Monday, June 30, 2008

The Golf Digest Challenge

I decided to try the Golf Digest challenge. We'll see how long that lasts. They have you enter the Fairways hit, the GIRs (Greens in Regulation), the number of putts, chips, and sand saves.

They use this information to calculate not only your handicap, but they divide it into 2 categories: your short game handicap and long game handicap. The theory is that then you can know what to focus on during your practice hours to lower your overall handicap.

I have only entered 2 rounds right now, but I can see already that I really need to focus on my short game handicap. The biggest area of focus should be my chipping because I have on average only 20% saves on my chips.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dr. Joel - The swing Doctor

I had another great lesson with Dr. Joel yesterday. Because of the smoke created by a local fire in Avondale, we had the lesson inside the Kent Chase Golf Academy building. They have a nice setup in there with a mat, net, large mirrors, and a video camera.

Joel immediately showed me some basic flaws that I had in my setup, back swing, down swing, and finish. He told me that there are 3 basic steps to the golf swing (and the swing in any other sport like tennis, and baseball). 1) Load 2) Shift and 3) Release....or something to that effect.

The flaws I had were:
  • Setup - I need to relax the shoulders, and my arms should hang directly below my shoulder sockets. I had my hands a little close to my body. My posture could be improved as well with a little more of a "sitting down" feeling.
  • Back Swing - This part of my swing needs a little more work, but the good news is that with a good back swing, I am perfectly set up for a great down swing. I'm going to break the back swing up into the 1st half and 2nd half.
    • First half - Keep the club out in front of my hands. I tend to let the club head get behind my hands early. However, in keeping the club in front of my hands, I shouldn't tense up my shoulders and elbows. The right elbow should start to bend earlier than it does now. One thought that helped me in the first half was to start loading and turn the hips, keep the left wrist in the same position and just begin lifting the club.
    • Second half - Stay on the same plane angle as address. My plane at this point tends to be steeper. Hands should still be in the "triangle" created by the shoulders and the arms...they shouldn't be in front or behind this triangle. My left shoulder tends to be too high, in other words I don't keep my posture.
  • Down swing - Again two halfs
    • First half - Keep the posture, keep the club lag and just shift the weight to the left side. Don't engage the right side to early.
    • Second half - Now engage the right side and hit the ball!
  • Finish
    • First half - Extend the arms
    • Second half - Fold the arms in what Joel calls the "Pro finish". My finish tends to be too high. Watch the right heel...it should be directly above the right toe.
Drills that will help:
  • Get set up properly to the top of the backswing and then practice the first half of the downswing. Make sure I'm in the correct position and then do a slight "pump" and swing through to the balanced finish.
  • Without a club, cross arms, put hands on shoulder and practice the 1) Load to right side 2) Shift to left side 3) Finish with heel over toe. I can work on leg work and hip work with this drill.
  • With only the right hand on the club, place the left hand on the right arm, just above the elbow. Practice a perfect backswing and downswing. This will help me keep my right elbow loose and bending correctly. I tend to keep this too tight. Joel kept saying that my elbows are shock absorbers, which I don't completely understand right now but will eventually.

Request to Remove PGA Superstore Pic

Judy from About.com posted a comment about my last post on the PGA Superstore in Chandler, Arizona. I used the picture from the About.com website and I guess it was copyrighted. Who knew? :)

Below is the comment she posted, and I was just thrilled that someone noticed this little ol' blog of mine about my love for golf!

---------
Hello,
I just came across your blog and I found my copyrighted image there. Please immediately remove that image of the PGA Superstore.

About.com is a part of the New York Times Company, and I am supposed to report copyright violations to the legal department there, but I would prefer to give you the opportunity to correct this mistake.

Judy Hedding
About.com Guide to Phoenix, AZ
http://phoenix.about.com

Thursday, June 26, 2008

PGA Superstore in Chandler, AZ

(Copyrighted Image of PGA Superstore removed upon request....see comment)

Ok, this PGA Superstore is HUGE and I absolutely love it! I can spend hours there without even noticing the time fly by. I had been to one of their stores in Dallas, TX so I knew what to expect.

The pros:
-Several hitting areas: a net area, lesson area, and a short game area
-Large selection of merchandise: golf bags for any college you can think of, I even saw a Boise State hat, apparel, clubs, training aids, accessories...you name it, it was there.

The cons:
-The staff was not very helpful. I don't know if this was because it is new and they are understaffed, but I didn't have one person ask if they could help me. I was lost in the golf bag section (there are so many bags!) and I could not for the life of me find the Ogio bag I was looking for. I finally found it, but help would have been nice.
-Did I mention the staff not being helpful. There were signs all over the place advertising the $199 VIP and to ask for a free demo.

So, I asked one of the gentlemen about it and he said, "um, it's where you can have access to the netted hitting bays for an hour at a time whenever you want."

Logically, I asked, "Well, can't I use them any time I want to when I am trying out clubs?"

He said, "Well...yeah."

Later on, I went over to the netted hitting bays right after a guy finished hitting and noticed that in the bay there was a computer with a camera. The person who had just left had apparently been videoing his swing and analyzing it on the computer. He must have had the VIP membership with a login to be able to do this.

Now, why didn't the PGA Superstore staff member tell me this? Here's a perfectly good reason to be a VIP. Without a VIP membership, in order to video my swing myself, I have to drag out my camera, find my tripod, drag it all out to the golf course, set it all up (while I am feeling like a dork in front of everyone), video tape myself, come home, upload the video to my computer, load the video into some analysis software, and by that time it has been months and I have a totally different swing.

With the VIP membership, I can immediately video tape myself and get instant feedback. The camera, tripod, computer, and software is already setup for me. This is the true value of the VIP membership. They should have me selling this!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People on the Golf Course

So, yesterday I golfed Whirlwind Cattail course after work. I was in a hurry because it was late and I wanted to get 18 holes in. I saw a few guys paying for golf behind me and I didn't want to get stuck with them because I saw nothing but wide open fairways. Well, I was in such a hurry that on hole #1 I hit my drive into the fairway bunker, then my approach shot was wide right, my 1st chip was over the green, my 2nd chip was short, I putted my 3rd chip, then putted in for a (count-em) 7 (triple bogie) on the 1st hole. Oh well, it was a nice, peaceful, sunny afternoon with wide open fairways. Now that I was through the 1st hole I could focus on the rest of the holes.

Well, as I was putting a gentleman drives his cart past me on to hole #2. I was like, "no you didn't". I thought to myself...if this guy is going ahead of me, he better get out of the way or I will hit into him. You can't just drive ahead of someone like that. If you do, you had better play faster than me.

When I drove up to the 2nd tee, there he was waiting for me. He asked if I was playing or practicing. I said, "well, I guess both." I usually enjoy playing with someone rather than alone, but I guess since I played hole #1 alone, I was already in the mood to play alone and I don't like surprises or changes in the middle of a round. So, that was odd, but I thought...oh well, it will be nice to play with someone else, and on the 2nd hole it was ok. He had a nice swing, was a good player, but was a little cocky.

But on the 3rd hole (a par 3), the guy hits a nice shot to the back of the green where the pin was and I told him it was a nice shot. I chose an 8 iron, and since the left and back of the green was guarded by water, I decided to play a fade (I'm right handed). Well, the ball started out right of where I wanted and faded off the right edge of the green.

So, Guy (I'm going to call him Guy) immediately asks, "what did you hit?"

I answered, "an 8 iron"

Guy asks, "what do you think the distance was?" Can you believe this jerk?

I said, "it's about 160 to the middle, the flag's in the back, so about 170-175."

Guy says condescendingly, "do you normally hit your 8 iron that far?"

By this time I was thinking...who does this guy think he is? I wanted to tell him off, but instead I gave him a full explanation of why I chose my 8 iron for that hole, "I was aiming for the middle of the green. I'm a mid-handicapper, and the water wraps around behind the green."

As we approached my ball was off the right of the green in a hollow and I said, "Yep, just the right distance for the middle of the green."

The whole time I wanted to tell this guy to either go ahead of me or behind me because I didn't come out here to be critiqued by Guy wannabe. However, to quiet him up I set up for my chip and CHIPPED IN FOR A BIRDIE!!!! TAKE THAT GUY!!!! And Guy missed his putt and made par. Yessssssssssssss! hahaha! That was awesome!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hot afternoon of Golf


Believe it or not, but I have been golfing lately with my golf buddy, Jeff, in the afternoons with the temperature rising above 110 degrees. If you would have asked me to do this last year I would have thought you were joking. However, it's actually not too bad because:
  • a) You're in a cart, so you're not expelling a lot of energy.
  • b) There's usually a breeze in the afternoons that help.
  • c) It's cheap
  • d) No one else is as crazy as you are, so you have the course to yourself!

D is the best part, I think. You can play more relaxed, so you don't get as hot. Still don't buy it? Good, more golf for me! :)

Fathers Day Golf

Alicia and I decided to go up to Pinetop to visit her dad Jimmy for the weekend. Jimmy and I played 27 holes at Silver Creek golf course, just outside of Show Low, and I beat him with a score of 88 so he now owes me lunch. We're now 2-2 since we've been keeping track and betting lunch on the match. It's a fun bet.

Jimmy got a great gift from his wife...a SkyCaddie GPS unit. I bought it and she paid me back so that it would be a surprise and not show up on their credit card. It's a pretty neat little unit. He got the SG5 which has the color screen and the IntelliGreen® technology, enabling golfers to measure the full depth and shape of the green from any angle of approach and shows distances for all targets and hazards on any of SkyGolf’s many thousands of professionally mapped courses. Can you tell I copied and pasted that last sentence from their website?

It was so nice to have the GPS unit on this course with very little yardage markers, but soon everyone was asking Jimmy to give them the yardage for each shot. He was running around giving everyone their precies yardage to the pin. It would have annoyed me, but I think Jimmy kind of liked being needed. :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Scramble at Foothills

I played in a scramble at the Foothills golf course with Jeff, who I met a Whirlwind and a couple of his friends....Taras and Chris. The scramble was, in my opinion, expensive at $90 a person and the benefits went to the Awatukee City of Lights (Christmas lights they put up on trees along the street). However, I think scrambles can be fun and Jeff needed a fourth person, so I went ahead and played. We had a great time, so I'm glad I went.

The Foothills course was in terrible shape! The fairways were spotty and the greens had new sod laid around them which instead of allowing you to run the ball up to the pin, would stop the ball, or send it off course.

We did ok at 8 under, but we shot a bogey on a par 3 which should never happen in a scramble. :)

The great thing was that we all contributed fairly evenly. I can't point out one person who contributed more or less than anyone else. It made me feel good that they all wanted me to lead off at driving because believe it or not, I have improved my driving distance and accuracy lately. Early on in the round I was not contributing to the approach shots to the green and we all were doing horrible with our 100 yd and in wedges. However, there were two holes in a row on the back nine where we used my approach shots so I felt a little better about that in the end. My putting was not on and that's where it is fun to contribute because that's the difference between a birdie and a par...or an eagle and a birdie!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

89 at Talking Stick

Talking Stick is a Troon course in Scottsdale off the 101 and Indian Bend. It is a desert course which is nice...I like playing on courses that don't have houses lining them. I played with my Jimmy and a couple of his friends that were in town for a wedding. They were nice folks...they must have a lot of cash because they bought our Gatorades and our lunch! I want to play with these guys more often! :)

Jimmy and I have a lunch bet going on every game we play now. Jimmy got an 87 so he beat me by two strokes and I owe him lunch. It will be like pulling teeth to get him to accept the lunch because he is used to paying for everything...but I will pay up! Jimmy was sinking putts and chipping up close to the hole. I parred the first 3 holes, so I got off to a great start, but that quickly faded. My driving was pretty solid...I hit 10 out of 14 fairways...but my approach shots weren't hitting the greens and my chipping and putting suffered as well.

This weekend I'm playing in a scramble with Jeff...a guy I met at Whirlwind who is more addicted to golf than I am. The other weekend he practiced for at least six hours straight for both days. His hands were so blistered when I saw him that he could barely hold the club. However, he just got a 79 at Whirlwind and says his scores have improved so I guess it was worth the pain.

Last week I had a lesson from Blair. He mainly told me to focus on taking the club back more on line instead of to the inside. When I hit balls last weekend, I noticed that if I feel like my right arm is on top of my left arm on the way back on my back swing, then I am not taking it inside.

Blair also showed me a drill to do with my driver where I take the club back to where the shaft is parallel to the ground...just 1/4 of the way (not at the top) and make sure the shaft is pointing down my toe line. In my normal back swing, the club head is way to the inside at this point. He advised me not to look at the club head because I don't want to get in the habit of looking at the club and not the ball.