Michaelyn Bradford, assistant golf pro at TPC Southwind
Last week’s announcement of Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, and Darla Moore, South Carolina financier, as the first female members of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, did more than just recognize two talented golfers; it kept the momentum going for female athletes across the board.
Summer 2012 put a large spotlight on female athletes with tennis, track, beach volleyball, swimming, and gymnastics winning Olympic gold medals for the United States, and the announcement of female inclusion into the Augusta National “boys club” has only piqued the interest and participation of females in athletics, specifically golf.
If you're inspired to pick up a club and give it a try, TPC Southwind is offering an opportunity for Mid-South women to “Get Golf Ready” beginning September 6th. For more information visit golfgetgolfreadymidsouth.com or call 748-0330 to inquire about non-membership lessons.
"I've seen a big increase in this sport with more women coming out with their husbands or with a group of girls; what used to be unattainable is now achievable,” says Michaelyn Bradford, assistant golf professional at TPC Southwind in Memphis.
Bradford has some tips for women on how to hit the green with confidence and eventually master the Masters:
Make sure your clubs fit. If your clubs don’t fit, even your perfect swings can result in poor shots. At the very least your club’s shaft-flex and lie angle need to fit. Find an expert to assess your club specs and recommend changes.
Get some help. Golf is something you can do at your own pace, but you need someone to make sure you are doing the right thing. Instruction from a qualified professional can be the breakthrough to better scoring and more fun on the golf course. It helps to have someone else “see” what we are doing and get us back on track.
Fundamentals. Grip, posture and alignment. Alignment is 95 percent of golf. Most women sit in front of a computer every day, put on makeup, and do our hair, always going forward with our arms. [For golf, you] want your shoulders back. Always practice with clubs on the ground or use alignment sticks to overcome areas of alignment.
Practice smart. About 70 percent of the game happens from 100 yards and into the green. Most of us would score better if we spent more time practicing our short game shots, the core of which is pitching, chipping, and putting. Putting is most important!
Be positive. A positive frame of mind helps us relax. A tense swing never works. Keep it simple and trust that you’ve chosen the proper shot and then swing, find it, and hit it again.
Consider adding more hybrids. Most women are looking for game-improving clubs that allow them to hit more of a variety of shots. Hybrids are great for women looking for a club they can use for a variety of shots, from fairway to green to bunker.
Evaluate your ability and set goals. Be realistic and determine your strengths and weaknesses. Spend some practice time shoring up your weaknesses and, when on the course, play to your abilities. Avoid trying to pull off that risky shot, and play the percentages according to your strengths.
Swing in balance. Focus on finishing in balance; it’s a reflection of the dynamic motion of the swing. A balanced swing also leads to better rhythm and tempo. Finish full and in perfect balance. You need the back toe off the ground, with your weight finishing on your forward foot.
Acceleration. Women tend to finish with their arms chest high or at their waist and their back arched. Turn your hips and accelerate all the way through the swing finishing with arms all the way up and weight on the front foot.
Play more break. When lining up a putt, err on the high side. If you get it above the cup as the ball approaches the hole, it is always moving closer to the cup. This leads to more makes and definitely fewer three-putts. Women tend to hit the ball softer when putting. It’s good to imagine your ball finishing two feet behind the hole because if you get past the hole, you’re always giving it a chance to go in.
Swing through the ball, don’t hit at it. Because the ball is not moving, many of us get ball bound. The ball is not the target so don’t hit at the ball; rather swing through the ball to the target, which is the fairway or the green.
Bradford suggests “a positive mindset” as a key for success. “You have to say you can do it, and then believe it. Set your goals, find a mentor, and follow them. Follow your instincts and be yourself and you can be anything you want to be.”
In regards to women finally sporting those green jackets Bradford says, “It's incredible. Definitely a win/win for Augusta and for the ladies.”