Although the 2017 Calgary golf season started with weather that ranged from terrific to amazing, some things never change. There continues to be the classic golf challenges: technique, equipment and some notorious (let’s just say tough) Calgary-area fairways, greens and holes to strategize, aim and manoeuvre around.
Some newbie golfers still blame their clubs or some specific golf course features that have been around for years.
But savvy Calgary-area golfers accept the quirks of local courses and buy into the wise golfer mantra that personal technique is a constantly evolving science that can always be improved.
“The absolutely number one golf problem is distance,” says Terry Carter, owner and one of the busy pros at Calgary’s National Golf Academy and resident pro at Calgary’s public courses. “Golfers often say that all their clubs result in the same distance. It’s a very common technique flaw that pros call casting – a bit like fly-fishing because the golfer flicks their wrists, trying to hit the ball. But unlike fishing, the wrist action interferes with the whipping motion that is necessary to hit the ball far. To create proper power, the golfer must have solid fundamentals and the understanding of the swinging motion to get the entire body to wind-up, coil, unwind and properly hit the ball.”
He adds a technique secret that’s not really such a secret, after all. “The power move that most golfers lack is called lag. It’s the hidden move in the golf swing and the angle between the shaft and the left forearm in the downswing. The angle stores all the power, releases it into the ball and gets the distance.”
Carter offers a teachable moment reminder about another key technique aspect: ball flight. “It is the actual direction of the ball. The key factor is where the club face is pointed when the ball makes contact with the club. With right-handed golfers, if the face is closed the ball will go left. If the face is open, the ball will go to the right.
“The golfer must understand that the club swings around our body and the face of the golf club actually opens (rotates) in the backswing and closes in the downswing. This opening and closing of the club face is not a forced motion,” he explains. “This is created as a result of the proper swinging motion and strong fundamentals.”
While the cliché about some bad golfers blaming their equipment is true, most golf pros caution that proper equipment is legit and vital, because poorly-fitted equipment is a proven obstacle to enjoyable, good golf.
A golf club has three components: the head, the shaft and the grip. The pros emphasize it’s critical to make sure all three parts of a club (including the putter) and all equipment is properly fitted to the individual’s body and swing.
The good and challenging not-so-good about some popular Calgary-area holes is usually a personal curse but also notorious in the local golf world.
Just as Calgary’s terrific location-location is legendary around the world, Calgary golfers know about the spectacular views from some Calgary golf hot spots.
Like #13 at Shaganappi Point, with the dazzling view of downtown Calgary. The #12 of Redwood Meadows, the picture-perfect par 3 over a lake with the Elbow River behind the green. And the Calgary Golf and Country Club’s #18, with the downhill par 4 overlooking the Elbow River.
For many Calgary-area golfers, who are proud but take the view from the golf course for granted (as most Calgarians take random views of the Rockies for granted), the true focus is on some infamously tough Calgary holes.
Like the #1 hole at Shaganappi, a short 240-yard par four with an island green surrounded by water. Or the #13 hole on the Priddis Green Raven course, a challenging 437-yard, dog leg left, par 4.
“The #9 hole at Hamptons is tough,” even PGA pro Terry Carter admits. “It’s also a very long par 4 that slants right to left, so you have to hit a shot that starts left, fades back to the right, in order to land in the fairway softly.
“And the Forest #7 at the Glencoe is deceiving. It’s a picturesque and beautiful par 3, but one of the toughest holes on the front nine. Playing 229 yards from the championship tees, the tee shot leaves little room for error.”