Jim Waldron and staff are dedicated to helping their students achieve significant, ongoing and permanent improvement. We are here to guide you in your quest for golfing excellence. Positive results - in scoring, shotmaking and enjoyment of the game - are what really matter. When we started Balance Point Golf Schools back in 1995, our goal was to become the best golf school in America. "Best" meaning the most effective in helping our students really breakthrough to playing the golf of their dreams.
The Balance Point approach is the integration of the science of golf swing and short game mechanics with the art of playing the game of golf. This balanced blending of both physical and mental training is the fastest way to learn new golf skills and is the gateway to playing golf in the Zone of peak performance. Imagine what your game would be like if you could step up to the first tee with 100% confidence in your technically sound golf swing and 100% belief in your ability to truly play the game well.
Our Integrative Golf Mastery holistic approach allows the student to develop correct technique, proper mental focus and emotional self control. We use two different types of coaching in our golf schools - Total Immersion training and Structured Deep Practice training. Total Immersion training is designed around the principle of Deep Insight or the student experiencing as many "light bulb" moments about a particular golf skill as possible. Structured Deep Practice is a very concrete method of training the body to acquire new movement patterns. It is non-technical and easy to understand and to perform. Every Balance Point Golf School will incorporate both of these coaching methods, with Total Immersion used in the early hours of a program and the Deep Practice method used in the later stages of the school.
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM BALANCE POINT GOLF TRAINING?
- The struggling mid to high handicap weekend golfer who suffers from poor full swing and short game technique
- Golfers of all skill levels who lack confidence and who experience doubt, anxiety, frustration, discouragement and fear on the golf course
- The beginner golfer who wisely chooses to start out right in golf and avoid developing bad habits
- Low to mid-handicap amateurs who can't seem to take their practice range swing to the golf course
- Every golfer who struggles with inconsistency in shotmaking and scoring
- The low handicap amateur and tour professional looking for the competitive edge
- The serious student of the mechanics of the swing who is searching for the final answer to the 500 year old mystery of the golf swing
- The golfer who suffers from the "yips" or flinches in their full swing, chipping, pitching or putting strokes
- Every golfer who has experienced the awesome potential of the mental game and is searching for a way to play golf in the Zone.
KEY PRINCIPLES OF THE BALANCE POINT APPROACH
Golf is really six games rolled into one. By intensely focusing your improvement plan - both time and energy - primarily on just one of these key areas, you maximize your effectiveness. Long Game (full swing fundamentals), Short Game (chipping, pitching, wedges, bunker shots), Putting Game, Mental Game, Management Game, and Fitness Game. We help our students improve their games - on every level. Balance Point is golf's first and only truly holistic and comprehensive game improvement program.
We created our holistic mind/body connection golf learning model as an alternative to the unworkable, frustrating and confusing traditional instruction model. That model is rooted in pre-scientific era beliefs about the body and swing motion. Balance Point is a 21st century scientific model that works. Why? Because it's based on proven scientific facts - not perception, opinion, golf tradition, dogma or belief. Our golf swing, short game and putting Mechanics models are based on Physics, Geometry, Biomechanics and Neuroscience.Science works, ie it creates results you can depend on. Tradition in golf often fails to deliver the positive results that golfers are seeking.
Proven fundamentals are the key to mastery of golf skills - just like every other sport. Not tips, secrets, magic moves, bandaids and quick-fixes. Your journey to real game improvement begins with a very clear understanding of the power of Intention and effective goal-setting. We have identified three Primary Intentions that are always present in every golf shot: Intention Number One is the most important off the Three Intentions.Solid Contact in the center of the clubface means achieving proper Impact geometry. There are Six Laws of Club Motion, that - when present - will guarantee that your impact between ball and club will be solid. Accuracy is the Second Primary Intention, meaning hitting your golf shot on a starting line direction of your choosing to your Target. The Third Primary Intention is Distance Control. This means being able to generate sufficient clubhead speed to hit your golf ball a reasonably long distance in your Power Game (from tee box to within about 120 yards of the green) and to control your distances with precision in your Short Game (120 yards and in). Everything we as golfers - and here at Balance Point, as golf teachers - revolves around these Three Primary Intentions. (Advanced Players will use two more Primary Intentions: Trajectory Control and Spin Control.) These are our primary goals for learning, practicing and playing the great game of golf. When we achieve these three goals, we will hit the Target more often, and shoot lower scores. How we go about achieving these Three Primary Intentions is the whole journey we take on the road of never-ending game improvement. And that means mainly one thing - acquiring ever greater levels of golf skill over time. Skill Mastery is the "means whereby" we achieve the Three Primary Intentions. There is no other way - no matter what the golf industry marketing hype would like you to believe!
The Balance Point Integrative Golf Mastery Model is a revolutionary new paradigm that goes far beyond the limitations of the two golf learning models: the Outer and Inner Game models. The Outer Game or First Wave model utilizes an extremely mechanistic and conscious mind approach to game improvement. The traditional golf instruction information that you are exposed to in lessons and via the golf media is based on the Outer Game model. This mechanistic model's main flaw (one of many) is the mistaken belief that you can consciously control your body and club motion by effort and thinking when swinging at normal speeds. Science clearly proves this idea to be false. It's a lot like believing the earth to be flat because it "looks flat" and "everybody knows" it to be flat. It is an unquestioned "common sense" assumption that lies at the heart of the traditional golf instruction model but it is totally incorrect and one of the primary reasons why so many golfers fail to improve.One of the reasons for the dramatic performance breakthroughs on the PGA Tour during the past few years has been the rejection of that mechanistic model by the top players in favor of a target-oriented, trusting, free motion. They do all their mechanical practice away from the golf course, usually in slow motion or by using a drill, with a mirror or video and an experienced teacher to guide them. The Inner Game or Second Wave model uses a New Age approach which is anti-science and very much rooted in a mystical approach to golf. The chief limitation of this model is the belief that the golf swing is "natural" or "innate". This is total nonsense.There is no spot on the human genome labeled "golf swing". The golf swing is a learned skill. You acquire information from your environment - a teacher, video or book - then internalize that information to the subconscious mind level of automatic habit. Only then does it become "natural" - a habit that you can trust to execute without conscious thought. Our cutting-edge Third Wave model combines the best of the two earlier models but transcends both with a totally new and effective approach to game improvement.
There are always two main tasks to consider. The what to learn, the information about the mechanical laws of the golf swing, for example - and the how to learn it. If you don't know how, or your teacher doesn't show you how, to internalize that information to the level of long term movement memory - permanent ownership of that skill - you are wasting your time trying to learn the swing.
Good golf is all about the Target! You need to always clearly choose a precise Target for every golf shot that you play. When you keep that Target Intention in your mind's eye - and couple that with sound physical and mental skills, you play your best. The skills are divided into two separate but related categories because a golf shot starts in your mind, moves to your body's execution, and then ends at the target - when you have good physical and mental skills! Target Intention alone is not enough. You need skills. Good golf is both an art and a science. The art of shotmaking - your mental focus, emotional state control, time sense, pre-shot routine, course management, playing skills that require adapting elements like grip pressure, setup, ball position, tempo, length of swing, etc to fit unusual lies, wind, trouble shots and to curve the golf ball and alter trajectory and spin. The science of ball striking - swing theory, mechanics, club control, balance, tempo, rhythm, educated hands, setup, posture, etc.
The golf swing is a dynamic athletic motion that transfers energy from the "ground up and the inside out". That means you get your power from the resistance the ground provides to your body's rotation and lateral weight shift. And it means that the Core or inside muscles along your spine add to that ground power, and that the energy flows from the inside to the outside, or your arms, wrists and club. By focusing your attention and training efforts on these two Root Causes - feet to ground connection pressure for power and balance, and the flow of energy from the inside Core muscles to the outside body parts of arms, wrists and club - you will experience immediate improvement in your ball striking and continue to make improvements. The endless cycle of working on effects and symptoms - and avoiding the unknown Root Causes - will finally and forever be broken. This means using your Pivot as the primary source of your power and power application during Release and it means letting go of hand-eye coordination or manipulation of the arms, hands and clubhead. When the geometry and physics of your Pivot is correct, and you have trained your arms, wrists and hands to behave properly - you can master the art of ball striking to a very high degree. The term "kinetic chain" is used in biomechanics to describe how this transfer of energy occurs "from the ground up and the inside out", similar to cracking a whip. Asian martial arts masters have known about this principle for over two thousand years and this is how they are able to break boards and bricks with apparent ease. And this is precisely how relatively small in stature pro golfers like Sergio Garcia, Anthony Kim and Camillo Villegas can bomb 350 yard drives.
We developed our golf swing model to be as simple in terms of mechanics as possible. We call it a Zero Compensation swing model. That means Mechanical fundamentals that utilize simple principles of Geometry and Physics and it also means letting go of conscious mind hand/eye manipulation (steering) of the clubhead into the ball. That is the template for all our students, but we fine-tune the specific instruction to fit each student's flexibility, strength, current swing skill and athletic ability. So in the real world, you probably will not match the model point by point - that kind of moving toward perfection is only possible with very committed tour professionals - most of whom already come pretty close to matching our model in the first place! The purpose of our swing model is to function exactly like a map or blueprint. It gives the student clarity and a series of benchmarks for gauging their progress. A swing that features very few moving parts is easier to learn, and it is also much easier to stay balanced and in good timing.
Our swing model Mechanical elements include: a balanced, braced setup with the proper body angles and correct distance to the ball, a medium strong left hand grip, light to medium grip pressure, a very stable lower body for rock-solid Balance, a full shoulder/torso Pivot in both directions as the primary source of power, passive arms working as a team or Triangle in harmony with the Pivot, a full wrist cock that is created no later than the half way point in the backswing and starts to release at a point no higher than waist high in the downswing, a fairly wide but short to medium in height arm swing on the backswing, a consistent spine angle at least until Follow Through position is reached, either a tiny lateral weight transfer to the right leg/hip on the backswing (for our more inflexible students) or a centered backswing Pivot with no lateral shift (for our flexible and more athletic students), a moderate amount of lateral transfer to the left leg/hip on the forward swing, super-connected upper arms just before and during Impact, and a two stage Release into Impact - an active body Pivot first, followed a micro-second later by a passive wrist cock angles and slight forearm rotation release. Our swing model is centered strongly on the notion that an effective and repeating swing requires a Synchronized Motion of Arms and Body - both moving independently but in harmony.
We have indentified Four Swing Styles that have been used by pros and top amateur golfers since the game began. We show our students which of the Four Styles they are currently using and if it is the the best style for them - their body type, flexibility, strength, athletic ability and current skill. The styles are Leveraged Spinning , Thrusting, Slinging and Ultra Spinning. It is vitally important that you be matched to the style that will give you the best results. Please see our Game Improvement page for a complete explanation of these styles.
We reject the currently popular and trendy notion that there are so-called One Plane versus Two Plane golf swings. We believe that is a false dichotomy that is based on an incorrect understanding of both the geometric concept of a plane and the very clear empirical evidence that 95% of PGA Tour pros exhibit an almost perfect hybrid of the so-called One and Two Plane swing components. The Balance Point Golf Swing models features a left arm plane that is directly matching the Turned Right Shoulder Plane or a line drawn from the tip of the right shoulder down to the ball/target line when the golfer is in the Top of Backswing position. Taller players can be a little bit higher than this line (but no more than four inches higher!). We also reject the other trendy swing model, "Stack and Tilt". This swing theory is really just an exaggeration drill for some tour pros who have too much right tilt of the spine and too much lateral weight shift on the backswing. Most high handicap golfers suffer from exactly the opposite problem - not enough loading of the torso weight into the right hip/leg on the backswing (which is facilitated for many average players by a tiny lateral weight transfer during Takeaway, especially for inflexible golfers) and not enough right spine tilt. A "cure" for one particular swing flaw should never be the basis for a golf swing model.
Your golfing brain uses two different neuromuscular control systems when executing a golf swing. A basic swing motor program - "how to do it mechanically" - that you acquire through learning and training in the fundamentals and a sensory feedback loop system that allows your mind to sense your body parts, timing, clubhead and hand speed and location. That feel sense awareness (not thinking!) then tells your body how to adjust to help keep the whole swing motion on track. Traditional golf instruction is usually geared toward only one of those two systems. At Balance Point, we believe that you need to train and use both systems in order to be truly effective at golf.
Golf is a game of control. Control is the heart of the game. There is a hard-wired sequence to developing control that must be followed to achieve success. Mind control = body control = club control = impact control = ball flight control = target control = score control. When you focus your efforts on the wrong part of the sequence, you are struggling with an effect of a prior cause and you will fail at every attempt to acquire control over that area. Example: you are slicing the ball and a book or teacher tells you it's because your clubface is open at impact. True - but can you control the clubface angle with anywhere near the precision required when it is moving at 100 mph outside your field of vision? Of course not. If you think you can you are kidding yourself. Your club only moves the way it does because your body mechanics make it move that way. Your body creates dynamic forces that move the club. In order to control your club, you must learn to control your body first. Your conscious mind's efforts to control the clubface by thinking are sheer folly.
Understanding is the all important first step. If you don't really "get it", if your "light bulb" doesn't come on, you will never believe in it, commit to it, practice it and learn it. Our golf schools are designed specifically to help you experience many "light bulbs" - real insight. We call our method for achieving these kinds of learning breakthroughs "Deep Insight".
There are thirty-two optical and feel-based illusions in the golf swing that feed false information to your brain, which then sends signals to the wrong muscles and joints, which creates improper mechanics, e.g. body motion that violates the laws of the golf swing. Until you understand and eliminate the illusions, you will never understand and be able to execute a good golf swing. The Arm Swing Illusion - our breakthrough discovery of golf's Missing Link - especially will lead you to make incorrect mechanics with your upper arms, elbows, forearms and wrists.
Balance has far more influence on the outcome of your golf shot than any other factor. You can have Tiger's swing mechanics, but if your balance is way off, you will hit a terrible golf shot! We teach our students how to swing in rock solid balance. You are born with a very powerful natural balancing mechanism designed to keep you from hurting yourself by falling down - the Righting Instinct. When you lose your Balance in the golf swing - even a little bit - your Righting Instinct takes over control of both your brain and your body, your golf swing program shuts down, and the Righting Instinct will do whatever it takes to keep you from falling over. That usually means using your arms, legs and weight shifting ability (both left and right and toe to heel in your feet) as counter-weights to keep you from falling down. And that means very poor golf swing mechanics and timing and a bad golf shot!
We stress three major categories of skill acquisition in our full swing training: Mechanics, Balance and Coordination. Early on in Balance Point swing training - after the student has mastered Baseline Balance and Coordination skills - (meaning reasonably steady balance while swinging and a tempo that is neither too slow or too fast for their own good), - we teach Mechanics, then Balance and finally Coordination. That is the ideal learning sequence.
We teach a general understanding of the whole swing motion as the very first step in training. We call this the Swing Map or Concept. You need to know three things right away: the basic direction that the major body parts move, e.g. The arms move up and down while the torso rotates, and you need to know that the club shaft must move on the proper plane angle from waist high to waist high. Understanding simple swing plane and swing shape is crucial to a successful learning outcome.The third principle is Power - what body parts create it (and which don't) and how power/force is applied during the forward swing. We teach the Impact principle of a lagging clubhead/forward shaft lean for standard golf shots and the Dynamic Forces and Basic Mechanical Fundamentals that create that condition through Impact. We teach a body powered Release, never an arm powered Release. The arms (upper arms) should be completely passive during the forward swing - doing nothing in terms of muscular effort, ie no "pulling" or "pushing" with either arm.
We do not accept the traditional instruction model's two opposing camps: the body controls the arms vs. the arms control the body. Both viewpoints are incorrect and are based on unquestioned acceptance of dogma, not scientific evidence. These are two separate parts of the swing motion that move independently but in harmony.
· We teach our students how to stay "seamlessly awake" during the swing. That means having a single, clear mental focal point during the swing or stroke. That focal point for your concentration is usually - but not necessarily - the target. Most golfers "blackout" or "switch" focal points during their swing. Blackout creates a "flinch", which disrupts your body and club motion. To play your best, your mind needs to be fully present and awake during the one and one-half second duration of your golf swing - but not interfering in any way with that swing. An awake, alert but passive mind is essential to effective learning, practice and play. We also teach a very powerful background emotional state we call Positive Indifference. You play your best golf in a "care-free" state of mind, where your emotional side is non-attached to either failure or success. When you "care" too much, you flinch and a bad shot result is a certainty.
We stress learning Mechanics first, then Feel. You need to clearly understand the "look" of the proper form first, primarily through mirror practice in slow motion. Then you close your eyes, repeat the motion, and feel intensely exactly how the muscles and joints are moving. This creates long term movement memory. Relying on Feel alone to learn the proper Mechanics is just like wandering in the dark. You need a Map! Most self taught golfers and even most golf instruction systems attempt to use Feel or Perception as the basis for learning technique. The record shows that golf is the worst taught/worst learned game in all of sports precisely because of this reliance on conscious mind feel and perception. Feel is vitally important but it must occur as the second step in the learning process, never the first step!
We separate learning from performance. You should never think about or try to control your body mechanics or club motion during the swing, when playing golf. Thinking mechanics during the swing is a mental crutch that never works and is really just a way of masking your fear about the outcome of the shot and your uncertainty about your swing. The belief that you can send conscious mental commands to your body and that your body will listen to and carry out those commands is superstitious nonsense. The body only obeys subconscious mind mental commands when moving at normal swing speeds.
It NEVER obeys or listens to conscious mind mental commands at normal speeds. Understanding this key principle is the number one reason why our students are so successful in making swing changes and learning swing fundamentals. Example: Thinking about maintaining your spine angle and actually doing so are not the same. You can come up out of the angle on every swing and not even know it because you are paying attention to a voice in your head saying "stay in your spine angle", NOT TO THE PHYSICAL REALITY OF YOUR SPINE ANGLE.
The stationary ball sitting at your feet is not the target. That spot on the ground out there 250 yards away is your target and that spot is what your conscious mind should be thinking about when you swing. This means an important skill to learn is how to totally trust your golf swing. Take your mind off of the ball and impact and put it on your target, just like you do in every other sport.
Teaching the full swing, our training models are derived from two sources: what the scientific research of the past 40 years has proven to be true, the laws of the swing; and what the best ballstrikers in the world actually do during their swings, which can be objectively demonstrated through video and stop action photos. Not what they say they do or think that they do - which are hardly ever the same as what they are doing. This is fact-based training, never perception-based.
· We use three distinct swing models, ideally learned in sequence. Golfer, Player and Professional models. The first two models are based on the Professional model - how tour players do it - with some modifications to fit the student's skill level, athletic ability, etc.
· All of our full swing instruction is adaptable to the three main body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. You need to learn a golf swing that your body's limits of flexibility will allow you to actually attain. This is vitally important information that is really essential to your success in building an effective golf swing.
Our instruction also covers several non-traditional and often overlooked key areas of golf skills improvement: vision - both external focal point and peripheral vision skills that greatly influence the body mechanics and internal shot shape and target picture visualization skills, physical fitness for golf - especially flexibility, brain/body coordination and balancing exercises from the Asian martial arts tradition, Core Posture body braces derived from Pilates, Alexander Technique and Yoga, time sense awareness exercises that allow the golfer to mentally "stay with" the body motion during the swing (your subjective sense of time will always speed up on a bad swing and slow down on a good swing), and body feel sense awareness exercises.
There are three main purposes that drive people to play golf with passion. Ideally, the golfer should learn how to balance these three different intentions. Performance - score improvement and shotmaking ability. Learning - ongoing acquisition of new skills. Enjoyment - fun, satisfaction and meaning derived from both Performance and Learning.
We teach our students how to separate their self-esteem as a person from their performance on the golf course. This allows real learning, skill acquisition and improved performance to occur very rapidly. When you hit a bad golf shot, YOU are not "bad"! It's just a golf shot and is not a reflection of your worth as a human being. It may be a reflection of your skill as a golfer but that just means that you haven't yet devoted the time and energy required to master that particular golf skill. No blame.
Many golfers are playing a game we like to call "flog" - golf spelled backwards. The masochistic implications of the word are intentional. Floggers punish themselves needlessly. They are using the wrong part of the brain - the conscious thinking mind - to attempt to play a complex, difficult yet wonderful game that requires far more brain power and athleticism to play well than the conscious mind is capable of utilizing. Floggers play conscious mind golf - using effort, will power and thinking and experience negative emotions like frustration, confusion, anger, discouragement and hope for the next lucky shot to get them through the round and coming back for more abuse the next time. They remember the one out of twenty good shots, which are really mostly luck, and conveniently forget the nineteen out of twenty bad shots.
Flog is actually a form of addictive behavior with striking parallels to gambling addiction. The addiction to the lucky good shots fuels the self-delusion that the flogger can play the game well and that a good swing is already in place inside them. "I did it once, why can't I do it all the time?" So he makes another trip to the practice range to beat balls for an hour, searching endlessly for the "secret" to a good golf swing. Floggers are always complaining about the miserable state of their games but never take any real positive steps toward improvement. Golf is meant to be a positive experience. If you are not experiencing positive emotions on a fairly regular basis when playing golf like satisfaction, joy, clarity, confidence, courage, commitment and trust, there is a strong likelihood that you are playing flog, not golf. We help our students make the shift from the misery of flog to the true joys of playing golf!
Floggers stop improving their scores after a few years of playing - they "hit the wall" beyond which self directed trial and error learning, i.e. "beating balls on the range" stops working. We counsel our students who are still enmeshed in playing flog but who are looking for a way out of their dilemma to come to grips with the reality of their behavior and the true state of their games. This is the first step toward significant, ongoing and permanent improvement. In a nutshell, this means that floggers must stop relying on Lady Luck to create their next good golf shot and learn how to do it themselves. This is true consistency - hitting your target 80% of the time or more often. And that means only one thing - acquiring real skill. How? Through high quality instruction and lots of intelligent, effective practice. Practicing as little as 15 minutes a day at home doing drills and slow motion body motion training in a mirror will lead to significant improvement.
Learning golf can be compared to learning to play the piano, skiing, basketball, martial arts, gymnastics, juggling, doing magic tricks, etc. It is a process of acquiring skill, over time. This takes a good teacher and lots of quality practice on the part of the student. There are no shortcuts. You cannot buy a golf game. It takes "sweat equity" to really improve. Tiger Woods said in a recent interview, "You get out of golf what you put into it. If you bust your butt and work hard, you will improve." In spite of what our natural human desire for ease, comfort and instant gratification would lead us to believe, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY! (We recommend that you ignore the equipment industry hype and some golf instruction methods promising instant improvement. They are not being honest).
This means patience, commitment and especially perseverance are required. It's worth it! When you "graduate" from a cycle of Balance Point Golf training, after a few weeks or months of practice, you are a better human being because of it, not just a better golfer. Why? Because you develop important character traits like patience, commitment and mental focus. You will also be more aware than ever before how your mind functions and how to feel your body intensely. Our students often report to us that these benefits, while not at all the original reason for starting a game improvement program, are at least as important to them as the actual reduction in scores, tournament victories and improved shotmaking.