Golf Is a Game For a Lifetime

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:00 -- Don Trahan

Last week, we received a great question from Irv Hoffbauer, who is 84 years young and still working on his game, proving once again that golf can and should be a game for a lifetime. Irv is concerned that he may not being getting high enough up the tree during his backswing. When he doesn't focus on this, he usually hits a good shot, but when he tries to consciously lift his arms so that they are over the toe line he often tops the shot.

As so often happens with this blog, Irv received great feedback from one of our regular contributors, Steve Smith, who told him that by concentrating on getting his arms to a point that exceeds his personal flexibility level he was affecting his posture and losing dynamic balance. That is 100% correct! So, Irv, rather than concentrate on making a full backswing, I would like to see you lift only as high as you can without changing your spine angle. Hopefully, this will help you stay in dynamic balance and allow you to consistently make good shots so you can continue to enjoy the game for a long time to come.

While we are on the subject of flexibility, I would like to remind everyone to take the time to properly stretch and flex your muscle groups before beginning a round or a practice session. Not doing so can not only affect your score, it can also lead to serious injury that may keep you out of golf for a good while. If no one has ever shown you how to warm up correctly, I encourage you to check out the website of my good friend, Bruce Chaffin, The Rolfer Golfer. He has a lot of good information there, including some video tips on how to warm up correctly before a round. His website is www.therolfergolfer.com.

And Irv, while we do not have a certified instructor in Iowa at present, we are working hard to expand our network of PPGS certified instructors. We are also preparing to launch a new online instruction program where, for a modest fee, you can send us video of your swing which one of our certified instructors will review, mark up, and then add their verbal diagnosis of what is going wrong as well as what they want you to work on. This will begin to roll out sometime next month.

Until then, Keep it vertical!

The Surge

 

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Comments

Boogm's picture

Submitted by Boogm (not verified) on

Mark, congratulations on finding the Surge swing and being able to enjoy the game for an entire round pain free.I also,like some many people on here, have health and physical issues that had caused me to abandon the game until I happened to discover Surge's swing late last summer so I share your excitement about being able to play again. Continued success as you continue to play and lower your handicap.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade (not verified) on

Sounds like you played well over all Robert. I hope to see you Sunday morning. That 16th hole went quite differently for me two days ago. I missed my drive (fatted it) and still had 220 but over the trees on the left. Felt my 3 wood couldn't get up over the treeline so I hit my 5 wood about 195 and only about 10 yards in front of the green. Overcooked my pw and and from the back of the green rolled in a 50 footer down hill. Par's a good score there. My biggest hurdle is "finishing" strong on 17 and 18. I have a different game plan this week. We'll see.

ken's picture

Submitted by ken (not verified) on

I've found after shoulder surgery the flexibility in my shoulders is
greatlydiminished, I know arms should not be tight and straight as
rotational swingersbut would flexing the elbows help me and those older
folks having similar problemswith the lift? Since converting with the arm
swing and incorporating that with myalready Surge stance(well almost I had
to turn my back foot out a bit more) Iamable to break 80 once again when I
can concretate. Used to play off, 7 but beforesurgery after a 9 year layoff
due to business committments I was playing off 12ater getting back back into
it for 2 years. Thanks for all the Videos and DailyVideos, I'm trying to
stay vertical. Submitted By: Ken Mackay 

Doc Griffin's picture

Submitted by Doc Griffin (not verified) on

To all:

Remember to register for the upcoming SwingSurgeon Fall tournament in Vegas the last week of September.  It's a great opportunity to meet Surge, DJ, and other teaching staff members and get some personal one on one time.  I'll be there and will be available for fittings and would really like to meet our members as well.  The tournament last Oct in Hilton Head was a blast and this stands to be even better! 

Robert F's picture

Submitted by Robert F (not verified) on

Congratulations! I'm hoping it doesn't take me another 30 years to get my first. Fortunately, I found the Surge while I'm a bit younger.

soga's picture

Submitted by soga (not verified) on

That was one of the best lessons,,,sure explained a lot to me. I could never figure why I was hitting the ground,,,"chunking" so often but he is exactly right. Talk about pain. Hit the ground like that several times,,many times,,a round and the inside of the right elbow starts really barking.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade (not verified) on

Additionally, get a swingrite from Doc's web site. it has been a regular part of my daily practice. Anywhere, anytime, no grass needed. (oh accept not by dogs, windows and chandeliers!) I also use it warming up before the first tee. Heck I use it on the golf course as a reminder of grip, rythym and tempo.

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

Steve

That's great instruction. Well said if I get down your way at some point I will book a lesson with you. Like Kevin I have been working on keeping the left arm straight / extended IMO for me it is the difference between easy distance and straight shots or with a left collapsed arm weak shots playing army golf.

Roger

Robert F's picture

Submitted by Robert F (not verified) on

Hi Ken,

One of the principles Surge loves to remind us of is that golf is a game of angles--the fewer the better. Intentionally flexing the left elbow adds another angle to the equation, making consistency that much more difficult.

Rick Simmons's picture

Submitted by Rick Simmons on

I like your idea but 10 minutes of exercise I'd have to go back to bed after 10 minutes exercise.

Dmwheat4's picture

Submitted by Dmwheat4 (not verified) on

Thanks Surge,,  I really like the tips, they help me so much!! 

Just finished 18 holes, didn't keep score, but, did pretty well!!   With your help!

M wheat

Jeff's picture

Submitted by Jeff on

I'm imagining in my mind how you explained the broken chandelier.  That makes for an expensive Swingrite!  Did end up with the Swingrite "surg"ically placed over your head?

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

Thanks Roger but I think if I were you I would stick to the instructors that know what they are doing. Ha ha!

I might be able to show you how to hit a 250 yard hook out of the trees but you would unfortunately have to witness why I had that shot in the first place.LOL

I did hit my driver well today though. Don't know if it was a "one day wonder" thing or not but I hit some really long ones (for me) and straight enough.

Of course I'm off this week so that's probably worth an extra 20.;-)

Robert F's picture

Submitted by Robert F (not verified) on

Is your driver grip different from your other club grips? Is this happening with every club when you're on the tee box, or just with the driver?

Bobtrumpet's picture

Submitted by Bobtrumpet (not verified) on

Roger (sorry, you post did not show a "reply" button),

You wrote ". . . but I wanted steel for accuracy." What gives you the impression that steel is more accurate than graphite? You own experience between the two? Conventional wisdom? I'm just trying to learn here. I know there were some issue with graphite back in the early years, but my impression is that there's little if any difference today with regards to accuracy.

Perhaps Doc can address this as well. If there really is an issue, I might consider steel for my Adams A7 hybrids.

Lrchin's picture

Submitted by Lrchin (not verified) on

Hi Surge. 

I am 73 years old and a retired golf intructor.  I am pleased to see trhe popularity of your vertical swing because I used to teach a similar type swing.  To help my students do the vertical back swing, I used to stand beside them while they do a half back swing. 

Regarding the flexibility issue especially for seniors llike myself, I have started this year to do a ten minute exercise routine when I wake up each morning.  These exercises are designed to loosen all my joints from the neck down to my ankles and stretch all my muscles from my shoulders to my legs. I do these exercises in my bedroom and use the bed as an aid in some exercises.  I have found this daily exercise routine very helpful in maintaining reasonable flexibility and coping with my lower back and hip problem. 

Les Chin
Toronto, Canada

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

I have the same problem and no matter how many practice swings I make and no matter how many swings I make with the SwingRite I can never be sure that the fundamentals are such that I am going to hit a good first shot.
Many times it is fine (sometimes it's the best one I have all day). Ha ha!
The only bright spot for me is that on all of the courses I play on around here I can get away with a tee shot that is not the best if I start on hole number 1.
Sometimes (like today) we start on something besides number 1 and then I don't know what's going to happen.
Today we started on 4 and it is a fairly long par 4 with OB all of the way down the right side and left is no picnic either. Sure enough I hit a straight right block OB (great start....NOT).
If there is any way possible I hit something less than a driver in that situation but on that hole birdie would be very hard hitting anything less than a driver.
I was competing against 2 seniors and a woman whose tee box is up 120 yards from my tee box so I had to try to make birdie.

The only hope for us is to just simply get better. It can be done because I know one guy that can pick up anybody's club without even so much as a practice swing and hit it right down the middle.

He was mowing the course yesterday and Mike and I were on a VERY tight driving hole with water on both sides. He drove up to talk to us and wanted to hit a shot. He used Mike's driver and of course hit it dead at the green.
Then he wanted to hit my driver and of course he hit another one dead at the green. I just don't know if it's possible for him to hit a shot off line.
It makes me mad (because I can't do it) but at the same time it gives me hope that MAYBE some day I'll be able to.

P.S. After the first hole I played fairly well, at least well enough to win a whopping $3. LOL

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

I went to the range tonight hit every club in the bag well but my 4 hybrid I have been struggling with it losing it right . I am hitting the range again Thursday to see if I can get straightened out if not it will come out of the bag for awhile and put 4iron back in.    

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

Dave

I have been fighting this myself. I would suggest to hold your right hand a little firmer and maintain the pressure all the way through the swing you will have to practice doing this because you will keep going back to what you were doing wrong it will take time to get used to the feel of it . 

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade (not verified) on

Great reminder Doc. For some, the appearant price tag may seem challenging, however what I got out of last years tounament in South Carolina made it more than worth the costs of travel, et. What an awesome time it was.
  From an amatures viewpoint it was so impressive that Surge and DJ spent so much time sharing and teaching us. They are really down to earth guys and did not seem to tire but rather imbrace all the questions and details                                                                       
  One thing I can tell you for sure is that the value of the teaching/learning experience was worth every dime. I can give you at least two specific examples of hands on with both Don and Don JR that I still work on today. DJ walked up behind me and simply lifted my club up from the set up position and it was a reminder not to drag my club low and wide but just to follow  the natural arc up into the mit and then vertically up the toe line. "Remember it is a little turn and alot of lift and the lift is a natural lift, not forced". Cool. Too, watching him bomb drives past the back of the range was amazing. It seems so effortless.
From Surge, among other things, while spending time with each of us, one on one and patiently, I eased dropped on what he directed toward others first of all. He speaks load enough(LOL) and his words are meant for all to benifit even if directed toward one of us. And boy he does go on.(plan on allocating an additional hour on both Sunday afternoon and Monday before the shotgun tee time). It's like recieving your own personal 10-20 minute lesson. Then if you add them to the focus and time spent with each person it becomes hours of learning. That's besides the close to two hours of straight clinic teaching to the group on Sunday evening and Monday morning. Actually he gave an impromptu putting lesson on Tuesday morning before we teed off for the day two of the tourny.
Personally, Surge pointed out that my shoulders were open in relation to the target and foot line at address. So this caused me to come accross the ball and finish with my belt buckle and chest facing left of my target. Guess where my ball was going if it wasn'y a slice? That's correct, it was a pull. So shoulder alignment is now a biggy for me that I continue to ingrain.
Thanks Surge.
   In my next entry I'll share my experience with the tourny itself but let it suffice to say, the 7/800.00 fee is a deal and a half for all the lessons learned from Surge, DJ and all his generous staff.
PMG
See you in Las Vegas!!
 

Kevin McCarthy's picture

Submitted by Kevin McCarthy (not verified) on

I have been waiting for this topic to raise a major problem I have when I go up the tree. I must be collapsing my left arm (right hand golfer)  as I often end up slicing or hitting a lame duck, or chopping at the ground.  When I switch my thought to extending my left arm down the toe line, I can add as much as 30-40 yards on my driver and hit a pure straight ball.  It is such a major difference that my buds and I go  "Wow".  My concern is that Surge does not want us dragging the club down the line which I do not do, so I have tried to stay with a more lift up the tree swing.  Anyone else have a similar problem or response.  Perhaps it is just a very slight extension that I achieve versus extending my body outside its spine angle, and this just gets me in a more dynamic position to create more lag.  

dave's picture

Submitted by dave on

I'm regriping my right hand during my swing on the tee box ( not on the fairway ) and as a result I strike the ball with a closed face and hook it.Any suggestions other than hypnotism or physiolog-ical treatment?.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

Maybe you could give me the lesson.:-o
I never hit everything well. Today I could get up and down from anywhere but it was a good thing because I kept pulling my iron shots.
Golf giveth and golf taketh away! Ha ha!

Robert F's picture

Submitted by Robert F (not verified) on

You just reminded me of another thing you can do to work on that: Take your normal grip and setup, then remove your left hand from the club and take a few swings with the club held only in those middle fingers of the right hand. If you try to regrip, it will go flying, so your hand will maintain consistent pressure.

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

Bobtrumpet  
I just like the option of steel better my 3 and 4 hybrids are MOIed to my irons also. My builder was surprised when I asked if he could build them with steel and he asked why I wanted to go with steel and I told him that I wanted accuracy and was not totally concerned about distance he said good a lot of people that go to him all they want to talk about is distance. Yes I would say that graphite has gotten way better than it was. I have 2 hybrids that are graphite but was just not satisfied with them the 3 hybrid I was getting around 200 and the 4 hybrid around 190 and not sure where they were going and did not have the trajectory that I wanted the new ones I am hitting 210 and 200 and high and straight. So I would say that it was just my preference to go with steel because they are replacing my 3 and 4 irons. My driver and fws are graphite. But may have a 15 or 16 FW made next year with steel or maybe the same graphite that he put in my driver. Need to safe some cash up either way.
As far as which is more accurate I will leave that to the experts like DOC and my builder to say it is working out for me.   
BTW those are carry distances.
Roger

Frieriff's picture

Submitted by Frieriff (not verified) on

Hi just completed reading the manual again. Fell into some bad habits and swing off the tee box had gotten bad.  So back to the basic.  On the course tomorrow with the rest of my senior league and hope to be back with a good setup and swing.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

shortgamewizard's picture

Submitted by shortgamewizard (not verified) on

There is a simple explanation. Your friend's eye line is parallel to his aim line! This is the secret to hitting good golf shots, especially when the golfer really wants positive results.

I am no stranger to hitting bad shots when the eye line is not parallel to the aim line. I think that the shot OB was a great swing right where you were looking, not where you wanted to hit to. I have seen that all too many times where a good player seems to self destruct.

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

Robert

Thanks thats a great suggestion. I am getting it straightend out I just have to watch so I do not get the right hand to much on top I noticed a couple of times out playing that I started hitting shots to the right a little and checked my grip and the v's of the left hand were pointing to the right ear / shoulder and the right hand v was pointing at my nose. There is a fine line with the grip for sure . 

Bobtrumpet's picture

Submitted by Bobtrumpet (not verified) on

Roger,

Thanks for the information! I appreciate your reply.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

Hey Kevin,
I'm pretty sure that I don't understand your question very well but when you describe how you "extend my left arm down the toe line" (the one that gets you 30-40 extra yards) it sounds much more like a proper description of the swing than the swing you use where you are collapsing your left arm and hitting slices or lame ducks, or chopping at the ground.

When you reach that point in your back swing where your left arm is extended down the toe line all you have to do is lift the vertical club straight up, while completing the last little bit of turn to get the turn to 70*.
Then just before reaching the top, the bump initiates the forward swing.
The arms start free falling back toward the toe line until the arms start powering the club toward the ball from the inside.
The club head will square up before reaching the ball and travel relatively straight on the target line through the impact area.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

Could be but if his eye line is that good on every single shot (no joke) it looks like he would be able to putt a little bit. Ha ha!

Is there any way you can explain that "eye line" thing?
I've seen where you wrote that before but I don't get it.

It seems to me that the eye line would be perpendicular to the target line if you are looking at the ball.

Glhawk's picture

Submitted by Glhawk (not verified) on

You may be standing a little too close in your setup with the 4 hybrid. set up  and then keep the arms where they are and move back about an inch. THis may free your swing up a bit.

ed L.'s picture

Submitted by ed L. (not verified) on

Getting the left upper arm over the toe line is the best tip I've had in months. it immediatley added 20 yards to my driver and had me hitting irons finally with a solid.crisp impact and stopping on the greens. I'm 81 and shot an 82.  Will let you know when I finally shoot me age and get my name on the plaque in the clubhouse.  Thanks  Ed  L.

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

Steve

Kudos for giving such good advice on the blog. Robert F also.

For that matter thanks to all posters who give us these great tips.

Robert Bgolfer2 Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Bgolfer2... (not verified) on

How outstanding to know of such men as Irv who continue to play golf and look to improve too. Golf can be a game for a lifetime and it will be for me for me till the end. Really. I would choose to die having the "big one" after sinking a putt.
As is usually the case I learned an additional point that Surge has probably mentioned at least a dozen times before. The way he pointed out getting your hands high- high enough to take advantage of gravity and then accelerate through and up. High hands. High hands and a vertical 3/4 backswing but not at the cost of losing our posture and spine angle.
Great stuff Surge, thanks.

shortgamewizard's picture

Submitted by shortgamewizard (not verified) on

Wow, a really good question. As to making putts a lot has to do with a consistent stroke. Too often great ball strikers don't putt well because they have a lot of putts that are longer than the length a player can control. Lets say 5 feet. Longer than that the green has a lot of say on the results.

The eye line is pretty simple. The line that is created with a mark between the center of the eye balls and extended to infinity is the eye line. This has a lot to do with the inner ear as well because not every one has two functioning eyes.

An interesting example is a player who won Arnie's tournament. We were playing a hole that a cut shot would work back to the pin for the day. His eyes were aimed right of the right bunker at the green and he hit the ball with a cut shot into a place that Seve would have been challenged to get a par putt from, 20 yard right of the sand.

 Another example is Phil Mickelson's unique ability to hit unbelievable shots and then miss a putt most golfers could step up and nail in the center.

I don't know if this answer is what you are looking for, but the essence tries to evoke now important this is to successful golf.

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

Glhawk

I agree I am going to work on it more Thursday when I go back to the range. I am going to play with the ball position also.

Roger

T Medley's picture

Submitted by T Medley (not verified) on

Ed, I'm in total agreement. I see a lot of talk on the blog about getting the club to the toe line. I prefer to focus on getting the left or forward arm over the toe line and just keep the club in line with a flat vertical left wrist. If the left arm is parallel over your toe line, and your left wrist is flat (unhinged or uncocked) and vertical, the club has to be in a good position. Just cover your view of the toes with your forward arm. PMG

Edit: Sorry for the first right/left confusion. Senior moment. They are getting more and more frequent. Scary!

Arnold 1's picture

Submitted by Arnold 1 (not verified) on

You may not often think about it, Surge, but your daily videos and the discussions that folow are more valuable to me than any other course of instruction I could take.  I started golfing just a couple of years ago (Father's Day, 2009) from dead scratch using your lesson videos.  All other forms of instruction (golf magazines, competing videos, etc.) just do not make any sense or have any "natural" feel to them.  I've saved every post since I started and refer to them from time to time just to keep my game on.  At 70, I'm looking forward to something "useful" in my later years.

Jeff's picture

Submitted by Jeff on

A question for you Surge Swing vets.  I'm making good progress in adopting the swing.  Every time I go to the range I'm hitting straight much more often.  However, there is one thing I have noticed every time I start swinging the driver.  I start by hitting a few duck hooks, then I'm able to  dial in and get the hits straight.  I do the same thing on the golf course.  Unfortunately, it is much more difficult to dial in the swing on the links because I don't get in practice swings like I do at the range.  Where I play most of the time there is no range where I can warm up.

Does anyone have a suggestion as to how I can prepare a grooved swing more often with my first swing?  It would set me up for a more positive round.  Is there a routine I could use when a practice range is not available?

Robert Bgolfer2 Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Bgolfer2... (not verified) on

Thank you Lrchin for reminding us about the importance of excersise and stretching. I do both regularly and stretching is key for continued flexibility as we collect the years.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

SGW,
Maybe it's just me and maybe other people understand the eye line but I still don't see how any player's eye line could be pointed anywhere other than at the ball.

Oh, the reason my friend can't putt is that his foot line is right of the target and his putter face is left of the target, and he thinks both of them are right at the target. He has putted that way for so long that if I line him up square he has zero chance of making the putt. The way he does it he maybe has a 50% chance on a straight in 5 footer.

Doc Griffin's picture

Submitted by Doc Griffin (not verified) on

Is it starting right and then fading more to the right?  If so, move the ball up more to the front of the stance.  Remember, the shaft is a bit longer and it may have a longer "release" than your other shafts even if it's the same brand and flex.

Roger Peterson's picture

Submitted by Roger Peterson (not verified) on

Please restore my e-mail rpcp11@sbcglobal.net Haven't received one since 8-4-11.
I took a lesson from Dave Seaman in June while I was on the East coast.  Those in that area should go see him. I learned alot and a great guy.  Roger Peterson Galena Ill.

Raymondlgraham's picture

Submitted by Raymondlgraham (not verified) on

Surge,
    I play with a gentleman who's name is Jay.  He is the only person that I know who can shoot his age almost every time he plays.  By-the-way, he is 86 years young and he can out drive me.  I am 71.  He normally plays to somewhere between an 83 and a 87.  We all joke with Jay and tell each other we want to be like Jay when we grow up. Golf is such a great humbler. 

MikefromKy Go Bama. Go Irish's picture

Submitted by MikefromKy Go B... (not verified) on

I would maybe try a weighted club or get one of those doughnuts to put on your club to get you lose this may help.

Kevin McCarthy's picture

Submitted by Kevin McCarthy (not verified) on

Thank you Steve for responding.  It was a bit that I know the answer, it just did not feel right.  Guess, that is where it is good to have someone who knows our swing watch.  I will go with that tomorrow as I have my weekly outing.  Kevin

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