Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Its Funny because its True

Just over two years ago my wife (fiance at the time) and I were on a road trip of Canada's east coast.  Beautiful country I might add.  Our trip started with a night in Montreal, then onto the Fundy National Park (where we got engaged that morning), to Shediac New Brunswick, and then to Prince Edward Island where the story beings. 

Veiw from a tee box on the back nine.

So, we are in PEI, apart from say Myrtle Beach, PEI is a golfer's paradise.  You flip open the yellow pages.  No, No, who am I kidding, the yellow pages of my generation is Google.  So, if you Google 'golf + PEI' you are going to end up with thousands of hits.  And if you try it right now, the first thing that comes up is "Canada's #1 Golf Destination".  Which is completely true.  The courses to chose from are some of the best the country has to offer, no doubt.  Well, ever since the 1998 Export A Skins Game I have wanted to play the Links at Crowbush Cove.  That event, practically put PEI on the golfing map and Crowbush was the most renowned at the time. 

We booked a tee time, a mid-afternoon round.  Taking advantage of the twilight rates.  I can't quite remember the cost exactly, but it was somewhere around $200 for the two of us to play with cart, and rent clubs. 

I believe my wife has the ability to be a fantastic golfer.  She shows new improvements each time she's out.   She can smash it.  I mean she can hit her 5iron consistently right up the middle about 130yrds, not bad for a beginner.  Well, like I said this was over two years ago, and she was just starting out.  And like most beginners they think this game is easy, and want to hit it far. 

So, the first hole at Crowbush is a par 4 pretty much straight away.  Oh, I forgot to mention.  Since we were teeing off in the prime season, we were paired with another couple.  A very nice couple in their 40's from Red Deer, Alberta.  I stress very nice!  We hit the tee getting to know each other with small talk and the starter gives us the go ahead.  I tee off first and hit a decent drive up the left hand side that ends up in the rough.  The gentleman tees off hitting to the right and it trickles into the bush and we drive up to the ladies tee.

The ladies tees are elevated and there is a small marsh just in front.  I can see my wife is slightly intimidated.  And I can't blame her really.  She's about to play a beautiful course, it is her 2 or 3rd time golfing ever, she's playing with two people she met just 3 minutes ago, clubs she's never used before and we can't afford, and there's water right in front of her.  So she insists the lady go first.  So, the lady tee's it up and sploooosh!! She plunks one in the water.  I could see the sigh of relief in my wife's face.  She knew her expectations had just been lowered.  The lady quickly tees up another ball and catches it good and it clears the marsh easily and ends up in the middle of the fairway.  My wife is up.  With no hesitation she tees it up confidently.  No practice swings, and bang!  She chili-dips one of the end of the tee box that rolls down into the water.  She looks back at me, and I can see she wants another ball so I toss her a pinnacle and tell her to take her time.  With the pressure on now, sure enough the second one finds the water too.  Not to mention the third one too.  You can imagine what the other couple is thinking at this point, "This is going to be a long day".

I tell them to drive ahead up to their balls and my wife will tee off from the other side of the marsh.  So, they take off and we head around to the other side of the marsh.  I can see she is dejected.  "Don't worry about it hunny, we aren't out here to break any records, just have some fun.  Hit a few shots, pick your ball up, have a drink.  Just enjoy yourself."  Yes, she was dejected, but she is a very determined woman and I can see she mean business this time, as she grabs another pinnacle from the cart.

She tees it up just inside the fairway.  She smoked it.  It took off hot, about 20 feet off the ground screaming up the right hand side.  Before I could get the words out of my mouth, it takes one hope and hits the man we are playing with high in the leg.  Crap!!!!  What do you do?  What do you say?  At this point everyone in the group is thinking, "This is going to be a long day!"

A birdie try on the back nine.

Well, as it turns out.  The man escaped unscathed.  I played reasonably well.  So, did my wife.  She even made her first par on the 6th hole.  We had a great time.  The scenery is like no other place on earth.  We both loved it, and the rest of our trip. 



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Golf Trivia Challenge

I got this trivia game in an email earlier this week.  Have a go at and see how much you know about golf. 

In the end it will give you a score.  I was 5 under par.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reading the Green

Most golfer's over there career will never put any thought into what green reading is all about.  They will just instinctively go through a thought process (or not) before taking the ball back.  Since reading Dave Pelz's book the "Putting Bible", I have come to realize that there can more of a process than just determining speed and line.  I just wanted to refresh the art and science of reading greens to make more putts.

Green reading is the task of determining how the green itself affects the ball on its journey to the hole.  First off, green reading takes time and through experience playing many rounds on many different golf courses, under many different conditions and circumstances will play a significant role in your ability to read greens over time.  In other words the more you do it, the better you will get.  The science of green reading takes these experiences and quantifies them with regard to how the ball actually reacts to the speed, slope, grain, and weather conditions (wind and rain).  Of the determining factors in the science of green reading, speed is arguably the most important because the overwhelming effect it has on both the slope, grain and weather.

Everyone will develop their own personal method of green reading, but the following are some general points to mews over.

1)  As you approach the green begin to notice the general lay of the green.  Imagine water being poured near the hold and watch where the water will drain.  If it is raining or has recently notice the areas that remain wet, notice drainage, low and high points.  This will take some visualization.

2)  As you begin to approach your ball and mark it (or whatever your routine may be)  start to determine the amount of speed required to get the ball to the hole, determine whether the putt is uphill or downhill.  How much will the ball break based on the speed required?  Which way is the grass growing (grain)?

3)  When it comes to speed I have found that its important to get the exact distance to the hole.  Since, you can't carry a measuring tape on the course, pace off your putts.  It better to know the putt is exactly 28ft, rather than 25 to 30ft, it will do wonders for your confidence and your lag putts.

4)  An important factor to remember when reading break is that the slower a ball is rolls the more affected it is by slope and grain (This is usually nearer the hole).

5) Once you have determined the distance, speed, break, and grain begin your pre-shot routine.  Take a few practice stokes, visualize the putt rolling in on the line you have chosen. 

All this should take about 30seconds, I mean we are not pro's and pace of play is important on most golf courses, so don't over do it.

To close out I want to touch on a concept that I believe is an important part of reading putts.  Remember this age old adage "No putt can go in, if it doesn't make it too the hole".  What I mean here is make sure you give it a chance, get it to the hole.  Well, Dave Pelz outlines in his book the "Putting Bible" that the optimum speed for a putt to drop is to role it 17inches past the hole.  I won't go into the science, physics, logic behind it (That's for you to find out by reading his book), but he has proved it through testing and testing again.  It seems like a weird statement to make doesn't it, "hit the ball 17inches past the hole and it will have the best chance at rolling in".  Why not die it into the hole?  Well, just think about how many putts you leave short., I bet is significantly more than you roll past the hole.

After I started writing this post I realized that this topic was not a 4 or 5 paragraph post, but more like a 15 to 20 pages in a book on putting.  So, check out Dave Pelz's stuff if you want more info. 

Like most of my posts, yes this one too ends abruptly.



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Club Fitting Part 1: Shafts

Steel shafts, rifle shafts, graphite shafts, and multi-material shafts, which is right for me?  Well, I'm not trying to answer that question for you, but I do intend to give you the information you need to understand the pro that is fitting you for your new clubs, and inevitably new shafts.  So, lets have a look at some of the terms used when talking about shafts.

FLEX - Flex is generally the most understood element of shafts.  Most golfers understand the rating of Ladies (L), Senior (S), Regular (R), Stiff (S) and, Extra Stiff (XS), but most golfers don't know where they fit in.  Something, I've noticed is that most people (more to men than women) thing they need stiffer shafts than then actually do.  They are only cheating themselves.  Different manufacturers have different specifications on flex, so be aware.
There are two methods of measuring shaft flex: a) the shaft deflection board and b) frequency analyzer.  Stiffness is how the shaft reacts when weight is applied.  Frequency or vibration measurement (similar to tuning a musical instrument) looks at how fast a club will vibrate with that particular shaft. The stiffer the shaft the faster the vibration.
Finding the correct flex for you is of the utmost importance, as it directly affects distance and direction.

WEIGHT - When shaft weight is  referred to it is the actual weight of uncut shaft before installation.  It is almost always measured in grams (g).  Most graphite shafts have this written on them somewhere.

Of specific not is the potential for club head speed and distance is increased with overall lighter shafts, but there are other factors you must considered.

KICK POINT - The term kick point refers to the point where the shaft bends during the golf swing.  It directly affects the trajectory of the shot.  A shaft with a high kick point will result in a low shot trajectory. A low kick point will result in a high trajectory.  For the experienced golfer kick point will affect the feel of the shaft.  Obviously, swing mechanics will be the ultimate determining factor in shot trajectory, however this is the general rule. 

Another term often confused with kick point is bend point, they are similar, but yet very different.  The kick point is the highest point (high being toward the grip) the shaft bends when the grip is held in place and pressure is applied to the club head, similar to the golf swing if you think about it.  Whereas, the bend point is the highest point (Again, highest being toward the grip) when equal pressure is applied to both ends of the shaft.  When measured these two points will be similar, but never exactly the same.

TORQUE - Torque is the twisting of the shaft. It is often assumed that this is specifically at impact, but it actually refers to the twisting that occurs during the golf swing.  The more torque or twisting a shaft has, the softer it will feel. Measured in degrees a shaft with a 3 degree torque will feel much stiffer that one that has 5 degrees.  All shafts have torque, and it varies depending on club construction an shaft type (steel vs graphite vs etc.).   Most steel shafts have about 3 degrees of torque.

Torque can have a slight effect on ball trajectory. The lower the torque, the lower the trajectory.

LENGTH - The length of the shaft is measured from the top of the grip to the base of the heel of the club as it lies on the ground.  While increasing the length of the shaft will most likely increase the distance of your shots, this is NOT the best approach.  I mean you don't see Phil Michelson hitting an 85in driver right?
To measure the correct length of shaft for you stand tall and have someone measure from the crease of your wrist and hand to the floor.  Do this for both hands and take the average.  The average club length is taken from your 5 iron, which is the exact mid iron in your bag. So, with this in mind your 5 iron should have a shaft length of:
  • 37 inches for a measurement of 29 to 32 inches
  • 37 1/2 inches for a measurement of 33-34 inches
  • 38 inches for a measurement of 35-36 inches
  • 38 1/2 inches for a measurement of 37-38 inches
  • 39 inches for a measurement of 39-40 inches
  • 39 1/2 inches for a measurement of 41 inches
These measurements you took are also used to determine the proper lie angle, but I'm not going discuss that today.  If you want to look further into this, check this link out.

There are a few other terms you may hear along the way, such as alignment, parallel or tapered tip, and puring, however I don't believe they are something the average golfer needs to be dramatically concerned with.  Besides, it is something I have never bothered to learn too much about, so I don't want to waste your time babbling on.

By no means am I professional club fitter or what have you.  However, I have done my research over the years and learned many things.  There are tons of great resources on the internet, books stores and pro shops, I highly recommend you use these resources at your disposal when buying you next set of clubs.

Just to finish this off I called this post "Club Fitting Part 1: Shafts", which insinuates Part 2 will follow.  Well, it will I just don't know when.  What it will entail, well I don't know that either.  Check back later.



Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting the Itch?!?! Is Simulated Golf the Answer?

No, I am not talking about sexually transmitted disease.  Nor am I referring to that feeling of a new wool sweater.  I'm talking about that feeling when the cold winter months seem to drag on and you  being to think to yourself "GOLF! GOLF!!! GOLF!!!!!!"  Now for me, the itch has come earlier than normal this year.  Maybe its because winter seemed to come early this year as well, but in all honesty I'm blaming it on this golf blog I started in late December 2010.
In order to temporarily make the itch subside a few friends and I were out last week playing golf at the local simulator.  It was fun no doubt, but really kind of like calamine lotion on a good dose of poison ivy.   The itch was back the next day.  The simulators have come a long way, and I can only imagine where they will take the technology in the future.  But quite honestly, they still need to come a long way with the short game.  In our night out not one of us made a put over 10 feet, and that's with 10 foot gimmee's in play.  The short game is base far too much on touch and feel, and I can't see anything in the near future that can begin to replicate the golf course.

When it comes to hitting driver and irons into the green, I must say 'I think" the simulator was near bang on.  It definitely reacted to our shaped shots, or unintentionally shaped shots.  And distance seemed to be about what I would normally be.  Still though, miss the fairway and end up behind a tree.  Well, you may as well take 3 penalty strokes.  That said, it was nice to take full swings, get some practice and at least have some semi-reliable feedback at this time of the year.

The atmosphere is what you make it, but you put a bunch of guys together, add beer, food and golf and three is sure to be a good time.  Since that's all I expecting, the whole experience was a positive one.  If you get a chance to try simulated golf, give it a chance, develop your own opinion.  And at the very least you will enjoy the company of good friends, good beer and well potentially good food.



Thursday, February 3, 2011

The lighter side of Golf

For those of you that know me,  I love to joke around.  But honestly, when it comes to the golf swing there is no joking around.

This video really puts all that in to perspective. 

See what I'm saying.



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Identifying your Strengths and Weakness

As I mentioned in my last post (Course Management: 7 out of 10 rule) being able to identify and understand the strength and weaknesses of your golf game a crucial to course management.  Most individuals that have played the game for any length of time might be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses quite easily. However, simply keeping some basic statistics over the course of a few rounds you will have concrete evidence to base your decisions on.  I'm not talking about any elaborate stats like you see on  the PGA tour.  Just keep track over 5 rounds or so (obviously, the larger the data set the more reliable it is) the number of fairways hit, your greens in regulation, your up and down from around the green, and putts.  This information should begin to tell you where your strengths and weaknesses lie. 

So, how can this help you on the course.  Well, first off I want to mention that most people spend the majority of their practice time, practicing their strengths (its just more enjoyable to do something your good at).  However, if you spend say 50% of your practice time on your strengths and 50% on your weaknesses you will see that statistics you've been keeping will begin to morph and your scores will lower as you become more of an all round golfer.

On the course, you can use the information to make educated decisions.  For example, say the strength of my game is the short game, and my weakness is my long irons and fairway woods.  Well, if I'm faced with the decision to go for the par 5 in two (as was the case in the video in my previous post) what is the thought process?  Well, at this distance it would be a stretch to get it there, and there is trouble on the right and left side of the green.  Can I hit the centre of the green 7 out of 10 times.  No, at least five of those times I'm left or right and making a big number.  So, why not take less club hit a controlled shot to the front of the green where I can rely on the strength of my game (the short game) to get up and down for birdie, and a worst par.  This is playing  the percentages and knowing how to score.

Eliminate the big numbers on your score card by knowing your strengths and weaknesses and using course management to play the percentages.



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Course Management: 7 out of 10 Rule

Course management is absolutely my favorite topic when it comes to improving ones handicap.  Possibly, because I used to be brutal at it, and once I grasped a few key concepts I started to lower my scores just through smart play.  It doesn't take practice, but just knowledge and logical thinking.

In my mind the main idea behind course management is to eliminate the big numbers by playing the odds with shot selection.  The video I have attached below demonstrates this concept quite well.

The key to the 7 out of 10 rule any many of the concepts behind course management is to know your strengths and weaknesses.  Obviously, not everyone can hit a draw like the guy i the video above. Later this week or at least in my next post, I will talk about understanding the strengths and weakness of your golf game.