Let’s not Putt things off

Over the past month, there has been huge events in the golf world. For one, The Masters tournament has passed. And over the course of the masters, some great things happened. Danny Willett became the first Englishman to win the tournament since 1995.

Of course, some lesser things transpired as well.

It is a bit comforting to everyone who aspires to be a great golfer, that even two of the world’s greatest golfers, can slip up catastrophically sometimes. It is also inspiring to see how these athletes can keep calm and composed, even when devastating plays occur.

In more personal recent time, getting out to the golf course has been a struggle. With Adventure Trip and other events, going out to play has been tough. So I have had to get creative to find time to learn more about golf and to develop my skills. In the beginning, I was focusing on my long game, developing my swing with the longer clubs such as irons and drivers. So recently I have had to develop my short game, using my putter and wedges.

I was then presented with the question: how can I develop these skills without going to the range? The answer was not far from home.IMG_1174 (1)

As you can see in the picture the answer lied in my own backyard. I would grab an empty pop or water bottle (recycling!!!) and use that as my target. I would then step back about 10-15 yards, grab a few balls and my chipper, and work on my aim and the weight of my shots. As one could assume, it is a helpful exercise for my short shots, and it is a bit of fun.

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As for putting, I do own a 7-foot putting mat. TIMG_1179 (1)he cup (hole) at the end is slightly smaller than a regulation size cup, so it sharpens my aim. As you can see, I am using different types of putters. It sometimes just depends on how I am feeling, or if a certain putter is just not working out for me. The putter I am most comfortable most times, is the one with the wooden shaft. This is very unusual for golf clubs, as most of them are made from some lightweight, metallic compound. But this wooden shaft has a really good feel when I hit the ball with the club. The club on the right is also a good putter. They are not necessarily better then one another, they are just different. As well, they have different grips, as seen above. The wooden one has an average size grip that works perfectly fine, but the other putter has a fat grip, which forces you to use your arms more than your wrists, something you want when putting.

As for my learning center, I will have to be creative. I do not want to be a run-of-the-mill golf learning center, it has to be unique. I think I would prefer to be inside, but with a good amount of space to potentially set up something of a mini-golf course. Nothing too m=big and extravagant, but enough to be impressive and give people a challenge. I have no doubt something like this has happened before, so I will be including many other aspects to my learning center. I have been uploading some videos of myself playing golf onto YouTube, so I will have a monitor playing a continuous loop of all the videos. As well, I will have some small cards on facts about golf and what I have learned. All the while displaying my golf bag and its contents to passersby. I hope to construct an extremely difficult “putting hole” and perhaps award a small prize to whoever can get their ball in on the first try.

In the near future, I will be playing at the full course. This is what my in-depth has been leading me to. Not putting in my basement, not hitting at the driving range, but actually playing golf. In a weekend to come I will be out there on the course, and I will be videoing it, no need to worry. And I have to say, this is the most exciting part.



Chipping Away at Things

Over my short golf career, I have really had one teacher – my dad. Thus far, he has been my biggest influencer on golf and has taught me most of what I know. I’ve received tips from relatives and taken one golf lesson with a person other than my dad. So as you can imagine, I’ve become used to what he has to say. I anticipate what he is about to say to me after he watches a swing of mine, and I have really only one other perspective on my swing. Not to say at all that this is a bad thing. No, not at all, if not for him I would not be able to complete this In-depth project to as high a degree as I could. So to have a mentor who is not a relative is definitely, well, different. But a good different.

I met with my mentor over spring break at the driving range. With Mr. Shorthouse, I gained quite a different perspective on the game of golf. As we learned in Socials, it’s always good to have multiple views on a particular. Just like this, it is extremely beneficial to have multiple views on my golfing technique.

On this afternoon in March, Mr. Shorthouse worked on several drills with me. One of which is using your left hand entirely to swing a golf club.

Golf is a game of opposites, as one will quickly learn. To make the ball go up, you have to hit down on the ball. A person who can lift 250 pounds may not be able to hit a ball as far as a fellow who only lifts grocery bags. And if you are right-handed, your dominant hand in swinging the club will be the felt, and vice-versa. I myself, am right-handed and generally use my right hand/arm to draw a picture, throw a pitch, or throw a punch. So using my left hand/arm as the brawn of the whole “swinging operation”, is of course, a bit challenging. Unless one is gifted with the ability of being ambidextrous,  your non-dominant hand is probably less coordinated and weaker. In golf, you cannot have that. So this drill is essentially doing a golf swing, but only with your left arm. This not only increases your ability to hit a ball and increase your strength, it also helps your all around technique, as it forces you to do the swing properly as your dominant hand can no longer assist you. We called it, “the cauliflower of golf”.

There were several other drills we went over and I completed them on all the general categories of club I had in my bag (chipping wedge, iron, hybrid, driver). This is something I’ve never done with my dad or anyone else really, and they had an immediate effect on my swing.

As you can perhaps see in this video of me, my swing doesn’t go nearly as high as it could, nor does it get to the optimal angle for a good and strong downswing. My wrists bend backwards way too early and my hip rotation is not used to its fullest potential. The drills mentioned above as well as some other coaching helped me improve this aspect of my swing. (this video was taken before my meeting with Mr. Shorthouse).

In comparison, here is Jordan Spieth. Currently the 2nd highest-ranked golfer in the world. Who would also hit this shot around 294 yards.

As you can see in this video, Jordan Spieth has virtually the perfect golf swing. He keeps his left arm straight the whole way through his backswing and keeps his wrists sturdy and unmoving until it gets close to the apex of his backswing. His hip rotation is used to his fullest potential and the momentum in his swing is, to put in layman’s terms, very very good. I can’t hope to achieve this any year soon, but it is aways good to watch and study professionals to see how you can improve your own swing.

Mentor-wise it has been going fairly well. Unfortunately we have only met once, but I believe it was a very helpful meeting. As stated before, my mentor has shown me a whole other side to my golf swing and how to improve (as you can see, it needs a bit of improving).

In the near future, we plan to hopefully meet at the range again, but for sure play at a golf course. There is a huge difference from hitting balls at a range, on a perfect, windless, flat mat, than from hitting balls on a soggy hill, tilted at a 34 degree angle with a howling wind and grass reaching up to your knees.

In short, I like to think that my game has greatly improved since I have started this project, and there’s only room to get better, now that I have a meeting with my mentor under my belt. In other news I have studied the techniques of other golfers, recently Jordan Speith as you may has inferred.

More meetings with my mentor forthcoming, and will be filming my progress at the full-size course soon.