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

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?