Archive for February, 2011

The Match Play

I love this tournament and I love match play. I don’t want it every week, but it’s nice to have it once a year in a big event like this.

Match play is also the best way to play one of those desert courses where every errant shot results in death by magumbo (all those who know that dirty joke will understand).

Tiger showed why he is nowhere near anything. He couldn’t hit a 60 yard wide fairway with his “old faithful” 3-wood on the 19th hole. I don’t care what is going on with the changes. When a player who has held up under that much pressure can’t hit a huge fairway with his best club, that is not the right swing even if he started it yesterday.

I have slipped a time or two myself, but saying you’re “pissed” in an interview for national TV is a bit of a faux pas. He will get angrier and angrier as he is unable to pull off the shots he has grown accustomed to.

A “Tin Cup” moment where he breaks every club in the bag but the 7-iron is not far off. Obviously this is hyperbole, but I recognize the frustration and broken clubs (plural) are the next stage.

Public finger pointing at Sean Foley is on the horizon, as well. My guess is the irritation and anger will grow, he will have a 75+ one of the rounds at Augusta and the barbs will fly.

The course is a typical desert pile. Beautiful, scenic and the same exact course that has been built 1,348 times already. Target fairways in between the scrub and fairways and greens that repel the good shots like a links course, but since it is on the side of a mountain, it plays nothing like a links and it gets the dreaded, “links style” moniker. Like I always say, calling a course on the side of a mountain in the desert “links style” is like saying a guy
with a beer gut had a “pregnancy style” weight gain. In other words, “links style” is a meaningless marketing term that allows them to charge $200 for a green fee, or $200,000 for a membership.

I ranted about Tiger, golf course design, golf marketing and a major rant about Leadbetter last week. What’s left? How about those gas prices? If I were a host on Fox News I would get death threats…but as usual, I digressed. 😀

I didn’t get to watch much of the event other than Tiger’s round.

I knew Johnny Miller would give me some ammo. “Instructors today don’t teach people to keep the face square longer by leading with the left hand…like they did in my day.”

That was what he said when they showed Luke Donald hitting a hook and the face closing a bit too soon. Um, John, that’s because…I can’t do it, my head will explode. Let’s just say I disagree and most of you can come up with 15 reasons why he is wrong.

OK, one…Luke release the pants off the club and won…end of story.

Congratulations to Martin Kaymer for becoming #1. I really enjoy watching him play. It’s a good swing, but doesn’t seem to be a manufactured swing…and if I had his demeanor, I might have achieved a greater success, but then my wife probably wouldn’t have liked me as much and I wouldn’t be here for your edification.

Bubba Watson continues to show (as I said 😀 ) that he is fast becoming one of the top players in the World and my pick to break out and win a major this year.

Matt Kuchar continues to show me that knowing how to score is more important than how you look swinging or playing. I can also put Luke Donald in the category, although he is very straight. Luke Donald also proves a point I am going to make tomorrow about length.

I also want to slip in that a guy (Spencer Levin) with a “terrible” golf swing almost won in Mexico at the secondary Tour event.

I didn’t get to watch much of the golf, but the cold weather looked like it made the play less than stellar. However, I really respect all four of these guys and the way they play. Kuchar has been so consistent, Bubba is the best “player” in golf right now. What I mean is he plays shots, he doesn’t swing the club. Donald’s rhythm is so great, I don’t know how he misses a shot. I really like his release. He has the “gradual” release of the club I advocate, yet has plenty of forward shaft lean. I know he is not long, but he is not a masher like many of the other young guns. He has the type of swing most amateurs could emulate.

…and what can you say about the most recent major winner and current #1 player?

I know he didn’t win, but being a runner up just solidifies his assent to the top.

Guest Column #5

I just sat down at the computer, Googled a few LINKS, and here’s what I found out, condensed into my own words:

HIP ROTATION

We hear a lot about hip rotation in the golf swing. Unfortunately, hip rotation is a result, not a cause, if we look at the swings of expert golfers.

Many golf instructors teach hip-turn. Hip-turn can be a valid “Feel” thought…as long as the player realizes that Feel Is Not Real. If a golfer feels or sees hip movement, and attempts to teach others this “Feel” thought, there is the danger that someone might take it LITERALLY and actually try to turn their hips with their hips. And, if hip movement is exaggerated, it can result in lower back pain. Uh-oh.

In the past, we could excuse golf instructors for parroting the same old nonsense, but now, with computers and Google, it is easy to learn the function of the hips. In golf, they don’t turn—they GET TURNED. (That is, if you want a pro-style swing, and are physically capable of it.).

The function of the hips is to provide range of motion, flexibility, locomotion, and to maintain balance. If we try to turn our hips…with our hips…then what is going to provide our balance? The results would be weak out-of-sync rotation, loss of balance, and possible injury. Not good.

What kind of movement can we expect from our hip muscles? Forward and backward movement of the legs, moving the legs to the side and returning them, and inward or outward rotation of the legs.

We do find that smaller muscles going from the pelvis to the hip help to rotate the hip. This is the only hip rotation caused by hips–but we’re not looking for this because we want to use more powerful muscles to provide rotation.

If we want to find out what turns the hips, we’ll have to look somewhere besides the hips.

“Hips,” as a result, might work. As a cause…I doubt it.

Slide your hip to left field

(If you are a lefty, reverse all the directions)

This is a big help to people who hang back, have a hip thrust at the ball, or have very inactive hips.

If you look at every great ball striker at every skill level, they basically initiate the downswing with lateral hip movement. The problem is most golfers don’t have the kinesthetic awareness to do this automatically.

So picture your left hip going to left field to start the downswing and that will create a movement that fits you just right.

Two points of clarification.

First, when I say left field, I mean to a point left of your target. Lee Trevino was great at this.

Second, If you think this makes you come over the top…or more clearly, if this does make you come over the top, your back swing is way too far to the inside.

I have found the best course of action to wreck my golf game…and spend my two babies’ college money at the same time.

(Rant today, info tomorrow 😀 )

(I am through worrying about offending people who don’t like me anyway.)

I am going to give Tiger a break today and am going to rant about Leadbetter instead. What many of you don’t realize is readers send me links and info to provoke my ire and I fall for it hook, line and sinker. Today’s post is a result of two links I was sent.

The first link would only cost me $10,000. Just read the very first “lucky 13” words.

LINK 1

COMPLETE MAKEOVER!!?!?!?!?!!!?!???!?!?!?!

I honestly hope that is a poor choice of words.

First off, no one at any skill level needs a complete makeover. Unless you count the complete makeover you will need back to your old game after having “The David Leadbetter Experience.”

Second, how in the (expletive deleted) can you completely makeover someone’s game in one day? Tiger and other Tour players have admitted it takes 18 months or more to make a swing change. How long would it take a mid level amateur to have a complete makeover of his whole game?…one day apparently.

Goodness gracious sakes alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For a mere $3,000, the second link sounds like fun too. In the same way having your walnuts cracked with a ball-peen hammer sounds like fun.

LINK 2

A mental efficiency trainer? Is this some young hottie dressed in a cheerleader outfit promising to spank you if you don’t hit your target goals?

No wonder no one gets better when working with Leadbetter. That’s not poor instruction, that’s a poor motivational approach.

I want to know what the over/under for what I would shoot after attending and implementing everything I learned at either one of these banging your head against the wall debacles.

I am putting the number at 85…as long as the course was easy, I got to play the white tees, everything inside 5 feet was a gimmie and I got to buy three mulligan tickets from the Hooters girl acting as a host in the pro shop. Oh yea, penalty strokes don’t count, Judge Smealls foot wedges allowed, free drops from all sand traps and I get to quit on 15 if it looks like I won’t hit the number. Kind of sounds like the Haney Project rules…or one of my tournament rounds 2004-2008.

Speaking of over/under, I set the number of hate emails and negative blog comments from Leadbetter licensed proteges at 12…and none of them with a sense of humor.

This blog is about what is wrong with golf and how to make it as simple as possible and more fun…so I feel the need to call out this kind of nonsense that is the epitome of everything that is wrong with golf instruction.

I wonder if these packages include 6 sessions to a chiropractor and a case of Fleet Enemas?

Probably just the $10,000 package. The $3,000 package comes with a prescription of Prozak and a $3 off coupon for Advil at Costco.

What would Iron Byron and Perfie shoot?

If you had Iron Byron hit every drive and approach shot and Perfie every putt, what would they shoot?

Not that low, IMO. There is an intangible art to scoring. As I said in the comment section under another post. There is working the ball into tucked pins, judging distance, imagination around the green and “willing” putts into the hole. No matter how perfectly you calibrate the robots to hit shots, scoring is an art.

Trying to perfect your motion (swing, chipping motion and putting stroke) takes the part of your brain with the imagination and intangible ability to score out of the equation and makes it dormant.

So even if you have a perfect motion like these robots, that is only a small part of the game. Learning to swing like a robot both literally and figuratively…is missing the point.

I learned that lesson…and hopefully not too late.

Clean your grips regularly and change them periodically

The most under rated waster of strokes in golf. Old, worn, dirty, slippery grips.

I see golf bags full of squeaky clean club faces, that are meticulous cleaned groove by groove and protected by custom made wood and iron covers with battery operated heaters, that cost more than the clubs.

The head cover is removed, the club is removed from the bag and I see a grip that has been on the club since it came from the factory, when there was still an East and West Germany, with grooves worn in where the thumbs depress and slippery with hand oils and dirt.

Wanna save some strokes? After each round or before each round, take a wet towel and rub down your grips thoroughly. Then take the dry end of the towel and dry them thoroughly. You will see some nasty black grime on your towel and you may have to repeat this process several times. If they are still slippery, replace them.

I just saved a good many of you about 5-10 strokes. Slippery dirty, or old grips give you the feeling you have to death grip the club in order for it not to go flying out of your hands. That counts as excess tension and ruins more things than I can list.

The L.A. Open

I don’t care what corporate sponsor has title. It’s still the L.A. Open to me.

More times than I can count I have ruined an opportunity to play in this event. The qualifying was often for two spots and once when it was for four, I butchered my chances to get in. Notice I didn’t say choke. I only did that once. The other times, I butchered it…but those are stories for another day.

I just Dream of Jeannie and an opportunity to play Riviera in a Tour event.

On to the golf.

Riviera is the way golf is supposed to be played. Small greens with subtle slopes, narrow fairways with trees, difficult rough and opportunities to recover after bad shots.

No man made waterfalls, no rock piles in the middle of the driving areas, no windmills, no clown’s mouth and no dinosaurs buried in the greens.

I don’t know how that putt by Allenby on 15 stayed out. There must have been a bad lip on that cup. I know it was a tough uphill putt and past the hole was nasty, but at least get a 30 footer within 10 feet. Your average 25 handicap watching could have done as well.

I know I have made fun of Ryan Moore in the past, but I love the fact he didn’t let some swing nerd change the way he plays. I guess the outfits and soft bottom shoes match his swing…so good for him. I wish he would win more and get the public behind the “Anti Scratch Swing” movement. Perfect acronym…ASS.

Freddy was aloof the few times I met him, but I still love his game and root for him every time he plays well. How many manufactured swings do you see among the top older players…or among any of them? Allen Doyle anyone? The answer is almost zero and it’s why you see guys like Watson, Norman, Couples and others with natural swings still do well.

As you get older, a forced “perfect” swing won’t work as your body starts to wind down. The older guys weren’t into doing that, but I also don’t expect many younger guys to do well as they get older…if their swing is a forced cookie cutter version.

I have never been a huge fan of Baddeley’s game in the past, but you can’t argue with how well he held up on the back 9. Especially after that disaster at 12. He came right back with a great shot and putt at 13. I like him more than I like his game (not that there is anything particularly wrong with it). However, I really like the way he is swinging at it right now. Very simple and not manufactured.

Which brings me to my weekly criticism of Peter Kostis. For the second week in a row, he did his job. Saturday he showed how Fred Couples’ swing works and why it works. Sunday, he gave the viewers a simple guide on how to see if their club is on plane using Aaron Baddeley’s swing. I hope he keeps it up. I won’t have him to make fun of, but the golfing public will be educated properly…and I can always find someone else to make fun of. The telecasts will start being on NBC soon and I will have Johnny Miller to provide me plenty of material.

Nice final round by Eric Crompton. I believe the low round of the week taking him from DFL to 25th. A nice check for a guy with a great story. The fact I can’t beat a guy who has had two heart transplants is not lost on me. Maybe I can have 1997-2008 lobotomized.

I am a big fan of 18 at Pebble, but is there a better combo of finishing hole and amphitheater than 18 at Riviera?

Apparently the 18th at every Trump golf course.