Things I learnt from my first outing as Daddy Caddy..

At the advice of his coach, we let Vikram out on his first kids competition today (10th Oct 2015) so that he can get a ‘handicap’. Having just turned 6 (or 16 in his mind), he was looking fwd to this all week. Woke up this morning with a “I dont want to go because I am nervous!!” Quick pep talk and he was out of the door in no time for a 8:45 tee off.. (where do kids get the energy on a weekend).

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The club does kid comps every month for the under-10 kids in the academy. It is played over 9 holes on our Par 3 course. Everyone gets a ‘handicap’ and you can see how you progress. Anyways, my observations about what happened – (disclaimer: will have biases and assumptions)

  1. Kid golf is very stressful for the daddy caddy – esp if Daddy plays golf. Mummy’s are alright (esp if they dont play) because they are there to shepard the kid whereas Daddy is part-coach, part-crowd and part-player.
  2. Not all kids enjoy it and you can sense they are there for the parents. But kids they go thru the phases of loving it and loathing it… so cant judge on that.
  3. Kids learn from each other.. It was my son’s first outing, and he was watching the older kids and their parents speak. On the 7th, he was trying to say, ‘Get on the green’ to his ball and ‘thats bad luck’ to someone who missed the fairway!!!!.. So be careful of what you say at all times.
  4. The kids game is fairly reflective of the adult game. We had slow play in front of us (and a Dad in my group getting increasingly upset), all kit and no swing (kitted out in Galvins and nice clubs, but struggling), some counting errors (was that 6 or 7, lets say 6), mindgames (more from parents than kids), questionable rules interpretation (winter rules when not on fairway), inflated expectation of self (Me: Use a driver; Vikram: I can get there with a iron; then hits the driver and comes short)
  5. Prize giving can be heartbreaking. As it was our first outing, Vikram was not in contention – though he came fairly close to NTP. So when the prizes were given away, he nearly started crying. Life is tough son.. play better next time.
  6. Some kids are just natural… it is fab to watch them play

Overall a good outing and a great learning experience. It is a joy to watch the kids play and the happiness when they score. We had someone who chipped in from about 15y and he was over the moon. Vikram one putted on the last hole and nearly did a victory lap.

Vikram almost had a double bogie round. He shot a 47 over a par 27 course. So I think he will get a official handicap of about 40. He had one par and a couple of bogies and doubles with the rest exceed them. It was a very damp and a bit cold to start and I did not realise that he had a cut in his palm when he had fallen over at school on Friday.

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I must say I was tempted to intervene more, but stayed away. I did have to give him a line on his putt and tee up the ball for him. As he plays more, there will be a tendency to become the helicopter dad from hell.

Having said all that, I must say he was on the green in 1 or 2 on the short holes or 3 for the long ones. His clubs are not suitable for him, because scrooge daddy got him clubs that are too long and he has to choke down on them (Daddy says he will grow into them soon). His putting let him down.. It has improved, he is now aiming for that 2 putt, but gets a 3 putt. Had one 1 putt but no 4 putts.. so can only get better from here…

I have never seen him so focussed/obsessed in a game. He was on a different planet for some reason. During his lessons I have to remind him to take practice swings or check he ball position. Today none of that, suddenly he was doing his practice swing, checking his line and some sharp chipping. After the first 4 holes, I thought one of the Dads would call him a bandit!!!

So for all his efforts the Pro to give him a ‘prize’ for shooting his first par in a competition. The sleeve of Titelist is now resting next to the picture of Rory in his room…I also had to endure that conversation of how he wants to play the Ryder cup when he grows up (inflated view of self)..

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…. Being a kid is a great time to be.

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The 100 yard drive

On 25th Aug 2015, Vikram managed to get the ball near the 100y mark. As it was on the driving range, you can never be accurate about it. I am sure he was close to it rather than blitz it, but it was worth giving him the benefit of doubt – esp since he repeated it a few times.  I managed to film one of it… so here we go

More than the result, it was good to see him enjoy it..

Doing a Happy Gilmore

So a few days into our new ‘driving range’, Vikram figured it would be fun to run and hit it the ball, so he did that. I nearly died laughing, but did not stop him. Later in the day, I showed him clips of Happy Gilmore. This morning I filmed this..

I guess this is more difficult to do down at the range.

The garage driving range

Been trying to build a driving bay in the garage for a while. I had grand plans of hooking it up with an Optishot golf sim & projector etc and making it a mans cave. However it was turning out too expensive. Driving bay nets cost about 180-200 quid. So nearly gave up the idea. Last week came across sports netting on fleabay for 50 quid. The net is 10mX10mX10m and seems to be high quality fishing net.Received it yesterday and put it up… Voila we have a driving bay in the garage.

Second hand driving mat from club… Free
High quality net from fleabay.. £50
All season driving bay in the garage .. Priceless

 

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Now we have a place to swing the clubs without having to leave the house…. Yippee..

Playing a downhill bunker shot

I have been generally lucky with bunkers.. usually end up on a flat lie or uphill as the ball tries to escape the bunker. However today my ball just trickled into the greenside bunker and stayed in a downhill position. I had enough place to have both feet in the bunker but no clue which way to play it. I hit a Sand Wedge, but only managed to move the ball further in the bunker into a better lie. Got out from there, but it was another drop shot due to the bunker. So I asked the Golf Monthly forum members for advice… as always The_Coach responded.

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In many ways, the downhill bunker shot is one of the most difficult shots in golf. assuming you’re clear of the lip enough either back of or front of bunker. but it’s a ways easier than most folks think assuming the set-up is good.

You need a wide base, good stance width as the weight will be on the lead leg & you need to maintain balance. ball position will be someways around just front of center, or center if slope steep but not off the front heel as then you’ll never get the club head forwards under the ball you”l hit to far back of it.

  • It is important throughout that the knee flex is kept constant so you keep the vertical head height – so no up & down during the motion. solid base with the width so no sway back off the ball.
  • Spine angle needs to be perpendicular (90º) to the slope, shoulder/hip plane angles have to mirror the angle of the slope & have to stay on the slope angle through the shot – no leaning back trying to help the ball up, or no steep swing into the sand.
  • Need to use most lofted wedge as the slope naturally takes loft off the shot
  • Full body turn as with all bunker shots (can’t just be hands & arm swing)
  • Easier if there’s an early wrist set with the turn back, then keeping constant height enter sand couple inches back of the ball – key though is to swing the club through the sand down the slope.
  • Need to trust the set up, swing down with the slope, not downwards heavily into the sand. still needs a shallow ‘$ bill’ size divot of sand to take the ball out.

The following was provided by ‘Foxholer’ and is interesting..

If you don’t fall asleep during this vid, there’s some good stuff here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRPAtteXpJg
The bunker used is not incredubly challenging like some can be, so the ‘take the punishment’ of playing sideways or backwards can be true too!

Face of Benross Golf… Who would have thought

When I took up golf about 5 years ago, it was my way to get out of the house and get some fresh air.  I had always admired the game, but never understood it or had a chance to play much (except during my stay in Kuala Lumpur for project work).  Years of playing cricket meant I had some basic hand-eye coordination, but all the wrong type of muscle memory.  If at that time someone had told me that I would be in contention to be the Brand ambassador of a golf club manufacturer, I would PMSLing..

FaceOfBRoss-PosterOver the past 5 years, I have played a few courses and cut my handicap and been active in the Golfing media.  I have come to love the game and my son is getting into it. Last month, Benross ran a competition to look for a Brand Ambassador via their ‘Be the Face of Benross’.  As a middle aged hack, I had little chance of it, but then I tossed my name into the cap and lo and behold, I am in the shortlist of 15!!!

The next round is via Facebook voting.  As some of the other competitors are young & digital savvy millennial, I was expecting they would walk all over the rest of us.  So it is good to see, that my family and friends (and their family and friends) have helped me get to a respectable position on the leaderboard.

Polling closes on 2nd March 2015, so if you read this post prior to that, do vote for me for being the Face of Benross I need votes to finish in the top 5 and qualify for the finals. The voting is via Facebook and it would be great if you can vote for me by hitting ‘Like’ on my photo on the Benross Facebook page. Click on the link http://on.fb.me/1zlc9ie  and hit Like.. Simple. Should take less than 5 seconds and anyone can vote.

Who says middle aged men with full time jobs and high handicaps cant aspire for such things.

The_coach Series: #16 Fixing the takeaway

My friend Anshu visited us this week for a few hours.  He is no golfer but dragged him to the course to do a few videos of my swing. I am still inconsistent, but we managed to capture 2 vids that I sent to the_coach. It had been wet and miserable for the past couple of days and ball would not run anywhere.

This is the drive on the 5th hole of Shey. I made good contact, ball started left but fought its way back. It landed on the first fring of the fairway and did not run much.  But was a good 220ys of carry.  My driver was set to 1 degree ‘Closed’ and 11.5 loft.

This is the drive on the 8th. A lot of my old habits in play here.  Blocked the drive, ball started right and stayed right.  My driver was set to 1 degree ‘Neutral’ and 11.5 loft. Ball did not go anywhere – just a shade under 200y; last week I drove these greens, but this time it was piss poor.

Sent it over to the_coach for review (was not expecting too many kind words)..

the_coach’s view>>

See what you’re saying, but the swing in better shape than the earlier ones you posted. Yep still work to do but it is better, particularly noticeable in the FO view, where you are keeping your upper body behind the strike a good ways better. So too is the backswing length which is in terms of length a good ways better (though I’d still like to see it just a fraction longer) than the first posted swing too. So it’s not all bad news.

Couple of things to think about. If you look at slow-mo FO angle. (Slow-mo is really useful too)

You’ll notice the first thing that’s in motion to start the club away is a set & roll with the hands alone. Not easy I know but you’re going to have to stop that independent hand action right at the get go, as it’s responsible directly for both the path & direction & plane of the back swing which in turn is responsible for the oversteep & a little over & across the line downswing which in direction has you swinging the club left through impact.

So with this ‘hand/wrist action right at the get go, the club shaft is when 1st parallel to the ground also pointing inside so over your toe line behind you (so the butt end of the handle pointing out rightways of target here rather than slightly more towards it) instead of the shaft at parallel being both parallel to the ground, your toe line & your ball target line.

So the club works from here a little ways too far behind you just a tad flat, so from this top of backswing position (if you pause the slow-mo at all these points you’ll see what I mean) your first move down has the arms hands & club & right shoulder moving outwards towards the ball/target line which makes the angle of the shaft a ways to steep, so you’re coming across the line swinging left through impact.

Good posture, decent distance away from the ball, arms hanging in good position at setup. So you need to keep that angle you have set in your left wrist as you feel your shoulders left arm & club move away from the ball, so that triangle space between the arms stays intact as the whole unit moves away, that left wrist angle so right wrist angle does not change neither do the hands or wrist roll clockwise as they move away.

Practice without a ball this first move away so you get the ‘triangle’ left wrist, the whole Y shape moving as one (so shoulders turning, right shoulder turning backwards behind you it doesn’t move/sway to the right away from target but backwards away from the ball/target line more of less straight away. Only when your hands get past your right thigh will there be a very slight softening of the right hand backwards to the right forearm, at this point now the shaft should be parallel to the ground, your toe line, your ball/target line, the butt end of club pointing to target (not to the ball a ways)

Just keep making this small takeaway motion as described until you can get this down right, it’s absolutely crucial.
From this point all that then happens is as the shoulder keeping turning in you spine posture your left thumb will point upwards, skywards (not behind you) your right arm will fold, so when your left arm is parallel to the ground, toe line ball/target line the left thumb points as described so the shaft is now somewhere around 90º to you arm. So again just keep practicing getting to the left arm parallel position as described (this is all importantly without a ball not hitting anything at all.)

Helps doing both these position drills if once you’ve done it a few times, do it with your eyes closed, stop when the shaft is in the 1st parallel position open your eyes & check to see if your right. With eyes closed is often easier to feel the motion is moving in the right direction. Do same with the slightly longer swing to left arm parallel shaft at 90º as described.

Once you’ve done that to get to the top of the backswing all you need to feel is completing the shoulder turn until left shoulder under chin, then everything stops together at the top. You can practice this exactly the same as the other drills, some eyes closed to the top too. Without sight you can feel the positions much more.

When you get to driving range or practice ground, first off just repeat these a few times, just the part backswing drills to the top. Then still just at first without a ball make the move back to the top, & feel, from here the weight into left foot & then the right shoulder moving downwards towards the ground so arms hands & club first move is downwards too, they are not moving outwards here at all. (check your slow-mo swing & you’ll see from the top currently your right shoulder arms hands & club move outwards so that shaft is steep & out away from you moving towards the ball/target line, this all has to move downwards first then when the shaft gets parallel too the ground in the downswing from there the clubhead moves outwards to the ball because of the rotational centripetal forces of your body rotation) It’s the hands moving first in the takeaway that’s making it very hard for you to get the swing path direction you need to have the club head approach from inside the line so then swing to the right, if you can get this the strike will be completely different. Anyways it all looks not doubt a bit long & involved but if you just work through all this & get it it will simply transform your game.

As well as doing the drills I described, this is a great drill both to feel the one piece takeaway & to feel how the arms & club are connected to the body turn, both going back & coming through.  It’s also great for stopping that independent hand & arm action you currently have from the get go, as if you do that the butt end of the club will come away from your body.

Another great little drill (to the 8 o’clock position) that will help to eliminate the independent hand/arm action from your move away at the get go.