Archive for September, 2011

Falling apart at the end of a round

There was a response on GolfWrx from someone about why rounds fall apart at the end and I thought it was excellent. Here is the link and the passage.

LINK

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It’s not always clear what causes us to “tire” before the end of a round, so that takes a little investigation. We did an informal study 15 years ago by reviewing score cards from a half dozen clubs and found that holes 15 – 18 were the worst scored holes typically across the board of player competency. The reasons for that appear to be many -grinding on the game, thinking too much, fiddling with the swing, poor eating habits, too much beer, frustration, pressure, anxiety. All of those exact involuntary action from our systems.

So perhaps if you figure out a way to pace yourself and minimize some of the above, the tiring will be minimized. What I’ve found is that because all that is on the side of “hard to see,” it gets little attention. It’s not just in golf – that’s life. Find a little book by Hans Selye, MD and it’s all well said in there (“Stress Without Distress”).

Proper Tilt at address

During a little experiment over on Golfwrx I decided I needed to do a video on proper tilt at address.

This one small setup adjustment can free things up so much and help you avoid some common errors.

It feels uncomfortable at first, but if you think about things the way I present them in the video, you can see all of the benefits it presents.

All you have to do is hold a shaft the way I do in the video and stand in front of a mirror to see how helpful it is.

I was the worst golfer alive from 2005-2008

When I say that, I obviously mean in a relative sense.

That being said, I find it hard to believe that any golfer alive was worse relative to his skill level than I was. Most would say it was mental, but it was almost completely physical and that made the mental manifest itself.

It is very important as it applies to a lot of amateurs today. My swing path was so far from the inside, I had no chance of doing anything but blocking it 50 yards right, or flip hooking it left with every club.

It was a result of 10 years of people telling me I was too steep and getting me to swing to right field, shallow it out, come more from the inside, etc. I did not understand what I do now.

It also affected my chipping.

Injuries in 2003 and 2004 didn’t help, but the bad golf was a result of what one of our favorite “commentors” calls swing crack.

Everyone told me how great my swing looked, yet I felt like a folded up lawn chair inside a phone booth. People had no idea what they were looking at and basically said I was an idiot for playing so bad and I was doing it all to myself mentally.

Therein lies the point. No one knew what they were looking at.

People will say impact is all that matters and I slightly disagree. Obviously all that matters is impact, but if you aren’t approaching impact is a repeatable way, impact will suffer.

That is what a golf swing is all about. Not how perfect your back swing is, not how perfect your finish is and not how perfect you can make your whole swing look.

How many of you can point out 5 guys who frequent your range and course that have PGA Tour looking swings and scratch finishes, but can’t get the club face on the ball?

Jim Furyk has a beautiful golf swing if all you look at is the club face coming into impact.

Tiger’s swing during the World Golf championship this year was awful in this same context. Significantly worse than the local 2 handicap that has a funky move but seems to hit every shot straight.

That is how you measure the effectiveness of a swing. How the golf club approaches impact.

From 2005-2008, to the untrained eye I had a PGA Tour swing, but in actuality, I approached impact as bad as any 25 handicap. I had just experience and skills to save it and make it look good.

Using this context (how the club approaches impact), I am down to a scratch with the irons and about a 5 handicap with the driver and 3-wood.

I was about a 10 handicap for most of last year and this year, so I have made huge strides just in the last few months and am still making them. That is why I have been able to start shooting some scores as of late.

All of my posts and videos are about one thing. Trying to help people improve their ability to get the club in a good position coming into impact…because that is where the beauty of the swing is.

The Tour Championship/Fed Ex Cup

First off, I take every opportunity to make fun of Johnny Miller…because…he deserves it. During the playoff he said Bill Haas hit it right because he didn’t release the right hand. This is the same man who tells people to pull the butt of the club into a wall in front of you.

So Johnny, are we supposed to hold the lag, or chuck the right hand at it?

I am sure if you go back and read everything I have said, you will be able to find contradictions, as my theories have evolved, but that is pretty funny that Miller had it wrong twice on both extremes…LOL.

Aaron Baddeley had a circus bogey 6 after a perfect tee shot on #9 Sunday. An example of a great player, at his best, leading a major event, still has the ability to completely butcher a hole.

High handicappers take note, it’s not just you. Good players take note…you are allowed to hit bad shots and have bad holes.

The more everyone realizes this…THE LESS OFTEN IT WILL ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

Protecting against bad holes and/or forcing yourself to not hit bad shots…just causes more bad shots and bad holes.

I said something earlier this year that Bill Haas was an emerging star. I know he tried to gag it away at the end, but when you gag and still win, that shows how good you are and this will just give him experience for the next time. He has shown me he can win majors.

I mean really? That shot on the second playoff hole? Under that pressure?

Speaking of gagging, the next time you are a little whiny about a few bad shots or a few bad holes, think of Jason day bogeying the last two holes to cost himself $10,000,000.

As I said last week about the FedEx standings, I thought the Webb Simpson angle was played beautifully by the television coverage. though I have poked some fun at the FedEx cup, it really did increase my enjoyment watching the golf. All of the sharpie board math scenarios were actually fun.

Back to Hass. I like his swing a lot. He isn’t trying too hard to swing inside out, or keep the club on a perfect plane. My eye is telling me he is doing whatever he can to keep the club in front of him and stay in sync…perfect takeaway be damned.

His dad has the same type of idea in his move, so I know where he got it from.

More on yesterday’s topic

What is good information?

That all depends on the individual. Some people like the theory, while others just want to know what to do.

Some people want scientifically correct information and terminology, while others want generally accepted terms in proper context.

Once you understand the sequence of the swing from a theoretical standpoint (if that’s what you want), it then becomes a trial and error process of individual feels.

You can only implement feels that create positions and movements, you can’t implement positions and movements themselves.

The difference between

what really happens and how you explain something to a novice in understandable terms.

Cast and flip are from stalled and weak pivots. Your average golfer won’t under stand the arms getting disconnected, loss of pivot integrity…blah blah blah.

They will understand a swing that is too long or grabbing it with the right hand and throwing in at the ball instead of using the big muscles.

It’s all about your audience and how you communicate. That is why my posts and videos are sometimes an attempt to be scientifically correct, while other times, just digestible to a hack…and sometimes even both.

That is what golf instruction is…knowing who is listening to you and tailor the info in a way they can understand it. It is going to be different from person to person. Two people of the same experience, skill level and knowledge will need the same concept explained to them differently. The differences might be subtle, but there are differences.

So for those who don’t like some of the ways I describe things, the terms or descriptions I use, or think something is above or beneath you…just wait, the same piece of info is coming for you soon.

What to learn from Brendan Steele

He was at the range where I practice yesterday while I was working with an 18 year old college player, who is very good.

What this young star to be learned and what escapes all of the average ams, is proper understanding of golf.

All golfers assume every PGA Tour player bombs it 300+ dead straight every time, stripes every iron perfectly and inside 10 feet, hits every shot from inside 50 yards in gimmie range and cashes every putt inside 40 feet.

Apparently 42 under wins every week and no Tour player ever shoots over 68, even on their worst day.

…and all golfers measure their own expectations relative to this ideal…and that is where the train runs off the track.

If people would measure their own expectations relative to the actual level PGA tour players occupy, they would have more realistic expectations for themselves…screw with their swing less, have more fun…and shoot lower scores.

For instance, I will see an 8 handicap be mad he it a shot from 150 yards to 30 feet…and fail to realize that is significantly closer than the overall tour average for that length shot.

Back to Brendan and my young protege. Mr. Steele hit a driver and my young friend said, “Wow, that is huge!”

Which I thought was odd as even though I am far from a tour player right now, he watches me hit drivers farther than that every day…and it dawned on me. Here was a PGA Tour winner and he was in awe…and that was appropriate as a PGA Tour winner deserves awe for their skill…but I wanted my young friend to learn some perspective for the benefit of his own game.

I said, “You do realize he is one of the longer hitters on the Tour and I hit it past him.”

He watched and said, “You don’t just hit it past him, you hit it 30 yards past him.”

I then said, “Watch how many shots he mishits…and more importantly, watch how he misses them.”

Mr. Steele then hit two really thin irons shots in a row but on line…I tell all of my students that is a great swing and they all scoff. The assumption is a great swing produces a perfect shot. That is wrong. A great swing produces the same relative motion every time and a thin straight ball is a club coming down the line and slightly mis-timed.

I tell everyone that all the time and no one listens. No one pures it every time, but the better the player, the better the misses are…Tiger not withstanding.

Mr. Steele then pulls out a 3-wood and my friend sarcastically says, “I suppose when he mishits this, he is going to shank it off the heel and hit a low push fade. Just like I do when I swing poorly.”

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE DID.

I kept repeating, “This guy is awesome, one of the best in the world and look at how often he mishits shots. Stop being so hard on yourself every time you hit a shot that doesn’t have a bacon strip divot and flies at the hole.”

So let’s rehash. A big time up, young, up and coming PGA Tour winner, who is considered among the longest hitters on the Tour:

1. Thined about 1 out of every 4 iron shots and two in a row, several times.
2. Had the same missed 3-wood as a solid college player when he is struggling with his swing.
3. Is 30 yards shorter than an old broken down former long drive champion.

The point my friend learned and that all of you need to learn. Even the best in the world are so far from perfect and the perception of what good golf is is completely skewed by television coverage of the best at their best.

PGA Tour players mishit shots all of the time. They shoot in the 80’s sometimes.

The rest of us golfers ruin our games by not having perspective or having realistic expectations based on an ideal that doesn’t exist.

If you spew out one of your own stats and it is better then the Tour average…guess what?