My Putting Stance

Sometimes I fall into something quite by accident and I find out that it works really well. Most of the time these accidents don’t work so well, but here’s one that does, in regard to putting.

When I take my stance, my upper arms arm press lightly against my torso. Don’t worry, this isn’t anchoring. That only applies to fixing the forearm(s) against something.

Try this. Sit in a chair, press your upper arms lightly against your torso, put your forearms straight out (parallel to the floor), and join your hands.

Now swing your arms back and forth, sliding them against your torso. See how your hands return to their exact staring spot?

If you putt using this setup and motion, your putter will moving along the right path when it hits the ball, and the putter face will be as square as it was at address.

What more can you ask for?

For short putts, your torso doesn’t have to turn, but for approach putts it’s O.K. if it does, and it should, actually.

Combine this with spot putting and you’ll be way ahead of the game, in my experience.

Something I Need to Say

Republican politicians are saying exactly this to the families of those killed in recent mass murders*: “The cost to me of not getting re-elected because I voted to approve effective gun control legislation is greater than the cost to you of your child being murdered in their school classroom, or your loved ones in their grocery store or church.”

Why Republicans Won’t Budge on Guns

* Let’s stop saying “mass shootings.” They’re mass murders.

A Critical Angle in the Golf swing

Sometimes you read there are angles in the golf swing, and that the key to a good swing is to maintain those angles. I agree whole-heartedly.

What those angles are is the important point. There is one I have been working on for a while that is paying big dividends. It is the angle shown in the picture below, made by the clubshaft and arms as seen from a down-the-line point of view.

That angle need to be preserved throughout the swing. If it is, the hands and the club will return at impact to where they were at address. That’s a good thing.

So now I’m going to say something that contradicts what I just said: You can’t really maintain the angle throughout the golf swing. Try it. You get halfway back and you’re stuck. When you swing back, your arms have to fold, your wrists hinge, and there goes that angle.

But what shouldn’t change is the feeling of that angle. Even though it has in reality become much smaller (more acute, for those of you who stayed awake in geometry class) it feels like it is still the same. That’s the important part.

Then when you swing back down, the angle will reappear.

What do you get from this? You get, when you combine it with the hands leading the clubhead, not only straight shots (no or minimal curvature) but accurate shots–the ball goes where you were aiming.

How hard is this technique to learn? I had the feeling figured out in about five swings. (Hint: I started out thinking I as doing it with my hands, but realized it was more the hands and arms together.) Then you will need to hit balls to get used to it in action.

I would recommend learning the feeling by making half swings with a 9-iron at a slower tempo than usual. When you start getting it, work into longer clubs and longer swings, concentrating at all times on the feeling of maintaining the angle.

When the feeling is good and uniform throughout the bag, then start hitting balls.

You’re welcome.

My Day At the Range

I went to the range a few days ago and hit a medium bucket of balls. I got a lot of things done.

Then I went to the practice green. There must have been about fifteen other guys on the range, but I walked onto the practice green alone.

And I stayed there alone until I went home about 45 minutes later.

Happens all the time. Like it’s my private practice green. I just don’t get it.

Three Ways to Lower Your Score Easily

Shooting good scores overall is more a matter of avoiding a high score on a hole than of getting a low one.

These three things put a lid on it:

1. Get the ball in the fairway off the tee. If you don’t hit a driver well, leave it at home.

2. Get the ball on the green with your first short game shot. Down in two is great, down in three is O.K., down in four is a big no-no.

3. Sink putts from under four feet. That takes lots of practice, but it’s worth it.

Two Vital Short Game Tips

Short game swings are not abbreviated versions of the full swing. The pitching and chipping strokes are each their own animal.

Two things are common to both of them, though.

Light grip pressure. Slower tempo.

These are finesse shots. You are not banging the ball. You are caressing it.

This is where the short game begins:

Light grip pressure. Slower tempo.

Greg Norman, Digging His Hole Deeper and Deeper

This is going to be a difficult post to write. Not because of what I have to say, but because events will likely overtake it hours after it goes live and I’m not going to keep writing posts to stay with it all.

Greg Norman, the quintessential Australian alpha male, is shooting himself in the foot almost daily and it would be amusing to watch if it weren’t so tragic.

Norman’s latest salvo is in reference to the hit squad that Mohammed bin Salman sent to Istanbul to murder and dismember Jamal Khashoggi for the crime of publishing newspaper articles critical of the Saudi regime in general and MbS in particular.

Norman’s response? “From what I heard and what you guys reported, just take ownership of what it is. Take ownership no matter what it is. Look, we’ve all made mistakes, and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward.”

I have made mistakes I my life, but they did not involve murdering somebody.

As if Norman wants MbS to say:

“Oops! I shouldn’t have killed that guy. My bad! I’ll try to do better, O.K.? Now what say we all go grow the game of golf!”

Backpedalling furiously, LIV Golf released this statement:

“The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was reprehensible. Everyone agrees on that, including Greg, as he has said as such previously on many occasions. Greg also knows that golf is a force for good around the world and can help make inroads toward positive change. That is why he is so excited about LIV and that was the point he was making.”

So growing the game of golf in Saudi Arabia will change MbS to a kind, loving, benevolent despot.

Right.

See this article from Al Jazeera about even more stuff that teaching Saudis how to hit every fairway and every green won’t cure.

Greg, at some point you have to stop. We can see what you’re trying to with golf, and we have no argument with it. But you have attached yourself to some of the slimiest people on Earth to help you, and their slime is starting to stick to you.

Not that I care, really.

The Nothing Golf Swing

I’m going to remind you of something that I know has happened to you many times.

You’re in the fairway standing over the ball, your mind seems to be blank, you swing the club, and hit a tremendous shot and think to yourself, “Where did that come from?”

This happens a lot at the range, too. The first ball you hit with just a warming up swing is the best of the bucket.

The reason these things happened is that there was Nothing your mind.

I didn’t say there isn’t anything your mind. That’s different. There is something on your mind, and the name of that something is Nothing.

You’re not thinking of technique, you’re not thinking of results, not anything like that. You have cleared you mind of all that, but have not emptied it. Was you are thinking about now is Nothing.

What I mean by this is the feeling of a moving mind. that, and how to obtain it, are through described in Chapter 2 of my book, The Golfing Self.

The following golf-oriented exercise shows you a way to obtain this feeling.

I want you to take two practice swings, but without stopping between them. Start in your address position, then swing back, through, back again from there, and through a second time. Back through, back, through, two full swings in a continuous motion.

The first swing will probably be a bit clunky, like you’re trying to make a swing, but the second one will be quite relaxed, graceful, and, well, just a swing.

If you just let the second swing happen, you will have the feeling of Nothing in mind. At that point, step up to the ball and start your stroke with that feeling of Nothing still in mind. Go right away. If you delay too long, the feeling will fade away and you will be right back where you started.

Don’t hurry, just don’t dilly-dally. Step up to the ball and go while the feeling is fresh.

Practice this at home without a ball (of course). A lot. What you might have thought to be a random occurrence can become a reliable feature of your game.

How I Stopped Shanking Pitch Shots

For the longest time I would shank pitch shots. Not constantly, but occasionally, and I never knew when one would pop out.

I tried everything I could think of to fix it. Nothing worked. So I gave up and signed up for a lesson.

The pro said, “Let me see you hit a couple.” So I hit four or five 65-yard pitches as pretty as you please.

Then he said, “Hit them half that distance.”

I did, and sure enough, on the third try, the ball went shooting off low and to the right.

I turned to him said, “There it is!”

He said, “That wasn’t a shank.”

I said, “Then what was it?”

He said, “Your clubface was wide open.”

“You’re opening the clubface when you take the club back, and sometimes you don’t get it closed, so the clubface is still wide open when you make contact. The ball goes where the clubface points.”

So he taught me a radically a different pitching stroke that I’m not going to try to describe to you because this YouTube video with Lee Trevino shows you exactly the stroke the pro taught me.

If you shank pitches there’s a chance you are really doing the same thing I was doing and this is the cure.

Watch how Trevino doesn’t break his wrists when he takes the club back at 0:38. That is the key. What he says and does at 3:20 is gold.

This is a Steve Stricker video. Watch the whole video, it’s short, but pay attention at 1:10. No wrist set, as he says.

Not only do I not hit those shooters anymore, but I am deadly accurate, and I mean deathly accurate. If I get lined up at the pin that’s exactly where the ball goes.

You can do that to.

——-

Note: Some of you are having trouble seeing the videos. They show up just fine on my iMac. Here are the links to the videos. If you can’t see them in the blog, let me know, tell me how you are viewing the blog, and I will try to fix it. Thank you very much.

“https://youtu.be/JbkLDwa1Nxc”

“https://youtu.be/0NYjM5UkxZQ”

How I Hit Fairway Woods

Now that we have dumped long irons for good, the new bad boys in our bag are fairway woods. I couldn’t hit those off the ground, either, so when hybrid irons came along, I switched and that made a huge difference in my long-distance game.

But still, I took fairway woods to be a challenge because they can’t be THAT hard. Turns out they are.

So I went to YouTube and looked at a lot of videos about how to hit fairway woods and tried the tricks. No luck.

The next step was to figure it out myself, which I love to do, because I usually come up with something I haven’t heard before that works.

I thought, where are the hard parts?

The first hard part is that the club is so much longer than irons are. When we swing one we don’t feel the connection between our hands and the clubhead, which makes us worry about even being able to get the clubhead on the ball.

The problem is that your hands are on the wrong part of the handle. You have to be holding the club at its balance point. Then you will feel clubhead in your hands even though is is over three feet away from them.

Second hard part: the loft of my irons gives me great confidence that I can get the clubface under the ball. It seems all we can do with the FW is bounce it off the ground behind the ball and get nothing much out of the shot.

We still have to be hitting down somewhat, to get the ball first-ground second impact. You do that by thinking of where you want the clubhead to hit the ground, not behind the ball or at the ball, but a bit in front of it.

And of course, your hands must be leading the clubhead.

There is a one last thing, though, which should go without saying.* Use your standard golf swing. Do not think you have to do something different to get the ball in the air or hit the ball a long way.

Use your standard swing with your standard tempo and your standard rhythm and let the club do what it was designed to do.

Maybe fairway woods aren’t part of your game. You prefer hybrid irons and you don’t even have a fairway wood. No matter.

You have to have a decent swing to be able to hit a decent fairway wood shot off the ground. It’s worth learning to hit this club for this reason alone. It will improve everything else.


*I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody says, “It should go without saying…” and then says it anyway.

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