The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Winter continues in the Burgh, but a little more up and down and there would have possible been a time to play, but I am on a self imposed rest, so no play for me. Today, I am again going to lampoon golf instruction, as I googled, how does the downswing start.  The answers I will list below.  There are a dozen by the way.  What’s interesting, it only took me 14 videos to get these 12 different answers.  Now many will argue some are saying the same thing but in a different way, but I respectively disagree. I will list all twelve with my final commentary following. Here they are.

Shift your weight from the inside of the right foot to the inside of the left foot while turning the hips back to the target.

Move the lower body forward, while feeling that the left foot is driving into the ground

Feel the weight moving from the left heel to left toe while lowering the arms

Feel you are starting the downswing from the floor upwards with the left knee turning toward the target and the right knee turning toward the ball, with the hips turning toward the target

Shift the weight to the left and turn the hips toward the target at the same time, like a throwing motion of a ball

Turn the right knee towards the ball from a position where the weight is on the inside of the right foot at the top of the swing

The left leg straightening with the goal being that the right knee will touch the left knee when the swing is finished

The step drill  where you step toward the target like a baseball swing that will teach you how to start the downswing

The entire lower body shifts toward the target

Laterally move the hips toward the target and then turn the body toward the target

Push up from the ground with the waist pushing through to the target first

From the top of swing work the right shoulder down

Is there any common thread here?  One thing I did not mention, is about 9 out of 12 did mention that you must have a good backswing in order to make the first “correct” downswing move.  Much of this does indeed have to do with movement of the lower body first.  That’s about it. The two about the knees seem to be similar but they are not really.  I had to be as concise as possible here and if you saw the videos they are different, with one more complicated even though they talk about the knees. Even though all of these videos were titled how to start the downswing, many I felt talked about the entire downswing and were not all that clear what the first move really was.   All of this is from fairly well known instructors, that have large golf schools or written books on the subject.  None of this stuff is from what I call Sam Fertilizer golf instruction.  You have seen these videos, where the guy is in his back yard, the kids are running around, the dog is barking, and this guy is going to show you how to play golf.  The purpose is not to critique which of the above is correct, or a better way to do the first move of the downswing.  It is to show just how confusing this can be to someone trying to improve their 25 to 30 handicap or to someone trying to learn the game from scratch. No wonder people give up on it. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I am sure if I had gone through the torturous process  of looking at 30 videos of how to start the downswing I would have found over 20 ways to do it. I think the point has been made.  It’s a very confusing golf instructional world out there, and that is a shame. More coming soon.

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

The new year is upon us and I haven’t blogged for awhile, so with winter really here this year in the Burg, I thought it might be time to put a few thoughts down and update what’s happening,  since the last blog, about 2 month ago.  The holidays were great as I went out to San Diego to see the grand kids and Christmas morning with 3 kids, ages 10, 8, and almost 3 is priceless. I finished off the golf season around the 9th of December and really never did much the rest of the year.   Once the handicap season was over, I tried various experiments and none really amounted to much success.  The weather has been normal you might say and it looks like winter golf will be at a minimum this year, when compared with last year when I had played 10 rounds before March 1.   For me this is a good thing right now, because it is allowing some nagging injuries to hopefully heal up to 100%.  I have been reading  a lot over these last 2 months more than I usually do, which is a lot, and it is very difficult to read and write at the same time.  What have I been reading ?  Brain books baby brain books.

What I would like to write about today is watching golf on TV.  There are a lot of people out there, golfers and non golfers alike, who don’t like to watch golf on TV, and really don’t understand why anybody would want to watch golf on TV.  We golf tournament watchers have to defend why we watch this game that, according to the non watchers, is slow and boring and you can’t see where the ball is going, etc. etc.   We, who watch golf, talk about the scenery and following the super stars who play the game.  Here is one reason that I watch golf on TV, that you may find unique, but it may get non golfers to watch the sport.  It is to see human ineptitude at it’s highest level. Let me explain.   There are only 150 golfers that can play in a PGA tour event each week.  That can also be the subject of another blog on why that is.   Just think, if other sports only had 150 to 250 players at the highest level.  There would only be 6 football teams in the NFL, 6 Baseball teams in MLB, 8 Hockey teams in the NHL and 12 basketball teams in the NBA.  The quality of play would improve dramatically in all of those sports. There would only be 6 NFL quarterbacks.  Every week would almost be like watching an all star game but they would be playing  for real.  You could say this about every Major league sport.  Golf is considered a world sport but still only 150 people are allowed to play at the top level on the PGA tour.  Despite such small numbers you see shots and mistakes that the average player makes everyday.   It would be like Tom Brady throwing 3 consecutive passes to the referees.  Not throwing interceptions, just throwing the ball to the refs.  It would be like watching Bryce Harper strike out 27 straight times or dropping  3 straight routine fly balls.  That is how bad some putts and chips and bunker shots are on the PGA tour.  I do not know the reason for these horrible shots.  People like to blame this on pressure but come on.  I can see missing a 6 foot putt to win or tie a tournament but an 18 inch putt. Some full shots are really bad also.  Drives going into people’s yards, irons missed way left or right and pitch shots in the middle of the fairway hit fat and go only 20 to 40 yards.  Remember were talking about 150 people here, that are allowed to play. It’s not that tough, really, is it.  The toughest thing in sports is hitting a baseball and getting a hit.  Compare that to making an 18 inch putt. If you watch golf you will see an 18 to 24 inch putt missed in every round.  You’ll see a green side bunker shot skulled over the green.  I could go on and on and it doesn’t make any difference if it is the first round or the final round you will see ineptness at the highest level.  So the next time someone bugs you about watching golf, tell them you don’t know what you’re missing.

The blog will be popping up more often now, with some more great insights on this goofy game and when I find the answer you will be the first to know.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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