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

Golf equipment has not made “GOLF” Easier…

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

As you have no doubt figured out, the Sherpa prides himself on being positive and generally a “silver cloud” kind of guy. That is the case until I am engaged in a specific argument about the so called easing of Golf’s difficulties because of equipment innovation.

Don’t worry, dear readers the Sherpa is not making up for all his positivity with a tsunami of negative, “golf is hard” sentiment. I am merely saying that even though high MOI drivers make the middle of the fairway more familiar, golf balls go farther and a multitude of other innovations are taking place, handicaps have not appreciably changed.

Why? A key element of golf did not innovate..On Course Advice (AKA the Caddie).

It is no secret that the Sherpa’s definition of golf happens primarily between one’s ears. If it were not so, then getting advice from a “non caddie” during a round would not constitute a penalty. Even the rules of golf address the unfair advantage that on course advice provides.

Think of all of Tiger’s most famous moments. Right before he commits to superhuman execution, he talks it out with Stevie Williams (his caddie), because the more information he can gather, the better shot selection he can make.  Stevie knows all of Tiger’s yardages, all of his common misses (yes even Tiger has these) and can judge Tiger’s energy during a round to guess how it will affect certain shots.

Now superimpose this situation on the typical amatuer game. In our situation, we have no-one helping us out. We are typically unsure of our yardages (in certain cases). We have to keep our own energy up and have to rely on our own knowledge to score. Worst of all, we have a tendency to let our “internal caddie” call us all kinds of bad words when we miss a shot (I will expand on this idea in future blogs).

All of the technology in the world can’t make up for a calm soothing voice, that knows your game, telling you what you need to focus on to hit the right shot.

The dream of having a caddie is only realized for Professionals and insanely wealthy/lucky amateurs who arrange for them in certain circumstances.

Case in point:  A very dear friend in my current foursome called “G-Money” (not his real name nor his persona), who is not insanely wealthy, was given a gift of a caddie once on Bethpage Black. His experience, as you can imagine, was awesome.

G-Money recounts his experience…”I showed up an hour before my tee time and they called my name”. “George, who has caddied for 52 years, greets me and asks, ‘how many bags you want to hit’?”. Not knowing how to respond, G-Money says “do I have time”? George says, “you have time for at least one bag, cause I need to see your game, so I can properly caddie you around this track”.

All the Sherpa could hear at this point was a chorus of angels singing…for I knew that heaven did truly exist somewhere on this earth.

To make things even more idyllic, George next says, “I need to see you hit shots because you pay for a guide, not just a guy to carry your bag”.

You could have knocked the Sherpa over with a two inch putt.

G-Money went on to regale me with the calm and and joy he felt over every shot because, he had such a terrific “Caddie advantage” over his own mind and a very formidable course. In his words “George was better than any club (G-Money) had ever swung”.

Back in the real world we need to overcome this lack of innovation (live Caddying with over 50 years’ experience) with good solid on course strategy and mental game.  The challenge is to develop it in tandem with proper technique and physical conditioning.

Bottom line:  Golf is a wonderful game that you can get good at if you develop your mind as you would your golf swing.  Study it (you mind) like you would a cool new driver.  I will commit to keep writing about it if you will commit to keep reading and working on it as hard as you do your full swing.

Think on…

Your Faithful 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