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Opinion & Analysis

The Frost Delay: Stealing a Round

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I know, I know. This next column was supposed to be about the joys of playing indoor golf with the help of the OptiShot. Rest assured, I’ll get to it next week. But regardless of the results of that review, one thing is self-evident: It will never be as good as playing actual golf. So with that in mind, when I saw that the sun was going to peak out from behind the clouds for a couple days (and melt the majority of the snow), there was absolutely no chance I was going to pound a worn-out B330 into net.

I was going to steal an actual round of golf.

Back in my competitive golf days, I used to be an expert at stealing winter rounds from Mother Nature. We all were — any time the sun peaked out and you were told it was OK to walk on the greens, you played like it might be months before you’d get the chance again (which it often was). But a lot like drinking warm Milwaukee’s Best Light, listening to the Lightning Seeds or making out with 16 year-olds, I assumed playing golf while there was snow on the ground was something left for high school Dan. Not anymore. As George Costanza (to keep with the early 90s theme) once said, “I’m back, baby.”

Here are the five greatest things I’d forgotten about playing golf in the winter, and a couple new things that make it even better than I’d remembered:

1. Low Expectations.

Yesterday I had to drive 30 miles south to a links course, as my home course still had snow on the greens. I only played 16 holes (as only Nos. 1 though 6 and 15 through 18 were open), and I couldn’t get a tee into the ground on most holes as the tee boxes were still frozen about a quarter-inch below the surface. The fairways were dormant and brown, there was coyote crap everywhere and a couple of the holes looked like they had been last cut to coincide with the VHS release of Caddyshack II. Now I’m a demanding golfer, but unless you’re an unreasonable perfectionist, it’s tough to get too upset about blocking the ball when you’ve just had a mental debate between hitting your driver off the deck or having it teed up two inches higher than normal. You should be happy because:

2. You’re not inside.

You’re not at the office. You’re not in your car. You’re not at the gym. And you’re not on the couch. You’re playing golf in January and it feels great to be outside.

3. The course is empty.

Other than my playing partner, there were three other people out there yesterday. I’m not a math wizard, but that’s about 25 acres a dude. Awesome.

4. When you hit a bad shot, you drop another ball.

I don’t play new balls in the winter. To my eyes, winter golf gives you a perfect chance to use all those balls that you took out of play during the season because they had a little scuff on them. If you hit a loose shot, drop another and leave it — that old ball was just taking up space in your garage anyways. Here in Kansas City, it’s all but impossible to play the ball down this time of year, and even if you could, the USGA doesn’t allow you to turn in scores from Nov. 15 to March 1. Therefore, just write off the random loose shot to rust and play the good one.

5. The random birdie.

I had a couple birdies yesterday. One was on a majestic 4 iron that carried 209 up a hill in gnarly cross wind and stuck 1.5 feet from the pin for a kick-in. The other was on a chunked 8 iron that landed 25 yards short of the green, bounced off a frozen lake and ended up a few feet from the fringe (I chipped it in). I’m not sure which one was cooler.

Things that make winter golf better than I remember

How much better is winter golf clothing now than before? I’m sure for most of the folks on this site, the transition from cotton and wool (with a bit of gore-tex) to the amazing clothes we have now was so gradual it was unnoticeable. But as someone who was outside the game for a while, I can tell you that the clothes I played golf in yesterday were every bit as warm, technical and functional than some of my high-end ski clothing.

I had four light layers at my disposal: a Puma quarter-zip long sleeve dry cell shirt, a Callaway taped seam long-sleeve polo, a Callaway pullover and a Mizuno ImpermaLite jacket. On top of it all, I had a pair of the Footjoy WinterSof gloves. We were on top of a hill on a 40-degree day in 20-plus mph wind and my biggest concern was being too warm — that’s super cool.

The other thing that blew me away was the way the modern golf ball performs in the cold. The old liquid center balata balls we used to play were so erratic in the winter that I prepped for the worst, grabbing a bunch of the random low compression balls I had found over the year out of my shag bag. Just for the heck of it, I pulled out a Pro V1X off the first tee (my normal gamer) expecting it to feel like a rock. I was wrong. I played the same distances I would have played on a 60-degree day in October.

Honestly, I’m so excited about my round yesterday that I could probably go on for another 2000 words. However, it’s looking like it might snow Sunday, so I’m getting out of here for one more round. It might be mid-March until I can play outside again.

Click here to see all the articles in Dan’s “Frost Delay” series.

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Dan Gedman was born in Chicago and grew up in Kansas City, which makes sense as he currently splits his time between those two cities. A director by trade (commercials, long-form and the occasional rap video), Gedman is one of the owners of Liquid 9 -- a Chicago-based production company. He is the father of 3 (8, 5 and >1) and the husband of one. He's also a proud Jayhawk, which is much cooler during the winter and spring than it is during the fall. His current home course was designed by Donald Ross in his experimental phase, and starts with a 240-plus yard par 3. Therefore he's generally (at least) one over before he hits the second fairway.

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Opinion & Analysis

More Distance Off the Tee (Part 1 of 3): Upper Body Training

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If you read my previous story, Tour Pro’s Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up, you are well aware of the fact that improving your upper body power is one of three sure ways to increase your distance off the tee. If you have not, I strongly suggest you check it out to gain some context about what is to follow and what is critical for your golf game.

Through our testing and the testing done of many of the industry leaders in golf performance, we have found that the ability of golfers to generate “push power” from their upper body is critical to maximize efficiency and speed in the swing. The way that you can test your power is simple. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your back on the chair, chest pass with both hands a 6-pound medicine ball as far as you can. When you compare this to your vertical jump as described in More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training Plan, the number in feet you threw the ball should be relatively close to your jump in inches.

If you threw the ball and it went 5 feet, you have an upper body power problem. If you threw the ball 25 feet and jumped only 14 inches, your upper body is not the problem — you probably need to focus on your lower body. It’s not rocket science once you understand what you are looking for. What can be challenging is knowing how to improve your power once you identify a problem. That is where the rest of this article comes in. What I am going to outline below are three of the most common upper body power exercises that we use with our amateur, senior and professional golfers.

The key with any power training exercise is to make sure you are as rested as possible between sets so that you can be as explosive as possible for the repetitions. Try not to do more than 6 repetitions in a set to assure that each one is as fast and explosive as possible.

Med Ball Chest Pass on Wall

This is one of the most basic exercises there is for developing upper body push power. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and don’t be afraid to use your legs to help maximize the punishment you deliver to against the wall!

Med Ball Wall Ball

Watching the video, you may be scratching you head and wondering why this is in the upper body power article when clearly the athlete is using his legs. The reason is that in the golf swing, power starts with the legs.

Med Ball Sky Chest Throws

This one is simple. Laying on your back, all you need to do is push the ball up as high as you can, catch it on the way down and the explode it back up into the air as high as you can. If you incorporate this exercise into your routine even once a week, you will see huge gains in your ability to swing faster if this was a problem area for you.

That being said, power creation requires not only speed but also strength development. It is also important that you have a solid strength program to increase your ability to generate more force. While this is beyond the scope of this article, finding yourself a solid golf fitness expert will help you create your ideal program.

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Podcasts

GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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