Why Do You Play Golf?

So I was happy to see a couple of good rounds of golf at the U.S. Open on Friday and Saturday.  Never a big fan of the “death march” golf, where we watch the greatest talents in the world hack around a course, trying not to lose, rather than show casing just how good they are.

I’m all for challenging, but sometimes the U.S. Open set ups are just not golf!  At least it’s not what tour pro’s play the rest of the year….  The argument is that the toughness separates the field, and it certainly does!!!  My counter is that a ton of that separation is due to luck.  
If tennis majors were played the same way, they would raise the net a foot.  The best in the world would look foolish and clumsy.  If the NBA created a U.S. Open set up, they would raise the net to 12 feet for the finals….  
Anyway, happy to see some great shots rewarded, and hoping the leaders play great on Sunday!
So why do you play golf?  For me, it’s simple:   FUN.   I truly enjoy playing shots.  My favorite courses allow me to find my ball and keep playing shots!  If golf were always played on super penal courses, where great shots might be rewarded, good shots were often turned into disasters, and bad shots were out of play,  I think I would try fishing!  That’s just me.  I want to be happy when I finish PLAYING a game.  
Final rambling thought:  I love 9 and 18 at Snee Farm for the very reason many people don’t.   They are birdie holes!!!  They give me a chance to free wheel it off the tee and stuff it in close on the second shot.  They offer me the opportunity to leave feeling good about my game.  That’s FUN!!!
Would I like 18 holes like that.  NO WAY!  Love challenges, just don’t need every hole to be that way, and certainly not the last 3-4 holes….  
Enough!  Enjoy the Open.  And HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!

Club Fitting & Ball Fittings…. Are They Worth the Trouble?

Yeah, I think it is worth while to have your clubs set correctly.  I also think there are golf balls out there that at by far out perform others….

Having said that, let me be blunt about the extent to which golfers should be focused on “the perfect club” and “the perfect ball”.  Get over it quickly, and GO PLAY GOLF! 
Graphite shafts also have flooded the market and make choosing a club that much more complicated.  A club fitter can take a lot of the guess work out of the process!
Many golfers can simply swing a couple of different irons and feel the ones they like.  they can hit a few balls and the process is complete!  Now the only thing that should be done is to check the loft and lie to make sure they are consistent!  Serious golfers should definitely get their clubs set (even new sets from the factory!!!) for loft and lie.  Probably the biggest shock for me was how far off so many sets of clubs are that have been shipped straight from the factory!  
Now every time you play or practice your clubs really take a beating.  Every 6 months to a year you should probably go check that the clubs have not changed in their lie angles and loft.  The softer the club, the more often you should do this!  Many tour players get their clubs re-set every week!  They are not changing things, but rather getting them back in alignment.  
Past that,  I wouldn’t worry too much about iron fittings…  All the major brands make great clubs.   They are hard metal!  They will move a ball with your swing.  Find one that feels good in your hands.  Find one that makes a creates a sound of impact that you like.  That’s it!
Ball fittings are getting to be a big thing now.  Here is my take on a golf ball.  The top of the line balls or all the major brands are the best ball for most golfers.  They are also the most expensive (you get what you pay for).  If you are nuts enough about the game to spend the big dollars, buy them (or find blemished or slightly used balls for sale on line!).   The best balls will simply give you the best chance for predictable results on your shots, particularly your chips and putts.  
Other golf balls are fine! They may be a little less predictable, but you most likely will never notice!!!  They might roll out on a few shots 3 extra feet, or come off a couple of feet dead on a long putt once in a while, but they will surely work!  Your scores won’t change because of the ball you use!!!  ****YOU CAN’T BUY A GAME****
I would say that the better the player, the more important it would be to have a top of the line ball.  (Any major brand!)  The reason most tour pro’s can switch ball companies is that it really doesn’t matter!!!  All the balls are really good and will perform reliably.  Don’t over think your golf ball!   Play the ball that fits your price range.  That goes from water balls you find all the way up!  

Train Hard

Some training should be easy.  Easy for the mind and body.  A bunch of training should be really
difficult to push you to the next level!

 

The drills I teach are “weakness exposing” drills…. They are
difficult by design.  They are designed
to magnify any errors in your swing so that you can more easily identify them
and get rid of them.  They are also
beneficial because it is almost impossible to create bad habits and get good
results while in the drills! 

 

That’s awesome stuff!
Training tough also makes normal swings seem that much easier!  I often have students hit shots out of divots
and dirt lies to not only teach them how to handle these difficult situations,
but also to make hitting off a nice lie seem like it’s laughably easy!!! 

 

If it doesn’t break your spirit, training tough will make
you better faster!  

Targets on Short Shots

This is a response to Nick’s question about TARGETS and short shots.  My target is the hole on most all putts and chips, no question.  Most chips are low running shots with no concern of where the ball originally lands (I know it will be safely on the green).   I do my best to imagine the ball rolling into the cup!  By definition, to roll in consistently, I have to have good speed (which would be a ball rolling 2-20 inches past the cup if you put a cover over the hole).  So both line and speed are considered as I set up for my shot.  The ultimate goal is the bottom of the cup.

There are a few instances when I don’t aim for the cup as the final destination.  If I have a severely downhill putt or chip, I’ll often pick a spot short of the hole and do my best to stop the ball there, knowing that in all likelyhood, the ball will roll out further (and get closer to the real hole)
If I have a chip and run shot where I need to land the ball specifically on the fringe or a mound short of the green, I’ll put a lot of attention on that landing spot for my practice swings.  This is important because that spot is critical to the final outcome of the shot!  
When I lag putt, I’ll still picture the ball rolling into the cup, but the speed I choose is one where the ball would just drop into the cup on it’s last roll.  
U.S. Open starts today!  Can’t wait!!!

Train Easy

Golf is difficult.
Learning golf can be fantastically frustrating because it is so
difficult to see any improvement early in your training.  Golf can drive a seasoned player nuts because
the swing seems to change every day!
You’ll sometimes go from feeling like you can’t miss to having no clue
at all what will happen on the next shot!

 Training easy should be an important part of your
training.  For beginners, for higher
handicappers, for any golfer looking to improve their confidence I suggest
practicing easy! 

What that means is making it easy to see success while you
train.  Use a tee to hit your 7,8, or 9
iron.  Take less than a full swing!  Work without a ball for a while just to feel
the rhythm of a smooth and balanced swing. 

 We learn other sports easy.
As we improve we swing harder, throw further, raise the basket,
etc…. 

 If we learned basketball like golfers learned golf, you
would have your 5 year old shooting 3 pointers right away to a 10 foot high
basket!  You’d encourage you youngster, but it would be
years before they would have any success!
They would create poor mechanics or give up in frustration!  And I wouldn’t blame them!

 There is no need to learn golf off the ground, or with a
full swing and a driver! 

Train easy!  It will
be more fun and build confidence in your game…. 

 Not sure how true this is, but I like the story so I’m going
to use it!  Sam Snead said he spent most
of his time on the range with his 9 iron.
He said he hit it well, knew he would hit it well, and build his confidence
with his entire game by hitting solid shots with a club he knew he could
hit…  That sounds like genius to me!!!

The Target Creates The Swing, Part V

Bad Targets tend to create bad swings….  If your target is the ball, you will tend to
strike at the ball rather than swing through it.  If your target is up over a bunker, or water,
or “up the hill”, rather than forward, you’ll tend to attempt a lift in the
swing and a dip of the trailing shoulder causing the club to move off plane….
If your target is one of the “nots” (not right, not left, not fat, not thin),
you’ll tend to swing away from where you don’t want to go.  These bad targets often cause exaggerated, or
over compensated moves in the swing that creating massive inconsistencies….

 

The toughest thing about the above targets is that THEY ALL
MAKE SENSE!
  I’m guilty of falling prey
to each of the above.  Understanding bad
targets won’t completely rid you of making target errors, but will certainly
help you stay focused on the real target more often and correctly assess poor
swings.  Grasping the importance of the
true target helps me focus on the golf course and range.  Understanding the destructive power of bad
targets is an important piece in learning a golf swing. 

 

Most golfers are slaves to mechanical thinking!  One reason a golfer is never able to rid
themselves of swing thoughts that clutter and bind a golf swing is that they
are plagued with bad targets and never deal with them.  We call swing fixed band aids because they
mask errors often caused by poor perceptions!!!!  Change the target, and the swing will develop
naturally!  

Play Golf

One of the major goals of ATHLETIC GOLF is to free people up from the bondage of mechanical thinking.  The premise being that we don’t learn to walk, ride a bike, or play baseball mechanically.  GRAVITY GOLF,  which is the understanding and building of a non-thinking swing, also offers the opportunity to PLAY GOLF, rather than THINK GOLF SWING.

Golf is tremendously challenging in the first place.  Add the challenge of dealing with ‘BAD’ targets, or doing your best to swing freely to the correct targets, and it layers on more complexity to every round….  Thinking  about mechanics is an overload to the system! 

I know that humans perform better when they let themselves PLAY FREELY.  I also know that a golfer stuck in mechanics is constantly searching, changing, and fixing.  These golfers work around in an endless loop, and very rarely make progress with their games…. Even when they do, it’s a constant battle of finding it-losing it, etc…  
The time to think about swing is away from the course.  The time to think about swing is SOMETIMES on the range….  That’s it!
I’d say you should spend most of your time on the range swinging freely and into balance.  I’d say that outside a rehearsal swing, you should spend all your time focusing on what your want your ball to do, and images of impact, ball flight, and feelings of success. 
Now having said that, I also realize that the GRAVITY GOLF concepts sometimes get a little in-depth.  They are complete and detailed in terms of physics, physiology, and neurology, not in positions.  As a matter of fact, the GRAVITY GOLF  has no positions (except perhaps the balanced finish around the forward pivotal axis).   I spend so much time teaching the true “mechanics” of a golf swing because they can help you SEE THE LIGHT!  The information will ultimately FREE you from the chains of traditional mechanics!
Learn the physics behind a swing.  Train in the drills with total freedom and curiosity. Go PLAY GOLF!  

I Mean HOT!

This same weather in late July will be just another day.  Right now….  it’s crazy hot!  It’s heavy hot.  The humidity weighs on you.

The good news is that it is very easy to loosen up the body in weather like this.  Let the muscles relax and you will turn as freely as ever!  And that’s a great thing for the golf swing!  

Bad Shots = Good Teacher

Saying golf is difficult is an understatement.  Out of 50 shots hit on the range, how many of them do you hit just like you want?  I know the number for me is extremely low.

The good news is that I use my BAD SHOTS TO TEACH ME!
I also believe this is one of the most important reasons I have excelled in learning this game.  
You see, I know exactly how I want to hit a shot.  I am very clear on my target and my intended ball flight.  And most importantly,  I understand what bad shots tell me.  
It seems to me most golfers over react to bad shots, over analyze bad shots, and over correct.  This is a recipe for inconsistency!
You see a balanced circular swing should produce a solid draw to my target.  If it doesn’t, it tells me what I did that I didn’t need to do!!!
If I’m not in fully rotated, relaxed balance, I know I’ve got no chance for consistency so I work on that first.  If contact and direction are off, I simply continue to try to get the tension out of my arms, and move the ball with my turns.  The back swing turn moves the arms and club with enough force to sustain the swing.  The forward pivot, around ONLY the forward leg slings the arms, the club, and the ball!  The arms and club will be slung on a predictable path due to gravity and rotation, and the ball will take off on a tangent to the arc.  
I don’t love to hit bad shots, I have simply learned that rather than “fix” them by changing things causing more and more inconsistency…. I know let them nudge me towards the swing I want.  
When I asked my wife (at the time, she was #1 in greens in regulation in the world, for all major tours and collegiate golf)how she fixed a bad swing, here’s how she answered after giving me a curious (what are you talking about) look,  “I simply put my be swing on the next one….”   
That’s a great way to learn this game!  

Rhythm and Timing

One of the great things about being in the pro-shop on a busy afternoon is that I get to see a bunch of my students when they come off the golf course….  The emotions run from;  “best round ever!” to “I’m just awful” almost every day.

Obviously, it’s more rewarding when my students come in to tell me about their great rounds, but it is potentially more IMPORTANT when they come in asking questions!
Clarity in golf is so important.  If you don’t completely believe in your concept, the game will beat you up!  So I feel that my ability to answer questions and comments that my students have is one of my most important jobs.  
Some guys are a bit gun shy about asking me “mechanical” questions about the swing.  It’s because I go out of my way to take the positions out of the swing and let the swing be developed by a more natural method.  
It’s because of my teaching methods that I think it is CRITICAL that students ask me “mechanical” questions!!!! It gives me an opportunity to explain very clearly how we can and should ALLOW positions to happen, rather than make them happen!
So one comment yesterday was about TIMING.  He felt he needed to THINK about timing; slowing down his swing to make it work…  
With the golf swing I try to get my students to develop, TIMING IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU, NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO THINK ABOUT!!!  This is extremely important to understand (and pretty cool too!)
Who on the tour has great “timing and rhythm”?  Does Freddy, Ernie and VJ come to mind?  
Be assured that rhythm in their swings is a natural occurrence, and this rhythm is POSSIBLE AND AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE!
These and other GRAVITY GOLFERS use  GRAVITY to create rhythm.  It’s far more predictable everyday!  
You see most all golfers use tension in their golf swings.  Tension means that they pull the club back with muscle and pull the club down with muscle…  This means you are working against GRAVITY in both directions…  This type of swing DEMANDS that you think and focus on rhythm and timing EVERY DAY!   How tough is that?  (extremely difficult!  Just look around you…)
If you let GRAVITY WORK in your swing,  rhythm happens.   GRAVITY falls at 32 feet per second, per second every day, all day!!!  2 weeks from today,  6 months from today, GRAVITY will still fall at the same rate!   
***NOW THAT’S RHYTHM***
Bottom line for my students:   If your rhythm and timing are off in your swing… .You don’t have to try to get it.  You certainly don’t have to THINK about it….  You need to ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN by simply HEAVING the tension out of your arms in the back swing, then allowing the arms to fall with GRAVITY.  Gravity will meet the rotation of the followthru and create PATH INTEGRITY. 
If you don’t have it, it’s not a THINKING problem, it’s a HEAVE and ALLOWING issue.  You must keep INTENDING to get that tension out and leave it out!  You must keep INTENDING to move the ball with your follow-through!  Remember, if the heave is correct, THE REST OF THE SWING WILL BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN!  
Get out of your way, and make room for PHYSICS!