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

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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.