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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

John Cook on Putting at a Links Course (Video)

Since the Open is this week, here's a Live from the Open clip from Monday, with John Cook demonstrating how to putt on a links course when the wind is blowing. This might help you on any windy course, though.



Cook's keys are simple:
  • Widen your stance.
  • Place the ball near the center of your body.
  • Grip down slightly on the grip.
  • Trust your eyes.
I think the "trust your eyes" advice is interesting, especially since -- after setting up with the ball more centered -- John appears to move his ball forward in his stance! Apparently what John sees in this lesson is a bit different than what he says.

This is pretty standard advice, don't you think? But I find Cook's ball position change to be the interesting bit here. No matter how much instruction you hear about how to do something, when it comes to putting, mechanics are no substitute for feel. It's important to make sure you feel comfortable over a putt. If that means you have to break the rules a bit, so be it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 John Deere Classic

Winner: Michael Kim

Around the wider world of golf: Some players won their events outright. Laura Davies crushed the field by ten strokes in the inaugural US Senior Women's Open; Brandon Stone tied the lowest round in ET history (60) to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open; Cameron Champ won the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour; Ben Griffin won the Staal Foundation Open on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Joseph Winslow won the Yantai Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Stephanie Kono won the Donald Ross Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Justin Harding won the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on the Asian Tour. But we also had a couple of playoffs, as Vijay Singh won his first senior major at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship on the Champions Tour; and Thidapa Suwannapura became only the third Thai to win on the LPGA at the Marathon Classic.

Michael Kim with Deere trophy

Illinois was the place for blowouts on Sunday. Laura Davies won the US Senior Women's Open by ten shots, and Michael Kim won the John Deere by eight. What was going on in the Midwestern US, anyway?

Of the two, Kim's was clearly the biggest surprise. Laura has been playing well all season, just not this well. But Kim's game had been... well, nonexistent. Nobody saw this coming, not even him. He had changed coaches less than a month ago, just to get a new set of eyes on his game.

The changes have been quick and decisive.

Kim celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday with his second 64 in as many days (after a 63 on the first day of the event). He couldn't even sleep on Saturday night, but apparently he no longer needs sleep. After three birdies on his first three holes Sunday, it wasn't even a competition anymore.

Not that Kim is complaining.

He said that he felt a bit left out after his fellow members of the "Class of 2011" -- the guys he beat in college -- came out and started tearing up the Tour. You know, guys like Thomas, Spieth, Berger and Schauffele. He's not left out anymore. He got all the perks that come with a victory -- a huge leap in FedExCup points, a full exemption on the Tour, more money than he can fit in his pockets, and exemptions. Oh yes, exemptions -- like the one in next week's Open.

It'll be fun to see what Michael Kim can do going forward. If he's really found the glitch in his swing that was holding him back, he could run up some serious wins like he did in college. But regardless of what the next few weeks hold, he can at least say he picked up a Limerick Summary. What else really matters?
Sixty-three, sixty-four, sixty-four—
But the Birthday Boy had more in store!
Lightning caught in a jar
Sent Kim way under par…
Then he flew to Carnoustie for more!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Laura Davies on Long Drives (Video)

Since Laura Davies is leading the US Senior Women's Open by five shots going into the final round, this video seemed appropriate. It's from the GCA show featuring Laura with Martin Hall.



Now, you can get all the details of how Laura hits the long ball off the tee just by watching the video -- and I'll be honest, Laura uses some keys that I wouldn't teach because I think they lead to inconsistency -- but they work for her, so you can certainly learn from them. They aren't what I want to focus on in this post.

Instead, I'm calling your attention to how Laura isn't sure about calling her grip a 'strong' grip. She says she thinks that's what it's called, but that "she doesn't follow all that sort of thing." However, that doesn't mean she doesn't know what she's doing. She knows exactly how to set her hands on the club -- that IS the entire point of what she's saying.

Bubba is the same way. He says he doesn't know what he's doing, but he means he doesn't know the terminology to explain what he's doing. If he really didn't know what he was doing, he wouldn't be able to maintain his swing at the level he does, for as long as he has, without a teacher.

What is important for a player to know? It isn't terminology, and it isn't being able to teach others. What matters is that you know what YOU need to do in order to get the results you want. It doesn't matter if other people agree with you or not, as long as you know that it works for you.

That's the biggest thing I believe you can learn from Laura: Do what works for you. And if that puts you in position to win big -- like Laura might do today at the inaugural US Senior Women's Open -- then you get the last laugh. And I'm all for that!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Don't Forget the US Senior Women's Open on FOXSports1 Today

It's only a couple of hours coverage today, starting at 4pm ET, but this inaugural event is shaping up to be pretty good.

Trish Johnson and Laura Davies

You can keep check on the scores at the official USGA website. Of course, I'm a bit excited because of how my picks in my "5 to Watch" post from earlier in the week are doing. While Suzy Whaley missed the cut and my sentimental favorite, Pat Bradley, currently sits at T37, my other three picks -- Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Trish Johnson are T1, 2 and T1 respectively.

That's right, three of my picks hold the Top3 spots. I know it's only been two rounds, but it's rare for me to do THAT well.

As I said, I just wanted to remind you about the TV coverage this weekend. With only two hours each today and Sunday, you don't want to miss it.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Alex Nicolson on Making a Target-Oriented Swing (Video)

While Bryson DeChambeau's shoulder is the big news from Thursday, we don't have any real details on the severity of his injury yet. So I decided to post another teaching video instead. This is an older Golf Monthly video featuring teaching pro Alex Nicolson, who demonstrates a couple of drills to help you smooth out your swing by being more target-oriented.



The second drill is simply a club-throwing drill. I'll leave that one to your imagination, if you need help throwing clubs! Instead, we'll focus on the first drill, which is quite interesting.

In order to make your actual swing more closely match your practice swing, Nicolson recommends hitting shots with your eyes closed!

Yeah, that was my reaction as well. But if you can find a place on the range where you aren't afraid you'll hit someone, there's a lot of value to this suggested drill.

If you focus on a mental picture of your target, you'll be forced to think more about hitting to the target and less about actual ball contact. (Sort of like putting with your eyes closed.) And if you can't see when you're about to strike the ball, you're less likely to tense up and ruin the rhythm and sequence of your swing.

I would advise teeing the ball up so you don't worry about hitting the ground so much, and also starting with a half-swing or even less, to build your confidence that you can actually hit the ball with your eyes closed.

While it is a bit odd-sounding, this drill might actually help smooth out your swing. Anything that helps you gain confidence in your ability to hit the ball solidly should do that, because tension can usually be traced to the fear that you won't. If you struggle with a belief in your swing, it's worth a try.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Martin Hall on Drawing a Wedge (Video)

Here's a technique I haven't posted before, so you can thank Martin Hall for this one. Here's Martin demonstrating how to hit a draw with a wedge.



Most of this sounds like typical instruction for playing a draw with any club. I'll use Martin's description, which is for a righthander, and I'll put the lefthander's version in brackets:
  • Aim the clubface at the spot where you want the ball to finish.
  • Aim your body to the right [left] of your target.
  • Twist your forearms as you hit the ball and follow through to close the face. Martin uses a bucket to demonstrate the motion.
I admit that I don't care for all that twisting. While there are times where extra forearm action is needed -- hooking the ball sharply around a tree comes to mind -- you'd generally like to keep your forearms as quiet as possible. However, hooking a wedge is difficult, so I can see where you might need some extra "stuff" to make the wedge shot hook. (I'll have to try it myself and see, when I get a chance. It clearly worked for Bubba at Augusta!)

However, here's an extra key thought that you may never have heard before, and it might help you when you need to draw the ball with other clubs as well. Martin says you want to keep your trailing shoulder high, which may be a bit misleading. It's more like you avoid dropping your shoulder as much as you normally would. (After all, your trail hand is lower on the grip than your lead hand, so obviously your trail shoulder has to be a bit lower than your lead shoulder -- and it will be unless you do something strange. If you do something strange, you'll probably pull the shot as well as hook it... and that's not good.)

Anyway, this is a good thing to remember when you absolutely have to hit a draw with any club, but especially a wedge. Feel as if you're making a level shoulder turn and that should help you get that extra curve you need. The ball should fly lower and hit the green with a lot of spin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the US Senior Women's Open

Well, it's about time, isn't it? And since the USGA finally gave the older gals a major of their own, I'm going to make some picks. Welcome to the US Senior Women's Open!

Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley

The US Senior Women's Open will be held at the Chicago Golf Club -- one of the five founding clubs of the USGA, in case you didn't know -- which will be playing at 6082 yards and a par of 73. There's all kinds of info you can get about the event from this USGA fact sheet, especially concerning the course, its setup and history.

I also want to link you to this great article by Beth Ann Nichols about time she spent with Pat Bradley, who will be playing in this event. The official website is this page at the USGA site, which has all kinds of links to the field. And by letting those articles give you the info you need, I can focus on my "5 to Watch" picks.

True, I often say that it's hard to pick winners for various reasons, but it's rare that I can point to a relative lack of playing time. It's true that there's a Legends Tour, but many of these players haven't played competitively for years. It's enough of an issue that the USGA has admitted they're more or less guessing at how to set the course to make an event that's competitive but not overly difficult. I doubt that will be as much of a problem in future years, but it's a reality for the 2018 edition.

Nevertheless, I have found five ladies who I believe have a serious shot at this title.
  • Laura Davies is still playing on the LPGA, so I think she has a real advantage in this inaugural event. Laura's game is not only sharper than many of the other players, but she still has a lot of her length off the tee. (That's just a function of continued competitive play.) And given the form she's shown this year, she has to make my favorites list.
  • The same is true of Juli Inkster, who, while she's playing a more restricted schedule these days, is still an active LPGA member. There is simply no substitute for competitive play, and even a limited schedule with the youngsters has to be good for them.
  • Trish Johnson is not only still active on the LET, but she's a multiple winner on the LPGA Legends Tour -- in fact, she won only a month ago! She too is in good form for this event.
  • Suzy Whaley, the first female officer of the PGA and soon to be the next PGA president, has played against the male pros before and is still very young for this event -- a mere child of 51, thank you very much. Still very active in the game, I think she also comes in with some confidence.
  • And my flier is Pat Bradley. To the best of my knowledge, Pat isn't playing the Legends Tour anymore. But if her nephew, PGA Tour player Keegan Bradley, can be trusted, her mind is as sharp as ever... and her competitive spirit as well. On a 6000-yard track, I can see her making a run at this thing.
My pick -- perhaps a sentimental one, but I don't care -- is Pat Bradley. I've seen her play some with the men on the Champions Tour, and she has more than held her own. I think she'll surprise a few fans this week, and perhaps more than a few of the competitors!

Actually, I believe quite of number of the ladies are in good enough form to take this event. The Legends Tour boasts more than 120 members, so I suspect this event will be much more competitive than many people expect.

The real bummer here is the minimal TV coverage the event is going to get. However, FOXSports1 will provide at least four hours of coverage on Saturday and Sunday, from 4-6pm ET. How can you miss a historic event like this?