How to Use the Internet to Improve Your Golf Game
For golfers, the idea of innovation tends to conjure up hardware: clubs made of space-age alloys with oversize heads in often bizarre shapes, balls engineered to fly farther and land softer, and tees designed to reduce friction.
However, the Internet also offers traveling golfers numerous paths to game improvement, most of them at nominal expense (or for free). Perhaps best of all, this approach provides immense flexibility, as these resources can be accessed from a hotel, airport lounge or virtually wherever your busy schedule takes you. Indeed, many teaching professionals consider travel and golf instruction to be soul mates.
“Escaping the distractions of your everyday environment is a huge advantage in focusing on new golf skills,” says Brad Yates of VIP Golf Academy (vipgolfacademy.com), a network of golf schools specializing in corporate group instruction. Here are some online golf instruction options for your next trip.
Watch and Learn (Online)
Of course, assessing improvements in your game using video requires that you intermittently generate more video—ideal for those who learn best by absorbing visual input. Verbal pointers work better for some people, though, and the Shawn Humphries Golf Performance Web site (shawnhumphries.com), based in Dallas, Tex., is a comprehensive source for such material. Humphries’ mantra is “building a repeatable swing.”
Humphries’ site is a cornucopia of training aids and DVDs, a blog archive, video instruction, Shawn’s Travel Journal, and more. He also broadcasts live monthly webinars: one-hour programs on various instructional points. Past presentations are archived for your convenience.
Check Your Progress via Video
When business brings you to New York, stop by the Randalls Island Golf Center—located between LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports and midtown Manhattan—and ask Rick Nielsen about the “smarter lessons” program, available in two-, four-, and six-month installments (ricknielsengolf.com). Nielsen, the center’s director of golf and a Master PGA instructor, produces digital video of students’ swings in a multifaceted format that allows slow-motion and stop-action isolation of even the most minute segments of the movement. Proper angles and “corrections” are then superimposed on the images, and students receive annotated DVDs or email files of the video session.
Using the program’s tools, you can check your progress from the comfort of your hotel room by sending updated video to Nielsen, or you can supplement your initial video by having him prepare a side-by-side comparison of your swing and that of your favorite pro player. Your lesson also includes a free half-hour introduction to Pilates from Nielsen, a certified instructor of the practice, which is also a great form of exercise while on the road.
Receive Instruction in your Inbox
Regardless of your game-improvement objectives, sometimes just reaffirming your fascination with golf—and reminding yourself how much fun it can be—is enough, particularly for those suffering through the northern off-season. One way to meet that goal is to sign up for Golf Improvement Weekly, an email newsletter from Golf Made Simple (golfmadesimple.com), which also operates golf schools in Florida, Arizona and California. Weekly installments offer drills and advice for improving your play, all delivered in an appealing, not-too-serious tone.
Don't Forget the 19th Hole
That same laid-back spirit pervades the Internet musings of California-based pro Kris Moe (krismoegolfschools.com), whose Web site combines golf and oenophilia. Moe plainly understands that as useful as technology is in teaching golf, there’s no substitute for hands-on, face-to-face interaction—so he offers a playing lesson at your club of choice, including membership in his 19th Hole Wine Club.
THOMAS HARACK is a freelance golf writer.