Kiawah island flyover

Spend eleven minutes watching this video titled Every Hole at Kiawah Island, where the PGA Championship will be played this weekend.

If I were to play this course, I would probably need to have three dozen golf balls in the bag, and I’m not a golfer who normally loses golf balls.

Note the shadow of the drone in the first few holes.

It has recently been said that the Old Course at St. Andrews, elevation above sea level = not very much, could be underwater by 2050. (If the former Golfer-in-Chief wants to build a wall to create a legacy for himself, building one here would do the trick. Not to mention, about two miles instead of several thousand. Just sayin’.)

I wonder how much longer this very low-lying Ocean Course will last?

Pronounce it KEY-uh-wuh.

Read this article on how it plays for the amateurs who make the trek.

Note to self: Don’t make the trek.

A productive practice plan

One of the things I was told as a beginning blogger is one way to find material to post is to “re-purpose” material you have already written. In other words, plagiarize yourself.

There’s a lot of good stuff on the blog that is hard to find because there is so much on it. This then is the first of a series of reprints that feature the cream of the lot.

Today’s reprint is an item I wrote several years ago about my practice plan. I used this plan back then to maintain a very good level of golf.

The routine takes about an hour and a half. If you can do it twice a week, you will soon notice the improvement.

Ten More Yards with your driver

Everybody knows by now that the faster your clubhead is moving when it hits the ball, the farther the ball will go. F=ma, after all.

If you poke around the Internet you will find that in the range of swing speeds you now have, 1 more MPH will give you about 3 more yards of carry. So if you can get 3 more MPH, you’ll get almost 10 yards more carry.

So why don’t you just swing a little harder and get the extra speed? Well, it’s not that easy.

You’re probably already getting the highest swing speed you can get right now. Everyone has a limit, you know. And then trying harder means, for most people, putting out more effort, which usually ends up lowering your swing speed because of the extra tension you put into the harder swing.

And that, folks, is the key to getting those 3 MPH.

(Right now I feel like the coach in Chariots of Fire who told Harold Abrahams he needs three more yards and he can show Abrahams how to get them.)

If tension slows you down, the opposite of tension, relaxation speeds you up. What we’re going to relax are your arms, the parts of your body that do the actual swinging.

Stand up in your address position, but without a club in your hands. Let your arms hang down and swing them gently from side to side.

Notice how free and easy it is, and how all the movement is in the shoulder joint. The joint itself does not move.

Now stand up and swing both arms up and over your head, and let them fall straight down again so they swing behind you, just as if you were in a large stadium doing the Wave.

Just go back and forth, swinging freely, feeling as before all the movement in the joint but not of the joint.

Now ask yourself, do my arms feel like this when I swing a golf club?

I would bet they don’t. But if they did, those relaxed arms would swing faster perforce, and there you would have the extra speed you want.

How much more? I don’t know exactly, but there will be more. To put this technique into practice you have to trust that a relaxed swinging motion will send the ball farther away than a muscular hit will.

Which is true.

Golfers take care of your back

I guess this is Healthy Golf Week on the blog. Today’s post concerns golf’s number one injury, the lower back.

The human body was not designed to accommodate the stresses golf places on the lumbar spine. Regardless of what anybody says, there is no stress-free golf swing.

What you can do is get fit for playing the game, and adopt practices that minimize the stress.

There is one book I have found that tells you everything you need to know on this subject.

It is titled, Golfers Take Care of Your Back, written by Susan M. Carpenter and Florence P. Kendall.

Florence Kendall comes to golf with heavy credentials. She is, coequally with her husband, Henry O. Kendall, the founder of physical therapy in this country.

Her book, Muscles: Testing and Function, is on the desk of every working physical therapist today.

When she speaks, listen.

You can find this book at I recommend you get a copy and follow its advice.

If you want to know more about golf and the back from a clinical perspective, I would refer you to this comprehensive but somewhat imposing metastudy.

One thing. On the golf forums I read, every now and then someone will say, my back really hurts whenever I play. Should I stop playing and see a doctor?

That’s not a dumb question. We are often reluctant to seek medical assistance because we are afraid of what we might find out, afraid of what the treatment might be, or afraid of how treatment might affect our life’s routine.

But if your back hurts after every time you play, or after every time at the range, Stop! Get it checked out. It might be something that eventually affects more than your golf game.

This part is important: if you have back pain and have lost control of your bowels and bladder, this is an emergency condition. See a doctor immediately!

Sun and Heat Safety on the Golf Course

Warm weather is upon us, we are golfing again, and getting out in the sun. Let me say in the strongest way, protect yourself.

You have heard why. Overexposure leads to skin cancers later in life.

I’m a redhead, very sun-sensitive. In my 20s, even then, I let my head be exposed and got some mild sunburns. Nothing that really gave me a problem, but after a few I started wearing a hat whenever the sun’s burning rays were out.

Too late.

In the past few years I have had three malignancies removed, one by a procedure called Mohs surgery. Look it up online. Not fun.

This is what I recommend, based on my experience with hiking in the Southwest. Cover up. Sunscreen might not be as effective as we would like it to be, and it has to be applied at the right time and replenished.

Wear a broad-brimmed hat. Wear something loose-fitting to cover your arms and legs. This also preserves moisture, and helps you stay cool.

Wear gloves on both hands around the green, and keep your hands out of the sun when you walk down the fairway. I keep one hand in my pocket and the other hand pulling the cart in the shade of my body.

Hydrate! Drink plenty of water before you get to the course. Then have a few ounces (frequent sipping doesn’t do the job) every few holes, and on every tee if it’s really hot.

Play early or late in the day to avoid the highest temperatures.

If you feel yourself getting overheated, take off your hat and shirt and get them soaking wet. Wearing wet clothes like this will keep your head (especially your head!) and chest cool, keeping your body temperature down.

Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion:
Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
Heavy sweating
Weak, rapid pulse
Low blood pressure upon standing
Muscle cramps

What to do:
Stop all activity and rest
Move to a cooler place
Drink cool water or sports drinks

Heat stroke (this is an emergency condition):
Altered mental state or behavior.
Sweating stops, skin is dry.
Nausea and vomiting.
Flushed skin.
Rapid breathing. Racing heart rate.

What to do:
Call 911
Get the person into shade or indoors.
Remove excess clothing.
Cool the person with whatever means available

Then there’s lightning, but that’s a different post.

My Favorite Golf Toy

I made toy a few years ago to show myself how easy it really is to shoot a low score in golf.

It’s an Excel spreadsheet called The Longest Shot Score [course name] on my hard drive, but I abbreviated it for this post as longestshot.xls. so you can download it.

Enter the yardages of each hole on your course, then enter the longest shot you can hit off the tee, and the longest shot you can hit off the fairway.

The spreadsheet tells what score you could shoot.

My real intent when I wrote this was to see how short you can hit and still score.

Let’s use this screenshot of one of the courses in play, in Dallas, Oregon (several miles east of Salem).

If you never hit over 200 yards off the tee, and 175 yards off the fairway, you are set up to score a 75.

Trying to break 90? You can do that if you never hit over 150 yards off the tee and 125 yards from the fairway.

There’s a given, which is that you always get down in two whenever the ball is up to the green, and that’s a really big given.

But still. I’m trying to tell you that length is good, but straight is better, even if it isn’t very long, and there’s more than one plan for getting around the course than to hit driver all the time.

Play within yourself, keep the ball in play, and shoot scores you would be proud of.

What’s In My Bag – April 2021

Every year I put up a WITB post. I skipped last year because I stayed home and didn’t go out to get myself exposed to you-know-what.

In my 2019 post, I had a set that starts with a driver, then a 16.5* FW and a club for every 4* of loft down to a 60* wedge. And a putter.

This year, I took out the FW and added second putter. One is a face-balanced putter for putts of up to about 12 feet. The other is a toe-balanced putter for the rest.

This post goes into detail about the two putters.

Simple Mathematics of the Driver

This isn’t going to be a big physics thing. I don’t know enough to write it, and would you understand it if I did?

This is about phonograph records. I know, I date myself, but they illustrate the point perfectly.

If you watch a spinning phonograph record, you would note that the part near the spindle turns very slowly, and the part at the far edge races around the turntable.

That’s because they have to make one revolution in the same amount of time, but with different distances to go.

On a 33-1/3 RPM recored, a spot a half-inch away from the spindle travels at a speed of 105 inches per minute. A spot on the far edge of the record, six inches away from the spindle, travels at 1,256 inches per minute. *

O.K.? So let’s talk about golf clubs. My 7-iron is 38″ long, and my driver is 44.5″ long.

If I swing them at the same speed, the clubhead of the driver, because the driver is a longer club, should be going 17% faster than the clubhead of the 7-iron.

That’s a theoretical analysis. Here is some actual data.

Average LPGA swing speed with a 7-iron is 76 MPH. The ball carries 141 yards at that speed. You can probably hit a 7-iron that far.

That same swing, applied to a driver, becomes 94 MPH, which is roughly 24 % faster. That yields a a carry distance of 218 yards. Add some roll-out and you have yourself a pretty decent drive …

… by swinging your driver the same as you do your 7-iron!**

Where does the extra clubhead speed come from? Why not just 17% faster?

Remember that the golf swing is a dual-lever motion. The arms, swinging from the shoulders, provide the 17%. The club, swinging from the hands to the clubhead, proved the remaining 7%.

But that’s not the point. The point is that your 7-iron swing is your driver swing. Let the design of the club (longer shaft, less loft) do the work.


* Scientists used a phonograph record to verify Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. A “clock” on the edge of the record does run slower, because it is going faster, than a “clock” next to the center of the record. The difference is really, really, really small, but it’s there.

** Red typeface is the Internet equivalent of writing something on a large polo mallet and hitting you over the head with it.

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