Category Archives: potpourri

A Few Recent Thoughts

I have read enough golf instruction books to know that whatever you think is the right way to swing a golf club has found its way into print. That doesn’t mean the thing you think is so important is really is right for you, or that it gets along well with all the other swing parts you have assembled. Get lesson to be sure!

When we go to the range we spend too much time hitting balls. On the golf course, we don’t hit balls. We hit shots. So hit shots at the range, too. Visualize situations you might have on the courses you play that are problematic and come up with shots that handle them.

One thing about your setup that does not get enough attention is your posture. When your posture is correct, that is, you’re not slouching, your mind is engaged and full of confidence. One of the biggest problems we have to solve in golf is making a graceful, powerful practice swing, and then stepping up to the ball and not thinking, “Oh, crap! What do I do now?” The way to carry that confidence from your practice swing to setting up to the ball is in having perfect posture.

The golf swing is one unified movement that flows through stages. Movements at these stages, takeaway, transition, impact, and finish, are the most important—especially the finish, which few golfers realize is much more than just where you end up when you stop swinging. There is a lot to be said for starting your swing practice at the finish and working backwards through the stages to address.

It has been two years since I told you what was in my bag. The change I’m making this year is to take out the 16.5* fairway wood and put in a second putter. This is not the first time I have done that. One putter is face-balanced, so I can take it more straight back and straight through for shortish putts. The other putter is my usual toe-balanced putter to be used for longer putts.

Professional golfers can apply their impeccable technique hard and fast to hit the ball unbelievable distances because of their world-class athleticism. We are not so gifted. Though we need to do the same thing they do, hit the ball on the center of the clubface, we must do it according to our abilities. Slow down your swing until this can be accomplished. We will get all the distance we can muster by using finesse, not effort.

Golf in My Backyard – II

A week or so ago I posted about a little plastic golf ball being stuffed in a hole in the big apple tree in my backyard.

This afternoon I was raking leaves and I saw – there was one in there again!

Someone, or something, picked up one I had left out on the lawn, most likely, and jammed it in there.

And I mean jammed. After I got it out, which isn’t easy, I put it back in again see how much work it would take.

The answer is, lots.

I pressed hard with my thumb, and that didn’t get it in, so I pressed with the heel of my hand and that did it.

I am just flummoxed.

Maybe I need to set up a night vision camera with a motion detector like the wildlife photographers use.

Golf In My Back Yard

My more recent videos were shot in my back yard. I would like to show a reverse view and point out things that happen when I am not looking.

The first picture looks from the house back to the mat (arrow on the left) where I stand during filming. I hit plastic balls off that all the time.

The arrow in the center points to a hole in the tree into which someone once stuffed one of my plastic golf balls.

And I mean stuffed. I had to use a scratch awl to get it out and it wasn’t easy.

That was last year.

Do you see something orange in the hole? (Click the image)

Here’s a closeup.

I thought the first ball had been stuffed in there by the guys who prune the tree every other year as a joke, but this orange ball was stuffed in there a few days ago and I have been the only person to go into the back yard, and I didn’t do it!

So! That means some THING, some critter, is doing this for some animal reason, and it must be a good one, and it must be a big animal, because it takes a lot of force to wedge that ball in there.

All I can think of is a raccoon or a opossum.

That’s golf in my back yard.

A Few Odds and Ends

Lexi Thompson
We know she can play. She’s the golfer Michelle Wie was supposed to have been. What I’m reading everywhere, though, is the remarkable maturity, poise, and grace that she has. Writers always follow that up with “…for someone who’s only 17.” Well, some people have had it from birth and she’s one of them. She meets the fans, signs autographs until no one is left, and genuinely enjoys it. She has a unique combination of thriving on engaging the public and being a top-notch golfer. You’re looking at the future face of the LPGA, a future which could start this year.

West Coast Swing
This is my favorite time of the tournament year. There are three distinctly different tournaments back to back. The Humana at TPC Scottsdale is a fan-fest, the AT&T (I still want to call it the Crosby) is played on three beautiful courses, and the Northern Trust is held at another old, classic, beautiful course. If the TV cameras showed us only the 10th hole at Riviera, a 315-yard par 4 where you have to work to get your par, and bogeys and doubles are there for the taking, I would have no complaints.

Rocketballz 3-wood
This club is getting heavy advertising on the golf broadcasts. Bloggers who review it just love it and report that this truly is a different club. My son tried out all the 3-woods in the pro shop and found that this one was in a class of its own. Easy to hit off the ground, the ball going straighter and longer, this club seems like a fantasy come true. You could even use this for your driver, losing only a little distance and getting much more accuracy. For once all the talk might not be just hype.

Banning the Belly Putter/Belly Putting
No one said two words when Sergio Garcia choked away the British Open in 2007 with a belly putter. But when Webb Simpson wins twice on the PGA Tour with one, and Keenan Bradley wins a major with one, now it’s a big problem. Get this. Because of two, yes, count ’em, two, golfers, the golfing authorities are in a tizzy about belly putters. The reaction to two golfers who won tournaments they might well have won anyway is endangering the use of this club for the many thousands of amateurs who also use one.

One of the big pushes by the PGA of America is to retain active golfers and get more people started. They have a program called Golf 2.0 for this very purpose, but their partner in this effort, the USGA, is looking askance at belly putters? Maybe incoming USGA president Glen Nager’s first official act should be to say, “The belly putter is fine. We have other things to do with our time,” and move on to more important matters.

2012 is the Year of Tempo
You might not have heard that before, but it’s because I just made it up. I’m calling on all golfers to practice nothing but their rhythm and tempo this year when they hit balls at the range. Tee up everything, even your irons, to take the ground out of play, and put one smooth swing after another on the ball. Many golfers who think they have good rhythm and tempo, don’t. In their head they do, but their conception is flawed. You might even want to get a lesson to check yours. One more thing: learn to align yourself. Many times what you think is a swing flaw is only a subconscious reaction to poor alignment. Get checked out on that, too, when you have your tempo lesson.

Bomb Your Driver
I saw a golf magazine on the rack with the headline Bomb Your Driver in large caps. That sounded like a good idea to me. I have this 8.5-degree driver with a stiff shaft that I bought just to find out what hitting a driver that’s way over my head felt like. You would think two degrees of loft wouldn’t make much difference, but a shot with my my 7-iron hits the ground farther away than with this club. So I got some C4 (do not ask me where), stuck a few dabs on the shaft and one big one on the clubhead, wired it up to a few detonators left over from another project that involved gophers, hid behind the shed, and let ‘er rip. Wow! Carl Spackler’s got nothin’ on me! Left a big hole in my back lawn, though, and the neighbors weren’t too happy. Maybe I should have bought the magazine to find out how the pros do this.


Assorted Thoughts

I played in our men’s club tournament this weekend, and played pretty well — shot my handicap, which, considering that is in the top 5 of my last 20 scores, is a good day on the course. The two things that worked were driving and putting. I put the ball in the fairway, and didn’t miss any putts.

Do those two things well, my friend, and you will score.

People say you only learn from your mistakes. Nonsense. The only thing I ever learned from a mistake is not to do that again. Didn’t learn a thing about what to do.

So when I make a mistake on the golf course, I come home and start the search for a better way. When I do something right on the course, I come home and practice it over and over so I won’t forget.

I am now thinking that all golf instruction boils down to a few simple guidelines. Here they are, courtesy of The Recreational Golfer:

1. Full swing, ball on the tee: think square face, center hit. That’s one thing, not two.
2. Full swing, ball on the ground: think ball first, ground second. Again, that’s one thing, not two.
3. Short game: (a) start with your weight on the left side and do not let one ounce of it shift right, (b) never let your right hand pass the left.
4. Putting: hit the ball on the sweet spot.
5. Course management: hit a shot, within your capabilities, to the spot from where you have the easiest setup for getting the ball into the hole in the fewest amount of strokes.

If you follow those rules you will revolutionize your shot-making and scoring.

Ridiculous penalty: stroke and distance for a ball out of bounds or lost. Should be distance only.
Ridiculous rule: players must sign for their score for it to be official. A player’s score should be officially recorded on the spot by a scorer assigned to the group, and that would be that.
End of rant.

The more hybrid irons you have in your bag, the easier golf is. Leave your ego at home.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.