Monday, March 21, 2011

The Art of Scoring vis a vis Mr Science

Mr Science Reviews:


I finished the book.  Didn't get to start on it seriously until I finished another one, about some kid who went camping in the Alaska wilderness, alone, and starved to death.

I can understand why this one wouldn't appeal to you.  The passage that struck me was one in which he describes how to hit a 40-yard pitch:

"With your hands in front of you, use your left hand to push the handle of the club toward the ground.  That will lift the clubhead into the air, and set your wrists in a great hinge.  Now, just let the club fall back to the ground...Add some shoulder turn and a lower-body pivot, let your right elbow slide back along your side in the backswing, turn through impact, and you've got it. 
It's really that simple."

I can relate to that, in ways that Cactus Dave cannot, just as I can relate to JC Anderson when he says "You can divide the golf swing into 24 basic components, each having between 12 and 15 variations..."

But, in fairness to Stan, a lot of the book is not about technique, it is about strategy.  Not so much how to hit a shot, but what shot to hit, and when.  The editing needs work, though, as some of the stories seem to have gotten garbled, or are just unclear.  "Scotty hit his tee shot onto the green, but to the wrong tier, leaving himself with a putt that was harder than a basic chip from around the correct tier would have been.  He had to read the difference in slope and the strong grain that was coming toward him, and he left the chip way short and on the wrong tier, then three-putted".  Let's see, now, tee shot on the green, [first putt goes off the green?], chips back on, 3 putts ... or is it 3 more putts ?  5? 6?  OK, maybe it's possible to understand the point of the story anyway, but it's very distracting trying to figure out what poor Scotty did, never mind what he did wrong.   

Utley does explain how he hits the basic short game shots (pitch, chip, and putt) in detail, and how to adjust the basic shots in order to play trouble shots.  The techniques are basic and sound, some a little different from what most of us were taught, and yet even the Tour players he teaches have had to make adjustments to improve their games.  I used one of his tips to hit a shot from deep grass about 8 feet below the level of the green to a downhill, tight pin.  I used my sand wedge, and hit it like a bunker shot, going through the grass under the ball.  It came out high and soft, landed on the fringe, checked up a little, and rolled down the hill to about 3 feet.

He also spends a lot of time on what shot to hit.  From a tight lie around the green, for instance, it's almost always better for a non-scratch golfer to putt rather than chip, because your worst putt is likely to end up closer than a slightly-below-average chip shot.  The player should always know where
not to miss a shot  (another Cactus Dave bugaboo -- he hates it when I point out the OB stakes, or a water hazard, just before he's ready to tee off), and adjust his aim and shot shape accordingly.  I think it's probably true that a 20 handicapper could shave 5 shots off his game in less than a week, without changing his swing, by following the advice in this book.  And if he's willing to practice a little, and try some of Utley's short game swing techniques, maybe a few more.