Welcome to our Golf blog! Here you will find insights into the golf swing and learn many ways to improve your game. Use what works for you and please share your comments so that we can all score More Pars!

Rock On With Hunter Mahan

In today’s New York Times, there is an article in the sports’ section entitled: Golfer Includes a Dose of Rock in His Approach. It is worth reading on a series of levels, but for MorePars readers, there is a piece of advice that he gives that we will reinforce again and again on these pages; that is, spend a lot of your time working on the areas where you need the most work. For those that have learned to play the piano, you will identify with the habit of constantly playing the songs or passages you played well, while avoiding at all costs the tougher songs or tougher passages. The same with golf. It is frustrating and hard to go out and practice sand shots when you are not very good at playing them. But this is what we must do. We must avoid going out to the range and “just hitting balls and hitting balls and hitting balls.”

Another lesson from the article is to not let 1 shot destroy your confidence. Imagine having this on your record:

And though he went through a wrenching experience at the Ryder Cup in Wales — chunking a chip and losing to Graeme McDowell in the match that clinched the Cup for Europe — Mahan emerged tougher and more confident.

For many of us, this kind of performance would do us in. But for MorePars readers, we can’t look back; we can’t dwell on past mistakes; we need to pursue continuous improvement and control ourselves emotionally and mentally.

We wish you luck in your pursuit of More Pars!

MorePars Recommends Tom Watson’s Lessons of a Lifetime

At MorePars we are constantly purchasing tapes and training aids looking for that magic swing tip that will bring down our handicap. In addition, we are looking for reinforcement that the swing changes we are making are based on a true golf fundamentals and not someone’s attempt to make extra money.

We are truly impressed with the quality of this video. The advice is sound; the video quality is top-notch; and Tom comes across as genuinely interested in helping you play better. We will review some of the advice in this video entitled Lessons of a Lifetime in upcoming posts. In the meantime, order this video if you haven’t already. You can find it on Tom Watson’s web site.

 

MorePars Rooting For Webb Simpson

We find ourselves in Charlotte, NC and all geared up for 2 more days of great golf at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club. Last week, many of you may have witnessed the unfortunate incident on the 15th green where Webb’s ball moved due to the wind. Normally, this is not a problem, you can move it back, but not once you have addressed the ball. This is an obscure rule and needs to be changed, but Webb called it on himself and incurred a 1 stroke penalty. It cost him the tournament.

Michael Breed on the Golf Fix this week had a glowing tribute to Webb’s character and his handling of this incident, and I completely share his sentiments. For him to incur that penalty, continue to play the great golf that he did, and the grace he displayed despite having lost because of the penalty, showed me beyond a doubt that he has the emotional makeup to be a great golf role model and future champion.

This afternoon, MorePars will be following Webb for all 18 holes. We urge all our readers to root for him today at the Wells Fargo!

Building a Better Manager Much Like Improving Your Golf Game

Today in the NY Times there is an article entitled The Quest to Build a Better Boss. It is essentially about how Google uses analytics to try and improve the quality of their managers. Having looked at many dozens of variables using data sources like manager feedback, surveys, performance reviews, and so on, the “people analytics” teams identified 8 ‘good behaviors’ that the best managers demonstrated. The article is a fascinating read, especially to those who are in the management profession.

For MorePars’ readers specifically, there are some analogues made to golf that are very insightful and we should all bear them in mind as we work on our games.

The article mentions there are seemingly a zillion tips out there to improve your game, but when you try and keep these all in hour head, you can face “paralysis by analysis.” Similarly, management also contains a multitude of do’s and don’ts. Just as in golf, you can read and memorize all these rules but to actually put them into practice is a much more difficult proposition. The great managers, just like the great golf pros, make it all look effortless. For the rest of us, it is a herculean struggle!

The takeaway here is perhaps narrow down what you are working on to a few key things; ones that will most impact your effectiveness. In the manager’s article, a crucial behavior to have was to “be a good coach. Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.” For golf, and to score MorePars, a general behavior might be, “have a good short game, and be able to chip to within 6 feet and balance that with making the majority of your putts inside that range.”

Good luck and keep striving to make MorePars!

Tiger Woods Struggles Are A Lesson For Us All

The New York Times has an article today entitled: Woods Sees Some Progress, but Others are Looking for Victories. I urge all MorePars’ readers to digest the ramifications of the difficulties encountered by the most dominant golfer in the history of the game and what this means for our own development.

The first lesson is, if it is this hard for him to improve his swing, what must this mean for us! Granted, he is trying to get his game to a level of play we will never reach, he faces the same hurdles that we all do: trying to find the perfect technique that will allow him to win tournaments.

MorePars believes heavily in golf instruction. We believe in video analysis. We believe in golf lessons from a knowledgeable pro. But there is such a thing as over analyzing and over-thinking the golf swing. Lee Trevino believes Tiger is making this very mistake, that he has an over-reliance on golf instructors. He is quoted in the article saying Tiger needs to “get rid of these people.”

As we think of our own journey here at MorePars, we believe that for some players (for amateurs, this would be a small minority of players) they should simply play their game and use no instructor; others, find the “1 instructor” that best suits them, and for others, use a team of instructors. There are pros and cons to all of these.

The article hints at sniping between Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, and Sean Foley (his current instructor) and how each feels the other’s instruction is sub-par. These are the most famous instructors in the world criticizing the other’s approach! The takeaway from this is that while there are fundamentals to every swing, there are many variations and no one ‘correct’ method.

MorePars will offer a team approach to helping you analyze your swing this year. Until then, good luck and spend more time with your short game. It is the fastest way to MorePars and making your way towards scoring like Tiger Woods!

Golf Magazine Helps Create MorePars

For many years, Golf Magazine could only offer its swing tips in pictures, because internet bandwidth and download speeds made it impractical to include video. But now, those problems are solved, and the magazine is a much more effective tool for improving your swing. We will definitely be taking good looks at the tips that come out each month and put them into MorePars terms to gain maximum value.

The first article I’ll refer to is by Eric Johnson entitled Get Up and Down. Unfortunately, when you go to the link golf.com/shortgame, the video tip says that it is “coming soon.” I hope this lag in posting time is the exception rather than the rule. Fortunately there is a video called 4 Steps to Perfect Pitching which is a decent quality video of how to pitch. It correctly identifies one of the biggest problems with pitching, which is hitting behind the ball. Ball first contact is always important in golf, except in certain special shot situations, and the technique described in the video seems sound and is consistent with other instruction like Phil Mickelson’s hinge and hold technique.

The biggest MorePars takeaway is to turn your body, don’t just use your arms. The other is to be careful about flicking your wrists at the ball, which is not explained but is a major flaw of many pitch swings. That’s where the “hold” part of the swing tip becomes important. Finally, the hinge, which helps you create an angle of attack into the ball, is a must in this swing.

Look for more frequent posts as we kick of 2011 in our quest to make MorePars!

Even Mayor Bloomberg Needs MorePars!

In today’s NY Times there is an article of Mayor Bloomberg’s memorable recent round with President Obama. Both are described as 18-20 handicappers trying to improve their game. Both, of course, have virtually endless financial resources to try and do so. I think MorePars readers would enjoy this article, which describes Bloomberg as being “obsessed” by the game. I am glad to see he is one of us. If he visits the MorePars site often, I think we can help him get his handicap down!

The article is here: For Bloomberg, a Round to Remember.

The Next Golf Channel Instructor

There is a contest going on at the Golf Channel to find the next guest golf instructor for the show. It is quite an opportunity for lesser known PGA Instructors to get on the big stage. Be sure to go watch the videos as there is some great content posted that will certainly help your swing.

The rules of the contest are to submit a long video (7-10 minutes) and then attach to it a short web clip video (1-2) minutes. You can go to the Instructor Search link and watch all the contestants. If you see a great video that you feel is helpful be sure to comment here!

Golf Lessons This Fall

How many times have I heard on the course…”don’t expect much, I just took a lesson and am working on making some changes.” How many times have I used those lines myself?! Well, lessons are a fact of life, and all good golfers, except those born with good golf genes, need to take them. The problem is we either don’t stick with what we learn, or we never learn anything, and sometimes, alas, we walk away with bad information. But in most cases, lessons are a good thing and should be in your game plan to gain More Pars. The weather is cooling off, there is still a lot of golf yet in the fall, so go sign up for a lesson today. Be sure to share what you learn with the MorePars team. In the coming months, we are going to show you how to maximize your lessons to gain optimal improvements. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And if you are an eternal optimist, you will think like we do; which is, that next lesson could unlock the secret to you scoring More Pars!

MorePars is Back in Business!

Morepars has been undergoing some site renovations, and we are now set up to deliver more value than ever to our readers! Two major things you will notice. The first is that we now have links to Videos on the Internet that we feel pass on sound advice to different aspects of your game. The second key capability we have added is we have contracted with V1 to use their software for swing analysis. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about how we can analyze your swing and improve your game!

You can expect each week that we will add some new video to pass on to you the best tips on the web. We also hope to have our own video productions up and running soon.

Thank you for your loyalty to MorePars and we are looking forward to our continued mission to improving your game!

Camilo Villegas Wins Honda Classic and Teaches Us a Lesson!

Oh, to be 28 years old and playing on the PGA tour each week for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars! Don’t we all wish we could do that!

Yet somehow, many professional golfers lose sight of their good fortune. And yes, like any endeavor, playing golf on tour has its disappointments and bad days and can lead to despondency, depression, or worse. But when you sum it all up, come on, this is the life guys! Golf is a game! Let’s have fun and enjoy it!

This, in essence, is what Camilo told the sportswriters yesterday. When asked about his win, he said “my attitude’s a lot better.” He told himself that if he kept a positive attitude he would play good golf. Now, we all know it takes more than that, but your head can destroy your game like no other! And as a NY Times article stated today, “this attitude adjustment phenomenon is starting to become a mini-trend on tour.” Justin Rose is quoted in the article as “trying to get my mind-set back to when I first came out on tour, greateful to be out here, having fun.”

The article ended with a perfect quote that in essence, sums up what the MorePars site is all about. It is the lessons that golf can teach us about business and life in general. Camilo: “We keep growing as a player and as a person. Understanding the game, understanding life, understanding what we do. It’s got great things, it’s got bad things. You’ve just got to enjoy the good ones, put aside the bad ones, try to avoid distractions, and stay committed.”

Congratulations Camilo and thank you for passing on this lesson that I know we will all use to score MorePars in golf, business, and life!

Matt

Golf, Business, and Life’s Blue Monsters

In the early 1980’s, I had the good fortune of working in Coral Gable’s, FL, a chip and a putt away from Doral’s Golf Resort and Spa. The PGA Tour just swept through this club just as it has for over 40 years, with Ernie El’s being this year’s winner. The course they play is the famed “Blue Monster.”

Even 30 years ago, this course earned its name for the brutal rough; the treacherous hazards, and the whistling winds. For a long time, the 18th hole had the reputation of being the most difficult hole on the tour. And of course, as amateurs, we simply had to play it to compare ourselves to the Pros!

If you look at the price of a round on the Blue Monster (there are 4 other courses there just as fun and challenging to play that are far more reasonable) it is somewhere between $200-$300 each person. Ouch! Just starting my career back then, even as a yuppie this was out of my price range. But summers are steaming hot in South Florida, so the Doral during that time had a summer membership that allowed us to play each weekend for the summer months for under $80 per round. Those were the days!

The key to having fun on the Blue Monster (if that is even possible!) is to play the tees that are right for you. Of course, we all want to play the back tees and pretend we are pros. This usually produces a very unhappy and discouraging result!

When I think of the Blue Monster, I think first of an enormous challenge; something to shoot for and conquer! I think of my idol’s, the folks I aspire to be to bring out my best! I also experience fear; awe; and amazement. Whether you are on the course, managing your career, and living your life you will have your Blue Monsters. Take them on; have fun with them; respect them; and do your best to manage them. The result won’t always be a happy one, but you will feel more fulfilled that you took on an enormous challenge and didn’t always take the easy way. But be realistic. Don’t beat yourself up week after week on your Blue Monster’s. Just as at the Doral, there are other choices that are just as fun and challenging, that will help build your confidence. The Blue Monster’s will always be there to ensure that your head doesn’t get too big!

Wishing you MorePars as you take on your Blue Monsters!

Welcome to MorePars Golf!

This blog is devoted to sharing insights into how to become a better golfer. There are, of course, many blogs devoted to golf, but I think you will find if you follow this blog you will get a unique perspective on the true challenges for middle-aged golfers to lower their handicap.

As I begin this blog, my handicap is 15.3. Here is my handicap history over the last year:

Date of Revision Index History
12/1/2008 14.9
12/16/2008 14.9
1/2/2009 14.9
1/15/2009 14.9
2/1/2009 14.9
2/15/2009 15.5
3/1/2009 15.5
3/15/2009 15.5
4/1/2009 15.5
4/15/2009 15.5
5/1/2009 15.5
5/15/2009 15.5
6/2/2009 15.5
6/15/2009 15.5
7/1/2009 15.6
7/15/2009 16.4
8/3/2009 16.1
8/15/2009 16.2
9/1/2009 16.2
9/15/2009 16.7
10/2/2009 16.7
10/17/2009 16.6
11/2/2009 16.6
11/16/2009 15.3

As you can see, it got as low as 14.9 and rose as high as 16.7. I play in 2 tours for amateurs in Charlotte – The Egolf Amateur Golf Tour and the Harris Teeter Senior tour. My scores are lower on the senior tour because the courses are shorter and I play tees that are 2 up from the tips (white tees). This makes my approach shots shorter and therefore I have a an easier time getting on the green in regulation.

I hope you enjoy this blog as I share my story and insights in how to lower your handicap and shoot More Pars!

Matt

Over 40 and Making the Cut

Recently a wonderful article appeared in the Wall Street Journal by John Paul Newport with this blog’s title. Here is the link to the article: Over 40.

It is an article about those of us, like myself, who dream about retiring from our day jobs and trying to become professional golfers on the Champion’s tour. I encourage you to read this to see how challenging it is to accomplish this. In fact, it is not only challenging, but it is probably comparable to the odds of winning the lottery.

But all is not lost! I joined a tour in Charlotte called the Amateur Golf Tour. The web site is here: Amateur Golf Tour.

This tour has locations across the east and I think is expanding. There is also a tour sponsored by the Golf Channel. These tours fill a very basic need of us golf addicts: the need to compete and improve our games in doing so. Winning a tournament on these tours is a huge thrill, and is a good first step if you have even an inkling of leaving your day job. I play in a flight of 16-20 handicappers and have been trying to move down into the lower handicap flights for years but haven’t had any success yet.

But I am hopeful that next year is the year! 🙂

I hope you enjoy this article and still keep your dream alive of improving your game. You are going to find lots of insights in this blog in the weeks and months ahead because I have been working on this project for awhile and have lots of war stories to tell! Thanks for tuning in!

Matt

Understanding Your Ball Flight

When I am hitting balls or playing a round of golf, I am always asking myself….why did the ball do what it did? Why did it slice? Why did I pull it? That one went straight but right…why?

I have seen this picture at golf schools and found it on the web and I think it is a good tool for us to use as we try to improve our swing. In essence, the clubface determines the direction of the ball, as does the swing path. The combination of swing path and clubface will determine where your ball ultimately lands.

We can talk more about the different issues and ball flights as our discussion unfolds, but I thought I would post this diagram because it is an excellent starting point to understanding why the ball is flying in a certain way.

golf-ball-pattern

Understanding Ball Flight Part 2: Alignment

I was playing at Quail Creek Country Club in lovely, Naples FL yesterday with my sister, and her golf ball would constantly hook to the left. My last post explained the swing path and clubface combination that contributes to where a ball ultimately flies. Her problem, however, stemmed from a fundamental mistake that all of us simply have to keep ourselves from making: she was mis-aligned. I see this in tournaments I play in with 16-20 handicap golfers especially – many players are aligned wrong. Usually, it is almost always that they are aligned too far right. When you align to the right, your only option is to swing over the top to get the ball going back towards the target. Your body knows instinctively where the target is and your club will do its best to get the ball headed that way.

Many high handicappers (and I count myself among those right now!) align wrong and just adjust their swings to it. The purpose of this blog is to get us all to do things the right way and not have to make compensations. I constantly find myself aligning too much to the right and I have my partners check my alignment frequently.  I also will drop a club down against my feet to see in which direction I have lined up. I know in my heart of hearts I am never going to get better if I don’t align properly, so I vow from now on every chance I get to make sure I am properly aligned to the target. I suggest you all do the same!

Matt

Golf is an 18 hole game

On my round Sunday at Quail Creek in Naples, FL I found myself floundering after 3 holes. All of a sudden though, my swing clicked, and I scored 6 pars in a row (5 hitting greens in regulation, the 6th one an up and down). I was thrilled. I was playing with my sister who had never seen me do that before and she was in awe. Unfortunately, I had seen it before, in fact just recently at a tournament I was in, where I was even par after the first 5 holes and ended up shooting a 91! Shooting 91 is not easy after being even after 5 holes…try to do it sometime. You will need lots of triple bogeys!

Alas, this round at Quail had a similar result. I did not score another par on the remaining 9 holes. I was asked after the round, “what happened?” My answer was “it is one of the mysteries of golf.”

The truth is though I don’t believe it is a mystery. I believe it is not having a sound swing that can hold up under pressure and a short game that cannot recover from bad shots. If everything goes fine, I can score. If a bad shot occurs, I can’t recover.

How many of us have said, “I would have scored a low number if it weren’t for the triple bogeys…”

If we have swings patched together with duct tape; if we have a short game that is tenuous…there is no way to drive the handicap down into the single digits. I applaud those of you that have accomplished this; and I look for help and guidance as the rest of us try to score more Pars in the coming months and years.

My statement for the day – Golf is an 18 hole game!

Matt

Bogey Last Hole Makes For a Bad Tasting Dinner

I was watching the Golf Channel, Playing Lessons with the Pros, Colin Montgomerie Part 2. This was one of the better shows because the entire time he is teaching you something instead of all the fluff that fills up some of the Playing Lessons shows.

Colin said this, to paraphrase – Pros don’t like bogeying the last hole. Bogeys on the last hole make your dinner taste awful.

So, to get one more par a round, let’s set a goal of no bogeys on the last hole and pay extra special attention when we are on the 18th tee. While it is unrealistic that we are going to par these every time, I think if we go in with the overall objective of “Par the last hole” we will up our percentage of pars scored per round.

What might be fun is not only tracking the basic statistics…putts per round, greens in regulation, and so on; for a few months, add “Pars on 18” and see how we do. I think once we make this routine we won’t have to think about it as much and it will just happen.

Matt

Good Iron Player?

I spoke about the great Playing Lessons with the Pros show I watched the other day featuring Colin Montgomerie on the Golf Channel. There was another segment I remember that struck me: he was talking about people saying he was a good iron player. Why did they say it? Because he hit lots of greens in regulation.

Colin went on to point out that it wasn’t necessarily that he was better with his irons than other players. The key was that his drives more often than not hit the fairway. And it is a lot easier to be a “good iron player” if you are hitting from the fairway than if you are hitting from the rough.

This was a wake-up call for me to really get more serious about hitting the fairway; or, if on a Par 5 and taking a 2nd shot, to make extra sure that the ball lands in the fairway to set up my approach.

As a relatively high handicapper, it is easier said than done to hit more fairways. But as we will see here on MorePars, we need to have a clear eye on our objectives and set goals in order to achieve them faster. Let’s all focus more often on hitting fairways and when we miss, to get back on them with our next shot. This will statistically lead us over time to scoring More Pars.

Matt

Thump the Sand

I tuned in again to Playing Lessons with the Pros on the Golf Channel and Nick Faldo was the Pro. I love the way he swings the club and he had lots of good information in this show. My favorite tip was when he was in a greenside bunker explaining how he gets out. I don’t know about you, but I am terrified when I am in the bunker. For whatever reason, I either take too much sand or too little. I have had many lessons but still am panicked every time I see sand.

Nick was asked…do you release the club in the sand? He demonstrated by taking the club in just his right hand and swung the club back and forth just with it. It was a throwing motion…his right hand was coming through just like it would if he was throwing a ball into the sand with his right hand. He showed the difference of trying to help the ball (guide or lift it out with his right hand) versus just throwing the right hand at the ball and letting it go (releasing).  As he explained it — “thump the sand.”

I think this may be my problem. I don’t let the club go. I don’t let it release with my right hand. I panic as my club approaches the ball and i hold back with my right hand.

I can’t wait to test this. But it is 40 degrees and raining today, so for now I’ll just have to write this tip down and try it later!

Matt

Chili Dip – Golf’s Most Unappetizing Shot

As I reflect on the golf I played this past year, one of the most maddening shots that I would perform time and time again was “chili-dipping” the ball and watching it travel about 6 inches. I have searched the web and tried to understand why the heck I constantly do this, and haven’t come up with the definitive explanation. But here is where I am at so far with what I think I am doing.

Watching the Golf Channel once again this weekend, the pro said something that I have heard echoed in other places and I am determined to try and implement it in 2010. What he said to the player that was playing a chip shot to the pin was something like…keep your left arm moving…it is a left arm shot.

This echoed something else I heard from a pro I met in Lake Placid, NY sometime back. What he said was…the right hand has nowhere to go on a chip…but the left arm…lots of room to go…so pull it through.

When we move to video on this blog we’ll demonstrate this. But for now, let’s go with the theory that pulling the left arm through the shot may be the way to avoid this nasty shot once and for all. If this isn’t the cure all, it should at least help in improving my digestion.

Matt

From a Distance the Flag Looks Round and Green

From a distance
The world looks blue and green
And the snow capped mountains white
From a distance
The ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight…

Many of you are no doubt familiar with this memorable ballad that was sung by Bette Midler in 1990. And while it is a beautiful song, it is appropriate in this context because we are standing  staring at the flag and wondering…how far away is it? From a distance, we could use our eye and make an estimate. We could look for a distance marker on the fairway, and know how far it is to the middle of the green after pacing off some steps from the marker to where our ball is and doing some quick math in our heads.

But for the chance for More Pars in your rounds of golf, there is no substitute for precision, because we can sometimes be off in our estimates by 10-20 yards or more. I know this because I play with people who don’t own any technology and give me distances they think they are from the flag that are off by a club or more. (I have to admit, some do provide pretty precise estimates which make me wonder whether my investment in technology was an unnecessary expense! If you are one of these people, disregard this blog entry! <g>)

I live and die by 2 tools I carry with me on the course. The first is the Bushnell Rangefinder I own, which gives me the exact distance from my ball to the pin. The other is my SkyCaddie, which tells me how far it is to the front, middle, and back of the green.

If you are a golfer and are asked for a present, some kind of rangefinder so you can tell how far you are from the pin should be at the top of your list to Santa! Carry one of these, and you can safely say as you are choosing your club: From a distance, the flag looks 174 yards away, and the hole looks round and green!

Matt

Hinge and Hold

I am a huge fan of John Paul Newport’s golf column which runs every Saturday in the Wall Street Journal. I wish I was able to pick up the phone and interview Phil Mickelson the way he did in his last column! Phil has a DVD Set “Secrets of the Short Game” that you have probably seen an ad for if you are a frequent visitor of golf web sites. I am definitely adding this to my Christmas list!

I am going to lift this entire paragraph from the article, because for me, it was a provocative and important one:

With chipping and pitching, however, he’s adamant there’s only one effective technique: his technique, which he calls “hinge and hold.” He cocks his wrists immediately upon taking the club away from the ball, and holds that angle while accelerating the hands toward the target even after impact. “I’ve studied it, and all the great chippers through history have chipped this way,” he said. As for amateurs, of the 200 or so he plays with annually in pro-ams or outings, “maybe only two or three know how to chip correctly,” he said.

One of the main reasons I remain a 16 handicap is because I cannot chip the ball. I don’t know if it is technique, the yips, or what. It will be one of my main areas of attention in 2010. I intend on getting his books and, if Santa is kind to me, watching his DVD. I will be anxious to discuss this also with the golf professionals I come in contact with, to get their view.

Here is the link to the entire article: Hinge and Hold. There are several other points I’ll bring up in future blogs.

May Hinge and Hold bring you More Pars in the years to come!

Matt

Baseball and Golf – Swing to Right Field

I was a baseball player when I was younger, and was constantly told that baseball and golf don’t mix. I’m not sure where I stand on this issue today, but the topic came up at a sit-down swing analysis session last night and here is how the discussion went.

My daughter is currently dating an excellent golfer named Chase, so I am constantly showing him my swing looking for help. You may not want to try this at home, because as Jason Sutton says on his blog (see my blogroll)…stick to one teacher and technique that you trust and block out all the rest! <g> I have a different philosophy, and will be discussing that in future blogs as well as I think there are 2 schools of thought on this!

Anyway, I showed Chase essentially a position I many times find myself in, which is the picture below:

MattTooSteep

Notice there is no extension here; the left wrist has broken down, and the left arm and elbow have come across my body and are pulled in.

I am a believer in cause and effect. I am very analytical and want to know why every single shot happens on the golf course.  Two explanations have been proposed to me for finding myself in this position. The first, is that I am “holding on,” and not letting the club go. I am not letting the “clubhead do the work” and trying to “guide the ball” too much.

OK, more on that in a later blog. I want to focus on the second explanation. The explanation given is…I am “coming in too steep, and therefore there is nowhere for the club to go but into this position.”

You hear a lot about swing plane, and it’s importance. The remedy for this position I have been told by various sources is that the swing needs to be shallower. That I need to come more from the inside and the swing needs to be more inside-out rather than across the body. In baseball terms, I need to swing more to right field.

When I was a kid and I would get into a slump the remedy was always…try to hit the ball to right field or try to just hit it up the middle. I am going to work on my swing plane in the coming weeks; and focus on a shallower downswing plane and focus more on coming “under” my backswing plane and more from the inside. I don’t want to over-exaggerate this and push my shots, but maybe I’ll need to do this for awhile just to overcome this longstanding habit of coming across my body.

I hope by practicing this swing plane adjustment and coming in shallower from the inside-out (or, to you baseball fans, trying to hit the ball towards right field!) makes this ugly picture of “pulling the left elbow in” go away once and for all!

Matt

All I Want For Christmas is a 260 Yard Drive

One of the beauties of today’s technology is that you can tell exactly how far you hit your shots. I use the Sky Caddie SG5 because it has a button to push where my shot started, where my shot ended, and tells me the distance in between. I think mine may be broken though, because no matter how many times I measure my driving distance it always seems to read no more than 220 yards! But let’s not blame the technology…there is no doubt it is the swing that needs fixing!

I play on the Amateur Golf Tour every year and watch player after player, not nearly in the shape I am in, outdrive me. Granted, my drives are more or less perfectly straight and land in the fairway, while their drives are very often scattered all over the course, but I am still envious and want more distance! There is just a much higher probability for me to shoot More Pars if my approach shot is with a 7 iron or higher rather than a 3,4,5 or 6 iron.

I have probably watched every YouTube video known to man on how to get more distance. I am convinced that it is going to be a combination of better technique and physical fitness that is going to up my distance in 2010, despite being yet 1 year older!

All of you must know the scoring is all done with the short game, and even if the green is missed in regulation a good short game can get you your par. That too is on my Christmas list, but not today. Today I want a penetrating ball flight that pierces through the sky and lands 260 yards away. I am confident with the right practice and regimen this will be achieved in 2010.

See you on the 25th Santa!

Matt

Blogging and Golf – The Perfect Combination

When you are as passionate about something as I am about golf, you see tie-ins everywhere. It just struck me that if you take the word Golf, and substitute the letter B for the letter F, you now can spell out the word Blog! Blogging must have been invented by a golfer!

I’ll talk time and again about the wonders of technology and how it can help your game (I italicize can because while it can help your game, that doesn’t mean it necessarily will!). But another important capability that we didn’t have until a few years ago is the technology to Blog.

Blogging is key because it is a way for you to track your progress online. I can’t tell you how many times an instructor has said to me — “Darn it Matt, we already covered this!” My memory is horrible, and I hold a golf lesson in my head on average about 2 weeks. By then I have read so many golf tips or talked to so many people about other things to work on I have simply forgotten what I learned in the lesson. The other problem I have is that sometimes I won’t get out for a couple of weeks or won’t go back for a lesson for 2-3 months and have forgotten everything I learned. Regardless of the excuse, it happens too too much to me, and it is very costly! Lessons aren’t getting any cheaper these days, even in this economy!

My advice as a cure for this is to keep a blog. They are easy to set up and you can keep an online diary of everything you learn, and it will always be there. No slips of paper to lose; no notebooks for the dog to eat. And you can include videos if your instructor takes video and pictures as well. Even more importantly, you can write down your thoughts; your psychology, your racing stream of golf ideas that are seemingly never-ending. I recommend writing down everything, leave nothing out, no matter how insignificant.  Write down your rounds as well; what happened, what you did well, what you did wrong; what you were thinking. All of this will certainly over time unveil clues to improving your game, and not let you forget the important things you have learned along the way.

You can make your blog private, which in my case is probably a good thing. If any psychiatrist got ahold of my blog he would probably have me writing future blogs inside of a mental institution, or so my instructors tell me. 🙂

Matt

Tom Watson’s Secret to the Golf Swing

It’s Saturday, I have my Wall Street Journal in front of me, and I am as always, reading John Paul Newport’s column. In it, he reviews the big golf stories of the year. We all know what the number 1 story was and is, so no need to rehash it here. But the #2 story was the headline: “Tom Watson nearly wins the British Open.”

This was without a doubt, one of the most exciting tournaments of the year. I watched mesmerized as a 59 year old Tom Watson nearly won this tournament. It all came down to a eight-iron approach shot, which was struck brilliantly from a golf swing perspective but landed in just the worst possible spot to try and get up and down from. This happens in golf, which is why no matter what anyone tells me, there is a lot of luck in this game, no matter how good you are!

This article reminded me of one of my favorite clips on You Tube, which is Tom Watson sharing his golf swing secret. He explains at the front of the clip that he knows the date and time in 1992 when he discovered the secret that changed his life. Needless to say, I decided to watch this clip all the way through!

To Watson, according to this clip, it was learning to  maintain his spine angle that changed his game. By the laws of physics, you can understand why this would be important to do. By keeping your swing plane consistent and not moving up and down or “off the ball” your consistency has to improve.

Virtually every golf instructor I have ever had has told me “Matt, you need to maintain your spine angle.” The Watson clip boils the swing down to a simple “Turn, then turn” of the shoulders. Seems so simple!

The more of these things you can make instinctive, the less you have in your head when you try to make a swing. Unfortunately for me, I have a real problem with this, especially on my backswing. I “raise up” on my swing, causing me to have to come back down to the same spot in order to be consistent. This is very difficult to do. Therefore, this is one of the many swing fixes on my list that I am going to work on this winter.

I am 52, so I have 7 more years to match Watson’s feat of being a challenger in the British Open! But as my friends would tell me, Matt, there is positive thinking, and then there is delusional thinking. You need to learn the difference!

Matt

A Hole-In-One in the coming Decade

I am reading the Charlotte Observer this morning and checking out the box scores. In it there is a tiny golf section covering a Jr. tournament and then there is the hole-in-one section. It reads: “Jeffrey R aced No. 4, a 201 yard hole using a 3 iron at Providence Country Club. It was his fifth.”

I am often asked, why did I name this MorePars, why not MoreBirdies? And why not go all out, as in Jeffrey R’s case, and name it MoreEagles? The reason is simple. For most of us, it is just not realistic to shoot scratch golf, or score lots of birdies, never mind make eagles. And as for hole-in-one’s…are you kidding? They are more or less miraculous—except, apparently, for golfers like Jeffrey R.

It’s funny how some folks are just naturally good. Effortlessly they swing the club and go low on the course. For me, however, I have to fight for every stroke. But on a magical day, on November 10, 2008, on a 145 yard hole at Oyster Reef Golf Club in Hilton Head, SC, I hit a perfectly straight shot with a pga tour trajectory that bounced once and landed in the hole for my first and only ace. I will never forget this day, and I have the plaque as a reminder hanging on my shelf.

I don’t know how realistic it is, but I am setting a goal for myself to make another one in the coming decade. As we close out this 10 year span, I can carry with me my ace in Hilton Head as a true confidence builder that really has made a difference in my mental state as I step up to a Par 3. I have come close to a hole-in-one several times since that day, and I truly believe it is because of that dose of adrenaline I got when I made my ace in 2008. Jeffrey R. has apparently received a similar dose. He must think he is Tiger Woods when he steps up to a par 3. I say to Jeffrey R, congratulations to you, and while I doubt I will ever catch your 5 aces, you have given me something to shoot for.

Matt

Golf Tip – Practice at Home

As I reflect on how I am going to improve my game over the winter months, the realization has set in that I simply must set up a way to do so at home. There is no way with my work schedule and the vagaries of the weather that I am going to be able to make enough swings each week to significantly impact my handicap.

I had a similar vision awhile back and purchased an inexpensive netting system that turned out to be a tangled mess that blew over with a light wind and that I ended up never using.  One of my mantras in this blog is going to be to learn to not make the same mistakes over and over again. I hope I am not violating this principle by trying to buy a net again, but we’ll see!

So, what net to buy? I am going to try the Net Return. I think the marketing on the site is excellent and really every question you could ever ask (how long does it take to assemble, how do you assemble, how does it work in real life, etc.) is answered either in a demonstration video or in the text. The cost is approximately $400.00, but I have paid much more than this to save strokes!

In the video you will see a demo of someone hitting in their living room. I highly doubt my marriage will stay intact if I set it up there. Outside isn’t practical because I need to be able to practice in rain, sleet, or snow. So my only option is the garage. My wife is not going to like it there either, so I expect there will be some extra cash spent to overcome this hurdle.  So the cost of this net is going to probably be well beyond $400! 🙂

There will be other ingredients needed to improve beyond just making swings in the garage. Jason Sutton, the “Guru” at Dana Rader Golf School, explains in a recent posting that mirror work and video are also crucial. I agree with that 100%. You will hear more about this once my Net Arrives.

I don’t think I have been a good enough boy this year to ask Santa for this net. So rather than put this on my Christmas list, I will just be paying for this myself.  🙂

Matt

Phil Mickelson – This Year’s Santa Claus

Santa came this year in the guise of my new hero of golf instruction, Phil Mickelson. Finally, and I mean FINALLY!, someone with credibility and knowledge has written the definitive book on how to execute the short game. The title, “Secrets of the Short Game” is true to its name. Not because there is anything revolutionary revealed in the book. But rather because the book meticulously and through spectacular photography illustrates and explains how to hit shots in the red zone. No book, and I mean NO BOOK, even comes close to explaining almost frame-by-frame how to hit a chip and pitch. This book should be a best-seller in the golf world. If it isn’t, I will have a great advantage over my competition in 2010!

My handicap is in the 15-16 range. I am confident that by practicing Phil’s techniques that it will drop to 10. In fact, I almost guarantee it! The secret…hinge and hold. Accelerate through. Hinge and hold. Accelerate through. Hinge and hold. Accelerate through.

Later this week my net arrives. At about the same time Phil’s DVD will arrive as well. After reading the book, I immediately visited Amazon and ordered the DVD. If the DVD is anything like the book, I will be able to see as only video can show every frame on how Phil hits these shots. If the DVD is of the quality of this book, I will call Phil and ask if I can go on the road selling both items, door to door if I have to. I

The MorePars Santa Claus award for 2009 goes to Phil Mickelson! Thank you Santa!

Matt

The Net Return – An Ingenious and Invaluable Tool

With any item you order by mail, sight unseen, there is always skepticism. Even more so when you have the record of failure that I have had trying to buy a golf net so I could practice at home. I am glad to say though that I have finally hit the jackpot!

I bought what is called the Net Return, which one of my co-workers that once had a setup in his home referred me to. There are multiple videos on the site that explain how it works, including assembly and disassembly. I am the world’s laziest, clumsiest, and inept handymen, which disappoints my wife to no end, but I won’t bore you with that tale of woe here. I mention it because even I, as challenged as I am in building things, was able to put the net together in no time flat, just as advertised on the site.

Here it is in my garage:

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I didn’t buy the accessories because I had my own mat. But I think I will be visiting home depot to put some carpeting or something on the floor so when the ball comes back to me it is not hitting pavement. But even though it is doing so it works just fine!

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One thing I did learn quickly is that if you own a nice car like I do, you better get it the heck out of the garage while you are practicing! I shanked one right into the right tire about 4 swings in! Luckily no damage was done!

I am convinced that to really bring the handicap down, the first step is more practice and as a practical matter this needs to be done at home and done in rain or shine. With the Net Return I am now set up for success in 2010. We’ll be getting to the New Year’s Resolutions and Action Plans in upcoming posts, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, I am sure sometime this New Year’s eve I will have consumed champagne and still feel compelled to practice. I just hope I remember to move my car before doing so! <g>

Happy New Year!

Matt

American Idol or GolfGuruTV?

In this blog you will often see me leveraging some of the great golf content on the web and giving you my perspective on it. Anyone can post a video explaining their view of the swing, and believe me, there are a lot of kooks out there that think they have the magic tip that will drop your handicap like a rock! Just buy their DVD and all your problems will be solved!

Well, I encourage you to be selective and skeptical on what you watch, but be open as well because otherwise you may not find the “tip” that actually works for you. For me, one of the pros I follow is Jason Sutton (aka Guru) at the Dana Rader Golf School in Charlotte, NC. Jason is “the real deal” when it comes to knowing the game. And believe me, he is not only an excellent instructor; he can also play with the best of them!

He has started a series on the web where he shares his knowledge on the golf swing. You may ask yourself, like I do: why do pros like him do this? Why would you “give away” all your hard found knowledge for free? Let me propose a response: it is because no matter what the technique that is demonstrated on the web, at the end of the day there is no substitute for visiting a pro and having him or her work with your specific swing in order to improve. So, my advice is to watch all the content you can, but find a local pro that you can share this content with and work with you to incorporate it into your particular swing.

Jason recently posted a video describing two types of releases for the pitch shot. This is great content and I urge you to watch the video in full.

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In this post I am going to talk about the first release, which is the hit and hold release. Basically, by this he means there is no rotation of the forearms as you swing through the ball. The swing is basically done with a body turn.

What I do when I watch a video is I get in front of a mirror and see how my swing compares with the video. I will also videotape my swing and do the same thing. When I used this technique, I found the biggest difference was that I don’t hinge my wrists nearly as much as Guru does in his video. Note this position which is at the transition of his backswing to the forward swing:

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Notice above how much wrist hinge there is here. The club is practically vertical. For me, I have flipping tendencies with my wrists and I would be terrified on a short pitch like this to hinge the club this much.

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Notice above a little further into the downswing that his wrists are still hinged. There is still a lot of “lag” in this swing. The right elbow is very close to his body. If we were to take a picture of my swing, the clubhead would be much closer to the ball because I tend to flip the clubhead towards it rather than maintain the wrist hinge.

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Wow! Here, his left hand is actually past the ball; the hands are practically at the level of his knees, and he still has maintained most of this wrist hinge and still has lots of lag. My clubhead would probably be at the ball at this point, and the unappetizing chili-dip in my recent blog post would be coming into play!

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Notice just past impact here the clubhead has not really passed his hands (it hasn’t flipped). Rather, it is aligned perfectly with his left arm. This is what we need to look like when we are pitching the ball!

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Finally, here is his finish. Again, the club perfectly in line with his chest; no flip of the club; body turned; a picture perfect finish. There is little to no rotation of the forearms and wrists. You can see the glove on his left hand is pointing towards the sky and the toe of the club hasn’t rotated much. This is what he calls the hit and hold release.

We’ll review his rotational release in an upcoming post. In the meantime, let’s see if we can’t work on duplicating these positions in our short pitch shot swings. I can feel my handicap dropping already. Guru could be my American Idol if this turns out to work!

Matt

Golf Tips: Dr. Phil and Fixing the Flip

One of my obsessions in the golf swing is focused on the impact area and fixing a scooping or flipping action at impact. I scan YouTube regularly for ideas on curing this problem. Any golf pro I visit hears my tales of scooping woe and passes on their sound advice as to how to go about fixing it.  I want to share with you a video I found on YouTube in a series which is called The Y Shape.

Phil Hurrle, an instructor out of California, demonstrates at the beginning of the video below how to approach the ball at impact. He then explains the origin is based on a faulty thought in regards to keeping the club going down the target line rather than swinging the club on an arc. He then shares a thought of swinging shoulder to shoulder. Finally, he creates awareness of the strong right hand and how it has to be controlled at impact to refrain from trying to push the club through with some extra oomph.

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In a second video, he demonstrates again the fault of pushing the club with the right hand and gives you a tip for curing this behavior by removing the thumb and forefinger off the club as you take small swings.

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The concept I get from his series “The Y Shape” is that you want to maintain that Y shape through impact. I think this is a sound teaching method and will be interested in everyone’s thoughts on these cures for the flip.

Matt

Golf and Humiliation – Another Tough Lesson From Tiger Woods

Every golfer and tabloid reader in the country turned their eyes to Tiger Woods yesterday to hear his apology for his past actions off the course. MorePars is passionate about the game of golf, and probably shares some of Tiger’s other passions as well! And just imagine the temptations Tiger faced as he roamed the world over? Can any of the readers of this blog say they wouldn’t have succumbed to the same behavior? Thankfully, I think the answer is yes!

One of the things I would hear from my peers growing up was that “everybody does it.” And just as Tiger Woods admired and learned so much from his Dad, I too learned from mine. And one of his sayings was “everybody doesn’t do it!”

The lesson of handling humiliation is a frequent one that we face on the golf course. Three-inch putts that we miss; shanking the ball into a water hazard; swinging from a lie in the woods and breaking our club on a tree. Some of us handle these situations with grace; some of us handle them with rage; some of us handle them with humor. Golf is full of opportunities for humiliation, and we are all in a different place when it comes to managing in these situations. You can learn a lot about yourself while playing the game of golf.

Tiger said these words in his speech: “Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count.” Tiger has come upon this lesson much harder than most. But as we begin this new season of golf, it is yet another teaching we can place in our bag that came yesterday from the world’s greatest golfer.

Matt

False Feel – Throwing the Clubhead at the Ball

The nemesis of many golfers, including me, is the dreaded scooping motion. You will find many posts on this blog around this subject. Recently, I found a blog post that gives a unique insight into this motion, and I encourage all my readers to view it and reflect on the concepts presented. The blog post can be found here:  Sick of Hacking.

Essentially, what is discussed in the post is the false feel of power that you get from throwing the clubhead at the ball. In other words, as the club comes down you throw your right wrist towards the ball (like you are throwing a ball) and you fling the clubhead towards the ball rather than keeping your right wrist bent (which thereby keeps your left wrist flat). All pros have their hands ahead of the ball at impact  If you throw the clubhead at it you get the dreaded scoop and your left wrist breaks down.

Here is a picture from the post that illustrates the result of this throwing motion.

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Notice the left wrist breakdown.

The post basically says that the swing thought needs to change from throwing the clubhead at the ball to rather moving your hands down toward the ball. You want the club going downward toward the ball, not heading upward. Here is how it is illustrated:

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So as I see this, I am thinking if my swing thought is hands downward toward the ball so that at impact my clubhead and left arm are inline, I’ll achieve proper impact. But when you throw the clubhead at the ball, just post impact the clubhead will be moving upward, and all velocity will be lost. Here is a quote directly from the post:

Q: Why is it that handicaps have constantly failed to drop despite thousands of books, magazines and videos?

A: It’s because golfers continue to bend their left wrists through impact and hit at the ball. That is ‘hacking’ the ball, and as the handicap charts tell us, it produces only hackers. Until Joe Public learns to keep his left wrist flat and swing through the ball, handicaps will stay high…We throw the club past the left arm – rather than in line with it – for a reason. For example, the club wants to go down through impact, but in a mistaken attempt to add velocity, we flatten the right wrist. This is a ‘false feel’ – it’s a forward motion, not a downward motion – and it causes the clubhead to immediately stop going down and to start coming up.

There is more to discuss, reflect on, and practice with the theory presented in this blog post. With some warmer weather we will try some of these things out and see if we can move from being a hacker to being a player. Wishing you More Pars as we move into the month of March!

Matt

Did You Hit Your Drive That Far?

The golf season has begun in Charlotte, NC! This weekend, I had the good fortune to play with a “young man” named Zack who I believe was in his 30’s that hit his drives like a tour pro. He was a bit over 6’ tall, thin, lanky might be the best way to describe him. We were on a par 4 hole that was a dog leg right, and the flag was barely visible through the extremely tall trees. Per my Sky Caddie, the green was over 300 yards away if you hit straight to it  which virtually no one does. Certainly not someone like me, whose typical drive is 220 yards.

I stood behind Zack in shock as he aligned himself towards the green. I also noticed (barely) through the trees that the 4-some ahead of us was on the green. He took a nice smooth swing, and effortlessly launched the drive into the air. About 20-30 seconds later you see 4 startled bodies jump up and turn their heads towards us through the woods. The ball landed on the green!

There are some players that can hit a ball and it just keeps on going and going. Amateurs like me can get this same sensation when we hit with a strong wind at our backs. On this day there was no wind help. This guy just hits the living daylights out of the ball, with seemingly little effort.

I walked up to him and said Zack, have you ever taken lessons? He said “from my Dad when I was young.” I said, Zack, how much golf do you play? He said he was getting back into the game more this year but typically about 10 rounds a year. Now you folks tell me…if you could effortlessly hit a drive 300 yards would you play golf less than a dozen times a year? I would be playing every day!

So I asked Zack the big question: “where is that power coming from?” He said simply, “I have always had a lot of lag in my swing. I transition into my downswing with a lot of lag and then I just whip the club through the ball.”

Lag. The answer to more power is Lag. I am going to sleep and repeat dozens of times before I do the word “lag.” I will be visiting the best teachers I can find this year and one of the things I am going to ask them is how can I get more lag in my swing. Because I want to hit the ball like Zack. I want to hit greens 300 yards away with no effort. I want to hit the ball so that it flies like it has a strong wind at its back. If you all have tips on creating more lag, please share them with us!

I wish you all more lag and MorePars this coming year!

Matt

Time to Tally up the Taly!

Ah, the start of the golf season, and of course we need to break the wallet out and start spending some money on golf lessons and training aids! I have just ordered the Taly Mind Set training aid, which can be found here: Taly Mind Set.

I have struggled with flipping the club for years, and have vicariously ordered this device probably dozens of times without pushing the order button. For whatever reason, I decided the Time to finally order the Taly is today! It should arrive early next week and I promise you a full review. I can only hope that it lives up to its hype!

In the meantime, I’ll share with you a video that is on YouTube that I have watched several times and I will definitely be asking the MorePars team of tour pros if they agree with the concepts Lynn Blake is espousing. The content seems sound to me and makes a lot of sense. Pay particular attention to the “tinny” sound the ball makes when you flip the club at it. With a downward strike where you “trap” the ball rather than flip at it you get a nice crisp sound. That is what I am hoping for this year.

Enjoy the video and I hope it helps you make MorePars!

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Putting Metrics

There is a fascinating article in today’s Wall Street Journal in regards to a new putting metric that will be soon tracked this year on the PGA Tour called “net putts gained.” You will find a lot of chatter in this blog about the golf swing, and much less about putting, yet there is no question the quickest way to drop in handicap is to improve your putting.

Here are some takeaways from the article, at least for me. First, at different distances from the pin, what is your average “putts to go?” In other words, if you are 10’ away, on average, does it take you 2 putts, 2.5 putts (meaning you 3 putt a lot), or 1.8 putts (on average you make the 10 footer from time to time). And then, how do you compare against the field?

I’ll make up some numbers, but from say 3 feet, the good players are undoubted something like 1.003 putts away (meaning once in a great while they miss but almost always make it otherwise). I am probably 1.5 say since I miss that putt a lot and it often takes 2 strokes. From a long distance, I could see myself being 2.8 putts away since I 3-putt a lot.

The other takeaway is to consider how good you are in these stats based on green difficulty. Being 3 feet away on a sloping, fast green is different from being 3 feet away on a flat, slow green.

You can use the ideas to measure how good a putter you are and to help you work on improvements. The nitty gritty of this stat and how it is measured and will be used on the pro tour can be found here: A Putting Stat is Born.

Good luck making more putts and scoring MorePars!

Videotape Your Lessons For Better Golf

On Friday I had the good fortune of being able to sneak out of work for an hour and take a golf lesson. For any of you who believe that you can reach your potential by teaching yourself through watching video on the Internet, I plead with you to change that mindset. The instruction we give here and elsewhere is the foundation for your golf lessons, but not a replacement for them. The only way to improve over time is to practice and get a golf coach you trust. If Tiger needs one, then I think we do too. 🙂

The headline for today’s blog is because for the first time, I set up a FLIP HD Camera on a tripod and videotaped my lesson. Wow, what a difference it made! I could take this home and replay it dozens of times. I could see things in my swing that I would have missed completely had I not taped it. I had my instructor take a shot and then I took the same shot so I could compare my swing to his. I could listen again to all the good instruction he gave me and now I have a permanent record of it. How many times have we taken a lesson and forgotten what we learned not even a week later!

I will be discussing cameras in more detail in later posts. And I can tell you that there is no obvious choice. But grab whatever you have and ask (no demand!) that your instructor let you run it while your lesson takes place. This will accelerate your learning speed and you will thank me for this advice a year from now.

Video your lessons and go make MorePars!

Ideas for Managing Your Money (and Golf Budget!)

In the NY Times Your Money section of today’s newspaper, there is a treasure trove of ideas on how best to handle your finances. There is also an interactive online checklist which I also recommend you take a look at. Over the coming months, the MorePars team will use this as one of our main areas of discussion. We don’t know how long the link will remain current, but for now go to www.nytimes/yourmoney and you will see an area there for the financial tune-up.

One of the big trends that folks trying to get a grip of their spending habits are doing is tweeting their cash expenses to online budgeting tools like Wesabe. Another popular online budgeting tool millions use is Intuit’s site called Mint. At MorePars, we just got done processing our personal tax returns using Intuit’s Turbo Tax. Personally, we are fans of Quicken’s desktop software as well.

Tracking your spending is one of the first rules of personal finance, and online banking is one of the easiest ways to do so. You can download transactions (checking and credit card) and then “categorize” them into budget areas (dining out, utilities, clothing, etc.) The problem is always those pesky ATM cash withdrawals at $50.00 – $100.00 at a time. So where is all that cash going? For many of us, we have no clue, because it is too painful to track. Only the most anal will keep every receipt and then go plug those expenses into categories on their home computer. As the NY Times points out though, more and more apps are coming out, using cell phones, to track these expenses as they are made, making you far more likely to stick with this method of expense tracking. They promise to be far less time-consuming than the more cumbersome methods of holding receipts and keying them in on a periodic basis.

Track your spending and be sure to include plenty of budget for your golf game. Clubs, lessons, training aids, green’s fees, range finders and side bets will really add up! Wishing you MorePars and more cash in the years ahead!

Pitching the Golf Ball Rather than a Baseball

Pitching the ball can make the difference between a high handicapper and a low handicapper. And believe me, MorePars understands this better than most! We can view hundreds of videos on how to pitch the golf ball, and not get one stroke better, if we can’t execute on the motions that we are watching. This is why you need a great camera, motion analysis software that allows you to draw lines and shapes, an instructor that can help you understand what you are seeing and explain how you can improve, and the ability to change long-time habits that have been ingrained in your muscle memory.

Case in point is this video on GuruTV. I can assure you that Matt, whose lesson is featured in the video, has taken dozens of lessons and has tried for years to improve his pitching. He is finally on the right track to improvement in that he now has the first 3 elements..the high speed camera, V1 golf analysis software, and the Guru himself Jason Sutton as one of his instructors. This leaves him with the 4th and most difficult problem—changing years of a flawed swing motion that is ingrained in his muscle memory.

Pitching a baseball to a large mitt and a big catcher squatting behind the plate is a cakewalk compared to pitching a golf ball towards a small hole. Try to count how many flaws there are in this simple Pitch motion that Matt tries to execute. You wouldn’t think it was possible to make so many errors on a swing that actually without a trained eye doesn’t look too bad.

Pitching a golf ball is not easy, no matter how simple some people (like Guru) makes it look. But the payoff once you can do it under pressure in competition is MorePars!

More Pars is our wish for Matt featured in this video and for all the readers of the MorePars blog!

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PGA Golf Instruction Video Series Free DVD

Recently we received in the mail an unsolicited DVD from the PGA, which is a “special edition” offered at an exclusive price of $12.95. We just finished watching the first half, entitled “The Complete Short Game” and am literally dazed from the experience. No question, we all are eager for golf tips and welcome them from all directions. We’ll pay; we’ll watch YouTube; we’ll take them from our friends and family; anyone willing to give a tip we’ll listen (and probably shouldn’t!). While normally we shy away from criticizing anyone trying to share their knowledge to help us become better, this DVD really felt like a hodgepodge of miscellaneous golf tips, most of which we’ll never implement, slapped together from previous clips in order to extract a fee and rope you in to a quarterly subscription at an unspecified price of future DVDs. We sincerely hope this series doesn’t get off the ground in its current form, and recommend you save your money.

The PGA is a great institution and does a lot for the game of golf. We just wish they wouldn’t try to make money in this haphazard manner. Imagine if we were to round up a bunch of YouTube tips and then burn them to a DVD and try to sell them to you. And, that we slapped them one after another in no reasonable order. This is the experience we had when watching “the complete short game.” If you want a good short game video that lives up to its name, see our blog post on Phil Mickelson’s DVD.

This video from the PGA is not complete and it is not short. It feels like you just got hit with a zillion random tips. And we are not saying that all of them are useless! But for the most part, for the average golfer, these tips will not help. You are better off working with your PGA instructor and saving your money for a better organized and more professionally created set of golf tip DVDs. This will be your best way to scoring More Pars!

Tom Watson DVD

We at MorePars are avid readers of John Paul Newport’s Golf Journal column every Sunday in the Wall Street Journal. His latest column is called “The Wisdom of Tom Watson.” There wasn’t nearly as much wisdom shared in the article as we would have hoped, but that’s to be expected given the limitations of space in a newspaper. And I wish he had included a video snippet of one of Tom’s teachings. Imagine being able to talk with Tom Watson for 90 minutes on the practice range and having him teach you what he has learned over the years? I am sure he had lots of things to say that we could have all learned from. The article discusses some esoteric things, like how to hit a ball low, which quite frankly, most of us want to know how to hit a ball solid, not caring whether it is high, low, or in between! But he does mention a very key and often forgotten tip, which is how hard to grip the club. The quote from Tom in the article: “You don’t need a lot of pressure to maintain control of the club if you have a sound grip. And light grip pressure lets you release the hands really fast through impact.” Now this is advice we would like to see demonstrated so we can really understand the impact of this teaching.

Well, it looks like we may get the chance! The article mentions that Tom is coming out with a 2 disc instructional DVD called “Lessons of a Lifetime.” We can assure you that the minute this DVD releases, we will push the order button! We are quite certain the Tom Watson and his knowledge will help us all make MorePars!

Golf’s Kinematic Sequence the Key to Power

One video on YouTube that I go back to time and again is one clipped from Playing Lessons from the Pros on the Golf Channel. It is a clip from the tee with Matt Killen, a golf coach, and JB Holmes, one of the tour’s longest drivers. In this segment they talk about the “kinematic sequence” and how all your power is created from the ground up. First the hips, then the torso, then the arms, then the hands. Make a particular note on the top of the swing and the transition and how there is no casting or release of the hands. Also make a note of how power is generated by getting your hands and the handle of your club ahead of the ball prior to impact. This is where JB Holmes says his power comes from.It makes sense that if you get your hands ahead of the ball, your club will de-loft some, and that snap of your wrist at impact will have more punch.

Give this clip a couple of views, and see if it doesn’t help you score More Pars!

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Tom Watson Lessons of a Lifetime First Look

Last night with great anticipation I opened the 2 CD Set of Tom Watson’s DVD Series Lessons of a Lifetime. With high hopes, I watched the first DVD in one sitting. Here are my initial thoughts.

The quality of the video is excellent. The instruction is good (who am I to criticize Tom Watson’s instruction anyway!). But somehow I must admit I was hoping for a little more. However, rather than criticize some of what I feel are going to be shortcomings for the readers of MorePars, I will on this first review only explain what the highlights were.

Believe it or not, as I reflect on last night’s viewing, what I remember first is the section about the grip. Why? Simply because Tom explains why it is so important to the swing. He shows a good grip and how it helps the swing and then shows why a bad grip contributes to problems in the swing — specifically, how a good grip allows you to hinge the club correctly in the backswing to generate a sound swing plane and deliver power in the downswing.  Tom is at its best, and this goes for all video demonstrations for those of you thinking of making some, when he demonstrates what “to do” and also shows what “not to do” and why.

There is another section where he describes “the secret” that he discovered back in 1994. We have an earlier blog post with a YouTube link that covers this same subject entitled Tom Watson’s Secret of the Golf Swing. He illustrates this “secret” brilliantly in the DVD by putting a long rod behind his neck and demonstrating the importance of the correct shoulder turn and how it impacts swing plane. Watch this section carefully!

Finally, in another part of the DVD, he talks about the handkerchief or towel placed under the left arm and how that contributes to swing speed and a good release. While many of you have heard this tip before, you will find as you take on this game that the sound fundamentals repeated time after time are important so you have no doubts when you are on the course that you are doing the right thing.

When I watch it again and then get to the short game DVD (DVD #2) I’ll have more to say. I recommend we support Tom Watson by buying this set but again don’t do so thinking this will be the cure-all for your game. All sound instruction helps, and this DVD set is full of such instruction. Watching this and by continuing to read and study our posts here at MorePars as well as other sites like it (especially Jason’s from the Dana Rader Golf School called GuruTV), and working individually with your preferred golf instructor, will you reach your full potential as a player. I hope this advice helps you in your quest to shoot More Pars!


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