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

The blog is back after about a months absence and today I am going to go through each of the 16 conflicting viewpoints on golf instruction, and give my opinion on each one.  I have cut back my work schedule and playing more golf than ever, which I am not to sure is good for my mental health, but we will see. Each of these points were blogged, so to see them in more detail just go back to the previous blogs, beginning in January.  So here we go.

You should keep your left heel on the ground or you should raise your left heel.  To me this is something that should just be a natural thing. If you need to lift your left heel to make a fuller swing then do it.  I do not think you should raise your left heel deliberately. You should feel it is being dragged off the ground by the turn of the body

The putting stroke should be straight back and through, or it should be an arc, like the golf swing. Again this is something that does not make a difference as long as you know how to do the straight back and through stroke. If a lot of your putts are off line then this stroke could be for you.

The left arm should be straight throughout the swing, or it is ok to bend the left arm during the swing.  It is fine to bend that left arm during the swing. In fact you may even be able to hit the farther with that little bend at the top of the swing.

Keep the ball position the same for all shots or move the ball back in the stance as the clubs get shorter.  Try anything and do anything, when it comes to ball position until you find something that works.

The weight should be on the balls of your feet, over the arches just in front of the heels or over the heels.  Over the arches and favoring the heels is where you want your weight. Stay off the balls of your feet or you will restrict your body turn.

Restrict your hip turn or do not restrict your hip turn.   DO NOT RESTRICT YOUR HIP TURN UNLESS YOU ENJOY HAVING YOUR BACK OPERATED ON.

Your shoulders should turn 90 degrees or more if possible or they do not have to turn 90 degrees.  They should turn 90 degrees if possible and an increased hip turn will help this.

Your swing should be compact or your swing should be nice and long.  This is personal preference in my view.  A shorter swing should have a faster tempo and a longer swing should have a slower tempo.

You should pause at the top of the swing or you should not make a conscious pause at the top.  You should not make a conscious pause.  It happens naturally.

Take the club back low and slow or this is the worst thing you can do.  Again makes no difference. Find your method

Chip like you putt or do not chip like you putt.  Chip like you putt, much easier

You should change your grip to help square your clubhead or you should not change your grip to square the club.  Definitely, experiment with the grip to square the clubhead.

Hand position at address, many are advocated.    Find yours and stick with it.

The first move to start the downswing, too many to mention.  Find one, but be open to change if it does not seem to working.

Head movement.  Don’t worrying about, but know what yours is doing and why.  This has a lot to do with knee flex and the left heel.

Natural golf.  Nothing natural about it. Forget about it.

What I find amazing about all of this is this is not even a complete list about the conflicting viewpoints of what it takes to hit a golf ball accurately.  No wonder people find it difficult to play this game and even low handicappers seem stuck. Other than Natural Golf, I haven’t even included the other so call methods that are out there. I don’t know maybe we need some kind of federal regulation. I can see it now, the Federal Golf Commission (FGC), headed by Bob Toski.  More discussion in future blogs.

 

 

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today, I am going to discussed three aspects of the golf swing with various viewpoints.  The take away, the top of the swing, and the start of the downswing. The last one will just be fun because how to start the downswing is pretty much endless, but we will list the main ones. Most of what I am going to post today will involve some of Jack Nicklaus’s opinions on the golf swing.  I am not saying I agree  with everything that Jack says about the swing, but I don’t think you can go wrong by adopting many of his swing suggestions. However, in the main stream of golf instruction most of the things that Jack advocates is pretty much dismissed, as not the way to play golf.   I am not going into great detail, here but I think the reason for this is Jack made conventional golf instruction look pretty silly with his so called flying right elbow.  He took a lot of flak for that early in his career, to the point that many said he would never be a great golfer. Talk about being very wrong. Let’s begin.

The take away should be low and slow, or is that the worse thing that you can do?  Nicklaus was a low and slow advocate and his own backswing did seem to start in a very deliberate manner. Today most instruction says to start the backswing smoothly in a more rhythmic manner and do not start the swing in a jerky manner. Instruction today feels that you can start the backswing too slowly, which robs you of any rhythm and timing, and makes you rush the rest of your swing. Try either method you may find you like one over the other.

At the top of the swing, should you make a conscious pause, or is this something that you do not have to think about. Trying to pause at the top will cause more problems with your swing.  Nicklaus summed up his feelings on the subject with an instructional chapter titled”There is no pause that refreshes in the golf swing,” taking a slogan from a popular soft drink. In order for the club to change direction in the golf swing it has to stop or pause or whatever you want to say, whether you think about it or not. There is no question that you can see differences in this pause at the top. Some Tour players have a very distinct pause at the top of their backswing, and others with very fast swings, it is very hard to detect. There are players everywhere between these two extremes.  Pick your poison, you may find something your like.

Now for the fun part, How do you start the downswing. OMG are you kidding me. The first one is the Nicklaus method. Obviously you have to lift your heel on the backswing. The rest are just listed but these are all from legitimate instructors.

Plant your left heel on the ground, turn your right knee to the ball, drop your right elbow slowly into your side, bump your left hip toward the target, shift your weight to the outside of the left heel(this is for the heel that stays on the ground during the backswing), raise your left shoulder from under your chin, drive the left hip back and begin straightening your left leg, pull down with the last three fingers of the left hand like you would be ringing a church bell, drive the left knee toward the target, while remaining the flex in the knee, and only allowing it to straighten well after the ball is struck, and finally slowly dropping the arms while allowing the hips to unwind. This list has 10 ways to start the  downswing, and people say that golf instruction is confusing, you have got to be kidding, what could be more clear then that. The list is not even complete but I think the point is made. So what’s a mother to do?  My suggestion for now is try em all, you may find one that really fits your swing and can help you hit the ball better.  It looks like we are going to have winter in March, so another blog on the swing won’t be far behind, as we are getting close to the end of conflicting ideas on how to hit a golf ball.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

A very busy week with two new courses added, a tournament, and a good round today. On Wednesday we went to two new courses. We went to Bedford Trails in Coitsville, Ohio about a 70 minute drive.  I had never heard anything about this course but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The course was about 6300 yards from the blue tees and played to a par of 70. The course was nice and flat with some heavily tree lined fairways. We had to start on the back due to some on course maintainance, and the back nine was much narrower than the front nine. To start off on the back it was more of a challenge than coming into the turn when you know what kind of state your game is in. The greens were very smooth and ran about a 6.5 on the stimp. This course had a great variety of holes with some being pretty tough but none of them were unfair. The fairways were very good and the rough did have some bare spots but was not overly long.  This course was very enjoyable to play and was well worth the trip and very reasonbly priced. The hot dog at the turn was nothing special but was tasty.  We played pretty well with David shooting an 82 and I came in with a 75. Then we went back down the road into Pennsylvania to Tanglewood Golf course in Pulaski Pa. This course was about 6100 yards from the back tees and played to a par of 72. Although I liked this course and the price was right here too, it just wasn’t quite as nice as Bedford Trails. The greens ran a 5 on the stimp and fairways were not as good. The design of the course was good with a good variety of holes and some that were quite difficult. But it had what I call the typical fake par 5 of 425 yards which was tricked up so it would play as a 5. It was a shame, because this would have made a great par 4 with water down the left and close to the green. But all and all this course was fun to play with a nice  flow to the course. Just to do something different, I got a chile dog at the turn which was quite good. Even though I thought this course was easier some of the holes were tough to play for the first time and both David and I scored a little worse. I shot an 80 with some erratic driving and David had an 85. Then on Thursday I played in the South Park Senior Championship and my day was a synopsis of my entire year. It was boring, some chip yips and a putter that was luke warm. I drove the ball pretty well, but my iron game was just so-so and wound up making only one birdie. I did not take advantage of the par 5’s just making 4 pars. Twice it took me 4 blows to get down from about 20 yards which led to a double bogey  and a bogey. Despite all that I managed to shoot 78 which put me 4th in my age group and about 18th in a field of 70. For some reason the scoring was not that good. There was a 3 under 69 and a 71 but no one else in the field broke 74. There was some wind and few tough pins but I really don’t know why the scores were so high. Today we went to Buffalo Golf Course, which is one of my favorites and shot a nice solid 4 over 75. I did something today that was pretty drastic on the mental and physical side of the game that has been evolving. Again, this could be just dust in the wind but we will see. Overall this was one of the better weeks with the weather being just gorgeous and getting to courses 89 and 90. So the original goal has been met. I have played 90 golf courses within 90 minutes from my house. It has taken just a little over 3 years. When I started this I thought it might take a little over a year. Maybe I should I run for Congress Ha!  I am still going to try to make it an even 100 and will still try to find the answer. I think I have a better chance of getting to 100.

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