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>Progressive Swing Thoughts

>”Be the ball” Ty famously preaches in Caddyshack. It’s a good line, one repeated millions of times on golf courses around the world, but as far as actual productive golf advice it’s about as useless to the average golfer as recommendations about how far you should back up your sand wedge from 80 yards.

I had a bit of a revelation on the range last fall, during a time that I was hitting the ball particularly well (for a 12 handicapper, anyway): The swing thoughts of a scratch golfer should not and could not ever be the same as that of a golfer of lesser skill. NOT EVER.

I think this is why I flip right past most advice columns in golf magazines. Not only do I think it would be damaging to my game to try to implement advice from someone who’s never seen me hit a golf ball. In addition, I think the things a pro or advanced teacher thinks about doesn’t apply to most golfers.

When you start out you have to think about a million different things. “Never keep more than 100 things in your mind during a golf swing” Dr. Parent advices in “Zen Golf”, but it sure feels like that would be quite a trick. “Left arm straight”, “Keep your eyes on the ball”, and “Don’t move your head” are just a few. And you practice and practice, and you get a little better.
Then you eventually get to the point where you have these things pretty much down pat. Now you have to start worrying about things like body turn and tempo. Maybe someting about your swing plane or your finishing position. And you practice and practice, and you get a little better still.
Now you get into the rarified air where your swing thoughts no longer have anything to do with the physical aspects of your golf swing. I’ve played golf for 35 years, and I’ve only been there once. On the range last fall I found myself with only one thought: Visualizing, in super-slow-motion, the face of the club making contact with the ball. I hit Driver and irons, and I was making beautiful contact with the ball. The shots were effortless and straight, and I was smiling from ear to ear.
It was then that I realized that if I were to tell a beginning golfer to have the same image in their head would be an absolute disaster. They’d be lucky to make contact at all without focusing on all that other crap.
It was a lot of fun being in that place, and I’m working hard to be able to get back there.
And, maybe just maybe, I will one day be able to just “Be the ball”.

>Match Play picks

>There may be other places to do this, but I put my picks in on

I’ll start from the back: I have McDowell to win it, with Casey, Hoffman, and Kaymer joining him in the final four.

Here’s how I predict a few other interesting matchups will go:

  • I have Molinari beating Westwood in the third round.
  • I have Monassero beating Stricker in the opening round.
  • I have Rory winning a couple of matches but losing to Jimenez.
  • I have Jimenez beating Furyk in the second round.
  • I have Van Pelt beating Phil in the third round.
  • I have Phil beating Rickie in the second round.
  • I have Tiger losing to Casey in the Quarter Finals.
  • I have Bill Haas beating a couple of bombers in Bubba and DJ, but falling to Tiger.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

>Interesting pairings

>Other than the majors and a few other tournaments, this week’s event is one of my absolute favorites of the PGA Tour season. I play a lot of Match Play in my personal outings, and this particular format is such a big part of the game’s history as well.

Here are some of the pairings I will keep a particularly close eye on as things get underway:

  • Poulter (3) vs Cink (14) – Battle of the former and current Twitter champion on tour.
  • Oosthuizen (5) vs. Van Pelt (12) – A couple of talented young ballstrikers. Watch for Van Pelt to have a breakout year this year.
  • Westwood (1) vs. Stenson (16) – Henrik may be as good a #16 as there has ever been in this event. Look for this one to go down to the wire, with gin-breath edging the herring-head.
  • Watney (8) vs. Kim (9) – I hope AK is healthy. Watney regressed a bit last year, but the talent is there.
  • Woods (1) vs. Bjorn (16) – It’s Tiger. Of course we have to watch.
  • Watson (5) vs. Haas (12) – Talk about contrasting styles of play. Who will win, the tortoise or the hare?
  • Ogilvy (8) vs. Harrington (9) – The only battle between former major winners. Geoff is playing better right now. The verdict is still out as to whether Paddy will recover from his tinkering.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

>Top 10 Drinking Games To Play While Watching The PGA Tour

>This list was inspired by the ever-excellent Shane Bacon of Yahoo Sports fame. He made a comment last weekend that a new drinking game would be to drink every time the commentators mentioned that Johnny Vegas was a rookie.

His comment made me think about other things that happen ALL the time during a golf broadcast, and I came up with this list. I sort of focused on the irritating things that don’t really need to be said, the stupid noise that they insist on filling the airwaves with. I’ve tried to make it as non-personal as possible, but I think you can figure out who I’m talking about most of the time:

10 – Drink every time they tell us about Miguel Angel Jimenez “Love for life” (He’s a big ol’ fat guy, he loves wine and stogies, he hits shots off the wall on the Road Hole, and he putts with his wedge. He’s quite possibly the coolest guy on any tour right now. There are SO many more things to say about him than just that he “loves life”.)

9- Drink every time they proclaim some young player as the next dominant player in the world
. (Really, it’s quite likely he won’t be. I don’t cheer for anyone to fail, but I know very few of the really really talented golfers have the mindset it takes to get to the top).

8 – Drink every time they mention Amy Mickelson or Bubba’s Dad, or some other non-golf topic du jour
(It’s cold of me to list this, I know. This is what we call “reality”. It’s tragic and inspiring and emotional, but we really don’t need to hear about it every time that player is in a shot.)

7 – Drink every time there is a comment about JD’s or Smurf’s clothing.
(They’ve been wearing this stuff for years, folks, it’s not exactly revolutionary.)

6 – Drink every time they mention how Tiger today is not the Tiger of yore.
(He’ll never be that dominant again. Get over it.)

5 – Drink every time they mention how long guys like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson hit the ball.
(We know, they’re studs, you don’t have to marvel about it every time.)

4 – Drink every time a commentator says something like “You could see he pulled that shot” when the ball lands left of the target.
(If you could see it, why didn’t you say something before the ball landed? You just sound like an idiot.)

3 – Drink every time some swing guru tries to analyze a swing, without being able to make a point in any way (It’s usually in the form of a comparison to their old swing, or an explanation why a certain shot went a certain way. It’s usually quite useless.)

2 – Drink every time some former great player makes it clear they were better than today’s players.
(You were great in your day, guys. These guys are great in their day. Your role is not to lift yourself up to put them down, but to analyze the game.)

And the number 1 drinking game to play while watching professional golf on TV is:

1 – Drink every time a commentator says a player is going to make this putt/chip, with utmost confidence, and the player then misses it.
(I’m not sure what they think this adds to the broadcast.)

DISCLAIMER: Don’t be a f*cking idiot. This is a f*cking joke. Don’t even f*cking think about suing me if you play one of these games and your liver fails.

>Practice Log – January 2011

>This is a new thing I’m going to do this year: I’m going to publish my practice log for every month of the year. I figured this way I’ll be more motivated to work on my game, and to work on the right things.

Firstly, let me say that I firmly believe in time on the range being the key to improving my game. I know some golfers spend a lot more time on the course than on the range, but I know if I did that I would not improve significantly at all. For me, the best ratio is 3-4 trips to the range for every round I play, and at times it’s a lot more.

I only get out to play a couple of times a month, so I feel like I owe it to golf to have my game in as good shape as possible. There are times I go to the range a dozen times between rounds.

It doesn’t hurt that I LOVE going to the range. I thoroughly enjoy hitting buckets, putting, and chipping alike. It’s one thing to hit one good golf shot, like you would do on the course. It’s quite another to be able to hit good shot after good shot after good shot, like you might do on the range. It’s VERY satisfying to me.

So here goes. Living in Dallas is wonderful if you’re a golfer, as we had some very nice days even in January, so I’ve been able to stay somewhat active:

  • 1/4 – 45 minutes, putt and chip
  • 1/13 – 100 balls
  • 1/26 – 1 hour, putt and chip
  • 1/27 – 100 balls
  • 1/28 – 30 minutes chipping, 18 holes par 3 pitching course.
  • 1/29 – 18 holes, Los Rios GC, Plano, TX.

I shot a 94 from the blues, which overall I’m OK with. I had an abysmal start to the round. My handicap remains at 12.2.