Thursday, November 24, 2005

How Slow? Part II

Here is a second "slow" idea. Remember, the first was a Harvey Penick drill: swinging as slowly as possible, in order to discover what is out of sync in your swing.

This is related, but is a drill you can do hitting balls, and you can resort to it on the course — even in competition — when you "lose it."

My source... I got this from Jim Flick when I attended one of the old and original Golf Digest schools. And, what a school! Flick was the head instructor and Paul Runyun (Hall of Fame player, winner of over 50 tournaments, and a contemporary of Hagen, Nelson, Hogan, Snead,etc.) was the short-game wizard. The assistants, Tom Ness and Hank Johnson, are both top-50 instuctors now, as is the young kid (Chuck Cook) who was the unpaid intern.

The idea is this. Take a full-motion swing, all the way to the top and all the way to the finish, at half-speed. Full motion... half speed... hitting balls.

You'll be amazed at two things:

First, how you will feel the weight of the clubhead trigger the release through the ball; you won't have to "hit."

Second, how far you'll hit it. You may even gain distance.

I'll be anxious to get comments on your experience.

Monday, November 07, 2005

How Slow Can You Swing?

Bobby Jones is reputed to have said, "I never saw someone swing too slowly."

I can't vouch for that being true, but I can say the idea is a touchstone for my golf game, and an idea that is right in the heart of Zen Golf.

In that spirit, here is the first of several tips that will deal with building rhythmn and grace into your golf swing by thinking "slow."

This first idea is ideal for those of us in the NorthEast who are faced with the upcoming winter, as it is something that can easily be done inside.

The idea is simple: take a mid-iron and move through the swinging motion as slowly as possible. I believe the originator was Harvey Penick, but I've since seen it several other places.

How slow? Penick just said as slowly as possible, but Pia Lindstrom and Lynn Marriott — in their new book, Every Shot Must Have a Purpose (reviewed in this blog earlier) — say that it should take up to 2 minutes to complete. (If you're highly anal, you might even want to time yourself.)

What you'll find is that you'll immediately sense where your body is out of "sync," where you are not well coordinated. One prime way that will show up is your swing will move more quickly throught that portion: you won't be able to go slowly.

You'll be tempted to do this in front of the TV, but don't. In the spirit of Zen, you'll get the most benefit if you are completely "mindful"... that is, completely aware... "in the moment"... paying attention and absorbed in what you're doing.

It's easy! Just put an old club in the corner of your den or reading area and go throught the full swing motion — all the way to a full and balanced finish — 3-4 times a day.

I think you'll be surprised at what you learn!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Third-Eye Putting

As a "teaser" for my Golf/Zen Novel — The Hole of the Third Eye: A Fable of Golf, Zen, and Life — here is the very first tip that the strange old codger, Joseph, gives to Harry, the main character.

Eastern philosophers say that you have a "third eye" that resides not in your physical self but, instead, in your spiritual self, and that you see both differently and more clearly with it than with your conventional eyesight. You can think of it as your inner self or your sub-conscious self.

Even though that "eye" is not physical, you can visualize it as though it resides in your skull — in the center of your forehead, just above your eyebrows.

You can use that third eye to your advantage on the putting green. To get the idea, make a circle with thumb and forefinger of your lead hand (the left, for right-handers) and put the circle on your forehead to simulate that third eye.

When you take a putting stance and look down at the ball, you're looking with all three eyes and, similarly, you're still looking with three eyes when you pivot your head to look at the hole. Then, when you turn your head back to the ball, leave that "third eye" circle where it was, looking at the hole (it will be somewhere above your left ear). You now have a tremendous advantage... looking at the ball and the hole, simultaneously!

With a little mental practice, you'll find that you can take that idea onto the course and that your distance control, your sense of "pace," will improve.

Try it, and let me know how it works.