Archive for July, 2010

Today was awful and great at the same time.

First, I feel like a jerk after what I said about Ed Seay.

I turned at even with two horrible bad breaks that turned into bogey.

The back 9 got away fro me a bit as I was trying to press and make some birdies to make the cut. I had an OB a ball in the water and two three putts for a 39.

I actually did everything poorly and managed to slip enough good shots in.

I just need to play more golf. All of my struggling is directly related to not being comfortable on the course.

147 for two days on these courses is bad, but the room for improvement is huge.

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Round 1 yesterday

The first four holes and last two holes I looked like a combo between Ray Romano and Charles Barkley after working with Hank Haney.

The first hole was a 327 yard par 4 and the second hole was a par 5 that I had 3 iron in from the middle of the fairway. Nice par-par start.

Number three was another par 5 and the easiest hole on the course. 505 with no trouble. NICE BOGEY!!!…and on number 4 I snap hooked a wedge left of the green into death by magumbo and made another bogey.

It wasn’t nerves, I just stunk.

I played the next 12 holes 3-under. I had two spectacular up and downs and one really good punch SW under a tree from 90 yards to a couple of feet. Didn’t hit it great, but was solid and was 1-under with two to play.

The only way I could have played 17 worse is if I would have hooked 3 straight drives into Lakwewood Blvd….which was 40 yards left of the fairway. I block sliced my tee shot in the next fairway, block sliced my second shot trying to hook it around a tree, hit a horrible shot from 60 yards to 20 feet, had about as easy a 20 footer as you could have as it funneled to the hole and I left it short. Was lucky to walk away with bogey.

18 is the hardest hole on the course. 450, OB left, water short and left of the green and dead into the wind. I hit my drive off the heel (AGAIN!!!!) down the right side and it got into a bunker about 170 from the pin. The ball was above my feet and on a down slope. I had a lip in front of me and a tree in my way that prevented my from hitting it too high.

Basically, I should have advance the ball about 50 yards, but I went for the hero shot…and almost pulled it off. It barley clipped the tree, so it came up about 20 yards short. I hit a poor chip, but made a 10 footer to finish at even 72.

The golf was really sloppy. I looked like someone who hadn’t played in two years. However, I managed to squeak out a decent round when I did nothing very well but putt. I drove it poorly and my iron play was inconsistency. Chipping was either great or terrible.

I am hoping my swing feels a little more natural on Friday.

PS-whoever did the redesign on Skylinks in Long Beach is a moron. Those greens were atrociously designed. They used to be nice small muni greens if I remember…Like El Dorado’s where the other three rounds are. Now they are 10 acre monstrosities with herds of pachyderms buried in them and small quadrants that are inaccessible for the average golfer. It reminded me of a Ron Fream butcher job.

PPS-Looked it up, it was Cal Olsen. Coyote Hills is another one of his projects. YUCK, what a pile that course is!!!!! Alister Mackenzie and Donald Ross should come back from the dead and haunt this guy…and Ron Fream too…and Gary Player, Johnny Miller and Greg Norman. Throw in Ted Robinson Jr. and Robert Trent Jones Jr. as well. Their dads should be ashamed. Pete Dye needs to take his sons Perry and P.B. out to the woodshed as well… and if Arnold Palmer knew what Ed Seay was doing and putting the King’s name on, he would kick his ass and make him greenskeeper at Bushwood. Maybe we can get Tillinghaust to help Mackenzie and Ross out.

P.U.

That was how I described my play yesterday. I made mistakes that say one thing. “You haven’t played much golf lately, have you buster?”

I hit over several greens when in between clubs, I short sided myself and didn’t adjust to how firm the greens were. These are things I rarely did when playing well. I also struggled with my alignment all day.

The good news is I putted pretty well, hit my chips the way I wanted to and didn’t hit the ball into too many ugly spots off the tee

I thought I was a complete chop shooting 76. Had it even par most of the day, then doubled my 14th hole and followed that up with two bogeys. All three as a result of a mis-club. I came to find out the firm greens gave everyone a bad time. Half the teams were in, 70 was low and I was in the middle of the scores. So I am a chop, just not a complete one. 😀

I am going to have to get a lot better with the intangibles of playing golf. I have been a swing psycho for so long, that is a habit I will need to break in order to become good again.

That is what I am going to work on for the next two and hopefully four days. Playing the game, instead of executing swings.

Working on your swing and improving it on the range is fine, but you really get better by learning to play the game when on the course.

As soon as I do this, I will improve quickly. As Jeff Foxworthy says…

“I usedacould and I mightcould again.”

If you can hit a 50 yard pitch

(I am playing in a pro-am today and will see how my game is progressing. I am still caught between the old swing that my body does automatically and the new swing which is simpler and better, but requires effort to do. Oxymoron, yes, but 10+ year old muscle memory is a bear to get rid of. Until I get past this and start thinking about executing shots, instead of swings, I won’t be where I want to be on a daily basis. BTW, today’s post is how I am trying to accomplish this.)

In this age of hitting the ball as far as possible and contorting the body out of natural motions, a basic principle has been lost.

You don’t get better by learning how to hit driver as far as possible and think/hope the rest of the clubs fall in line…you learn how to hit a 50 yard pitch and work your way up the bag, not the other way around.

No one worries about adding/holding lag and getting the lower body turning way out in front (X-factor, coil or whatever else the techno-psychopaths are calling it this week) on a 50 yard pitch. Why? Because that is a horrendous way to hit that shot. There will be a total disconnect of the body parts, they won’t work together in that short of a swing and the consistency will be nil. I bet you can hit a lovely 90 yard bomb while trying to create artificial lag on that 50 yard shot… or at least lay the sod over it and have the divot and the thrown club go farther than the ball.

I doubt many will disagree with what I have just written. Those who do have wedge and short games that will send them to the medicine cabinet looking for Prozak…or something stronger…like rat poison. Even worse, I have experienced this issue in the past and it often caused me to talk back to my mother-in-law on holidays. So you want to avoid this at all costs.

Here is the way I see it and also the way I practice. If you learn to hit a 50 yard pitch, you can learn to hit a:

3/4 wedge and then a
full wedge and then an
8-iron and then a
5-iron and then a
hybrid and then a
FW wood and then a
Driver

The changes necessary (e.g. ball position and distance from the ball) to hit the different clubs with the same general movements will mostly be dictated by the difference in club length and loft.

All that really needs to change is amount of shoulder turn, which also naturally will get longer as the club gets longer…which gets me back to my original point.

LEARN THE EASIEST AND MOST EFFICIENT WAY YOUR BODY HITS A 50 YARD PITCH…and move on from there.

The US Open and our expectations

Where do I see most amateurs wasting strokes? When I say wasting, I am not counting strokes lost due to hitting bad shots (which is natural for every golfer). I am talking about stokes that are given away due to lack of course management.

I would say 95%+ of all amateurs I have played with have a warped view of what a good shot is for them and it is the fault of golf announcers.

How many times have you heard Johnny Miller (it’s all golf announcers, but Miller is the biggest offender) say that a player is not happy with a shot that ends up 10-15 feet from the pin on a shot from a distance of like 125 yards.

Statistically, that is an excellent shot from that distance, even for a Tour player. Fact is the winner each week on the PGA Tour has an average distance from the hole in regulation of up to 40 feet, it is usually in the 30’s, and almost never in the 20’s. The guys at the bottom of the field missing the cut are averaging 60 feet or more.

I think I once saw the average distance a shot for 100 yards finishes from the hole on the PGA Tour is 22 feet.

I once kept track of my friend, who was a 3 at the time, when he shot 75…it was over 100 feet. I wanted to prove a point to him.

I also kept track of something else a few years ago. I played in a 4-some and kept a notebook during the round. Using verbal and body language reactions, I kept track of what 4 different golfers would have shot if you added up the expectations of each individual shot.

I shot 68 and would have shot 64.
Player #2 shot 76 and his expectations added up to 64.
Player #3 shot 78 and his expected score was 58.
Player #4 shot 84 and his cumulative expectation was 52.

What is the point of all of this statistical nonsense? What is the point I wanted to prove to my friends?

Amateur golfers have an incredibly unrealistic expectation of individual shots and much of the blame is on the golf media. If you have the perfect swing, you will hit every shot perfect…and when we watch golf on TV, we find out it is only a good shot if it is inside 5-feet.

These unrealistic expectations lead to:

1. Attempting shots they are not capable of pulling of.
2. Getting frustrated with adequate shots and developing a negative attitude.
3. Tinkering with ones golf swing after every shot that doesn’t split the fairway or end up in gimme range.

ALL BAD!!!! For having fun and for shooting good scores.

The US Open was the perfect analogous situation for amateurs to learn about expectations. The conditions in the US Open for the best players in the world, line up with the conditions most amateurs play in on a day to day basis.

During the Open at Pebble Beach all you heard was:

“He can’t play near this pin.”

“Even though he is in the fairway and has a short iron is his hands, just hitting it on the green would be a good shot.”

“That tee shot missed the fairway, but it was still a good shot considering…”

Realistic expectations lead to less frustration, more fun and…LOWER SCORES

So the next time you hear Johnny Miller call a 9-iron to 18 feet a poor shot, throw a crumpled up piece of paper at the TV…

…and the next time you hang your head in shame when you pull a 7-iron 30 feet left of a back right pin…remember, that shot is better than the tour average this week for all 7-iron shots.

“Shut up you old bag!!!”

First, an update on how my practice is going. I am still very inconsistent. Looking like a pro one day and looking like a 12 handicap who hits it far the next.

To me it seems very natural to be this way. I am in transition from having a swing thought checklist, to simplifying my swing and eliminating the rotating montage of erroneous swing thoughts. The good news is both the good days and bad days are better than they were the previous week.

It’s mostly a mental battle now of trusting it and gaining confidence. Practicing on the range and eliminating the thoughts and playing golf is how to fight this battle.

When I just hit the ball freely, my body works together, when I get a little off, the lower body stalls and my ball flight becomes erratic.

Now on to another fine story that happened on Friday. I made a new friend. A soon to be high school senior who has scholarship offers to some high profile D1 golf schools. He has an amazingly soft ball flight with his irons and works hard. As long as he doesn’t spend his college years playing intramural sports and chasing skanky women (like someone I know), he has a very bright future in golf.

On Friday we were hitting balls next to each other, talking about the golf swing, trading stories…having a great time. This is one of the big issues in getting my game back on track. Having fun at the golf course and I was.

Let me digress to reiterate for the new readers my philosophy on bad golfers. I have nothing against bad golfers…no matter how bad they are. I have an EXTREME prejudice against golfers who take themselves too seriously at any skill level. However, my disdain increases as the skill level decreases with those who have the “scratch” mentality. In other words, if Tiger wants to take himself too seriously, I don’t approve, but I accept it completely. If someone is advancing the ball 10 feet at a time and still maintaining their 90 second pre-shot routine, I become like a crotchety 100 year old man, with the TV stuck on Elmo and a remote control with dead batteries.

As the young lad and I were talking about the David Leadbetter disciple who had offered him some horrible unsolicited advice, a woman of about 50 walks up to me and says…

“I am five clubs into my warm up routine and you have not stopped talking the whole time. You are bothering my concentration as I am working on something in my swing. Please be quiet.”

While hitting balls she looked less like a golfer than a contestant on Bowling for Dollars…but at least her pre-shot routine was long and useless.

Now if she would have come up to me and said that she had a hard day at work, wanted to come enjoy the day and some peace and quiet at the driving range…I would have apologized and gracefully granted her request.

You know those scenes in the movies and on TV where the protagonist reacts the way he wants to and the reaction is extreme. We then find out that scene played out in his head, only to see that he was so dumbfounded, that he basically did nothing…well…

The post entitled “US Open and our expectations”

was an outline for something I was going to write about how golf announcers and their analysis of shots Tour players hit ruin the expectations for the rest of us, on what a good shot is. It accidentally got posted Sunday morning.

I am still planning on writing it and the statistics are a real eye opener and I will add some stats of my own.