Etiquette on the greens

I live in: Sioux City, Iowa
My_name_is: Billy Robinson
My_age_is: 12
comments: I have a hard time with etiquette. When I get to the green, and if my opponent’s ball is farther away from the hole than my ball, am I supposed to pick the flagstick out of the hole or should I tend it? I am confused. Please help me.

Scott Robbins:
When playing golf, the player has control of the flagstick during his/her shot. You as the player can ask for the pin to be left alone, tended or removed from anywhere on the course. Since it is a penalty of 2 shots to hit the flagstick while playing a stroke from the putting green a player usually removes it when he plays a stroke from the green.
Therefore, when you are not playing a stroke and a fellow competitor (another player in stroke play) or your opponent (the one you are playing in a match) is playing it is the other person’s duty to ask for the pin to be left, tended or removed.
I hope this clears that up for you. It is a gentleman’s game and you are commended for wanting to play the game the way it has been for centuries.

How to hit a driver

I live in: Gig Harbor WA
My_name_is: Brad Flajole
My_age_is: 15
comments: I just received a new driver for my birthday, and I love it. Although I can’t hit it worth a darn. I’ve been kind of used to hitting heavier woods. But I love the light feel. What do you suggest I do. What adjustments do I need to make. Is there any practice methods I should use? Thanks a lot

Scott Robbins:
Drivers and all golf clubs are like eyeglasses. Someone you know may wear glasses and you really like the way they look but the prescription they use isn’t good for you eyes and you can’t see out of your friend’s glasses.
Golf clubs should be fit for the player. And just like your eyes, your golf swing will adjust to a golf club only up to a certain point. Unfortunately, your new driver might not have the right combination of shaft weight and flex and length and clubhead weight that fits your swing. Try and find a PGA professional close to you who is an expert in clubfitting.
Also contact Adams Golf (I think it is on the Web and ask if they have any of their fitters in your area. Good Luck in finding the right Driver for you.
Scott Robbins

Golf Camp

I live in: Richlands, Va. USA
My_name_is: Jason Barber
My_age_is: 11
comments: I have been playing golf for about 4 years. I participate each summer in a junior golf program at our local country club. I would like to know two things: 1. Is there any particular golf camp that you can recommend for children my age and 2. How can I get information relative to junior tournaments that I may participate in.

Scott Robbins:
Nike sponsors some Junior Golf Camps at colleges through college coaches and PGA Professionals through out the United States.
Check and see if there are any in your area. I think there are some close to you. I don’t have that exact information though. If you have a hard time finding it let me know and I think I can mail you a brochure. For Junior Tournaments in your area contact the Middle Atlantic Section of the PGA at 2721 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 101, Stafford, Va. 22554. Phone # is (540)720-7420. Contact: Richard Jones. Best of Luck,

Maintaining a good round

I live in: Abilene, TX
My_name_is: D.J. Grahn
My_age_is: 16
comments: I have been playing for several years now. I hit the golf ball solidly most of the time. This last sunday I was playing great. I was two under going into the last three holes of the front nine. After that I went 7, 6, 6 on a par three over some water, then two par fours. On the back nine I played par and bogey golf. Do you have any suggestions for me to put a good round together, because I know I can shoot 73-74. Thank you.

Scott Robbins:
The problem when rounds fall apart is either getting too far in the future (“boy, if I keep this up I am going to shoot a great round”) or staying stuck in the past (If it wasn’t for that 7 I had on # 7 I would really have a chance to play well today”). How do you combat that?
Stay focused on the here and now. Take your round one shot and one moment at a time. Yes, you do have to have a strategy on a round and even a particular hole as to where to hit your shots.
However, once you get over that shot, the only thing in your mind is executing that shot. Once you have hit it, then concentration should be on what the upcoming shot presents you. And you don’t even have to start thinking about that shot until you reach your ball and start observing and assessing what that shot has in store for you.
Practice this one shot routine on the range and the course. Once you do you will be amazed how good your misses become, and how much easier it becomes to get around the golf course.
Live and Play in the Here and Now. Scott

Fixing a fade

I live in: Gig Harbor WA USA
My_name_is: James Howe
My_age_is: 16

Scott Robbins:
A fade comes from first an open clubface at impact. Check your grip so that the club is held more in your fingers and your thumbs are slightly to the right of center on the top of the shaft and grip of the club. At impact, you should feel the back of the left hand (if you are right handed) facing at the target and then towards the ground after impact.
Once you start squaring the clubface, notice where the ball is flying. My suspicion is that it will be flying left or pulling the shots. That would mean your path is from outside your target line and moving towards your body or to the inside of your target line. To hit hooks, you must have the club moving from your body to away from your body (inside to out) with a square or closed clubface.
The best suggestion I can give you is to get a PGA Professional to look at your golf swing and help you develop a sound fundamentally strong golf swing.
Good Luck,

Playing better in tournaments

I live in: Gig Harbor, WA
My_name_is: Patrick Burke
My_age_is: 15
comments: I have been involved in WJGW for the past couple years and I play pretty good in the little events. When I get to districts and state I hack it up. I go out and shoot 86 and 87. I should be in the 70’s. Is there anything I can do to help me stop choking in the events that mean something. Thanks Patrick

Scott Robbins:
The pressure you feel in big tournaments is all self imposed. It sounds like you focus too much on the results that haven’t happened yet and not enough on what it takes to make them happen and also focusing on either the past or future in your rounds and not on the present.
Become process oriented in your round. Write down a game plan before you play as to strategy on the course (where you want to hit shots on the holes, how you want to play the hard holes, where you go over hazards, where you lay up, etc.). Once you are on the course, keep that strategy in mind and only concentrate on the shot you are executing. You cannot control the past shots, the future shots. Only the one current shot. You also cannot control that final score till you have executed each shot.
When you do this, you will take all pressure off yourself and will probably find that the only time you know what your shooting is when you add up your score. That is actually the first sign that you have successfully completed learning how to play ion the present. Once you do that then you will have the skills to play in the present and be aware of your score throughout your round. Just like the Tour player.
Good Luck. Playing in big tournaments and learning how to win is just another part of your growth in your golf game.

Golf Scholarship

I live in: Strathroy, Ontariom Canada
My_name_is: Jeff Nethercott
My_age_is: 16
comments: I have 5.9 index handicap and I was just wondering if I would have chance of getting a golf scholarship. If you have any advice or information, I would appreciate it. Thankyou for your time. Jeff Nethercott.

Scott Robbins:
Play as much as you can. Practice as much as you can. Play in as many tournaments as you can. Build a resume of tournament play and results and keep them in chronological order. Play in as many big junior tournaments as you can like American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events and PGA Junior Series tournaments. That is where the college coaches look to recruit.
Practice and take lessons and continue to drop that handicap this summer and next year and play, play, play tournaments. Build a resume and send it to college coaches and carry it to big tournaments to hand to coaches.
Let me hear when you are successful in tournaments and achieving a scholarship.

Tournament strategies

I live in: Sunnyside, Washington
My_name_is: Ty Schatz
My_age_is: 16
comments: Dear PGA Professional: I’ve played golf for twelve years and I am now a two handicap, I’ve played in tournaments for the past seven years and I’ve had problems using good course management. Do you have any tips on stratagies that could be used to improve my course management and any suggestions on mental preperation before going into tournaments. How to prepare for the big tournaments and how to make good decision in crucial situation when the tournament is on the line? Thanks for your time and please respond soon! Sincerely, Ty Schatz

Scott Robbins:
Great question. Course strategy begins from the 18th green backwards. When you go to a tournament site you should walk the golf course backwards. This way you can see how the architect has designed to play the hole. Take notes.
See where it would be easiest to hit a shot into the green from. Figure out how far that is from the tee and calculate what club(s) it takes to get it there. See if there is any advantages to taking risks into narrow fairway openings and/or close to hazards. (A hint here is that most architects use hazards to intimidate the golfer rather than an integrate part of playing a hole.)
After you fully walk the course, then play a practice round. If you can only do one, then walk the course. If you cannot do either, concentrate on hitting fairways and greens in your first round and learn the course as you play. That is why there are practice rounds on TOUR. Build a strategy and write it down. Once you have your strategy, stick to it throughout the tournament concentrating on executing each shot to where your strategy has you playing the shot. If you build a game plan and stick to it, you will be amazed how easy it is to be proud of your course management.
Use this strategy and evaluate it at the end of each round and tournament and you will see where your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can adjust your strategy to fit your game. (Tiger Woods and Corey Pavin do not hit the ball the same length and therefore have different strategies but they have both won major USGA events and PGA Tour championships.)
Good Luck,

Golf Scholarships

I live in: Waterloo, Ontario
My_name_is: Chris MacKinnon
My_age_is: 16
comments: I am hoping to in the future receive a golf scholarship and i was wondering if i should play in the US junior amateur and the AJGA tour rather than the Canadian amateur and the RAG tour. Which tournaments do you think that coaches would look to more, thankyou.

Scott Robbins:
The US coaches rely heavily on the AJGA and USGA Junior for recruitment. The PGA Junior Series that started last year is also receiving a lot of coaches attention. Concentrate your play there. Write and let me know how you are doing.

Playing in the wind

I live in: Salina, KS
My_name_is: Tim Blake
My_age_is: 17
comments: How do you better mentally prepare to play in the harsh wind of the spring that you know can destroy your game? Any tips for keeping the ball down out of the wind, especially on long irons?

Scott Robbins:
The best way to play in the winds of spring in Kansas or Texas, where I grew up, is to accept the fact that they are going to blow and that every body has to play the same conditions. When you learn to play in these winds you will take with you an advantage into your golfing future.
To keep the ball low, you must have a shallow angle of attack coming into the ball. It is like bouncing a ball. If you bounce the ball straight down it comes straight up and when you bounce it at an angle it comes out lower. You want to work on a wider shorter backswing and work more towards sweeping the club through the ball to create lower shots.
Find a PGA Professional instructor who is also a pretty good player to help you with the specialty shots you need to play in the harsh spring winds.
Good Luck,

3 Wood or driver

I live in: Eldorado IL U.S.A.
My_name_is: Justin Rister
My_age_is: 13
comments: I can hit the ball pretty good off the tee with my shorter 3 wood.My problem is I think I could hit it farther with a real driver. You see,the few times I have made good contact with my driver I’ve hit it about 200 yards.I can only hit it 175 with the three wood.What can I do to help me do better and make contact with my driver? Also I need help getting the ball up in the air when hitting a 3 iron.

Scott Robbins:
At this time and your age, concentrate on hitting your 3 wood or finding a driver with 12 degrees of loft. To hit a less lofted driver farther and consistently you need to be able to generate some more clubhead speed that comes with growing and better mechanics as you mature. The same goes for your 3 iron. Play with a 5 and 7 wood until your mechanics and speed improve. Be patient, it all comes with time.

7 wood or long irons

I live in: Victoria,BC, Canada
My_name_is: David Barker
My_age_is: 12
comments: I am a 16 handicap but I can’t hit any of my long irons, should I buy 7 wood?

Scott Robbins:
Yes. That is very insightful to see your problems may be helped with equipment.
Good Luck,

Driver shaft

I live in: Fairport, New York
My_name_is: Mike Boynton
My_age_is: 15
comments: I just bought a new Taylor Made driver but I am not sure if it is for me. When iwent to the range to buy it, the gentleman let me go out and hit a few with a demo. The club he gave me was great, I hit the ball about 220-240 yards. When I came in he told me I should buy the club with the firmer shaft. He told me I would out grow the one I liked. About a week later, when it warmed up, I went back to the range to try out my new club. I did not hit anywhere near how far I hit it with the other club. The salesman said I might struggle with it at first, but in the long run it would be the better club for me. What do you think I should do? Should I keep the club i bought or should I return it for the other one?

Scott Robbins:
Mike, You should always be playing currently with the equipment that fits you best for your golf swing. You might “grow into” a stiffer shaft, but currently it sounds like it isn’t working for you. Clubfitting is critical. Especially for juniors. I have seen too many swings develop bad habits from juniors trying to play with clubs too heavy, too long and too stiff.
Get the club that fits you NOW! If you have a driver in your hand and you can’t feel it or hit it decent within three swings, try another. Keep trying till you find the right shaft for you. Find a PGA Professional proficient in club fitting to help you find the right clubs for your game!
Best of luck,


I live in: Yokosuka, Japan (Pops’ in the Navy)
My_name_is: Jesse Simmons
My_age_is: 14
comments: I’ve been playing for four year. My iron swing was usually pretty good, but lately, I have been shanking the ball very hard to the right. (for all irons) It feel like my swing may have shorted and my shoulder don’t feel right. I’ve legthened my swing width by taking the club aways closer to the deck and slow the take away down, and it usually works during the beginning of the round. But toward the back nine by glitch is back. Is this common? What are some things I could be doing wrong. I am desparate for any advice, Pop is not much help anymore. Thanx very much for any time you can spare.
Wantabe a Golfer, Jesse

Scott Robbins:
Jesse, It sounds like you are making your problem worse with what you are trying. Shanks come from the club swing too close to the “deck” and too much around your body. It sounds as if you need some more up in your swing.
As you take the club back, concentrate on cocking your wrists and right arm (if you play right handed) up and down like you are swinging a hammer. The combination of your arms swinging, the wrists cocking in this manner will allow you to turn your shoulders more level going back and more. The result will be a fuller and wider swinging backswing that should produce contact more in the center of the face.
Let me know how you do. Try and find a good teaching professional at one of the military bases that can help you with this problem.
Scott Robbins

College golf

I live in: Steubenville, Ohio, U.S.
My_name_is: Joe
My_age_is: 17
comments: I have played Varsity golf in highschool since 7th grade and i am looking toward the future. I made the State tournament as a Junior in New York, and made the All-District team after moving to Ohio. I moved because there aren’t any real colleges in New York which offer golf. A golf pro at the course where I play said that I have the potential to play at higher levels. I want to go to a Division 1 or 2 school, and hopefully get a partial scholarship. Did you play in college? If so, where. Do you have any advice to give me or any information which could help in getting ready for golf at the collegiate level. Also, do you know of any colleges that need players for the 97-98 season? Thank you very much.

Scott Robbins:
I played 2 years of college golf at North Texas State University. It was a great experience but not what college golf has become now. If you have been playing tournaments then make a list of them in chronological order with your results and put them in a resume to send to college coaches. Play in as many AJGA events as you can this summer.
Have your home PGA Professional contact coaches for you with letters and phone calls. For the upcoming season most coaches are close to finishing recruiting in Division 1. Get the information to them fast and get your name and results out to as many schools as you can!
Good Luck,