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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

KNOW WHERE YOU’RE AIMING

Most high handicap golfers start every golf shot wrong. So badly wrong that it affects their swing.

This weekend, when you watch the pros play on TV, watch what they do BEFORE EVERY SHOT!!! They stand behind their ball and look at their target, and make sure that when they address the ball, they are aimed at that target! They see that they are aligned properly to hit the ball where they want it to go.

Every golfer, amateur or pro, high handicap or low, must know where he wants his shot to go, and must confirm that he is aimed at his target as he prepares to hit his shot.

This is important, not only because you may not be aimed where you think you’re aimed (Maybe the tree line of the woods tends in toward the fairway and you think you’re aimed for the fairway, but you’re really aimed for the edge of the woods). (Or maybe the tee markers have you aimed toward a hazard instead of toward the middle of the fairway.)

(Is there a hole on your home course where you always hit a bad drive? Maybe the tee box has you aimed in the wrong direction! Check it out. There’s at least one hole like that on every course!)

Finally, if you’re not set up to hit your ball at your target, your brain will instinctively know. It will feel that something is wrong. Then, being the good friend that it is, your brain will try to help you by modifying your swing to get you back on line. Unconsciously, your brain is playing games with your swing. No wonder you hit a bad shot! Aimed wrong, swing “adjusted”, etc. etc.

Do yourself a big favor. Make sure you know where you want to hit the ball, and that you are aimed to hit it there.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Very few golfers have classic swings, maybe Sam Snead and Tom Purtzer. But most of the rest of us fall into the category of “Do whatever works for you” like Jim Furyk and Byron Nelson,  And that’s what this week’s post is about.

We all try to do what we are taught is right by our pro or Golf Digest, but somehow it isn’t working. Everyone’s body and mind is individual. Each works in a unique way. So why not “Do what works for you”?

I tend to be lazy getting off my back foot and transferring my weight, so my club strikes the ground farther back in my stance than recommended. I figure, if that’s where my club head strikes the ground, that’s where I should play my ball. So my stance addresses the ball closer to my right foot than recommended by the pros and the magazines.

My body has never been supple, so I  bend my left arm during my backswing in an attempt to lengthen it.

Naturally, these alterations require other changes. For example, the timing of my wrist action to be square at the new location of the ball or the length of the backswing. A session on the practice tee will help with any changes you might make.

Remember, I am NOT telling you to swing your club like I do, only saying that if you think about how your swing works, you might see an obvious change  you could make  in it to improve your stroke.

In my book, HOW SHORT HITTING, BAD GOLFERS BREAK 90 ALL THE TIME, I recommend a shorter backswing, making it easier to hit the ball. So be aware that each golfer must find the swing that works for him, that helps him score best playing his game. Just like Jim Furyk, my swing works for me. I don’t recommend it for you.