Swing Success: Pro Golf Tips

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To say Ryan Sheffer knows a thing or two about golf is an understatement. A student of the game, Ryan is the lead instructor at Ben Brown’s Golf Course at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, where he manages private and group lessons, clinics and junior camps. His career jump-started when he was ranked one of the top junior golfers in the world as a teen, and he went on to play college golf at Notre Dame de Namur University in San Francisco.

Golf is a game that can be played at virtually any age, and Ryan makes it a point to foster positivity among his students while also seasoning his instruction with a focused approach to the often-overlooked aspects of the sport. Laguna Beach Magazine spoke with Ryan to find out more about his recommended practice regimen, as well as his passion for the game.

Ryan Sheffer, lead golf instructor at The Ranch at Laguna Beach | Photo by Jody Tiongco
Ryan Sheffer, lead golf instructor at The Ranch at Laguna Beach | Photo by Jody Tiongco
Laguna Beach Magazine: What are some common injuries related to golf? How can you prevent them?

Ryan Sheffer: The most common injuries in golf are lower back pain, wrist pain, knee pain and shoulder pain. All of these injuries stem from the same two issues: poor mechanics in the golf swing and not warming up prior to play. The best way to prevent injuries is to seek out the assistance of a golf instructor. A good instructor will be able to help correct any issues in the swing that may be causing discomfort or pain, and will furnish various exercises and stretches that will help to prevent injuries from occurring.

What are the benefits of playing golf?

RS: Golf is often seen as a leisure sport. However, it’s a cardiovascular workout, especially for those who elect to walk [instead of use a golf cart]. It’s a game for life. It is a sport that can be taken up and played at any age. The social atmosphere of golf develops social skills and encourages friendships as well as other relationships.

What physical cues should a golfer look for in deciding when to back off?

RS: You can reach a point when you are playing too much golf, but only if you’re practicing inefficiently. Many golfers find themselves feeling burned out and frustrated. Those golfers usually spend many hours practicing at the range, hoping that some form of self-discovery will occur and they will find the perfect swing. They don’t have a clear idea as to what they are trying to work on, and they are practicing inefficiently.

What aspect of the sport should golfers concentrate on to improve their game?

RS: Focus your attention on practicing your short game. The vast majority of shots in a round of golf are played from 100 yards and in, which is why it is so ironic that this is the area of the game that is practiced the least by most golfers. The famous mantra, “Drive for show and putt for dough,” couldn’t be [truer], so work on your putting, chipping and pitching. … Follow these percentages: Spend 50 percent of your practice session on putting, 35 percent on your chipping and pitching, and 15 percent on your full swing.

Why would someone choose golf over another sport to stay in shape?

RS: Many sports—such as basketball, tennis, surfing and football—put a large amount of stress on the body. At a certain age, players are physically unable to continue. However, golf is somewhat of a low-intensity sport. It doesn’t put a large amount of stress on the body. If that is not reason enough, for those who enjoy being surrounded by nature, golf is a sport that is played in some of the most beautiful settings in the world. It is this connection with nature that allows many golfers to find a sense of serenity and peace through the game.

-Written by Larry Urish

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