Whiffle: verb – to blow lightly in puffs or gusts; noun – something light or insignificant.

Friday, February 25, 2011

From the "SIM" Journal

A few excerpts from the very beginnings of my "Scratch in the Mirror" Journal ...

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
     I went online to Golf Outlets and found some really cheap off-brand lefty putters. They look nicer than the Hippo [a cheap putter I found at a golf shop]. The one I have my eye on is a Odyssey two-ball knockoff – a “Texan” (same brand as Jack’s clubs!) for $12.99. Add $6.99 shiping and you get $19.98 – two cents cheaper than the hippo – and no sales tax!
     I think I may need to go for it.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010:
So I did it – I ordered the putter. Does that mean there’s no turning back? Probably not, but it is a step in the direction of commitment. I’ve been imagining how I’ll set up my putting drills in the basement. I’m afraid I’ll get bored – that’s the pattern. I’m thinking 100 putts a night? And maybe throw in one of those “I have to make 20 in a row from four feet” kind of deals for good measure. I’m just not sure. But it’s easy to imagine hitting 10 or 15 putts and then getting “distracted” and just start whacking putts and not thinking about it. But maybe that’s OK at this stage, because my first step is just to get used to that left-handed motion. But then, if I get used to that motion with crappy technique that defeats the purpose – and sabotages the project before it even gets going.

Monday, Oct. 4, 2010:
I’ve realized that I probably should start out (putting) with some sort of a plan for instruction. Even just playing around with my existing putting stroke, I realized I don’t really know if I open and close the face or not. That is, whether I should be swinging the putter in a slight arc around my body or try to keep it square the whole way, like a pendulum (as Steve Stricker appears to). I think I probably do open/close it during the stroke, but only a little. The key is, I think, that I don’t think about it. I hope thinking about it doesn’t mess me up! ...

As it happens, the current issue of Golf Digest has a 30-page putting section. So I think I might just start there. I took a look at it at lunch today and wouldn’t you know it, one of the tips (from Dave Stockton, Phil’s and others’ putting guru) is to practice putting with just your left hand [or right hand, for a lefty], because it’s so important! I was already planning to do that! And it’s nice to know that this bit of information sort of backs up my theory.  ...

Putter came today! Jack [my then-8-year-old son] and I went to the putting green at Brown Deer for about 45 minutes – we closed down the joint. ...

For my lefty putting, I thought about going cross-handed. That would be easy, right? Basically my right-handed putting grip, swinging the other way. But that seemed like cheating or something. I’m intrigued by putting grips where the hands are almost on top of each other. That kind of makes sense to me because it makes your arms symmetrical, and it seems like your shoulders would be more level, which makes sense. In fact, I’ve seen grips that take this to the extreme with a very wide putter grip that you grasp with two hands [on opposite sides], with palms facing each other. This makes a lot of sense. I’m not one to consider something so unconventional (no belly putters or “broomsticks” for me, either!). So I’m trying it with a grip where my hands overlap quite a bit, but the left hand is still low. ...

I figured out right away that I’m having a lot of trouble seeing where I’m lined up. On a number of occasions, after lining up a putt, I would hold the putter in place while stepping behind it to see where I was aimed – often not where I thought I was. In general, I think I was more often aimed to the right of where I thought I was lined up. Some of this may be the unfamiliar putter, but I think more of it may be that I’m not used to lining up a putt with “that side” of my face. I think there’s a big dominant eye factor.
     I practiced mostly 5-6 footers, trying to concentrate on just making a smooth, straight stroke. I also practiced some using only my right hand, which a lot of times felt actually easier than using both hands.
     My results were fairly mixed. There were times when it felt fairly natural to putt left-handed, and other times where it felt completely foreign.

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