Elephantosis Fechterosis

By Michael FechterJuly 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
It's been said that developing a good golf swing is like eating an elephant -- you can't do it all at once. And, you don't want to try.
After my video and computer analysis, I could clearly see half a dozen glaring faults, all of them needing immediate attention. But, as in life, you can only work on one disaster at a time. If I try to do 2 things at once, my mind, and my golf game, gets all screwed up.
So, what to work on when there are so many problems to choose from? It's like being President, 'OK, which of the 15,000 dilemmas do I focus on today? Screw it. I'm clearing brush in Texas.'
Upon careful consideration, I decided to go with widening my arc and shortening my swing. That collapse at the top that was starting to pain me at night as I went to bed.
Sean Petrone from GolfTEC suggested that I feel as if I was hitting nothing but punch shots for awhile. He suggested I feel my thumbs be pointed straight up on both the backswing and the follow-through. All I kept thinking was 'wider arc,' 'shorter backswing' and 'hands lag at the bottom.' It was too many thoughts and I knew it.
We were getting some windy, rainy weather and, since I am not a native Scotsman, I was not getting to the links, or even outside, to put any of these thoughts to practice. It was mostly just thinking about my game in the house.
Years ago, when I got unhappy with my putting, I started fooling around with different types of strokes. I tried long putters and belly putters. I tried open and closed stances. I tried very short and very heavy putters. I became a regular at the Goodwill and estate sales as I picked through piles of old, dead men's putters.
This stench of putter desperation would have shocked my father, because he thought of me as his 'natural-born putter' winning local 'Putt-Putt' tournaments long before I played true golf.
As a kid, on the course, I felt sure that I would make any putt 15 feet or under and I could not even imagine a three-putt. I probably went whole summers without a three-putt. Putting was the only easy part of the game.
And now, somehow, even putting was not easy.
It's not as if I had the yips. I just didn't make as many putts as I thought I should.
Then one day, I took a new approach. I kept my left hand at the top of the shaft, and really bent over and put my right hand only 5 or 6 inches from the head of the putter. I made the solid strokes time after time, and 'scared the hole on most anything 20 feet and under.
From what I could see, on hundreds of courses, no one else putts like this, probably because it looks ridiculous.
Watching me putt, it must look like I am analyzing rodent droppings on the ground. But there's no way for the putter to go off-line and I rarely see a better putter even with almost no practice.
I know it worked because people I played with started to copy me.
So, during these days of dreary weather, I wondered, 'What if I spread my hands on full shots?'
Hands spread would force my backswing to be shorter. And if I really concentrated on extending my backswing 'wide' on the takeaway, really exaggerated that take away with a wide base, while standing closer to the ball then maybe, just maybe, I could create a simple repeatable golf swing.
Yeah, and maybe, Cameron Diaz would be calling me in the next 10 minutes to take me surfing.
But I thought about it more.
The swing I was thinking of is not that much different from the Moe Norman philosophy of hitting a golf ball which is a wide base, big extension and shallow divots and as repeatable as a stamp drill. And, who doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of golfs greatest savant and very sexy, Moe Norman?
This split-hands thing seems about right for my personality. I've never been a person afraid to be unconventional. Heck, I sleep on an inflatable mattress and work for free for Orphans. A really weird golf grip won't keep me out of Heaven.
There used to be a teaching philosophy that you should use a baseball grip to get more power and better extend down the line. I had certainly tried that before and it worked pretty well.
And I have recently started to really spread my hands on short chips from beside the green. Could it carry over to full shots? Or would I at best just hit the ball very straight and very short? It's hard to get shorter than 200 yards off the tee but 'anything's possible' when it comes to stinking at golf.
Finally, on the first break in the weather, I drove out to the local college's soccer fields. A few wedges would test my split-hands theory.
When I'm making changes to my golf swing, I really exaggerate them because, like Tiger, what I feel is very often not what I'm actually doing. So, if I think I'm taking the club 6 inches outside the ball on the take away, in reality I may be just taking it straight back.
I could feel with my hands spread by almost 6 inches that my swing was definitely shorter. There is simply no way for the arms to break down with the right hand locked so low.
What I liked was that I was starting to take very long, shallow divots the size of a dollar bill ' the kind of divots that Sam Snead talked about.
With this swing, I could really get aggressive and the ball flew an extra 10 or 15 yards with my pitching wedge ' or maybe even farther, because soccer fields are measured in something called 'meters.'
Was I really on to something with this spread hands grip, shorter backswing and hands last through the ball???
There were a few swings where I even felt my hands lagging behind the drive of my legs. I'd hit half a dozen balls to one target and then switch it up. I would try different winds and different lies but I kept getting good results.
I NEVER hit the ball well. Could this really be me? Could this actually be a break-through? Might I one day actually hit the ball solid and no longer be mocked by those with skill?
OK, that's asking a lot since, to the traditional golfer, this new swing looks even more ridiculous than my old swing. But, a mans got to dream. It's dreams that keep us going.
It has been years since I left a golf course feeling this good.
OK, technically, the college soccer field is not a golf course. But, maybe it was something better. It was my soccer field of dreams -- a place where just maybe my dream of recapturing the game of my youth is turning into reality.
Golf IS like eating an elephant. And I am starting to enjoy the taste.
Tom Werner contributed to this column.
Email your thoughts to Michael Fecheter
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.