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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Golf Digest's 2016 Hot List Is Out

Just an update for all you players looking for new clubs this year...

Callaway XR16/Pro Driver

Although the website is featuring the fairway woods on the home page, Golf Digest has posted the 2016 Hot List for all the equipment categories:
  • Drivers
  • Fairway woods
  • Hybrids
  • Game-Improvement Irons
  • Super Game-Improvement Irons
  • Players Irons
  • Wedges
  • Blade Putters
  • Mallet Putters
This time they've just posted photos of the clubs on the main page for each category, and you click to go to a longer review of each club. I only took a quick look but I like this guide much better than the  one they did last year -- more info, easier to read.

Enjoy checking out the new Hot List, even if you're just dreaming about new clubs!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Blair O'Neal's Three-Exercise Core Workout

Since it's so cold around the country I decided to go for another workout video tonight. I really like simple ones, workouts with a minimum number of exercises, so you don't have to spend so much time. After all, most of us don't have two hours to spend in the gym.

So here's a video from Blair O'Neal with three posture exercises you can do inside the house.

Blair O'Neal

Okay, three core and posture exercises:
  1. Single leg rear lift (activate your glutes!)
  2. Lunges
  3. Dead lifts (the movement but without the heavy weights)
You can strengthen your core and improve your posture while you're watching TV (and maybe Blair). What more could you ask for?

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open

Winner: Hideki Matsuyama

Around the wider world of golf: Esteban Toledo won the Allianz Championship on the Champions Tour; Sebastian Munoz won the Club Colombia Championship on the Tour; Danny Willett won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the ET; Shaun Norris won the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open on the Asian Tour; Georgia Hall won the Oates Victorian Open on the ALPG; and Ha Na Jang won the Coates Golf Championship on the LPGA.

And in case you somehow missed it, the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in the Super Bowl.

Hideki Matsuyama with Phoenix Open trophy

Rickie Fowler was uncharacteristically emotional after losing to Hideki Matsuyama in an amazing 4-hole playoff. He had hoped that his grandfather would see him win in person. Instead, he saw his grandson in tears.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, it was water of another kind that brought on those tears -- the water hazard at the driveable par-4 17th. An unexpected hard bounce during regulation sent his ball 360 yards into the water behind the green and a pulled tee shot found the water on the left side during the final hole of the playoff.

Admittedly, Rickie's game had been a bit off all day. Had it not been for his scrambling there might not have been a playoff at all.

By comparison, Hideki had a few missed opportunities after an opening birdie but quickly got his game back under control. His bogey-free 67 matched Rickie for score but was much steadier overall. His birdies on 17 and 18 during regulation forced the playoff, and he never really struggled during those final four holes. He has now gotten both of his PGA Tour wins in playoffs.

During the broadcast Johnny Miller suggested that Hideki might very well turn the "Big3 / Big4" discussion into a "Big5" over the next couple of years. If he keeps this up, it might not take that long; this win jumped him up seven slots to #12 in the OWGR.

It also jumped him up to to two Limerick Summaries. Congratulations, Hideki!
They both wasted shots, yes it’s true…
But waste management’s what the pros do!
As Hideki got better
Poor Rickie got wetter
And the man from Japan got Win Two.
The photo came from the Japan Times site.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Quick Look at Hana Jang's Swing

Yesterday Hana Jang got her first LPGA victory at the Coates Golf Championship, an event she lost in a playoff last season after Monday qualifying just to get in the event. In fact, she was runner-up in four LPGA events in 2015. But she was already a major star on the KLPGA with six wins, two of which were KLPGA majors.

And Jang is quickly becoming a star in the US as well, in large part because she's just a fun person. You can learn a little about her in this bio from the Seoul Sisters blog. And according to this ESPN article, she learned to speak English by watching animated Disney flicks. You gotta love somebody who thinks outside the box!

But while Jang isn't tall -- she's only 5'5" -- she still busts the ball a long way. According to her LPGA stats, last year was her shortest year (255 yards, possibly because she was Monday qualifying for so many events) while she typically averages 10-15 yards farther. How does she do it and still hit so many fairways (near 80% most years)?

Here's a YouTube video from 2013, her best year on the KLPGA.

I've grabbed a frame from this video showing a split view halfway down in her backswing, just as she enters the impact zone. I've also grabbed a similar frame from this 2015 video at the CME Group Tour Championship. Here are the two photos:

Hana Jang 2013 swing

Hana Jang 2015 swing

I've isolated this position because I've written about it before as part of a four-post series I did between 11-25-15 and 11-29-15, specifically in this post about Cristie Kerr and Inbee Park getting in this same position. The trick here -- and what I want you to understand -- is that Jang is a long hitter and yet she doesn't have anywhere near as much wrist cock at Kerr and Park at this position. As you can see, the shaft of her driver is NOT parallel to the ground.

It's clear that, while wrist cock is important, it's not nearly as important as most of us think!

In this post about long drive champion Jeff Flagg I included this quote:
WHAT AM I THINKING ABOUT WHEN I SWING? My only real thought is, Right hand and arm drive the swing. That's it. I'm literally trying to make a sidearm throwing motion—like a 3-6-3 double play in baseball. If more golfers swung with the same motion, as if they were skipping stones, they'd pound the ball.
This "bent trailing elbow position" I talked about in the Kerr-Park post and that you can see Jang doing in this one is the same "sidearm throwing motion" Flagg talks about.

I would suggest going back and re-reading the Kerr-Park post (since there's no sense in repeating it all) and comparing it to what Flagg and Jang do. I'm seriously beginning to think this is the position that most speed drills are trying to get you into so you can get distance. I think I know the perfect drill to help you work on it -- once you know what you're trying to learn, that is -- and I'll try to do a post on that next week. This post is long enough already!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Annabel Rolley on the Reverse Warrior Yoga Pose

I know you'll think this exercise is crazy but it's a multi-purpose workout that strengthens and stretches your muscles, plus it increases your endurance. Annabel Rolley calls it a 'Reverse Warrior Yoga Pose.'

I'm not even going to try and describe it. Just watch the video and copy what Annabel is doing. But having tried some specific yoga poses in the past, I can tell you from firsthand experience that something like this can do wonders for you. Because you're trying to stay as relaxed as possible while you do these types of exercises, they let you do an amazing amount of work without hurting you. Over a period of weeks you really will feel a difference.

Go on, give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Rickie Fowler's Four Checkpoints for Solid Iron Shots

Rickie Fowler has already won in Abu Dhabi this year and he's tied for the lead in Scottsdale after the first round. If you've been watching him blast his irons at the pin -- and, more times than not, hit them right where he intended them to go -- and you wonder what he thinks about when he swings, then you might be interested in Rickie's four-point checklist that he gave Golf Digest on how to hit more greens.

The reason this is important is because... well, there's nothing special about it. Anybody can check these four things at any time during their round if they're having problems with their approach shots.

Rickie Fowler flushing an iron

The four tips are:
  1. Make sure your feet, knees, hips and shoulders are square
  2. Check your posture and make sure you're not too stooped over
  3. Avoid overswinging at the top of your backswing
  4. Be sure you're hitting the ball before you hit the ground
These four things effectively check your alignment (1), your spine angle at address and the top of the swing (2 and 3) and your footwork / weight shift (4).

Those are dreadfully simple, aren't they? You may even feel embarrassed to mention them. But in golf, as with most things in life, it's usually the simplest things that trip us up.

And perhaps because they're so simple, Rickie says not to worry about them if your first few shots are good. Why? Because -- and I think this could be a fifth tip -- the fewer things you think about when you play, the better.

We make a big deal of how much Butch has helped Rickie improve his game. But is it really any surprise that Rickie has become so consistent when his approach is this simple?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ernie Els Attacks the Yips

It's been no secret that Ernie Els has been struggling with his putting, so much that he's been missing 18-inch putts. That's not good, especially if you're a pro.

The irony is that Ernie may have found a solution. At least, according to Golf Digest it seems he has.

Ernie Els putting crosshanded at Joberg Open

Apparently Ernie has gone to a regular length putter -- no word on whether it's counterbalanced or not -- and he's putting crosshanded. (For you lefties out there, that's what righties call "left hand low.") According to the post, Ernie tried it last week at Qatar and didn't miss a putt inside 5 feet.

I should point out that Ernie has been putting crosshanded for a bit longer than that -- just look at the photo above. That's Ernie putting crosshanded at the Joberg Open in mid-January and, since he was missing those short putts the week before, I'm guessing Joberg is the 'official' start of the crosshand test.

I don't know why it took him so long to try it, but I hope it keeps working for him since the rest of his game is still so good. And I'm spending a post of my own on this because maybe it will help some of you who are struggling since the anchoring ban took effect.

And in case you couldn't tell, the photo came from the Getty Images site.