Friday, December 14, 2007

I shot an 81 at The Legacy Golf Resort !!!

Last weekend I got a great deal on GolfNow.com to play 18 holes at The Legacy, which is a nice course right by South Mountain in Phoenix, AZ. It was supposed to rain, so maybe that's why they had the discount. It did sprinkle a little, but was otherwise a nice day.

My lessons with Blair have paid off tremendously because I shot an 81! My front nine score was a 43 and the back nine I shot a 38!!! I think the big difference on the back nine was that I was sinking more putts. The sad thing is that when I get a low score, I always think about the putts I should have made that would have lowered my score even more! :)

My drives are still having a low hook tendancy, but I hit more in the fairway and DID NOT LOSE A SINGLE GOLF BALL!!! That in itself is amazing! I can probably count on one hand the rounds I have played without losing a golf ball.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Back Swing Path Improvement

In my last entry, I mentioned how Blair told me to "over-close" my club face on my back swing. One aspect of this that I don't think I mentioned is that when you open your club face in the first part of the back swing, you tend to take the club back on a flatter plane, or too far to the inside. When I "over-close" my club face on the first part of the back swing, the tendency is to have a steeper plane. Since I usually have a shallow, flat, too-far-to-the-inside back swing...by over-closing my club face, I'm creating a steeper swing plane without thinking about the plane. I'm thinking only about feel, the feel of over-closing my club face.

Since using this over-closed club face drill, I have seen improvement. My ball flight is more consistent...I still have the pull hooks and the push fades, but more often the flight is straight. Tomorrow I have my 3rd lesson in the series of 10 lessons with Blair.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Keep Club Face "Looking" at the Ball

I had the 2nd lesson in a series of 10 lessons with Blair Douglass from Dobson Ranch Golf Course. His observation of my swing is that during my practice swings my club face looks good and is basically square the whole time. However, when I am swinging with a golf ball, I open my club face early in the back swing, take the club way too far to the inside, and have to work really hard getting the club face back to square and usually pull hook the ball.

So, for now, I am over closing the club face in the first part of the back swing. When I am over the ball, I take two or three mini back swings...over-closing the face. Then I take my real swing, trying to really close the club face.

Blair says when I am feeling that I am over-closing the club face, it is actually square. So over-closed to me is actually square in reality. Sounds strange to me, but since I can't actually see my back swing, I have to trust Blair. Actually, he has a video camera in my lessons and shows me, so it is true.

It is frustrating to me that I still have the same issue after all this time. This has been one of the main problems of mine from day 1 with the golf club. The good news is that my swing path looks good. I am coming from the inside. That is definitely an improvement!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Don't Re-Grip the Club

Blair Douglass, a golf instructor from Dobson Ranch Golf Course, found a slight hitch in my swing. At the very top of my back swing, I am re-gripping the club. This causes the club face to either open or close...every once in a while it might stay the same, but likely the club will shift in my hands at the time of re-gripping.

Now, I am consciously thinking about keeping the same pressure on the grip during the entire swing...especially at the top. I can practice this at home with a club in the back yard without actually hitting a ball.

Another thing Blair noticed is that I take the club too far back to the inside. I have always struggled with this. I think it is a product of me trying to get a full shoulder turn...I feel like if I really wind up, I'll be able to create more club speed. So, I am working on this as well by feeling like my club is more vertical on the way back.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Golf Slump

I am still in my Golf Slump... it is getting very frustrating. If I can not break free from this, I might quit the game.

I found the following article from www.golfwinningtouch.com

-----------------------
How to Come Out of a Golf Slump

There are times when one's whole game seems to have gone to pot, and there are times when it really has. What steps should be taken then to come out of a slump? Here are the most important:

  1. Determine whether or not you are really in one. It could be only a statistical variation. If the slump is no greater than those you have hit in previous golfing years, it is best simply to
    ride it out. Experimentation under such circumstances can well lead to a prolongation of the trouble. False slumps may be due to lack of practice, changes in the weather, changes in the
    accuracy of the greens, or the fact that your competitors may be riding a wave of good golf.

  2. Revert to a previous form. A genuine slump often comes from experimentation with a swing that happens to work well temporarily. The experimental form then becomes a habit.
    Later, the person forgets how he got into the habit in the first place. Nothing will produce a slump faster than a new technique which was temporarily successful and which becomes a
    "fixed idea." This situation leads us into golfing blind alleys. To get out of them, we must trace the cause of the slump. This will eliminate frustration, and then we can seek out remedies
    with a clearer mind. An excellent and quick remedy is to go back to the last technique used prior to the experimentation. Return to your standard form and build from there.

  3. Make a shot by shot analysis to see where the strokes are being lost. Often a slump causes confusion, making a slump within a slump. The golfer says, "My game has gone to pieces."
    He is so demoralized that he has no interest in practicing. He can't think clearly as to what remedial measures are indicated. The situation is so painful that he may decide to lay off for
    awhile. This is not a bad procedure, but it can be improved upon.

    Generally, the initial loss is on the greens. Poor putting will put a great strain on chipping and both may collapse. It may be that you have had a weakness in your iron play for some time, but that it was camouflaged by good putting and chipping. Your tee shot may be at fault. A gradual loss of distance has so lengthened the game that you are actually playing a longer course. This frequently occurs if a person has a tendency to fade long shots. Follow up the analysis with corrective practice. The errors cannot cure themselves. At first, single scores will not be better, but the average will gradually rise. Then the occasional good games will inevitably crop up.

  4. Keep and review your notes. Forgetting can produce slumps. It is wise to take notes of all techniques that have been successful. Unfortunately, because of the human urge for experimentation, we often subconsciously make a habit of what was at first an experimental swing. The previous better swing is forgotten. Notes will help you get back in the lost groove.

  5. Let forgetting help you. Forgetting can get you into a slump and forgetting can get you out of one. If all remedies fail, it is a good idea to take a rest from the game. You may forget
    bad habits. Experiments have shown that learning can occur through forgetting between practice sessions. The mechanism is not completely understood but it has been noted in maze
    learning by rats and humans, in tossing rings at a stake, in learning a new series of numbers, and in chess. Some psychologists believe that such improvement through forgetting is due to the gradual extinction of numerous psychological and physical difficulties.

  6. Practice intensively. You may not be playing or practicing as much as usual. In this case, the solution is obvious, so don't experiment with form.

  7. Clear up outside emotional problems. The slump can be due to emotional factors that are producing inattention. Such factors can be feelings of insecurity, other types of fear, and problems about which you cannot make up your mind.

    It is best for the golfer to believe that all emotional problems can be solved—and they generally can be. Even when they cannot, it is possible to refuse to permit the emotional problem to complicate your life. One great golfer went into a permanent decline because of a marital problem that could have been solved. Instead he brooded about it and never took the steps that were indicated. Another golfer went into a slump that lasted for many months. He thought he had a fatal disease, though he really was all right. On the other hand, the great Babe Didrickson refused to permit her quite serious condition "to get her down," and won great victories when others would have been in justifiable despair. One of the inspiring sights at the Masters is to see Sarazen competing as if he were nineteen, demanding no quarter, and extracting a comparable enjoyment from the game as if to say, "No hungry generations tread me down," if we may be permitted to paraphrase a line from Keats.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jim McClean Golf Tips

I've always liked Jim McLean because he tries to simplify the golf swing for us amateurs. He is the father of the 8-step swing, where he breaks down the swing into 8 simple steps, and the idea of the X-factor, which is where the shoulders out-turn the hips by a small amount creating an "X" from a top down view.

This tip is regarding the top of the back swing, where the X-factor comes into play.

-----The text below is directly from the Jim McLean website----

I'm partly responsible for the common swing flaw you see me demonstrating below, which stems from an incorrect application of the X-Factor swing theory. As I first documented 10 years ago, the X-Factor -- the difference in how much the shoulders turn versus the hips -- can be a tremendous source of power. The problem is, in an effort to increase the X-Factor differential, many golfers restrict the hip turn too much. The result is less power and consistency, not more.

Swing Fixes

You want to create resistance in your lower body as your upper body turns behind the ball, but not at the expense of a proper hip turn and weight shift. Your hips should turn rotationally and shift laterally slightly as you swing back. Achieve this by moving the left knee back behind the ball, rolling off the left instep or picking up the left heel. You can also flare out your right toe at address to increase your hip turn.

Baseball Drill

Set up normally to a teed-up ball, using a mid-iron.
Slide your left foot back toward the right, so that they practically touch each other, and the clubhead is about a foot behind the ball.
Start the backswing. When the club reaches waist level, step forward with your left foot, returning it to its original position, like a batter stepping into a pitch.
The clubhead will still be moving back as the lower body moves forward, which automatically increases wrist work and prevents the right shoulder from leading the downswing.

Drill 2

Assume your normal position. Then widen your stance by placing your right foot well outside your right shoulder. Fan the right foot outward, so it points away from you at a 45-degree angle.
Hitting practice shots from this position helps you eliminate any upper body slide. It maintains a wide gap between your knees by dramatically slowing the right leg action. It also keeps you from spinning the lower body too fast.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Golfing with Jimmy at Sun Ridge Canyon

Jimmy and I played a Suncor course in Fountain Hills called Sun Ridge Canyon. It is a beautiful course and because we have the Suncor Players Card, we get it for half price, which at this time of year is still a whopping $70!

We should have invested our money in a mutual fund because we played terrible. At the end of the round we were both left with about 1 ball each! To top it all off we were playing with a couple of cocky, rude, Canadians.

We were always having to wait for the group ahead of us, so Jimmy and I would actually spend a little time looking for our wayward balls (which the Canadians did too). However, we would help them look for their balls, but when we were looking for ours, they would walk right past us, play their ball and one time they left the green while we were coming up on the green.

That made Jimmy and I angry...so Jimmy went right up to them and said "I don't know how you all play golf up in Canada, but down here in the U.S. we have a little more respect than that!" The old fart said he was sorry, but he tried to cover up his actions by saying that the round was taking too long. I wanted to tell him to go on ahead if he thought he could play any faster (we were backed up...he couldn't play any faster).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lose the One Piece Takeaway

Golf Digest had an article to lose the mindset of the one piece takeaway. It said that when an amateur tries this, he/she takes the golf club too far to the inside and plus starts the turn too soon so that the lower body has to wait for the hands and club head to catch up.

What tends to happen is that during the time the lower body is waiting, it continues to try to turn but ends up being more like a reverse pivot. The weight is not fully loaded over the right side. Also since the club is taken too far to the inside the tendency is to correct on the down swing and come over the top.

The correct way is to start taking the club back with the forearms, and start cocking the wrist. The Golf Digest author said to feel like you are pushing down on the end of the grip with the heel pad of your left hand, so that the butt of the club points to the ground. He also said it will feel "handsy" but it will actually allow your hands to be a lot less involved during the impact area of the downswing.

Another great tip from the article to avoid coming too far to the inside on the back swing is to use your toe line as a guide. Don't let the club head get behind your toe line.

The funny thing about the article is that it is totally against what some golf instructors say. Basically this article tells you to cock your wrists early and take the club away with your hands. It makes sense though because it helps you:
  1. Take the club away with the club head in front of you instead of behind
  2. Keep everything, all your body parts in sync during the swing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The "No Backswing" Golf Swing in Golf Digest

I read an interesting article in Golf Digest about the "No Backswing" swing. It said that for higher handicaps, using a "No Backswing" approach would lower your score.

The premise was that since the backswing really doesn't add any value to the swing, but only gets you set up for a good downswing, then why not eliminate the back swing? They say to:
  1. set up to the ball like you normally would, with the proper distance from the ball, correct grip, etc....then...
  2. get at the position where your right elbow is bent, and the shaft of the club is at about 90 degrees to your straight left arm.
  3. Pump the left arm...basically raise the left arm a few inches and then..
  4. Hit the ball
Since a lot of beginners tend to sway away from the ball in the back swing, or do the dreaded reverse pivot, if they eliminate that back swing, they will eliminate those problems. In theory it sounds good.

I tried this at the range last weekend, and I actually did better at the "No Backswing" swing then I thought I would. However, I think this approach loses the rhythm and the back and forward swing creates.

After experimenting with this concept, I really think this "No Backswing" should be used as a drill rather than a swing that is used on the course.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

5 Steps to Fairway Bunkers

I saw a tip on the Golf Channel last night about fairway bunkers.

1) Ball a little back in your stance.
2) Little if no lower body movement...to help quiet lower body, point your toes inward
3) Take a smooth 3/4 swing
4) 1 extra club
5) Hit the ball first

If you follow these 5 steps...you'll hit the green every time from a fairway bunker!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Driver Issues

I am having serious issues with my driver. I went to Whirlwind last weekend and hit a ton of balls with my driver. Of course I still practiced my short game, but my driver has added a lot of strokes to my game lately because of penalty strokes.

Frustration began setting in after I wasn't able to cure my low-flying duck hook. The frustrating thing is that I KNOW what I'm doing wrong, I just can't consistently fix it. Sometimes when I try to fix it, I hit a high slice...but most of the time I continue to have the low hook.

There was a local golf teaching professional giving another guy a lesson about 50 yards away and I looked at him like a lost puppy but he didn't notice me. I wanted to run up to him, interrupt the lesson going on, and ask for a mercy lesson!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Golf Lesson with Dr. Joel

I had another great lesson with Joel from Kent Chase Golf Academy. It started out kind of rough...we found out the driving range closed right when I got there. So, luckily they have a short game area and we were able to hit chip shots and 100 yd approach shots.

Chipping:
This was a little confusing because Joel promotes bending the elbows on the back swing and forward swing, but I had been taught the chip was more like a putting stroke, where I usually keep my elbows at a fixed position.

Also, Joel wanted me to sweep the ball instead of having a steep angle of attack. I have always been taught to come in steeply at the ball in a chip shot. In fact, I have seen drills where you place a ball behind the one you're trying to hit to promote a steep descent.

He also told me to center the ball in my stance...again, I have been taught to have the ball a little back in my stance.

100 yd approach:
This part was great because I love approach shots. I love hitting the green more than anything else. A great drive is also nice, but something about hitting the green excites me even more.

Joel showed me this simple drill that really helps my approach shots. Take a practice swing and only remember 3 positions.
1) Take away - make sure the club head is in front of you (the hands). Butt of club should be pointing at your belt buckle.
2) Top of back swing - have some width, left arm fairly straight, right arm bent, shaft on plane (that's hard to see, but maybe if I make sure the butt of the club is pointing at the target line.)
3) Swing through to finish - finish can be many different levels, knockdown finish, controlled finish, or full finish (I'm sure there's more). Practice this finish on the practice swing and copy it on the full swing.

Performing these three positions during my practice swing helped a lot. Also, Joel pointed out that my right ankle rolls on my back swing, so to fix that, I placed a club parallel to the target line with the club head by my right foot. I place my foot on it and it keeps my weight on the inside of my right foot instead of the outside.

By the end of the practice I was hitting a lot of 100 yd, 80 yd, and 60 yd shots into the green. Now if I can just nail my driver to put me at those distances...and in the fairway!

Getting back into it

The weather here is cooling down, although last week it has still been in the 90's. Believe me, 90's feel A LOT cooler than 110!!! Plus it is cooling down at night.

So, I have been getting back into golf....the heat was killing my motivation. I have gone the past 2-3 weekends to a course that is a little off the beaten path called Whirlwind. It is a Troon managed course and has a great practice facility. It costs $20 to practice, but you get unlimited balls and they have a great short game area.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Summer's Here

Well, it's getting hot here in Phoenix again. Temperatures are around 100 degrees and getting hotter. The good news is that now golf is more affordable, but the bad news is that you have to wake up at 5AM to try to beat the heat! This is really bad news for me because I'm not a morning person.

It has been a while since I have written in this blog, so here are a few things that have happened:
  • I went to a 4 hr short game clinic at Harvey Pennick Golf Academy in Austin, TX while I was there for business.
  • I've been in a slump lately, but am starting to come out of it slowly. The golf clinic about helped a little, but I also haven't practiced as much lately because I've been busy selling the house, moving, etc.
  • I'm in the top 10 ranking in my Club West Men's club. I guess they give you points based on how many events you've played in and how well you did. I will probably fall down in the ranking because I can't golf in this weekend's tournament.
  • The back of my right thigh (buttock area) gets sore a lot so I have been going to a chiropractor, thinking it might be sciatica, or a low back problem. That's another reason I have been laying off of golf lately. It really starts to bother me when I play golf.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Stand Tall

I had another lesson with Dr. Joel. I don't have a lot of time right now so I'm going to summarize and hopefully come back later and fill in the gaps.

1) Stand taller
2) square the club face at impact
3) bend the right elbow in back swing and left elbow on follow through
4) Don't get a"head" of the ball
5) Don't look up too early...keep eye on the ball longer
6) Keep right shoulder back at impact
7) No cupping of wrist

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Slump

Lately I have been in a slump. I don't know what the reason is...maybe the new mid-size grips I got are taking a little getting used to? I don't know.

Last week when I was in Dallas I played a couple of times and my first round I got a whopping 96 on a course that wasn't very difficult. The next time I played the course I did better, but since the computerized scoring system lost my score, I don't know exactly what I got. Then, on Sunday I played in my Men's club at Club West and scored 102, which is the worst score I have had in a very long time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Golf Lesson from Dr. Joel

Where to begin....sometimes I feel like I forget everything that I have ever learned about the golf swing; this is how I felt today at my golf lesson. What I learned from Joel today:

Do list:
  1. Aim properly - when I was setting my feet, I was looking at the ball instead of my target. When I look at my target while setting my feet, my aim is 100% better.
  2. Posture - my posture needs to be more upright. I was bent over too far with my hands too low. A good checkpoint is the butt of the club should point at the belt buckle.
Swing thoughts/feeling:
  1. Wrist set- I need to set the club earlier. A good checkpoint is halfway back my wrists should be set.
  2. Width - keep the width in the back swing. Keep the width between my hands and my head. Wrist should not be cupped or broken down at the top.
  3. Shorten - In my swing, with my level of flexibility, I should shorten my back swing. When I try to lengthen it, I break down my wrists and elbows, and I might even reverse pivot, roll onto my right side of my right foot. Basically, there is no good things that come from trying to extend my back swing further than about a 3/4 swing.
  4. Inside - Attack the ball from the inside. Start the weight shift with the left knee and then come from the inside.
  5. Stay in posture throughout the swing. I tend to come out of posture at top of backswing (another reason to shorten) and on my follow through, I come out of it and stand up.
  6. Keep right shoulder back - think about keeping the right shoulder back and down at impact. This is hard to describe in words, but when I start my downswing my right shoulder jumps out in front of the left one. Keep the right shoulder back.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

1st Place in Men's Club Event

My golf partner, Dan, and I won the net overall in our 2-man tournament in the Club West Men's Club last weekend! I shot an incredible (for me) 81 gross score. Dan shot a 85 I think, and our best ball, net score was a 59! We each won a $100 gift certificate to the club house golf shop. That will come in handy!

I didn't really feel like I was playing that well, but I did chip and putt pretty well, which I think helped greatly in my score. The week prior to the tournament, I did work more on my putting and chipping than normal, so that's a great testament to me of the value of short game practice.

I got only one birdie on a par 4 which was a net 2 for me, so I thought I would at least get a net skins on that hole, but unfortunately I didn't. Winning skins gets you cash, so I like winning that one! The next tournament is in two weeks, so I will be looking forward to that.