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You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Annabel Rolley on Tee Height

I know you know the standard answer for how high to tee the ball for a drive -- you want it high enough so half the ball is above the top of the driver.

But Annabel (from Golf Channel Academy) says there's a bit more to it than that. Here's her explanation of how to find the best tee height for you.



First she tells you where to hit the ball on the driver face. You may think it's the center of the face but NO! You want to hit the ball slightly above the center of the face to get the best launch angle (and therefore the most distance).

While the "half of ball above driver" is a good starting point, the attack angle of your swing can affect how high you should tee the ball. Annabel gives a complete explanation in the video so I'll just give you the basics:
  • If you tend to swing down on the ball, you want to tee the ball a bit lower to keep from going under ("skying") the ball.
  • If you tend to swing up on the ball, you want to tee the ball a bit higher to keep from going over (thinning or "skulling") the ball.
You'll need to experiment a bit on the range to find out exactly how much higher or lower you should tee the ball, but this little tip could help you make much better contact with your driver... and that means more distance!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational

Winner: Chris Kirk

Around the wider world of golf: With what we might call an "An-slaught" of birdies, Byeong Hun An destroyed the field at the BMW PGA Championship on the ET; Colin Montgomery did an equally impressive number on the Champions Tour field as he defended his Senior PGA Championship title; Danny Balin won the Guatemala Stella Artois Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Justin Shin won the United Investment Real Estate Wuhan Open on the PGA TOUR China; Melissa Reid won the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open on the LET; Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu won the Symetra Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Yumiko Yoshida won the Chukyo Television Bridgestone Ladies Open on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Chris Kirk

They needed little life jackets for the golf balls at Colonial on Sunday. Tour officials said the course couldn't take any more rain. In fact, it was so wet that they declared "lift, clean and place" not just from the fairways but from the rough as well!

The result was a course without any defense... and a whole bunch of golfers ready to shoot at every single pin. At one point there were 15 players within 2 shots of the lead. But it seems that, even with soft greens, the final 3 holes at Colonial are just as hard to birdie as the legendary Horrible Horseshoe (3,4 & 5).

And in the end, parring those 3 holes wasn't good enough for pursuers Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth or Jason Bohn to make a playoff... but it was good enough for leader Chris Kirk to win outright.

There's really not a whole lot more I can add to Chris Kirk's performance. He's one of those players who isn't flashy, who doesn't stand out from the crowd and isn't a media darling BUT just lets his clubs do the talking. And those clubs talk much louder than anything I could say. I will simply say that he is solid and doesn't flinch when the pressure is on. Because of that strong mental game (and really smooth swing) he now has 4 PGA Tour wins and is one of the winningest players over the last few years.

It's also why he has another Limerick Summary to add to his collection:
Despite all the rain, greens were speedy.
The chasers got just a bit greedy
And tried to do too much.
But Chris Kirk came up clutch
And got his fourth win, yes indeedy.
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Now for the Golf Digest Golf Ball Hot List

About a week ago I did a post about Golf Magazine's Golf Ball Guide. The problem was that I couldn't find that buying guide online (and that hasn't changed).

However, Golf Digest has released their Hot List for golf balls... and it IS online. It consists of 32 slides. Balls are broken down into 3 groups -- $25 and under, $26-$35 and over $35:
  • Of course the over $35 balls come first. They start on slide 2.
  • The $26-$35 group starts on slide 10. This is the biggest group.
  • The $25 and under group starts on slide 24.
And all balls are ranked in 4 categories -- performance, innovation, feel and demand -- on a 1-to-5 star scale.

Golf Digest golf ball sales chartThere is also a link on the first slide for an article that "addresses five questions" they say might change your choices. Make sure you check out that article, which is at this link. The five questions are:
  1. Are the most expensive golf balls really that much better than the less-expensive ones?
  2. Do tour players play the same balls for sale at my golf shop?
  3. Recent start-ups sell "tour balls" with multiple layers and urethane covers that cost less than the traditional $40-plus a dozen. How?
  4. How should I determine my price point for golf balls?
  5. How do I test a ball or get fit for one?
The answers really might surprise you. For example, nearly a third of Tour players don't use a stock golf ball -- that is, you can't buy the exact ball they use at your golf shop. Their balls are tweaked for their respective swings.

But that last question about how to get fit for a ball is important. They recommend you start by hitting balls on a launch monitor -- I suspect that will help you thin down the likely options -- and then test the balls you like on the course, particularly for short game performance.

If you didn't get to check out the Golf Magazine guide because you couldn't get hold of a print copy, at least this Hot List is easily accessible.

And the photo showing that two-piece balls are still the biggest sellers came from the "five questions" article.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

One More Thought on Rickie's Umbrella Drill

Friday was a busy day and I didn't get much time to write, but I wanted to add something to yesterday's tip from Rickie Fowler.

While I mentioned how the umbrella drill helped Rickie stay connected at the top of his backswing so he wouldn't overswing, I forgot to mention how it helps his takeaway and downswing plane. Rickie has had a tendency to open the club face on the takeaway and then lay the club off on the downswing -- that is, he would drop the club shaft so it was more parallel to the ground as he started down. It caused him to be too shallow on the downswing and too much in-to-out. As a result, he often pushed the ball at impact and flipped his hands trying to save it. (Most amateurs would just hit a push.)

By using the umbrella image, Rickie doesn't twist his forearms so much on the way back, which keeps the club more vertical. (It's still tilted on plane, it's just not exaggerated.) Since the club is more vertical, the natural move is to keep the club more on plane as he comes down. In other words, he doesn't "wave" the club back and forth during his swing.

Using a one-piece takeaway (the basic drill is in this post) puts you in good position to use Rickie's umbrella drill naturally. And the two together will improve your swing plane tremendously.

Friday, May 22, 2015

How an Umbrella Improves Rickie's Iron Play

It's no secret that when Rickie Fowler went to Butch Harmon for help, Butch reportedly gave him three swing thoughts to help him tweak his swing. There's an article about those three thoughts over at golfdigest.com, called Get More Birdie Looks, and I wanted to point out one in particular that may help many of you.

Rickie now "pops an umbrella" at the top of his backswing.

Rickie's top of backswing image

As Rickie puts it in the article:
I used to suffer the same tendency that affects a lot of amateurs: My arms kept going back after I completed my shoulder turn. When the arms get disconnected from the trunk muscles like this, the club goes past parallel and can cause a bunch of issues... So to keep everything unified going back, my slow-motion rehearsal thought was, I'm holding an umbrella on my backswing. As in, I stop going back the moment I feel the shaft points straight up and down like an umbrella.
Rickie also points out that, despite what you may think, the club is going back much further than it feels like. (That little inset picture shows where his umbrella thought actually puts him.)

On a more humorous note, he says that sometimes the umbrella thought didn't work as well as it should... at which point Butch told him to pretend he was Steve Stricker. Stricks doesn't cock his wrists much during his swing, even with a driver, which helps him keep the club under control when he changes direction. (BTW, I have a short post series about that called The Deadhanded Approach Shot which you can find over on the Some Useful Post Series page.)

The purpose of this swing thought is to keep you connected at the top of your backswing, to keep your upper arms from moving too far away from your chest. That's why you overswing, which causes you to get a bit sloppy on the way down and keeps you from hitting the ball as solidly as you should.

As I said, Rickie tells all three swing thoughts in the article. There's one for the takeaway, one for the backswing, and one for impact... but I think this one is definitely the easiest to picture and put to immediate use.

UPDATE : I added one more thought about this drill at this post as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Troubleshooting Your Swing (and Clubs) with a Sharpie

The June issue of Golf Magazine has a really neat tip from teacher Kevin Kirk to help you determine the cause of consistently bad shots. It's so neat that I just have to pass it on.

Basically all you need are some clean balls, an iron with a clean club face, and a Sharpie. You use the Sharpie to draw a thick straight line about 1 1/2 inches long on the ball's equator. Kirk recommends marking around a half dozen for the test.

You set one of the balls on the ground so the line is perpendicular to the ground and pointed toward the face of the club. Then all you have to do is hit it and take a look at the Sharpie mark that it leaves on the club face.

Now I know what you're thinking. You've heard this little tip before and it tells you if you're hitting the ball in the center of the club face. That's true... but Kirk's tip tells you much more!

There are 5 marks that Kirk wants you to look for. If you had all 5 on the club face, it would look something like this:

[toe of club]     |     \|/     |     [heel of club]

You'll only get one mark. Here's what it will tell you.
  • A straight vertical line near the toe tells you that you have an out-to-in (pull) swing.
  • A line with the top angled toward the toe (that's this mark \) tells you that your irons are too upright -- that is, the toe is lifted up at impact.
  • A straight vertical line in the center of the face tells you that you're hitting the ball squarely AND your clubs are fit properly for your swing. THIS IS THE ONE YOU'RE LOOKING FOR!
  • A line with the top angled toward the heel (that's this mark /) tells you that your irons are too flat -- that is, the heel is lifted up at impact. 
  • A straight vertical line near the heel tells you that you have an in-to-out (push) swing.
I suppose you could also get slanted lines near the toe or the heel as well as in the center of the face. If so, the top of the slant would point toward the part of the club that's not touching the ground at impact.

Pretty cool, huh? If you're consistently hitting bad shots, it might be worth using this tip to make sure that ill-fitting equipment isn't the cause.

The tip is on page 62 of the June issue of Golf Magazine. I couldn't find it at the website.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Can Mel Reid Get It Done?

I don't get to write about the LET very often because we here in the US usually get tape-delayed tournaments rather than live ones. This week is a happy exception, as the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open runs from Sunday to Wednesday and GC is showing it live.

Mel Reid

Today is a big day for Mel Reid. She hasn't won since mid-2012, about a month after her mother was killed in a car accident. Mel says she came back out on Tour much too soon and has been struggling to get her game back on track ever since. This week could change things for her.

The course they're playing at Carya Golf Club this week is a par-73 and Mel came out firing, shooting -8 and -4 in her first two rounds to take a 3-shot lead. Tuesday (the 3rd round) didn't run as smooth; she shot a 1-over 74. But as she told the media:
“It was really tough this afternoon. The greens are borderline unplayable, they are so firm. We were struggling to hold wedges onto it and Gwladys [Nocera] hit a couple of really nice chips and they ran out 15 yards. It was tough. I always felt like I was in between clubs. I was needing a nine and a half iron, eight and a half iron. I’m quite happy in a way that I’ve played it in these conditions because hopefully tomorrow I can play a bit better.”
Nocera is playing with a painful tendon injury in her right ankle and, while she stayed pretty close the first two days, it was Pam Pretswell who closed the gap to a single stroke by the end of play. Most of the players seconded Reid's description of a faster drier course, and it's likely to get even faster today given the weather forecast -- more sun.

Mel Reid got her first pro win at the 2010 Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, so she has good feelings there. But she's had trouble putting four good rounds together lately; hopefully the third round will be her worst and she'll light it up today, getting her career back on track.

GC's final round coverage begins this morning at 7am ET.

[WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Mel shot an even par 73 and won by 4 shots. Welcome back to the winner's circle, Mel!]