Saturday, March 5, 2011

Get a Grip!!

Putting has not been a strong suit for me while taking lessons and getting my feet wet on the greens over the past couple weeks.  While in Golfsmith a couple weeks ago, I studied the various grips and tried several putters in the demo area that had larger handgrips.  The putters were much easier to hold and control.  The putter I have been using seems to turn slightly causing my ball to miss the hole. Not good.  As I learned in lesson three, moving my head before the ball leaves the putter will cause this too.  So I need all th help I can get.  I needed to make a visit to Golfsmith for more balls so I thought this was as good a time as any to get a new grip for my putter.  After studying the available selection, I chose a larger square grip by Odyssey.  My husband liked it so much, he got one too. 

The professional waiting on us at Golfsmith replaced our grips as we watched.  It was very interesting.  He cut down the side of the old grip and ripped it right off.  He then put a piece of tape over the area on the shaft to receive the grip and soaked it down with a special liquid.  This liquid will cause the grip to slide on and adhere quickly.  He slid the new grip right onto the shaft and aligned it nicely.  Tadaa!  New grip.

When playing the last 18 holes, I state without hesitation, it was great putting. The feel of the larger grip was much more comfortable.  The control of the larger grip was also more favorable.  Try it you will like it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MY FIRST 18 HOLES OF GOLF on February 26, 2011

As my husband and I prepared to tee-off at Oak Hollow Golfcourse, we noticed a couple guys stalking the tee box area and as my husband started his backswing...up pulls the cart. Well he was already committed to the swing so needless to say it wasn't the drive of the day. It appeared that this twosome was not even supposed to tee off next. As we arrived at the green of the 1st hole, this same cart zoomed around us and one of the fellows said, "Do you mind if we go ahead, we didn't want to wait for the other group since they had four to tee-off". We told them we didn't really mind and we continued to play our hole. My husband was annoyed with the lack of golf etiquette from whom we will now call "The Hackers". Me, well, I was oblivious.   I just wanted to get on the green.  Now, we are ready to move onto the 2nd tee-box about 5 minutes later and there were "The Hackers" still trying to get off the fairway and onto the green. It was going to be a long 18 holes. We were hopeful that they were only playing the front nine. My drive on the 2nd hole went straight and far. I ended up in the rough outside the green. The first opportunity to put my lesson into play. I grabbed the 'S' club and got into my open stance to take a few practice swings. Ready to go, I took a small backswing and followed through and worked!!! Travis would be so proud. I got on the green in two strokes and it only took me three more putts to complete this hole!!! Geez.

Now at the 3rd hole, The Hackers were off the fairway and into the trees, then into the rough on the other side of the was still looking for the ball while we took the opportunity have a drink of water and think about our next play. During this time, another fellow approached from behind and asked about The Hackers ahead of us. We were ready to approach the tee box, so he waited but seemed perturbed.
As my husband and I continued on, I practiced my chipping and putting as instructed and I was getting some great chipping shots from all kinds of places that before the lesson, I would not have had a clue what to do. My confidence was growing. My husband was surprised at some of the shots I was making. Here comes the single guy again; seemingly impatient. We asked if he wanted to play ahead. We will call him "The Driver" . So The Driver played ahead and I guess he played ahead of The Hackers too.  Funny thing, I think they didn't even notice as he surpassed them while they were still searching for the latest hack in the trees.

The first nine holes went well. I did however loose balls in the drink not once, but twice. The first ball was lost over my favorite tee over the duck pond. This was becoming an endearing moment of sacrifice. The second rolled in the pond after rolling down an embankment....Dang I need to buy some more balls.  I made up for it twice with my 7 iron on two separate shots.  Both times making a straight drive right through a couple trees putting me on the rough of the green. After we completed nine holes, we took a quick bathroom break at the clubhouse, all the while hoping The Hackers would get a couple holes ahead, and yes, they were playing 18 holes.

During the back nine, we would meet a few new friends. The first young man was playing while his father observed and drove the cart. This young man had quite the swing. We learned he was only 12 years old. He had been playing since age 6 and it showed. This young man teed off from the white zone and drove the ball equally as far as my husband. He was only a single.  We let him play ahead, so we were only able to observe him a couple times. Then there was another team that caught up to us while we waited again for The Hackers to complete a long par 5. This was a father daughter team. The daughter age 15 was getting acquainted with the course as she was playing a tournament the coming week and father was playing along for fun. They joined us on the last couple holes for fun. We enjoyed playing with them.

I was getting fatigued coming around to the 15th hole. I hit the ground a couple times while trying to drive. Got a little frustrated. Though, I had a few really good shots on the fairways that were redeemable. My last great shot was on the 18th hole. I had a decent drive from the tee box, but even better, I had a fabulous drive from the fairway with my 3 wood. It laid up about 25 yards from the green. I decided to use my 'P' pitching wedge and chipped it onto the green. My next putt went in!!! I did not turn my head and Travis was not even holding my visor. It was a nice shot and everyone stood amazed for a moment of silence and then all said almost in unison, "that putt was for par." I was the only one in the group that parred the 18th hole. It was a good day.

I learned many things while observing other players on the golfcourse today. I learned that golf is for everyone: it is sizeless, ageless, genderless and knows no boundaries; especially aquatic. You never want to play behind The Hackers or in front of The Driver. Fathers enjoy the game of golf with their children even if it is from the cart. If a 15 year old girl can play in a tournament....SO CAN I.      FORE!!!

THIRD GOLF LESSON: February 26,2011 Chipping and Putting

Today's lesson at Oak Hollow Golfcourse was all about the short game: Chipping and Putting that's the ticket. I have two clubs in my bag that I have never tried to use, one marked 'S' the other 'P' or so I now know them as the Sandwedge and Pitching Iron. These beauties are used to chip in either very sensitive situations like when you are laid in the sandtrap or when in the deep rough to optimally get you on the green. Travis demonstrated how to get under the ball for a lift. Looked easy enough :) or so I thought. 

There is one very important lesson I learned today and that is how to control the distance or try to anyway. Travis explained that the distance is controlled by the backswing, the further your backswing the more momentum you gain for contact and followthrough; also the more distance you can expect to achieve. If you want to chip a short distance, only a small couple inches from the ball is needed and a nice long followthrough. I learned that followthrough should always be the same, it is the backswing that controls the distance of the ball. I initially wanted to control the distance by stopping my swing short, as what most people do. When I attempted to adjust this error, I found myself in better control of the swing and surprisingly the distance. My followthrough was smoother and more controlled when I happened to do it correctly. I could almost place the ball where intended ( is my first try anyway)!

We chipped for quite awhile from various locations so not to get used to one particular movement, but worked on the feel of the technique itself.  Along with that motion came a new stance. Opening up the body to allow for complete followthrough by about a 90 degree rotation. The clubface was more flattened to scoop the ball up from the sandtrap or the rough. Travis explained that with chipping, the left wrist stays locked and only the right wrist bends with followthrough.  It was hard to get the brain to learn this move.  Think like this, Travis said,"push the left hand with the right hand like you are pushing a baby on a swing...not too hard, but with a firm gentle sweeping motion".  I want to tell you that made all the difference.  My brain knows how to push a baby on a swing.  When performed properly, the ball lifts and drops where intended (hopefully on the green close to the hole) for a short putt in. That has not been my experience, but a girl can dream right.

Now we moved onto putting; my nemesis.  Now if I can take about 'four' putts off each green I may get into a respectable handicapp...smiles. Putting is much different than other golf swings in that you are only moving your shoulders like a pendulum. Your body stays straight and your head does not turn with the ball. Travis held the tip of my hat so I would stop turning my head when I putted. It was so hard not to turn my head. He explained that if I turned my head too soon the putter head would likely turn as well causing the ball to miss the cup. He said, "Don't look at the ball until it has left your putter". I can tell you it is much easier said than done. When I did this correctly, it certainly does work out for the best. 

My homework assignment was to practice two feet out, then move to four feet out and then to six. Keep doing that in rotation and that will help me to learn to control distance of the putt. He also suggested that I should do this when I arrive to play while warming up so to judge the greens for the day. Good idea Travis.
With these new skills fresh in my mind, my husband and I set out to play my first 18 holes!!!!  FORE!!!