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Writing this column twice a week requires me to constantly come up with topics that I think you readers will find interesting, but wouldn’t it be better if you readers all kept my mailbox full of ideas you have for articles and questions you have about the short game in general, equipment, playing strategies, etc? This column is for YOU, so I’m asking you to send me your questions and ideas for articles.
And I’ll sweeten it a bit for you. Each month we’ll give away a free matched pair of SCOR4161 wedges to a winner pulled from all those who submit a question or topic – whether it makes the cut to an article or not. All you have to do is send me your idea for an article and you’re entered in that month’s drawing. We’ll start a new batch each month, so let’s get going. February’s collection starts NOW.
Report from the PGA Show
Our experience in Orlando last week was nothing short of awesome. At the demo day on Wednesday, we were covered up from the opening bell. In fact, Titleist® and many others were packed up and gone, and we still had golf professionals and retail buyers hitting shots with our SCOR4161 wedges and short irons – and the reaction was almost always the same – “WOW!”
From the start of the show itself on Thursday morning until closing at 3:00 Saturday, it was more of the same. Numerous times we didn’t have enough of us in the booth to talk to all the interested pros. We fitted several tour professionals – Champions, LPGA, Futures and Nationwide – and one of the most high-profile teachers in the game declared that “these are the best looking wedges I’ve ever seen.” (Sorry, I cannot give out names here, you understand.)
We got tons of interest from the top retail buyers in the country, international distributors and golf professionals from around the world. There is no question that SCOR4161 is a news-maker. You might have already seen some media interviews, and there are more coming in the weeks ahead. This product and its innovative, rule-breaking approach to scoring clubs has made an impact.
We also learned that the big boys are watching and noticing. Tour pros have taken our wedges into at least two of the top brand tour shops asking to get something like it. And we saw more than one bunch of gawkers at our booth wearing badges from other brands, large and small alike.
It’s highly likely that we won’t be able to build enough wedges to meet the demand we’ve generated, but we’re ramping up quickly. Watch the blog and Facebook for pics of our new facility within a month or two, and get in line for your very own SCOR4161 scoring clubs. Buy direct at www.scorgolf.com, or have your pro or favorite retailer get in touch with us, because this is gonna be a wild ride.
But enough raving about what we’ve done. Let’s get on with helping all of you score better. Just send your question or topic suggestion to email@example.com and it will be considered, and you’ll be entered. If you have more than one, send them in and increase your chances.
It’s finally here . . . the big “coming out party” for SCOR Golf. We’ve been working toward this week for several months, and now it’s time to show our new stuff to the golf professionals, retailers, international distributors who make this annual sabbatical to Orlando, Florida. Our trade show exhibit area is mostly set up, with some more tweaking to do today.
Tomorrow is the Demo Day at Orange County National, where we get to put the SCOR4161 wedges and short irons in the hands of those future trade partners who are going to fit them to golfers across the country in 2012. [If your golf professional or favorite retailer is here, call, text or email them to be sure to come see us in Booth #1173!!] Then the Show starts at 8:00 Thursday and we’ll be waiting to tell our story . . . over and over and over again.
We’ve got a hectic few days ahead of us, so I’m going to miss writing my usual column today and Friday, but I’ll be back to you next week with a series that I’ve been thinking about to help you overhaul your short game technique to make 2012 your best golf year ever.
See you all on Tuesday. Wish us luck while we’re here!
One of the most glaring errors I witness in the swings of most amateur golfers who are not low single digit players is an incorrect or almost non-existent weight shift through the downswing. Whether it is a chip, short pitch or full swing shot, the weight has to be moving toward the target and predominantly on the left side at impact. That’s the only way you can “stay ahead” of the club so that proper impact can be made.
What I see in mid- to high-handicap players is that they initiate the downswing with the arms and hands, which forces the body turn to be stopped as a counteragent to this upper-body turn. The result is the poor shots most amateur golfers hit. It’s not that their upper body movements are that wrong, it’s just that they are out of sequence with the lower body to generate maximum power and consistency.
So, how do you fix this? It’s really not that hard, actually. But you’ll learn it quicker without a club at all. Here’s a drill to really learn what the lower body is going to be doing to move your weight to the left side during the downswing.
Practice this rotation move of the lower body until you can do it easily in perfect balance. Once you get the feel of it, let your arms hang into their address position and do it some more, feeling how the rotation of the hips then forces the upper body to rotate, followed by the arms. During the downswing, the only way great golf can be played is if the hips start the rotation downward first, which pulls the upper body, which pulls the arms, which pull the hands, which pulls the clubhead.
The key is to make/let your hips lead the entire action. Let me know if this little drill doesn’t give you the feeling of a more powerful swing through impact.
Here’s the point I was trying to make with last Friday’s post – Your mind is the most powerful route to playing your best golf ever.
But that takes many aspects of the mental side of the game. There are volumes written about getting your mind right when you are playing a round of golf, and nearly every tour player these days has a “mental coach” to help them optimize their attitude and focus, stay out of their own way, etc. Certainly, that’s all very important, but what I’m trying to share with you are the other aspects of the mental game.
1. Truly understand your objective. That’s where I was trying to go with Friday’s column. Your body can’t do what your mind can’t process. If you don’t have a solid understanding of the basic physical movements of a solid golf swing, you have zero chance of executing one. The first building block of better golf is to REALLY UNDERSTAND swing fundamentals and embrace them as your own. It starts with a good grip on the club, and you can learn that in your office or home. Keep a golf club, or even the grip end of one, handy to your desk and sofa or favorite chair. While you are on the phone, or watching TV, practice a solid grip until you learn it. From there you can practice proper posture, the positions of the backswing and follow through. Do this by posing in front of a mirror if you have to. All these things can be learned at home, away from a golf ball. In fact, they are better learned away from a golf ball. Once you have them figured out, committed to muscle memory and clear in your mind, then you can put a golf ball in front of them.
2. Play The Game. Sounds simple, but it really isn’t. When you are on the course, with your newly rebuilt golf swing, lose yourself in the moment. In the book and movie “Seven Days In Utopia”, the young pro is encouraged to “See It. Feel It. Trust It.” To play well, you have to see the golf shots you are facing. If you normally hit a draw, don’t try to see a fade. Around the greens, try to clearly visualize all the options of how you can get the ball close to the hole. There are always several different chips or pitches that will do that . . . find the one that seems to be your best choice. Then you can rehearse the right practice swings to feel the one that will produce that visualized result. Once that is accomplished, you really have no choice but to trust that you can produce that practice swing for real. That gets you out of your own way, and you know, if you don’t pull it off . . . it’s just golf.
3. Enjoy Yourself. That is the final element of the mental game, to me. You have taken time away from work, family or something else. You’ve given yourself a few hours on the course for the sole purpose of enjoyment, so make sure it gives you that! That’s where I was going last week with the whole idea of managing your expectations. Tour pros practice incessantly. They devote countless hours to short putts, more to bunker play, and hit thousands of balls every week. They have a right to expect top-level results, but still hit some “uglies” every week. So, what can you expect out there? How many hundreds of practice balls did you hit last week, last month, last year? How many hours did you spend on the putting green, grooving a stroke on 5-6 foot putts? How many thousand chips, pitches and bunker shots are you hitting each week.
So, my point here is to be realistic. You CAN build a very solid golf swing, from the grip upward, if you will just spend the time to understand exactly what that looks like, feels like and works like. And you can manage your way around a golf course with little damage and lots of thrills if you will keep your mind engaged. And you can . . . and should . . . have FUN every time you play, regardless of the outcome of your round.
There certainly have been plenty of books written about the mental side of golf, and I don’t profess to have the education and experience of Dr. Rotella and the other experts in this field. But I do have a very healthy respect for the role the mind plays in our ability to score and to enjoy the game. It’s really no different from any other aspect in our lives – family life, business, etc. It all yields to us only that which we allow it to yield.
So, I’m not going to delve into the psychology of golf the way these other experts have. What I want to do this morning is expand upon what we started Tuesday by taking a little different tack. And that is that your golf swing, your technique and your entire approach to the game is governed and restricted by your understanding of what it is you are really trying to do.
Look around at your golf buddies and you will see few swings that even remotely resemble the mechanical excellence of the players on tour or the best ball-strikers at your club. Why is that? Do you and your friends just like the swings you have, regardless of their ability to produce the desired results? Are you OK being stuck at your current playing level, your current handicap? Is it OK for you if you never get any better?
My guess is that the answer to all those questions is a resounding, “Heck No!” I think all of you want to get better, to hit better quality shots, to shoot lower scores. I believe that’s what keeps you here and on all the other golf sites you visit. But if it’s not happening, why not take a completely different approach?
And let’s start by rebuilding your own perception of what a good golf swing looks like, feels like and does. Within a very narrow range, there is really only one way to swing a golf club so that it produces quality golf shots with repetition and reliability. Sure, there are little quirks from golfer to golfer, but the range of disparity of the swings on tour is very small, compared to that in your regular Saturday group.
Every swing will have its little idiosyncrasies, but for the most part, it needs to follow a very basic set of proven fundamentals that applied to Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Miller, Woods . . . . and every other golfer who’s sniffed at excellence. The golf club has to be held properly. The body has to be put in the right athletic position to move properly. The club has to reach the correct position at the top of the backswing, and follow a certain path down to and through the ball. The club has to be released a certain way through impact to yield the desired results. These are laws of golf physics that have been proven for decades.
Unless you really understand those mechanical foundations, you will just not get better. You cannot expect yourself to do what you do not really comprehend. The good news is that these things do not require Woods-onian strength and physical ability. Anyone without serious infirmity can learn how to hold the club, how to stand, where to put the club going back and how to move it through impact. How well you perfect this depends on your commitment to practice, but I think any of you can completely rebuild your golf swing in the next 4-6 weeks while you’re waiting for the season to really start.
If you want 2012 to be your best year ever, the “mind game” I suggest you play is one of learning, studying and committing to achieving a solid understanding of just what a good golf swing does, how it works and what it looks like. And there’s no better book than Hogan’s Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. This book breaks the golf swing into a “paint by numbers” approach. From the grip through the follow-through, Hogan shows you what a good swing looks like, explains what it feels like and shows you how to build one for yourself.
If you will get a copy, read it, study it and go through the steps to pose and posture into the positions Hogan describes, you will gain an understanding of the golf swing that your mind and body can relate to as you work to get better. I promise.
One of the great regrets of my life is that I missed the fatherhood experience, never having had children of my own. As I get older, I find that I gravitate to the younger folks, and offer my help whenever I can, whether on the golf course, hunting fields or just life in general. One of my joys is working with younger kids on their golf. That includes instruction, of course, but what I think is more important for them in the developmental stages is to learn to manage their expectations. Actually, we all could benefit from that bit of advice.
On Sunday, I had the joy of playing with the 16-year-old son of one of our partners here at SCOR Golf. Kyle is a tremendously talented young man who I’ve worked with quite a bit, but he really hasn’t committed himself to golf yet. I’m talking about the kind of commitment that keeps him working hard at it as long as there is daylight. He might not ever get that, and that’s OK, but he hasn’t figured out yet that your expectations can only rise from your achievements, and not from you desires.
On a granular level, Kyle has great strength, but hasn’t learned to harness it yet. He wants to choose his clubs based on his maximum distance with that club . . . if everything falls exactly into place. Like most golfers, and especially young ones, he’s enamored with the power game. When we play, I show him that throttling back and controlling the shot is much more reliable.
On the more global level, I discovered Sunday that Kyle has very unrealistic expectations about what a round of golf should really be like. He, like most of us, expects all the shots to be struck solidly and fly like he imagined. So I explained that he hasn’t earned the right to have such expectations yet. His scores average around 90-95 and his best ever is an 85.
So, here’s my point (finally.)
Kyle was off to a good start with three pars and two bogies in his first five holes. He kind of “fat-pulled” a four-iron approach on a 200+ yard par three. His shot left him only 10-15 yards short and left of the green, but he wheeled around, dropped his club and expressed his disgust with the shot. And I got on him about it. “What’s wrong with that? It’s a difficult par-3 with a 20 mph crosswind and you are in good position to get up and down or at least make no worse than bogey.”
I went on to explain that he was only two pars away from tying his best round ever, and if he just played for bogies – and stay excited — he would probably make twice that many or more. And I seemed to get through to him of the reality of golf, or his golf at least. He stayed in the moment, with only a little more cajoling from me, and shot an 86 – one shot off his best ever! And I MADE him congratulate himself on his accomplishments. Instead of focusing on those few shots that were bad, and the 2-3 doubles he made, I told him to focus on the good that came out of that round.
So, here’s my point (or points) for managing your expectations, too.
So, the next time you are on the golf course, try to set and manage realistic expectations. Your golf will be better for it, and you’ll have a ton more fun.
As I mentioned last week, one of my favorite refreshers on my golf swing is to pick up my well-worn copy of Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. I also just added a vintage copy of his first book, Power Golf, which I practically grew up on. One of the more interesting sections of that book is his chapter on using the clubs in your bag. In that section, Hogan charted his regular, minimum and maximum yardage for each club in his bag.
What immediately blows you away is how short his “regular” distances were, and it causes you to pause a minute to digest what he’s written. He lists “regular” five-iron distance at 155 yards!
To understand this, first you have to realize that in length and loft, Hogan’s five-iron at that time was almost identical to the 7-iron in most bags today, and even the 8-iron in some of the ‘super game improvement’ irons. Taking that into consideration, his listed regular yardage of 155 isn’t so hard to imagine.
But what really set Hogan apart from the way most of us play the game today, is that he listed the “maximum” yardage for each club at 25 yards further than the “regular” yardage. 25 yards!!! So, while he considered 155 a regular five-iron shot, he could hit it 180 if he had to or wanted to. How much do you have in reserve behind each regular iron shot you hit? How many golfers do you know that have even an extra ten yards in reserve over what they consider “regular”?
All I can say is “hmmmmmmm”. Something to think about, huh?
The other interesting thing in this section of the book is his talk about his driver at 13-1/2 ounces. Modern drivers are all about 11 these days, with some pushing as low as 10-1/4 ounces. Imagine adding three full ounces to your driver, cutting 2-3 inches off of it, combining that with the golf balls they had in the 1940s . . . and still being able to hit drives of 300 yards or more!!! Hogan did it.
Back to that idea of having something in reserve in your irons. When you can get to the range, maybe the idea of throttling back considerably from what you consider “regular” distance with each club should be fully explored. What would happen to your scores if your iron play got measurably sharper this year?
Even though I am fortunate to live in sunny (most of the time) South Texas, the winter still takes a toll on the old golf game. There are many days it’s just not that nice to be on the course (yes, we’re spoiled), so we are left to sit home and ponder what this golf season will bring. Or more accurately, what commitment will I make to wring more out of my golf in 2012?
For me, it’s about working toward more scoring consistency. Building this new company – SCOR Golf – from scratch in 2011 has taken its toll on my golf. I haven’t practiced with the frequency I like, much of the first part of the year was spent rotating clubs in and out of the bag for testing purposes, and my mind was too often on the clubs and their performance instead of just playing, scoring and having fun. So, for me, 2012 is for getting back to basics, regaining my shotmaking consistency and just focusing on getting the ball in the hole.
I’ve come back from distraction or disinterest several times in my life, and each time I do the same thing to start – bring out my well-worn copies of Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons, and more recently, my own unfinished manuscripts for two books on scoring that I have written and re-written countless times. Hogan’s book refreshes me on the core fundamentals, starting with the grip, stance and posture, and working through the proper motions of the backswing and downward swing. I remain convinced that Hogan had it right.
My own books have the working titles “The Secrets of Scoring” and “The Natural Approach to Better Putting”. The former breaks down short game technique to the raw basics that anyone can learn, and the latter’s goal is to build your putting technique around your natural eye/hand coordination that everyone has. One of these days I’ll finish and publish both . . . maybe even this year!
My point of this is to tell you that I’d bet dollars to donuts that each of you wants to play your best golf ever in 2012. So, if it’s really important . . . make and plan and work it. Set your goals, create a plan of action to attain them, and then commit to it. Your best golf will result, I promise you.
But if you do the same things you’ve done, or not done, in past winters, don’t expect different golf fortunes this year, OK?
Breaking News about SCOR Golf
I can’t keep it a secret any longer. Our brand new SCOR4161 wedges have been recognized in the new Golf Digest “Hot List” rankings in the February issue hitting newsstands and mailboxes this week. Out of hundreds and hundreds of clubs tested, this brand new product – which hasn’t even hit retail stores yet – was recognized as being among the “best of the best.” When you realize that we are the only niche brand so recognized, and the only one without ever spending a dime of advertising, this is a huge acknowledgement of the pure innovation and performance qualities this revolution in the short end of the set.
Please pardon me for bragging, but I think we’ve earned the right. I’d love the chance to prove to all of you that SCOR Golf has done to the short end of your set what metal woods and hybrids have done to the long end.