Monday, April 4, 2011

The Secret To Golf

So I am sitting here watching The Golf Channel, and some yayhoo is babbling on about how to shoot lower scores. He's talking about how, on an uphill lie you have to adjust your spine angle backwards so that it is perpendicular to the slope of the ground along with tilting your head back, move the ball back in your stance. He then talks about hitting out of a downhill lie with the same level of information. He repeats this for ball below your feet and above your feet.

I can confidently tell you after watching this that he is full of shit.

Not that his advice was wrong. On the contrary, it was pretty much spot-on accurate...if you're interested in such nuances of the game rather than learning what the essence of the game is. Which is, cue the drum roll, scoring. The guy was trying to make shotmakers out of people. Which is fine if you're already sporting a 3 handicap. Problem is, 99% of the golfers out there don't. They're worse. Much worse.

So I am watching this guy rapid-firing this advice to some 5 million viewers just picturing Joe Six Pack and his 35 handicap trotting out to his Muni & trying this advice on spine angles for uneven lies as he rips out sods of turf large enough to pay taxes on. Then throwing his clubs into the closet. This is the fundamental problem with "golf instruction" - it's too technical, too nuanced. And it concentrates too narrow of a focus on what your elbows or knees are doing during the swing. We call this paralysis by analysis.

Well, dear readers, I am here to help. Golf is a complicated game. 14 clubs. Wind. Course Conditions. The daily variances in your body. Driver swing. Iron swing. Short game. Putting. Bunker shots. To learn how to hit all these shots adequately will take countless hours at a driving range. Time most of us don't have. Therefore, I give you, Jerry Bryan's Four Keys to lowering your scores. They are progressive, depending on where your game is at, and where you want it to be. You don't even have to write them down. Just do them and smile as your scores drop. Here we go:

If you want to break 100, learn how to putt

If you want to break 90, learn how to chip

If you want to break 80, learn course management

If you want to break 70, play tournaments

Now, that's not so hard, is it?

Most golfers do not realize how many strokes are frittered away within 50 yards of the hole, especially on the putting green. Joe Six Pack may marvel at his 270-yard drives, yet he grumbles at the 102 he just shot that included 42 putts.

Joe...learn how to putt. Next time you have the urge to slap a bucket of drivers at the range, instead save the ten bucks for the balls and go to the putting green. Take 6 balls and make a circle around the hole four feet away. DO NO LEAVE until you make all six of them in a row. If you miss one, start over. Next: Place those 6 balls 20 feet from the hole and DO NOT LEAVE until you can hole half of them. Next: Place those 6 balls 40 feet from the hole. DO NOT LEAVE until you two-putt all of them. Do that 3 times a week for 3 weeks. That 102 will turn into a 92.

Okay, wanna drop that 92 to an 84? Learn how to chip. This also includes pitches & greenside bunker shots. Spend an hour a week three times a week hitting 100 of these shots. Learn to be creative - bump and runs, lob shots. Make a mental picture of what you want to ball to do then recreate it. That will turn the 92 into an 84, because you are now learning where the money shots in this game are.

Now you're sensing that you could be decent at this game if you could just eliminate those snowmen (those are 8's for the uninitiated) from your score card. This is where course management comes in. Learn where to miss. Learn to keep the ball below the hole. Realize you're not going to clear that 240-yard water hazard and that two wedge shots still gives you a shot at par, bogey worse. Swallow your pride and hit a 3-wood off the tee...or better yet an iron. Don't go after sucker pins and instead aim for the fat part of the green where, given your newfound confidence in your putting stroke, will result in an easy two-putt for par. Watch those snowmen turn into bogeys. And watch you post your first sub-80 round.

Now. Wanna really get serious about your game? Check out you local amateur events. Maybe your club's member-guest. Heck, even money games played strictly under USGA rules would work. No gimmes. No mulligans. No advice. Play naked. Go out there armed only with yourself and your swing, play the ball down and let's see how you score. At first, your scores will balloon. Memories of that 78 you shot last week will fade with the ugly reality that you just shot 91 in competition. You will want to crawl into a hole and disappear. Don't. Sign up for another event. And another. Eventually you will start posting 75's. THEN go play with your buds and just smile as you shoot a 68 as easy as falling out of bed. Because your swing has learned how to hold up under pressure, you can putt lights out, and you don't make stupid mistakes on the course anymore. You're now bulletproof.

There is an inherent simplicity of my Four Step approach. This is by design. You will notice I didn't even mention anything about weight shift, pronation, grip pressure, completing your backswing or any of the other stuff that guy on The Golf Channel was droning on about. Hell, I didn't even mention anything to do with the swing - I don't care if you have a flying elbow or a reverse weight shift. Just groove what you got. Learn to putt. Learn to chip. Learn course management. Play tournaments.

You're welcome.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bus Chucking, and Other Colorful Phrases

The English language is, arguably, one of the most difficult to master. Us proud Amurricans seem to think that any foreigner that sets foot on our soil should have an honorable command of how we speak and be able to converse with those of us who have been here all our lives.

Sorry to tell ya Bubba, but that dog won’t hunt.

That phrase brings me to the subject of this story. American colloquialisms. Those idiosyncratic phrases that just roll off our tongues and usually elicit chuckles from those that understand, and quizzical looks from those that think we’re off our rockers (there’s another one). Our language is loaded with them: ‘Whatever floats your boat’, ‘That’s a horse of a different color’, ‘I’m down with that’ …to name a few. It’s no wonder people think we are weird. Because we are. But my favorite (or perhaps least favorite) colloquialism has to be -

‘He threw me under the bus.’

Hey, I work in the transit industry. I can walk out of my office right now and take the elevator down to the street level, walk over to our main terminal and witness about forty buses pulling in and out. I have yet to see one person brazenly chucked under the rear tires.

Yeah I know. It’s just a phrase. But it sucks.

I want to know where this phrase originated. Is it a mobster thing? Did Jimmy Tree Fingers back in the thirties face-plant some shy under the Number 14 Line in Brooklyn for not paying him? Or perhaps it’s just an urban thing; you know, you’re standing at a bus stop and as it approaches some sociopath wants to get his jollies so he plants a shoe in grandma’s back just as the bus is passing? I don’t know. Educate me.

We even use the phrase in my business - ‘Hey Jerry, how did the meeting go?’ ‘Ah was fine until Frank threw me under the bus.’ Which, if you think about it, being used by transit professionals, is akin to cannibalism. Or something. Do airline executives say ‘He threw me into the turbine blades?’

Nope. Poor transit gets picked on again. On a given day on a given street in a given town, ten thousand vehicles can whizz by of which maybe a dozen or so are buses. Does anyone ever get thrown under a car? A taxi? A goddamn rickshaw?

Nope. Always a bus.