Saturday, January 31, 2009
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 TGW.com. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.