Monday, August 27, 2007

Can Clubs Make You A Better Player?

Not all clubs are created equal. Could Tiger use your clubs and shoot par - sure! But he can do better with his own clubs. And think of the pros that have switched clubs, ruined their game, and had to come running back to their old sponsor.

Of course this doesn't mean that new clubs will fix your slice or suddenly have you hitting down on your iron shots. Probably most of how you hit the ball has to do with the quality of your swing. But there is still enough variation beyond that to make club selection important. Certain types of clubs are better for certain types of games. If you are a 20 handicapper, you're not going to play better golf if you suddenly find Tiger's clubs in your car. If you're not hitting the center of your irons 9 times out of 10, then a perimeter weighted cavity back club is going to help.

And then there's the mystique of a club - how it looks to your eye, feels in your hands and whether it inspires confidence. Up until yesterday I have been playing the last 7 years with custom Ping I3 blades. The custom being an inch and a quarter longer, a bit more upright and oversize grips. I traded them in Sunday for a new set of Cleveland CG4 Tours with stiff True Temmper Actionlite shafts.

Of course I had to play them the same day. Never even went to the driving range. I LOVE them. I'd sleep with them except that my wife would make me and the golf bag use the couch. Are the CG4 Tours better than the Ping I3's? Darned if I know. I only know they're better for me. The again maybe it's just the fact that they're new and shiny.

I've got to add that the new clubs are not custom, they're straight off the rack. Not sure if I'll lengthen them or have the lie checked. I may change the grips, but even that's not a given. For now, I'm enjoying them too much just the way they are.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Perfect Your Swing With Position Practice

I can't tell you what the right way is to swing a golf club. I'm not a teaching pro and I haven't written any books on the subject. I'm not even a scratch golfer. I probably have 25 'how to' books in my own library, most of which I've been through numerous times. And God only knows how many 'how to' articles I've read in golf magazines over the years. BUT, I do have something of value to pass along - how to ingrain what you know.

First, you've got to come to grips with the basics of the swing via some means; a teaching pro, your scratch playing buddy, a book - something. From this you need to take away where the various parts of your body should be at: (1) address, (2) 90's into the backswing, (3) the top of the backswing, (4) 90 degrees into the downswing, (5) at contact with the ball, (6) 90 degrees past contact and (7) completion of your swing. I know this is a lot to ask of you, but you've got to get these right.

My advice pertains with what to do with this information. Practice holding these 7 positions every day for a few minutes in the backyard or in the house if the ceilings are high enough. Hold each position for a second or two. Your body will learn where it's supposed to be if you keep repeating the positions. So all you have to do is to figure out what they are. Good Luck

And here's the best tip I've had in the last month. It's from Tiger Woods website ( under the Tips category). Hit your pitch shots with your chest! Not literally of course, but feel like it's your chest that's driving your arms and ultimately the club head. If you do this you won't quit on the swing and decelerate - the kiss of death. Thank you Tiger, I've saved myself a lot of strokes in the last month.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Daly's PGA Strategy

A lot has been written about John Daly's approach to this year's U.S. PGA Championship as well as his approach to golf in general. John very rarely takes the high road. He goes with what he feels, which is often high risk and low reward at best. Needless to say, the average PGA pro doesn't include overdosing on caffeine and nicotine in 100 degree August weather as part of his Southern Hills game plan. At the beginning of the week, most of them probably even chose practicing over gambling as their warm-up for Thursday's first round.

So, is John Daly out of his mind? Or more to the point, is his approach to trying to win a major wrong for him? Perhaps we can get some insight by looking at how Arnold Palmer played in his prime. Arny was a risk taker for sure. In many ways this is what appealed most to his legions of golf fans around the world. Arny was always 'charging' and making 'trouble shots' from impossible places often because he had just tried something foolhardy by anyone else's standards. In more than one tournament he tried to drive short par fours when the 'smart' play was iron of the tee for a routine par. Too often his strategy ended up in bogey golf. Many analysts have written that he could have won a lot more tournaments if he had been a bit more conservative.

When asked about this, Arny replied that risk-taking was his nature and what made golf interesting and fun for him. He concluded that if he'd been forced to play conservatively he never would have stuck with the game. I believe this speaks volumes about why players approach the game differently. As crazy as John Daly's approach to golf may be for the average pro, it may be what's right for him because it's the only way he finds the game challenging and exciting enough to keep his attention. Something to think about the next time you watch big Big John try to carry his drive 320 yards over a hazard when the other guys all lay up.