The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

The blog is a day late as we had a big holiday family party with lots of food, and lots and lots of wine. By 8:30 last nite I didn’t even know I had a blog, let alone write a new post. But today after 10 aspirins and lots of water I am ready to type away a little after 2pm the next day. Before I get into the year in review, I am going to talk about the round of golf that I played last Wednesday, with one of my golf buddies, Andy. We played at Scenic Valley in less than ideal conditions, on a cloudy day, with temperatures barely getting into the low 40’s. Andy shot an impressive 1 under par 71 and I came in with an equally unimpressive 81. Look’s like I got whooped pretty good. But looking closer at the round we each hit 11 greens in regulation and I hit 9 fairways to Andy’s 8 and overall drove the ball better. These two rounds, bring up two points, that have been brought up in the past. Obviously, Andy putted way better than I did and did everything better than I did from 50 yards in. Short game, short game, short game. We all know this. This also goes to show you that even though these rounds look far apart there is not a big difference in shooting those scores. With very similar ball striking you can shoot 2 very different scores if your not putting and chipping well.

Now to the year in review. Overall this was a very good year for me with my handicap going down to 3.2 from 5.6. This is even more amazing, because most of the year I battled the chip yips, and at times was still doing some swing experiments. This swing thing that I have been doing for the past year is the main reason I peeled off a couple of strokes. I was not nearly as frustrated with my ball striking as I have been in the past and I knew how to fix things on the course. One of the things I was trying to do, was to apply what I was doing with the full swing to chipping and putting. Even though I had some success doing this, I now know that this was a mistake. For shots of about 50 yards and beyond my swing technique worked just fine, but chipping and putting are unique endeavors.  So the goals for 2013 is to refine the swing technique and improve the putting and chipping. The blog will be put to sleep for the remaining year as there is just too much college football for this junky to take time to write the blog. Beginning next year I will begin to discuss this swing technique that has rejuvenated my game. The first blog, is what I call a set up blog, and then we will really get into it. Have a great holiday and see you in 2013.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Back in the Burgh this week after a great trip and Christmas visit with the grandkids. Did not get to play any golf this week because of holiday duties, but this week our weather is looking none too bad, so maybe  a round or two may get played this week. This week I thought  I would write about the recent ruling that will eventually ban the use of the belly putter and the long putter. I admit, I haven’t read a lot of articles about the rulings but the one thing that I haven’t seen discussed much, is why now. These two types of clubs have been around for a long, long, long, long time. Phil Rodgers used a belly putter in the sixties no less and the long putter has been around since the early eighties. So is this what dictates the rules of golf. Its not the method, but how much success the method creates, that determines if it should be banned or not. If this was such an offensive way to get the ball into the hole, why wasn’t it banned in 1985 or 95. Its not like these are new ideas. I think the ruling bodies of golf,namely the USGA, do as much to deter people from playing golf as they do to promote the game. There is no question there should be 2 sets of rules in golf. One set for the elite 300 to 400 PGA and European pros, and another set for the recreational player. All other sports have different rules at different levels.  Some rules that should be changed are out of bounds, tapping of spike markes, lost ball and more lenient ground under repair which would allow a player to take his ball out of a divot. The USGA does nothing to really help speed up play. Changing the above rules would speed up play. I am still more mystified by the timing of the rulings  than anything else. Was it ok for older guys to use these methods but when the younger players started to resort to belly and long putters,the USGA just couldn’t take it. Do they really think these methods give an unfair advantage to the ones that use it. If they  do, then shame on them for taking this long to do something about it and for letting them continue to use these implements for another 3 seasons. How will Tiger ever win another major with all these belly putters around for the next 3 seasons. Holy shitballs! Well as I said before it looks like I might be able to get a couple of rounds this week and next week will be a year in review. See you then.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

The blog is coming from sunny San Diego today as I am spending a little pre Christmas time with the grandkids. This blog as promised, will discuss the book The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, by Ben Hogan. Even though this book is considered one of the classics, I think this book is one of the worst instructional books ever written. Is there any redeeming qualities about the book. Yes, the illustrations are great and the writing itself is very concise and easy to understand. Lets look at the book chapter by chapter.

The Grip

The biggest problem with this chapter is the position of the right hand. Hogan advocates a position where the V’s of the right hand point at the chin. This puts the right hand too much on top of the shaft. A great comparison would be to look at the position of the right hand in Tiger’s book. While is left hand is pretty much with the thumb straight down the shaft, his right hand is in a position where the palm is more or less facing the target with the V’s pointing between the right shoulder and the right ear. With the position that Hogan advises, it is almost impossible for the average golfer to square the club head. A much better explanation of the grip and what it is supposed to do is in John Jacob’s book Practical Golf.

Stance and Posture

This is where the book really goes off on the deep end and advocates things that even Hogan himself did not do. First of all he advises to keep your right foot perpendicular to the line of flight. This may be ok for the really advanced golfer, but to slightly flair the right foot out at a 10 to 15 degree angle will make the hip turn a lot easier for the beginner. The book says that the feet should be shoulder width for a 5 iron shot and then wider for the longer clubs. Again such a wide stance makes turning more difficult. The feet should be about shoulder width for the driver and then begin to get narrower as the clubs get shorter. But the final thing is the instruction to keep the elbows and the arms as close together as possible at address and throughout the entire swing. If you look at pictures of Hogan at address he really did not follow this. If you try this, it just creates a lot of unnecessary tension in the address position.  The other thing that was interesting Hogan used a closed stance for the longer clubs even though he was a fader of the ball. He discussed this at the end of the book. Even with a stance that favors a hook, Hogan could still fade the ball with the technique he describes in the book.

The First Part of the Swing

He writes about the hands starting the swing and the plane concepts really means advocating a one plane swing. He claims that you are heading for disaster if you thrust your arms up above the plane so that they would shatter the imaginary glass plane running from the ball through the shoulders. It makes you wonder how Nicklaus ever won a tournament.

The Second Part of the Swing

There is over emphasis on turning of the hips and not enough on the lateral shift the hips must make in order to clear the hands and arms so they can approach the ball from inside the line. The illustration of Hogan half way down, so ex saturates the inside position with the club shaft almost parallel to the ground, that I defy anybody to duplicate that position and hit a straight shot. Of course we wind up with supination. Try to do that and see how far it gets you.

This book tells how to keep from hitting a duck hook or a hook of any kind. If that had been the emphasis of the book or stated in the forward of book I would have no beef. But to claim that this is the fundamentals of golf, let alone the modern fundamentals, has probably caused more people to quit the game than the book has helped. But if you know anybody that can not keep from hitting a duck hook then give them this book. You will have made a friend for life.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, here we are December 2 and we were able to get in 18 holes of golf today. Went to Riverview today and broke the streak barely with a 79. In the beginning the putter was kicking ass again as I three putted the first 3 out of four greens. Then I settled down and even though I had only 2 one putts, did not three putt again and parred 11 out of the last 14 holes. It was a very good ball striking day as the weather did turn a little nasty with some wind and rain but for this time of year in the Burgh it was a very good golf day.  Now on to another subject that is really bothering me. In some other blogs and in general, the book Five Lessons The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, by Ben Hogan, is regarded as one of the best instructional ever written. Some great pros Nick Price and Larry Nelson, to name a few, have said that this is the book that they read when they first started to learn the game. I maintain that this is one of the worst books written on golf instruction. The main problem is with the title. If it had been titled, Golf My Way by Ben Hogan, then there would be no complaint. This is not to disparage the golfer Hogan in any way. There is no question he is one of the top 3 or 4 players to have ever played the game and arguably the best. He just wrote a bad book. Remember this is a book that is just about how to hit a golf ball. There is nothing in it related to the short game, putting, or playing the game. That is not a criticism of the book but just to make clear that this is a book strictly about the golf swing. So I am heading out to San Diego next week to do a little holiday celebrating with the grandkids. This will give me a little time to go through the book in more depth so I can really rip into it next week. As I said in an earlier blog if you are a duck hooker then this is the book for you.  However this book has about as much to do with the  “Modern Fundamentals of Golf” as horseshoes.