By Kiel Christianson
Gary Cliplef is a PGA Class A Professional, and the Director of Incentive Golf in San Diego. Incentive Golf (incentivegolf.com) is an academy focused not only on golf for golf's sake.
The game is considered, and taught, as an integral part of business, as a way to forge trust and relationships that carry over from fairways into boardrooms.
One of the unique offerings offered by Cliplef at Incentive Golf are Team Building programs that develop not only golf skills but also leadership skills and working relationships. Can you think of a better "day at the office?"
Five Questions with Gary Cliplef
1. First off, talk briefly about your golf instruction philosophy and how you preach it at your facility.
CLIPLEF: I teach grip, aim, stance and posture. What the student must know is that these basic fundamentals control the whole swing. The grip controls the face (curve). The aim and stance control the direction (path). The posture controls the angle of the club coming into impact. Once the student knows these fundamentals, then we can work on shaft plane and swing plane according to their body type. At this point I teach the student to read the ball. I think the ball is the greatest teacher there is. A curving ball is most likely a grip problem. An off line hit is the direct result of misalignment but can be influenced by a swing path problem. A miss-hit, thin or fat, can be contributed to by a posture problem during the swing. The ball will tell us which basic fundamental we need to work on.
2. What attracted you to the SwingFix platform and how effective can this method be for golfers?
CLIPLEF: I have never seen anyone progress in this game by reading or looking at video of someone else. What you feel and what you actually do can be so different that you must see your swing on video. Usually it is a real eye-opener. Using video can very quickly improve your golf swing. Much faster than not using video.
3. In your opinion, what is the secret to taking the "range game" to the first tee?
CLIPLEF: There is no secret to taking what you’re working on at the range to the golf course. I want my students to control their ball. Most golfers chase the ball around the golf course for 18 holes. You must have a goal and a plan and one swing thought per swing. I don’t want them to get frustrated and go back to what is comfortable for them and start chasing the ball around again. Stick with the fundamentals and fight for 18 holes, and it will eventually happen. Patience.
4. Is there a particular training aid that you tend to use most regularly and with the most effectiveness?
CLIPLEF: I use a range basket for a training aid. It is hard to talk about it, but if you saw it, you would get it immediately. In your golf posture with your hands holding a basket slightly tilted up so you don’t spill the water out (we are picturing the basket full of water), I want the student to turn and keep the basket in front of their chest until they reach waist high. At that time your arms start lifting and while you keep turning your shoulders you lift the basket up and throw the water out over behind your right shoulder. This drill teaches the correct swing plane and quickly gets the student to understand the swing. The idea is to swing the basket up to the top without spilling. Most golfers empty the basket before they reach the top of their backswing.
5. Is there a way students who have worked with you most often dramatically improve and achieve that coveted five-shot drop in scores? Power, consistency, short game, management, playing more golf, etc.?
CLIPLEF: I once took 10 shots off a student’s game just in a putting lesson. Most golfers, especially seasoned ones, can easily take 7-10 shots off their game just in short-game work. A soft landing pitch shot is the shot most amateurs don’t have. That shot alone can take several shots off your score. Definitely the putting. Most golfers don’t have good speed. A lesson in how to get proper speed can really take your score down. The better golfers can take their score down by not only improving their short game, but also with better game management. I have always preached that your time at the range should be quality of balls hit not quantity. Fifty balls struck with good thought and fundamentals are better than 100 balls just going through the motions. Most golfers are just doing aerobic exercise at the range - not doing any good for their swing.
Take a lesson with Gary Cliplef.