Don’t Put Those Clubs Away!

Words of wisdom from Eastern Michigan University Women’s Golf Coach and Kendall Academy Instructor

Summer’s winding down, autumn is in sight, and my ardent advice is, “Don’t put the clubs away!” Late summer and fall golf in Michigan can be downright glorious. There are so many reasons to keep swinging.

On the Course
End of summer the courses start to slow down. Tee times are easier to get, or not needed at all. When you’re one of just a handful of players out there, you have more time to play a shot or maybe even take an extra one without feeling rushed. As an added benefit, some courses offer slow-season price deals.
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Here’s To Our Health!
Do something that you love and get exercise too – is there any better reason to continue golf in the off season? And let’s not forget the social positives of connecting with friends. And how about the stress buster aspects of being active and out-of-doors? Golf’s a hobby with health benefits – let’s keep it up.

Getting Better All The Time
Fall and winter (ok, I said that cold word!) are great times to work on your swing. I always see a slowdown in my lesson business the first part of September, and though that is partly due to my commitment to the Women’s Golf  Team at Eastern Michigan, the end-of-the-season golf slowdown is also at work. I encourage you to think about golf improvement year-round.

I have a Women’s Practice Club that starts up the first part of November and runs through mid-March. Many participants will tell you that though they aren’t scoring a ball during those months, they are improving their techniques and using repetitive motion to fix flaws and improve consistency. Not worrying about scoring can be the best kind of practice.

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Picture It!
Golf is a game of mental imagery. Visualize your shot, picture the ball flight, see it headed to the cup. Off-season golf offers plenty of opportunities to practice the power of the mind. Work on mental imagery. You’re on your favorite course – it’s 80 degrees with a light breeze. In Winter Practice Club it’s fun to work on imagery drills . Picture green grass and sun shine! The looks on new winter practice members always give me a chuckle when the snow is flying!

We’re not ready to kiss summer goodbye just yet. There are too many good rounds to be had. But think ahead. Consider a lesson this fall or winter, and see where it takes you. (Lesson rates are also cheaper in the off-season) If you are looking for a fun weekly activity this winter,  consider the Women’s Winter Practice Club at Miles of Golf. Details will be coming soon. It’s the perfect way to beat Old Man Winter!

If you’re having difficulty scheduling a lesson with me because of my limited availability, just email me: .  I’ll do everything I can to help you!

Good Manners in the Bunker

When you see your ball bound into a bunker you know your round just got a little tougher.  And what’s a player to do, but shake off dejection and bound into the bunker too.  Just don’t shake off the etiquette.  Be thoughtful and fair to other players and maintain pace of play.  Here are 10 tips just for the sand.
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  • Before you go into bunker, pick appropriate club, visualize your shot and take your practice swing in the grass.
  • Enter at low point near your ball. Protect those fragile, high-maintenance bunker faces.
  • Don’t touch sand with club or rake, or kick it around with your shoe. This isn’t etiquette – it’s the rules.  You can scootch your feet a bit as you set up for your shot.
  • Take same path out of the bunker to minimize raking and time.
  • Leave no footprints behind.  Rake it back and forth, nice and smooth, and use the back of the rake too.  No ridges, please.
  • Put the rake in its place.  In Misc./2 Decision the USGA admits there’s no perfect answer for position of rakes, but recommends placing them outside the bunker.  In addition, The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America recommends that rakes outside the bunker be placed flat on the ground (tines up) and parallel to the hole’s direction of play. These guidelines seek to minimize rakes’ influence on play.  Extra etiquette points for placing rake at some distance from other rakes, saving steps for the next sand-bound soul who comes this way.
  • Some courses ask that you leave the rake inside the bunker, so pay attention.
  • Lend a hand.  Sometimes a player gets out of the bunker but is still the next to play.  She’s got to rake, dust herself off, move to her ball, size up her shot, pick her club,  all those things.  If you’re nearby, offer to rake while she prepares for her next shot. This ranks somewhere between, “May I wash your kitchen floor”, and “Could I watch your kids for the afternoon”  – one cool and friendly move indeed.
  • Speaking of smooth moves, have you noticed the way the pro’s bang their shoes with their club after they exit a bunker?  It’s an emphatic, “I’m-out-of- there!” flourish.  Probably worth a try.
  • A matter of terminology.   You won’t find “Sand trap” in the Rules of Golf. “Bunker” is the word for it.
  • And check out the USGA video on bunker etiquette!


Master Mentor – Gayle Champagne

Gayle Champagne, centerGayle Champagne started playing golf to avoid answering the phone.  On Friday afternoons the guys at the ad agency would ask, “Gayle, would you cover my calls?” as they headed for the course with a client. Pretty soon Gayle was out there too.  (That’s Gayle sitting between Carolin Dick and me).
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She REALLY took to the sport, organizing trips up north for dozens of women at a time, landing a job at Golf For Women magazine, becoming an expert on the pleasures and perils of business golf.  She’s been involved with the American Junior Golf Association for 16 years and is currently President of the Board of Directors of that national nonprofit. That’s in addition to her full time job at Self Magazine! This is a woman who gives to golf!
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I met Gayle the year I started playing golf – before I had golf shoes OR a golf swing.  She hit a ball 90 yards over a little patch of wetland and I thought she was a golf goddess.  What really stuck with me though, was the way she inspired a new player, with just the right blend of humor and helpfulness.  I so appreciated the time she spent with me.

Whenever I play with Gayle I get inspired.  So with summer on the wane, I’ve made a pledge – to get out there and play with some new golfers, to pass on those good golf feelings.
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Once again, Gayle, thanks!