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 CARLY FROST
 Editor
 Ladies Golf Today

Carly's blog - news and views on the world of ladies' golf
June 08, 2012

To contact Carly, send us your news or air your thoughts, click here...

How blind golfers can teach us all a lesson...

I recently had the pleasure of watching ladies golfing legend Laura Davies giving up her time to do a putting clinic for a group of blind golfers. It was a publicity drive for a new PGA Academy Program that has been launched by ISPS Handa to help equip PGA professionals with the skills to coach blind and disabled golfers, to give them more opportunities to enjoy the sport.

Davies, a 45-time winner on the LET took time out to meet the blind golfers and demonstrate some of her practice techniques on the putting green. She gave a very inspirational talk to the golfers and showed them how she practiced and it was very well received. What struck me more than anything was the simplicity of the coaching, with blind golfers you have to be very descriptive and pay more attention to how you describe 'feelings' - something I think we could all benefit from focusing on. In fact I think it's a useful tip to try on the putting green and close your eyes then make your putting stroke. Now really focus on the feeling of your stroke, the rhythm and tempo, then make a few putts. This will really bring out your instinctive stroke.

After the clinic I caught up with Craig Thomas, the PGA Professional who is heading up the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Program and asked him a few questions about how coaching blind and disabled golfers is unique...

Q. What attracted you to the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Program?

"It's the first time anything has ever been done for blind and disabled golfers before and as a golf coach it is hugely rewarding to be able to make a difference. It's amazing how much you learn from working with disabled golfers that helps coach non-disabled golfers too. I'm a great believer in coaching the person for who they are, seeing their ability, not their disability, and don't fear their limitations. The laws of golf still remain the same regardless."

Q. How do you coach a blind golfer to swing the club?

"With blind golfers you are working all around feel so you have to be very descriptive with the way you talk about movements in the swing. It's important to get lots of feedback from the player about what they feel. The levels of communication just have to totally change. There are plenty of training aids that we work with to help give them the correct feel in the swing and it's amazing how easily correct muscle memory is developed.

Q. Can golfers with any disability learn to play?
Yes, absolutely, the beauty of golf is that every single person can play - there are no limitations. It is a great rehabilitation sport, a way of keeping fit and being social.

Want to take part?

As part of its support of the academy program, ISPS will be enabling new trained PGA professionals to provide a thousand free golf lessons for blind and disabled golfers to encourage them to think about either taking up the game of golf, or continuing to develop their golfing skills.

The first stage in this program has been to train a number of PGA professionals as tutors to deliver the training workshops that will be rolled out over the coming months.

Disabled athletes interested in taking part in the golf coaching should email Francesca.Johnson@wsmcommunications.com for a full list of participating venues and dates throughout the summer.

FASHION FOR THE FAIRWAYS

Golf shoes that look and feel like trainers!

There's a big trend at the moment for spike-less shoes and FootJoy, the Number One shoe in golf, has just unveiled a striking new women's LoPro Casual shoe, that looks to me a lot like a trainer!

The eye-catching shoe has been developed to provide great support on the course but has been designed with the idea that it can be worn casually off the golf course too - what a great idea if you're dashing off on the school run or to the shops straight from the course!

From a technical point of view the LoPro Casual is made of super-soft premium materials that deliver superior underfoot comfort thanks in part to an innovative DuraMax Rubber Outsole. Additional waterproof protection and superior breathability are guaranteed via a ProofGuard membrane, whilst supple leather uppers provide extreme comfort and a world-class fit.

"The concept behind this striking new design is to provide the female golfer with a shoe that can be worn on the golf course, practice ground, clubhouse and even outside the confines of the golf club," commented Russell Lawes, European Marketing Manager, FootJoy. "The LoPro Casual provides the premium materials, comfort and fashion styling that FootJoy has been synonymous with for over 100 years,"

The LoPro Casual will be available in a choice of White/Pink & Black/Red/White colour options along with additional contrasting laces to provide further customisation. Recommended retail price starts at £77.50. Visit www.footjoy.co.uk for more information.

TRIED & TESTED: Titleist DT SoLo

Contact: 01480 301114, www.titleist.co.uk

Does the price of a golf ball really reflect its performance?

It occurred to me a couple of months ago that I have always played the most expensive golf balls on the market, just because I can! I'm in the luxurious position of being able to pick from the top-of-the-range Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, Nike's...as the manufacturers occasionally send me a dozen balls to test. These balls would cost me in excess of £45 a dozen in most Pro shops, so I asked myself what would I actually play if I have to buy golf balls? The answer was not these balls! So then I looked at what was available to me at an affordable price and I followed the very simple but informative Titleist online golf ball fitting guide ( www.titleist.co.uk/golf-ball-fitting ) to help me select the right ball for my swing type and needs.

The one ball that ticked all the boxes that I needed - distance, without sacrificing feel and spin control around the greens - was the Titleist DT SoLo. So for the last four weeks I have been playing the DT SoLo to see how it compared to the trusty Titleist Pro VI or equivalent from other manufacturers that I have always played. The first thing I found was how different the feel was, but how amazingly soft this ball feels off the putter face. The DT SoLo is significantly softer than other balls I have played before, in fact I struggled to get my putts up to the hole in the first round I played with it as it was so different, but by the end of the game I was loving the responsive feel.

The DT SoLo still spun on my chips and bunker shots, although I'd say with just a fraction less check, but hardly enough to be concerned. It felt great off my irons, flew with a controllable straight ball flight and was just as powerful off the tee, although I didn't actually gain any distance, but my drives flew just as long. The best part is definitely the price! The Titleist DT SoLo is only £21 a dozen.

I started the test as a golf ball snob and very sceptical about how I would get on with a budget ball but after four weeks I am a total convert. I will definitely keep playing the Titleist DT SoLo now and my advice to every lady golfer out there is to really make the effort to find a ball that is right for you and stick with it. It might be that the most expensive golf balls suit your game best or you might get lucky and discover, like me, that a budget ball that's half the price can boost your performance!

Tips from the Tour

Do you struggle with your chipping? Simplify your technique with this putting-style bump and run shot.

By Lynn Kenny, LET Professional & ISPS Ambassador

"Growing up playing my golf on links courses across Scotland I suppose it was inevitable that I would learn to use a lot of bump and run style shots. Yet regardless of the course conditions or where I am playing in the world this is a shot that has helped me out throughout my career and one that I think a lot of amateur golfers will benefit vastly from learning to play.

If you are the sort of golfer who is prone to fluffing their chips and feels anxious around the greens with a wedge in hand then the bump and run is a great 'go-to' shot. The technique is really simple (literally like making a putt) and you can use it with any club in your bag. There are just a couple of simple adjustments to make at set-up...

•  Address the ball with the club shaft pointing a little more to the sky (upright). You will probably have to slide your hands down the grip a few inches to feel comfortable in this position. Your iron should now be sat quite vertical, similar to how you would feel a putter in your hands.

•  Square your stance. Most chipping techniques require you to stand slightly open to the ball to encourage spin to be put on the shot, but for this shot I want you to address the ball with a square stance like you would for a putt because you are going to make your normal pendulum putting stroke.

•  Narrow your stance and centre the ball in between your feet. Now all you need to do is rock your shoulders back and through with a smooth tempo like your putting action. The ball should literally get in the way! You'll find it chips forward a few feet and then runs out like a putt the rest of the way to the hole.

"Experiment with using this technique with different clubs in your bag from your pitching wedge to your 5-iron, you should find it really easy to begin to use. The further the flag is from you the less lofted the club you should pick and vice-versa."

A TOP TRAVEL DEAL

Thinking of taking a 'Staycation' this summer? Golfbreaks.com are offering FREE golf as part of their Summer of Sport golf packages.

Simply book and travel on a golf break of any value or duration before the end of August and enjoy a free round of golf at any of the 800 UK venues that can be booked through sister company Teeofftimes.co.uk . From Stoke Park and the Belfry to Turnberry and Gleneagles, there are hundreds of great courses nationwide to choose from - all of which are guaranteed to get the competitive spirit flowing.

As Europe's largest golf tour operator, Golfbreaks.com has almost 1,000 resorts and courses on its books, and is always able to offer golfers the very best deals including:

•  UK - from £99: The Belfry (4*), Warwickshire - 2 rounds, 1 night's dinner, B&B. Save £76

•  UK - from £99 : Celtic Manor (5*), Newport - 2 rounds, 1 night's B&B. Save £40

•  UK - from £119 : Forest Pines (4*), Lincs - 2 rounds, 1 night's dinner, B&B, free range balls. Save £10

•  UK - from £149 : Fairmont St Andrews (5*), Fife - 2 rounds, 1 night's dinner, B&B. Save £90

•  EUROPE - from £199 : San Lorenzo (4*), Algarve - 3 rounds, 3 nights' B&B, 15% drinks discount. Save £66

•  EUROPE - from £205 : Le Touquet (3*), Pas-de-Calais - 3 rounds, 3 nights' B&B, Eurotunnel. Save £50

For full terms and conditions visit Golfbreaks.com








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