Friday Musings
I had lots of golf things in my mind this week, which is not really unusual, since I live, eat, sleep and breathe this game. But these seem to come from everywhere, so here we go.

Why did David Toms go for it on #16 last Sunday? I was really pulling for him, as I love to see the older guys show these young guns that there is alternative to just bombing it around. David is known for his fairways & greens approach, as he’s not nearly as long as these young guys. But there he is, 249 out on a par five, over water, with a one shot lead. His closest pursuer just laid up so he’s not going to make more than a birdie, and to be honest, he hasn’t been making the shorter putts that day. It would seem to me that Toms’ best choice would have been to lay up as well, hit wedge in and give himself at least a 50/50 chance at birdie . . . with little to no risk of a bogey. That would have made Choi have to catch him on those last two holes, which typically isn’t done.

I think the lesson here for all of us is that even the best in the world don’t always play “smart golf”, especially under pressure. Let’s all give ourselves a break, OK?

Moving on, there are a couple of holes at our club that just don’t set up to my eye, if you know what I mean. And because of that, I typically have more trouble with them than the others, even though they are not the hardest. So last week I made a promise to myself to approach both of them very differently for a few rounds and see what happens to my average score. #9 is a slight dogleg left, but the wind always is left-to-right, which blows right to the fairway bunker for my driving distance. So for a while, I’ve decided to hit 4-wood off the tee, leaving me a 5- or 6-iron to the green, rather than try to drive it in that little slot to get a short iron . . . IF I miss the bunker. My bet is that my scoring average with a mid-iron from the fairway every time will be better than it has been.

The other short hole, #11, tempts you to try to draw a fairway wood or driver around the corner to have short wedge in. But if you don’t turn it over, or if you ‘overcook it’, you’ll be left with a punch out of the trees, and you’ve just turned a short hole into a hard one. Since I’m a Hogan disciple and don’t turn the ball over much, I’m committed to hitting hybrid or 4-iron off the tee, leaving me a 6- to 8-iron in for a while. Again, I’ll betting my scoring average will be better. I’ll let you know how that works on both of them.

Finally, I’ve been working with a teenage son of a friend, who’s really getting into golf. I’ve been trying to communicate with him that to hit it harder, you have to swing easier, so that all the parts of the swing can happen in the proper sequence, delivering maximum clubhead speed at impact. But I’m going against the grain of the “bomb-and-gouge” golf these kids see on TV. Pretty tough challenge. Now, I don’t have any children, so don’t even come close to professing to know how to get in the head of a 15-year-old. I’m going to ask you fathers out there to help me understand how I might get through to him with this notion of “swing easy, hit hard”. Any ideas?

That’s it for this Friday. I’m looking forward to your advice on the teenager, and hope my musings might get you to thinking, too. What can you do differently in your playing that could give you different outcomes?
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[ comments ]
mjaber says:
I think your best bet to get through to the kid is the use the "Days of Thunder" approach. When the crew chief was trying to get through to Tom Cruise that he if he were easier on the tires, he would run better and faster. They did a test, 10 laps the way Cruise wanted to, and 10 laps the way the crew cheif wanted... the crew chief won.
preny says:
Not sure about 15-year-old sons, but I am helping my teenage sister start to learn golf and she is a former softball player. One thing that seems to help is to explain that in golf, 'power' isn't really the key to distance - SPEED is. In softball/baseball, the ball is heavy enough that you can't swing with a really light grip, you have to power through the ball to some extent; in golf, you can relax and let loose on it.
birdieXris says:
I think mjaber is right on this one. I think that's a great approach. Also, replace "easy" with "smooth". Not swing easy, swing smooth. I think a lot of the problem is the conflict in his head that "easy" possibly means to swing softer which doesn't make a lot of sense. At least, that's how it was for my fiancée. Now i've got her swinging SMOOTHLY and she's rockin it.
mjaber says:
@birdieXris... are you implying that I am sometimes... :::gasp::: wrong? :)
Banker85 says:
I would say hit one as hard as you can. ok sliced it 30 yardsright. Now hit one with a smooth swing focusing on contact. Right down the middle. Let him see how trying to smash it usually doesnt work in golf. Once you get more solid contact consistently, then dial up the power gradually in the swing.
cicero says:
He has to see it for himself. Unless you've already established a relationship where he takes everything you say as gospel, or really feels like you know what you're talking about, your best bet is to get him on a monitor or an open hole on a slow day, so that he can actually see that you know what you're talking about.
cicero says:
As far as the question regarding what I'd do differently in my playing, I'm pretty aggressive, and fairly long. Problem is I'm a high handicapper; bad, bad combination. So my next few times out, I'm going to try a couple of things.

The first is to take the most conservative play on every shot, and see how that goes. I've never done this, but my father plays this way, and he does well.

The other is to find a yardage that I like for my approaches, and hit to that yardage off every tee, as well as with my second shot into par fives. I played that way before (out of fear, as I was fairly new to the game and couldn't hit any club with any degree of confidence), and it did a passable job of keeping me out of trouble, all things considered.
sepfeiff says:
T, you have got to get him on a swing or launch monitor. The only thing that a youngster understands these days is a score in a video game.
Agustin says:
Golf cannot be taught; it has to be learned.
TeT says:
Let him whale monstrous swings with a 7 iron, then have him same number of balls your way... A seven Iron because it has good trajectory while still leaving the ball close enough to see the difference between the 2 styles...
jrbizzle says:
Terry, maybe set up a camera and have the two of you each hit 6 irons or other identical clubs. Give him 5 swings full speed, and have you hit 5 controlled swings. My guess is on camera he'll see the "smooth" swing you apply and the better accuracy and distance.

Two years ago a friend of mine from church asked me to teach her son to "swim". He was headed to summer camp, and he knew how to swim but they had swimming races for "points" and he wanted to win camper of the year. He said the previous year he was in the lead, but lost the award due to being a slow swimmer. I hopped in the pool and showed him a "fast swim" - lots of splashing and chaos and had him time me. Then I hopped in the pool and swam with finesse and technique and showed him how much faster it was. Once he saw it, he quickly wanted to know everything he could about proper technique and leverage. The guy learned a lot in just a couple weeks and last I heard he was still using swimming to stay in shape for football.
snuffyword says:
Terry, I think you already have the answer. Just get him to focus on making a good swing with proper sequence and timing without a ball. It doesn't matter if he does it slow or fast. When he can go through his pre-shot routine, have a good set up, and make a proper swing to your liking three times in a row, then you can let the ball get in his way. Make sure you take away his cell phone so he's not texting while you are teaching.
mattshaver says:
what really drove it home for me was watching some videos of pros on the range and even on the course. they never look like they're going at anything more than 75% speed.
8thehardway says:
In a recent interview, Nick Faldo described an early lesson - his teacher had him hit 10 balls as hard as he could with a 7 iron - they went 170 yards. Then he had Nick hit 10 more that would go 30 yards, another 10 balls to go 50 yards, and kept increasing the distance in 20 yards increments until Nick was hitting them 170 with considerably less effort.
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