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.

Golf in the Middle of March, in Michigan?

Golf in the Middle of March, in Michigan? Ya, it is kind of unheard of around here. Well, believe it or not a lot of golf was played in January and through the current date in Michigan. We are on track for having the warmest March on record. This does not bode well for global warming, but is great if you want to get out and play some golf.

After practicing all winter in my basement I was ready to get out and play. So, a few days ago I emailed my senior golf league buddies asking who might want to play golf. I set up tee times for 3 foursomes and anxiously waited for the replies. I also made a few phone calls to those that don’t have email. Eight people committed to play (including myself). Seven people actually showed up and one had to leave after hurting his back on the third hole. The six that were left enjoyed what turned out to be a beautiful day. I think it was 74 degrees when I left the course.

Two things became quite apparent from this first day out on the course. First, some people are just not ready to play golf in March. Second, we were all, you might say, out of golf shape. Walking is the best exercise, but as seniors we need to do a little more to get ready for a game of golf.

It’s always best to do warm-up exercises and stretches before heading for the golf course. This is especially true of seniors, who can get more length in their swing with increased flexibility. Taking an extra 10 to 15 minutes to do exercises before the start of your round can do wonders for your game.

Hip and Shoulder Roll
Take your 4-iron and lay it on top of your shoulders with your hands on top of it. Turn as far as you can to the left, as if you were completing your follow-through, and hold the stretch for three seconds. Then turn to the right as far as you can, as if you were completing your backswing, and hold that stretch for three seconds. Do this 10 times for each side.

Shoulder Shrugs
This exercise will help get your shoulders prepared for the full swing you will take from the tee or the fairway. Hold your arms at your sides and gently shrug your shoulders up until they are close to the level of your ears. Roll them forward and then back to the starting position. Do this 10 to 15 times before starting your round.

Hip Flexes
Take an iron and grab the head with both hands and hold it vertically and straight in front of you with shaft on the ground. Now, swing one leg under the shaft 10 times and then the other 10 time. Turn the hips as far as you can without making it uncomfortable.

This warm weather is supposed to continue throughout next week. I have made tee times again for three foursomes. I hope the turn out is better this time.

Improve Your Golf Score by Improving Your Mental Approach (part 1)

This is the first of a two-part series on how a positive mental approach can improve your golf score.

When I discovered the “Triangle of Health,” I immediately realized that it would fit nicely as one of the Principles of Triangulation because it illustrates the idea of how the body and mind must work together for optimum performance of swing biomechanics and mental clarity. The Triangle of Health has three equal sides of which the bottom is labeled as “Physical,” the right side as “Emotional,” and the left side as “Chemical.” When all sides are in balance one experiences optimal health and well-being. When they are not, one is prone to disease or dysfunction.

Consider the following – It is your day to play golf. It is a beautiful day and you are feeling good and you think that you are going to have a good day. Your playing partners arrive and you get ready to tee off. Everything goes good for a few holes and then something happens. One bad shot, then another and you end up with an undesirable score on that hole. You may let the hole go, but if it happens again on the next hole you continue receiving bad vibes and no longer feel good about your game. Your stomach becomes upset and you can’t physically get the club “on the ball” anymore. You end up with a bad round and can’t wait to get off the course and go home.

The above is a good example of what happens when the emotional side of the Triangle of Health goes out of balance. Knowing that the subconscious is mostly in charge when swinging the club, it begs the question of whether or not we have any control over our conscious minds at all during that time. Have you ever made a practice swing that looked and felt great and then when you went to actually hit your shot it seemed like another person was swinging the club and it ended up nothing like the swing you just practiced? This may occur frequently to the average golfer and it is frustrating since they know they can make a good swing. After all, they just made a good practice swing.

So why is the subconscious more likely to remember a bad swing rather than a good swing? According to a study done at St Andrews University, something called verbal overshadowing could be occurring. A famous professional golfer once coined this phenomenon as “analysis paralysis.” What it implies is that when golfers think and verbalize too much about their bad technique between shots, it makes their brains focus more on language centers rather than on the brain systems that support the good skills in question. The result is that they are training their subconscious to pay attention to the bad techniques in their swing and not the good techniques.

Do you know anyone who verbalizes about the bad aspects of their golf swing including when they hit a good shot? Most of us have probably done it to some extent, but if done continually it could disrupt performance. Do it enough over an extended period of time and it could disrupt performance permanently. In these cases, golf becomes more torture than fun for the golfer and for the golfers around him. There is a saying that has been around golf for a while. It goes like this – “Let your attitude control your game. Don’t let your game control your attitude.”

In part two we will take a look at how to retrain the subconscious so that it always wants to make a good shot.

The above article is an excerpt from my book “Triangulate Your Golf Swing.”

Improving Your Golf Balance

The need for balance for golf just sounds so simple and easy. As a golfer, especially seniors, you know that maintaining proper golf balance is a key to a good golf game. And it’s more than just having the correct stance.

Optimum golf balance depends on three aspects: your visual perception, the signals from the inner ear, and signals from your muscles and joints. Sometimes these aspects get out of sync, causing a balance disorder. Most of which can be easily fixed with some simple ideas.

Migraines can attribute to a balance disorder. So if you have frequent migraines, seek medical attention. These headaches can affect your golf game in ways you may never have thought of. Not to mention being just plain painful and debilitating.

Also, don’t go spending a fortune on new golf equipment hoping for better play before you check your medicine cabinet to see if any drugs you’re taking affect your balance. The condition “ear poisoning” seriously affects your balance. Ear poisoning is usually caused by side effects of some medications. Always be aware of the possible side effects of any prescription drugs you may be taking. This is just good advice all the way around, let alone it having an effect on your golf game.

Diuretics can pose a problem as well. So if you’re taking any of these and you start feeling dizzy, get medical help! Sometimes the dizziness can literally become a lifelong problem, so don’t delay in seeking help.

If your golf balance is a little off in your game, you may want to do some simple exercises to improve it. Just kicking a ball around your backyard can help. You can also set up a little obstacle course and weave in and out of it to improve your balance. If you have kids, they will have fun with the course, too! Actually, they may even set up one for you!

In addition, working with flexibility exercises helps increase your golf balance by releasing muscle tension. Try some simple yoga stretches to help with loosening up tight muscles. Yoga or pilates can be a real benefit for the golfer. These types of exercises tend to create long lean muscles and promote flexibility. Just what the golfer needs for the right golf balance and a fluid swing.

Since balance is fundamental to every aspect of your golf game, spend some time each day working on developing it. Who knows? You could find your swing and your score improving significantly, and who couldn’t use that!

My Friend and Golf Partner

I first met Bob Poniatowski 46 years ago just a few days after I started to work for Ford Motor Company. We took up the game of golf about the same time and quickly became friends. Over the years we played in the same golf leagues, golf outings and golf trips. We both are currently playing in the same golf league and are looking forward to the spring and summer. When I decided to write Triangulate Your Golf Swing Bob was quick to encourage me and showed a willingness to help develop and prove out the ideas that I had in mind for the book. In fact, these qualities are only exceeded by his patience.

Seventeen years ago Bob was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was the aggressive type and required that he have an operation to have the prostate removed. There were complications and he had several setbacks over the years. New treatments were developed of which he took advantage. Despite a change of diet, hormone shots, shots to harden the outer layer of his bones and others the cancer is still in his body. When it manifests itself, it does it my forming a tumor on a bone. Bob is currently going though his third round of radiation treatments. When completed, there is a possibility that he can have a new treatment just approved in this country that can wipe out the disease. He will find out more after the latest treatments are completed. Despite all this, he continues to have a positive outlook of life.

The one thing that Bob taught me that I always remember is not to rush my life away. I have no doubt that he is going to pull through this again. I am keeping him in my prayers and look forward to many more rounds of golf and laughs together.