The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, here we are in November and even though there is more golf to be played the handicap season is over.  If finished the year at 4.2 a little up from my recent low of 3.9. I did have a few extenuating circumstances, getting a flu bug in the second week of October that laid me up for a week.  Over all my golf game was at least stable this last month.  In this blog it is time to reveal the new and rather bizarre putting method I use that turned around this golf season and helped reverse an eighteen month slump.

The date was June 28th, and place was Hartman’s golf course in Harmony, Pa. I had played the first 6 holes terribly, as you will soon find out, and heading toward an index of 7, at the end of the month.  On the sixth hole a 500 yard par 5, I had about an 8 foot putt to salvage a par.  I came up and out of the putt, which always results in a push, and of course I missed the putt.  The next hole is a 340 par 4 that is quite narrow. I hit a good drive, but left my sand wedge about 40 feet short of the hole. It was at that moment, I decided to putt by coming out of the putt on purpose. In other words rather than try to keep my body still, I would move my body forward with the forward stroke and come up a little bit.  I even played for the push of the putt.  Well, low and behold, I made the 40 foot putt. Probably a coincidence, and mostly luck, but the darn thing went in.  I did not get to try the method on the next hole, because from 116 yards I holed a gap wedge for an eagle 2.  On 9 I hit a wedge about 10 feet and made that putt for another birdie.  Despite those last 3 hole heroics, I still only shot 40 on the front. I continued the improved putting  and my play improved to shoot a 77 and the next  7 out of 9 rounds I broke 80, including a 74 and 75 which were my low rounds of the year, up to that time.   I continued to tweak the method, by not playing for the push any more, as I was hitting the putts on line and not really pushing them anymore. I just allow my body to move forward with the downswing of the putt. Now I still have some bad days on the green every now and again, but my putting has improved 200% and is the major reason my handicap almost came down 3 strokes in the last 3 months.  There have been some other things that I have changed that have helped my game but the new putting method is mostly responsible. I am still doing some tweaking with the method but it has held up well in some pressure situations.

Do I recommend this putting method. Absolutely not.  What I do advocate is to forget about all the so called putting rules or fundamentals and find away to get the ball into the hole, not matter what that method is.  The one and only fundamental in putting is to get the ball into the hole. Since I have adopted this “method” I have holed more putts in the last 3 and half months than I have in the last 3 years. My stroke is smooth and free and I roll the ball very true.   So figure it out and start making putts.  In the next few blogs I will discuss other things that have gotten  my game back on track.

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Welcome to October and fall golf is here.  My game continues to improve with the Oct 1 revision down to 3.9. This is down 3 points from a high of 6.9 on May 15 and 6.1 on July 15.   It’s dropped for many reasons, but putting is without a doubt responsible for about 75% of the improvement.  Driving the ball longer has helped and the  short game is still the big issue from keeping me getting even lower, but I am working on it.  I will discuss my game and the improvements in future blogs, plus I still feel this is a work in progress, as the handicap season has another month to go, and the golf season has hopefully another good 2 months to go.

Today I want to discuss what must be a new philosophy in the national media golf instruction.  For some reason over the last 6 months or so, I have been receiving both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine for free. I probably bought something that included some perk, that gave me this great honor of receiving these magazines every month at no charge, but I don’t remember it.   Since I don’t really like either publication I just skimmed them every month, and every once in awhile I would find an article of interest, like Phil Mickelson’s  inside trader story, and barely avoiding going to jail. About 2 months ago, I began to notice something that I did not pick up on when I first started getting these magazines. The high number of instructional articles in each magazine every month, especially Golf Magazine(G). So this past month I counted all the instructional articles in each magazine.  G had 17 instructional articles and GD 12.  Just to hit an even number of 30 that would be 360 instructional articles a year. Let that sink in for a moment. Granted some articles are only one page long but some are anywhere from 3 to 5 pages long. Your talking about a 400 page magazine year book. Every phase of the game is covered including the mental game and strategy. What’s the philosophy here?  Quantity over Quality for sure.  Some of the articles even contradict each other. Now granted, this is only one month that I really looked at these articles and critiqued them, and I will follow this a little more closely the next few months.  Believe me I will only be able to do this for the next 3 or 4 months tops, because of shear disbelief but I will do my best. I know it is difficult to write for a general populous on trying to give instruction that will be helpful.  G does try to become more specific for specific classe of player but they fail miserably at providing any worthwhile content. There were 29 articles in these magazines that covered driving the golf ball, working the golf ball,  wedge play,  iron play,  chipping, putting, bunker play , trouble shots, how to play certain holes and talking to horses to improve ones play.  Were all the articles bad? No.  But there was a lot of information and  showed different ways of going about a certain aspect of golf, and not addressing the fact that there are some other effective ways to deal with the same thing. The one page articles are the worse because they make the reader feel that this method is the gold standard for resolving an issue with your golf swing, when in reality it is not. Three months of reading these articles and I would be running for the tennis courts or the bowling alley and thinking you can never be any good at this game.  I will be following this more closely in the future and giving some prime examples of the confusing that these magazines are creating .

Hopefully my game will continue to move forward, as I become a little less confused about this game.  Short game look out, here I come.

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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

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

It’s been about a month since the last blog and I have been playing at about a 4 to 5 times a week clip.  It looks like the 18 month slump is officially over.  Since the last blog my handicap has dropped from 6.9 to 5.4 and 14 of my last 16 rounds have been below 80, although I did have a run where I shot 4 straight 79’s, but hey, that is breaking 80.  It is a far cry from last year where I went a full 8 weeks without breaking 80. So what has changed.

Naturally, what has improved tremendously is my putting.  I am no longer putting with this more unconventional method, but it does give me something to go back to, if I really start to have problems again.  I will write about this method in future blogs, if I continue to find success on the greens .  I have change three things in my long golf game.  I am much more cognizant of where I am aiming.   I am more aware of my posture and the distance I stand from the ball.  I have changed my take away or the first 18 to 24 inches of my swing. At any televised golf tournament the standard and practically only shot of the golfer when he is making a shot, is from behind the player. For whatever reason I started noticing that tour players seem to take the club away from the ball just slightly different for every club in the bag. For the driver they seem to take the club just slightly outside the line and for every club going down they start to move a little more to the inside. Just to break in down into sections: Driver just outside the line;  Fairway metals straight back;  long to mid irons slightly inside the line; short irons and wedges inside the line.  My theory is this.  By taking it outside the line on the driver this promotes the ability to give a more sweeping action on the downswing.   Moving inside the line more quickly on the wedges promotes a more downward swing, which creates the down and through action needed for these clubs.  I do not know if I am right or not, but since I have started having a take away that is a little different for every club, my ball striking has improved 100%, and distance has increased by 15 to 20 yards with the same equipment. Then I did one other thing on the physical side of the game.

I became Jim Furyk.  What does that mean?  Jim Furyk’s dad was a PGA professional and allowed Jim to swing the way he does because he felt a natural swing will hold up under pressure better than a manufactured one.  Let that one sink in for awhile. That may be one the greatest statements ever made on the golf swing. I will discuss this more in future blogs, but let’s just say that I am now swinging my natural way with all its faults and nuances. For 6 weeks, I have played with no swing thoughts and no swing fixes.  I have become Jim Furyk.  I am still having some problems with the chip yips but even they have improved. I consider that part of the mental game, which I will save for later.  Will I continue to improve? Who knows. I will say golf has become much more fun, since I have freed myself up to just let er rip. To be continued.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

For the past 3 months of so, I have discussed the conflicting viewpoints of various aspects of the golf swing.  Is there anything that practically all golf instructors agree upon. There are a few but not many.  Before we get to today’s subject let me briefly delve into how my own golf game is coming along in the new season. SUCKS. Now on to today’s subject.

If you read any golf instruction or take a lesson, what can you  expect will be a common under lying theme, no matter who you read or have direct contact. You must have a correct or good grip.  Now there may be some differences in what constitutes a good grip but the good grip is a must.  The address position or what you do before you swing is more important than the swing itself. However, there is one thing that all golf instruction seems to obsessed with, and that is square.  I do not care who you read or watch on the internet, the one thing that is pounded into you mind is that your feet, hips and shoulders must be parallel and square to the target line. There is even the square to square method.  I suppose the thinking here is, if everything is square, there is more of a chance to make square contact with the ball down the intended line. After all of that, the comment is made, that the hardest shot in golf is the straight shot, and you should play your tendency  to curve the ball. If your shot pattern is left to right, then you should play down the left side of the fairway and let the shot curve back to the middle, which gives you a bigger margin of error to keep the ball in the fairway. You would reverse this of course, if your tendency is to hit the ball right to left. Now let’s think about this for a minute, and take it to the tee box.  Here we are on the tee, and we are looking at a straight away fairway  about 40 yards wide.  If we are a left to right player and follow the plan we would aim 10 yards from the left side of the fairway, with the objective of curving ball back to the middle of the fairway. But do any of us curve the ball that consistently. We are only allowing ourselves 10 yards of error on the left side. How many times have players double crossed themselves and then pulled the shot or even pulled hook the shot into deeper trouble. If you aim right down the middle of the fairway you are allowing yourself 20 yards on either side to keep the ball in the short stuff. If curving the ball is the thing to do, which everybody seems to think so, then why should everything be square. Even though it seems that this is one point everybody agrees on, square, it still is a very confusing situation to someone who is trying to learn the game.

In the next post I am going to go review all 15 of the conflicting areas of golf instruction and give my opinion on what’s important, not important, and what you really need to do to hit that little ball.

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