The USGA Does Us a Favor

The USGA “saved” golf several years ago by banning anchored putting strokes. Personally, I don’t care if you anchor your putter. You can anchor your driver, if you want to.

But now the USGA is saying, beginning in 2016 you cannot post rounds for your handicap if you played alone. No witnesses, not post.

This decision is making people quite upset.

Golf Canada said they will not adhere to the new policy.

Golf publications are up in arms about this. Ryan Herrington, in the November 30, 2015 GolfWorld, said the decision “makes this solitary journey feel a little more like a good walk spoiled.”

Actually, it does the opposite. It liberates us from golf having to be a competition every time we go out, always having to play our very best because every shot has implications.

Handicaps were designed to level out competitions. But just because you might compete at sometime in the future doesn’t mean that every stroke you play has to be hit with that uncertain future in mind.

This new policy gets us one step closer to a recreational game in which we go out to the course, bat the ball around, and have fun in a beautiful, relaxing environment, and nothing more.

And you can do that now if you play alone. (Of course, you don’t have to post any of your rounds if you dump your handicap, but that’s another blog post.)

The point is, many golfers enjoy playing alone, and then there are times you just want to run out, grab a quick nine, enjoy yourself, and then get back to your life.

When you’re out there and you want to hit a do-over, go ahead! If you want to bend the rules or (horrors!) ignore one, go ahead, because you won’t be posting your score.

So go enjoy yourself. You won’t have to worry about the USGA’s handicap gods spoiling your good walk anymore.

Whether they know it or not, the USGA just made recreational golf a better game. I doubt that’s what they intended, though, so let’s just keep this our little secret.

The 120 Golf Swings Drill

To get better at swinging the golf club, you have to swing it a lot, the right way.  The 120 Swings drill, more than any other, meets that need.   It comes from my first book, Better Recreational Golf.

You’re going to swing the club 120 times, in five sets of twenty swings, each set different from the last.  It might take you three minutes to complete each set.   The complete exercise takes about twenty minutes.

Start out with twenty normal golf swings.   You’ll be hitting a ball only every tenth swing.

For swings 21-40, swing with your left arm only.  Swings 41-60 are your normal swings again.

Swings 61-80 are right arm-only swings.   Swings 81-100 are two-handed, but with your feet together, heels touching.

The final set, swings 101-120, is back to your normal swing.

(If 120 swings are too many, then do six sets of ten.)

The one-armed swings teach you what that arm does in the swing.  It will also help you strengthen your left arm when you do that set.

The point of the feet-together swings is to teach you how to move your upper and lower body together.  You will not be able to make as great turn with your feet together, so don’t force it.

Step away and set up before every swing.  Take your time.  This prevents you from getting into a groove that will not last beyond the conclusion of the drill.

It is very important that in any set you swing the same way every time.  Do not go trying different things with each swing.  Swing the same way every time.  This is especially important when you hit a ball with that tenth swing.  If you change your swing, you’ll feel it, and that tells you are ball bound—a bad habit that needs to be broken.

Use the same club for the entire drill.  A 6-iron is an ideal club.  I would recommend not using a driver.

An advanced application of this drill is for the club to impact the ground in the same way with every swing.  This means you are in control of the depth of your swing, a vital but seldom-mentioned requirement for consistent ball-striking.

Do this exercise twice a week.  It will make your swing repeatable without your having to think about more than any drill I know of.

Pronation In the Golf Swing – Supination, Too

[August 2019. I don’t follow this advice anymore. Neither should you. To avoid flipping, see The Hands Lead the Clubhead- IV.]

Ben Hogan, in his book, Five Lessons, talked about supinating the left hand at impact.   This is seen when the left wrist is bowed out, and not arched inward.   

A supinated left wrist keeps the club accelerating, keeps the clubface traveling directly at the ball, and ensures a clean hit.   All the good things that can happen at impact are encouraged.

The trouble is, this is fairly difficult for amateurs to learn how to do.   What is simpler is to concentrate on a feeling that gets the job done without you being concerned with pronating or supinating.

It’s all in how you take your grip.   

The base of your left thumb fits into a pocket formed by the pads at the bottom of the right hand when that hand folds over the left.   The trick is to press your hands together at this spot, very lightly, but by enough to keep them from separating during the swing.

This is done by taking your grip and then and turning your hands about just a bit toward each other.   If you do, you will feel increased pressure of the base of the left thumb against the pocket of your right hand.

Don’t push your hands together too hard.   There should be no tension radiating into your forearms.   Sitting firmly next to each other might be a better image for what your hands are doing than pressing together.

When you don’t have solid contact here, your hands can separate and start acting independently.   This has the immediate effect of turning the club, which moves the clubhead out of square.   

It also encourages you to hit with your right hand, which leads directly to flipping the club through impact, a well-known cardinal sin of the golf swing.

Now you can still flip, but you have to do it with both hands at the same time, and that’s pretty tough to do.   If, however, your hands are leading the clubhead through impact, like I tell you gals and guys over and over and over, you can’t flip.   You just can’t do it.

So try this out.   At first you will likely push your hands together too much, and you will feel all locked up when you swing.   Ease off until you find the pressure at which your hands stay firmly together, yet you are still able to swing the club freely.   

There is an ancient exercise that teaches this same point.   Get a long blade of grass and put it between your left thumb and the right hand pocket.   You should be able to swing the club without the grass falling out.

Be aware that this post is not about grip pressure.   That refers to how firmly your fingers hold the handle when you wrap them around it, and that’s another post.