A Few Short Golf Quotes

This week’s post is a collection of golf quotes I have lying around. I was trying to think of what to do with them, and I decided I’ll just put them in a post and let them speak for themselves.

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“Teeing off with a 3-wood is smart only if it leaves you with a short iron.”
Hank Haney, Golf Digest, August 2009, p. 91.

“Hit the driver the same distance every time, just like you do with the other clubs.” Pia Nilsson, Golf Digest, August 2009, p. 92.

“The shortest route to improvement is to get on the green in fewer strokes.”
Hale Irwin, Golf Digest, January 2010, p. 98.

“There’s one common trait I’ve noticed in the swings of nearly all the great players. The position of the left wrist at the top of the backswing is consistent with its address position.” Jim Flick, Golf Digest, January 2010, p. 30.

“Go to the course and hit irons from the marked sprinkler heads. This will tell you very quickly far you really hit each iron. Take notes.” Bob Jones 2/16/2011

“The one feeling you should have before every shot is athletic confidence in your ability to hit the shot well.” Bob Jones 2/20/2011

“The late Gardner Dickinson, a terrific tour player in the 1950s and ’60s who happened to have a slight build, once asked Ben Hogan what he could do to get longer off the tee. Hogan told Dickinson to stop at the range after every round and hit 30 drivers as hard as he could. He told him not to care where the shots went, but to try to hit the ball on the center of the clubface.

“Hogan emphasized to Dickinson the importance of sheer swing speed. Thirty drives might be a lot for you; 15 might do. But a little violence in the swing is healthy and will help you develop more power. You’ll never hit it far without ripping it.” — Jim McLean, Golf Digest, April 2010, p. 137.

“If you’re mis-hitting chip shots, it’s because your grip pressure is too tight.” Bob Jones 3/13/2011

“Play a practice round where any shot can be repeated, but only once. If your mulligan is more like it, your mind wasn’t ready the first time. If the mulligan is just as bad, this to a shot you need to work on.” Bob Jones 2/17/2011 [Note: You’ll see more on this one next week.]

2017 Open Championship Preview

This coming week, Royal Birkdale Golf Club will host the 146th Open Championship. The tournament has been played there nine time previously.

Royal Birkdale

The first time was in 1954, when Peter Thompson won his first Open Championship victory. He won again there in 1965, for his fifth and last. Arnold Palmer’s win in 1961 was instrumental in returning the Championship to center stage in the golfing world.

Padraig Harrington won the previous visit, in 2008, at three over par, defending the title he won in 2007 at Carnoustie. 2008 was the tournament that aging Greg Norman contended until late on the final day.

In 1998, Mark O’Meara won his the second major championship of the year here, but the big news was 17-year-old amateur Justin Rose finishing in a tie for 4th place. Rose turned pro shortly hereafter.

The course will play at 7,137 yards, par 70 (34-36). At one time, four of the last six holes were over 500 yards, and par was 34-38 = 72.

The fairways are flat ribbons tucked in between dunes. There are cut narrow for championship golf. Nothing other than a straight tee shot will do.

Greens are fairly flat and accept accurate approaches well. They have to be hit, though. Missing will put the ball in a nasty pot bunker or into willow scrub that rings most every green.

Most of the holes are laid out to present a crosswind. While not hard by the ocean, the course is still only a few hundred yards off the Irish Sea. Wind will be a big factor.

One hole to watch is the 346-yard 5th. It has a drivable length, but the risks of trying to cut the corner are great.

The 15th hole has a plaque on the spot where Arnold Palmer played a spectacular shot out of heavy rough with a 6-iron from 140 yards to save his par in the final round. Palmer eventually won by one stroke over Dai Rees.

Another notable hole is the 16th, regarded as the signature hole of the course. The player must find the fairway after a long carry, and an approach the is just a little bit off line will find one of five deep pot bunkers.

The U.S. Open is the major I would like most to say I had won (wish!), but the Open championship is the most fun to watch.

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Tuesday 7-18: Phil Mickelson will not have a driver in his bag this week because of the narrow fairways. He plans to use a “hot” 3-wood and a second “driving” 3-iron. There’s also a 64* wedge in there.

Out On the Course Again

I went out to play with my Men’s Club for the first time since 2014. These last few years have kept me busy with other matters.

Not having played for a long time, I wasn’t sure if anything had changed. On the first green, I asked if I had to replace my ball in front of my marker, or could I put it anywhere I want like the pros do. They said that unfortunately we have to play by the rules. Just checking.

I played OK, shot a 45, two pars and two doubles. I was really good off the tee and on the green, but in between was blotto. I had this ten-yard draw off the tee which was not the shot I wanted, but it got the ball in the fairway so I decided to go with what was working instead of trying to fix it on the fly and make it worse.

I would say I lost four strokes, potentially, by having forgotten how to play the game. You know, hit this shot instead of that one. Or use this club instead of that one. Or hit it here instead of there. Those little things that give you a real chance to get down in two from close in.

The main thing I learned is that you have to practice all your shots to keep them fresh in your mind. Several times I played a pitch near the green when a running shot would have been better. But pitches are all I have been hitting lately, not running shots, so that’s what came to mind.

The difference between 45 and 40 isn’t that great. Just keep the ball in play, which I did, and close the deal in a hurry when you get to the green, which I didn’t. (But if you’re not doing number 1, number 2 won’t help you.)

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My next opus, titled, Bob’s Little Golf Book, is in editing now, and will be posted on the blog site in about three weeks. Again, it will be a multi-media extravaganza, and this time free and click-ready from the start.

Your Golf Has to Travel

A few days ago I got a wake-up call. I was doing business at an end of town I don’t spend a lot of time in, but which has a driving range nearby. So I took along a putter and a ball to get a little practice in before I went back home.

I get all of my putting practice on the green at the range where I normally go to. If you saw me putt on this green, you would say that I’m a very good putter. I make putts from all over the place, and I go around the putting clock and never three-putt.

Well.

On this new green, I couldn’t do a thing right. I was three-putting from twenty-five feet about half the time, it was hit-and-miss with four-footers, and my distance control was just nowhere.

I realized that I putted so well on my usual green not because of things that I thought made me a good putter. They didn’t have anything to do with it.

I had merely unconsciously memorized the green. That’s it. So when I went to this new green, I didn’t have the skills to handle the differences in green speed and contour.

I play the same courses, and I putt very well on them, because I have memorized their greens. It all adds up to having become lazy.

An under-appreciated aspect of the way Tour pros play the game is that their golf travels. They play different courses every week, that require different shots, that provide different responses to the shot, and you know what? They don’t care! The adapt after a practice round or two and it’s off to the birdie-fest.

You improve and become a Golfer by having skills that hold up under any condition. Looks like I have some work to do. How about you?

Golf’s Most Important Two Inches

You’re never going to hear the end of this from me. It’s the most important swing fundamental there is. Your hands have to lead the clubhead.

A few weeks ago, I changed it to, the handle moves in harmony with the clubhead. Too wordy.

How about the handle leads the clubhead?

Whatever you call it, you see it demonstrated here by our new U.S. Open champion, Brooks Koepka. His hands got to the ball before the clubhead did. Not by much, only about two inches. But that’s all it needs to be.

Brooks Koepka at impact

If you’re not used to swinging through this position, it feels like your hands are two feet ahead of the clubhead, but they’re not. They’re ahead by just a little bit. But it’s the most important little bit in golf.

External Focus in Golf

A few weeks ago, while cruising around the web, I found out about external vs. internal focus in learning motor skills, especially related to golf. It goes right to the core of what you need to think you’re doing when you are taught something, learning it by yourself, or even practicing something you already know how to do.

The difference between internal and external focus is simple. Internal focus involves instructions for moving body parts–what you need to do. External focus, in golf, revolves around what the club needs to do. Then you do what ever you have to to get that result. (The ghost of Ernest Jones is nodding his head.)

Listen to this podcast.

Subjects who had never hit a golf ball before were taught grip, stance, and posture for a pitch shot. Then the subjects were split into two groups.

The internal focus group (IFG) was taught how their arms move, bend, and straighten at various points in the swing. The external focus group (EFG) was taught how the club swings like a pendulum. When swinging the club they were to “focus on the weight of the clubhead, the straight-line direction of the clubhead path, and the acceleration of the clubhead moving toward the bottom of the arc.”

After practicing what they were taught, all subjects hit blocks of ten golf balls each to a target 50 feet away. Outcomes were measured by how close the ball landed to the center of the target.

The results were that the (EGF) performed significantly better than (IFG). As the trials proceeded, both groups improved, but the IFG never caught up to the EFG. The EFG recorded good scores more frequently, and lower scores less frequently, than the IFG.

Remember a few months ago when I suggested that you you think of the chipping stroke as brushing the ground with the sole of the club? Little did I know that was external focus.

What does this mean for you? Everything. It means you’ll learn faster when you practice like this–working on what the club is supposed to do, not what you’re supposed to do. It means when you play, if there is a swing thought in your head (which I don’t recommend at all), it needs to be about what the club is doing and not about you.

Six Fundamentals

The Six Fundamentals of the Recreational Golf Swing pages (SF Left and SF Right) are now public pages. The password protection has been removed.

Be watching for my next opus, Bob’s Little Golf Book, to be published on this site in June.

Dawdling on the Putting Green

I have to be honest with you. If you have a 20-foot putt, your chances of sinking it are really small. Tiny. PGA pros sink about one out of ten of them. Your results might be half that.

What you should be thinking about is how to get down in two putts from twenty feet (or more), because amateurs are more likely to take three putts from longer distances than one.

So first, stop spending so much time reading the green and getting what you think is the exact line to the hole, which, unless you are very good at reading greens, it isn’t.

Just get a general idea of whether it breaks right or left, and especially of what it does around the hole. You can get all that standing beside your ball and taking a brief look.

Regarding distance, if you practice approach putting every time you go to the range, you will have a good sense of how to cover the distance as soon as you see what it is.

All that shouldn’t take very long at all, maybe fifteen seconds. Then step up to the ball, line up the putter, and go.

No time to worry, no time to second-guess yourself.

You see, the pros on TV aren’t really our model for what to do on the green. They have thousands of dollars riding on sinking every putt they look at, and since they’re good enough to do that just often enough, they take their time.

We, however, are barking up the wrong tree by imitating them. By making a putt less of a production, I believe you actually stand a good chance of putting better, and you will certainly spend less time on the green, which the groups behind you will appreciate.

(Then there’s the endless tweaking to line up the line you drew on your ball with the starting line of the putt. From 30 feet? Please!)

Ranting much this week? Maybe just a little, but not without good reason.

Little Differences That Make a Big Difference in How Well You Play