Golf Visualization #1: Feeling Grounded

jq condor feet Golf Visualization #1: Feeling Grounded

I’m going to start a series on golf visualizations. I find these immensely helpful in my own game and hope they will be helpful to you, too.

The great thing about visualizations is that they can be as creative and imaginative as you like. Creating different ways to imagine or think about a specific golf position or dynamic can be a immensely powerful way to producing a solid, repeatable, relaxed golf swing.

I’ve often felt, when playing my best golf, that I had a very rooted, grounded feeling with my legs and feet. That the leverage of the ground is producing the power.

As we know, a good, solid golf swing is initiated by the lower body. The feet grip the earth, the weight begins to shift forward, your shoulders, arms and hands remain soft – allowing them to drop into the “slot”, then your hips begin to be activated, your shoulders and arms following with a nice powerful, inside-to-out “sling” through the ball. All produced from leverage via ground force dynamics.

Visualization: “Feel” like your feet are like an Eagle’s talons. You want to feel as if your feet has claws and that they are literally sinking and gripping the earth by digging in and turning the claws inward.

Visualization 2: This is the same feeling you get when you are wearing a treaded show (like Merrells hiking shoe) and try to turn (as if you are making a golf swing) but keeping your feet firmly on a rug. You immediately feel the resistance of the tread of the shoe getting intertwined with the rug fibers creating “resistance.”

I actually did a post on this called, Braced Right Knee in the Golf Swing.

In my experience this is something that can developed through focused training and practice.

Practice: Via Qigong Training. Qigong is an ancient practice (not unlike Tai-Chi) that promotes balance, strength, calmness and cultivation of Qi – or “life energy”

Think of this as another little “experiment” Just try it out. Keep an open mind. Have a bit of fun with trying something new. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

What we’re going to practice is called a “Standing Meditation” or “Standing Post”. This is the single most important and widely practiced form of Qigong.

This is a LOT tougher than it looks initially. You might wobble, shake, think it’s stupid to be doing it or a thousand other distractions will go through your mind. Let them happen. Rise above them.

Try it for 2-3 minutes the first week, 5 minutes the following week, 10 the next etc. Try to eventually get up to 15-20 minutes. Watch the video below for more details on the specific posture, positions, etc.

What this does is build tremendous strength in your legs and core, allows you to breathe properly (from the belly), promotes relaxation, accurate body awareness, proper alignment, tranquility and, of course, cultivation of Qi.

As you begin to practice this you want to feel your weight “sinking” into the ground. This will really help to relax your arms and in particularly your shoulders which, for many, have chronic tension. Get the breathe to drop from your chest to your belly. For now, just be aware of those.

You’ll soon have legs of steel and better body integration and awareness of the ground and how to use it for more relaxed power in your golf swing.


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Woods Stumbles in Return to Action

tigers return Woods Stumbles in Return to Action
Tiger Woods return to action following his injury didn’t go as planned after the 14-time major winner failed to make the cut recently at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club.

Following an opening round 74, Woods couldn’t claw it back on the second day and finished with 75 to fall four shots behind the cut with a seven-over 149. The American had made the cut in his last 26 tournaments dating back to 2012, but Tiger couldn’t continue that streak in his first appearance for three months.

Tiger undertook a microdiscectomy on March 31 of this year (2014) to repair a herniated disc and relieve pressure on a nerve. Not just a minor tweak, folks but Dr. Andrew Hecht, who is the chief of spine surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, indicated that 90 percent of elite athletes return to the exact same level they were at before the surgery.

“Anyone that’s had any kind of nerve impingement, it’s no joke,” he said. “That part was relieved as soon as I got out of the surgery. That nerve impingement, that pain that I was feeling going down my leg, was gone. I’ve heard numerous people talk about it, and I’ve had people come up to me and say they had the same procedure and got their life back and that’s basically how I felt.”

In a season that has been interrupted by a back injury that kept him out of the Masters and the U.S. Open, Woods had made his return to action at the Congressional Country Club in a bid to get some course time ahead of this month’s Open Championship at Hoylake.

royal liverpool Woods Stumbles in Return to Action

While the former world number one didn’t make it through until the weekend despite being backed by a number of Betfair fans, Woods admitted he felt positive after returning to competitive action.

“All little things I know I can fix. As I said, it’s very encouraging,” said the 38-year old.

With 14 majors to his name, Woods is still hunting Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles and this month’s Open will give the American the chance to edge closer to his compatriot’s record.

Woods won when the Open was last at Royal Liverpool in 2006, but the three-time Open winner is now preparing to tee off at the year’s third major without playing any more tournaments before heading across the Atlantic.

Woods’ place at the top of the world rankings came to an end earlier this summer when Australia’s Adam Scott reached number one in the world for the first time in his career. While Tiger will no doubt be looking to reclaim his place at the top of the rankings, perhaps more pressing for the American will be trying to end a major drought that stretches back since the 2008 U.S. Open.

Despite his continued struggles at the majors, Woods will head into the Open alongside Rory McIlroy as the pre-tournament Betfair favourite. Current world number one Adam Scott finds himself in the chasing pack alongside Henrik Stenson, recent US Open champ, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose.

Woods stated he intended to take his children on a “promised” 2-week summer vacation and therefore will not be playing in any additional events prior to teeing it up at the Open Championship.

The Open Championship is scheduled for July 13-20 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake, in the UK.

Photo credits: top picture courtesy of the DenverPost
bottom picture courtesy of golfclubatlas.com


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You’ll Love Lyle & Scott Golf Apparel

lyle scott logo Youll Love Lyle & Scott Golf Apparel

I just received some very cool Lyle & Scott golf apparel in the mail the other day. It’s always exciting getting golf stuff, especially Lyle & Scott.

Lyle & Scott, granted, is not as well known here in the US as it is in the UK but hopefully that is changing.

For one, it’s been around forever, being established in 1874 by William Lyle and Walter Scott who founded a knitwear company in Hawick, a small town hidden in the Scottish Borders.

In the 60s Lyle & Scott launched a golf apparel line, a move that coincided with the design of the now iconic Golden Eagle logo/brand.

The Eagle represents not only the brands reputation for reliability and quality but is also, of course, represents one of best played holes in golf – a score of 2 under par.

Over the years, many celebrities, entertainers and, of course, legendary PGA Pros have donned the Golden Eagle.

These include Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Sean Connery and golfers Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Ian Baker-Finch, Lee Westwood and, of course, Greg Norman, wearing the Golden Eagle when he won the 1986 Open Championship at Turnberry.

One item in particular that I really like is the Club Tipped Polo Golf Shirt. Talk about a stylish polo and I just love the color scheme. You can see pro golfer, Andy Lesenski, wearing it below.

andy lyle scott Youll Love Lyle & Scott Golf Apparel

Of course, there are many color combinations to choose from. Here’s just a little blurb about it from their site:

A little sportier than the plain option, our Lyle and Scott Club tipped polo shirt has a few extra touches that lends it that tournament-ready feel.

Cut in our regular fit from cotton piqué, the all-important details include a three-button placket, button down collar, tipped collar and cuffs, “Lyle & Scott” embroidery on the back neck and the Green Eagle on the left chest.

Of all things, I also loved the Lyle & Scott golf socks. I’m just a sucker for nice, comfy, stylish socks and you get all that in with their Club Ankle Sock.

Here’s a brief description:

Cushioning detail around the arch and ankle of our Lyle and Scott ankle socks ensures they feel comfortable and supportive. The left sock is adorned with the famous Club Green Eagle. 85% Cotton 13% Nylon 2% Elastane.

I’ve got my eye on a number of other Lyle & Scott products including a very sweet-looking, classic Argyle V-neck sweater and a pair of these very cool, Chock blue, Club Chinos.

For the materials and craftsmanship Lyle & Scott produces, I really think the prices are very good.

The Lyle & Scott Golf collection consists of classic golf polo shirts, jumpers and jackets, as well as designer golf trousers, chinos and socks.

Finally, don’t think you women will be left out in the cold. Here’s Lyle & Scott’s Women’s Line.

You can order through TrendyGolf.com or, of course, their website at LyleandScott.com

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Is Abductor Strength the Hidden Key to Golf Power?

side hip abduction Is Abductor Strength the Hidden Key to Golf Power?

If you’re like me and have limited golf conditioning time you might have ignored your hip abductor muscles. If you have, you might be making a big mistake. This blurb was taken from an article, “Golf’s Muscle Man,” in Golf Digest by Max Alder.

The report comes from Dr. Scott Lepart, who is Director of the Neuromuscular Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Center for Sports Medicine and also operates two human-performance and injury-prevention labs for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navel Special Operations.

From the article:

Says Lephart, “Identifying and strengthening specific muscles not only improves performance, it pre-empts injury”

After plowing through data collected from 700 golfers, including 35 PGA Tour pros, the time had come to reap the discoveries.

As expected, strength and flexibility of the shoulders and torso were important in golf, but Lephart also identified a specific pair of muscles, the hip abductors, which engage when you move your legs apart, as a key discriminator in power.

Immediately before impact, stress equal to 2 to 3 times the golfer’s body weight is placed on the hips. On average, Lepahart found elite players to be 30 percent stronger in the hip abductors.

“The balance and trunk stability provided by the hips is often overlooked in golf,” says Lephart. “Golfers with weak hips are predisposed to commit swing errors that hinder their game game and make them prone to injury over time.”

One of the best is the Side-lying Hip Abduction. Perform the exercise as follows:

Lie down in a left side-lying position. Make sure your hips are “stacked” (right hip directly over the left hip) and that your body is in a straight line.

Placing your top hand on the floor in front of you can help ensure that you are not leaning forwards.

Take 1 second to lift the top leg up (breathing out), 2 seconds to hold it in top position (keep breathing out) and then 3 seconds to slowly return it to start position (slowly breathing in).

I recommend the heel to remain the same height as the toes throughout.

Variations include (while lying on side) bringing top knee to chest and extending it. This not only work the abductors but hits the all-important glutes as well.

Instead of having your top leg straight bend your knee to 90 degrees and do short bursts or “pumps” with that top leg until fatigue.

When these become too easy just add an ankle weight or resistance bands for further resistance.

Maybe it’s time to start incorporating some hip flexibility/strength conditioning exercises into your routine.

If it does make a difference for you, please let me know by commenting.

Equipment mentioned above:

Get your Reebok Adjustable Ankle Weight (10-Pounds) Is Abductor Strength the Hidden Key to Golf Power?

And your Aylio Exercise Bands (Light, Medium, Heavy) Is Abductor Strength the Hidden Key to Golf Power?

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“Good Will Hunting” for a New Driver

good will hunting “Good Will Hunting” for a New Driver

Here we go again, I’m on a quest for a new driver. Although I’ve done this many times before it always seems like a challenging experience (for me anyway).

I’ve written about this a number of times in posts like, The Quest for a New Driver and The Quest for a New Driver (Continued) so it’s something I have *some* familiarity with but in some ways it truly is like looking for that mystical “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow (Well, maybe it’s there, I’m just not seeing it)

We’ve even written about Why You Shouldn’t Buy A New Driver. There might be a few nuggets in there for you to ponder as well as you wade through your own buying experience.

I have bought off the shelf, I’ve custom built my own driver, I’ve been custom-fit at one of the top fitting centers in the Northeast and have also bought (sight unseen) online – that covers pretty much the gamut, I think.

By the way, a great place to buy a driver (or any other club for that matter) online is at GolfOnline. Please check ‘em out.

Like a lot of people, I want to get a good deal and find a driver that’s pleasing to my eye, that feels good and can hit reasonably well.

And, of course, I want more distance. I’m over 50 now and every yard helps so what not try to maximize it with the one club that will get you that distance?

Here’s where I’m at currently: After going through an arduous custom-fitting for a New Nike VRS a few years ago I could not (and still cannot) hit that damn club to save my life. That a nice $300 lesson, right to the chin.

I was really hitting that club great at the testing center but after they took all the specs and got it custom-built in the Nike factory in Oregon what I got in the mail was clearly NOT what I was hitting that day I was being tested.

Something got lost in translation. It was extremely frustrating, Nobody wants to take the blame and well, “like it or lump it, it’s yours and sorry.”

So after that experience, I’ve become a little uneasy about someone taking my specs and trying to translate them. I know a lot of folks who have had no issues with this but hit has now happened to me TWICE.

Again, totally from my own experience (and what I’m personally going to do) is either head to a local demo day and hit a ton of clubs. Work with the club reps there to help you tweak things on the spot and buy that driver you hit well then and there. In other words buy the one that you have swung and are pleased with.

Or, you can get a driver that has some serious built-in flexibility, like a TaylorMade R1 for instance. It can be adjusted for proper loft, face angle (open, closed, medium-open, N/square, etc.), moveable weights and more.

This way you can tinker away until you find the settings that best work for you. It make take a bit of time but it sure is better than buying something like a Rocketballz (just using TaylorMade as an example) which has a lot less “tweak-ability” (I think I just invented a word!)

For the record, I just bought a TaylorMade R1. I was thinking of getting the SLDR but my budget just didn’t allow for it. That’s fine, you don’t always need the shiny new object.

Please let me know your thoughts on this post. Would love to hear others “buying a driver” experiences as well.

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Waste Area or Bunker at Pinehurst No. 2?

pinehurst2 wasteareas1 Waste Area or Bunker at Pinehurst No. 2?

With the recent re-design of Pinehurst No. 2 it becomes a little unclear as to what’s deemed a bunker and what is a waste area. How will this vet out during play?

Two of the most romantic of golf course designers, the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw re-designed Pinehurst #2 by replacing 26 acres of rough with sandy, hardpan waste areas filled with pine needles and hand-planted wiregrass.

They used aerial photos of the original Donald Ross design as their guide, creating a new kind of windswept, “natural” look, a more strategic course, a widening of the fairways to create a kind of “old-world” golfing experience for this year’s US Open.

Of course, the signature of Pinehurst No. 2, those untouched inverted saucer greens, are as perplexing, maddening and dangerous as ever. But much more has been brought into question in this year’s United States Open Championship.

One of the “gray” areas still appears to be, “What exactly is a bunker and what constitutes a waste area?”

A bunker, according to the rules is:

A hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.

Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf-face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker.

The margin of a bunker extends vertically downward, but not upward. A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.

pinehurst2 wasteareas Waste Area or Bunker at Pinehurst No. 2?

Of course, grounding your club in a hazard is a penalty of 2 strokes. Here’s the complete definition:

Grounding the Club in a Hazard (Rule 13-4)
Grounding the club in a hazard is not allowed. Anyone who does it must assess themselves (or have assessed) a 2-stroke penalty (or loss of hole in match play).

Now it get’s a bit foggy when discussing “waste areas” as the rules of golf do not define such areas. Therefore, you can ground your club and/or remove loose impediments (but not so as to improve the lie of the ball)

According to USGA Executive Director, Mike Davis, a plan was “in place” to have a line of delineation between the two.

However, as of a few days before the tournament, players I see on TV seem still confused as to what is a bunker, what is a waste area, etc. and what (if any) is the official call on this.

The issue is, “Could a waste area be deemed a bunker and how would you know?” This is exactly was caused Dustin Johnson to potentially lose the 2010 PGA Championship. He never considered the area he was in to be a bunker so he grounded his club and was assessed a 2-stroke penalty, keeping him out of a playoff.

I’d be curious to know what kind of instruction sheets the players receive and how this is explained. Is a bunker simply a prepared area that is surrounded by 360 degrees of grass? Will they define it differently. We’ll see.

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It’s Not Easy Being Adam Scott

adam scott e1401313041742 Its Not Easy Being Adam Scott

I mean he’s currently ranked number 1 in the world, has a swing to die for, could be a leading man in Hollywood, has a nice, fluffy bank account, is a true media darling and off to a great 2014.

So far so good for 2014. He has (as of this writing) made 8 out of 8 cuts, has 1 win (Colonial*) and 4 top 10’s. He has currently made over 2.2 mil and it’s not even June yet!

Mr. Scott seems to be currently firing on all cylinders. He’s 33 now and has taken his fair share to the chin throughout his young career but he is just looking rock solid this year.

I’m not really into golf betting but my money is on Adam winning one of the three remaining majors. Look for him to get revenge at this year’s British Open at Royal Liverpool this year.

He’s also recently married. He married his longtime girlfriend, Marie Kojzar, in a small, unannounced ceremony, with mostly family present, a few days after the Masters this year (2014)

“It’s official. I am a settled down man and very happy,” Scott revealed to Aussie golf writer Ben Everill Friday.

“We just decided to get on with it, we’ve known each other long enough, let’s go and jump right in the deep end.

“It was just our family and a few friends and obviously there are a lot of people we would have liked to have had there who weren’t, but we decided to have a very low key affair.

Adam was born in Adelaide, Australia on July 16, 1980. At age 7 his family moved to Queensland which led to his life-long love affair of the beach and surfing.

He grew up in a golfing family. His Dad, Phil, never played professionally but was a member of the Australian PGA and also dabbled in designing and manufacturing golf clubs. His mom, Pam, is also an active golfer.

Scott began playing golf at age 4 by dotting around with his father who helped him form a base of solid golf fundamentals.

“I tried to keep it simple and natural,” the elder Scott later said. “As a golf pro, I appreciated the need for solid technique, but I never tried to cloud his mind with too many technical thoughts.”

Scott’s talent was immediately apparent and he eventually started beating much older players at his local club. At age 20 Adam moved to the US and enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He turned pro in 2000.

Soon after joining the European Tour in 2001 he won his first European Tour event at the Aflred Dunhill Championship in South Africa that same year.

He then became the youngest ever to win the Player’s Championship at age 23 which gave Adam major exposure and a secure place on the PGA Tour.

However, the next decade or so never quite lived up to those early expectations. Not that he didn’t win but he was seen as “the” biggest rival to Tiger which, of course, never really happened.

After tying for second at the 2011 Masters Tournament, Adam captured the first World Golf Championship at the 2011 Bridgestone Invitational.

Heartbreak followed, however, in July 2012, when Scott suffered a devastating loss at the Open Championship in Lancashire, England. Holding a four-stroke lead, Scott bogeyed the final four holes and lost by a stroke to Ernie Els. I can still see that look on his face – seemingly wondering, “What the hell just happened?”

Adam finally broke through with his win at the 2013 Masters, curling in a 25 footer at 18 to get into a playoff with Angel Cabrera. On the second sudden-death playoff hole, he slam-dunked a 12 footer to win the and became the first Aussie to don the green jacket. I really must be true – “It’s hard to keep a good man down”

You have to believe that Tiger’s former long-time caddie, Steve Williams, has been nothing but a benefit for Adam Scott. I mean just being around someone (Woods) who won 13 major championships (the other with Mike “Fluff” Cowen) has to come with some deep insight on what exactly it takes to win the majors.

Steve Williams even mentioned the difference between these 2 superstars:

“Adam is more relaxed about things, while if it ain’t going Tiger’s way it can be a tough walk some days,” he added.

“Having watched Tiger play at a level that arguably no one has ever played and then to come to Adam, who has a lot of talent, I think Adam is capable of playing at a level even greater than what he’s doing.”

Now that Adam’s a married man, has a major under his belt, has a dedicated and committed work ethic and one of the most refined golf swings in the game I really look for him to live up to all his early carer hype. Look out, he’s only going to get tougher to beat.

Here’s a few other links that may be of interest:

See what clubs Adam was using to win the 2014 Crowne PlazaInvitational at Colonial

Adam Scott website

Adam Scott Foundation


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Golf Sense: Practical Tips on How to Play Golf in the Zone

golf sense 198x300 Golf Sense: Practical Tips on How to Play Golf in the ZoneIn doing more research for the Alexander Technique I found a wonderful book called, Golf Sense: Practical Tips on How to Play Golf in the Zone by Roy Palmer which I highly recommend.

It’s written from the perspective of an Alexander Technique teacher who has worked with many athletes who participate in many different sports including, of course, golf. Just read our last article, Golf and the Alexander Technique to learn more.

It’s been helping my game immensely. Again, I won’t re-iterate everything but the Alexander Technique is about doing less. The conundrum is that you have had these swing/thought habits for so long that you are not even aware you doing them – and the more you try the harder it gets – sound familiar?

The AT (Alexander Technique) aims to get at the space between thought and action and if you think this is a marginal thing all I have to say is that it’s not. I guarantee you’ll find some gems that will directly help your game. I’m saying help to be somewhat neutral – conceivably you could radically improve your game.

I love that the book is very conversational. It’s like me and the author sitting down having a nice fireside chat. The book weighs in at 151 pages and it’s all good, no filler or fluff as is sometimes the case.

You may think that Alexander Techniques might be complicated and it’s one more thing to “add” to the growing plethora of tips already in your head. But remember, The AT is about dropping stuff you don’t need. For example, dropping tension that does not serve you.

Tension is such killer in sports (and everyday life, too!) So it’s important to begin to become aware of this. If you’re like me, you may not even know (or think) you’re tense until you begin to bring your new-founded awareness to it. The AT will bring this to light.

None of the information will overwhelm you, it’s all within your grasp. There’s nothing pompous or stated in such an intellectual way that you won’t “get it”. You will. I promise.

The book focuses quite a bit on helping us “get in the zone” while being in the present moment. Yeah, yeah we’ve all heard that before, right? But actually giving us ways to do it consistently is something else.

Sometimes it can feel like a slippery slope because you want to try to do something without trying but there are ways to access this state more consistently as almost anyone knows you hit your best shots and they always seem to be just “effortless.” This books shows how.

I loved Chapter 6 called “A Moving Experience” It’s all about getting to know what Mr. Palmer calls your “Body Basics” which contain a number of simple experiments that you will thoroughly enjoy. I’ll just share one.

Now, I’ve spoken before about the importance about neck strength in my post, Neck Strength and the Golf Swing but this is even better and it’s shared wonderfully in this passage:

If you ask one hundred people to point to where their head sits on their spine at least ninety-five will point to somewhere on the back of and half way down the neck. The actual joint, known as the atlanto-occipital joint, is higher than most people appreciate and it located towards the center of the skull. Try it. Ask your friends this question and see where they think it is.

So why does this matter? How will it help your golf?

The muscles attached at the base of the skull are connected at the other end to the top vertebrae, and these are the most sensitive muscles, by some distance, in your body. These tiny muscles help coordinate muscle activity in conjunction with the other senses.

It matters to your golf because, if these highly sensitive muscles spanning this joint aren’t active due to tension in the outer layer of muscles, they’re unable to feed vital information about movement and orientation to your nervous system.

If your guess at it’s position was someway off the true location, it’s probably because you’re not letting your head move from this point. You could be preventing your reflexes from coordinating your movement.

In addition to reflexes, the weight of your head sitting in the wrong place will place undue stresses on the rest of your body

The book has many self “experiments” and most are done without a club. There are really quite eye-opening. There is even a chapter called “Seven Experiments to Transform Your Golf.” The 1st of these (since I have been practicing it) has (and I’m not sure why) I believe, transformed my game. Try it yourself and see.

One thing that has made a big difference for me personally has been trying to drop the “hit impulse” Somehow trying to “hit it harder” has been messing with my swing. I knew it but as it was a habit, it was “invisible” to me.

I have had a few nice Twitter exchanges with Roy and, well, you can see what he said below:

roy palmer tweet11 Golf Sense: Practical Tips on How to Play Golf in the Zone

It seems so obvious but I have been been thinking about this one thing quite a lot, “That is, what are we doing in our golf swings that cause us to hamper our natural coordination?” Drop those things that are an impediment to your coordination. Golf should have a sense of ease about it NOT struggle.

All in all, a terrific book that will give you much to think about and hopefully not much to think about at all!

Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon here: Golf Sense: Practical Tips On How To Play Golf In The Zone Golf Sense: Practical Tips on How to Play Golf in the Zone

PS: The only thing I wish I could change is the cover. It somehow does not professionally represent the quality of information in it. But don’t let that stop you from buying it!


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Golf and the Alexander Technique

hogan 3 up Golf and the Alexander Technique

Can the Alexander technique vastly improve your golf by helping you to “do-less” by freeing yourself of tension and non-productive movement patterns your golf swing? These are a few things we’ll be exploring in the article below.

So what exactly is the Alexander Technique? The Alexander Technique is a 100 year-old method founded by F.M. Alexander (1869-1955), for understanding how to use your body and mind. It is not an exercise program. It’s a unique way of thinking and challenging the habitual ways you use your body.

The main premise is that overall habits of how you use your body, good or bad, influence how well or poorly you execute any activity. Alexander teachers observe students during everyday activities like sitting, standing and walking.

They are trained to recognize unnecessary tension and, through verbal explanation and hands-on guidance, they guide their students how to dissipate this tension. The student can then begin to bring this activity into any (and all) activities – of course, including golf.

It’s been fascinating so far as it begins to unravel the question, “Why can’t I improve my golf swing (and therefore my game)?” On the surface it seems quite easy, you see what the instructor is showing you and you implement it and Whala! your swing magically improves. But why doesn’t that happen to most of us? Is there something wrong with you(me)?

This can also put you into a downward spiral as the more you try to practice (to get better) the worse it gets. It’s kinda like – the more you try to get it right the more you get it wrong.

In my case it’s sometimes like, “Why are all my practice swing so smooth and effortless but the minute I step up the ball something else starts to take over and it’s like I’m trying to kill a frog with a stick.” Can you relate to any of this?

And the answer is NOT practicing more, exercising more, looking at video as these are psychophysical problems, caused by how the mind interprets bodily sensation, and it’s all-too-frequent tendency to interpret this data incorrectly.

As Missy Vineyard states in her wonderful book, How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery Golf and the Alexander Technique

The chief source of our difficulty lies in our biology. We learn, but we learn imperfectly and incorrectly. What is more, a creature that makes mistakes needs to be able to to self-correct.

But self-correction depends on accurate self-judgement, and we seldom perceive ourselves accurately. Our brain is easily tricked and misled. We fail to accurately perceive or fully understand our misuse and our misperceptions. This is perhaps our greatest shortcoming.

Not sure about you but I have often experienced this at a lesson when I just cannot get myself to “feel” a certain position that the instructor can. I mean, how could he possibly know of your physical history, of your injuries of your patterns of tension?

Another part of of the Alexander Technique is learning how the mind and body are inter-related. For example, if you are lying on your back and think, “don’t move my leg,’ it will not be in a tense state but if you decide to move you “automatically” invoke your same patterns. It’s actually triggered before you move. Further, your muscle tension is activated by your thought of moving.

It all comes back to that well-known quote, “How you do anything is how to do everything.” What hit me when reading the book was about an individual trying to get better at tennis but what she did not realize is that HOW she plays tennis is what is preventing her from playing good tennis. How’s that for a mind-melt?!

So it seems to me that *most* of us have a built-in dilemma – that is, we have unconscious patterns of movement and tension that we don’t even know about that affect EVERYTHING we do. What do we do? Is there anyway out of this insidious, paradoxical trap we have found ourselves in?

The answer is, Yes, there is.

At this juncture I certainly don’t have all the answers but you begin to investigate, to become aware and to move in a new direction – creating new, healthy patterns. This involves learning how to properly rest the body, perhaps working with a Alexander specialist to reveal those hidden patterns of tension and mis-alignment.

What I like too is that a lot of the Alexander techniques are called “self-experiments” It’s not something you have to get right. It’s not a right or wrong thing but just a way to help you discover something new or something you have not seen before. A lot of them, I’ve found, are actually quite interesting and fun to do.

I’ll be updating you periodically on my journey and how this is affecting my golf game. If you have any questions, insight or commentary please post in comments below.

Here are a few other resources that might be helpful:

Golf Sense: Practical Tips On How To Play Golf In The Zone Golf and the Alexander Technique – from the perspective of the Alexander Technique.

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique (website)

7 Ways to Produce a Powerful, Tension-free Golf Swing


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The Original 1934 Master’s Program

first masters The Original 1934 Masters Program

I love Augusta National and the Master’s history. Here’s a piece regarding the original 1934 program for the Augusta National Invitational.

Augusta National produced a very limited number of programs for its first tournament in 1934 due to financial constraints, and fear of limited interest in the event.

This is a photo of the 1934 program. The 1934 Augusta National Invitational (as it was then called) Tournament program was produced to be used as an advertising tool to solicit new membership for the Augusta National club.

The inaugural Augusta National Invitational was fortunate to gain some national exposure simply because the iconic golfer, Bobby Jones, was attached to the golf course and the tournament.

The first Augusta National Invitational actually lost money, and the purse was then assembled by a few of the first Augusta National members. But according to the 1999 book, The Making of the Masters: Clifford Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf’s Most Prestigious Tournament The Original 1934 Masters Program by David Owen, this 1934 program also was a way for the club to both make money and pitch potential members:

An additional source of revenue during the first tournament was an attractively printed program, which also served as an unofficial prospectus for potential members. The program was forty-four pages long and contained a map of the course, descriptions of the holes (written by MacKenzie), photographs of the clubhouse and other points of interest, historical information about the property, photographs of most of the members of the club, and several dozen advertisements. It sold for twenty-five cents. Overrepresented among the advertisers were the club’s numerous creditors, who had been offered space in lieu of payment.

The program was forty-four pages long and contained a map of the course, descriptions of the holes (written by MacKenzie), photographs of the clubhouse and other points of interest, historical information about the property, photographs of most of the members of the club, and several dozen advertisements. It sold for a grand total of twenty-five cents (recent auctions have this program going for 15K+). Over represented among the advertisers were the club’s numerous creditors, who had been offered space in lieu of payment.

pixel The Original 1934 Masters Program

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