August 10, 2016 - 3:10pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rob Labritz
USA Today Sports Images
PGA Professional Rob Labritz explained how the use of yardage measuring devices can help shave strokes off your golf game.

Are you one of those golfers who really wants to get better but have been reluctant to spend a few hundred dollars on a yardage measuring device?

It's an investment to be sure, but it's also an investment in your game, which -- ultimately -- is an investment in lower scores.

While the yardage markers and sprinkler heads on golf courses and the marked targets on driving ranges are nice, how accurate are they? The on-course markers (think red for 100 yards, white for 150 yards and blue for 200 yards) and sprinkler heads only measure to the middle of the green. What if you have a front or back pin position?

When it comes to the range, the teeing area isn't always in the same spot. They're always moving forward and backward so that grass can grow in.

RELATED: Stay calm in pressure situation | Tips for getting out of deep rough

Despite what you may have thought, measuring devices in golf are for everybody.

"The technology is huge," said PGA Professional Rob Labritz, who competed in his fifth PGA Championship two weeks ago at Baltusrol. "The GPS watch is probably the easiest and best to use for most golfers because it's right there on your wrist. Along with being incredibly helpful, the measuring devices also speed up play because you're not having to walk-off yardages."

GPS watches, in case you aren't familiar with them, come in a wide variety of sophistication. Most come preloaded with 10s of thousands of golf courses. You simply turn it on when you get to your course, it finds the GPS signal and you're ready to go.

Some will just give you the basic front, middle and back yardages. Others will also provide a overhead graphic of the hole, yardages to hazards, a digital scorecard, heart-rate tracking and more. Paired with a smartphone app, you can also keep track of all your stats online.

That's one reason Labritz is a big proponent of the Game Golf device (starting at $149). Game Golf provides real-time shot-tracking stats -- where and how far your ball traveled from where you hit it last, fairways hit, greens in regulation, number of putts, etc. -- that you can analyze at home after your round.

"It might seem like a lot of information, but that's the kind of data you want to track," Labritz said. "You'll discover your tendencies and you can work to correct the bad ones. It's one thing to track that information throughout the round in your head, but to see it on your computer screen or phone after a round can really put it in perspective."

For better players looking for more precise yardages, laser rangefinders are invaluable tools. They're typically between $250-$500 with some offering a "slope" option which factors in elevation changes on the course. The rangefinder will give you both the actual yardage and the yardage while factoring slope. For instance, you may have a 145 yard shot, but if it's uphill, the device will factor in a 10-yard elevation change and tell you that the shot is 155 yards. That's a one-club difference.

"If you're really wanting to dial in to the flag," Labritz said, "the laser rangefinder is the route to take. You eliminate any gray area. That's the exact yardage you need to hit it."

It's important to note that the "slope" option is not permitted for tournament play.

The benefits of these measuring devices are pretty obvious -- if you know the exact yardage, chances are even your mishits are going to be closer to the hole. There's no guesswork.

Laser rangefinders and personal launch monitors (check out the SC100 Swing Caddie for around $270. It's about the size of an iPhone and -- while Trackman is excellent -- it sure beats the $30,000+ expense) are also great for practice on the range.

As mentioned earlier, while there are marked targets on the range, they're not always accurate. Hit those targets with the rangefinder -- and anything else on the range, like trees, etc. -- to get the precise yardage.

The SC100 Swing Caddie measures carry distance, swing/ball speed and smash factor.

"If people can get their hands on a personal launch monitor, I recommend taking them out on the course to practice too," Labritz said. "Use it on every shot. People tend to get more tense on the golf course and don't swing as hard as they do on the range where they really unleash it. Compare those numbers and understand what your bag of clubs do for you."

Most of these devices offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you've been skeptical or reluctant about these tools before, isn't that reason enough to give them a try?

"There are so many technological tools at our disposal today and that goes beyond just equipment," Labritz said. "Take advantage of it. It will make you a better player."

Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz


Golf tips: How yardage measuring devices can help your game
July 7, 2016 - 8:32pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Montana Pritchard/PGA of America
Do you struggle with staying calm when you get a little nervous on the golf course? PGA Professional Rob Labritz has some great advice for keeping those feelings at bay and excelling.

How many of you out there have let a great round slip away because the pressure gets to you at the worst possible moment?

We've all been there. It doesn't matter who you are.

For some of us, the meltdown might be this: You know you're playing great. You're on the verge of breaking 90 for the first time and it's weighing on you. "Wow! I'm finally going to do it."

What happens next? With three holes left, you start to tally up your score and tell yourself, "Man, all I need to do to break 90 is..."

Next thing you know you're hitting it sideways. You left "the moment" and thought too far ahead about your desired outcome.

RELATED: Tips for getting out of deep rough | Breaking 70 | 80 |90 | 100

We caught up with PGA Professional Rob Labritz to find out how the heck we can control those nerves instead of letting those nerves control us.

And Labritz would know a thing or two about that going both ways.

About 10 years ago, Labritz had a five-shot lead in the New York State Open at Bethpage Black with 3-4 holes to go. At around that time, he began thinking about how cool it was going to be to win such a big tournament at such a heralded course.

About an hour later, Labritz putted out on the last hole, signed his card and finished fourth.

"It was a crumble and I didn't know how to handle it," admitted Labritz. "I wasn't prepared for it. I told myself I had I won the tournament before I won the tournament. You can't do that in the moment."

On the other end of the spectrum are the times in recent history when Labritz has embraced the situation and used the nerves -- he prefers to call it "adrenaline" -- to his advantage. And by recent history, we're actually talking about the last week and a half.

In the PGA Professional Championship at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y., last week, Labritz knocked down an incredible 35-foot putt for birdie on the 72nd hole to secure his fifth appearance in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in just a few weeks.

Earlier this week, Labritz joined the likes of Paul Runyon, Claude Harmon, Doug Ford and Ben Hogan as a winner in the Westchester Open. You want to talk about staying calm under pressure? The tournament was played at Labritz's home course -- GlenArbor. It's not easy to win when you've played a course more than anyone in the field, and because of that, are probably expected to do so.

So how did he do it?

"It all starts with your preparation," Labritz said. "I'm not just talking about hitting balls. You have to tell yourself -- and put yourself -- in that situation when practicing. It's 'situational practice.' Grab a club out of the bag, put the ball down, go through your full routine and say, 'I'm on the 18th hole at the club championship and I need to get this in the fairway, on the green and hit two putts for par to move on.'"

If that's the way you practice, Labritz said, it won't be foreign to you when you find yourself in the real situation.

"You need to have logged in a lot of hours," he stressed. "In that moment you've got to almost feel like you have been there in that moment before because of the practice you put in. You have to believe you're in that moment to feel that situational practice. The butterflies, the excitement, the adrenaline -- whatever you want to call that feeling -- and develop it."

For Labritz, that feeling is adrenaline. And that adrenaline rush is the reason he plays the game.

"It's definitely adrenaline for me," he said. "People confuse that with nerves. Whatever that feeling is, you're going to have to embrace it to get your desired outcome. You shake. It happens. When you're scared, the negative thoughts come out. If you embrace it, you heighten your focus. You have to embrace that state and get power from it. The more you go through it, the more you learn how to handle it. It comes with experience. There are times I have gone in and failed -- many times. But that's golf. You learn from it. "

And again, this isn't just for the competitive player. If anything, it's exactly the thing that keeps high handicappers from shooting lower scores.

"High handicappers get all messed up when they're playing well and chasing a score because they worry about crafting shots they haven't hit yet," Labritz said. "They hit a bad shot and it snowballs. Yes, you want to see yourself in the future doing great stuff, shooting lower scores, but you also have to remember you can only hit one shot at a time. Once you're in the moment, you know you're in a heightened state. Embrace it. Stay in the present and focus on the shot at hand."

You know when you hit that bad shot and let it snowball like Labritz mentioned? It's because you've talked yourself into bad things.

Don't do that.

"Talk yourself into what you want to do," Labritz said. "'I want to rip it down the middle.' Do that. And if you don't, do it on the next shot. You can't control the past, but a positive mindset and extreme focus can help you impact your future."

Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz

Golf tips: How to stay calm in a pressure situation
June 17, 2016 - 1:45pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rob Labritz
USA Today Sports Images
We all know about practicing on the driving range, but what about practicing on the course? PGA Professional Rob Labritz has some fantastic on-course practice methods to help you lower scores.

The definition of golf is to get the ball in the hole in the least number of shots possible. To that end, you have 14 tools (clubs) at your disposal.

This latest bit of advice from PGA Professional Rob Labritz is going to dial you in to each one of those tools and help you understand that each one of your clubs is like an adjustable wrench -- it's not meant for just one type of shot, but multiple shots from a variety of distances with a variety of trajectories.

So, how do you accomplish that? For this practice, Labritz says you'll need to move away from the driving range, chipping area and practice green and over to the course itself.

Have you ever heard a PGA Professional say, "don't hit balls, hit shots?" That's the purpose of this.

RELATED: How to break 100 | 90 | 80 | 70 | Getting out of the rough

"I want you to go out and play a round with just 2-3 clubs, including your putter, and play from the forward tees," Labritz said. "You can use whichever three you'd like, but for those trying this for the first time, I would recommend a mid-to-long iron, a wedge and a putter. You're going to play all 18 holes with just those three clubs. The less clubs you carry, the more creative you'll get forced to be."

The point of this, Labrtiz explained, is to help you learn how to manufacture golf shots.

"It takes away that idea of, 'I have to hit this club from this distance,' and brings in your ball-striking skills and shot-making ability," he said. "Let's say one of your three clubs is an 8-iron, a club you maybe typically hit 140 yards. But, you're 100 yards away. You're going to have to work on how to hit that 8-iron from 100 yards while controlling the distance you want it to travel, the trajectory and the amount of roll out it has once it hits the ground."

Don't get frustrated. When you start out, it's almost a sure thing you're not going to hit it exactly as you'd like. That's why it's called, "practice."

If there is just one thing to focus on with each of these shots, however, Labritz says it's to pay attention to holding your finish. You know when you see your favorite Tour player holding the pose at the end of a gorgeous swing? Yeah, they're not just doing that for the cameras.

"Holding your finish does a couple of things," Labritz said. "One, it provides you a good look at your shot and allows your brain to accept the shot -- good or bad. You're not learning anything when you give up on the finish. Holding that finish teaches you just as much what to do as what not to do. And two, if you're holding that finish it means you're in balance -- in balance at address, at impact and then the finish."

Also with this drill, you're going to teach yourself how far you can hit a shot with a certain club with a 1/4 swings, 1/2 swings and 3/4 swings. Imagine how much easier that will make it for you the next time you play a round with all your clubs.

How nice will it be when you're faced with that 140-yard shot with an 8-iron, but there's a tree branch in the way and then you realize, "hey, I can hit my 6-iron 140 yards and much lower, so that branch won't even be a factor?"

"At that point," Labritz said, "you're dialed in."

Along with creativity, shot-making and ball-striking, there's one more valuable lesson this on-course practice is going to teach you, which is most important of all.

"It makes your brain think more about how to play the golf course than about executing a golf swing," Labritz said. "At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to play the course in the least amount of shots possible."

Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz.  

Golf tips: How to practice on the golf course
May 12, 2016 - 10:17am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rob Labritz
USA Today Sports Images
Trying to beat those milestone scores like 100, 90, 80 and 70? In the final piece of this four-part series, PGA Professional Rob Labritz offers up some great advice that's sure to make you a better player. For this week, Labritz focuses on those trying to break 70.

Now that you’ve mastered all the prerequisites for breaking 100, 90 and 80 – working from the green backwards – you might be wondering: what is it that I have to do to break 70?

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. PGA Professional Rob Labritz is a guy who breaks 70 often. The key, he says, is putting in an immense amount of time at your game, honing all those skills it took to break those other milestone scores.

“It might not be as simple as it sounds, but you have to eliminate every mistake you might typically make,” Labritz said. “A perfect round – in golf terms – would mean you hit every fairway, hit every green and take two putts. Eighteen pars. On most courses, that’s a 72. With that mindset, now you have to figure out where you can attack the course to break 70.”

RELATED: Advice for breaking 100 | Advice for breaking 90 | Advice for breaking 80

It’s not as simple as walking to the first tee and sticking the peg in the ground. Just like anything else you desire to be great at, it requires some homework. For Labritz, that means studying the golf course and examining the scorecard.

“Here’s what you do to break 70,” Labritz said, “it starts with birdieing all of the par 5s. The par 5s are giving you an extra shot. If you’re an above average driver, birdieing all the par 5s is a must. See how long the par 5s are and ask yourself: can I reach the green in two? If the answer is ‘no’ then ask yourself: where do I have to positon myself to have the most comfortable wedge shot possible to get close in three?”

With the birdie mindset on the par 5s, Labritz said you have to shift to a par mindset for the par 3s. With ball in hand (on the tee), Labritz said, you should be able to do that.

Now, here comes the wildcard: The par 4s.

“The par 4s are funky,” Labritz said. “You birdie the par 5s, par the par 3s and then you pick your spots on the par 4s. Some you can attack. You have to approach it like this – if you have a wedge in your hand on a par 4, it’s a birdie club. You should get it close. When you break down the par 4s, see where you can attack with the driver. Then there are holes you won’t hit driver on. In those spots, put yourself in the most comfortable positon off the tee for your scoring shots. Pick a number you feel most comfortable with and make sure you’re setting yourself up with those clubs.”

If you’re breaking 70, Labritz explained, it’s because you’re managing your game around the course.

“It’s about breaking down the course to suit your game to where you feel comfortable,” he said. “You also have to know where not to hit shots. There are no-zones where you definitely don’t want to be in those areas because making par is a hard ask. Stay away from OB and the hazards. If you’re hitting in those spots you need to make a lot of birdies. And, it probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – you’re going to need to make a lot of putts.”

If you’re like most people, chances are you freak out a little bit when you’re on the cusp of breaking a “milestone score.” You know the feeling. You’re standing on the 18th tee, sniffing the round of your life. Suddenly, your palms get sweaty, you start thinking ahead, you leave “the moment” and 10 minutes later you’re bummed out because of a disaster finish when you were oh-so-close.

Labritz has a sure-fire plan to get you comfortable with shooting low scores.

“When you’re practicing, play a bunch of rounds from the forward tees, and for women, play from where the fairway starts,” he said. “Instead of playing from your normal 7,000 yards for men, get in the 5,800-yard range. And less than that for women. Two things will happen here. One, you won’t be hoping to shoot a low score – you’ll expect to shoot a low score. And two, you’re going to get a lot of work on your scoring clubs. You get a sense of playing pretty far under par and how to score. See how low you can shoot. Several rounds under par later following this advice, you’re going to build a confidence when it’s time to move back.”

That, Labritz said, is how he got comfortable shooting low scores – something he had to get comfortable with if he was to have any success on the mini-tours he was playing, where guys were shooting 7- or 8-under par every day.

“Doing that helped me a bunch,” he said. “People can freak out. We get diluted and think about the future too much. When you’re a better player, your score correlates with your preparation, of course, but also your mindset and attitude.”

Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz.  

Best advice for breaking 70 from PGA Professional Rob Labritz
May 10, 2016 - 1:03pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Thanks to what’s being dubbed, “the most fact-based analysis of the golf swing ever conducted” – the SwingTRU Motion Study – there’s a sophisticated new way to quickly identify and diagnose the flaws in your swing, while also putting in a quick, long-term fix.

CRANSTON, R.I. -- It’s a pretty safe bet that you can’t fix what you can’t see. That’s especially true when it comes to the golf swing.

Thanks to what’s being dubbed, “the most fact-based analysis of the golf swing ever conducted” – the SwingTRU Motion Study – there’s a sophisticated new way to quickly identify and diagnose the flaws in your swing, while also putting in a quick, long-term fix.

The study identifies specific body positions within the swing, such as shoulder and hip rotation, that directly correlate to handicap level and play a key role in improving distance, accuracy and consistent contact.

And the best part of it all? You need only visit your local GolfTEC for a visit with one of its knowledgeable PGA Professionals to go through the evaluation.

I recently took a trip to GolfTEC’s Cranston, R.I., location to meet with facility’s PGA Director of Instruction, Nick Siudela.

After spending roughly 20 minutes talking about the strengths and weaknesses of my game and reviewing a questionnaire I filled in prior to the visit, Siudela placed me in a hitting bay and put a motion harness over my shoulders and around my waist (think something similar to a hiker’s backpack).

Following roughly 10 shots, Siudela put up a split screen video. The left side featured my swing. The right side featured the swing of PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan. Using super-slow motion video analysis, Siudela was able to pinpoint my flaws – something you can’t always see with the naked eye.

As Siudela broke down the video, he was also able to add video instruction drills to a “virtual locker” for me to access on the GolfTEC website. It’s particularly helpful with a smartphone to be able to few the drills while you practice them on a driving range.

“Technology has come super far even in just the last eight years,” Siudela said. “As an experienced instructor teaching outside without video – I can tell you this: The naked eye sees very little. All these philosophies that we were built on – open the toe on the backswing and shut the toe on the downswing – that was taught because we thought that was right. Now we have video proof that that’s not what the best players in the world actually do.”

And if you think you’re not a good enough player to go through this type of evaluation, you may want to reconsider. If you truly want to become a better player, it’s more likely you’re not a good enough player to not try something like this.

“Visually, you just learn so much faster,” Siudela said. “That’s why I think you see so many first-time winners on Tour these days. They grew up with all these tools – video, sensors, ball flight measuring equipment. It makes learning and improving so much easier and these tools are now at the disposal of anyone who plays the game, no just the pros. I’ve had guys who pick up a club for the first time two weeks before they come here. They want to learn how to play. Within a year, they’re breaking 80. It’s not because I’m some fantastic instructor. I know my stuff, but it’s the visual – everything makes more sense when you can see it.”

So what does the SwingTRU Motion Study prove?

“Until now, there really hadn’t been a correlation between handicap/someone’s ability level in relationship to how their golf swing is, or how it performs,” Siudela said. “You can see guys with scrappy golf swings and they can still shoot good scores. Those are the outliers. But, with the data we have access to – such as shoulder bend, or hip sway at impact – and how those correlate with the level of play is kind of how we got to all this data in the SwingTRU Motion Study.”

Siudela said for the study, video of over 13,000 clients was used along with more than 645,000 motion measurements.

“That’s significant data that we were able to correlate with handicap level to what their [motion] numbers were showing,” he said. “When you’re working in the bay and we can show you these numbers, you just experienced for yourself how quickly and easily it is to make a change.”

For the lay person, don’t be scared by the numbers that come with the measurements. That’s for instructors like Siudela to worry about. Those numbers are broken down and easily explained to the student.

“We all teach differently,” Siudela said. “These numbers are a guideline for us. The numbers we see are ranged. There are Tour players who have been able to make it work with funky golf swings. There’s no cookie-cutter golf swing by any means. We’re not here to teach people to do that. All these numbers are a guideline to help students improve certain body movement function. It’s to get everything to feel more connected, which, in turn, will help you to better performance on the course.”

Utilizing the swing evaluation, GolfTEC says it has seen a 96 percent success rate among students, who drop an average of seven strokes from their scores. Imagine subtracting seven strokes from your scorecard?

For more information, visit to find a facility near you, or call 877-446-5383.  


What I learned trying GolfTEC's new SwingTru Motion Study