Grouchy Golf Blog

Monday, August 30, 2004 at 9:32 AM

The Yips, Golf's Worst Enemy?

Until recently, the Yips to me were just the friendly Chinese family that lived down the street.

However, my buddy Anthony recently told me that he was suffering from the putting Yips. I had heard of this golf phenomenon before, but I didn't truly know what it was. According to ongoing research by the Mayo Clinic, the Yips refer to "involuntary motions of the hand or wrist that can make effective putting all but impossible, even for the most experienced and talented of golfers."

As scary as the putting Yips sound, even scarier is the full-swing Yips. This rare disease was detailed in the August 2004 issue of Golf Digest by one of the top American golf instructors, Hank Haney. Hank claims to have suffered from the full-swing Yips for 20 years! He chronicles his long struggle to conceal his ailment while, at the same time, teaching the swing to some of the top players in the world. He says, "I virtually stopped doing clinics that required me to hit drivers." It got so bad that Hank almost stopped playing golf. He reveals, "From late 1985 until 2002, I played fewer than 10 rounds of golf."

However, Hank eventually developed the bane for his demons. He changed his grip, incorporated a bizarre pre-shot waggle and avoided looking at the ball. You read correctly, he found the ball to be distraction to his swing!

The result is one helluva ugly swing. Not Charles Barkley ugly, but pretty damn close.

While I'm happy that Hank can now find the fairways, I question whether this is a guy you want teaching you golf. Especially if you're the best golfer in the world. But there are indications that Tiger has been working with Mr. Haney. Is it just a coincidence that Tiger's downward spiral started at about the same time as his association with the Yip-meister? No way. My theory is that either Hank transmitted the Yips to Tiger, a la Clarke and the shanks, or Tiger had developed the Yips and is seeking help from the guru. Either way, this is not a good thing for the World's #1.

Fortunately, I have yet to experience any form of the Yips. But I know that it's only a matter of time. I've been playing long enough to know that the Golf Gods will hit me with the Yips at precisely the worst moment. Probably right now since I just claimed to have never suffered from it. Is it transmittable through a golf blog? Hopefully, the Mayo clinic will soon develop a vaccine.

Monday, August 23, 2004 at 9:39 AM

Tiger Woods Shanked a Shot!

An incredible thing happened to the best golfer in the world during the 3rd round of last week's NEC Invitational. As usual, Tiger was missing fairways all day. Heck, he missed it so bad on one hole he nailed a poor kid just above his right eye. Not good since Firestone is a course where you must hit the fairway to have any chance for a birdie. So, on the easy 400 yd. par-4 17th hole, Tiger decided to tee off with his ultra-reliable 2-iron to guarantee a fairway.

Well, guess what? He shanked it! In knee-jerk reaction, I yelled, "!" at the TV in gleeful amazement. The ball caroomed right and hit a hospitality tent, startling the poor people inside. They must have thought someone accidentally let a hack onto the course.

Is it any coincidence that Tiger is good friends with ? A coincidence that my last golf blog post covered Mr. Clarke? I think not.

Unfortunately, CBS didn't capture Tiger's ultra-rare disaster on . But here's a post-impact shot:

The next time Tiger says his swing is "close" I hope someone asks him "close to what?" I'm sure we'd all like the answer to that.

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Monday, August 16, 2004 at 1:49 PM

SwingVision - Clarke Shank

I have enjoyed countless servings of bangers, haggis and pints O'Guinness at my favorite Irish pub, Lucky Baldwin's. Sadly, I have now decided never to venture there again.

Why? Well, it's not the food or the service. They have some of the best Irish food and drink outside of Dublin and everyone knows that the Irish are some of the nicest people around. No, it's a much more serious concern: the Shanks.

I have begun to suspect that my long bout with this dreadful affliction is a result of my exposure to anything Irish. My hypothesis was confirmed last weekend during the 3rd round of the 2004 PGA Championships at Whistling Straits. Darren Clarke, the top Irish golfer, cold ed his iron on the par-3 17th hole. Not only is it shocking that a professional could hit such a horrendous shot, it continues a remarkable trend:Is it just a coinidence that this guy also part-owns a racing horse named "Shank On Fourteen?" No, it is quite clear that this man is the Lord of the Shanks.

Interestingly, CBS happened to capture Clarke's latest debacle on super-slo-mo "". Check out the ugliest shot in golf:

Key screen shots:

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Monday, August 09, 2004 at 10:02 AM

Pete Dye - Sadomasochist of Golf

Lost Canyons and Ocean Trails are two southern CA courses with uncanny similarities. For one, they are both appropriately named. Lost Canyons is where you not only lose your $5 balls, but also your patience, your swing, and evenutally, your game. Ocean Trails is where you spend more time on the ocean trails looking for your lost balls than on the actual course playing golf.

But the main similarity is that these tracks sprung from the mind of the same guy: 78 yr.-old Pete Dye. He makes John Cleese's character in those Titleist NXT commercials look like Mother Theresa.

I mean it's not like golf isn't hard enough. Old Petey kicks it up several notches utilizing every trick in the book:I'm surprised that he still hasn't employed quicksand or land mines in some diabolical manner.

I recently played Ocean Trails with my friend Jen, only because they are running an "all-you-can-play" special for $65 before they close on Aug. 18 to be rebuilt as Trump National Golf Club. Having already suffered through a couple of Dye nightmares in the past, I was ready this time. I knew that lost Pro V1s sprouted out of the rough like weeds, so I only brought Top Flite rocks. Sure enough, I found enough premium balls to last me the rest of the year.

Mentally, I told myself that this would be just a nice walk by the beach, stopping to hit a stupid white ball every now and then. Otherwise, I would have lost my mind trying to shoot a decent score. It worked, and I had a great time.

Well, the pros will have their turn in a Dye torture chamber this week at Petey's Whistling Straits, home to the 86th PGA Championship. I imagine that it will be a great event to watch, since nothing is more entertaining than to watch the pros suffer like your everyday hack.


Monday, August 02, 2004 at 8:20 AM

Tiger Woods Swing Video (First-Person Perspective)

While Tiger's swing seems to be improving, you've got to get a chuckle out of how ultra-sensitive he has become to any analysis of his swing. He now even has his caddy block cameras designed to record swings at PGA events. Obviously, Tiger's swing problems are embarrassing to him.

Not long ago, Tiger Woods welcomed such analysis. It was no coincidence that he was also swinging the club better than Iron Byron.

Do you remember when NBC affixed miniature cameras to the bills of NFL umpires' caps to show their individual viewpoint? Well, someone had the brilliant idea to do the same thing to Tiger's Nike cap at the Williams World Challenge several years ago. Tiger jumped at the opportunity to show the world a perfect swing from a first-person perspective. Cleverly, the viewpoint was dubbed the "Eye of the Tiger."

It was one of the coolest golf broadcast innovations until . Below are some screen shots of Tiger's setup with a 4-iron, 3-wood, and driver, respectively. Check out how the perfect setup should look:

Here's the video of Tiger hitting the 4-iron:

Here's the video of Tiger hitting the driver:

Is this what you see when you address the ball?
I would love to see the current Eye of the Tiger. Only I'm sure that Tiger won't let us. It's just a bit out of focus right now.

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