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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Did You Catch This Putting Tip on NBC Saturday?

During their broadcast of the Valero Texas Open on Saturday, NBC very casually tossed out some putting information that may help many of you who have trouble getting your putts on line.

While showing Zach Johnson having some trouble making putts, the announcers mentioned that Zach was trying out a new putter in which he said he was gaining confidence... but NBC showed him missing crucial putts on three successive holes. And Notah Begay III mentioned that Zach's new putter was an offset putter and that hitting putts to the left was a common problem when switching from a straight putter.

Odyssey Works Versa #1 Putter The first thing you need to understand is the difference between a straight and an offset putter. To the right you'll see a photo of an Odyssey Works Versa #1 Putter, which is an offset putter. See the angle in the hosel, that makes the shaft point at the ground in front of the putter face? That's the offset.

And, obviously, a straight putter has a shaft that goes directly into the putter head without any angles.

Notah was speaking about righthanders, so let me rephrase what he said so it applies to anybody:
  • If you switch from a straight putter to an offset putter, it's not unusual to start pulling your putts.
  • And, by the same logic, if you switch from an offset putter to a straight putter, it's not unusual to start pushing your putts.
Or, as an article on putter fitting at PGA.com puts it:
The final two factors, loft and offset, are interrelated. The loft being the angle of pitch on the face of the club and offset being the amount the face of the putter is set back from the shaft of the club. The loft and offset affect the roll of the golf ball and, most importantly, how the player aims the face of the putter...
The combination of loft and offset's effect on aim has to do with how an individual's eyes function. The way a person's eyes work together influence how he sees the face of the putter relative to the target line at address. If a person tends to aim left he should have a putter with less loft and or offset. A putter with more loft and offset will help a person whose tendency is to aim too much to the right.
While the offset of a preexisting putter cannot typically be changed, the loft of the putter is normally very easy to change using a loft and lie machine.
That's some important information to know. If you're having trouble getting your putts on line, it may not be your mechanics that are at fault. Rather, the offset (or lack of) on your putter may be affecting the way you aim and you don't even know it!

As the article states, there's not much you can do about offset; it's not usually adjustable. Short of buying a new putter, you might want to try changing your address position a bit. If you have an offset putter and you're pulling your putts, you might try moving the ball back slightly in your stance.

Likewise, if you have a straight putter and you're pushing your putts, you might try moving the ball slightly forward in your stance.

You might also try one of Martin Hall's putter alignment tricks: Put a yardstick down on the ground, pointing it toward the "hole" (which might just be a target if you're practicing indoors). Use the flat end of the yardstick which is farthest from your target as the "ball," and practice addressing it so that the face of the putter is flat against the end of the yardstick. If you're having this problem, you'll find out very quickly.

The important thing to learn here is that putting problems aren't automatically caused by poor putting mechanics. You may simply have a putter that's hard for you to aim... and that's one of the rare times when you can actually buy an improvement in your game.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lucy Li Is Back in the News

And so is Kathleen Scavo, the teenager that Li beat out for a spot at the 2014 US Women's Open. According to Golfweek, the two have teamed up and qualified for the USGA's inaugural US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball next month. How cool is that?

Lucy Li and Kathleen Scavo

The article says the two former competitors medaled at Pasatiempo Golf Club on March 26, making them one of four teams to advance from that site. There will be 64 teams total, to be finalized this coming Monday.

When the article calls this "a delightful boost" to the event, I have to agree. This new USGA tournament has been somewhat under the radar up to this point, but Li should bring a certain amount of recognition to the event after charming the media at last year's Open.

And the teammates' ages -- 12 and 17 -- will also be somewhat newsworthy to media outlets outside of golf, although they aren't the youngest team to qualify so far. That honor belongs to a couple of 13-year-olds. (Read the article if you want the details!)

I just hope the USGA makes sure there's plenty of ice cream at the event. We all know how Lucy likes her ice cream!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Martin Hall's Gravity Drill

If you've read this blog for any length of time or read any of my books, you know I make a big deal out of what I call "the gravity swing." I think it's a vital concept for any golfer who wants to get better because it makes many of the basic swing fundamentals happen almost automatically.

Well, Martin Hall has finally posted a drill video that focuses on using gravity in your swing. It's one of his Night School videos -- which means it wasn't shown on the TV show -- and it specifically focuses on your downswing (my gravity drills usually focus on the entire swing motion). It's very simple... and you've got to love drills that reference both Fred Flintstone and the Karate Kid!



Martin calls this a "gravity drop" and it helps you incorporate the feeling of your arms falling into your downswing move. It's very simple and I recommend you try it.

One thing I'd like to point out: Although Martin makes a big deal out of the lower body shift when you actually incorporate this into your swing -- and I do think Martin (like many instructors) exaggerates that hip slide to the point that it will cause back pain -- pay close attention to how Sara Brown swings using the move. She does NOT make a huge hip slide yet makes a very good swing.

One extra note: Those of you who watch School of Golf will know that Sara has a problem with pull-hooking. Please note that she hits the ball almost straight by using this move, even though it is likely the first time Martin had her try it. (Martin has often said that she is doing things for the first time on the show.) It will help you straighten a slice as well because, by relaxing your arms, you won't stop the natural tendency of your hands to square up the club face as your body rotates. It's worth a little of your practice time!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Ladies Tune Up for Their First Major

Next week, just ahead of the Masters, the ladies will play their first major -- formerly the Kraft-Nabisco Championship, now called the ANA Inspiration. Their tune-up this week is the Kia Classic, which has been pretty competitive since its inception but looks to be even more interesting this time around.

First of all, according to Tony Jesselli's preview of the event, 97 of the Top98 players on the LPGA Priority List will be teeing it up. (The one exception is Azahara Munoz, who's still recovering from hand surgery. In case you didn't hear, the lump turned out to be a harmless -- albeit painful -- cyst.) If getting on form for the Inspiration wasn't enough to get their juices flowing, this event also has a fairly large purse and 500 Race to the CME Globe points up for grabs.

Player hitting out of sand

A number of players who have yet to qualify for the LPGA's first major of the year are also in the field. (Just like the men playing the two Texas events trying to get in the Masters.)

And then we have the ever-present battle between Ko, Park and Lewis. Here are the scenarios for a potential shift in the World #1, as projected at LPGA.com. (We have these almost every week now, don't we?)
Ko retains No. 1 if:
  • She finishes in a three-way tie for second or better even if Park wins.
  • Park finishes in a tie for second or worse regardless of what Lydia does
Park can go to No. 1 if:
  • Park wins AND Ko finishes in a four-way tie for second or worse.
  • Ko misses the cut AND Park finishes in solo second or better.
No. 3 Stacy Lewis cannot go to No. 1 regardless of what happens this week but she can move up to No. 2 if she wins and Park finishes in third or worse.
So a number of things are in play this week, all of which promise to make the Kia Classic worth watching. GC will carrying LIVE coverage of every round starting at 6pm ET beginning tonight. Prime time women's golf -- you gotta love it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vote Now for the Ultimate Golf Excuse

I just discovered this Tuesday over at Golf Digest and it looks like fun so I'm passing it on.

Since we here in the States are in the midst of March Madness, the annual college basketball playoffs, Golf Digest decided to have a playoff for the Ultimate Golf Excuse. The competition is currently in the second round and you can go to this link at their website to place your votes.

Ultimate Golf Excuse bracket

You get to vote for 8 match-ups right now -- 2 each in the Physical, Distraction, Equipment and Golf Course "regions." The ballots are below the full-size version of the bracket you see above.

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More About Matt Every's Head Tilt

I mentioned this in yesterday's Limerick Summary, and then Michael Breed brought it up again on The Golf Fix Monday night. Matt Every's efforts to correct his head tilt at address are more than just one golfer's problem.

Here's the video of Matt and Michael talking early last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Michael played it again last night, and I noticed something that I missed when he first showed it last week -- namely, Michael says he believes the same head tilt problem affects Jordan Spieth. Take another look at this segment from the show:



Why is Michael Breed making such a big deal of this head tilt / eye line alignment?

Think back to your driver's ed classes. Didn't your instructor tell you to keep your eyes on the road and not look off to the side? Did your instructor ever tell you why? I was lucky, I guess, because mine did.

He told me that you tend to drive toward whatever you're looking at!

If you start looking at something off the left side of the road -- say, at a wreck in the other lane -- you'll start to turn the steering wheel in that direction, no matter how hard you try not to. And yes, I've tried it out when I was on a deserted road and didn't have to worry about wrecking. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't keep the car from drifting into the left lane.

You have a natural tendency to drive and throw and even walk in the direction you're looking. And if your address position points your gaze in a direction you don't really want the ball to go, you're still likely to hit the ball in that direction no matter how your body is aimed. It's worth taking some extra time to practice setting up with your eyes parallel to your intended line of flight.

Just look at how much it helped Matt Every this past week.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational

Winner: Matt Every

Around the wider world of golf: Hyo Joo Kim won the JTBC Founders Cup on the LPGA; Marco Dawson won the Tucson Conquistadores Classic on the Champions Tour; Dawie van der Walt won the Chile Classic on the Web.com Tour; Diego Velasquez won the 68 Avianca Colombia Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Akane Iijima won the T-Point Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details). The Madeira Islands Open had to be cancelled due to horrible weather, so the ET is working to find a reschedule date.

Matt Every

The 54-hole leader curse is still alive after 9 weeks. It's good to be the chaser on Sunday!

Henrik Stenson looked to be the prohibitive favorite going into the final round, and yet-to-win Morgan Hoffmann appeared poised for his first win after a strong finish Saturday. But it was defending champ Matt Every who found the way to get it done, shooting 66 versus Stenson's 70 and Hoffmann's 71.

In doing so, Every becomes only the third player to win back-to-back APIs, with Tiger and Loren Roberts being the only other two. He's also the first Big Breaker -- male or female, I believe -- to get multiple wins on a big Tour (PGA, ET, or LPGA).

Sean Foley has developed a reputation for being overly technical but his work with Every seems to be anything but. GC noted that Foley had no intentions of changing Every's tendency to get up on his toes when he hits the ball, and then we get this interesting note from Brian Wacker over at PGATOUR.com about Every's work with Foley:
“It's a weird game,” Every said. “Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards and I feel like that's what I did.”
Last fall, Every was worn out and frustrated by a lack of results with his game -- he had six missed cuts and a WD in his final 13 starts of the year. He was ready to change his body and his game.
Every began working out on the road with trainer Craig Davies when a spot became available and there was another vacancy when Tiger Woods parted ways with coach Sean Foley last August.
Foley could see Every’s talent and sometimes wouldn’t say a word during their range sessions. He also provided clarity -- an understanding of why the ball would do what it did.
In layman’s terms, Every was lining his eyes up to hit a draw but everything else was set up for a fade, which is a shot he likes to play. Foley adjusted his eye line over the ball.
“From a sensory standpoint, he was crossing himself up,” Foley said “I’ve worked with a lot of players who could never make that change because it would look too scary to them.”
Every was open to change, though.
It certainly seems to be working. And Every said Sunday that his putting practice was based around that "tilted head" problem... and that it was a problem he had been working on for some time. All those changes worked well this week. It will be interesting to see how he performs going forward.

Dare I suggest that we have Every indication he'll do well?

In the meantime, Matt picks up an invite to the Masters and yet another Limerick Summary.
We thought it might be Stenson’s day;
Then Hoffmann stepped up, had his say…
But the prize went to Matt
As he won back-to-back,
His game strong in Every way.
The photo came from this page over at PGATOUR.com.