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 Trying to Execute the Answer

Back in the Burgh, and three rounds into a stretch of time where I will be playing a lot of golf. I am not going to comment on these first three rounds and the next blog will be 2 weeks from today at the end of the golf fest. During this time I will be playing in three tournaments. If I am ever going to execute the answer this should be the time.

Do you remember that old Memorex cassette tape commercial where they would ask “Is it live or is it Memorex?” and they would show a famous artist singing or playing and you would have to figure out which one it was. This is similar to when you hit a bad shot on the golf course. Was the bad shot caused by a poor swing, or was it from a pre swing  problem. Even though I feel that 85 to 90% of all bad shots are caused from pre swing problems, how do you know for sure? Lets define pre swing problems. First there is the fundamental address position. You could be misaligned, too far or too close to the ball, or you could have poor posture. At this stage of the game I doubt it would be a grip issue. Then there are other pre shot factors. The lie of the ball, the lay of the land, your club selection, the conditions of the course, the weather, and how the shot fits your eye. The last one is particular important on the tee ball. Now I realize that any of these things, can lead to a bad swing which will result in a bad shot. If all the pre shot elements are right that still does not guarantee that your swing can not lead to a bad shot. So when the shot doesn’t turn out well which one is it? Is there a way to know? I am not too sure, but I do think this is one of the keys in trying to find your “that day golf swing or game”.   Naturally, just playing the odds, when the shot does not come off it is probably something that has happened before you took the club back. I really don’t have the answer to this question quite yet. I think in trying to figure this out will help in managing a round. One final point is that sometimes bad shots should be looked at as just one of those things, that are going to happen and sometimes should just be ignored or forgotten. The next two weeks should be interesting.

The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the Answer

The blog is a day late, because of good old March Madness, and a busy golf week, where I played 3 1/2 rounds. It was a very productive and learning week, for one so early in the season, so lets get to it

On Tuesday, I walked 9 holes at the Mt. Lebanon , under some harsh conditions, with temperatures in the low 40’s, and some strong winds. The very first tee, gave the example of thinking just a little too much, and not following the open mind plan. The first hole is a 160 yard slightly downhill par 3, that on this day was playing into a stiff wind. The first part of my thought process was very good. With the cold temps, and the strong against wind I took out my 7 wood on a hole I can hit with an 8 iron on a nice warm summer evening. But then I thought just a little too much. Instead of aiming dead at the pin, I thought with the first swing of the day, that I would be a little stiff, which would make me hit a little more of a fade than I usually do. I aimed about 5 yards left of the green, swung and hit it dead straight, 5 yards left of the green. The rest of day was not bad, but due to the conditions and a bulky putter the day was a ho-hum 5  pars and 4 bogeys.

On Wednesday, I went to Scenic Valley, and even though the temps were only in the mid 40’s,  plenty of sunshine made this day almost pleasant to play. My ball striking that day just evolved into playing a little draw, especially with the irons. My shots were going just slightly right to left. Since this was not a major misdirection, I decided to play the draw, instead of what I would usually do for shots that go way left. In a previous blog, I wrote that I would aim left and my swing would make an automatic correction. Since this slight draw was acceptable I played for it and this worked quite nicely.  I made 3 birdies but followed each birdie up with a bogey on the next hole. The one thing that cost me this day was that the wind was in a unique direction for this course and I failed to allow for it.The perfect example of being asleep at the wheel. My short game and putting were ok and managed to shoot a 77

On Saturday I went to Village Green and with temps in the 50’s under overcast skies and gusty winds I managed to play a very good round. My ball striking was spot on and I sunk a long putt on the very first hole for a birdie and I made a lot of 3 to 6 foot putts and shot a very nice 3 over 74. I made some poor decisions down the stretch due to wind and maybe just a little fatigue. I hit some great approach shots and if I had been putting a little better I might have shot even or better.

Yesterday it was back to Scenic Valley, with temps barely in the 40’s but with plenty of sunshine and not all that bad wind wise. However I was out of sync all day, and with the combination of some bad breaks, bad thinking, mediocre putting, and losing the concept of executing the answer I shot a lackluster 82. What do I mean by losing the concept. For the first time since finding the answer, I got back into the problem of trying to make my body do something, instead of allowing it to do what was necessary to hit the shot.  For about 11 and a half holes I was striking the ball pretty well. Then I got into some very poor ball striking for 2 and a half of the next 4 holes. Most of this was due to playing the wrong type of shot and then making my body move to what I thought I had to do in order to execute the shot. I should have kept more target oriented and paid attention to what my body did to play the shot.

After this week, this is what I have discovered. The short game and putting are going to require more than just the grip to get some real improvement. The grip is still a flexible and important part of finding your best short game and putting method but there is going to be a little more than that involved for sure. The early season shows how rusty your golf thinking can really be. I will have to do better in avoiding the trap of trying to fall back on what I was doing the day before. That was another reason for the poor score  on Sunday. Even though I already knew this, it is really hard not to do, especially early in the season. I have a new way of handling uneven lies, which there are plenty in western Pa. If this continues to work well, I will reveal it in a future blog. Despite the Sunday glitch the season has gotten off to a very nice start. My Saturday round was highlighted by an eagle chip in on the par 5 13th hole. This week looks good for some more golf on Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather get’s a little iffy toward the end of the week but we will wait and see. Progress is being made, I think, I hope , I pray, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! See you next week.

The Goofy Game of Golf Trying to Execute the Answer

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.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Even though I like to call golf goofy, the weather took that honor this week. On Friday May 24th, the temperature never got out of the 40’s and winds were around 20 to 30 miles per hour. Unfortunately this was the day of the 2 man scramble at South Park. These weather conditions were just a little too tough for a couple of mid 60 year olds. Pete and I had a bad day all around, getting only one birdie and 7 bogeys, to shoot a pretty lackluster 78, which was near the bottom of the field. This is Memorial Day and with the holiday, the blog is running one day late. The weather remained on the cool side for the rest of the weekend, but nothing as bad as Friday. The week was fairly blah except for today where I was able to muster a 2 over par 75 at Rolling Acre with some hope being shone for the pathetic short game. On Wednesday under 80 degree temps I shot 81 at Quicksilver and yesterday shot 77 at Buffalo. Yesterdays round was particlularly galling because I played very well but the short game was horendous and thus the 7 over par round. I hit 11 greens in regulation and shot 7 over, I’ll let you do the math. Today I hit 12 greens in regulation but did better in the up and down department thus the 2 over par score. I did make some adjustments in the short game technique and although I am not ready to take them to the bank I did see some reason for hope. The putting could be rated fair at best. Still trying to find some mental keys, but I still think the mystery lies it how much of a problem with ones golf game is physical and how much is it mental. Does one problem cause another problem. Can some kind of mental block or problem cause you to make physical mistakes. Or does some technique problem creep in first, that leads to broken confidence and other mental mistakes and blocks. I do not have the answer to this predicament. If you watched the tournament yesterday, you saw one of the leaders, while he was having one of the great rounds of the tournament. chile dip a chip in the bunker, then failed to get the ball out of the bunker, and barely made a 6 foot putt for a double bogey. This cost him the tournament. Boo Weekly, who won the tournament, missed 2 short putts down the stretch, which fortunately did not cost him the tournament. It is amazing, that even the golfing elite will make big mistakes at the worse times. Today’s round was my best round in a long long time. I may not be any closer to the answer but I have learned one thing during this scoring and short game problem. The answer can only be found on the golf course, not the driving range, the putting green, or the back yard. Next week looks like it is going to warm up and I see myself playing 3 to 4 rounds. We will see if I really have some momentum.