Archive for March, 2009

Golf-Why Do You Play?

March 29th, 2009
This question has many answers and I don’t believe their is a right answer. I play because I like the challenge it presents me. I have been very blessed to be “good” at many things. I say that not to be arrogant but to get across that I haven’t been great in many things. Golf was something I learned almost completely on my own. I watched and I felt and I watched and I felt. To this day, I have had only two lessons and work almost completely by what the swing and clubhead feel like.

I know that learning is one of the things I do very well. I use this skill to it’s fullest until I need to seek out more information. Golf requires me to learn things about myself in order to improve. Rarely have I looked inward for reasons why I haven’t achieved what I want. I play because it helps me to improve these areas which I struggle with. I have always wanted to engage in things that challenged me and golf is the ultimate.

I haven’t had the urge to play in the last few years. I generally, don’t play very much. I tend to practice more. Because I work off feel, I practice until I feel what I want, then I go test it on the course. With 4 children, I just haven’t made it a priority to go compete.

This year I plan to do more. After looking at the section schedule, it doesn’t look very good because of conflicts, but I haven’t been this excited about playing in a long time. I hope my excitement spreads and encourages you to get out there more.

Don’t forget to spend time feeling what is happening and checking with someone if what you feel is really happening.

D Plane for Golf

March 28th, 2009
The D Plane is formed from the intersection of the 3d path of the club head and the clubface.  It was coined by Theodore Jorgensen in the book “Physics of Golf”. The reason this information is so important is because it explains ball flight.

The US PGA’s “Ball Flight Laws” state that the ball will start in the direction of the club path and curve if the club face is pointed in a different direction than the club path.

The D Plane shows that the ball actually starts just about where the face is pointed(approx 85% of it’s direction) and curves if the path is in a different direction than the face. The only assumption made here is solid contact. If the ball is hit off the sweetspot, the club will turn before the ball separates from the face and gear effect will affect the spin axis of the ball.

So how is the 3d path determined?

For most good players, they take a divot with an iron after the ball. This means that the ball is hit before the low point. So, relative to the ball, the 3d path is to the right of the plane line(TGM term for the base of the inclined plane) for an iron shot(see picture below). 3 dimensionally, the club head continues to travel downward, forward and outward until it reaches the lowest point. Immediately after this, the club head begins traveling inward and upward. Because of the fact of when we hit the ball relative to low point, in order to hit it straight at a target, the club must be traveling to the left of the target(for downward angles of attack) while the face is pointing at the target at the hit/seperation.  We are trying to get the 3d path to point at the target not the base of the plane.

This contradicts aiming parallel left with iron shots unless a person swings left. If you aim parallel left, make a perfectly on plane swing, hit the ball with the face pointing at the target, hit it solid and take a divot after the ball the ball will start just right of the target and draw left of the target.

Obviously, the opposite is true for players that hit upward on their drives. Just reverse the above information and you’ll see you have to aim/swing right(for upward angle of attack), with a face pointing at the target, to hit it straight. Assuming again solid contact.

Looking at the picture attached you will see the target line, 3d club path(club head velocity direction for a perfectly low point strike), club face normal(3 dimensional direction face is pointed) and initial ball directon(horizontal ball velocity direction). You can see that the 3d path(club head velocity direction) is to the right of the club face and the initial ball direction is just right of the club face normal. This is the D plane of a push draw. Path is right of target, face is right of target but left of path so ball will draw.

Follow this link for a good way to visualize the D Plane.

Here’s a link to another blog where I talk about how to use the D Plane.

Check out the D Plane Page for videos explaining visually what the D Plane looks like.

Please leave me some comments if you are having trouble understanding this. Picture was provided by Mandrin from the brian manzella forum.


Bounce-What is it and why?

March 27th, 2009
Bounce is the name given to a condition about, most commonly, the sand wedge when the trailing edge is lower than the leading edge. (See picture below.) The bounce of a sand wedge is there to help prevent the club from digging when we don’t want it to. Is was originally designed for use out of the sand. When we rotate the face of our sand wedge open and swing it into the sand, the bounce will help keep the club near the surface of the sand. This allows the sand to travel faster thus helping the ball get out of the sand easier. Bounce can also be helpful in preventing fat shots when a person chips or pitches and when the turf is wet/soft.

As with anything, there is a time and place when bounce is helpful and when it is not. If you are hitting off very firm turf or shallow sand, the bounce can keep the leading edge too high off the ground/sand causing a skull or extremely thin shot that goes way too far. You have to be very careful when assesing the lie of the ball. If there is not very much air under the ball, either on turf or in the sand, you want to use a club with very little bounce. How do we know if there is air under the ball in the bunker? When we dig our feet in the sand, we will feel how much sand we are dealing with. The more you sink the more air under the ball.

Nowadays, most good sand wedges will say how much bounce they have. If your wedge is a little older or less expensive it may not say on there. When you look at the bottom of the wedge at eye level, you’ll get an idea of what you are dealing with.

How do you know how much is right for you? Well, it depends. I’ll go into that in another blog.

Bounce on Sandwedge

Bounce on Sandwedge

How Bounce is Measured

How Bounce is Measured

My First Tournament

March 20th, 2009
Like many young people, I was not sure what I wanted to do after college. I had spent the majority of my energy into my future bowling career. I had played in many tournaments with decent success. I played at the NCAA National Championship, representing Michigan State, and bowled fairly well. However, deep down, I didn’t feel like it was something I could make a living at.

This feeling led me to golf. Here was a game that was full of fairness and was challenging. Two things I really liked and wanted. That summer, I played a lot of golf and improved quickly. At some point, I decided to pursue golf as a career. Like everyone that makes this choice, I wanted to play golf for a living. I had no idea how far away I was from being competitive enough to make a living at it. My progress was so fast, I assumed it would continue until I was shooting under par at will.

I still had not played in a single tournament because I didn’t think I was good enough. I knew I wanted to be a professional golfer, so I signed up to take the P.A.T.(PGA’s Playing Ability Test). I was still an amateur and planned on remaining an amateur after the tournament. I had a whole summer of local amateur events I wanted to play in. In my infinite wisdom, I chose the PAT to my first try at competitve golf. I thought it was a good fit because I was playing against a target score instead of playing against others.

The PAT was held at Old Hickory, a very open golf course in Livonia. I went down and practiced many times, created a yardage book for myself and talked to people to gain some local knowledge. I was ready.

The target score for passing was 152. I was going to have to play very well, for me, in order to pass. I was confident I could pass because the course was not very long and hardly a tree on the course. I could hit it anywhere and have a shot to the green.

I don’t remember what I shot the first round but I know it was low enough to still have a chance to make it. After the 3rd nine holes, I was still in it. I was only two shots above the target score. I would need to play the last 9 at 2 under to make it. Something I had never done before but I still thought it was possible.

Number 10 is a shortish par 5. I knock it near the green in two and get up and down for birdie. Number 11 is a long par 3 with water right. I purposely hit it left and got up and down. At this point in my golf life, I was a par machine. I would make a ton of pars. Lots of fairways and greens and a pretty conservative player. I’m thinking to my self, I need to make another birdie to make it. I par 12, 13 and 14. Still 1 under. Hit it on the green on 15 about 60 feet away and above the hole. Not a good place to be. I try to lag it down somewhere near the hole and it falls in. A bomb! I never made bombs. I couldn’t believe it.

Now, I’m in full protect mode. Three holes to go and all I need is three pars. Not a tree insight and 3 short par 4′s to go. 16 is a downhill par four with a creek in front and a front pin. I know not to be too aggressive. Just hit it to the middle of the green and two putts. I hit a good drive with a pitching wedge away. Ok John just get it over the water and somewhere on the green. Of course, I chunk it! I’m watching this wounded duck float through the air and it barely carries the creek and sits on the bank. Looked just like Freddie Couples on the 12th when he won the Masters. I get up there quickly and get it up and down.

Two holes and two pars to go. No trees, no water to contend with. I hit a good drive up the right side. Second shot is uphill so you can’t see the ball land. I hit a 9 iron right at the flag. I’m walking up the hill thinking I just stuffed it and should have an easy par or another good chance for birdie. I get up there and it’s 20 feet above the hole. Damn, I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I hit a REAL tentative putt and leave it 6 feet above the hole. Miss it! Now, I have to birdie the last hole to make it.

Birdie to win. Just like I practiced a hundred times on the course and in my head. I get up and hit my drive so far to the right I was shocked. It was so far right it could actually be in trouble by the clubhouse. I go find it and it’s ok. I still have a shot at the green and a wedge in my hand. I knock it on the green about 20 feet away. Here we are, one putt to pass or two putts to fail. I starred at the putt and couldn’t decide how much it was going to break. Now, it’s my turn and I still haven’t decided. I aim at something and leave it about 3 feet short and way low. Missed by one.

So, what did I learn. No question that the ball goes farther when you are pumped up. I had never been in that situation before and I know that shot on 17 had to do with this. You’ve got to be patient with your swing when you add pressure to it. My swing on the 18th tee was so short and quick, I’m surprised I even hit it. My putt on 18 was indecisive and it showed. You have to believe with every bit of your soul that you have chosen the best line for the speed you intend to give it.

The whole back nine, I was attacking the golf course until I birdied 15. As soon as that happened, I stopped attacking and started playing defense. My thoughts were so positive and committed until that birdie and after it they were all about damage control. Just hold on was my mantra. This thinking does not work. It was the same with bowling. I had always done very well when I needed to strike out to win and not as good when I needed to strike out to shut my opponent out.

The mental part of golf is a window into the soul. It will show you your true belief in your ability. Use this to your advantage and keep attacking.