Once again for the Red, White and Blue 

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

More Information

I have been watching the Winter Olympics and have that sense of national pride as the United States’ teams have won gold medals in events for the first time. 

Women’s Hockey was so exciting to watch, even though they were behind late in the game the team was always putting pressure on the Canadian team. After tying the game, great defense on both sides sent the game into overtime. In overtime the American team was penalized for 2 minutes leaving them a player short in the 4 on 4 playoff format. Did they show frustration? Was a referee asked to come over for a talk? No! They buckled up and took on team Canada and played like the champions they are. In overtime shootout they tied through the first rotation and then went into first goal unanswered wins. The United States had a goal scored that reminded me of a holing out from the tee box on a par 4. When team Canada was blocked… history was made. 

Why hockey or Women’s Biathlons or even men’s curling are all gold medal winners? Because our teams were concerned with the process, not an outcome. It became evident during the curling the American team gave Sweden no chance to talk about the instinct to win by as much as possible.  

How do we translate this into something useful for us? First, the preparation the Olympic athletes take can be a blueprint for success. If anything, they over train. A golfer’s version of over training may be switching brands of potato chips or beverages while on the couch.   

Hank Haney says that if you cannot play or practice you should make 100 swings a day. You are not hitting balls you are just swinging. If you think about this, it’s really like playing almost 54 holes of golf full swings. So I am an advocate of this idea. 

When I do this (yes, besides being an advocate I am a participant) I work on weight transfer. Keep your weight always inside the instep of your trail foot during the backswing. Your spine ideally should not get outside your trail instep during backswing. For the forward motion the lower part of your core (hips) along with the lead side thigh should start the forward motion. This does not have to be a violent excessive motion, it just has to lead. After the start please feel free to blast at the ball with the rest of your core. I always work on balance when I do these swings. I focus on staying centered on backswing and being grounded during the forward motion.  At the finish I must have my upper body slightly leaning into the target line. My core and upper torso should have rotated to the left of my target line and my spine should not have an upper body lean towards the target. These are all good things that help when I play. I combine these with my shadow drills to make my practice complete. 

Take a little time for you, the 100 swings do not have to happen all at once, I break mine into 4 segments of 25. I have also added the Phil Mickelson speed drill we saw at Torey Pines this year.  Total time invested is under an hour and that is time well spent. 

Need help? Call or visit your PGA professional. They not only can help they have been through the process before.

See you all on the range and just for old time’s sake, “It’s a grand old flag, it’s a high flying flag.” Red, White and Blue where we are allowed to play and enjoy a great game. Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com.