Tennis Elbow is associated with a pain to the outer part (lateral aspect) of the elbow radiating to the extensor muscle belly in the forearm. Pain can also radiate up the arm from the elbow.
Whilst often thought to be an inflammatory process, Tennis Elbow is actually a degenerative process. Histological studies show that there are actually minimal acute inflammatory cells present.
Studies show that tennis elbow is the most common injury in female amateurs and second only to lumbar spine injuries in amateur male players.
In the elite amateur and professional ranks less than 10% of injuries involve the elbow at all.
Golfers suffer Tennis Elbow in their leading arm (mostly left) generally due to excessive and repetitive wrist extension and supination (twisting) of the forearm, which occurs when you over-grip your club. There may be a number of contributing factors such as worn or slippery grips, worn out gloves, or ill fitting clubs.
Other things such as too much hitting off mats, playing in wet weather, or excessive bunker or rough play might also increase your chances of developing Tennis Elbow. Of course there are also physical and technical aspects of your swing that may contribute.
A universal approach must be taken to address tennis elbow symptoms. It is a good idea to firstly see a Physiotherapist to get an accurate diagnosis of your injury, and determine if it is in fact Tennis Elbow which is causing your pain.
Treatment may consist of rest, supportive taping or bracing, and a tailored stretching and eccentric strengthening program. Therapeutic ultrasound and dry needling (acupuncture) may also be helpful to alleviate your symptoms.
If symptoms aren't improving within a month, a referral to a sports doctor might be beneficial to determine future management. Once settled, a golf specific physical screening should be undertaken to assist in rehabilitation and prevent re-occurrence.
It is also essential for you and your coach to review your equipment, training environment, schedule, and your technique.
And what about Golfer’s Elbow? Golfer’s Elbow refers to the same injury except on the inside (medial aspect) of the elbow.
This injury is found predominantly in the trailing right arm, and is far less common than tennis elbow. The term Golfer’s Elbow has been around for a long time and was more prevalent in golfers 30+ years ago, when the swing was looser through the arms and hips.
If you have any questions regarding injuries, management or exercise please feel free to comment below, and I will do my best to answer them.
Martin McInnes - Physiotherapist
One of the common misconceptions about how to be a pro golfer is the idea that without a great looking golf swing you won't make it. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think that one of the unique aspects of golf over other sports is that every golf swing is as different as every thumb print. There is no "one way" to do it.
Yes it's nice to have a golf swing that is admired by your peers however in pro golf it means nothing if you can't produce consistently low golf scores. You have to fight the urge to make your swing look like a successful tour professionals and it will help you to understand this simple premise:
"The function of your golf swing techniques from full swing to putter is to produce a consistent par score or better."
Every facet of your game must be developed to achieve this low score outcome, and the smartest golfers on tour know and apply this and have a competitive advantage over other professional golfers who don't think this way.
Anyway, enough of that, let's get on with steps 4 to 7 in learning "How to Become a Pro Golfer: The 7 Steps You Must Take to Make it."
Step 4. Get Your Practice Distribution Ratio Right
You know that the short-game is very important and yet many golfers who have a desire of becoming a pro golfer don’t spend nearly enough time working on it.
In-fact, most amateur golfers are working on their ‘tour level golf swing’ a lot more than they work on the other important areas of their game and this could be one on the most common mistakes we find that could derail your progress towards becoming a pro golfer.
Ask yourself right now what the percentage of golf lessons you take on your full swing versus the other parts of your game?
Do you know? I bet that you have many more golf lessons perfecting your golf swing technique compared to developing the other areas of your game.
If you spend 30 or more hours per week over 6 days working on your game so that you can learn how to be a pro golfer, then it makes good sense that you divide your time carefully and focus on developing your highest pay-off skills right?
Of course it does, because it doesn’t matter how good you are from tee to green, if you can’t get the ball into the hole in par or better most of the time it won’t matter how good a ball striker you are. Ball striking helps a lot, but your short-game skills from 100 yards and in (including putting) trumps it.
Take a couple of minutes now and write down your total practice and playing hours each week you devote to developing your golf game in the following 7 Golf Development Areas.
Be as honest and as accurate as you can be.
The 7 Golf Development Areas Inventory
1. How many hours per week do you spend on the golf course either practicing or playing?
(not including competition) _____
2. How many hours per week do you spend with your golf instructor/coach? _____
3. How many hours per week do you spend practicing your short and long range putting skills? _____
4. How many hours per week do you spend practicing your bunker shot skills? _____
5. How many hours per week do you spend on your full swing either working on technique and/or hitting shots
to targets? _____
6. How many hours per week do you spend practicing your chip shots, pitch shots and lob
or flop shots? _____
7. How many hours per week do you spend practicing your approach wedge skills from 20 yards to 100 yards? _____
The total hours per week you devote to the 7 Golf Development Areas is: __________ Hours
If you spent 30 hours per week (6 Days) practicing and developing your golf skills within the 7 areas we think that the following ratio's will be very helpful to you.
In our experience the ratio of time spent in the 7 golf development areas will determine to a great extent how successful you will be in your quest to learn how to become a pro golfer.
You will notice that we don’t include mental and physical skills training in the 7 areas as we consider these to be additional areas to develop over and above the time you spend developing your golf skills for tournament play.
This is the biggest challenge that you will face developing your game to become a pro golfer. The distribution of your time is a key skill, and the only way you can do it effectively is to determine accurately how much time you spend in each of the 7 development areas of your game.
Step 5. How to Defend Par
If you watch enough golf on TV you would realize that the real skill of top level professional golfers is their ability in critical times to make pars and keep the double bogeys or worse off their score card.
You might think that top level golf is played from the center of the fairway most of the time but this is simply not the case.
Pro golfers are great escape artists!
What I mean is that they can get their ball out of the tough places around the golf course to keep control of their golf score.
In the 7 golf development areas you need to spend a percentage of time each week learning how to play shots from unusual to difficult lies both in the tree’s, long grass and the challenging lies around the green.
It is a BIG MISTAKE to just practice your golf shots from level lies on the fairway and from perfect lies around the greens and in the bunkers. You need to practice what we call “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly shots” in every practice session until you are highly skilled at rewmoving your ball from the tough lies and situations.
How much time do you spend practicing the bad and ugly shots on the golf course? The skill of the tour pro is in their ability to consistently produce a golf score around par in golf tournaments.
On average tour pro’s hit about 11 to 13 greens in regulation each week (65 to 67 percent) on tour and about 8 to 10 fairways out of 14 or around 55 to 70 percent.
When they miss greens and fairways they’re quite often playing from fairway bunkers, deep grass lies, and half buried lies in green-side bunkers, or skilfully manoeuvring their ball around obstacles.
Their green-side scrambling ability including bunkers (from all types of lies) is so good that they produce par or better more than 50 percent of the time over a year of tournament play.
Believe me when I tell you that your ability to defend par will most of the time get down to how skilfully you can keep producing effective recovery shots.
If you never spend the time to develop your skills from the bad and ugly situations around the greens then I can guarantee you that this step will stop you from becoming a successful pro golfer.
Step 6. Ideal Performance State
Every golf shot you play has a level of importance attached to it from not important to very important.
The way you go about practicing your golf skills each day and the level of importance you place on practicing in the ideal performance state will determine to a great extent how good you will be at producing golf shots when it really matters.
Practicing and performing your golf skills should really be one and the same thing. But they’re not for most golfers.
You should be attempting to hit every golf shot like you’re playing an important shot in a big tournament.
This is not easy to do. It is much easier to “just hit balls” and get through your work load as quickly as possible.
The intensity of your effort is influenced by your personal rating of the level of importance of the shot you’re confronted with and your ability to successfully accomplish it.
If you want to condition your nervous system to allow you to produce winning golf shots then you must commit yourself to mindfully applying yourself to performing every golf shot with the respect it deserves.
The key to managing this is to think of the two elements that will influence your ideal performance state;
If you set up golf shots that are just plain impossible to get near the hole (or your target) with your best effort then this will produce anxiety that keeps you out of the ideal performance zone. If you set up shots that are easy to play then this will lead to boredom and again keep you out of the ideal performance state.
Think of your ideal performance state as the state that allows you to play challenging shots effortlessly - with a great degree of confidence. The great thing about this state is that as you adapt to the challenges in your practice routines it can keep changing and getting better.
As you develop your competency with the different shots you practice, shots that seemed very difficult to succeed at now seem more manageable. They should never be easy though, if you want to be a pro golfer.
This challenge to skill level model is precisely the approach we take when developing the students in our Tour Bridging Program at Pro Tour Golf College.
We have witnessed firsthand the skill improvement of the students in the program as we make the degree of difficulty of the shot more challenging over planned periods, and they learn to adapt to the challenges with their results showing significant improvement over time.
Step 7. The Score Changing Attitude
Remember I said at the beginning of this article (Part 1) that pro golf has a high failure rate?
It’s true, it does, but I truly believe that one big reason that pro golf has such a high failure rate has less to do with a lack of ‘talent’ in the golfers competing in pro tournaments or are trying to.
I think it has a lot more to do with actually how you deal with the inherent difficulty of the game on a daily basis, and also how you use your available practice time to develop your critical to performance golf skills that help you to overcome the challenge of lowering your golf score average.
The question you should ask yourself is not so much, “how should I practice all my golf skills every week?” (Which is important) but instead, ask yourself, “what specific golf skills do I need to practice often to lower my golf score average?”
Your attitude to your improvement should be inverted or flipped from choosing to improve a golf skill because it hasn't lived up to your expectations lately, to looking closely at your current competitive score average and deciding which of all the skills you could work on would have the most positive effect on lowering your golf score average.
In the image above 2.57 strokes per round is the difference between the PGA Tour golfer with a competitive score average of 72.20 and a ranking of 187 and the golfer ranked number one with a competitive score average of 69.63 and a ranking of one in 2012.
The difference in prize money won between these two golfers is an unbelievable 7,712,876 dollars.
Just think, if a professional golfer with a score average around 72 can improve just 1 stroke for every nine holes they play they would be earning significantly more money.
In professional golf your competitive score average is the BIG DEAL and you have to do everything in your power to lower it to become a professional golfer who makes a lot more money than they spend.
Think about this for a second; if elite amateur and professional golfers just focused their mental and physical energy everyday doing everything they can to lower their competitive score average there would be less emotional anxiety and more golfers like Tiger Woods playing the game.
Isn't this what Tiger Woods is like? Hasn't he proved time and time again that the key to being successful in professional golf is to keep finding ways to lower your competitive scoring average?
This is surely the daily attitude you need to nurture and develop to stay in the game for a long time and give yourself consistent opportunities to enjoy success as a professional golfer.
This step in my experience is the most important one, and the one that sadly most elite golfers are not working on.
Too many amateurs and struggling professionals spend too much time trying to build a “tour golf swing” instead reducing their “tour score average” which increases their chances of earning a lot more income than they spend over a long period of time which is what every great professional golfer has been able to do, and after all, isn't that what professional golf is really about.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
Tiger Practicing His Right Hand Only Between 2 Tees Drill
All tour pro's have drills that they use to help keep their putting in good shape as it is critically important and you can learn how to do the same.
You will never learn how to break par if you don't learn how to become an outstanding putter like the top pro's on tour.
First you have to decide are they to improve technique or drills to simulate tournament intensity and improve performance?
Of course they both go hand in hand to help you improve your putting but just like the full swing you have to decide whether you are focused on improving putting technique or focused on improving putting performance.
When you try to do both at the same time it is a recipe for certain failure and frustration. The rule of "You can obey only one master at one time" must be observed and followed.
Tiger Woods likes to use two tees as a gate to putt through (see above) with just his right hand for tempo and distance control. He likes to focus on achieving solid contact with every putt he hits.
Lets start with drills where training aids are used to improve technique. There are alignment tools for better aim at address, gadgets that guide the path of the putting stroke, aids that help with maintaining the optimum tempo for all putts.
Most pro's will only use a training aid for drill work once they have identified which area of their technique is the cause of the problem.
They will get assessed on a motion analyzer like Sam Putt Lab or the Tomi Putting System which will identify that area and together with their coach select the training aid that will drill the new adjustment in.
The Alignment Putting Mirror Drill
The most popular training aid on tour is probably the mirror which can check if the putter face is square at address.
It also lets the pro check if his eyes are positioned in the optimal position in relation to the ball.
Used with a "string-line" (pic below) it is the best self - check tool that the pro's use on tour
A metronome is also a very helpful tool to drill the correct tempo required to achieve consistent distance control on all putts.
The String-Line Drill
As mentioned the string-line drill is one of the best and should be used every week to control the direction of your ball from the putter face.
Once you have improved the area in your technique that has been holding you back then you are ready to progress to the drills that will improve performance.
There are many drills that the pro's on tour use but its the putting drill's that simulate a similar intensity to that which they experience in competition that are the most useful.
These drills must always be performed with your full pre- shot routine for them to be really effective and also transferable into your competition rounds.
The Compass Drill
The compass drill begins by placing tees at 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet and 12 feet from the hole and from four directions (N,S,E,W).
Ideally set-up this drill by giving yourself an uphill. downhill, left to right and right to left putt.
This will give you 16 different putts that have to be completed in sequence (1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 2a...) otherwise the drill has to be repeated from tee 1a again which increases the pressure for each putt until completed.
A time limit of 30 minutes maximum is suggested and the best sequence of putts in a row is recorded.
Another compass drill is putting ten balls from each of the sixteen tee's (total 160) and record how many are converted and the good putters will average 70% or 112 out of the 160 attempts.
At Pro Tour Golf College our students aim for what we call "The 70 Percent Putter" which is a score of 100% for 3 feet, 80% for 6 feet, 60% for 10 feet and 40% for 14 feet. No one in our tour bridging program has so far has achieved 70 percent status, but they're getting close to it.
The Gate Drill
Another popular drill is the gate drill which helps with the start line of the putt.
You can use this drill for short and long putts with great effectiveness.
Place a ball approximately one meter in-front of where you intend to putt from and position two tees either side of the front ball. (We're using a putting hoop in the photo in case you were wondering)
Remove the front ball and putt from the chosen spot and see how many balls you can stroke through the 'Gate' in sequence.
The time limit 15 minutes and you will be amazed how much better you will putt once you are able to start the ball on the line you pick, and this will translate into more of your putts made in competition.
The Breaking Putt Drill
The breaking putt drill encourages the ball to enter the hole on the "high side" will train you to match the speed and line.
As the picture shows place a tee that blocks a quarter of the hole on the low side and start from 3 feet with five balls.
Two points are awarded for sinking a putt, one point if the ball lips out and stays inside the 18 inch zone - which is inside the club behind the hole.
You get zero points if your ball misses high side and stays inside the 18 inch zone.
Score a - 2 for hitting tee and - 3 for missing on the low side.
This drill will get your attention and improve your stats for breaking putts. Move out to 6 feet then 9 feet and finally 12 feet and change sides to train both types of breaking putts.
Always record your scores to keep an average for the drill and also remember to maintain your intensity level.
A good average for the 20 putts is 28 out of a possible score of 40 which translates again to 70%.
Work toward achieving a score of 10 from 3 feet (make all 5 putts), score 8 from 6 feet (make 4 putts, and finish inside the 18" zone with the other ball ), score 6 from 9 feet (make 3 putts and finish inside the 18" zone with the other two, score 4 from 12 feet (make 2 putts and finish inside the 18" zone with the other three.
Before the start of your round place a single tee in the putting green and putt to the tee starting from 3 feet. When you hit the tee move out to 4 feet and repeat until you get to 12 feet.
By doing this you will not have missed the hole with a putt and you have narrowed your focus which will help once you get out on the course.
Try this drill the next time before you go out and I'm sure you will not be disappointed.
Practicing your putting from the fringe is always useful to get a sense of the speed required, and I see most tour pro's doing this so they are more prepared when they choose to putt from just off the green.
Which ever putting drill you decide to include in your training routines always decide whether you will be working on your putting technique or improving your putting performance. Never both!
For drills to be effective they have to have a purpose and be designed for improvement.
So if you have a putting drill that you use and have found it useful please let me know and I will put them up on the website for other golfers like you who are interested in improving their putting.
Enjoy testing and having fun with these drills.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business