Ouch! A picture is worth a thousand disturbing Words…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness

In case you thought The Sherpa was just whining about a sprain…see for yourself.

 

titanium-plate-side-view7

 Suffice it to say…my new “ouchie” was a little more than a sprain. 

The Sherpa’s Distal Radius (arm bone) has a Titanium plate as sexy and hot as my new FT9 Driver…

Now I can use my new rangefinder to gauge shots and my left wrist to gauge the weather.

Rehab starts next week and a timeline for resuming play will depend on how quickly my surgeon gives me the go ahead…

Now that I have no doubt disturbed you with the alarming photo, please accept my apology.  I just wanted you to see, believe and understand how severe my injury was and why you can see it has slowed my writing down considerably.

As soon as I can get both hands on the keyboard again, you can count on me returning to my old prolific self.

Now down to business…

In my last post I talked about my plan to return to the game…once healed.

This week I will be posting Lesson Two in the Sherpa Syllabus that I am compiling for my glorious return…titled “Grip”.

Since mine hurts so dearly right now…sadly…this post will have to wait acouple of days.

Thanks dear readers for your patience and understanding during my rehab…

Play on…

The Sherpa

The Sherpa golfs no More…at least not for a while…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness, Uncategorized

Normally the inspiration for my blogs emanates from the environment around the Sherpa. Sometimes they occur subliminally then sometimes they appear with the suddenness and ferocity of a train wreck…guess which kind this inspiration was?

The day began quite innocently with the Sherpa clan spending a leisurely weekend at the seashore with in-laws. We were celebrating my brother in law’s birthday and the weather was idyllic. It was Sunday afternoon, I was 90% through the posting for my take on the Byron Nelson and my beloved father in law invited me to take a ride in his amazing new 28 foot Boston Whaler…awesome.

We head out into the inter coastal water and this boat is earning its reputation for stability and speed.  The Sherpa is amazed by the Whaler’s technical capability and is soaking up the zen of the waves.  I am thoroughly enjoying the wind as it crisply and sharply blows over the bow and past my face.

It was then,  I now realize,  an old Mexican proverb (my father taught me) governed events.

Dad is fond of saying, “en cada vida hay quince minutos de pura pendejada, lo que importa es que estas haciendo, dentro esos quince minutos”.

Roughly translated, “in every life, there are 15 minutes of pure stupidity, what is important is what you are doing during those 15 minutes”.

If you rare lucky, you are sleeping, locked in a padded cell or tied to a gurney…..the Sherpa was riding in a $100K boat at 35 miles a hour. 

Crap.

As I became more and more comfortable with the ride and the incredible stability, the Sherpa decided to ride on the front of the boat. 

Now I am really feeling it.  The wind in my hair, the sun shining, I am free and riding high…lovin it baby.

Off on the horizon I see a typical scene…a large barge headed perpendicular to our path.   As we near the path of the barge the wake looms much larger than I anticipate.  I have just enough time to brace myself with my left hand on the railing before we do our Dukes of Hazard jump over this tremendous wake.

Two things happen…

  1. I keep from being thrown from the boat
  2. I help make the down-payment on my wrist surgeon’s new Porsche while ending my golf career until 2010.

When we recovered from the turbulence, the 90 degree displacement of the bones in my left wrist and the freakishly searing pain told me this was more than a “sprain”

This was old school, mideavil, “kick your dog in the teeth” kind of pain….so complete in its envelopment of your senses that you wonder if it really just happened.

Pain gave way to nausea, then fear for the damage I had most assuredly done to half of my golf swing, work capability, typing..you name it.

When my brother in law came forward to check on me, his reaction was nearly as frightful as the break…poor guy’s face turned green when he saw the fracture, so I sent him to get me a magazine to fashion a splint…knowing he would not want to watch what I was about to do…

I could not bear the pain of such a crooked wrist, so I gently grabbed the finger tips and pulled my hand outward until my left wrist looked more like my right wrist…the wrist was at least straight now, and I felt like I was taking control…an important feeling when every tiny movement of the ocean reminds you about the real meaning of pain.

When things hurt this much already, the pain of setting your own bones is just incremental, so I figured the trade off would be worth the relief I would feel when my bones were more in line with “the creators”  blueprint.  

My gamble paid off and I was energized that I had taken back the situation and felt somewhat in charge again.  We radioed Mrs. Sherpa who showed up at the dock with Tylenol and a map to the local hospital.

The Xrays confirmed what I already knew.  I had a severe break of the radius just above the left wrist and even though I had straightened it, the fracture was severe and would need a significant repair once the swelling subsided.

Back home, three days later, I went to get an Orthopedic consult and had surgery the following day.  

Like my new driver, I now have a titanium plate, that should allow my wrist to heal.  With rehab, I expect to get back at least 90% of my old range of motion, but the time to do so will not see me swinging a club until late 2009 or early 2010.

I apologize for not posting sooner, but pain killers have a way of making you sleepy and my doctor said no driving or blogging, while on the hard stuff.

I am typing right handed, so these posts take a bit longer, but fear not dear reader, I will use my rehab time to improve this site and share any rehab tips I learn along the way.

Bottom line:  Every day is a gift.  Do not take your health for granted.  The Sherpa is lucky the injury was not worse.  Keep healthy, and never..ever ride on the front of a boat…even if it is a whaler.

Play on…

The Sherpa

The real lesson of the Byron Nelson has nothing to do with Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness, Uncategorized

First a bit of heresy…

Not all that the Sherpa learns from watching golf ends up being about golf…

GASP!!

Please dear reader…do not judge me for my apparent oversight, and (may I add) potentially self incriminating thoughts that would have you think that I have lost my mind.

Fear not…there is a point…there is always a point.

The day started quite innocently.  The Sherpa was browsing lovingly through a wonderful vintage copy of one of my favorite golf instruction tomes.

I was just getting ready to spoon a mouthful of my standard Saturday treat…a  ”Jethro Bowl” of soy ice cream with about nine different toppings.

Note: Each weekend my middle Sherpette carefully and devotedly makes this sugary delight and I am certain that heaven has swimming pools of this elixer…diving boards included…

I digress…

To round out the experience, I was laying on what has to be one of the top three most comfortable couches on the planet, being gently serenaded by the voices of Golf Channel TV commentators  as they did God’s work (narrating the Byron Nelson golf tournament ) in HD…Oh baby!

Immersed in the syrupy goodness of the “Sherpa zone”, I thought myself impenetrable to all things “non golf ” when I looked up to notice the final pairing…namely Rory Sabbattini.

Rory, you may or may not know, has a quite outspoken countenance.

He has what the Sherpa would tactfully call a chronic deficiency of ”good cheer” …most notably calling out “you know who” (initials…TW) at the players some years back, resulting in a sound whuppin from the world’s number one and further solidification of his ill temperment.

So why did Rory catch my attention?

He wore a silly pink ribbon on his cap…

My first impression was that he was “dissing” the field somehow..perhaps making a not so subtle commentary about his contemporaries.

No one else was wearing one, so what else was the Sherpa to believe?

I turned up the volume and rewound the DVR (another blessed creation) to see if I could somehow divine the purpose of said ribbon.

Over the next few moments it became apparent that Rory was wearing a ribbon of support for Phil’s wife Amy…she has breast cancer.

For all of the right reasons, my caramel layered comfort was completely disrupted.

My mind filled with my own personal experience with the disease.

My best friend, you see, lost his wife to breast cancer.

Janice (as I am sure Mrs. Mickleson is) was a terrific person.  She loved my best friend and was a top ten mother.

She was articulate, humble, brilliant, loving, kind, generous, subtle, unpretentious and now…

Terribly missed.

She left behind a litany of friends and family that cherish her memory.

In her wake of goodness she also left a stark reminder of how deadly this disease is.  In my personal life, I have since made it my mission to hound Mrs. Sherpa to be checked each year, as I will the Sherpettes when they are old enough.

It is in her wonderful memory that I dedicate today’s bottom line:

Bottom line: If you are like the Sherpa (when he turned forty) you may have already experienced the rare pleasure of submitting to a digital prostate exam…as my dear mother would exclaim here… “good lord Miss Agnes!”  If you can overcome that small indignity you can certainly cajole, shame, coerce or love all of the important women in your life into be screened for breast cancer…Janice would certainly approve.

God bless you Janice, we love and miss you.

Love on…

The Sherpa

How feet alignment can affect more than just your golf Swing…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness

The Sherpa has been fighting a case of the “rights” for a couple of rounds now. For those of you who are new to golf, a shot shape called a “slice” goes to the right (and depressingly short of the target). To resolve this vexing problem I ended up starting from the bottom up…namely my feet.

Like the great Jack Nicklaus, I went back to basics at my local driving range and went through the Sherpa’s trusty “Ranger Rick” fundamentals checklist.

  1. Strong grip:  At least two knuckles showing on the left hand…check.
  2. Grip Pressure: 7 on a scale of 10…check.
  3. Balance: Weight over the balls of my feet…check
  4. Posture: Back straight, with a slight bend from the waist…check.
  5. Stance: Knees bent slightly, kneecaps just on top of shoelaces…check.
  6. Aim: Shoulders and feet in line with target line…check.

Next the Sherpa swings smoothly and…”banana split”…”slice-aroni”. 

Since I am not playing golf, I happily allow all kinds of swing thoughts to enter my head and soon have to focus my attention on a strategy to deal with my notions.

Staying curious I decide to start at my feet.  It is then that my mind is drawn to the holiest of golf books…”the Little Red Book”, by Harvey Penick.

I remember disctinctly that the swing can be affected by how we open or close our toes.

Do this: 

  1. Stand up straight and look at your feet with your toes pointed straight in front of you.
  2. Now notice how your shoulders naturally align with your toes.

In this position, you would be aimed right down the target line (perpendicular to where your toes are aimed) and set up to hit the ball arrow straight…like a “knuckler”…no side spin.

Here is the exciting part….

Turn you left toe out halfway to your left (if you are a right handed golfer and vice versa if you are a lefty).

Did you notice what happened to your shoulders?  THEY OPENED UP…aimed left as if following your big toe.

In this position you have just pre-aligned yourself to hit a rather predictable slice!

Conversely if you turn your back foot halfway away from the target, like my buddy Supa-Fly does, you pre-align that beautiful inside to out swing we call a draw (or hook when exaggerated).

I laughed so hard at my insight that I’m sure the Sherpa unsettled the other golfers on the range. 

You see dear reader, what was not in my checklist was my last move before hitting the ball…turning it (my left toe) to the target! 

My pro had asked me to do so in order to ensure my hips cleared and my beltbuckle ended up pointing at the target.  Good guidance…absolutely necessary moves in a good golf swing.

At this point, you were probably expecting the Sherpa to transition into the now legendary ”bottom line” finish…alas dear reader, there is more.

You see, the Sherpa had a choice:

1: Leave the left toe pointed toward the target and make sure that I resquare my shoulders to the target line or,

2: Leave the toe pointed forward and make a fuller turn with my hips even though this would feel a bit more restricted. This would also get my belt buckle pointed at the target at the finish.

Not trusting that I would always remember to resquare my shoulders, I opted for #2 and roped a few nice little draws.  Little did I know what this would cost.

Read on…

The next day (yesterday) I took this new setup to the course and did two things…beat my buddy out of 14 skins while causing some serious soreness in my left hip.

On the drive home, I began to feel like my left hip had been hit with a hammer and sciatic nerve pain began to shoot up my leg.  Not my normal post round “glow” to say the least.

To counteract the sciatica, I immediately got on the treadmill and walked four miles as fast as I could go.  Once I was feeling better I put myself to the task of figuring out what was going on.

I learned that I most likely impinged a muscle in my hip called the piriformis.  The muscle is part of group known as external rotators.

This would explain the immediate pain and the related sciatic nerve pain.

To remedy my problem I am going to rest, learn how to increase flexibility in the piriformis and toe out my left foot until I can make my turn without impinging this muscle.

Bottom Line: In golf, like any other sport, body positions matter.  What matters more, however, is how well conditioned your body is to deliver those positions.  Most especially in golf, if you intend to swing like a pro…prepare your body like a pro.  Create hip flexibility with a good program.  Even with my regime, I was still too inflexible and could have really hurt myself.

Learn from my mistake and be healthy…above all.

Play on…

The Sherpa

A good walk Spoiled…?

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness

The Sherpa is a bit of a traditionalist…and is a big believer in experiencing golf the way it was intended by the “fore”fathers…walking.

Why opine so heartily on the value of walking 18?  The list is long:

  1. Walking usually gets you a discount  (the Sherpa is on record for his frugal sensibility).
  2. Walking to every shot enables you to think about what you want to do (well before you get to the ball).
  3. Walking is awesome, low intensity exercise that actually makes you a better athlete. and live longer.
  4. When you walk,  the golf course fills your senses (as opposed to whizzing past it on a cart).
  5. Walking connects you to the game in a way that spans centuries (old Tom Morris never rode a cart).
  6. On cold days, walking keeps your muscles warm and ready to hit shots.
  7. Walking enables you to have all of your clubs at your disposal to hit any shot (as opposed to having to slug back to your cart).

Bottom line:  You will play faster, get healthier and “learn” the course more effectively when you walk.

The Sherpa knows that not everyone can walk.  The barriers range from courses that don’t allow it to health problems that may keep you from it.

If you are willing to give walking a try,  the Sherpa encourages you to do a few things first.

  • Seek out a local muni that allows walkers and is relatively flat.
  • Pick a time of day when the weather is not at extreme heat or cold.
  • Rent a pull cart (if the course rents them) or just buy one for $20-$30 at your local sporting goods store.
  • Take a large bottle of water and a snack for the turn.
  • Invite a friend to walk with you to share the experience.
  • Before walking 18, walk a little each day around your neighborhood or on a treadmill  until you can walk 30 minutes without issues.

The money and time you save and the years you’ll add to your lifespan will make it all worth it.

Reconnect with golf’s roots…walk.

The Sherpa is not a doctor (he doesn’t even play one on TV).  If you have any type of condition that requires special care, make sure to consult your doctor before walking 18. 

Play on…

The Sherpa

Already a steadfast walker?  Tell me about it in a comment…

Good golf is not always between your ears…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness

A proper golf swing is the result of an athletic move..not a checklist of mental tips piled up in your psyche from too many golf magazines.  The sooner the beginner learns this, the quicker she/he is set on the path toward better golf. 

Why?   Two main reasons:

1: To make an athletic move you must first train as an athlete does.  Now before you get nervous…the Sherpa is no athlete, but I perform daily fundamental exercises to improve strength, cardiovascular stamina and flexibility. 

2: It is free, my favorite price.

In my case I have a simple motto.  Stretch and break a sweat every day.  30 minutes a day will do much more than you can imagine. 

As you limber up you will be able to make a better turn away from the ball, stay balanced more effectively and make a stronger move to your left side (for the right handed golfer).  You will also find that your focus will improve with stamina so that you can think your way around the golf course more effectively.

The more in shape you are when you take lessons from a golf pro, the quicker he/she will be able to train you into the positions required to make a sound golf swing..guaranteed.

My biggest takeaway from my pro was that I was way too stiff and inflexible, which caused me to compensate too much with my hands as opposed to making a proper turn.  Many pros I speak with all tell me that my lack of flexibility is much more common than not and that the quicker I make my body more limber, the quicker I can drive improvements.

When you talk to your  pro, make it a point to have this conversation.  A good pro will actually test your flexibility and give you tips on how to stretch your trouble areas.  Bottom line..the hands hold the golf club…your body is the motor for the swing and you need to keep it tuned up.

Never forget….stretch and sweat.

The Sherpa