Between the Seahawks and snowing and blowing and freezing and whining, I haven’t had any time to devote to golf over the past few weeks… well, maybe except for the whining part. I’ve got that down pat. Regardless, after several IPAs to train for the upcoming season, I have decided to go on the record with four things I will adopt as part of my mind game plan for 2014.
1) Bye-bye Putting Yips.
Six or seven years ago, frustrated with a series 40-putt performances, I developed a “no-lookie” putting system that worked pretty well for a long time. The theory? In darts, and bowling and pool… you know, the “other” drinking games, you keep your eye on the target; you don’t look at the dart when you’re throwing it, right? I wondered why is putting any different and started looking at the hole while putting—never at the ball. This actually improved my putting until I started to feel self-conscious about it—weary of the giggling and muttering from playing partners.
So I decided to return to the normal putting technique and to my horror, got the most serious case of the yips you can imagine—and they have lasted for at least five years. I can take fluid practice strokes that would make Brad Faxon proud, but as soon as I stand over the ball, my forearm muscles seize up and I become paralyzed. It sucks; it’s embarrassing and it’s got to stop in 2014.
If you have ANY ideas to help me overcome this malady, I’ll be forever in your debt. At this point, I’ll try darned near anything. Just saying “Stop it you fool” to myself is clearly not working.
2) Think Slice.
A few years ago, I took some lessons from Jeff Coston, one of the game’s and maybe even the world’s all time nice guys. One thing that he pointed out consistently was that I always… not just sometimes… always come over the top on my downswing. I cannot seem to get the hang of the “inside” approach no matter how much I think I am.
The golf swing is not really all that complicated is it? Just bring the club back on a plane and back down on that same path. Should be a fairly simple task for the pride of the Wapato Wolfpack… but I find it nearly impossible to do. In my mind, it looks and feels great, but pull out a dreaded video camera (aka: smart phone) and, let’s just say the truth hurts.
One thing that kind of works is for me to think “slice.” Quite often, if I’m purposely trying to slice around a corner, the ball will fly perfectly straight and long. Granted, it in no way resembles my intention, but is there a key in there somewhere?
3) Think Hands Ugly Out Front.
I have found that chipping and a lot of other shots I attempt are best executed if I keep my hands well ahead of the club face; or at least think I am. Leading with my hands seems to result in fewer chunks and blades; overall cleaner hits.
I’m not sure why and it may just be a swing thought illusion, but I plan to keep up the myth for as long as it works.
4) Think Lay Up.
One technique that seems to work pretty consistently and that I intend to use as my final 2014 swing thought is “Lay Up.” I have discovered through the years that if I decide to lay up to a good distance, I almost always strike the ball well. In fact, it is sometimes comical that I grab a club thinking I’ll swing easy and hit to within 100 yards for a full swing sand wedge, only to have it bounce up to within 15-20 yards of the green.
Darn, if I’d just pulled one more club I could have reached it, right? But no. Problem is, then, my swing thought would have been “GIR” and believe me, that changes everything. So “Lay Up” will be the last thought before I swing in 2014.
So, if you see a guy on the course who is muttering, “Slice; with your hands ugly out front; and remember, this is a lay up,” please walk up and say hi, I’d love to meet my reader.
Go. Play. Golf.