All posts by recgolfer

Tempo, One More time

Say you know what to do with your swing, and you know how to do it, but you still aren’t getting consistent results.

I will bet dollars to donuts that your swing is too fast.

I don’t mean to say you are swinging out of your shoes, but that your swing is too fast for you to get everything to line up.

Even though you don’t feel like you are swinging too fast, the results indicate that you might be doing just that.

So slow it down. Slow down your swing to the point where it starts working like it should.

I’m not saying swing slowly. That’s different. I’m saying to find the speed that lets your swing work, which might be slower than you are swinging now.

Not a lot slower, just slower enough.

Then one thing flows into the next, seamlessly. The parts disappear and all you have left is one swing, a swing that works.

Try it.

Short Irons For Your Short Game

Every time I go out to play golf I learn something. I hope you do, too. Today I learned some thing about pitching and long chipping.

Yesterday I was at the range with a driver and a 9-iron. I use the 9-iron to help me maintain a controlled swing with the driver. If my driver swing is getting out of hand, a few swings the 9-iron brings it back down to earth.

But I put the 9 to use, too. I hit pitches to distances where I would normally use different wedges. They worked out OK. I used a longer or shorter swing, and it was easy to get the distance right.

Today when I played I thought I would use the 9 to pitch on two shots from 89 yards and 59 yards. They worked out pretty well. I got close enough to the hole where the putt was makeable if I could putt worth a lick and the greens hadn’t been sanded a few days earlier.

Then there are those long chips from 20-30 yards off the green. I had a few of those. I thought, what the heck, let me try the short irons here, too. They worked really well. By short irons, I mean 8, 9, and pitching wedge.

The upshot is that I hit short irons to good effect in situations where I would have normally gone straight to my wedges. In addition, I found the short irons easier to hit than the wedges would have been.

Try it for yourself. See if you like the results. There’s no need to be wedded to wedges (but no need to drop them, either). Give yourself options.

Add Distance With No Extra Effort

Everyone wants to hit the ball farther. If you don’t, there is something wrong with you.

The usual solutions are to swing faster or hit harder. Either of those solutions lead you to inventing any number of new ways to mishit the ball.

There is a third way–make the arc of your swing longer, which allows more speed to build up before the ball is struck.

Making the swing longer for most golfers does not mean to make your backswing longer. It means to make it wider.

Lee Trevino shows us to take a wedge back halfway, stop, take your trailing hand off the club, and reach out for the clubhead. If you can grab it, your swing is too small. That tip comes at the very end of the video.

Trevino is talking about a wedge, but the same thought applies to the longer clubs. Watch this swing of Anne Van Dam. Notice the width of her swing and that her wrists begin hinging after the club is halfway back.

Make your swing bigger by extending the arm on the leading side as far as makes sense to you. Try one time reaching out as far as you possibly can, and you will feel what doesn’t make sense. Far, but not that far.

Once you have swung back, maintain that sensible arc on the way back to the ball.

Now, your wrists are still hinged, and there is still roughly a 90-degree angle between the shaft and your trailing forearm. It’s just farther away from you than before.

You might notice that when you have this much width in your swing, you have to slow down a bit to keep it under control. That’s a good thing.

You might also notice if you do this that you have to stop trying to hit the ball and make your focus be swinging the club. That’s a good thing, too.

Practice Approach Putting at Home

Everyone can practice 4-footers at home. I hope you do.

But the other putts we need to practice, the long ones, we can’t practice unless we get to the range.

I found a way to practice them, in part, at home. You can’t practice distance control, but you can practice directional control.

First, you need a “hole” to aim at. The rubber grippers sold in grocery stores make a perfect one.

Stand about eight feet from the rubber hole, with a backstop behind it about three inches high.

Hit the ball as you would a 40-foot putt, say. Watch the ball. It should roll over the dead center of the rubber hole.

The longer stroke an approach putt requires can get your stroke out of whack directionally. This is one way to get good at not letting that happen.

A New Look at Rhythm and Tempo

The marriage of rhythm and tempo is the foundation of the golf swing. If this part isn’t right, nothing else matters.

Rhythm is the relative duration of different parts of the swing. Tempo refers to the overall duration of the swing.

The rhythm and tempo that suit your golf swing are personal matters, to be determined by yourself for you alone, by this simple procedure. Take a stance with your feet together, heels touching. Swing the club fully a few times. That’s your rhythm, that’s your tempo.

Now we apply them.

You know that taking the club away from a dead stop can cause you to jerk it off course. Taking the club away smoothly is not easy to do.

Many golfers solve that problem by having a forward press of some kind to give the takeaway a rhythm to play off of so the taking away movement does not begin from a dead stop.

Other golfers solve it by staying in constant motion, with their hands, their feet, all the way up to the point of takeaway. But there is a better way.

The real state of affairs is not that the body starts from a stop, but that the mind starts from a stop. Mind leads body. We get the mind moving and the body follows that movement.

We divide the rhythm of a golf stroke into four parts.

The count of One is a small movement in the mind toward the target. That gives the body the feeling that it is moving, even though it does not move.

The count of Two is a movement in the mind away from the target which the body follows by taking the club away from the ball. This real movement follows the imaginary movement of count One without a hitch.

The count of Three is a movement in the mind back toward the ball which the body again follows.

The count of Four is the mind coming to a calm repose following the completion of the swing.

Tempo is the same. It exists in your mind and gets expressed by the body. The speed of the swing in the heels-together exercise was set not by your body, but by your mind telling you this is the fastest you can swing from this position.

In your normal swing, all you have to do is repeat that tempo in your mind and your body will follow.

Joyce Wethered, Simply the Greatest

If you want to talk about the greatest golfers of all time, proponents of Jones, Snead, Hogan, Nicklaus, and Woods would have lively debate.

Female golfers? Wright, Whitworth, and Sorenstam all have their claim.

But then there is Joyce Wethered. If you don’t know who she was, read this. If you do know who she was, still read it.

I once had a book of essays by Bernard Darwin, the best golf writer ever. He had a few on Wethered that exhausted his supply of superlatives. She was that good.

Why Most Golfers Don’t Get Better

A few weeks ago, and article appeared at GolfWRX with the title, “Top 4 reasons why most golfers don’t get better“.

It was written by Terry Koehler, a golf club designer and golf industry veteran.

The first reason echoes my favorite Ben Hogan quote: “The average golfers’s problem is not so much a lack of ability as it is a lack of knowing what he should do.”

Reasons two and three involve pre-swing fundamentals and the setup.

Reason four repeats the old saw, It’s a swing, not a hit.

Read his advice and see where it fits into your game.

The Importance of Iron Play

1. There is a chapter in the book, The Search For the Perfect Golf Swing, titled, “Long Approach Shots — Where Tournaments are Won”.

By “long approach shots”, they meant shots between 130-220 yards. The indicator is proximity to the hole. The closer, the better, obviously.

There is another chapter on driving which concluded that length counts most, but I won’t go into that here.

2. My favorite Tiger Woods quote was when he said his irons were his offensive weapons. Yes, he made some putts, but they were putts his irons gave him the opportunity to make.

3. My favorite golf quote of all time comes from Percy Boomer’s book, On Learning Golf: “It is true that if you cannot putt, you cannot win, for no hole is won until the ball is down—but good scores are only made possible by good play up to the green.”

4. This article, which came out in Golf Digest today, explains why Collin Morikawa is so good. Big hint: it’s his iron play.

You’ve no doubt read the comment that his dispersion with a 6-iron is the same as the average Tour pro with a pitching wedge.

5. I was a decent iron player even at the time when I wasn’t all that good at anything else, and one thing that got me into single digits was becoming a very good iron player.

So when you go to the range, spend a lot more time with your irons than you do with your driver.

Although he had to find fairways, Johnny Miller didn’t shoot a 63 at Oakmont because of his driving.

Professional Handicaps

Want to know how good PGA professionals really are? The chart below shows their handicaps from 2016 to 2000. They’re pretty low.

To put plus handicaps into perspective, it is said that there is a greater difference between a 3 and a +3 that there is between a 3 and an 18.

If a plus handicap is a new idea to you, it works like this, roughly. Take the course rating and subtract the handicap. So if your local course is rated 70.0, and a pro’s handicap is +8, their expected score would be 62.

That’s not exactly how it works, but that gives you the general idea.

The average index is +5.4. The best index achieved as Ricky Fowler’s +8.4.

It all works out to the fact that they’re playing a different game than we are.

(Click to enlarge)