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A Woman's Touch
A Survey Shows Most Guys Don't Want a Female Golf Instructor. Too Bad: They're Missing Good Advice Like This.

By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 5, 2006

Two golf publications, Golf for Women and Golf Digest, recently polled more than 4,500 male and female readers to learn about their attitudes toward golf and the opposite sex.

The results, published in the March/April issue of Golf for Women and available online at http://www.golfforwomen.com/, are hardly earthshaking.

Men say women always have to go to the bathroom and don't pay attention. Women think men spend too much time looking for lost balls and use every tree as a urinal.

When asked whom they want to help improve their game, men and women said they prefer someone of their same sex. About two-thirds of women favor a female teacher; 88 percent of men want a guy pro.

This is unfortunate, especially considering the number of top-notch women golf teachers in the Washington area. To show guys what they're missing -- and women what they seem to prefer -- we asked a few to share some tips.

· Liza Abood (Olney Golf Park) was selected by Golf for Women as a top teacher in the Northeast. A former University of Maryland basketball player, Abood taught and coached at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School before becoming a PGA and LPGA teaching professional.

For golfers trying to break into the 90s, Abood advises working on the pitch shot from 100 yards and in.

"If you can get that 50-, 60-yard shot in the air, over the bunkers and onto the green and two-putt," your scores will dip, she said.

The key to making that shot is opening your stance -- turning your feet slightly to the left of your target -- so you can swing your arms straight to the target, Abood said. "If you open up your stance, you can slide the club through easier and it will pop up a little higher."

· Joy Bonhurst Smith (Chevy Chase Club) was LPGA club pro teacher of the year in the Northeast in 2004.

Bonhurst Smith recommends a balance drill. Start by raising your right foot and standing only on your left.

"First, see if you can actually stand on one foot, because a lot of people can't," she said.

Next, try doing your golf posture on one foot and hold it for 10 seconds. Then take a regular golf swing standing only on your left foot. After a while, switch sides, raising your left foot and standing on your right.

In addition to boosting balance, Bonhurst Smith said, this "works on strengthening your ankles and using more of the core of your body. It creates a really sound base for your lower body and more of a separation from your lower body and upper body. You get a tighter turn so you can swing the club faster."

· Paige Veliz-Gilbert (Capital City Golf School) is in her 16th year teaching golf. As a kid in Phoenix she took lessons from Kathy Corbin, who specialized in working with disabled golfers. Corbin provided Veliz-Gilbert with valuable teaching tools.

"I . . . teach everyone as if they were blind," said Veliz-Gilbert. "We get them set up where contact is a given, where they don't have to be striving to make the club hit the ball. Wherever their hands and arms are going to swing, it's going to return the club to the ball naturally."

Veliz-Gilbert's best recommendation for improving a golfer's game: Quit reading golf magazines. "Put them down," she said. Think of poor Peter Kessler, the host of "Golf Talk Live" for so many years, said Veliz-Gilbert. Kessler was a 10 handicap when he started that program. Now he can't break 90. That's what listening to 365 golf tips a year will get you.

· Julieta Stack (Hilltop, Pine Ridge) is one of Golf for Women's top 50 teachers in the Northeast and runs her own company, InnerDrive Golf. (Stack is married to Washington Post classical music critic Tim Page.)

First, lighten up. "Tension destroys more golf shots than any other swing error," Stack said. "Soften your grip pressure, drop your shoulders, and most of all try to feel athletic over the ball, not analytic."

Second, try swinging to the target and not at the ball. "Hitting at the ball causes all kind of problems from fat shots, pop-ups to wicked slices and hooks," Stack said. "Try allowing your club to swing freely through the ball with your intention being to get your belt buckle, arms and shaft of the club to the target at the same time. The momentum created by swinging this way will lead to a nice, high follow-through."

One more tip, this for golfers who bought $400 drivers (we're guessing most are men):

"You have to realize that your swing errors are magnified when your club head speed increases and the loft on your club decreases," Stack said. "It's like a car crash. The faster you are going, the worse the crash."

Kathy Orton covers golf and many other sports for The Post's Sports section.

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