To Play Your Best, Learn from the Best

Over the years I have been very fortunate to be around the greatest players and teachers in the game. They have molded me into the teacher and person that I am today. It has always been my philosophy that if you want to be the best; you must be around the best. Here are a few of these people and the lessons they taught me.

Michael Breed
My first experience watching Michael was on the putting green. He stressed the importance of hitting a putt with a negative degree of loft to get the ball rolling off the putter face. Negative loft means that the putter shaft must lean forward at the time of the hit. He also stressed the importance of the proper putter length and how it affects a persons posture.

Jack Druga
In the sand, most amateurs are told to try to hit a couple of inches behind the ball. Druga’s advice is to hit underneath the ball rather than behind it. When you aim a few inches behind most of the time you will take too much sand and the ball will not get out.

Jack Nicklaus
I could write an entire paper on Nicklaus’ influence, however the most important piece of advice I could share is related to preparation. Golfers who do not prepare properly will never succeed. This also relates to everyday life. If you are prepared, the pressure will be less and you will have a greater chance to succeed.

Martin Hall
Martin might be famous for all the different tools and training aids that he uses when teaching, however the key to his success is that he cares. In order for students to trust their teachers, there must be a high level of making the student feel important.

Briny Baird
Briny’s father Butch stressed to his son the importance of setup and alignment. Most people blame bad shots on bad swings, however Butch would say look at your setup and alignment as the culprit.

Ian Baker Finch
Do yourself a favor and practice hitting a ball left-handed (or right if you are left-handed) with your club turned upside down. Most people do not have this coordination, however as a better golfer it will save you many strokes throughout your lifetime if you have this shot.

Jim Flick
To be successful at golf learn to hook the golf ball with arms and hands as your primary power sources. Once you can accomplish this, straighten out the hook by adding the legs and body.

Gary Player
The best bunker player ever has a little-known secret that is now out. Dig your feet into the sand at an angle where your weight is forced to stay forward. This will allow you to keep the weight in the correct spot and prevent you from falling backward.

Mike Milaska
Most people wait too long in the downswing to rotate their clubface, resulting in a ball that will slice. The clubface needs to gradually start to rotate back to square as soon as the club starts down.

Jeff Warne
The best way to read a green to is to use your feet. Sometimes your eyes can deceive you but your feet will not. Let your feet tell you the slope.

Mike Adams
Each individual’s body is built differently and because of this there are limitations when swinging a golf club. Learn to match your swing to what your body will allow you to do.
It is important to give credit where credit is due. Most of my knowledge is a collection from these incredible people that I have been around. As they have shared their knowledge I will do my best to share it with others. Gather as much knowledge as you can and piece it together to develop your own beliefs and style.

Darren deMaille is the Head Golf Professional at The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Prior to The Bridge, Darren worked at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, FL and The Country Club of Fairfield in Fairfield, CT. Darren has had many top 100 instructors influence his philosophy but most of his principles are based on Jack Nicklaus’ way to play golf.

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