foozle vt foo-zled; foo-zling (1892): to manage or play awkwardly; a bungling golf stroke

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Did You Get Better Today?

It's hard to stay focused and excited about playing golf when you live in a place where snow covers the ground for approximately 1/3rd of the year but I manage to get by just fine, thank you. I've read a lot of books about Ben Hogan and one of the things that stuck with me was the way he felt about practicing, that if you didn't get better every day through practice then you were essentially getting worse (by comparison) because you could damn well bet somebody else did. So every day I ask myself if I've gotten better? Did I go swimming, lift weights, go jogging, hit balls or practice putting? If the answer is no, then I do everything I can to accomplish doing at least one of them. Then I can sleep better at night. And before you know it, its late March and I'm ready to go day-one when the snow melts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Dream About Tiger Woods

Two nights ago I had a dream about Tiger Woods. First, some background though...I've always been a fan of his (how could you not be if you're a fan of golf?), but I've never really "rooted" for him. I enjoy the excitement he brings to a tournament and watching him win on a regular basis. And the more he wins the more fun it is when an underdog does actually knock him off. Say, Y.E. Yang at this year's PGA Championship. How much fun was that? Like most other golfers, I'm in awe of what he can do with a club in his hands and naturally just assumed that aside from his mastering of the game he did little else. I imagined (I guess) that he'd probably had sex twice in his life (he has two kids) and didn't have much time for anything else, what with all the working out he does, and all the time he spends practicing at the game. Essentially, I figured he was just a golfing eunuch, one who was constantly and forever changing how the game of golf was played and to be perceived. Well, we all know now that that was not the case at all. So be it--he's human like the rest of us.
My dream then...In it, Tiger and I were sitting together having a pleasant conversation in a setting that was undefined but not out-of-the-ordinary. We certainly weren't "friends" when the conversation started, but we began to carry on somewhat comfortably considering how dissimilar we both are, save the fact that we both like to play golf. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was remorseful and exhausted but also somewhat relieved when I finally worked up the courage to ask him the million dollar question--why did you throw it all away (when arguably he had everything) on some cheap, floozy broads and one-night stands? His answer? He said he was so tired of being who he was, the most recognizable and most socially imprisoned person on the planet, that he finally realized the only way to make all the fame and notoriety go away, was to do the most unthinkable (yet legal) thing possible, ultimately leading to him being universally despised. He wanted to make people hate him so people would just leave him alone.
I was amazed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My (Less Than) Triumphant Return to Blogging

Has it really been more than three months since my last post? Wow, I've got some catching up to do. September, October and November proved very fruitful as far as number of rounds played was concerned, with our season here in the chilly climes of Minnesota lasting all the way until the 1st day of December! I played on November 30th by myself at a local muni and managed 24 holes in just under three hours. I made my last birdie of the year, missed a few other short birdie putts after making fine shots to reach the greens, lost the head of my 4-iron while attempting to tee off with it on a short par-4 (bad idea), and generally had a wonderful time. It was a great note to end the year on.
As far as the odyssey that is my swing is concerned, well as Johnny Cash once said "I've been everywhere." Bobby Clampett's "The Impact Zone" book has had as profound an effect on my golf swing as any text I've ever read. The hands-ahead-of-the-ball-at-impact idea actually feels like it will become a reality of my game soon. My wife bought me an artificial hitting mat that I've been able to use regularly in my garage to work on my swing even though the temperature is in the single-digits outside. My grip feels good, my backswing is slow and smooth, my transition is solid and allowing me to accelerate through the ball at impact. And I'm leading the swing through the hitting area by pulling down from the top with my left arm (still straight), allowing me to feel some actual clubhead speed and release during and through impact. It's a wonderful feeling, to tell you the truth.
Now if I can just keep this thing going all winter, at least until late March when we head down to KC to get the 2010 campaign started off with a bang! Swimming, jogging, weightlifting, ball-striking.....swimming, jogging, weightlifting, ball-striking.....

Monday, September 7, 2009

More Golf Swing Revelations

I'd seen an episode of the Golf Channel's "Playing Lessons From The Pros" some time ago with Woody Austin playing the part of the professional. I'm sure it was wintertime when I saw it because it was only when it was re-run recently that I realized something Woody said would help my game immensely. Again, having to do with the transition at the top of the swing, Woody made it clear that to hit the ball solidly your shoulders must start to rotate back through the ball on a much steeper angle then that of your hips. Turning your shoulders parallel with your hips will pull your arms and hands away from your body and cause you to slap the ball with the dreaded "inside-out" swing path. So now I'm thinking "load the club in the backswing, smoothly accelerate into the downswing with the right shoulder driving down towards the ball, right knee firing through the ball, hands close to the belly rotating with the torso through to a high finish." Nothing to it, right? And oh yeah, don't forget the new hybrid "interlock/overlap" grip that's been feeling so good wrapped around the grip of the club. Regardless, I'm playing the best golf of my life right now so I think I'll stick with it for now. Only if I could get my chipping and pitching game back to where it used to be, then I'd be a real force on the course!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 PGA Championship

I was lucky enough to score tickets to the last round of the 2009 PGA Championship last weekend at Hazeltine. I met some friends behind the 3rd green at about 11am and we sat there for 3+ hours until all the groups had played the hole. Watching 20-some groups play into that long par-5 was quite an eye-opener in that none of the players went for it in two shots and all but a handful had very makeable putts for birdie because of it. Tiger Woods was close enough that I could see him breathe and I must admit he was quite a vision on the golf course. His torso seemed shorter then it does on tv (maybe he had his pants hiked up pretty high?) and his skin looked smooth as a baby's butt. After his group finished, we hustled over to the 14th and stood behind the green for an hour or so, watching players go for that "short" par-4 off the tee. We just missed Yang's chip-in for birdie as we had just moved on to the 15th fairway to watch the big boys bomb it on that extra-long par-5. What a sight! After Woods and Yang played to the green, we hustled over to seventeen but were too late to really be able to see anything. We finished the day watching the final group play eighteen from well down the fairway. If you think Yang's second shot looked hard on tv, you should have seen what it looked like from down the hill behind him. I was amazed when the crowd roared up by the green--it was a shot I couldn't have hit once with an entire bucket of balls at my side. Indeed, these guys are good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Think I'm Onto Something

"It's all about the transition," Bob Torrance said. So I started thinking about it and couldn't say I necessarily disagreed. I went outside to my hitting net and started trying to take it back slow and starting the downswing gradually, thinking that you can't accelerate into the ball if you're swinging as hard as you can as soon as you start the downswing. The only thing you can do is slow down, and we all know that's a killer. One after another the ball jumped off my clubface and smacked into my homemade net. My left wrist felt flat (and long) and powerful going through the ball. Even 4-irons were rocketing off the tee and into orbit. Wow, I think I'm onto something. I can't wait to go hit balls again.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Career Low Round

I shot my career low round today, a 1-over par 73 from the back tees at my home club. In hindsight I didn't do anything extraordinarily well (11 fairways, 10 greens, 29 putts) I just didn't do anything terribly bad either. I had one ugly 3-putt from about 40 feet and a shanked 4-iron approach to the difficult 15th green, otherwise it was just a steady stay-out-of-trouble kind of round. It was that simple, I guess. I hope I can do it again sometime very soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sandbaggin' At The Member/Guest

I recently played in a member/guest at a relative's club and had the exact same experience there that I had the last time I played in it some five years ago. The same people win the tournament every year, according to my relatives, because these people are sandbaggers. My relatives won't even entertain the possibility that these people are good pressure players, or better yet, that they themselves choke under the pressure of playing for "big money". Maybe their $5 saturday morning games haven't prepared them properly for the high stakes of the member/guest. And they certainly won't even think for a minute that maybe the majority of the players in their club who don't win the tournaments are actually reverse-sandbaggers (or vanity handicappers, as we call them) and can't possibly play to their index because, well, they aren't as good as they pretend to be. Now granted, a 5-handicapper who shoots 68 under tournament conditions (tough pins, greens running 11 on the stimpmeter, tees back, etc.) should be thoroughly investigated. But hey, I'm willing to entertain the possibility that this guy has ice-water in his veins and just shot the round of his summer under the greatest of circumstances. Immediately crying "sandbagger" when someone plays well cheapens the experience of competing and thriving in that setting, and I'd hate to think how they (the vanity ones) would feel if they caught lightning in a bottle and played over their heads one day and no one felt the need to congratulate them. Its sad, actually.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wrong Ball

I hit the wrong ball today for the first time in my young golfing life. We were playing as a six-some and it was cold and rainy. I'm easily the shortest hitter in the group so after we all teed off on the long par-5 7th hole at my club I started walking towards the nearest ball in the fairway. Seeing it wasn't mine I naturally proceeded to the next ball and, trying to keep things moving, quickly went ahead and hit it. Turns out it wasn't my ball that I hit--I had actually out-driven two people in my group and was the 3rd shortest ball in the fairway. Two stroke penalty, I would go on to make a 7 on the hole. Didn't cost my partner any money as he thankfully went ahead and made par (net birdie) to halve the hole for us. But I didn't give us a chance to win the hole either and it was embarrassing to boot. From that point forward I have amended my pre-shot routine to include the question "is this your ball?"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Play Golf

I know it shouldn't bother me so, but I can't help but be annoyed by people who use the word "golf" like its a verb and not the name of a game you play. Do you golf? No, I play golf. Are you golfing today? No, but I plan on playing golf at some point before the sun goes down. I've decided to make it my life's work (among other things) to change the way people talk about the game and get everyone on the same page. You play golf, you don't golf. Everyone got it? You aren't golfing, you're playing golf. Okay, let's move on...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Release The Club

You must release the club to hit good golf shots. Its harder to do then it probably should be but I think I've made a breakthrough in regards to my own game. Instead of trying to release it with the right hand (flipping at the ball) I've started visualizing the back of my left hand "covering the ball" as my hands pass through the hitting area. Try it sometime--think "cover the ball with the back of my left hand" as you take the club back and then accelerate through the hitting area. Its working for me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My First Hole-Out From The Fairway

I holed out from the fairway for an eagle-two on a par 4 for the first time in my life tonight. I was playing by myself in a light rain (did it really happen?) as I drove wildly to the left of the fairway on the short par 4 13th hole at my home course. Thinking I could do better, I drove again and watched as my ball sailed well to the right this time. I walked to my first ball and saw that I'd gotten a nice carom off the trees, leaving myself with a side-hill lie in light rough approximately 150 yards from the center of the green. Unsure of where the pin actually was, I decided to hit a 6-iron and hope for the best. The shot came off pretty well and I watched as it bounced on the front of the green and started rolling towards the flag. Unfortunately, I decided to go and locate my second ball before the first one stopped rolling and when I got to my second tee shot I looked at the green and could no longer see my ball. It was at this moment that I realized I must have holed my approach and couldn't wait to get my second ball to the green. Sure enough, some three shots later, I found myself on the surface and went and looked in the cup and there she was, my first ball! What fun--I sure am glad I didn't quit after making my first birdie of the young season on the 9th hole some hour or so earlier.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Maybe the single greatest thing I've ever done for my golf game is make a net I can hit balls into in my own backyard. I've looked at ones at retail outlets in the past but they seemed too expensive to really think about buying them. Then I tried to win one for a while by cashing in a bunch of MyCokeRewards points and putting them towards said contest, but when that didn't happen I decided to just try and make one myself. So I bought some military grade netting at the local surplus store and made a 4'x8' frame out of PVC to hold it. I propped it up in my backyard against some large, annoying bushes we have against the north side of our house and voila! Ball-striking satisfaction just outside my sliding glass door! I can take full swings and hit REAL balls into the net, grooving the positions and feelings in the swing that I need to make some real hay on the golf course. Practice makes permanent, after all, and since my game was recently rejuvenated by a very eye-opening lesson I took from my club's teaching pro, everything seems to be coming together. Now my weekly trip to the course will not be all about a panicky practice session before teeing off and spending the first six or so holes figuring out which swing I have that day, maybe enjoying the last twelve holes if I like the one I got. Instead it will be all about taking confident, aggressive swings at the ball and watching it fly high and far towards my intended target. Eureka!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lesson Tee

I took a lesson last weekend and it was another eye-opening experience. Every lesson I've ever taken has been just that so I don't know why I should sound so surprised by it happening again. We changed my grip, my takeaway, my ball-position and the posture of my stance during the backswing/downswing transition. We then focused on my approach angle into the ball and learning how to turn and release the clubhead through the ball and beyond. I was able to play with my buddies yesterday without hurting anyone or embarrassing myself too badly so that was definitely a step in the right direction. Now if I could just get a few more practice sessions on the range under my belt, perhaps my confidence could begin to repair itself and I might be able to really enjoy a decent round of golf again in the near future.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Angel Cabrera

Let the record show that I'm pulling for Angel Cabrera to win the Masters come Sunday evening. The power and passion with which he plays the game is so inspiring that I can't help but pull for him. Aside from the last two years of Death Marches around Augusta, in equal part due to brutal course set-ups and the weather, the Masters generally rewards players who play like Angel Cabrera does. They are technically sound, sure, but they also play with their hearts and great feeling. Perhaps this is why so many Europeans have won this finest of majors over the years. And the way he steps into the ball and pulls the trigger before he has a chance to think about anything other then where he wants the ball to go is something most of us amateurs could learn from too. He appears happy-go-lucky all the while, like the Opee Taylor of Argentina I guess. You win some (the '07 U.S. Open, for example) and you lose some--just have fun while you're out there. I know I'll be having fun watching him perform his craft on the golf course all weekend long.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Good Friday might be my favorite day of the year. My wife and I shared our first kiss some ten years ago on Good Friday. And nine years ago I made my first birdie on Good Friday, at the par-3 seventh hole at Manitou Ridge golf course in White Bear Lake, MN. Spring has usually sprung by this time every year so Good Friday is often a symbol for the beginning of the golf season. And oh yeah, the Masters is almost always on TV on Good Friday. What could be better? I'll be taking a swing lesson this morning for the first time in some four years then I'm heading back home to color Easter eggs with the girls and hole up for the afternoon to watch the first major of year unfold before my very eyes. A little slice of heaven, if you ask me. I hope everyone else enjoys their Good Friday as much as I'll be enjoying mine. Cheers!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Golf Sensei

My buddy Matt noticed my struggles on the course the other day and said plainly as we pulled up my ball in the fairway, "Dude, we gotta do something about your (lack of) distance. I'm sixty yards past you." Though not the first time I'd heard something similar from one of my playing companions, the tone in which Matt imparted the phrase struck me as being constructive and not derisive, perking up my ears more then they otherwise would've been. Matt worked some time ago on the retail side of the golf business and said he could tell from watching me play that the shaft in my driver was too stiff. Indeed, what once was a low, going draw has since morphed into a high, short "fade", landing like a loaf of bread on the soggy fairways of springtime in Minnesota. He said this was because my swing wasn't fast enough to close the clubface with my stiff shaft and that I'd likely be more happy with the shape and distance of my drives if I switched to a regular flex in my "play" club. Appreciating his suggestion, I dug out an old, regular flex-shafted driver from the basement when I got home and went out back and hit some wiffle balls into the night air, feeling more control of the clubhead then I have in some time. I followed that with a week of non-golf reflection and then braved the driving range this afternoon and enjoyed watching the ball jump off the clubface of my new (old) driver. Thank you Matt, my Golf Sensei. You have imparted a breath of life into my almost-dead golf game. Now, can you help me get rid of those nasty (and hilarious?!) shanks too?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Leave Of Absence From The Game?

I seriously considered giving up the game on Sunday as I rode around a near-frozen golf course with a buddy and a couple of strangers. Though I was excited to be out and playing again, my game seems to have deserted me completely. I was routinely out-driven by my playing partners by some 60 yards. I shanked a chip shot on the 2nd hole. I chunked (yes, chunked!) a putt on the 14th hole. And I found reasonably short and "playable" par-4s unreachable with two full shots. But playing poorly your first time out after a long winter is nothing to be alarmed at, right? Well yes and no. I have a wife who I love very much and two wonderful little girls who I can't seem to spend enough time with and all this hit me in the head on Sunday as I struggled to enjoy myself on the golf course--why am I here? Why did I pay $50 to ride around on a cart, freezing my tail off, just to be away from the ones I love for six hours? I finally couldn't answer that question and that's what got me to thinking that it might be time to give it up. I'm not saying that I'm giving up the dream of playing the kind of golf that I know I'm capable of, but I'm seriously considering it. To play well and enjoy myself it seems that I'm going to have to spend way more time then I can afford perfecting my game and that probably won't ever happen like I really want it to. Why play the game if you can't play it well? Perhaps I'll just take to playing by myself again for a while, away from the pressure of "competing" with my buddies and try and rediscover what it is/was that I love about this game. Maybe quick, purposeful sessions on the range in the evening after the kids are in bed, only to be followed by 4 or 5 holes as the sun goes down. I can continue to practice at home when time is even more in demand and maybe, just maybe, I'll find again what I'm looking for. Whatever the case may be, I cannot continue to play like I am right now. I will not continue to play like I'm playing right now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nick Faldo the Golf Commentator, Part II

Nick Faldo's obsession with the CDW TechCenter technology the tour uses to measure a player's ball flight characteristics on tee shots hit on "driver" holes has gotten silly. It's all he talks about anymore, to the point that he even talks over his broadcast partners who are simultaneously trying to actually explain where the shot is going. Faldo's just blubbers on about the clubhead speed, whether its above or below average, same with the spin rate. "That's way too high," he'll say. "Player X needs to get on the launch monitor and figure that one out, blah, blah, blah." It makes me think that Faldo spends all of his free time on a launch monitor of his own, trying desperately to come up with the perfect combination of shaft, clubhead, and ball so that he can maybe, just maybe, one day compete again and challenge for a title of some significance like Greg Norman did in last year's Open Championship. It's sad, really, because its so transparent.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The World's Tiniest Violin

Top-flite touring professional golfers are grossly overpaid for what they do, no matter how you look at it. I don't think any rational human being could disagree with that statement and I would even go so far as to bet you that under oath and in the strictest of confidences, most of these golfers would agree with that claim as well. So why should we feel sorry for them when their title-sponsors are leaving the station faster then they can yell "bailout"? And stories of their investments with many of these sponsors dwindling just as fast as your 401(k) are splashed all across the sports pages? The answer is: we shouldn't. The market is correcting itself as we speak. Things have gotten bloated and out-of-hand and now they're coming back down to Earth. Its painful to everyone involved but its only temporary, I assure you. In the meantime let's get back to appreciating these players for what they can do with the golf ball and hopefully they'll get back to appreciating what it is that they do for a living. I want to see more pros playing for the love of the game and not the still-relatively absurd spoils that go with it. That would make my own personal economic "slowdown" a little easier to stomach.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

They Ain't Makin' Golf Courses Like Sunningdale Anymore

Early in the 20th century, England's Sunningdale Golf Club was home to one of the toughest and most revered golf courses in the world. I remember reading about a particular round of golf played there by Bobby Jones (ever heard of him?) that totaled 66 strokes, masterful play considering the relative conditions and equipment in vogue at the time. He used 33 strokes from tee-to-green and 33 strokes on the greens, registering nothing more then a 4 on the scorecard for any one hole. He referred to it as a perfect round of golf and it sounds to me like he wasn't much for exaggerating. What really caught my eye though was the length of the holes played that day--not a single par 4 (of which there were 12) had a yardage between 300-399 yards. They were all less then 300 yards or 400 yards or greater. I'd hazard a guess that the average golfer today plays a course of almost the exact opposite, meaning every single one of the par 4s they play has a yardage between 300-399 yards. Perhaps one of those holes they're charged with conquering creeps just barely over the 400 yard mark, like 405 yards maybe. So when did things change so drastically as far as course design is concerned? A quick perusal of the current hole yardages of Sunningdale's Old Course confirms that two of the three par 4s that once measured under 300 yards have been lengthened to a whopping 318 and 322 yards respectively, while the other 9 holes still measure well over 400 yards. Fascinating, indeed. The next time I play my home course and start feeling sorry for myself that half of the par 4s are too long, I'll pretend I'm at Sunningdale with a persimmon wood in my hand and a rock-hard gutty at my feet and see how much harder this game once was.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Desert Target Golf...No Thanks

The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain course the PGA Tour pros are playing this weekend at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship does nothing for me. Its so artificial looking, especially from those normally coveted blimp shots overhead, that I find it hard to get too terribly excited about what's going on in the individual matches. The patches of grass, co-mingling with the vast desert landscapes, make me think more of the irrigation nightmares they must face every day to keep it alive, rather then the brilliance of the designer (Jack Nicklaus) behind it. Be they tree-lined "parkland" lay-outs or Old World links-type tracks, I need a golf course that blends in with its surroundings to get my juices flowing. I'm sorry Ponte Vedra, but I think you swung and missed at playing this big of a tournament at this uninspiring of a lay-out. I know the weather is a mind-numbing 80 degrees and sunny this time of year in Tucson, but I need more then that to justify playing at this contrived of a venue. 536-yard par-fours that the guys are hitting mid-irons into for their second shots because of the elevation and "warm air" also make me feel like they're playing this tournament on the moon. That's a healthy par-five where I'm from, after all. What's a guy to do? Watch the LPGA this week?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nick Faldo the Golf Commentator

I'm generally not as critical of "Nick Faldo the Golf Commentator" as most people are so I guess it should come as no surprise that I thought he said something interesting and insightful yesterday during the Golf Channel's coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He and Paul Azinger were talking about caddies on tour and even the ones who had looped for them over the many years of their playing careers and the tone became somewhat derisive at one point. Faldo then quipped "its no wonder why they're called 'Rats' on the European Tour." Fascinating--I never knew that! Its the kind of stuff I want from my commentators and Faldo delivered. Azinger, on the other hand, was really starting to get under my skin. He kept referring to the trajectory of a golf shot as "traj", to the point where you got the impression he was fishing for an explanation of the neat folk term he was using about tour players. It seemed a bit forced to me and made me a little uncomfortable. He might as well have asked Zach Johnson out on a date he was gushing so much about his traj-conscious golf game. Get a room, Paul.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Swing Speed

In just 18 days I've managed to increase my swing speed with my Speed Stik swing trainer by 10 mph to a now respectable 97 mph. I'm stronger and swinging harder, but more importantly, I'm swinging "smarter" and hope that my work-out routine and practice regime will translate into stronger shorts on the course this coming spring. Its the first time since I've gotten really serious about the game some four years ago that I feel like I've made a noticeable step in the right direction, that direction being towards playing a more powerful and competitive game of golf. I'll keep at it, for sure, buoyed by my discovery tonight that what I'm doing is actually working. Half the fun of getting better at the game of golf is figuring out what you need to work on, figuring out how to improve upon that weakness constructively, and then seeing tangible results. I'm seeing results and I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Golf Trip

This winter I've finally found a few kindred spirits who agree with me that the worst part of our five-month long, weather-imposed sabbatical from golf is the last two weeks in March. You're so close to playing you can literally smell it in the air, but the ground is always too wet and/or still covered in snow. The wait will be over before you know it, but those last few weeks can seem like months. (Last year, in fact, those last two weeks did take a month, as I was prepared to play golf on the Friday of the Masters but we got 2-inches dumped on us that day.) I was able to convince the aforementioned buddies that the thing to do would be to get in our cars and start driving south and not stop until it was warm/dry enough to play golf. We've decided that Friday, March 20th will be the day we set sail and we're pretty sure at worst we'll be driving 6.5 hours to Kansas City before we can play. I got people on the ground there scouting out some courses for us, as well as in the much-closer Des Moines region, and we'll see where we end up playing. We should be able to play at least 36 holes and still be back by Sunday night--I hope we're back by then because my wife said I could go and have fun but I better be back in time for her birthday on Monday the 23rd.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Swing The (Weighted) Clubhead

Just like Ernest Jones said (kind of), swing the weighted clubhead. Get off the couch, go outside, and swing the club. Feel the whoosh of the clubhead as it cuts through the still, night air. Feel your stance rooted firmly in the ground and your torso rotating around your center. Feel the clubhead swing around your body--downward, outward, and forward. Do it. Breathe it all in and revel in the fact that you're figuring something out about this confounded game (finally), one swing at a time. Forget where you are and what else you "should" be doing--just swing the club. Swing it, feel it. Be the clubhead, Kenny. Be the clubhead.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Need More Sweater Vests

I just saw a shot of Vijay Singh on the Golf Channel wearing a light blue shirt with a cream-colored sweater vest over it. Always resplendent and nicely logo-ed with the "Singha Light" patch on his sleeve, Vijay looked quite dashing in this ensemble and got me thinking that I need more sweater vests in my wardrobe. I think once I start wearing them regularly I won't want to take them off. They keep the trunk warm (which is good for flexibility and the swing) and I think they give off just the right vibe--serious about golf but also ready to have a good time. If only I could find some affordable cashmere ones online somewhere...time to start surfing...and oh yea, I think I need some houndstooth-patterned accessories too. Perhaps a hat, like Bear Bryant used to stalk the sidelines in. Nothing says class like a nice houndstooth hat.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Nighttime Is The Right Time For Golf

I look forward to going outside each night to work on my golf swing. Its so dark and peaceful once the wife and kids have gone to bed and the neighborhood is all shuttered and still. The air is crisp and invigorating and makes me feel alive--corny, but true. So I've been swinging a weighted club for the last two months and recently I added a regular wedge to my exercises, working on my pre-shot routine, set-up and impact position (sometimes even with my homemade impact bag). Yesterday, however, I added a new weapon to my arsenal. I finally got a Speed Stik to start measuring the approximate speed of my swing, something I can hopefully improve upon before the ground thaws in April. I overhead a couple of guys talking about the Speed Stik last week while I was at the Golf Dome, and one of them even had one with him in his bag. He explained that 4 miles/hour increase in swing speed results in roughly 10 yards of increased distance--that perked up my ears. He then took the Stik out of his bag and started swinging it and I could hear the "whirrrring" sound it made at impact--a sign that his swing was accelerating properly through the hitting zone. I've been looking for some sort of feedback in regards to this dilemma and decided it was finally time to pull the trigger. Lo and behold, Rock Bottom Golf had them at half price ($49.99) and was running a %15 off promotion to celebrate Super Bowl weekend--it was an offer I couldn't refuse. Last night I swung the Stik for the first time and could hear my swing accelerating at the wrong time (too early in the forward swing). I was also maxxing out at roughly 87 mph so this should be fun to chart my progress as the off-season progresses. More on this later, for sure.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Golf's New Fashionista, Ryan Moore

Did anyone see Ryan Moore's get-up this week at the FBR Open? He looked quite snappy in a pair of spikeless sneakers, an Arnold Palmer-era cardigan sweater and underneath the sweater, a shirt and tie. What a classic look (sneakers notwithstanding). And as a former US Amateur and US Amateur Publinks Champion I couldn't be more proud of him. I'd like to think he's respecting the history of the game with his choice in fashions. Word on the street is that he's without a clothing sponsor and actually bought everything he was wearing himself (gasp!). I've been concerned, of late, as to how the tides of fashion have been swaying on the PGA Tour. When Jesper Parnevik paired up with fashion designer Johan Lindeberg and introduced a more classic style of clothing to the tour back in the early part of this decade, things looked promising. The Europeans had obviously been ahead of this curve for some time, but more and more players on the American tour were starting to wear clothes that fit and accent those clothes with colorful shoes and belts and gloves, etc. You'd see argyle every so often and maybe even a non-baseball style golf cap, be it a bowler or a derby or maybe even a pork-pie. But in the last two years or so, fitness has obviously taken off on the tour and players are really beginning to exaggerate the fit of their clothes (too tight, Camilo?), and in lock-step, manufacturers seem to be designing exclusively clothes that are more athletic and less refined. I don't want to sound like an old fuddy duddy but I rather like the era of fashion that translated into "casual nice" work attire rather then "work-out tough" exercise gear. Hopefully guys like Ryan Moore (and Kevin Costner at Pebble Beach--always natty in his shirt and tie) can help sway things back towards the classic look, but I fear the prevailing consciousness on tour may be too far gone.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Blues

Today was the first time in the last 33 days that the temperature has crept above freezing here in the tundra that is Minnesota. In conditions like this its hard to stay sharp and focused on the season to come but I've been doing my best to not get too out of golf-shape by swimming at the local community center and swinging the weighted club in the back yard at night. I've decided to try and swim the equivalent distance of crossing the English Channel (34 miles) this winter and just passed the half-way point to my goal on Thursday. I got the idea a few weeks ago when I was forced to share the pool with a water jazzercise class that was populated by a large contingent of immensely overweight women. When they got to "rocking and rolling", the water became so rough that I felt like, well, I was trying to cross the English Channel. On the days I don't swim I might go for a jog on the treadmill in the basement if there's some interesting tournament to be watched on TV, but otherwise I have promised myself that I'll go outside and swing the club no matter how cold it is. I don't think I've missed more then half-a-dozen days so far. Last week I also made my own impact bag, after contemplating the purchase of one at my favorite web-site I took an old duffel bag and filled it full of old clothes as tightly as I could--it seems to work pretty well. My recent readings on the swing have left me thinking I need to work hard on my impact position and making sure my left wrist is flat when I strike the ball. I know from watching video of my swing that I have a tendency to flip my wrists through the ball--the kiss of death to solid and consistent ball striking. Hopefully the homemade impact bag will help me with this. Like always, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Digvijay Singh

Apparently there's a professional golfer from India named Digvijay Singh. I'm not kidding. I'm certainly not extolling you, the reader, to dig the "real" Vijay Singh. I'm just letting you know that there is a guy out there who's also pretty good at the game of golf who's name is Digvijay Singh. I don't think I've ever come across a cooler name. And oh yea, he's not afraid to wear pink pants either. That is all.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I discovered this swing theorist/amateur instructor/golf guru on YouTube called "sevam1" just this last week and I must say its like I've finally found an old friend that I might not have even known existed, if that makes any sense. I came across his work thanks to the very comprehensive and informative list of golf blogs provided by the Artful Golfer (you da' man!). This sevam1 fella is a devout disciple of Ben Hogan and Moe Norman, arguably to the two greatest North American ball-strikers of all time. He has some fascinating videos available that show him hitting balls out of shoe-high grass in his backyard into the lake that borders his property. He ambles along in a delightful Canadian accent (hitting 5-irons into a lake all the while) about how simple the golf swing really is and how you can do it too if you only understand a few of the most basic principles behind it. What originally caught my eye, though, was his liberal use of Hogan's most famous phrase "The secrets of the game are in the dirt." Most people have taken it to mean that to really find your game (or The Game?) and a consistent ball-flight from all of your shots, you must practice "digging them out of the dirt." Hit more balls--understand the game more. Although sevam1 seems to agree wholeheartedly with this claim, he has taken that famous quote of Hogan's one step further to mean that the secret of the swing is really rooted in your feet and how they connect with the Earth (aka dirt). He stresses over and over again in one of his videos about the significance of Hogan having golf shoes specially made for him with an extra spike under the ball of the right foot and how this alone tells you, the average golfer, that the secret behind a solid and repeatable golf swing must come from having a solid anchor to the back swing in your right leg and also how you rotate around that anchor. Fascinating stuff, indeed. I'll post more about my discoveries of his work as I continue to enjoy his videos--until then, perhaps you'd like to enjoy some of them for yourself?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ryo Ishikawa And The Million-Dollar Driver

Apparently there's a 17-year old kid in Japan named Ryo Ishikawa who's playing professionally on the Japanese Golf Tour and will soon debut a driver that Yonex made especially for him that cost them 100 million yen to develop. They claim that this driver will help him in his quest to hit 350-yard tee shots (he currently averages 290 off the tee) and continue to aid him in his rise to international prominence. Already a winner on the JGT, Ryo appears to be on the verge of becoming a household name in places other then just his native Japan. Of his testing of the new driver he says, "It's a stange feeling. I've never hit it so far. The ball feels lighter somehow." I wonder if this driver could help me hit 250-yard tee shots? I'd pay at least $100 dollars for that!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pre-Shot Routine

Grip the club in the finger tips and waggle into your (slightly) closed stance, feeling the club head all the while...sSet-up with your left shoulder (slightly) higher then the right shoulder, feel your forearms relaxed and close together and rest most of your weight on your right leg, knee bent into a strong position...Rock back and forth ever-so-subtley, making sure to feel the weight of your stance on the balls of your feet (toes in the air, heels lightly touching the ground)...Take the club back to the "outside" (think Ryan Moore) and fold your right elbow into your side as the left forearm rotates you into the backswing position...See the ball over your left shoulder as it passes under your chin...Start the downswing by firing the right knee through the ball towards the target and make sure your hips open up quickly, feeling your left hip "stand up" as the leg straightens to absorb the weight shift (don't slide!)...See where the ball was after impact over your right shoulder as you make a full, high finish...Do this while thinking about your right forearm rotating over your left forearm and then pose in a balanced position until the ball drops softly next to its target--simple enough? All this in about five seconds, too...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blogging Or The Bachelor?

My wife is watching the Bachelor tonight and I like being in the same room as her but I can't bring myself to pay attention to this show. So, I'll blog instead...I sold a shaft on eBay this weekend that I had pulled from my driver this winter. It was an aldila VS-Proto "By-You" S-65 graphite shaft that I found produced a higher-then-desired ball flight with my very handsy swing. At $180 new, though, it certainly wasn't worth just stuffing in my extra-clubs bag in the basement so why not sell it on eBay? A bunch of people bid on it and the winning bidder got it for $38--a steal considering how good of shape its in. But there's a rub--the winning bidder, instead of questioning me about the validity of my post before bidding, decided to wait until he won it to tell me that I hadn't had it pulled from the club head that I said I had because "the Titleist D2 club does not have a bore-thru hosel design." He then went on to tell me that he was a club maker who had reshafted many Titleist drivers and, in fact, had been playing them himself for some time and that he'd never seen one with a bore-thru hosel design. I still have my Titleist 975 and 983 drivers in the basement and they both, along with the aforementioned D2, have a bore-thru hosel design. So is this guy nuts or am I losing my mind? Its like trying to explain the color green to someone--where do you begin when they obviously can't see what you see? My gut-feeling tells me that the buyer realized too late that he didn't want the shaft and is trying to frustrate me into cancelling the sale. What a sissy-ass manoeuvre! Caution to all of you out there who might want to make some extra cash by cleaning out your basement/garage/closet, etc. and selling some stuff on eBay--I've sold six things in the last two months and only four of them have gone off without a hitch. I actually had one item sell in December that the buyer never even responded to my invoice--they just ignored it completely and never paid for it. Beware because its not as easy as you may think it is.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Finding My Game

I went to the indoor driving range the other night (again, I know...) to try and find some semblance of a golf game in this long, frigid winter I'm forced to suffer through. I've temporarily decided to abandon the idea of having a picture-perfect looking golf swing and just go with what I got that will get the ball in the air and headed for my target with a reasonable amount of reliability. To do that, I've closed my stance just a little bit to force myself to release the club. I'm also taking the club back a little bit more on the inside, for no other reason then it seems to help me get the club back to the ball in a little better position. I'm seeing a slight draw to most of my shots, or at least for the first 65 or so yards of the shot before it hits the teflon wall of the dome. I'm trying really hard to relax my arms as much as possible, keeping the feeling of my forearms being "connected" for as long as I can in my swing. And most importantly, I'm starting my downswing in the correct order (legs first, then the chest, then the arms) and firing my right knee at the ball like I used to so many years ago, before I had read about the game and the swing so much that I could barely even hit the ball. We'll see if I can keep it up, keep gaining confidence in the results this swing will produce, and take it to the course in the spring when the proof will definitely be in the pudding. I'm keeping my fingers crossed regardless--maybe 10 more weeks before the possibility of playing golf again for real will be part of my daily daydreaming regime.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Mercedes-Benz Championship

I caught a little of the tape-delayed coverage of the Mercedes-Benz Championship on the Golf Channel last night as I was drifting off to sleep. It sure is encouraging to see the stars of the golf world back at the office for the start of another exciting PGA Tour season. Geoff Ogilvy looks focused and flawless, Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas appear poised to challenge in every tournament they enter and Boo Weekley, God bless Boo Weekley--he's steady and in the mix like he was almost all of last year. That four-putt double on 18 on Friday didn't do him any favors, for sure, but he's never been mistaken for Ben Crenshaw on the greens either. I saw a statistic during the coverage that there were twelve drives measuring over 400-yards in officially sanctioned Tour events all of last year and through Friday there had already been ten at this year's Mercedes alone! Are things getting past the point of no return on the Tour? I know its windy and hilly at Kapalua and most of those drives wouldn't have gone past 350 under normal conditions, but still? 500-plus yard par fours that are being played with a driver and a wedge?! Goodness gracious, this is definitely not a game with which I am familiar. Maybe that's why its so fun to watch on TV...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Game Improvement

Is it possible to really "get better" at golf without actually playing it? I ask this question somewhat rhetorically for myself and other snowbound golfers who live in northern climes and can't play for roughly 1/3 of the calendar year. I feel as though hope springs eternal in these wintry months since we can't play--therefore we can't be reminded of the shortcomings of our games. Lack distance of the tee? Well you wouldn't know it in January in Minnesota because there isn't a place you can easily go to that will remind yourself of that fact. Need to improve your touch around the greens? Well, we got no greens right now so you might as well just think you're pretty deft at chipping and pitching until the snow melts and you're reminded that you aren't. Let's say you're more realistic about the whole "state of the game" thing though and you vow to truly improve during the downtime that the weather has forced upon you. Can you really improve? I'd like to think you can but I'm beginning to think its a lot harder than anyone would care to realize. Assuming you have a life full of other responsibilities (spouse, children, job, etc.) and can't just plant yourself in the weight room and on a jogging track and then in a hitting stall somewhere with a video monitor watching your every move, I believe the best you can do is stay optimistic about your coming season and try to keep yourself in decent-enough shape that at the very least you don't regress to the point of nearly "starting over" every spring. Enjoy the fact that golf is coming down the pipe in a few months and be ready to hit the course running when the snow melts and the greenskeeper starts cutting the holes again. I guess that's my two-cents worth, anyways.