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

Well, its been two months since the last time I have blogged about my game. I have been playing the same amount as usual, about 3 to 4 times a week. Since the first of April I have played 26 rounds, with some 9 hole rounds thrown in. The golf, overall, has been mediocre at best and sometimes pretty horrible. I have had about the same number of rounds in the 80’s and 70’s. At least no more rounds in the 90’s although one was close, 89. My four tournament rounds have all been in the 80’s with one birdie in 72 holes.  Naturally, I have been trying all sorts of things to bring me out of this funk, that I have been in, since the middle of March. I have had just enough good rounds, one 74 and two 76’s, with a couple of 77’s and 78’s thrown in, to keep my handicap in the mid 5’s. The new rule about not counting rounds when you play alone is also helping. So with heading into the summer months here is what I think may bring back.

If there is one thing I have learned through this down time is that the swing is not the problem. That can be said about any golfer with a single digit handicap, and any pro tour golfer. The proof of this is the current analysis of Jordan Spieth’s golf swing. Spieth has had some 4th round issues since his infamous Masters collapse. Naturally, this has led Spieth to be on the slow motion camera more than any golfer in history. Watch his right knee, watch his left knee, watch his follow through, and blah blah blah. This past week Spieth wins the Colonial. Now let me ask you something. Did he really hit the ball any better in this 4th round than the 4th rounds where he did not close the deal? HELL NO. What he did do of course, is putt better than humanly possible for the last 10 holes, plus a chip in. How much do you think that had to do with his right knee or left knee. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Here is the final conclusion. One of my mantras even 6 years ago has been that 85% of all bad shots are caused before you start the swing. I revised that just last year to 90%. Now I can say with certainty that it is 100%. I am talking here about golfers with single digit handicaps. There are some swing fundamentals, of course. If you are shooting in the 70’s then you have that down pat. There are so many things you can do wrong at address. I will discuss these in future blogs, especially if I am right about this. I can tell you that this is all I will be working on in the next few months. As I always say the numbers never lie, so we will see what happens. Maybe this game is not as goofy as I think.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, it’s been 25 days since the last blog, and a lot has happened. I have been able to play 8 rounds of golf, which makes 11 for the year. This is the most I have been able to play, this early in the season. Now, here are the scores, and hold on to your hats. 76, 90, 92, 94, 90, 85, 78. Yes, that’s right 4 straight rounds in the 90’s. I haven’t had a stretch like that since I was probably 13 yrs. old. Now, some of this was due to experimentation, but I have done this before, and never saw scores like this. The first 90 score even had 2 birdies. These scores could not be blamed on the weather. The conditions weren’t perfect but they weren’t that bad. The scores can not be blamed on early season rust. You can see, I shot a 76 which featured a one under 35 on the back nine. As usual there was something to be learned and there were some interesting facts from these horrific rounds.

The first thing was my over all reaction to these rounds. I did not fret or worry about them at all. You might think that this is real easy to do because it is early in the season. Let’s  see how you react, if you did this in June or July. But this is four straight rounds in the NINETIES. Two of the rounds were partially due to some horrendous putting of 40 putts each. It made me aware of how easy this can happen and how a prolonged slump can be just around the corner.

I don’t know if I really needed to be made more aware of this, but it really brought home the fact that it’s not where your good shots wind up but it’s where your bad ones go. During this 4 round stretch I hit a lot of quality shots, but I hit a lot of horrible shots, that ended up in hazards and entirely off the golf course. The quality shots caused some swing experiments to last longer than they should have.

Because of this bad stretch, I found a major swing flaw that I had, and I mean major. I will discuss this in a future blog, but let’s just say for now it started my small comeback in the last 2 rounds. The 78 was highlighted by quite a bizarre finish. The last 6 holes went like this: Birdie, Double Bogey, Birdie, Double Bogey, Par, and a 30 yard pitch in for an Eagle.

Lastly I would like to write about two golf related items. Naturally the Masters is coming up and I am anxious to watch it as much as anybody else. Do I think I know who is going to win? Hell no. My bold prediction is this. The scores will be high. Any time the Masters scoring record is threatened they set the course up to be impossible the next year. Just look it up. I don’t think this will be an exception. So expect another U. S. Open kind of Masters and I think that is a damn shame. Do I think the best golfer in the world will win the Masters. NO. WHY. Because the best golfer in the world won’t even be playing in the Masters, Lydia Ko. Chew on that for awhile.

 

 

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.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today I am going to discuss some of the things I have tried over the last five and a half years of writing this blog, which I hoped would make this game easier to play. There were three, that I named, the shoulder control swing, the mind body connection, and finding your that day golf swing, which I thought was the answer. Over the next 3 weeks as golf season get’s closer and closer I will  discuss each one, and where I went wrong.

First, the shoulder control golf swing, that I introduced in January of 2013. I even did two videos on the subject in March of 2014. The shoulder control swing is exactly what it says, in that the turning of the shoulders can control all aspects of the golf swing. By folding your arms across your chest, and making a golf swing, your legs will move perfectly, and of course with your arms folded across your chest, they are have nothing to do with your swing. I played with this swing for almost 2 years and had some really good success. I shot one of my best rounds, during the time of the blog, and struck the ball quite well. I had some problems trying to adapt this method to my short game and putting. I struck the ball well, but I did have problems trying to work the ball with this method, particularly trying to hit a draw. It was during the 2014 golf season that I began to abandon this method, although I would go back to it for brief times, even in the 2015 season. So what was the problem? It was those damn arms. Here is one of the simplest, and yet one of the  most frustrating keys to the golf swing. On the downswing, the belly button has to pass the golf ball before the arms. Do this and you will hit a quality golf. Here is where I made the mistake. Turning the shoulders does actually control the leg action. When you make a correct shoulder turn on the backswing and downswing the legs have to move in the correct way. They literally have no choice. When you release the arms from across your chest and place you hands on the golf club, the shoulders no longer can control those pesky arms. You have to make a conscious decision to do so. Bobby Jones said it best when discussing putting and keeping your body still. Trying to keep your body perfectly still, can create too much tension in the stroke, so he advocated relaxation, and if the body moved a little bit so be it. By TRYING to keep the arms out of the swing, and mostly being unsuccessful anyway, just became too much of a distraction.  The shoulder control swing is a great teaching aid and drill on how a golf swing should really feel, when the arms are not involved.

I played the first round of the year about 12 days ago at Scenic Valley, and if I was even having the slightest doubt that this was a goofy game, the first round of the year ended all of that. The first drive of year was a low right liner that went about 180 yard that left me no shot to the green so I laid up to the right about 20 yards short of the green. I hit a great pitch to about 3 feet and made the putt, par. The next hole I hit an ok drive, hit wedge in about 12 feet below the hole and made the putt, birdie. The third hole an uphill par 5 I hit a fair drive, a 2 iron over the water, and another wedge in about 15 feet and made that putt, birdie. Now I have played Scenic Valley a lot over the last 10 years and I have never been 2 under par after 3 holes and here I was 2 under on the very first round of the year in February with temps in the low 40’s. Needless to say I got back to reality in a hurry with a double bogey on the next hole, and did manage to scrape it around to break 80 with a 78. Had not hit a ball in 2 months and birdie 2 of the first three holes. Goofy, you got that right.

The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the Answer

The blog is back and it is coming from sunny and warm San Diego. I am taking a much needed break from golf and really enjoying those three grand kids. Needless to say this has been a very disappointing golf year, which has seen my golf game go all over the place, and trying to execute the answer has proved fruitless. The golf year has essentially zoomed by, and it is hard to believe it is October 1. I did have another even par round since the last blog and my performance in the South Park senior championship was not to bad.  I finished tied for third, only one shot from the lead in my age group, and finished about 10th in a field of 55, shooting a 4 over 76. Other than that, my play has been mediocre at best, and my tournament play has been horrendous. My handicap has bounced around like in no other year. I started at a 3.5 index and slowly but steadily climbed to a 5.4 and then got back to 3.6 but then in just 30 days jumped back up to my current 4.6. Did I learn anything during this depressing journey? Well I hope so and I did surprise myself in one area.

Let’s discuss the surprise first. I felt going into this season that I would be able to execute the answer and had very high hopes with some very good scores at the end of last season. I felt if I was not executing the answer by mid season, around June or July, that I would be ready to hang them up, or at least play only at a recreational level. Well a couple of things happened that changed my mind. One of them was the old age game. That my problems were age related, was one of the traps I was beginning to fall into. So in order to disprove that, I must go on. When things don’t go well, it is an easy thing to fall prey to. I don’t see any decline in my game that I can attribute to age. My distance is still the same and I putt the same, streaky. I am as dumb as I have always been on the golf course, so that hasn’t changed.   It was also something I learned or think I learned, that may be the main reason that I am going on, at least for another year.

One of my edicts in golf is that 85% of all bad shots are caused  before you take your swing. In other words the swing is not the thing. It is problems at the address position, which I have discussed in the past, that leads to bad swings and thus bad shots. Now I am revising that to 95% for anyone with a single digit handicap. For as much as we stress and stew over our swings, its what you do before you start your swing that leads to disaster. I have also read about how the body is suppose to move, which as led me to believe that many of the fundamentals of the address position in golf are wrong. As I embark on this new way to stand up to a golf ball, only time will tell if I am just seeing another flock of birds. I will be in San Diego until October 6th, and then it will be  back to trying to find and execute the answer to this goofy game. In the Burgh, if we are lucky, the golf season should last until right around Thanksgiving. I have played 93 rounds this year, so I should make the 100 round mark for the 4th consecutive year. I will only be blogging when the spirit moves me or if my address position theories look like they have some merit. Keep plugging away.

The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the Answer

It’s a Saturday blog coming from San Diego, and it has been a busy week with lots of grandkid activity. Heading back to the Burgh tomorrow when the golfing will get back into full swing again. This week I thought I would write about two subjects that are always mind boggling and complex.

The first is the chip yips which I have been controlling  quite nicely this year, so far. Nobody is going to confuse me with Phil but I have been quite functional around the greens this year. I can contribute this to about 3 things. First I have changed chipping philosophies. I now try to get the ball on the ground as quickly as possible. I also use different clubs ranging from my 6 iron to my lob wedge. This differs from when I would use nothing but my 54 degree wedge and open and close it to accomplish the desired shot.  I use to also look for a spot on the green that had a dip in it to fly the ball to. This is the Pelz theory of chipping in that if you hit a little short of the center of the dip that you would hit the downslope which would help propel the ball forward. If you hit the ball a little beyond the center of the dip, the ball would hit the upslope and this would deaden the ball and it would not roll as far. This served me well for many years. The second thing I did is to use various grips chipping. The one that has served me best was my putting grip, but I have used other grips which have helped. Finally I corrected my yip miss. Maybe I was lucky that my yip miss was always the same. My chip yip was always  a vicious pull to the left which flew the ball low and hard and way past the hole. I simply started aiming left of my target and for whatever reason, I was able to hit a quality chip which at least ended up within shouting distance of the hole. This goes back to finding my that day golf swing. where if my miss is to the right then I aim right on my next shot and try to hook it. If my miss is to the left then I aim left for my next shot and hit a fade.

The second subject is good old putting. I don’t have any answers for putting, with this being more of an update on where my putting is and what I plan to do about it. The best word to describe my putting since I have been trying to execute the answer is mediocre. This is better than awful but it has to get better than this if I am ever going to score. There has been so much written about putting over the years that I am willing to bet that it encompasses at least half of all golf instruction literature. Again I am going to change some putting philosophies. First I am going to change putters based on putting performance from round to round. I use to stick with the same putter for most of a golf season. Second I am going to be more open to more methods to execute the stroke itself. Third I am going to be more bold on getting the ball to the hole. We will see what happens.