Meet My Two Teachers A couple of weeks ago I was able to get back to Ontario, NY to see my family. I took my son Owen with me and showed him where I learned to play golf and fell in love with the game. I have always reacted well to challenges and obstacles […]
Meet My Two Teachers
A couple of weeks ago I was able to get back to Ontario, NY to see my family. I took my son Owen with me and showed him where I learned to play golf and fell in love with the game.
I have always reacted well to challenges and obstacles in my life. What hooked me onto the game of golf was simply the challenge of trying to hit balls between these two trees. 45 years ago, these now old, broken down trees were healthy and beautiful. As a kid I would get up early before school, walk down our driveway about 100 yards with clubs over my shoulder, shag bag of practice balls in hand and just hit balls trying to clear the creek and keep the balls between the trees. They were about 125 yards from the corner of the area where I would practice from.
Since I didn’t learn on a driving range where the practice balls were picked up for me, there was a consequence for every ball I hit. Every ball had to be picked up by me. I also had to walk through the creeks and woods on the golf course to find the balls I would practice with, so they were valuable to me. Once I had hit my shag bag of 50-60 balls, I would walk out to the middle of the pattern where all the balls lay, drop my shag bag and then chip the balls as close as I could to it, then pick them up.
As I reflected on the lesson that practicing in that environment taught me, I realized that I learned invaluable lessons in not just golf but life as well. First, I learned discipline, and time management. If I wanted to get good, I needed to get to bed early enough to be able to get up early enough to have time to practice before school. I also had to hit my shag bag of balls, chip them and then pick them up with enough time to make it on the school bus.
I also learned consequence. Every ball I hit had to be found, chipped to my bag, then picked up. The bigger the pattern of my missed shots, the more time it would take me to pick them up. I knew if I missed my bus, I wouldn’t be allowed to practice any more, so it mattered. It also developed my short game skills. Every ball that I hit also had to be chipped or pitched.
In regard to golf skills I learned club face control. If the ball went to the right of the two trees, I learned to close the face more. To the left, I learned to keep the face more square. I would watch where the ball went and react to it by opening or closing the club face accordingly until I could tell where the club face was.
Unfortunately, I think club face control and ball curvature are pretty much a lost art in the youth development today.
On the other side, what I did not learn was anything about the path the club head swings on. I had no lessons, and not sure if it would have helped anyway. Today, we understand much more about the golf swing than when I learned to play.
If you know me, I like to keep things clear, simple and to the point. I broke down the golf swing into 3 major components. Club face, club path and body movement. Once a player has learned a solid set up in every lesson, I am typically working on one of those areas.
As a youth I learned from an amateur player that I caddied for, that you had to make your body turn back on the back swing, then turn through so your body was pointing at the target in the forward swing. Consequently, I developed a pattern of getting the club behind my body with the face of the club rotated open, resulting in my primary miss to the right of those trees. By only having the club face to work with I learned to hang back on my right foot to the close the club face quickly, compensating for missing to the right.
When I put that whole experience together, I can see the value of both worlds. Learning the way I did developed discipline, time management, targeting, club face control, consequence, and short game skills. What I did not learn was anything about path or swing plane, so I ingrained a pattern in my swing plane that gave me a small margin of error, misses that were too big and a swing that relied too heavily on perfect timing.
As I reflect on both worlds, I can see the value of both. I would have liked to have had a skilled coach that could have directed me with my swing mechanics so that I was developing and ingraining a pattern that would not have to be re-learned and replaced later. On the other hand, I know that students would be much better served if they had the consequence for every single practice shot they hit.
It’s possible today to get the best of both worlds. A player today can receive quality instruction so that their time and effort put in on the range helps develop a golf swing that yields good missed shots and a tight shot pattern. It’s also possible today to practice in a way that has consequence. Challenge yourself to hit specific targets every time. Make every shot count in practice because they do on the course and as a discipline, for every full shot you hit in practice, hit one short game shot.
First day was quite an experience. CJ was not feeling great the night before we left. We left at 7 am Thursday and flew to Miami. By the time we got there, CJ was really showing signs he was sick. We made the decision to get him a flight back home. It was difficult, but […]
First day was quite an experience. CJ was not feeling great the night before we left. We left at 7 am Thursday and flew to Miami. By the time we got there, CJ was really showing signs he was sick. We made the decision to get him a flight back home. It was difficult, but I didn’t want CJ in Honduras if he was going to be severely ill. I was very bummed, it being Owen’s first trip. I was really excited to have both boys here together sharing the experience.
I try to rely on Romans 8:28 every time something doesn’t go according to my plan or work out the way I hope (All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his plan)
After arriving in Tequcigalpa, then being bussed to Comayagua, we stopped at the Hogar (girls orphanage) to reconnect with some of the girls. Then we checked in at the Hotel Antigua and as our first night custom called for, we enjoyed our traditional Chinese dinner.
This year there were just over 30 people on the trip. Some new and many that come every year. Although I only see some of the men once a year, we have a common bond in Christ and connect easily. For me, the trip to Honduras is one of the highlights of my year. I completely unplug from everything that is normal and just be present. I am missing CJ, but looking forward to the next few days with Owen experiencing all God has planned for us.
Our first evening devotional was led by Al Herrema who coordinates this trip and gives himself fully to the charity, “All God’s Children” who gave the men three biblical principles to consider for raising children.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the lord.
Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits.
I am already in deep reflection of how I can be a better father. There will be nothing more important that I do in my life than raising CJ and Owen.
The second day didn’t go as well as the first. Before CJ took his flight back to Chicago, he graciously gave me whatever crud he had. I’ve been in bed in the hotel room the last 24 hours.
I was able to get most of the first day in. We visited the Hogar (girl’s orphanage) as well as he Farm (boy’s orphanage). I am used to Dago (our driver) beeping the horn and the kids yelling and screaming with excitement. They are a happy bunch of kids, which is amazing considering the tragic lives most of them endured before they came to the orphanage. It’s a lesson for me, that love is the great healer. These kids find love and care at the orphanage and most get better.
Owen has been a great fit. He has played non-stop both with the kids on the trip and from the orphanage. I think he would tell you his favorite part was sneaking up on his Dad with some of the orphans and bombing me with water balloons. My favorite part of the day was getting even, which I did.
One of the lessons I hope both my sons get from this trip is that they realize a life worth living is one where you think more about other people God has put in your life versus yourself. Also, that one person can really make a difference when their heart is in the right place.
For me, the third day wasn’t much better than the second. I spent the day in our hotel room wishing I could get over whatever crud is in my system. The people at the hotel made our dinner, so I ate with the group, then joined in our evening devotional, which was led by Jim Hallene, one of the men who organized the trip every year.
I really enjoy the devotionals. They become a time where people are sharing their own personal experiences. I like to hear different people’s perspective on what we are all experiencing.
The next stop the group made was to Buen Pastor, which is a home where teenaged girls that were raped are able to live in safety, peace, and tranquility with their babies. Every year I have been able to visit and witness firsthand how love and community can heal the deepest of wounds. These young girls display so much love toward their children that were ultimately no choice of their own.
Owen spent the last part of his day playing with the kids at the Hogar, undoubtedly his favorite part of the day.
Day four. The good news is I recovered enough to spend the last afternoon at the Hogar. We held a soccer tournament for all the different age groups of kids. Owen and I missed the morning church service which is a two hour catholic service done in Spanish. I didn’t trust myself in that setting, plus it’s 90°. Even though I don’t understand anything that is being said, I always enjoy going to church with the girls and sharing that time with them.
In the evening, we had our goodbye party where we serve the kids pizza. It’s always a fun evening ending with a lot of sad good byes which are ultimately a good thing.
Our last evening as tradition calls for, Ray Carter (my very good friend, mentor, and pastor) led one last devotional. Every year he singles out each child in the group and affirms something he identifies that God made special about them. He told Owen that he was wise beyond his years and that he had an understanding of things around him that most children his age wouldn’t have.
I thank God again, to allow for this amazing life changing experience I have been able to share with my sons for the last five years.
If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, please send a check payable to All God’s Children,
to the address listed below. 100% of all proceeds go to these kids in need. Thank you, Todd
Send checks to:
“All God’s Children”
PO Box 5909
Villa Park, IL 50181
2019 Father- Child Trip to Comayagua, Honduras We just returned home from our annual trip to Comayagua. This is my 8th, CJ’s 6th and Owen’s 3rd trip. I am so thankful that I get to share this experience with my sons as well as all the other men and their children. It has been life changing for […]
2019 Father- Child Trip to Comayagua, Honduras
We just returned home from our annual trip to Comayagua. This is my 8th, CJ’s 6th and Owen’s 3rd trip. I am so thankful that I get to share this experience with my sons as well as all the other men and their children. It has been life changing for all of us.
Each trip is always unique and leaves me with something that puts life in perspective. This year I came away thinking a lot about the difference between fun and fulfillment. As I am somewhere on the back 9 of my life and have started to put most of the experiences in my life into one of those two buckets.
It is good to do things that are refreshing and fun, but the when fun ends when the experience stops. It is fun to have a day on the golf course playing with good friends. It is fulfilling to set a goal to improve your game, create a plan, practice and go out and consistently play at a higher level. That feeling of fulfillment will last a lot longer than when you leave the parking lot for the day. Being fulfilled is lasting.
I feel very blessed in my career. It is fulfilling to help a player reach their goals of improving their play. I have enjoyed that experience so many times in my career over the last 35 years and am thankful for all the players that have given me the opportunity to be a part of their improvement.
That said our trip to Honduras has become one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. Having gone enough times, I have been able to watch some kids grow into becoming young adults with bright futures. I can’t help thinking where these children would be if it weren’t for the efforts of the people who are a part of the charity “All God’s Children”. I got to meet one young man whose name was Francisco this trip. He is 26 years old and entered the orphanage as a infant. He worked hard and took advantage of the opportunities he was given. After doing well in school then in the Honduras University he was given an opportunity to come to the states stay with one of the families from the fellowship and attend Dominican University in Riverwoods. After graduating he wanted to return to his home in Comayagua and continue helping the group of alumni, he experienced life with while he was growing up at the orphanage for boys we call the Farm. He works professionally for the company QQC as well as does some work with Promus Capitol in Chicago. I true success story.
For anyone who has invested in helping these children through giving to the charity “All my Children”, rest assured your contribution is making a difference. The board at all my Children brought a husband and wife team Randy and Mercedes on about 3 years ago to oversee, manage and develop the Hogar (girls orphanage) the Farm (Boys orphanage) and other various locations supported by All My Children”
In the Three short years they have been there, the progress is nothing short of a miracle. Every year we tour all the facilities and living conditions the children live in. We were all blown away by all that has happened. They have beds that were built by the boys at the farm, everything was freshly painted, improved plumbing, and on and on. More importantly there is a sense of leadership, opportunity and hope that was so apparent with these Children. If you have donated to “all my children” your investment has truly impacted children in real need. You have given some without any hope of a good future a tremendous sense of purpose and excitement for the possibilities that are in front of them.
If you would like to donate to
All God’s Children
PO Box 5909
Villa Park, IL 60181
Today is the last day of our annual Father-Son trip to Comayagua, Honduras. This is my 7th trip, CJ’s 5th trip and Owen’s 2nd. It seems every year I come away with one major thing that defines the trip for me. It’s also great for me because I completely unplug for five days. No phone […]
Today is the last day of our annual Father-Son trip to Comayagua, Honduras. This is my 7th trip, CJ’s 5th trip and Owen’s 2nd. It seems every year I come away with one major thing that defines the trip for me. It’s also great for me because I completely unplug for five days. No phone or internet.
This year, for the first time, our group was privileged to hear the whole translated story of how Mommy Carmen started the Hogar (girl’s orphanage) and the Granja (boy’s orphanage, which they call The Farm). In approximately 1987 or 1988, at just 18 years old, Mommy Carmen was studying at a convent to become a nun. She had already acquired a degree in child care at that point in her life. A local woman dropped off two orphan girls at the convent that she couldn’t take care of. The convent didn’t take orphans.
In short, at just 18 years old, Mommy Carmen had such an unyielding love and conviction for the children, she left the convent against personal and governmental opposition to start an orphanage. Two quickly become four and so on. The Hogar grew from that point to what it is today. We were all taken back by the courage, conviction, faith and love it must have taken for a young 18 year old Honduran woman to take on such a selfless endeavor against so much opposition.
During her talk with us, one of the original girls named Doris also told her translated story. She is now a woman, but when she came to the Hogar as a little girl it was just after witnessing her father murdering her mother with a machete. She told us after 22 cuts they lost count. In my mind, I could not reconcile being able to come back from witnessing such a horrible act of violence against your mother by your father at such a young age. How a person wouldn’t live in anger, rage and despair is truly a miracle as we witnessed the women now before us, saved by love.
What will stay with me from this trip is how authentic LOVE of Christ has overcome so much evil through these orphanages. There have now been thousands of stories of redemption like Doris’. Many children growing into adulthood with a sense of direction and hope coming from a large family where they have been loved. Where would all these children be if it wasn’t for the intervention and love of a young Honduran woman.
I am so thankful for these trips to Honduras. I have been blessed by the experiences, and by the friends and community which have formed over the years. I have hope that my sons will develop a great compassion and love for people who live in such trauma and adversity. I have hope that through these experiences they will begin to realize how blessed they are to live the life they have been given, living in gratitude desiring to become the best version of themselves they were created for.
Below are pictures and videos to help bring our trip to life for those who would like to see.
The Hogar does need a lot of financial aid to help these orphans. If anyone is interested, you can make a donation to:
All God’s Children
PO Box 5909
Villa Park, IL 60181
2019 Horton Smith Award winner Todd Sones joins David Marr and shares a story about working with Chip Beck ahead of the 1993 Ryder Cup – the last Ryder Cup the U.S. won on foreign soil.
On Sunday, September 15 we will be hosting our 12th annual Teaching for the Troops day to support and benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation. This cause has been important to Todd’s life for over a decade now and he can’t help but appreciate everyone who has donated all these years. We hope this will […]
On Sunday, September 15 we will be hosting our 12th annual Teaching for the Troops day to support and benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation. This cause has been important to Todd’s life for over a decade now and he can’t help but appreciate everyone who has donated all these years. We hope this will be the best year yet!
The Folds of Honor Foundation provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members. Honor their sacrifice. Educate their legacy.
To learn more about the foundation: https://www.foldsofhonor.org/
Sunday, September 15
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
White Deer Run Golf Club
Day of Event:
If you make ANY monetary donation in ANY amount, you will receive complimentary instruction in any area of your game you would like help with.
How to Donate:
You can make out a check (tax deductible) to: Folds of Honor Foundation
You can fill out a credit card (not tax deductible) form provided by us via request.
Where to send:
All checks made out to: Folds of Honor Foundation
Todd Sones Impact Golf
1688 N St Andrews Drive
Vernon Hills, IL 60061
How to enter raffle:
For every $50.00 donated = 1 ticket entered into the raffle (example: you donate $100.00 = 2 tickets)
You do NOT need to be at the event to get your raffle ticket. If a donation is made in the sum of $50.00 or more whether by mail or over the phone, we will fill out a raffle ticket(s) for you.
We have over $8000.00 worth of prizes this year. Including a set of Mizuno custom fit irons, a Scotty Cameron Putter, gift certificates and much more so stay tuned!
We will be drawing winners on Monday, September 23. We will accept all donations for raffle tickets until Friday, September 20. We will contact all winners via phone.
I had such a great experience at the Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozarks just outside of Branson, MI. I had to share some of it with our students. Originally, I saw Big Cedar on the Golf Channel while they were hosting the Legends of Golf event. The golf courses were stunning enough that I looked up the resort on the internet at www.bigcedar.com. The lodge looked equally amazing to the golf courses, so with it being only an 8-hour drive from Chicago, I decided to make it our summer vacation spot.
Upon our arrival, we were not disappointed. The lodge is spread out over beautifully manicured grounds with so many different activities we simply couldn’t do it all, but that’s okay because we are definitely coming back. Of course, our main focus was golf but we threw in a little fishing, jet skiing and hiking.
There are two 18-hole Championship golf courses, Buffalo Ridge and Ozarks National which are majestic, challenging and fun to play. However, if you asked my boys, they would tell you they had the most fun at the Top of the Mountain Golf Course. It’s a par 3 13-hole walking only course. It’s a ton of fun to play, we walked, laughed, watched 6 or 7 hawks fly around the mountain as played.
I had very high expectations going into the trip and I have to say they were exceeded. If you are looking for a great vacation whether for a family outing or just a plain golf outing with the guys, you can’t go wrong at Big Cedar.
When a person is first learning a motor pattern of any kind, typically, we start with instruction of the task. Next, there is intellectual comprehension or understanding. After that, there is conscious learning to perform the motor pattern. Finally, there is conscious repetition. After enough conscious repetition, depending on the complexity of the motor pattern, […]
When a person is first learning a motor pattern of any kind, typically, we start with instruction
of the task. Next, there is intellectual comprehension or understanding. After that, there is
conscious learning to perform the motor pattern. Finally, there is conscious repetition. After
enough conscious repetition, depending on the complexity of the motor pattern, conscious
repetition evolves into a subconscious skill. Meaning, a person can perform the motor pattern
in their subconscious without conscious thought or effort.
By the time a person is an adult, they probably have tens of thousands of these ingrained
subconscious motor patterns. They are called myelin. You developed one for each letter of the
alphabet when you were learning to write cursive. A more complex one would be when putting
individual myelin together to sign your name, then write a sentence. Everything that involves
movement that you can do in the subconscious that takes movement is a myelin. When you put
multiple myelin together, you can have a complex myelin. To keep it simple, I would rather just
call it a “motor pattern”.
As another example, if you have ever learned to drive a manual transmission at the stage where
you can perform that task in the subconscious, you have developed a more complex motor
pattern, which takes more skill. There are many people who know how to drive a manual
transmission. To initially learn the task, someone probably took you to a parking lot like my
father took me. There was no pressure, no cars, plenty of flat space, and time for me to learn to
depress the clutch, shift into gear and then decrease pressure of the clutch as I simultaneously
depressed the gas pedal. Eventually, with practice, I could shift through the gear pattern fairly
smoothly without much effort or conscious thought. There are people who can do it smoother
and exceedingly faster under pressure than others such as a stunt driver. But no matter what
level the driver can perform the task, every driver who has operated a manual transmission can
usually recall the moment they felt pressure to perform the task of manually shifting their car.
It was the first time you were on a hill waiting at a red light with a car in front of you, a car
behind you when the light turns green. The moment you depress the clutch, with gravity your
car starts to roll backward as you quickly shift into gear, while pressing down on the gas pedal.
You feel the pressure of performance. If you press the gas too fast, you rear-end the car in front
of you. Not enough, and you stall out rolling into the car behind you. That is pressure to
perform a task. After enough time and repetition, you can perform the task in the subconscious
because it is now an ingrained motor pattern. The more times you perform the task, the deeper
it is ingrained.
Now, imagine I come along and show you a better, more efficient shifting pattern which, if you
take the time to learn, WILL make you a better driver. So back to the parking lot we go. With no
other cars to collide with, plenty of room and a flat surface, you learn the new pattern. With
some confidence, you take the new pattern to the open road where there is mounting pressure
because there are unwanted consequences if you fail to perform the new motor pattern. There
are different levels of pressure. First the pressure of stalling out, then the gravity of shifting at a
stop light on an uphill. Then the pressure of shifting on the hill at a light with a car behind and a
car in front. At some point, and it just may only be not stalling out, or it may take the gravity of
the uphill, a light and cars behind and in front of you but under pressure your subconscious
takes control. The amazing thing is that in your conscious mind, the new pattern is understood,
it is better but at the subconscious level you have not performed it enough to trust that you can
do it under pressure. At that moment, your subconscious takes control and performs the
pattern it has done more times because it trusts that pattern verses the newly learned pattern.
Apply that concept learning to golf. The first swing pattern you learn on the range with some
general guidance, gets you to a point where you can strike a golf ball. Not all the time, or the
way you would really like to, but good enough to take to the course (the open road). Now,
there is a consequence for the result, which means there is pressure to perform. With enough
time and repetition, you get to the point where your swing pattern becomes ingrained at the
For a while, you play thinking that you will be able to improve with the initial swing pattern to
play at a level you would be content with, but sooner or later, you come to a place where you
recognize to get better you need professional help. So, you engage an instructor, such as
myself, and to the driving range (parking lot) we go, to learn a new pattern. You learn it, understand it, practice it, and can perform it while consciously thinking through the pattern.
Swinging the golf club on the driving range without a golf ball is the same as learning a new
shifting pattern in a parking lot. There is no pressure to perform. Just the pressure of hitting the
golf ball is enough for the subconscious to take over and use the more ingrained pattern that it
trusts. After time, repetition, and practice, the subconscious starts to trust the new motor
pattern, even when the ball is there. The analogy is the ball represents a slight hill and not
wanting to stall out. Taking it to the golf course might be like adding a stop light to the hill.
Playing in front of people and maybe even a competition is like adding cars to the equation. The
point is that the more pressure, the more your subconscious wants to revert to what it trusts,
even though your conscious understands the new way is better.
Next week we will continue with why winter indoor practice is the best time to learn new
motor patterns in your game from full swing to putting.