Slow Swings Are Good Swings

Almost every time I play, one of the persons in my group says how much they like to watch me swing. What they like about it is that I have simplified it so much, all extraneous motion has been eliminated. It is just swing back, swing through. Very simple.

The other thing they like, though only the most perceptive notice it enough to comment on it, it that the swing is slow. Not sluggishly slow, but there-is-no-hit-in-this-swing slow.

That’s easily explained. If I swing any faster than I do, I lose control of the swing and it falls apart. It goes in directions it shouldn’t. And the ball follows suit.

This is what I get from my slow swing. The ball goes where I want it to, and I get a surprising amount of distance because I hit the ball on the center of the clubface a lot.

Every recreational golfer should try it. Slow down your swing so it feels easy. Graceful. Especially through the impact area. Especially there.

And see what happens.

Ten Good Golfing Habits

Make these ten ideas your habits and you will cut down on the number of poorly-hit shots and increase the number of well-struck shots.

1. Take a careful look at your lie. It defines your shot choices.

2. Swing the club so it, not you, does the work it was designed to do.

3. Before you swing at the ball, take a practice swing and hold your finish. Where you end up looking is where you are aimed.

4. Every shot into the green, or from on the green to the hole, should be hit hard enough to pass the hole.

5. Use as light a grip pressure as you can, especially in the short game.

6. Swing with a tempo that keeps everything under control.

7. Look at every putt from behind, even the shortest ones.

8. Before you take the club away, draw an imaginary line straight through the ball to the target. Tell your unconscious mind to send the clubhead along that path through impact. Every stoke, drive to putt.

9. Do not hit shots you haven’t practiced. Remember that situation and save it for a trip to the range after the round.

10. Always take two practice strokes before any short game shot.

There are many more. Your job as a golfer is to find them.

Adios, LIV Tour

In the recent past I have made my opinions known about the LIV tour and the people behind it. Now, it seems that the first question at a press conference for the guy who just won the week’s tournament is, “Are you going to join the LIV Tour?”

All this hoo-hah is about people who can earn (on the PGA Tour) almost as much in a couple of weekends as most of their fans will earn in a lifetime.

Besides the pros, who the f**k CARES about all this?

Both of these Tours could dry up and blow away and it would have no effect on my being able to go out to have fun playing golf with my friends.

I’ve had enough. This is my final statement about the whole affair. Promise.

Tom Weiskopf (1942-2022)

Tom Weiskopf, winner of the British Open in 1976 and 16 PGA tournaments, died on August 20th at the age of 79, of pancreatic cancer. After his golfing career was over, he became a noted golf course architect and television announcer.

In 1973 he won five tournaments in an eight-week span, including the British Open and Canadian Open back-to-back.

As an architect, he created courses that challenged experts, but didn’t leave the rest of us behind. “I may not give you access to every pin,” he once said, “but I’ll give you the middle of the green every time.”

Weiskopf was also the owner of one of the loveliest and yet most powerful swings in history. It was said to be the model for the logo the PGA Senior Tour used for many years.

Read this Golf Digest interview from 2008.

The Golfweek obituary.

Relaxing Your Arms When You Swing the Golf Club

We all know that tension leads to poor ball-striking. We try to hit the ball hard when we really should be hitting the ball fast. You get fast for no extra charge when you are relaxed, especially your arms.

But it is hard to relax your arms. They might be relaxed at the start, but they tense up as you swing.

That’s because you’re thinking of relaxing the wrong thing. To have relaxed arms, you have to have relaxed shoulders.

At address, relax your shoulders. Now when you take the club back, keep your shoulders relaxed. One sign that you are doing this right is that they do not lift up. Think that they stay down.

At first, it might feel like you are lowering them, but that is because raising them is your habit.

I promise you if you learn have relaxed shoulders throughout the swing, you will get free clubhead speed with no extra effort. Less effort, actually.

Care for the Grips on Your Clubs During the Round

Before you got to the course to play, rinse off the grips on your clubs to get the dirt and oil off them, and to restore the tacky feel.

(But I know you always do that, don’t you?)

Take care of them during the round, too. Periodically you should take out clubs that you have been hitting more than a few times (driver, for example), and wet down the grip with just a few drops of water from the water bottle you carry.

(You do carry a water bottle, don’t you?)

Give the wet grip a good rubdown with your hand and wipe it off with the towel you carry.

(You do carry a towel, don’t you?)

All that should take only a few seconds. Doing that will make your grips feel, well, grippy, throughout the round.

The next time you watch a professional golf tournament on TV, you will notice the players wiping down the grip, especially late in the round.

It’s a little thing that could make a big difference.

Practice Your Long Pitching Game on the Course

Yesterday I played nine holes from tees that are way too long for me. As a result, I hit long pitches into six of the nine greens.

Two of the other greens I got on by hitting a 7-iron bump-and-run.

That is a good shot to have when you are too far away to chip, but too close to pitch, and the lie is tight.

What about the ninth green? I hit that one with a drive and a 5-wood. It had to happen at least one time!

By the way, say you have a pitch that you know goes 65 yards and you laser the pin and find that it is 65 yards away.

Whatever you do, don’t hit that pitch! It will land and release about about four yards. Hit your 60-yard pitch instead.

Anyway, you can practice pitching at the range, but the real learning takes place on the course. What I did is how you get a lot of learning done with this shot.

Decision Scramble

This is a variation on the traditional scramble. Partners in the scramble have a decision to make on every shot and they have to live with their decision.

Here are the rules:

1. Each team can play two balls, one by each player.

2. After the first ball is played, but before the second ball is played, the team must decide if it wants to play the first ball.

3. If the team decides to play the first ball, that ball is in play for the team, and the second ball is not hit.

4. If the team decides not to play the first ball it becomes out of play, and the second ball then gets hit.

5. Since the first ball is no longer in play, the team MUST use the second ball for its next shot.

It’s best if partners have similar handicaps. If partners have significantly different handicaps, the player with the higher handicap should hit the first ball.

Visualize the Entire Shot

The next time you go out to play, try this.

Before you make your stroke, look ahead to where you want the ball to end up and visualize the ball going through the air/along the ground in the way you intend AND at the same time visualize the feeling in your body that will make the ball do that.

That second one should almost be a palpable feeling.

The Perfect Golf Swing

If you break 90 regularly, if you go to the course and expect to shoot in the 80s, I would guess you have a near-perfect golf swing–for you.

If you swung that swing a dozen times in a row, with no ball in front of you, I would bet that every swing would be as near to the same as a dozen swings can be.

The clubface would be square all the way through, the clubpath through “impact” would be right at the target, the hands would always be leading the clubhead. Most importantly, you would swing to identical finishes each time.

In other words, perfect.

Now put down a ball and swing at it. Did that same perfect swing come out, or did your “Hit the ball!” swing come out?

This is why golf is hard. We KNOW what to do. It’s just that the ball makes us do things we know are wrong, yet we can’t help it.

At this point I would normally give you the solution. But with this, I there’s nothing I can say.

You’re going to have to figure it out by yourself, which I urge you to do because if you crack this nut, there will be no stopping you.

It’s the most important golfing skill there is.

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