Golf Improvement Comes Through Awareness

            The golf world is advancing at an alarming rate. Instruction is now done with video and launch monitors. Golf club technology is far superior to models of the past, and golf fitness has become a thing ever since Tiger Woods started bullying golf courses with 300+ yard drives. It is no question that these advancements help, but why do golfers still have such a difficulty improving? From experience I have heard all sorts of answers. Some folks say that they started golf to late in life, while others complain that they don’t have the time to practice. Some practice all the time with no luck. Some fight nerves, while others blame it all on a swing flaw. Whether I am coaching an accomplished tournament golfer, or an average player who plays for fun, they all wish to improve in some fashion.

Accomplished players know that they must keep improving, and find that edge that pushes them past their competition. Average golfers wish to improve simply to make the game more enjoyable. Both types of player achieve greater success when they understand themselves better and become more self-aware.

Becoming a better player takes effort. It involves proper practice, guided through lessons, equipment that fits you, proper fitness, mental preparation, and of course, talent. However, until golfers develop self-awareness, the path to improvement may prove to be a difficult one. Golfers will be able to better manage themselves if:

  1. They understand how and why they make decisions
  2. They understand how they react under pressure
  3. Why things like slow play or no warm up may bother them
  4. How their own perspective affects everything, I/E how they react emotionally after each shot.

Through working with golfers at all levels I have realized that once golfers learn why things happen on and off the golf course, the ability to improve dramatically increases. Simple trial and error stops, and the learning curve is shortened. Lessons then become more effective and improvement comes much quicker. All golfers have strengths and weaknesses, but learning how to manage the strengths and account for the weaknesses is key. Learning one’s comfort area is crucial so they can learn to expand it. Great players are comfortable being uncomfortable.

Golf self-assessment tools are not hard to find. It is usually as easy as contacting a local PGA Professional, as most are equipped with some type of “Assessment Evaluation.” This is usually the best option, as many professionals become certified to conduct such evaluations. Some evaluations can even be done online through V1 mobile app technology. Another option I’ve found is www.golfscrimmages.com, which provides an easy self-assessment tool for golfers to use and understand without, or before seeking professional assistance. Regardless of the avenue, learning about yourself will only help in your quest to improve as a golfer.

Golfers, on average, are not scoring much better than they were 25 years ago even though instruction, equipment, fitness, and dedication have all improved. Improvement can only happen when the golfer understands why things happen to begin with. It’s impossible to fix things if one doesn’t understand why they are happening. If you are looking to improve your game this season, regardless of your ability level, self-awareness could be your key to success.

-Matthew Lindberg, PGA

Shortstop Final 4 2015

Hole #1 Fall 2015 Video

Local Golfers Happy To Volunteer

The first thing I noticed upon taking the Head Golf Professional job at Chequamegon Bay was how kind everyone was. Moving from Minneapolis last season I was welcomed with open arms. Most everyone at the golf course made me feel at home, some even baking for my staff and I. It did not take long to realize that this particular golf club was unique.

It’s no secret that it takes many employees and man-hours to properly run a golf course day to day. Add a tournament into the mix, and the need for extra helping hands easily triples. From past experience, usually we just simply add staff and overtime to get the job done. I was blown away when I realized how many folks volunteered at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Some volunteered time day to day. Some volunteered to help with tournaments. Some even volunteered weekend time away from family to help edge sand traps and plant flowers. I can’t name everyone, but to all who volunteered even one minute at the golf course I cannot thank you enough. It is your help that helps make the golf course great.

One of these volunteers is a man named Al Lundquist. Al was one of the first golfers to welcome me as the new golf professional. He too made me feel right at home. He volunteered his time for many different events including 1st tee starter duties at the clubs annual Shortstop Tournament. So it did not surprise me whatsoever when I learned that Al has been volunteering his time for over a decade at The 3M Championship in Blaine, MN.

In 2002 Al, upon being invited by his brother, joined him on the Water Committee at the 3M Championship. It is the Water Committee’s duties to provide snacks and beverages on each tee for golfers and caddies. For Al, it was not about the duties, but the fact he was able to do this with his brother. They were able to volunteer together from 2002-2004.

On July 22, 2005, Al got the phone call that everyone dreads. It was his sister calling from Los Angeles, CA. She gave Al the news that their brother had died from cardiac arrest after training for the St. Paul in-line skate race. His death came just a week before the tournament. Al still went to the tournament alone with a heavy heart. Al’s first day at the tournament that year, tournament chairperson Bob Evans asked to speak with him. Bob told Al, “In honor of your brother, we’d like you to be an honorary walker with Curtis Strange and Howard Twitty.” For Al this proved to be an enjoyable, yet bittersweet experience.

The following year Al invited his close friend Ken Tanula to be his new partner. They have volunteered together for the past 10 years and have since added another Ashland resident, John Branch to the volunteer team. Volunteering days are long, working 6 AM to 6 PM each day Monday through Sunday. The team has made many friends from all over the country through their volunteer efforts. Al recalls friendships made “within our water committee, 3M headquarters, the caddie shack, the driving range, course marshals, and even the starting announcer for the tournament. I personally have been photographed with Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Craig Stadler, and Gene Littler as a chosen volunteer. On one occasion Billy Casper asked me to give him my cap so that he could autograph it.”

Over the past 15 years Al has had 40 caps filled with autographs. In tune with his personality, he has only kept one. The other 39 you ask? Well, they have been given away to friends, family, and anyone who would love receiving such a gift. Each year, 1,700 people volunteer to help out at the 3M Championship. Al and Ken have been on the Water Committee for 10 seasons and going strong. John Branch was assigned to the driving range several years ago. Al speaks glowingly of John, saying, “His presence and command on the driving range is felt and appreciated. He does an outstanding job.” John has since been promoted to Director of the range and will lead the volunteer team next season. Knowing John myself, I’d say it’s a deserving promotion.

Volunteering in this fashion creates long lasting friendships that stretch beyond golf and last throughout the duration of life. What I’ve learned in my first year in Ashland is that our community is strong. The golf course is filled with selfless folks like Al who take pride in volunteering their time and have fun with it. Selflessness is contagious and I find folks talking about others more, and themselves less. It’s a strong characteristic of the community and the golf course. It’s why I’m so passionate to see the junior golf program grow at Chequamegon Bay. Just being around these volunteers, you learn more than just about golf. You learn about good moral values as well. I’m proud to work for the membership and all golfers at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club.

-Matthew Lindberg, PGA

8th Annual Golf Show Information

golf show poster 2016PROOF2

Get Fitted For Your Golf Equipment

It’s finally March, and spring is showing some signs of life, even way up here in the north woods of Wisconsin.   Golf is on television, the Masters is but a month away, and many of us are starting to think golf.   For golfers up here, spring is kind of like starting over. Many of us make resolutions to play more, join a league, play in tournaments, or to improve upon last season. Many of us think that buying that new driver, or new putter will help us improve. Buying new equipment can help you to improve, but ONLY if you have it professionally fitted.

It’s no secret that golf is a hard game. Each year golfers turn to equipment as a magic tool for rapid improvement. Unfortunately, no matter how good the marketing, the equipment never seems to live up to the hype. Desperate golfers turn to the Golf Digest Hot List for guidance, and in turn walk into their local pro shop, big box store, or order the latest $500 driver off of the Internet. Most golfers fail to experience the most important part, being professionally fitted for the equipment.

Why should all golfers be professionally fitted? First, because no one golf swing is the same, but more importantly because fitting is the #1 fundamental for providing consistency throughout a set of clubs. Today, you can easily be fit for clubs on the same equipment the pros use. Launch monitors like Trackman and Flightscope provide invaluable data about how a golfer swings. Data like: club head speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, and smash factor are crucial when spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on equipment. You need not understand these numbers as a consumer, but they need to be measured by the club fitter. It is these numbers that help to determine everything from club head type, shaft type and flex, loft, and even how the club is weighted.

A great club fitter juggles art and science. The way an accomplished golfer swings a golf club is an art form. The numbers that the launch monitor provides looks more like a physics exam. It is this balance that makes seeing a professional club fitter so important. A club fitting session based on my experience should look something like this:

  • Record detailed specs on current clubs (length, loft, lie angle, shaft stiffness, swing weight)
  • Record launch monitor data using current club. This establishes a baseline.
  • Club fitter reviews shaft recommendations based on swing data.
  • Club fitter “builds” the proposed clubs.
  • Record complete launch monitor data using the new club/shaft configurations.
  • Evaluate the data and compare results to golfer’s current club, and to other new club configurations. Based on data, club fitter recommends and tests additional configurations to define the best performing clubs.
  • Club fitter evaluates all of the data captured and makes recommendations to provide a solution that fits their budget.
  • Either new clubs are ordered, or old clubs have work done to them to allow them to properly fit the golfer.

Make no mistake, today; golf equipment is better than it has ever been. Golf companies continue to make strides and push the boundaries of what is legal in the sport all the way down to the golf ball itself. The technology itself however, will not add 20 extra yards to your drive, or allow you to sink every putt. Please, do not go out to the nearest store and simply buy the latest driver off the rack in hopes of adding 20 yards, or to one up your buddy. Please, instead, go see your local PGA Professional and have your equipment (new or old) properly fitted. Proper swing mechanics and technique will always be most important when it comes to playing great golf, but having equipment that fits YOUR golf swing will make the game far more enjoyable. It is the true secret when it comes to finding more distance, more fairways, more greens, and getting the most out of your golf equipment.

-Matthew Lindberg, PGA

P.L.A.Y. Golf, Young One

Why should children learn to play golf? Some folks would say, to learn life skills; or to develop a great swing; or to win tournaments, or to win a scholarship. These views should be rethought and replaced with: children should learn to play golf simply because it’s a great game that’s fun to play with friends and family.

Of course, playing a game that you love could result in having that game open other doors. However, I have yet to see playing a game for the purpose of anything but simple enjoyment, open other doors. Scholarships, great golf swings, and life skills may be possible outcomes, but they should not be someone’s reason for playing golf or any game.

            Golf, as with all sports, is meant to be FUN. Golf is meant to be “played”. Acts of play do indeed improve the capacity for learning. Developmental learning is grounded in the kind of active play that enhances the ability to evaluate and solve problems. When we are learning, long-term progress requires more than simply remembering information. Studies from modern science not only support this view; they suggest that learning golf, more than any other sport, can accomplish this goal. Acts of “play” support progress in schools, and progress in the real world. “PLAY” thought of as an acronym could then mean “Powerful Learning About Yourself.”

Playing golf has many benefits. Learning and Playing Golf:

Promotes cooperative behavior, helps develop locomotive skills, promotes problem-solving behavior, aids in eye-hand coordination, promotes patience, promotes logical thinking, promotes self-development, develops competitive spirit, promotes sportsmanship, develops cardiovascular fitness, promotes group interaction, promotes physical development, And most importantly, helps to develop self reliance and self confidence.

            Golf today is also easier to gain access to as a child. In the past, golf was thought of to be a rich mans game. Many golf courses were private and thought to be far too expensive to even try. Courses today offer special (significantly lower priced) memberships for junior golfers. Some golf courses even offer junior clinics at little to no cost, so children can learn the game and enjoy playing it. I personally developed many great friendships and relationships on the golf course growing up. Many of which I still call close friends today.

Another program developed recently has been Drive, Chip, and Putt.

Now in its fourth year, the program aims to help younger generations begin their lifelong connection with golf by providing a fun, interactive platform for participants of all skill levels. This free initiative welcomes boys and girls ages 7-15 to participate in separate divisions in four age categories. Local qualifying will take place throughout all 50 states. Top performers at the local level will advance through sub regional and regional qualifiers. The top 80 performers – 40 boys and 40 girls – will earn an invitation to Augusta National on Sunday, April 2, the eve of the 2017 Masters. The nearest local qualifier in Wisconsin is located in Stevens Point on July 12, 2016. If you are interested in competing contact your local golf course, or visit www.drivechipandputt.com for more information.

Golf simply is a game, and should be treated as such. It should be played because it is fun to play, and you can play your entire life. No matter your age, skill level, race, or gender, all are welcome. In the process you may learn a thing or two. You may also meet some friends who will be friends for life, connected through the game of golf.

-Matthew Lindberg, PGA

Golf Can Be Used As A Healing Tool

In the eight years I have had the honor to call myself a Class A PGA Golf Professional, I have come to realize just how special being a member of the organization can be. It is the 28,000 men and women who make this organization great. In 2016 the PGA of America is celebrating it’s centennial, upon being started in 1916 by Rodman Wanamaker. It is a special year for us as golf professionals, and a time to reflect upon achievements, while still looking forward to the future.

In my time as a PGA Professional I have been blessed to work at some of the greatest facilities in the country, some of which include Cape Cod National, Oakland Hills Country Club, and recently taking my first Head Professional job here in Ashland, WI at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club. Our number one goal as a golf professional is simple: “to grow the game of golf”. This may be our number one goal, but speaking from experience golf can mean so much more.

I’ve personally been fortunate to teach many golfers both young and old this great game. A few stick with me more than others. Most recently I was fortunate enough to teach the game to an under privileged young woman in Minneapolis. She had nothing growing up. I would allow her to come to my golf clinic every Saturday as she had great potential. I’m proud to say that I started with her when she was in ninth grade, and would barely speak. Last year I received a letter from her mother thanking me for the fact her daughter received a scholarship to play college golf. The letter went on to say that golf changed her daughter’s whole life around. It got her out of drugs, got her to keep her grades up, and now is paying for her school. Needless to say that letter touched my heart.

That is just one personal example how golf changed a life around, but in talking with an old colleague, I heard about another golf professional’s experience on how golf worked as a healing tool. I’d like to share his story below. This story is about Kevin, a PGA Professional in Michigan who created a golf clinic at a local Pediatric Hospital; and AJ, a student who came to Kevin in a wheelchair.

Kevin greeted A.J. with the traditional questions a PGA Professional asks a new junior golfer. Had he played before? What goals did he have? What did he expect from golf? Did he want to play when he left the hospital, and did he want to one-day play golf with friends and family? Basically, Kevin was breaking the ice with the young man and getting a feel for A.J.’s expectations.

A.J.’s response caught Kevin by surprise. “His response was, ‘I want to learn to walk again, that’s what I want from golf,” recalls Kevin. “I didn’t know how to respond to that, but one of the therapists was nodding her head ‘Yes,’ so I said, ‘OK, you got it.’

“A.J. worked hard in therapy and always looked forward to Golf Day,” said Kevin. “After he had been in the hospital for seven weeks, he came into golf one day with several family members and more therapists than normal. We all watched as A.J. got out of his wheelchair and the therapists helped him get in a stander. He walked over to the practice putting green in one of the therapy gyms, rolled in a few putts – more than I could have made – and then walked back to his wheelchair. Nobody there had dry eyes.”

There have been buckets of balls and buckets of joyful tears associated with Kevin’s therapeutic weekly golf sessions with the children at the local Pediatric Hospital. Since that first clinic on May 10, 2011, which welcomed five kids, more than 2,200 youths have been introduced to golf and the fundamentals of swinging a golf club through Kevin’s hospital program. A few skeptics have asked Kevin – and the children at the hospital – how they can possibly hit a golf ball from their hospital bed, from a wheelchair, while utilizing a walker, or while standing with the aid of someone holding a gait belt. What Kevin has learned over the past four-plus years is that golf is a powerful healing tool. He also has learned to never underestimate the indomitable spirit, drive and determination of youth.

-Matthew Lindberg, PGA

Signature Hole #16 Fox 21 “Finest Fairways”

http://www.fox21online.com/sports/finest-fairways/Finest-Fairways-Chequamegon-Bay-Golf-Club/34607632