My Friend and Golf Partner (update)

I wrote about my friend Bob on February 27 discussing his long term battle with prostate cancer. Since then he has completed 7 weeks of radiation for a tumor on his tail bone. Providing that he had no more tumors, he would be eligible for a new treatment that promises to cure the disease.

I received the following email from him a few days ago:

Hi Ron,

I know you wanted to know how the Dr. visit went so I am sending you this email and you can share this with whoever you would like. I had radiation for 7 weeks ending March 19. My PSA was 33 when radiation started (one of my highest readings). The next Dr. visit one week later showed it was 45. My next Dr visit 2 weeks later showed my PSA was 65 so I had another other bone CAT scan with the CAT scan including my chest area. April 19 was the appointment to talk about what they found. I have another growth this one on my spine. I will be starting chemotherapy with a drug called Taxotere on Thursday, April 26. The good news is that my major organs are clear. The chemo will be a 2hr. session, 1 day a week, every 3 weeks until 6 treatments have been completed around August 9.

Weather permitting I will see you at the course on Wednesday.

Bob

I have played golf and talked to him since the email. He is in high spirits and just looks at this latest setback as a way to aggressively attack and wipe out the disease once and for all. I hope he succeeds.

Improving Your Performance on the Golf Course (part 1)

Have you ever played good on the front nine just to shoot terrible on the back nine? Or maybe you had a good round one day and then a bad one on the next. It is frustrating and we often leave the course upset without trying to understand what happened. In this series I am going to give you some ideas on what might be happening and how to improve your performance on the golf course.

Analyse your setbacks – When things are not going right on the golf course it is not easy to step back, take a deep breath and try to determine what is going while trying to play the game. In these circumstances it is best to wait until your round is over to determine what happened. Was it that you got tired? Did you change something in your swing? Did you get upset over a bad shot? Once you put your finger on the problem you can take steps to keep it from happening again.

Allow your practice to find you – Many times the things you’ve been working on at the practice range don’t pan out on the golf course. Making a swing change or a shift of strategy on the course may cause you to press your shots or cause you to get out of rhythm Sometimes all that is needed is perseverance and sticking to what you know worked during your practice sessions.

Listen you your game – Your game will tell you where you are underperforming and what needs to be worked on. You may be hitting your driver, fairway woods and irons good, but your chipping and putting might be substandard. Pay attention to where your shortcomings are and plan for extra practice to improve in that area.

Play with conviction and logic – The best golfers are the ones that know and play to their abilities. If the shot before you is difficult, but you have had success with it before, then go ahead and make it. Otherwise, a more conservative shot is advisable. In other words, don’t play recklessly by trying to make a miracle shot that might cost you a couple of extra strokes.

Understand that golf does not owe you anything – We only get out of golf what we put into it and often things still don’t go as planned. If you don’t practice or try to learn the fundamentals and swing dynamics, then you don’t have any business getting upset or feeling that your luck is bad. Play the game with appreciation, good health and enjoy your time on the course.

On Getting Older

With each passing year comes another birthday and the older I get the less I care about them. This is probably because more birthdays have come and gone than are ahead. Many joys come with getting older, but there are also some bummers that come with the territory. Today, I thought I would list a few of each to see how they stack-up.

Bummers:
Doctors and pills
Deteriorating body parts and those that don’t perform like they once did
Passing friends, acquaintances and family
Some-timers

Joys:
Grandchildren
Family and friends
Retirement
Sunny days on the golf course
Writing and Blogging
Hobbies (art and guitar)
Collecting things (I am not a hoarder!)
Reading
Leisurely vacations
No schedules

Mmmmmmmmmmmm, let’s see now. Looks like there more joys than bummers. In fact, it seems that I have more to do and enjoy now then when I was younger and making a living. Maybe getting older is not so bad after all.

Golf Trivia Quiz

This link was sent to me by a long time acquatence. It is a fun little golf trivia quiz that only takes a few minutes to complete. It is multiple choice. If you select a wrong answer, the ball moves only so far down the fairway and stops and you are charged with one stroke. Keep selecting the answers that you think are correct and the ball moves down the fairway until you get the right answer and the ball goes in the hole. If you have the correct answer right away, the ball goes directly in the hole – a hole in one. Have fun!

Release with Power

Once you have learned the proper backswing and lag techniques it is time to concentrate on the release. So much has been written about the release of the golf club, yet much confusion still exists. The word release implies that one should “let go” of something. If we are talking about basketball, baseball, football and many other sports then that is what it means – to “release” or let go of the ball. When thinking about release as it relates to a golf club, that action begins with correct backswing and lag techniques. In other words, the proper backswing puts the club on plane and then during the downswing the clubhead lags behind and accelerates until it catches up with the hands and makes contact with the ball. The action of the wrists before impact and beyond is the releasing action. Of course, a lot must go right for the outcome to be positive. To be successful the left wrist needs to be flat or slightly bowed and facing the target, and the club needs to be accelerating at and through impact. If the left wrist is out of position or if it collapses upon impact then an errant shot is likely to occur.

Golfers that lack distance usually release their wrists early in the down swing. By the time impact is reached the arms are left to carry the clubhead through the ball. The arms can only travel up to 35 MPH and therefore much power is lost. If one gets the wrists timed right, but then holds off or steers the club towards the target after impact, more distance can be achieved. Albeit, not near as much distance as is possible when the clubhead continues accelerate through impact. Biomechanic studies of professionals versus average golfers consistently show that professionals continue to accelerate the clubhead through impact while average golfers stop accelerating before impact.

The challenge then is to hit the ball squarely while continuing to accelerate the club. This requires that the body has no or little tension (especially below the waist) and that the sequence of movements on the downswing is correct. This article explains the action of the wrists at impact and just beyond, but does not clearly explain how to keep the club accelerating after impact. With short arms and small wrists, it took me quite a while to figure out how to keep the clubhead accelerating. What I am about to explain is difficult to see in a full golf swing, but I firmly believe that it is the reason that a 125 pound LPGA player can hit the ball over 250 yards.

I am going to go back to the idea of releasing a ball. To propel a basketball towards a hoop, using an overhand motion, the right wrist bends back and then with the proper combination of body, arms and wrist the ball is sent on its way. The ball in not pushed towards the basket. The right wrist and hand bend back and then snap forward ending up in a pronated downward position. If you were to do this motion on a horizontal plane, it would be attune to a slapping motion. This motion is the most efficient way to throw a ball when acceleration is required. So, how do we apply this to the golf swing? There is an obvious difference that needs to be noted and then there is the issue of timing.

Holding and releasing a ball is much different from holding the grip of a club where the clubhead is far removed from the hands. The motion of snapping the wrist to throw a ball is not going to work for a golf swing. Oh I suppose it could work, but the timing would have to be perfect. Additionally since both wrists must work together, there is not going to be as much pronation of the right wrist as there is when throwing a ball. This is ok because the idea here is to keep the clubhead accelerating by striving to create a pronating motion with the right wrist. This is going to be a conscious action in the beginning and until it becomes habit.

As far as timing goes, pronation of the right wrist should not begin until impact or just after. The thought process should be to start thinking about it at impact. In actuality, pronation won’t occur until some time after impact because of the speed that the club is moving. As far as what the release feels like from the beginning of the downswing through to the end of the follow-through – you should feel no wrist or release sensation until well after impact.

Brian Manzella is well known for his release idea of pronating the right wrist. Jeffery Mann (the author of the referenced article (Hand Release Actions Through the Impact Zone) gives a critical review of this idea here. I believe that Brian Manzilla’s idea has merit. Once you have read all the information, try these ideas out to see what works best for you.