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Short Game Frustrations

Long on desire, short on game…at least short game that is.  Anyone else having issues with chipping and short pitches?

I like to think I have pretty darn good hand / eye coordination.  I flew helicopters in the Marines for crap sake.  But, for some reason, I find myself flinching at the chips and short pitches.  Some days on the course I see more chili dip than a Super Bowl party.  Other days, its all about the blade.  What the hell?!

I have resolved to correct this issue this spring.  I believe these short shots are a combination of technique and confidence.  As confidence wanes, it seems, technique gets adjusted until it is all lost.  I have been searching for instruction to get me back to a basic primary approach to each – chipping and short pitches.  (We all agree that there is a distinct difference here right?)

I took a lesson in Florida this past December with a young pro.  Explained all this to him and he offered me the “ball off right toe, lean the shaft to the left thigh” approach to chipping.  Nothing new here, but to be fair because of my lack of confidence, I had begun to move excessively on these short shots as well.  He helped me with some of that.  It was a good start, but I need more. (OBTW he really helped my putting set up as well.)

Paul Runyan is a renowned short game artist from years WAY past and he has some videos on YouTube worthy of review.  He has a very distinctive approach to both chipping and pitching.  I am watching them and learning – he is very good at explaining his techniques and certainly demonstrates them to perfection.

I like to watch Adam Bazalgette (Scratch Golf Academy) on YouTube for tips, he gives some great 4-5 minute instruction on all aspects of the game.  He referred to a gent in one of his videos on chipping and pitching who I am watching now – James Sieckmann.

James is Director of Instruction, Shadowridge CC in Omaha, Nebraska and is on the Titleist staff.  He teaches many tour pros on the short game and has some things to say in his videos that are very encouraging.  One was particularly instructive for me – on a Golf Channel instructional episode (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ikSZqh0s5c) – he said some things that helped a light bulb come on for me.  First thing, I have been treating these finesse shots with too much of a mechanical mindset…that is…holding too tight, too stiff, my hands too far forward, etc… He says in the video that from the backswing to essentially “let the club make its way to the ball then turn your torso”…in so many words.  That is the kind of guidance I require!  It is from this mindset that you can manufacture shot trajectory and spin for many different variations. Most instructors say something like let your arms hang loosely and hold the club with an easy grip and leave it at that.  He takes it slightly farther in this video intimating to just let the clubhead release – not a wristy flicky thing – but as a natural result of the rotation.  Eureka!

Anyway, it has been exceedingly frustrating for me to hit a good drive and a decent approach only to screw up the hole with a pitiful attempt at a chip or pitch.  Chili dip a couple and all of a sudden your entire round seems to go down hill.  Lots of work to do around the green and so far, I’ll be practicing Mr. Sieckmann’s approaches to the short game.  Maybe, if you’re in the same boat I am, give him a try.

Thanks Mr. Floyd – Man Behind the Putter

As an update to my recent putting post, I shot a 73 today and it was almost exclusively because of much improved putting.  Thanks to the changes I made described in the “Man Behind the Putter” posting AND a tip Raymond Floyd provided on television.

The Golf Channel’s recent 7 Nights at the Academy series aired this past week and featured tips and instruction by Sir Nick Faldo, Johnny Miller, and Raymond Floyd.  I watched some of the shows and they were very insightful and interesting.  A tip that resonated for me was a very simple one from Mr. Floyd in his putting segment.  He said to pick a very specific spot on the back of the ball when putting and stroke the putt.  How simple is that?!  I birdied the first hole, made 3 more birdies in the round and a bunch of “comeback putts” because of it.  The tip seems to focus your attention at what it should be on and keeps your head down throughout the stroke.

Sure,  I still had a couple of troublesome holes, but birdies sure help make up for some of those mistakes.  Thanks Mr. Floyd!

David Feherty & IED Golf Days

I just viewed a story about David Feherty online that brought tears to my eyes.  I received it as a link from a friend via email (thanks Frank!).  It is a story from the Golf Channel’s website: 

http://www.thegolfchannel.com:80/human-energy/?select2=14760 .     

I truly admire the celebrity who for unselfish reasons brings light, hope, and dignity to others.  Please take a look.

For those who don’t know him, David Feherty was a professional golfer and is now a TV golf analyst and columnist/humorist.  He came to this country from Ireland and became a citizen early last year.  He became a citizen because he admires Americans and the things America stands for – he gets it.  He especially loves military members and their families, a love born of a desire to contribute to freedom’s efforts by visiting the troops in Iraq in 2007 (and subsequent trips) to thank them for what they have done and are doing.  He has embraced those who serve, especially those who have been injured in the process. 

David’s friend Rick Kell has established a foundation for these service members called Troops First Foundation.   David, in partnership with Rick bring together these wounded warriors and their families for sporting event days.  David calls these days Improvised Explosive Days (IED) of Golf or Cycling or Hunting.  This is an obvious play on the term improvised explosive device, the mechanism by which many of these service members received their wounds. 

Visit Rick’s foundation website at http://www.troopsfirstfoundation.org/.  It’s mission:  “Troops First Foundation develops, operates, and supports a synergistic group of wellness, quality of life and sport-based initiatives in support of today’s military personnel.” 

God bless David Feherty and Rick Kell.


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