Throughout the golf season, PGA and LPGA pros spend their days working on their games. On a few occasions, their worlds collide with amateurs at pro-am tournaments such as the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am in Lutz on the Champions Tour or the new Stanford International Pro-Am in Aventura on the LPGA Tour. The pros get to see some pretty bad swings close up. Recently, at the Stanford International, the Cox News Service spoke to LPGA pros Juli Inkster, Leta Lindley, Nancy Lopez, Meg Mallon, Morgan Pressel and Annika Sorenstam about the 10 biggest flaws they see and how recreational players can fix those problems.
Have realistic expectations before you tee it up. "This is a tough game, and it's tough (even) when you play every day," Sorenstam says. "If you only play once a week or once a month, don't have so high expectations." Pressel says many amateurs are too preoccupied with their scores. "People will get upset over shots that you know if they stopped counting their score, they would be perfectly happy with. So you say, 'Look, you hit a great shot. Don't complain that it's 10 feet (from the hole) instead of 2 feet.' "
|Spend more time on the putting green
"I think (amateurs) spend most of their (practice) time on the driving range," Lindley says. More work with the flat stick would pay better dividends.
|Don't swing too hard
This is particularly true in LPGA pro-ams. Few amateurs think they can outdrive a typical PGA Tour player, but put them on the tee with a woman — never mind that she's a pro — and they start swinging out of their shoes. When Mallon's amateur partner, TV news anchor Stone Phillips, told her he thought he was overswinging, she corrected the problem with a simple image. "Have you ever seen Freddie Couples swing really hard at a golf ball?" she asked him. "And how far does he hit it?"
|Finish your backswing
Amateurs are so eager to crush the ball, or maybe it's just that they're so nervous, they just want to get the swing over with. But without a proper, full backswing, they're not going to get maximum distance. "I always tell them to finish the backswing before they start the downswing," Lopez says.
|Take enough club
Amateurs don't take enough club with their irons. "They hit that one 8-iron 160 yards one time and they think they can do that all the time," Mallon says. Inkster, who also cites this fault, says she understands why it happens. "A lot of them, they don't get to play much. They just want to come out here and hit it."
Think a few shots ahead instead of just hitting wildly. "I see this a lot at my academy in Orlando," Sorenstam says. "I take our guests out and I do course management. It's almost like they don't plan ahead; they think because they're on the tee it means driver. I always tell them to think about where they want to hit their second shot from. You've got to think ahead before you just hit it."
|Judge your putts
Amateurs don't have good speed on their putts. "They focus so much on the line sometimes that they don't think about the speed," Sorenstam says. "To me, speed is almost more important than the line, because if you don't have the speed, it really doesn't matter."
|Less body movement
One key to a good short game is a quiet lower body. "I see a lot of movement on their short-game shots, whether it's putting or chipping," Lindley says. "All that movement — if they could keep their bodies still a little bit better, then their short game's going to improve a lot."
Amateurs are in too big a rush. "I think that's the biggest thing that they do," Mallon says. "And they try to do things that they're not comfortable doing." Her advice: Stay in your comfort zone. But she knows that's easier said than done. "We (pros) have to do the same thing."
Sometimes, amateurs don't have fun. "I do this for a living and they don't, so I try to make that clear," Sorenstam says. "They're very good at what they do, and I happen to be decent at what I do. Let's just have fun. You play to your level and I'll play to mine. Enjoy the fun format and the facility."
Compiled by Rodney Page, Times staff writer