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Friday, October 9, 2015

How to Lose the Same Hole Twice in One Match

In case you missed it, this is one of the craziest rule infractions I've ever heard... and apparently even the rules officials got it wrong!

Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson

Here's the deal: The US team of Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson are playing fourballs against the International team of Adam Scott and Jason Day. The teams are all square on the 7th tee. Then Phil tees off with a different type of Callaway ball, apparently to get more distance off the tee. It appears that this is legal in most of the matches.

But according to the Captain's Agreement, this is a rules infraction in fourballs only that will result in an "adjustment" of the score at the end of the hole. Phil was apparently told -- incorrectly -- that he was DQ'ed from the hole so he picked up his ball and Zach finished out on his own.

Now it gets interesting.

Zach lost the hole so Scott and Day go 1up. THEN the score gets adjusted... and Scott and Day are now 2-up. And once they tee off on the 8th, Phil can no longer go back and finish out the hole.

As a result, Phil and Zach lost the same hole twice. And US Captain Jay Haas told GC that they were trying to find out exactly what Phil was told and whether that affects the ruling in some way, so rules official Mark Russell entered the fray. The matches continued, of course, but the momentum had changed as the International team appeared to flip another losing session into a winning one. I don't know that this one match was responsible for all of that, but I suspect it will get the credit. We humans like to have simple explanations for things, after all.

And just to make things more interesting, even the live scoreboard at didn't get the score correct. They never showed the 2up score.

While I was writing that, Phil and Zach won the 9th hole and went to only 1down. The live scoreboard then showed that match all square... still incorrect.

After the meeting with Mark Russell, Jay Haas received an apology. It seems the ruling committee did indeed tell Phil he had been DQ'ed. which was an error. However -- and we shouldn't really surprised by this, since this is how it works in most sports when the officials make a bad call -- Russell said there was nothing they could do about now. (Will something be done later? That remains to be seen, but I seriously doubt it.)

In the meantime, Phil and Zach got the match back to all square... and the live scoreboard was STILL wrong! And the momentum seemed to be changing again, although the International team still led the session overall.

It's crazy rules like this that make golf incomprehensible to most people, even if they play the game. How did such a weird thing get into the Captain's Agreement in the first place? It seems to me that, since you can't make adjustments to clubs during play, you shouldn't be able to change the type of ball you use either. Rules should make the game simpler, not harder to understand.

The irony of it all is that this could be the very thing that finally turns the Presidents Cup into a competitive match. Remember what happened after 'GimmeGate' at the Solheim Cup a couple of weeks back! The question becomes... who will finally gain that competitive edge?

But given that Phil just holed out from a fairway bunker for eagle at 12 to put him and Zach back in front, I'm not so sure it will be the International team.

Btw, as I finished up this post, the live scoreboard at STILL hadn't got it right.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The LPGA Is in Asia Too

While the men tee it up in South Korea at the Presidents Cup, the LPGA has begun its Asian Swing. The first event in this five-tournament series is the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, held in Kuala Lumpur at the appropriately named Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Kuala Lumpur G&CC clubhouse

Tony Jesselli has done his typically well-done preview of the event at this link, and I recommend you take a moment to check it out. In this post I'll focus on a couple of things not in Tony's fine piece.

I found this interesting tidbit at the LPGA site, which you should know in case you're one of those people who believe that the LPGA plays courses that are not as good as the PGA or European Tours:
Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, the host of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, holds a distinction that no other venue in the world can claim in 2015. KLGCC will have hosted a PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and European Tour event all in the same year.

This week Malaysian fans will get a glimpse of women’s golf’s best taking a crack at the East Course at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club with the LPGA’s stop sandwiched between the European Tour’s visit in early February for the Maybank Malaysian Open, which Anirban Lahiri won, and the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic. The CIMB Classic will tee off October 30 here on the West Course.
Don't underestimate the women's game, folks. There's a reason that I say watching them can help you improve!

The defending champion here is Shanshan Feng, but 10 of the 12 Solheim Cup players are also in the field. (Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lincicome aren't playing.) We often talk about 'bumps' for players after a team competition, so perhaps it's no surprise that the leader -- at least, the leader as I'm writing this -- is Alison Lee. Lee was at the center of "GimmeGate" (one of the coolest -gate names I've heard yet!) and bounced back by winning her singles match that afternoon. Alison and Gerina Piller are the only two US players without wins, so maybe this will be the week one of them breaks through.

Obviously GC's coverage of the event will be tape-delayed but at least we'll get to see some of the action now that the women are back in action. GC's first round coverage runs for two hours today, starting at noon ET.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why Trailing Arm Arc Is Important

I know you probably expected a post about the Presidents Cup but we've got plenty of time for that this week. Instead, I want to look in more detail at something Michael Breed discussed on Monday's Golf Fix. (I looked for a video clip at the GC website but it's not up yet.)

Breed called that something TRAIL ARM ARC but many players and teachers refer to it differently. Annika Sorenstam, for example, has talked about how she tried to feel as if she was pushing her trailing hand away from her shoulder when she reached the top of her backswing. Breed's 'trail arm arc' is the same thing.

The reason I decided to write about it is because this 'move' helps you create more clubhead speed, although the logic behind it may not be readily apparent to you. But the concept itself is really simple to understand.

To help explain this I'm using another of my stick figure drawings. The reason I use stick figures and not photos is because ten people can be in the exact same position and all will look different. However, stick figures always show the same angles, and those angles are what you need to understand. So here's the drawing:

Trailing Arm Arc drawing

Let's focus on the top two figures first.
  • The thick dark lines represent your shoulders and the thin black vertical line represents your spine. The letter 'b' represents the angle your shoulders turn.
  • The straight blue line represents your lead arm, which is straight of course, and the small black circle represents your hands.
  • The bent black line represents your trailing arm, which is bent at the elbow. The angle of that bend is labeled 'a'.
  • And the thin green line extending across the drawing represents where your hands are at the top of your backswing. The club shaft would be pointing down this line, over your shoulders and toward your target.
The drawing labeled '1' is the SHORT trailing arm arc, and the drawing labeled '2' is the LONG trailing arm arc. And remember, the term 'trailing arm arc' is just a fancy term to describe pushing your trailing hand a bit farther away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your backswing.

Are you with me so far?

Now, you may have heard that the 'textbook' amount of bend in your trailing elbow (that's 'a' in the drawings) is around 90 degrees. And if you look at my drawings, you'll see that the LONG arc is just a little over 90 degrees. That's because it's really hard to push your hands very far away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your swing.

You should be asking yourself, "Why?" The answer to this question is why pushing your trailing hand away from your trailing shoulder creates more clubhead speed.

When you push your trailing hand away from your trailing shoulder, you force yourself to make a bigger shoulder turn -- or 'coil' if you prefer that word.

Look at the difference in 'b' between those two drawings. The SHORT arc gets the hands to the top of your backswing without out creating very much shoulder coil at all! However, the LONG arc creates a much bigger shoulder coil, which lengthens your swing and gives you more time to build speed during your downswing.

And if you look at the bottom drawing in the the gray box, you'll see a drawing with the SHORT arc's shoulder turn but the LONG arc's hand position. See how the hands are nowhere near the top of the backswing? That's because the swing is so much shorter, and that's why it doesn't create as much swing speed.

So let me sum this up: The reason you want a LONG Trailing Arm Arc is because it forces you to make a bigger shoulder turn, and a bigger shoulder turn helps you create more swing speed.

I hope that helps you understand why Breed made such a big deal out of this, and why so many players and teachers talk about pushing your hands away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your backswing. It's all about creating a big shoulder coil.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TaylorMade's First Un-Metal Wood

I know you've seen TaylorMade's commercials for the new M1 driver, which they are calling an "un-metal wood." Golf Digest put up an article about the new driver (and the associated fairway woods, hybrids and irons) about a month ago and it's clear that we've got even more adjustments to deal with now.

Take a look at this picture from the article. While a lot is being made of this being TaylorMade's first driver to use a composite top instead of a titanium one -- it not only reduces weight, it lowers the clubhead center of gravity down to the middle of the face -- it's those sliders on the bottom that caught my eye.

Yes, there are TWO of them. That's as new for TaylorMade as the composite top.

The two weight adjustment sliders on the M1 driver

One slider adjusts a 15-gram weight from heel to toe so you can give the driver a fade or draw bias. The other slider moves a 10-gram weight from face to back that lets you change the trajectory of your shot. That's pretty cool.

Then add in the 12-way adjustment that gives you a plus/minus 2 degrees of loft change -- see the black knob on the hosel? -- and you've got one seriously adjustable driver.

I'll be honest with you. While I like adjustability in a driver, I don't like all those little crevices where mud can get in. Clubheads are hard enough to keep clean without all the slots and ridges! But such things make it easier to get a club that fits you, so I guess we just have to live with it.

While the fairway woods and hybrids (also in the M1 line) also include all the adjustments (although with different weights and slider placement), the new irons focus on using a variety of slots in the face and sole to improve their playability, along with thinner faces. They're called the PSi and PSi Tour irons (the Tour model has smaller heads).

You can read the whole article over at Just be aware that this new tech comes at a price -- $500 for the driver, $300 for the fairway woods, $250 for the hybrids, $1100 for the PSis and $1300 for the PSi Tours.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Tour Championship

Winner: Emiliano Grillo

Around the wider world of golf: Thorbjørn Olesen won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the ET (the pro-am team of Florian Fritsch and Michael Ballack won the team division); Danny Chia won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on the Asian Tour; and In-Gee Chun won the Japan Women’s Open, the second JLPGA major of the year (bangkokbobby has details).

Emiliano Grillo

I didn't get to see much of the final round of the Tour Championship on Sunday. I and some friends were trying to get back to North Carolina from Hilton Head, and the historically heavy storms that hit South Carolina were determined not to let us pass. First I-95 was under 10 feet of water and all the surrounding roads were shut down as well; we were forced to backtrack 20 miles or so to try another route. And while we made it home going that way -- trust me, we are extremely grateful to be home, because this is an unprecedented disaster in our region of the States -- we saw plenty of signs of the devastation, including a car completely submerged except for its roof where it was deserted while still clearly in the middle of an exit ramp!

While the battle for Tour cards was hardly as life-threatening as those storms, it was nonetheless a life-changing event for a number of players. Chez Reavie won the Golden Ticket for the Tour playoffs while Patton Kizzire kept his hold on the Golden Ticket for yearlong Tour play. The guys who came in at the lower end of the card privileges still get the chance to play the Big Tour, even if they aren't fully exempt. And the other guys each have their own tales of fortune or woe. You can see the final rankings for the 50 new card holders at this link.

Emiliano Grillo defintely gets one of the better stories. As yet another member of 'Class of 2011' which includes Jordan Spieth and friends, there are a lot of expectations on him. If you've been watching him this year -- and in this tournament, with the pressure on -- you know he'll likely be just as good as his compatriots.

What I DID get to see Sunday was nothing different from what Grillo has shown us all year. Tied with Reavie on the 18th hole, all he did was drain a 20-footer for birdie, forcing Reavie to do the same if he wanted a playoff. Reavie couldn't do it, and Grillo walked off with the title. Just like Spieth and the other early-20-somethings, he has that 'something' that tells fans he means business... and that he can finish that business as well. I won't be surprised to see him build a huge following on Tour.

And since he holds the fourth card, I suspect he'll have plenty of chances for those potential followers to see him. He just might -- if you'll forgive the pun -- take the Tour by storm.

In the meantime, I offer the young Argentinian this congratulatory Limerick Summary to add to his rather substantial haul:
His accurate play is the reason
He’s bound for the Big Tour next season.
His Spieth-like intensity
Shows the propensity
Grillo might have for fan-pleasin’.
The photo came from this wrap-up page at

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Some New Guys Learn How Quickly Things Can Turn

Over at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, two new pros made their debuts with stellar performances on Day 1 and Day 2... and less-than-stellar performances on Day 3.

Those two players, of course, were Paul Dunne and Jimmy Mullen (pictured below). After two rounds Mullen had a share of the lead and Dunne was just a shot back.

Jimmy Mullen

Then Carnoustie happened. Dunne dropped back to T13 with a par 72, Mullen to T21 with a two-over 74. Meanwhile, other players went low at St Andrews and Kingsbarns:
  • Joakim Lagergren picked up eight shots on his back nine at Kingsbarns to post 62. He's now T4.
  • Two other players shot 64s -- Florian Fritsch (2nd) at Kingsbarns and Brooks Koepka (T8) at St Andrews.
  • And Thorbjorn Olesen shot 65 at St Andrews to take the lead at -17, three clear of Fritsch.
Personally I like Olesen's chances today. He's been battling injuries but finally seems to be past them... and his putter is heating up. His rounds of 68-66-65 may be the most consistent in the field, and that 65 came on St Andrews. That's where the final round will be played today.

As for Dunne and Mullen, they've got their work cut out for them. Not only did they lose ground on Saturday but neither shot better than -3 when they played St Andrews on Friday. They're getting a firsthand lesson on how rapidly pro golf -- as opposed to amateur golf -- can turn on you.

But I believe there's a silver lining for both players. You see, each player had his best showing at Kingsbarns with a 64. Given that Kingsbarns is a bit more 'American' in its style of play -- it's more target golf than links golf -- this may bode well for both in the majors going forward, as most of those courses tend to be more target-oriented.

That's not gonna help them much this week. Still, both should get decent checks for their first outings as pros, and that's always good for a player's confidence. We'll need to keep an eye out for them over the next few months and see how quickly they can get into the flow of pro golf.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Using a Cup from the Sand to Help You Get in the Cup

The October issue of Golf Magazine has an unusual short game drill. Joe Hallett -- you may know him because he teaches Stacy Lewis on the LPGA -- mentions this drill as a way to help you hit better sand shots from greenside bunkers. It's on page 41 of the issue (and, if you have the Digimarc Discover app on your phone or iPad -- it's a freebie app, btw -- you can scan the photo there and see a demo video).

All you need is one large plastic drink cup. (Based on the photos in the mag, I'd guess it's a 9-ounce cup.)

Here's how you do the drill:
  • Drop your ball in the sand.
  • Set the cup over the ball, upside down. You don't put anything (like more sand) in the cup, you just want to cover the ball with the empty cup.
Hallett says the rim of the cup is about the right size for the amount of sand you want to 'take out' with your swing. And since the cup hides the ball, you'll tend to concentrate on the sand you want to hit.
  • Address the cup just as you would normally address the ball.
  • Then make your swing. Try to enter the sand just behind the back edge of the cup and exit the sand just past the front edge.
If you do it correctly, Hallett says that both the cup and the ball should land on the green.

Oh, and one other thing. He says you might want to find a part of the practice area where you'll get a little privacy. After all, it might look a bit strange to some folks...