Alcohol and Good Golf Don't Mix!

John Daly's most recent trials and tribulations at this week's Bay Hill tournament in Orlando caused me to stop and think for a few moments about how true it is that alcohol and good golf just don't mix! While it is conceivable that Daly's missed tee-time and "firing" by swing coach Butch Harmon may be able to be explained in such a way that alcohol was not involved, Harmon's explanation and the reported sightings of Daly drinking at some of the tournament's hospitality tents tend to make me believe that drink was somehow tied in.

All of this caused me to reflect, once again, on how alcohol has indeed affected my own game.

I can think of many times where I've been playing an absolutely horrendous round, and given up on it by about the 6th or 7th hole. When the drink cart arrived or at the turn I've bought a beer, drank about half of it only to have my game turn completely around and go on a tear of 4 or 5 holes where I could do no wrong. Of course this is usually short-lived, as one beer turns to 2 or 3 and the fine advantage gained by a slight increased state of relaxation, soon turned to the more damaging disadvantage of a lack of coordination that accompanies the alcohol intake.

As recently as yesterday, during a best ball scramble, this phenomenon showed up. On one hole, short par five, I hit my driver to with in 150 yards of the green. Between the 4 of us on the team we managed a second shot to about 8 feet from the flag, putt and we had eagled the hole. This being a scramble tournament, it wasn't long before the drink cart showed up and it wasn't long after that before my drives were not only shorter, but scattering unpredictably to the trees on the left and right side of the fairway. In matter of a few holes, I had gone from basically being "in a zone" to be out of control, as far as knowing where my golf ball was going to end up after swung.

As I said, I can't deny that on those days when stress and tension creep into your golf swing I've noticed a short, fine positive effect from a half a drink, to "take the edge off", but that beneficial area is easily overshot by an extra drink or two. Once you've passed beyond that small beneficial zone, there's no turning back. For that reason, if I was honest with myself, I would never touch another beer on the golf course, but , again being honest with myself, I'd have to admit that I've probably not swung my last golf club with a beer sitting in my golf cart's drink holder.

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I Can't hit graphite shafted irons!!!!

Several months ago I took a set of King Cobra graphite shaft irons to the driving range to try them out. I had been on a relative hot steak for me, flirting with the low 90's and even breaking through to the 80's a few times. So I strode out to the practice tee full of confidence and pulled a graphite shafted 7 iron from the bag. After a brief stretch and warm-up a stepped up to the first ball and swung away. Topped badly, the ball bounded across the range coming to a rest about 75 yards from the tee. "Wow". I thought , "I missed that one badly!"

Then over next 15 minutes I watched in bewilderment as shot after shot squirted from me tee. Some duck-hooking badly left, others loopety-looped off to the right and many bounced nastily straight ahead rolling to a stop well short of the 100 yard marker.

I tried everything. Slow down...down rush the backswing...pause at the top...stengthen the grip...waken the grip...close the stance...focus on the ball...CONCENTRATE!!! Smack, clunk, clink, pop, the balls continued to scrample away from my trainwreck of a practice session until my bucket was empty and I slunk away, drained of my last ounce of confidence and feeling like I'd never played the game in my life.

A few weeks later, for some unknown reason, I took these same King Cobras out for a round and actually played pretty well. I suspect I was hitting the ball well of the tee and putting well, leaving myself with a minimal number of 7 and 5 iron shots that I managed to get reasonably close to the green then jumped into the comfort zone of one of my old blade-style pitching wedges. By the time I walked off the course that day, I felt that I had easily solved my graphite shaft woes (although I could not tell you how) and all was right in my world of golf again.

Then, last night, as I was walking through a local department store, I spotted a set of Wilson ProStaff 360's on the clearance rack. Naturally, having way too much money in my possession and still having a couple of square feet in my garage not occupied by golf clubs, the Wilsons ended up in the back seat of my car and , this afternoon, in my bag on the driving range. Did I mention that these Wilson ProStaff 360's also have graphite shafts?

It took about 3 swings for Deja Vu to come crashing down. I was once again a novice golfer who had never swung a club in anger. To my left, my 11 year old son was smacking beautiful fairway woods right down the center of the range. My 4 year old son was whacking tight little irons toward the flag about 50 yards away. Even my wife, who says she hates golf, or at least finds nothing interesting about it, cracked a couple of sharp 7-irons about 125 yards and straight. But here stood dad, flailing away at the stationary balls and watching them as the bounced crazily off in a variety of directions. Again, I tired everything, and again nothing worked. There must be a secret to hitting these things and I suspect my inability to do so reveals a flaw in my swing that the stiffer steel shafts covers up. If anyone knows any graphite shaft secrets and would like to share them, I'm all ears. In the meantime I guess I'll have to hit the range tomorrow with a set of trusty steel shafts to restore my wounded manhood.

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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

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