Learn From the Best

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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It is that time of year again. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is coming to town February 25th through the 28th. This event is one of oldest and is the most attended event on the PGA Tour. This tournament also boasts a great field every year with many of the top players in the world teeing it up at TPC Scottsdale.

I have been giving golf lessons at TPC Scottsdale since 2003 and have witnessed many Opens. I generally observe the players from two areas, the practice tee and the putting green. I encourage you to do the same and watch the following areas.

Warm Up Routines. Most of the guys will have already visited the fitness van or will have stretched on their own before hitting the practice tee. Stretching should be an important part of your warm up routine.

Short golf swings are recommended when first loosening up. This will be a consistent theme across the board at the tournament. I see so many amateurs start their warm up with full swing mid irons and in some cases drivers. This could cause serious injury due to the fact that your body is not ready for this strain. Always start with fragmented wedge swings and work your way up. An efficient warm up routine consists of…10 short swing wedges; 10 full swing wedges; 5 full swing 8 irons; 5 full swing 6 irons; 5 full swing 3 woods; 5 full swing drivers; and 5 short swing wedges. This should take roughly 30 minutes.

After utilizing the practice tee, head on over to the short game area and spend some time hitting some chips and pitches. It is important to gauge how the ball rolls after hitting the green. I would recommend spending 10 minutes in this area.

Finally, head over to the putting green. Approximately 40-45 percent of your score occurs on the green. It is imperative to roll some putts in order to get a better idea of green speeds. Practice to a tee or to the fringe and work on putts ranging from 20 feet and beyond. Better speed will eliminate those unwanted 3 putts thus lowering your score.

After Round Practice Sessions. The warm up session is exactly that. The only goal is to warm up and prepare to play the best round of golf you can that day. Once the round has been completed, you should have an idea of what went well and what didn’t go so well. The post round practice sessions should be focused on what didn’t go so well, in order to improve the next time out. If you struggled with your speed, head to the putting green and work on distance control. If you struggled from 80 yards and in, go hit some pitches.

Watch the guys this year practice after their round. Generally speaking, they are all working on specific areas they need to sharpen up for the next day.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is always a great time in the Valley of the Sun. I hope to see you out at TPC Scottsdale later this month.

John Stahlschmidt is the PGA Head Instructor fro the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale, “2007 TOUR Academy of the Year” and home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Contact John at johnst@touracademy.com.