Friday, February 05, 2016

Is Your Brain Always on Sports? #Golf and the Fan

If you're the one who friends and family consider to be "the sports nut", the guy or gal who lives, eats and breathes golf, football, baseball, tennis or hockey, then your loved ones might benefit from the book "This Is Your Brain On Sports", so they can try to understand what makes you tick.

The Science of Underdogs, the fan mentality and more is evaluated in the book "This Is Your Brain on Sports" by John Wertheim and Sam Sommers.

Sports psychology is the basic understanding of why we do what we do on and off the field, the golf course, how we react as fans, how thoughts translate into real life and how we can use what we learn to understand and improve our lives.

No doubt you have heard the phrase "Golf is ninety percent mental", and, even though we only think about that phrase in relation to playing the game, the psychology and attitudes of fans and pros play heavily into our psyche.

Here are several points which I took away from "This Is Your Brain on Sports - The Science of Underdogs, The Value of Rivalry and What We Can Learn from the T-Shirt Cannon."

Think about these ideas the next time you are in these situations as a player, as a fan or as someone who lives with this type of "fan"-atic.

1. Let's start with the sub-title of the book - T-Shirt Cannon and what we can learn from it.
Why does shooting a T-Shirt out of a cannon (or pitching a golf ball to the crowd for the sake of our blog) keep fans coming back to a stadium, arena or course, even if the team (or golf pro) is losing?

The book claims that it is because the T-Shirts are free "...and free is catnip to humans, an enticement so strong it sometimes causes us to behave ridiculously...". I cannot personally relate to this theory as I do not go to a golf course to catch tossed golf balls from Jordan Spieth although one of my favorite memories is carrying the Sunday standard for Annika Sorenstam and her pitching me her golf ball after making a birdie.

2. Effort Justification is defined by Psychology Dictionary as, "The phenomenon where people evaluate a task more favorably when it involves something difficult or unpleasant."

The book tells us, "When we pay for access to a gym, for example, we often come to value a group more than when the access comes for free."

3. We're All "Comeback Kids" - After a tragedy or a physical ailment which may keep someone from playing a sport, isn't it amazing how we read about how the athlete made an unprecedented return? We, as humans, are quite resilient.

4. Rooting for the Underdog or remaining loyal to consistently losing teams - oh, how many times I have cheered on Phil Mickelson in spite of knowing that he was nowhere near a win but, when he finally DID win, the experience was further overwhemed by joy and exuberance, almost like I had won!

5. Praise is important but it's the right kind of praise that truly makes the athlete. Praise for effort, not necessarily for the win. ParentingScience.com further emphasizes to, "Encourage kids to focus on mastering skills—not on comparing themselves to others." One of the things I enjoy most about watching golf is at the very end of their round, golfers almost always praise their playing partners.

This book is not for everyone - but it is an important work if you want to delve deeper into the psyche of human nature and enjoy reading about a broad sports culture through a fan's point-of-view. The press release best related what "This Is Your Brain on Sports" is trying to convey  - it "celebrates the quirkiness of sport while revealing something deeper about who we are, what we care about and the forces that shape our behavior.

Have You Read -This Is Your Brain On Sports-? Share your opinion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and in the comments section of this Golf for Beginners blog.


Friday, January 29, 2016

How the PGA Merchandise Show Proved That #Golf is Alive and Well #PGAShow

From the hottest clubs to the latest in wearable golf technology and apparel, if you are in the golf business, you needed to attend this year's PGA Merchandise Show.

2016 PGA Show floor

Over one thousand interactive exhibits, golf pros, instructors and course owners/management converged this week in Orlando, stuffing into The Orange County Convention Center including yours truly and, if this show ever proved one thing, it was that the sport is alive and growing, no matter what the naysayers assert!

According to Sports Business Journal (which I read in the Media Center), this centennial season brought out more than 42,000 industry attendees from 25+ countries and one thousand golf companies and brands ...there was nearly ten miles of show aisles! Boy were my feet tired after navigating through my first day at the Show!

Although I cannot be at the PGA Show the entire week, I understand that the stage was filled with well-known representatives of the sport; there was a meet-and-greet with Bubba Watson, a golf clinic with LPGA star Lexi Thompson and demonstration by the one and only Annika Sorenstam. I was fortunate to learn tips from masters of golf instruction, Hank Haney and David Leadbetter.


Hank Haney_PGA Show

I'm sure I cannot do justice to the PGA Show with these photos but, if I only show our readers one thing, I hope it is to show the immense popularity of golf, a few of the hottest items that are in your local stores and a few that are sold online and making a dent in the internet.

Here is the interactive display booth for Mobitee with PIQ, the latest in golf wearable technology.

Red Joe Hydration
Fitness and Nutrient Products Like RedJoe are Proving that there is a market for hydration during a round of golf. Doesn't hurt to have Leadbetter using it either! 

PGA Show Floor
From large brands with huge displays like Callaway and Titleist to smaller booths representing health and fitness, the PGA Show is "the place to discover the latest golf technology, equipment, apparel, and new products."


Voice your opinions on the latest golf products and technology on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and below in our golf blog comments section.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Why Zach Johnson Is One Tour Player You Can Emulate #golf

Zach JohnsonEverybody wants to know what Jordan Spieth is doing, but Zach Johnson is the golfer you should really be paying attention to if you’re a 12+ handicap player. He has all of the preferred swing positions that will help you eliminate that weak slice, gain distance and hit the golf ball with authority. 

What are those swing postures? Johnson's exceptionally strong grip is something that’s easy to copy and adding it will immediately help with that open club face that plagues almost all higher handicap players. 

Next, Zack sets up with his shoulders square to his target. Most higher handicap players have their shoulders open or aimed left of target at address, which makes it more likely you’ll swing over the top and slice the ball. 

Lastly, ZJ's left arm (forward arm for lefties like me) is flatter at the top of the golf swing than most tour players. For you, the flatter left arm makes it easier to swing the club more from the inside instead of swinging over the top. 

If you can get your club face more square by adopting a more closed face (strong grip), square up the shoulder at address and swing the path of your club more from the inside on the downswing, you’ll hit the ball farther and straighter and that weak slice will be a thing of the past.  

These changes will also free you up to turn your hips more through impact. Most players stop their hips through impact to give their hands time to try to flip the club square at the last second. That’s big power leak. When you don’t have to worry about your club face being open at impact, you can turn your hips more freely through impact which is a big source of power and consistency. 

These concepts are easy to understand in this video breakdown of Zach’s swing. Watch this video below from Face First Golf and feel free to comment on this blog in the section below or on Twitter @Golf4Beginners.





The golf instruction video and information in this blog comes to you from Craig Jones of FaceFirstGolf.com, who has recently released a new online training program ... a bootcamp...for 12+ handicap players. Not only has Craig taught 10,000+ lessons and owned five golf learning facilities over the past twelve years, he was once a 15+ handicap player himself and worked his way down to a ONE handicap (super impressive).  Craig breaks down the more difficult concepts into simpler terms AND respects the rules and etiquette that make golf such a great sport. 


photo: Wikipedia

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jordan Spieth Takes Over as the Choice of a New #Golf Generation

Move over Tiger Woods...a replacement is in the wings!

Jordan Spieth and some of the young guns in golf are now being referred to as "Tiger Babies", a term being bandied about by writers and magazines with respect to former number one golfer in the world, Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth

We watch as Tiger Woods' children are growing up right before our eyes, swinging clubs like their "old man" and, before we know it, Woods is forty-years-old...old enough to father at least one of the new trailblazers in the sport. Many of these top players have mentioned Woods as the reason that they are in the game and owe him a debt of gratitude and thanks for fattening their wallets.

As Ron Sirak stated, "All looked to Woods as an example, and the result has been a drastically deepened talent pool in golf."

With reference to Jordan Spieth, he shows an ever-growing ability to "become" the next great player...a modest, respectful and very talented golfer whom fans will follow and to whom children might refer to one day as the one who has done so much to improve the millennial base.

"We’re very excited about where we’re at and the start to our career as a team, and what Tiger has done...it’s nice to be in that company." - Jordan Spieth, after winning the 2016 season-opening Hyundai TOC.

Proper etiquette and a youthful appearance at their respective ages, however, are not enough to measure the two golfers and Spieth is loath to be compared to the former world number one golfer.

“I think that’s something that people are looking for but is not there with anybody right now because it’s something I don’t think that can be compared until at least midway through their career," claimed Jordan Spieth on the eve of the 2015 The Open Championship.

Jordan went on to say,“This is an early timetable. When people ask me about those kind of parallels I try and shake it off because it’s not the same. I’m extremely happy with where I’ve been and how we’ve been able to compete and win early and win a couple majors at my age, but at the same time, I certainly have an appreciation for how Tiger could continue and continue and continue to keep winning majors at just an unbelievable percentage of the amount that he played in because it’s not easy. It’s very challenging."

Statistics for each golfer, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, at the same times in their golf careers, also show a comparison in their level of ability.

Woods_Spieth head to head

According to CBSSports.com, although Spieth and Woods are the only two golfers since WWII to win seven PGA Tour events before turning twenty-three years of age, Tiger began to roar soon after, winning twenty-nine times and amassing six major titles.

Only time will tell whether Spieth can hold on and make history but Jack Nicklaus commented that it's a good thing that Tiger Woods is no longer in the mix.

"It's a blessing for them to have had Tiger not being at the top because they've had an opportunity to not have to put up with being afraid of somebody dominating the game," Jack Nicklaus said. "They can go play. As a result of that they've been able to go out and win and prove to themselves they are there and can be there."


Do you think Spieth is the Choice of a New Golf Generation? Let us know in the comments section of our golf blog and on Twitter @Golf4Beginners.

photo: Clubhousenews.com, World Golf

Friday, January 08, 2016

How to Tell If You Need New #Golf Irons in 2016

Gazing down at the grips which you recently changed on your Ping Eye 2's, that less-than-shiny finish of the once shimmering stainless steel and the tiny dings and faded club face, you realize that your almost thirty years old golf irons could use a break. Still, they served you well and you are loath to switch out your clubs and, perhaps, alter your game.

On the flip side, the hottest golf irons for 2016 are said to be better than ever before, sporting extraordinary distance, control and feel. Are you open to the possibility of improving your game with, say, the latest game improvement irons...Ping GMax, I-irons, Karstens...or Cleveland CG Black CB's?


2016 PING i IRONs: Using 431 stainless steel for the first time in a PING iron, engineers relied on the material’s high strength-to-weight ratio and softer feel to create a head design that delivers workability and trajectory control with the right amount of forgiveness. Lengths and lofts are optimized to increase distance with proper gapping, resulting in a clean, players-style iron with a high MOI.


SIGNS YOU NEED NEW GOLF IRONS


- Age of the Irons - According to SFGolf.com, "Experts suggest that if your clubs are more than three years old and you are an avid golfer who gets out there often, then there’s a good chance it’s time for new clubs" Bent and damaged golf irons are also a sign that it's time to say goodbye to your old friends - wear and tear certainly takes its toll.

- You Are Getting Older... and less flexible. That goes back to the above statement of wear and tear but not just on the club. Chances are your body isn't in the shape it was in five years ago and you could probably use a more flexible shaft and larger club head. Rockbottom Golf suggests the importance of "matching your shaft to your swing style so you get the most distance from your swing."

- Technology is Progressing, Why Shouldn't You? Do you still carry (and occasionally use) a 3-iron? Hybrids or fairway woods can replace those long irons and with better results. Need to make a choice as to which club better suits your game? Links Magazine says, "If you sweep shots cleanly off the turf, fairway woods are for you. If you have a steeper swing (you tend to take divots), you'll be better off with hybrids."

worn out golf iron grooves
A sign you may need new golf irons - worn out golf grooves!

If you decide to take the next step and consider a new golf iron purchase, remember that research and measurement is key. Whether you are a high or low handicapper, search the internet with those keywords, not focusing on the brand but on the type of player you are or have become.

For example, type in "game improvement irons" if you need help in that area or golf irons for beginners ...and make sure you take those clubs into a booth along with assistance from a custom-fit professional. Finding local demo days is also a great idea as manufacturer reps bring a whole slew of clubs for you to try!

Have you just purchased new irons or are you considering new clubs? Tell us your story in the comments section of our golf blog below and on Twitter @Golf4Beginners.


photos: Ping, GolfDashBlog.com

Thursday, December 31, 2015

#Golf Resolutions for a Happy New Year

For all of the things folks are supposed to do...and don't, we make New Year's Resolutions.

The same is true in golf; most players state the obvious...that they will practice more, that they will stretch before every game and that they will stay in the moment but here at Golf for Beginners we take it one step further by offering readers real resolve that will stick.

Therefore, this golfer has put together a short list of resolutions for the New Year. Feel free to add your resolutions in the comments section of this golf blog.

1. I resolve to not only practice but to practice my short game. I will not only go to the range to bang golf balls with my driver, I will also set aside time (and some balls in my bucket) to chip, putt and utilize the short game area provided to me by my local golf course.

2. I resolve to remember my good shots and forget my bad shots. I'm sure readers of this blog have more than just a few memorable moments!

3. I resolve to NOT take gimmes but to put the ball in the bottom of the cup.

4. I will play the ball as it lies and not move it just because ... it's in a divot or my lie isn't good enough. (This golfer plays it as it lies but sometimes is paired with others who do).

5. Finally, I will happily help new golfers get involved ...and stay... in the game. Women, Seniors and Kids...It's tough enough getting folks interested in the game and it's even more challenging keeping them on the courses!


What are your golf resolutions and have you kept your word from last year?

Let us know in the comments section of this golf blog and on Twitter @Golf4Beginners.