Bump and Run Eric Alpenfels

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 29, 2009, 8:21 pm
We know it's difficult to find time to practice during the week. When a Saturday or Sunday tee time rolls around, you're hoping to find some spark or productive swing thought that will help you break 100, 90, 80 or whatever your scoring goal may be.

With the weekend warrior in mind we created Bump and Run, a weekly Q&A with some of the game's top instructors. Each Friday, a teaching professional will occupy this space and answer questions directed toward improving your game. This week it's Eric Alpenfels, director of instruction at Pinehurst Resort, site of the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open championships.

Over the past decade, Alpenfels and Dr. Bob Christina have conducted thousands of practice tests and drills on golfers (of all skill levels) at the Pinehurst Golf Academy, and their research has been the subject of several cover stories in Golf Magazine, not to mention a book, Instinct Putting.
Eric Alpenfels Golf Magazine Top 100 TeacherERIC ALPENFELS
Director of Golf Instruction, Pinehurst Golf Adademy, Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, N.C.

- Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers
- Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America
- Author, Instinct Putting (2008), with Bob Christina, PH.D., and Cary Heath, PH.D.

Web Site:
Contact: 1-866-291-4427 or e-mail golfschool@pinehurst.com

While Alpenfels understands the time restraints placed on many golfers today by their jobs and families, he encourages them to spend at least 60 minutes per week practicing, whether it be at home or at a local practice facility.

'If you’re just looking for overall game improvement and scoring improvement, then I’d dedicate 30 of those minutes to the short game (putting, chipping and pitching shots around the green), and the next half hour to full shots, including full wedge shots,' said Alpenfels.  'Something of a three-quarter swing so it’s distance and directional focused.'

To submit a question to Alpenfels or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered.
What's the best way to practice the short game if you have only 30 minutes per week?

I would break it into two categories: No. 1, work on technique, if need be. If you’re in a situation where you’re not chipping it very well or you’re not hitting the ball very solid, then maybe you need to look at the technique you’re using. No. 2, as much as you can, shift into that transfer mode of recreating what you’re going to face out on the golf course. Throw the ball up in the air, see where it lands [around the green] and play it from wherever it lies. Don’t improve the lie, because that’s not what you’re going to get on the golf course.

If you're trying to simulate shots you'll see on the course, should you putt each ball out?

If you have the time. The more you recreate the environment of the golf course, the more you’ll see your weaknesses. If you don’t have that much time, then play the ball from where it lies, see where it ends up, and pick another situation. But if you can play it out it’s certainly advantageous, because if you constantly struggle to convert from three or four feet out, your problem is with your short putting and not your chipping or bunker play.
What does the typical PGA Tour pro's warm-up routine consist of?

When they’re an hour away from their tee time, they’re not trying to revisit some golf lesson they took a month before, nor are they trying to hit 25 drivers in a row. They’re bouncing around hitting different clubs in preparation for the golf course. There are different modes of practice and a Tour player very effectively shifts into the appropriate approach, depending on what they’re doing. They shift into that transfer practice mode very quickly when they’re in the tournament mode.

So they save the mechanical stuff for when the round is over?

Or for the week before. Today, if you went out to our driving range there would be guys getting ready to tee off on [Pinehurst] No. 2 and they’d hit 25 drivers in a row. The trouble is, that’s not what they’re going to do on the golf course. All of a sudden, they get out on the course and now they’re looking at the love grass on the right, the real thick rough on the left, and the fairway looks a whole lot narrower than it did on the driving range. At that point, you’re not prepared. You haven’t rehearsed in a way that’s going to prepare you for the golf course.

Three keys to help you take your game from the range to the course?

No. 1, practice as much as you can in a way that’s going to mimic the golf course. No. 2, don’t hit a tremendous amount of golf balls if you’re getting ready to go play. And No. 3, practice your pre-shot and post-shot routines before you go play.

Hit as many balls as it takes to get loosened and warmed up. For many people, that’s 15 shots, for others it might be 20. For some kids I know, it’s five balls. Start out with a middle iron, like a 6-iron, then at some point hit a couple of drivers and wedges. If the first hole on the course is a par 5, I would play that hole on the range and maybe a couple more if I had time. The first hole on [Pinehurst] No. 2 would be a driver off the tee and maybe a 7-iron into the green, so I’d hit those two shots. The second hole is a driver for me, then 4-iron into the green, so I’d hit the 4-iron a couple of times to get the feel for that club.

Most of our readers know what a pre-shot routine consists of, but what about the post-shot routine?

The post-shot routine is where you evaluate the swing. When you do your pre-shot routine, you go execute the shot. In the post-shot routine, you’re just evaluating. If you’re hitting into a target where the wind is blowing right to left, did you interpret or anticipate what the wind was going to do to the ball? Did you hit the ball the right distance? Was it a pretty good swing?

Best drill for bunker play?

The Circle Drill. You have a ball in the sand, and you trace an oval around the ball. The idea is to try and move all that sand; not just the ball, but the sand that’s underneath it in that oval. If the oval is the size of your hand, you get less conscious about the golf ball and more about the overall shape of it.

Best drill for solid contact?

The most effective one I’ve seen is where you try and hit the tee in front of the golf ball. You put a tee about eight inches in front [of the ball] and you try and hit both tees. Start with a quite a bit of the tee showing and then after awhile, once you get tired of picking it up, put it lower in the ground. Eventually, you’ll hit the ball off the grass while still hitting the tee in front. It creates better path to your swing, better extension, and it helps to eliminate some of the toe shots people hit. A lot of golfers, because they swing out to in, they have to compensate with their body to adjust to this path, so the bottom of the swing changes quite dramatically from shot to shot. It helps fix the path and the centeredness of contract really improves, too.

Best drill for generating more power?

In my experience, I see a lot of golfers’ swings where everything stops at impact. They think the fastest part of the swing is at impact, which it is, but if you think post-impact, like two feet after the ball, you’re still going to have acceleration at that point after impact. Just where you put sense of speed is going to help you hit the ball farther.

Best drill for putting?

Make some strokes while looking at the hole. It’s a great way to practice because it gives you the opportunity to gauge how much stroke hits the ball a certain distance. It also allows you to see the first little bit of the break point. A lot of golfers, their head stays down so much on the golf ball that by the time they glance up they really don’t have a sense of the first six or eight feet of the putt. If they actually look at the hole that makes them a lot more aware of the ball rolling off the face and the influence of the break. If you make practice strokes out on the course where you’re looking at the hole trying to equate length of stroke and speed of stroke to the distance, if you putted that way it’s going to make it all that much more effective.
Eric Alpenfels Instructional Videos


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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.