Never Forget Your Golf Roots

When is enough? If we are always searching, are we ever really satisfied with our golf game? If you read the biographies of great people, they all have one thing in common: they never stopped searching. They were always on the lookout for some better way to do something, to improve something, or to invent something. Their tenacity or quest to improve never stopped.

Great golfers are the same way. Players like Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods were always searching for that one skill to give them the edge over their opponent. As they continued on their journey to improvement, they reach dizzying heights most people see as out of their reach. They should be commended for showing us the way, but their quest of improvement also had one common theme: they never forgot their roots. Continue reading

Starting Strong or Finishing Strong

Walking to the first tee is always daunting for some players. It can be the dreaded walk of shame depending on if anyone is watching. Starting strong is very important and for many it is the make or break shot that sets up their entire round.

On many an occasion, I have striped the ball down the center of the fairway to only struggle for the rest of the round. Contrary to that situation, I have struggled off the first tee and scored very low.

If you had a choice, would your rather start or finish strong?
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Practice Putting to Break 100

Practicing to break 100 is something that causes most weekend golfers tremendous anxiety.  Many believe that they have to practice for hours on the range perfecting a near impossible swing, when really all they want to do is play golf and have fun.  The goal of breaking 100 is the first major milestone in most golfing careers.  To accomplish this amazing feat, one will have to practice and focused practicing will save the most strokes. And the focused practicing area that will result in the best results is within 9 feet of the hole.

The Grateful Golfer believes that putts under 9 feet is where most high handicap players will save the most strokes and take their first step towards breaking 100.  If you have never practiced putts within a 9 foot circle of the hole, you don’t know what your are missing!

An inexpensive way to practice this sure fire way of lower your score is to take 12 tees; stand beside the hole and take one step; place a tee.  Take another step; place a tee. Finally, take a third step; place a tee.  Now repeat this process three times at 90 degrees from the previous line. This will use up all 12 of the tees.

Image from:  http://therangeatleonsprings.com/archives/1052

Star Putting Drill above places tees at 3,4,and 5 feet. The Grateful Golfer recommends same formation but with tees place at 3,6,and 9 feet.

Next take three balls.  Putt all thee balls from the 12 o’clock position, from 3 feet, until you sink three.  Then move to the 3 o’clock position and sink three; repeat at the 6 and 9 o’clock position.  Now, move back to the 6 foot position.  Instead of 3 balls sunk before moving, sink only two.  Repeat for all four cardinal positions.  Finally, move back to the 9 foot position.  Sink one and move on until you have sunk a ball from all four positions.  This process will likely take about 10-15 minutes max and that includes set up.

As your putting skill improves, increase the number of balls sunk from the 6 and 9 foot positions.  Next, sink the balls consecutively before moving; thus increasing the difficulty of the drill.  If a player can practice this easy drill once or twice a week they will be amazed on how many strokes they will save.  Additionally, this skill will greatly improve their confidence, gain the awe of their friends and eliminate the dreaded 3-putt!

There are many variations of this drill.  However, I have found this one to be the fastest and easiest drill to set up and perform.  I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Launching for Distance

Recently, my golf ball is travelling 20 yards further off the tee.  It only started two weeks ago and I am extremely grateful for the extra distance.  Every reader will agree that being 20 yards closer on an approach shot is a gift from heaven.  To accomplish this wonderful feat, I only changed one thing in my swing – the launch angle of my ball!  Yup, that is it.  Nope, nothing more complicated than that.

In an earlier post, I brushed over launch angle by discussion how high to tee my ball.  But this is not the case this time.  All I did was drop my right shoulder!  I dropped my right shoulder and continued to swing the same way.  The result was to catch the ball on the up side of my swing that results in 20 yards further….I am gob-smacked to say the least.

Stephen Salzberg at Forbes discusses launch angle and the optimum for the driver; Brent Kelly at About.com defines launch angle very well, Leaderboard.com also defines launch angle, but is slightly different, and Golf AcademyOne explains Golf Science and its relation to distance; all these articles are a great read if you want to see how a simple change can make a monstrous difference.

The video below is great to explain about launch angles and how they vary depending on swing speed, set up, etc.  It was very helpful when I made my adjustment.

Hitting the ball further has really helped me enjoy the game of golf more….I wonder what else I can fix.  I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links!

Lob Wedge – Tough to Use?

The lob wedge is one of the toughest clubs in anyone’s golf bag.  This 60 degree monster is not tamed easily and has a tendency to cause more problems than to solve them.  Regardless, for players who want to lower their handicap, having a lob wedge in your bag is vital.

Highview Golf course – 25 feet from the pin, 12 feet from the fringe and 7 feet below the green.

The following is an excellent example of why a lob wedge is required.  Playing a 4-person scramble golf tournament at Highview Golf Course yesterday, we found ourselves shorted on the pin side of the green only 12 feet from the fringe.  The ball as laying 7 feet below the level of the green and the pin was only 15 feet on the green.  As you visualize this shot, you will quickly realize that a lob wedge is the right club.

As the four of us stepped up to hit, the following was the result.  One person used a lob wedge and chili dipped their shot.  One person used a pitching wedge and and sculled it 5 feet from the pin.  One person used a sand wedge and hit the ball 20 feet past the pin.  Finally, one person (me) used a lob wedge and landed it 4 feet from the pin.  Yes, player ability had something to do with the result, but the percentage of success was greatest with the lob wedge.

I aligned the lob wedge with my lead heel (my left heel as I am a right-handed player).  I took a few practice swings until I had felt comfortable with the speed of the club.  As a point of note, this 25 foot shot should be played like a 30-35 foot shot because of the elevation of the green.  Next. I ensured I kept my head down through contact and only looked up after a count of one.  This aspect of the golf swing was very important because moving you head during a swing, especially with a lob wedge, will produce very poor inconsistent results.  Because of the clean contact, the ball only released 3 feet after hitting the green.  Overall, I was extremely pleased with the result and hope to duplicate the shot.

The lob wedge is important in your bag.  The most asked question  is which club to remove to only carry 14 clubs.  Personally I removed the 5 wood.  I hit it about the same distance as my 3 hybrid so I have not lost anything.  Others have remove their 3 iron…ultimately the decision is driven by your golf game.

Golf season is here and I am happy I can loop around any course.  I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links!