Jan 26, 2024

Things I Wish My Students Understood with Peggy Gustafson

beginner golfers golf drills golf routines golf tips and tricks on the course podcast

Tori welcomes back regular guest Kim Eaton, a Colorado Golf Hall of Famer, along with special guest Peggy Gustafson, a Class A LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Member with over 40 years of golf instruction experience, for an insightful discussion on the game of golf. Listen in as Peggy shares her top tips for golfers of all levels, debunking common myths and offering sage advice on everything from clubface control to mental preparation.

In this wide-ranging dialogue, they explore best practices for getting the most out of practice sessions, goal-setting strategies to incrementally improve your game, and targeted advice for older women golfers. They also dive deep into the finer points of on-course strategy, dissecting how to smartly manage each shot rather than getting wrapped up in the quest for textbook technique.

This is a can’t-miss discussion for regular golfers and enthusiasts alike looking to build on their knowledge and appreciate the game in new ways.

Peggy is currently an LPGA Teaching Professional at Portobello Country Club in Arizona during winter and Anchorage Golf Course in Alaska during summer. Alaska has about 25 golf courses that are only open 4-5 months per year due to weather conditions. This year they are having record snowfall of over 80 inches.

Recent Updates from Kim and Tori

Kim recently returned from an 11-day cruise over the holidays. She discusses the ports visited and explains why she does not recommend cruising over holidays again due to crowds and kids. Tori provides an update on her women's golf event called California Crush Invitational happening in October 2024.

Peggy's Guiding Principles for Golf Students

Golf is About Managing Your Shots

The first thing Peggy wants golfers to understand is that golf is a game of managing your shots rather than striving for technical perfection. No one hits perfect shots all the time. Learn to accept the bad shots and not let them ruin your round. Focus more on the positives.

Importance of Goal Setting

It's vital for all golfers, especially beginners, to set goals and expectations. Understanding it takes most people 1-2 years to gain basic competence can help overcome frustration when progress seems slow. Have a mix of short-term process goals along with longer-term outcome goals.

Myth Busting Common Golf Misconceptions

Peggy debunks several myths about golf swings and equipment. She uses training aids to demonstrate visually how you don't hit up on the golf ball despite it flying up into the air. Most average female drives only go 135 yards, so obsessing over distance often backfires.

Grip and Hand Position Matters

Pay attention to your grip and hand position on the club. Your hands need to match your natural hinge and wrist movement. If your hands are not set properly, it throws off your ability to control the clubface and swing path.

Women Should Play Forward Tees

As golfers age, men move up to forward tees over time. Yet courses don't always have equivalent forward tees for women, resulting in overly long courses. This discourages older women from playing. Courses should rate and build forward tees so women can continue enjoying golf.

Focus Practice Inside 50 Yards

The fastest way to lower scores is sharpening your short game inside 50 yards. Hitting more greens in regulation is meaningless if you take 4-5 putts every hole. Learn to manage misses through course strategy and club selection instead of using only wedges.

Prepare Properly Before Tournament Rounds

Proper planning prevents poor performance. Don't overdo practice leading up to tournaments in ways that fatigue your body or overload your mind. Have an intentional warm-up routine to get your mind and body ready to compete. Realize some nerves are good and help you care enough about performing well.

Peggy Offers Swing Tips for Older Golfers

As the body ages, golfers must adapt to change. Peggy focuses on balance, flexibility, and reasonable expectations when teaching older students:

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to aches and pains and don't try to overpower shots. Making incremental adjustments to your technique and equipment can help compensate for declining mobility.

Play Appropriate Tees

Seniors often play tees that are too long for their current ability level. Moving forward even one set of tees can make the course more enjoyable without sacrificing challenge.

Embrace Finesse Over Power

Focus more on precision, strategy, and feel rather than brute strength. Try visualization drills along with partial wedge shots to improve touch and ball control.

Effective Goal Setting Strategies

Peggy emphasizes the importance of establishing goals, both short-term checkpoints and bigger picture targets:

Analyze Your Stats to Identify Weak Areas

Use detailed stats and shot charts to figure out which parts of your game leak the most strokes. Allocate more practice time to those deficient facets.

Develop Specific, Measurable Goals

Vague notions like "shoot lower scores" won't cut it. Effective goals highlight particular skills and quantify an attainable benchmark, like "Improve fairway bunker success rate from 30% to 50%".

Focus Practice Sessions Around Your Goals

Align your training regimen directly with your established goals. Work on the right skills, play on-course games, and track progress toward each milestone.

Strategies for Lower Scores

Peggy believes mastering the scoring zone inside 50 yards leads to better golf for most players:

Sharp Wedges Get the Ball Closer to the Hole

Consistently hitting crisp partial wedge shots sets up easier putts and saves strokes. Use multiple clubs to enhance feel from different yardages.

Miss Greens in the Right Places

Missing greens isn't fatal, but poor misses can be. Position your approach shots to give viable up-and-down options when you don't hit the green.

Commit to Holing More Short Putts

Even great ball-strikers 3-putt too often. Dedicate time to deliberate practice on 4-8 foot putts to turn more of those into tap-ins.

Recommendations for Mental Toughness

Peggy touches on the psychological side of golf performance and enjoyment:

Embrace Imperfection as Part of the Game

All golfers hit bad shots. Don't beat yourself up or get discouraged. Stay patient through ups and downs instead of expecting flawless play.

Anxiety is Normal, Especially for Newer Tournament Players

Butterflies on the first tee are a good sign you care about performing well. Manage nerves through breathing exercises and pre-shot routines.

Remember Golf is Simply a Game

Very few recreational players earn a living playing the game. Keep some perspective about your scores. Focus more on having fun out on the course.


Throughout the episode, Peggy stresses the importance of reasonable expectations, strategic course management, dedicating time to deliberate wedge and putting practice, and maintaining a positive mental approach. Her wisdom and tips can help both developing and experienced golfers play better and appreciate the game more.

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