New Year, New Bad Habits

I've been a golfer since my teen years, which was a long, long time ago. In all those years, my problems off the tee have usually involved trees or water along the right side of the fairway. In other words, I've always bee a slicer. My tee shots, even when they started of straight, would usually go right. On good days this might be a gradual drift to the right. On bad days my ball would be ricocheting off rooftops 2 blocks to the right of the fairway.

Toward the end of last year, I finally decided to tackle this problem. A few tweaks to my grip, adjustments on my head alignment and changes in my backswing, and I was starting to feel pretty good about myself. There were actually 2 of 3 round in December when my "fairways hit" percentage skyrocketed (for me) well over 50 percent. I thought, "why did I wait so long to correct this problem?" I dreamed of the idealic future that awaited me on the golf course: long rolls down the fairway after my perfectly stroked power draw tee shots landed, no more second shots from the boondocks on par 4 lefthand doglegs, etc. I would surely achieve my goal of shooting in the 70's within a month or two of the new year! Just a little more tweaking . . .

I stepped up to the first tee at New Smyrna on New Year's day 2008 to hit my first drive of the year. I ran through my new preswing checklist: Grip a tough on the strong side, club head a teeny bit hooded, slow, low takeaway into a more horizontal backswing. I made solid contact and my ball shot tee, landing about 30 yards left of the fairway. "Wow!", I thought, "That was weird!" In my 30 plus years of golf, rarely have I had to glance left to see where my drive had landed.

As the round progressed, it became evident that this would be a pattern for the day: Drive-trouble left.

Not only did the problem carry into the next round of '08, it also continued to worsen! I was now consistently hitting my second shots from the left rough and ever closer to the tee. Uh-oh.

Time to backpedal. Weaken the grip! Open the stance! Open the clubface! : DRIVE-TROUBLE LEFT!

So as the new year begins, I now have a brand new bad habit to work my way out of. It'd be kind of nice to hit a nice fade once in a while!

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Change makes for good golf (for me)

Let me open my first entry in my new golf blog by laying out what has come to be my philosophy of the game: Keep yourself off balance.

I've been struggling with my golf game for close to forty years now. I've never been what I would consider a good golfer. I've flirted with adequacy off and on over the years and now, having just passed my fiftieth birthday, I've kind of stumbled into a kind of weird philosophy of the game that I doubt that any pros out there would embrace.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you acquire a new club and take it to the driving range or the golf course for the first time it's the straightest, longest club you've ever hit? That lasts for about a week or two and then your mind and body gather together all you bad habits and apply them to the new club to bring it down to your level.

It;s kind of like when you don't play golf for 6 or 7 months and then you go out and shoot the round of your life. You think that you've somehow discovered the secret of golf though your time away from the game. Sure enough, after a week or two or scores creep back up to their familiar and comfortable levels.

Over the years I've noticed these types of things happening over and over. So, I've come to think that familiarity breeds complacency which leads us to take our golf games for granted. We start to think that certain clubs will lead to certain results. We tend to not concentrate on our stance, or our grip or making good contact with the ball. Now, if I were a good golfer, with good golf habits ingrained into my game, this kind of careless second-natyre approach to the game might be a good thing. But I'm not a good golfer.

So my theory is that when we use a new club or play for the first time in several months we are forced to focus a little bit more on the task at hand, thus the temporary, surprising improvement in our game.

This theory led me to wonder, about a year and a half ago, what would happen if I used a different set of clubs every time I went out to play. And that scary little thought is why, 18 months later, my cars are parked in the driveway to make room for a garage full of used golf clubs.

I innocently bought a set of used cavity back Ram FX irons. Sure enough my score improved slightly. I heard about how a set of hard-to-hit forged blade irons could give you more control over the spin of the ball and thought that might be interesting to experience, so the next thing I knew I had an old set of Jack Nicklaus Muirfield forged irons. This compulsive club buying went on and slowly started to pick up momentum. When I went out and shot an 89 (good for me) with a set of Ben Hogan Directors, I was hopelessly hooked.

It's been a fun and interesting year and a half. It's funny how some irons give you a good, strong confident feeling when you hold them, while other seem so small and thin that you feel like you have to swing out of your shoes to hit the ball anywhere. I bought an old TaylorMade Burner 5 wood that I couldn't hit a bad shot with if I tried. That lasted for several months, but the TaylorMade Burner has recently dropped out of the starting lineup in favor of an old Tommy Armour 5 wood.

I can't remember the golfer I was 2 years ago when I couldn't bring myself to buy a second set of "travel" clubs because I was afraid I would be able hit them. My club buying hasn't sowed down much, as I continue to search for my next hot hand. I like some of my clubs better than others (see my Equipment page) but I'm afraid I'll have to invest in a storage shed if I ever want to park my cars in the garage again.

BritesideGolf.com is a site dedicated to the belief that you don't have to break the bank to play good golf and enjoy your time on the golf course

Click here to go to Brian’s BritesideGolf Club Shop on eBay

You can contact me anytime at via email at brian@britesidegolf.com

Be sure to make BritesideGolf.com a regular stop in your online golf journey!

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