Sunday, September 11, 2011

back to basics

After several months working to get back to a low single digit handicapper and eventually to scratch, I  seem to be moving backwards. So I took some time to process the journey I have been travelling. Looking backwards I can see that the trip has not been a straight one.

Like most of my students I allowed the desire for short term gains to influence the overall journey. In other words I kept changing paths, for awhile I was strictly conventional, then a bit of stack and tilt crept in, followed by a relapse into "natural golf". I ended up with a swing focusing on style rather than substance. Some how I forgot the purpose of the journey was to prove that the simple "Turn - Turn" swing could get a golfer to the best golf of their life.

I spent a little time on the range yesterday going back to the beginning. Neutral set-up, turn turn swing, rhythm and tempo. Results were great. On the flag with my wedge and in flip flops too!

I think it is important to examine was caused me to alter my path. DISTANCE!!!

Like everyone else I started looking for more distance instead of lower scores, disaster. So I reread the early part of my book, and remembered that distance was the last of the key outcomes.
  1. Smooth full turn around a fixed axis, creating powerful weight shift with the proper sequence of movement.
  2. Consistent rhythm and tempo
  3. Controlling the bottom of the swing arc. . .hitting the ground exactly where I want.
  4. Predicting and controlling the balls flight.
  5. Distance. Be long enough and just long enough.
When the focus moves from the first four outcomes to the fifth outcome (distance) too early in the journey, those first four skills are not automated and habituated so they must begin to fail. That is what happened to me over a very frustrating and discouraging few months. Each outcome-skill must be developed and habituated in the correct sequence. This is a very valuable lesson for me as both a golfer and an instructor, I have to be patient with myself and help my students be patient with themselves.

There are no short cuts.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A fairly solid round in the H E A T ! ! !

Played pretty well both Saturday and Sunday, even in the oppressive heat. Shot 74 both days. Should have been lower but I am just not putting very well. That's not exactly the fact, I am rolling the ball very well, but I am horribly misreading the breaks. Going to play again today and use the electronic break reader.

I guess what is concerning me the most is my lack of distance with my driver and woods. Short irons are fine, 120yds with my wedge is ok. I actually hit a few drives in the 170 yard range and shorter, I can actually hit my 3 iron farther than my driver! But the good news is that I am hitting fairways.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

After a bit of time.

Time does just kind of slip away. One minute here a day or two there and pretty soon your looking at social security. 13 months from now I will be eligible, will it still be there when I get there?

Oh well, 50 50 chance, either it will or it won't.

Darren Clark wins the British, that's a good thing. That's 2 majors in a row won by spectacularly non-spectacular golf. Straight hitting, great putting and awesome short games will beat the longballers every time.  We can learn from that. Play it forward (shorter) hit it straighter and make some putts.

Darren's philosophy of having his attitude affect his golf game instead of his golf game affecting his attitude is another gem we can all take to heart.

For my self well the weight is coming down, the scores are coming down and I feel pretty good. The foot is still a bit of a nag, but I can live with it, well me and Mr. Aleve. Will play several times this next week to see if my swing will hold up. I'll let you know.


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Beginning of Summer

It has been a long time since my last entry, and the progress has been slow and even a bit to the rear. Suffering a new injury to the foot I have used food and adult beverage once again as a medicine so the weight came back.  I am thinking now that getting to scratch might turn out to be easier than losing 65 pounds.

I have some glimmers of hope in my last few rounds, a near par round at the Links and a low 70's round at Sunnybreeze were intermixed with some rounds in the 80's. They did share some common stats. My up-and-down ratio is way low. I think the cause is the putting, on one round I never made a putt over 5'!

I have hit 40% of my greens in regulation but only have 8 birdies to show for it, that is less than 1 birdie for every 10 GIR.

I did a little experimenting with a different putter and that showed me that it is the read of the green that is causing my problem. I am consistently missing on the high side. I am reading in too much break, or I have too much pace.

So I guess I have to practice putting, but like the rest of you I find an hour of putting practice is BOOOORRRRIIING.

I have been using GolfLogix on my smartphone for yardage and stats info, it has been pretty good but the info stored on the websight is a bit odd. Most importantly they do not have the Blackberry set up to track putting distances. Can't even enter them manually after the round.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Finally a good round.

For a few months now I have been working on getting my swing back. I suppose too many swing thoughts and concepts had crept in because of the hundreds of lessons I have given this past year. I have taught everything... 'Stack & Tilt', 'Natural Golf', 1 plane and 2 plane, long backswing, short backswing, young, older and even older. All the while I have tried to maintain the core concept that it is a rotational swing. But somewhere along the way my "turner" quit turning, my hinges rusted, and my towardser went askew. As my friend Chris is prone to say, "I lost my shiveagetter!"

Well for a brief time this past Sunday all felt right again. The turn was smooth and efficient, the patient had patience, and the ball knew where it was supposed to go. Maybe it was the new toy; I started using the GolfLogix range finder and stat tracking app in my phone, way cool stuff. Or maybe it was playing a new golf course; the Links at Cape Haze is a very nice 'executive' course with real grass on the fairways, greens with intelligent pin placements and aesthetics that have been missing at my home course.

I felt really good and have my shivagetter back and working better than ever, I think scratch is in reach.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ups and downs

My Grandfather would always tell me, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly!" Of course he didn't mean that one should keep doing it poorly, or even get better at doing it poorly, but to understand that greatness is always preceded by failure. He would also say that one of the most powerful impediments to greatness, is to be "pretty good".  The time, effort and money it takes to get from "pretty good" to great, can be overwhelming.

Those truths are really hitting home on this quest to scratch. I am seeing glimmers of greatness but mostly is see myself getting better at doing it poorly. I can score better, but not actually play better. However I do believe now that it is possible for the casual golfer to become a 0 handicap, and I believe I can be there before the end of summer.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Still working it

Well the progress has been real slow. It is clear that I cannot get the distance that I once had. I am fully 75 yards shorter than just a few years ago.  I know its not strength or technique, I think it's flexibility, in the shoulders, wrists and back.  Jeff Davis is coming to the Longwood Clinic this Saturday, he is from the Titleist Performance Institute and will take a look at me and all of the participants. I'll let you know what he has to say.  Come out and join in.

I have been playing pretty well, except for the par 3's and my longer putts. Not hitting the greens and not sinking longer putts.

For the putting problem I am going to try what I call the Shuffleboard Stroke.  Stand a bit open aim the palm of the right hand at the line and stroke it while looking at the target, NOT THE BALL.  Tried this for a few days, worked in practice but does not stand up in competition.  Back to normal I go, well as normal as I can be.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another day another way

Played a few rounds since the last post. Went out to Arcadia and played the public course, $15 for 18 holes, I guess public money must make up the difference.  Fairways and tee boxes were ok, greens not so much.

I struck the ball very well. Worked hard on getting my full backswing, getting my chest parallel to my back foot, then rotating aggressively through to impact.  Good straight long ball flight, but my short game let me down.  78 from the tips par 72.

In the skins/nasa games I am doing ok. Winning the match play but not making enough birdies or better for skins.  Gave myself chances but didn't convert the putts.  I think I need to make about 150 feet of putts in a round to score low. Last week the only holed out long putts were to save par.

I really stunk up the first two par three, doubling them both, so through 7 holes I had 5 pars and 2 doubles! 

Physically doing mostly OK. The weight isn't falling off like I wish it would but the waist is getting smaller. Dr. Matt is doing wonders with the back and left side.  I am suffering a re-occurrence of Plantar Faciatis, an inflamation in the bottom of the foot back by the heel. Feels like a very bruised heel.  It is caused from a lack of stretching, so I am stretching it more. I read in a golf magazine that too high of acid content in the system can keep the inflamation from subsiding at night, so they suggest 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every 100 pounds of body weight, it does seem to help. Tastes awful.

Working this week \on completing the forward turn.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A little bit of success

Success is the "Progressive realization of worthwhile personal goals". Success is therefor a process, to be successful means that one is filled with worthwhile progress.  On Sunday I began to feel a bit of that success. My belt is a few notches tighter, so my waist is a few inches smaller, progress! Success!

And my golf score was a few strokes smaller also!  Success!  I played Sunday with Flip, I was just working on staying planted through impact. Like Moe Norman focusing on facing the ball at impact. Solid shots for the most part, a few birdies and a 76 with a ball O.B. not too bad.

The ball O.B. was caused by too much and too early of a hip slide towards the target. Staying centered put a lot of stress on my left knee so Dr. Matt had his work cut out for him on Tuesday. I left his office pain free once again.  He used needles in my right bicep and inside the elbow area to relive the pain in my left knee.  Dramatic results!

From now on I will wear a knee support when I practice and golf.

The following video shows the hip slide, while it is not waaaay out of whack it is enough to cause me to be too far in front of the swing.  Please, any comments would be appreciated

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The quest continues

Did play this past Wednesday, saw some positive forward movement in my short game, putting let me down a bit.  Working very hard on getting my right hand moving freely around my left.  Fast hands swinging freely around my body, hard to do when you feel like a 100 years old!

I am getting to the point where I can hit more balls in practice.  Actually a few hundred during the course of a day. Not just short shots but full swings. I guess the little bit of work I am doing with the stretch bands is working. I am going to change my workout time from just before bed-time, to first thing in the morning. I think I have the discipline to get up a half hour earlier.

Till next time

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week 4 or thereabouts

Played this morning, sort of.  Cold windy raining, all around a lousy day for golf. Really only hit 2 or 3 good shots. Maybe a little doubt is creeping in that I can actually get back to scratch.

On the positive side, the weight is still slipping away and my waist line is shrinking.

I am clearly in need of more practice time. This weekend I should get a few hundred swings in on the range, most of my work will be on the mid and short irons.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

About 3 1/2 weeks into it

The weather has not been cooperative.  Too cold to golf, at least for me. Too many really nice days in Florida to golf when it's below 45. Did spend a bit of time at the range working on my hand positions at impact and finish. I am trying to get to a position at impact where my trail wrist is still fully cupped backward, creating a downward pressure at the contact point of my trail index finger and thumb pad. Doing this also putts my lead palm in an up-facing position. This to me is what is meant by hitting down on the ball. As I extend my trail arm it is in a downward motion.

Towards the finish position I want to maintain the pressure on the same 2 contact points, most significantly on the upper part of the pointer finger. At finish the back of my trail hand is still bent back. I can see the back of my trail hand through-out the swing, start to finish.

Done correctly I feel pressure on the trail index finger through the entire arc of the swing. The pressure is ALWAYS pushing in the direction the club is moving.

I fully intend to play in the skins and match play game on Wednesday morning, I'll let you know how I do.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week 2

Lost 10 lbs this week, not too hard, except for the no alcohol part. I don't really miss starches or sugars.

Played in the Skins Game Wednesday morning, 2 skins and won both singles matches, felt pretty good. I could have scored lower but I made a couple of sloppy swings that cost me.  No penalty strokes, but way to many mistakes on what should have been easy shots.

Tee time was 8:20 AM and I lacked the discipline to get to the course early enough to warm up and get a feel for the swing and the greens. Where it really hurts me is on the approach shots and chips for the first few holes.

My swing thoughts for the round were pretty simple "Tic - Toc" which  is the tempo I want to feel, and keeping the trail wrist hinged back. PRESWING thoughts are more complex, because I haven't re-habituated the Natural Golf set-up.  "Weight under the inside of my ankle bones, spine tilt away from the target, shaft pointing to my lead arm pit and shoulders square to the target line. And more!"

Started working out this week. Nothing crazy, using a large workout ball and stretch cords. I do most of the exersizes seated on the ball to maximize balance and steady the core. I do full range movements with a medium resistance band. Also lots of turning movements.  The "Turn Turn" swing coach better be able to turn. My goal is to get to 45 minutes a night of resistance conditioning at a pace that is also cardio. Will add the "body blade" to the workout starting Monday. It has only been a few nights now but I am feeling better already!

Monday, January 3, 2011

first week

Played on New Year's day.  More of a practice session with friends. Targeting was way off, tend to miss to the right. Short game was very irratic, had a tough time getting the ball to stop close to the hole on chips and short pitches, took several holes to get the feel of the "freeze dried" greens. Very hard and very fast.

Sunday hit several 9 irons on the range. At 75 yds my direction was excellent but distance control was off, I was long. At 115 yds the distance control was much better but I was hooking the ball. Discovered I was taking the club too far to the inside on the way back, need to remember to swing down the line, , , up the line.  It worked.

For this project I have decided to play-like-Moe.  Single plane, single axis, Natural Golf.  The basic feel of  "Fold - Unfold" the right arm is coming back. Need to focus on facing the ball at impact.

Weight loss. Not missing the carbs so much, lots of chicken, steamed mussels and clams last night, Thanks Tom and Debbie.  Do miss the alcohol.  Weighed myself and was acutally surprised at the weight I have gained.  40 lbs weight loss is still the 90 day goal. When I shot a video of my swing I expected to look like Moe but not as fat as Moe.

Playing for real tomorrow morning. Skins games and a couple of Nasa matches.  Focus will be rhythm and tempo and facing the ball and impact.