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Speaker of Cliches … My Back to Basics Approach to Golf

I am guilty.  I do it all the time.  And I hate myself for doing it but I for one think it’s a necessary evil.  Sometimes even my salvation.

Ask me why and the only logical conclusion I can give is that a cliché is a parable.  It provides the best way to help another or yourself for that matter  understand your explanation.  Sometimes a cliché can best describe the action you want to mimic.  Other times you miss the point completely and hilarity ensues.

For example, I have been in the golf doldrums for a few weeks now.  I just cannot hit a golf shot.  To make matters worse I cannot string a few good shots per hole in order to string a few pars together.  And no amount of time on the range can fix it.  Believe me I have tried.  My tennis elbow and blisters prove it.  I just can’t explain it.  That’s when my “Back to Basics” mantra kicked in. I guess you could say, I was fed up with sucking.   It also made economic sense — stop throwing good money after bad prospects [The bad prospect(s) being me.]

I have tried to “hit down on the ball to go up.”  I have tried “swinging on plane.”  I have even tried “swinging easy.”  I felt like Tin Cup at the US Open.  We are talking “deer in the headlights,” “’cause nothing was going on between the space of five inches between my ears.”  Nothing seemed to work.

That is until I discovered “my religion.”  My first “conversion” started when a golf coach told me when asked how to score better, “Hit the ball closer to the hole.”  I was insulted.  Of course you have to hit the ball closer to the hole.  If we could all hit the ball closer to the hole, golf would be easy.  Closer to the hole meant you had fewer puts.  Then a lightbulb went off in my head.  I had to ask myself HOW to hit the ball closer to the hole.  And that meant chipping the ball closer to the hole.  That also meant short iron shots had to be dead on.  That meant I had to know what club would do what and make that outcome consistent.  So away I went to work on my short game.  And lo and behold it worked — for a time.

Now this latest bout of yips, I had to find that religion again.

This time I had to break down my swing to its basic parts to figure out what the devil I was/is/shall continue to do wrong.  Golf is a simple game.  It’s the golfer that gets in the way of making it a simple game.  You hit the ball.  You chase the ball into the hole; rinse, repeat eighteen more times.  That’s simple.  The one with the fewer strokes “wins.”  But golf isn’t about winning at least on the Weekend Warrior level.  Sure you can “win” if you wager against other golfers, but it’s more a personal victory if you can string together a few good holes, survive a few bad holes, and cobble together a round worth remembering.

My Religion was to break down my swing into its simplest parts.  My swing is simple to begin with so it was relatively easy.  First I checked my stance.  Everything looked square in the mirror.  Then I worked on my turn, and I figured out how to turn the core of my body without putting much stress on my back by coiling it.  (Yippee! no more back problems!)  It was really simple, I bend my left knee forward, not a lot just enough to allow my body to turn naturally and as a single unit.  But still that didn’t work.  So I went further checking my grip and club face.  This was my Eureka moment.  Apparently I wasn’t holding my club properly.  In fact I was holding the club with my fingers and not the palm of my left hand to anchor the club shaft.  A proper grip uses the fingers to cradle the club shaft but the pad of your left hand balances that club.  There should be no space or wiggle room when you hold the club properly.  Holding the club properly allows you to use the club as an extension of your hand.  That probably explains the latest body ailment — tennis elbow.

Took this rediscovered knowledge with me to the golf course yesterday.  And although I still suck as a golfer, I did manage to survive a few bad holes, cobble together a few pars, and string together a few gold holes to make this round at least for the recent past — worth remembering.  It provided positive results.

So when confronted with the “yips,” “yaps,” “heebeegeebees” do not despair, just go back to your basics.  Find your religion.  Who knows the light may just go off inside your head and you discover some part of your swing mechanics or course management that will help you play more consistently and that after all is a win of sorts isn’t it?

Your mileage may vary with this tidbit of sage advice.  Like I always say, I am not a professional.  I am not even a guru or teaching pro.  I can only tell you what worked for me.  It may work for you.  It may not, that is entirely up to you.

Who I am and Why I am here.

2014-07-12 10.25.55Now that’s a very good question.  The best way to describe myself is not who I am but who I am not.

I am not a PGA tour professional, PGA affiliated, or even an apprentice.

I am not some golfing maven or prodigy.

I am not smart or very handsome.  In a word I am homely.  Well at least I have a face only a mother could love.

What I am though is a regular guy like any other who just happens to be passionate about golf.  Started playing at twelve and haven’t looked back since.  Fast forward 40 years, all I can say about my golfing “career” to date is that if I only knew what I know now, I could have been a force to reckon with in high school and even perhaps college.  If it matters I was your typical bogey golfer — a weekend warrior — doing battle with each golf course with hacker’s abandon.  That is until I found “religion.”  That religion was the simple phrase “hit the ball closer to the hole.”  Funny as it may seem obvious, a little light went on in my head and lo and behold my scores consistently started to drop.  My swing still hadn’t changed but suddenly I knew how to play smarter and instead of taking my lumps the course would indiscriminately throw at me, I started to dispense my form of course management and as a result my score from round to round began to drop.  Now I sport a single digit handicap (unofficially of course.)

I am here quite simply to share my perspective on the game of golf.  Why is that important?  I have been where a lot of you golfers have been.  I have ground out rounds that felt like work.  I have even played most of the golf courses in Southern California.  That is a huge body of knowledge and I want to share it with you.  On a side note, I also moderate a little website known as Greenskeeper.org.  It offers Golf course Maintenance Alerts — a one of a kind in the industry.  Blogging here at Golfing-guru.com helps keep my sanity as Greenskeeper.org make’s its transition to the national level and begins to compete with the big boys like GolfNow and GolfAdvisor.  I blog here to bring what I feel is important to the sport I love.

So now that you know a little about who I am and what I bring to the table, why not follow me on my journey through golf mediocrity here at Golfing-Guru.com!