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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The December Doldrums

It had been eight days since I last visited the Garage Golf Swing Laboratory when I made an appearance there yesterday afternoon...and I had nothing. I seem to have lost my thirst for the ecstasy that is solid contact and my pursuit of a good position at impact seems to have hit a major roadblock. It's cold in the garage and the two feet of snow on the ground outside make the Spring season seem like its many months and months away. I need to be re-invigorated and I know I will be in time, but it's not looking promising right now. I will try to hit some more balls again this afternoon while the kids are trimming the tree over at Gram and Pa's house, but I'm not going to hold my breath regarding any sort of positive results. Seeing the ball flight is such an important mental and emotional part of the process which connects the golfer to the game that I'm just not sure how much more I can get out of beating balls into a net five feet in front of me? I guess I just need to remind myself that the muscle memory that I'm storing up is a positive no matter which way I slice it, and that "not getting better" is analogous to "getting worse" in the Ben Hogan school of thought. And that's a School from which I hope to graduate someday, so I must soldier on.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Or Is It Really The End?

Somehow, after a "come to Jesus" kind of talk, we've decided that I can continue to play golf. I just need to not enjoy it so much? Or keep it in better perspective, or something like that...whatever the case, I'm back on the journey to the center of the clubface. Yippee! We've had snow-cover here in Minnesota for the last four weeks, so there's really no chance of me getting out and playing 'til at least late next March. My wife is teasing me with our trip to Florida in late February including some golf for Yours Truly, but we're going for her 40th birthday so, for some reason, I don't think bringing the sticks will actually be that good of an idea. I haven't really felt like playing much in the last month or so anyways, partly out of frustration with the current state of my game, and partly out of pure scheduling exhaustion. Having two little kids who are growing bigger every day and getting more and more into their own interests and activities makes pursuing one of your own passions seem that much less important, especially when you're not enjoying it as much as you have in the past. So I guess you could say this snow-cover/wintertime temperature drop has come at just the right time. I've made three brief visits to the Garage Golf Swing Laboratory so far and they've each been fruitful in their own way. As a result of them, these things I know for sure: 1) If my grip settles into my fingers and not my palms, and my left wrist stays "high" and slightly ahead of the ball at set-up, I'm going to make a good pass at the ball. 2) If my takeaway is slow and starts with my shoulders, and during which my mind is focused on NOT swaying off the ball and instead just shifting my weight to my right foot, good things will happen later. And 3) If I make an aggressive move toward the ball in the forward-swing, concentrating on keeping my right thumb connected with my left thumb-pad and getting both hands to the "aim point" in front of the ball, impact will be effortless in feel and powerful in its result. That's all I can really ask for right now.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Is The End

Fitting my best round would be my last. My wife thinks golf is too expensive and time consuming. She's right because it is. But what will living with me be like when I can't play golf anymore? God only knows...I should probably start going to church right now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Me and Old Man Par

I wouldn't normally write, blow for blow, about my exploits on the golf course on any given day...but today was something special. I shot even par over the 22 holes I played today, being 2-over after 18 and then birdieing 3 holes in a row to get to one-under. I had to play one more hole to make our game come out even, and of course I bogeyed it, but oh well. Even par!
So here we go: I started on 16 and three-putted from the front of the green for bogey. I made par on 17 after a nice chip shot to two feet. Then I birdied the 18th (for the first time) after making a nice uphill 12-footer to get it back to even. Ho hum 2-putt pars on 1 and 2 followed, with another nice chip leading to yet another par at 3. I hit the middle of the green on 4 and made an easy par, and then managed to get down from the front fringe on 5 for (you guessed it) another par. 6 yielded a bogey, and a lucky one at that as I chipped well past the hole and was lucky to make the comebacker for a 4. #7 was another two-putt par. Then on 8 I hit a terrible drive in the trees to the left, then hit a 3-wood to 100 yards out. A wedge to five feet and a nice right to left putt later and I had yet another par. On 9 I hit a hybrid to about 20 feet and rolled the putt in for birdie to bring me back to even after 12 holes. I made par again from the front fringe on 10, then hooked my tee shot up the hill and in the trees on 11, and was lucky to make bogey. I popped up my drive on 12, hit my second behind a tree and then punched a 9-iron to the back of the green. My first putt was lame and I missed the comebacker for 2 bogeys in a row (!). 13 I got the train back on track after bombing a drive over the trees, leaving me 80 yards for my second. I managed not to shank that wedge and just missed my downhill 20-footer for birdie. On 14 I hit the middle of the green and coaxed my first putt up to tap-in range. Then, on my final hole of the 18, I hit a nice drive on 15, followed by a smother-hooked four-iron into the trees to the left of the green. I pitched it nicely over the bunker and snuggled in a nice downhill 10-footer for par and a score of 74. And then it got interesting...I hit hybrid to 15 feet on 16 and drained the putt for birdie. Then I hit my second pin-high to the right of the 17th green, and of course chipped it in for birdie! On 18 I hooked my drive badly and was left with too much to get near the green in two. So I hit 3-wood to about 60 yards, then pitched it 10 feet above the hole and made another nice putt for birdie, my second one on 18 today. On the last hole (the first), I popped up my drive a bit and was left with a 5-iron into the green. I pulled it a bit left, then hit a timid chip to about 15 feet. And I missed that putt, leaving me with and even par score for 22 holes. Ta-da! If anyone besides me is still reading this I'll be shocked :).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Game Is Played "Out There", Not Between Your Feet

This has been a tough post for me to write, but I feel its something that I need to come to grips with. When you're working on your swing (i.e. your game), I think its easy to become too focused on what's happening on the ground, between your feet, then where the ball is actually going and the target "out there" that you should really be focusing on. Like Peter Kostis likes to say about Tiger Woods sometimes when he's struggling, he looks like he's playing "golf swing", not golf. I think that is so true and it's something that I'm sure most of us (maybe all of us?) amateurs struggle with. The game is played out there, not between your feet.
George Knudson makes some really good assertions to this point as well in his book The Natural Golf Swing. He talks a lot of about the game not being one of hand/eye coordination, rather one of control, balance and fluidity. He's given me a helpful picture in my head of the clubface "collecting" the ball on its way through the ball's resting place as it (the clubface) travels to it's final destination, i.e. laying quietly behind my left shoulder. Taking practice swings in the rough sometimes helps me feel this impact position and I try my hardest to put that obsession with impact out of my head as I draw the club back for my next stroke. There's a lot to chew on here, and I'm not sure I've put this together in a succinct fashion, but it's something I had to bring up and I will continue to mull it over during the upcoming the winter months.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Paul Goydos Shoots 59!

...and I don't think anyone really noticed. It's too bad really, because it happened in the Quad Cities, and he doesn't look good on camera, and he probably won't win the tournament anyways, which nobody really cares about to begin with because the Open Championship is next week, etc. It's the PGA Tour's version of a tree falling in the woods, I think, and I'm pretty sure no one was there to hear it. Sure, the John Deere Classic gets a solid number of dedicated fans to show up every year, but it's really flying under the radar by modern media standards. Hell, lots of people still dismiss golf news because they don't believe its a sport. It's silly and sad, all at the same time. I guess I hope he does it again today--then maybe we'll get Sportcenter's attention.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Things Are Heating Up

Not only is the weather getting warmer, but so is my game. And it's all coming together in the Garage Golf Swing Laboratory, just like I planned. The set-up is simple, forearms together and left thumb-pad "high". The right leg anchors the take-away and the shoulders start the swing. The left shoulder "tilts" as the spine stays upright and the acceleration through the ball is "pushed" by the right forefinger. The last three fingers of the left hand turn down through the ball as the weight lands high and hard on the left leg. But even more important, I think I've come up with a warm-up routine that will take this from the GGSL to the course. I take 10 practice swings with a weighted 8-iron, then hit 10 chip shots with a 5-iron, feeling the shot on the aforementioned right forefinger. And then lastly, I hit 10 balls full-on with the 5-iron. I can't wait to try it out!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Putting, Putting, And Yet Even More Putting

As is often the case, the more time you spend concentrating on your ball-striking the more your short game (and especially your putting) is going to suffer. As both of you, my readers, know by now I've been spending an awful lot of time working on my ball-striking. And I'd like to say that I'm finally starting to reap the rewards of that work, but it might be a bit premature for that declaration. Regardless, my putting has definitely been suffering as a result. I even went an entire round putting left-hand low last weekend, something I haven't done in over two years. And what is ultimately a confidence thing has started to creep into my actual stroke. I'm having a hard time taking the putter back with any sort of conviction and its really starting to show. So.....I've been working on a few things the last few days. 1) I'm trying to clear my mind over the ball by asking myself "Where am I?" and then answering "In the hole over there..." and visualizing the bottom of the cup. 2) I'm trying to keep my grip pressure as light as possible. I've found there's much less twisting and pulling/pushing of putts when my grip pressure is the lightest. And 3) I'm trying to take the putter back with my shoulders and just rock them forward as I make my stroke through the ball. Again, we'll see how this all plays out as the proof will be in my scores. Stay tuned...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yet Another Revelation!

"The Fix" with Michael Breed on the Golf Channel Monday nights is oftentimes just an annoying rant, as far as I'm concerned. But he said something the other night about the position of the clubface at the top of the backswing that really stuck with me. He was talking about the position of the left wrist and how it needs to be flat for a golfer to make a really good pass at the golf ball. I figured out (somewhat on my own?) that to get to that position without manipulating the hands too late in the swing you need to turn the left wrist downward in the takeaway. I'm not sure if this technique would hold water with some of golf's greatest teachers but I'm finding its allowed me to return the clubface in a much square(r) position at impact. It's shank-proofing the swing, sure, but it can also produce a nasty duck-hook if you don't swing down and through the ball "out to right field", if that makes any sense? With a limited amount of research I have found this to also be a very effective technique out of the greenside bunkers as well. With a face open at address and a swing executed along the open stance-line that is universally recommended, too many bunker shots seem to squirt out weakly to the right. Closing the face during the takeaway gets the club back into the sand with that ultra-pleasing "thump" sound and seems likely to continue to softly splash the ball (and the sand) onto the putting surface.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Learning About the Golf Swing

I've learned a few important things about the golf swing in the last few weeks that I'd like to share them in the blogosphere. The first came from, of all places, a recent episode of the Golf Channel's "Haney Project: Ray Romano". In this particular piece, Hank was explaining to Ray how his takeaway was too much to the inside, making it impossible for him to do anything other then come over the top in his downswing. Sound familiar? Yeah, so I decided to add what feels like a little loop in my backswing. Drag it straight back with quiet hands and arms and drop it inside, essentially. The second nugget came from another mainstream media source, none other then Golf Digest. There was a short blurb with Butch Harmon where he talked about how shots that are left out to the right generally are the result of the golfer's hips spinning out too fast in the downswing. Guess what? Since I left my winter home in the Garage Golf Swing Laboratory, I've noticed that a lot of my shots are being left out to the right. Bingo--quit spinning the hips out so fast, Einstein. And lastly, I've gone back to a stiff shaft in my driver, and it's an old driver at that. I can't stand the look and feel of swinging a 460cc head anymore (never could, actually) so I'm using my old Titleist 905S and loving it! I can even hit a tight draw with it, that bounces and rolls, if you believe it? Maybe there's hope for me yet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

There Are No Arms in the Downswing

That's it. That's the key--take the arms out of the downswing and you'll be fine. Drag the club back with relaxed hands and arms a little to the outside, then feel the right elbow land in the right hip, unwind quickly while firing the right leg and watch with delight as the ball soars far and true. Easy game, huh? A word of caution, though: the shank is the cousin to the fade so be careful when trying to swing this way. A lack of commitment will most-definitely produce the dreaded hosel rocket, so as Lee Trevino once said "Aim left, swing right, and walk straight ahead."

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I played golf yesterday, my first (9-hole) round of the season and definitely the earliest I've ever played here in Minnesota. I took an 'X' on the first hole, tripled the second hole and then finally, and mercifully, made par on my third hole. Looks like all that practicing in the garage over the winter was officially a waste of time! :) For some reason I felt really stiff the whole time and I even stretched out before going to the course. It was 36-degrees, I guess, and playing with other people is always a bit more anxious of a "golf experience". Oh well, I'm still excited for Kansas City next weekend. I just hope by Sunday I've got a little more pop in my swing. I think I have the tools to hit the ball better in my mental golf bag--I just need to LET GO TO GAIN CONTROL of my game. Easier said then done, for sure...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tiger Woods' Return

I'm sure everyone in the world (including the Dalai Lama who, by the way, claims to not know who Tiger Woods is) has heard that Tiger Woods is planning to return to competitive golf at this year's Masters. Assuming that is true, does Tiger have any reason to be concerned about playing the minimum number of events (12?) that he needs to keep his card for next year? I know it sounds ridiculous but doesn't the Tour have a minimum number that players must play to retain their playing privileges? He plays a pretty sparse schedule to begin with and having missed 2-3 events he would've normally played already, might this become an issue? I would love to see him have to play, like, the Open in late October to keep his card. That would suit me just fine. Whatever the case, I'm glad he's coming back sooner rather then later, if for no other reason then we, as golf fans, can finally get past this "when's he coming back?" banter and get on with rooting for the best golfers in the world.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The "D" Plane

Many thanks to Richie3Jack for posting this picture of the "D" Plane. It's something I've been working on visualizing/ feeling/understanding for a long time and it really helps to finally have this image to consult. And even better, it's a picture of Sam Snead on Augusta's par-3 12th--two of my favorite things to boot! So what is the "D" Plane? It looks like a description of the shape formed by the lines of the swing path and the clubface when connected at their (infinite) ending points. Most importantly, though, this image also shows how the ball flight results from the given angles of the clubface and swing path. Awesome! I will burn this image into my mind forever.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Golf and Archery

We all know this winter I've been on a quest to drastically improve my golf swing. I've spent hours hitting balls into a net in my garage and I've certainly stumbled upon some (at least to me) earth-shattering revelations along the way. Recently, I've begun to feel the unwinding of the downswing starting before the end of the backswing and, when timed properly, the amazing feeling of stored-and-released energy pre-and-post impact. As always, I've been trying to come up with a visual image that would relate to this "experience" and I'm starting to think it's a lot like pulling back a bow string in an attempt to fire an arrow.
When I was in junior high school, we had a unit in gym class that was devoted to archery. It seemed like a bad idea at the time and, come to think of it, it still seems like a bad idea. A bunch of knuckleheaded 12 and 13-year olds on the football practice field with bows and arrows in their hands? Yes, it was a disaster waiting to happen. But more importantly to this discussion, it was also the last time I pulled back a bow string and attempted to fire an arrow towards a target. Now that I'm playing golf, I'm thinking there is a similar sensation in the golf swing. The first 80% of the pulling-the-bow-string action is done with little or no resistance. It's when the string is almost taught that the hardest part begins. Continue to pull the string, however, and you'll feel the bow stiffen and know that you have a legitimate chance of firing that arrow far and true. Stop pulling the string when it gets hard and you'll likely fire a weak dribbler of an arrow a meager distance towards the target.
Similarly, take the club back in your backswing and until you get to at least halfway there is little or no resistance from your body. However, once your hands reach your shoulders, if you begin to unwind your lower body and start to shift your weight towards the target, you've essentially "tightened the bow string" and are ready to fire the golf ball far and true. Again, stop the backswing before you've become fully coiled (or even worse, don't begin the unwinding of the lower body before the backswing is complete) and you'll likely hit a soft, weak shot that comes up well short of your desired target.
Interesting, huh?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Work of Art

You'll never feel anything better in your hands. Seriously, why would you want to swing anything else?! If Monet was re-incarnated as a clubmaker, I'm sure he'd making something similar to this Hogan blade.

Piece of Sh*t

These things suck! It's like trying to swing a small, dinner plate and feels like one too. Ick. Look down at it at address and nothing but feelings of unrest and potential disaster will fill your head. Avoid these "clubs" at all costs.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kansas City, Here I Come!

It looks like me and the boys will be heading back to KC this spring to kick off the golf season in style (again). We've made our reservations at a hotel that shares a parking lot with a Waffle House and tee times have been secured at our new favorite golf course, Shoal Creek. A suitably-sized SUV has been arranged to transport we four hulking lads and now all we need is for the weather to cooperate. Hooray for me! Hooray for us! Four more weeks and this brutally long and snowy "non-golf season" will be over. Whoot! New swing, don't fail me now.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feelings (Nothing More Then Feee-lings...)

The golf swing has become, to me, a series of "feelings" that I need experience on the journey between deciding what shot to hit (i.e. club, shape, etc.) and posing over my finish position. 1) I need to feel the weight of the club head in my hands as I settle into a nice, comfortable grip while stepping into my stance. 2) I need to feel my weight balanced on the balls of my feet. I'll check my posture and make sure that I'm not going to lunge or fall over during the swing. 3) I need to feel my shoulders "drag" the club head away from the ball in my first, larger waggle. 4) I need to feel my weight anchor around my right leg and knee, paying close attention to the instep of my right foot. 5) I need to imagine the feeling of solid contact between club face and ball as I glance at my target one last time before beginning my swing. 6) I need to feel my shoulders drag the club away again as I start my swing "for real" this time. 7) I need to feel my right elbow anchor into my right side as I continue my turn away to the ball. Note that his feeling will coincide with the feeling of my wrists cocking as I approach the end of my backswing. 8) I need to feel my hips unwind as my right leg fires my weight over to my left side. 9) I need to feel my right shoulder go under my chin after impact as my head stays down over the ball until it has long since left it's place on the turf. 10) I need to feel my weight entirely on my left leg as I stand tall in a high (non-Reverse C!) finish position.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lie Angle Musings

I'm kind of a hypochondriac when it comes to my golf swing--I read articles and watch instructional videos and think "yeah, that's probably what's wrong with my swing", etc. My latest ailment (I think) is the fact that the lie angles of my clubs needs to be adjusted. I was looking at some Ping irons on eBay and noticed all the different color codes listed; they all referred to the different lie angles of the clubs. I dug into Ping's web-site to try and understand their fitting system and followed their instructions for measuring one's "wrist-to-floor" distance to determine (along with one's height) what lie angle your clubs should be? As an aside, I've always had a hard time finding long-sleeved shirts whose sleeves were long enough, so I wasn't surprised wrist-to-floor measurement came up much shorter then the average person my height. Of course, my arms are too long! I didn't have shoes on when I did this, and it's hard to actually see (without looking in a mirror) where your wrist's really are in relation to the measuring stick, but I decided to go along with the idea anyways. After all, if my clubs are too upright then that would explain my tendency to hit the ball too close to the hosel, right? And since I don't play with irons made in the mid-sixties, I should be trying everything I can to make impact more towards the center of the clubface, right? So why not get my irons bent 1-degree flat? That would be cool, wouldn't it? The downside, of course, is that if I'm not "normal" when it comes to clubfitting, then all my clubs from now on will have to be custom fit. This won't be cheap but I'm sure it will be worth it. At least until I decide that something else is actually the cause of all my inconsistencies when it comes to ball-striking.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tim Clark's Playing A Yellow Ball!

As I'm sure you've all heard, Tim Clark is playing Srixon's new yellow ball this week at the Match Play Championship. I know, I know, yellow balls are for old people or misers who aren't embarrassed to play with something they've swiped from the range ball bin. But according to Srixon, “Science has proven that yellow is the most visible color in the visual spectrum and psychology has correlated green with calming and stress relief; therefore Srixon has combined the two colors based on these findings to tap into the player’s mind and expand the benefits of playing a better ball.” Basically, the yellow ball will make you calmer standing over it and hence, you'll make better shots/hole more putts. It sounds like we'll all be playing yellow balls in the not-too-distant future.

Where's David Howell?

Seriously, where is he? I'm asking because I don't know. Currently ranked 383rd in the World, I fear we may have heard the last of Mr. Howell, which is a shame because I always kind of liked him. And to think he was ranked in the Top Ten in the World as recently as 2006?! My, how fleeting success can be...Oh well, maybe he'll come back as a ping pong star?

Monday, February 15, 2010

More Shoulders

I've been spending a lot of time practicing my full-swing in the garage this Winter but I fear I've been neglecting my putting in the process. I went downstairs with my kids tonight and rolled a few putts on the carpet and had yet ANOTHER revelation! Why not putt with my shoulders, too? I line myself up with them, start my club back with them and then picture them rotating on a plane that bisects the line of my putt. And guess what? 9 out of 10 putts rolled straight and true towards the hole (actually, a cd I've laid on the carpet)--nothing to it. Genius!

It's All About the Shoulders

When Paul Goydos was in contention at the '08 Players Championship, they interviewed him after his Saturday round and asked him why he buttoned the top button on his golf shirt in the toasty Florida weather? His response was that if he didn't his shirt would fall off because he has no shoulders. I only bring this up because he was in contention again at Pebble Beach yesterday (until he made a 9 at the par-5 14th!) and ironically, I'm starting to think that everything in my golf swing revolves around the shoulders. I start my takeaway and if I get them started on the right plane I can't help but hit the ball solidly. Too far upright (head and left shoulder dip down towards the ball) and I hit fat, smother-hooks. Flatten it out a bit (left shoulder goes "under"the chin and I feel the right elbow "folds" into the body near the right hip) and I have wonderful extension going back and coming down through the ball. I can feel the club being pushed along by my right forefinger in the downswing and the "long arms at impact" I so desperately covet seem to appear on their own, as if preordained by the shoulder plane on which I started my swing. It's a wonderful feeling, I assure you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Secret

My practice sessions in the Garage Golf Swing Laboratory have become longer and more frequent as the swell of wintertime presses more and more heavily on my psyche. My wife is starting to roll her eyes at me now each time I put on my stocking cap (always the Houston Oilers one, btw) and disappear into the garage. If she only knew the things I was discovering!
Last night, for instance, while swinging my late-90's Hogan blade 5-iron with the "4" flex apex shaft, I could feel beautiful contact between the ball and clubface but shots that were left out to the right. It's like the shaft was too stiff (which I believe it is) for me to be able to close the clubface properly at the speed with which I was swinging it. This is something I never could've felt even just as frequently as two months ago--amazing.
But the real find came even later last night...I couldn't find my golf glove (turns out it was inside my Oilers stocking cap; damn velcro got it stuck there) so my hands were feeling a bit naked. I hadn't been wearing my Tac-Tic lately so I decided to put it on. And then it hit me--when the left wrist breaks in the backswing (the Tac-Tic "pops"), that's your cue to start the uncoiling of the hips. Start the downswing before you finish the backswing and voila! You have wonderful extension and power going through the ball towards the finish. To purchase one, visit

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Putting At The Crosby

I caught a few minutes of the action at the AT&T National Pro-Am (aka The Crosby) yesterday and was impressed by the exchange I saw between professional Ricky Barnes and amateur Brandi Chastain at the home hole. Brandi had just hit a very solid fairway bunker shot to reach the green of the par-5 in regulation and was left with some 30-feet for her birdie. Her partner Ricky Barnes came over to help her read the putt and together they spent about 10 seconds conferring over it. Brandi then stepped up to the ball and gave it a rap and watched as it barely skirted by on the low side, leaving her a tap-in for her par (net birdie) and smiles all around. I found this impressive because, although some might of thought of Mr. Barnes' behavior towards his partner as being indifferent (or worse, chauvinistic), I saw it as a pro telling an amateur the general speed and direction of the putt and then leaving it up to her to make the play on her own. See, most amateurs likely don't hit putts exactly where they aim them in the first place, so why waste a bunch of time on details like "two balls out to the left, play it like it's six more feet in distance because it's uphill such-and-such degree, etc."? I imagine Ricky said "it's uphill, so give it a good hit. And it looks like it'll break in a little from the right at the end so aim just outside the hole on the right", or something like that. And then Brandi hit it, mentally uncluttered with images she likely didn't need in her head in the first place. And guess what? She almost made it. Good team work all around--I hope they're in contention come Sunday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ruminations On The Golf Swing, Part 38

I've been trying to start my take-away with the shoulders, sort of "dragging" the clubhead away from the ball, if you will. Lately, though, my laziness in executing this move has lead me to dip my head and left shoulder down towards the ball in a Lee Westwood-like move. It works for him but not this guy. George Knudson's book The Natural Golf Swing stresses balance and I've been trying hard to work on that tonight. Both laterally and front-to-back--balance is the key. A byproduct of not dipping my head and left shoulder in my backswing is I feel like the club is going back on a flatter plane and I'm much more comfortable with the point from which I'm making my transition back to the downswing. It was definitely too upright before and that was making me nervous.
My downswing is starting to get lazy too--all hands and arms and upper body all-of-a-suddenly. This is making me contact the ball too close to the hosel, and even (gasp!) shank a few here or there. Hence, shifting my weight towards the target, riding the hip turn (which is finally initiating my downswing), has been another point of my focus in the Garage Golf Swing Laboratory tonight. As Mr. Knudson says, the hands and arms are just along for the ride. Don't use them to manipulate the clubhead in any way, shape, or form.
And lastly (and probably most importantly), I'm getting closer to taking the "hit" out of my golf swing, maybe even making contact with my hands...ahead...of...the...ball. Oh my God! Could it be? George also talks a lot about the golf swing being a vehicle to get you from your starting position to your finish position. Thinking about "where I want to finish" while I'm making my transition has given me a wonderful feeling of the clubhead merely collecting the ball on it's way through it toward my finish position. My one caution right now with my finish position, though, is it's starting to resemble a Reverse-C and I desperately want to fix that before my back tells me it's too late. I need to land more upright on my left leg, something that working on my balance throughout the swing should help with for sure.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

These (Swing) Truths I Hold To Be Self-Evident

First, I must grip the club firmly with my hands in the new hybrid "double-overlap, single interlock" grip that I stole from Jim Furyk (sort of). The left hand must remain weak for this to work. I will take a few practice swings over the ball and try and concentrate on hearing the "whoosh" as the clubface passes over the ball and into the sky. I will then position myself over the ball with my left foot slightly open and visualize the shot I want to hit. Next, my waggle will emphasize taking the club back with my SHOULDERS FIRST during which I want to feel my weight anchored in my right knee. I will check the clubface position (toe up?) as the shaft reaches parallel to the ground and then return to the ball to start the swing (slowly!) for real. At the top of the backswing I will begin the transition by rotating my hips to the left and pushing off the ground with the inside of my right foot. The feeling that I will focus on, however, will be DROPPING my right shoulder and PUSHING the club with my right index finger (aka the #3 pressure point, for those of you keeping score at home). This should accelerate me smoothly through the ball and ONTO MY LEFT LEG, posing in a nice, high finish. The pleasure of knowing and feeling that I've just hit a quality golf shot will then consume me for the entire time it takes for the ball to reach it's intended target. Sounds easy, right? Well it should be...but it isn't always. The more I practice, though, the easier it will get. As an aside, should the dreaded shank rear it's ugly head, I now know two of it's causes: 1) If my downswing motion involves my shoulders rotating on the same plane as my hips (instead of on a more upright plane like Woody Austin taught me) then I'm reaching for the ball and El Hosel is going to get in the way. 2) If I try to manipulate the squaring of the clubface through impact I'm also likely to "reach" for it and smack the darn thing off to the right like a rocket.

Vintage Clubs

I decided to take the advice of some well-respected fellow bloggers (Sevam1, Richie3Jack, etc.) and buy myself a vintage muscle-backed iron to help me improve my ball-striking. Less forgiving and more likely to amplify any faults you have in your swing, the thinking goes that "re-learning" how to hit the ball with the old clubs will make the newer implements we all carry that much easier to handle. It reminds me of high school football practice, actually, when our coaches insisted that the quarterbacks (of which I was one) practice throwing the ball with our off-hands so that throwing with our dominant hands didn't require anything but our normal rhythm and instincts. I can't wait to get this baby (pictured above-right) in the mail and give her a rip.
And even though I know no one else is reading this, for my own sake of accuracy and completeness I need to amend my previous post about the Jim Furyk double-overlap grip. Since I don't have the magazine to re-consult (somehow I missed that issue in my subscription; I was forced to read it in the waiting room at the auto dealership I got my oil changed at last week) I'm not sure that what I've "stumbled upon" is actually what Jim Furyk was championing. My new grip is a double-overlap with a traditional interlock mixed in, if that makes any sense? I'm interlocking my left index finger between my right middle and ring fingers, with my right pinkie finger overlapping the crevice between my left ring and middle fingers. That was a really important clarification for me to make, I know.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jim Furyk's "Double-Overlap" Grip May Have Changed My Life

Jim Furyk's cover article in the December '09 issue of Golf magazine mentioned his "double-overlap" grip. On a whim I decided to try it in my Garage Golf Swing Laboratory today and, boy was I amazed! Upon first gripping the club with my right pinkie and ring fingers between (and on top of) my left middle and index fingers I thought I would be lucky to even hit the ball holding the club this way. I took a few practice swings and felt nothing that would dissuade me from my original thought. Regardless, I raked a ball into position on my hitting mat and took the club back and WHAM! I hit the ball dead-center in the clubface of my 5-iron. Thinking this must've been a fluke I tried it again and the same thing happened--another ball rocketed off the middle of the clubface of my 5-iron. Five more swings in a row with the exact same pleasing impact results and I thought I might've stumbled on to something major. I then switched to my wedge and hit a number of balls purely and effortlessly in the middle of that clubface and watched them jump backwards with tons of spin as they caromed off my hitting "net". What could be wrong with this? I'm still wondering but I can't come up with anything. I'm going to keep working on it, that's for sure.

My Garage Golf Swing Laboratory

So it's routinely below freezing for months at a time up here in Minnesota, and the ground is typically covered in snow from late November until late March. So what's an ornery golfer like myself to do if he wants to keep his game sharp and interest piqued when most others in my predicament have put their games in hibernation? Well, build a practice area in my garage, of course! Here's a picture: first, in the upper left you see my homemade hitting net. It's a one-inch PVC frame with a net stretched over it and attached with zip strips. I wore a hole through the original net in the backyard this Summer, so I reinforced it will another heavier net in the Fall. That net also wore out so I decided to hang to blankets over the frame for my Winter practice sessions. The outer "moving blanket" is starting to fray but I think it will make it another 6 or 7 weeks. To the right of the net is the wooden plank I store everything on when I'm not hitting balls so that I can actually get my car in here every once-in-a-while. I have a few clubs waiting on it in the photo, a wedge and a 5-iron and a weighted wedge I use to loosen up. The light from the upper right is from a window I have covered with a blanket so as not to worry my neighbors with how weird that guy is who's hitting balls in his garage all night. I have some hooks above it which hold my "swinging rope" and a few other practice gadgets I've accumulated over the years. In the lower right you see a mirror which I use to check my ball position and address alignment before every swing. And lastly, in the foreground, you see my precious hitting mat. My wife got me this for my birthday and it's made all the difference in the world. It's the "Vijay Singh" one with built-in give to the carpet so as to a) not hurt your left elbow with every impact, and b) simulate the feeling of taking a divot. Not bad, huh?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The PGA Tour Is In Trouble

The first three full-field events of the 2010 PGA Tour season have seen Ryan Palmer, Bill Haas and Ben Crane in their respective winner's circles. I don't think I'm alone when I say I think the Tour will die a slow death if this keeps up. And I don't mean any disrespect to those aforementioned gentlemen, I assure you. I couldn't pick Ryan Palmer out of a line-up and I'm a big-time fan of (televised) professional golf. Bill Haas has a semi-famous dad, sure, but he's done nothing up until this point in his career to validate his lineage. And Ben Crane? This guy's famous for playing really, really, really slowly and nothing else. The Tour needs Tiger Woods, and if he still can't figure out how to keep his tiger in his pants, then Phil Mickelson needs to pull his head out of his you-know-what and seize the opportunity Tiger's infidelity has afforded him. Please, for the love of God, I can't watch another tournament with a Johnny Nobody holding off a bunch of other Johnny Nobodys down the stretch on the back nine on Sunday. It's just not gonna happen, I'm sorry to say.

Ken Green's Comeback

So I'm sure you've all heard the story about Ken Green's tragic motorhome accident last year that claimed the life of his girlfriend, brother/caddie and his dog. And oh yea, it also cost him the bottom half of one of his legs. Well, he's currently trying to make a comeback to play professional golf again and is raising money by selling these sweet hats pictured at right. Seeings how I have the same initials, I thought it would be extra-cool if I bought one but had to ask beforehand about the crown-size on the hat. See, I have an abnormally large head so "one size fits all" doesn't always pertain to me, especially if the hat in question has a shallow crown depth. And if I buy one more hat that I don't wear my wife is surely going to kill me...So I e-mailed Mr. Green before making my purchase and he responded that he would just send me one regardless, and if it didn't fit well I didn't have to pay for it and should just give it to one of my smaller-headed friends. What a guy! I can't wait to try on my new hat and pay Mr. Green for it in spades.

Long Arms Through Impact

In my daily perusal of my favorite golf blogs, Richie3Jack's contained something in particular that caught my eye. He was talking about people's obsession with creating lag (and hence, power) in their golf swings and made a reference to 'running out of right arm' and that this was something that Homer Kelley talked about in quite a bit in his seminal text, 'The Golfing Machine'. I've noticed lately in my garage golf swing laboratory that some of my best feeling shots have something I'll call 'Long Arms Through Impact'. It sounds like something similar to what Mr. Kelly was explaining, I believe. Let me explain: when I truly feel like I've created good extension and a powerful release through impact, my arms feel very "long". Its like my left forearm has become an extension of my left wrist and hand (and ultimately, the shaft) and they're helping to sling the ball off the club face in a very forceful way towards the target. This is a feeling that I'd like to replicate as much as possible--doing so is another matter entirely, however.
Now back to Richie3Jack...he says "And I think what happens is often times when you try to create too much forward shaft lean and you 'run out of right arm', that running out of right arm causes golfer's to flip. Yes, trying to create too much shaft lean I believe helps *cause* throwaway." This sounds exactly like what I'm trying to avoid. Funny how this is all coming together, isn't it? Thanks, Mr. 3Jack. If you'd like more info from this fantastic blog, check it out at

Friday, January 29, 2010

John Daly's Done?

So John Daly said he was quitting professional golf today? If he really did, I hope he means it. I heard he said that he wasn't playing up to snuff and felt bad about taking spots away from people who could still actually compete at the highest level of golf. If this is true, then I applaud him. I just hope he doesn't pull a Brett Favre and unretire, like, 7 or 8 times in the coming months/years. The game of golf needs personalities like Big John but his act has become tiresome, if you ask me, so I'll just wish him the best in his next endeavor and be done with it. For some reason I don't think we've heard the last of him, though. Anyone crazy enough to wear those pants (or as Boo Weekley calls them, "britches") probably won't go away quietly.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Swinging A Rope

While goofing around on YouTube the other night, I found an amazing video of a guy working on his golf swing by swinging a rope. For all you "casters" of the club out there (you know who you are), it is absolutely impossible to cast a rope down from the top and make any sort of reasonable golf swing-like motion. You have to initiate the downswing with your body if you hope to have any chance of getting the "club head" back towards the "ball" without looking like a fool. And the backswing cannot start with the hands, either. You must begin your takeaway by moving the big muscles (i.e. shoulders) and accelerate slowly and smoothly with this swing training device. And the best part? You can buy five feet of rope at your local hardware store for less then three dollars. I know because I just did. Put a soft weight on one end of it, like a nut wrapped in lead tape, and start swinging your way to a better golf game.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Mid-January Blues

Golf seems so far away right now, both literally and figuratively. I haven't actually played the game, outdoors and on grass, in over six weeks and its going to be at least another six weeks until my buddies and I are able to make our now-annual trek south to Kansas City to play again in late March. The PGA Tour is finally back in action but they're playing in Hawaii right now and the images on my television screen look like they're playing on another planet. I've been busy at work and fighting a cold for the last couple of weeks so my work-out schedule and "range time" in my garage have dwindled to almost nothing. Sounds hopeless, right? Well not so weekend I'm signed up to play in a golf tournament on a neighboring lake called the "Bearly Open". Sure, its a scramble played on ice with a tennis ball and holes the size of hula hoops, but I'll be wielding a 7-iron OUTSIDE so I'm going to call it golf. I'm looking forward to it right now like its the Masters, which oh-by-the-way, I also plan on attending this year for the first time. But more on that later. So its on to the Bearly Open!