Practice Tips

GurfBall® Practice Tips

Introduction

Welcome GurfBallers! Hopefully, by now you have had a chance to read the “Operating Instructions” that came with your GurfBalls. Golf is a mental and physical game and it is very important to have the proper mental attitude about the GurfBall. The GurfBall is not a toy or novelty. It is a serious swing training tool. It works by letting you observe the same shot patterns you would see on the golf course or at the driving range and adjust your swing accordingly to hit the desired golf shot. In effect, it allows you to practice at home – indoors, as if you were outdoors at the driving range with the exception that the feedback is much faster and more precise. The following tips are deigned to help you get the most out of your GurfBall® practice.

Testimonial

“ I have never seen instructions come in a package of practice balls but these balls are not like other practice balls.They will absolutely revolutionize indoor practice. Read the ‘operating instruction’ before you begin to understand why two different types of balls are provided in each package of 6 balls. ”

Gene “The Machine,” Bowie, MD

Different Ways to Practice
There are six basic ways to practice with the GurfBall®. In general, however, the first thing you should do is Warm Up. The warm up leads naturally to the Repetition Mode followed by the Full Swing, Chipping, Pitching, Sand Wedge, and Driver. In all of these modes except the warm up, the GurfBall should be used as a diagnostic tool. As a diagnostic tool, the GurfBall can be used to experiment with different elements in your golf swing, such as the grip, the stance (posture), the clubface, ball position, shaft angle, take-away, backswing, downswing, “wrist action” through the ball and follow-through to determine the affect that small swing changes have on your ball flight pattern. For example, if you are trying to hit a straight shot (see tip on hitting straight shots below) and the ball is not going straight, then you can make adjustments in one or more of your swing “elements” until the ball starts going straight. The number of different ways to hit a golf ball is huge, but it is advisable that you start with the grip and hold that constant as you eliminate some of the other variables in your swing. You will eventually come back to the grip for fine tuning and this is a good thing. Pick a shot shape and practice that until you are confident that you know how to hit it, then confirm that by hitting that shot time after time in the Repetition Mode until the ball convinces you that you have learned that shot.

Warm-Up and Repetition
In the warm up and repetition modes you position yourself about 8 feet from the target wall (further back with longer clubs) and ue the blue ball. You start the warm up by taking little baby swings (low speed) with no forced follow through. You can warm up with any club. You should continue the warm up until you swing speed gradually increases as you loosen up. You may find that your shots are “all over the place” until you get pretty loose. Continue on swinging until you are comfortably taking full swings (moderate speed) and holding your follow. After you are warmed up, increase your swing speed gradually up to about ¾ swing speed. Your shots should start to straighten out and become more consistent. You are now ready to resume your practice from the last session or start a new practice session.

Repetition Mode
The repetition mode follows the warm up whether you are starting a new session or picking up from the last practice session. You want to move a little further back from the wall, but not so far back that you you are considered to be in “long range” distance (about 12 to 15 feet). The repetition mode serves two important purposes. First, it allows you to “walk through” elements in your swing and gauge the affects swing change have on ball flight. For example, if you are trying to hit a straight shot and your wrist action through the ball is inconsistent, you will see the ball hitting left and right of your target line. Being that you are at “close range,” this feedback is instantaneous and it will suggest changes in your swing elements to get the desired result.

Secondly, the repetition mode helps golfers to fight the tendency to swing harder the further they are away from the green (especially with longer clubs). For example, a player may swing at one speed at 220 yards from the green and a much faster speed at 240 yards from the green with the same club. Pros can keep this faster swing speed under control, but less skilled players cannot. This mindset also occurs with the GurfBall® as well and there is a tendency to swing harder the further you get back from the wall. To counteract this tendency, move closer to the wall (repetition mode) and slowly build up swing speed while maintaining control of the swing. Start with slow baby swings and move up to full speed. Of particular importance is the follow-through position. You should strive for the same follow-through position regardless of your swing speed. At the advanced level, one type of follow-through may give you a draw and another type may give you a fade (a la Jim Thorpe). Remember, this is a game of control. It has been said, “You drive for show and you putt for dough.” Once you have established your optimum swing speed in the repetition exercise, move further back from the wall (long distance) and practice maintaining that speed for each club while concentrating on you rhythm, balance, and follow-through.

Full Swing Mode
In the full swing mode, position yourself about 12 feet from the target wall (long distance). Use the blue ball for long irons and woods and the gray ball for wedges to mid irons. In this mode you can practice all the different shot shapes you expect to use on the golf course. Use the gray ball when you are more interested “spin” and the blue ball when you are swinging harder and more interested in maintaining your balance. Regardless to which ball you use, maintaining your rhythm and balance are always important. Of particular concern in all practice modes is the “spin” off the wall. It may be counterintuitive but, after the ball hits the wall, it bounces to the right on a draw shot and it bounces to the left on a fade. You should consider placing some blue painter’s from the floor and up the wall to serve as a target line (see Videos). This is very helpful and very revealing about where and why you are losing strokes on the course. If your ball hits right of the tape and bounces left, then you have just hit a push fade (or slice). If it hits left of the tape and bounces right, you have just hit a pull draw (or hook). Slices and hooks will have much more spin and therefore, the bounce off the wall (either left or right) will be more pronounced. Ideally, you want the ball to either hit the target and bounce straight back, hit left of the target and bounce left (fade), or hit right of the target and bounce right (draw).

Driver
The blue tape is especially helpful when practicing hitting driver off the “deck.” The back of the GurfBall should be positioned where the driver just squares itself (bottoms out) with the floor. The GurfBall works with the driver because the midpoint of the GurfBall is 1.375 inches above the floor and it is an excellent target for a driver. Typically, for a driver, you would want to tee up the mid-point of the ball somewhere between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 inches above the ground depending on your preference for teeing it high or low. By practicing hitting GurfBalls with driver off the “deck” you force yourself to consistently just “graze” the mat (bottom out) on your downswing. This doesn’t normally get the GurfBall more than a foot off the ground (see driver video), but again, you can tell if you are pushing it, pulling it, fading, drawing, topping, it or hitting it fat. These driver sessions help your with your hand-eye coordination, balance, and follow-through. When you just graze the mat and hit the ball at its equator, you get a very nice feedback from the “pop” sound and the ball taking off like a jet, hitting the wall, and bouncing straight back to you (a straight shot), or bouncing left or right as described above. It is most gratifying to flat out whale at the ball and keep your balance with a perfect follow-through and have the Gurfball hit the wall right on target and come straight back. This is what driver practice all about.

Pitching, Chipping, and Bunker Shots
Pitching and chipping practice is done at close range using the gray ball because of its variable deceleration rate (the harder you hit it the faster it decelerates). Use the GurfMat (optional) for practicing bunker shots and for hitting crisp descending shots that puts backspin on the ball. Pay close attention to whether you are pushing or pulling your pitches and chip shots and the spin off the wall. If you are a fan of the Golf Channel you can get some great tips by watching how the pros chip on the slow motion replays. You can also practice your bunker shots by opening the face of your sand wedge and hitting slightly behind the ball (a mat is required to practice this shot). Here you want to hit behind the gray ball and look for it to go “nowhere.” If you catch it clean, you’ll know right away that you flew the green. Finally, you can take the same club or your lob wedge and practice your lob shots (gray ball).

The Secret of the Straight Shot
Jack Nicklaus said, “The straight shot is the hardest shot in golf.” The straight shot is not only the hardest shot in golf, it is almost impossible to hit. But, therein lies the secret to the golf swing. To understand the secret you need to understand the mechanics of the golf swing, the golf club and the ball. Like any object moving as a result of a force, it can only move in straight line (simple motion) or in a curve (complex motion). There are only two forces you can apply to a golf club in a normal golf swing: centripetal force and torque force. By that definition, there is no way the club path can be “straight” down the line. The club is always moving on some sort of arc, even if it’s just a tiny one. The inertia of the ball means that the ball wants to stay where it is until moved by a force. The initial force causes the ball to initially compress and then “stick” to the clubface as it travels along and arc. If the clubface is “square” to the ball at impact, the ball initially follow the path of the clubface which is traveling along an arc. That mean the ball will initially start out moving left of the target. The only way to start the ball straight is to stop applying torque (to the clubface) and change the club path from arcing to straight just before impact and apply a linear force at impact until the ball leaves the clubface. This is very difficult to do, but Ben Hogan did it and he discussed this in his book, Five Lessons. The torque force is a rotary force applied to the club handle. This causes the clubface to rotate in one of two ways: open (clockwise) or closed (counterclockwise). It is the applied torque which causes the clubface to move in a complex motion. To hit a golf ball straight as a result of applying a complex force is almost impossible. As a result, most “straight” balls will have some sort of curve as it flies to the target.

There are two ways to hit the so-called “straight” shot. The golfer should pick the method that is easiest to repeat “on demand” because once you master the so-called straight shot, you will easily be able to hit draws and fades at will. So, “What’s the secret?” you ask. It’s simple. Reduce the amount of torque applied at impact to zero through the shot. This is called “wrist action thru the shot.” Refer to Mr. Hogan’s book in the section where he describes, “The Second part of the Swing” and note the 4th and 5th drawings of the left arm movement through the ball. From the series of drawings it is impossible to see that the left hand actually stops rotating between the 4th and 5th drawings! This is one way to hit the “straight” ball. The other way is to open the face of the club slightly and cause your swing path to be slightly inside to outside. The second way could give you anything from a hook to a slice depending on the amount and direction of the applied torque. The first method is preferable, since the margin of error is smaller with that method.

There, you have it. The secret is out and Ben Hogan’s book is an excellent introduction to the modern fundamentals of golf. I’ve been studying and learning from Ben Hogan’s book for many years and I absolutely would not have figured this out without the Gurfball®.

Conclusion
These Tips are designed to help golfers improve their swing fundamentals and to provide the opportunity to practice any time, in any weather, year round. Some skeptics will tell you they only hit real golf balls. Ask them, “How many plastic balls have you lost ricocheting off the walls of your house?” Those little plastic balls provide virtually no useful feedback indoors. These exercises are virtually impossible to do with any other kind of indoor practice ball and the GurfBall® is vastly superior to just swinging “in the air” at nothing. If you are going to swing your club at home, and most avid golfers do, you may as well be swinging at the GurfBall®.
For beginners or people thinking about learning this wonderful game of golf, it is a way to get started without the embarrassment of trying to learn how to hit golf balls on the driving range in front of a crowd of critical onlookers.

The Gurfball® is a professional swing training device that provides a 24/7, year-round fun learning experience for all golfers, including professionals.

Have fun!

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