Thursday, July 30, 2009

Awesome headcovers!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fade vs. Draw - which is longer off the tee?

As I learn more about how the swing works and how ball flight works (if you don't know what the d-plane is, google it or you don't know the real laws of ball flight), I'm starting to think that the idea that a draw is longer than a fade is a fallacy, especially with modern clubs.

With new equipment, we can offset the higher launch and spin (most useful on the driver) that traditionally cause a fade to be considered the "shorter" shot shape, and due to bio mechanics I believe that you can hit a fade harder than draw.

A pull fade, like Bubba's stock driver shot, is actually hit with a clubface CLOSED relative to the target line. That's why the ball starts left. The left to right spin is applied by club path that is going even further left of the target line than the clubface is pointing- or in other, out to in RELATIVE TO THE CLUBFACE.

Since the clubface can close through impact, I believe that contrary to traditional opinion, you can release HARDER hitting a fade than a draw. In order to hit a push draw (ball starting right of the target), the club face MUST be open- and therefore, in an otherwise neutral swing, slightly held off.

One of the Worst Articles I've Read in a While

And tastelessly executed to boot.

I would post the link, but the idea of feeding that man's article MORE TRAFFIC makes me a little nauseous. Suffice to say, it's an article on by Mike Freeman about Tom Watson- fuck it, here's the text too:

Tom Watson is a fine man who, at 59 years old -- more deadpan than bed pan -- almost captured perhaps the grandest golf major of them all and in his honor there will be no jokes about his age.

Except the only bag Watson carries these days isn't his golf bag, it's his colostomy bag.

Not saying that Watson is old but before his walk to the 18th hole he was asked for his AARP card.

The country long ago knew that Watson was going to be a good golfer when he beat Benjamin Franklin for a beaver pelt and oil lamp in a skins game.

Heck, couldn't resist.

• British Open coverage

We should all be thankful for Watson. To you, he's a gentleman, good sport and inspirational story. To me, he's a chance to once again beat a drum I've been pounding for years: Golf isn't a sport. The amount of athleticism required to play golf is about the same as it is to be a good bowler.

How else do you explain that a man who is nearly 60 came extremely close to winning a golf major?

This story might be inspirational but for the sport of golf it should also be mortifying. Actually, it's a tad embarrassing.

What does it say about a sport when it takes a playoff round to finally beat Watson despite Watson's age?

It says golf isn't a sport, that's what it says.

Thank you, Mr. Watson, for finally providing irrefutable proof.

There are no 59-year-old running backs, outfielders or point guards because the level of athleticism is so extreme in those sports that if someone Watson's age tried to play them they'd get broken into tiny pieces.

But there are 59-year-old bowlers, and bowling and golf are identical in the skill level required.

Golf is bowling, bowling is golf.

Football, basketball, baseball and hockey players aren't the only ones superior to golfers in their athletic ability. Auto racers, cyclists, rowers, marathoners, cricket players, rugby players, badminton players, WNBA players and anything in track and field are superior to golfers.

Golf and bowling are tied.

There are older professional athletes of course. The NHL's Chris Chelios is 47 and Dara Torres won three Olympic silver medals at 40. Yet there is still a tremendous difference between 40 and 59.

The general sporting public has been blinded on this subject by a bunch of media hogwash. There's a significant reason why they've been suckered. Golf has been gifted an elevated status because of its aristocratic heritage and this country's wealthy elite (including some of us in the media) help push the notion that golfers are athletes because it benefits the powerful. The sporting public then laps it all up because they're told to.

The argument that golf is a real sport is the result of a century-long campaign of focused casuistry over reasoned logic.

Golf has been provided the sports equivalent of affirmative action.

John Daly possesses the girth of a planetoid and the athletic ability of a drunken tortoise yet for a lengthy period he was one of golf's best players. Not much more proof is needed for golf's lack of athletic prowess than a flatulent Daly.

It has been stated golfers start out by playing other sports and then gravitate toward golf and that alleged fact is used as proof that golfers are truly athletes. My guess is if golfers do indeed begin their athletic lives playing other sports the majority end up in golf because they couldn't make it in other athletic arenas.

The next time people talk about Tiger Woods as one of the best athletes in the world, this British Open should be remembered, since Woods got beat by a 59-year-old man.

Please, calm yourselves, and let's be clear. These complaints aren't as much about Watson as it is the sport and the media. Is Watson a good story? Sure. Is Watson also an exemplary story? Yes, because he's proof of what people like me have been saying for years: golf is enjoyable but golf is also ... bowling.

The athleticism required to play golf is so minimal it's negligible.

Watson showed this unequivocally. Thank you, Tom.

Or should I call you grandpops?

By the way, we know bowlers are definitely tougher than golfers because bowlers carry their own bags.

Let me paraphrase: Tom Watson is a fine man (the actual first clause) who I'm about to insult with every tasteless comment about the elderly I can think of (the next 4 paragraphs or so), then say golf is like bowling without actually ever talking about either SPORT.

By his logic, if Dikembe Mutombo blocks a college kid's shot, basketball is not a sport.

Here's a few supporting facts:

He forges his credentials.

Apparently, he's a TERRIBLE golfer:

Michael Freeman, NJ

T Date Score CR/Slope Diff.
H 7/09 100 70.4/129 25.9
H 5/09 97 70.4/129 23.3
C 8/07 102 70.4/129 27.7
H 8/07 103 70.4/129 28.6
H 4/07 104 70.4/129 29.4

Of course it's not a sport, Mike. How could big strong man like you be bad at a sport? Clearly, the only logical conclusion is it must be one of them nerd things!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Forget the terrible shots, I've never seen Tiger walking around with his hands in his pockets, slouched over before.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tiger Woods Invitational at Congressional

An exciting Sunday so far. It seems like AK is having trouble aiming left, which has happened a few times in the past 3 rounds too. Tiger is continuing to have occasional big misses with his driver, but also continues to hit beautiful, soft fades into a lot of pins.

AK's aim issue will be something he's gonna have to address next week on his off days. It's just a matter of retraining and a bit of focus, which I don't think will be much of a problem.

Tiger's problems might take a bit longer. It seems to be that when he's hitting fades with his irons he has a great, smooth lateral move through transition and impact. When he tries to hit draws, however, and especially with his driver/fairways, he seems to hang back, jump, and spin violently. I believe this is an attempt to stay behind the ball and release his right hand past his body to close the face- a rather difficult timing move.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jordan Hill to my hometown Knicks

Looks like Blake Griffin lite to me. Not a bad pick, but they really do need a back up point (among many, many other changes). On the plus side, a conservative black chalk pinstripe with an understated paisley tie. Classy.

Terence Williams and Gerald Henderson are my instant impact picks, I think.

One Plane vs. Two Plane? Not quite.

Jim Hardy made a big impact with his one plane/two plane golf theory, but I (and others) believe that it is inaccurate. The difference between the two "types" of swings that I've seen are not based on whether or not the club is above the shoulder plane (a rather arbitrary line), but rather how the club is released through impact, and by extension, how the shoulders and hips rotate through impact.

The easiest way to see this distinction is to view the swing down the target line. At some point during the through swing, after impact, the club should be pointing roughly at the target. There are, however, two very different ways to accomplish this.

Below, at 0:17 is Tiger Woods "shaking hands with the target".

Compare to Anthony Kim, at 0:10.

Tiger has his right arm completely extended towards the target and away from his body on the follow through. Anthony Kim, in comparison, has already brought the club so far left and around his body (as opposed to up and away from his body) that it's already hidden from view by the time his right arm extends through to the target.

I believe in TGM (The Golfing Machine) terms, this is referred to as swinging on the TSP (turned shoulder plane) vs. the elbow plane through the impact area. For those who have an interest in what those mean, Brian Manzella's forums and Richie3jack's blog are good places to learn the basics.

This article has a great comparison of Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods from face on which shows the difference between the two "types" of swings.

Blake Griffin at the Draft

Well dressed. Black 2 button (i think), purple shirt, patterned black tie... and it actually fit. Ricky Rubio also gets props for a classic navy number. Hasheem Thabeet, on the other hand, looked a bit like the tin man.

Busy Day in the NBA

Busy day in the NBA- the key moves being VC to Orlando, Courtney Lee to NJ, Shaq to the Cavs, Wallace/Pavlovic to the Suns, RJ to the Spurs, Fabricio Oberto to the Pistons, Miller/Foye to Washington. Whew.

I tend to enjoy the more technical side of sports, and therefore often find myself interested in rather obscure topics and situations. Of these trades, the two teams I find myself most interested in are Washington and New Jersey, especially New Jersey.

The Washington Wizards, with the (fingers crossed) return of a healthy Gilbert Arenas are sure to be video game favorites next year, whether your poison is Live or 2k. Their multitalented offensive line up actually reminds me more of Manchester United's attack (offensive total football?) than anything in basketball.

Their starting lineup, if I was their coach:
1) Gilbert Arenas
2) Nick Young
3) Caron Butler
4) Mike Miller
5) Antawn Jamison

Obviously, a very weak team defensively but one that should do surprisingly well on the boards, as 1-5 will all be doing their share. In addition, all 5 are willing and extremely able passers and 3 point shooters. Randy Foye and Arenas' inadequacies as point guards should be covered up by Mike Miller's floor leadership and vision. Think Golden State Warriors, except with a chance to win every night, against ANYONE. In addition, with good coaching they'll be able to execute in the half court too. Probably an 8th seed at best, but if they get into the playoffs they'll be fun to watch.

The New Jersey Nets are going to be the polar opposite of the Wizards. In Devin Harris, Courtney Lee they have two of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Hassell, and to a lesser extent Lee, are offensive liabilities however, and the same can be said of Brook Lopez. With Yi Jianlin, Bobby Simmons, and the newly acquired Skip to my Lou rounding out the core of the team, the Nets look very young and limited offensively.

What they do have on their side is youth and speed, and lots of it. Devin Harris is possibly the fastest player in the league with the ball in his hands- and without. Courtney Lee is no slouch either, and Jarvis Hayes is an able finisher on the break as are Yi Jianlin and Bobby Simmons (former Most Improved Player on the clippers). Brook Lopez has shown that he's in great shape, and should be able to outrun most big men in the league.

What this boils down to is that the Nets are going to be like the Celtics lite- great defense leading to fast breaks, but with a faster pace overall. Unfortunately, as is, the Nets look like a sub .500 team. What makes them interesting however, is they seem to be one or two players from becoming a VERY good team, but if that's going to happen they're going to have to establish a strong defensive identity early in the season.

Shaq traded to the Lebronia LeBron's!

Two of the biggest single-name (also made-up name) superstars and the two most physically dominating players to ever play the game are on the verge of teaming up.

Like the article says, this trade is essentially an admission of previous trading mistakes. For Marion (one of the hottest trade commodities in the league at the time), they got a great, aging player who simply did not fit their system, who they're now trading to save money.

Luckily, with the continuing emergence of Amare Stoudemire (assuming he can avoid further injury), the Suns actually have an interesting team. Sasha Pavlovic is a very solid wing player who should fit very well into the Suns system. He can shoot the 3, run the floor, slash to the basket, and play some (SOME) defense. He also seems like a smart player, as in his limited time on the floor he seems to be in the right spots, never looks lost and avoids careless mistakes. I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing 15-20 minutes a game scoring 10-15 ppg right off the bat. If he shows improved defense and ability to handle the ball, he may become a sort of Joe Johnson lite. Of course, point guard skills may be a lot to ask for from a player who hasn't seen the floor much in his career, but he has shown flashes of solid decision making ability.

I fully expect Ben Wallace to retire, unless the Suns ask him to play. Considering his recent performances, I seriously doubt that's going to happen.

As for the Akron Lebrons- woops, the Cleveland Cavaliers- the sheer physical domination of Shaq and Lebron all over the floor make this a very scary team. However, their Championship hopes lie squarely on the shoulders of a guy who never even gets off the bench.

Mike Brown.

For all the talent the Cavs have, they have a rather curious mix of players. They lack the kind of smart, veteran player who a coach can trust to control the tempo of the game and keep the team level headed when Lebron is off the floor. Players like James Posey, Tayshaun Prince, Shane Battier would be perfect. Guards like Aaron Brooks and Leandro Barbosa are also great at controlling the tempo off the bench, and the faster pace they bring to the game usually helps bench players get easy baskets, greatly increasing their effectiveness later in the game. Instead, however, they have Varejao, West, and Joe Smith off the bench- solid players, but ones who simply cannot operate without a superstar on the floor. Delonte West is the only one of these players with the potential to become the guy they need, but his lack of a consistent jump shoot limits his ability to get to the basket at the moment. If he works hard over the summer, West could be the 6th man that the Cavs need to bring a Championship to Lebronia- I mean Cleveland.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Adam Scott- swing changes?

I'm not sure about what I'm seeing, but it seems as though Adam Scotti s making swing changes. He seems to be bending more at the waist and less at the neck, which allows him to better center the ball in his field of vision. In addition, his plane seems a bit flatter with an earlier and smoother release of the right side, as opposed to his older swing with a more carefully timed, delayed release.

JB Holmes' Putting Stroke

It's looking FAR better then I've ever seen it. A smooth, full turn through the ball with no manipulation as opposed to the stabby hit he had in the past. If the results have improved as much as the appearance, Holmes may suddenly find himself contending on a lot more courses.

Rocco Mediate's Preshot Routine

Anyone notice it? It seems as though he set up VERY open with his shoulders, hips, and feet while he aligns his club, similar to the way Jack Nicklaus opened his putting stance to get a good view of the line. Then, after his clubface is aligned, he goes ahead and squares up his shoulders and drops his right foot back to close his hips and feet.

Maybe not a bad routine for those of us who struggle with open alignment. This way, you can aim as you feel comfortable, and then set yourself square to the target.

By the way

WOW Mike Weir, wow. His shoulders look weirdly open but apparently it's working pretty well for him.

What might these be?


The tickets to the final round of the US Open, hopefully. Otherwise I'll be watching the conclusion from home like everyone else.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

With Brian Gay leading this past Sunday

"Is that the Gay factor or the Tiger factor?"
Peter Kostis

"Is that the what, Peter?"
Ian Baker-Finch

Friday, June 12, 2009

Something good is just about to happen

"No, I never have been miserable. I keep thinking that day to day something good is just about to happen."

-Pete Carroll, Head Coach, USC Trojans

Wiser words have never been spoken.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who's excited for Real Madrid in FIFA 2010?

It'll probably take some time for Ronaldo and Kaka to learn how to play together. For more instant gratification...who can imagine Real Madrid in next years FIFA game? Near cheating, I imagine. Domination the likes of which we haven't seen since Tecmo Bo!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dwight Howard Showing Signs

For what might be the first time I've ever seen, at 1:25 left in the first of Game 2 of the finals, Dwight Howard has made a good, quick, aggressive move to the basket going THROUGH the defender quickly before the help could arrive.

As I've discussed with my friend Leo, we agree that one of the biggest weaknesses in Dwight's offensive game was the inability to make a strong move to the basket without pausing to gather his feet. This was worryingly apparent in the Boston series, where Kendrick Perkin's bulk kept Dwight from being able to gather his feet the way he likes to. Even more worrisome, a picture on ESPN heading an article about the Finals showed Howard looking oddly diminutive against the Perkins-sized Andrew Bynum.

However, this move gives me hope. Perhaps he has turned a corner in his game. If so, I expect this series to go MUCH longer than the first game would indicate. While I was initially anticipating a 5 or 6 game series concluding in (yet another) a Laker Championship, I'm now thinking more of a 6 or 7 game series, with a possible Magic victory if Howard keeps displaying improved footwork.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Memorial Skins Game

Today, I learned that Tiger Woods is still pretty good at this golf business. On the other hand, he says "brah".


Looks like a low cut and a low draw to me. Beautiful rotation of the hips and shoulders with an aggressive weight transfer. Look at how delofted the "club" is in the freeframe preview of the 2nd vid.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Golf Gal's Blog!

By the way, I've been watching Big Break: Prince Edward Island, a reality show competition for 100,000 dollars with aspiring professionals. I've seen a few episodes of previous seasons, but none have really caught more than a passing interest from me.

This year, however, I caught the first episode and got hooked. The first challenge, a 3 foot putt to go to elimination as SOON as the players showed up set the tone. Infuriating and entertaining characters abounded also.

Lucky for me, I found golfgal's blog, where she interviews players and gets their unedited input after the shows air. Great stuff! I especially enjoyed Brian Skatell's interviews, where you come to realize yes, he really is that crazy, but no, he's not nearly the ass that the Golf Channel makes him out to be. He's like that guy who's equal parts endearing-crazy and infuriating-crazy, except the producers have edited out the endearing parts for the sake of creating a villain.

A quote from Derek (who, by the way, hit an amazing shot today- 2 shots from 120 yards, balls ended up TOUCHING) about a text from Brian: "Before the show he sent me text. "Yeah, I'm opening up a night club named 'pure'". Dude has a sense of humor.

Sad to see him go.

Just a few ideas, feedback welcome

So I was thinking about removing the paintfill on my new irons. Here are some quick mock ups. Tell me what you think!







Does anyone else...

think it's only a matter of time till we start seeing reports of a career ending amputation for Lamar Odom? $77 dollars worth of candy on game day! He must bleed maple syrup.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Everyone Should See This

It's a shame there's no Dwight puppet.

The Importance of a Neutral Grip

I, like many golfers, used to have a strong and slowly migrated to a neutral one. Along the way, I found out a couple of rarely mentioned facts which have firmly convinced me that a neutral grip is generally superior to a stronger one. Not that you can't hit great shots with a strong grip, but those with a weaker grip will still have certain advantages.

There are the well known benefits, such as being able to work the ball more easily and the ability to hit higher shots. A couple of benefits, however, seem to have flown mostly under the radar.

A weaker grip allows you to more easily set up with your forearms and shoulders on the proper plane, so you can turn on the proper plane. A stronger grip requires some more contortion to get thing aligned.

In addition, it allows you to more easily set the clubface open at address- a technique both Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus used. The purpose, however, is not necessarily to promote fade. Since the clubface is rotating throughout its arc, a clubhead set BEHIND the ball should be open, in order to allow it to square up as it closes traveling through the ball. This is important to actually align the face correctly, but also because it gives you a clear visual cue that you can fire through the ball without shutting down the face. For many players, a square face at address will make them feel as if they have to "hold" the face square through impact, instead of allowing it to release through.

Finally, possible the most important reason. A sufficiently weak right hand grip (which some combined with a stronger left, a la David Duval) will allow you, in concert with a proper turn back, to set the club on the pad at the base of your right index finger when you reach the top of the backswing- otherwise known as pressure point #3, in TGM lingo.

Richie3jack's blog has some good diagrams of PP#3, as well as a lot of good info on TGM.

So, why is this pressure point so important to set at the top? Because this is where you apply the power! By putting the club in a position that loads up this point, you can start applying power through the ball from the very top of the swing.

This was the beauty of Mr. Hogan's swing. By setting the club on the same plane it would travel through the hitting area at the top of the backswing, and setting its weight squarely on top of the most powerful part of his right hand, he can simply hit as hard through the ball. The face will rotate naturally through the application of power through this point without manipulation, and sufficiently weak grip will also allow you to hit freely without worrying about a hook.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Birthday! me! I got myself the Adams Idea Pro Black irons. Pics when they get in tomorrow.

Friday, May 22, 2009


He didn't look tired there, haha.

1-1, off to Orlando.

Has LeBron Hit the Wall?

Though I've occasionally brought up the possibility in conversation, I never actually believed it to be true. LeBron James is HUMAN. For years, I've lauded Kobe Bryant for his stamina, and marveled at James' unbelievable workload, but it seems that it's FINALLY caught up to him. To be fair, LeBron weighs in the area of 265 pounds and plays the game at a speed that Kobe simply can't match- in fact, few outside of Chris Paul and Leandro Barbosa can, and plays a much more active role in help defense. Combined with last years long playoff run and the Olympics, that's a lot of calories expended in the past year and half or so without any real layoff.

So, is he finally tiring out? I suspect he is, and that it's for the first time in his life. I've personally never seen him looking the way he has at the end of game 1 and near the end of the 3rd in game 2. There's simply no spring in his step. Any basketball player can relate to the feeling of "heavy feet" that inevitably comes with too many days playing for too many hours.

At some point, most players learn that you have to pace yourself. You simply can't go full steam 82 games a season (plus playoffs and international ball), 42+ minutes a game on offense AND defense without tiring by the end of the season. Even ironmen like Iverson took his breaks (on defense, unfortunately), while Kobe Bryant plays at a much more measured pace.

A valuable lesson for LeBron James, but one that could possibly cost him this years Championship. While I believe the Cavs will beat the Magic in 5 or 6 games, Cleveland will be unlikely to beat the Lakers or Nuggets without Lebron playing at full strength.

Of course, this could all be very premature. While there are definite signs, they aren't overwhelmingly convincing. Hopefully, this malaise is simply the cause of a couple of bad night's sleep or a flu he's kept hidden so we can all return to being Witnesses.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I've always been a streaky putter- the type who has the ability to read a 40 foot triple breaker and the touch to cozy it up there, but the same guy who can lip out 3 3 footers in a row.

Lately, I've been focusing on two specific aspects of my putting stroke- 1) aim, alignment, posture and 2) touch. Sounds like that pretty much covers all of putting, huh?

Careful analysis of my grip and set up revealed why I had a tendency to stub putts (grazing the grass) and leave them right lately- too much shoulder tilt away from the target, and a grip that required some contortion to get the forearms level. I agree with Pat O'brien's philosophy that the shoulders should be LEVEL when putting. I've been running into the same problem in my pitching and chipping- too much axis tilt away from the target.

From this, I've extracted two very basic fundamentals

1) level shoulders
2) level forearms

Note how little shoulder tilt Vaughn Taylor has with his putter set up

compared to Phil Mickelson's (best wishes to the Mrs) full swing set-up

I made some set up changes (grip, ball position, shoulder level) and found that my stroke was much freer and more athletic. Setting up correctly, I could simply direct the putter squarely at the back of ball, thinking only of how far I wanted the ball to roll. In order to keep my mind free of mechanical thoughts, I've been using a drill Nick Faldo used to use, described here.

The important parts are quoted below:

"Now, feel the corner of your lower thumb on the grip that is closest to the target. On your right hand (for right handers) it will be the corner of the nail on the outside of your thumb. Take some practice strokes feeling that corner pointing at your target at the end of the motion. Now execute some three to six-foot putts making sure to hold the point at the finish of the stroke.

By doing this you will discover that the ball goes the direction you pointed good or bad. Two things will come from this drill: (1) your focus will shift away from the putter head and ball; and (2) you will complete your stroke, giving you better rhythm and distance control."

This drill worked wonders for me, helping me trust my stroke as well taking any "hit" out of my motion.

For more putting tips, I suggest checking out Pat O'brien's site as well as Geoff Mangum's.

Pat's site has some other information about his ideas on how set up influences the stroke (which I agree very strongly with), and Geoff's site has a lot more technical information on how to develop touch and green reading ability. If you can sort through all the technical talk, Geoff has some great imagery than can help you visualize your putts better- which essentially means, he can help you PUTT better.
Since my goal as an aspiring professional is to someday be "putt[ing] for dough", both these sites are money in the bank.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hip Fitness and Golf- Preventing Injury and Producing Power

As a basketball player in high school, I favored the Bill Walton style of play. In other words, run hard, go for every loose ball, don't slow down till you're physically unable to keep up. Unfortunately, along with concrete courts and my complete ignorance of joint health, long hours on the court left me with a myriad of knee and ankle injuries- most significantly, a fractured right ankle and a 2 year long bout of tendinitis in the left knee.

However, these incidents introduced me to the importance of fitness in injury prevention. In fact, after 2 years of visiting the best orthopedists in the tri-state area, a rather scruffy doctor with terrible bedside manner actually found the cause of the problem- tight calves. Apparently, he had seen similar problems in Army recruits because of the extended running on hard surfaces- meanwhile, every other doctor had suggested an indefinite schedule of rest and ibuprofen.

The realization struck me- I had missed two years of basketball (and I believe, a chance at a scholarship) because of a TIGHT CALF. Clearly, stretching was more important than I had given it credit for.

This brings me to fitness and golf- specifically, hip fitness. Like most rotational sports, golf requires you generate and absorb a huge amount of force with your hips. The fact that these forces are asymmetrical and repeated in huge numbers (especially at the range) only increase the possibility of injury due to decreased mobility/strength or muscle imbalance. Proper hip health is key to preventing back/hip injury. The fact that the greater range and ease of motion should allow for a more powerful, free flowing swing is a bonus.

In golfers, there are two specific problem areas I'd like to address- the hip flexor and the hip rotators. Studies show that limited hip mobility highly correlated with back pain (

This very basic hip flexor stretch should be held for 30 second to a minute and performed on both sides. Hip flexors are often very tight due to a sedentary lifestyle. Extended periods of sitting tend to tighten the hips and weaken the glutes.

The supine bridge is a great basic exercise to strengthen the glutes. Personally, I found that my right glute was weakened due to my earlier ankle injury, which puts me at greater risk for back injuries due to asymmetry. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the left side of my back is stronger, as I am a right handed golfer.

Finally, internal hip rotation is often limited by tightness in the external hip rotators, which have to absorb the force of our swing (particularly on the left side). My ankle injury caused me to develop compensations in my gait leading to limited internal hip rotation on the right side also.

If you visit that video directly, there are a coupe of other internal hip rotation stretches also.

These are just a start! In order to maintain a healthy back through the rigors of golf (and life) hip mobility and core strength must be exercised in all dimensions, not just the few stretches I've shown here- these are just a starting point.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Congratulations Henrik Stenson!

Unfortunately, this is still the third image that appears under a quick google image search for "Henrik Stenson." He's similarly (un)attired in the second, though thankfully clothed in the first.

While his notoriety for his clothes shedding episode will likely follow him his whole career, it will now be a humorous footnote rather than the defining image.

I think he (and we) much prefer this one, as he practices hoisting the trophy on his daughter on his way off the 18th green.

Watching his flawless Sunday performance I couldn't help but be reminded of Jack Nicklaus. There are, of course, the immediately obvious similarities- the height, the hair color, the distance- but there are a few others which I find more interesting.

His swing features a full, high finish that reminds me somewhat of Mr. Nicklaus, as well as his discipline in choosing the 3 wood repeatedly. This strategy allowed him to take advantage of his prodigious distance (especially on the firm, fast fairways) while still giving him a good chance of staying on the fairways. He also shares with Mr. Nicklaus a high ball flight and great accuracy with the long clubs- things that go hand in hand when playing a course as firm as Sawgrass this Sunday.

Finally, he was rock solid over his short putts this week, going 51/51 inside 5 feet. Whether or not his hot putting will continue remains to be seen, but as long as he
keeps his "iceman" demeanor (sorry Retief, Mr. Gervin), smart play and accuracy with the long clubs, Stenson is sure to be contending in a lot of Majors in the near future.

Top photo from the

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Even men love shopping

As I mentioned in my first post, I am an aspiring tour player. To help kickstart my journey, I'm getting new clubs that I can grow into (as opposed to old clubs I've long grown out of). I'm currently playing a set of Tourstage TS-202's (wonderful clubs for the low-to-higher capper who doesn't come in too steep) with some high launch graphite shafts in jello flex.

Since I'm away from my golfing base of operations, I'm thoroughly enjoying the process of picking clubs. It's basically all I can actually DO golf wise, besides studying instructionals. Luckily, like all men, I enjoy shopping- as long as it's something I want.

So far, I've ordered a PING Redwood Piper S which should be arriving on Monday. The specs are almost exactly the same as the Taylor-Made Spider, which I putted amazingly with but could not bear to look at. Most importantly, both are face balanced with 1/2 shaft offset and similar lie angles at 35". These specifications allow me to set up over the putter with a clear look at my putting line to maximize my natural aiming abilities (did you know that many anthropologists and biologists theorize that the only reason the giant, unwieldy human brain actually helped us succeed is it allowed us to better calculate trajectories? A skill that must have come in very handy when trying to hunt mammoths and other dangerous prey from a distance during the ice age).

Much darker, bluer finish in person.

Before I get to the meat of my set, let me detail the pieces I WON'T be replacing- yet.

My driver- the FT-i tour 9.5*: doesn't fit great, but until I get my swing a bit more settled I'd like to wait on the most expensive club in the bag

3 wood- sonartec ss 2.5- definitely needs a reshaft, but bearable for now.

3 hybrid- srixon ad 18*- great club that no one's ever heard of. So easy to hit I think I'll just hold on to it and get it regripped. If you can hook this thing, you need to take a look at your swing.

Now for the FUN part. On , a site with a forum I frequent, I've heard endless praise for club fitter/maker Joe Kwok, especially his attention to detail and the consequent consistency of the sets he builds. With a bit of his advice, I've settled on an MP52/62 combo set.

MP-52 4-6i

and MP-62 7i-PW

and perhaps an MP-R 54* to cover the gap to my MP-R 60*.

At this point, I'm considering getting the clubs rawed (stripped of all plating) or copper plated. Hopefully Joe Kwok will have someone who he usually sends this kind of work to. At the very least, I figure it'd be better to get the processes done beforehand so that he can take care of any weight changes.

Do you readers have any insight on how raw/copper plated irons will feel and wear? And any advice on where to send my clubs and how much it would cost?

Edit: I've found out at that "copper chroming" is the best way to go, for anyone who's interested.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Basics of the Ideal Golf Swing

The ideal golf swing takes full advantage of our athletic instincts to reduce our swing thoughts to simply "aim and fire". Through thousands of years of evolution, our bodies are well trained to take advantage of our senses and muscles to apply the clubhead the way we want to. However, setting yourself up to take advantage of these instincts is rather difficult to do, especially without understanding how they work.

Very simply, there are two basic ways in which the body will attempt to apply force to an object with a stick. One can be seen in a home-run swing- the swinging instinct. Because the player is trying to hit the ball upwards (a push in relation to the eye-line. The terminology can be confusing- the player is actually pulling with the left side to "push" (in golf terms) the ball to the right of the eye line with a right handed player.

The other method can be seen with someone chopping a log he is standing on. In relation to the eye-line, this is a pull since the axe is traveling out-to-in. This chopping motion generates power with the underside of the arms and back more evenly.

In golf, these two methods can be seen in amateurs (read: hackers) of all sorts. The over the top slice is an attempt to chop the ball, while the sliding tilting drop kick is an attempt to hit it like you're hitting a home run.

Combining these two actions offers the potential to reduce technical swing thoughts while creating a more technically sound, powerful, repeating golf swing.

The Value of the Setup

If these statements are assumed to be true, then the question becomes "how do we take advantage of these instincts?" The key is the setup. At address, we do a number of things- we establish our perspective (and therefore, our aim and visualization) of the shot, and we "aim" the appropriate muscles to move in the right directions to put the club into a good backswing position. Most players don't pay enough attention to the specifics of address. Simply by standing a little taller, or a little more tilted away from the target, or with a slightly strong grip pre-arms certain muscles to fire. If those muscles are the incorrect muscles for the golf swing, then we MUST perform compensations to attempt to bring the right muscles into play. This can be seen in the manipulations and tilting and sliding of the average amateur.

Building a swing- Backwards

I approach building a swing (and swing theory- both my own) the way I approach a golf hole. You start at the green, the end, the most important part. To me, the golf swing ends at impact. Anything else is window dressing- useful diagnostically but otherwise irrelevant.

In order to build a swing around impact, I studied the man who I believe had the least compensations coming into and out of the hitting area- Ben Hogan. It was actually the way he talked about his dreaded miss that helped me understand how he was such a powerful, efficient hitter. Mr. Hogan described it as "the terror of field-mice" and a hook so bad you could "hang your coat on it"- a sure description of a smothered PULL hook, rather than a slinging, overdrawn hook. In concert with his descriptions of his desire to harness the full power of his right hand, I realized that the late Mr. Hogan was almost trying to come over the top as hard as he possibly could. The powerful clearing of his left side and his lateral action along with his perfectly slotted backswing position allowed to him try to come over the top without ever actually being able to.

Essentially, I believe that Hogan harnessed the power of the longest, most solidly struck shot for the average hacker- the pull. It is this right handed action that he described a side arm throw. Try it- from a golf stance, you will inevitably throw it to the left of the target. However, also pay attention to the way your right wrist naturally rolls through impact, storing and releasing the power of your core without ANY conscious thought.

It is this attempt to come over plane that reveals the key to Hogan's swing- the ability to go from a cupped position at the top of the backswing to an arched left wrist through impact with minimal manipulation of the hands.

From this position, he can TRY to come over the top as hard as he wants, and all that will happen is he will swing faster and the club rotate squarely through impact without any manipulation, and the left side will respond by clearing harder to the left, causing a reactionary arching of the left wrist through impact.

By understanding and rehearsing this action through the hitting area, we start to instinctively understand how we can simply extend this action further back and through to create a full swing, as your weight transfer and extension and all the technical aspects fall into place in response to the longer swing.

Taking a step back, this picture shows Hogan right after he transitions into the down swing. His famed lateral shift has already occurred (a movement he was aware of but did not consciously perform, I believe), but once again, he in perfect position to simply "hit" as hard as he can. From here, any attempt to get back to the ball by coming over the top will require tremendous manipulation and a momentary lapse in our athletic instincts. Power applied through the right will be responded to by a pull of the left side (the baseball swing)in an attempt to hit the ball. As a side effect, the face will rotate aggressively but consistently early in the hitting area- the answer to the question many of his contemporaries had asked; "how does he avoid hitting a slice from there?", referring to his seemingly wide open clubface coming into impact.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two of the best swings on tour

It's no coincidence that two of my favorite swing on tour have a lot in common. Both are powerful, simple, and consistent and feature a full, unfettered release of the right side. They also both play a long, straight ball flight.

Without further ado, Anthony Kim and Sean O'hair.

In O'hair's swing there's a slight looseness or overextension of the left shoulder at the top of the backswing, a trait shared by Sergio Garcia. It is this move that causes the slightly upright backswing and the small flattening of the plane in transition- much more exaggerated in Garcia's swing. From the looks of it, it seems like the result of an effort to keep the club as far away from their head as possible in order to create width.

It's visible at 0:51 of this video. Is it possible this left shoulder move helps create more of a delayed hit? It also seems like it might introduce some inconsistencies.

P.S. One swing I really like that's stayed under the radar is Tim Clark's. A birth defect and below average athleticism and size prevent him from being especially long, but there are few players I can think of that are more accurate (or aggressive) with a fairway wood in their hands. His simple repeating action deserves closer examination in the future.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mapping out my home course

Just for practice.  Trying to see if I can find any new angles- noticed some things that I didn't notice in person- more room behind the green on the left on 2nd than i realized, for example.

View horsehoe bend cc in a larger map

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lakers and Cavs

The obvious favorites for the finals are the Lakers and the Cavaliers.  Here's my breakdown of the matchup.

The Cavs- Mo Williams has proven to be a better player than I expected.  The same is true for Lebron (as mentioned in a previous post) as I didn't expect him to apply the effort on the defensive end that he has this year.  I attribute this to his Olympic experience.

However, despite Mo's obvious skills, the Cavaliers as simply TOO heavily dependent on Lebron.  While I'm not sure I could devise a method to slow him, I wouldn't put it past Tex Winters and Phil Jacksn to figure something out.  If they CAN find a method to slow him even a little bit, the Cavs will be in SERIOUS trouble.

The Lakers-

The Lakers are simply a more talented offensive team.  They downside is that they employ players who have defensive talent but not the mistake-free basketball IQ that you need in the playoffs.  Lamar Odom, for example, obvious has the athleticism and size to have a chance at slowing Lebron- not to mention Kobe.  However, Odom lacks the mental game to allow him to truly fluster James- a player with superior basketball IQ.  The same is true of Trevor Ariza. 

This, of course, leaves Kobe- a rather risky prospect considering the dangers of foul trouble and the emergence of a post game in the Detroit series.  I seriously doubt Kobe could handle LBJ backing down due to the weight and strength issues.

The Verdict
The keys, actually, are the bigs.  Pau Gasol will wear big Z ragged.  Varejao would be an obvious substitution but his offensive deficiencies could easily disrupt the Cavs offensive flow.  If Bynum's mental and offensive game round into shape, the Cavs bigs will be rather seriously outmatched.

The x-factor will be the way the Cacvs defend Kobe.  Delonte West is an obvious choice for early harassment, with James another obvious choice for his physique and skills.  If Lebron (or less likely, West) can slow Kobe 1 on 1, forcing the other Lakers to score in pressure situations repeatedly, the Cavs will have a rather significant advantage.

...and x-factor 2- Andrew Bynum.  His youth might allow him to be a force on the defensive boards with his superior size compared to Varejaoa and athleticism when compared to Ilgauskas.  His presence on the offensive and defensive glass along with some fast break baskets could be huge.

Phil Mickelson DVD

His methods are great.  I almost hope it fades into obscurity so that I'll have to compete against fewer people who have studied his technique as closely as I have.

There are a few things that he never talks about that still helped me greatly.  Carefully examining the way he sets up to the ball, he plays almost every shot with a slightly (at least) open face.  This allows him to take advantage of the bounce on his club.  The other is the way that slow motion video allowed me to closely examine the way he sets up to the ball.  When I copied his setup positions, I began to get the same feels I've been getting from the address position of my full swing.

Thoughts on the golf swing

I've recently made some revelations that I believe have allowed me to "complete" my swing changes.  Of course, for most (if you're not Hogan/Nelson/Watson) the swing is an ever evolving organism.

Key among these revelations is the value of the setup.  As a former archer, I equate the alignment and position of the spine/hips/shoulders to the alignment of the string and sight on the bow.  You must set up so that your backswing (drawing the bow) allows you to set the correct muscles to apply force through the ball.  Your athletic instincts will always play a major roles in attempting to allow you to hit the ball towards your target, but these instincts can cause you attempt to correct your impact conditions with rather inconsitent methods, like standing up through impact or flipping our hands.

The proper set up will allow you to simply bring the club away from the ball, coiling and transfering your weight instinctively, and then, before the backswing ends, transfer your weight to your forward foot while keeping the club in front of your body.  By the time the club actually begins to change direction, you should be able to hit as hard as you can with your right side. 

These two things are the keys- shifting your weight for power and slotting your arms (especially your right) in a manner than they can apply maximum force in a manner that directs the ball to the target.  My theories in the set up to follow.

Intro to yoonie's blog

I'm an aspiring professional (touring) golfer who's desperately looking for sponsorship.  My game is coming along well, and with the upcoming opportunity to put in the neccessary time I'm confident that the tour is in the cards for me.

The purpose of this blog is 3 fold- to keep track of my progress as I work on my game to bring it tour standards, to write about and refine my theories on the golf swing, and to occasionally talk about the other sports- football, futbol, basketball- I love so I have a digital record of my predictions (for better or worse).

Just for predictions I've made that I'm proud of- the vulnerability of the 16-0 patriots when forced to rely on the runing game which resulted in the inability to take of a giants defensive line that was focusing on Tom Brady, my belief that Dwyane Wade was going to be the best young player when I saw him as a rookie, and the effect of Chauncey Billups on the Nuggets.  

My less proud predictions include believing that Carmelo was better than Lebron (after their rookie years), but I credit Lebron's transformation to his time with Kobe and Wade on the olympic team.  I also predicted were gonna lose just about every series in the playoffs- on the other hand, I predicted the weaknesses in the Laker's offensive trends.