Tag Archives: winter

Hit Rewind On The 2014 Season Kickoff

Charlie BrownThe weather in DC has been bad this winter but I’ve been able to get out every weekend for the last four to practice my swing and a bit of short game.  Last weekend I managed to get myself thrown off the practice green at my local muni when the greens keeper spotted me chipping and putting on a partially snow covered surface; OOPS!  Today was different with everything open I got in a couple hours of good practice, but alas old man winter is scheduling a visit of 8-12″ on Monday.

I’ve been careful this winter not to make the mistake of 2012 when I read the Stan Utley short game books and changed too much during the off-season and came out like a basket case in the spring.  Only fundamentals are on the 2014 pre-season practice plate, with a focus on shot shape controlled through alignment and ball position, and attention on maintaining a consistent pace with the putter and crisp contact on chip shots.

I actually feel a little ahead of the game, but the pending snowstorm has got me bummed because in late February, I’m used to dedicating time to play and practice, but the off days have given me the opportunity to watch more golf on TV.  A couple random musing from today’s PGA Tour Honda coverage:  There’s a reason Brendon de Jonge doesn’t win; that over-the-top swing is ugly and needs a fix.  It’s a mystery how he finished 10th in GIR last season – weird.  Also looks like Rory McIlroy has his act together – finally.  Looking for a big year from him.

Finally, check out this inexpensive little device that just came in the mail.  TripodIt works great and the video does it justice.  http://www.amazon.com/review/R1N63DN32MM9PJ?ie=UTF8&videoPreplay=1 You can attach your iPhone and clamp it right to your golf bag or any stationary structure for instant on course slefie video analysis!  Looking forward to my first film session after the white stuff melts.  How’s your winter practice coming?

Off-season Biodegradable Golf Practice

Hey gang, just wanted to post an idea for those of you who are getting antsy in the off-season, and need a convenient environmentally safe way to practice.  Ever worked on your swing hitting magnolia fruit?

Nature's golf balls
Nature’s golf balls

These are truly nature’s golf balls and the idea came to me a couple years ago after I had bought a hitting mat and Callaway driving net and became frustrated with the deployment.  I discovered the net was a pain to keep setting up and taking down, and it didn’t behave well on windy days.  Plus, when the ground froze, you couldn’t get the tie down metal stakes in.  Just a poor labor intensive solution.

I took a look around and realized I have fruit bearing trees in my yard, including several black walnuts and a 50-foot magnolia.

My magnolia tree
My magnolia tree

My magnolia doesn’t accent the property like the many on Magnolia Lane at Augusta, but it is a beauty and she drops fruit pods from October to December which I have harvested over the past few years.

If you’re like me, you often wonder what different objects would behave like when struck with a golf club, and maybe you have tested your ideas from time to time.  So I tried out these fruit pods and they work perfectly.  They come complete with a stem (tee) that dislodges on contact, and can be placed directly on the ground or fit neatly into a rubber tee on a driving range mat.  They weigh about the same as a tennis ball and are constructed solidly enough that they will not break when hit with a driver.  A well struck magnolia pod will fly about 75 yards and of course, will biodegrade over time so there is no clean-up.  Just find an open space and hammer away!  Here’s a demo:

Finally, a word of caution; black walnuts (green shell when they drop in the fall) explode upon contact despite their solid feel.  Avoid at all costs.  I hit one last year and after the disintegration, was covered with green juice that stained my clothes badly.  Maybe the nut from inside the shell would be a better play; I’ll try that next.

Black walnut fruit
Black walnut fruit

Try this out and I’ll bet the next time you’re in the produce aisle of your grocery store you’ll start viewing the spherical shaped fruit and nut offerings in a different light.  Good luck!

One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer in 2013?

One GIR, one chip, and one less putt per round.  Is that the recipe for improvement in my golf game this year?  I must be suffering from cabin fever or the general malaise of winter, but this new mantra was starting to click in my brain to the tune to the old Thorogood rendition.

George Thorogood
George Thorogood

After reviewing my performance stats for the past few years, it would seem that making just minor improvements in these key areas would allow me to shave two strokes off my scoring average, which would be huge.  But it’s been incredibly tough to make any measurable improvement and my propensity to plateau has got me concerned.  Two things seem constant:  I have a continual desire to make significant changes in different areas of my game and the work I put in hardly yields any downstream positive effects.  Does this happen to you as well?

Then I read the “3 – 8 – 13” theory in a recent golf publication and decided to put it to the test.  The assumption:  If you hit 3 greens, you should break 90.  Hit 8 and you’ll crack 80.  Hit 13 and you break 70.  Since I averaged 8.74 GIR last year and 78.85 strokes per round, I figured the correlation was close and set out to measure it.  I had 23 rounds with 8 or more GIR and broke 80 19 times; pretty darned accurate.  In the last three years, I hit or exceeded 13 GIRs 11 times and shot 70 once and broke it twice.  However, my worst score of those 11 rounds was 76, so that proved there is a huge correlation between GIR and score.  Funny how it keeps coming back to ball striking.  So what now?

From various lessons and film analysis, I know my ball striking inconsistency stems from a loss of spine angle on the downswing and a bit of an early release.  It’s hard to work on swing in the winter, so I’ve been focusing on eliminating bad habits in my backswing and putting myself in the best positions possible.  This work is possible with just a mirror and a club in your basement, and as I work the various positions, the guy looking back in the mirror seems to be in pretty good shape but what’s going to happen with that first live contact in a couple of weeks?  Also, in one of those sub 70 rounds, I noted my playing strategy was to shoot for the center of every green on any iron shot longer than a pitching wedge; interesting.  Perhaps some conservative course management would be in order as well.

Anyone with some good drills for maintaining spine angle, increasing lag on the downswing, and overall course management improvement tips, please send them along.  Thanks!