Golf Haiku…

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

During the weeks since my injury, the Sherpa has spent time musing about things to keep my ADD mind busy.

During this period I have discovered a fascination with Haiku. 

Haiku…a centuries old form of Japanese poetry is addictive to write and beautiful in its form.

To compose you need only remember a few simple rules:

1: Three verses.

2: First verse = five syllables

3: Second verse = seven syllables.

4: Third verse = five syllables.

That’s it…

Golf impressions that swirl around the Sherpa’s labrynth of a mind sometimes end up in posts…today they will make their debut as poetry…

Enjoy dear reader…

 

“Weekend Money Match”

Putted ball rolls in

Pandemonium ensues

Old friends exchange skins

“Peril at the PGA”

Watching from fairway

Tiger yells “fore left”!…UH, OH

Nike dents my head

“Golf’s Sweet Agony”

Golf is sweet agony

Each round like a candy bar

Each hole one less bite

“Ode to Tom Watson (’09  British Open)”

The old man contends

His brilliance transcends eras

My heart is broken

“Driving Range Wisdom”

Practice makes perfect

Only if you prepare well

Else misery reigns

“Marriage Counseling”

Try to play each week

Your spouse needs the time alone

And you need practice

“Golf and the Everlasting Soul”

My best friends play golf

Each is going to heaven

Where everyone pars

“Golf Perspective”

I see my bad lie

I know it could be much worse

I could be at work

“The Golf Cult Zealot”

Surlyn is my god

I worship it on the green

Putters are holy

“Anxious Putter”

Roll ball at the cup

Hope I catch more than the lip

Putts can make me cry

“Golf and Haiku”

Golf is like Haiku

Requires more fives than sevens

Both are poetry

 

Bottom line:  Sometimes in sharing ideas (as with swing thoughts), less is more. 

Fascinating…

Take a moment and write me your favorite Haiku thought. 

Play on…

The Sherpa

Random golf Trivia…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Trivia

Since the Sherpa has overloaded you with tales of woe or golf tips, I thought it would be fun to tee up some of my favorite pieces of golf trivia…without being trivial.

Why are there 18 holes in golf?

I wish it were because of some symbolic linkage to 18 shots of whisky (as I have heard in faux trivia sound bytes).  Alas the origin seems to be more about an apparent desire to simply add more playing capability (to existing courses) than a deliberate effort at some drinking sport.

Oddly enough, written history dates back to the veritable mecca of fine spirit distillation.

In Scotland, you see,  it was common to have all manner of course designs that included typically between 5 and 14 holes.  Clearly no standard existed…until St. Andrews changed their layout in 1857.

Between 1857 and 1858 they put in second holes in 8 of their double greens on the Old Course and the 18 hole round was born.  Later the trend was legitimized further by Old Tom Morrise himself when he advised Carnoustie to extend their 10 holes to 18.

Jean Van De Velde is still wishing Old Tom had stopped at 17.

Do women play more slowly than men?

The Sherpa has no charts or graphs to support an aggregate theory of females and their speed of play.  Instead, I will tell you what I have observed over these past years.

  • Men and Women alike play extremely slowly if their handicaps are high…they lack experience and skill…its not a girl thing.  Usually it’s exacerbated by some knucklehead 20 handicapper trying to give his girlfriend or wife a litany of bad tips which only make the poor woman more insecure and less capable of making a reasonable swing at the ball…sorry guys…we do this…like it or not.
  • My best friends aunt Beverly by contrast is a mid handicapper and has been playing for over 10 years.  “Bev” is so quick to prepare for each shot that I am usually the slow one.  What’s more…I have not played a round with Bev that took more than 3 and half hours when the course is loose.  God bless her…

Bottom line: If any woman is skilled and doesn’t have to deal with a knuckle dragger intent on “helping” her…she will play just as slow as men.   Again…this is just opinion based on what the Sherpa has seen over the years.

Why is one under par called a birdie?

According to Wiki Answers:

“Over a century a go “bird” was a word used to describe something good, like cool is today, it is believed back in 1899 in Atlantic city a pretty good golfer called Ab Smith was playing with some friends. On the last hole he hit his shot to a few inches of the hole on his approach and called out “That was a bird of a shot!” He then made the putt. He and his playing partners subsequently decided to call a score one under par a birdie.”

My research came across several sources that said “bird” was the “cool” of the 1800’s so the quote above seems plausible.

The only contravening anecdotal evidence is etched in family lore of my dearest great grandfather “Apa” when he had his once in a decade spell of unmitigated anger directed at my poor grandfather “Jawich” (his beloved son in law).  Said a different way, “bird” has evidence of a “not so desirable” connotation…at least when my Apa used it on my Jawich one fateful day.

History recounts the two driving along a bank of a waterway observing things on a property that my Apa owned.  Jawich lost focus and ran the truck (and his 92 year old father in law) into the drink.

Later as the farm tractor was pulling the waterlogged truck out of the canal Jawich’s son Jerry offered to drive them back to the house in his truck.  Apa turned to his grandson and in an angry monotone uttered the now famous phrase…

“Ok Jerry, you drive”, then pointing an accusatory finger back at Jawich said, “but THAT BIRD, sits in the back of the truck”.  Apa was pissed…and “Bird” was definitely not “cool”.

Why does a golf ball have dimples?

This question was the one that took the most research and synthesis (so that I did not replace your sleeping pill with my answer).

The answer is really pretty cool and is broken in to two sub-questions.

Aside from the mechanics how were dimpled balls discovered to have better flight? 

The answer lies in the history of the gutta percha ball (developed in 1845) which was made from the gum of the Malaysian Sapodilla tree.  In the heating and molding manufacturing process this waterproof ball had a smooth surface.  Ironically at the time, smooth golf balls were expected to possess better flight characteristics…but it flew worse than it’s predecessor the “featherie”.

Soon, it is believed that a professor at Saint Andrews University in Scotland noticed that older used balls, with nicks and scrapes, flew further.

How do dimples help ball flight?

Interestingly the answer lies in what happens behind the ball as a result of the dimples.

  • On a smooth ball you get more dense airflow around the ball called “laminar flow” .  This type of flow is so rigid and uniform that it makes a nasty little pocket  behind the ball as the airflow stubbornly keeps separating from the point at which the ball initially cut the air.  This little pocket of air behind the ball acts kind of like a weight and puts drag on the ball.
  • On a dimpled ball you get a less dense airflow around the ball called “turbulent flow”.  This type of flow is much less rigid and therefore, “hugs” the ball much longer.  This soft hug extends well to the back of the ball, choking out the nastly little drag pocket left by a smooth ball’s “laminar” flow. 

Bottom line: Kill the pocket…lift the ball.

I love thinking about this stuff but Mrs. Sherpa also wants me to ponder how much I spent on golf balls last week.  I did a bad thing and must be punished.

Play on…

The Sherpa

Do you know how to set up your “Setup”?

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Practice Fundamentals

Well now…just when you thought the Sherpa was out for good…I AM BACK!

The arm still hurts quite a bit and the wrist is very very stiff, but I am in shape enough to write on a keyboard without “level 10″ pain so here goes…

As is well documented in my earlier post (replete with Xray), the Sherpa is using the untimely and excruciatingly slow recovery time (from a broken left wrist) to re-baseline my approach to golf.

A couple of posts ago, I talked about how I was going to attack the fundamentals and really re-evaluate my knowledge and approach to practice in particular.

Today, I will wax philosophic about how the Sherpa will re-tool his “set up”.

“Context please, Sherpa smartypants”, I can hear you already…

Simply stated, your “set up” position is the position you are in immediately before you swing the club.  It is literally how you are aimed.

The key is that whether you are deliberate or not, the “setup” defines where the ball is going to go…so it is very important that you understand and build it very carefully…if you intend to be consistent.

Think about driving a car and not knowing exactly how to use the steering wheel relative to the aim of the tires…if you lived long enough to pay them, your insurance premiums would be astronomical.

To keep my golfing “wheels” between the medians more often, I am going to recalibrate my “setup” and here is how…

Practice objective: Use fact based knowledge to practice the science of ensuring that my set up is calibrated with my grip and target so that I am consistently lining up on my target.

Key fact(s):

  1. A ball that spins sideways at a relatively high rpm when compared with backspin has as strong tendency (like a gyroscope) to move in the opposite direction of the sidespin applied to the ball at impact.
  2. Some balls are engineered to spin more than others.
  3. Long irons impart relatively low backspin…when compared with wedges.

Practice Regime:

The very specific objective is to calibrate my aim relative to the target or setup.  To do so I will optimize the conditions for practice and observable feedback, while removing as many variables from the system as possible.

From the facts and objective, therefore, I will use high spin balls and practice this module with only long irons.

Why?

I know what direction I am hitting it already.  (If you don’t,  try the 06/09/09 posting entitled “The Sherpa rises from the golf Ashes”.  It is a great little module on understanding where you are hitting it.) 

What I want to know now is how to build a set up that will get a ball to consistently travel to a target of my choosing, WITHOUT SLICING OR HOOKING after I have sent my pill on its merry way.

To do so, I have to calibrate two key variables: Grip and Aim. 

Why Grip and Aim?

Grip defines clubface, therefore, spin.  Aim is the path the ball is intially put on by the swing.  When these work in unison you can send the ball to the target.

It will be especially important that you pick a day with very little wind to perform the following practice steps:

  1. Warm up and hit 10 low spin balls (range balls are ok) with  a wedge taking close notice to what path you are putting them on. Don’t worry about spin, just what direction you are sending them in.
  2. Now hit ten more at a target or until you can hit it at a target relatively well…we are not looking at perfection, just “hand grenade” close.
  3. Next take a long iron (3 or 4) and hit 10 high spin balls, aiming the same way you hit the wedge.
  4. Note how the ball spins…only casually noticing direction (you should be hitting the side of a barn at least based on your “rough” aim preparation in step 1 and 2). Obsess only on spin bias.  The holy grail is a personal personal “neutral grip”.
  5. Hit more balls using the following guideline:
  • If it hooks or even draws,  weaken your grip and keep hitting balls and adjusting your grip until they go straight.
  • If it slices or even fades, strengthen your grip and keep hitting balls and adjusting your grip until they go straight. 

Once you can hit balls with little spin bias (neutral like a “knuckleball”), all you have to do is….tweak your “aim”.

How?

If you noted, for instance, you were hitting it a little right of the target when your ball started going straight (ie with no sidepsin)…aim a little left…without changing your grip.

Viola! You will be in your personal “setup” that is aimed at the target with no sidespin…beautiful.

Special note:  Though I adore you for reading the Sherpa’s musings, I don’t want to over sell this practice module.  Your results will vary depending on your skill level, so stay with it…it’s why they call it “practice”…not “review”.

Trust with the energy of a zealot, however, that the approach is sound and will lead to good results.  Learning to practice properly is a fundamental requirement, and the Sherpa wants you to continuously improve.

Play on…

The Sherpa

The Sherpa rises from the golf “Ashes”…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Practice Fundamentals

In the immortal words of James Tiberius Kirk to Dr. “Bones” McCoy…”I’ve…got a plan”.

Yes dear readers, instead of sinking into a wallowing pile of self pity and depression, the Sherpa has decided to chart my plan for returning to the sacred game. 

On that glorious day when my surgeon (Dr. Sawbones) declares my left hand more functional than a creepy paperweight, I wish to be prepared, without any delay, to begin practicing once again.

My approach? 

Hint…no new wheels are going to be invented.  I will operate from pure, old fashioned and practical notions.   The Sherpa is resolved to KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID (aka KISS methodology).

Too many complicated theories have crept into so called “golf knowledge”, that make a logical and relatively straightforward game seem mystical and out of reach…kind of like the pretty cheerleader that you knew was never going to date you…no matter how cool you  and your chess club buddies were.

I digress…

I resolved first to take my own advice and have a practice plan of attack.

I also resolved to put my ego into park and review each key fundamental for the gift that it is.  No detail will be trivial, no core premise will considered less important than it’s peer and above all I am committing to reacquaint myself with each fundamental with curiosity and total committment.

Few times in your life are you motivated…or forced…by circumstances to pour a new foundation in a well worn “house of golf”, and the Sherpa has developed a sense of expectation and excitement for the journey ahead.

So…to specifics.

I will share with you in the next series of posts my “Sherpa Syllabus” of “golf fundamentals 101″.

The Sherpa will live by and practice these funddamentals, just as the Golden Bear did each year with Jack Grout in preparation for a career that included 18 majors.  I will be happy just to hit it pure again…occasionally.

Today’s practice notion in the Sherpa Syllabus of “Re-Entering the Game 101″ is…

Aiming.

Thought I was kidding huh?  No joke, I am literally going back to each fundamental and applying concrete sequential steps for reviewing, re-examining physics and understanding relevance of each principal within the golf game.

Onward..

Practice objective: Use fact based knowledge to practice the science of consistently aiming at very specific targets with the objective of doing so with more observable accuracy and confidence.

Key fact(s):

  1. A ball that spins backward at a relatively high rpm when compared with sidespin rpm has a strong tendency (like a gyroscope) to follow the path on which the ball was originally sent by the golf club.
  2. Some balls are engineered to spin more than others.
  3. Wedges impart relatively high backspin…when compared with mid and long irons.

Practice Regime: 

The very specific objective is to aim and send balls at targets.  To do so I will optimize the conditions for practice and observable feedback, while removing as many variables from the system as possible.

From the facts and objective, therefore, I will use low spin balls and practice this module only with short irons and wedges.

Why?

I want to see where I am hitting it (ie where I am aimed when the club hits the ball).  Remember dear reader, this is not a ball flight practice objective.  Using a low spin ball will lower the effect of sidespin, keeping backspin relatively high…giving the Sherpa the truest sense of where I am sending the “pill”.

With these optimized conditions and assuming good weather, the practice will be structured as follows.

  1. Select a target within wedge or short iron range.
  2. Use a rangefinder or step off the distance so that you know the yardage and are comfortable with it.  This is not a yardage drill per se, but knowing will keep you from being distracted by yardage during this session…key in staying focused on you stated practice objective.
  3. Lay down an aim club which aims exactly at your target.
  4. Lay down a parallel club to aim youself with.
  5. Lay down ten low spin balls (range balls will work).
  6. Align your feet, knees and shoulders with the club from step 4.
  7. Hit ten balls and don’t concern youself with yardage…only aim.

At this point, I will have G money with me to address any alignment issues, but don’t fear, this can be a solo outing as well.  My point is just that it is usually more productive if you have a buddy with you to validate that your feet, legs and shoulders are aligned at address.

Did you hit most of them left?  If so, aim a little right.

Do not try to change your swing….today you are aiming.

As you move through trial and error you will soon discover whether you need to aim a bit right, left or precisely at the target to get the observable objective you seek (ie hitting the target area somewhat consistently).

Every person is different and so will be your alignment bias that eventually reveals itself in this practice regimen.  

I have a very good friend who is a scratch handicap, who would see that his bias requires him to aim a little right  and play a slight pull.  This is his natural tendency and because he  knows and trusts it he is an aiming “machine”.

Bottom line:  There is no single perfect alignment.  Each body is endowed by the creator with capabilities, biases and limitations.  The purpose of  this drill is to reveal what aim bias works for you so that as things become complicated under pressure, you will know on a very real and trusting basis what yours is. 

No kidding…to aim consistently, you need to know your personal tendency like you drivers license number or your wedding anniversary.

Play on…

The Sherpa.

Do you know how to use your sand Wedge?…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Equipment Advice

The Sherpa has commented long and fierce about the mental game…and quite frankly his foursome is ready for some posts about technique. I thought I would focus today on one of the least understood clubs in the bag. Strangely enough, it is one of the most used…

The sand wedge has an interesting history.

In 1935 Gene Sarazen was credited with developing…and winning with what has been recounted as the first sand wedge. Three years previous to Sarazen’s insight, all kinds of wedges were being developed to help out of rough and sand.

Most of the new designs failed the R&A and therefore died in development.

Sarazen’s design conformed because, unlike other outlawed “spoon” (or concave wedges), his wedge had a flat face.

He also was the first to add weight with extra lead to help drive it through sand.

Thanks Gene…the Sherpa hopes the traps in heaven are filled with dry sand that is silty and light.

Back here on earth you need to understand the characteristics of modern day sand wedges.

“Sherpa”, I can hear you ask, “What do I need to know about this wondereful tool?

Two things really.

  1. It is most likely the heaviest club in your bag. With a swing weight (the relative heaviness of the head) akin to a sledge hammer, it is designed to allow you to drive it through obstructive surfaces like sand, deep grass, etc.
  2. It has a fat sole.  Bounce, as it is commonly referred to is the relative roundness of the bottom of your sandwedge.  The bigger the bounce, the more the club will skip (bounce) and not dig into sand or other surfaces.

How do you capitalize on the properties?

First understand that they exist and imagine how you would use them.

First let’s think about club weight..

The universal truth about your  sand wedge is that, because of its weight, you do not have to swing it hard to be effective.  Its mass allows you to transfer significant energy to the ball without getting “medieval”.  The trick to using this force is to keep the club stable (as with all other clubs) by dragging the head with your hands instead of trying to push the club. 

Think about how stable  you can make a shopping cart when you drag it behind you by one finger, but it requires both hands to “steer” when you push it from behind the cart.

Your sand wedge operates exactly the same way…when considering stability.

Remember all of the leverage is in dragging…not steering.

Now let’s think about bounce..

General rule #1 about bounce…the looser the ground the more you want it.

General rule #2 about bounce…you make more of it when you open the clubface at address.

Now apply these rules to a shot you face…

Example 1:

You are in a sand trap and the sand is very loose.  The choice seems clear that you should use sand wedge and will need some bounce (since the sand is nice and loose).  To get bounce two things need to happen: 1: you set up aimed left so that you can 2: open up the clubface at address (and not land right of the target). 

No sweat…done it a million times..but what if the sand is firm?

Example 2: 

If the sand if firm, now the surface is not loose and if you open the clubface at address (to create bounce off of a tight surface) you will skip it off the hard sand and probably skull your beloved pill. Better to make the face square to the target so that it will dig and not bounce…

Starting to see it? 

Bottom line:  All lies are not created equal and the harder the surface of the lie, the more square you want the clubface at address.  Conversely, if a lie is extremely loose like rough or loose sand..aim left and open the clubface wide open.  If we practice these basic principles we follow in the footsteps of a golf tradition that would make Mr. Sarazen proud…and you less frustrated.

Play on…

The Sherpa

Happiness and the argument for guilt free Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Common Golf Pitfalls

As the Sherpa gets older some of the truths about golf and life become self evident.  If only the filter by which my conscience evaluates my time on the course were more refined when I was younger, the Sherpa would have been more adept at squeezing every ounce of fun that golf has to offer.

The context for my commentary this evening is the argument which must be made for happiness as an offset to some golfer’s perceived need for guilt at spending time on the golf course (as opposed to spending it in more “pressing and serious matters”)….baloney.

Life, unlike your favorite golf course can only be played once.

So how do we capitalize on the one big “go around”?

Believe it or not, behavioral scientists have actually tried to quantify happiness and isolate its attributes.

They went about it by first isolating “happy” people in polling.   Responders who claimed to be “very happy” were grouped and asked a battery of questions.

The attributes of very happy people were aggregated into three distinct themes.

  1. They had rich and lasting relationships.
  2. They had hobbies that distracted their minds completely…called being “in flow”.
  3. Third they made and kept very deliberate plans to do things that made them happy.

 

The Sherpa has been, unknowingly, practicing quite good happiness hygene.

Mostly because of golf.

Evidence:

  1. The Sherpa very carefully and thoughtfully cultivates and nurtures high value relationships in “golf society”…read my post about my dream fouresome.
  2. Golf completely distracts the Sherpa and keeps me in flow to the exclusion of any other thoughts…pure obsessive joy.
  3. I play golf often because it makes me happy and connects the Sherpa with a source of energy only available in two other areas of my life (Mrs. Sherpa and the Sherpettes).

Unexpected consequence…

If I am selfish with my golf, my home life gets better.  Because I am happy, I am a more focused father, a better husband and a better writer.

Mrs. Sherpa in her wisdom also knows this and encourages guilt free golf, because she wants the one she loves so dearly to have a happy life….and because it makes him a better daddy.

Bottom line: What precious few learn is that every moment that passes leaves us and never returns…except in our memories.

The trick is the memories you create along the way.

Play golf… be happy.

Play on…

The Sherpa

The Quail Hollow Clinic…

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

As any golfer on the planet would agree…the Sherpa would watch Tiger play golf with a rake and a tennis ball. Normally he is exciting, intense and a wealth of knowledge for the committed observer.

Today scared me a little…

Normally, the field is pressing and when Tiger makes a run, his competitors have to be perfect…Tiger is perfect down the stretch…normally.

Today, at Quail Hollow this was not the case.  As he did on Saturday, some sloppy bogies were made Sunday with short clubs in hand.  This the Sherpa was totally understanding of…given some of the pin placements and wind conditions.

What really spooked me was his abysmal putting down the stretch….wow.  Today his game looked a lot more like mine.

“Context please Sherpa”, I can hear you asking, “before you get busy with all the mental mumbo jumbo”.

Anyone who has read a popular golf putting poll has invariably seen the one that asks, “if you had one putt to make a million dollars… win a tournament…cure cancer…save your cat, who would you want to make it?”

Simple and clear everytime….Tiger by wide margins.

Many of these same polls are given to his colleagues yet the answer never changes….Tiger is a “putting machine”.

Until today…

What did the Sherpa see? 

Doubt…damed, dirty putting doubt.

The Sherpa has long believed that Tiger has a special organ that actually secretes a hormone that inhibits doubt, or so I have read (on the interweb). 

What else could explain his otherworldy capacity to avoid it for so many seasons?  Did his special doubt killing hormone dry up or has he just temporarily lost his mojo?

More troubling is the fact that he worked on this part of his game (putting) even while he was rehabbing, and has made some humdingers just this year to win…or did you miss the Memorial?

Technically Tiger is a better, more sound golfer than ever before.  His knee is taking a full swing now..he is not nursing it at all.

Something, however, is getting in his way.

First there was the futile duel that his mind allowed him to be tricked into with Phil at the Masters (see my post about it).  He got so wrapped around the axle trying to skin Mickleson that he made some crazy decisions and bruised a tree pretty well (a la 18 handicapper).

Now during this tournament as I watched him putt, I saw him actually yip a putt.

For a moment the Sherpa felt like Neo when he discovers the Matrix.

The Sherpa believes that the fountain of doubt springs from Tiger’s realization that he has not been able to see things as mentally clearly as he would like to. 

He has got to know that his strategy at the Masters was poor and the realization that he got sucked out of his gameplan has got to make him feel vulnerable. 

In the final analysis, it appears to my curious eye that doubt and vulnerability are insidioulsy creeping into many of the shots he’s hitting and into his most sacred realm…his cold, calculating, titanium-hard “putting mind”.

The saddest fact for me personally, is that while Tiger’s swing coach selection has been strategically to suit changing needs…..

His only puttting muse was is beloved (and irreplaceable) father.

More than mechanics, practice or swing thoughts, Tiger knows he has to get his mind back…and he has to do it alone.

Or as the Sherpa would say, he needs to “Play Golf”…confidently. 

Bottom Line:  No lesson tonight just this thought…

More likely than not, Tiger has already had the putting “doubt” lesson from his dad…and will work it out.  I am fascinated by watching Tiger struggle,  not as a sadist, but as an awestruck fan who knows that world beaters obtain that title by overcoming things that normal creatures cannot.  The Sherpa learns the most by observing those moments…you can too.  Keep looking for it.

Go Tiger…

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

Practice doesn’t always make perfect in Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Uncategorized

Sometimes the Sherpa needs no inspiration to write about things I think plague the beginning golfer. Sadly, one need only visit the driving range to see one of the major impediments to golf development for beginners…practice.

“Sherpa”, I can hear you saying, “now you are just be provocative”.

Let me lay some context on you.

Perhaps the Sherpa should have said “poor practice”. Feel better?..I do.

Think back at the characters you have seen at the range almost every time you’ve been on the holy practice ground…

Each have the same thing in common..see if you can guess what it is.

  • Quick shot McGraw – This person typically is more concerned with getting practice over with. You have seen this character…tees up and hits a ball and before the first one has even hit the ground, rakes over another one and hits it “lickety split”. Doesn’t look at ball flight, direction or even where it came down. Rake, hit, rake,hit….
  • The Mechanic – This person is looking at their hands, their feet, the clubhead… Obsession with swing positions clouds their mind to the exclusion of what is happening to the ball. Grip, waggle, look at hands, swing…repeat.
  • The Beater – This person is obsessed with the amount of balls they hit, as if a quota were in place that will improve swing capability if only 300 balls get hit in one practice. If a little is good…then a lot is great. Not true in medicine or golf.

Have you seen the connection yet? Sure you have…none of them are practicing….they are just hitting balls, hoping that things will get better.

None of them are measuring success as it is measured in golf.

Broken record alert…for those of you who dutifully read my blog…the Sherpa is at it again…you’ll see.

Said a different way, the only thing that matters is whether they are getting better at sending the ball to a targetnothing else is “golf”.

It saddens the Sherpa to see this happening day after day at golf ranges around the country.

It honestly breaks the Sherpa’s heart to see good people with good intentions taking the time to get better at this wonderful game, only to be rewarded with worse swings and less accuracy,

How do you keep from falling into this trap?

  • The most basic and simple rule is from the “Godfather”..Harvey Penick.  Be quick, mechanical or beat a million balls…if you must, just don’t do so without picking out a target EVERY TIME YOU SWING. How will you know if you are getting better? Never break this rule.
  • On EVERY swing evaluate the flight of the ball and do not come out of your stance until the ball has hit the ground. Volumes have been written on how vital it is for your brain’s learning capacity to stay in your stance until you SEE THE BALL HIT THE GROUND. To connect your mind to your swing, the absolutely most effective way is to keep the feel of your swing fresh as you see the ball react. When you step out of your stance, you lose the connection..instead you witness the ball fly, as opposed to connecting it to your swing feel.
  • If you get tired, quit. You are not going to hit the perfect 6 iron every time and chasing it will only make things worse. Jack Nicklaus was very careful with this rule. He was certain that you could turn good feel into bad feel if you practiced tired. Better to finish when you are still relatively fresh and haven’t allowed fatigue to put you in poor posture (or some other swing killing move)  that could masquerade as something you need to “fix” (when in reality you are just tired..and nothing is really broken).
  • Have a plan…work on one maybe two drills “tops”. This is marathon, not a sprint Tiger. Learning one thing well is much more valuable than working at 5 things poorly.

Bottom line: This issue causes the Sherpa to lose more sleep than any other in amateur golf. The driving range, if used wisely, can derive real improvement, but left to chance can create havoc and misery. I want you to be wildly successful..or at least steadily improve. Practice with good habits and you improve your odds impressively.

Play on…

The Sherpa

Golf is like a box of Chocolates…

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

To be sure, the Sherpa will never be mistaken for the “sharpest knife in the drawer”, but Golf …my beloved game…sometimes makes me feel like “Forrest”.

Today, you see, while getting “beaten like a rented mule” by my favorite golf course, the Sherpa had to gracefully endure the round from hell.

Now, however, I can hardly contain my laughter.

Why? 

Because I was snakebit from the first tee.  I found every hazard and every bad lie on my beloved course and…well…sometimes frustration is just plain funny.

Examples:

  1. On a drivable par 4, I ended up under a tree…on the opposite side of me from the tee box.  The Sherpa figures that: Either the Earth spun backards for a moment,  I hit another tree and ricocheted it back towards me or a squirrel with a sadistic sense of humor set it there so that I would be astounded by how physics had been suspended somehow.
  2. After hitting it just off the fairway (on a par 4) I was forced to hit back out of a hazard.  As you have done a thousand times, the Sherpa also chose a low loft club and made a well committed strike and…pow…I hit the exact edge of the cart path and (miracle of miracles) was able to ricochet it 10 yards backwards, and yes EVEN DEEPER IN THE HAZARD….awesome.
  3. After hitting it just off the green left (on a par 5), it rolled into a hazard.  Again, the Sherpa lined up and committed to a shot out of the hazard.  As I struck my shot, it happily ricocheted off a tree in a beautiful arc backwards and…yes..even more deeply into the junk on my left…whoo, whoo!
  4. After hitting a beautiful bump and run (on a long par 4) my ball was chasing nicely up onto a tucked pin and…pow hit a rake and stopped cold…(insert bad word here).
  5. On a dogleg left, I hit a roping draw…nice and long and just as it reached the turn…the wind vicously shifted and slapped the ball into the water as if swatted out of the sky by the very golf god that I have so dutifully worshipped..why hast thou forsaken me?
  6. On a simple par 3, during my backswing,  my belt buckle came loose and I duck hooked it into the junk on the left…does the Sherpa need  diet?

The littany goes on…but so does my love for the game.

I can hear it now, “Sherpa, have you lost your mind?  You were just treated like a red headed step child and you still love this game?  Do you have self esteem issues or did you not get enough toys as a kid?  What gives?”

The answer is simple…selective memory.

Golf psychologists talk a lot about Golfer’s memories being different from ours.  “The trick”, they say, “is that they forget bad shots, and remember only good ones”.

Good advice, I thought, so I put it to good use. 

Upon even more reflection, lots of good stuff happened too…and not just good shots….I just had to think about it a little.

  1. I made 3 birdies…how awesome is that?
  2. I made a very long putt to save par that had a double breaker and had to hit the exact center to go in…I knew it would go in halfway there.
  3. I made, “G- money” laugh so hard once that he choked on his soda…you shoulda seen it come out his nose.
  4. I thought of an upcoming  post…hint: It will be about putting and “Supa Fly” and I will collaborate on it…he’s gonna do some cool math.
  5. I saw a herd of 14 deer that reminded me of my dad and the times he took me camping as a boy…very good memories.
  6. I learned that “G-money’s” low round in competition was 66…you should see how he hits the ball.
  7. I realized that no matter how frustrated I get, I can keep my cool and be true to all of the lessons I have shared with you…I really sucked it up.
  8. I learned that “Supa Fly”, wants to be a pilot…god help us.

Even as I wrote the list I could not believe all of the recollections of good stuff that happened.  I was certain that I would struggle to find even one redeeming thing about this round.  Even now I am ashamed that I did not recognize all of the cool stuff that was happening.

In hindsight, the list of good far outweighed the bad, and because I value the entire experience, I definitely got my money’s worth today.

Bottom line: For the Sherpa, a round of Golf is a multi layered experience with wonderful subtexts and fellowship that (like a gourmet meal) has many flavors and textures.  The trick is to appreciate all of the flavors and having the awareness and presence of mind to appreciate them as they are unfolding…wow that’s good, I should write that down. 

Maybe next time I will take my own advice more carefully.  I pray that I do.

Play on…

The Sherpa