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SubjectRe: bkbits.net is down [OT, long: golf howto]
I'm not in the Bay Area, you can probably
get a talented sysadmin from down there
that already has a house to pay for, but
this part is a piece of cake:

> I still need to learn how to play golf
> so I could use some help, right?

Linux Golf Howto:

Unlike a baseball swing, where you do a
lot of work with your right wrist if you
are right-handed and vice-versa if lefty,
the muscle is mostly exerted on your off-hand
side. If you are right handed, your left
shoulder, hip, and thigh do most of the work.

I will explain it right-handed (and just
reverse everything if left-handed).

A common failing is for a right-hander to drop
the right shoulder and let his/her right
hand/wrist take over to snap the clubhead
through the ball. This leads to the
"slice of death" by opening up the clubface
as it gets to the ball (clubface no longer perpendicular to tangent to arc of swing that points toward hole, and the ball takes a
big wide turn to the right in mid-flight).

If you seriously want to learn, my suggestion
is to learn to play one-handed first, with
your left side. After that, adding the other
hand for control is easy, and you haven't picked up any bad habits that rely on the strength of your right hand and wrist (golf is not baseball).

When you take the club back, you do it with
your left side, keeping your wrist and arm
in line (don't drop your hands), using the
muscles in your left shoulder and along you
left side. Your left arm and wrist muscles
merely hold the club in the desired plane
and keep it from wiggling around, with your
wrist gradually cocking as you get to the
top of the backswing. Let your left heel
come up off the ground as you swing back.

To start the forward swing, pull your left
heel down to the ground. This starts the club
around and down, and it allows your left hip
to move out of the way (prevents "blocking
out", which pushes the arc of the club off
to the right from where you intended, in
golf jargon "a push").

Imagine the swing: take the lid of a coffee
can and tip it up on edge, so that it is
inclined at about 60 degrees from horizontal.
Look at the edge of it. Your clubhead should follow a path similar to that described
by the edge of the coffee can lid. Your arm
and club should stay in the plane described
by the surface of the coffee can lid both
when taking the club back and bringing it
forward.

To learn one handed first, you need to build
up muscle on your left side. I suggest two
things for that: one is a piece of broom handle
with 4-5 feet of rope tied to it with a timber hitch or similar (so the knot does not rotate when
you turn the handle) and a weight on the other
end (small weight from a weight set or similar,
maybe 5 pounds/2-3 kilos).

Hold the handle out at arms length, with
your wrists on top, and wind up the rope
by rotating your wrists forward, lifting the weight. When it gets to the top, unwind the
rope, again with wrist rotations, and let
it back down again. Try it again. You will
soon find out how many times you can do it
without your forearm muscles tying themselves
in knots.

Do this every other day for a few months
(off-day speeds muscle growth), then every day, just to keep in shape. (I mean, how long does
that take, anyway? It's not as if it's an imposition on your time. You could do it
while staring at a monitor.)

This builds up wrist strength tremendously.
(I remember suddenly finding a 16-lb bowling
ball easy to handle after doing this for a
couple of weeks many years ago, where before
I needed a light ball to have any control
when I released it.) It should allow you to
hold the club one-handed with your left hand
at the top of your back swing without the
weight of the club overpowering your wrist.

The second exercise is designed to build up
your whole left side, and is easier if you
have some equipment. The best thing for it
is one of those ropes with the tension fitting
on it and two handles, where you turn the
cylinder to dial up the tension (resistance
to pulling the rope through the cylinder).

You set it so that you can slowly, with much
effort, pull the rope through the cylinder.
Attach it to something down low, at floor
or ground level. Pull it out so that you can
stand with your left hand in front of you,
right where it would be if you were holding
a golf club, with the cylinder to your left.

With your left hand, pull the rope to your
right and up, until your arm is level with
your shoulders. Let your right shoulder
rotate back a bit as your left arm comes
up, so that it is out of the way. Lean
forward slightly as you do it, just as if
you were about to swing a golf club, with
your knees just slightly flexed, so that
your weight is on the balls of your feet
and your legs are not rigid.

Keep your head still. Don't move it to the
left or right or forward or backward as
you strain to pull the rope through the
cylinder. This is key, moving your head inappropriately is one of those all too common duffer failings (like letting your strong side take over the swing).

Don't move your hips left, right, forward,
or back either. You are coiling a spring,
not doing the mambo. You are rotating around
an imaginary rod that is stuck in the top
of your head and comes out your butt, fixed
to something immovable at both ends (not
rigidly true, but approximately true),
your clubhead is following the same arc,
and your arm and club travelling in the
same plane every swing.

When you get the handle at the end of the
rope all the way to the top, go grab the
one at the other end of the rope, and do
it again.

I don't really have a hard and fast
recommendation for how many times to
repeat this. Different people start from
different initial states of conditioning,
and their muscles get tired at different
rates. Do the same every other day routine
for a few weeks, then switch to every day.
If you can do it several times before
tiring, so much the better (you might notch
up the cylinder tension a little, cheating
with too light of a load wastes your own
time).

If the rope pull equipment is inconvenient
to obtain or install, something elastic
may do instead, a bicycle inner tube
hooked around a car bumper for example. You
want it to have enough stretch so that
you can go through the whole range of motion
from hand at rest in front of you to where
it would be at the top of your backswing,
so you learn the habit of rotating in place
as you swing while doing the exercise. (This
is one weakness of isometrics in this context,
which build up muscle with no equipment other
than something immovable to push/pull against,
but do not build up whole-body muscle memory
for the motion of a proper golf swing).

Most people have enough muscle already for
a proper downswing in their back or legs,
but you can work on that the same way, merely
putting the anchor of the exercise device
above and somewhat behind you to the right
instead of below you to the left. Consider
this part optional.

You can try out your new muscles on a driving
range with a bucket of balls occasionally
(cheaper than experimenting on a real golf
course). When you get to the point where
you can take the club back with your off hand,
hold it steady at the top of the back swing,
and bring it back through the proper plane
with just that one hand, hitting the ball
respectably squarely both off of a tee and off
of a mat or grass, you are ready to let
your other hand ride along for extra control
at the bottom of the swing and learn some
fine points. (Fake turf mats at driving
ranges are unnaturally bouncy when you hit
them with an iron, but they are good for
learning to play on dried-up, arid country hardpan, where taking a normal divot when you swing can produce unexpected results).

A couple of general points: keep everything
square. The tips of your toes, your knees,
and your shoulders should be parallel to the
direction that you intend the ball to go when
you setup for your swing.

Some people vary these, but you certainly
aren't experienced enough yet to know whether
that is a good idea given your personal
physique. And when you change one bit of
setup alignment, what else needs to change
at the same time to accomodate it without
throwing the clubhead offline? The possibilities
are endless, so let's not explore any of them
unnecessarily.

Keep the back of your left hand and the
club face perpendicular to the direction
that you intend the ball to go. Fancy
controlled hooks and fades are for pros
and experienced amateurs who know what
they are doing. As a beginner, you want
the Byron Nelson swing: "hit it through
a pipe, straight as a string, don't sweat
the distance."

Sand: hit the sand hard about 1/4-inch behind
the ball. And I do mean *hard*, wimpy swings
in sandtraps are doom. If the hole is real close,
hit the sand a little farther behind the ball.
If the hole is a long way off, hit the sand
closer to the ball. (Exception: gritty sand
with flat grains, like sand from volcanic
rock, or wet sand, hit it right where the
ball meets the sand, use less strength.) You
need a heavy club for sand. Lots of times the
ball is buried halfway down into it, and you
have to get under it to get it out. A heavy
sand wedge lets you hit behind the ball without
losing too much force in the sand.

Nearly always: swing easy, let the clubhead
do the work. You gain hardly any clubhead
velocity by trying to drive the ball into
the next state, but it's easy to lose the
correct plane of your swing, attitude of the clubhead at the bottom of the swing, and so
on that way. As an engineer, you should know
that the velocity and weight of the clubhead
do the work, not how hard you exerted yourself. (Ever watch Barry Bonds swing a baseball bat? He doesn't swing hard. It's all timing and coordination. Golf is the same way.) Hint:
if the clubhead is dropping below the level
of your own head on the backswing, your swing
is too long and your are probably swinging too
hard. Have a friend watch and see.

Once you get around to using both hands,
let them work together at the bottom of
the swing, where the club meets the ball.
Your left hand is dominant up until that
point, but as the club comes through the
ball, you want to feel as if both hands
have the same amount of tension, as if
both are exerting the same amount of
grip on the club. If you feel the exertion
in your right wrist and forearm as you
hit the ball, you've fallen off the wagon
and need to go back to left-handed golf until
you relearn how to swing correctly.

At the bottom of your swing, your left wrist
has already done the work of starting the
uncocking of your wrists (that were cocked
at the top of your backswing), from then on
you are just holding on with both hands as
the club rotates around until it is lined
up with your left arm again, which should
be right as the clubhead gets to the ball.

Putting: arm putting (rigid wrists) is
considered more consistent for more people,
but some people have really sensitive hands
and wrists, and they do better wrist putting,
where they cock and uncock their wrists when
putting, and the putts recreate that tiny arc
of their normal golf swing where the club
meets the ball, only sweeping the ball off
the carpet instead of driving into the grass underneath it. I find it good to keep my
head right over top of the ball, so the line
that I want to putt along seems to stretch
off directly to my left and right from the ball.
(Putting is an art as much as a science, to
each his own.)

Technique and smooth, relaxed application
of force are almost everything in golf, but
good clubs do make it easier. An old beater
set that are all the same weight and shaft
stiffness is better than a mix and match
set, modulo wedges and putters (which people
have personal tastes for). Beware old woods
with wooden heads: they absorb water vapor,
get heavy, and become a chore to get through
the point of impact lined up properly. (Can
probably be dried out one way or another.)
Too stiff is better than too flexible for
club shafts. Too stiff costs a little distance
if you aren't a hard swinger, too flexible
makes it harder to keep the clubhead in the
right place at the bottom of the swing (small
differences in how hard you swing translate
into big differences in alignment when the club meets the ball with a too-flexible club shaft).

Good grips are worth a lot. With worn-out, slippery grips, one tends to hold the club
too tight. That interferes with achieving a relaxed, consistent, poweful swing. For a
putter, I always liked a grip that was not
so much fat as "deep", that extended back
into the palm of my hand a ways from the
centerline of the clubshaft. Kind of hard
to find, and of course you have to like the
head of the putter even if you do find one,
but that always gave me a better grip on the
putter and more control when putting.

Balls, there are probably a dozen or more
good brands these days. Beginners should
use golf balls with "no cut" covers. (You
are going to hit the middle of the ball
a lot of times instead of where it meets
the turf. A no-cut ball will save you a lot
of money.) You can always use used balls
that somebody fished out of a pond and sold
back to the pro shop. Then you take what you
get, but you don't regret it quite as much
when you hit it back into the same pond yourself.

It's often more fun if you don't keep score,
just play the course. Every shot is a challenge
of its own, as is every hole. I mean, are
you here to count how many strokes it took you
to get around or merely to see how well you can hit them while getting some exercise? (Nice 5k yard stroll, good for the heart.)

(For the fee-challenged: you can make your
own golf course anywhere. All you need is
a trail or a dirt road leading somewhere
without a lot of houses around it. Walk
along it and designate holes, not too
far apart, dig a little hole with a stick
or something. Get some beat up 7-irons and a pocket full of old, used golf-balls. Take one 2-iron or similar along for "putts". The
"fairway" is the road or trail, and your task
is to bounce your ball along through there
without losing it in the woods. The "green" is just a patch of bare dirt or moss or something where you dug the hole. Watch out for
rattlesnakes, dead rats, etc. Do this enough
and you will become a wizard at getting from
the rough back onto the fairway on a real golf course.)

Ob. lkml: I got a week out of Bouton's SIS5513
patch to 2.4.21 and a couple of days out
of Pavlik's with no trouble so far (SiS530), running with dma enabled, lightly loaded doing mundane file server work with an occasional
local build. I haven't tried anything previously "exciting", like calling "sync" while building perl and doing a backup at the same time or scouring one hd with 32 threads in parallel.
But at least those patches aren't obviously
broken in any way that I can see so for.

Regards,

Clayton Weaver
<mailto: cgweav@email.com>

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