John Renslow: Build a foundation |

John Renslow: Build a foundation

Have you ever stood behind someone on the driving range, mouth open, eyes fixed, because the player never misses a shot? Every ball starts slightly to the right of the target. As it begins to reach its apex, the ball arcs and continues on a line toward the intended target. The player then breaks from a poised, nearly statuesque position and reaches for a new ball from a pile of several dozen.

Alter your gaze to the next player and you get a very similar result. The ball might start left of the target or fly a little higher, but it still finds its destination…virtually every time.

Thousands of enthusiastic fans are spread throughout 100 acres of a world class golf course, some gathering in locations of the course, cheering on their favorite player. Not only is this great fun, it’s educational.

If you’ve never attended a Tour event, you owe it to yourself to make the trip. Just such an occasion presents itself next week (the tournament starts on Thursday) in Napa, the opportunity to see how it’s done by those who play the game for a living.

Held at the Silverado Country Club, it is the Fortinet Championship (formerly the Safeway Open), a restart of the PGA Tour season and reset to the FedEx points list.

As we have discussed, the PGA Tour has adopted a so-called “wrap around” schedule. The new season starting in the fall, rather than a calendar year.

Following last week’s Tour Championship, the FedEx points are wiped clean and everybody starts fresh.

But wait, there’s more. The folks in Napa, and the Silverado Resort, make this much more than a golf event. First off, naturally you can do some wine tasting. Not only close to the resort, but there are many wonderful wineries within a couple of driver swings.

Each evening, following the end of play, (except Sunday’s final round) there is a concert series. A different band performs each night and some world class food is available.

Back to where we started, with the golf. I really encourage you to go to the driving range. As an instructor, it is remarkable to me that most amateur players avoid the basics, the foundational building blocks.

Granted, I know it’s more fun to stand on the range and hit drives all day. Yet, that does not pay off in the end.

Watching what the tour players do on the range is a great way to get a glimpse of what it takes to improve and, perhaps more importantly, maintain a solid golf swing.

These guys are the best. The top players in the world. Guess what, they are practicing with golf clubs (alignment sticks) on the ground, verifying their position. They have training aids or devices. They take breaks and grab some water. They talk to other players — your practice should not be semi-automatic golf.

To some extent, golf is like the Karate Kid. I can still hear the resonating voice of Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi. Wax on, wax off. Sand the floor. Paint the fence.

It ain’t sexy and it’s not romantic. But, if you want to be a better player, continuously rehearse the foundational building blocks. The tour players do it. You should do it.

Now I know there are some of you that think…hmmm…if we go watch the event in person and we’re on the driving range, I’m going to miss some of the stuff on TV. Not to worry, each week the Tour has streaming video available on virtually any mobile device. You can follow one player and still get highlights of other groups from anywhere on the property.

Attending any Tour event is an amazing experience, and with this event being in the heart of the wine country you might plan for an overnighter. For tickets to the event, visit

John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses

John Renslow

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