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The Wedge Guy: So long to 2020…

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I’m betting a lot of you feel like I do about 2020–it can’t be over and behind us fast enough. This time last year, as we were all preparing for the most joyous season of all, no one saw this coming. We’ve been dealt body blow after body blow since March when this pandemic was revealed and all hell broke loose.

But this column isn’t about all that…we talk golf here, and golf only.

One of the things that I think about this time of year is what I want my own golf game to be in the coming season. For any of us, if we will take time to reflect on our season behind us—if we will think about our best rounds and those not so pleasing—those parts of our game that need the most work will be revealed.

And my bet is, for each and every one of us, we could isolate just one or two parts of our games where we can most improve our round-to-round performance. From the survey results I’ve shared the past couple of weeks, our GolfWRX community is pretty equally divided between being oriented to the “process” of golf and the “results” we get from our rounds. But it doesn’t matter which camp you are in, the goals are the same–hit more of our best shots, and fewer of our worst.

Maybe your own path to lower scores and more enjoyment would come from hitting more fairways, giving yourself better places to hit your approach shots from. Or maybe it’s sharpening your iron play to give yourself more and better looks at birdie. Many of you shared that greenside scoring was your “opportunity zone”, while others pointed to your putting as the part of the game that needs the most work.

To share my own path to better golf, 2020 has been interesting. I turned 68 in March and found myself hitting more high-quality golf shots and fewer “uglies” than I have since my 40s. My handicap went lower than it has been in a very long time, and I was enjoying very exciting command of the ball, through the bag – driver to putter. I became aware that shooting my age was an attainable goal.

Then, in early April, I injured my right shoulder and couldn’t play for two months. All that “magic” was just not there through the summer and early fall. But through some hard work and peace in my life, that mojo has returned, and I’m setting a goal of shooting my age in 2021. One or two fewer loose swings—the discipline to back away from a shot when alignment, ball position, or frame of mind isn’t quite right, and a bit more work on my short putting.

But I cannot stress enough the importance of “peace in your life” to put you in position to play your very best golf. Stress in any aspect of your world–your work, family, relationships, health–can wreck your golf in a heartbeat. In the classic golf tome, Golf In The Kingdom, the words of wisdom from Shivas Irons told us “It takes perfect balance to play your best golf.” He was not only referring to the balance in your golf swing, but in your life.

For all my adult life, I’ve repeatedly found that to be so true. When things are off-kilter, the golf course becomes torture more than an escape. And I’m closing out 2020 on a high note there. Edison Golf gained momentum and a reputation for extraordinary wedges in our start-up year. My personal life is more balanced and joyful than in many years, and I have so many blessings to be thankful for.

So, as we take measure of 2020 and think about what we’ll do differently in 2021, I encourage all of you to examine your “personal peace quotient.” If it’s the slightest bit out of kilter, deal with that, and I’ll bet better golf will follow.

Merry Christmas to you all and a very Happy New Year. I’m going to take next week off and I’ll be back the first week of January.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Idk who is worse anymore

    Dec 25, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    All these dudes do is post Facebook posts.

    Who cares about this dribble?

  2. PSG

    Dec 25, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Merry Christmas, but is this your first writing gig? Time and again you say silly things.

    “But it doesn’t matter which camp you are in, the goals are the same–hit more of our best shots, and fewer of our worst.”

    That isn’t the goal. The goal is to make your best shots better and your worst shots better. It is pretty well settled that the best way to improve is to increase your top-end and, with similar statistical deviation, you’ll get more consistent.

    “Have your best shots happen more often” sounds like good advice but its bad advice. “Have your best shots be better” is actually good advice.

    If somebody put you in a time machine and you got out writing columns for Golf Magazine in 1982 you’d be phenomenal, but you don’t seem to really understand how much more we know about learning in 2020.

  3. David

    Dec 23, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Very true Terry , for most of us when your mind is racing and lots of the sharper edge of real life is going on, the golf course is not the most forgiving place to hide especially if one expects to somehow play well. Some can but I think most can’t .

  4. Shallowface

    Dec 23, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    Meet the New Year.

    Same as the Old Year.

  5. Not Gianni or Teddy and definitely not Montesano

    Dec 23, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Yeesh, this is even worse than Montesano’s article. Enough about your fridge Nancy…

    • Steve Hjortness

      Dec 23, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      Merry Christmas to you too?

      • Not Gianni and definitely not you buddy

        Dec 23, 2020 at 10:25 pm

        Have a gander at montesanos article for just one second and you too (like any person with a fully functional brain) would grow sick of even the tiny minnows in media like Montesano terry and Gianni…

        to you I would say “happy holidays” to not offend your tiny little brain…

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Opinion & Analysis

Keep your golf body moving at home

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Over the past few months, I’m willing to bet that a lack of golf, limited access to gyms and spending more time at home in sitting positions will likely be having a negative effect on our posture.

This means certain muscles (pecs, abs, hip flexors) getting tight and short, thereby hunching us over, rounding our shoulders forward and tightening our hips. This combination can wreak havoc on our golf swings, particularly our ability to rotate efficiently.

This simple sequence of exercises, performed daily, will help maintain posture and mobility in the key areas that facilitate rotation in our golf swings. You can find these exercises and much more on the Golf Fit Pro app for iOS.

 

1 – Mid Back Massage – 1 x 90 seconds

Using a foam roller or tightly rolled up towel, aim to apply firm pressure through the mid and upper back whilst gently pushing out the rib cage and arching back. Move up and down the roller or towel to target different areas of your spine.

 

2 – Upper Back Extension – 1 x 30 seconds

Using a bench, box or chair, push the chest down toward the floor whilst keeping your abs / core engaged. You should feel this in your mid and upper back.

 

3 – Straight Arm Chest Stretch – 1 x 30 seconds each side

 

Find a wall, post or doorway, place your hand flat with elbow pointing to the floor and arm straight. Gently turn away from your hand until your feel a stretch in your chest and front of your shoulder.

 

4 – Step Up and Turn – 1 x 5 reps each side 

 

In a push up position, move your foot to the outside of your hand (or as close as possible) then rotate your upper torso with arm straight, aiming to point your hand straight up to the ceiling.

 

5 – Back Swing and Follow Through – 1 x 10 reps

Using a piece of rubber tubing or as pictured, the GravityFit TPro, get into your golf set up position pushing out against the tubing. From there turn into your backswing and then into your follow through. Aim to do the majority of the rotation with your torso, keeping your hands in front of your body.

 

You can check out more of Nick’s articles and services here:

Articles
Golf Fit Pro App
Online Training

 

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The Gear Dive: Talking new Callaway Gear with Dave Neville

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On this episode of TGD, Johnny chats all things new Callaway gear with Sr. Director Brand and Product Management Dave Neville. They go deep into Epic Speed, the new Cally irons, and basically everything else.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: From “secret” to 5 basics for a better wedge game

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First of all, thanks to all of you who read and gave last week’s post such high marks. And for all of you who have sent me an email asking for me to address so many topics. Keep those coming and I’ll never run out of things to write about.

In response to so many of those who asked for more on the basics, I want to start a series of articles this week to address some of what I consider the basics as you move your wedge game from greenside chipping, back to “full” wedge distances.

While I certainly do not want to try to replace the skills and contributions of a good instructor, what I hope to accomplish over the next few posts is to give you some of what I consider the most sound and basic of fundamentals as you approach shots from the green back to 100-130 yards, or what you consider “full” swing pitching wedge distance.

So, to get this series kicked off, let’s take the most basic of greenside chips, where the ball lies in a reasonably decent lie 3-10 feet from the edge of the green. I know there are many theories and approaches to chipping the ball, from a “putt-stroke” to hitting them all with a lob wedge, but I’m going to focus on what I consider the most simple and basic of approaches to chipping, so here we go:

Club selection. For golfers who are not highly skilled in this shot and who do not yet want to try to exhibit tons of creativity, my theory is that it is much easier to master one basic technique, then choose the right club to deliver the appropriate carry/roll combination. Once you have done a little practice and experimenting, you should really understand that relationship for two to four different clubs, say your sand wedge, gap wedge and pitching wedge.

Geometry. By that I mean to “build” the shot technique around the club and ball relationship to your body, as those are static. Start with your club soled properly, so that it is not standing up on the toe or rocked back on the heel. With the ball centered in the face, the shaft should be leaning very slightly forward toward the hole. Then move into your stance position, so that your lead arm is hanging straight down from your shoulders and your upper hand can grasp the grip with about 1-2” of “grip down” (I hate the term “choke up”). I’m a firm believer that the lead arm should not angle back toward the body, or out toward the ball, as either compromises the geometry of the club. The stance should be rather narrow and a bit open, weight 70% on your lead foot, and the ball positioned just forward of your trailing foot.

Relax. This is a touch shot, so it needs a very light grip on the club. Tension in the hands and forearms is a killer on these. I like to do a “pressure check” just before taking the club back, just to make sure I have not let the shot tighten me up.

The body core is key. This is not a “handsy” shot, but much more like a putt in that the shoulders turn away from the shot and back through, with the arms and hands pretty quiet. Because of the light grip, there will, by necessity, be some “loading” as you make the transition at the end of the backswing, but you want to “hold” that making sure your lead shoulder/forearm stay ahead of the clubhead through the entire through-stroke. This insures – like I pointed out last week – that the club stays in front of your body through the entire mini-swing.

Control speed with core speed. I think a longer stroke/swing makes for a smoother tempo on these shots. Don’t be afraid to take the club back a bit further than you might otherwise think, and just make the through-stroke as s-m-o-0-t-h as possible. Avoid any quickness or “jab-iness” in the stroke at all. Once you experiment a bit, you can learn how to control your body core rotation speed much easier than you can control hand speed. And it is nearly impossible to get too quick if you do that.

Again, I am certainly not here to replace or substitute for good instruction, and I know there are a number of approaches to chipping. This is just the one that I have found easier to learn and master in relation to the time you have to spend on your short game practice.

Next week, we’ll move back to those shorter pitches up to about 30 yards.

And keep those emails coming, OK? [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

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