Why I like to watch Tiger play Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: The Mental Golf Game

Golf Search Tool – For Your Convenience

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Every time I watch this amazing talent, I learn something.

The Sherpa is well aware of the fact that more words have been written about Tiger Woods than possibly any other athlete in the history of sports.

Why then would you suppose that  I wish to add to that overwhelming litany of articles? 

Every time.  I mean EVERY TIME, I watch him play, I learn something. 

Now that I am driven to write passionately about this sport in the spirit of advice, I want to share what I learned yesterday…but first (as the Sherpa loves to do) let me set the context for my insight.

Everyone who is a golfer, and several non golfers are painfully aware of Tiger’s conspicuous absence from the sport.

First there was that amazing US Open last year, then the devastating news about his knee.  I can’t imagine the pain and discomfort he experienced in the bid to win the trophy.  What I do know is that his legend only grew.

So what comes from winning so much?  How about stellar, atmospheric and bone crushing expectations from sponsors, fans and media.  He is the best golfer on the planet and that fact is globally known in every language on the planet. 

Quite simply, his scoreboard is universal and transparent.  Imagine getting out of bed knowing that that if you screw up, you will be the center of attention across the globe.  Pressure?  I think so.

Now the Sherpa is no apologist for Tiger.  He has yaghts, presidential access and more money than than he will ever be able to spend.  The only place the Sherpa is keeping up is in the “hot wife” category.

So last week, Tiger tees it up after several months off and starts to get his game going (after only a couple of warm up tournaments).

On Sunday he is in contention.  Literally MILLIONS of eyes are on his every move.  The gallery following Tiger is larger than my home town.  Everyone is wondering if he will ever be “Tiger” again.

Tiger catches O’Hair and they are headed into 16… tied at five under.

O’Hair puts it in the fairway and Tiger puts it in the right rough (and draws a horrible lie) .  Now Tiger will have to lay up or try to hit a risky water carry.  O’Hair has a HUGE advantage.

Now with scull numbing pressure and Johnny Miller setting the scene. Johnny tries to articulate what every other human in that condition would think  (given the surreal pressure and circumstance).  As Tiger walks to his ball Johnny says, “It will be interesting to see his reaction (to what a bad lie he has) when he sees it.  He will not be pleased”.

At this point, I am riveted …I want to see how the greatest golfer on the planet reacts to a lie he cannot possibly get up and down from when his competitor is in the middle of the fairway.

Tiger walks up to the ball, notes it, instantly knows what is up (mandatory layup) and with an expression I would use to note the time of day on my watch…..starts to make his shot plan.

No emotion, only committment to the next shot.

I rewound that moment over a dozen times.  You don’t fake that.  You only react.  I will remember that one moment as one of his greatest because of the context.  With so much on the line….Tiger never stopped playing golf.

Bottom line:  If Tiger cannot rewind the clock, neither can you.  You can’t be him, but you can remember, that no matter what, you always have another shot to play..so make the most of it.

By the way he drained a 900 foot putt for birdie on 18 and won..but you probably already guessed that…he is Tiger after all.

Play on…

The Sherpa

How to re-enter the game with a Plan…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Common Golf Pitfalls

      

  Golf Specific Search for your convenience.

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The Sherpa was decided to write about the phenomenon of the golfer who has lost his way, become re-inspired, and now wants to re-engage with the game of golf.  The Sherpa has a few tips on how to make the game “stick” this time and help you maximize your enjoyment as you re-commit to one of the best games of all time.

Special thanks to Mart T’s post for inspiring this post.

Mark T, is a typical sort of golfer who, is athletic, has good eye hand coordination and a good reasoning mind  (all good qualities in golfer).  Like many of us, life has gotten in the way of golf and when compounded with the frustrations that golf can bring..some people just don’t see the point. 

The lens the Sherpa wants you to use is a bit different. 

Scoring for the beginning or returning golfer is too much pressure to put on someone.  When you return, make a deliberate plan to do a few key things to raise your confidence and skill before rushing to measure your stroke count against a population that is playing and practicing often. 

Instead make your goals more reasonable:

1: Arrange for a lesson in swing fundamentals.  Any good pro ($30 to $50) can watch you swing and get you into a setup position with drills you can practice.  Instead of going to the range and working on all of the stuff that frustrated you before, take what would have been about  the cost of a new set of Pro V1s  and get a lesson (for more details see my post: The Argument for lessons – a must read if you intend to get lessons).

2: Practice putting-every night if you can.  No big secret here.  Find a flat place on the floor.  Putt without breaking your wrists. Get very good at lagging puts from 20 feet.

3: Get in shape:  Walk 30 minutes a day at 4 miles per hour.  To keep it simple, figure out a two mile walking trail and do it in half an hour…every day. 

4: Stretch:  Flexibility is key to keep you from injuring yourself and to get into the positions your golf pro will prescribe.

5: Buy a good, cheap golf ball: The two piece ball by Titleist called the NXT is tough, durable and you can get them for about 2 bucks a ball.

6: Don’t rush out to get new clubs: Get in shape, get lessons, practice.  When your swing becomes more consistent, then you can ask your pro about club recommendations.  If you absolutely have to buy clubs, go have a fitting at a major retailer.  Once you have their recommendation, go to Ebay and buy them there.  The Sherpa would be very interested to see if you can get a better deal than on Ebay.

7: Set your own par:  When you go on the course to play, set your own par.  Take each hole and add a stroke to arrive at your “adjusted” par.  You might think this is crazy, but it actually works.  When you get on a par 5 in three and two putt you make birdie.  By the same token when you get on a par 4 in 4 strokes and two putt you make bogie.  Take the pressure off, you don’t need to test your game…you need to have fun, so that you will want to do this again.

8: Read the Sherpa’s posts every day:  They are aimed at you and beginners alike and are chock full of  tips to help you along your journey.

9: Enter the Sherpa’s contest to win a free dozen pro v1 golf balls to send you on your journey while you do a good deed for other golfer’s looking for good golf for under 31 dollars (see “win a dozen new pro v1’s” post for details).

Bottom line:

The Sherpa believes that if you practice with a purpose (drills from a pro), get in sharpe, keep it cheap (don’t spend a lot on gear initially) and keep your “adjusted” par reasonable, you will improve and enjoy the game along the way.  Don’t just fumble around.  If you do,  you lower your chances of success and ultimately limit the joy available to you otherwise.

Play on…

The Sherpa

Why being the “angry golfer” may kill more than your Handicap…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Common Golf Pitfalls

Tool bar below is for Sherpa’s Golf Specific Search (if it is not helpful, tell me and I will remove it).


———————————————————————————————————————————————–The world is a daunting place that drives its humble residents through a vast array of emotions.  Left unchecked, some of those emotions (anger), can damage much more than our ability to play golf.

It is in the spirit of this basic truth, that the Sherpa will finish a thought started in yesterday’s article about picking your “dream” foursome.  In particular, when describing the “toxic” foursome, the Sherpa called out the “Angry” Golfer.

First and foremost the Sherpa is a positive guide, and where possible, a beacon for the path to improvement (regardless of a reader’s emotional predilection).  The Sherpa, therefore, will speak to the Angry Golfer directly today in a sincere effort to help him/her understand how anger affects the game and beyond.

To qualify my opinion, I have done some research to better understand today’s thoughts.

Let me start by making a confession….

I was once an Angry Golfer (albeit on the milder side).  Yes, in his formative years, the Sherpa was once much more susceptible to converting frustration into annoyed anger..which, by the way, is the Golf Gods’ favorite pasttime.  With time, however, and a better understanding of my own mind, I am much better at modulating frustration and the myriad anger triggers we all face each day.  I, therefore, feel well qualified to speak on the subject.

Before we progress, let’s see if we can agree on the premise that incessant or toxic anger affects more than your golf.

Research shows that if you are an Angry Golfer you are more likely to:

  1. Have Higher Cholesterol
  2. Consume More Calories/Be Overweight
  3. Have High Blood Pressure
  4. Have Higher Incidence of Cancer
  5. Be Depressed
  6. Have Fewer Meaningful Social Relationships
  7. Be called out as an Angry Golfer in the Sherpa’s Golf Blog

Being an Angry “anything”, it appears can make your one shot at life a living misery frought with an entire checklist of physical, psychological and social burdens.  The Sherpa finds this tragic.

So how does the Angry Golfer develop?  This is where the research is relatively fragmented. 

  • If you look at psychological research, lack of early childhood bonding with a loving parent creates an early stress response that overdevelops and then makes the anger emotion more difficult to modulate in adulthood.
  • If you look at purely physical/biological research, experts point to an over-active sympathetic nervous system (SNS).  The SNS is the “fight or flight” part of your nervous system (i.e the part that secretes adrenalin and the stress hormone called cortisol).

My opinion, is that each of us is endowed with a certain amount of capability to manage our emotions and, to a certain extent , we can change how we react to frustration.  Research backs my opinion.  In cases,  for instance, when cancer patients were given the option of undergoing normal treatments, or treatment that included anger and stress managment, recovery was significantly better in those who chose the latter.

Since we are only trying to cure golf frustration, our bar is much lower.  Here are some steps you should take:

  1. Accept that anger (especially incessant and unchecked) is likely robbing you of more than your game.
  2. Realize that when you get angry, you secrete vast amounts of adrenaline, robbing you of feel and mental focus.
  3. Note that your behavior will limit your interactions with other golfers, making the problem worse.
  4. Make an effort to understand your anger triggers on the golf course and make a strategy to stop them from escalating. Work on it methodically, like you would putting or your swing.
  5. Learn to meditate.  This one simple skill will connect to awareness of your emotions in a way that robs them of their power over you.
  6. If you find that after focusing on anger management you still struggle with outbursts..get help, life is too short.

Bottom line:  The Sherpa is not a doctor, but honest focus on your anger and its root causes can make a big change in the quality of your game….and life.  If you still can’t get a handle on it, get help.  Life is a gift that can be easily be squandered on misery and isolation.

Play on…happily

The Sherpa

Picking your dream golf Foursome…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Common Golf Pitfalls

If your time is limited to one round a week or you just want to have the dream foursome to play with each week,  please read the Sherpa’s  thoughful advice.

First lets do some math to make sure that you agree with the premise, namely that it is appropriate to be very picky about your “regular” foursome.

How much time will you spend with these people in a year?

If you live in a temperate climate:   1 Round per week  x 5 hours per round (including warm up, etc.)  x 48 Weeks (discounting for Major Holidays, etc.) = 240 Hours a year or Ten Days

The Sherpa asks: “Do you really want to spend 240 hours a year (120 hours in cold weather areas) with folks who may or may not be good for your game or your soul”?

Without getting too philosophical or (in Man terms) mushy, I would say:  Choose wisely..these relationships are the best and most positive influence on your game and life.  Choose poorly and they have the opposite effect.  I have experienced both “toxic” and “dream”  foursomes.  When I found my current “dream” foursome (by avoiding the personalities below) I knew it immediately.

Let’s qualify a poor choice first.  So what is a “toxic foursome”?  This dreaded foursome is characterized by one or more of the following types:

  1. The Club Thrower: I have already blogged about this type of person (see the Flying 7 Iron).  Play with this person at your own physical peril.
  2. The Incessant Cusser:  As I have already written, Cussing is part of golf (even the Clergy do it). The incessant cusser, however, replaces most verbs and nouns with profanity and can become an embarrassment as people begin to associate you with the “F- Bomber”.
  3. The Constantly Angry Golfer: Frustration is a key beauty mark on golf’s vast portrait (nice prose huh?).  The Angry Golfer, doesn’t get it, loses strokes to it, has no fun and typically drags everyone else into their pit seething contempt (sorry, I am on a prose run today).  Additionally, this golfer is usually not nearly good enough to qualify his anger in the first place.  To keep this bullet brief, I will expand on this idea tomorrow.
  4. “Checklist Charlie” AKA “Ranger Rick”:  This person has not learned to golf yet.  Instead, this person thinks golf is going through a 30 point checklist on each shot without any connection to a target.  These folks may not be completely toxic. Some of these people have been known to mature into golfers with thoughtful perspective.  Unfortunately, if they have been playing for years like this, they are not likely to change. Why are they toxic?  Swing thoughts, like a virus, can spread throughout your foursome and steal “target” thinking in a flash.  I have seen it happen…not pretty.
  5. The Swing “Tipper”:  This golfer needs to keep his tipping limited to service providers (where they are actually appreciated).  On the golf course “tips” are actually the worst thing golfers can do for each other (even if with good intent).  If the tip jar is out during your round, it will distract you from your “target” game, effectively stopping you from truly “playing golf” (as the Sherpa has countless times described it).

Though this list may not be complete, it captures they key toxic elements you should run from as fast as you and your bag can move.

So “Sherpa” you ask, “how to I find a Dream Foursome”.  The answer I am afraid, is more complex.

  1. Luck:You may be invited to play in a foursome and find, magically,  that none of the aforementioned golfer types are present.  Buy each one of them something from the cart girl immediately! Do your absolute best to match their positive energy, be generous and if you are lucky you will be invited back…you have hit the mother load.  By all means don’t be any one of #1-5 above even for a second.  Why is this complex?  Think about how easy it seems to be able to pick 5 numbers, but how tough it is to win a lottery with them.
  2. Reconfiguration:If you are in charge of a foursome that features one or more toxic golfers you have a tough choice but obvious choice.  Either you can carefully and kindly pare down your foursome, ridding your group of the offending golfer/s…or start from scratch.  Unfortunately, the Sherpa didn’t get you in this complex mess so you will have to act on your own.  Stick to your guns though,  and the outcome will be well worth it.  I promise. 

My current foursome keeps their clubs from flying, cusses to make things light when someone gets too “serious”, will actually step away from the others if angry (so it doesn’t spread), leaves the checklist for groceries only and never, ever gives tips on the course unless solicited. 

Another very positive side effect of playing with the same dream foursome is that they will help you improve your game as they learn your swing.  The Sherpa recently was asked by his pro to make a subtle swing timing change.  When I told my foursome about it, I let them know that I was interested in feedback so that I had more eyes on my swing. 

In this very rare instance, I wanted careful witness..not tips.  They understood immediately and started giving me appropriate and useful feedback about the specific change…not tips.

They are generous to a fault.  I don’t deserve them, but they let me stay anyway.

Bottom Line:  Like a marriage, a good foursome choice is the gift that keeps on giving.  Choose poorly… and misery is the payoff.

Play on…

The Sherpa

Why golf is hard and how you can take Advantage…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: The Mental Golf Game, Uncategorized

Golf’s proper mental state (the zone when you are instintive and reacting.. instead of having a gazillion swing thoughts) is tougher to achieve than in any other sport. It is the Sherpa’s sincere opinion that once you know why, the knowledge will give you a distinct advantage.

Trust for now and read on…

Argument #1:  We have lost our childlike approach to new things:

From the time you were a kid and threw a ball you were able to do so without much thought.  As you grew older and learned to shoot at a basket or throw a football, you did so with the same ease and instinctive approach. Then somehow one day the world got complicated when someone handed you a golf club and said “hit that ball”.

You thought (as the Sherpa did) “no problem”.  You took a swing and thought…”hmm, crap this is kind of hard”.  What is interesting to note, is that when you first tried to throw something, you sucked then too (you were just too young to notice or care..you just liked to throw).  The Sherpa doesn’t like to speak so plainly to his devoted readers, but in making my point I want to lay the issue out in the open (feelings aside for a moment).

The difference now is that your ego has had years to develop and learning something now can be very frustrating, whereas when we were kids without this baggage,  everything was possible and learning curve was irrelevant because the payoff was fun. 

2: Golf is different from most traditional sports (in a very distinct way):

A strong, yet subtle connection exists in most traditional sports that puts golf in a totally different category of difficulty.  When this distinction hit me, it was like a lightning bolt through my cranium.  “Sherpa” I thought, “this would be a great thing to write about someday”!  That day has arrived.

My premise..When you play golf, unlike most sports, you don’t see your “target” as you are reacting to it.  

When you shoot a basket or throw a ball..where are your eyes..ON THE TARGET.  When you look at a target, as you have already surmised, your body and mind are already agree on the objective.  Without any noise in your head, you just throw.  Then what happens?  The ball goes right where you are looking.  All this without a “throwing coach” or hours of practice on the “throwing range”.

In golf, by strong contrast, you can’t see the flag pin so you look at the ball  (which is not the target) and “Ranger Rick” (your noisy conscious mind) starts worrying about your 30 point swing checklist.  Why? Because “Ranger Rick” is not being overwhelmed with your visual perception of the target.  In all other sports the visual target connection aligns your mind effortlessly with your body.

How to take advantage of your knowledge:

By now you are probably thinking, “Sherpa, I have been reading patiently for a couple of minutes.  In that time you have called me egotistical and a distracted worrier.  This better have a heck of a good point”.

The good news is that you can take immediate advantage of this knowledge to put your game on a course for improvement.  Also it is free (the Sherpa’s favorite price) and requires no swing practice. 

1: Approach every shot with the idea of having fun no matter what the outcome.  The Sherpa has helped more golf buddies score well after poor starts by reminding them of the truth about good golf.  “Buddy” I am famous for saying,  ”if you will just remember for a moment how much fun golf is, and how lucky you are to play this wonderful game, I guarantee you will start hitting good shots”.  Works like a charm.

The most memorable turnaround I can recall, was when my friend Dr. Jimmy and I were in a tournament together, and we were stinking the place up.  Halfway through our first match it was obvious we were going to lose.  “Dr. Jimmy”, I said “I did not pay the entry fee to win, I entered to have fun, and fun is what I intend to get”.  With that pronouncement we both immediately stopped trying to play “serious golf” and almost won the first match (which was very fun).  Long story short.. we took second place after going on a winning streak, beating even the team that went on to win the whole enchilada.  If we had just decided to have fun on the first tee of the first match, Dr. Jimmy and the Sherpa would have been snacking on that same enchilada.

2: Connect the ball to the target, then connect your eyes to the ball.  Now you may say, “Sherpa, I already look at the ball you lunatic”.  I would humbly suggest that you may be looking at the ball, but if you do not mentally connect that ball to the target, Ranger Rick will have lots to talk about in your backswing (because that ball is not connected to any information about the target).

Reconcile this mind-body disconnection by picking a spot or “pretend target”  just in front of the ball that is perfectly aligned with your real target.  This will put the “pretend” target squarely in your mind visually and that visualization will help crowd your mind (shutting Range Rick up).  When you swing,  think simply about sending the ball to your “pretend target”.  Intellectually, you will know the real target, but your mind/body connection will be stronger,  allowing you to swing more freely and with a purposeful target orientation…just like throwing a ball.

Bottom line:  On each and every shot, commit to have fun and sending the ball to a target.

Have a safe weekend!

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.

How to dress for Golf Part 2…Cold Weather

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Equipment Advice

The Sherpa is tough but doesn’t like to be too cold.  Playing golf well (while in cold weather) requires some basic gear to keep you comfortable and mentally focused.  

In cold weather you are really trying to simultaneously stay dry, warm, comfortable and unencumbered.   The essential checklist, from head to toe is as follows:

  1. HatWarm Head=Cool Mind. Think wrap-around fleece.  Remember your head is the place you lose lots of your body heat, so wrap your noggin.  Good choices are “lined” caps or my favorite..the fleece or wool scull cap.  The baseball cap, in this instance is a poor choice because it does little to insulate your head and is liable to blow off your head if the cold weather is paired with wind. ($5)                          
  2. Shirt: Multiple Layers = Multiple Options. Think layers. While the Sherpa is on record as a serious moisture wicking fan, it will be just as important to wear layers of shirts (Long Sleeve under a Short Sleeve).   Layering allows you to modulate warmth by shedding shirts as temperature varies throughout your round. Price is relatively cheap for this solution.  A normal long sleeve mock turtle shirt is $20-$30 and a high tech moisture wicking short sleeve is about $20-$30. 
  3. Outerwear:  Proper Fit = Minimal Interference and Maximum Warmth. Think form fitting, fleece and add a wind shirt if windy.  For fleece, the mistake you want to avoid is buying a top that is too tight in the shoulders and loose around the waist.  Tight in the shoulders restricts good movement and loose at the waist lets cold air in and crowds your hands when swinging and putting.  The same rule applies for windshirts.  Both garments are gettable for $30.  
  4. Pants: Good Pants and Happy Legs = Good Base and Balance. Think wool, heavy khaki.  The Sherpa (notoriously frugal) is a big fan of re-using worn out work slacks for just this occasion.  For no money you can  just wear tailored slacks  that no longer are nice enough to wear to the office.  Same for khaki.  If neither of these options work for you, lined rain pants also work great.  The Sherpa found a great pair for $30.                             
  5. Undergarments: Warm Undies=I am Sure you know this one. If the weather is cold but not frigid…30s to 40s(fahrenhiet) then normal moisture wicking material is fine.  If you play in frigid weather then long underwear (flannel or cotton) are a great choice to add an extra layer of warmth. Price $10-$15.
  6. Socks:Warm Feet = Little Distraction. No brainer.  Wool sports socks or heavy moisture wicking cotton.  Price $10-$15.                              
  7. Shoes: Dry Feet = Priceless Comfort. Think waterproof.  As discussed in Part 1 of this series, comfort is key and you should be very picky.  If your current pair is ventilated  (as most tennis shoe type golf shoes are) you need to think about getting a pair that are waterproof and a bit heavier.  I have a terrific pair of Footjoy shoes that I have had for over 3 years and they keep my feet very dry when I play in cold and wet conditions.  $50-$100.
  8. Gloves: Specialty Gloves=Your Call (follow your instincts). Think about your tolerance.  Gloves are a personal choice because of the varying opinions regarding hand warmth vs feel.  The Sherpa only wears heavy golf gloves when the mercury falls below 40 (fahrenheit).  I have a pair made by USG called Thermaflex. ( $30).  I also have a pair of Footjoy (RainGrip) rain gloves I wear when there is no lightning around and the rain is falling ($30). 

 

Bottom line:  Make wise spending choices and for a lot less than you think, you can be both warm and effective even on very cold days.

If you have any tips, or know of some great “cold day” golf products that are easy on the wallet..share your comments.

Play on..and keep warm..

The Sherpa

How to dress for Golf Part 1…Warm Weather

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Equipment Advice

Golf has it’s own challenges without being uncomfortable in warm weather.

How then does the Sherpa want you to prepare for your next round of warm weather golf?

Follow these tips and you will be noticeably more comfortable…

Before you start buying, keep in mind that you are a relatively new golfer so be “Sherpa like” (frugal).  Keep away from the expensive stuff unless it is on 90% discount.  Lot’s of high quality, low cost options exist for the “must have” list I am about to share.  Please keep your wallet in our pants/purse and read on…

From head to toe…starting with:

1: The hat:  In this arena the Sherpa suggests only one ratio to maximize.. brim diameter.  Allow as much brim around your precious skull and facial skin as your fashion sense can muster.  Sunshine, while warm and refreshing is also to be respected.  The the less you get on your head and face, the better.  Price range is minimal ($10 to $30).

2: The glasses: There are two things to consider when looking at sunglasses (not counting comfort and durability).  First make sure they block 100%  of UV light.  This is the stuff that wreaks havoc on your eyes so you want to minimize exposure. Next, make sure that they sit slightly away from your cheeks on the lower end of the lens.  If not, you will get poor ventilation, causing them to  fog up constantly.  A good, durable pair can be had below $50.

3:Sun block:  You didn’t know sun block was part of “dressing”?  Think again!  We all know why.  I will elaborate only on the stuff you put on your face.  For folks with sensitive skin, several formulations are available that are PABA free and combine moisturizer with 30 SPF.  My favorite is “Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer”  it is SPF 30 and never aggravates my skin.  This stuff is actually a little expensive ($15 per bottle) but well worth it.

4:Golf shirt/blouse:   You need to think moisture wicking and SPF.  Yes I said SPF.  Golf shirt technology is now at the point where you can get a shirt that will keep you dry and cool while acting as SPF protection (as high as 30 SPF in some models).  I particularly love  moisture wicking technology because it can be used as an emergency air conditioner.  Next time you are in very hot weather, merely soak your high tech shirt in water and the moisture wicking technology will cause rapid evaporation (cooling  your skin as a byproduct).  The Sherpa has done this many times and it always works well.  Amazingly, this technology is very affordable now.  I spent less than $30 dollars on my last shirt.

5: Shorts/Slacks:  The Sherpa would suggest strongly that you consider shorts, but if you insist on slacks, then use the tips for buying a golf shirt (above) as your guide.  Bottom line.  Moisture wicking and light colors are coolest and especially good if you are considering slacks.  Shorts are relatively cheap (about $30) for moisture wicking.  Slacks are still very expensive.  The reasons escape the Sherpa, but moisture wicking golf slacks are still in the $50 to $100+ range.

6: Underthings: Mrs. Sherpa and the Shepettes read this blog so I will only comment by saying…moisture wicking.  Enough said. UnderArmor is good stuff.  Just buy what you need for your weekly round and you won’t go broke.

7: Socks:  This choice is more important than you might think.  I have a pair of Nike “dri-fit” socks that I wash overnight if I play twice in a row, because they are so absolutely comfortable.  Why?  They keep my feet dry.  No kidding..dry feet on a hot day is irreplaceable comfort once you have experienced it.  I actually get tired more quickly if I don’t have my moisture wicking socks on.  They are kind of expensive but my $10 pair has cradled the Sherpa’s toes on about 30 rounds and they show no sign of wear whatsoever.  Good value.

8: Finally…The Shoes:  Comfort is what you are aiming for here, above all else.  Buy them when you are not rushed.  Take at least 4 pair from the rack and see how they fit your feet.  You will be able to tell which ones fit best by taking your time and carefully comparing.  Really be picky about comfort and you will make a good decision. A good pair is about as expensive as a good running shoe.  Spend $80 to $100 on this shoe and you will not need another pair for at least a couple of years.  To make them last longer, follow my buddy Jimmy’s post round shoe routine.   A: Brush all debris from the spikes and soles.  B: Brush all loose dirt and dust from the uppers.  C: Apply a quick layer of polish and buff.  Jimmy can do his shoes in about 2 minutes and he has a pair he has been using for 4 years now (and they look brand new).

Bottom line:  Don’t go broke getting dressed for golf.  Make wise choices and for a lot less than you think, you can be comfortable on a hot day of golf.

If you have any tips, or know of some great “hot day” golf products that are easy on the wallet..share your comments.

Play on..and keep cool..

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…

Buying your first Driver…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Common Golf Pitfalls

While the Sherpa would prefer you spend much more time thinking about learning to putt well, inevitably, as a new golfer you will have to learn how to hit fairways.

Note: I did not say “hit drivers”.  Your goal is to hit fairways, which from time to time, may require the use of a driver.  In subsequent posts the Sherpa will expand upon this idea…but I digress.

Today we are talking about Drivers.

So maybe you have been hitting your dad’s old set or a set you borrowed from a sibling or best friend.  You have not doubt already noticed that hitting the golf ball with a driver can be kind of intimidating.

Don’t feel like you are in this by yourself.  The fact is that hitting driver requires skill and in years past, used to be very difficult with older equipment. 

The good news is that golf manufacturers have spent lots of money developing golf clubs that make this much easier…even for beginners.

The other great news is that several generations of drivers have now been made and sold, which has driven the cost of these wonderful clubs down significantly.  For instance, I just bought a Callaway  FT5 (driver) from Edwin Watts (on their used rack) for $119.  This club was over $300 new.  Dick’s Sporting Goods is selling it brand new for $199!  So you won’t go broke trying to buy one.

So what driver are you looking for as a beginner golfer?

With so many drivers available, let’s approach the problem by asking “what does a beginner need in a driver”?

  1. High MOI -  In short, this is the club’s ability to keep from twisting when you don’t hit the ball in the center of the club.  All manufacturers have “High MOI” drivers and make it clear which models possess this capability.
  2. Shaft vs Swing Speed – As you swing faster, you will need a shaft with stiffer flex.  Go to any golf store that has a swing monitor and they can test your swing speed and shaft needs without spending any of your dough.
  3. Loft  – Most beginners need a driver that has a loft of at least 10.5 degrees.  This is a general rule based on the fact that most new golfers have lower swing speed and struggle to get the ball in the air consistently.  Again, any golf store with a monitor can help you with this…just go in an hour before they close and they’ll typically have plenty of time for you.
  4. Other technical junk…don’t worry about it.  You aren’t at the level you need to worry about it yet.

Bottom line:  Buy a High MOI driver for under $200 with the proper shaft flex and loft (as determined by your golf store on their launch monitor).

Not hitting it great all the time is a function of your developing golf swing that will improve with a lesson and proper practice.  A well chosen driver, however, will actually help compensate for off center hits and give your developing game more tolerance for error off the tee. 

Let me know if you are thinking about buying driver or any other club and I will gladly give you advice.  The Sherpa wants to help you make the best decision you can when it comes to your game or your hard earned dough.

Play on..

The Sherpa