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.
Today I am going to discuss the attempts I have made on trying to find the “that day method” for both the short game and putting. I am talking about shots that are just around the green and not pitches of around 30 yards or more. For those shots I think you can still use your full swing method for the day. Speaking of short game how about Tiger Woods. I have only listened to a few of the comments concerning Tiger’s short game problems, but I have not heard anybody say the dreaded word. Tiger has the chip yips. Some of the commentators have said that it could be mental. DO YOU YA THINK? As a man who has battled the chip yips off and on for the last 2 years, you can practice all you want Mr. Woods but you have got the biggest challenge of your career coming up. Maybe Tiger can find the cure for the yips and help all of mankind. Wouldn’t that be something. I guess the other question might be would he tell us?
Now getting back to finding the best method for shots around the green and putting on the day you are on the golf course. There are some unique challenges. On one occasion, I started off my round with some great ball striking and hit the first 10 greens in regulation. The 11th hole was a 190 yard par 3 and i pulled my shot about 5 yards left of the green. So here I was 11 holes into the round and my first short game shot of the round. Since I have started trying to execute the answer in all three phases of the game, my putting has been mediocre. What was interesting is, that I never had a really bad day on the greens, one of those 38 to 40 putt rounds which really ruins the way beer tastes. My chipping and short pitching around the greens was also just mediocre and yips were few and far between. Both chipping and putting are very simple procedures with very little body movement, unlike the golf swing which has a multitude of body actions which can give many feels.
What I am about to explain I only did the last 27 holes of golf I played and I usually don’t reveal this kind of stuff without a lot more playing time doing something. This is more of an up to date progress report and this could change as new season develops. My last round in San Diego my chipping and short pitching were excellent to good and then my last 9 hole round was my best putting round since finding the answer. In previous rounds trying to find my “that day method” to chip and putt always involved trying get a feel of what my body was doing just like my full swing. What helped get better results in those two areas of the game was to get a feel for what my hands were doing. I used a unique grip in both the short game and putting. I’m not going into what these grips were, just yet, but I allowed my hands to do what they wanted to on the golf club just like I allowed by body to to what it wanted to do on the first swing of the day. These grips were nothing exotic or weird, they were just different from the way I usually gripped the club when I putted and chipped.
Here we are on Super Sunday again and just like Christmas, since the Steelers aren’t playing I will be glad when its over. Unlike last year, I don’t see a blowout but defense wins championships and unfortunately I think Seattle wins it 20-10. I would say unfortunately too, if I thought New England was going to win. See you next week.
Happy New Year as we head into 2013. No golf in the Burgh, as we have had a couple of snow events over the last two weeks, and there is still about 5 inches of snow on the ground. Believe it or not, there seems to be a warming trend developing at the end of the week, so who knows, maybe golf in January. Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the swing thing I have doing for the last 14 months, that has really revitalized my game. Before we get to that, I would like to discuss a few other thoughts and principles of the golf swing and technique. I still think that the most important thing in golf is the address position, and I have discussed this in the blogs of last winter. But there is one aspect of the golf swing that I think is the most misunderstood part of the game, and that is the cocking of the wrists. Now, I am not going to review any of the writings on the subject but let’s just say that there is a lot of confusion on the subject. I think one of the reasons for this, is because the wrist is such a complex joint. It can make a full circular rotation very easily. So lets look at some past and present pros and what they seem to do with their wrists. I like to divide pro golfers into three groups when it comes to wrist cock. The first group is what I call the stiff wrist players. They include among others Paul Azinger, John Cook, and Zack Johnson. The second group is the moderate wrist cock group, which is the more classic swingers. Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Nick Faldo would be included in this group. Then you would have the final group, which would be the big wrist cock group, which would include Bobby Jones, John Daly and Phil Mickelson. The other thing that the wrists do is affect the position of the club face at the top of the swing. The club may be open, closed or shut faced, and square. The other terms you hear at the top of the swing is , square, cupped or bowed. Again this is talking about what the wrists are doing at the top of the swing. There have been many great players that have had all those positions at the top. What does all this mean. I think what your wrists do is of no consequence in the golf swing. You are just going to have a natural tendency to make your wrists do what they are going to do and your instinctive sense will make it work and bring the clubhead squarely into the ball. So as far as the wrists are concerned let freedom ring. Next week we begin.
The blog is coming from sunny San Diego today as I am spending a little pre Christmas time with the grandkids. This blog as promised, will discuss the book The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, by Ben Hogan. Even though this book is considered one of the classics, I think this book is one of the worst instructional books ever written. Is there any redeeming qualities about the book. Yes, the illustrations are great and the writing itself is very concise and easy to understand. Lets look at the book chapter by chapter.
The biggest problem with this chapter is the position of the right hand. Hogan advocates a position where the V’s of the right hand point at the chin. This puts the right hand too much on top of the shaft. A great comparison would be to look at the position of the right hand in Tiger’s book. While is left hand is pretty much with the thumb straight down the shaft, his right hand is in a position where the palm is more or less facing the target with the V’s pointing between the right shoulder and the right ear. With the position that Hogan advises, it is almost impossible for the average golfer to square the club head. A much better explanation of the grip and what it is supposed to do is in John Jacob’s book Practical Golf.
Stance and Posture
This is where the book really goes off on the deep end and advocates things that even Hogan himself did not do. First of all he advises to keep your right foot perpendicular to the line of flight. This may be ok for the really advanced golfer, but to slightly flair the right foot out at a 10 to 15 degree angle will make the hip turn a lot easier for the beginner. The book says that the feet should be shoulder width for a 5 iron shot and then wider for the longer clubs. Again such a wide stance makes turning more difficult. The feet should be about shoulder width for the driver and then begin to get narrower as the clubs get shorter. But the final thing is the instruction to keep the elbows and the arms as close together as possible at address and throughout the entire swing. If you look at pictures of Hogan at address he really did not follow this. If you try this, it just creates a lot of unnecessary tension in the address position. The other thing that was interesting Hogan used a closed stance for the longer clubs even though he was a fader of the ball. He discussed this at the end of the book. Even with a stance that favors a hook, Hogan could still fade the ball with the technique he describes in the book.
The First Part of the Swing
He writes about the hands starting the swing and the plane concepts really means advocating a one plane swing. He claims that you are heading for disaster if you thrust your arms up above the plane so that they would shatter the imaginary glass plane running from the ball through the shoulders. It makes you wonder how Nicklaus ever won a tournament.
The Second Part of the Swing
There is over emphasis on turning of the hips and not enough on the lateral shift the hips must make in order to clear the hands and arms so they can approach the ball from inside the line. The illustration of Hogan half way down, so ex saturates the inside position with the club shaft almost parallel to the ground, that I defy anybody to duplicate that position and hit a straight shot. Of course we wind up with supination. Try to do that and see how far it gets you.
This book tells how to keep from hitting a duck hook or a hook of any kind. If that had been the emphasis of the book or stated in the forward of book I would have no beef. But to claim that this is the fundamentals of golf, let alone the modern fundamentals, has probably caused more people to quit the game than the book has helped. But if you know anybody that can not keep from hitting a duck hook then give them this book. You will have made a friend for life.