The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today’s blog is going to discuss careers gone south. Golfers that had more than just modest success on the PGA tour, and then went into career ending slumps. None of this is meant to be critical of these players because they accomplished more with their golf games than 99.9% of the golfing poputlation. I think this just shows how goofy this game can really be. One of the things I find interesting with this, is many of us complain about how no matter what we do, our over all games do not improve. Most of us do not go into slumps of this magnitude. If I wrote about all the players that this has happened to this blog would be a book. I will make a list of players, which is not complete by the way, at the end of the blog which can be looked up at various sites which one can read about. One of the things that would trigger a slump would either be a very disappointing loss but more intriquing would be a career defining win. The most talked about slump of recent memory is David Duval but he is not alone. Here are what I find to be the most interesting.

Ian Baker Finch  1991 British Open Champion. Hits the ball great at the range but simply can not play after 1994. His career came to end when he shot a 92 in the 1997 British Open.

Bill Rodgers  1981 British Open Champion. Miss the cut in 11 of the last 15 majors he played. Left tour at 37 burned out.

Chip Beck  Long time tour player, Shot 59, Top 10 Money winner, contended in majors, great attitude according to Bob Rotella. Missed 46 straight cuts sold insurance had some minor success on senior tour  

Todd Hamilton 2004 British Open Champion 2004 PGA rookie of the year. Never won again. He had only one really good year but here is what I find interesting  about the Hamilton slump. When the Momentus swing trainer first came out the poster boy for the product was David Duval. When Duval started slumping who became the new poster boy. None other than Todd Hamilton who credited the Momentus for helping him win the British Open. Obviously this device (which I love by the way) does not prevent you from going into a prolonged slump.

Shaun Micheal  2003 PGA Champion Shaun made a brief comeback in 2006 where he blamed disfunctional testicles as the reason for his poor play. A new meaning to, he didn’t have enough balls to hit that putt. Testosterone supplemnetation gave his career a very brief lift.

Curtis Strange This one pains me more than most. I really like Curtis Strange. When he was at the top of his game you always looked at him as just one of the boys. He swore, he was a great competitor, and you just felt like you could go and have a few beers with him after a round. He won the U. S. Open back to back in 1988 and 1989. Then he had to go write a book with the unfortunate title of Win and Win Again. Why was this unfortunate. Because he never won again. Nothing, not even the Senior Tour.  I have never read the book and I guess I never will.  

As I said these golfers are not alone. Here are just a few more examples.

David Frost, Sandy Lyle, Steve Jones, Jodie Mudd Billy Mayfair, Tom Purtzer, Jim Gallagher Jr. John Huston, Steve Pate, Steve Flesch, Chad Campbell, Jeff Maggert Roger Maltbie, Dan Pohl,

The list really just goes on and on. Some golfers went into prolonged slumps and made brief comebacks. The one that comes to mind in this catagory is Cory Pavin. After winning the US Open his game went south for a long time. I think this is what makes this game  goofy for just about everybody no matter what level of golf you achieve. One thing is for sure, it is definitely mystifying.                            

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today’s post is going to be different than originally planned. I will expain next week. I am going to discuss a stat on tour that I have mentioned before, that I find very interesting. I am a big baseball fan and of course stats are at the heart of the game.Stats are used in baseball to help teams play better and win more games. The PGA tour keeps stats now, but certainly not as long as baseball. . There is one stat that Dave Pelz mentions in is putting books, that PGA pros make 50% of their putts from 6 feet. I have never seen anyone dispute this stat and it has been around a long time. However, how many times during the last round of the tournament have you seen a graphic on Sunday about the leader of the tournament or someone close to the lead, that says he has made all of his putts from 7 feet. Just as recently as Big Phil’s victory in Phoenix,  he was something like 24 for 24 on putts from 7 feet or less. Now granted that accounts for putts of 2 and 3 feet, but even if he had only 10 putts from 6 to 7 feet, he made them all. That means that someone is close to 0 for ten in order to make the 50% average. I would say, that it is a fair assumption, that the guys that are at the 0 or 1 for 10 level are probably missing the cut. What, if any conclusions can be drawn from such stats. Despite all the ball striking hoopla is the real reason that people win or lose on the PGA tour is the ability fo make 6 foot putts. I am not saying it is, but it is food for thought. I would think this less if the winner was making 75% of his 6 foot putts. That would mean that the poorer putter would be making 25% to get to the 50% tour average. I think it would be fair to say that over the course of 36 holes that a player would have about 10 putts between 5.5 and 6.5 feet. With the best and the worse 9 to 10 strokes apart, there is the cut line. Now what can the everyday player take from such a stat. Lets face it, if a pro is making all his 6 foot putts I don’t think he is making them by letting them die in the hole. You can’t bang 6 foot putts into the back of the hole, but I think its time to take a new attitude about this length of putt and hit them in with more authority. I also think this shows that the pros are not afraid to shoot a high number. These pros that are in the less than 10% range maybe missing the cut one week but  maybe the next week they are in the hunt. They know in the early going they  have to make this length putt to get into contention, and to hell with the consequences. Having said all that I still not too sure about the meaning of such diverse stats.However, what kind of scores would you rather shoot. Four rounds between 78 and 82, or rounds like this, 86,71,84, and 70. So when you are watching the golf on Sunday be looking for that phenomenal stat, 100% makes on putts of 6,7, or sometimes even 8 feet or less. Remember the tour average is 50%. Back to goofiness next week. Although that stat is pretty goofy, don’t you think?           

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

For the next few weeks, I am going to discuss the things, that I think make this game so goofy. This week will be famous swing changes. Everybody gets worked up, when a big time player changes equipment, like Rory has just done. I say no big deal. Equpment can be made to any specs these players want. What I find  more fasinating, is when great players change their coaches and swings. The guy that started it all, and to me, the only one that really made the right descision, was Nick Faldo. Faldo was nothing more than a middle of the road European tour player who had blown a couple of major championships and had been given the moniker, Nick Foldo by the wonderful British press. Then after a major revamping of his swing, Faldo became the No 1 player in the world and won six major championships. The greatest swing changer of all time of course is Tiger Woods. He has had four swing changes. We will call his first swing his college swing. This swing would only be able to win him one NCAA individual title, three straight U.S. Amateur titles, and one Masters title by a paltry margin of 12 strokes. I have often wondered what would have happened, if he would have just stayed with that swing. However, after the Masters he and Harmen sat down and decided “Hey lets change that screwed up swing”. So off they went and after a couple of slow years,(remember that), Tiger went on a tear. From August of 1999 to the end of 2003 he won 7 majors and 33 total PGA tournaments, duing the Harman era. Then they had a falling out, so sad. Then comes Hank( I’m going to be taking notes for my back stabbing book) Haney. Again, after a couple of slow years when everybody was saying” you should have never left Butch, you should have never left Butch”, Tiger went on to win 6 majors and 32 PGA tournaments, from 2004 until 2009. What a difference a coach makes.  Then after Tiger crashed his SUV, and there was the rumor that Haney tampered with the brakes(Just kidding), Tiger has had to go to his fourth swing with Sean Foley. What has happened? Tiger has had a slow couple of years. What a shock. People are still talking about Harmon . Well, let’s look at Harmon, and some other famous players, who have come to him. First off big Phil. Phil has been with Harmon since 2007. How has he done. Twelve wins and one major. The six years before Harmon, twelve wins and three majors. Greg Norman went to Harmon after almost winning 5 major championships in a row but could only muster one, the British Open. After Harmon one major the British Open again and Harmon was his guru during his final round collapse at the 1996 Masters and that was essentially, the end of Greg Norman. Two of the more amazing swing changes in recent years has been Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell. Harrington won the 2007 British Open and then followed that up with a repeat win in 2008 and then won the 2008 PGA. Then you read about him going through a swing change. Same thing with McDowell, he wins the 2010 U.S. Open and beats Tiger in one of those end of season world championship events and then he changes his swing. What the hell is this? It is easier to figure out choking. It is the heat of the moment. But this is a guy sitting down for breakfast with the box of wheaties,  with his picture on it, just after winning a major championship and thinks, you know I think I am going to change my swing. If that doesn’t make this game goofy, nothing will, but we are just getting started.       

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

All right, we are into February and hopefully the 2013 golf season is just around the corner. I have been discussing what I consider the real controling factor in the golf swing, the turning of the shoulders. In order to accomplish this we just make our golf swing with the arms folded across the chest and then repeat the procedure with the golf club in hand. One little trick to expedite this is to have the golf club against your chest, being held by the fold of the 2 elbows and then just take the club with your hands  and make a golf swing.  One swing with the club going across your chest and then one regular swing with the club in your hands. Now here is what I expect to happen and what I hope to accomplish in the 2013 golf season.

I expect my ball striking to continue to be good, if not better in 2013.  I do not look at this as an experiment any more. This is a better way of going about hitting the golf ball. Remember this is a muscle thing not a technique thing. You can apply the shoulder swing to any method you want. Stack and Tilt, Natural Golf, Harmon, Haney, Leadbetter,or any other method that catches your fancy.

The one thing I did not do with this method is really get into working the golf ball, which I think is essential to really good scoring. My basic shot with this method was a slight fade and I really did not get into drawing the ball.  That will be the first objective this year is to get back to drawing and fading the golf ball.

The second objective will be developing a solid reliable chipping and putting method. Naturally during the winter rest away from golf, I have been working on some ideas and unique techniques which will be tested early this year. That will be one of the keys to my early scoring, or lack of scoring. As you well know I used many swing things that had high hopes and then went to the invisible trash can.

It will be just a matter of time now, and I will be hitting the links again. Over these next couple of weeeks or so I thought I would just have some fun and write about what makes this game so God awlful goofy. Lets hope for an early spring.