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The secret to playing bogey golf is getting rid of those doubles and triples. Here's some advice on staying out of trouble on your local course.

Featured Course:

Keystone Ranch

1239 Keystone Ranch Rd
Keystone, CO 80435

Par: 72
Phone: 970-496-4250

Men's Summary:
Tees Yards Rating Slope
Blue 7090 72.5 137
White 6521 69.4 133
Gold 5842 66.9 117

Women's Summary:
Tees Yards Rating Slope
Gold 5842 71.2 132
Red 5582 69.9 128

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This site is aimed at bogey golfers, which, face it, is most of us. It's not about instruction; rather it's about commiseration, philosophy, and getting by, with maybe a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

Today's Featured Column:

The Happy Hooker

With apologies to Xaviera Hollander

For as long as I've been playing golf, I have sliced the ball.  When I'm "on", it's a gentle fade.  When I'm "off", well, you know...  I tell people it's genetic, built in to my very DNA.  Of course, it's just physics, but it's a trait which is shared by about 85% of all golfers.

I read a lot, and I've seen all the instructors on the Golf Channel share their favorite tips for curing slices (Martin Hall, Jim McClean, David Ledbetter, Sean Foley, Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, ...).  These guys all know what they're doing, and all of their tips actually work.  Close the club face at setup, roll your forearms through the swing, drop your trailing foot back a step at setup, the list goes on.  They offer drills with alignment sticks, and tees stuck in the ground, and all manner of other ways to ingrain their wisdom into your muscle memory.  Through the years I've come to realize two things:  1)  There's a fine line between a gentle fade and a snap hook, and  2) Golf is hard.

Slices are caused by sidespin.  Well, so are hooks for that matter, just the opposite direction.  And right handers and left handers have exactly the same basic physics to deal with, just mirrored (a rightie's slice goes right, a leftie's slice goes left).  Side spin is imparted to the ball when the club face hits it.  If the club face is square to the club's path (a very rare event), then no side spin happens and the ball goes straight in whatever direction the club is traveling.  But if the club face is tilted one way or the other with respect to the swing path, then sidespin happens.  The ball will start traveling perpedicular to the club face, and if the club face is aimed right of the swing path you get right-hand sidespin (a slice to a rightie, a hook to a leftie).  If the club face is aimed left of the swing path, you get left-hand sidespin (a slice to a leftie, a hook to a rightie).

In the old days, my favorite hit was a slight pull fade, in which the ball starts out a bit left of my intended target line and gently curves back to the right to bring it pefectly in line with where I meant to hit it.  If you could do this every time, then you should "turn professional", as Sam Snead once advised.  Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan (to name just a few) would all agree with this.  But no, to hit it the same way every time would require hours of practice every day, which I have never had the gumption to attempt.  I'm just as likely to hit a straight pull, which winds up in the trees on the left, a snap hook (also known as a double-cross) where the ball starts left and spins even further left (when I'm unwise enough to over correct with one of the anti-slice measures mentioned earlier), or a straight slice, which starts straight and still ends up in the trees to the right (or the pond on the right, depending on the hole).  The one thing these misses have in common (and yes, the hit too) is that I tend to start every swing coming from outside to in, or over-the-top, in the parlance of the swing gurus.

As you can tell by my self-assumed title, "The Bogey Golfer", I am unwilling to devote the practice time that it takes to actually get good at this game.  Instead I'm always looking for a quick fix, a panacea.  I finally found it.  This one came from Martin Chuck (Revolution Golf).  Consider the plane formed by your forearm and the golf club as you're swinging.  If you can keep them aligned through the swing, you can cure the over-the-top problem.  With this one swing thought in mind, I can now reliably hit a draw (where "reliably" means more than half the time).

A few caveats:

  1. What works for me may not work for you.
  2. It's not 100%. -- I can still hit slices when I'm least expecting it.
  3. There's still the issue of degree. There's also a fine line between a draw and a snap hook.
  4. I still don't practice as much as I should.
  5. This didn't have anything to do with my lousy putting.

But now, I know how to hit a hook.  And I'm happy about that.


Background photo: Tee shot across the bottomless canyon on #12 at Rio Secco, Las Vegas

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