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    Life On The Pirate Ship

    Video: Rhiona & Tina Mickelson Lesson Series – Part 1

    Rhiona Sullivan


    I’ve struggled to get this blog started. In fact, I have thought about nixing the whole thing daily since we filmed our first lesson.

    I put myself out there a lot. Whether stepping up in front of the camera to film In Case You Missed It: something that made me tremble, stutter and curse @HarryArnettCG… kidding, I never cursed him. Well, maybe just once. And he knows why. 

    Or participating in events with The Hackers Paradise, going to dinner with strangers (who are now friends) we met on blogs – all of these things. Things that have pushed me outside my comfort zone, required me to have conversations with actual people (AH!) and in general feel exposed. I hate feeling exposed.

    Needless to say, nothing made me feel more vulnerable or exposed than having my co-workers film my very first golf lesson with the wonderful, always kind, @TinaMickelson.

    If you know me, you know I hate vulnerable. I am fiercely independent. I don’t need anyone’s help. I can do it all. On. My. Own.

    Except learn how to play golf, apparently.

    Internal thought just now? “Well, I probably could by reading every piece of instruction, spending countless hours on the range alone and dedicating myself to the pursuit of perfection.”

    But let’s be honest, I don’t have time for that. I have a full-time job, 10 man-children (shout out to my ZooCrew boys) and a puggle that require a majority of my attention.

    Holy tangent right there. 

    The reason I decided to reach out to Tina to help improve my game was because (a) she’s a great instructor and loves the game and (b) I figured, maybe the things she can teach me can help other golfers improve and learn to the enjoy the game. Oh and (c) I really want, more like NEED, to win #TheGauntlet.

    So here I am. Two weeks after my first lesson, and procrastinating writing this here blog because I cannot stand the video footage of me attempting to swing a golf club.

     Tina’s instructions and lessons are so great – and I’ve been practicing them! I’m making some good progress here and there! I want to share them with you. I really, really do. I know they’d be good for you, too.

    That is why today, I put on my big girl pants and am posting this video with a written recap of the tips below – you know, in case you want to skip straight to the good stuff!


    A lot of the time, I am not properly aligned to my target. To help with this while practicing on the range, Tina suggests using a stick/club to point out the target so that I can align my feet, knees, hips and shoulders accordingly. From there, these steps round out what I am thinking while I practice. 

    1. Relax arms and shoulders {VIDEO 1:48 MARK}
    2. Make sure the ball is in the middle of the clubface, and not too close to the heel. Weight right in the middle/balls of the feet {VIDEO 2:01 MARK}
    3. During takeaway, think about passing someone the head of the club {VIDEO 2:10 MARK}
    4. Feel like you’re dropping your arms, allowing the club to swing. This will help tempo [NEW FLASH: I try to swing too fast!! Need to let the club do the work] {VIDEO 2:40 MARK}

    I am going to keep practicing and using the tips Tina gave me over the next week or so and hopefully, the next round of videos will show some improvement and we can get some additional tips.

    I’ll also be posting another video in a few days with some chipping tips that have helped me so much the last few times on the course!!


    FROM: @TinaMickelson

    I love the game of golf. Like….a lot. So much so, that I want everyone to love it along with me. (Picture a bunch of collared shirt clad free spirits sitting in a circle holding hands singing ‘Kumbaya’ with golf clubs across their laps.) Dramatic exaggeration? Nope. I LOVE THE GAME.

     So when I have the opportunity to help a student improve their golf swing, I am excited that I get to be part of their ride on the fast track to pure golfer’s bliss….or at the very least a cracked smile as a result of hitting a good shot.

    Rhiona is the ideal student. She already has good fundamentals, she is athletic, and is able to understand what I am trying to tell her and translate that into changes in the golf swing. This is the perfect storm for a tidal wave of improvement.

    I braced myself before seeing Rhiona’s first swing because she made it sound like she was bad….WORSE than bad. But guess what?….I’ve SEEN bad and this isn’t even close!

    (Side Note: SO many golfers think their swings are worse than they actually are. No need to be self-conscious, friends. You look better than you can imagine (thumbs up emoji). And keep in mind that nobody is paying attention to your swing or what you lie on each hole because they are too busy worrying about their own swing and golf game. Nobody remembers what you shot, but they do remember if you were fun to play with or not.) 

    OK…so here’s the breakdown on Rhiona’s swing:

    –       When I first saw her setup it was clear she aimed too far to the right. Her arms were tense, she had too much weight on her heels, and the ball was not quite in the center of the clubface. It took about 30 seconds to get her into the right position and BOOM….she’d quickly set herself up for positive change because she was in a better position to start her swing.

    –       As she took the club back there was a lot of lateral movement and her clubface was not square, so I had her practice the “Pass The Club” drill:

    “Pass the Club” Drill:

    Address the ball.  Pretend someone is standing about five feet to your right and slightly behind you, just off your right shoulder.  If that person asked you to turn and pass them the club head, what would you do?  Naturally, you would turn and extend the club head to them.  Do this a few times, hold the position, and notice how your weight is distributed.  Don’t think too hard or try to manipulate what your lower body is doing.  Simply pretend someone is standing just behind your right shoulder and turn and pass them the head of the club.  You will realize that it is actually a pretty natural move. 

    –       From the top of the swing Rhiona was trying to beat the ball into next week. Instead of trying to “hit” the ball, simply allow the club “to swing.” Imagine gravity initiating the downswing. It will feel like gravity is doing the work. (It will also feel like YOU are doing less.)

    “Let Gravity Do The Work” Drill:

    Maximum velocity does not occur at the top of the swing. At the top of the swing, let gravity initiate the downswing.  Let the arms literally drop.  Don’t steer the club.  This will give you a good tempo as well as balance.

    *** When you set up to an actual shot, your natural adrenaline and excitement will kick in.  You don’t have to do anything extra or try to hit the ball harder.  Let gravity initiate the downswing and your adrenaline will take care of that extra swing speed. You don’t have to encourage it.

    Rhiona is excited to make improvements and the fact that she has an endearing competitive nature only helps her mission.

    She and I hope that you all can benefit from this instruction and improve your golf games right along with her. Come back soon to see how things go!

    Hit ‘em straight!