The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

It’s been a while since the last blog, about 2 months, but I am still playing and still searching.   I have taken a totally different tact in trying to find the answer, and even though it has not improved my game by much, it hasn’t  made it any worse, and I am enjoying the game more than I ever have.  My index is 4.5 right now and is much better than it was about this time last year when it was about 6.5.  I feel I have learned more about the game in the last 6 months, than in any other time period of my life.  Today I will write about what I have learned in a series of statements that will express what I feel works to help improve one’s golf game, and what does not work.  Most of this will go against the grain of current golf thinking, and in this blog I am not going to defend these positions.  I will defend them in future blogs.  The following only applies to golfers with single digit handicaps that are looking to bring that handicap down to the holy grail of scratch.  This like everything else is an arbitrary number, which could be argued in either direction, that for this to be applied your handicap could be slightly higher or lower. But we have to start somewhere so single digit handicap is where this shall be. These are things that you need to do and not do in order to get that handicap down to zero.

I use to feel that golf could be divided into 50% Mental and 50% Physical and wrote a blog about it, stating that I felt too much emphasis was put on the mental aspect of the game.  Boy, was I ever wrong.   At the single handicap level the game is 100% mental.

Practicing is not going to get you down to scratch.  I have never been a big advocate of practice but I know positively that it is a complete waste of time. Sorry range owners.  Hey if you enjoy hitting balls and practicing other aspects of game go for it.  Just realize that it’s not going to lower your handicap.

Lessons are not going to bring your handicap down unless a psychologist is on hand. Instead of paying a pro for four or five lessons go see a shrink once.

I have learned why a new swing thought works and then why it stops working.  This was huge for me and now I play with no swing thoughts .

Accept the fact that putting is the most important part of the game.  Yes it is wonderful to hit that beautiful drive right down the middle, and watch that ball reach that apex against that perfect blue sky. Some may feel it’s the solid iron shot from 160 yards that ends up 4 feet from the pin that is the greatest  thrill of the game.   But the fact of the matter is, putt well and you score. Don’t putt well and you do not score.  Accept this and find a way to putt, even if this means sticking your putter up your ass.  If the ball goes in its worth it.

The swing is not the thing.  This is an old one but still is one of the most important.  IT IS NOT YOUR SWING THAT’S THE PROBLEM.

Learning what really causes bad shots and bad putts.

So there you have my holy grail for the moment.   My game has been more consistent than it has ever been and I feel I make progress almost every time I play.  More important I am having one hell of a good time.  My next blog will be about this idea about trying to limit the distance that the golf ball can go.  See you then.

 

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

I am not one for suspense. ALBATROSS  ALBATROSS  ALBATROSS.  Yes, on May 3rd 2018 I got that elusive bird on the 503 yard par 5 10th hole at Highland Springs Golf Course, near Wellsburg West Virginia. I hit a little bit of a pull hook drive and was in the left rough about 240 yards from the center of an elevated green, with the pin cut on the middle right.  I hit a 3 wood out of the rough that came out a little low, with a slight draw, but was hit solid.   I saw the ball take one big hop up the hill. It looked like it hopped up to the green, but with these 68 year old eyes it was hard to tell. I thought it might be a little short and off to the right of the green.  Naturally when we drove up to green we could not find the ball.   When you can’t find a ball around the green, just for the hell of it someone will always look in the hole.  This time it was my friend Andy, and sure enough, that’s  where that sweet little ball was found. Needless to say that was one of the biggest thrills of my golfing life.   I have had a few close calls with getting the albatross, but this was the first and makes my golf life complete. There won’t be any debate on what was this year’s, shot of the year. More like the shot of a lifetime.  My golf game other wise has been up and down as usual, with the weather being more of a factor than in any recent years past. Have not been blogging all that much, but will try to step it up a little bit here, as golf gets into full swing.  But I had to write about this and share the ALBATROSS.

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, it’s been a slow start to the golf season, for various reasons.  On the first Sunday in March, I picked up a horrible flu bug in California, which then developed into a more horrible chest cold, which lasted for a good two weeks. I am feeling much better now, thank you, but it really had me down and out for awhile.

But even more of a problem, has been the miserable weather.  It’s either cold or wet, or cold and wet, or snow and cold.  In the beginning of all this, it really did not make much difference, because I was sick,  but the bad weather has never really let up, and there is no true end in sight.  I have managed to play 7 rounds, so far this year. This time last year I had played 15 rounds.  I have played lousy for the same reasons, being ill and the playing conditions have not been that great.  No rounds below 80, and just muddling through, until this weather pattern will hopefully break.

Since things are on such a stagnate level on the local level, I have decided to write about the Masters, which I rarely do.  It will be the hot topic of the week, and everybody is making their predictions, and I have no idea who might win, but this looks like it is shaping up to be one of the most competitive Masters of all time. How this will affect the outcome, I don’t really know, but what kind of Masters will we see.  In the long history of the Masters, the winning score has ranged from one over par 289 to 18 under par 270. In fact the only 2 scores not to win the Masters is one under par 287 and 15 under par 273. Three of Jack Nicklaus’s six Master wins have come under the tough conditions, where he finished even once and 2 under twice to win the green jacket.  Naturally, the weather does play a factor in affecting the scores, but there is no question that the way the Augusta Golf Committee sets up the course plays a huge factor.  The pin placements on those severely slope very fast bent greens can play havoc with any score card.  I am sure moving the pin just a few inches in any direction can have a major impact on how difficult it is to putt, and get close to pin on the approach shot. Is anybody really going to notice such a small movement of the pin. I think not.  In recent years the Masters at times has had more of a U. S. Open feel, rather than the typical Masters tournament. I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason for the way the Committee sets up the course, but I think that every year they have a score in mind that they want to win.  What I find interesting this year is that there are so many players playing so well, and then to see which Masters we will be watching.  One where there will be lot’s eagle attempts and going for those par 5’s in two and a winning score in the mid 270’s.  Or will we see a Masters where it will be a struggle for everyone and will see a survivor tournament winner, with a winning score in the mid 280’s. Oh, the power of the Masters Golf Committee.

With the way the weather is shaping up for this week I will be probably watching more than I really want.  So reluctantly I will make a couple of predictions.  The scores will be high with a winning score of 283, and someone not named Rory will win their first Masters.

 

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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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