Ernie, Fred, and Vijay

Let me point you to a video that shows four key swing principles very clearly. It is of Ernie Els, Fred Couples, and Vijay Singh warming up.

You will have to watch it several times to see all of what is there.

What you will see right off is their perfect rhythm and tempo.

Then notice how their arms stay together instead of flying all over the place.

Then notice how their suspension point does not move.

Finally, and it’s hard to see, but it’s there, their hands get back to the ball before the clubhead does.

If you are hitting the ball well, keep doing it. But if you aren’t, you might consider putting these four things into your swing.

College Football – Week 4

College football games keep taking more and more time to play–around 3½ hours. The main reason is TV advertising. It’s guy in the red hat telling the referees when the game can begin again. I went to a Willamette (Division III) game a few years ago and it took TWO HOURS. You punt and when the play is over, different players come on the field and play continues. You score, and different players come on the field and play continues. No guy in the red hat. That simple.

Last week at the BYU game, a number of knuckleheads in the Oregon student section started inviting the Mormons to be fruitful and multiply. But not in those words. The governor of Utah said that religious bigotry is alive and well in Oregon. Well, wouldn’t you know, all this got caught on smartphones and posted, so the U of O brass KNOWS who the students are who were yelling this cant. Just like the FBI and the January 6 riot, social media comes to the rescue. Except that was worse. But don’t ask the governor of Utah.

As for the Washington State game, Oregon had the ball inside the Washington State 10 four times in the first half and came away with 3 FGs and a pick 6, for a net +2 points. In the second half, the Ducks kept shooting themselves in the foot on defense, but managed to score 29 fourth quarter points to take a 44-34 lead with 0:55 to go and win 44-41. Whew! Stanford (1-2) is next.

Oregon State made a valiant effort against USC at home, but just couldn’t get the job done, losing 17-14. USC got the winning touchdown at 1:13 in the fourth quarter. The team stats were dead even except for one: OSU four turnovers, USC none. Two of those Beaver turnovers led to a Trojan FG and a TD. @Utah (3-1) is next.

All six Pac-12 venues painted the 4-yard line markers on the field yellow in memory of Oregon tight end Spencer Webb, who died in a recreational accident over the summer.

Head Coaching Blues:
Scott Frost got an extra $7.5 M for leaving Nebraska before October. Nice work if you can get it. That’s got to be four times the amount of income many Nebraska football fans will earn in their lifetime.

Arizona State fired Herm Edwards after the Sun Devils’ 30-21 loss to Eastern Michigan. Edwards had an overall recored of 26-20 at ASU. Though he took the team to three bowl games in four years, recruiting violations that were legion, as were staff resignations and players transferring out of the program, made him expendable given the slightest excuse. Edwards’s buyout is TBD.

Two down, 129 to go.

Assistant Coaching Blues:
Boise State fired its offensive coordinator after the Broncos’ 27-10 loss to heavy underdog UTEP.

Looking ahead:
Washington (4-0) could be 8-0 going into the Oregon State game.
Kansas (4-0) has already won more games in one season since they went 5-7 in 2009 (won their first five and lost their last seven). Since then, two or three wins were all you could expect, and in 2015 it was 0-12. Their last really big year was 2007, when they went 12-1, losing only to Missouri (12-2). Their schedule gets a lot tougher starting this week, though.
I’m still not convinced that USC (4-0) is as good as the pollsters think they are. They face Washington and Utah in the coming weeks. Since they don’t play Oregon this year, those two games will define their season.

FCS Teams Beating FBS Teams:
None, but Ohio just got by Fordham (FCS) 59-52, scoring the winning TD on a fumble return with no time left.

Syracuse place kicker Andre Szmyt (rhymes with Smith, I think) kicked 5 FGs, including the game winner with one minute to go for a 22-20 win over Virginia. Virginia place kicker Brendan Farrell missed both FG attempts, albeit of 51 and 49 yards.

Texas Christian played Southern Methodist and won 42-34. Now you know whose side God was on.

Missouri, their players celebrating on the sideline at 0:02, score tied, with the ball on the Auburn 19 yard line and me saying, “Guys? The game’s not over.” Sure enough, the kicker missed and the game went into OT where a Missouri runner fumbled the ball just before crossing the goal line with the winning touchdown, to lose to Auburn, 17-14.

Clemson took two OTs to beat Wake Forest 51-45.

Enough already!
Western Kentucky beat Florida International 73-0.
Stephen F. Austin (FCS) beat Warner (NAIA) 98-0. Warner is a member of the Sun Conference, located in Georgia and Florida. Warner was 0-3 going into the game, having lost those three games by a combined score of 145-32. Now make that 0-4 and 243-32. Stephen F. Austin had ten offensive TDs, one punt return and two fumble recoveries for TDs, two FGs, and a safety. They lined up for a two-point conversion at the end of the game, leading 98-0, and respectfully took a knee.

Appalachian State’s luck ran out against Sun Belt foe James Madison. Down 28-10 at the half, the Dukes shut out App State in the second half and scored 22 points of their own for the 32-28 win.

Middle Tennessee beat #25 Mario 45-31, in Miami. [Note: former Duck head coach who no Duck fan is sorry he departed.]

Kansas State upset #6 Oklahoma 41-34. KSU never trailed after scoring an opening TD. The score was tied briefly at 20 in the third quarter.

Texas A&M is righting the ship by beating #10 Arkansas 23-21. In the heads-up play of the year so far, and maybe the entire year, Aggie Tyreek Chappell recovered an Arkansas fumble on his own three yard line, and when about to get tackled running it back, handed off to teammate Demani Richardson who ran the rest of the way for the TD.

Minnesota beat Michigan State 34-7 to start 4-0. They should be 6-0 (Purdue, Illinois) when they meet Penn State three weeks from now.

Ohio State (4-0) damaged Wisconsin 52-21. They will have clear sailing to the season finale against Michigan.

Tennessee (4-0) beat Florida State 38-33. The Vols survived a Florida recovery of an onside kick at 0:17 left by intercepting a pass at 0:06. After a week off, the Vols face @LSU and Alabama.

Week 5:
Games of the Week
Oklahoma State at Baylor
Kentucky at Mississippi

Crummy Game of the Week
Colorado at Arizona

Pac-12 Game of the Week
Washington at UCLA

Bob.

Rocky the Driving Range Dog

This post is somewhat off topic for this blog, but I have to let you see it anyway. The guy who owns the driving range I go to adopted Rocky earlier this summer, and posted this on the Oregon Humane Society Facebook page yesterday. I have known Rocky from the start. I almost cried reading it. It’s a great story. And yes, he does hop around like a bunny.


College Football – Week 3

I know this is a golf blog, but I also put out a weekly college football newsgram that you might be interested in.

I know not much about college football, so I can say things the talking heads on TV, who also don’t know much about college football can’t say.

It’s Pac-12 and Oregon/Oregon State oriented. Here’s the one from last week’s games.

—–

Oregon beat a decent BYU team, 41-20, primarily with the running game. BYU was ranked #12, but got handled on both sides of the ball in the first three quarters. After sending in the subs to start the fourth quarter with a 38-7 lead, and giving up two TDs, the Oregon first unit offense came back on the field with 10:39 on the clock and held the ball for over eight minutes, kicking a FG at 2:16. Game over. Washington State in Pullman is next. Their defeat of Wisconsin two weeks ago on the road and thrashing of Colorado State yesterday means the Ducks will have to play their best game to secure a road win.

Last Monday, our local newspaper had an article about the Beavers with the headline, “Oregon State has the poise to contend for a Pac-12 title.” Neglecting the fact that it takes more than poise to win a conference title, talent has something to do with it, the Beavers will get their assessment right away with games against USC next Saturday and @Utah the Saturday after that. Remember, the Pac-12 no longer has divisions. It’s just twelve teams, ranked from top to bottom, with the two on top playing for the conference title. A team with two conference losses will not be one of those two teams. I wish Oregon State every success*, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Oh, yes, the game. Before it started, I said to my wife, “If Oregon State doesn’t score 50 points, they will have some serious explaining to do.” Final, Oregon State 68, Montana State 28.

By the way, if you want to know what the tie-breakers are for determining who plays in this year’s Pac-12 conference championship game, here they are. Read them at your own risk. The final tie-breaker goes to the team with the most Philosophy majors. They are student-athletes, you know.

*Except against you-know-who. In that case, I wish them some success but not quite enough.

—–

The Scott Frost era at Nebraska is over. Frost was fired as head coach following last week’s loss to Georgia Southern. This week’s next loss, under a new head coach, came to Oklahoma, 49-14.

FCS Teams Beating FBS Teams:
Southern Illinois 31, Northwestern 24

Syracuse (3-0), down to Purdue by four points with 0:51 to go, scored a TD at 0:07 to win, 32-39. The score after three quarters was 10-9, ‘Cuse.

UCLA averted disaster by kicking a FG with no time left to beat South Alabama at home, 32-31.

South Carolina, trailing Georgia 48-0 in the fourth quarter, scored at 0:53 to lose 48-7.

In a minor upset, Wyoming scored a go-ahead TD with 6:06 left and held on to beat Air Force 17-14.

Tulane scored two TDs in the second half, while holding Kansas State scoreless, to win 17-14.

Penn State put a hurt on Auburn, 41-12.

A very surprising Kansas beat Houston 48-30, which no one except maybe the Kansas locker room expected.

Appalachian State scored a safety against Troy with 0:15 to go to bring the score to 28-26, Troy. At 0:02, on fourth down from their own 47, App State completed a 53-yard TD pass to win, 32-28.

Eastern Michigan, scoring on four of its first five first-half possessions, beat Arizona State in Tempe, 30-21.

Washington is recovering from the Jimmy Lake era, beating Michigan State 39-28.

By beating Marshall 34-31, Bowling Green created the first really good transitive non-sequitor. They need to include at least four teams. Here it is:
Eastern Kentucky (FCS) beat Bowling Green
Bowling Green beat Marshall
Marshall beat Notre Dame
Therefore, Eastern Kentucky is better than Notre Dame.
In the ensuing weeks longer ones will appear.

Week 4:
Game of the Week
Arkansas at Texas A&M

Crummy Game of the Week
Vanderbilt at Alabama

Pac-12 Game of the Week
USC at Oregon State

Bob.

Percy Boomer’s Essentials of the Golf Swing

For years I have been reading Percy Boomer’s book, On Learning Golf. Every year I get something new out of it. In chapter III he lists what he considers to be the essentials of the swing. They never really connected with me until I read the list yesterday.

I realized that quite by coincidence they are all contained in my writings, either Six Fundamentals of the Recreational Golf Swing, released in 2014, or A Basic Golf Swing, released earlier this year. If you have read those two pieces you’re already familiar with them. Here they are.

1. It is essential to turn the body round to the right and round to the left, without moving either way. In other words this turning movement must be from a fixed pivot.

(If you keep the knob at the base of your neck from moving until after the ball is struck, you will have this. In chapter VII boomer explains this point as turning in the barrel. This book is the origin of that image.)

2. It is essential to keep the arms at full stretch throughout the swing―through the back swing, the down swing, and the follow through.

(I describe this point as getting your elbows close together at address and feeling as if they stay that close together throughout the swing.)

3. It is essential to allow the wrists to break fully back at the top of the swing.

(They break by themselves because of the momentum of the golf club’s movement. Do not do this deliberately.)

4. It is essential to delay the actual hitting of the ball until as late in the swing as possible.

(I have described this for years as the hands leading the club head into the ball.)

5. It is essential not to tighten any muscle concerned in the reactive part of the swing (movement above the waist).

(“Maintaining a state of complete relaxation in your arms from start to finish, especially though impact, contributes greatly to attaining the swing speed you are capable of.”)

6. It is essential to feel and control of the swing as a whole and not to concentrate upon any part of it.

(“Dividing the swing into parts is done only to present the differing techniques that must be applied at each of its stages. The golf swing is really just one whole movement.”)

Boomer follows point 6 by saying,

“In a sense this last point is the most vital. The swing must be considered and felt as a single unity, not as a succession of positions or even a succession of movements. The swing is one and indivisible.

There you have it. That is Boomer’s list. It does not include rhythm and tempo in his list, though he does have an entire chapter on rhythm later in the book.

My Day With the LPGA

I went to the Amazingcre Portland Classic yesterday. It is the oldest continuous tournament on the LPGA circuit, having begun in 1972. These are my impressions.

First of all, these ladies are good. Really good. Remember the last time you went to the range and hit one really good shot, the best you can do?

I watched them warm up, and the shot they hit is better than your best shot and they hit it every time. That good.

It looks on TV like they all swing the same way, but from up close, and we got really close on the tees, they are all different. Some swing smoothly throughout. Some give it a little oomph just before impact, some just wind up and whack it. But you know? The oomphers and whackers are gals you haven’t heard of and likely never will–a word to the wise.

Nelly Korda. I watched her warm up. The rhythm, calmness, and grace of her swing was breathtaking. It is something that doesn’t show up on TV. You have to see it in person to understand it.

On a 546-yard hole, she waited for the green to clear before she hit her second. A woman next to me in the gallery had a laser range finder and measured Korda’s shot. Asked her, “What did you get?” and she said, “267”. Sure enough, Korda hit the ball just a few yards short of the green. She chipped on from about 60 feet to three feet and sank the putt for an easy birdie.

Overall she played very well from tee to green. Her approach shots left her with one makeable birdie putt after another, but they wouldn’t go in. One frustrated gallery member commented, “She should be 12 under by now!”

The problem is that the greens on this course look pretty flat, but they aren’t. I was watching lip-outs all day.

Coming down the 18th fairway, following the Georgia Hall group, there was a head cover lying the rough. I picked it up and found that came off one of her clubs. I gave it to her caddy, and while she was hitting, he gave me a ball from her bag!

In the morning, it was very quiet. Not many people had shown up yet. Often my buddy and I were the entire gallery.

We followed Anne van Dam for a while, because she hits it a ton. Then we followed Leona McGuire for a few holes, but she wasn’t having her best day and ended up missing the cut.

We also followed Christina Kim for a few holes. She has slimmed down, and isn’t really that big to begin with. She wasn’t doing her silly thing, but had a doing business face on the whole time and played well.

It used to be that we would see fairway, fairway, fairway off the tee, but these gals are hitting it so hard and so far now, that the misses are starting to show up. Still, lots of fairways get hit.

Slow play has been mentioned as a problem on the LPGA Tour, but I didn’t see any of that. Everyone was ready to play when it was their turn. One the green, they tended to take one look, stand up, and hit their putt. Of course, you can do some of your green-reading ahead of the time.

I only saw one player who was using the Aimpoint method, along with her caddy. She missed a ~20-footer about a foot to the left. Aimpoint is a gimmick, in my book.

One thing is clear above all. Like I said, everyone out there is really good. But a shot here and a shot there, just that much, is what separates the stars from the weekly grinders from the ones who just aren’t good enough.

Go see an LPGA tournament if there is one near where you live. Unlike the men’s game, the ladies’ game is similar enough to yours that you can understand it, and be inspired by it.

How to Practice Impact

Golf is hard. You have to swing a club back behind your head, then around in front of you again so that the clubface has perfect geometry when it meets the ball while travelling at at least 80 mph. For some you, 100 mph or more.

Since the only part of the swing that really counts is when the clubface meets the ball, you get good at that by practicing just that. Here’s how I do it.

With a 7-iron in my hand, I’ll take the club not even halfway back. The shaft is still short of being parallel to the ground.

The important thing is for the sole of the clubhead, as you turn your head to look at it, to be pointing a bit up and to the left (not straight up and down!). This is the sign that the clubface is still square to the clubpath.

Now swing the club gently forward and through the ball, making sure of two key points. The hands lead the clubhead by just a bit. Don’t overdo it.

And, the sole of the clubhead strikes the ground for the first time about an inch in front of, that is, to the target side, of the ball. Look at that spot before you take away the club, and keep looking at it throughout the swing.

And this swing is slow. No rushing, no trying to “hit” the ball. Just swing the club with good rhythm and hit the ground in front of the ball.

I think once you have this figured out you will be very pleased with the way the ball launches off the clubface and into the air, and flies straight away from you.

Do this again, and again. You are practicing the feel of how the club moves through the impact zone. Note: not “how you move the club,” but “how the club moves.” That’s a big distinction.

After a couple dozen successful shots, try a longer swing, at the same speed, with that same rhythm, taking the club back the same way, and aiming for the ground one inch in front of the ball, hands ahead of the clubhead.

Good shot? Good! Now do the drill a couple dozen more times before you take another full swing. Etc.

Goodbye to GIR

A lot of golfers keep statistics on their game. What they do with them I don’t know.

But one of them always seems to be greens in regulation — GIR. And why that is one of them, for a recreational golfer, makes no sense.

It means something to professionals, because a GIR is a birdie chance. A missed green means that the birdie comes from a chip-in, and those don’t happen all that often.

But for recreational golfers, who are trying to make pars, and for whom birdies of any kind don’t happen all that often, there is a better stat, which I will call, if it even needs a name, Strokes to the Green.

How many strokes does it take you to get the ball up to the green — on it or beside it. That, to my mind is the real measure of your long game — how many strokes did it take before your greenside short game or putting could take over.

As a rough guide, half your strokes come from getting up to the green. The other half come from getting the ball in to the hole.

If you want to break 90, start by getting the ball up to the green on 45 strokes or less. Include penalty strokes in that count, too. If you want to break 80, get that number down 40 or less.

If you can do those things, and you still aren’t shooting the scores you want, well, that means either your short game or your putting needs work. Short shots plus putts should equal two on any hole. Three is OK, but only a few. Down in four? Eeegh!

But the key to scoring at any level is getting the ball up to the green in the fewest number of strokes. Pick your favorite touring pro. Would you rather have her or him get the ball up to the green for you, where you take over the chipping and putting, or the other way around?

I guarantee that Door Number One will produce the lowest score.

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