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.

IMG_1175 (1)IMG_1177 (1)IMG_1178 (1)

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.

Into the (3) Woods

A quick lesson in golf: the clubs. There are several different kinds of clubs. The length of the club is proportionate to the distance the ball travels when you hit it. The shortest club is called the putter, used on the green to knock the ball into the hole when it’s relatively close to the hole. Going up in club length there is the chipping wedge and sand wedge, to be used in situations requiring more than a putter but less than an iron. Also used in situations requiring more vertical ball movement. Then there are the irons. There are irons labelled from three to nine, and the smaller the number on the club, the farther the ball goes. Following the irons come the hybrids. Hybrids are a newer kind of club, combining a long iron (lower-number iron) and a wood. They hit the ball farther than an iron, but shorter than a wood. Woods are the second longest club in your bag. Woods, or Fairways, are generally called into action when there’s +200 yards to the hole. Finally there are divers. No, they are not synonymous with chauffeurs, unless your chauffeur happens to be the longest club in a golf bag. These clubs are hit for the long holes and can go really far to say the least.

golf-club-list

Of all these golf clubs, I am most comfortable with irons and everything below. So naturally, I MUST STRIVE TO IMPROVE. So over the time of the last week, I went and got myself some new grips on some old woods. I’ve got to learn eventually, why not start now?

I had went to golf town, and chose some grips that I felt good in my hands. I have yet to try them out on the course but as can be seen by my videos in the last post, I have much to improve on hitting the woods.

Now, a big factor in this in-depth project is having a mentor. Regarding this, I have some good news and bad news. Good news, I have met my mentor. Yes, it has finally happened. Over last weekend at the Jazz Gala, I finally met with him and we talked a bit about the project.

We decided that it would be easiest for us both if we met over spring break and worked on my golfing skills.

Bad news, I still haven’t really done much with my mentor other than that. There is still much to do but we at least have gotten the ball rolling now.

The most difficult aspect of the mentoring process so far has just been trying to meet. My mentor is a pretty busy person and the times he has off don’t match up with the times I have off. However, I’m sure when we finally do meet and work together it should be just fine.

So in the meantime, I’ve been learning a bit more on golf itself. Learning the names of the clubs and what they do, why I should use a certain club at a certain time, as well as seeing how frustrating golf can be.

I was watching a golf tournament the other day. The tournament is called the Honda Classic. The set-up for the video in the following link is this. Adam Scott is leading by 4 strokes going into the 15th hole. He immediately hits his ball into the water, then does it again. Now he is shooting his 3rd stroke and he hasn’t left the tee boxes. Finally he hits a good shot onto the green, and of course, he misses his putt. By the end of the hole, Adam Scott has lost his 4 stroke lead and is now in second, one stroke behind the leader. This is an unfortunate and humorous reminder that even the pros have difficulties all the time and can sometimes be disastrous. Missing putts don’t make me feel so terrible anymore (No need to feel too bad for Adam Scott. He ended up winning anyways).

So very soon, I will be meeting with my mentor and I will have many more videos of my times with him. These upcoming weeks will be big ones in terms of my golf development.

Getting Into the Swing of Things

  1. I have yet to meet my mentor
  2. I will be doing that very shortly

Emails have been sent again and currently we are trying to find a date that works for us both. We will be meeting very soon however and I will be posting and updating the moment we are finished.

Now, just because I haven’t met with my mentor yet, doesn’t mean I’ve been simply waiting for a date to be set up. I haven’t been just sitting on the floor, counting my toes all day, wondering when to possibly start my project. I went out to the range and hit some balls. I went to my basement and pulled out my putter. I went to Google and learned a bit more on the history on golf and how it has become what it is in everyday and modern culture. Yes, I have been doing things.

I went to the driving range to go break in my clubs a bit. I haven’t really played golf in a number of months so I was not expecting much from myself. All I was asking was to at least hit the ball. So 60 balls later I felt I had regained some of my old golfing chops and was ready to begin improving my game.

Here are some videos (filmed courtesy of my dad who also found out his phone has a slo-mo function) showing my first real swings at the game again. In the descriptions of the videos, there is a short description of what was good and what was less-so.

I have improved greatly in the distance of my shot since the first time I went out this year (no video footage for that). My swing has all around improved and I’m always looking to improve further. With my dad’s help, I recalled some of my prior golf pointers and applied them to my shot. Currently I am experimenting a lot with my shots to see what works and what doesn’t. As well, I got some of my clubs re-gripped so hopefully that will help my shot too.

I’m looking forward to soon finally meting with my mentor, as well as going to the actual course to apply my shooting skills to the course.

To Find a Mentor

My finding of  mentor has been a struggle. At first I wasn’t even doing golf for my in-depth, then I went to Mr. Unger, then to a golf instructor at Eaglequest. It was a scramble trying to set up dates, think about if this person was really the right mentor, and criminal record checks. Finally, I looked to a well-known Vancouver musician and golfer Tom Shorthouse. It has taken quite a while to secure a mentor and for him to get back to me, and in the few days since it was confirmed we have both been too busy to really set up a meeting date.

Tom Shorthouse is currently the principal trumpet in the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and has been since 1995. He is also a well-known jazz trumpeter, and is in fact coming to perform at this year’s Jazz Gala. He was also principal trumpet in the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan for six years, and speaks fluent Mandarin. As well, he teaches trumpet at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Vancouver Community College.

And yes, my in-depth project is on golf.

Tom Shorthouse is also an avid golfer. He has caddied for a professional golfer and I hear many golfing stories about him.

He has been golfing for quite a while, just as one would have to be to become good enough to caddie for a pro. He gained his experience from learning the game from his mentors, whether it be teachers, coaches and the like. He also gained experience from learning to play the game. Because golf is such a personal game, there is a lot of experimentation involved in improving your swing, seeing the course, and looking at how to attack the hole.

I have yet to meet with him and have only emailed him a few times for the purpose of trying to get him to be my mentor. When I finally do meet with him, I will be sure to ask him these questions to be answered in more detail than it is now, as well as ask him other things about golf itself.

During my time with Tom Shorthouse, I will be doing some playing on the course so he can help both my long and short-game. This is going to be a huge help because golf isn’t all about swinging the hardest and making that tiny white ball go really far. It’s about looking at the hole as a whole and being able to improvise yourself out of a bad situation, which I will most inevitably find myself in. He will also offer me insights and tips on how to be a better golfer and how to have a better mindset about it. As well, I will be emailing him video clips of myself for when we can’t meet. Videos such as this.

I will also be meeting occasionally with an instructor from Eaglequest, Gerry Chatelain. He has been a CPGA professional for over 50 years and I have taken lessons with him before. In the times I am with him, I will mostly be working on my swing, but also I will ask for some insight that he has on the game, after playing for such a long time.

I will be back soon with more information on both of my mentors and with more information on my learning so far.

For the Love of Golf

golf
ɡälf,ɡôlf/
noun
1.
a game played on a large open-air course, in which a small hard ball is struck with a club into a series of small holes in the ground, the object being to use the fewest possible strokes to complete the course

That is essentially what the game of golf is. A game played by lawers, doctors, musicians and the like. A game born of the hardy Scot, which seeped forth from the highland mist, down to nearly every place in the world. A tradition in my family, as can be seen my the seemly unlimited supply of putters that hug the walls of our basement, all of which have thier own names and stories. My father and his father before him were and are players of this game, as well as nealy ever other member of my close and extended family. So when I heard and finally understood in-depth was upon us, I decided to take this opprotunity to learn something I had ought to have learned long ago.
I have some experience in the game of golf. I know the basics, can tell a putter from a driver, and understnd how frustrating it can get, as well as how rewarding.
I’ve gone to the course a couple times in my career as a golfer. In short, I know a  bit about how golf works. But I am not very good, nor do I play often. As well, I only know the basics on history, skills, and technique about golf. The swing, how to approach a shot, how to keep a peace of mind while playing, everything. So what I want to learn how to do is that. To learn a bit more about the history of the sport, to further develop my technique and skill, and to have a better mindset about the game itself (to not get too angry like the guy in the gif).
Mentor-wise, I’d like to meet with them at least twice a month to send me in the right direction and to correct my course if neeed be. As well, my dad is a well-seasoned golfer and can help me whenever I go to the driving range or pitch-and-putt to practice.
This project will not only help me become a better golfer, but will also help me as a person. Golf takes tremenous patience, something I know I could have more of. It takes patience with yourself and patience with the course, a skill that I could always use some improvement in. It will also increase my athlectic ability, another reason why I chose this project. I haven’t done too many athletic things, especially in the last few years so this will for sure help me keep up my athleticism. Also, as mentioned beofre, I can maybe tag along with my cousin and older relatives on the full-size courses.
By the end of this project, I would like to have accomplished a few things. To have my swing go from looking like this……………….
To something more like this….
OK not exactly like that but you get the point. A final challenge for me will be to shoot 108 on a full size course. Meaning I will only take 108 strokes to complete 18 holes, 6 strokes per hole.
All in all, I am very excited for this project and I believe that with hard work and not giving up, I will be able to achieve the golas I have set for myself. I will be keeping video logs and notes as I learn which will be posted here to show my learning.