The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today, I am going to finish up this series of conflicting viewpoints  in certain aspects of golf instruction.  In future posts I will give my opinion on some of these ideas on golf instruction, depending if you are just beginning to learn the game or if you are a single digit handicapper.  I will also discuss the things, or maybe its just one thing that all golf instructors agree upon, and at least one thing that they may be obsessed with.  Now let’s finish this thing up.

You should change your grip to help square the club face up, or you keep the grip the same and correct the swing flaw that is making you slice or hook the ball. The main proponent of changing your grip to help square the clubhead was the famous British instructor John Jacobs.  The theory goes that if you are slicing the ball, you should turn your hands slightly to the right and you will see more of the knuckles of your left hand as you look down the shaft.  If you are hooking too much, you turn your hands slightly to the left and you will see less knuckles of the left hand.  This should produce straighter shots.  The majority of instructors feel that the grip should be a neutral or natural grip where the hands are positioned on the club in a similar manner, as they would be hanging down by your side. In their view, slicing and hooking is a swing problem only, and the grip should never be changed.

Hand position at address in relationship to the ball.  The traditional viewpoint is your hands should be slightly behind the ball at the address  position for the drive and then get ahead of the ball as the clubs get shorter.  Sometimes this detail is even ignored in some golf instruction.  Some people feel the hands should be about even with the ball for all shots.

What is the head doing during the golf swing, besides thinking why I am I playing this stupid game.   Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer both felt that the head should remain as still as possible during the golf swing.  In fact there is the famous story of Nicklaus’s instructor Jack Grout, holding on to Jack’s hair as he swung, so he would have minimal head movement during the swing. In the more modern swing it is shown that the head has a distinct downward move during the downswing.  In some  swings there is a definite movement to the right on the backswing. Curtis Strange had this move on his backswing, which is the influence of Jimmy Ballard.  On a lot of swings and preswings there is a definite rotation of the head to the  right which gives the appearance that the golfer is looking at the ball with only the left eye. Videos of today do show that Nicklaus and Palmer moved their head more than they thought they did, but they did not move their head as much as Tiger Woods or V. J. Singh do on  their swings. Some people feel that by trying to keep your head still during the swing creates too much tension to swing freely. Again we have a lot of conflicting viewpoints.

Lastly I have to mention Natural Golf. Their poster boy is Moe Norman, who is considered one of the greatest ball strikers of all time. I read Norman’s biography and he was an interesting character, to say the least. Even in his biography, it’s a little unclear what came first, Natural Golf or Moe Norman.  I think it was a mutually beneficial partnership, that probably compromised both methods to sell a few books.  I am not going to go through the Natural Golf Method, you can easily look it up, but I think it is about as unnatural as you can get to try and hit a golf ball.  It is a very distinct way on how to try and hit a golf ball.  I have played a lot of golf in my lifetime and I must say, I have never met anybody that played golf this way.   I would like to  see if I changed my mind about the method, if I saw it up close and personal.

So there you have it.   Conflicting golf instruction that you can find on the internet or when given a personal lesson.  So it goes back to one of my original questions, is everybody right or everybody wrong?  For something that only takes about 1 to 2 seconds to complete there are more opinions on how to do it than there on ways to fix the national debt, and I think that is just slightly more complicated. The next blog, I am going to  focus on things that all golf instruction seems to agree upon, but does even that make it right.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

After a brief res-pet from blogging for a trip to see the Grand kids in San Diego back with another in a series of instructional conflicts. Yes, I am going to comment briefly on the Lexi Thompson incident.  This blog is going to concern itself with chipping. The two points of view.  You should chip like you putt, or you should not chip like you putt. First we need to define a chip, which to some, has changed.  In Utley’s book on the short game he has his own definition of a chip, which I am going to ignore. My definition is that a chip is a shot with little or no wrist action.  In other words,the chip has nothing to do with distance. You could chip a ball 5 yards or you can chip it 40 yards or longer.  A pitch by my definition is a shot where the wrists will cock from 45 to 90 degrees.  Again you could pitch a ball 5 yards or you can pitch it 40 yards or longer. This post is going to discuss only chipping

The first view point is, you should chip like you putt. Since there is little wrist action in both chipping and putting this would seem to make a lot of sense. However, the clubs, ranging from anywhere from a 4 iron to a lob wedge, that are used for chipping, have nothing in common, in design,  with the putter. There is going to be some adjustments, you are going to have to make. The first, you must make sure the bottom edge of the club is square. This  will put your hands ahead of the club, sometimes as much as 6 inches if you are using the lob wedge. A lot of instructors advocate using the same grip you use for putting, to execute these shots.  The weight should be on the left foot a little more. Even though you are using your putting stroke to execute these shots, they still must be hit with a descending blow and not swept along the ground. You must have a good lie to execute a chip.  With any method you can not chip from the rough with the ball down a little in the grass.

Some instructors feel you should not chip like you putt. The leaders in this group are Phil Mickelson and Stan Utley. Mickelson has his hinge and hold method and Utley tries to get his hands leading the club head on his chips to deloft the club. You can read or watch their videos to get more details on their respective methods.  There are other instructors who have a more handsy   approach to chipping.

Now to the Lexi Thompson debacle. The one thing that has got lost in the shuffle is the second penalty that was accessed for the incorrect scorecard. She may have been done in by the new rule change this year on signing for a lower score than you actually made. The LPGA should have  never assessed her that 2 stroke penalty, and they had the perfect precedent of the Tiger Woods incident 2 or 3 years ago at the Masters. After Tiger’s ball hit the pin and went into the water on 15, he dropped the ball in an improper spot. The next day he was charged a two stroke penalty, but was not disqualified for the incorrect score card on the technicality that at the time he signed it, the score was correct. If the disqualification rule would have still been in effect this year, do you think the LPGA would have walked up on that tee box and disqualified Lexi Thompson, no way.  I am sure the Tiger incident would have been cited. Because now it is a 2 stroke penalty, they in my view went ahead and  penalized her those 2 strokes incorrectly.  Technically, and its all technicalities, she signed a correct score card when she signed it, just like Tiger Woods. Obviously with only a 2 stroke penalty she would have won the tournament out right and there would have been no play off. Shame on you LPGA.