Tuesday, September 16, 2008


In order to help me start this whole crazy process, I went to the bookstore today and picked up a few books on the game of golf. One focused on tempo, one claimed that it was the only instructional book I would ever need, and one was a logbook to help me track absolutely everything in my game, right down to the amount of obscenities I use in an average round of golf.

After buying my incredibly expensive cup of coffee and finding a quiet area of the store to sit down and begin to absorb the material, I became paralyzed. It was weird. I opened the first book, skimmed the table of contents and began to read the foreword. It was at that point that I began to feel queasy. I paused, set the books on the floor, and promptly left the store.

I knew at that very moment what was wrong: I’m scared to death to analyze my golf game. That may sound ridiculous, as the main point of this blog IS to analyze my golf game and get it in shape enough to try and qualify for a US Open. But at this point, I feel that analyzing my game the way I know I have to would be an unproductive effort with a crap-load of bad side effects. Why? Because at this point, I have a 6 handicap. Although my practice and playing times are limited, I can go out on any given day and shoot a 78-80. Now, obviously, that isn’t anywhere near good enough to try out for a US Open. But my point is this: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Right now, the deficiencies you will find in my golf game involve feel around the greens, putting, and distance control with my wedges inside of 100 yards. All three of these things can be practiced without having to dissect my golf swing. So I figure, other than working on these three weaknesses, why deconstruct my golf swing and make the job of improving my game that much more difficult?

So, if I’m not going to devour every golf magazine and instructional manual out there—at least for now—what am I going to do to improve my golf game?

After careful thought, I have a 4-step plan I’m going to enact prior to dissecting my golf swing, IF that day ever comes. These steps are: fitness, activities at home, practicing at the driving range, and finally, playing consecutive rounds of golf.

Once I left the bookstore, I jumped into my car and drove to the nearest driving range. While I worked my way through the bucket, one thing became very apparent to me: fitness. Bottom line: I should be able to get through at least a bucket of balls before I start to feel fatigued. In fact, I would go so far to say that unless I can get through 200 golf balls before I start to feel tired, my endurance is not where it needs to be. So my first step in this process is fitness.

Over the next week, I’m going to be researching the fitness side of golf to see if there are any other exercises I would like to add, but for right now, I’m going to be focusing in on only a few areas: legs, lower back, abdominals, endurance lifting, stretching and cardiovascular fitness. In my experience, a strong lower body pays huge dividends in your golf game. In addition, having a strong lower back and abs can really help with posture, and help you stay fresh and focused while you pound away at 200-plus range balls (and on-course swings as well). Stretching is obvious, as flexibility plays a huge role in a good golf swing; endurance lifting and cardiovascular work will be my way of toning up and feeling comfortable walking 36 holes any day of the week.

Another thing I’ll be researching this week are drills you can do inside or just outside your home that can help improve your golf swing while you’re away from the course. Things like posture, checking and re-checking your grip, or swinging your golf clubs both with a weight and without are all things that can help re-groove a golf swing. As I said, I can go out and shoot a decent round right now, but my swing still feels derailed. I need to feel comfortable with it once again if I am to focus on other aspects of my game.

When I do finally make it to the range, I need to make sure I have a plan, because as I mentioned before, my time available for practice is quite limited, and I need to make the most of it. First and foremost, I feel I’ll be practicing consistent contact, hitting a lot of half-swing shots with my 7-iron to focus on a good impact position. I’ll also be shaping shots and making sure I’m comfortable hitting anything from a low stinger to a high slice. And, as I mentioned before, I need to regain some feel with my wedges, so in addition to laser-ing in yardages with my pitching, sand and lob wedges, I’ll need to work on my “Dave Pelz 9 o’clock swings” as well as practicing flop shots, bump-and-runs and regular pitch swings.

And, when I finally reach a point where my swing feels good, I’m back in shape and I feel like I can finally attack a golf course again, I plan on playing 4-5 rounds where I keep track of everything (things like GIR, fairways hit, 3-putts, sand saves, etc) in order to analyze this information and determine where my game stands. It will be at THIS point that I will pick up a book or two or enlist the help of a certified PGA Instructor (as a last resort) to find drills or practice routines that will help with my glaring weaknesses.

Once I get to that stage, I’ll have to reassess where I am and then go from there. And I do realize that certain parts of this plan—such as all of the things I hope to accomplish at the range—may seem too general. Part of the reason for this is that although I have a good idea of what I need to do to improve my game, I still need to research a bit to really nail down the actual reps, drills and practice routines I’ll need to use to make it all happen.

And that’s the whole reason for this site: to share with you my findings and my progress along the way. As I mentioned in my first post, there is a very real chance that regardless of how hard I work, I may never be able to get down to a 1.4 index to try and qualify for the US Open. But hey, it’s always been a dream of mine and it’s worth a shot. It’s a win-win either way.

That’s it for now. Take care everyone.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Glad to see you writing again. Best of luck with the game...I'll be reading!