Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why Golf

A few weeks ago Golf Digest asked, "What do Rickie Fowler, Ryan Allen Sheckler (pro skateboarder), Jeremy McGrath (Supercross legend), and Evan Geiselman (pro surfer) have in common?" I would boldly like to add my name to that list.  Kelsie Rutledge (student/blogger).  The answer remains the same.  We all love to golf, and we want to share our passion.  The difference is, their voice is a lot louder, so I am joining with them to help spread this passion.  But first, lets talk a little about my favorite player!

Check out full bio and stats here.
Rickie Fowler.  He has been one of my favorites since I started playing and getting into the game, and he is an amazing player.  He is currently ranked 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking, and 75th in the FedEx Cup.  He is no stranger to extreme sports either, having rode dirt bikes all of his life.  In June of 2011 Fowler added musician to his resume with the release of "Oh Oh Oh" as apart of the golf boy band "Golf Boys" with fellow PGA players Ben Crane, Bubba Watson, and Hunter Mahan.  All singing and dancing aside however, Fowler's game continues to improve.  He has been working with Butch Harmon to improve his swing, and he has made one fundamental change that has really helped his game.  Butch's son Cluade explains this change and shows a side by side comparison of how is swing has improved.  After watching it, there is no wonder why he finished in the top 5 of all four majors in 2014.  With The Masters coming up, you can bet I will be cheering for Rickie to get that green jacket.

Fowler's newest adventure is this new series, Why Golf.  As stated at the beginning of this post, the show features Fowler and 3 extreme sports professionals, all with a great golf game.  Hosted by Kelley James, Why Golf helps these athletes share their passion for the game, and the first episode is up today.  You can watch it free on golfdigest.com.  This short episode perfectly describes my love for the game as they play number 16 at TPC Scottsdale, its challenging, it teaches patience, the handicap system allows you to play fairly with any skill level, and it takes a lot of mental power and focus.  I have been so excited about this new series and I can't wait for the next episodes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Golf Tips

"Happiness is a long walk with a putter." 
- Greg Norman

It doesn't matter how good a person is at golf, there is always room for improvement.  Golf is a never ending game of improvement.  It seems like as soon as you fix one problem, another develops.  I think this is the reason the game can be so addicting.  To assist you in this never ending improvement I have complied a short list of golf tips from my own personal experience.  Some of these tips may seem pretty simple, but in my experience going back to the fundamentals always improves my game.  We often think it will be a tough fix, but it could be as simple as ball placement, or posture.  

1.  Ball placement.  Where you place the ball in your stance can have a major effect on the outcome of your swing.  When I first started playing golf I always placed the ball in the center of my stance regardless of which club I was hitting, with the exception of my woods. I found this picture to the right to be extremely helpful.  Lofted clubs, like your 8 and 9 iron and wedges should be close to center.  When hitting your 5-7 irons they should be placed a little further forward in your stance, your 3-4 irons and fairway woods even further forward, and your driver almost off the top of your front toe.

2.   Grip.  There are two things you should always remember when you grip the club.  First place the club in your fingers, not your palms.  I have a tendency to grip with my right palm, this makes it very difficult to get any motion in my wrists and always results in my ball going astray.  Secondly, don't grip too tight, or too loose.  To feel the right amount of grip pressure hold your club out in front of you at a 45 degree angle.  If you hold the club straight up your grip is too loose, if you hold the club straight in front of your it is too tight.  The wrong grip strength also limits wrist motion.  This is also something I struggle with, and my shots are always much straighter with the correct grip strength

3.  Use a full swing.  There are also two parts to this.  On your back swing always turn your body, you get a lot more power out of a short swing with your body coiled up, than a long swing without any power behind it.  Then on the other hand, always finish your swing.  A lot of golfers tend to stop swinging once they hit the ball, but if you finish your swing with your club over your shoulder and you will see a much straighter shot.  Also keep your head down and eyes on the ball, this will help you to finish your swing if you don't look up too quickly.

4.  Be Confident.  Have confidence in your game and in your ability to hit a good shot.  Fear will keep your from reaching your potential and from making those great shots.  When you have a bad shot, or even a bad hole, you just need to forget about it and focus on the next shot.  Always remember that a 4 is better than a 5, and a 8 is better than a 9.

This is an amazing game, you will have good and bad rounds, but always come back.  Continue to improve and have fun!  I have learned a lot on the golf course, but this quote by Sam Snead is something I take with me into all that I do, not just golf.  Fear will keep you back, so be confident in all that you do, and you will be successful.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Golf Is...

We have all heard it, and it hurts my soul every time.  "Golf is boring."  Those three words are words every golfer hates to hear, specifically after we first tell someone that we play, and yes even watch golf.

I will admit, before I started playing in high school, I didn't understand how someone could sit and watch a golf tournament.  Then I played, and I felt the strange mix of emotions one can have in a single round of golf and I was hooked.  I started watching the PGA Tournaments and I could see the same emotions I felt in the pros.  That is what is so great about golf, it is unbelievably humbling, and it doesn't matter how good you are, you can always improve.  

"Golf is boring."  Those words make me feel defenseless, so I want to give to you a variety of back up reasons as to why golf is in fact a very emotional, fun, and exciting game.

To start off, there was this emotional and exciting win for Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters.  It was on the 10th hole of Augusta National, which was also the 2nd playoff hole, where Bubba hit a drive right into the trees, but had an amazing recovery shot and won his first Green Jacket.    
Since the 2012 Masters, we have had winner Adam Scott, who was the first Australian player to win a Masters Tournament in 2013.  Then again in 2014 Bubba wins another Green Jacket, this time with his wife Angie and son Caleb there to watch.

Check out Oh Oh Oh and Golf Boys 2.Oh.
If you ever have someone say that players are too uptight or too serious send them to Ben Crane's YouTube Channel.   This is a professional full of personality, and he even put together a golf boy band consisting of himself, Hunter Mahan, Master's Champ Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler.  They have released two hit singles along with fantastic music videos, and of course all profits made from their music is donated straight to charity. 

Not only is there tears from champs, amazing shots during playoff holes, and great music, there is also the occasional crazy fan, like this guy who just wanted to add some ambiance to Webb Simpsons 2012 US Open speech.
There are also all the fans at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Golf is not always the quiet game people assume it is.  

Then there are trick shots.  These can be appreciated by all, not just those who love the game.  We all know Phil Mickelson is an expert short game player, but he is also an expert at trick shots.  Then there are the amateurs and casual players that excel in trick shots.  Take the Bryan Bros for example.  Their videos are proof that you can have fun with golf, like this one that showcases their amazing trick shots!

Last, but not least is the Ryder Cup.  One of the very few team tournaments on the Tour.  A tournament that is fought between the United States and Europe.  This is one of the most exciting tournaments of golf, and it is only played every 2 years.  Europe has kept the Cup for the past three tournaments, but the US is working hard to regain the Cup next year at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.

After all this, and much more, sometimes we just have to bury the hurt that comes with those three words and accept that everyone has different interests and opinions, and that makes this world a pretty great place.

I would love to hear what makes golf exciting for you!  Tell me in the comments below, or tweet me @chippingingolf

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Golf is Hard

This game that we all love, it is hard.  I didn't realize that myself until I started playing.  My dad always tells me, "it just shouldn't be that hard, the ball doesn't move, swinging is pretty natural, and there is just no reason to miss the ball altogether," unless of course you are just so excited to see the ball fly beautifully high in the air and you look up just a second too early expecting to see this great shot, when in reality you just knocked the ball off the tee.  We have all been there, another thing my dad tells me, "no matter what you do in golf, its no record, someone has hit a worse shot."  In fact we often find ourselves feeling like this little boy who missed a put that should have just been a gimme.

Watch the full Video here.
Golf is hard and it happens to everyone, even the pros.  We learned this again last weekend at The Honda Classic at PGA National.  This is a tough course to play, but only 16 players ended under par for the week.  There were also a lot of great players who didn't even make the cut (the number was 4) into the weekend, most surprisingly, Rory Mcilroy, who hasn't missed a cut in the United States since the 2012 U.S. Open.  Amazingly, since starting his PGA Tour Career in 2009, he has only missed 11 cuts.  However, Padraig Harrington had a great week shooting a 67-66-71-70, and winning the Tournament in a playoff against Daniel Berger.  If you missed the tournament check out the leaderboard to see where your favorite players finished.  

One thing that golf doesn't need to make it any harder, is bad weather. Playing in high school we played through everything, wind, rain, snow, hail, even a little lightening. This past weekend at The Honda Classic we saw, as Golf Digest puts it, "Mother Nature hates golf." Saturdays round got delayed due to heavy rain and winds of 60 mph. The wind was so bad it knocked over the scoreboard into the lake at number 18.  

Before the weather went sour, we still saw some hard shots.  Thursday seemed to be particularly difficult.  During the first round, Tony Finau had a bad lie next to a bush.  He tried to chip it back onto the fairway but overshot and ended up wet.  That same day Sergio Garcia hit a shot into the water, but we all know Garcia can be creative, so he put on his rain suit, stood on the pine needle and hit his fully submerged ball right onto the fairway and saved par.

I can't say it enough, golf is hard, but pros like Garcia, these guys are good.  They make amazing shots the rest of us wouldn't even dare try, let alone make par off of.  They hit balls out of trees, out of water, out of deep bunkers without actually getting in, and then they go on to make par.

 However when us amateurs give these same shots a try, they usually end in an epic fail.  For example this guy who tried to remake a bunker shot that Tiger made in the 2012 British Open.  I do give him props for trying, that is a tough shot any way you take it. Watch the video on loop here.  

Remember: when you are out there on the links, everyone has bad days, and sometimes you just have to play for the love of the game, and if you are going to try a shot straight from The Tour, please film it so we can enjoy the results!