It’s been two weeks since the last blog, with the first week being a week of grand kid fun. There was the celebration of my daughter’s birthday who happens to be born on 7-7-77. I should remember that even in my old senile days. One of the days we all went bowling and that was an interesting experience. I haven’t bowled in about 25 years or more and bowling uses an entirely different set of muscles. I had a hard time finding a ball that would fit my thumb. Now, I don’t have that unusual size of thumb but even with a 16 pound ball there were some thumb holes that were too small. I had to use one that was too big and in trying to hold on to the ball I got a cramp in my hand that lasted 3 days. It was a good thing golf was on the back burner for awhile, because I don’t think I could have played anyway. Then, the two older grand kids six and eight stayed overnight and I got introduced to mindcraft a game that they love, and I still really don’t know what the hell is going on. I will be going to San Diego at the end of September and you better believe I will figure it out. It was a great 8 day visit.
This week it was back to golf, where my slow but sure comeback is continuing. The rounds this week were 77, 75, 76, 80, and 76. The 80 was yesterday at Fort Cherry where par is 70 and it was by far the worse round of the week. This round was caused more by poor thinking and some off putting, but the ball striking was not much worse than in the better rounds. My 76 today was again marred by some bad thinking as I had 4 birdies, but 2 double bogies kind of crushed the possibility of this being a really good round. I am back to the shoulder control swing with some modification, and this re-learning of this swing has delayed progress on finding your that day golf game or swing. I have had my best putting stretch in a long time and that does help the score to say the least. As the physical side of my game gets more comfortable I expect to apply this to helping me find my “that day golf swing. I felt I had to get back to something, as bad as I was playing and scoring. The last two weeks have felt that I am back on track. The weather here in Pittsburgh has not helped much either, as this has been one of the wettest summers on record and the golf courses are paying the price. It has been a challenge to keep the courses playable. I have one more week of regular golf and then I will be hitting the tournament trail in full force. Beginning in August and to the end of September I will be playing in about 10 tournaments. So the answer will be executed or it will be my golf game that will go to a watery grave.
A little better news to report this week concerning the golf game. After many weeks of el stinko golf I played the last 12 holes of the week even par. It was solid golf with 8 pars 2 birdies and 2 bogies. Have I found something? Who knows. It may be that I brought all the things I have been talking about over the last 5 years together to shoot a decent stretch of holes. Or this may be just one of those goofy stretch of holes that anybody mired in a slump has once in awhile. This week I would like to discuss a couple aspects of golf that I just find interesting and wonder how if any it affects our own golf games.
The highest level of golf, the PGA tour, always makes golfers at all levels wonder how the pros are able to shoot such great numbers. Now what I am about to write about, does not mean that I think that this is the only reason that the pros shoot such good numbers but I wonder what would happen if they were made to do just one thing. HIT THE DAMN SHOT. For every shot, there is a big discussion between the player and the caddy. There are numerous practice swings and even more thought and swings, for shots around the greens. Then when they get on the green, they read putts from behind, the side and in front of the ball. I would like to see a tournament that had a shot clock. It would be 45 seconds for every full shots and long pitches. Thirty seconds for shots around the green and putts. The clock would start as soon as the bag came off the caddy’s shoulder for longer shots and as soon as the ball was placed in front of the mark for putts. Despite all the call for speedy play in golf, do you think if the low handicapper took this much time to figure out each shot and putt would his game improve. By the same token, if the pros were made to speed up via a shot clock would their scores go up. I really don’t have any opinion on the answer, but I would love to see that PGA event with the shot clock to see what would happen.
Then there is the swing thought. The swing thought has been around for 100 years. Bobby Jones writes about in his books on Golf written in the 1930’s. My point is, golfers have made no progress on the swing thought in 85 years. It is something that is just excepted in golf. Your find some kind of swing thought. It may range from starting back low and slow, slow the transition, shift the weight to left side, to make a full back swing. There are too many to mention, including address position adjustments. The one thing that all these swing thoughts have in common is that eventually they do not work. We as golfers, just accept this, as that’s just the way golf is. Part of my trying to execute the answer mantra, is to abandon that swing thought before it abandons you. But why does this happen? Is it because this swing thought even though it helps us temporarily, causes another fault in the golf swing. There are many golf mental guru’s who advocate no swing thought. Maybe they are right but I don’t know. Maybe instead of having a swing thought we should have a swing feel. Maybe the way a swing feels will stay with us and won’t abandon us. I don’t know, we’ll see.
It might be a little bit of time of we’ll seeing, because the grand kids are in town and golf will be on the back burner, but I might be able to squeeze in a couple of rounds. We’ll see.
For various reasons, some not golf related it’s been two weeks since the last blog. The golf as been pretty good over that time and two tournaments have been played. My two rounds leading up to the tournament on April 12th, I shot a 76 at Scenic Valley and a 77 at South Park. Then came the tournament at Butlers Woodside on the Sunday. I got off to a shaky start with 4 straight bogies on some easy holes but then I righted the ship to play the next 11 holes even par. I then went on to stagger to a bogey, bogey, double bogey finish, which knocked me out of the money. I must say I was disappointed in the overall performance, but I think I discovered the problem.
This past week I was able to play 3 rounds leading up to yesterday’s tournament at Totteridge. I shot 78 at Indian Run, 77 at Riverview, and 75 at South Park. This time I played much better in the tournament and finish with 9 straight pars to shoot 76 and just missed the money by two places. I particularly liked the way I finished.
How does this all compute in trying to execute the answer. The tournament play was a very good learning experience. Under the gun, you are much more critical of your swing, which does not help you find your that day golf swing. This was my problem in the first tournament. Even with everything I have written about trying to find your that day golf swing, I was trying to control my swing to what I thought it should be and not what it was that day. You have to like your that day swing, no matter what it happens to be, if you are going to find your that day swing. That also goes for putting and chipping. Most of my bad shots in both tournaments were not swing errors or even address errors, as much as they were mental errors. Most of the mental errors were not trusting the club selection for approach shots, or actually having the wrong club in my hand for the shot. I think many times we confuse swing flaws with this mistake. Its amazing how far you can hit a particular iron when the adrenaline is flowing. That was my basic problem. I had too much club in my hand and many times I thought I did not have enough club, because of certain conditions, like slope and wind. This led to some horrible irons shots that had nothing to do with any particular technique. My chipping and putting were more than adequate during both events. It did take me a little time to find my that day stroke but I feel like I am making some progress in that area. My chipping was really good yesterday, using my putting grip.
There is no doubt that tournament golf is it’s own unique animal. I won’t be playing another tournament for about a month now due to other commitments and a trip to San Diego the first week of May. I feel progress is being made and we will see what the next week brings. The weather is going to get cooler but I am hoping to get 4 rounds in. See you next week.
Naturally it is winter in the Burgh and not much happening on the golf front. In order to execute the answer you have to play the game and that is not happening in the near future. I thought I would write about two subjects today. The first one is one of the things I tried this past year to connect the mind and the body that work for a least a few weeks and to discuss a little more about trying to execute the answer in the short game and why I think the grip is the ticket.
The thing I did about in the middle of the summer that worked pretty well for awhile, was to swing at the ball as hard as I could, while maintaining my balance. Now I didn’t do any Happy Gilmore swings, but I went after the ball pretty hard. Let’s face it I thought this was the ultimate mind body connection. The body is always wanting to swing hard, but it is the mind that is telling us to keep it smooth, and at less than full throttle. Sam Snead said he felt he swung at about 85% of his power. Well for about 4 weeks I went at it full throttle, and the results were not bad. What was amazing, was I didn’t notice a great deal of increase distance with my woods, but I was hitting my irons a lot further. I would hit my 8 iron about 170 yards, with accuracy. I was scoring pretty well and I felt the game was really becoming fun. I don’t remember all the reasons I quit doing it, but I do remember it became physically taxing, and it was getting hard to control distances and finesse anything. For awhile though, the mind and the body were really connected.
Here is the reason that I think the grip may be the key in finding your that day short game and putting method. Lets look at all the putting methods. Here are the basics: The long putter, the belly putter, left hand low, claw grip, split grip, and for a lack of a better term the conventional method. There have been probably other bizarre methods, but with the exception of possibly the belly putter, these methods have one thing in common. They all change the position of the hands on the putter. One thing that may be interesting would be to use a 36 inch long putter but grip in the same way the players grip the long putter. It would be like a reverse claw grip. You would take your left hand and grip the top of the putter with the elbow pointing at the target, and the right hand would be more or less in the standard grip. This could be a solution for these guys once the long putter is banned. In trying to find your that day putting or chipping method you would grip the club in the most comfortable position for that day and the grip would change from round to round. Only time will tell if I have lost my mind, but it did work for 27 holes. I will be in San Diego next week to meet the new grandchild and who knows might get a little golf in. See you next week.
A beautiful weather week that turned nasty on the weekend, so just two rounds of golf played this week. Wednesday went to Quicksilver and pretty much stunk out the joint and staggered around to an 84. On Thursday went ot Butlers Woodside and shot a much better 74. This cold dreary wet weather looks like it is here to stay for awhile, so it looks like there might not be much golf played week this either. As I look back on this year it has been a period of the most solid golf I have played in a long time. Is this due to the new method of swinging the golf club or is it due to the fact that I have swung the same way for over 12 months. That answer will determine how much I write about this new swing thing over the off season. I am optimistic, that there is some golf left for the rest of this season, which will help in deciding what I will do. Mean while, the mental game seems to be as perlexing as ever. This year I will have dropped my handicap from the mid 5’s to the mid 3’s, a definite improvement but I have been there before. I have shot the most consistant golf with many rounds between 74 and 78. I have done all that with suffering through the chip yips and missing more than my share of short putts. So beside putting on some finishing touches on the physical side of the game, I am hoping to find the answer to why we can’t function on the golf course, at times. What makes this game so damn exasperating. The search continues.