As of this evening at 8pm, Riversdale has made the very difficult decision to close the course, practice facilities and pro shop, indefinitely.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to coach there for the foreseeable future.
It is therefore time to mobilize Plan B, in order to service your Golfing needs. This will involve live lessons using the Zoom meeting app, and pre-recorded lessons using the Hudl Technique app (both are free). Lesson prices will be generous, as I understand that many of us are either out of work completely or on a reduced income.
I will also be producing a "Coronavirus survival guide for your Golf".
Please keep an eye out for my social media posts, emails and website updates for more information.
Your are of course welcome to contact me at any time if you have any queries. Ongoing communication between us all is paramount. Even if you'd like to reach out for a general chat, m happy to listen.
Chin up people and I hope to speak with you all very soon.
New Video in the Members Vault- Putting: Loft & Path
New Video in the Members Vault- The Concept of Effort
New videos in the Members Vault- RSS Basics and Physical Training videos for the Right Sided Swing!
As I'm sure you are aware, the lockdown measures which were reintroduced by the Victorian Government yesterday will have some impact on my ability to deliver coaching services going forward.
To clarify- as of tomorrow, there can only be a maximum of two (2) people at any one time on the driving range and practice chipping green, as per government regulations.
I am also waiting back on clarification from our own association, the PGA of Australia, about any coaching protocols which I will need to adhere to. For your information, I have attached the most recent corrospondence from the PGA (from 7/7/20).
"At present, the specifics are yet to be released however the PGA is working closely with Golf Australia to determine the legislative effects of the health direction with regard to golf participation, coaching and business operations.
Whilst we remain optimistic of a positive outcome, PGA Members and golf facilities should await further advice due in the next 24 hours before pre-empting any change in permitted or prohibited activities. Any changes will come into effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday 8 July and a further communication will be provided before this time.
Please be assured your Association and Golf Australia are advocating for the continuation of golf and golf services across Victoria.
Senior State Manager - NSW/ACT/SA/VIC/TAS
PGA of Australia
Therefore, I will need to temporarily suspend coaching services until further notice.
In the meantime, I will still be working in the pro shop from Saturday-Tuesdays, and naturally I am always available for on-line lessons (either via Zoom, or pre-recorded HUDL lessons), until we can organise normal face-to-face lessons again.
I will be in contact again shortly with more information.
In the mean time, please take care of yourself, and I hope to see you all soon.
It is with much relief to announce that, as of Monday, I will be able to coach again at Riversdale Golf Club.
There have been multiple issues surrounding the provision of coaching services across the Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire areas, which relate to the strict adherence of social distancing measures, and use of hire equipment (including range balls). It is for this reason that I must offer my sincere thanks to John Horvath, Christian Tanner, Captain Paul Podbury and the Board for clearing the way for me to continue offering a service to you all. Please be rest assured that without their collaboration, it would have been far more difficult to recommence.
For your information, I have attached the following, which is an excerpt from the most recent email from our governing body, the PGA of Australia. It clarifies the challenges which Golf Clubs and coaches alike face at this time:
-No hire equipment, including golf clubs, pull buggies, or golf carts, may be made available for hire under any circumstances
-Club/facility driving ranges, putting greens and chipping areas cannot operate unless a distance of at least 100 metres between groups of 2 can be maintained. Please note, we are continuing to advocate for this restriction to change per the above
-1 to 1 coaching can continue in a non-contact, socially distanced setting
-Indoor coaching is not permitted
- No shared equipment (i.e. range balls) is permitted.
Therefore, I will be able to continue coaching under the following guidelines:
- All lessons will be conducted from the bottom of the driving range;
- I will be providing my own white practice balls for the lessons, which will be cleaned & sanitized prior to the lessons;
- Unfortunately, I am unable to allow anyone inside my personal teaching cart, due to the above guidelines;
- All lessons will be conducted in their normal manner, with the appropriate social distancing measures in place.
- I also politely request that if you are feeling unwell, to not attend any lessons. They can always be rescheduled for a later date, and I will not be charge any late cancellation fees.
Further to this, there will be a change to the way I charge for lessons in the near future. All lessons can be paid for in advance via my website at www.samhingeleygolf.com, via the paypal or Stripe payment systems. I will notify you all when this change is made.
I am available all day Monday to Thursday, plus Saturday.
Please note that this arrangement will continue for the duration of the six week lockdown period.
In the meantime, let's all enjoy the fact that we can still get out and play!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Riversdale Golf Club
0409 652 044
Dear Valued Clients,
As previously advised, I have now transitioned to my own, independent payment portal.
Payment of all lessons can now be made via my online lesson shop. Once a lesson booking has been made via myself or through the Pro Shop, please then follow the steps below to make payment:
1. Go to https://www.samhingeleygolf.com/shop
2. Select the lesson which you are paying for;
3. You will then be directed to the payment portal which will give you the option to pay via Paypal, or the Secure Stripe Payment System.
The payment portal has, so far, been very quick and hassle free. However, if you have an issue with the system whilst processing a payment, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Parking arrangements for Lessons
As previously advised, all lessons will be conducted from the bottom of the practice fairway for the duration of the lockdown period.
As your time is valuable, please utilise the parking spaces at the bottom end of the driveway, and then walk to the bottom of the range. I will meet you there.
Some of you have already sent in a swing for review; please keep them coming!
In the meantime, please stay safe.
Riversdale Golf Club
0409 652 044
Don't change the aesthetics, change the philosophy.
Beginner influences; the importance of learning the right basics.
I personally grew up in a remote country town called Mallacoota. It was an incredible upbringing, because of the freedom we had. It was not uncommon to be the only person on the golf course in the afternoon. Save for the kangaroos, of course. The only downside was difficulty in getting regular lessons. This meant that I read a lot of books, which often gave conflicting advice. And then when I had a lesson in a more personalised setting, the advice was different again. So in a nutshell, I had four different influences on my game; Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman Nick Faldo, and my first coach, Brian Huxtable.
Jack Nicklaus' books always spoke about big shoulder turn and leg drive. So I worked on that for a while. Then I got a Nick Faldo video and he spoke about setting the club early, keeping the legs more stable but firing with your hips to shallow the club. Greg Norman spoke of “Low & Slow”, “Right Pocket Back”, and hitting the ball as hard as possible. My poor coach then had the unenviable task of undoing months of poorly directed hard work, and fixing my issues!
Without realising, I was far too fixated on trying to decide how I would swing the club, purely through a lack of a clear plan, rather than adopting a simple yet tangible philosophy and then playing a lot more. I was told that you cant change your swing after the age of 18. I also wasnt told that all the of the great players have amazing short games.
Needless to say when I moved to Melbourne at age 18, my game was a shambles. Looking back, it made me realise how starting off with the wrong set of ideas can have a profoundly bad effect on a beginner golfer's development, later in their career. I had essentially spent the first 5 years of my career working on the various 'aesthetics' of my golf swing. I estimate that I tried to change my swing almost every week, simply by changing my arm direction, or grip, or leg action. Or maybe all three at once. I'd start out the day with a soft draw, and finish it off with a wicked snap hook. The more the ball started to go left, the more I'd swing to the right. And so the more I'd start to hook it. But I never fixed the true cause of my issues, which was how my upper and lower body worked. It was up too me to go on a process of 'self discovery' with my game and understand that many of my early influences, whilst well-intentioned, were not going to hold me in good stead as I got older, and that I had to change whom and what I was influenced by.
What we initially believed to be correct; The 'Jigsaw approach' Vs Fixing the origin
"It's all about the governors for me. I have a limit to kind of what I do with the swing so I don't overrotate. You can see I missed a lot of shots left this week. My left arm wasn't holding and being stable enough through impact. It was just rolling over. That's why I was drawing it and hooking it a little bit." Bryson De Chambeau, Golf Digest, September 2020
If you grew up playing golf in the 1980's and 1990's, the prevalent players at the time (Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo etc), advocated a one piece takeaway, big shoulder turns over the trail leg, weight transfer, shaking hands with the target on the follow through, swinging 'inside to out', and so forth. It was Greg Norman who preached “Low & Slow”, with plenty of backswing extension and then hip drive on the downswing. The improvement of your action itself came down to lots of technical practice vs less playing, a sense of timing and rhythm, and an attitude that 'hard work pays off no matter what'. Very few coaches and players advocated any type of Cause & Effect approach to coaching. What many of us had never been told was that without AT LEAST having the correct mechanical “match ups” in the swing, the many different pieces of information that we read about did not work without a greater understanding of them. It was literally like piecing together a 1000 piece jigsaw- segmenting each piece of the swing into stagnant positions. You have could 4 out of 5 pieces in place, but not the most important bit (whatever that was). Secondly, hard work on its own was no precurser to success. The term “Perfect practice makes perfect” is very true. If you are not working on the correct things, then working hard may very well be working against you. This is why I personally transitioned to Gary Edwin, a coach and mentor who's fundamental belief was that without fixing the 'Origin' of any golf swing, the remaining pieces could not really be cured. Once I understood the origin of my personal swing problems, and how that influenced all of the issues I was trying to fix individually, I could then fix all those issues with a few simple flowing drills. During the US Open, I heard Bryson Dechambeau talk about the 'governers' in his Driver swing not working too well. This was quite pivotal; it meant that even though his driving had alluded him temporarily, he knew exactly where the problems lay, and how to fix them. In other words, he knows his swing very well. He understands the 'origin'.
Honest self reflection
This question is best asked in the mirror! Assuming you want to improve your game, ask yourself this: does my current technique really work, or am I hoping it works? I have often asked people this question on the range, and without fail, the great majority say “I hope it works”, or a variation of that answer. I am not asking you to be a touring professional; but what I want for you is to adopt an attttude of “I know my golf swing/chipping/putting stroke works, because the evidence tells me it does”. In order to answer this question with the latter, you may need to adopt a radical change in mindset; one that is far more open to change, to doing something you've never done, and preparing yourself for a few uncomfortable moments.
The scary nature of change
Without a doubt, the most scary thing about changing your game, for the better, is the attitude of “what if it doesnt work?”. It is this little voice in the back of people's minds during a badly constructed practice session, that usually drives them straight back to old habits. Many questions arise during 'a makeover'; Have I interpreted these changes correctly? Why do I still hit bad shots? Why is it so hard? What do other people think of me? Will it ever get better? And so forth. From a physiological perspective, change is difficult because you are effectively 're-wiring your brain'. You are asking it to do something that it has probably never done before. It will therefore feel foreign, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright nauseating! I've always believed that true progress is made when someone can adopt a sense of peace & calm towards change. That is, they are comfortable being uncomfortable. They love sitting in the uncomfortable zone. These people see change as a challenge to rise up too, not an insurmountable one from which they shrink from. Having the desire to change requires guts!
Try these pointers if you start to have trouble with your own individual game changes:
Open your mind, and find a coach/plan that makes sense in your heart. It is pointless trying to blindly follow a new regime which you know deep down does not work for you;
Never practice without a properly constructed 'practice plan'; this needs to outline what the purpose of the session is, and what outcomes you want;
Never hit practice balls in any type of setting in 'machine-gun' fashion; take at least 45 seconds between each shot, and go through your full pre-shot routine for each one, remember, you are practicing for the real thing;
Ignore the nay-sayers and doomsdayers;
Be realistic, not perfectionist;
How to measure success vs failure
There is no doubt that the ultimate goal of any change in our game, should be the improvement in our scores. It is, after all, the only factor that determines winning or losing at the game. However, it is the process that we follow to shoot lower scores, which is so critically important. We cant simply say to ourselves “I'm going to shoot 62 nett today” without some sort of tangible process involved. Whilst the thought process itself is admirable, and shows intent, but golf normally doesnt work like that. The goal should be “I'm going out to shoot the lowest possible score I can”, taking into account the various environmental and personal factors involved. For instance, could you logically expect to shoot 62 nett in the Monthly Medal, if you've arrived late to the course from a stressful morning at work, with no warm-up and no game plan? I see and hear the following sort of meltdown from people quite often- “I just had to average a bogey for the last five holes to shoot 36 points, but instead I three putted the 14th, got frustrated, and hit it in the water on the 15th after a duck flew up in my backswing!”. Game over. The better mindset would be “Expect some mistakes, go through my proper routine before EVERY shot, play each shot with my normal/predictable shot shape (even if that is a low slice), and enjoy the day”. These are Process Goals, not Outcome Goals. If you adopt a Process Goal mentality, then you release the “scoreboard pressure” from yourself. The best score for the day will be whatever it is that you shoot- which you can take immense pride in doing.
The improvement curve is never linear; why a golfer plateau's due to learning constraints.
All people learn in three basic ways: Kinesthetic (feelings), Visual (by observing), and Audio (by hearing). Most of the people I teach are a combination of all three. Personally, I like to 'feel' the changes that I have made, but I've also had to adopt a “read between the lines” approach to listening, rather than simply hearing things so 'literally', and I've also learnt that what you see is not often what is actually happening, due to previous experiences and learning biases.I'm pretty sure most of us, at some point in time, have imagined some sort of 'timeline' where our handicaps would plummet along some sort of 'linear' graph. How we all wished that were true! There are so many reasons why improvement at Golf isnt linear; change in personal circumstances, injury, loss of confidence/motivation, the yips and mechanical 'break-down' are usually the most common amongst the better players on tour.
Right now, the ever-humble Jordan Spieth is enduring one hell of a slump, mainly due to his desire to extract more distance off the tee, which in turn has seen him become highly inaccurate with the driver. Amazingly, his short game is still incredible- it has to be! But he is simply not in a position to make birdies the way he used to be when he was world number one. I use Jordan as an example because he rose to such great heights so early in his career; but has fallen back to such a degree that he now faces the prospect of never getting back to where he used to be, let alone become better. I could never be personally critical of Jordan Spieth either as a person or a golfer, however my observation is this: whatever he has tried in the past two years to improve, probably has not worked the way he would have hoped. However, the secret to champions like Jordan Spieth, and others who have suffered a form slump like him, is that they can identify a “learning constraint” of some sort which is holding them back. It could be the way they interpret information, or perhaps it may be that they have transitioned to a more unnatural style of learning. Therefore it is true that many of the world's best golfers who have suffered form slumps in their careers (Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods), were able to recognise that they had become too casual with their learning and had to be more analytical, whilst someone like Greg Norman had to abandon a more critical learning mindset and go back to a more natural approach. In fact it is true that Butch Harmon, who became Greg Norman's coach in late 1991, said to Greg Norman in his first lesson “You've gone away from being Greg Norman- you need to become Greg Norman again”.
Where would you like to be in 12 months time?
I'd like to end this by simply asking: in 12 months time, do you still want to be chasing your tail, or following a logical plan? This ties in closely with challenge of change, and identifying the origin of our faults. We, as coaches, often see people battling with their games, trying different theories. The sad part is that they are often unable to hold down any type of repeatable improvement pattern for too long. The chances are that in their ill-conceived pursuit of perfection, they may have stumbled across something worthwhile, but not given it the time to bed in. And so the spiral continues. My aim, as a coach, is to provide you with a logical plan which is easy to follow. Having a plan gives a golfer purpose; it means you are always working on something. It means you can set goals for yourself. It means that you can measure success and failure.
As we have not played for over three months, now is a great time to refresh your approach to the game and get started on the basics.
I hope to see you soon.