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Archive for the ‘practice’ Category

In between majors, golf on TV can be prosaic. Lack of name players. Tournaments that mean little. Competition from other sports. Decreasing interest in golf throughout the country, except for the majors. I, for one, find it both entertaining and instructional watching golf on TV between majors. I often turn off the sound, read a book or Sunday paper, and occasionally look up to study swings, strategies,attitudes, and scores on the PGA, LPGA, and European tours. First, check out Mike Ritz, announcing for the Euro tour these days.  He’s the Vin Scully of golf: dynamic, exciting, play by play, with great background info. This guy makes Frederick Anderson Hed look interesting. How about more Mike Ritz announcing for the PGA Tour? Then there’s Kevin Na. Other than John Daly, Na is golf’s biggest potential train-wreck. He badly screws up one shot and is guaranteed to screw up the next four, or more. You can see his mind twisting, churning, and gears grinding until metal hits metal and his teeth start gnashing. It’s the pace that showcases the mind. He gets real speedy over three-foot par putts, way out of his routine. For those few moments, he’s given up, the death knell for a professional golfer. Na’s a record holder around this behavior. He made a 16 on one venture into the woods last year at the Texas Open (only JD’s beat him with an 18 once). Take a look at what Na does during these meltdowns, and don’t play that way. Take a deep breath after a poor shot. Get back into your routine, your pace, your rhythm. Re-find your game. This year, Na got to +7 at the Texas Open and withdrew. Here are a few other tips I picked up watching golf (more…)

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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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We’ve all felt it. A tightening of the muscles around the neck. A lump in the throat. A rising of blood to the forehead. A quickening heartbeat. Sweaty palms. In golf, it’s particularly troublesome, we are told. It’s a game that requires precision timing and coordination. It requires being in the moment, dealing only with the matter at hand, namely wielding an unwieldy metal club, attempting to hit a small white dimpled ball to a target over 300 yards away. Any tightening, sweating, beating, or blood rising beyond the norm will truncate that process and dynamite any chance for success. We feel it elsewhere too, like at work when the our supervisor comes by and asks to have a “word with you,” or when a cop pulls us over, or when our spouse “needs to talk.” Pressure greets us almost daily with its bared teeth and a scowl. An overdue phone bill. Noisy neighbors that need quieting. Humans have always known it. We have much experience dealing with it, yet it’s as difficult to handle now as it was in the caves of France thousands of years ago.

In golf, no tournament is as pressure packed as a match play event, like the one being played this week in the Arizona desert. Every hole is as pressure packed as the last, and the last may well be your last before your flight home. How do these guys handle it? How do they maintain their level of concentration? How do they keep their swings from crumbling (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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Four months ago I took on a demanding, full time job (after losing a higher paying part time job to budget cuts), changing my life dramatically, including my golfing life. I no longer had the time or energy to practice as much as I had been. And a strange thing happened. I started hitting the ball more solidly and scoring better when I played, which was also much less than before. With practice, I tend to get very technical and mechanical, losing the natural feel and flow of my swing, ignoring that basic connection of my hands–those sensitive hands and fingers that virtually define us as human beings–on the grip. The hands send millions of signals to the brain which in turn sends commands to the body to act in specific ways. And at some point, we must give that communication free expression. Sure, there’s a place for lessons and practice but if you get too mechanical, you risk losing that aspect of the game that relies on what we already know, but needs us to get out of our own way to see.

We practice to gain some sense of control over this impossible game. (more…)

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