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Different strokes

Posting lower scores is the name of the game with good instruction

Different strokes

Devan Bonebrake is one of the top young teachers in the country.
Joey Cobbs, Southland Golf

Wouldn’t it be great if 80 were the new 90? Then you’ve come to the right place, because this month we have two dynamic young teachers showing you how to break 100, 90 and 80 on a consistent basis in addition to driving the ball more accurately and hitting your irons with more precision.

Devan Bonebrake, owner of the Southern California Golf Academy at Carlsbad Golf Center, provides the bulk of the help with tips, drills and ideas for cutting strokes. If you read Golf Digest, you’ve seen Bonebrake on those pages as well, with the publication selecting him as one of the Top Young Teachers in America. Chris Mayson, the director of the Maderas Golf Academy in Poway and also selected by Golf Digest as one of the country’s best young instructors, follows Bonebrake with three tips that will get you dialed in from tee to green.

When it comes to instruction, a blend of feel and mechanics should always be a goal.

“I think the best teachers can be effective both ways and cater to what the student needs and their learning style,” Bonebrake said. “For instance, before a tournament or important round I’m generally going to favor feel, give them something they can take to the course. On the other hand, for those who have high aspirations there are times when specific mechanical changes need to occur. This is the only way to allow them to reach their long-term goals.”

Common swing flaws he sees with students are a poor angle of attack, an incorrect club path and improper clubface angle at impact.

“Getting those three points to match up is all that matters to hit a good shot,” he said. “Most people can get at least one, if not two, of those right. Yet few can do all three.”

For many amateurs, Bonebrake said, lower scores can most quickly be achieved by spending time in the short-game practice area.

“The average golfer only hits a couple of greens in regulation per round. That's about 16 opportunities to get up and down, not to mention all the players who get double bogeys from just off the green,” he said. “If a golfer is limited with their time, improving their pitching can make a dramatic impact on their ability to score.”

For beginners or those shooting in triple digits, the focus should be on solid contact.

“You don’t have to hit perfect shots to play decent golf,” Bonebrake said. “It’s the horribly contacted shots that do the most damage to your score, your confidence and even to your body.”

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