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As a 15 year old I would watch his drives take off on a line drive for almost 200 yards before rising up to a peak, finally dropping at about 265 yards. Sometimes he would really smash one and hit the fence of the tennis courts (or even land in the courts!) located at the end of the range. At that time, Dan Pohl was a local hero and one of the longer hitters on tour at around 280. 280 yards was LONG back then. The choice between balls was not between the V1 and the V1 X. The choice was between the Low Traj or the Pro Traj.
I can’t remember if Randy played a Tony Penna or a MacGregor Eye-omatic, but I do know the number of degrees of loft was not stamped on the club. There were screws in the club face and the sign of a good driver was the grain running perpendicular to the clubface. There were no launch monitors to help you find optimum launch angle and spin. It was trial and error. And when you found a good driver, you were sure to keep it! The major choice to be made was between cherry or a darker walnut color.
I’d bet that if you looked at Randy’s old driver, the screws would be slightly protruding from the insert. Randy made a habit out of hitting it on the screws.
The small town country club where we played was not worthy of any state championships. It is essentially flat farm land turned into a golf course. In fact, the green-keeper at that time was a local farmer. (Much to his credit, however, he knew how to care for the greens. The greens were always good.) The practice facilities were almost non-existant. No target greens on the range. A single, crown-shaped putting green. No practice bunker. No where to play 30-100 yard shots.
All in all, it was an ok course. But not a course to help prepare someone for a world scene like the Masters! No, something else was needed to help Randy get to that level.
The love of the game. Maybe it was simply the love of the game!
It was the love of the game that would take him to the course nearly every day after work to practice. It was the love of the game that had him choose his vacation days to play in tournaments. It was the love of the game that left foot-prints on the putting green 3-feet from the hole when he was done practicing.
Maybe it is the love of the game that is needed to prepare someone for the Masters!
In 2011, Randy Lewis became the oldest winner of the US Mid-Amateur and is now fulfilling the dream of every 15 year-old playing golf in America: to play in the Masters. Nobody deserves it more than Randy.
There is no doubt that Randy no longer plays with his persimmon driver, his Macgregor irons or the Pro Traj ball. I am sure that the flight of his drives has changed, but Randy’s love of the game certainly has not.
- Stephen Moskal, PGA
The golf grip is one of the most important fundamentals of the golf swing and often the most difficult to teach and to learn. The reason for this is that everyone’s hands are unique. Length of fingers, width of fingers, width of palms all make for many different combinations of possible “proper” grips.
When learning the golf grip it is important to remember that the grip must be functional. Simply gripping the club according to basic generic principles like “more in the fingers than in the palm” or “in the fingers of the right hand” are destined to fail. The way a golfer grips the club must correspond to the way that the player swings the club, as the grip ultimately serves to square the club face and to add power. Some people use the hands more and others less in an effort to square the club and to give power. The way you grip the club influences what you can do.
Top Myths about the Grip
1) Grip the club “in the fingers” of the left hand
It is very often said to grip it in the fingers of the left hand for better hinging. I have seen this cause many issues, especially for those people with big hands. Gripping in the fingers very often leads to excess “cupping” in the left wrist during the swing and often forces the hands too low at address and encourages the player to bend too much at the waist. It also makes the golf grip “weaker” because the hand can no longer use the functionality of the opposable thumb.
Read below to see some of the common myths and some facts about the golf grip. Look at the pictures to see the whole story.
2) More knuckles showing equals stronger golf grip
Seeing more knuckles of the left hand does not always make the golf grip “stronger.” I often see students with the hand turned in so much (showing 3 or 4 knuckles) that the club shifts entirely to the palm. As a result, the grip is so “weak” that it slips at impact virtually every time. Just remember, more knuckles does not always equal “strong” in the golf grip.
3) Interlocking grip is the best for smaller hands
This is perhaps one of the more perplexing myths for me. Most people that try the interlocking grip find it most comfortable when the fingers interlock all the way to the base of the fingers. When someone has small hands, interlocking the fingers makes them open the palms to the sky so as to get the fingers locked in tightly. This results in a very poor, perhaps the worst, golf grip. I see this often with junior golfers.
Overlooked Facts About the Golf Grip
1) The position of the arms influences the golf grip
The thing that I look at first when I see a bad golf grip is the position of the arms. I even like to tell students that you are not supposed to grip the club “with the arms.” By this I mean that if you take away the tension in the arms, the hands will more easily find a good grip. The most common mistake is to have the arms too straight. Some people have the arms so straight (especially the left arm) that they are hyper-extended and “bend the other way.” With arms in such a position, it will be virtually impossible to take a proper grip.
2) Shaft lean and lie angle influence the golf grip
Because the correctness of a grip is determined by a position that enables proper hinging of the wrists all the while maintaining squareness of the clubface, the position of the club at the ground has a tremendous influence on the grip. A club that is pushed too far forward (toward the target) is going to create strong grip and a club that is leaning behind the ball will tend to create a weak grip. A club shaft that is too tall at address will have the person grip too much in the palms of the hands. The clubshaft too low will have someone take it too much in the fingers. Learning how to properly position the club at the ball is imperative to gripping the club properly!
3) The design of the club can influence the golf grip (off-set clubs for example)
Because the club position at address is so important, the design of the club head has an influence on the golf grip. I am thinking mostly of the off-set models. Having the hands placed in front of the clubface with off-set clubs often makes it difficult for players to reconcile a slightly strong grip with a square clubface. I see this most often with higher lofted off-set drivers and some models of very off-set irons. I find few people who are able to have a proper grip with these styles of club. If you are using such clubs to help you correct ball flight problems, I suggest trying a more traditional, “blade-looking” club and working on your grip and swing in order to correct ball flight.
Stableford point system
The stableford scoring system is a way of scoring in golf where a player scores points based on his stroke-play score for each hole. The goal is to score as many points as possible. The player with the most points wins.
The points are earned according to the following scale.
Double bogey or higher: 0
Double eagle (albatros): 5
The US PGA Tour event, The International (canceled in 2007 after 21 years) used a modified stableford system.
• Double Eagle: 8 points
• Eagle: 5 points
• Birdie: 2 points
• Par: 0 points
• Bogey: -1 point
• Double Bogey or Worse: -3 points
Stableford System and Handicap Play
A very important aspect of the Stableford System is that the traditional handicap system in golf can be easily applied so that players of different abilities can play against eachother as equals.
This is done by taking a player’s handicap and spreading it out across all the holes. This is done according to the handicapping of each hole as shown in the diagram below.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Ex. 1) A player holds a handicap of 18. He has 18 strokes to be distributed. He will get one stroke on every hole. In essence, he can subtract one stroke from his score on each hole. A bogey for him on any hole turns into a par. In stableford, he will thus score 2 points for every bogey he makes.
A scratch golfer (0 handicap) must score a par in order to score 2 points in Stableford.
Let’s say the scratch golfer has 18 pars. He earns 36 Stableford points. If the 18 handicap player has 18 bogeys (18 over par), he too will score 36 points in Stableford. In this case, there would be a tie between the two players. This is quite normal, as the scratch golfer would “give” the 18 handicap player 18 strokes in a handicapped stroke-play match.
Ex. 2) A player has a handicap of 24. He will automatically have one stroke on every hole. He will have a second stroke on the 6 most difficult holes. On those more difficult holes, a double bogey will score him 2 points in Stableford, as he will subtract 2 strokes from his stroke-play score on each of those holes. He will also scored two points in Stableford for every bogey on the other “easier” hole.
It is easy to imagine a scenario between this player and a scratch golfer as we did in example 1.
Ex. 3) A player carries a handicap of 4. He will receive only 1 point on the four most difficult holes. As a 4 handicap player, he is expected to be able to score a par “without help” on the 14 easiest holes.
Once again, it is easy to illustrate a match between this player and others.
The interesting thing about the Stableford point system is that it very closely reflects stroke-play scoring in golf. By knowing a player’s handicap and how many points he scores in Stableford, we can essentially know what he shot in stroke play, AND more importantly, what he shot relative to his handicap. The “magic number” in Stableford is 36. In essence, 36 points in Stableford means that a player had 18 pars (18 x 2 points for a par). Knowing that the par for each hole is adjusted according to a player’s handicap, 36 points also means that a player shot his handicap.
Remember that in Stableford the better one plays, the MORE points he scores. So if a player scores more than 36 points, he has played better than his handicap. If he scores less than 36 points, he has played worse than his handicap.
For anyone who has studied the details of the modern handicap system, you may notice that the Stableford system reflects the idea of equitable stroke control. The equitable stroke control system is set up so that a player cannot score more than two strokes over his handicap on any given hole. Inversely calculated, those two strokes are the two points for a par in the Stableford system.
With today’s technology, selecting the proper driver for your game has become extremely complex. There are so many different choices already and the industry leaders are always looking for new ways to improve and market new products. These new products come out once (even twice a year) and of course add to the confusion.
To help make the search for a new driver easier, here are some helpful tips:
1) see a custom club-fitter
A real savvy and educated golfer might be ale to make sense of the choices on his/her own but it is becoming more and more difficult. I’ve been playing this game for 30 years and I still like some help when I go looking for a new driver. Custom club-fitters are aware of the latest trends and of the new advances in technology. Your time and money spent with a qualified club-fitter will pay for itself in your choice of club and in your game.
2) understand the different components of the club and how each affects the performance of the club.
You are looking for a driver that optimizes the flight of your ball. The flight of your ball can be analyzed according to the following characteristics: initial launch angle, spin rate (which influences ball while in flight) and angle of descent. Of course, we are assuming a straight hit here.
- CLUBHEAD: the clubhead is what hits the ball. It is going to influence the initial launch of the ball through its loft and the spin of the ball by its composition and design. First determine what your general tendencies are in terms of launch angle and spin. If you have a hard time gettng the ball to launch, look to a higher lofted driver (10.5 degrees or even more). Look for a clubhead that will help you get optimal launch angle and spin rate.
- SHAFT: shaft technology has evolved tremendously over the past 10-15 years and there are up to 100 different shafts from which to choose. The advances in technology have helped make golf easier to play but it has made the process of choosing the best shaft rather complex. This makes the role of the club-fitter even more important.
To understand shaft technology we must understand the bending of the shaft during a swing. The way a shaft bends ultimately determines if it is suitable for you.
Shaft Flex – the flex of a shaft is considered to be its overall resistance to a weight at the end of the shaft. The traditional way of determing flex results in categorizing shafts into regular, stiff and extra stiff. The extra stiff shaft bends less than the regular. Other “degrees of flex” like “ladies” and “senior” have been introduced. Unfortunately, there is no universal standard to calibrate the stiffness of shafts. The regular flex of one manufacturer will not be the same as that of another manufacturer.
Kick point – the kick point of a shaft indicates where in a shaft the majority of the bend occurs during a swing. Shafts are designed to “kick” at three main parts of the shaft: low, mid or high. A “low kick point” shaft will bend near the head of a club and will have a tendency to hit the ball higher with more spin. A “high kick point” shaft will kick near the grip and will tend to lower ball flight and produce less spin.
-GRIP: the most important thing to know about the grip is that the size of the grip will influence how you hold it (how you grip it) and the way your hands will act during the swing. A thick grip, for example, will slow down the rotation of the hands and could prevent you from releasing the club completely. Bsically make sure that the grip is the right size.
Another element ot grip is the feel of the club in your hands. There are many different kinds of grips and they all have a slightly different feel to them. Find one that you like.
3) Looks matter
One of the final criteria for choosing a driver is how the club looks to you. This is particularly important for people that have played for some time. Over time our eyes become used to seeing a certain shape while looking down at a club. Having a club that is appealing to your eyes helps make you comfortable and can even help your confidence with it.
The golf ball is a sphere that spins around any number of different axes depending on how the club hits the ball. A ball that one sees in flight is a ball that is spinning around one of these axes. A ball that flies dead straight has pure backspin. (note: a flying ball cannot have topspin, as topspin would make the ball shoot to the ground) any other spin than pure backspin will make the ball curve either to the left or to the right. A ball that curves to the right (for a right-handed player) is commonly called a “slice” (or a “fade” if the amount of curve is only slight).
Look at the diagram below to see how a slice spin is created. Notice the relationship of the path of the club to the position of the clubface. Slice spin is created by having a clubface that is open relative to the direction in which the club is traveling.
This swing is often called “outside to inside.” the sake of this article we will talk primarily about the outside to in swing as it is indeed the most common. Now that we understand how the club spins the ball, then let’s try to identify tendencies in the swing that create such club ball contact.
1) Weak Grip
A weak grip will cause a slice for virtually every golfer who is not a professional. Professional golfers manage to hit it straight (and even with a draw with a weak grip) but it is not easy. If you are slicing the ball, look first at your grip. Make sure that the club is positioned in the hand so that the base of the hand is on “the top of the club” and the thumb is slightly to the right of the top. You can rotate your hand over more to make it stronger, but don’t let the club shift to the palm of the hand as you do so (refer to our article “Grip: Myth and Facts”).
2) Shoulder plane too flat
When the shoulders turn back too flat (left shoulder stays too high), a slice is almost guaranteed. The reason for this is that the right shoulder gets pushed back too far and too low, forcing it to be thrown out over the top on the downswing. This position occurs often when people try to get the club back inside and flat in an effort to swing back to the ball more from the inside. Remember, too flat going back will cause a steep, over the top downswing (and the slice!).
3) Cupping of left wrist during backswing
Indeed, Ben Hogan’s secret is the amateur golfer’s nemesis! Hogan had a terrible hook while he was a young professional. One day he discovered that if he cupped his left hand at the top of his backswing it was virtually impossible for him to hook the ball. The reason is very simply because the cupping of the wrist opens the clubface, usually so much that most golfers have no chance of squaring the clubface before impact. A flat left wrist at the top of the backswing is one of the common checkpoints of a solid golf swing.
4) Moving upper body in front of the ball before impact (especially with the driver)
This problem stems very often from a poor setup position. Using the driver as an example, many players have the shoulders too level and slightly open at address. This makes it very difficult to “get behind” the ball properly during the backswing AND TO STAY BEHIND the ball on the downswing. Once the upper body moves in front of the ball before impact, the club will almost always stay open, creating the slice.
5) Shoulders too open at impact
A study of slicers done by Golf Digest (I think!) showed that virtually every slice has a common characteristic: the shoulders were too open at impact! Shoulders too open at impact, of course, is more an effect than a cause in and of itself. So changing the shoulder position at impact demands changes in the swing prior to impact. Thus, this information is only useful if you know how to troubleshoot yourself. Nonetheless, you can benefit from this by taking practice swings all the while paying attention to your shoulder position through impact. Many of the clues to troubleshooting can be found above.
How to Choose a Putter
Here are some tips that will help you figure how to choose a putter that is best for you
5 Step Guide: How to Choose a Putter
1) Choosing a putting style/technique. Spend some time with a qualified golf professional to help you understand the different styles of putting and to help you identify how to choose a putter that will work best for you. The main “styles” to choose from are:
At this point it is important for you to understand that there are two major trends in putting technique: 1) the putter travels essentially straight back and straight through (Jack Nicklaus) 2) the putter follows an arc back and through (Ben Crenshaw/Tiger Woods)
Depending on the putting style you choose, you will be either putting straight back and through (long putter), putting on an arc (belly putter) or will need to choose between one or the other (conventional). As you can imagine, it is the conventional style that demands more reflection as you will be making more choices along the way.
For those who have decided to go with the conventional putting style you will have an extra step in deciding how to choose a putter. In essence, you will need to decide if you wish to putt straight back and straight through or if you wish to putt on an arc, as the balance of the putter (due to its design) will facilitate one technique or the other. You should take time to experiment with each method. Your decision on how to choose a putter should ultimately be based on a combination of which style appeals to you intellectually and the results of your trials. Of course, the advice of your golf professional could prove to be invaluable at this point.
To do this, you will need the help of someone else. Have a friend (or a professional) stand along the target line while you aim at a target. He will be able to tell you if your aim is accurate or not. Qualified club fitters often have a laser to make sure that your aim is perfect.
3) Choosing putter length. Finding the proper putter length is important as the length of the putter will influence your setup and the overall balance of the putter. For the long putter and the belly putter, the length of the putter is simply determined by your height.
For those choosing to putt conventional, a qualified golf professional will be of great help in understanding proper putter length.
4) Looks and feel matter. Once you have chosen a putter style based on the principles of aim , you will need to find one that feels and looks right to you. This is where trying different putters comes into play.
You should have narrowed your choices down quite a bit at this time. You are now ready to go to a golf shop and try out all the putters that fulfill the requirements based on your chosen style, setup position and aim. Feel and looks are different for everyone, much like choosing a nice suit or dress. As you try different putters, you will naturally find some that you like and others that you don’t like. Trust your initial reaction to each putter.
5) Price. Of course, you will always have to make the final decision regarding price. No one can make this for you. The cost of golf clubs most often reflect time and money spent on research and development and the time spent on the craftsmanship of the club. Clubs that are less expensive are often mass produced following a mold. The good news with modern clubs is that the mass produced clubs are the result of many years of technological development led by research and development that been dissimulated and shared. This means that even though the higher priced club usually reflects better quality, you can still trust a less expensive option when deciding how to choose a putter.
THIS POST: HOW TO CHOOSE A PUTTER
Technology has changed golf, especially the way we LEARN golf – this is most evident in the advent and the widespread use of golf swing analysis software. In the past twenty years, golf swing analysis software has gone from “state of the art” technology to being so common that it is found on nearly every smartphone owned by a golfer.
When VHS and 8 mm video cameras became more accessible, I could film myself but would have to go inside to hook up to a tv to watch. If I wanted to draw lines to check angles and planes (a function found in the most basic golf swing analysis software), I would use a dry-erase marker and a draw on the tv.
What good is golf swing analysis software?
To conclude: the pros to having golf swing analysis software far outweigh the cons. It just comes down to how you use it.
This Post Title: Golf Swing Analysis Software – Pros and Cons
Club and Shot Selection While Chipping
When you get close to the green as we see in this diagram, proper club selection can make your shot alot easier. Our goal is to help you make the right decision.
First of all, always remember a golden rule when hitting a golf shot (especially in the short game): if you can’t see it, you won’t be able to hit it. This diagram should also help you “see” the right shot to play. In each of these situations you can click on it for more details (and video) as to how to hit the shot.
Here the pin is way to the back of the green and you have come up a little short. You are going to want to run the ball back to the pin. You do this by choosing a lower lofted club like a 7 iron or even a 5 iron if the green is real big. Take a standard chipping setup position and the club does all the work to get the ball rolling. For distance control, I like imagining that I am lag putting here and I like for the wrists to stay soft–let the wrists “play” a little. This will help get the ball rolling even better.
This is the classic chip shot. With a pitching wedge, your ball will fly about half way to the hole and roll half way to the hole, depending on the speed of the green. A properly struck ball will land and skip a little because of the backspin that you put on it. It will then finish off rolling toward the hole. Don’t forget to read the break as you may have a chance to hole this shot with practice.
This shot here is virtually the same as the previous except the ball is in the rough. Because of the rough, you will want to take a more lofted club– the sandwedge. You can play this with a slightly open clubface to help get more spin on the ball. Hinge the wrists slightly so as to have a steeper angle of attack. Land the ball about half way to the hole and it will roll the rest of the way.
This shot has become easier since the invention of the lob wedge. Before the lob wedge, players had to really open the clubface and “cut across” the ball–that is line the feet up way left and swing across the target line. With the lob wedge, you can still use that technique a little if you feel like it is needed to get the ball higher, but it shouldn’t be too dramatic. Play the ball slightly on the inside of the left foot. Hinge the wrists and hit down int the rough. Make sure that you stay down on your shot. Tjhe ball will “flop” out of the rough, flying most of the way to the hole. There won’t be much roll once it lands.
Here the ball is just lff the back of the green and you don’t have much green between you and the hole. You need to chip it on the edge of the green without much roll once it lands. This is a great spot to hit a little chip shot with the lob wedge (or sandwedge if green is soft). Chipping with a lofted club like a lob wedge puts alot of spin on the ball. Once it lands it will not roll far. Make sure that you make a short, crisp stroke and that you accelerate through the ball. Most people get nervous and decelerate on these shots. Don’t make that mistake.
Before we talk too much about Tiger making his comeback (again), let’s get one thing straight: he is still the best golfer in the world!
Now it is true that in this world of immediate gratification and “what have you done for me lately,” it is easy to take shots at Tiger. This is especially true because we have been made to bow to his highness for so many years that many are relishing in the opportunity to knock him down a little.
Golf is one of the few games where there is a World Number One updated on an hourly basis, something that I never really valued (and I bet that Tiger rarely–if ever– thought about). Golf is game of highs and lows. It is impossible to compete at peak form for an extended period of time. A fact that makes Tiger’s run even more impressive and something that will never be matched again in golf. The person that will EVEN COME CLOSE to matching his dominance of the game has not been born. Everyone knows it, escpecially his peers that experienced it first hand. Any attempts to place someone as world number one right now are simply done out of need so to keep the corporate decision makers convinced that their tournament has the best play in the world playing for them.
I will now reiterate: “before we talk too much about Tiger making his comeback (again), let’s get one thing straight: he is still the best golfer in the world!”
Now, let’s talk about his comeback.
Don’t expect miracles.