ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Drill for Squaring Your Driver at Impact (Video)

This is a Golf Monthly video hosted by the guys from the MeandMyGolf YouTube channel. It's a drill to help you keep the face of your driver square at impact.



This is a very simple drill. Just grip down on the club until your trailing hand is almost touching the shaft, then make sure the butt of the grip is pointed at your trail hip as your hands pass your hip on the way back. That will help you keep from twisting your forearms on the way back, and that means you won't have to try and twist them forward the same amount on the way down.

Less excess motion means less inconsistency.

I hope you're starting to notice how many instructors are beginning to stress "stable clubfaces" -- that is, that you don't open the clubface on the way back. If you do, the more clubhead speed you create, the less time you have to compensate on the way down... and the more often your ball ends up in the woods. The only time you should even consider twisting your forearms during your swing is when you're playing FROM the woods and have to hit a duck hook around a tree. Please, please, PLEASE stop twisting your forearms on the way back!

You'll thank me for it.

Really, you will.

Friday, August 17, 2018

59 Watches Everywhere! (Video)

It started when Angel Yin shot 29 on her first nine holes to start the 59 watch at the LPGA event. She didn't make it -- she finished at 64 (-8), a personal best for her -- but that was exciting.

Then Lizette Salas got the 59 watch, but she finished at 62 (-10) to take the lead.

Derek Ernest also got the 59 watch at the Web.com Tour event. He finished at 61 (-10).

But Brandt Snedeker did more than get the 59 watch in Greensboro. He GOT the 59 (-11)! Here's his interview with Lisa Cornwell.



What I'd like you to get from this is that Brandt didn't do what many players try to do. Once he knew he had a chance at 59 -- he says it was at the 16th green, when he knew he was one shot away with two holes to go -- he didn't pretend that it wasn't happening. He embraced it and made a plan.

In Brandt's case, that was simply to get a tee shot in the fairway. He had been there before and had played too timidly. He knew his wedges and his putting are his strengths, so he played to those strengths. He would give himself a wedge shot to the green, try to put it where he would have an uphill putt (so he could putt it firmly) and then, when he needed the putt on the final hole, he decided he would go for the birdie and not worry what he might make if he didn't get it. He didn't smash the ball too hard, but he made sure it got to the hole.

He wanted that 59, and he played to get it. And, because he had been there before and failed to get it done, he had a good idea of what he needed to do.

Those are things you can learn from as you try to get better during your rounds. Know what you need to do, play to your strengths and don't worry about what happens if you don't get the results you want. If you get in that position enough times, you'll eventually break through.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thinking Your Way to Breaking 90

Most of the time I write about improving your mechanics or related subjects. Today I want to talk about strategy, and specifically for those of you who are struggling to break 90. That seems to be a mental barrier for many weekend players but, once you learn how to do it consistently, even breaking 80 doesn't seem that far away.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called A Different Approach to Breaking 90. It introduced the concept of "level fives" from a book called (appropriately enough) How to Break 90. The idea is simply that if you average five strokes for 18 holes, you shoot 90. And the book included a quote which, while obvious, may never have occurred to you:
Consider, if you will, that on a par-72 course you can bogey 17 of the 18 holes and still break 90.
As I said, obvious but probably something that never occurs to most golfers who are trying to break 90 for the first time.

By all means, go back and read the post I linked to earlier in this one. Today I'd like to put some numbers to this line of thought. Perhaps it will make the strategy that much clearer to you.

Let's forget about your driver for a moment, maybe even your 3-wood. Do you have a club that you can hit 170-180 yards with reasonable consistency? By "reasonable consistency" I mean you can hit it pretty much that same distance time after time, and you have a decent chance to put it in the fairway each time. It might be a 3-hybrid, or maybe a 7-wood. (For some of you big hitters, it might be just an 8-iron or 7-iron. Whatever.) Let's do a little simple math here.:
  • Two 170-yard shots travel 340 yards.
  • Three 170-yard shots travel 510 yards.
  • Two 180-yard shots travel 360 yards.
  • Three 180-yard shots travel 540 yards.
I'm going to use a 7-wood and the 170-yard distance for this example.

I'll be able to reach a 510-yard par-5 with three shots. If the par-5 is shorter than that, it's two 7-woods and a shorter club. If the par-5 is longer, it's three 7-woods and (probably) a chip or pitch. If my short game is just decent, that should give me a good chance at a bogey six at worse.

I'll be able to reach a 340-yard par-4 in two shots. If the par-4 is shorter than that, it's one 7-wood and a shorter club. If the par-4 is longer, it's two 7-woods and a shorter club. On a lot of those longer holes the third shot will only be a chip or pitch. Again, if my short game is any good, I should have a good chance to walk off with a bogey five at worse.

And even on a long par-3, I'm probably just looking at one 7-wood and a chip or pitch, and I walk off with a bogey four at worse.

If we make a couple of putts somewhere along the way, we could break 90 by two or three shots. And not once will we have had to use one of our longer woods -- you know, the clubs we keep hitting into the rough.

Even if you don't use this strategy on every hole, it's a good one to try on holes on which you consistently find yourself making double-bogey or worse.

Remember: Many times, bad scores are not the result of poor play so much as of poor thinking.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Two Events I'm Watching This Week

Well, I guess everybody will be watching them, but they're the events that have storylines I'm interested in this week.

Defending Indy champ Lexi Thompson

The LPGA will be at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, which is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (aka "the Brickyard," where the Indy 500 is held every year). Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event here, but there are two things that particularly interest me this week.
  • Lexi Thompson is defending her title, and it's her first event back after her self-imposed exile for personal reasons a few weeks back. I'll be interested to see how she plays.
  • I'm equally interested to see how Emily Tubert plays this week. For those of you who missed it, Emily caught the bug for long drives after attending an event a couple of weeks back. This week she decided to try Monday qualifying for the Tennessee Big Shots tournament... and she not only got in, she won the thing! Then she drove to Indianapolis for the LPGA event, which she was already in. I'm curious to see how she does after her unexpected victory.
On the other hand, the PGA Tour will be in my backyard this week, teeing it up at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro NC. As I'm sure most of you know, this is the last regular season event before the FedExCup Playoffs start, so a number of players are under pressure to secure their Tour cards. But there's more on the line than that.

Henrik Stenson is the defending champ, so his card is secure... but his spot on the European Ryder Cup team isn't. A number of players are in the same boat, jockeying for a spot via the World Rankings point list before the Euro automatic qualifiers are determined. Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick are all in the field trying to make it in... or at least begin the "impress the Captain" process.

Ironically, none of the most likely American choices will be at the Wyndham. They have apparently decided to take their chances with the FedExCup events. (I should note that Webb Simpson, who snagged the last qualifying spot, WILL be playing this week. This is a home game for him.) But it's worth noting that some players who are more than a dozen spots down the US list ARE playing this week. These are players who usually play here -- guys like Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore -- and some good play at a place where they're comfortable could give them a jump on the other guys if that play continues during the Playoffs.

I have my own thoughts on who might be the US picks but I'll wait a bit closer to the Ryder Cup to post them. And I need to see who the Euro qualifiers are before I even try to guess theirs!

Bear in mind that both events begin on Thursday this year. The LPGA event was only 54 holes last year, but it's a full 72 this time around. The LPGA event begins at noon ET while the PGA Tour event follows it at 3pm ET, both on GC.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Brooks Koepka's Warm-Up Routine (Video)

The PGA Tour posted this video a couple of months back, showing how Brooks warms up before a round. The video begins 44 minutes before his tee time and even tells you exactly how many shots he takes with each club.



I'm not going to go through this video step-by-step because I really can't make it much simpler. I simply thought some of you might be curious about his pre-round routine, especially since he told the media that he is very meticulous about his routines, both on and off the course.

I don't know that it will make you a three-time major winner, but this is what works for Brooks.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 PGA Championship

Winner: Brooks Koepka

Around the wider world of golf: Kristen Gillman beat Jiwon Jeon to add a second US Women's Amateur to her record (the other was in 2014); Trevor Cone won the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic; Corey Pereira won the ATB Financial Classic on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Lauren Coughlin won the PHC Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Team Sweden3 (Cajsa Persson and Linda Wessberg) won the gold medal in the women’s team golf event at Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course on the LET.

Brooks Koepka with the Wanamaker Trophy

Let's get a couple of things out of the way first, before I forget them.

Teaching pro Ben Kern was the only club pro to make the cut and he finished at T43 (-3), the best finish by a club pro in 13 years. Can't forget the club pros, especially when they play that well!

And both Adam Scott and Tiger, while neither won, should leave Bellerive with a huge confidence boost. Adam proved to himself that he actually can putt. And Tiger actually broke some of his own major records, which says something for how far he's come in less than a year. (Among other records, his 64 was his lowest score ever in a major.)

But the star of the show was Brooks Koepka. His performance was amazing, put him into some rare company at the Majors Club, and almost certainly locked up the Player of the Year award. But you'll be hearing about that all this week, maybe all winter until the Masters next April.

Let's talk instead about how this victory likely changes the competitive landscape on the PGA Tour for the next few months.

With three majors under his belt, Brooks has tied Jordan Spieth and lapped his buddy Dustin Johnson. Even Rory is only one ahead of him now! With this victory -- three of his last six majors -- Brooks has established himself as the "it" golfer of 2018. He's the Golden Boy now and, while he won't be #1 on the OWGR after this win (he will ascend to the top of my own Ruthless Golf World Rankings), there's no question that he's the man to beat going forward.

And with the FedExCup Playoffs and Ryder Cup just ahead, 2018 could get even better for him.

So I'll simply add my Limerick Summary to his haul this week. And I'll do it without a lot of fanfare -- that seems to be how Brooks does things lately.
Hey, Jordan and DJ—step back!
Make way as Brooks gives it a whack
And steps into the record books.
Hist’ry belongs to Brooks;
Now HE’S the head of the pack.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Brooks Looks Dangerous

I have nothing profound to write today, just a few thoughts that are banging around in my head.

Brooks Koepka

First, as the title of this post says, I think Brooks Koepka is very dangerous. The long day on Saturday, along with the extreme heat, plays into his hands. Bear in mind that Brooks didn't have to come back out on Saturday morning and, adding that to his fitness level, he is probably the freshest of the players going into the final round today. He's a hard man to bet against.

Next, the slim two-shot lead Brooks carries into today's round could vanish in an instant if he sprays a few shots. When you start thinking about how many players are within two or three shots of the second spot -- guys like Tiger, Rahm, Fowler, Woodland, Day and Thomas -- a Koepka win is NOT a given.

Finally, don't sleep on Adam Scott. I know the bad rap his putting has given him, especially since the anchoring ban took effect. But Adam's got everything else he needs to run the tables at Bellerive, and all he needs is 18 good holes of putting on greens that aren't all that tricky. And that isn't such a long shot, when you think about it.

One thing is for sure. While the rains prevented the PGA from getting the conditions they wanted for their last August major, they managed to give us a really tight, really competitive leaderboard for Sunday. And I'm not sure a fan can ask for more than that.

But Brooks Koepka certainly controls the outcome here. If he can post, say, a 65 -- just one shot better than Saturday, when he stumbled a bit -- he's going to make it really hard for anybody else to catch him, let alone pass him.