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You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Quick Fix for 23 More Yards

Golf Digest has a new article on how most players can pick up, on average, 23 yards off the tee. That's worth a look, don't you think?

Drawing from GD Fitting article

Basically the article is recommending a driver fitting, much the same way you get fit for your irons. The best thing to do is simply read the article -- it's not overly complicated -- and follow the instructions. However, I want to pick out a couple of practical suggestions.

After testing about 150 players with a variety of swing speeds (from 60mph to 130mph) and handicaps, they said:
What we found is that the average golfer launches the ball too low, generates too much backspin and doesn't make solid contact with the center of the face. Specifically, we're not hitting it as far as we should given our respective swing speeds.
They suggest using your average driving distance to help determine if you have a problem:
What's a good estimate for your driving-distance potential? If you're not hitting it 2.5 to 2.7 times your clubhead speed, you need a better-fitting driver, a lesson, or both. This means if your swing speed is 75 miles per hour, you have the potential to hit your drive at least 185 yards. If your swing speed is 100 mph, your distance potential could be as high as 270 yards.
I'm sure you've heard instructors like Michael Breed and Martin Hall say you should make some changes that let you "swing up" with your driver swing. Without going into all the info in the article (read it!) Golf Digest says:
Simple things like shifting the ball forward in your stance, teeing it higher and swinging slightly up on the ball can dramatically change distance. A recent test by TrackMan, whose launch monitor is used on the PGA Tour, found that a swing speed of 90 miles per hour can gain about 30 yards by just swinging up on the ball.
Like I said, take a few minutes to read the article. It's well worth your time if you want to pick up some easy yardage without driving yourself nuts.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Since Tour Pros Are Such Big Sports Fans...

I found this Tuesday and just couldn't resist posting it, although *technically* it isn't golf-related. But since we always hear the PGA Tour pros discussing their favorite sports teams (and the ladies do it as well), and since we're right on the verge of March Madness -- which, for those of you who live outside the States, is what we call the NCAA college men's and women's basketball championships -- this seemed just perfect.

I'm a huge Weird Al Yankovic fan, and this is from his latest album Mandatory Fun. Rather than being a parody of a specific song, it's a parody of college fight songs simply called Sports Song. You can find a version of it on YouTube (I can't embed it because embedding has been disabled for this video) but it's better if you go to this link at the Funny or Die website anyway because they have the high-definition version of the song.

And yes, I know that they're marching on a football field but the college bands always play their teams' fight songs at the March Madness events.

Weird Al leading the marching band

As the tagline says, "'Weird Al' Yankovic doesn't need a full marching band behind him to tell you your team sucks. But it definitely doesn't hurt." Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Swing Like Hahn, James Hahn

I know a lot of you -- like me -- have been watching James Hahn for quite a while, even though he hadn't won on the big tour until this past weekend. But since he won, Golf Digest decided to post a brief analysis of his swing here. I'm posting the video below.



To be honest, his overall swing doesn't look that different from anybody else's -- not even that little drop move at the top of his downswing. The one thing I would point out is most visible in the face-on view, although you'll have to watch closely to catch it.

I want you to look at his waggle. Most weekend players think a waggle is a big movement in which the club traces part of the backswing. Not so! James actually wiggles his backside just a bit with the club head sitting on the ground behind the ball, then he moves the club head vertically up and down a few times -- not a big movement, but enough that you can see it in the video. When he starts back, the bottom of the club head is actually near the equator of the ball, then he lowers it as he swings back.

My point is that you don't have to do something big to start your backswing. As long as you have some kind of movement to keep you from "freezing" over the ball you'll find it easier to get a smoother, more relaxed takeaway.

You can be sure that little bit of movement helped James make better swings when he was putting Paul Casey and DJ away during the playoff. It's a great cure for tension and nervousness when you're standing over the ball.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

By 4:30pm ET Today...

...everybody expects Davis Love III to be named as the next US Ryder Cup Captain. In all likelihood, he will be; I have trouble believing we've gotten so much info about the choice over the last week and it would turn out to be wrong.

In case you didn't see Golf Central last night, here's Tim Rosaforte's report about what to expect. (In case the video didn't embed properly, here's the link to it at golfchannel.com.) And don't be freaked out by that 45 minute time showing on the video player; Rosaforte's report is only a bit more than 3 minutes long. You don't have to watch the rest of Golf Central if you don't want to!



A few high points here:
  • Davis was unanimously voted Captain when the task force first met in December, then reaffirmed as such in the next meeting.
  • Davis will also be announced as a vice captain for the 2018 Ryder Cup -- part of the continuity the task force wants.
  • Although Paul Azinger had withdrawn his name from consideration, he has been very involved as a consultant and some version of his pod system may be the basis of the new setup.
  • Fred Couples is probably going to be a vice captain this time around.
  • Several other changes will be announced as well, including more scheduled practice time for the team.
  • And apparently the players will now be calling the shots about how the team is run, with the PGA having a voice but only a voice.
GC will be carrying the official announcement at 4:30pm ET today if you want to catch it live. I'll be interested to hear the details, if only to see how the task force intends to deal with the interruptions caused by the 2016 Olympics.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Northern Trust Open

Winner: James Hahn

Around the wider world of golf: The Kobra strikes again! Lydia Ko won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open on the LPGA/LET/ALPG; high schooler Hannah O’Sullivan became the youngest ever winner on the Symetra Tour when she won the Gateway Classic; and Anirban Lahiri won the Hero Indian Open on the ET/Asian Tour.

James Hahn

A little bit of rain made the Northern Trust Open oh so much more interesting.

In my opinion, those green complexes weren't meant to be stimped at 12 or 13. When you can't pitch directly onto the green, and when gentle putts from just off the front run 70 or 80 feet across the green and then 30 yards away, the greens need to be a bit softer for the contours! So I was thrilled to see players able to stop shots to the greens.

At least, they'd stop if you were hitting from the fairway... and a number of players simply couldn't hit them. The leading score slowly dropped until we had a 3-way playoff at -6, 3 shots more than when the round started, and none of the playoff contestants was closer than 4 shots off the lead when the day began.

Of course, it didn't seem like it would be much of a playoff. Dustin Johnson was cracking the ball way down the fairway, Paul Casey was methodically picking the course apart, and James Hahn had no Tour wins but a steady game. In all that rain, DJ seemed to be the prohibitive favorite, and he alone hit the first fairway, but virtually nobody faired well on the 18th all day so they all moved on with pars.

On the 10th only Casey managed to hit the fairway -- and he left the ball in the right spot, only to be knocked out by two improbable birdies from the rough.

And then on the 14th Hahn sunk a 25-foot birdie putt to crush DJ. The Player Formerly Known as That Gangnam Guy got his first PGA win on a legendary course against a decorated field.

Of course, getting that first win was the easy part. Now he has to get ready for his first child.

And so it is that James Hahn breaks through for his first PGA Tour win and, not coincidentally, his first Limerick Summary. I guess when it rains, it pours:
Hahn started the day four behind
But, though Riviera’s a grind,
He got to the playoff,
Gave Casey the brush-off
And birdied on DJ two times.
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Leadbetter on Hybrids

David Leadbetter made the following short video for Golf Digest on how to hit hybrids properly. Basically he just says to swing a hybrid as if it were an iron, not a fairway wood, so the 4 basics he gives are a good refresher on how to hit irons as well.



The 4 basics are:
  1. Set your weight a bit more on your lead side to encourage a downward hit.
  2. Move the ball back a bit in your stance, for the same reason. Leadbetter suggests a position similar to your 7-iron.
  3. Be sure to get a full shoulder turn during your backswing.
  4. Stay down on the ball at impact. (Here's my tip: If you find yourself straightening your legs, you're probably trying to jerk the club to start the downswing. Instead, feel as if you're starting down more slowly and "hit the accelerator" when the club is near waist level.)
And remember: Leadbetter says these 4 basics will improve your hybrid play, but they should help your iron play as well.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shaping Shots with Grip Tension and Swing Speed

This is a clip from Martin Hall's 2014 year-end show for School of Golf. (You can tell because if you look closely at the big TV screen in the background, you can see the logo for the year-end "Martini Awards" he gave out.) It focuses on a tip from Johnny Miller on how to create different shot shapes WITHOUT changing your stance or swing plane.

Since some of us have trouble figuring out how to get a draw or fade when we need it, this is yet one more method that may work for you when other methods have not.



Again, bear in mind that you don't have to change your stance or swing plane to use this method. That means you don't have to open or close your stance, you don't have to strengthen or weaken your grip, and you don't have to create an in-to-out or out-to-in swing plane.

You always set up for a straight shot; you just aim to one side of the fairway or the other, depending on what shot shape you want to create. For example, righties would aim to hit a straight shot into the right side of the fairway to create a draw (the shot will curve back to the left, toward the center of the fairway) while lefties would aim to hit a straight shot to the left side of the fairway to get a draw.

Once you get set up, you make two changes:
  • For a DRAW, you want to RELAX your grip and make your downswing SLOWER than your backswing.
  • For a FADE, you want to TIGHTEN your grip and make your downswing FASTER than your backswing.
Here's the logic of this, in case you don't understand immediately.

By relaxing your grip and feeling like your downswing is slower than your backswing, you create a "flippy" motion that will help the club head pass your hands as you hit the ball. That will make the face close and give you a draw.

But by tightening your grip and feeling like your downswing is faster than your backswing, you create a "dragging" motion that keeps the club head from passing your hands. That makes you leave the face open and therefore hit a fade.

It's certainly not the only way to get these shot shapes, and it may not work for some of you because there's definitely some timing involved. But it has the advantage of being simple to try, plus it doesn't require any tricky address changes. If you have trouble creating shot shapes when you need them, a little time practicing this on the range may be just the ticket for shaving a few strokes off your score.