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Friday, April 19, 2019

TaylorMade's Mini Driver

TaylorMade's new Original One Mini Driver just became available for pre-order a couple of days back and should hit retail outlets early next month. And if you're struggling off the tee with your regular driver, maybe you should consider it.

First let's talk some specs. I'm comparing it to a standard 15° 3-wood here.

TaylorMadeForget your 460cc big stick -- the Original One Mini has a mere 275cc head. That may sound incredibly small, but bear in mind that the M3/M4 3-wood was around 176cc while the M5/M6 is 161cc. So this mini driver is still noticeably larger than a 3-wood.

It comes in two lofts, 11.5° and 13.5°, it's 43.75" in length (a regular M5/M6 3-wood is 43.25") and it's intended to give players of all playing levels another option off the tee. Yes, it's been designed to fit between your driver and your 3-wood, should you be inclined to carry both.

I suspect this club would be a replacement for a standard driver for most weekend players. If you don't get a lot of distance with your driver because you don't generate as much clubhead speed, the extra loft should help you get that higher launch angle that normally comes from extra speed. And it's got all the same tech that goes into the regular drivers, like that twist-face all the pros seem so excited about.

Plus it comes at a lower price than the driver. At $400 it might be the way to go if you want the tech but don't want to pay for a driver that you don't hit all that well to begin with.

Obviously I don't know what would work for you and what wouldn't. But if you're considering something like this, here's the page at TaylorMade's website that has all the specs for the Original Mini One and here's the announcement of the club from Golf Tips Mag's site, which includes some guidance on whether you should consider it or not.

Personally, given how many of us prefer 3-woods off the tee anyway, I'm glad to see TaylorMade catering to that potentially large group of players.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

And Let's Not Forget the Amateur of the Week

We really should take a moment. After all, Isaiah Salinda went five extra holes to get the individual title at the Western Intercollegiate.

Western Intercollegiate individual champion Isaiah Salinda

Salinda plays for Stanford, so it's probably no surprise to you that Stanford won the team title as well.

I'm going to link you to Brentley Romine's article over at golfchannel.com for the details, but I did want to mention something Salinda's coach said because it might help some of you.

Romine writes: "Stanford head coach Conrad Ray credits the development to Salinda learning how to play well without his best stuff." He also notes that Salinda told his coach how proud he was to have won when he wasn't playing his best.

Scoring when you don't have your best stuff is mainly about strategy -- learning what you can still do on those days when your game is off and making a game plan that uses those strengths. It's also about keeping your head and not getting down on yourself.

Anybody can learn to do those things, folks. Anybody.

Ironically, the NCAA doesn't recognize playoffs so Salinda and his fellow competitor (and teammate) Brandon Wu share the individual title in their records. (Yet one more thing the NCAA needs to change.) But we all know who the winner is. Congratulations, Isaiah!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Ladies Head to Hawaii

The LPGA is back in action this week at the LOTTE Championship. Brooke Henderson is the defending champion.

Defending champion Brooke Henderson

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event over on his blog. The LOTTE is played at the Ko Olina Resort in Kapolei, on the island of Oahu. The course is just under 6400 yards long and the winds almost always have a say in the outcome.

I can't think of much to add to Tony's preview except to mention that Paula Creamer plans to play. She hasn't played since before the Founders Cup and she gave no reason for withdrawing at the time. Whatever the reason, it appears that she's ready to go.

And there's one more important thing to know -- namely, that this is a Wednesday-Saturday event so things get underway TONIGHT. GC's live prime time coverage -- at least, prime time on the East Coast of the US -- is scheduled for 7pm-11pm ET each night. And how can you lose with all that beautiful scenery in Hawaii to watch?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: RBC Heritage

The madness of the Masters is over. While Tiger chills at home in his nice new green jacket, a number of pros will unwind at the RBC Heritage.

Defending champion Satoshi Kodaira

At least they say they're unwinding down there at Hilton Head Island. I see a Pete Dye special with extremely tight fairways and small greens and a lot of wind, thanks to its location along the SC coastline. That doesn't sound all that relaxing to me but, hey, after the complicated greens and chipping areas of Augusta National, perhaps Harbour Town GC seems more relaxing.

Or maybe they just like the laid-back atmosphere of Hilton Head and golf is just an excuse to spend a week there. I could understand that as well.

Alas, there is no rest for me. After a couple of decent picks at the Masters -- correct except for the order of finish -- I move on to Twofer Tuesday in Hilton Head. While the course is pure Pete Dye, it has proven friendly to first time winners like Wesley Bryan and Satoshi Kodaira, the last two victors.

But I'm not taking a first-timer this week, no sir.
  • My Top10 pick is Webb Simpson. Webb has rediscovered his form over the last couple of years, and his Top5 at the Masters last week was a great showing for him. I'm not sure how much that T5 took out of him so I'm not taking him to win, but his accuracy should help him place well even if he's tired. It's not like he'll have to hit the ball hard or anything.
  • And my winner is Jim Furyk. What can I say? I'm going chalk, baby! Furyk is the all-time money winner at Harbour Town and has won there twice. Given how well he's been playing this season, I can't help but feel this is a great place for him to pick up another win. By the way, did I mention his last win came here in 2015?
It's rare for someone who fared well at Augusta to play well at Harbour Town, simply because Augusta takes so much out of the players. That may be why first-timers do so well here -- often they haven't played the Masters! And Furyk didn't play the Masters this year, so...

Chalk, people. I'm big on chalk this week. ;-)

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Masters

Winner: Tiger Woods

Around the wider world of golf: Yes, it's true that some pros didn't watch the Masters. Andrés Echavarría won the Molino Cañuelas Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and David Kocher won the Haikou Championship on the PGA TOUR China.

Tiger celebrates his fifth Masters win

Well, my Tuesday Twofer picks went better this week. I picked Francesco Molinari (T5) to win and Tiger Woods (1) to Top10. While I got the order reversed, it's still two Top5 picks for me this week and -- let's face it -- I'm not disappointed with the outcome.
  • Winners: 2 for 15
  • Place well (Top10): 9 for 15 (5 Top5 finish, 4 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 17 of 30 (8 Top5s, 9 more Top10s)
And the whole golf world seems to agree with me.

After the first Augusta National Women's Amateur and the Annual DC&P competition, Masters Week just got better and better -- in large part because Augusta National took on so much water that even the Competition Committee couldn't dry it out. All they could do was make it reward good shots... and boy, did we get good shots! The number of records that were broken last week was amazing.

Hole Number 12 turned out to be the turning point, as it so often has in the past, but on a level that was unexpected. Was it the wind or the Tiger Effect that caused Molinari, Koepka, Finau and Poulter all to come up short and post double-bogeys? We do know that it was Tiger's experience that let him walk away with a par.

And by the time he reached 18, with the crowd chanting, "TIGER, TIGER!" at a deafening volume, you have to wonder if the youngsters are really all that glad they got that taste of "PrimeTime Tiger" they've been saying they wanted. I suspect the older players are getting a good laugh about that.

In the meantime, Tiger got his first-ever come-from-behind win, his fifth Masters victory, his 81st tournament win (just one behind Sam Snead) and another round of Tigermania -- only this one must be bigger than even he expected. At least his latest Limerick Summary will be quiet enough that he can get some well-deserved sleep today!
His first major win from behind!
The Tiger we hoped he would find
Is back on the track
To chase after Jack;
It all seems like some grand design…
The photo came from this page at golfdigest.com.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Just a Reminder...

In order to beat the storms, the Masters field will tee off in threesomes on split tees starting at 7:30am ET. CBS will begin coverage at 9am ET. Don't miss it!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Jack Nicklaus on Hitting It Long and Straight (Video)

The weather in Augusta is supposed to turn bad today, so perhaps some help from Jack Nicklaus on how to hit the ball long AND straight might be helpful.



I like Jack's answer to the question, "How far can you hit it?"
"As far as I need to."
And he notes something that is overlooked by a lot of people -- namely, that he utilized his adrenaline when he needed to hit the ball a long way. That's a strategic decision, folks, based on knowing how your body is reacting to the situation you're in at the time.

The key to drives that are both long and accurate is, according to Jack, to swing within yourself. While he says that golf is played from the ground up -- which means you need good footwork and lower leg action -- the key is to do that without throwing your body around in a sloppy way.

In other words, you can swing hard as long as you stay in balance.

Yeah, that covers a lot of things like sound mechanics and proper sequencing and self-awareness, among other things. But while you may not be able to know for sure how well you're doing all those things, you CAN tell if you're swinging in balance.

And the best drill to get better at that is simply swinging as fast as you can without losing your balance. Start with half swings, then go to full swings -- and don't hit balls with either. What you want to do is start swinging at a speed where you can keep your balance, then try to swing faster and faster until you can't.

The fastest speed at which you CAN keep your balance becomes the starting point of your drill. Mix it up -- make some fast swings, some slow swings, some medium-speed swings. And after you do that, try hitting some balls while making the same swings.

And focus on staying in balance. Watch some video of Jack in his prime. No matter how hard he swung, Jack was never out of balance.

That's how you begin developing your ability to play by feel. Swinging in balance is the basis of playing by feel. Learn to swing in balance and you'll make a huge stride towards hitting the ball longer and straighter.