Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

how to make quiet hands work for you in the golf swing

Many books and videos say you should keep your hands quiet throughout the swing—all they do is hold on to the club. If there is more to be said, it will be something like, “ … and they transmit the movement of the body to the club.” But that’s about it.

I believe that is true, but they never tell you what “keeping your hands quiet” means. Here is what I think it means.

The right hand, if you play right-handed, or the left hand if you play left-handed, plays a big role in keeping the clubface square from takeaway through impact. We’ll just call it the lower hand.

When you assume your grip, your hands become oriented in a certain position, and your lower hand acquires a feeling of being in that orientation. That feeling is most strongly felt along the top of the thumb and forefinger, as marked in the picture.

If you would rotate the club around the axis of the clubshaft, in either direction, you would notice the lower hand acquires a different feeling. Your grip hasn’t changed, but because the club moved in a certain way and you can now feel that something is different in your lower hand.

When the lower hand rotates away from its address position, since it acts as a proxy for the clubhead, the clubface will no longer be square.

Your ability to detect changes in that orientation during the swing, and keep them from happening, play a large part in keeping the clubface square.

Get out a golf club, take your grip, set up, and swing halfway back. While doing so, rotate your hands slightly clockwise. Fix that position of your hands and return the club to club to the address position. You will find that the clubface is oriented differently from how it was at the start.

Do the same thing again, rotating your hands slightly counter-clockwise. Again, the clubface will be out of square.

Try one more time, but with the feeling in the key part (in terms of this drill) of your lower hand remaining the same. When you return the club to address the clubface should be dead square.

Begin building the awareness of hand orientation into your swing by making slow half-swings. Slowing down helps you concentrate on your lower hand. Do not let your wrists become stiff. Let them hinge as they should. Do not try to keep your lower hand frozen in its address position. It should be relaxed and free to move—you just don’t let it move. Exerting less pressure on the handle with this hand helps, too.

You should also train yourself to mimic the address feeling in the lower hand when it swing through impact.

A Little-Known Facet of Grip Pressure

It seems obvious that grip pressure refers to how firmly your fingers hold the handle. That is true, but the way to get the pressure right is not to think about your fingers.

Grip pressure includes how the the hands press against each other, namely how pocket in the palm of the right hand rests against the thumb of the left hand. Contact must be secure, but without a feeling of the hands pressing against each other here.

For left-handed golfers it is the pressure of the pocket of the left hand resting on the right thumb.

The key point is to maintain that amount of pressure at that spot during the entire swing. That is very easy to do, and has the effect of keeping your fingers from squeezing when they shouldn’t.

While you are learning how to do this, pay attention at the places where pressure can easily change, which are at takeaway, at the start of the forward swing, or as the hands approach impact.

Augusta National in Autumn

I spent a lot of time yesterday watching The Masters on TV. But I wasn’t watching the golf particularly. I was watching the course.

This time of year the course is jaw-dropping beautiful–much more so than in the spring. All the trees are yellow, and the grass everywhere is deep green. With no spectators on the course, you can see the depth of these colors in big swatches.

And with no spectators, you can see the course like you have never seen it before. You see it as if you were there, playing it, just like you saw all of Winged Foot and the Open. You see the whole thing, and it’s beautiful.

This is the only chance you will ever have to see this wondrous sight, so drink it all all three days remaining if you can, and for sure on the weekend. You will remember it forever.

Stop Hitting Fat!!!

I hit fat, you hit fat, she hits fat, we all hit fat. Maddening, isn’t it? Well, here’s a drill that will cure that once and for all. Guaranteed. I promise you.

First, though, you must have mastered the magic move of having the hands lead the clubhead into the ball. If you aren’t on board with that, the rest of this post won’t help you. Guaranteed. I promise you.

So to stop hitting fat, do this drill. Go the the range and get on a mat. You can’t do the drill on grass.

Put a ball down and get into address position, then back away from the ball a few inches so you can swing the club and not hit the ball. You can see this setup in the picture.

Swing a few times with your usual swing and see where your club commonly thumps the mat. If that spot is behind the ball, you have some work to do.

The drill is to swing so the sole of the club thumps the mat on the red line or the X side of it. In order to do this, you are going to have to modify your swing somewhat. I’m not going to tell you how, because (a) there is no once-size-fits-all way to do that, and (b) self-discovery is the best teacher.

Keep swinging and take baby steps to getting the club to thump the mat farther and farther forward. Trying to get in front all at once will throw you off too much.

The adjusted swing shouldn’t be that much different from what had been doing already. There is no need to revamp your entire swing. The best adjustment will have you doing one thing just a little bit differently while the rest of your swing stays essentially the same.

If you ease into this, in less than ten swings, maybe even less than five, you should have figured out how bring the low point of your swing to a spot forward of the ball. Step up to the ball now and hit it with the swing you just developed. I hope you like the result.

All that was the easy part. The hard part is that you’re going to have to do this drill constantly. Never give up on it. Do it every time you go to the range before you start hitting balls. Do it when you warm up before a round.

Golf Thoughts

The practice ground is where you learn to hit shots, but golf is about knowing which shots to hit. You shoot lower scores by playing more golf, not by hitting more buckets of balls.

Beware of tips you read in magazines. They may tell you to do something you’re already doing, and then you end up overdoing it.

The most important shot for a recreational golfer is the tee shot. You must put the ball in the fairway.

Straight shots begin with setting up with the clubface aimed at your target. This is not as easy as it sounds. Work on this or get a lesson, because if this is not right, nothing that comes after will make it right.

The easiest way to keep doubles and triples off your scorecard is by playing within your skills. If you are standing over the ball with a “funny feeling about this shot,” back off and try something else. False confidence is not your friend.

Rhythm is king. Good rhythm makes mediocre technique work. Lack of rhythm makes proper technique fall apart. When you try a swing tweak and it doesn’t work, odds are you forgot stay in rhythm.

Good shotmakers have a narrower range of dispersion than other golfers. To narrow your range, train yourself always aim at something when you hit a golf ball. That is not only a direction. There must also be a specific spot on the ground you want the ball to hit.

To get to 80, you must first have a decent swing. If your average score is 83, your swing gives you reasonable assurance that you can get the ball up to the green in the regulation number of strokes. From this point switch the majority of your practice time from the range to the practice green.

Flipping through impact, a common fault, is caused by the left arm slowing down through impact so the hands can take over hitting the ball. If you swing a wedge with your left arm only, and let the arm swing freely, you will understand the correct sensation of the club swinging instead of the hands hitting.

When hitting a short shot that has a certain amount of air time, make sure you hit the ball hard enough. You can turn a down in three (or two!) into a down in four by getting too finessy.

Out On the Course Again

I went out to play with my Men’s Club for the first time since 2014. These last few years have kept me busy with other matters.

Not having played for a long time, I wasn’t sure if anything had changed. On the first green, I asked if I had to replace my ball in front of my marker, or could I put it anywhere I want like the pros do. They said that unfortunately we have to play by the rules. Just checking.

I played OK, shot a 45, two pars and two doubles. I was really good off the tee and on the green, but in between was blotto. I had this ten-yard draw off the tee which was not the shot I wanted, but it got the ball in the fairway so I decided to go with what was working instead of trying to fix it on the fly and make it worse.

I would say I lost four strokes, potentially, by having forgotten how to play the game. You know, hit this shot instead of that one. Or use this club instead of that one. Or hit it here instead of there. Those little things that give you a real chance to get down in two from close in.

The main thing I learned is that you have to practice all your shots to keep them fresh in your mind. Several times I played a pitch near the green when a running shot would have been better. But pitches are all I have been hitting lately, not running shots, so that’s what came to mind.

The difference between 45 and 40 isn’t that great. Just keep the ball in play, which I did, and close the deal in a hurry when you get to the green, which I didn’t. (But if you’re not doing number 1, number 2 won’t help you.)

—–

My next opus, titled, Bob’s Little Golf Book, is in editing now, and will be posted on the blog site in about three weeks. Again, it will be a multi-media extravaganza, and this time free and click-ready from the start.