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

It’s been a while since the last blog, about 2 months, but I am still playing and still searching.   I have taken a totally different tact in trying to find the answer, and even though it has not improved my game by much, it hasn’t  made it any worse, and I am enjoying the game more than I ever have.  My index is 4.5 right now and is much better than it was about this time last year when it was about 6.5.  I feel I have learned more about the game in the last 6 months, than in any other time period of my life.  Today I will write about what I have learned in a series of statements that will express what I feel works to help improve one’s golf game, and what does not work.  Most of this will go against the grain of current golf thinking, and in this blog I am not going to defend these positions.  I will defend them in future blogs.  The following only applies to golfers with single digit handicaps that are looking to bring that handicap down to the holy grail of scratch.  This like everything else is an arbitrary number, which could be argued in either direction, that for this to be applied your handicap could be slightly higher or lower. But we have to start somewhere so single digit handicap is where this shall be. These are things that you need to do and not do in order to get that handicap down to zero.

I use to feel that golf could be divided into 50% Mental and 50% Physical and wrote a blog about it, stating that I felt too much emphasis was put on the mental aspect of the game.  Boy, was I ever wrong.   At the single handicap level the game is 100% mental.

Practicing is not going to get you down to scratch.  I have never been a big advocate of practice but I know positively that it is a complete waste of time. Sorry range owners.  Hey if you enjoy hitting balls and practicing other aspects of game go for it.  Just realize that it’s not going to lower your handicap.

Lessons are not going to bring your handicap down unless a psychologist is on hand. Instead of paying a pro for four or five lessons go see a shrink once.

I have learned why a new swing thought works and then why it stops working.  This was huge for me and now I play with no swing thoughts .

Accept the fact that putting is the most important part of the game.  Yes it is wonderful to hit that beautiful drive right down the middle, and watch that ball reach that apex against that perfect blue sky. Some may feel it’s the solid iron shot from 160 yards that ends up 4 feet from the pin that is the greatest  thrill of the game.   But the fact of the matter is, putt well and you score. Don’t putt well and you do not score.  Accept this and find a way to putt, even if this means sticking your putter up your ass.  If the ball goes in its worth it.

The swing is not the thing.  This is an old one but still is one of the most important.  IT IS NOT YOUR SWING THAT’S THE PROBLEM.

Learning what really causes bad shots and bad putts.

So there you have my holy grail for the moment.   My game has been more consistent than it has ever been and I feel I make progress almost every time I play.  More important I am having one hell of a good time.  My next blog will be about this idea about trying to limit the distance that the golf ball can go.  See you then.

 

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

After about a 6 week hiatus the blog is back and it has been a very very busy 6 week period, especially for an old guy.  I have cut back my work schedule and I am playing more golf than ever.  Yesterday I completed my 74th round of the year.  This should be a record breaking year for the number of rounds. So how am I doing you might ask? In a word better, not great but better. I am still experimenting around, searching for the answer, but I have settled into a good routine. I will get into some of things that I have been doing, that may, or may not have contributed to a certain amount of resurgence in my game, that has been mired in an eighteen month slump.

Before I discuss that,  I did do something that  I have always wanted to do, but never could pull it off, until Monday June 26th. My young friend David and I played 54 holes in one day on three different golf courses.  We teed off at 7:44am at Fort Cherry golf course,  moved about 15 miles down the road to Indian Run for the second round and went another 3 miles down the road to Highland Springs and pulled out of their parking lot at exactly 6:30pm. Beating the dark was no problem.  There were two major factors that helped make the day go smoothly.  The weather was perfect, in the mid seventies with a little breeze and no humidity.  We never had to wait for one shot.  There was nobody in front of us the entire day.  The scores weren’t great, ranging from 79 to 86, but it was one the great golf days I have ever had.  There is no question, that hot dogs increase your stamina, especially when you put chili on them.

Last year at this time I was in the midst of a run where I did not break 80 for almost the entire summer.  This month I have had one 74, and two 75’s, with some 78’s and 79’s sprinkled in. I still feel that I have a ways to go but progress is being made. The first big difference is, I have found a way to putt.  Am I going to discuss this method? NO. Why? Because it is too goofy to write about at the moment. It goes against every putting principle that was ever written, but it is working for me. I have been putting this way for about 3 weeks, and it has held up in various pressure situations.  If it continues to work, then I will write about it.  I made it up and it is totally unique. There are three other things I am doing and I am going to discuss two of them. I have improved my posture at address and I am making sure my aim is correct.  Posture is by far the most important and I think even low handicap golfers get a little lazy in that respect. We have a tendency to get a little slumped in the shoulders and this has a very negative effect on our swing. The third one is a unique take away I am doing for each club and  I may delve into that later, if this continues to work. There are few other things I am doing different which I will discuss in later blogs. One thing that is not a factor is my increase play. Believe me, if your game is messed up and my game is, it doesn’t make any difference how much you play, your not going to improve.

I am going to leave all the  frustrated single digit handicappers who are trying to get to scratch, with one final thought.   It you want to get closer to 0 handicap, you must become Jim Furyk. Some day I may explain what that means. If I continue to make progress then the next blog will be sooner than later.  Please don’t hold your breath.

 

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

While there is still some golf left to be played in the Burgh, my game continues to flounder in the fall. This week, I am going to write about something I read in another blog, about how hard to hit putts. The Grateful Golfer asked the question, do you play your putts to die at the hole, or do you try to hit them 8 inches past the hole. Most of the respondents replied, that they play their putts to die at the hole. The Grateful Golfer also mentioned the Pelz philosophy of putting the ball 17 inches past the hole, which according to Pelz’s data, gives the ball the best chance of going in. I have a little different take on how you should think about the speed of the putt. I feel it depends on the length of the putt. I break my putts down into three arbitrary lengths, and have a different thought process on each putt.

Let’s start with putts over thirty feet, or approximately 10 steps. First of all, I try to make every putt. I am not an advocate of trying to get the putt within a 3 foot circle. I believe in the small target theory. Even though I am trying to make the putt, this is when I am trying to die the ball at the cup. I know my chances of making such putts are slim, so trying to die the ball at the cup gives me the best chance of not 3 putting, and a few will find the promise land in the bottom of the cup.

On putts that are between five and thirty feet, is where I adopt the Pelz philosophy, of getting the ball 17 inches past the hole. These putts have a greater chance of going in at that speed, and you want to make every effort to give them the best chance of going in.

Then there are the putts that are 5 feet and under. This is where I try to take a more aggressive attitude and get the ball to go in with a little more speed. The ball will usually hit the back of the cup. Here is a good drill to get the experience of doing this on the golf course. On the putting green start with a 3 foot putt that is fairly straight. Have 2 balls, one you are putting and the other one just about 3 inches directly across from the other ball the same distance. With the first ball make the putt with a nice speed going into the hole. You don’t want it going so fast that it hits the back of the cup and pops up in the air but you want to feel it dove in the cup or  hit the back of the cup. Then step up to the second ball and try to hit the putt with the same speed, but miss the cup on purpose to see how far this putt goes past the hole. You will probably be surprised how far this putt goes past the hole. Most likely it will be 2 to 2 and 1/2 feet. Then try to make the putt coming back. This will better prepare you  for the consequences of missing a short putt with an aggressive speed. Then do the drill with short breaking putts and at various distances under 5 feet.  With this aggressive attitude you should make a lot more of those little knee knockers.

These distances are certainly arbitrary and you can set up you own distances for each of the three philosophies. Certainly those philosophies will change on extremely down hill putts. By adopting a speed philosophy based on the length of the putts, should result in better putting stats.