The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Because of weather problems only three rounds this week, but added a new course this week. On Wednesday we went to Mountaineer’s Woodview golf course, about 6 miles south of Weirton, West Virginia, a 50 minute drive. The golf course was very tight and relatively short with very small greens and no sandtraps. It was 62oo yards from the blue tees and played to a par of 72. The greens ran a 6 on the stimp and were very smooth. Even though the greens were small they had quite a bit of slope in them and were a challenge to putt. The fairways and rough were just fair and the course for lack of a better a term had some real ugly areas. I have to say, I liked the course but it was not worth the trip. The hot dog at ther turn was one of those big fat ones, which I don’t care for, but it was cooked well,and tasted pretty good. They did not have any onions which was a downer. This course was a lay up course with many short but tight par 4’s and par 5’s but yours truly wanted to have “fun” and took the driver out on every hole but one and paid the price. I could only muster an 83 on such a short track and David didn’t do any better shooting a an 86. But it was a gorgeous day and we did have a good time hitting many punch shots under trees. Course Management F. The rains came on Thursday but Friday was cool and sunny and I shot 78 from the blue tees at South Park and with the help of a 40 foot par putt shot 1 under on the last 5 holes. Today after a poor front nine, I managed to shoot even on the back, for a 77 at Ponderosa, a pretty tough track. I am doing what I call mental madness. The results so far while not great are far from discouraging. If I continue to make progress with mental madness, I will explain what all this nonsense is, I am talking about. In order to help the mental madness along, I am going to play golf courses this week that I not only know but really like, just to see how I do. This may finally answer the question how much is this game mental and how much is it physical. Ninety one courses down and nine to go.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

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 Grip

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.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Only got in one round this week, as the weather turned colder after Thanksgiving. Wednesday was a nice day in the 50’s, and for the fifth straight time I played Scenic Valley, and for the fifth straight time did not break 80 as the putter was bulky for an 83. The only good thing about this scoring stretch, is we are past the time we are supposed to post scores so I don’t have to look at these scores for the next fifteen rounds.  I thought I would have a little fun with this blog and go through the 10 worst experiences we have had on this 86 golf course trek so far. With fourteen courses to go I thought it would be unfair to rank the best 10 experiences because there might be better ones in future days. Hopefully, there won’t be any worse than these 10. Even some of these weren’t too bad because you can’t have a really bad day on the course. Some of these near the bottom came close. Here are the 10 worse experiences over the last 2 years.

10. Blackhawk July 20 2011 Not a bad course but after playing the front nine in 1 hour and 29 minutes they told us we would have to speed up so we wouldn’t hold up the women’s league. They also stopped us twice to tell us which nine to go to. They have 4 nines which they call, are you ready 1,2,3, and 4. This golf course should have a sign in front saying Keep Out.

9. Moon Township. May 12 2011 Just not in very good shape and maybe looked worse because we had played similiar smaller courses that were in very good shape.

8. Westwood.  November 3 2010 The greens were bad the price high no hot dog at the turn and an attitude.

7. Lindenwood September 17 2011. Real pricey, the greens were slow and no service at the snack area even though people were calling anybody back there. Unfriendly starter.

6. Hickory Heights September 15 2011 Not offered senior rate even though on their web site they said they had one. Poor designed course and sullen pro shop staff. Prozac anyone.

5. Strawberry Ridge July 11 2011 Crazy course only in fair shape Take used balls because you are going to lose some.

4. Roseridge July 2 2012. Even though this course made me think of playing in the 60’s the greens were slow not even a 4 on the stimp. Just in bad shape.

3. The Phoenix at Buffalo Valley. September 9 2012. Again just in bad shape and an overpriced hot dog at the turn.

2. Foxwood Acres August 31 2011. No sign, no hot dog, no nothing, terrible condition. Could crabgrass be the new po

1 Kennsington August 12 2010. By far and away the worse experience of the trek. Nine greens were completely burned out, and the fairways weren’t much better. We were not told this and the price was not discounted. No hot dog at the turn, even though we made the turn at 11am. WOW.

I gave the dates if you want to read in more gory details these wonderful experiences I had playing these courses. It looks like the golf will be few and far between now, but you never know. In the next few weeks I will start to discuss the new swing thing I have been doing the past year. See you next week.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Another week, where the scoring was not that good, but there were some positive things that happened this week. I hit the ball very well today but 39 putts will kill any round.  I probably swung at the ball as well as I have in long time. A change in the pre shot routine helped tremendously with the swing and the ball striking. I played 18 holes at Mt Lebanon on Thursday and after double bogeying the first hole I went around the rest of the way only 2 over par. It was on this day that I started the new pre shot routine which really helped me take a solid swing at the ball.  On Wednesday at Scenic Valley in the cold again I went around in 86 blows. Today despite hitting 13 greens in regulation, thanks to the putter I could only muster an 82. So I guess I know what I have to work on. The weather looks pretty good this week, so I think I will be able to get in a couple of rounds this week, even though I am the Thanksgiving day chef, which means I will be cooking something everyday this week, but Tuesday. The key to making a big feast is getting things ready days in advance. Yes, it is this time of the year, to give thanks and be thankful. The first thanks is to Tiger Woods for putting Thanksgiving back on the map. What will it be 3 years since that magical day after Thanksgiving  early morning where it was shown that even the great Tiger can’t drive an SUV to0 well when someone is chasing you with a 5 iron. Thank God Tiger was not a bowler.  I am thankful for many things, but not the least of which is my good health. I try not to take for granted feeling good, and being able to play this game at a pretty good level since 1958. Every one that I really care about is also in very good health with no major problems. After it is all said and done, nothing else in life truely matters. I think I will go on Ebay now to find a new putter, it has to be the club.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well no golf this week, as from Sunday to Thursday it rained continuously, but fortunately it was a very light rain most of the time so no major flooding. The temps were between 38 and 45 most of the week, but I am not complaining considering what the east coast went through. The burgh came through again, and avoided truly disasterous weather. I am anxious to play of course, but for a little different reason. I have been swinging the club about the same way for about a year now. Despite shooting one of the best rounds of my life a 4 under par 69 at Rolling Acre, I tweaked the swing about a month after that, because of some research I had done on the function of the muscles of the body. After about a month however I untweaked the tweak as I called it, by going back to the original way I was swinging. Now I am about to tweak the tweak. Only a golfer could know what I am talking about. If this tweaking of the tweak (don’t you just love that) works out I may be ready to reveal what I have been doing the last year.  I have been very secretive about this swing thing, only because I want to make sure it is not crap. There is so much out there that is, I do not want to add to the fertilizer. The week coming up is not looking that great with temps barely getting into the upper 40’s but it is suppose to be dry and hopefully I can get out there a couple of times this week. Chomping at the bit, searching for the answer, we’ll see if I get a little closer this week.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

No new courses were added this week, but a busy week none the less. I played solid if not spectacular golf all week with scores of 77, 77, 73, and 75. My swing is slowly getting back to the feel of mid summer. This week I would like to write about what I feel is the real key to having success with the less than full swing  game and putting. This has nothing to do with technique or a certain method. The key to success in both areas is to make sure that you do not look up to see where the shot is going until you can focus on the spot where the ball use to sit. You do not too be overly conscious of the ball, just the spot after the ball leaves.  In the case of putting you should clearly see the blades of grass that were underneath the ball before you look up to see where the ball is. In the case of the less than full swing you should clearly see the grass that was disturbed by the shot before you look up. In the case of 40 to 80 yard pitch shots you should clearly see the divot before you look up to see where the shot went. Besides seeing a big improvement in the results of your shots you will discover one other amazing thing. Despite not looking up until you focus on the grass where the ball was, you will still see about 75 to 80 per cent of the shot. For example on a putt about 20 feet, you stroke the ball, focus on the grass, then look up and you will still see the ball about 14 to 15 feet from the hole.  On chips and pitches you will notice the same phenomenon. What this means of course, is this really doesn’t take very long. Like a lot things in golf this sounds easier than it really is but if you consciously try this you will see  a great improvement in that area of the game . Like everything else, this is a process and will take some time but if you really do this, the results will come. What’s great about this is you will improve with no change in your technique. I do not recommend for the full swing because it will restrict your swing too much. Try it you’ll like it see you next week.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

A very busy week as two new courses were added this week. It was a 36 hole day on Wednesday as we traveled to Spring Valley in Mercer, Pa. an hour and fifteen drive and to Green Meadow in Volant, Pa. which is about 15 minutes closer. Spring Valley is a very unique course to say the least. It plays only to about 5800 yards from the back tees to a par of 72. The course rating is only 66.6 with a slope of 112. I can guarentee you, that if I played this course all the time I would never have a chance of being a scratch golfer. There are a lot of goofy holes, with the best example, the second hole, a 28o yard par 4, that has no fairway. They put a tee box and a green, and the rest is trees everywhere, that you either go over or around but you are not going to avoid them. The greens were smooth but slow running barely a 4.5 on the stimp. The fairways were ok but there were some burned out places and the rough had bare spots.   The hot dog at turn was good with some really nice minced onions. The people that ran the place were friendly but this course was not worth the trip. I shot a 79 and Pete had the same. I had lots of strange stuff happen to me all day. The best of the lot was on the 12th hole and downhill short but narrow par 5 of 451 yards. On the tee box there are woods all down the right side and it appears there are trees all down the left side. I hit a big high hook heading into what I thought were trees on the left. I stood there waiting for the sound of my ball hitting trees and then all of a sudden we heard this KABOOM. Here, I hit the roof of a golf cart on the hole coming back with two women in it. They were ok and they graciously pointed out my ball in the middle of their fairway. We happily went down the road to Green Meadow. Green Meadow turned out to be a solid golf course in very good shape. The greens were smooth and ran a nice 6.5 on the stimp. The fairways were lush and the roughs had no barespots. The course played 6500 yards from the blues to a par of 72. There was a great variety of holes and the course was very flat and fair. The hot dog at the turn was good but the minced onions at Spring Valley were better. This course was worth the trip. Even though this was a much more enjoyable course to play, after an opening birdie, I pretty much stunk out the joint and came in with another 79. Pete got better results than I did and came in with a nice smooth 75. My ball striking was pretty much mediocre all day. I had a good practice session on Thursday and was pretty confident on Saturday but could only muster an 80 at South Park from the blues. I did strike the ball much better.  Today at Rolling Acre I shot a very nice even par 73. The ball striking was good as I hit the first 13 greens in regulation. I faltered a little bit down the stretch but overall a very good end to the week. The week coming up will be a very busy one with playing golf everyday but Tuesday. No new courses will be added because of events but I feel with all the play, this should be one of those weeks that will really determine if I am on to something. I think I finally untweaked the tweak and I am back where I was about 2 months ago. Eighty down and twenty to go to find the answer.