Archive for November, 2009

There are no quick fixes in golf

This is a big reason golfers don’t get better. The insane desire for immediate gratification. There is no such thing as making a change and going from shooting 90 to shooting 80 in one day…at least not permanently.

Let me explain a few things to all of you that will help immensely.

1. If you make a change and it doesn’t feel a little uncomfortable or at least different…guess what? You didn’t change anything. By definition if you make a change, your feel won’t be the same and that will feel odd, or at the very least, different.

2. It takes time for your body to acclimate itself to the change where it does it automatically. If it takes Tiger 18 months to change his swing practicing 8 hours a day, how are we supposed to make a change and have it be ingrained in our swing from one day to the next after hitting a bucket of balls or playing one round?

3. Improvement in golf is not linear. If you make a proper change in your game you aren’t going to play better ever day until you shoot 32 (a perfect score for 18 holes). The biggest problem I see with people I give advice to is they let one bad day discourage them and they go back to their old way after one bad round. The one bad round is not because of the change you made, it’s because golfers have bad days. Did Tiger go back to his 2000 swing because he missed the cut at the British Open?…wait bad example…he should actually do that and that leads me to #4.

4. MAKE DANG SURE what you change is a good change. There are two slippery slopes here. Since I advocate being patient with changes and doing things that will make you better six months from now, you want to be careful about adopting something complicated that will lead you to a place of confusion. That is my problem with swing systems.

The other slope is adapting a rotating montage of quick fix tips you get from the golf media, your buddies or the know it alls at the range willing to offer them to anyone who will listen.

This is the most dangerous thing going on in golf right now. Because golf scores are not linear, sometimes we can implement a quick fix tip and it coincides with a good short game day…or a short game tip that coincides with a great ball striking day…or maybe it was just our day to shoot a low score and we equate the low score with the quick fix tip and that leads us down a road to multiple quick fix compensations…and a higher handicap.

DO NOT MEASURE YOUR IMPROVEMENT BY ONE SCORE, GOOD OR BAD. You measure your improvement over weeks and months, because that is how long it takes for improvements in your technique and/or course management to take hold.

My take on Tiger and his accident.

For those of you who question, “who crashes their car at 2 AM without it being alcohol related?”

I have a pretty young wife, a baby and another on the way. I don’t drink and I have never crashed into a fire hydrant at 2 AM, but I understand how…and those of you with wives and/or small children…you understand how as well. 🙂

I have to fly to see the in-laws today and I want to crash into a fire hydrant so I can be treated for lacerations of the groin…so I won’t have to go and so I can’t have any more kids.

Just so you guys know how brave I am…my wife and my mother-in-law read my blog on occasion.

I am so excited

I apologize this isn’t the exciting news that I told you about a few days ago, but it is a sign I am gaining some relevance. I got my first piece of hate mail. 🙂 I can only discern three things from this correspondence. This individual is a proponent of Natural Golf, his reading comprehension is as sharp as a cue ball and I shan’t be receiving a Christmas Card from him. Below is a comment that was posted under the Moe Norman swing analysis and if you wish to agree or disagree, here is the link.


Yes, Mr. Scheinblum, we have our opinions. But, maybe you should consider the science/physics of the golf swing before you attempt to shut off “debate” because no one wins. I believe that you don’t know as much as you would have us believe. Moe was the greatest (straightest, pure backspin) ball striker ever by age 19, winning the Canadian Amateur Championship twice in his mid-twenties. As Lee Trevino said, “he would have won them all (majors).” He was the only golfer ever tested by Titleist whose shots had no sidespin. Now well past your prime, I submit that you could only wish to have been as good a ball striker. Moe’s swing well into his thirties was longer than the video(at about age 60) you have and above his right shoulder at the top of the backswing. You state that we should copy what all the great players have in common. So you are not against teaching others what great players do. So why can’t I copy Moe? Because he doesn’t look like other great players, NONE of whom hit it straight as Moe? Maybe I should copy what these great players have in common: Furyk, Couples, Hubert Green, Trevino, Gay Brewer, Miller Barber, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Snead, Nelson and all of those guys who have so much in common. By the way, Moe also held the club better than anyone, in what is the optimum way to hit a ball resting on the ground with a stick, because there is PROVABLE less rotation of the club head through the impact zone. But, that might be too complicated you to understand, Mr. S, as you continue to copy that great golfing scientist of 125 years ago, Harry Vardon. His finger grip must be the best, since everyone (except Moe) has copied him for the last 125 years. And, Mr. Lavery, there are many who use Moe’s grip and hit it farther than he ever did.

Making a full turn/completing the back swing/taking it to parallel/getting a full handset

…and several other similar meaning cliches we have heard, spouted and tried to implement have ruined our golf swings…notice I used the pronoun “our.”

Don’t ever get the idea I am being superior with the language or tone I use. I know most of what I write here from having done these things myself and after a long painful lesson, learned they were BS.

(BTW-if you have the urge to make a comment that when I grabbed the club away from guiding the shoulder turn, when I extended away the club was really shut at the top…think about it really hard first 🙂 )

A large section of the golfing public get themselves in trouble trying to make this full turn and it ends up being a giant arm swing and over setting of the hands. You cannot recover from this place.

Watch Steve Stircker’s swing again…he completes his back swing. He makes a full turn. He gets a full handset…and he “looks” like he barely gets the club above his right hip. Watch JB Holmes, one of the longest hitters on Tour.

Know it alls across the golf world…most of which are 15 handicaps who watch too much Golf Channel, critique Stricker’s swing as doing none of these things. Anyone who says that, doesn’t know what a full turn is…and everyone in their weekly foursome is paying the price. Most of these folks are nice enough people, but they still should be burned at an OB stake…or at least have their mouths covered with duct tape…better yet, be forced to have basic cable.

As I have stated enough times to annoy all of you to tears, a full turn is turning your shoulders level to your spine as far as they will go, with the arms and hands still in front of the chest, the same distance from the sternum (breast bone) that they were at address.

This video will show you how to find what your full turn is. It may be so short you think you will have no power, it may be exactly what you are doing now…and in a very few cases, it may be all the way to parallel.

Know this. If you go past where your maximum shoulder turn allows you, you waste much of your power getting the club back to that point because………….actually that is way too technical for it to be important to know.

If doing this makes you feel powerless, there is 100% chance you weren’t accelerating properly from that long back swing and now from the shorter, more proper back swing, that lack of proper acceleration feels like a power outage…and it is.

This lack of power feel will improve as your feel learns to fire properly from that shorter, better position.

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Setup is so simple

I’d say the biggest problem that golfers have is setting up to the golf ball in a manner that will allow them to make a free swing.

It’s so simple. Do this in front of the mirror.

1. Stand up straight with your head high, shoulders back with a driver your left hand (lefties remember all of the rights and lefts are opposite for you)) and your feet about shoulder width apart.

2. Bend at the waist and knees the same amount at the same time until your arms hang straight out of your shoulders and you are balanced over your feet.

3. Grab the club with your right hand and notice that it grips the club lower, so allow you right shoulder to be lower than your left shoulder…and bump your left hip forward an inch or two to balance out your right shoulder being a bit lower.

You now have perfect address posture. Watch the video if anything is unclear.

A counter culture view on grip.

(I know, I know, it’s a lot more complicated than I am going to make it…but it shouldn’t be)

(oh yea and you have never heard this theory before…probably)

(one more thing…make sure you read the addendum at the bottom, that is what it boils down to)

There are three basic schools of thought.

Some people advocate a strong grip so the hands are inactive, some people advocate a weak grip to promote more hand action and more power. Some advocate a neutral grip…well, because it’s neutral…whatever that means.

There are also sub groups of finger placement, in the fingers or palms, long and short thumbs…Vardon, 10 finger, interlocking, double interlocking…sheesh!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are too many variables of people’s anatomy, too many variables in minor adjustments (eg long/ short thumb) and too many variables about the way the swing works to come up with a “standard grip.”

I advocate two things comfort and being open to minor, subtle adjustments, one at a time.

Yes…I am advocating the swing dictate the grip, not the other way around. We have been taught to swing with the big muscles, so why do the small muscles in the hands and the way they grab the club have to dictate how we swing?

Huh? We have all been taught that everything starts with the grip. Well, if you take a grip that creates a situation where the rest of your body can’t work freely and create a straight shot…what good is it?

I am saying two things. I advocate no grip…per se. I think your hands need to be comfortable on the club, or there will be tension. Tension creates bad things. Maybe a neutral grip is too uncomfortable and you will never be without excess tension if you use it. Maybe your hips are double jointed and allow for lots of rotation, so a neutral grip will hit hooks. Maybe you have one leg shorter than the other and a slightly strong grip makes you setup with horrible posture. You get the idea.

As your swing and body dictate, small adjustments may need to be made to the grip in order to deal with swing changes and body changes.

As your swing improves, your grip may need subtle changes. As you get older and your body changes, your grip will need changes. If you wake up with a stiff neck and can’t turn, you may need a temporary grip change.

This sounds like a daunting task, but it’s not. All you have to do is start from a place of comfort and make minor adjustments as the ball flight dictates…most often, you will need no adjustments at all, as your body is smarter than you.

I know this sounds complicated, but it is not. As in most things on this blog, I am not going to tell you a right way to do things I am going to tell you what to avoid. There is no right way to grip the club. Grip is probably the most individual thing there is.

1. Do not have grips that are too small for your hands.
2. Do not go too strong or too weak as it will influence posture and setup way too much. Like most things, there is no perfect way, just keep the car in between the freeway lines.
3. Don’t make drastic changes from one day to the next unless you are forced to play with a physical issue and return to normal when that is gone.

There are a few things that may be universal and this is not a comprehensive list.

1. The closer your hands are together, the less likely the dominant hand will take control, so a 10 finger grip is probably bad for most.

2. The closer your hands are together, the less leverage you will have, so a double interlock will lack power.

3. 1 and 2 tell us to look for a happy medium that is comfortable…duh!

4. Hitting a draw with a strong grip is asking for trouble.

5. Massively strengthening the grip to avoid blocks and slices is most likely a band aid that will create new problems.

Addendum: I would tell most people to start with a “neutral grip,” an overlap or single interlock, the club not too far back in the palms or too far out in the fingers…and work from there. That grip will work for the vast majority of people. Like I said, swing improvement, temporary or permanent injuries and physical changes due to aging may require small changes to grip. Basically, unless you have an abhorrent grip that doesn’t work, keeps you from setting up with good posture or keeps you from swinging without excess tension, just grip the club the way it feels good and forget about things like what a long thumb may do to your wrist action.

The greatest shots I have ever hit.

1. I was playing with 3 other members at my club in a best ball. They were a +2, a 1 and a 5. We were all tied coming to 18. 18 was a par 5 and I hit a terrible second shot way right of the green onto a down slope with no green to work with and water just past the pin. The +1 (who is reading this right now and getting biter all over again) wedged it to about 3 feet. On the down slope and hard pan, i hit a full swing flop to about 18 inches. The +1 was so flustered, he missed the 3 footer and I won. He started ranting and raving about what a bunch of lucky BS that was. I said, “wanna see it again?”

I went to the same spot, dropped a ball and lipped it out about 6 inches away.

2. In a Nationwide event in York, PA on a par 5, I hit a drive into the left trees and was underneath a cypress bush about 240 from the green. I had no stance and decided to get on my knees and hack a 3 wood out. Those who have seen my trick shot show will believe it, but everyone else will cry foul. I hit it perfectly on the front of the green and 2-putted for birdie.

3. I was playing in a scramble last year with friends. Our best drive was in a fairway bunker on a par 5. It was 280 up hill to a pin on the back tier…a very small tier. Even my friends, who had seen me hit a lot of great shots, didn’t believe it when I drilled it to about 8 feet.

4. There is a near 600 yard, dogleg right par 5 in Santa Barbara at a course called Sandpiper. I was playing with a friend and we got paired with 2 others. They had seen me hit some prodigious drives, but on this long par 5 I hit it in the fairway bunker at the corner. It is around 300 and a bit down wind I hit driver out of the sand onto the green. One of the guys we were playing with said, “I have never seen anything like that!”

My friend replied…”and you never will again.”

5. A couple of months ago I was playing with a friend at El Dorado in Long Beach. #10 is…guess what? A par 5. I hit a bomb, but in the left trees…low and behold, I was in a divot pointing 50 yards left of the green. I had to go under the tree in front of me, then hook it around a tree 50 yards in front of me. I called the shot and hit it about 10 feet…and actually made the putt.

6. The island 17th at the Stadium at PGA West. The called hole in one. To read more, find the article “The Biggest waste of a hole in one ever.”

7. You have to have played the next hole to know the shot. #12 at Seacliff in Huntington Beach, CA. I was in the left trees and the OB fence left is about 15 feet high. I had to go under the trees in front of me, then get it up over the fence, then slice it 50 yards and I lipped it out for an albatross from about 225.

8. Kemper Lakes in Chicago was the site for a PGA championship. The 18th is around 400 yards with a lake that you hit to the right off the tee with about a 250 yard tee shot and you have 150 left. However, as I pulled to the tee, the GPS in the cart said 280 to the pin. I thought…Hmmm? I walked ahead of the tee to get a look as there are trees right next to the tee that bock the view. I saw in fact the green was only about 260 carry over the water…but it literally required a 100 yard hook.

The bad news is I had a 100 footer up a nasty tier and three putted for par.

Bragging about how awesome I used to be is fun. 🙂

Too bad no one taught me about a proper release 10 or 15 years ago…then more people might actually know who I am.