Christmas Gift Recomendations For Golfers and Coaches


What do you buy the golfer on your list for Christmas? New clubs are great and lessons to go with it is even better but here are a few suggestions for those who would like some guidance through the winter or offseason. Here is my first suggestion stocking stuffer ……

Short Game Secrets with John Graham and James Ridyard is a great video package on the short game and putting that is not just your run of the mill golf tips dvd. John Graham and James Ridyard are two of the best in the business and I can guarantee you will learn something new that will have an immediate impact of your scoring shots. Here are a couple of clips to give you an idea of what you are getting but click on the link above to take advantage of the pre-order price. Also make sure you visit their respective websites by clicking on their names.






Sneak Peak of The Guru Short Game School @Stones River CC – Teaching the Bump and Run

Here is a clip of the short game school I taught at Stones River CC with Rob Mcgill. I had a great time and I thank Rob and the members for having me. Here I am teaching the bump and run shot

My Weekend In Tennessee With a True Professional

Most of you that follow me on twitter know where I was last weekend. For the first time in my career I took my teaching on the road. My good friend, Rob McGill asked if I would come and teach a short game school at his club in Nashville and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to spend the weekend with my buddy and do some teaching. I was truly honored that someone would think that I had something to offer his members and for that I am thankful. So I couldn’t leave this week without giving some props to Rob McGill because I feel like people deserve to know the type of guy that he is but most of all the type of golf professional he is as well. This is not about me but about my friend Rob. I show up at the airport and Rob and his son, Braxton surprise me with a folder with ( #makeeverything on it) which was pretty cool. We go to the club for a wonderful dinner and I start to meet the members of this fine club. You can just tell the love and admiration that they have for their head professional by the way they respond and treat him. Rob is always good for a kind word and hello to everyone that passes by…not because he has to but because he genuinely loves people and the members at Stones River. In the day and age of PGA golf professionals that are losing there jobs it was great to see a professional that is always trying to better themself and more importantly creating value to the membership by bringing programs like the AimPoint Class with John Graham and my little short game school as well. I told the members in my intro that they were fortunate to have a head professional that is always trying to improve his skills and share with the members his knowledge.  As all great professionals , Rob is also a great mentor to his assistants, Matt Spain and the other staff members as he was continually checking on them and testing them in an unselfish constructive manner.  Being the great observer that I am, I was just filled with joy to see watch this guy work and engage the members throughout the weekend, and then teach alongside him as well. I enjoyed meeting his family as they treated us like one of the family with their hospitality and kindness and I just wanted to say thank you and recognize one of the true great PGA golf professionals in our business. Thank you Rob for everything.

****I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the epic mindmeld discussions on the golf swing that was had by John Graham, John Dochety, Rob, Matt Spain and with a special guest appearance by Kirk Oguri and Bob Townsend. We had a great time and I learned alot for sure. I know I promised some video and some video was taken but cannot be published unfortunately. Maybe next time.


U.S. Open Week: Guru TV archive : How To Escape the Birdnest Shot and my Picks to Win

As we approach the week of our second major championship of the year, The United States Open, we have to ask ourselves; What kind of player wins the U.S. Open and what kind of shots are required to survive the grueling test that is some of the toughest golf course set-ups in the world. There is a reason why par is a good score and usually ends up winning or coming very close. The USGA sets the course up with this score in mind with narrow fairways, long rough, firm greens and difficult pin positions.

The type of player to look for this week: In my opinion you have to do three things well to win an open. 1) Drive it straight 2) be able to play smart from the rough 3)have a world class short game

Notice I didn’t say that you had to be a long power player or even a great putter although that doesn’t hurt but I think that the player will have to be able to work the ball with a fade pattern to keep the ball from rolling into the rough and also a fade into the greens tends to hold better than a draw. So the players that can shape the ball will have a definite advantage. Here are a few players that fall under this pattern and who I think will do well this week.

1. K.J. Choi – his steeper downswing and fade shot will set up well at Congressional. He can drive it straight, escape the rough and hit the greens with his fade. Choi has been showing good form of late as he just recently won the Players Championship.

2. Martin Kymer – Although his steep downswing doesn’t work at Augusta, he should be able to manage his way around and shoot something around par and contend this week. This is why he played so well at the PGA. His fade is a plus for this venue

3. Lee Westwood – His shot pattern doesn’t match my description but has the ability to work the ball both ways and simply has come too close not to be in the mix at the end. Hits alot of fairways and greens which makes him a threat

4. Rory Mcilroy – I know he has had his troubles of late but he has too much talent not to be in contention and he will win his first major this year. If not the US then the British Open. He is resiliant and has a great short game which will keep him in it. There was a great question posted on twitter the other day: Who will win their first major? McIlroy, Fowler, Montessero or Ishikawa. I choose Rory.

5. Luke Donald – New World number 1 has to get his long game going as he hasn’t struck as well as you think lately (check the stats) but has a world class short game and is a great putter that will keep him around par. Needs a major to validate his number 1 ranking so he really wants this one.

Honorable mentions include: David Toms, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Matt Kucher, Hunter Mahan

One of the shots that the players will face this week is a pitch shot from the rough or what I call the “birdnest“. Here is an video archive that will help you tackle these difficult shots around the green.

Leave your picks for the U.S. Open in the comments thread

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See you on the lesson tee,


GURU TV – How To Play the High and Low Toss Shot: A tribute to Todd Sones

I know that you saw the opening for the scoring zone school that I did with top 50 instructor, Todd Sones but you didn’t get to see what shots that we hit around the green. Here are a couple of shots that I will think will help you lower your scores. There will be more to come.

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check out our website at or call 704-542-7635 to schedule a lesson with the Guru

See you on the lesson tee,


My Day With a Short Game Master

Every year as I compose my goals for my life and career,  I also update a list that I started about 15 years ago called my life list. A bucket list of sorts that included things that I wanted to do in my career. Several of them involve working with other top coaches. If you want to be at the top of your profession or field like I want to someday be, you must get around people who you admire or that have accomplished similar things that you aspire to do. Tony Robbins calls this modeling. I call this building relationships that will make you better with like-minded people. Today I am glad to say that I  can mark one of those items off of my list as I got to spend the day coaching with one of the best short game coaches in the world. Mr. Todd Sones (@toddsones). I have been fortunate in the last few years to build a relationship with Mr. Sones as he has kind of taken me under his wing and mentored me in many areas of the teaching business and life. So when he emailed my boss and asked if he could come to our golf school and partner with me and do a scoring game school I was very excited. An opportunity like this does not come along very often for me to work alongside a top 50 teacher and observe how he works with average players. I assembled 8 of my students to experience working with myself and Mr. Sones for a great day of learning about putting and the short game. We started off with a presentation about Todd’s philosophy and what the students should expect for the day which I recorded for your viewing pleasure (pending). I wish I would have had someone video the whole thing because I couldn’t process everything that I was witnessing as I was trying to teach and also follow behind my mentor as we went through each student.

We started with putting for the majority of the morning which included a set of stations for the students to work (drills and practice) as I filtered each student to Todd to assess and also fit for a coutour putter which is Mr. Sones putter company where he can build high quality putters that fit the student properly. Getting students into proper posture and then fitting them is the only way to go. Out of 8 students, only 2 of them had putters that were even close to what would allow them to putt to their potential and one had been fit by me. Needless to say, once we put putters into their hands and they could see the results immediately…..they all bought new putters. The great thing about Todd is that he has that ability to help the students and also educate other teachers as well. Myself along with some other staff members and one PGA pro who drove in from Virginia, were privy to observe and pick the brain of one of the best as he did his work. I had seen Todd present his philosophy many times and had many conversations with him about teaching putting but until you see a guy work one on one with a student, you just don’t get the full effect. To see how he could make simple adjustments to their setup, explain it to the student and have them understand it and implement it quickly was great to see. After 3 hours of putting instruction, the students were all able to tell us what we had worked on and how they will practice their changes which I feel is the true sign that the student really gets it.

We ended the last couple of hours by working on shots from the edge of the green and back to about 40 yards which is so crucial in the scoring zone. Mr. Sones believes, as do I, that the terms “pitch” and “chip” are terms that don’t fully describe short game shots. These terms are often misused and confuse the average golfer. So the cool thing about what he teaches is the different language that he uses for each shot. We taught the students these shots:

1. bump and run – short shot played with a putting grip and stance (pw, 8iron)

2. bump and spin – same shot only played with a sand wedge to spin it

3. hinge and hold – played from the rough using an early hinge action to create a steeper angle of approach

4. low toss shot  – 25 yards off the green

5. high toss shot – same shot with a higher trajectory

He uses a different way of getting into setup which start by setting the club for the shot at hand and then “standing to the handle” which positions the butt of the club in the middle of your body. This sets the proper ball position without even mentioning it which is one less thing for the student to think about.

Mr. Sones says” A good short game can be summed up in one word, “descend!” and a poor short game can be described as “ASCEND.”

There were plenty more nuggets that I picked up as we talked in between and after the session that I will have to share later or you will just have to hit me up on twitter or come and take a short game lesson. Better yet, come out and get fit for a Coutour putter that will help me teach you better.

Because today I am a better coach than I was yesterday and that is what it is all about…..Am I Right? I can’t believe that I get paid to do this. Thanks for reading my blog and share this with someone who needs help with their short game. You can find me at the Dana Rader Golf School on the both sides of the building….not just the range.  or on twitter

This year, make your lesson plan include at least 50 percent short game and putting and you will thank me later.

*****Special thanks  to my friend Todd Sones for a great day and sharing his knowledge with me and my students.

See you on the lesson tee,


Short Game Basics – My Latest GI Column and a bonus Guru TV Archive

Here is my latest Golf Illustrated Topic for my bi-monthly column and a short game Guru TV archive… of charge

Building an Expert Short Game

With the summer golf season approaching and golf course conditions beginning to firm up, a sound wedge and short game is paramount. The average golfer tends to struggle to pitch and chip when the fairways are tight or the ground is hard. If you tend to blade, scull or hit your short game shots fat, this is for you. Let’s look at some possible causes of poor shots around the green and then how we get you back on track. If you follow these guidelines you will be able to get the ball up and down from anywhere around the green.

Possible Roadblocks

1)      The Wrong Philosophy – The number one error that golfers make is allowing the lead wrist to break down through impact. This typically starts with a flawed philosophy of how the ball gets into the air. If you allow the club head to outrace the handle, you will catch the ball on the upswing and blade it or hit behind it. Stop trying to help the ball into the air and let the club work the way it’s built.

2)      Another misconception is that your body shouldn’t move during pitching swings. If the body doesn’t rotate, the club will outrace the rotation of the body and will arrive at impact improperly.

Keys to a Sound short Game

1)      The RIGHT PHILOSOPHY – In order to hit solid short game shots, the club shaft must lean towards the target at impact. This is how the club is built. The lead wrist should be flat and the club head will be moving downward into the ball. This is how you put backspin on the ball which is a question that I am frequently asked.

2)      Rotation of The Body Is Crucial – On the forward swing, the left hip, shoulders and chest must continue to rotate toward the target. This will allow you to maintain a flat lead wrist throughout as we discussed earlier.

Symmetry is the Key to Distance Control

Short game shots are nothing more than smaller versions of you full swing. Once you are able to hit your wedges more solid, now its time for distance control. Controlling distance is simply creating the proper length swing that matches the yardage that you want to carry. The backswing length and the forward swing follow through should match. For example: If your lead arm swing to parallel to the ground in the backswing, your trail arm should finish parallel to the ground in the follow through.


Sometimes the hardest part about the short game is making the correct decision on what type of shot to play. My philosophy is to play the lowest shot allowable for the shot at hand. There are three types of shots (high, medium and low) the amount of green that you have to work with determines the height of the shot you will play. The more green, the lower the shot. The less green available, the higher the shot.

The 2 Variables

Once you have your shot planned, match your set-up to the picture that you have in your minds eye. The two variables that make up the set-up are 1) club selection and 2) ball placement. You can pitch with anything from a pitching wedge to a high lofted sand wedge. The ball position is critical to controlling the trajectory and roll of your shots. The closer to your rear foot that you place the ball (Subtracting Loft), the lower the shot will fly. The closer that you place the ball towards your front foot (Adding Loft), the higher your shots will fly.

Short Game Practice

1) Mechanical Practice – Working on your mechanics to improve your consistency of contact is the first goal. If you can’t create a solid strike then you can’t effectively work on distance control. When working on mechanics I suggest you set up a station which includes: sticks on the ground for alignment and a stick in the ground behind you for plane work.

2) The Median Drill For Measurement – Once your technique improves, this is how you can monitor your progress. Hit eleven shots to a flag. Remove the closest five balls. The “sixth” closest ball is your median or average distance to the flag. You can use this for any short game shot to measure your progress.

3) Practice for Play – Simulate the pressure that you encounter as you play on the course. Take 5 balls and hit your shots to the flag. Putt them in to see how many you can get “up and down”.

64% of all of your shots that you play during a round of golf are within 100 yards. Prioritize your practice accordingly. Improve you mechanics. Create consistent contact. Measure your progress. Follow this blueprint and you too can have a world class short game.


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To schedule a lesson with the Guru, call 704-542-7635 or visit our website

See you on the lesson tee,


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