Sunday, 28 February 2010

No Hard Hats Needed- Lesson Four

No Hard Hats Needed- Golf Lesson Four

Quite a lesson. Lesson four out of five. The coach issued a new swing which would take approx two months to implement. So drumroll, in two months we will review this golfing lesson and see the results.

What did the swing involve? Well I can conclude that it did not involve anything you would see on Strictly Come Dancing. The swing involved a twist of hips but no 'cha cha cha'. Having twisted slightly, I leaned to my left (allowing the hip to twist but stay in line) and kept the baseball cap to the right of the ball. On swinging the club, I was informed it should not go horizontal (i.e. not like the legend John Daly) but stop mid air, with a straight left arm.

So how are these mechanics translated into practice? Well with difficulty, with so many mental 'checks', you might forget that you need to hit the ball. Alas, tricks of the trade include using a long mirror often located at a driving range and found in the teaching area. You should get some electrical tape and place two lines on the mirror. Yes folk may assume you are a wee bit weird, but it should help. Why use the mirror and electrical tape? You need to ensure that the head and hip do not move beyond the parallel lines. When using the technology/video system to analyse the mechanics, all the pros maintain a movement within a 'certain' range. When your movement (i.e. a beginner like myself) breaches the given parameters/range, it will result in a duff shot.

Did it make any difference? 'Yes' and 'no' is the answer. Some horrific shots but one or two good ones. Coach advised that Faldo when training was not allowed to hit a golf ball for 6 weeks….the drill was to simply practice the swing/movement. So practice is needed.

A couple of days later I made another outing to the driving range. This was a good decision. Things seemed to click. I managed to hit around 30 balls using this technique, with no duff shots. Although still difficult when moving between the driver and the irons to maintain the consistency.

Key Criteria Learnt From Golf Lesson Four:

-Practice the mechanics, stance and swing.
-Be patient and refrain from hitting a 1000 balls until you are confident you have the right 'swing'.
-Practice, Practice Practice.
-Use a long mirror if possible.

The Poll Results
Does the brand of your golf club make you a better player?
The results were 'even stevens'. 33% reported 'yes', 50% reported 'no' and 16% were 'unsure'.

I would strongly recommend you read the comment by Mike regarding the blog entry: 'do golf brands really matter?'

He raised some excellent points, and a good comparison with playing a basic guitar (to learn the basics) before then moving on to better kit. Anyhow, have a quick look and please do add any further comments. It was an interesting blog entry and we will return to this topic in future editions.

The next poll will ask the question:

Does a 'water' feature such as a lake or river have an adverse effect on a player's score?

Next Blog….

The next blog entry will look at 'golf photography' and the 'Zen' of the golf course.....

If you have enjoyed reading captaingolf, bookmark the page and spread the word. You can also contact captaingolf at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

No Tee?

Think Outside of the Box

Good day ladies and gents. The blog entry today is not about how you like your tea.....(sugar, no sugar, milk, no milk, herbal or traditional)...instead it takes a look at a tee used by the golfer John Daly. The key question is, does the type of tee make a difference? The answer is clearly 'no' if you are John Daly. Why use the ring pull when a golf club will do the trick? You can get more bang with your dollar, tee off and then have a cheeky bevie. Although a crate of 18 cans could slow the round of golf....

Take a butchers at the following clip:



On a more serious note...does a taller tee result in a higher trajectory of the ball? Food for thought...

Next Blog Entry

Well the block of five lessons is nearing completion. The next blog entry will look at what was learnt in lesson four regarding www.captaingolf.blogspot.com 's journey of improvement. There should be a few gems appearing in the blog over the next month or so.

Enjoyed Reading www.captaingolf.blogspot.com ? If so spread the word, more the merrier comrades.

Got an idea/suggestion? You can email me at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com. Or simply post a message on the blog using the 'comment' data fields.

If you have not already.....look at the poll on the right...

Regards

captaingolf

Monday, 22 February 2010

The National Golf Course + Oak Tree

Practice Practice Practice

Sunday was another chance to put the coaches' words of wisdom into action. This was a three person outing at a National golf course in the UK. Unfortunately there was no time to practice at the driving range, there was an opportunity to tee off earlier ahead of two games of four pairs. Just as well, otherwise it would have been a long day.

Teeing off with the 'gatekeeper' watching, time seemed to stand still. I used the driver but sliced the ball wide, to the right of the fairway and into the woodland. It wasn't a great start. The conditions were changeable, initially we experienced snow, then sleet, rain and lastly sun. I had opted for a cheeky yellow ball in case the Gods were to let rip.

As I took my stance in the woodland, there was a beast…..of an oak tree, its trunk wide in diameter, towering over my position (although five metres away). Sods law, the wall would strike this imposing monster/menace…and it did.

An almighty ping, followed by a 'doing' and the ball rebounded off the tree and ended about twenty foot behind my original position. Still relatively close to the tee, the two four ball pairs had arrived on the horizon and no doubt witnessed this battle against the tree.

The form did improve. When the technique worked it worked well. Playing off a 28, I managed a score of 17…not fantastic but an improvement from the 9 the previous outing.

Things that threw me were striking the ball on an uneven surface….this shot was not in my golfing vocabulary. I was yet to reach that golfing level or gain that skill, as one might experience in a computer game. Other gremlins continued to haunt, including the PW and SW. My short game was well either 'long' (i.e. 'over hit', chipped beyond the green) or 'very short' (i.e. the ball went nowhere). One might conclude that my short game was non-existent. Again…I had focused so much time on the long play, I simply did not have the right technique/follow through with the PW and SW. It was frustrating. Conquer those clubs and the handicap may well fall.

Another improvement had been the lack of balls lost. It was on the 17th hole I realised this fact…..and then 'plonk' one went into the lake, further up on the same hole, there was another 'plonk', the ball landed in more water. Moral of the story is don't tempt fate.

In a nut shell, Sunday included a lot of psychology. I was defeated by frustration. We finished the course on the 19th hole with a well earn't pint.

Next Blog Entry
The next Blog entry will be look at a comical clip of that legend John Daly in action on the course...

If you have not already done so…..check the poll on the right. Does the brand of golf club really make a difference?

You can contact captain golf at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com , any ideas/suggestions drop me a line.

If you have enjoyed reading www.captaingolf.blogspot.com spread the word...

See you soon

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Driving Range Practice Practice Practice

DRIVING RANGE ANTICS

Well today was a further day of trying to put into action the wise words of coach. The weather was not great, cold, damp and intermittent showers. This meant I would postpone my outing on the 18 hole course and focus my efforts at the driving range. The initial plan was to do the 18 hole alone, that determined to improve and play even when others can not make it! Bring on the better weather, sunshine and longer hours of day light.

In a nutshell, I didn't start well. 'On' and 'Off', some good, some bad shots. Slowly I tweaked my stance, 'left arm straight', correct grip', 'feet shoulder width apart', 'peak of the cap' to the right of the ball, 'drop the shoulders to the right', 'knees slightly flexed', 'bum out slightly'. Then as I drew the club back, I staggered the swing as recommended by coach, imagining the pane of glass.Turned the hips, moving the upper torso 90 degrees to follow the club. Keeping the head still but only twisting the upper torso I brought the club back through and struck the ball, following through.

It was great to see a sweet shot. However I was conscious that I was slipping back into the old routine. If the left hip wasn't turned sufficiently, the shot would go awol, or not anywhere at all. Eventually more consistency crept in, the stance feeling more natural. The bad side though, on a number of a occasions perhaps 8….I sliced the ball to the left and lifted the driving range nets, landing the balls on the main course, tally hoe old chap. It was then I switched to the PW and attempted to use the same pane of glass analogy.

On closer inspection, I noticed my five iron lynx starting to show ware and tear. Any one recommend a new set of clubs and the source!? Drop me a comment here if you do.

Next Blog Entry
Next weeks blog will look at an outing at a National Golf Course in the UK...as promised in last weeks blog. Did the above teachings work? We will see.....

If you have not already done so, check out the www.captaingolf.blogspot.com video in the blog entry 'Say Cheese'. Thumbs up and there may be more on the way.

Regards

Friday, 19 February 2010

No Hard Hats Needed- Lesson Three

LESSON 3

The key thing learnt from this lesson was the importance of the hips and how it affects the swing. Perhaps a hula hoop is the way forward. Moving on...

Using the coach's technology to monitor the swing, when recorded and replayed it was clear the head movement was still a problem. It had not gone away. The problem was still real. However to help combat this problem, coach gave me a good drill, it was/is hoped that this movement will remove the 'coil'/head movement from my golf swing. You can see the bad movement on the video which was uploaded to www.captaingolf.blogspot.com. Hopefully in future videos you will see an improvement in the swing action and it will look less mechanical.

Now the new drill. The 'staggered swing' drill made an instant impact. Staggering the swing and lifting the club directly, I kept the head still but rotated the hips, which resulted in improvement. I had to imagine a pane of glass, i.e. the club the club had to be lifted in such away the club did not break the glass but instead passed beneath.

Apart from the importance of hip movement in the golf swing, the relevance of the grip really hit home. This was responsible for some slices to the left and to the right. It was vital to have the correct grip.

Determined to improve I stayed for an hour afterwards to hammer home the technique, using a bucket of balls. Definitely have the bug…

Key Elements Learnt from Lesson:
-Imagine a pain of glass, the club must not break the angle.
-Stagger your swing to remove the coil movement.
-Rotate the hips 90 degrees and fully twist, but make sure the upper torso is looking straight ahead.
-Keep your eye on the ball and keep the head still whilst the above movement is taking place.
-Follow through as you hit the ball.

Next Blog entry:
The next blog entry will take a look at an outing at a National Golf Course in the UK. Did the above teachings work? We will soon see.

If you have not already seen the captaingolf.blogspot.com video, do take a look at the 'Say Cheese' blog entry and see if it gets the thumbs up. Leave a comment or two.

Thanks for reading, you can contact captain golf at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com with any news or suggestions.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Say Cheese

Lights Camera Action

Ok ladies and gents. I managed to create the first captaingolf video for www.captaingolf.blogspot.com Yes folk were requesting a video or two. See what you think and let me know if it gets the thumbs up or thumbs down?



You can still see an awkward movement/stance in the swing, yet this coach assures me will disappear once I crack the swing and keep the head still. Potential to add few more videos if this one proves successful. The stance was a lot worse prior to this. Hopefully it has improved since.

The Poll
Meanwhile, following on from the blog about golf brands, make sure you register your vote on the matter. Locate the poll on the right hand side.


The Next Blog Entry:
The next blog entry will look at lessons learn't from lesson 3 as promised in the previous blog.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Do Golf Club Brands Really Matter?

Now, we have all been there at school, at that age many of us are brand conscious, there is a pressure to 'fit in', 'be cool' or follow the 'cool one'. Whether it is trainers or the latest gadget.

From an increasingly early age, I think we are becoming more brand conscious.
The key question is 'does brand matter when it comes to golf?'
How does the golfing community feel about this? Is it more of a 'I am considerably richer than you' mentality or perhaps 'street cred' (maybe even a combination). Or does the brand actually make a difference to the quality of the club and thus ease of use and +ve impact on one's game.

One could assume a more expensive piece of kit is better, think of the R & D costs involved in its development. Yet in my local sports shop I have seen £20 Drivers ($30) one end and £200 ($250) the other end of the spectrum.

Crucially could two people of similar ability (i.e. consistently the same) over say 100 drives over a week (to remove anomalies) drive a ball on average the same distance and roughly in the same target zone? One using the £20 club and the other the £200 club. Such a test would produce a heroic piece of data. I hope some of you reading this will take this challenge on and please post your findings.

One thought is, a more expensive club, comes with it an entourage of marketing and branding. Psychologically I guess we feel 'better' and perhaps more confident if we consciously have a more expensive club, and that, combined with the 'street cred' , one hits a better shot as a result. Thus one might conclude the advantages of a more expensive club are psychological which in reality results in a better shot.


Next Blog Entry
The next blog entry will delve into lesson three of the golfing journey....

Links
If you have enjoyed the above blog, add a link to www.captaingolf.blogspot.com and spread the word. You can also email me at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com

Poll
Don't forget to look at the poll. Does the brand of your golf clubs make you a better player?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Captain Golf Equation: Maths can be Fun: (a*b/c)+(d+e)=f

Age and Golf: Is there an Optimum Age to Play Golf?

Does age matter when it comes to golf?
For many sports age plays a crucial role. For example, in football (soccer) outfield players generally reach their sell by date by the time they reach their 30s. Yet look at the world of Darts, the players are stereotypically not as lean and perhaps slightly older. Different sports have a different age ranges where the 'athlete' can stay competitive and compete at the highest level. The interesting scenario is with Watson (59), he still plays a great game. I guess the key question is
'what is the shelf life of a golfer?'
Injuries are sure to play apart and likely to be linked to age, but if one can stay injury free they can play competitively for a far longer period of time. Does a beer belly make you a better player, or does general fitness result in better play?
what are the variables involved?
If one could program a robot (that could play like a human), and give it all the best attributes what would the attributes be?

What is the definitive equation?
Could it be created? One could identify a glass ceiling of what and what can not be achieved.

The Captain Golf Equation:

Here I have listed some key attributes:

a=No. of Training Hours.
b=Player Age (too young; difficult to gage-inexperienced, too old:experienced but greater risk of injury).
c=Average Injury (total no.injuries/number of years playing golf).
d=Natural Talent.
(difficult to measure, perhaps a PGA coach could create a 1 to 10 spectrum on this).
e=Hand/Eye Co-ordination.
f=Golfing Potential.


Captain Golf Equation:

(a*b/c)+(d+e)=f

Could such attributes be scored and the maximum potential established for any player? One could identify a glass ceiling of what and what could not be reached? Food for thought. I hope to develop this equation further in future captaingolf.blogspot.com issues. Any thoughts/suggestions put them this way. Don't forget about the poll. Keep voting.

Next Week's Key Blog:

The next captaingolf.blogspot.com entry will take a look at golf brands and their impact.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog, please spread the word and forward the link.

Best regards

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

No Hard Hats Needed- Lesson Two

Lesson Two. No Hard Hats Needed.

Good day ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have had a good weekend. Today's entry is focussed on what was learnt from Golf Lesson Two. Gone are the days of slicing the ball and hitting the driving bay roof. Progression.

The lesson started with a review of the previous session and a quick check that I had remembered the key elements. The grip and starting stance were given the thumbs up. The next step was to look at the swing.

Now, we had cracked the initial stance and had successfully removed the hunched 'look'. I hit a few shots, some good and some bad. With the PGA coach looking on +camcorder, it was frustrating at times to miss the ball, but satisfying when a good shot was eventually hit. Next the video footage was loaded onto the laptop. in this example I was compared to the 'shark', that legend Greg Norman with his classic hat.

The key question was to establish why I could hit the ball well in one scenario but then miss or hit a poor shot there after. On looking at the video footage it was clear my initial stance was good….but as I swung the club, my head moved far more than needed.

Now then- I really do advise the use of technology and video profiling. The coach drew a square around my head (i.e. on the laptop) and it was clear that there was too much movement when the action was replayed. Greg on the other hand, as his motion was replayed stayed relatively stationary within his framework.

Now the solution: It involved head butting a pillar next to the driving bay, crazy times. No doubt there were some strange looks from the nearby golfers but it was a good exercise. The aim was to keep the head still yet allow the body to turn using one's hips. My previous style involved movement of the hips and head. The head needed to be stationary. This was potentially a 'headache' (the pun could not be resisted), my previous stance/swing had developed the bad habit of moving the head too much. The coach suggested that this was a major factor in my inconsistency, i.e. being able to hit one good shot yet then miss the ball thereafter.

Leaning against the pillar, I crossed arms over my chest and practised rotation with the head staying straight. According to the coach, this was an exercise popular with Faldo's and Tiger's coaches.

This was followed by an exercise holding the driver horizontally behind my shoulders, almost crucifix like in description. Home work for the week was to perform the above manoeuvre 1000 times, teaching the body the correct method and making it feel natural. If I rock in my sleep, perhaps I've cracked it.



I spent another hour post lesson focusing on the new technique. There was instant improvement. So much so, I decided to use the driver, it felt good and there was consistency. Mental check points included: 'grip', ' left arm straight', 'head to the right of the ball', 'feet shoulder width apart' but pointing slightly outwards. On swinging the club, attempts were made to keep the head still whilst rotating the shoulders/hips as I turned with the club, ensuring that the left shoulder reached the gap beneath my chin whilst focussing my eye on the ball. I now had an objective 'check list', and felt like there was more structure compared to my previous approach.

Comically the 'range buggy' appeared on the horizon, a caged machine collecting 'hit' balls. Although tempting to use as target practice it delayed the practice session. My mind wandered and thought whether the sheer force from a ball driven by a driver could breach the caged unit on the buggy. Quite a dangerous job.

Out of the five lessons booked, two have been completed. The jury was out, whether I should attempt the gremlins, primarily the PW and SW clubs. The advice from the coach was to focus on the long game initially rather than the short game. An interesting theory, the theory that the short game could be counter productive and dilute the teachings of the long game. With that in mind, lesson three looks like it will focus on the swing.


Key Things learnt From Lesson Two
-Posture extremely important.
-Important to keep the head still (within an an imaginary square box), rotating only the shoulders/hips.
-Practice given exercises, recommended by Faldo's and Tiger's coaches as advised by my PGA coach.
-Feet: wide just wider than shoulder width apart, pointing outwards reacher than at 90 degrees.
-Long and short game: two different ball games. Conquer one and then the next.


In the next posting I will delve into age and golf……See you then...

(PS: If you are new to my blog, check out the previous post 'The Beginning' by clicking on the link in the archive on the right).

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Golfing Journey: The Beginning

1.00 Topic: Introduction
Welcome to my golfing blog, I hope it finds you well. The aim of this blog is
i) Document my journey from being a complete novice (i.e. pro at hitting air) to an average ‘half-decent’ player (although currently unsure whether it can be achieved or not).
ii) Give hope to other beginners.
iii) Talk about golf in general, equipment/share tips/gain further knowledge and host some cheeky polls if time permits.
iv) Hear your comments/thoughts.

I hope to update this blog as and when there have been any developments on my golfing journey.

2.00 Topic: Journey to date.
The Bug
Right, well I have the golfing bug, it is a fantastic bug and a great sport. If you are yet to discover the bug, give it a bash and then give it another attempt. A doctor is likely diagnose the ‘bug’ as having a ‘want’ or ‘need’ to play golf whenever possible.

For me the initial key was to go through ‘pain’ barrier, from not being able to hit a ball, to then one day ping the ball a fair distance (albeit not consistently). Once you get that great shot from an iron/hear the ping from the driver and you see the ball land in the distance, you have graduated from kindergarden on the golfing journey.

Background
How did I fall into this great sport? I hear you groan, however, you are still reading which is a good thing. Let me continue:

In 2009 I was given the daunting task of playing at Glen Eagles in Scotland on a ’stag do’. This was truly a baptism of fire. I had had no golfing lessons prior or extensive experience. In preparation, I on average visited the nearby golf range using my fathers old clubs two/three times a week before the baptism. Hitting around 100 balls for £5 there was improvement, but the source for my technique was largely youtube videos or reading various books. Having gained the ability to hit the ball (more times than hitting air) I took on one of the homes of Golf.

Now for any beginner, the first tee can be daunting, but at Glen Eagles there was perhaps a little more pressure. 18 potential monsters, of which you hope to tame. It doesn’t help if there is an audience watching. I had decided to stick to the five iron which soon became a good buddy of mine, although we would fall out more or less on every hole. Having watched my golfing partner slice the ball a couple of feet, some pressure was lifted. I stepped up, tried to remember my technique, swung, ‘clump’. A foot of turf was sent into the air, it travelled around five meters and the ball did not fare much better. Yes this was embarrassing, yet luckily the man in the hut (who’s role is to check that green fees have been paid) had been looking in the opposite direction. A quick fetch of the divot and I managed to replace the tear (followed by a gulp and a determination to proceed).

In a nutshell, it was a tough course, but an honour to play. The God’s decided to rain, torrential at times, the wind howled but it was manageable. I left a club in the rough and on another occasion it was so wet I lost grip on another club and it went further than the ball. However, despite the baptism of Fire I can conclude that yes there were a number of 8’s/rings but drum roll I did manage two level pars. It was the two level pars that gave me the encouragement to continue, I had the potential to hit good shots.

3.00 Lessons
Well ladies and gentlemen. Drum roll, I finally did the deed and enrolled for golf lessons. Now, to all beginners I strongly strongly recommend lessons from a PGA Coach. To date I have only had one lesson and unsurprisingly it was the best golfing lesson to date. The lesson involved lights, camera and action i.e. technology.

Using a computer program and camcorder, you can create a profile which shows your swing, posture/grip and compares it to leading golfers such as Mr Ernie Els.
Quite a revelation looking at one’s posture. I was hunched, had bad posture, poor grip and well it looked a mess (some may have called security). The PGA chap, gave me a new grip and stance. Comparing the old stance vs the new stance on video was a comical experience. Prior to the lesson, I did not look like a golfer, a transformation was needed.

Now, the plan was to put this new knowledge into practice at the next 18 hole outing. Yes it was part-successful, some sweet shots but again, more often than not, I would miss the ball or hit air. This proved to be very frustrating, two/three good shots with the five iron and then a scuff/miss. I contemplated taking a boxing bag on a separate golfing trolley, but the key was to keep a level head. Despite such frustrations, I persevered with the driver. To date, I had avoided the driver as my consistency had been far worse than the irons. Yet a driver is certainly crucial to playing 4/5 par holes. For every one strike from the 5 iron, my golfing companions had gone double the distance. For the last 9 holes, I used the driver, it worked and the ball went 200 yards. Perhaps with more lessons/a better swing it could go further, time will tell. The moral of the story is, a driver can save you shots, as long as you have accuracy. I will go into the short game in another blog entry.

Key Things Learnt from Lesson 1:
-Get lessons and then book some more.
-Ensure you have the right grip.
-Keep the left arm straight as you hold the club.
-Ensure your head is to the right of the ball (the straight left arm should cause your shoulders to dip slightly like a seesaw with a weight on one side).
-Knees should be slightly flexed.
-Your back should be straight, not hunched and the bum out slightly.
-Concentrate on the ball.
-I strongly recommend the video profiling.

Right, I will update once the second lesson has been conquered. Key areas I need to develop are a) adopt a good swing maintaining a good stance- b) improve with the SW and PW…they are gremlins at present.

Any other beginners out there or wise comments would be appreciated.
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