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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Brian Fitzgerald on Reducing Your Slice (Video)

Brian Fitzgerald from the PGA of Australia has an interesting video on how to get control of a slice. If you struggle with a slice, this video is for you!

I'm sure a lot of you will be uncomfortable with the idea of using your hands to control where the clubface is pointed, and especially using a neutral grip to do it. You've heard repeatedly that the best golfers use strong grips and use the movement of their bodies to control the clubface.

But are you a pro? Do you fight a big hook like so many of them do? As Brain points out, if you use your body to control the club like the pros do, you'll usually create a slice. That's because they are TRYING to create a slice!

If you want to hit the ball to a spot you're aiming at, you have to be aware of where the clubface is pointed at impact. (You've read this on my blog before. It's a basic truth of the golf swing.) And to control the clubface you must use your hands because your hands are holding the club.

You're afraid you're going to FLIP your hands and hit a big hook, I know. That's what most instructors warn you about. But again... are you fighting a hook already? Then don't worry about it until it's a problem.

Brian's drill is actually a good way to learn how proper hand action teaches you to control where the clubface is pointed. If you go to the range, aim to the right side of the range (the left side if you're a leftie) and try to make the ball draw just by using your hands, it will teach you to feel where the clubface is pointed. It's going to take some practice, of course, but once you learn how to make the ball move, you'll learn how to limit how much it moves.

If you've read my blog for a long time, you'll recognize his advice to feel as if you're throwing a Frisbee® with your lead hand. (Here's a link to one of them.)

Look, even if you're uncomfortable with the idea, if you're fighting a slice then try Brian's drill. Learning how it feels when the clubface is pointed where you want it to point is a breakthrough skill for most golfers. Even the pros.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Justin Parsons on "The Haromon Code" (Video)

Justin Parsons, who is the Director of Instruction at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, did this short video about the three things that Butch tends to focus on when he works with players.

Those three keys are:
  • Lower body stability: You don't want to move off the ball during your swing.
  • A short and wide arm swing: It's easier to get a wide arc to your swing if you keep the swing short.
  • Staying square through impact: You don't want to flip the clubface when you hit the ball.
He also includes drills for each of these. I found the drill for lower body stability to be an interesting twist on the one-legged swing drill.

It's interesting that Justin emphasizes Butch's belief that not all swings should be the same. In my opinion, the short backswing is a relatively recent invention that -- for most players, anyway -- results in swinging too hard and sometimes creating back problems. I think that you should make the longest backswing you can make comfortably. The key word is comfortably. But if you aren't flexible enough to make a long backswing, then you shouldn't because you can hurt your back that way as well.

And those of you who are longtime readers know that one of my primary swing basics is that your swing should NOT hurt!

At any rate, this is the first video I've seen that clearly explains Butch's most basic beliefs about the swing. And since those beliefs have made him the successful teacher they have, they are worth knowing!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Nick Clearwater on Short Game Trajectory (Video)

GOLFTEC's Nick Clearwater has a tip on how to hit high pitches and low chips. I'm going to add a tip to his suggestions.

Notice that Nick creates high or low trajectories with ball position and a combination of elbow and wrist bend.
  • To hit a high pitch, move the ball slightly forward and, at impact, keep your trailing elbow bent and let your wrist bend forward (bow your wrist).
  • To hit a low chip, move the ball slightly backward and, at impact, keep your trailing elbow straight and don't let your wrist bend forward (cup your wrist).
If that seems a bit complicated, think about where the clubhead finishes. In both shots, your hands finish at about waist high. But...
  • when you hit a high pitch, the clubhead finishes up near your shoulders.
  • when you hit a low chip, the clubhead finishes down near your knees.
In each case, the clubface has not turned behind you.
  • With the high pitch, the clubface points up toward the sky.
  • With the low chip, the clubface points toward the target.
Use the high pitch when you don't have much green to work with, and use the low chip when you have plenty of room to run the ball up to the hole.

It's not very hard to visualize these shots. And once you can do that, you'll find that both shots are fairly easy to execute.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Second Leg of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals

The analysts have determined that players need 200 Korn Ferry Tour Points in order to guarantee a place in the Finals 25.

PGA Tour wannabee Viktor Hovland

Last week at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, Scottie Scheffler's win locked up a PGA Tour card and four other players made at least 200 points. Robert Streb, who was last week's defending champion, was one of those players who will be heading back to the Big Stage.

This week at the Albertsons Boise Open -- one of the four original events from the once-named Ben Hogan Tour -- more players will try to (at least) pass that mark.

Among the players who I'm watching this week are:
  • Anirban Lahiri (T6, 165 points). The Indian player was a star at the Presidents Cup a couple of years back
  • Viktor Hovland (T10, 130 points). I think everybody is watching him. After playing so well in the majors as an amateur this year, many thought he might win as quickly as Matt Wolff and Collin Morikawa.
  • Billy Hurley III (21, 65 points). The US Naval Academy grad has won on the Big Tour before and is out to get his card back.
There are others, of course, but these three particularly caught my eye.

The fact is, Top10 finishes this week will likely gain cards for all three. No pressure, right?

GC's coverage of this second Finals event starts Thursday at 6pm ET. Perhaps it's not flamboyant as the TOUR Championship, but the drama is easily more palpable. Gotta watch!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Brooke Tries for Two

The LPGA returns to action this week at the CP Women's Open, aka the Women's Canadian Open.

Defending champion Brooke Henderson

Last year Brooke Henderson became only the second Canadian to win this event. (The other was Jocelyne Bourassa way back in 1973, the first year this event was played.) You should also be aware that from 1979 to 2000 this event was a major, the du Maurier Classic, so this event has a sizable amount of history behind it.

Tony Jesselli's preview of the tournament notes that the field is much stronger this year than last year, with 37 of the Rolex Top50 teeing it up.

Also of interest for Americans like me -- this is the last week for the Americans to qualify for the Solheim Cup. Captain Julie Inkster is playing as well but she may be a bit distracted because, at the end of the event, she'll have to make her two Captain's picks to go along with the ten automatic qualifiers. That means that the entire American team will be set by next Monday.

Captain Catriona Matthew fleshed out her team a little over a week ago. She had eight automatic qualifiers and four Captain's picks, to allow for the difficulty of auto qualifiers coming from two different lists.

We get live LPGA golf again this week, only this time it's in the morning. GC's coverage begins Thursday at 9:30am ET. Should be interesting, especially with Solheim Cup pressure potentially affecting the Americans' play.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: TOUR Championship

Well, it's the final event of the 2018 - 2019 season. Twofer Tuesday makes a trip to the TOUR Championship.

2018 champion Tiger Woods

As usual, the TOUR Championship is being held at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta GA, home of Bobby Jones. The defending champion, Tiger Woods, didn't make it back this year so we'll have a new champion for sure.

In addition, there will be no whiteboards with columns, columns and more columns of FedExCup point totals constantly shifting as we try to figure out who's actually leading the event. This year, the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship will have a single winner who receives $15mil.

Not bad work if you can get it!

It seems that no matter what I have tried recently, my Twofer Tuesday pics have been less than stellar performers. Players who have been on streaks suddenly fall apart once I pick them, while players who may have shown some form over the season but have not won suddenly find themselves picking up trophies.

But no matter what method of choosing I have considered for this week's picks, it has all come down to one thing for me -- namely, the players begin the event with a certain number of strokes already on their scorecards. Given the inconsistency shown by most of the best players over the last few months, I can't help but think that the new handicapping system in this year's event will turn out to be very important.
  • For my Top10er I'm going with Patrick Cantlay. Patrick has played very well all season and chalked up a big win at Jack's Place. Last week he made a very solid run at eventual winner Justin Thomas, but came up short because he started too far back the last day. He'll only be starting two strokes back this week and I think that, given his reasonably consistent form this year, that won't present a major problem.
  • And for my winner it will probably come as no surprise that I'm taking Justin Thomas.  I picked Justin earlier this season because of his performance as he came back from wrist injury, but he wasn't completely back at that point. His win at the BMW this past week shows me that his physical recovery is complete, and it's just a matter of how well his mental game has returned. I'm betting that he gained a lot of confidence with the win and may be riding that wave of confidence this week.
I confess that I debated over which of these two players I should choose as my winner. However, I found myself with little doubt that both of these players are the best picks to win. That's especially true after Brooks said he hasn't felt comfortable over the ball for a few weeks now… and his play has shown that. So let's see if these two can step out of his shadow and take home the big one.

GC's coverage of the TOUR Championship begins Thursday at 1pm ET and PGA TOUR LIVE streaming begins at 10:30am ET. Let's see if my pics can finally get the job done when there's $15mil on the line!

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 BMW Championship

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Thomas Pieters broke his winless streak with a victory at the D+D Real Czech Masters on the ET; in only his second Champions Tour start, Doug Barron won the Dick's Sporting Goods Open; Derek Barron (no relation) won the Players Cup on the Mackenzie Tour; Ssu-Chia Cheng won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Symetra Tour; Andrew Dodt won the Sarawak Championship on the Asian Tour; and Andy Ogletree won the US Amateur Championship.

Justin Thomas with both BMW trophies

It appears that the pressure of the Playoffs is nothing compared to being a Twofer Tuesday pick! This week I had Webb Simpson (T24) to win and Rory McIlroy (T19) to Top10. I thought the pros knew how to deal with pressure?!
  • Winners: 2 for 33
  • Place well (Top10): 16 for 33 (9 Top5s, 7 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 27 of 66 (14 Top5s, 13 more Top10s)
Pressure didn't seem to bother Justin Thomas, however. A six-shot lead tends to make anybody second-guess themselves -- you don't want to be the guy who lost with a big lead, and it had already happened to JT once -- but a slow front nine was wiped away with fast back nine.

Second place finisher Patrick Cantlay started fast -- and also finished fast -- but he was just a bit too far back to start the day. JT managed to pull out a three-stroke win and get his first victory of 2019.

Cantlay did make him think about it, though.

Both guys showed Brooks a thing or two as well, bumping him out of first place in the FedExCup points list all the way down to third. Cantlay now finds himself in second place while JT sits, as we say here in the South, "in the catbird seat."

But JT will have plenty of time to think about that when he gets to East Lake. For now, I'm sure the only thing that matters is getting another Limerick Summary for his growing collection.
Once JT’s course record was done,
The vict’ry was pretty much won.
He shot to the top
Of the points list; next stop?
Down to East Lake, where he’ll be The One.
The photo came from this page at