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Grouchy Golf Blog

Monday, March 31, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Good Luck Kelly Xu!

As a single dude without children, I normally wouldn't watch the Golf Channel's coverage of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday, April 6. It's basically the biggest golf competition for kids featuring the top 88 junior golfers from across the U.S. and Canada. However, I actually know one of the competitors so I'm excited to watch it. Her name is Kelly Xu and we share the same home course, Penmar by the Sea here in sunny Los Angeles. I've blogged about this 9 year-old wunderkind before and at this point in her development, she can probably beat me straight up!

All the Penmar regulars are very proud of her and we gave her a gift and this card pictured above to wish her luck. Good luck Kelly, all your Penmar friends will be watching and rooting for you!

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:23 PM

A Picture of Frustration

The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is always true. On a recent outing to my 9-hole home course, I came across a curious sight at the 7th hole. I just had to snap a picture of it with my iPhone to share it here. To someone who doesn't play golf, they probably have no idea what happened. But to any golfer who has played the game a reasonable amount knows exactly what happened. Here's the picture translation in a thousand words:

A golfer played (or tried to play) golf. The golfer played poorly, or at least below their expectations. The poor play continued and the frustration level of the golfer built up like the steam in a pressure cooker. Finally, at the 7th hole, the golfer blew a gasket from hitting an awful shot with an iron. The golfer took the iron and broke the club out of anger and frustration. The rest of the thousand word description are all swear words spoken by the golfer!

Friday, January 31, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Put Backspin on a Golf Ball!

One of the things that fascinates golf viewers is the backspin that professionals can impart on the golf ball. Oohs and aahs are usually heard when a ball lands on the green, skips to a momentary stop, and then rolls back as if on a yo-yo string. Amateur golfers struggle to replicate this impressive feat largely because they don't know that there are several necessary conditions for it to happen.  Here are some of the things to maximize your chances of spinning the ball back on the green:

  1. Use a premium golf ball:  The primary benefit of a premium ball over it's lower-cost brethren is that it is composed of multiple layers of different materials.  The outermost layer is made of a soft yet durable material that is designed for maximum grip.  This makes a premium ball spin much more with irons.  A Top Flite rock just wont cut it.  If you want to suck it back up on the green, you're going to have to suck it up and spend some green.
  2. Use a high-lofted iron:  The combination of high trajectory and high spin makes the ball spin back on the green.  The higher, the more it will roll back.  When it comes to golf clubs, the higher the loft, the higher the trajectory and higher the spin.  It's simple physics.
  3. Swing hard:  The higher the swing speed, the higher the spin.  Again, simple physics.
  4. Make proper ball contact:  With irons, the clubhead should make contact with the ball on the descending part of the swing path.  This minimizes interference from grass and debris and maximizes spin.
  5. Have a clean lie:  When there is grass between the ball and the clubface, it becomes vaporized upon contact.  This grass juice reduces the grip and consequently the backspin.  This is why it is nearly impossible to back it up on the green from the rough.  There's just too much grass getting between the ball and the clubface.
  6. Have clean and deep grooves:  Much like the grooves in tires channel away water to allow clean contact with the road, grooves in irons allow clean contact with the golf ball to maximize backspin.  The greater the groove volume, the more grass juice it can whisk away.  That's why it's important to clean grooves before every shot and play with the deepest and widest grooves allowed.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Golf Enjoyment Depends on Your Expectations!

I have played golf long enough to know that the level of enjoyment that you derive from this godforsaken game is highly dependent on the expectations that you place upon yourself. If you set a high level of expectation for your golf game, you are more than likely to disappoint yourself. In fact, the Golf Gods will make this a certainty. There's no enjoyment in that.

In other sports, it's perfectly fine to set lofty expectations and actually have a reasonable chance to exceed them. These are rational sports where there is a low variability in one's performance. For instance, I'm an accomplished tennis player. Sure I can play poorly on a given day. But I would never play as badly as a beginner or even an intermediate level tennis player. Playing poorly in tennis is just a slight negative deviation from normal. Not so in golf. When I play badly in golf I can be mistaken for a rank beginner. It's simply amazing how easily one can lose one's golf swing. But I'm not alone. I've spoken to countless other golfers who experience the same phenomenon. I suspect that it is a major reason why so many golfers quit the game altogether.

So the key to long-term enjoyment of golf is to recognize and accept it's uniquely irrational quality. Lower your expectations and you'll raise your enjoyment!