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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Are 'Hook Putts' Really Easier to Make? (Video)

This GC video from Billy Kratzert and Notah Begay III tries to explain the science behind the belief that players make more putts that curve around them than putts that curve away from them. It's roughly 5.5 minutes long. However, I'm not sure it's completely successful. Take a look:



For many of you, that circle with the percentages is confusing. Let me try to help. If you imagine a flat green with an axis that runs through the 9 and 3 o'clock positions, the 12 o'clock position is the high side and the 6 o'clock position is the low side.

Remember, they're talking about righthanders here. For a leftie on the same slope (12 o'clock high), the percentages would be flipped. In other words, for a leftie, the 1 o'clock and 11 o'clock percentages would flip, the 2 and 10 percentages, and so on. But I'll just use the circle as you see it in the video and discuss it as a rightie.

If you look at the circle, you'll see an interesting contradiction. Regardless of which way the putt curves, the putts directly on either side of the hole (between 2 and 3 o'clock and between 10 and 8 o'clock) are almost equally hard to make. Conversely, the second-easiest putt is the one from 12 o'clock, the one going straight downhill:
  1. 48.2% is at 5 o'clock
  2. 47.1% is at 12 o'clock
  3. 46.2% is at 7 o'clock
  4. 40.9% is at 4 o'clock
  5. 40.1% is at 6 o'clock
All of the putts between 4 and 7 o'clock are high-percentage shots, better than 40%. So it would appear that not all slice putts are so hard to make. Take some time to study that circle and I think you'll find that some of the slice putts are pretty high-percentage.

It seems to me that Notah has a more helpful tip in the last minute or so of the video. He says the problem seems to be more about the toe of the putter being raised too high on the slice putts. (Hey, we all know that some good players routinely putt with the toe in the air. We'll ignore that for now.) The key, based on what Notah says, is to make sure the sole of the putter rests flat against the slope of the green.

And yes, I know that Notah misses the slice putt he attempts around the 4:45 mark... but if you look closely, you'll also see that he has the toe raised. That's the very thing he says you shouldn't do!

So what do I think you should learn from this video?
  • Slice putts aren't necessarily harder to make than hook putts. Rather, the straighter the putt is -- and the more uphill it is, regardless of whether it's a slice or a hook putt -- the easier that putt will be to make. (Duh!)
  • If you want to make a higher percentage of slice putts, make sure you sole the putter on the green the same way for all putts.
Simple ideas, but putting well is usually about simple things. Remember that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lee Westwood on Winning at 45 (Video)

Today I've got a link for you. When Lee Westwood relives his win at last year's Nedbank Golf Challenge, he also lays out a strategy for weekend players trying to play their best golf.

Defending champion Lee Westwood

The video is called Longevity, and it's appropriately named. Last year's win was Lee's third at Sun City, and his observations on how a 45-year-old won against an elite field are useful. He talks about focusing on your strengths and recognizing how they fit the course you're playing, and about how sometimes you have to attack a course by recognizing where and when to play away from the hole. It's a great player remembering how he did what he knows how to do... and how it was good enough, even when most thought him too old to really compete.

The video is around 12 minutes long and worth listening to, just to hear Lee's version of a dominating performance that broke a three-year winning drought. I know I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Mayakoba Golf Classic

While the Southeast US braces for a wintry blast, Twofer Tuesday flees to the balmy waters of Mayakoba... and the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Defending champion Matt Kuchar

The El Camaleón Golf Club at Mayakoba Resort has more in its favor than just great weather, however. Straight hitters are not penalized here. In fact, they are rewarded by the course because the less you have to scramble, the better your chances of winning.

Then again, you can make a great argument that just being in Mayakoba is a win. But I digress...

Last year was Matt Kuchar's time to shine as he broke a 4.5 year drought. That win launched him into one of the best years of his career, and it could very well happen to a similar player this year. The 7017-yard, par-71 course is exactly the kind of track you want to play as you enter the holiday season, likely with your family in tow for a nice year-end vacation.

So who might come out on top this year?
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Viktor Hovland once again. While he hasn't quite put it all together yet, he continues to play solid golf and rack up those Top25s. It's easy to forget he's only played eight PGA Tour events since turning pro... and five of those are Top25s, with two being Top10s! Mayakoba was his first pro event as an amateur and he missed the cut, but he's not the same player now. It's just a matter of time...
  • And my pick to win is Scottie Scheffler. I've taken Scottie to win several times this year and he's let me down each time -- I seem to pick him on his off weeks. But he's been playing well since getting his Tour card back this season, with a T3, T7 and T16 in five events. Maybe I'll catch him on form this time.
GC's live coverage begins Wednesday at 1pm ET. If the nasty weather that's predicted hits us this week, it'll be nice to at least see some warm weather.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Turkish Airlines Open

Winner: Tyrrell Hatton

Around the wider world of golf: Jeff Maggert won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the Champions Tour, but Scott McCarron picked up the Charles Schwab Cup itself; Ai Suzuki won the TOTO Japan Classic on the LPGA; Puma Domínguez (what a cool name!) won the Neuquén Argentina Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Ho-Sung Choi won the HEIWA PGM Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; and John Catlin won the Thailand Open on the Asian Tour.

Tyrrell Hatton with Turkish Airlines trophy

Not a bad week for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Bernd Wiesberger (49) to win and Kurt Kitiyam (T2) to Top10, and Kurt very nearly won the thing!
  • Winners: 3 for 45
  • Place well (Top10): 19 for 45 (11 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 36 of 90 (21 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Tyrrell Hatton probably wasn't high on most fans' list, especially when he began the final round three shots back. With so many low scores being shot over the weekend, the idea that Matthias Schwab wouldn't break 70 was almost inconceivable. But that's exactly what Schwab did, and Tyrrell managed a birdie on the final hole to card a 67 and gain a spot in a six-man playoff.

There have only been two other six-man playoffs in ET history, the last coming in 2003. If the Tour wanted to get the Race to Dubai Playoffs off to a scorching start, this was certainly the way to do it!

Tyrrell chipped in for birdie on the first playoff hole to keep his hopes alive and then, as darkness fell over the course and the Tour turned on the artificial lighting, he held on to win with a par on the fourth playoff hole against Schwab.

It was his first win in a couple of years, and it couldn't have come at a better time for him. It jumped him all the way to #6 in the Race to Dubai standings. With just two weeks left in the Playoffs I don't know if he's got enough time to win the thing. But I'm guessing he'll finish well enough to have a great Christmas, don't you?

And of course, he picked up a shiny new Limerick Summary. Let's not underestimate how much that means!
He started the day three behind…
But winning was on Tyrrell’s mind!
Six men made a playoff
Where Tyrrell then pulled off
An upset in dark overtime.
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

If You Don't Know Who Ai Suzuki Is...

And you didn't get to watch the live coverage of the TOTO Japan Classic Saturday night, then make sure you watch GC's re-air of the event today. Ai Suzuki of the JLPGA got her sixth win of the season at the TOTO, and there's a decent chance she'll take LPGA membership.

TOTO Japan Classic winner Ai Suzuki

You'll want to get familiar with her and her game. That last round was a pretty dominant performance.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Tom Stickney on the Y Chipping Style (Video)

This is a brand new tip just posted on Friday. Many of you have heard of 'wristless' chipping. In this video, Stickney gives you the basics.



One thing that caught my eye about this video is that Stickney gives you the range for this chipping technique -- from the edge of the green to roughly ten feet off the green. This is not a power chip, folks, so you don't want to use it when you're too far away from the putting surface!

The setup is simple. Just place the ball directly in line with the big toe of your trailing foot and lean the clubshaft forward until your hands are opposite your lead thigh.

And when you stroke, don't use your wrists. Instead, you make a putting stroke controlled by your shoulders. You want to maintain the same wrist angle throughout the stroke. This way, the distance is controlled entirely by the length of your swing.

In my opinion, the biggest advantage you gain by using this stroke is trajectory control. Inconsistency in the distance you hit chips is most often caused by hitting some shots high and others low. This technique eliminates most of that height variation.

If this stroke feels natural to you, it's a mechanically simple way to bring more consistency to your short game.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Presidents Cup Picks Are In

So the teams are now set. Just in case you missed it:

Tiger and Ernie

For the International Team, Ernie picked:
  • Jason Day
  • Joaquin Niemann
  • Adam Hadwin
  • Sungjae Im
And for the US Team, Tiger picked:
  • Gary Woodland
  • Patrick Reed
  • Tony Finau
  • Tiger Woods
No real surprises for either team, I guess. You might argue that Joaquin Niemann was an unexpected choice, but I can understand Ernie going for the widest world representation possible. Joaquin will be the first golfer from Chile to play in the Presidents Cup. And since he's been playing well, why not?

So now we know the line-ups for each team. All we have to do is wait another month to see how they pan out.