Archive for August, 2011

August 29, 2011

Swing Review from FixYourGame.com

I sent my swing in to FixYourGame.com late last week and received feedback on my swing Saturday morning.  First off, I was surprised at how fast Brant Kasbohm sent me his review back.  I was expecting to get something back within a few days and most likely on a Monday or Tuesday.  I was not expecting to get something on Saturday morning which was a nice treat for the start of my weekend.

I will admit that I was a little bit skeptical about online golf lessons mainly because I wasn’t sure how much I could take away from a video lesson as opposed to an in person lesson.  I have taken lessons in person before and wasn’t sure how the online lesson would stack up.  I was actually pleasantly surprised with the video lesson.  Brant did a great job of explaining to me where he sees room for improvement in my golf swing.  I also like the fact that he pointed out a few things that I didn’t even notice.  I was aware that I tend to over swing and produce a “stacked” look at the top of my swing, but I never noticed that my right knee locks out and gets fully straight at the top of my swing.

I was also un-aware that my take away is largely with my hands and not with my shoulders and core at all.  This is huge in terms of helping me produce a better turn and get my weight transferred to my right side on the back swing.  I have always known that my swing struggles in the take away, but Brant was able to point out a few things I was completely un-aware of.  I watched his swing review a few times on Saturday and found myself swinging a club in my apartment trying to fix the things he pointed out.

I also love the fact that he sent along a few drills to help me with the problems in my swing.  It wasn’t just “Hey you stack at the top of your swing don’t do that.”  He gave me three videos he had previously shot that directly address the issues he brought up in his review.  Not only that, but he was very clear from the get go that if I have any questions or want further explanation of anything to send him an email and he would be happy to address it.  He has been very responsive every time I have emailed and that is not something I was expecting from this experience.

I get the feeling that the term “Online Lesson” is not considered very intimate and I admit I thought that at first, but I have had the opposite experience with FixYourGame.com.  I fully intend to work on a few of the things that Brant suggested and send him another video to see how I did in fixing those problems.  I would highly recommend using his services to anyone who is serious about getting better.  All I had to do was send him two swings and I got back a full swing review with great tips.  How easy is that?

For the full review you can check out my Swing Review page and feel free to contact Brant at FixYourGame.com, follow them on Twitter (@FixYourGamecom) and check out their Facebook page as well.

August 26, 2011

Here is the Swing!

I finally took the time to video tape my swing the other night at the driving range and I wanted to share.  When I look at my swing the first thing that jumps out at me is the fact that I take the club too far back.  I know this is a problem I have, but I have yet to find a drill or swing thought that really helps me fix it.  In all of these swings I don’t feel like I am swinging 100% but it is clear that my backswing is going back too far.

The second thing I notice is that my take away seems to be too far outside of the ball.  I don’t know if this is really affecting my swing that much, but it looks funny to me.  All of these shots were actually good results, but it is clear I have flaws in my swing and I have room to improve in a bunch of areas.

I sent these same swings to the guys over at FixYourGame.com and am interested to see what they have to say about the swing.  Hopefully they don’t rip me apart too bad.  I will be posting their video lesson based on these swings as soon as I get it back from them.  If anyone else has comments or tips please feel free to send them my way.  I am all ears and  am eager to hear what people have to say.

Full Speed Swings

Slow Motion Swings

August 25, 2011

Helping my Game by Getting Fit for Irons

I wrote a previous post about how I was toying with the idea of paying for a club fitting for my Irons and potentially my driver.  I went back and forth on this subject and got some mixed reviews from friends on whether or not the service was really worth it.  I came to the conclusion that it was in fact worth my time and money to take a more in depth look at my equipment and if it really fits my game.  The bottom line, for me, was that getting properly fit for clubs has the potential to help my game.

I am in the market for new clubs at the moment and if I am going to spend a ton of money on clubs I want to make sure that I get the right ones for my game.  I don’t always feel comfortable hitting balls at places like GolfSmith and getting “fit” for clubs there because I don’t think it is a true fitting.  It feels like they have you hit a few clubs, make a recommendation, try to sell them to you and move on to the next guy in line waiting to hit clubs.  Plus, any club you buy there is stock from the manufacturer and not in any way shape or form customized to you.  What are the chances that a club straight from the manufacturer is perfect for me and my swing?  Possible, but highly unlikely.

I found a place that was right up my alley the other day in downtown Chicago.  The store is called Club Champion and when I walked in to check them out I immediately got the feeling that the place was different.  Their downtown store is located in an upstairs loft space and it isn’t a traditional Golf store by any means.  It is truly a “Fitting” store.  By that I mean that their primary focus is spending time with customers getting them fit for every area of their equipment.  To make things even better, you can schedule a block of time to come in and get fit and have a dedicated fitter spend time finding the right clubs for you.  No lines at the hitting stalls, no teenage (non golfers) working the register up front and no hard sell on clubs that probably aren’t right for you anyways.

The thing I am looking forward to the most about this fitting is the fact that I am going to be able to hit any Iron on the market paired with an array of different shafts.  This process is really about finding the right clubs, but let’s be honest, it is really cool to be able to hit clubs you read about on the “hot list” or have always been curious about.  It makes me feel like I am getting a tour pro experience which for a Golf nut is a dream come true.  Club Champion has the inventory and the ability to place any club head on any shaft out there in the market and let you hit it on the spot.  They also take the time to measure your club head speed, ball speed, lie angles, loft, and spin rates with all of the different club combinations.  How can I go wrong with this amount of attention to detail?

Below is a video that outlines the Iron fitting process from Club Champion themselves and I am going to take a little home movie myself from my Club Fitting on Saturday to share an inside perspective on the process.  I am really curious to hear what they have to say about my current set of clubs and what recommendations they come up with.  I am very excited about making the decision to do this and I hope the new Irons help my game for when I head out to San Diego for my “Friendly Major.”  I will post the video of my fitting early next week and then follow up with a post about how the new clubs are working out for me once I get them and play a few rounds.

Check out the video and you can also follow Club Champion on Twitter (@clubchampgolf) and Facebook.

August 24, 2011

Casting my Club too Much

I have been trying to work hard on keeping my left arm straighter on my take away as well as keeping my take away wider and longer.  I sometimes take the club up too quickly which produces a steep swing and bad results.  As I have been working on this I have noticed that my down swing has become much more over the top and initially I couldn’t figure out why.  Everyone says that you should have a straight left arm and a nice wide take away so what was up with my swing?

It finally clicked with me that I was having this issue because my down swing was wider as well.  I haven’t been creating the lag I am used to.  My down swing was more of a sweeping action as opposed to an attacking motion.  I haven’t been compressing the ball very well and I have been hitting very inconsistent shots.  I think that my problem is an easy fix as long as I can get myself to think about the back swing as a wide sweep and the down swing as a compact attack.  I really need to get myself back to this if I want to get my game in good shape.

It is frustrating to struggle through this, but at the same time it is nice to figure out what is wrong and be able to try to fix it.  I am also bringing a flip camera out to the range tonight to try to capture a few of my swings for the first time.  I know I have to start looking at my swing on video much more if I am serious about fixing major flaws.  I have also been offered a few online lessons that I have not taken advantage of and plan to.  Hopefully this will be a good step forward and I will finally be able to share what my swing actually looks like.

August 23, 2011

Will Everyone Lay Off the FedEx Cup Already?

I keep reading articles, tweets and posts from people who don’t like the FedEx Cup as a playoff system for Golf.  I have heard a wide range of reasons people don’t like the format and how they would change it ranging from a match play format to a team event to the #1 seed at the end of the year gets to pick the course that the first tournament is played at.  Don’t hold your breath on any of these happening any time soon, especially the last one.

I don’t absolutely love the FedEx Cup system, but I also don’t hate it.  What is wrong with a season long race to get points (more points for bigger tournaments and stronger fields) and then a playoff system that narrows down the field to the top 30 players and the last tournament gives everyone a re-set on points and a fair chance to win the full $10 million?  I don’t really see how that is such a bad system.  We are also talking about an individual sport here.  People are complaining that it should be more like other team sports, but Golf is not a team sport.  Maybe it should be more like Tennis, but there are far more players in the field at a Golf tournament than at a Tennis tournament.  Golf tournaments already last all day in the current format, can you imagine how long it would take to do individual matches?  No chance.

Lastly, I don’t get why people are complaining about the FedEx cup to begin with.  In my mind it is nothing but a bonus.  Historically, Golf has had the regular season and the four Majors and that is it.  Golf already has the highly anticipated four Majors every year.  Football only has one Superbowl.  Baseball only has one World Series.  We get FOUR Majors every single Golf season.  That formula has worked for decades.  I understand that this is an attempt to grow the sport and I welcome that.  There is just no way winning the FedEx cup will ever top winning the Masters or the U.S. Open.  It just won’t happen and that is a fact.  Even the large $10 million dollar purse won’t carry as much weight as a green jacket.  Those are pieces of Golf history that can’t be topped by a paycheck.

My point is that the FedEx Cup might not be everyone’s “ideal” playoff system, but it is a playoff system nonetheless and we should be happy we get extra suspense added to the end of the PGA tour season.  In the past the last tournaments after the PGA haven’t been the biggest draw for the world’s top players and fans alike.  This system gives us a few more chances to see the best players before they head off into the sunset for the off-season.  I say full steam ahead with the FedEx cup and as improvements come along give them serious consideration.  They have already changed things about it in the past two seasons so they are obviously open to change.

August 22, 2011

Bad Practice to Light the Fire

This weekend I went out and practiced on Saturday morning as well as Sunday afternoon and I have to be honest that both days weren’t great.  Not much about my swing felt very good.  Something wasn’t clicking for me this weekend, but it wasn’t all negative.  The fact that I had such disappointing days on the range makes me want to get back out there ASAP.  I have been sitting here all day thinking about my swing and how I can fix certain things.  I feel like I did at the beginning of summer when I decided to try to break 80 and drop my handicap to single digits.  It may seem weird, but having those bad days has made me want to practice more just so I don’t have them as often.

Although having two bad practice days in a row is discouraging, I think there is a positive to take out away from it.  I have that fire back and I am determined to fix my swing over the next week and erase whatever it was that happened out on the range.  All is not lost and I am confident that I will put up a decent score this weekend when I go play.  The beauty of the situation is that I have 6 days until my next round of golf where I can go practice and make myself better.  Will I hit balls all 6 days?  Probably not, but I will be out working on my driver and irons as much as I can.  There is no way I am going into my San Diego trip with anything less than full confidence I can win against my buddy.  No chance I am losing this one.

The other positive I took away from the bad practice was that I realized what happens when I force things on the range.  I was getting frustrated with the results and falling back on bad habits that I am comfortable with.  I have made great changes to my swing over the past few years and I need to trust those changes if they are going to work for me.  I have to let them do their job.  When I start forcing things, I over swing, I get out of balance and I don’t hit good shots.  Deep breaths and a commitment to my swing is what will help me avoid this in the future.  Hopefully this weeks practice will yield better results.  I am confident it will.

August 19, 2011

Practice Keys for Tomorrow

I am going to head out to the course tomorrow for some much needed practice and I wanted to share what I have been working on.  First off, I have started to keep a practice journal with me in my golf bag and it has been a huge help.  I keep a small moleskin notepad in my bad and write down all of the things I worked on during my practice sessions and if they worked or not, both good and bad make it in there.  I also write down a few keys or good swing thoughts prior to each round I play.  After the round I will make small notes if they helped or not and then what I need to work on next time I go practice.

Tomorrow when I go out to practice I will be working on my full swing with mid irons, my driver and woods.  I feel great about the improvements I have made with my short game and putting recently since it is pretty much all I have worked on.  I really want to get back to working on my full swing and narrow down some of my misses.  Two of my big problem areas both happen in my back swing.  My front left leg bows in under my body way too much on my back swing and gets me all out of whack.  The next thing I do is I bend my left arm when I take the club too far back and I lose a lot of the connection to my body which leads to a poor swing.

Tomorrow I will be focusing on keeping my front foot quiet and keeping my back swing nice and compact.  It is a weird feeling having to swing at 80% because it really feels like I am swinging at 60% in order to take the club back to a point where I don’t break down with my arm and leg.  I am trying to work on a lot of this with stretching and exercise, but I also need to get comfortable with a shorter swing in order to repeat it out on the course.

The next thing I will be working on is hitting down on the ball.  When I try to shorten my swing it makes me either over swing or swing too smoothly and it has become very frustrating.  I found that if I really focus on bringing the butt end of the club down to the ball on my downswing I can be more aggressive with the swing and still hit the ball relatively straight.  It is really a matter of hammering these keys into my brain at this point.  I feel like my swing is at a point where I need to start hammering in some of the progress I have made with solid practice and tinker a bit less with it.

I will report back on how the practice goes.  I don’t have plans to actually play this weekend, but hopefully next week I will get out twice to make up for it.  I am due for a good score out here in Chicago and I could use the confidence boost heading into my golf outing in San Diego!

August 18, 2011

Can Desperation Help a Player?

Normally I don’t make much of the day 1 leader board because it tends to change so drastically by the time the weekend rolls around.  This week is different though.  All week there have been a plethora of articles written about the big name players who are currently outside the top 125 and need to have a good week in order to get into the playoffs.  If you are anything like me, you wrote those articles off as writers blowing smoke to get people interested in an otherwise mundane tournament.  Now that I have had a chance to look at the leader board I have changed my mind and think it is suddenly intriguing that a lot of the big names that needed to play well are actually playing well.

I was very surprised to see Casey, Els, Goosen and others up near the top of the leader board today.  Obviously they have to keep it up and play well over the weekend, but what a surprise to see all the guys desperate to make the playoffs are actually stepping up.  I find it so interesting because these guys have not had stellar years yet when push comes to shove they are able to perform.  Where has this been all year?  What makes them able to dig deep now and post good scores as opposed to other tournaments this year?  You would think that if they are able to turn it on for this tournament they would have done the same thing for other big name tournaments earlier in the season.

It would be easy to chalk this up to a swing change or having things “click” for a player on any given week if it was just one guy, but it is a ton of guys going low all of a sudden.  This is not a coincidence in my mind and makes me think about my own mind-set going into certain rounds when I have performed well.

As I think back on some of my best rounds I was always focused on playing well, but I was never forcing shots.  Whenever I have gone to the course and told myself “I am going to shoot my best score ever today!” I never play well.  I don’t mean that I sometimes play well and sometimes I don’t, I literally mean that I NEVER play well when that is my mind set.  On the flip side I rarely play well when I go out and say, “I am going to have fun and see what happens.”  This usually produces mediocre rounds with avoidable mistakes all throughout.  I seem to play my best when I am very focused on individual shots and reacting to situations rather than being overly focused on outcomes, scores, bets or pressure.  Some of my best scores have come when I didn’t personally keep my score and had someone else write down my scores.  Funny how it happens like that.

I am not certain why so many of these players are finally playing well this week, but if I had to guess I would say that they are finally letting themselves play golf and not worry too much about the results.  If they play poorly no one would have been surprised and their season would be over so what do they really have to lose?  Nothing.  It looks like they have all found something that is working for them and that just might be desperation.  I am going to be very interested to see who keeps the play up and who falters over the next three days.  This change of events has suddenly made me extra interested in this weeks tournament.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it shapes up.

August 17, 2011

The Season’s First Friendly Major Has Arrived

Every summer I play a “friendly” major against my good friend Trevor.  Our version of a “major” consists of three rounds in a location other than Chicago and the lowest score over the three days wins.  We use stroke play with handicaps, but the catch is that the loser has to buy the winner a brand new golf shirt from the marquee course we played at.  The score right now is 1 -1 between my buddy and myself.

As of this morning our tickets are purchased and our rounds are booked out in San Diego.  I grew up in San Diego so this is 100% a home game for me.  We have done this twice before, once in Cape Cod and once in San Diego.  The last time we went out to SD for a golf trip I ended up losing and having to buy my buddy an expensive and obnoxious Nike golf shirt from Torrey Pines.  Needless to say, I was not very happy about having to pony up and buy him a shirt on my home turf.  It was great motivation to hit the range hard in preparation for our next major.  The next trip we took was to Cape Cod and I brought home the bacon to even things up at 1 -1.  I wear my Cape Cod national shirt with immense pride whenever I can!

I feel like I have made a good amount of progress this summer although I have yet to break 80 and I have not dropped my handicap as much as I wanted to.  I finally feel as though I have started to gain some serious consistency in my game and more importantly in the areas of my game that have been problematic in the past.  My biggest improvements, this summer, have been around my short game and my putting which have always plagued my scores.  I am going into this friendly major with more confidence in my game than I have ever had.  I might try to squeeze in a club fitting before the trip to see if it helps my game even more, but am not set on that 100% yet.

There is still a decent amount of time left in summer, but this upcoming trip is a big deal between my buddy and I and it will mean bragging rights through the entire winter out here in Chicago.  I don’t know if I can stomach another lose.  This trip might be the extra fire I need to get out to the range more and work on my game even more.  I still think I can reach the majority of my goals for the summer, but the window is closing fast.  Wish me luck!

August 16, 2011

Am I Ready for Club Fitting?

So a new golf store went in a few months ago in downtown Chicago and I haven’t been able to check it out until today.  It is called Club Champion and I was not sure what to expect when I walked in, but let me tell you I was surprised.  This place is like golf paradise.

They do custom fitting for your wedges, irons, drivers, putters or all of the above if you want.  Of course the fitting costs money, but there is no obligation to buy from them at the end.  They don’t just slap a piece of tape on the bottom of your club and say “Ya that looks about right”, they actually bend the club right there in front of you to make sure your lie angle is perfect.  Not only that, but they will interchange different shafts onto any iron head or driver you want in order to get the best fit.

I was seriously floored by how custom the process was.  I am going to set up a fitting soon, hopefully this week and see what they say about my current clubs and what I should be playing.  As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am guessing I will end up dropping some money on a new set of clubs this week.  I have never gone through a proper club fitting and this process seems too good to pass up.  It looked like a loft office made for tour pros coming through Chicago.

Stay tuned.  I wonder if they will let me video the fitting?  We will see.