100% Mental Golf: The Flagstick

No golf this week, so I thought I would write about the flagstick.  Yes, that new rule this year, that you can leave the flagstick in the hole when you putt has created a lot of discussion.   These articles and videos on the subject have range from it helps 99% of the time, to it hurts,  to it makes no difference, and just about everything in between.  Some articles have many rules on when to leave the pin in and take it out.   These rules range from the type of putt,  to the distance from the hole, various conditions, and the way the pin may be leaning. Obviously the PGA tour pros have not embraced the rule change.   Only two players , Adam Scott and Bryson DeChambeu, seem to leave the pin in almost all the time.  Every once in awhile you will see somebody leave the pin in on a very long downhill putt.   But almost all the time the pros leave the pin out. In fact Justin Thomas says he couldn’t take himself seriously if he left the pin in.  I don’t even know what that means but it’s just another reason pros leave the pin out.  There have been some studies done to see if there is an advantage to leaving in the pin.

The biggest study was done by Dave Pelz in 1999 and explained in his book  Short Game Bible.  Quoting from the book ” What did I learn?  All  the evidence points to one simple rule: Leave the flagstick whenever the Rules allow, unless it is leaning so far toward you that the ball can’t fit “. I am not going through the study, but it was a very in depth study, where there were different types of greens used, and man and machine were used to role the putts. Since the rule change there have been more studies done and some have not come to same conclusions.  Here is the one limiting factor in my view of all the studies. In order to get the ball to hit the pin all the putts are rolled from a relative short distance. Pelz did not think this was all that important but I am not too sure.

When the choice to leave the pin in was only for shots off the green, my favorite golf announcer Ken Venturi use to have this well known saying, when a pro was chipping. If he takes the pin out he is trying to make it, and if he leaves it in, he is just trying to get it close.  Even though Ken was my favorite golf broadcaster, I often wondered what that saying meant and was it really true.  But it may give us a clue as to why the pros don’t leave the pin in more when they putt. My conclusion is this.   With the pin out of the cup, the hole looks or appears to be bigger than when the pin is in the hole.  So leaving the pin out when you putt again helps make golf 100 % Mental . You are going against the odds that the pin will help you when it is taken out, but most pros do it anyway because mentally they are more comfortable putting that way.

My own view on this is the jury is still out.  I am not going into great detail why I feel this way.  I feel there are some problems with the data that has been collected on this, from all sides.  I do not feel I am alone, when there have been times when I have seen one of my shots or a playing companion’s ball hit the pin and not gone in.  I immediately think that the ball might have gone in if the pin had not been in.  It’s that ball that seems to pinch into the pin, vibrates for an instant and then comes out.  For now I am leaving the pin in for all putts until I feel that it causes more misses than makes.  My exceptions for taking the pin out.  The extreme lean and if conditions are very windy. Some people are of the opinion that by the end of this year you will see more pros use the pin than not use the pin.  I think it will be at least 2 years before  we ever see that.

100% Mental Golf: Round 2

Played the second round of the year on Friday, under similar conditions with temperatures in the mid to upper 40’s with a little more wind this time.  I shot 79 but this was a totally different round than the last one.

The Good.  Ball striking was good again although not quite as good as the first round and I solved the pitching problem  with some alignment adjustments and a grip change.  When I line up for a pitch shot of 20 to 40 yards I feel that I am aiming about 4 to 6 feet left of really where I want to go.  Probably I am aiming right on, but this is my perceptions of things and I am fine with this because the results were great.  In fact I pitched one in the cup for a birdie on the 11th hole which really jumped started the round.  I got it up and down numerous times during the round. I went to my putting grip for these shots and this seemed to help. I have done this in the past with good results.  My putting was better especially the short putts.

Problems:  A horrendous start to the round.  I hit a beautiful drive off the first tee but then from there it was one thing after another.  A four putt on the first hole and then one mental error after another led to double bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey start.  Then I slowly but surely righted the ship and even though I missed 2 rather short birdie putts on 9 and 10, the pitch in birdie on 11 got the round going, to be able to shoot one over on the last 14 holes.  One of the problems all day even as the round improve was to visualize the shot.  I could not draw the ball all day.  Early in the round this got me in trouble but then I tried to do it later where there was no trouble on the right and I still could not do it.   My mental process improved during the round as I did not make or look to make any swing changes and I started to play better.

Round 2 is in the books and it was kind of a strange round.  The wind was a factor but overall it felt good to right the ship.  When I was 6 over after 4 holes I thought maybe I was headed for a round that might not break 90.  As we were going  over to the 5th tee I was thinking, wow, this is really going to look good on blog.  100% mental you betcha, baby. There might be a possibility for a round this week but it is a toss of the coin.  See you next time.

100% Mental Golf: Round 1

This was my 3rd round of the year but the first round where I felt totally committed to  Golf is 100 % Mental.  First let me tell you what these posts will be about.  They will be description of the rounds on a very basic level.  I find that reading about or listening to shot by shot descriptions of rounds to be very tedious and boring.  The round will be divided into two parts.  The first part will be the good. The second part will be labeled problems, those things that kept the round from be being better.  I will not elaborate much on the  problems or what I think caused them.    I plan on making these posts be very positive.   I may go into a little more depth when I find the solution to the problem but until I do, I am not going to go into the why of the problem.   I played last Tuesday and the conditions were coolish but calm,  with temperatures in the mid to upper 40’s and the course was  very damp and muddy.  The greens were pretty good considering the time of the year.  I shot 80 which at Scenic Valley is 8 over par.

The Good.   My ball striking was very good considering I had not played for a solid month.  Out of 14 drives I only hit three that got me into trouble and my recovery out of the woods was so good on one particular hole, that I birdied it.  I had three birdies and the putting was good as two of the birdies putts were  between 20 and 25 feet.   My iron game was good along with my chipping. My visualization process for the long game worked really well.  I will elaborate more on this process as the season goes on, when I think I have a process that really works.   For this Round number one I was seeing the shots very well especially off tee.

Problems.   Putting, yes the putting was good and bad.  I three putted twice from inside 30 feet, and missed 2 really short putts after some pretty good chip shots.  The thing though that kept this round from being a mid 70 round, which would have been  pretty remarkable considering the time of year, was the failure to execute the 25 to 45 yard pitch shot.  Twice it took me not 2, not 3, but 4 strokes to get down from approximately 25 to 40 yards, which led to 2 of  3 double bogies.  These negated the 3 birdies, to say the least. The mental process failed me for these shots and I will see if I can correct this miserable problem.

So round one is in the books.   I did not have any swing thoughts, made no swing adjustments during the round, and was happy with my mental process for  putting even though I had my ups and downs on the greens.  There may be a chance to play at the end of the week but not too sure.  See you next time and happy golfing.

Golf is 100% Mental

If you have a single digit handicap and you want to bring that handicap down significantly, then this is the mantra that you have to live by.  If you have a handicap in the single digits, you have a basic and functional  method on how to swing a golf club.  What is keeping you from getting down to the ultimate goal of scratch is your mental process on the golf course and looking in the wrong places to improve your game.  I made a commitment, to Golf is 100% mental, around May of 2018, and did my handicap go down. It did not.  So what happened.

I feel there was two reasons my handicap remained basically unchanged during the 2018 season.  One was a minor reason.  We had a horrible year of weather.   The golf courses were saturated and muddy almost the whole year, especially from August until the end of the year.  This led to a lot of unpredictability all how the ball would react off the clubface from the rough and even the fairway.  This made the courses play a lot  longer than usual.  There was no question this was a factor, so keeping my handicap the same, may have been a victory, instead of it going up.   The main reason I did not see a drop in my index, was that even though I was “committed” to 100% mental process, I am like everybody else, and brain washed by the “normal” way to improve, by changing something, or finding something wrong with your swing.  In other words the physical side of the game.  Let’s face it, this is way it was been for well over 150 years.  Even when I started this year I was going with a new swing.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME.  I quickly forgot about it on round 2 of 2019.    Even though this sounds so simple,  100% mental, it is difficult to do.  I hadn’t planned to do this blog this soon, and even though right now it is snowing and yesterday it was -3 degrees, there is a good possibility that I will be playing golf by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.   I wanted to write about the 100% mental concept before I played my next round of golf.   Every bad shot and I mean every bad shot is caused by some kind of dysfunction of the mind.  This dysfunction then manifests itself in some kind of bad execution of the swing.  Depending on the type of shot the possibilities can be endless.   This of course results in a bad shot.  Then the chatter starts.  I swung to hard, too fast, bad aim, did not stay down, dipped, came out of it,(my favorite)and the list could go on and on.  All of this is caused by mind dysfunction.   As I wrote in my last blog, I will be writing after ever round or two of golf I play this year to see how I progress or digress, applying this concept.  The other big factor in trying to lower your index is putting, a whole different animal  all unto itself.  That will be for a later blog.  One of keys to success in playing this game is the art of visualization.  How should you visualize and what should you visualize, which will be another blog.  One clue, you should visualize things you can not see.  Tricky, huh.

So, next week may be the next blog, if I make it to the golf course.   I will incorporate some of the above subject matter into the next blog depending on how the round goes.  Its snowing right now but by Monday its going to be in the mid 50’s and Tuesday and Wednesday in the upper 40’s.  Welcome to Pittsburgh.