Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Use a Woman’s Driver and Other Golf Tips

Why should you read about making golf easier from someone who's happy when he doesn't lose a sleeve of balls each round? Good question. I only offer that it's my dad's advice and not mine, thereby guaranteeing its validity; and that it's cheaper to read this blog than buy some gadget on the Golf Channel at 3 in the morning. You know you've thought about it.

I’ve been around golf for about 15 years, most of which were spent at the driving range with my dad, caddying for three years, and one summer stint as the Sports Authority "Golfmaster" in Paramus, NJ. I didn’t play on an actual course until I was in college and even that never amounted to more than 4 rounds per year.These days during the golf season, I will play 3 rounds each year (if you count the 9-hole Paint Branch course or the 18-hole par 3 Burke Lake course).

If that doesn’t do it, you and I both know that like any addicted golfer, you will read tons of articles and advice in Golf Digest, Golf Monthly, Golf Magazine, Maryland Golf Magazine, Golf Tips, Golf World, Golfweek, Links Magazine, Golf Illustrated, the Golfer, T & L Golf, and Pros and Hackers. There’s no need to read these rags if you follow my father’s simple tips on making a good swing. Do note that distance control takes a long time to master, but this should get you started.

Take an athletic stance and get ready, for what follows are golfing tips to live by…until you read another set of golf tips.

Feel free to skip the rest of this entry and just watch Tiger do his thing.

1. Don't get advice from someone worse than you, like this blogger. This can't be repeated often enough.

2. Keep your head down. Certainly nothing revolutionary, but it’s impossible to swing well if you move your head. Don’t worry about following your ball instantly off the tee. You have playing partners to follow your ball, plus, you should still be able to catch the ball’s flight after your follow-through. Get this…if you hit it straight, it should be easy to find. It’s what makes golf a good walk (unspoiled) no matter what Mark Twain wrote.

3. Swing your club like a pendulum, brining it back and then forward along the same path and to the same point from which you started (following through of course). When you’re at the driving range, try swinging the club and nicking the top of the golf tee on the downswing many times. This will reinforce by sight and sound where the clubhead should be each time.

Ben Hogan, owner of the best swing that golf has ever seen.

4. Don’t go overboard with the length of your back swing. The farther you bring the club back, the more that could and will go wrong with your downswing. Without getting into the golf academy talk of timing your shoulder turn with your hip turn, it’s easier to control your club with a shorter backswing. Try a 3/4 or even 1/2 swing. Hitting the ball straight is better than gaining a few extra yards and being in the rough.

5. Let the club do the work. Your swing should be fluid and easy. Muscling the ball by increasing your swing speed will only hurt the result. There’s a reason the longest hitters on the PGA Tour don’t require muscular builds to hit the ball 300 yards. Like a baseball pitcher, success is all in your mechanics. When you increase your swing speed, all of those mechanics are thrown out of sync, making your ball slice or hook.

Exhibit A for it's all about the mechanics and not about your body shape: John Daly.

6. Relax and let’em rip. When you’re getting ready to swing, remember to keep your head down and visualize the pendulum.

7. My own advice is to visit the driving range on a regular basis if you're starting your golf career because no advice or lessons will do you any good if you don’t regularly use them. I have never paid for golf lessons so I shouldn't speak about them, but I will. When I've overheard a golf pro's words of advice, it always seemed like too much information to think about for a golf swing.

Sad but true story: The woods in my first “real” set gave me trouble because they were (obviously) shorter and required a different swing than my irons. Ever the stubborn golfer, I figured the easiest thing would be to use a wood that was shorter and closer to the length of my long irons. To make a much too long blog entry short, I now use my SO’s graphite driver from her old set because I can swing it like my graphite irons. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.

8. When you feel comfortable enough that you’ll make contact over 90% of the time and get the ball in the air, no matter how far (nor straight within reason), play on a course as much as time and your bank account allow. The greatest lessons are on the course and having to play each ball where it lands and hit a variety of shots. At least play a par 3 course. Nobody there is a superstar and you’re not expected to play like one. Plus, it allows me to use my foot wedge several times.

9. See Step #1.

Good Luck!

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