relaxing through the swing and not stopping the club. I have a bad tendency to tense up and my arms become rigid. Rigidity in a swing is not good.
  • Grabbing a club about half way down with one hand, swing my arms back and forth imitating a swing. This allows me to see how my wrist, arm and shoulder is working together to produce power. I also have a tendency to use my hands to hit the ball, with my arms and shoulders just coming along for the ride. That’s part of the reason my shots are much more erratic.
  • With my driver I make a half swing, practicing taking the club all the way through without hesitating. I mostly hit the ball in the right direction.

My bad habits have become deeply entrenched. The movements I’m trying to learn are much harder to implement than I would have thought. My instructor has a great deal of patience as she helps me through this torture. But I’m hoping that once I get this mastered, the game will be much more enjoyable, and my scores will begin to come down.

Have you ever used an instructor? How did that go? Talk about it in the comments below.


Four tips on buying golf clubs – the path to the perfect set

For golfers, the equipment can be a blessing or a curse. For the new player, the choices seem endless. Golf clubs are one of the first choice players need to make and the selection is confusing. There are three basic choices here – get clubs made specifically for you, buy clubs from a store, or borrow clubs from a friend or relative. This decision is going to depend on how much money you want to spend and how committed you are to learning and playing the game.

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  1. If you are committed to learning and playing for at least two years, it might be worth it to go to a pro club fitter and get a set of clubs custom built for you. This usually costs more than buying off the rack, and you know that the clubs work with your swing. If you’re not sure you want to go this route, talk with a club fitter and find out how much it might actually cost. It may not be as much as you think. Google “golf club fitters” in your area for a list of folks that do this, or ask at your local golf shop or pro shop.
  2. If you’re not sure this game is for you, but you really want to try and start strong, you may decide to go to a local golf shop, work with the knowledgeable staff, and try out a few sets of clubs. You can work a budget with the shop, and get a set of clubs that you like. In some cases, the shop will let you borrow clubs for round. Costs for a set of clubs start at about $150.
  3. For those with a smaller budget, consider used clubs. Many players trade their clubs in regularly for the latest in equipment. For those of us just starting out, a good used set of clubs might be the perfect choice to learn the game. It also gives the opportunity to determine what type of clubs you might like – steel shafts or graphite, hybrids or classic irons, or different types of grips. Try to pick up a set for under $100.
  4. When I learned to play about 10 years ago, I borrowed by nephew’s clubs for a season. He wasn’t using them any longer, and I figured I could at least learn the fundamentals. If you’re going to borrow, try to avoid clubs that are more than 10 years old. The newer technologies are more forgiving for the newer player. The upside: it didn’t cost anything. The downside: these clubs really didn’t help my game. This was the best choice for me because I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy playing.

Most players I know have owned several sets of clubs over the years, and have landed on a set that works for them.  I played one season with my nephew’s clubs, and then my husband bought me a set for Christmas that I played with for a season. For my third season, I bought a set of clubs from the local golf shop which I played with for about three years. Then I took those clubs to a club fitter and replaced the shafts and the grips. It made a world of difference in my game!

My husband played with the same set for 20 years. He finally broke down and bought a nice set of irons. There is no one path to the perfect golf clubs. Just get out and play!

Where did you get the clubs that you play with today? Let us know in the comments!

 

The evening at the driving range

The weather here in the Rocky Mountain West has greatly improved over the past few weeks. Today, it was in the upper 70’s and after an atrocious day at work, I decided it was time to hit a few balls.

I have a love-hate relationship with practice. I don’t really like to do  it, but I know it’s good for me. Kind of like vegetables and exercise. But, I tried to go with a good attitude and the need to hit something very hard.

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I got my clubs, 7-iron, 5-iron, and driver and headed to the range. Filling the holder, I did a few stretches and watched the guys around me try to hit the stuffing out of the ball.  There’s usually a lot more men at the range than women.

I tried to focus on form. Easy swing, follow through, hold the ending. It felt really good to watch those balls fly across the range. In the meantime, there were several lessons going on and I like overhearing the correction and encouragement. It was all over in about 30 minutes.

As I was launching balls, the sun was going down behind the Front Range, and I reflected on how lucky we are to live here. We already have our tee time at a local course for Saturday morning.

Do you like to practice? Do you go to the driving range with a plan, or just intent? I’d like to hear.

 

Does your equipment match your game?

It’s the end of February in the Rocky Mountain West. There’s still a lot of snow on the ground, but I’m getting some emails that golf courses are open this weekend. I’m a warm weather golfer – golfing in temps under about 55 is too cold for me. Not for some of my hardier friends, and at breakfast this morning we were actually talking about adding and removing clubs from our bag, and using a local club shop to make clubs for us.

In my group, myself and one other lady have had our clubs tested and made for us. This morning, our conversation revolved around shafts and the flex ratings. My friend C went to see P.J., the club expert and he replaced the shaft on her driver with a stiffer flex. He also commented that her club was a bit too light for her. He suggested she dump her hybrid, which apparently had such a soft flex that a junior would have trouble hitting it.

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In my bag, my driver is an “R” flex and my irons are “X” flex – which seemed to be odd to the pro I was working with last summer. He questioned the flex on the irons as being too stiff. I’m fine with them – I won the net championship in my league last season, so no complaints from me. When I had my clubs tested, P.J. showed me how soft the flex was – I was amazed I could hit anything. Which actually was why I went to see him. My game had started bad and gotten worse since I couldn’t control the ball flight. I had purchased these clubs off the rack and was assured they were fine.

If you’re having trouble  hitting the ball squarely and you bought your clubs off the rack, you might want to consider finding a club fitter and having the clubs tested. You might be surprised at what you find.

Here are the different shaft flexes:

X flex: this is the stiffest flex. Usually, folks that use this flex are better players with high swing speeds.

S flex: This is the stiff flex. Again, this is used by better players that have a higher swing speed and a tendency to play aggressively.

R flex: This if the flex most weekend players use. As the flex ratings move down, the club bends a bit more as it’s swung.

Senior flex: This is often used as swing speeds decrease, allowing the club to bend a bit more to get the ball in the air.

L flex: Typically the ladies flex. This flex was much too soft for my game, but often this is just right for those with less powerful swings.

New airfare rules begin

Today, the Department of Transportation’s transparency rules go into effect. Starting January 25, 2012, advertised airfares must include any taxes and fees. When searching airfares, it may seem as though fares have suddenly jumped. In reality, the final price is the same.

For those of us who like to travel and often take our golf clubs along, it’s nice to know if there will be an extra charge for those clubs. M and I usually travel Southwest since there is no extra charge for golf clubs. If we don’t fly Southwest, we usually rent clubs.

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I think price transparency is a great idea and this new rule is a good start. But what about the rest of the industry? Why can hotels charge a “resort” fee and not disclose that in their advertising? Why can rental car companies add taxes and surcharges onto their pricing once you get to the counter without disclosure in advertising? Perhaps it’s time to take a look at these companies and require them to advertise the true price of their products and services.