You may have heard rumors that indoor golf is coming to Hart Ranch…because indoor golf is coming to Hart Ranch!

 

We recently ordered a SkyTrak launch monitor, software and a net that will be arriving next week . We’re hoping to be up-and-running by Wednesday or Thursday (Feb. 8th or 9th), but we’ll be sure to keep you posted should anything change. This will be a great opportunity for you to hone your swing before the thaw hits and we’re out playing real golf.

 

We’ll get a simulator tee sheet up on the website shortly, or you can call us at (605) 341-5703. You can book up to four people for an hour at a time ($10/hr. per player for members, $20/hr. for non-members). At the beginning our hours will be 2pm-8pm on weekdays, and 12pm-8pm on weekends. We’ll also have 15 different courses to choose from in the software. Here are a few tips on indoor golf so you’re ready to go next week!

 

  1. Your swing may change:

 

When you’re not out in the open expanse of the course or range, your swing tends to be a little tentative at first. We have plenty of room and tall ceilings in the clubhouse, so you won’t need to worry about hitting anything, but be prepared to hit a few squirrely shots until you get used to swinging inside. Also, if you’ve been in Rapid all winter, you definitely haven’t had a chance to play much.

 

  1.   Short game is…interesting:

 

Anyone who’s played indoor golf knows that putting is a little tricky. You can’t feel the slopes of the greens with your feet, and while the software tries to help as much as possible, it’s difficult to feel how far a ball will roll while putting into a net. We’ll generally set gimmies to 10-12 feet to speed up play and relieve aggravation.

 

  1.   Get used to the time difference:

 

I haven’t had a chance to play on this particular software yet, but much like when you’re on the range, the biggest difference is the time you take between shots. It shouldn’t be too difficult for a foursome to finish a round in an hour as you don’t have to search for wayward drives or walk/ride to your ball. Give yourself a second to settle into your routine as you would during a normal round.

 

  1.   Don’t worry about results:

 

We got this simulator for one reason (well, maybe two): to add to our patron’s experience at Hart Ranch. We want you to have a way to practice and play during the off-season, so you’ll be in midseason form when we really start golfing in spring. Be prepared, however, to see some different numbers than you may be used to (especially distance-wise). Camera-based launch monitors read shots at sea-level, and we often overestimate how far we hit the ball (the monitor is rarely wrong unless something looks WAY off). Indoor golf is a great time if we don’t get too caught up in score and have the opportunity to knock some rust off.  
It has been a loooong winter. If you’re as golf-starved as we are, swing out to Hart Ranch for some much-needed play and beverages. Hope to see you next week!

Presidential Golfers

“Whenever I play with him (President Ford), I usually try to make it a foursome – The President, myself, a paramedic and a faith healer.”

-Bob Hope

William McKinley was the first POTUS to play golf in office in 1897. Since then, 17 (soon to be 18) Presidents have played in office, with Teddy Roosevelt, Hoover, Truman and Carter the exceptions.  Besides their contributions to America, they’ve promoted the game in unique ways. We all know our true personalities shine through on the course, and U.S. Presidents are no exception. We’ve had a couple try to hide their affinity for the game, an extremely fast player, and a few whose temper couldn’t be denied. With President’s Day approaching, we’ll take a look at some of the best and worst players, various presidential gifts to the game and fun facts.

William Howard Taft (1909-1913)

Taft is known as the first true golfing president. Known for being huge (literally and figuratively), he thought golf was a great way to experience nature and get some (much needed) exercise. The Prime Minister of Chile was once waiting on a meeting with the president. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up my golf game to see this fellow,” said Taft. He was brutally honest about his miserable game, once taking 12 to get out of a bunker. A man true to our hearts.

Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

Woodrow Wilson (not Eisenhower as often thought) played the most rounds of golf in office…1,200!

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)

FDR was the only president to partake in golf course architecture (he helped design the Roosevelt Memorial Golf Course, a small 9-hole venue in Warm Springs, GA). Roosevelt was an excellent and avid player until he contracted polio at age 39 in 1921.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

It’s no secret that Ike liked golf…he played over 800 rounds while in office. Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander for the liberation of Europe, the President of Columbia University and an 18 handicap. Although he suffered from a “congenital slice,” Ike profoundly popularized golf, even installing a putting green on the White House lawn. When he and the late Arnold Palmer became fast friends, often seen playing at Augusta National, it revolutionized the sport as America became smitten with the game.

John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

Early in his career, JFK hid his affection for golf as he didn’t want to be seen as elitist. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how good he was or what his impact would have been had he not died young, but it’s said he’d often shoot around 80. With chronic back pain and Addison’s disease, his swing was short but smooth. He’d often fall onto his back foot after impact to take pressure off his spine. He’s widely considered one of the best players to grace the Oval Office.

George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush (1989-1993, 2001-2009)

No family has had more of an impact on golf. Another president in the WGHOF, H.W. Bush has been a leader of The First Tee movement and an honorary captain of the U.S. President’s Cup team. His father, Prescott Bush, was president of the USGA and his maternal grandfather, George Herbert Walker, established the Walker Cup. He’s also known as the fastest presidential player, once playing in 1 hour, 51 minutes in a foursome (something to be learned here). George W. Bush gave up golf during the Iraq War, but has returned to the game after leaving the White House to establish the Warrior Open for U.S. servicemen. H.W. once played at an 11 handicap, and W. a 10.

Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Known to be cavalier about giving himself a “Billigan” or five during a round, Clinton built a new putting green under the Hoover Oak at the White House. He’s known as a good player who gives himself a few shots on the course. He’s heavily promoted golf throughout his career, and supports the Career Builder Challenge in La Quinta, CA.

Barack Obama (2009-2017)

Obama is the only lefty player in the history of the office. Though his first love is basketball, he’s supported The First Tee as well as The President’s Cup. His setup is balanced, and he has an athletic move through the ball, although his swing is a bit cautious. He often plays at public courses, and numbered the third-most rounds in office behind Wilson and Eisenhower.

Donald Trump (2017-)

With a large stake in 18 destinations around the globe, Trump had a large impact on golf before taking office. It remains to be seen what legacy he will leave as a golfing president, but he’s known to be a solid player. Boasting a 2.8 index at his difficult courses, he’s considered the Presidential Office’s best golfer. He has a flat, inside takeaway, but makes a robust hip turn through the ball and is known to hit a lot of fairways. He’s the old guy at the course who looks like you should beat but can’t.

 

Golf is definitely the sport of the presidents. While it can be argued how much the POTUS should play, or how good they truly are, there’s no doubt the game has had an influence on the most powerful occupation in the world. As far as we know, no major political deals have been struck while golfing, but insights have certainly been gained.

Golf “Fundamentals”

 

Golf instruction is nothing if not debatable. Like fashion, trends come and go. We’ve had The Golfing Machine, Natural Golf, Stack-and-Tilt, Hogan, Square-to-Square, The A Swing, Impact Zone, Grip-it-and-Rip-It and Close-Your-Eyes-And-Hope-For-The-Best (a personal favorite). It’s now a fad to go back and look at “how the greatest players ever” swung, and attempt to copy “classic” swings. We’ve completed a cycle and some instructors are back to teaching swings from the 1920s.

 

There is so much information out there it’s mind-boggling. Flipping through the same golf magazine, we often read two tips that completely contradict each other. As good as the instructors on The Golf Channel are, they dispute their previous advice regularly.  Some feel the body controls the motion, others the arms, one wants your head centered and another feels it should move. Restrict your hip turn, turn your hips until your lead heel is off the ground. How can the average player possibly progress?

 

It all becomes a question of what is “fundamental” in golf. Weak and strong grips have won majors. Open and closed stances are in the Golf Hall of Fame. Great players have had elegant, balanced swings and vicious, quick thrashes. If you’ve played for awhile, you’ve probably golfed with someone whose swing looks hideous, yet they bruise fairways and greens repeatedly.

 

One thing in golf remains true. If a player hits the ball in the center of the clubface, the ball will most likely get closer to the hole. It’s a simple but often overlooked philosophy. We get so caught up in positions, planes and angles that we forget the point of the game. That’s why my teaching philosophy centers around compression. You can play a fade or draw. You can take divots or not at all. It’s all about finding a way for YOU to batter the sweet spot until the grooves disappear.

Tiger Woods Nike Iron, Circa 2005 Credit: GolfDigest.com

Everything you do in golf should be built from contact outward. From putting to driving, the club is designed a certain way: to be hit dead center. Of course, getting fit will help you achieve this goal regularly, as will building an efficient, repeatable swing. Just don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of 10,000 different tips and swing theories (I’ve been there too). I remember someone saying Fred Couples hasn’t missed the sweet spot in 30 years, and I guarantee you or I can’t swing the same way (as splendid as it would be). He found a way that works for him, and he compresses the ball every single time (into his late 50s).
As we get closer to the season, we’ll discuss the most efficient ways to achieve compression. For now, remember that trying to force your body or club into a position that “looks good” is not going to lower your score. The only fundamental every great player shares is drumming the heart of the clubface regularly. You can too.    

 

So, you’re probably aware that the PGA Tour has a peculiar schedule now and the season officially started back in October. While not the most exhilarating viewing, the first tournaments are generally shining moments for rookies and young talent, as well as veterans fighting to keep their Tour cards. With somewhat weaker fields, it opens up opportunities for less well-known players to make a name for themselves and cement their place in the top 125 (and an invite to the FedEx Cup Playoffs).

 

While us Midwesterners consider The Masters the kick-off to the golf season (for us and for tour pros), we can all watch with envy as the best in the world frolic in warm locales and launch golf balls against the majestic backdrop of the sparkling ocean (lucky club, isn’t it?). It’s hard not to love Justin Thomas’s chances this year, as he carded the seventh 59 in Tour history yesterday and obliterated The Plantation Course in Kapalua. Jordan Spieth’s good buddy has a shot at Player of the Year, and possibly making a move towards Spieth’s historic 2015 season. Yes, it’s early, and Thomas has a knack for stringing together birdies on easier courses, but he has the flair and length to compete with anyone.

 

I’ll offer some bound-to-be-wrong predictions for the upcoming majors, a few fantasy golf beasts to roster and my pick for the top awards. Here’s to a thrilling 2017 season.

 

The Masters (April 6 – 9) Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia

Defending Champ: Danny Willet

 

With the smallest field of any of the four major championships, Augusta is bound to offer some surprises. The course can be attacked a variety of ways, but often favors bombers who can work the ball from right to left. Of course, putting is at a premium on the nasty Augusta greens, so tactical short-gamers can keep pace. I’d imagine Spieth, Day, Matsuyama, Rory, Stenson and DJ to all be in the hunt come Sunday, but I’ll take a gamble on…

 

Prediction: Patrick Reed

 

The Ryder Cup hero has the complete game to finally establish himself as a major champ. A lengthy clutch putt on 17 will win it for him.

 

The PLAYERS Championship (May 11 – 14) TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Defending Champ: Jason Day

 

No, it’s not a major, but does boast the best field of any golf tournament. It also ends on Mother’s Day, which is a great excuse to get your mom into the game. This seems to be the contest that whoever’s hot at the moment wins, so it’s fairly tough to predict. Rickie Fowler seems to like this course a lot, and I see him in the top 5. Day and Adam Scott tend to play well there, but if I was a betting man…

 

Prediction: Hideki Matsuyama

 

I absolutely love this dude’s swing, and am pretty jealous of how cool his pause at the top is (I’ve tried it, with ghastly results). The best iron player in the world could have a giant 2017.

 

U.S. Open (June 15 – 19) Erin Hills, Erin, Wisconsin

Defending Champ: Dustin Johnson

 

DJ does not have fond memories of Wisconsin. His infamous bunker gaffe in 2010 cost him a playoff spot in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, and his second-round 73 dropped him into a tie for 7th in 2015. I expect him to be in it at the end, but Wisconsin’s specter will haunt him again for another runner-up. Erin Hills has hosted the U.S. Amateur and Women’s Public Links, but not a men’s professional major. Look for it to be wicked, as always. I like when you can actually play these courses, and Erin Hills will be the sixth public course to host the U.S. Open. I’m not sure what that means for a prediction, but I’ll take…

 

Prediction: Rory McIlroy

 

Rors has equipment changes to contend with, but by this time he’ll be ready. He should be flat-out devastating in 2017. Very few players are capable of what Rory is when he’s on, and this is a good time of year for him to sizzle. I’m going with an audacious prediction that he wins this by 7+ shots.

 

Open Championship (July 20 – 23) Royal Birkdale G.C., Southport, England

Defending Champ: Henrik Stenson

 

This will be Royal Birkdale’s tenth time hosting The Open. Padraig Harrington last won here in 2008, successfully defending his title. I don’t see it happening again. The best story would be another Stenson-Mickelson shootout like last year, but that’s probably an isolated incident with so much talent invading Britain. Royal Birkdale is only 20 miles north of Liverpool, which tempts me to take a John, Paul, George or Ringo (couldn’t find one), but I like…

 

Prediction: Rory McIlroy

 

My guess is he’s going to have one of the best 2-month stretches in the history of golf. You may be thinking I’m a hysterical Rory superfan, but really I’m just going with the best overall player. If he’s rolling putts, no one’s better. Another swing I envy greatly.

 

PGA Championship (August 17 – 20) Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina

Defending Champ: Jimmy Walker

 

Normally reserved for The Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow will host the most unpredictable major of the year. This is often a spot where someone wins their first major, so I was tempted to put Patrick Reed or Justin Thomas here. Even though I want to, I’m not going to pick Rory (but he’ll probably contend). The random name I drew out of a hat is…

 

Prediction: Dustin Johnson

 

No, I didn’t pick it out of a hat. With only five big tournaments to choose from, it’s hard to find a spot for everyone you’d like to win. It’s tough to count out DJ in any of these tournaments, and there’s a good chance he picks up more than one major this year. I’ll take him winning by a narrow margin.

 

How many tournaments will Tiger win? Zero. I hope I’m wrong. Next.

 

Up-and-Comer: Wesley Bryan

 

You probably know him mostly from his trick shot videos, but this fella can play. I see him winning on a short-game friendly course, and possibly grabbing a top ten in a major. He won three times last year on the Web.Com Tour, and his wedge game gives him an edge over everyone not named Zach Johnson. Maybe there’s something to a reactionary style of play. Do yourself a favor and check out a couple of his trick shot videos, although that’s not all he’ll be known for.

 

Player of the Year: Rory McIlroy

 

Read previous. I foresee a monster year as he moves closer to his prime.

 

Star Who Falls Off the Map: Bubba Watson

 

His putter has been so brutal, distance won’t matter.

 

Fantasy Golf Picks:

 

Top Tier: Rory, DJ, Matsuyama, Day (if healthy)

 

Second Tier: Rickie, Reed, Thomas, Spieth, Scott

 

Third Tier: Mickelson, Walker, Snedeker, Grillo, Knox, Moore, Kuchar, Woodland and many more.

 

Sleepers: Wes Bryan, Beef Johnston, Bryson Dechambeau, Jamie Lovemark, Patrick Rodgers, Jon Rahm

I’ll conclude by saying if I’m right on any one of these, I’ll consider it a win. Golf is too mental, fickle and unpredictable at the highest level to have any idea of what might happen. With so much talent on Tour, we will have some high drama in the big tournaments. Hopefully you’ll be watching…I know I will!

 

New year, new golfer? Many of us will let our clubs gather cobwebs over the winter, dust them off in the spring, and wait until June to really improve. Luckily, this is the best time of the year to enhance your game (even without the gaudy driver you bought yourself as a Christmas present). If you’re a serious player stuck in the frost, try winterizing your game with a few (or all) of these tips. Spring won’t know what hit it.

  1. GET IN SHAPE – Really, there’s nothing better you can do for your game at any time of year, but since you’re not playing now, take the time you would have spent practicing and exercise. There are all kinds of golf-specific workouts out there, but you can do anything. Lift weights, run, do yoga, go to your local butcher and punch meat like Rocky. The important thing is to try to find something you like doing so you’ll stick with it. YOUR BODY IS YOUR GOLF SWING. A pro can say you lack hip rotation, but if you’re hips won’t move, it won’t matter. Get fit and you will be able to do things you didn’t think you were capable of on the golf course.

P.S. – Don’t be afraid of weightlifting. You are not going to get too big or lose flexibility. If you have a bodybuilder physique by spring, you’re probably on steroids. Also, exercises like squats increase lower-body power and flexibility tremendously. Find a simple and effective program you can stick to (Body-for-Life works wonders and is easy to follow) and enjoy your added club speed and enhanced mental focus.

  1. TAKE AN HONEST SELF-ASSESSMENT – Look back on last season. What parts of your game are liabilities? Chances are you do some things very well and others not so much. Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you start off well but fade down the stretch, or do you have issues from bunkers? If you’re all over the place, i.e. one day you hit driver well but chip terribly, the next hit irons well but can’t putt, look for tendencies. If you play a lot, you have them and are better in certain areas. We all change day-to-day, but assess where you bleed shots. I’m not going to ask you to write a journal here, but if you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, you’re not going to improve.

 

  1. SWING A CLUB – Swing changes don’t come from whirling through 100,000 golf balls in half an hour on the range (the scrape-and-hit approach does not help any facet of your game, except for some light exercise, so don’t do it). They come from slow and meticulous work without a ball, so winter is the perfect time. The best drill to implement a swing change is to swing a club EXTREMELY SLOWLY. Start by addressing your phone or stopwatch as if it’s the ball. Take 30 seconds to complete the entire swing. Then go for 45 seconds, then a minute, then a minute for the backswing and one for the downswing. Always complete an entire swing, even if you just want to fix your takeaway, and never stop moving completely. Your brain and body will implement changes quickly (keep in mind, this is surprisingly difficult to do, so try your best to stick with it a few times per week).

 

  1. LEARN PHYSICS – As a golfer, it will benefit you have a basic understanding of why the ball flies the way it does. It’s especially important for players to understand clubface and path, and why the ball is fading, drawing, hooking or slicing. There is an abundance of information all over the internet on this stuff, so we don’t need to go into specific detail here. The nice part about golf is that the ball will do the exact same thing every time (with varying degrees depending on weather, altitude, etc.) if the club is swung at the same speed on the same path at the same angle with the same contact. Isaac Newton doesn’t lie.

P.S. – Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to take golf lessons. You’ll begin to understand your misses and a pro can help narrow down swing issues by your ball flight. Also, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

 

  1. DON’T GO CRAZY – Hopefully you already have some winter activities to partake in. By all means, do so. This is not a long list for a reason. Taking some time off can be incredibly beneficial. Everything in moderation, even golf.