Right off the club, you know it’s going to be a bad shot.

The ball starts left, continues hooking left, and disappears into the thick woods 15 yards left of the fairway. You’re frustrated, maybe even a little pissed. This hook has been driving you crazy.

Wannabe Golf Instructors take headshots of themselves. (Image: unfoo/Flickr)

As you reach down to pick up your tee, you hear a voice behind you: “Know what you did wrong there, don’t you? Your stance is too narrow, and you’re not keeping your head down. And that grip of yours. Look at that grip.”

Huh? Yes, welcome to Golf Pet Peeve #12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor.

I think there’s two unwritten rules in golf instruction: First, never give unsolicited advice. Second, never EVER give unsolicited advice to a better golfer.

But the Wannabe Golf Instructor scoffs at such unwritten rules. The Wannabe Golf Instructor knows just enough about golf to make him dangerous.

His own golf swing has more flaws than Tim Tebow’s throwing motion, but he watches The Golf Channel religiously, making him the self-appointed mouthpiece of all things related to golf  swing instruction. He’s a close relative to the The Golf Channel Guy.

He has a library of Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, and David Leadbetter instructional videos. His swing is mechanical and slow. His scores suck. He putts like a bull in a china store. And, yeah, that probably doesn’t make much sense.

The Wannabe Golf Instructor has zero self-awareness. None. The Wannabe Golf Instructor offers unsolicited golf instruction at every opportunity. Even though he averages a 98, he will freely offers poor advice to a 10 handicap on the driving range. He will sit in the bar and analyze Ernie Els’ shoulder turn and Justin Leonard’s putting stroke.

You’ll nod your head and act like your listening. That is, until he tells breaks down your swing after that nasty hook on the 4th hole. Then, you might just have to tell The Wannabe Golf Instructor to shut up. Good luck with that.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

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How bad does Ray Romano suck at golf? We'll find out next spring. (Image: simplisticdesigns /Flickr)

Last winter, Tiger Woods’ teacher took on the project of a lifetime: Charles Barkley.

I covered The Haney Project fairly extensively on this blog. It seemed Hank helped Charles quite a bit at times. And, at other times, well it seemed as if Chuck still had no clue.

All that to say that Haney has a new project: Everybody Loves Raymond star Ray Romano. I really know very little about Romano’s game. But if the Barkley show is any indication, Haney loves a good challenge. So my guess is that Ray’s swing needs quite a bit of work.

The program is slated to air in March.

Read more on Golf Magazine‘s website.

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about the awfulness of Charles Barkley’s golf swing.

Well, with props to the Aussie Golfer who posted this earlier in the week, I present to you the worst golf swing ever. This old fella makes Charles Barkley look like Ben Hogan.

Just watching this video makes me hurt. It’s an embarassment to bad golf swings everywhere.

So if you are struggling with your golf game, it’s time to feel better about yourself. In all fairness, though, I think he actually makes solid contact. He probably got a bad case of whiplash, too, but solid contact nonetheless. Enjoy.

I’ve always loved the practice green.

To me, there’s just something peaceful about it, something you don’t find on the driving range—crammed in between two dozen guys wacking oversized drivers.

practice green

(Image: Robert Bruce's iPhone)

The practice green is quiet. Most decent courses have larger greens, so I can find a corner, throw down a few balls, and practice five-foot putts for hours—literally. The “tink” of the ball off my Ping Anser puts me in some kind of Ben Crenshaw-induced trance.

In college, I worked as a cart guy at the same course at which I was a member. On Mondays, when the course was closed, I could still play because I was also an employee. I spent many a Monday evening in the summer lining up a perfect five-foot circle of balls around a golf hole.

On more than a few occasions, the superintendent scolded me for leaving deep footprints on the green. Yeah, when you practice the same five-foot-putt for two hours, that tends to happen.

Yesterday, I spent an hour on the green, practicing everything from two-footers to thirty-footers. There is nothing more definite and satisfying in golf than watching that small white ball disappear into black nothingness. Or something like that.

If you’ve just started playing golf, don’t let anyone fool you. Your short game is vital to your success on the course. Thirty to fifty percent of your shots will come from putting—even more when you include chipping.

Too many golfers fall in love with the driver, try to bomb everything, and spend zero time on the practice green. A five-foot putt counts just as much as a 300-yard drive—and, don’t fool yourself, you aren’t hitting 300 yard drives anyway (perhaps some foreshadowing to a future pet peeve?).

Spend some time on the practice green, and you’ll be amazed at how many shots you can save on the course. Since few golfers practice putting, you’ll find the practice green to be a peaceful, solitary place.

If Thoreau was a golfer, he would’ve been a great putter.

One of the highlights of our annual vacation to Amelia Island last week was my golf lesson with Anne Cain.

golf magAs one of Golf Magazine‘s Top 100 Teachers, Cain’s tips and instruction are often featured in the monthly magazine. She teaches at the Golf Club of Amelia Island. Besides that, she played at the University of Georgia–which, if you’ve read much of this blog, you’ll know that makes her automatically cool in my book.

Her setup is quite technologically advanced and includes a small building with tons of video equipment, a golf tee that automatically tees up your ball, “hot lines” which make the tee drop into the ground when your swing gets off plane, and a lot of other cool stuff.

She is also miked up, which allows her to record the entire lesson. I took home a DVD of the lesson so I can watch the entire hour any time.

Cain uses Sam Snead’s teaching philosophy. Snead taught that ball position should be the same for every club—off the left heel. The stance should narrow with each club. So your stance with a driver will be much wider than your stance with a wedge, but the ball position will be the same for each. Jack Nicklaus used this technique as well.

My main takeaways from the lesson: 1) My setup was off. My stance was too wide, the ball was too far back, and my head wasn’t far enough behind the ball. 2) My backswing was starting inside the proper plane and was too long, which caused my downswing to be—you guessed it—over the plane.

 My downswing is way too steep actually—a problem that I hope to fix with Cain during my as-yet-unscheduled next lesson with her.

As I mentioned before, when your swing goes too far inside or outside, Anne has her equipment rigged so that the tee actually drops under the ground. It’s immediate feedback which helps you learn the proper “feel” quickly.

Anyway, I would highly recommend a visit to Anne Cain if you’re in north Florida or south Georgia. I haven’t watched my swing on video since my college golf days, so my experience was quite eye-opening.

Since the lesson, I’ve been bombing my driver but struggling with my wedges and irons. Funny how golf is: my best round in Florida–76–took place before the lesson. Afterwards, I shot 77 and 82. But my swing feels much more sound and compact–and the best part is that I now understand what I need to fix.

If I can figure out a way to get a DVD onto some type of usable online video, I’ll post parts of the lesson that include my swing. My technical skills are limited, so that may be doubtful.

Travis Fulton over at PGATour.com currently has a solid feature on Rory Sabbatini’s swing.

I’m not a Sabbatini fan. I think he’s an obnoxious jerk, actually.

rory

Rory takes the club well past parallel on his backswing. (Image: dmader50/Flickr)

But he’s got an interesting swing that creates a lot of lag. As Fulton says, Rory’s backswing is not one you want to imitate because he takes the club well past parallel, but his downswing illustrates why he’s won five events on Tour, including last week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational. He’s able to compensate for the long backswing quite well.

You create lag when the clubhead trails the hands during the swing. The more lag you create, the more power you generate. Ben Hogan’s swing had an incredible amount of lag. For me, it’s always been a problem, and that’s why I’ve never been a long hitter.

I won’t go through Fulton’s analysis of Rory’s swing. You can check that out here. Suffice to say, Rory has a powerful swing. But he’ll never be Tiger Woods, though he sometimes thinks he’s capable.

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My amateurish photo of today's driving range festivities. (Image: Robert Bruce's iPhone)

I had a Eureka! moment today–a moment I’m ashamed to say somehow escaped me for the last year.

Golf at lunch. So simple. One open hour every day, an hour in which you can do whatever you choose: eat, read, sleep, shop…or golf.

Last summer, I wrote on my thoughts about balancing golf and life. It’s a tough deal these days, and I don’t even have a kid yet. So this is where the lunch hour comes in. For some reason, I’ve been using my lunch hour over the last year to actually eat. What’s up with that?

Today, I changed up things. I drove five minutes  around the corner to a nice driving range/par 3 course/practice facility.  As tempted as I was to play a quick nine, I only had an hour, so I settled for range balls.

Tomorrow, I plan on using the time to putt, or perhaps spend some Christmas gift card money on a new 3 wood and/or hybrid. Either way, I’ve set a new trend for my lunch hour: food is nice, but I’ll take golf.

Finally, we know when this show will start: March 2, 9 p.m. ET.

Titled The Haney Project with Charles Barkley, the new show’s tagline is “Unscripted. Uncensored. Unreal.” And, believe me, Barkley’s swing is quite unreal. Hank has his work cut out for him.

Click here to watch the Golf Channel’s promotional video about the show. You can see my previous posts about the Barkley show here and here.

And if you want to relive Sir Charles’ fantastically dreadful swing, here you go.

The sun set at 6:19 this evening. Just enough time for me to quickly hit a bag of balls after work.

Trying to balance golf, career, and life, I follow sunsets on Wednesdays and Thursday with strong interest. You see, I get off work at 5:30 p.m. By the time, I navigate the back roads to the driving range nearest to my home, it’s nearly 6:00.

I play or practice golf twice a week. Once on the weekend, usually Saturday. And once mid-week, either Wednesday or Thursday.

In July, I could walk nine holes with ease—even hit a bag or two of balls afterwards. But these days, a brief traffic jam or a delayed exit from work could alter my early evening plans to hit a few range balls.

golfersilhouette1

Image: Adam/Flickr

I love the fall. This season brings football and family holidays—some of the best times of the year. But it also brings the dreaded time change, which arrives in just three weeks. And while October weekends are ideal for playing, the weekdays have little to offer in terms of golf.

For those of us who work the standard 40 hour, 5 day work week, thirty minutes of practice on an October weekday is about all we can hope for.

But I’m determined to keep playing, somehow, throughout the fall. I want to reestablish my handicap for spring tournaments, to finally get some sort of feel in my short game (is it possible?), and not lose any progress I’ve made since rediscovering this sport in the spring.

Most amateur golfers hybernate in the winter. I’m going to try my best this fall and winter to stay as sharp as possible. Maybe I just need Jack Nicklaus to come build a course in my backyard.

So how do you handle the winter golf doldrums? Do you have a practice schedule? Do you play at all? Any advice?

Tune into the Golf Channel to find out. According to the USA Today, Barkley will get instruction from Tiger Woods’ swing coach, Hank Haney, with the Round Mound of Rebound being the centerpiece of a Golf Channel based reality show.

Haney will earn his bucks if he can get Barkley swinging even semi-respectable. Sir Charles’ woeful swing was posted all over You Tube, after his last place finish at the American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament.

No word yet on when the series will start, but I’ll be tuning in. Haney is used to working with Tiger, among other pros, so it will be interesting to see how he handles Barkey’s amazingly bad, bad golf swing.

Check out some of my more recent posts on this show:

Lose the Hitch, Charles Barkley!

Charles Barkley: Golf Psychology 101

Hank Haney is a Genius

Charles Barkley Likes to Box

Charles Barkley: My Golf Game Sucks

Barkley, Haney Show Announced on Golf Channel