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Archive for the ‘amateurs’ Category

We hear a lot about what golf needs to thrive. First, let me say golf will survive now and for as long as people walk this beautiful Earth. Golf will never not be. The bug was released the first time a Scotsman fashioned a club and struck a ball of some sort. Others saw this, tried it for themselves, heard and felt a certain clickit, or thrump, or whompit, and needed to try that again. Golf is not a sport or game: It’s a habit, and it embeds deep within. My father tried to play golf but his extra-ego wouldn’t allow it. Golf will pulverize an extra-ego. He gave his Bobby Jones signature clubs to me and inadvertently got me started on a lifelong journey. I was the first in my family to play the game and would have turned pro if I’d gotten any support to do so. But once I’d experienced the exhilaration of a finely hit golf shot, I was hooked, and have stayed hooked (with a few years off the hook for good behavior) for over 50 years.

So not to worry about the fate of the game. As long as a ball stings the sweet spot of a club from time to time, the game will remain intact. It might ebb and flow according to the vicissitudes of society, TV ratings may vary according to whether Tiger is in the field, golf courses may go bankrupt, but golf will endure. There are, though, a few things that golf needs and doesn’t need.

1. Power carts. Seeing a couple of 25 year old yahoos in carts is an abomination of what golf was intended. Golf was and is a game (more…)

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I was watching the first couple of tournaments recently and was astounded at how lackluster the field was. I would guess the ratings were in the tank, as the only things that would draw viewers were the warm venues. Personally, I tuned into the match between Sam Snead and Bob Hope instead of seeking out David Toms and Mark Wilson. Over at the Champions Tour, there was Brad Bryant apologizing for his 65, more surprised than anyone that he chipped and putted his way to the top of the leaderboard. Tiger hadn’t started his season yet, flying off to Dubai for a huge appearance fee and a joust with the crackerjacks of the European Tour. This blog has predicted he will win just about everything this year, and has advised him to do so then quit competitive golf and concentrate on his foundation. Bobby Jones did this, as did Byron Nelson, and they had no sex scandals to face down. Whether Tiger stays or goes, professional golf goes downhill. He could stay and dominate, or he could go and fade away. Either way, golf suffers. The current crop in their late 20s and early 30s are not strong enough to hold up the high bar of professional golf on all levels of accomplishment. Woods was the last of the lot, and look at the bloody mess he left behind, an irreparable heap of emotional horsecrap laying by the side of the road. And please, don’t feed me all the sanctimonious BS about Tiger haters. I don’t hate Tiger. I’m angry at him for taking himself down along with the game he built up.

Golf requires what the Buddhists call impeccability, which is (more…)

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Winter is a time to prepare for the new golf season, mentally and physically. Golf is tough enough for you to try to play much in winter. When I was a kid just starting to play the game in Philly, I’d put on three sweatshirts and play Cobbs Creek for 50 cents on frozen ground with 25 degrees temps. Cold? What cold? I felt no cold as the ball would roll about a million miles (as Rocco would put it), much to my delight. But that was then. Now, in my older middle age, my body and mind just can’t take the cold, wind, rain, and mud of winter, even in relatively mild northern California (I do get out a bit more this winter as we’ve had practically no rain and temps in the 60s so far). Instead, I watch the pros start off the season in Hawaii, swing a bit on my patio, putt  on the rug with a device that guides me into a slight open/close pendulum stroke, joined a gym, and have purchased some very helpful apps for my iPhone/iPad.

My favorite app is Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus. I love Jack’s breezy, personal style, from filming made at the height of his powers back in the early (more…)

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The golf swing is essentially a whipping motion, and in order to maximize the whip, the shaft has to be right for you. I found this out recently during a swing analysis when I discovered that a senior shaft was ideal for me. The computer screen was showing 20-30 extra yards straight down the middle. For the price of new shaft (fifty bucks installed at my local golf repair shop), I could radically change my game. All I had to do was get over my reluctance to admit that I needed a senior flex. No small hurdle, that one. In fact, along with using white or senior tees, it’s probably the biggest hurdle in lowering one’s scores. And it’s nothing other than a thought, a perception, a view. Men have a tougher time getting older than women, I think. But golf equipment allows us to flow with the years, if we have the wisdom to accept and change. I took that club out to the range and I could see right away the ball was flying farther and straighter. Then I took it out to the course, and, sure enough, I was hitting one or two clubs less into greens. I was driving the ball about 220-230 instead of my usual 200-210. What a difference. And a whole lot more fun. And a better score by several strokes. A faster swing speed? Perhaps. But only because of the increased whip in the shaft. I haven’t gotten stronger, nor do I consciously swing the club any faster.

The whippier shaft does help me load up more efficiently. It increases my lag, and gives me just a split second more (more…)

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I’m not much of a dancer, but when I get out on the dance floor with my wife, I depend less on technique and mostly on my rhythm to get by. My parents on the other hand were champion ballroom dancers, employing both technique and rhythm to win titles (they were fine musicians too–my mother, a great pianist and singer, and my father, a percussionist who could even find rhythm in a washboard). In golf, technique is essential, but good rhythm seals the deal. And keeping good rhythm as the round progresses is one of the hardest elements of the game to maintain. The reason it’s tough is that rhythm is affected by so many subtle things. There are the external elements like wind, heat, cold, rain, mud, and the big bomber gorilla you’re playing with. And there are the internal factors like concentration, focus, presentness, pain, and the rent check you forgot to send off. Of course good technique is vital, but without good rhythm, good technique alone won’t cut it. And with good rhythm, bad technique won’t either. For technique, see a PGA pro or buy a good app for your smart phone. For rhythm, pick the club you’re most comfortable with, (more…)

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You’ve heard it said time after time by touring pros: I just have to be patient, when asked what they’re plan is for the upcoming round. But what exactly does that mean, especially in a society where few people seem to know what it means to be patient?  How many patient drivers have you seen lately? How many patient fans have you seen at the ballpark? Who’s patient at the DMV? And what about the foursome behind you? Were they patient when you last checked?

It is no easy thing to be patient. It has long been a virtue, as Emerson wrote in the mid 19th century,”Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience”.* I learned about patience on Buddhist retreats, (more…)

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