PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF

If you’ve read either of my books, you know I’m a child of the 50s. In fact, I’m now 79 years old, and having a lot of the same medical problems as others of my advanced age. My drives now, when I hit them, go about 160 yards.

I haven’t played much golf over the past two to three years because of health problems, and my game has deteriorated terribly. In fact, I’ve been having trouble making solid contact with the ball.

Last week, I wrote a blog about practicing hitting pitch shots to improve your ball striking. Taking my own advice, I went out to my back yard and hit a couple of dozen pitches back and forth at a towel I took out to use as a target.

Then I went to the Club, and pitched a bucket of balls, using my 9, 7, and 4 irons. The result…on the course, I hit the ball better with all my clubs than I have since I started playing again after my recent surgery. As a bonus, my pitches were all solid, and landed closer to the hole than I had been hitting them recently, resulting in shorter putts.

Pretty good return on a very minor investment.

If you’re having problems scoring. Can’t break 90. Why not spend three bucks and order my book from Amazon? It’s called HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME. The idea of the book is that most golfers have no idea how to improve their scores without having a swing like Tiger Woods. You have to learn how to score well, even more than learning how to hit the ball. Ben Hogan said, “Golf is 20% physical and 80% mental”. Few golfers even know what that means!

The fact is, that golf is more a game of strategy than of hitting the ball. You need proof? I have always been a terrible ball striker. Drives went about 225. But I carried a 6 handicap and almost always scored between 78 and 82 playing on a 7200 yard course. If you can hit the ball every time you swing at it, regardless of your current scores, my book will teach you how to think your scores down to the 80s. For $2.99 what have you got to lose?

THE BEST PRACTICE

There a lot of quotes by golf pros about the most important part of your swing being the 6 inches before and the 6 inches after you hit the ball. And of course, they’re right. One look at Jim Furyk’s backswing should convince anyone of that.

The practice that will do the most to make your ‘most important 12 inch swing’ work best is pitching the ball, which you can practice in your back yard. The movements of your body, hands, arms and club should be the same on your pitch shots as on your full shots, only shorter, and sweeter.

Practice your pitch shots in your back yard. Then go to the driving range, hit a few more pitches, then gradually extend your swings to your full swing, trying to maintain the same feel through the hitting zone.

Ben Hogan, in his FIVE LESSONS said that the waggle before you take your backswing is only a preliminary  miniature swing. Well, your pitch shot is just another miniature swing…a little bit more of a  swing than your waggle.

And by the way, putting a little power into that miniature swing, and using a middle iron, like a 4 or 5 iron, you can consistently hit the ball 150 yards right down the middle of the fairway. And here’s a secret, if you can hit the ball 150 yards into the fairway, and can chip and putt with any skill at all, you can break 90.

Learn how to by reading HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME. Available on Amazon…Book $9.99…Kindle $2.99…Borrow it for FREE if you’re an Amazon member.

 

 

DJ NOT USGA’S CHOICE

Golf is supposed to be a gentleman’s game. In fact, we golfers brag that it is the last bastion of gentlemanliness in all of sport. But the USGA  put that to rest on Sunday at the US Open, when they tried to choose their champion regardless of what happened on the golf course.

For those of you who didn’t see the final round of the US Open, here’s what happened. On the 5th green, as Dustin Johnson addressed his ball, the ball moved. Dustin said he did not move the ball. Closeup slow motion replays showed that he did not move the ball. In fact, although Johnson’s putter did not touch the ground or the ball, the ball moved TOWARD his putter, not away from it , which would be the result of his hitting and moving the ball. Obviously, a blade of grass beneath the ball gave way, and the ball moved.

Johnson called an official, discussed the incident with him, and the situation was resolved…until the 12TH TEE!!! Where USGA officials told Johnson and every other golfer in contention that they would not make a ruling until after play was concluded, when they could see who had finished where, then they would choose a champion, if possible, by charging a one stroke penalty or not, whomever it would benefit.

That is, If Johnson finished in a tie with another competitor, the USGA might charge the penalty and award the championship to the other competitor. Or if Johnson had a one stroke lead, they might not charge the penalty stroke, awarding the championship to Johnson, or they might charge the penalty, thus causing a playoff, which would, of course, mean another day of TV revenue and lots more ad income to the USGA.

Gentlemen would have made the decision in a timely manner and not influenced the last third of the final round by putting additional pressure on Johnson and the rest of the leaderboard…and would not have left themselves open to accusations of trying to manipulate the outcome of the tournament. Or maybe they’re just stupid.

But Johnson saved their reputation by winning by 4 strokes. Attaboy Dustin!

MORE COMMON SENSE GOLF

Harvey Penick, the pro who taught Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite the game of golf, wrote The Little Red Book, considered by many to be one of the best instruction books on golf. In it, he describes the 4 basics of the swing…Ball Location, Aim, Grip, and Stance.

Today I’d like to discuss ball position.

Consider the direction your club head moves as it travels through the impact zone with the ball. It is moving in 2 circles at the same time. One circle is down into the zone and up out of the zone. The other circle is inside-out as it comes in front from behind your body, then outside-in as it passes  your body and moves closer to your target.

Use this knowledge and common sense to improve your swing. If you routinely top your shots, your ball position may be too far forward or too far back. Try addressing the ball more in the center of your stance. Or maybe you are picking up your body too soon and you need to move the ball back a bit.

If your ball mostly starts out going right, it may be too far back in your stance. If left, maybe too far forward.

So, if you are not getting solid contact with the ball and hitting it straight toward your target, go to the driving range and try changing the placement of the ball in your stance. That may be a lot easier and more effective fix than trying to change your swing.

GOLF CLUB/TENNIS RACKET

How is a golf club like a tennis racket? Both will start the ball moving in the direction it is aimed.

If a tennis player wants to hit the ball to his opponent’s right corner, he aims his racket to the right. The same for the left corner.

If a golfer wants his ball to go down the middle of the fairway, the face of his club should be facing the center of the fairway at the moment of contact with the ball…obvious.

The question is, Do you know where your club face is aimed? Did your pro mention this fact when he gave you your lessons? Do you have any idea where your club face is aimed at any point in your swing?

There is a simple way to know the correct answers to where is your club face aimed.

As you grip your club, align the palm of your back hand (right hand for right handed golfers) with the face of your club. That way, whichever direction your palm is aimed, your club is aimed the same direction.

When your pro taught you to grip the club, did he tell you about aiming your “V’s” at your shoulder? Did he tell you to count knuckles? Did he even mention the coordination of your grip with the club face? This is important information if you want to hit a draw or a fade or a straight shot, or want to cure a slice or a hook. Because the direction your club face is pointed at contact controls the direction your ball goes, and also the amount of “English” or spin you put on it. The usual amateur golfer’s outside-to-inside swing path will pull the ball left if the club face is closed. But if it is square or open, the result is a slice.

For more logical information to improve your game, get HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME on Amazon… $9.99 for the book…$2.99 for the Kindle.

THE NATURAL GOLF SWING

Did you watch the Nelson Classic on TV this week? And did you see all the trouble Jordan Spieth was having hitting good shots? And did you pay attention to the minor points of body movement that the commentators made about moving the left knee and not moving the right heel?

The PGA motto is “These Guys Are Good”, and they’re right, they are better than good. They’re superb. Of course, they spend hours every day learning the body part movements they must incorporate to make those perfect swings. If you have the time and the commitment to do that, God bless you. If not, why not try my natural swing? It’s natural, like swinging a baseball bat or a tennis racket. It’s easier to learn. And it worked good enough for me to carry a 6 handicap and to score in the 70s.

Here’s the basic outline of the natural swing:

1- Keep your head in the same place throughout the backswing and the throughswing.

2- Rotate your shoulders around your spine. Never sway back and forth.

3- Transfer your weight to your back foot on your backswing and to your front foot on your throughswing. But remember #2 above…head still.

4- Think of the swing being made by your master hand and arm (your back arm) swinging into the ball, not your front arm pulling the club into the ball.

5- Cock your wrists back on the backswing, and as you swing into the ball, time your uncocking so that your clubface is square to your line of flight at impact with the ball. (Imagine hitting a tennis shot to the left or right corner of the court. The face of the golf club acts the same as the face of the tennis racket.)

6- Tuck your back elbow against your body and keep it there from address until after the ball is hit. This will coordinate your hips, shoulders, arms and body to all be working together.

For more detailed information, get my books, either HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME, or HOW I CUT 50 STROKES OFF MY GOLF SCORES. Both are available on Amazon and Kindle.

POWER VERSUS ACCURACY IN GOLF

It is important for every golfer to understand the difference between “power shots” and “accuracy shots”.

Power shots are the long drives and second hits where the goal is to move the ball as far as possible.

Accuracy shots are those close-in pitches, chips, and putts where the goal is to put the ball close to the target.

Mostly, Golfers drive the ball to hit it as far as possible on a chosen line. Distance being the goal, rather than pin-point accuracy, we turn it loose, give it the full windup, swing a bit faster and stronger, trusting our reflexes to keep the ball in play. Many golfers take big chances with these shots, trying to cut doglegs, for example, when they have no idea what line their drive will take. I’ve mentioned this error in previous blogs.

Regardless, accuracy, while desirable, is not as important on these shots for the average amateur. I’ve tried to convince my readers that 200 yards in the fairway beats 300 yards in the woods, but without much success. Most continue to haul out the driver and put themselves in trouble right off the tee.

But can I convince you that on the wedge and putter shots, accuracy is a must if you want to score well? And these are the shots you should be practicing. These shots can be practiced at home in your yard or in your living room while you’re watching TV. You don’t need a driving range to practice pitches, chips, and putts. And I guarantee that, if you’ll go out in the yard one evening this week, with a handful of golf balls and a pitching wedge and hit about a half-hour of pitches and chips at a target, you will reduce your score next weekend by 5 or 6 strokes. Try it. What have you got to lose?

For more detailed information to help improve your game, read HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME, available on Amazon, the book or the Kindle.

USE THE NATURAL SWING

This week I saw one of my favorite golfers, Gary Player give a short lesson about the golf swing on TV. And he made the mistake that most golf pros do when teaching how to swing the golf club. He tried to teach us amateurs to swing like the pros do. His tip? At the top of your backswing, reverse the position of your wrists so that your left wrist is bent backward.

Cock your left wrist backward and hold it in front of you. If you were holding a golf club, the club head would be in front of the ball (before you even started your through-swing).. So what he is recommending is on the backswing, cock your wrists left, then  on the downswing, cock them right, and as you come into the ball, cock them left again. I don’t think I’m qualified to argue golf with one of the greatest golfers who ever played the game, but I’d suggest that, for a guy who plays once a week, that’s a lot of wrist action to perfect on Saturday morning. More likely you could perfect that if you hit 400-500 practice balls a day. Which is what Gary did when he was active on the PGA Tour.

One of the reasons most amateur golfers  score so high is the bad instruction we get from golf pros, who make hitting the ball a lot more difficult than it has to be. That is why I have promoted my Natural Golf Swing. It is very similar to swinging a baseball bat or a tennis racket, only bent over instead of standing upright.

Read one or both of my books, HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME, or HOW I CUT 50 STROKES OFF MY GOLF SCORES, and learn how simple golf can be, and how you can improve your scores as I did. Only $9.99 for the book on Amazon, or $2.99 on Kindle.

I give specific instructions for the Natural Golf Swing in both, along with strategy advice to help you reduce your scores.

Ben Hogan said golf is 20% hitting the ball, and 80% using your brain. I agree.

 

PAR 90

For most amateur golfers, par should be 90. 90 is 18 strokes over par 72, in other words, bogey golf.

If your scores are not usually in the low 70s or below, playing for bogey will make the game easier and more enjoyable, and will reduce your scores. You can break 100 with 9 bogeys and 9 double bogeys. 17 bogeys and one lucky par will bring your score down to 89. 7 bogeys and 11 pars score 79 on most golf courses.

One of my favorite pieces of golf advice is, “Take your brain to the golf course. Don’t leave it in the trunk of your car with your street shoes.” Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, three of the greatest golfers of all time said, one way or another, golf is more about thinking than about hitting the ball.

Billy Casper, when asked how he won 51 tournaments on the PGA Tour (7th on the all-time list) said that it was because he knew how to win tournaments. Most pros don’t. They all hit the ball exceptionally well, but they don’t know how to think on the golf course, so most of them win two or three tournaments in a career, while the thinkers win 2 or 3 a year.

Here are some tips for high handicappers…

  • Play the easy, safe shot. Don’t try a shot that requires you to hit the ball perfectly.
  • Practice pitching, chipping, and putting. These easiest shots are the ones that will lower your scores.
  • If you can’t hit your drives straight at your target, do not try to cut the dogleg. Remember that short in the fairway is better than long in the woods.
  • Try to figure a way to reach that par 4 green with three easy shots. Learn to two-putt every green. 2 putts is par for every green. It is better to hit the first putt close to the hole for a tap-in than to try to sink the first putt, hit it badly, and cause a 3-putt green.
  • Learn to hit the ball straight. You can learn how with my free pamphlet, CURE YOUR SLICE IN 10 MINUTES…FOREVER. Free. No shipping charges. I email it to you, so it costs me nothing and it costs you nothing.

SIMPLIFY YOUR SWING

In his heyday, Tiger Woods hit 1,000 practice balls a day. So did Lee Trevino and Sam Snead. Ben Hogan was famous for staying on the practice tee from sunup to sundown…’til his hands bled.

How many practice balls do you hit? I’ll bet less than a thousand a year!

All that practice made the above named golfers among the greatest of all time. They needed to practice that much because their swings were very complicated and precise. They needed perfect movement, perfect timing, and perfect rhythm to make their very complicated swings work properly…to hit those unusually long drives…to hit those wedges 137 yards, not 136, not 138.

You and I don’t need perfection like the pros. We can play a simpler game in our weekend foursome. But still, we’d all like to improve. (See my epic HOW I CUT 50 STROKES OFF MY GOLF SCORES).

This weekend I went to the golf course and watched several weekend golfers tee off. Many made a common mistake that ruined their swings and made the game much more difficult.

If you watch the pros on TV, you notice that almost all of them address the ball very closely, and have very upright swings, even the shorter guys.

But a lot of us weekenders are short, and address the ball standing farther away from it. Nevertheless, most of the golfers with wide stances, still make an effort to raise the club up on their backswing. Wrong.

If you have a wide address stance, if you stand some distance from the ball when you address it, pay attention to your backswing. Consciously try to keep your backswing low so that you are swinging in the same plane from address  back to striking the ball. Ben Hogan had a picture of himself swinging under a plane of glass in his book, Five Lessons. You can get the same idea from the drawing in my book HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME on page three…the 3 dimensional picture of the swing circle.

Remember, if you’re not hitting a lot of practice balls, simplify your swing. For help, check out the natural swing in either of my books. It’s simple and natural. And it works.