The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answe

Well, its been four months since the last blog, which is one of the longest periods in awhile that I have not blog.   I really do not have any good reason that I have not written anything for a long time.  I have been playing golf like I usually do, as this past Monday I just completed my 112th round.  My play as been ok.  In Western Pennsylvania, the handicap season ended on November 14th and I finished the year with a 4.7 index.  Which is not bad but no major improvement.   I really did not prove some of the concepts that I wrote about on that blog 4 months ago.  So today I thought I would review the last year and the last 4 months in particular.

The one constant over these last 4 months was that the weather was lousy.  In 112 rounds of golf I would say I saw the ball roll any amount distance in only about 15 rounds.   This was by far the wettest most humid year of golf I have ever played and I have played for 50 years.  You rarely could play the ball down and course conditions suffered mightily.  If fact one course, Village Green closed down permanently and the weather contributed to it’s demise.  It was difficult to evaluate one’s game under those conditions. The weather just got worse as we headed into fall, which most of the time is fairly dry.  In mid September we got about 20 plus inches of rain over about a 7 day period. I have come to detest the word mud.

I could not quite grasp the concept of golf being 100% mental when you are a single digit handicap.   I still believe this, but it can be very difficult to put into practice, because I feel we are brainwashed into thinking that bad golf play can be fix with some physical correction.   This can be ranging from anywhere to “fixing” your grip, stance, transition, swing plane, weight distribution, and anything you can think of about the physical execution of the golf swing.    Part of the problem is that you hear every week on the PGA tour that a player is working on some part of his swing and it is helping him.  I think this is wrong.    Having  problems with your golf game at that level and I believe at the level of the single handicapper  is strictly mental and any physical correction is only temporary and in the long run no help at all.   However this is so much easier said then done.  I will elaborate more on this in future blogs, and yes, they are going to be more frequent than one every 4 months.

The albatross in May was the highlight of my season and was easily the shot of the year and probably in my life.  I did not have an even par round this year and had only 2 that were one over par.  I was consistent and had a pretty good putting year and have putted very well the last couple of times out. I am determine to prove the 100 % mental theory. One of the best things that I have done over the past year and half is that I have played golf with no swing thoughts.  It has freed up my game and has made golf so much more enjoyable.     Developing my own putting style has contributed to my overall good scoring and was the main reason that I came out of an 18 month slump from the beginning of 2016 to the end of June  2017, which saw my index climb to 6.9.  My index would have been even higher if there was not a limit on the strokes you could take on one hole for handicap purposes. I had some really high numbers during that stretch, where I proved the axiom, its not where your good shots go, but where your bad shots wind up.   So my game is where it’s mostly been over the last 30 years when I started to play a lot of golf again, between a 3 and 5 handicap.  Next blog will be about swing thoughts, why they work and why they stop working.  The amazing thing is golf instructors were writing about swing thoughts in the 1930’s.  See you then.

 

 

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, it’s been a slow start to the golf season, for various reasons.  On the first Sunday in March, I picked up a horrible flu bug in California, which then developed into a more horrible chest cold, which lasted for a good two weeks. I am feeling much better now, thank you, but it really had me down and out for awhile.

But even more of a problem, has been the miserable weather.  It’s either cold or wet, or cold and wet, or snow and cold.  In the beginning of all this, it really did not make much difference, because I was sick,  but the bad weather has never really let up, and there is no true end in sight.  I have managed to play 7 rounds, so far this year. This time last year I had played 15 rounds.  I have played lousy for the same reasons, being ill and the playing conditions have not been that great.  No rounds below 80, and just muddling through, until this weather pattern will hopefully break.

Since things are on such a stagnate level on the local level, I have decided to write about the Masters, which I rarely do.  It will be the hot topic of the week, and everybody is making their predictions, and I have no idea who might win, but this looks like it is shaping up to be one of the most competitive Masters of all time. How this will affect the outcome, I don’t really know, but what kind of Masters will we see.  In the long history of the Masters, the winning score has ranged from one over par 289 to 18 under par 270. In fact the only 2 scores not to win the Masters is one under par 287 and 15 under par 273. Three of Jack Nicklaus’s six Master wins have come under the tough conditions, where he finished even once and 2 under twice to win the green jacket.  Naturally, the weather does play a factor in affecting the scores, but there is no question that the way the Augusta Golf Committee sets up the course plays a huge factor.  The pin placements on those severely slope very fast bent greens can play havoc with any score card.  I am sure moving the pin just a few inches in any direction can have a major impact on how difficult it is to putt, and get close to pin on the approach shot. Is anybody really going to notice such a small movement of the pin. I think not.  In recent years the Masters at times has had more of a U. S. Open feel, rather than the typical Masters tournament. I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason for the way the Committee sets up the course, but I think that every year they have a score in mind that they want to win.  What I find interesting this year is that there are so many players playing so well, and then to see which Masters we will be watching.  One where there will be lot’s eagle attempts and going for those par 5’s in two and a winning score in the mid 270’s.  Or will we see a Masters where it will be a struggle for everyone and will see a survivor tournament winner, with a winning score in the mid 280’s. Oh, the power of the Masters Golf Committee.

With the way the weather is shaping up for this week I will be probably watching more than I really want.  So reluctantly I will make a couple of predictions.  The scores will be high with a winning score of 283, and someone not named Rory will win their first Masters.

 

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

The new year is upon us and I haven’t blogged for awhile, so with winter really here this year in the Burg, I thought it might be time to put a few thoughts down and update what’s happening,  since the last blog, about 2 month ago.  The holidays were great as I went out to San Diego to see the grand kids and Christmas morning with 3 kids, ages 10, 8, and almost 3 is priceless. I finished off the golf season around the 9th of December and really never did much the rest of the year.   Once the handicap season was over, I tried various experiments and none really amounted to much success.  The weather has been normal you might say and it looks like winter golf will be at a minimum this year, when compared with last year when I had played 10 rounds before March 1.   For me this is a good thing right now, because it is allowing some nagging injuries to hopefully heal up to 100%.  I have been reading  a lot over these last 2 months more than I usually do, which is a lot, and it is very difficult to read and write at the same time.  What have I been reading ?  Brain books baby brain books.

What I would like to write about today is watching golf on TV.  There are a lot of people out there, golfers and non golfers alike, who don’t like to watch golf on TV, and really don’t understand why anybody would want to watch golf on TV.  We golf tournament watchers have to defend why we watch this game that, according to the non watchers, is slow and boring and you can’t see where the ball is going, etc. etc.   We, who watch golf, talk about the scenery and following the super stars who play the game.  Here is one reason that I watch golf on TV, that you may find unique, but it may get non golfers to watch the sport.  It is to see human ineptitude at it’s highest level. Let me explain.   There are only 150 golfers that can play in a PGA tour event each week.  That can also be the subject of another blog on why that is.   Just think, if other sports only had 150 to 250 players at the highest level.  There would only be 6 football teams in the NFL, 6 Baseball teams in MLB, 8 Hockey teams in the NHL and 12 basketball teams in the NBA.  The quality of play would improve dramatically in all of those sports. There would only be 6 NFL quarterbacks.  Every week would almost be like watching an all star game but they would be playing  for real.  You could say this about every Major league sport.  Golf is considered a world sport but still only 150 people are allowed to play at the top level on the PGA tour.  Despite such small numbers you see shots and mistakes that the average player makes everyday.   It would be like Tom Brady throwing 3 consecutive passes to the referees.  Not throwing interceptions, just throwing the ball to the refs.  It would be like watching Bryce Harper strike out 27 straight times or dropping  3 straight routine fly balls.  That is how bad some putts and chips and bunker shots are on the PGA tour.  I do not know the reason for these horrible shots.  People like to blame this on pressure but come on.  I can see missing a 6 foot putt to win or tie a tournament but an 18 inch putt. Some full shots are really bad also.  Drives going into people’s yards, irons missed way left or right and pitch shots in the middle of the fairway hit fat and go only 20 to 40 yards.  Remember were talking about 150 people here, that are allowed to play. It’s not that tough, really, is it.  The toughest thing in sports is hitting a baseball and getting a hit.  Compare that to making an 18 inch putt. If you watch golf you will see an 18 to 24 inch putt missed in every round.  You’ll see a green side bunker shot skulled over the green.  I could go on and on and it doesn’t make any difference if it is the first round or the final round you will see ineptness at the highest level.  So the next time someone bugs you about watching golf, tell them you don’t know what you’re missing.

The blog will be popping up more often now, with some more great insights on this goofy game and when I find the answer you will be the first to know.

 

 

 

 

 

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, the summer has come to an end as we head into the first of  September, and this has been a good summer, at least the second half,  for my golf game. Early to mid June my handicap was at its high of 6.9, and now with the new revision, it is 4.2.  I am not quite ready to go into detail, of how I was able to bring it down almost 3 strokes, but I am going to discuss one new aspect of my game,  at the end of this blog.

Today, I want to discuss one general aspect of the golf swing.  First, you must agree with this one statement.  The golf swing is a very physical demanding athletic process.  All you have to do is watch the swings of Dustin Johnson, Rory McElroy, Ricki Fowler, and Justin Thomas to believe this.  For the average or even a low handicap golfer these swings are really physically impossible to repeat, unless you want to first spend a year at cross fit and then go and try to play golf. One of the main problems with the golf swing, is that you can get into positions of the swing by using your arms and legs, that look pretty good, but are really ineffective when it comes to providing power and accuracy. So what’s a golfer to do?  The solution is to make sure you are making a full hip turn.  What is a full hip turn?  The hips should at least turn 45 degrees on the backswing. That is the minimum.  If you can turn them more fine.  Can you over turn your hips? No, as long as you obey one simple rule.  You must make sure that your weight is on the right side at the top of the swing. As long as you do this, then your hips can turn as much as you can turn them. The more you turn your hips on the backswing  the farther you will hit the ball and your accuracy will improve dramatically.  It is the purest definition of completing your backswing. By turning your hips fully you will put much less stress on your back muscles and get a much fuller shoulder turn in a very natural way.

Getting back to my own golf game, a couple of blogs back, I mentioned that I am playing the with no swing thoughts, which is what I am still doing. It has really freed up my swing and has contributed to my scoring improvement. I play now with what I call swing feels.  What’s the difference.  Well according to our language experts, a thought is a mental process, and a feeling is a process of the heart.  Now this may be getting a bit sentimental, as far as golf is concerned, but don’t knock it until you try it.  My playing golf from the heart has made a huge difference.  No more  swing thoughts.  No more low and slow, pause at the top, smooth transition, get wide, shut face or square, and nice and smooth. I’m feelin it man.  Will see what the next month brings.  Happy golfing

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today’s post is going to discuss ball position. It is a much less complicated part of the golf swing discussion, but none the less, an interesting subject. There are two schools of thought concerning ball position. You should keep the ball in the same place, preferably off the left heel for every club in the bag. None other than Jack Nicklaus is the major advocate of this view. The other viewpoint is the ball should be played off the left heel for the driver, but then the ball should be moved back gradually toward the center of your stance, as the clubs get shorter, with the wedges being played right in the middle of your stance.  There is a third view on ball position, by another all time great, which I will get to at the end of this post.

Here is the interesting part.  Both advocate their position for the same reason. They say that their method of ball position allows you to swing the same for every club in the bag. Instruction  to play all shots off the left heel, says that since the ball is in the same position for every club, your swing does not have to change in order to hit the ball cleanly. Instruction  to move the ball back in your stance as the clubs get shorter, says that this is where your arc of the swing will make contact with ball naturally on a descending blow. This way your swing stays the same, and you catch the ball at the proper point, with out making any adjustments of your swing.  So who is right.  I will let you decide on that one, because that is not the purpose of these posts.

Now for the third view on ball position by the great Bobby Jones. He felt that ball position could be one of the things that you could change on a day to day basis depending on how you were playing. He felt this was one method to try to get back on track if you started out with some poor ball striking.  He felt you should play the ball forward in the stance, opposite the left heel as a general rule, but he would move it forward or back if he opened with a few bad shots and magically his game would return.  He would not move the ball position on any particular pattern of bad shots. It would be an instinctive move forward or backward until he just started hitting the ball better. Another method he used to get the feel back in his game was to choke up and down on the club. He salvaged many a round by playing all shots with his hands just an inch or so about the steel line of the shaft. He would wait until the end of the round to go to the practice range to try find the swing issue. He never tinkered with the swing during the round.

Well, there you have it ball position. Another bevy of information on something that should be so simple but lots of view points.  What’s a golfer to do. Next week will be weight distribution of your feet at address. Now that’s a real good one. When I first listed that one I wrote thank God are feet are not bigger or there might be more than the three opinions on this.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, its been about 2 months since the last blog with good reason. My game has completely hit the crapper. I went the entire months of June and July without breaking 80. I am still playing about 3 to 4 times per week and I am in good health physically. Mentally I think I’m OK but death is looking pretty good right now. Just kidding. I finally did break 80 three times so far in August. So whats been the problem. Well a couple of experiments went very bad, obviously and one I stuck with for about 3 to 4 weeks because it looked like it might be worth something and it was worth about 800 dollars in lost bets, and tournament fees. Right now I am going back to a swing that I used from 1986 to 1994 and have had some success but my putting has been really bad. Its like anything else when you hit a period this bad its always something. I am not discouraged and just keep repeating the mantra there’s a reason for everything.

So while I was out there the hacking away, the USGA was making fools of themselves at both the men’s and women’s Open. There’s been plenty written about both events but here is what has to happen in golf, whether it is the PGA tour or major USGA events.  To make my point lets go to other major sports. Let’s look at football, namely the NFL. The New England Patriots are the playing Cincinnati Bengals and lets rev up the stakes a little bit and say it is a play off game. About midway through the 1st quarter the New England player returns a punt 75 yards for a touchdown down the sidelines. Because of camera angles and players bodies, even on instant replay the player looks like he stays in bounds, and the touchdown stands. New England kicks the extra point and kicks off to the Bengals for a touch back. Cincinnati runs one play gains 3 yards. Now all of a sudden it is brought to the attention of the TV booth that a side line camera man has a still shot which shows that the runner on the punt return barely hits the out of bounds line at the 20 yard line. There is a brief time out and the referee makes the announcement of what just happened and declares that the touchdown and extra point will be taken away from New England and the game will continue with the Bengals 2nd and 7 on the 23 and the score 0-0. Now as ludicrous as this sounds this is exactly what happens in golf time after time and this is what has to change. At the very least golf has to assess any penalty before the players start the next hole. This idea of golf trying to go back in time and undo grievous mistakes is ridiculous and really makes the game  worse not better. The way they informed the players of the rules infraction at the Women’s Open, you could argue that the USGA put the fix in to make sure that Lang won the event. You don’t know what was going through her mind at time when she thought she was tied for lead. She may have been feeling fatigued and may have tried a riskier shot to make birdie to end it right there. If Nordqvist had known she was 2 shots down at the 18th tee box she would have hit the riskier driver off the tee to try and reach the green in two. Inadvertent rules infractions happen all the time in golf. Do I think Anna Nordqvist should have been penalized for barely touching that grain of sand, absolutely. But she should have been penalized before she stroked her putt on 17 or not at all. Until the ruling bodies of golf realize that golf is played by human beings, and mistakes happen that should not be corrected 15 minutes to 24 hours after they happen, the game will always be tainted.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today I am going to discuss the other two things that I thought had real potential to help one’s golf game, but turned out to be, just dust in the wind. The first one was the mind body connection. It was initiated by the old argument of how much is this game mental, and how much is it physical. My contention is that it is a 50-50 split, but there is a definite disconnect between the mind and the body in many instances, which will cause bad shots, or poor results. I discussed these instances about two years ago and I am not going to write about them today but the goal was to find a  way to keep the mind and the body connected. It was a fruitless effort, but one that I still think maybe worth pursuing. Then last year I tried to find what I called, your that day golf swing. In fact, I thought this was the answer. It went something like this. You should go into each round with an open mind, and not be influenced by what went well in the last round. I even had a cute little saying, “abandon that swing thought before it abandons you. Needless to say this was not the answer for various reasons that are not worth going into.

So that was the past and I am ready to move on from those acid trips,  as I head into the new golf year. What am I going to do now? Well, as usual I have some ideas. One of my many mantras has been 85% of all bad shots are caused by things you do before you swing. At the end of last year I amended that to 95%.  I am going to try to prove that theory. I am going to do some unique and different things at address that go against some traditional golf teaching but is much more aligned with the way the body is supposed to move. I am going to continue to take a hard look at how the wrists function during the golf swing.  I am beginning to feel that this is a big key on good solid ball striking. I have already played four 18 hole rounds, and three 9 hole rounds this year, and so far have made no progress on the above. I have been fine tuning some things, that may prove to productive.  As this year progresses the better I do, will mean that progress is being made and there will be more blogs. That is one thing about golf the numbers never lie.