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I would think this point has been covered; I didn't go back and read everything: natural talent is also required to be very good at a particular physical activity. Ability to fight/box is an example. When I was young and got into fights, I quickly learned that formidable size and strength didn't mean a guy could punch effectively and fight. Natural coordination and skeletal leverage were big factors, as I am sure they are also in the ability to shoot good golf.
I am doing something in my retirement similar to Dan, but not nearly to the extent. Starting a year and a half ago, from almost not playing before that, I have played or practiced five days a week. I've also taken a number of lessons. I have nothing else to do and I'm pretending golf is my job with the intent of becoming a scratch golfer, albeit as an old man. I have shot as low as one over par for nine holes on par three executive courses, but haven't yet broken 80 on a regulation course, and I'm not sure I will. I was sure when I started and will keep up the quest at least another year.
This is anecdotal. I took up golf with serious intent in my retirement, essentially starting last year at age 70. I fooled around with other people's clubs on a couple of courses when I was a kid, but never spent any significant time at the game. I didn't play at all throughout my working life in part because I had bad osteoarthritis. After two artificial shoulders and two artificial hips, I felt I might have the fluidity to swing a club, notwithstanding a torn right rotator cuff, which can't be fixed because you can't reattach a tendon to hardware; and I still have end-stage degenerative disk disease, which can't be fixed.
Anyway, I started off driving under 200 yards. Early this year I began working out with a rotating apparatus at the Y, on which you twist your torso pulling up weights on a cable. I thought it came close to replicating the twist needed to drive. I also repetition dead weight lift a 90-pound kettle bell (I'm only supposed to use weights 70 pounds and under with my artificial shoulders). And I pull plates up on a rope by rotating a bar in my hands to strengthen my wrists. Over a few months I increased my driving distance 50 yards from when I started. I can't say exactly how much was due to the exercises, rather than regular practice, but when I swing I can feel a strong snap that I didn't have before. I was so proud earlier this week in reaching a par-five green pin high in two shots. It was too bad that I drove into a water hazard and had to drop, so I only got a par on the hole.
Rather than start a new thread for a small point, I thought I would post it here. Like Dan I resolved to play good golf starting at 70 years old, last spring. I fooled around with somebody else's club or two when I was a kid, but never had my own set or took learning anything seriously. So I essentially just started by buying a set of namesake clubs (Covert) and employing coaches. I would like to get an opinion or two of my strategy.
First I practice a lot, but nothing like 6 hours a day, instead four days a week for an hour or so, besides playing two or three times a week when the weather is nice here in the Northeast, and four times a week during the winter in Florida (we rent a condo on a golf course).
But I purposely don't read much about golf or watch the golf channel. Right away I found a lot of conflicting opinions so I took this approach instead: I go out and play and whatever I am doing worst I take to my coach to fix. Right now I am not doing anything wrong that I know of if I concentrate on what I know. That's the hard part, remembering everything. If the ball goes right, I didn't follow through pointing at the target, or I am not transitioning slowly enough from the back to the forward swing. If it goes left, I didn't finish up, but around too much, etcetera. If I start having a problem I can't fix myself, I will again take it to my coach.
Lastly I adopted a zero-sum, tautological strategy, i.e., if I can hit greens in regulation I can play good golf. The main supporting tactic is to practice 80%, or more, of the time with fairway irons. The drive can go a little right or left, but if I can hit the green in regulation on my second shot (on par fours) with a fairway iron, I don't need a short game besides putting; which is quite good due to the simple instruction my coach gave me, i.e., practicing with parallel sticks to make sure I am stroking straight, and lining the line on the ball properly with the line of the putt. Target practicing with pistols as a kid makes aiming the ball easy. And my coach made drives easy by teaching me to keep my wrists straight, or cocked slightly forward, never back. I never sliced again and only hook a little or pull left if I hit the ball with the heel of the club, which I just make sure I don't do - twice in a round, anyway. If I do miss a green with a fairway iron, having practiced a lot with middle irons makes wedge shots feel easy without practicing them much per se. And bumps and runs are essentially putting.
Like Dan I set a quixotic goal. I told my wife I wanted to play better than Tiger Woods by the end of my second year. (I didn't pick Rory because I have all artificial shoulders and hips and end stage degenerative disc disease, which I mentioned on another post.) She said that was delusional, but on my second-to-last day out last year, with my wife caddying and keeping score, Tiger played on the same day and I bested his score by one stroke. I pointed it out to my wife and she said he had a tougher course. That's tongue in cheek, of course, insinuating that I achieved my goal, because any pro can have a bad day and any duffer an in-the-zone day. But my great one-off score gave me hope and I am going to work very hard this winter to become a good golfer using my strategy, unless someone knows a better one. Oh, and I work out regularly in a gym, especially with the torso rotating machine, which added maybe 20 yards to my drive.
Once in the 1980’s I awaited a scheduled meeting with a principal at a Taiwanese manufacturing plant. In the waiting room, with several other visitors, including women, a urinal against the wall, reminiscent of a Marcel Duchamp sculpture befitting a Parisian gallery, seemed oddly out-of-place. Betimes, a door opened into the room from the adjacent shop floor, and a worker entered and relieved himself in stark view of everybody present.
This is an example of convenience trumping decorum; after all why occupy two rooms when you can use one for dual purposes, which I think the spirit of golf resists in recognition of an attendant need, albeit residual, atavistic, and often neglected, for manners.
Just like you don’t hold your fork like a trowel, or eat with your hands, because it is more convenient, golf is not about convenience, either. It’s in part about civility, which includes adhering to rules and etiquette.
Much of our contemporary world is chaotic, with people everywhere flouting laws, considerateness and rules. So to me it is gratifying that there is in golf a refuge of some order and decorum by design. And I try to observe all the rules and etiquette that I can remember, and I refresh my understanding by occasionally by picking up a reference book. I realize that many people don’t share my punctiliousness, as players scoot first onto a tee after a double bogie, possibly in reflexive desperation for redemption, while I might have scored par. I don’t say anything.
And Isn’t order of play on a tee a rule, rather than etiquette, as referred to here?
Thanks, Colin. But I want to stress that my near par outings represent just a couple of last rounds. I am practicing at least four times a week indoors and will await Florida at the end of January to find out what I can shoot on a consistent basis, and I will report back honestly, since I've spouted off about my early success.
That would be great if a couple or a few of us here can get together for a round or two - or more - in the spring.
I think 415's comment would have been fine if he just left it that seeing young people in carts gets under his skin, without any implication that kids
behave differently, for their health or any other reason, putting aside the fractions of taxes and insurance premiums that go toward patching up preventable health crises. Certainly there are different strokes for different folks. It bothers me also, aesthetically, to see any able-bodied person using a cart, similar to how seeing people wearing T-shirts and shorts in fine restaurants lessens my dining experience. Some of us are just traditionalists in our tastes, and we can be free to express our tastes and thereby form comradeship with like-minded traditionalists.
The folks in the pro shop at Pebble Beach told me the staff discourages the use of carts on that beautiful course, I would guess for aesthetic reasons, but there may be others.
Parker, is that the Latham Dome pictured for your avatar? I have been utilizing the Latham dome since the snow set in. I think that might be the hanging dartboard-like target I see in the picture. It's a great target for practice, and frustrating. I can nail it three times in a row and then not be able to hit it in the course of the next five shots. My seven-iron affords the best trajectory for it; it's easy to go over or under.
The Latham dome also has a simulator, and I am curious as to how accurately they measure driving distance. A pro who was practicing on it let me take a drive. My ball supposedly carried 241 yards and rolled another 15 for a total distance of 256 yards, which would be good enough for me, if it's anything near reality.
What other domes in the Capital Area do you know of? And are there any with ranges longer than 100 yards? For those who haven't hit in short domes, you can still practice all your shots, but except for chips and short pitches, you have to watch where the ball hits the "wall" to know if the shot was decent.
RFK, I made the mistake of walking Fairways after being paired with two guys in a cart. Part of the reason I took up golf is for the cardiovascular exercise, so I try not to take a cart, not even a pull cart; I carry. I had to run a lot of the time to keep up and some of those hills almost killed me.
Thanks, NJ. As bad as my back is, it doesn't seem to bother my drive. Having bionic hips seems to be the key to enough rotation. I have found that the torso rotating machine at my gym has strengthened the small amount of rotation I still have in my back so that I have a pretty good snap. I could drive further, I'm sure, if my back twisted and coiled more, but I drive far enough to reach greens in regulation. The big problem with my bad back, though, as I mentioned, is that different spasms on different days result in small changes in my natural swing, which translate into bigger variations with regard to where the ball lands.
Thanks a lot for these videos. I am a proponent of orthogonal approaches to improvement, which the ball tossing certainly represents. I'll try it. And I have adopted the strategy of a seven iron for most chips.
Hi again, 415. I have never actually calculated a handicap, and I don't yet even know how. I had to put a number down in order to get on this forum, so I picked 16 based on the fact that for the biggest part of this first year (yes, beginning at 70) I shot scores of around four below bogie for 18. However, most of my play was on a course with impossible target greens, where I often 3-putted. When I moved to a course with regular greens I almost never putted worse than twice on a hole, so my scores in the late season were better, at the end approaching par, but that could have been an anomaly. We'll see this winter.
I know a lot of what I say sounds, or is, braggadocio. But it's a fact that I am strong and have athletic genes (my father was a world-class, national record-holding athlete) and I have the financial resources and unlimited time (no close family - and no kids - besides my wife, who also has no family) to practice, play (wintering on a golf course), and take lessons every day if I want to, and I am devoting a
of time toward this quest (for the pure hell of it) of shooting very well (once in a while - again, my strategy is to ignore bad scores, so I can put almost all my focus and energy into mastering iron approach shots). Also, having plastic and metal for joints gives me an unfair advantage of being somewhat bionic by implanting the fluidity of a young man.
And I believe there is (psychic) magic in my Covert clubs, a Godsend, so to speak. My fear of losing them on plane trip is approaching neurosis. :)
Thanks 415. I couldn't see your name anywhere to use.
I do use your techniques, exactly as you outlined them, and I am happy to see we concur. And I do hit
the green. But I want to hit
the green, otherwise I usually suffer a bogie, and sometimes even worse. Maybe there isn't any way for me at my age to be that consistent, but I am giving it my best and looking for that elusive "trick" to know that I am going to hit straight. I replaced my big joints, but I can't replace my back, which is at the end-stage of degenerative disc disease. And sometimes I think my swing changes with the area of my back that is tightest, or in spasm, on a given day. So maybe the only thing I can do is make sure to hit some iron shots before I play to see which way my ball is going to go, even with all the correct techniques observed.
I call my golf strategy my
zero-sum tautological strategy
, as in if I can hit greens in regulation, I can play good golf. So because my drives and putts are good enough for par golf, the only thing that prevents it are my iron approach shots missing the green, requiring a chip or sand wedge. My tactic, then, is spending 90% of my practice time on fairway iron type shots, at the driving range. I am not bothering with all the other types of shots as much because if I can hit the greens I don't need them. If I miss the greens in a game, I just chalk up the bad score (made even worse because my recovery shots are not great, due to insufficient practice) and I don't tell anybody. If I do hit the greens, and thus play near par golf, then I brag about the score to my wife, at the gym, and whatnot. :)
Where near Albany do you live? I am in Clifton Park, just north of Albany, and I hadn't been playing for recreation in this, my first year playing, only in preparation for my Pebble Beach round. So I was strictly practicing, and a couple of par-three courses near my house: Barney Road, and Mill Road Acres, do the trick. They each only have a couple of par-four holes, but I have no trouble with my drives, so I don't need much practice with my driver. Barney beguiles players with its signature and very difficult "target" greens, on which sometimes you might have a two-foot putt for a birdie, but you miss it because of the steep slope, and your ball rolls off the green, resulting in a double bogie. Very frustrating, but it makes playing on regular greens, such as those at Pebble Beach, a breeze (pun partially intended). My best score at Mill Road was my last this fall, when I shot just one stroke over par for nine (and that frustrating fault stemmed from having no club between a five-iron and driver, so I came up a little short on a long par-three hole). That kind of short-course practicing is happily paying off. And for a playing field that requires a lot of driving, so I don't lose the ability, I occasionally play at Fairwinds of Halfmoon, which is a long, challenging regulation course.
My wife and I also own a lake house in the Adirondack Park (called a camp, there), and I do play on regular courses in that park; but it is probably too far north for you to travel. The courses in the mountains are magnificently beautiful; and one in particular, the Ausable Club, among the high peaks, can be a bucket-list course because of its spectacular scenery. But it's private, and exclusive, except during the month of October, when they permit the unwashed to play, because most of the members have probably migrated to Palm Beach by then. That might be something you could set your sights on when you have all day.
But I have your handle and will check back with you when I return to Albany in the spring to see if you want to play a round on some good course you have found, or one we could both try for the first time.