Know Your Etiquette

Knowing how to handle yourself on and around the golf course is very important.

Especially worthy for beginners, but helpful for review by those that play often, the etiquette of golf is an important topic. The last day of a six week “Golf 1” course I took at my local course a while back involved going on the course for the first time as a class. Before that, however, we all sat down and were shown a short golf etiquette film. Admittedly, a lot of what was shown was common sense, but worthwhile none the less. A great primer of golf etiquette is here. Do yourself and others a favor and take a refresher course.

Rod Through the Spine

Stick a giant rod through your spine next time you’re on the range.

Golfers who get elaborate in their swings usually aren’t consistent. The true golf swing is a very simple affair when you’re playing well: you swing the club back, you swing the club through, and the ball goes where you’d like.

People often worry about their weight shift. A weight shift gets complex when the head starts moving about – that’s more of a slide than a shift, and it causes consistency problems.

The next time you’re on the range, try to keep your head absolutely still. I like to imagine a giant rod going down the back of my head, through my spine, and into the ground. I turn around this giant rod – my left shoulder working under, my right shoulder working around the top. I have no choice but to maintain both my spine angle and position through impact!

In reality, the best pros move their heads and their spines a little, but far more than the average amateur golfer thinks is necessary. Stick a giant rod through your spine next time and see how your consistency improves.

The Loooong Green Line

The back sleeve of the book describes Newport’s journey playing America’s mini tours as “wild,” but there’s nothing wild about it.

Fine Green LineI don’t admit to being much of a book reader: I tend to read books for information or for escape. I don’t read books to find meaning in my life. I read books that make me laugh, tell me a few stories, and while away the winter hours when my gal isn’t around.

The Fine Green Line, by John Paul Newport, is not going to change your life. It won’t reveal any of your inner truths and it won’t improve your sex life. It won’t make you finally understand your father, your mother, your alter ego, or your fear of clowns. The Fine Green Line isn’t about money and it won’t tell you how to make any. In fact, it’ll cost you $12.95.

The book details John Paul Newport’s quest to experience life as a two-ish handicapper playing the professional golf mini tours (the image to the right tells you that). It leads JPN through a series of states, tournaments, bad shots, and lands him at the first stage of PGA Tour Q-School where he unceremoniously bombs, landing him in a Golf Week article about “bums of Q-School.”

Ricky Tiki Tantrum

Ricky Barnes, jazzed up on the pressure of a match Down Under, gets confused on which round orb he’s supposed to be hitting: the golf ball, or the globe. His confusion costs him an undisclosed but “substantial” amount of money.

ricky_barnes.jpgFormer University of Arizona star and 2002 US Amateur champion Ricky Barnes decided that, when the going gets tough, the best course of action is to lay down on the course and throw a tantrum. Since that would be only slightly more over the top, Ricky opted for the ever-popular “Bruce Banner” school of golf.

During last week’s Australian Masters at Huntingdale Golf Club, Melbourne, Ricky entered the final round three shots off the lead. After watching a tee shot fly a little too far off-target, Ricky decided to actually hit a fairway by smashing his club into the ground. On the 17th, with a repeat performance off the tee, Ricky decided that golf was too difficult a sport, and took up a new sport: Hit the Earth with Golf Clubs.

We’ll let you know if it catches on.

How to Rake Sand Bunkers

Raking bunkers properly is a nice way of “paying it backwards,” and here’s how you do it.

Raking a bunker is one of the easiest things to do, yet many people have never taken the three minutes to learn the proper technique. Here it is, in easy-to-follow format.

Big Bunker
How would you like to rake this bunker?!?!

  1. Find the lowest spot around the edge of the bunker that’s near your ball. You will enter and exit here. Stepping in and out near a steep face causes erosion and pushes the sand off the face and into the bottom of the bunker. Plus, it’s easier to rake flat areas of sand.

Set Makeup

Today’s tip is simple: take a look at your set makeup and see where you might make some changes.

The Rules of Golf allow you to carry up to fourteen clubs. There’s no law that says the clubs must be comprised of a 1, 3, and 5-wood, 3I-SW, and a putter. First of all, that’s only thirteen clubs. Second of all: choose a set that best fits you!

In choosing a set, you want to consider a few things. First, you need a putter. You’re down to 13 clubs. Are you good? Consider going with four wedges. Just starting out? Consider going with the stock two or three. Not very strong off the tee? Why carry a driver or a 3I?

Consider alternative clubs. If you have trouble hitting a 3I, or want a club with more loft, look into one of the utility clubs now available. With players like Vijay Singh carrying high-lofted “woods” these days, that 9-wood in your bag can’t even take down your macho level!

We could get into much more depth than this (and we may in coming days), but today’s tip is simple: take a look at your set makeup and see where you might make some changes.

Host with the Most: Tiger On Target

Woods donated the $1.25 million he won to his foundation. Vijay Singh finished 11 shots behind.

Tiger in ActionTiger Woods is the host with the most, and has captured victory in his own tournament, the Tiger Target World Challenge. Missing only two fairways and one green en-route to a closing 5-under 66, Woods capped off his year with his second win in a row. Woods’ play was marvelous, and he knew it, saying “Every shot I wanted to hit, I hit.”

Padraig Harringon shot a 31 on the front at Sherwood Country Club to get into contention, but faltered on the last three. He bogeyed 16, birdied 17, and then bogeyed 18 after an errant drive. He earned $750,000 for finishing second.

Colin Montgomery, starting the day with a two-stroke lead and having never won a stroke-play tournament in the US, bogeyed the first hole and shot 71 to finish at 13-under 271 with his playing partner, Jay Haas.

Grip Pressure

One tour player hits a fade by gripping the club harder with his top hand. What will you learn?

Today’s tip will be a short one on grip pressure. Here it is: experiment!

One tour player found that to hit a fade, he merely had to grip the club tighter in the pinkie and ring finger of his left hand. Another found that the looser his right hand held on to the club, the more solidly he struck the ball. Your grip pressure should never be tight – doing so prohibits the muscles in your arms and shoulders from moving smoothly – but how tight you grip the club is a matter of individuality.

Left Armpit

Try sticking a glove in your left armpit – and keeping it there – throughout the swing.

The pros hit the ball unbelievably low. They “cover” the ball with their chest (and clubface) through impact. They do this by keeping the left arm against the body and moving their chest through impact: the arms “tag along” and the wrists snap at impact, resulting in a “pinch” and a low, boring trajectory with a lot of spin.

We’ve all seen Vijay Singh hitting balls with a glove tucked into his left armpit. He does this to help him keep his arm “attached” to his body. If his left arm moves away from his body, the glove falls out. Chris DiMarco, as part of his pre-shot routine, folds his sleeve into his left armpit to force the same swing thought (his is course legal; Vijay’s is not).

If you’re having trouble keeping that arm attached, try sticking a glove in your left armpit – and keeping it there – throughout the swing.