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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Jeff Ritter on "Ten-Foot Tap-Ins" (Video)

Yes, you read that right. This GolfTipsMag video by Jeff Ritter gives you a drill that proves 10-footers are just tap-ins.



Look, we all know that a lot of putting is just mindset. How you think about your putting has a lot to do with how well you actually putt -- just as much as your mechanics do, maybe more. Jeff's drill capitalizes on this.

Simply enough, Jeff suggests that you try making some tap-in putts. Then try to make exactly the same stroke BUT purposely miss the hole to see how far past the ball rolls. He says it will probably be around ten feet! And it that's the case...

Then a ten-foot putt is just a tap-in.

What more do I need to say? This is just something you need to try in order to see if it works for you. After all, wouldn't YOU love to make a few 10-footers and when your friends ask how you did it, you reply, "What's the big deal? It's just a tap-in!"

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Did Brooks Get Snubbed?

It's been THE subject in the golf world. ESPN put out their list of the Top20 Most Dominant Athletes of 2018 and, while Ariya Jutanugarn showed up at #4, Brooks Koepka was noticeably absent.

Brooks Koepka

He even sent out a tweet to show that he noticed it. (It's a little long, so click the link if you missed it.)  For someone who's certainly seemed to be, shall we say, underrated this year, does Brooks have a case?

I'm not so sure. While Brooks had a really good year -- yeah, those two majors DO count for something -- it depends on how you define dominance. Just for fun, I decided to compare the three top players on their respective tours this year:
  • LPGA: Ariya Jutanugarn
  • ET: Francesco Molinari
  • PGA TOUR: Brooks Koepka
Since all three won the Player of the Year Award on their respective tours, let's take a look and see how they compared overall. Just to be clear:
  • POY = Player of the Year
  • Yearlong Race = CME Race to the Globe (LPGA), Race to Dubai (ET), FedExCup (PGA)
  • Money Title = the Regular Season money title, which all the tours also record
  • Scoring Title = Vare Trophy (LPGA), no ET trophy given, Vardon Trophy (PGA)
  • Plus total majors and total wins for 2018 season
So let's see how each of the three did. It's pretty revealing, actually.

Award Jutanugarn Molinari Koepka
POY Y Y Y
Yearlong Race 1 1 9
Money Title 1 1 5
Scoring 1 19 9
Majors 1 1 2
Wins 3 3 3

Of course, each tour offers specific titles and awards which don't have an equivalent on the other tours. But these are the main titles and awards that players are after.

If you define dominance purely in terms of majors won -- and I know many fans do -- then Brooks was clearly dominant. That's especially true since he didn't even play the Masters because of his injury. That means he won two of the three majors he played. That's nothing to look down on!

But if we define domination as "beat everybody at everything," Ariya is clearly in a class by herself. To quote Golf Digest:
She also won every year-end LPGA award she was eligible for: the Annika Rolex Major award, the Leader's Top 10 award (for finishing in the top 10 17 times), the CME Race to the Globe and its $1 million bonus, the Vare Trophy (lowest scoring average), and the money leader title. Dominant, indeed.
You got that, didn't you? EVERY year-end LPGA award Ariya was eligible for, she won. That's dominance on a grand scale. That kind of "blanket dominance" is what the ESPN list was supposed to focus on, as they didn't limit themselves to one sport.

Again, I don't think we should minimize how impressive -- how dominant -- Brooks is when he's playing in a major. But even he has said he needs to win more regular events. Out of 17 events, Brooks had 6 Top10s, roughly 35%. He was tied for 15th in the PGA Tour stats.

Out of 28 events, Ariya had 17 Top10s, almost 61%. That's close to double Brook's average. He has never had more than 8 Top10s in a year, despite a typical schedule of 23-24 tournaments a year. He'd have to Top10 twice as often -- 14 on a full schedule -- to match Ariya's percentage.

All I'm saying is that I don't believe Brooks was snubbed. At least, not if you value dominance in anything other than majors.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Butch Harmon on Chipping with a Hybrid

This Golf Digest article by Butch Harmon tells you how to hit a chip with a hybrid. There's a video included in the article, but it was a bit tricky to embed in this post. You can check it out at the link above.

Butch Harmon hitting a chip with a hybrid

Butch's description reads like one of my lists, so I'll just include his version from the article but break it into an actual list.
  • I use my putting grip because the motion is a lot like a putting stroke.
  • Set up with the ball off the instep of your back foot to make sure you catch the ball first.
  • Stand close to the ball, and choke down on the grip a few inches to shorten the club.
  • The shaft should be pretty upright at address. This will help you make a straight-back, straight-through stroke. If you stand farther from the ball, the stroke will be more rounded, which makes it tougher to make crisp contact.
  • The stroke is a simple back and through with firm wrists.
That's all pretty simple, isn't it? The reason for chipping with a hybrid rather than a putter is to get a bit of loft on the ball, to get the ball on top of the grass. If you've watched the pros putt from off the green with a putter, you'll understand why: The ball gets hung up in the grass much too easily unless the grass is cut very short and just about perfect.

Here's my personal opinion, for what it's worth: While there are many times that a putter will work well from off the green, I don't think you'll go wrong if you just use a hybrid most of the time -- even on short grass. I see no reason to risk getting hung up in the grass if you don't need to. And the more you use this shot, the more consistent you'll become with it.

In any case, it's a very useful shot to have in your short game arsenal.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Harry Vardon on the Search for the Perfect Putter

I stumbled across this paragraph in Harry Vardon's 1905 book The Complete Golfer. Vardon here talks about carrying two putters, but what he says applies equally well to the modern search for the perfect putter. Vardon was positively anal about details, about getting things right, so this is an interesting take on "finding the perfect putter."
I have stated that the golfer may carry two putters in his bag; but I mean that he should do so only when he has a definite and distinct purpose for each of them, and I certainly do not advise his going from one kind to the other for the same sort of putt. There is great danger in such a practice. If he is doing very poor putting with one club, he will naturally fly for help to the other one, and the probability is that he will do just as badly with that. Then he returns to the first one, and again finds that his putts do not come off, and by this time he is in a hopeless quandary. If he has only one putter he will generally make some sort of a success of it if he can putt at all, and my private belief is that the putter itself has very little to do with the way in which a golfer putts. It is the man that counts and not the tool. I have tried all kinds of putters in my time, and have generally gone back to the plainest and simplest of all. I have occasionally used the aluminium putter. It has much to recommend it to those who like this style of implement, and Braid always does very well with it. The Travis or Schenectady putter, which was so popular for a short time after the Amateur Championship last year, owing to the American player having done such wonderful things with it, I do not succeed with. When I try to putt with it I cannot keep my eye away from its heel. But the fact is, as I have already indicated, that you can putt with anything if you hit the ball properly. Everything depends on that—hitting the ball properly—and no putter that was ever made will help you to hole out if you do not strike the ball exactly as it ought to be struck, while if you do so strike it, any putter will hole out for you. The philosophy of putting is simple, but is rarely appreciated. The search for the magic putter that will always pop the ball into the hole and leave the player nothing to do will go on for ever.
I'm not going to dissect what he says here; it's really pretty clear, isn't it? But I'll pull out a handful of quotes that sum up his opinion.
My private belief is that the putter itself has very little to do with the way in which a golfer putts. It is the man that counts and not the tool.
That's pretty straightforward.
But the fact is, as I have already indicated, that you can putt with anything if you hit the ball properly.
Given that he just finished saying that he struggles with a particular type of putter, this strikes me as a very interesting statement. It appears that, while he says you can putt with anything if you hit the ball properly, he also admits that your ability to putt can be affected by things other than your ballstriking. That particular putter that gave him problems? He said he couldn't keep his eyes off the heel of the club. So we have to assume that if the club doesn't look good to you, you won't hit the ball well.

Finally, he says:
The search for the magic putter that will always pop the ball into the hole and leave the player nothing to do will go on for ever.
In other words, there is no such thing as the perfect putter, folks. If you want to putt well, find something that looks good to you and then learn how to hit the ball properly. That appears to be the Vardon approach, and he was known as a deadly putter back in the day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Ghost of Frisbees Past (Video)

I've been using this image for years, but GC's Virgil Herring actually made a video of it! So here, take a look...



The Frisbee image is deceptively simple. It creates a lot of important positions in your swing automatically, but many of you will find it difficult because you keep trying to rotate your forearms. (Tsk, tsk -- haven't you been paying attention to me? That's BAD!)

Bear in mind that you probably won't be using your dominant hand to "throw the Frisbee" in this drill. Right-handed golfers should hold the Frisbee in their left hand, left-handers in their right. But if you want a quick way to learn how to unleash on the ball while keeping the clubface square, this is a drill you should be working with.

One note: In this drill, the Frisbee won't be parallel to the ground at impact. It should be tilted toward the ground, on an angle that matches your lead forearm, to match your swing plane. If you try to get the Frisbee in the "flat" position you use when you actually throw one, you'll be bending your forearm upward at impact -- and that's bad form in a golf swing!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Reminder About the Valentino Dixon Story on GC

This link is to a Golf Digest story about the 27 Years: The Exoneration of Valentino Dixon show that will air on GC tonight.

Valentino Dixon

I won't reprint here all the details that you can simply read over at Golf Digest's site. And I'm sure that many of you have seen the previews being aired on GC.

But I think this sounds like a pretty cool program. It shows how simple things like art and golf can help someone deal with unspeakable injustice, among other things. And perhaps it reminds us just how important hope is -- something that we all need to be reminded of, especially at this time of year and when our world faces so many problems.

27 Years: The Exoneration of Valentino Dixon airs tonight at 8pm ET on GC.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 South African Open

Winner: Louis Oosthuizen

Around the wider world of golf: The team of Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman won the QBE Shootout (aka the Shark Shootout); and Adrián Ploch won the III Malinalco Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Louis Oosthuizen kisses South African Open trophy

It was a toss-up as to which event I would cover this week. The golf is a bit thin this time of year, after all, and I want to find the best story. With teams like Kevin Na/Bryson DeChambeau, Harold Varner III/Bubba Watson and Lexi Thompson/Tony Finau in the field, the QBE Shootout had the potential to be the big story.

Alas, it was not to be. The big story was Louis Oosthuizen's breakthrough in Johannesburg. It was big enough that Louis was reduced to tears and virtually unable to do an interview afterward.

Why? Because (1) he broke a nearly three-year win drought by (2) finally winning his own national Open. He hadn't even played the event since 2011. He started the final round with a three-stroke lead, and lost most of that before laying down a six-stroke victory -- which, by the way, tied the record.

Yeah, pretty big stuff.

King Louis has been fighting back problems for a while. You probably know he travels with his own mattress, simply because one bad night in a hotel can ruin a tournament. And yet that sweet swing of his continues to look as if there's nothing wrong. The TV analysts blame his win drought on a balky putter, but I think constant physical problems cause confidence problems that are much harder to beat.

This week, Louis finally beat them. And it's my great pleasure to award him yet another Limerick Summary. He's been away from the winner's circle for too long.
It’s been three years since Louis’s last crown…
But Louis refused to stay down.
Now his best win in years
Brought this home boy to tears
And he stands tall with well-earned renown.
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.