I got the shanks about five years ago. It was strange and very disturbing that I couldn’t simply make and adjustment and get rid of them. Never happened before. I went to the range for three straight days and hit jumbo bucket after jumbo bucket of shanks. Every shot. I enlisted my pro, who gave me a tip. One swing and the shanks were gone. That tip? Keep all 4 balls of your feet on the ground. Did that really solve it physically or did it just give me something else to think about?
Last Thursday I told my buddy Marius that my swing was on the verge of a complete breakdown. I could feel it slipping away from me. The hole after I told Marius of my feeling of impending doom, it happened. I shanked a pitching wedge. Then I shanked or nearly shanked every shot for the rest of the round (10 more holes).
I took a break of four days and didn’t even think about picking up a club. I have the biggest and most intense tournament of the year, the one I desperately want to play well in, coming up this Saturday and Sunday but I still felt no desire to pick up a club. I didn’t want to do it until I’d cleared my mind.
So today I finally picked up a club. First shot? A shank. 2nd? Shank… At that point I started to try some of the drills I’d gotten from two PGA pro pals and from many friends, along with the 4 balls of my feet thing.
4 balls of my feet didn’t do it this time. My buddy Dave told me my shoulders were aimed right of target and feet left. Then he said I was thrusting my hips (sorry ladies) forward and having to compensate with a pull to hit the ball on line. Thanks for telling me I’m golf’s version of a pretzel. But some of what he said made sense and I tried to adjust.
I tried my PGA Pro pal from Arizona Scott’s suggestion, hitting 7-irons with my feet together. I hit them solid and straight. Hmmm.
I then tried hitting shots with my stance open about 30-40 degrees and the ball on my right toe. Solid and on line with my intended target.
So I thought I’d reverse the last one. I closed my stance to an insane amount. I was basically standing with my left foot two feet farther forward than my right. Solid shots right on line.
So at this point I found that I could hit solid shots online with insane stances and ball positions. The only shot I couldn’t hit was with a standard setup.
BUT something happened in my swing with the open stance. For some reason I felt something click in my takeaway with the insanely open stance and ball on my right foot. The club fell into some sort of perfect position. My right elbow wasn’t a granny chicken wing and my wrist cock felt right for the first time in about a month.
I just tried to remember that feeling and kept it in my mind. I set up with my regular stance, pulled the trigger and felt the same takeaway. The ball flew straight and didn’t feel like a near shank. I looked at the clubface and the ball mark was in the center.
I had two swings as a result of today’s session. I had my old swing back, with the new feeling takeaway. And I had this crazy open stance punch something which I could almost never miss.
I played 18 holes, never made a putt under 10 feet (greens sucked) and shot 77 today. I had 8 bogeys and one birdie. NO doubles, no shanks. No shots even came close to a shank. I did however, start feeling a TON of pain in my left elbow. The pain is an all too familiar pain, that of golfer’s elbow. This is why I’m not a ball pounder. My damn elbow can’t take it.
During today’s round I tried to pretend I was under pressure and that my confidence was shaken during a tournament. I decided on the 11th tee that it was time to pull out my emergency “can’t miss” shot. I pulled a 5-iron and opened the hell out of my stance. I put the ball on my right toe. I swung the club, made solid contact and threaded it right down the middle.
City amateur, BIG tournament this weekend
I don’t expect to win this weekend’s tournament. I’m a 2 handicap in champ flight playing straight up gross against fearless -4 handi 20 year olds who can out drive me by 80 yards. The “flat bellies” if you will. Though my belly is flat these days… There will be players shooting 66, 67 over the two days. My lowest round EVER is a 68, two years ago, and I haven’t shot in the 60’s since.
I want to make a good showing and play well for my abilities and perhaps, finish IN the money for the first time ever in this event.
On my recent trip to New Mexico I was honored to visit an incredible archaeological site at the Puye Cliffs, which was opened to the public just about one week ago. At 7040 feet above sea level, a tribe of 1500 Pueblo Indians inhabited a plateau and cliff area here from the 1100’s to roughly 1580. They then moved to the Rio Grand River valley due to drought conditions.
The Puye Cliff Dwellings are located on a plateau in the Santa Clara Pueblo reservation, near a town called Espanola. Espanola is about a 45 minute drive northwest of Santa Fe. The plateau sits above much of the surrounding area with an incredible view in all directions. The vegetation in the area turns to pine in this higher area as opposed to the more sparse New Mexico desert plants, bushes and cacti.
There were two separate areas the Pueblos lived in. The first would be their summer homes, located atop the plateau (pictured right). The homes were several stories high and organized into families. The women owned and maintained the homes, while the men hunted and gathered to provide for the homes.
The homes were constructed mostly of rock bricks. The outsides of the homes were plastered every year, giving them that trademark New Mexico look. You can’t see any of the plaster in my images as years of erosion have worn it all away.
The complex of buildings is knows as the Community House or Great House.
Living atop a plateau at 7040 feet could get cold and windy in the winter. This is when they occupied their winter homes, in the cliff area below. The cliff area provided better shelter from the wind as well as more warmth from the sun as its rays hit the cliff side.
There are two rows of dwellings on the cliff. One spans over a mile long and the 2nd 2100 feet.
The cliff dwellings also had several floors. The dwellings where inside the cliff, as well as in an area built onto the cliff side. You can see rows of holes in some of my images. This is where logs were inserted, providing the framing for each floor.
Each family had its own mark or logo which would be carved into the rock as a petroglyph in the wall above their home. A spiral circle near their mark would show where they came from. I show some of these petroglyphs below and I’ve enhanced the contrast to better show the detail. Left is an animal which is a family mark with the spiral I mentioned next to it. On the right is a humanoid (that’s what the tour guide called it!).
Above each home you could see small holes with black stains rising up from them. Those holes? Chimneys! The black stain is from years of smoke from their fires. How incredible would it be to travel back in time and see?
Peep show, circa 1224
There were, and still are, many traditions in the Pueblo culture. Unmarried women used to grind the corn in an area, using their family smoothing stones. Those stones were passed down from generation to generation and still are around today. The unmarried men would peek in at the unmarried women to check them out and evaluate them as mates. An ancient peep show, if you will.
Hiking and exploring the Puye Cliff Dwellings is a humbling experience. How they lived and functioned as a community is incredible.
You can find hundreds of pieces of pottery everywhere (image right). To pick up a piece of pottery which had been there since the 1300’s is amazing. It was even more amazing to think that some of the pottery was glazed. The ingenuity.
You must have a guide with you to tour Puye Cliffs, and it will be well worth it. My tour guide was Porter (pictured below left with me on the right) and he was incredibly knowledgeable and able to answer every possible question.
Though the park had only been open a week it was amazing how well versed Porter was. That was because for years he’s been listening to his grandparents and great grandparents tell the stories which had been passed on for generations.
The Pueblos were/are a peaceful people whom modern civilizations could learn a great deal from. Their community was very well organized, each member having specific roles which contributed to the greater good. The tourist center which the Santa Clara Pueblo put together, along with the great tour guides make the Puye Cliff Dwellings and incredible and humbling place to visit.
I love my new “Lifestyle” section here, because it opens up a whole world of possibilities as far as subject matter. Golfers eat food, drink wine, get massages and travel to play golf.
One thing a golfer really needs is tasty garlic dill pickle spears and bread ‘n butter pickles. They’re a sure way to shave strokes off your game, or at least cure a bit of hunger you have when you get home from the course and dinner is a few hours away.
Thankfully ‘Tis Tasty makes both of those products as well as everything from jams to salad dressings! What a coincidence.
I’ve now polished off my bottles of Tis Tasty Old Fashioned Bread ‘N Butter Pickles and Hot Garlic Dill Pickle Spears. Polished off is too light of a term for what I did. I inhaled them. Let me tell you, they were very tasty.
The Bread ‘N Butter Pickles were very yummy and buttery tasting. The Hot Garlic Dill Pickle Spears were nice and spicy, but not so hot that the heat drowned out the garlic and pickle’s flavor.
About Tis Tasty
Tis Tasty is based in Oregon and makes these products in an all natural fashion, with no additives. I’m skeptical of “natural” foods. Usually “natural” or “organic” means no flavor or no fun. Not the case with Tis Tasty’s offerings.
I think I’ve done it. I lost my swing. I’ve felt this coming on for a few rounds now. I’ve been hitting shots which are not solid and I’m not able to concentrate at all.
Today I actually sh***ed not only one, but almost 10 shots. Until last week I hadn’t hit one of those horizontally challenged shots since around 2004. Today all I could do was laugh because no matter what I tried I kept doing it. Last time I had the sh**ks it took me going to my pro to solve it after hitting bucket after bucket of them for three days.
This score tied my highest round of the year and I really had no clue how to swing a club. It seems like it is slipping away for some reason.
I’m going to try and chalk this up to the fatigue of my big trip this week and to playing a bit too much. But I wonder…
Golf and life. Sometimes they get in each other’s way.
I’m discouraged about my game and I think the game is reflecting some changes in my personal life recently. I’m much more emotional now when I’m golfing, compared to being more even keel or should I say, even robotic. If I hit a great shot I’m very excited and I’m very mad and frustrated when I it a poor shot. The poor shots are sticking with me more and sometimes I want to throw a tantrum like a little baby. Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet. Higher highs, lower lows.
I think happenings in my non golf world have brought my emotions to the surface now, rather than having them buried deep under many layers of callus.
I’m also wondering about my physical body. I think back 3-4 years ago, when I weighed 56 pounds more than I do now. I played much better and more consistent golf. I also drove the golf ball much farther because I was shifting my weight into the ball.
I’ve dropped 20 pounds over the last couple of months and I think it has changed my swing. The good thing is that I’m more flexible and I generally feel better physically. My back isn’t stiff and I’m in better shape.
Could my increased flexiblity be contributing to my shots being more wild and erratic?
Sounds to me like I’m saying I was a better golfer when I was unemotional and fat. That may be the case, but I’m not going back to that state so I guess I’d better work it out.
Greetings from the Albuquerque Airport… pardon me… “Sunport.” I have just enough time before my flight to post a little video nugget from my trip to Black Mesa this week. Below is a clip from the resort/spa I stayed at here called Ojo Caliente. I’ll be doing a full review soon, but for now I hope you enjoy this little video.