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Kate O'Hara :: View Presentation

Golf Notes

Introduction

This is a continuation of a previously begun experiment in reflecting on my golfing progress in a positive way through the Powerful Medium of Blog.  It's mainly for my benefit but, in the interests of action research, I will publish it and invite comment from anyone who feels inclined and see what contribution that makes to the process (ie. I'll try not to let other people's comments enrage me).

I am still learning the game of golf.  My informal aims are to get to get good enough to feel comfortable in a sociable round with anyone, maybe get a handicap, and perhaps one day play in a medal.  My formal aim is to continue to enjoy playing golf.

In these notes I intend to note positive developments.  Rage and a negative mental attitude are the biggest causes of failure to perform/progress in golf - I'm sure of that much.  My friend describes the vicious spiral of bad play, bad mood, worse play, worse mood, etc. when he says:

"Duffers lead to duffers."  P. Reynolds, 2004

So, in order to develop and maintain positive mental attitude (PMA) I will use these posts to record achievements and keep note of things I do which turn out to be effective. 

Inevitably I will notice things which I want to change too.  If I feel I need to note these down then, inspired by the Assessment is for Learning initiative, I'll use the two stars and a wish approach, ie.  I'll give at least two positive comments for each piece of constructive criticism.

I'll post as and when I feel motivated to do so and I will probably add the posts to this presentation with any comments they receive. 

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My Golfing Background

I started playing golf regularly in July 2005 when I was given a set of good second hand clubs.  My experience before then amounted to largely unsuccessful dabbles and growing up with a dad and brother who both golf.

After a bit of initial help with grip from my brother I've been teaching myself.  My old clubs were stolen last year and the insurance provided some excellent new ones.  I'm still making friends with a few of them but on the whole these have given my game a boost.

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How Is My Game?

Written 04 April 2007 

I have a nice slow swing which other people tell me looks natural.  When I hit the ball cleanly I get good high shots and tend to hit the ball straight.  This reassures me I have the potential to play quite well.

My distances are still pretty short and I expect my shots to get longer naturally; I don't intend to focus on improving distance.

If I don't hit the ball cleanly I am most likely to top it; I have taken very few divots out of the park in the last 18 months.  Other miss-hits I occasionally favour include the dreaded shank on short irons and wedges, and toeing and slicing drives.

My putting lacks consistency.  Off form I overhit.  On form I'm intuitive and pretty darn useful.

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Glossary

It might be helpful to build a glossary of golfing terms I use.  I'll add to it as I go.

3-putt  The par of a hole is calculated by how many shots it should take you to reach the green plus 2 putts on the green.  To 3-putt is to ruin a good or already bad score by taking 3 shots on the green (4-putts, 5-putts, etc. are also possible with a bit of effort).

Birdie  A score of one under par on a particular hole. A rare occurence for the likes of me.

Bounce game  A game played just for fun rather for a handicap card or a competition.

Concentration  A thing much easier said than achieved on a golf course, but possibly the most valuable skill, alongside relaxing, that you can acquire.  Concentration and relaxation together are the only known cure for The Fear.

Driver  The common name for the 1 wood, this is the longest club which is used to hit enormous soaring long shots (ideally) from the tee, and usually off a long tee peg.  Modern drivers have a very large round head with a very shallow face.

Driving range  A place where you go to get upset at how much better other people are than you and to hurt your wrist by clattering your club into the rubber tee mat.  Driving range miseries are purchased in buckets of 50.

Chip and run  A short shot usually played from just off the green and usually with a short iron or wedge.  The ball is chipped up into the air then bounces and rolls towards (or into) the hole.

Duffers lead to duffers  An addage learned from my friend Paul.  When you hit a duff shot, if you allow yourself to get annoyed over it there's a good chance you'll hit a duffer next shot too.  I doubt if a truer word was ever spoken.

Fairway  Sort of like the motorway to from the tee to the green, the strip of short trimmed grass down the middle of a hole; the route you want to take when possible.

Fairway wood  A type of wood with a low profile designed for hitting the ball off the fairway rather than off a tee peg.  I have 5 and 3 fairway woods.

Fear, The  The Fear is the game-wrecking anxiety and lack of focus induced by the myriad distractions experienced on a golf course, including rage over bad shots, the possibility of a good score, other people watching, and the fear of The Fear.  Can only be cured through concentration and relaxation.

Follow through  The part of a golf swing which takes place after the ball has been struck; consciously controlling the follow through seems to make for better shots and certainly helps to prevent injuries.

Handicap  The Prisoner was more than just a number, but golfers are not. Your handicap is your stroke allowance when playing in competitions; if you have a 36 handicap (the highest possible) then 36 strokes will be deducted from the number of shots you take to give your actual score in a competition. Your handicap is recalculated every time you submit a score card. 36 is the highest possible handicap.

Hybrid (or rescue club)  A modern development, this club is a hybrid between a short wood and long iron; used to 'rescue' balls from the rough as the angled iron-style face provides height while the hollow light wood-style head cuts more easily through rough grass.  I have a 5 hybrid.

Iron  A club with a heavier wedge shaped head.  Different lengths and lofts of iron are used to control how far the ball travels.  A 4 iron is longer with a less lofted face and hits further and lower than a 9 iron.  Shorter irons are usually easier to hit.

Left arm straight  A phrase often heard chanted repeatedly by golfers to learners. The left arm should be straight throughout a golf swing. Keeping it straight prevents you from swinging too far back and seems to give a much more controlled shot.

Loft  The angle of the club face relative to vertical, or how high the ball flies in a shot.  The higher the number of a club the more lofted its face and the higher and shorter the ball will fly.

Long iron  One of the longer irons with a less lofted face, used to hit longer, lower balls which will bounce and run.  Usually includes the 3 iron down to the 6 or 7 iron.

Medal  A golf competition.

Pull  A shot which goes in a straight line left of where you were aiming.

Push  A shot which goes in a straight line right of where you were aiming.

Overswing  You should only swing the club as far back as you can comfortably do while keeping your left arm straight. Going further is called overswinging and leads to shots that are less likely to fly straight or far.

Relax on the down swing  I find it helps to try to control the back swing and then relax on the down swing, allowing the weight of the club to provide the power and the magic of my brain to do the aiming.  

Relaxing  The Holy Grail of golf; along with concentration, the most powerful skill a golfer can acquire.  Concentration and relaxation together are the only known cure for The Fear.

Rescue club (or hybrid)  A modern development, this club is a hybrid between a short wood and long iron; used to 'rescue' balls from the rough as the angled iron-style face provides height while the hollow light wood-style head cuts more easily through rough grass.  I have a 5 hybrid.

Rotate the body  I've read that the main movement in a golf swing should come from rotating the whole spine, from the hips to the neck, this movement taking the arms, shoulder and hands with it.

Short iron  One of the shorter irons with a more lofted face, used to hit high shots over shorter distances which stop quickly; usually includes clubs from a sand wedge up to about an 8 or 7 iron.  

Splash shot  A particular type of shot used for hitting out of a bunker which I don't fully understand adn consequently can't do yet. It involves opening (angling outwards) the club face and the stance and then striking the sand before the ball to create a small explosion or splash which pops the ball up and out of the bunker (the same effect as launching a rubber duck out of the bath by slapping your hand in the water beside it).

Stand tall to hit the ball  An addage I learned from my pal Harry, who learned it from an American pro.  It means what it says: stand up straighter and avoid sticking out your rump or bending over the ball too much.  When you watch the pros they certainly do stand tall to hit the ball.

Swing  The action of bringing your club back, then forward to hit the ball and then following through.  Most people have a particular style.  Swings can be slow, fast, beautiful, crazy, strange, etc.

Weight  How hard you hit the ball.

Wood  A long club with a big round head and shallow face used to hit long low shots.  Woods are harder to hit and you would normally only use them off the tee or from a very good lie.  Modern woods are actually made from a light metal.

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Blog post: 04 April 2007


Golf Notes 04 April 2007

I'm going to use Scribble to continue a previously started project of positive reflection on my golf progress through blogging.  It's mainly for my benefit but comments are welcomed from anyone who feels the inclination.

I've published information about my aims and objectives in a Scribble Presentation (which includes a glossary of golfing terms used) here:

http://scribble.scran.ac.uk/kateo/presentations/1

Today's notes

I've racked up 54 holes since Saturday and I'm at last beginning to remember how to play the game again.  The turf is still quite damp so the ball isn't bouncing so far.  I'm amazed at how quickly my pitches stop.  Thick grass and long fairways is also making for some great lies from which I can practise hitting my fairway woods.

Things which have been working this week:

  • Stand tall to hit the ball - this is really working.  I really think it gives a higher 'clean hit rate' on all clubs.

  • Relaxing on the down swing - I'm discovering that letting my brain do the aiming and the weight of the club provide the power is much better than trying to use my arms, which are less well designed for either purpose.

  • Fantastic results with the 3 wood last night.  I now believe I can hit these fairway woods and the ball goes really far when I do.  It helps to stand tall, relax on the down swing and follow through big and open.

Keywords: fairway woods, golf, golf notes, Presentations, relax on the down swing, stand tall to hit the ball

7 Comments (+/-)

  1. Hehe - you said "follow through"... Smile

    Lesley Stokes on Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 11:40 BST

  2. and "big and open"

     

    I'll get my waterprooves. 

    normanf on Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 11:57 BST

  3. I thought you two would pop your corks at that.  Tsk.  

    Kate O'Hara on Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 12:25 BST

  4. Ah, golf, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Peter on Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 12:35 BST

  5. Right, here: follow through.  Pair o' weans.

    Must say, it's lovely to see the constructive comments coming in like...

    :) 

    Kate O'Hara on Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 12:44 BST

  6. sorry, that's a lifetime spent working with golf bores where most of it seemed to be about having the right clubs and wearing the right clothes.

    I've always avoided it in case I enjoyed it.  

    Peter on Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 12:47 BST

  7. A wise move: it's fierce addictive.  Golf bores are a real and dangerous threat.  I could bore for Scotland on golf and I'm not even that serious about it.

    Don't get me started on clothes.  Have you ever been in a golf shop and seen what wimmin are apparently expected to wear on a golf course?! Dear lord, I would not be seen dead in any of it.  Normally part of the fun of taking up a sport is getting the cool gear.  Doesn't apply in ladies golf (unless you think a powder pink polo shirt and white high waist pleated shorts is cool).  Gah <shudders>. 

    Kate O'Hara on Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 14:14 BST

Imported at: 16/04/2007 14:35 BST
The original blog post this was imported from is here.

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Blog post: 16 April 2007

My latest Golf Notes post:

Golf Notes 16 April 2007

I played 27 holes over the weekend and had a bucket of balls at the driving range.  It was good to get back out having been banjaxed by a gammy finger for a few days.  I did make the finger bleed and swell up but by Sunday morning it was fine and I stopped being scared to use it.

Things which are working:

  • Concentrating on weight when putting - if I putt the ball the correct distance then even if I'm left or right of the hole I can't be very far away; good putts still go in the hole and I get more 2-putts than 3-putts.

  • Stand tall, relax on the down swing - continues to work; more good shots, particularly with fairway woods.

  • Chipping, not sure why - been hitting lots of nice, straight, well weighted chips and runs; not sure what exactly I'm doing right.

Good stories:

  • I got complemented on my swing!  A gentlemen told me with a nice slow swing like that I'll be playing in the medals in no time and asked me who taught me (I did - woohoo!).

  • On the 1st at Porty I chipped one into the hole from about 15 yards!  Tiger Woods, yer gran's at the door.  A bunch of laddies saw it and gave me a round of a applause.  Next time round, I landed the ball within a yard (honestly) of where I had the first time.  I chipped it and...did it go in?  No, but I hit the pin!

What is "Golf Notes" all about? 

Keywords: chip and run, golf notes, putting, relax on the down swing, stand tall to hit the ball, swing

Imported at: 23/07/2007 11:15 BST
The original blog post this was imported from is here.

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Blog post: 26 June 2007

My latest Golf Notes post:

Golf Notes 26 June 2007

The major thing to report is that I've joined a club.  I'm now a proud member of the ladies section of Lochend Golf Club, based at Craigentinny.  I met some of the other girls on Saturday and tonight (oh yes it's ladies' night) I'm going to play a round and one of the other members will mark my card: this will be the first of 3 I need to submit to get a handicap.  A handicap will allow me to play in the medals.

I played with big brother Mick (very good at golf) about a month back and he noticed straight away that I had started bending my left arm and consequently overswinging.  He advised me to stop this straight away so I did and I can see an improvement already, particularly on the long irons and woods, but I'm still getting to grips with using this style on the shorter irons.  I'm persevering.

Things which are working:

  • Left arm straight, don't overswing - with driver and woods particularly this is causing me to hit the ball further, straighter and more sweetly. 

  • No, really, don't overswing - I experimented with 50 balls and my driver on the range and learned that I actually hit the ball further if I underswing a bit (well it feels like an underswing but probably isn't).  The trick, it seems, is to stop the backswing before it feels tight or forced.

  • Treat every shot like a tee shot - currently driver tee shots are working the best with this new straight left arm approach.  However, I do put a lot of thought and preparation into tee shot and make the effort to swing very slowly. Applying this same approach to other clubs seems to cause me to hit better shots.

Good stories:

  • I've racked up some good scores at Portobello.  I went round 18 holes in 90 which is 26 over par.  Craigentinny is a longer course so should take a few extra a shots but if I was to hand in scores like that I'd go in at under 36 handicap and that would be amazing.

What is "Golf Notes" all about?

Keywords: golf notes, handicap, left arm straight, membership, overswing

Imported at: 23/07/2007 11:16 BST
The original blog post this was imported from is here.

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Blog post: 23 July 2007

My latest post:

Golf Notes 23 July 2007

I've now handed in two of the three cards I need to get my handicap.  The Lochend ladies are a brilliant bunch so I can't wait to get in on the act medals-wise. 

Things which are working: 

  • Driving in general - my drives are quite consistently long and straight at the moment.  I think I can attribute this to keeping the left arm straight, taking the time to set up properly and concentrate, and most importantly taking a shorter backswing (feels like a half swing or less but the ball goes further).  

Things I want to try:

  • Take a divot after the ball when hitting an iron - only some of my iron shots have been good lately (not positive spin) so I'm looking for ways to improve.  Big brother says that in a good iron shot you should take a divot after the ball.  I've found more to support this on t'internet (eg. http://www.pgaprofessional.com/golf_tips_irons.html).  I went to the range recently to practise hitting irons and found that trying for a backswing that goes straighter out to the right was producing better shots; this is the opposite of the shape you need to take a divot after the ball.  The fact that playing on the range involves hitting off a tee could explain it: I was maybe just hitting my irons more like a driver and it worked because the ball was off the ground.  I will test these approaches out on real live grass tonight and see what works.

What is "Golf Notes" all about? 

Keywords: divot after the ball, driver, irons, range practice

Imported at: 23/07/2007 11:13 BST
The original blog post this was imported from is here.

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