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Opinion & Analysis

Golf has a cruel way of exposing a human, doesn’t it?

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There’s no feeling like embarrassment.

Anger is easily overcome, especially in golf. Maybe you break a club, throw a golf ball into a lake, or mutter a four-letter word. But the feeling doesn’t last very long after you pick up your broken golf shaft and your face cools down from beat red to its normal hue.

Disappointment is a little more difficult. You had expectations for yourself, and for whatever reason you didn’t meet those goals. It hurts, but the feeling isn’t forever. Especially if you worked hard and gave it everything you could.

But embarrassment. That’s the tough one. You can’t breathe, your knees get weak, your body starts to tingle and you just can’t wait to just get away from everyone and everything. It’s an unforgettable punch to your psyche and soul.

We all saw what appeared to be the ultimate form of embarrassment from Jordan Spieth on Sunday at the 2016 Masters at Augusta National. It was difficult to watch those two golf balls find a watery grave on hole No. 12; the second-hand embarrassment was enough to make you cover your eyes or turn away. And Spieth assuredly wanted nothing more than to hide under Hogan’s Bridge when he rinsed that second ball.

While the 22 year old — a would-be college senior — handled the remainder of the round with professionalism and class, and even left himself with a glimmer of hope down the stretch, it was clear he didn’t feel anger or disappointment, but utter embarrassment.

Walking up hole No. 18, with the tournament and the green jacket officially out of reach, he scoured over and put his hands on his head. I’m no mind reader, but you could almost hear him saying, “What have I done?”

In his short-lived golf career filled with dominance at every level — from junior golf, to amateur and college and into the pros — this may have been the first time Spieth has completely melted down on the golf course, or at least the most public; a quadruple bogey at golf’s most famous hole, during the most watched golf event in the world.

How can you not feel for the kid? The Michael Jordan crying faces on Twitter are good for a quick chuckle, but don’t forget the subject of your amusement is a 22 year old kid going through one of the worst experiences of his life.

And it will be more than interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out for Spieth, who admitted that this loss will take some time to overcome.

Will he bounce back and win a major this year? Or will it take years for Spieth to regain dominance in the majors?

Golf is a funny sport, where confidence takes years to build and mere moments to shatter. It has an uncanny way of humanizing and exposing is victims. And if Sunday proved one thing, Jordan Spieth is indeed human.

I feel for you, Jordan.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Dave

    Apr 13, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    I agree with Mikee. If that had been Tiger he would have been cussing and blaming on the gallery, or his caddy, or something or someone else. Spieth is handling himself surprisingly well for his age. I admire him!

  2. Jacob

    Apr 13, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Golf like life can play cruel tricks on you. My old man always used to say..in golf when you are playing good you don’t think you’ll ever play bad. And when you play bad you don’t think you’ll ever play good. But I think these 2 shots Jordan hit personifies why I play the game of golf. He’s arguably the best golfer in the world and he’s hitting shots like any regular amateur in the world. Literally playing golf you have to grind it out on every shot. One shot can win anything, but one shot can lose it all.

  3. David Camp

    Apr 13, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Hey what has been said here particularly at the end of this article is so true. How will Jordan come out of this on the other side? How long will it haunt him? Every human reacts differently. We have to cut him some slack if it takes him longer to recover than maybe someone else. If you recall, Rickie Fowler was flying high this year coming off a win in Dubai and seemingly having The Waste Management in his pocket with 2 holes to play when he too ,found a watery grave unexpectedly. Afterward in the post interview he “melted down” and I would say hasn’t really recovered yet. Just look at his Masters performance. Tour level golf is hard. Play at Augusta this year was impossible. Lets let these fine men recover in at their own pace and cut them some slack.

  4. Sad Smizzle

    Apr 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Please do fall on my sword

    • Sad Smizzle

      Apr 13, 2016 at 2:50 am

      Yeah that’s about all you’ve got left. Don’t worry, we’ll be rid of you very soon

      • Sad Smizzle

        Apr 13, 2016 at 12:38 pm

        Yes I always talk big, glad you enjoy being at your small size

    • Al Czervik

      Apr 13, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      This is literally the only time I have ever rolled on the floor and laughed my arse off. Still wiping the tears from my eyes…

  5. cb

    Apr 12, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Lets not forget it wasnt too long ago when we saw a 21 year old blow his lead mid way through the final round at the masters. That same 21 year old went on to win the US open that year. If Rory can bounce back so will Jordan. Jordan has a great future ahead of him and this will just be a learning moment for him.

    • Mark Donaghy

      Apr 13, 2016 at 6:51 am

      I agree. McIlroy’s snap hook on 10 was as bad as Speith’s rinses on 12. I guess Rory shared similar emotions of being annoyed, frustrated and embarrassed but he bounced back in style at the Congressional just a few months later. Jordan will be just fine, he’ll have learned all sorts of lessons from Sunday. Knowing the talent he has he will use it as Rory did to his advantage.

  6. alexdub

    Apr 12, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I think that one of the best things that can happen to a golfer is to experience a situation where they realize their own humanity. Jordan will be better off for what happened on Sunday.

  7. Jaosn

    Apr 12, 2016 at 7:56 am

    My son (10 years old) and I were glued to the TV watching Jordan. Then he put those two ball in the water on 12… my son was heart broken for him and almost could not watch the rest of the tournament. I told him this is the time to see what Jordan is truly made of. This the time when you will be able to see the person and the champion he is. Watch him… see how he handles the hardest day he has ever experienced in golf in front of millions of people… watch him. And what does Jordan do? Just what you hope he would do. He fought hard to come back and when that came up short he handled himself with dignity. He answered all those painful questions when clearly he would have wanted to be anywhere else.
    I looked at my son when it was all over and said Jordan’s 2 majors are nice but what he has shown today is what makes him a true champion… never forget it.

    • Shin

      Apr 12, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Hey Jason.. I never ever replied on a post before on any blog. But your post moved me. It reminded me that true wisdom is in the right perspective. I have a 8 month old.. and I hope to God that I can guide my little one like you did this weekend. Thank you for posting this.

    • JTW

      Apr 14, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks for this Jason
      Nice teaching moment

  8. Kna

    Apr 12, 2016 at 3:35 am

    How he holds himself together and do all the interviews and express himself so clearly – he’s already over it, planning for the next one and the rest of the year.

  9. Swjake83

    Apr 11, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Yea he choked. He still finished T-2. I don’t know this for a fact, but he has to have one of the highest average finishes there ever so far. Sure he was embarrassed. Sure he felt he gave it away. Sure he is mad. Sure none of us really understand it when your one of the best humans on the planet at a certain skill. Let’s just remember, he has gone 1st, T-2nd in two years. Jordan will be fine. He will get motivated, work even harder and now the rest of the field is probably in more trouble.

    This is not like Norman or Johnson. Spieth has already been there and won, and you know it won’t be his last chance either.

    • MarkB A

      Apr 11, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      I love all these idiots calling him a choker. Jordan has done more at age 21 then all of us will do in our life times. He almost won 4 majors last year. He made probably $35 million last year. He is a solid young man and he will be fine and will keep winning.

      I am very happy for for Danny Willet. He played great gold.

      • timbleking

        Apr 12, 2016 at 4:52 am

        This is what I was telling myself. Gimme the money he won last year and I’d be glad to putt 2 balls into the water at the 12th.

  10. Mr B

    Apr 11, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    He will win big again this year no doubt.

  11. Timmy

    Apr 11, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you for saying that. The amount of people who know nothing about golf yet make fun of him for his collapse is astounding.

  12. Jason

    Apr 11, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Very, very well said. He’s a 22 year old kid (yes a multimillionaire but still a kid). He goes about things the right way with all the class you could ever want from someone in his position. The Masters meltdown will take a while to recover from but hopefully it’s a mere speed bump in what should be an incredible golf career.

  13. Mikee

    Apr 11, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Yup……golf is sure like that……all alone out there…..no reliever, no substitution, no second string or 6th man , no “time out”…..but Spieth is enviable for handling everything with class, a brave face and a sportsmanship demonstrated by few professional athletes (ie. Cam Newton). How few of us could have handled that situation under ordinary day to day golf, let alone on golf’s largest stage and at age 22. An example for all.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fix your golfing back pain, Step 2: Early stage rehab

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others. 

You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

This article is No. 2 in a 4 part series.

Step 1 – The Importance of Assessment

Step 2 – Early Stage Rehab

Step 3 – Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns

Step 4 – Building global strength for prevention of future injury

Introduction

Now that we have identified the source of the back issue through assessment, it’s time to start working on the underlying causes, in order to reduce pain and decrease the likelihood of re-injury further down the track. 

In our experience, mechanical back pain in golfers caused by physical issues is most often caused by one or more of the the following 4 issues, with many amateur players displaying the entire collection!

– Lack of Mobility at the Hips and Mid / Upper Back

– Poor Posture

– Misalignment and Muscle Imbalances

– Weak Core Muscles

Because pain is likely still a factor at this stage, we need to proceed with caution and focus on rehab work that is low intensity and has a low risk of causing a pain flare up.

With that in mind, in ‘Step 2: Early Stage Rehab’ we are going to address Mobility, Posture and Misalignment / Muscle Imbalances. These 3 areas can be improved upon, and should have a positive impact on pain reduction, even if back discomfort is still restricting larger, more global movements.

Step 2.1 – Improving Mobility in Hips and Mid / Upper back

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine (lower back) falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected.

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation forces in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercise Circuit – Hip Mobility

1) Self Massage Glutes – 45 secs each side

2) Cross Leg Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side

3) Prone Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side

4) 90 90 Hip Mobility – 5 reps each side

Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

1) Self Massage Mid / Upper back – 60 seconds

2) Upper Back Extension – 30 seconds

3) All Fours Rotation – 5 reps each side

Step 2.2 – Improving Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).

The 3 major spinal curves: 1 – Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this has had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures.

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

The muscles responsible for holding your posture are located deep in the body and close to the spine. Strengthening them can be tricky, as we don’t really have a lot of conscious control over their activation. Hence posture being such a difficult thing to remember! The combination of the 4 exercises featured below help provide the stimulus to those deep muscles that, if trained often enough, will automatically hold your posture in a good position.

Suggested Exercises – Strengthening posture muscles

1) Wall Posture Check – 30 secs

2) Posture Cue – 60 secs

3) Posture Cue Knee Lifts – 10 reps each side

4) Arm Press – 15 reps

Step 2.3 – Fixing Alignment Issues and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right, back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and / or below.

For example, if we have short / tight / overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knees to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain, then this would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance.

In the next article; Step 3: Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns, we will show you the progression of exercises and key technique principles to build up the strength and movement patterns to return to regular exercise and golf.

If you would like to see how Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – marnusmarais.com

If you would like to access training programs designed for elite and recreational players, then check out the following resources and services from Nick at Golf Fit Pro:

Articles
Golf Fit Pro App (iOS)
Online Training
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Opinion & Analysis

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: March (belatedly)

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Editor’s note: All latency on the publishing here is the fault of the Editor-in-Chief.

As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine.

Here you’ll find the third installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here. For February, click here.

Absolutely. Meet me up north (and, to himself, what have I got to lose?)

No sense in putting the cart before the horse, as the old pro used to say, as cirE “Flip” Hedgebow used to ignore. As March came to a close, as cirE locked the pro shop for the last time until November, he took a leap of faith. How big of a leap? Let’s get through March, and find out.

Speaking of carts and horses, March for Flip always came in like a lamb, and went out like a lion. That ran contrary to the folklore but, all things considered, there was always a 50% chance of things running contrary.

No, the best reason for topsy and turvy in March, for Flip, was explained by his birthday. Being born in the middle of the month might suggest balance to some; for him, it was a constant reminder of the chaos that led up to his earthly arrival, tempered only by the madness that ensued. If that’s balance, you can have it.

In Flip’s world, March was about the arrival of the most seasoned of snowbirds, the ones with more than five years of retirement under their growing-shrinking belts. Some were expanding, as they had given up on fitness; the rest were shrinking, as the truest effects of age caught them up. In each case, this pod arrived with military precision, knowing where and when nearly every penny would be spent. No frivolity remained in their schedules, no ambiguity survived from younger, budgeting days. No longer minnows, they recognized that uncertainty stalked them, and that all of their remaining wits needed to center on a small and precise target. The smaller, the more precise, the better…for the women.

Like all men, the old guys appreciated the consistency and precision their wives brought to their worlds.

Like all men, the old guys detested the ever-encroaching, loss of control over their own destinies.

They would enter the pro shop, grab the latest hat like a modern-day Judge Smails, and set it at a rakish angle, atop their sleek domes. Flip learned quite early on that the only way to ensure the sale was cash. When the wives invariably came to complain and demand a refund, Flip could “only” offer a pro shop credit, guaranteeing that something would be purchased. If they bought it on account or on a card, the sale was irretrievably lost.

Flip expected these purchases from his March gam: the cheapest golf balls, when their supply of northern culls ran out; the attire from last fall, or even the previous summer, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer when March 20th arrived; and some odd or end that the pro had overlooked, lost to some sort of missionary of time. The only thing stronger than the will of the spouse, was the desire of the old guy to make some sort of purchase, to re-establish some semblance of power and control, for at least a moment.

How did you get your name, and why is the last letter, and not the first, capitalized?

(silence. he rarely heard the first question, as everyone knew him as “Flip;” he never heard the second one, as no one paid attention anymore.)

Two stories are a lot to tell. Let’s save both answers, even if it’s just a little while.

(silence. she wasn’t satisfied)

If the red hair caused his eyes to move from the mundane nature of packing and sealing boxes, everything else physical compelled him to put down the tape gun, sense that his throat was dry, know that he would not clear it without a squeak, turn away for a bottle of water, take a swig for lubrication, and, finally, turn back with his finest Axel Foley smile, and greet her with: How long have you been retired?

It was an incalculable risk. There was a 90% chance that she would react with an I’m not that old sort of affront, turn on her heels, and march out the door. There was a 5% chance that she would get the joke, and would stick around for another exchange, before smiling awkwardly and departing. There remained a 5% chance of something else. On this 21st day of March, that final 5% wafted in.

Wafted in, in the guise of a lesson he thought that he had planned. Planned for one of the wives, a late-sixties model whose swing was frozen in time: the unlikely combination of a forward lurch of the torso, a reverse pivot of the feet, and right in the middle, an impossible heave of the hips in one of four unpredictable directions. If anyone were to discover a fifth cardinal point, it would be Agnes Porter. Until this moment, Flip Hedgebow gave thanks that the world was blessed with just one of her; more than one might have tilted the globe off its axis. Now, he offered up a different type of gratitude, thanks to the visage of her granddaughter, who bore no resemblance to the matriarch, beyond the title of Agnes Porter.

They write that a story may be deemed worthy for its inerrant language, or for its compelling events. The story of Agnes Porter the way-younger and Flip Hedgebow benefitted from both, along with an overdose of peripeteia.

 

Artwork by JaeB

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Srixon ZX and TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairways and My top 3 drivers!

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Masters hangover week is here! I have had the new Srixon ZX fairway out on the course and it is underrated as you would imagine. Reshafted the SIM2 Max 3w and it has been super consistent and comfortable. Talking about the top 3 drivers I have been hitting this year.

 

 

 

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