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19th Hole

Golf writer credits improvement in play to talking to a horse

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Bob Carney, long-serving golf writer, penned a piece for Golf Digest in which he confesses to have approached improving his golf game from every angle.

From training aids to sessions with Dr. Bob Rotella, Carney had tried it all. Or so he thought. He stumbled on approach that basically went something like this.

“Putt. Meet a horse. Putt again. Reflect.”

What? Carney visited Debbie Crews, who works with Arizona State University’s women’s golf team, for an equine session. Standing in a tent next to a horse corral, Carney says

“She hands me three balls and an off-brand putter that’s about 20 years old. I’m to putt along the artificial-turf carpet and make three in a row from each foot marker, progressing as far as I can in five minutes. I clear six feet without a miss, flub a couple, finish with middling results. Debbie gives me a short questionnaire and one of the questions is: “Name three descriptors of your putting.” I write, “Relaxed, thinking, old tips.”’

Then, he had to go pick a horse out the barn and spends time caring for the horse, grooming it, getting to the point where he can direct it using only his voice. Establishing a connection.

Carney returns to putt again, this time doing markedly better. He has three new descriptors for how he feels over the ball: Relaxed, focused, determined.

There’s much, much more to Carney’s story. It’s well worth a read.

Winding down the piece, he writes.

“My takeaway is that there is no talking oneself into good golf. There is only noticing when you’re fully with it, fully there, and re-creating that sense when it’s absent. A golf round is like a walk with a horse. If that sounds too Yoda-ish for you, and way too hard to accomplish, remember Crews’ words: You’ll know.”

Craziness? Not really. Here’s the thing about golf instruction: The ends justify the means. We get hung up on schools of swing theory, data, processes thrust upon us, the right way to practice, etc. But none of that really matters, does it?

The point of the game is to shoot the lowest score! And anything that genuinely helps an individual do that is worth 10,000 swing tips or a library full of Bob Rotella books.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Arnold

    Sep 25, 2017 at 5:58 am

    No seriously, talking to a horse took me from a 15 to mid single digits. I did nothing else differently. Nice to have my theory validated.

  2. X-out

    Sep 23, 2017 at 9:58 am

    His brainlet is confused and the interchange with the horse rids it of all it’s extraneous ‘swing thoughts’. The horse is, in effect, a mind coach…. like Pelz

  3. BIG STU

    Sep 23, 2017 at 6:20 am

    I want some of what he is smoking if he believes that

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19th Hole

Strokes gained surprise: More distance off the tee doesn’t pay for pros

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Writing for Golf.com, strokes gained inventor/guru, Mark Broadie, filed an interesting (as you would expect) look at driving distance gains on Tour.

No, no, don’t worry. This isn’t a diatribe on the ball going too far, but rather, a look at the players who picked up the most yardage in 2016-2017. Even more interestingly, however, Broadie then examines how the increase in distance translated into a player’s improved performance in strokes gained: off-the-tee…or didn’t as the case seemed to be.

Broadie, “compared driving stats for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, looking at all tee shots on par-4 and par-5 holes,” adjusting for course effects. Check out the professor’s chart.

Broadie’s conclusion: “Added distance doesn’t necessarily lead to lower scores, if too much accuracy is sacrificed” (unless you’re Kyle Stanley).

You can check out Broadie’s full piece and explanation for that conclusion here.

By the way, if you’re wondering how Chappell picked up 10 yards off the tee, his coach, Mark Blackburn, told Broadie it was

“A perfect storm of equipment, ball and a swing change,” Blackburn replied. “He switched drivers, changed to a less ‘spinny’ ball, and lengthened his swing. More hip turn around the trail leg allowed him to load more efficiently and then explode into his lead leg.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members?

And if you’re wondering about the equipment in question, here’s Chappell’s WITB. He switched to a 2016 TaylorMade M1 from a Nike Vapor Flex 440, it seems, but was pictured most recently with a 2017 M1.

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19th Hole

Tiger Woods’ extreme competitiveness, not surprisingly, extends to H-O-R-S-E

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Tiger Woods is competitive. Tiger Woods doesn’t like to be beaten at anything. These are eternal truisms in the Tiger Woods story.

If you play the 14-time major champion in, say, ping pong, don’t expect to win. If you face off against the 79-time PGA Tour winner, however, if you have the skills of Air Joe LaCava, you could notch a victory, or nine, but don’t expect it to sit well with the Big Cat. And certainly don’t expect him to feed you!

Here’s what happened, according to Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, who recently appeared on the “Inside the Ropes” podcast on Sirius XM.

Squaring off in everyone’s favorite equine-named playground game, LaCava beat Woods in nine straight games of H-O-R-S-E. La Cava, reportedly, relied on a smooth mid-range game to take down Tiger, who was jacking up threes.

“He did not talk to me the rest of the day. I didn’t even get the old text, ‘Dinner is ready,’ because I stay across at the beach house. I didn’t even get that text that night. I had to get takeout,” LaCava said. “He didn’t announce he wasn’t [talking to me], he just didn’t. And I’m telling you, it was nine games in a row. I’m telling you, he’s so competitive, even at something like that.”

Cold. But would you expect anything less? You don’t win the U.S. Open on one good leg in excruciating pain fueled by an average blend of competitive juices. In fact, if we learned Woods had softened in his old age and, say, let LaCava win, that’d be serious cause for concern.

Check out the clip below.

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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson has been ranked in the OWGR top 50 for 24 years. Impressed?

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Animalgolfs points out an interesting end-of-the-season factoid: Phil Mickelson has been ranked inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the past 24 years. Also interesting: Mickelson has never been ranked No. 1.

It’s an impressive accomplishment, even allowing for the fact that the ranking wasn’t invented until 1986, right?

Most GolfWRX members think so.

Grm24 writes

“It’s an amazing number. As with the number total number of weeks Tiger was ranked #1 in the OWGR that will likely never be touched, I do not for foresee any current player finishing in the OWGR top 50 for the next 24+ years. An excellent tribute to Phils longevity and overall play.”

Bye agrees

“That’s seriously impressive, especially when you add in how much the equipment has changed during that time.”

JerseyBoy says

“He’s in my top 5. Love to watch him. And he is doing all that with an Autoimmune Disease which is amazing in and of itself.”

However, not everyone is impressed by the left-hander’s achievement. Ferguson, who is not a member of the Phil Mickelson Fan Club, says (pulled from several posts)

“And this statistic, while worthy of a mention, is not that outstanding when considering it is based on a world ranking system that started in 1986.

“He (Phil) had the skills but never had the potential. He lacked the mental capacity to stick to a consistent game plan week after week, and execute. He made a lot of bad choices.

“Phil was a circus act, replete with pompous showmanship. Sure, he was good for the TV audience – we all like to watch a guy with no self control. He could have been number one had he stopped trying to be so darn fabulous all of the time.”

Eventually, Ferguson says that Mickelson is a great player, one of the top-25 of all-time, but that he sees little value in this particular achievement.

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Is Mickelson’s achievement closer to Tiger Woods’ cut streak or “who cares?”

Check out the forum thread and have your say.

 

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