What I miss about Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Key Golf Fundamentals

Greetings dear readers…

During my injury induced hiatus, the Sherpa has had time to  deeply reflect on what makes golf such an integral part of my life.

Introspection brought about the most curious of truths.  Surprisingly…I don’t miss what I thought I would.

Oh sure…for the first couple of weeks I missed my new shiny driver…made with the same titanium alloy they used to fix the Sherpa’s badly broken wrist.

As the days went by, however, I found myself thinking less and less about “golf gear”  ( my grips, the newest style of golf shoe, etc).

Even later, I stopped looking longingly into my special “man closet” (designed by Mrs. Sherpa to corral the detrius of a lifetime collecting golf equipment). Up to that point I had been checking my beloved golf accouterments daily in some vague hope that if I did, I would feel satisfied somehow in a “golfy” sort of way…

Pathetic…

Kind of like when you open the fridge, even though you have no real intent to eat…you’re just “browsing” (as Sherpette #2 is fond of saying).  Don’t look at me that way…you know you have done this before.  Admit it…you’ll feel better.

Where was I?  Oh yeah.

At some point I even began leaving my brand new golf magazines untouched for a couple of days after Mrs. Sherpa had thoughtfully put them in my “to read” pile in my office (aka the “man room” where said “man closet” lives).

At this point I started to get nervous.  What next?  Will the Sherpa stop watching pro golf on TV? 

The Horror!

To calm myself and re-center my mind, I took a mental inventory of the things I still had a keen interest in.

  1. First, I have delighted in reviewing the fundamental mechanics of the golf swing.  In my studies I  have learned much about the swing and ball flight characteristics.  This intensive review effort is feeding a growing confidence that I will be both a much improved player and enlightened Sherpa for others seeking knowledge and guidance.
  2. I love being outside…enough said.
  3. I adore my friends and meeting people with the same interests.

Calmed now and in better control of my faculties, the Sherpa  finally made it to the golf course last weekend (after being cleared for “chipping and putting” only by “Dr. Sawbones”).

My enthusiasm was well curbed as I tried not to oversell myself on the idea of going to the golf course to “play”, when the doctor really hadn’t cleared me for removal of my training wheels.

I honestly thought, “well… I won’t play but at least I will be near it”, pathetically reasoning again that I was going to be content to just “look in the fridge”.

Then a wonderful thing happened.  I had the time of my life…

I was outside all day, hanging out with my friends and meeting great people.  G-Money asked if I would loop for him in an important golf tournament later this year…a sobering honor to say the least.

Just when I thought things could get no better, I was able to diagnose and help a fellow golfer who was topping his ball badly.  I changed one thing I saw in his grip and “bang” he started hitting frozen ropes down the middle.

The look on his face as he crushed it in front of his young son was invaluable…and tremendously fulfilling for me.

As if to reward my good deed the golf gods allowed my pent up potential and intensive studies to bear fruit. As proof,  I drew upon all of the things I have been working on during my studies and holed 3 chips.  I also putted better than I recall…

Ever…

Fan freakin’  tastic!

Bottom line: I guess each person finds his/her own path in golf and in the world.   For me it was about capability, camaraderie, nature and goodwill.

Luckily these things are priceless but cost nothing.

Play on…

The Sherpa

Lag putts or run them past the Hole…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Key Golf Fundamentals

Last week as I was reveling in the company of my foursome, the Sherpa shared with them that I wanted to solve the riddle of “the great putt debate”. 

One one hand, there exists a legion of golfers who would sever an appendage to guarantee a two putt … for purposes of this debate we will call them “lag putters”.

In the opposite corner is a large group of putters who love the quote “98% of the putts I leave short never go in”…this group will be called the “long putters”.

I was delighted when “Supa Fly” (a gifted engineer and insanely good golfer) took up the task…

Warning…he is an engineer, albeit passionate about the game.  In his detailed treatise below, he makes a compelling case.

I won’t ruin the surpise, but if you intend to putt to a hole, it helps if you reach it…

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you “Supa Fly’s” argument…

 

Hey Sherpa,

I did some analysis after our last conversation about one of the great debates in golf…

Should you putt short (lag put) to insure a two putt, or is scoring improved if you make a concerted effort to run every putt past the hole?

I did a lot of statistical analysis, including:

Population Variance: α²= N, i= (xi-u)² • p(xi) =n i=1 x²i • p(xi) – µ²

Binomial Probabilities –In a binomial experiment with n trials (number of putts) and probability of success p (number of one putts)…

P (x successes) = n!/x!(n-x)! Px (1-p) n-x, x=0,1,•••,n

And a “Sample Correlation Coefficient” I won’t bore you with the formula, it would take most of the page to express!

Through all this research and a mountain of statistical numbers I came to a realization….everybody is different!! 

What I mean is to say is that analysis based purely on total number of putts is futile. 

This is an essential truth, because we all have different skill levels when it comes to golf and more importantly putting.

It was at this point that I realized I was solving the wrong problem.  Instead I changed the question from “what makes you a better putter” to “what is the best way to putt”…statistically speaking.

To do that we need to simply express a Statistical Mean, with a few Variances.

                Xbar=∑n i=1 xi/n

So here we go!!!! 

To make the math work we need to pretend we are playing 27 holes.  In statistics 27 is the smallest family, thus the need  for 27 holes of golf.

 To express this we will use 4 golfers Golfer α, Golfer ×, Golfer β, and Golfer £

Golfer α (a.k.a. the lag putter) plays 27 holes of golf and two putts every green, therefore,  never three or one putts.  His putts always total 54.  This simulates the lag theory.

Golfer × (a.k.a. the long putter) plays 27 holes of golf and, he sends all putts with enough pace to get past the hole. ( we used the rule of 3 for golfer ×) 9 attempts result in a one put,  9 attempts result in a 2 putt, and 9 attempts result in a 3 putt.  Total putts for golfer ×… 54 putts.  This simulation breaks even with number of putts the “lag putter” (Golfer α) makes…sadly no gain..

Golfer β (a.k.a. normal variance long putter) plays 27 holes of golf and he sends all his putts with enough pace to get past the hole.   Using a simple variance he has 5 one putts, 19 two putts and two 3 putts…Total putts for Golfer β 49 putts WOW…5 strokes back baby!

Golfer £ (a.k.a. better than normal variance long putter) plays 27 holes of golf, and he sends all his putts with enough pace to get past the hole.  Using a simple variance he has 6 one putts, 18 two putts and two 3 putts… Golfer £ has 48 total putts.  Double WOW… he has improved on golfer α by 6 putts.  That is a four stroke improvement on a 18 hole round.  Who wouldn’t want to take four strokes off their game!!!! 

Bottom line these numbers tell us a lot:

·         First , without variances, lagging or putting past the hole are breakeven propositions.

·         Assuming variances exist…(and they do in nature) trust me, when you run past the hole you will sink more one and two putts as you get more comfortable with aiming your putts past the hole. 

·         With just a little success you can shave 4 strokes off your game. 

 

In the end, if adopt the lag strategy (i.e. don’t try to get the ball past the hole every time), sadly you will never improve your putting average..and PUTTING Past the hole should improve you score with little or no risk to your current game.

Nice Job “Supa Fly”!

Play on…
The Sherpa

A quick lesson on Tempo from a “Sherpa Approved” Instructor…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Key Golf Fundamentals

As I posted the other night, I trust your swing with an instructor I have come to really like.   Now that you have faithfully practiced the “feet together drill”, I want to expose you to this next video which is a great next step in your development…tempo.

Please enjoy and review the video in its entirety.  It is a very, very well done lesson on a key element.  Try it and give me your feedback.

Get your timing right..whether you have played 3 days or 30 years…Jack Nicklaus always reviewed his each year and he was pretty good.

Play on…

The Sherpa

My favorite Golf Instructor…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Key Golf Fundamentals

The Sherpa’s role on your golf journey is one of guidance and companionship.  This is an honor I accept with joy, curiosity and passion each day that I share my writings and insights.  When it comes to technical training of the golf swing, I am committed to getting you the best coaching available.  It is in this spirit that I reflected on the essential question…

Who would I trust with your golf swing?  The Sherpa’s honest answer is Shawn Clement.  To be clear, I have never met this instructor nor are we related in any way. 

I rated him on:

Clarity:   He has no clutter in his instruction, he only discusses the thoughts at hand and fully explains desired outcomes.

Style: His style is very comfortable and collaborative.  Lots of swing coaches I evaluated were autocratic and condescending of other swing styles.

Knowledge: His knowledge is apparent in how he describes the physical forces at work in the golf swing.

Capability: He respects his game enough to stay in shape, enabling him to do exactly what he asks of his students.

Analogies:  His use of analogies are spot on.  When he describes the importance of swing position, he doesn’t wing it.  He makes parallels that are appropriate and thoughtful.

 

Having earned the Sherpa Seal of Approval,  I am excited about this guy and I hope you watch this video in its entirety.  It explains one of the most important and time honored drills in the game..

I present to you…”The Feet Together Drill” by Shawn Clement

Play on…

The Sherpa

Take a bite out of golf swing Tension…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Key Golf Fundamentals

The Sherpa is usually low tension on the golf course, but watching one of my Sherpettes put me on a path to discovering a good (cost free) tip on reducing swing tension without any practice.  What I like so much about this tip is that I was able to help my daughter instantly (and I hope to do so for you).

It was just a few weeks ago and the Sherpa and his lovely Sherpette were at the driving range.  After a few swings, I noticed that her normal full swing was kind of recoiling at the end.  Instead of swinging to a full finish, in other words, she was kind of chopping the end of the swing off.

“Daughter”, I asked “why are you swinging so hard”?  “I’m not Dad” she replied.  After another couple of swings, I noticed she was right.  She wasn’t swinging too hard, she just wasn’t “flowing” and “graceful”.

I then asked myself, “what is the opposite of graceful”?  All I could come up with was thoughts like “choppy” and “rigid”.  I then asked her to swing again, and as I looked at her angelic face, I noticed something very telling.

She was clenching her jaw. …So clear was her facial tension, that I could see little ripples of sinew in her cheeks. 

“Daughter”, I asked again, “are you mad or in pain”?  “No Dad”, she replied, ”I am just trying to swing good”.

It was then that I formulated a powerful thought (almost made me pass out from pure genius).

“Self”, I thought, “we need to get this kid to lighten up without thinking about it”.  I decided  to target the tension where I saw it…her face.

“Daughter”, I asked, “Can you rest your tongue between your upper and lower front teeth, then take another swing that way”? 

Now the Sherpa’s children adore the sire, but even my own flesh and blood was thinking this an odd request.

Hiding her skepticism like a true pro, she did as her loving father implored and “whammo”.  She tagged it right on the sweetspot and finished with a lovely and graceful finish.

Bottom line:  Even if you are not aware of tension or feel tension, it can creep into your flexibility and golf swing.  If you unclench your jaw, it is difficult to carry tension while your mouth is in such a relaxed state. 

Next time you step up to the ball…let your jaw stay loose enough to easily rest your tongue between your front teeth.  Doing so will allow you to take a very solid step in systematically reducing tension.  Best of all (its free).

Play on and stay loose…

The Sherpa

Was this tip helpful?…Let me know.

The Golf Grip…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Key Golf Fundamentals

Golf grip pressure is an issue that virtually every renowned golf instructor and published professional golfer has written about.  Why?  Because it has a very basic and powerful affect on how fast the end of your golf club moves.  Don’ t think so?

Imagine you have a mint 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback with a 4:11 gear ratio, traction bars, cool mags with centerline racing rims, and a 25 coat candy apple red paint job (or anything you think is supremely awesome).

Next, visualize that a scary and very jeleous person with a gun forces you to hit your supremely awesome car with a two iron.  If you wanted him to think you were taking a whack but wanted to minimize damage to your car,  you would instictively grip the club like you were trying to choke it to death.  This would enable you to use your wrists to slow the club head.

The same hand and wrist leverage you create to save your sweet ride in this nightmare scenario also robs your game of power and distance. 

So what is the proper grip pressure?

Here is where the debate takes many forks.

  • “Slammin” Sammy Snead was fond of saying he held the club as light as he would a baby bird.  He was also very fond of saying he never developed calluses because of his light pressure.
  • Tiger Woods tends to hold his clubs a bit firmer.
  • Most advocates say, depending on the shot, pressure should range between 5 and 7 on a scale of ten.
  • I have only read one article on a shot that required very firm grip pressure…hitting out of heavy rough.  This shot requires strong grip pressure to keep the club from shutting down when the hosel gets stuck in heavy grass.

“So”, you ask, “what is the anwer Sherpa?  Guide me please”!

The best drill I have ever used was one I read in an article by  Jim Flick.

  1. Take the golf club and hold it parallel to the ground at waist height.  Notice that this is where the club is heaviest in your hands and requires the firmest grip.
  2. Next pivot the end of the golf club upward until it is straight up and down.  Notice that this is when the club feels the lighest and requires the lightest grip.
  3. Finally, slowly lower the club head 45 degrees  (half way between the previous two positions).  Take note of how the club becomes slightly heavier and your grip pressure is slightly firmer.  This is the grip pressure he recommends and the one I use religiously.

An easy way to practice this feel is to try it a few times when you are practicing.  Simply take your grip when the club is at the 45 degree position (step 3 above) then set the club behind the ball, (taking special care not to change your grip pressure) and take your normal swing. 

Bottom line: “Lighter” is more powerful than “too firm”.  There is no perfect pressure, but this one has worked great for me.  Try it and tell me how it works for you.

Special shout out to GiGi’s comment for inspiring this post.

Play on..

The Golf Sherpa