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Friday, July 20, 2018

Todd Sones and His Radical Putting Technique (Video)

I said it's radical, but I'm going to take it even farther and teach you what I do. GCA coach Todd Somes wants you to ignore your putter's swing path!



Somes says not to worry about your swing path, just think about where you want the ball to go. But I'm going to take it a step further...

Your putter's swing path doesn't matter!

I mean it. Seriously. Your putter's swing path doesn't matter at all. Here's why:

When your putter is one foot behind the ball, does it contact the ball at all? No. So it doesn't affect your ball there. Nor does it affect the ball from two feet back or six inches back. Which begs the question: Exactly when does the putterhead affect where the ball goes?

ANSWER: From just a fraction of an inch before contact until the ball is no longer touching the ball. That is no more than TWO INCHES, give or take a quarter inch.

Now consider the nature of a putter's stroke. No matter whether your putter travels forward and back in a straight line, or in a gentle arc around your body, there is a short section of that stroke where the putterhead is traveling in a straight line. That section might be as long as four to six inches, depending on your stroke, and the middle of that section is when the putter shaft is vertical.

Which means that, no matter what shape your putter stroke takes, the putterhead travels straight toward the hole in the middle of your stroke, and it does so for long enough to hit the ball on your chosen aim line. All you have to do is get the ball position correct and this will happen automatically, no matter how you swing the putter.

So the real question is... where should you position the ball?

ANSWER: Hold your putter in your normal putting grip and stance, and let your arms and hands hang down so the shaft is vertical. When you do, the shaft is pointing to your ball position. When you place the ball there and take your stance, your hands will be over the ball and the shaft will lean ever so slightly forward.

I've recommended this ball position several times in this blog. It's the simplest way to get a consistent ball position, which means you'll get a more consistent strike. Your stance may be square, open or closed; it just doesn't matter. As long as the ball is in the middle of that little straight section of your putting stroke, the ball will go down your aimline without any manipulation by you. You can focus on your speed.

It sounds too good to be true, I know. But I have a friend who used to be a PGA Tour caddie and, every time he sees me putt, he comments about how solid my six- and seven-foot putts are, and about how little time I take to putt them. That's because I KNOW that, as long as I can see my line, my ball will usually go where I want it to go. Nobody makes everything, but I make enough to feel confident when I stand over the ball. (And most of my misses are misreads. Nobody's perfect!)

Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but it IS true. This isn't rocket science, folks. Don't make your putting harder than it has to be. Ball position is the most important key to better putting. It really is that simple.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Peter Thompson on Hip Turn (Video)

The record for winning Open Championships is six, held by Harry Vardon. But four players are tied with five, one of whom is the late Peter Thompson. So it's appropriate to share some of his swing tips this week.



Since he made this his #1 tip, Thompson clearly felt that hip turn was a crucial part of the golf swing. It was a forgotten fundamental for a while. Players tried to keep their lower bodies almost locked in place, attempting to create more power in their swing. That back-wrecking maneuver is finally being replaced by common sense, but some teachers like Thompson never forgot it.

The keys to note here are that when Thompson's hips turn, the trailing hip actually moves toward the target, not straight back. This causes the trailing knee to straighten during the backswing and then stay pretty straight during the downswing. You often see it in the swings of legends like Arnold Palmer.

This move isn't for everybody -- not all players are comfortable straightening that trailing knee -- but why might you want to try it?

If you have a problem with a sway in your backswing, or if you tend to reverse pivot during your downswing, this more extreme hip turn might help you. Both of those faults happen because you move away from the target and shift too much weight onto your trailing leg during your swing. Thompson's turn forces you to brace that trailing leg, stopping any movement away from the target.

You might think that straightening your trailing knee would steal some power from your swing, but power players like Palmer prove that's not the case. So this is something you might want to try it you're fighting a sway or a reverse pivot. If you'll pardon the pun, winning five Opens certainly gives this tip some legs!

[UPDATE: Well, I guess the joke's on me. I got a note from SJ letting me know that this isn't the Peter Thompson I thought it was, but that it was a good tip nevertheless. I didn't realize I pulled up videos from BOTH Thompsons when I did my YouTube search.

At least it was a good tip. ;-)
]

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the Open

I dread picking just five players this week. The Open is, in my opinion, too wide open to limit the field that much. I can easily pick 15 players who deserve to be seriously considered as favorites.

18th hole at Carnoustie

Carnoustie has never been as hard and fast as it is this week, nor has the rough been so sparse. At least, not in anybody's memory. Nor is the weather expected to be much of a factor at this point. And that means short hitters don't have to worry about hitting long approach shots, and they don't have to worry how far the big hitters hit it. It may simply become a game of "miss the bunkers and make the putts," and that could make for a very interesting competiton.

All of which means that it's very hard to figure out which five players are most likely to win this week. But I'll soldier on and we'll see how I do.
  • Perhaps the hottest player in the field this week is Francesco Molinari. In his last four worldwide starts, Francesco has two wins and two runner-up finishes. As good as Francesco is with his irons, all he needs is for his putter to stay somewhat warm. If it does, he could be lifting the Claret Jug at week's end.
  • Alex Noren is coming off a win at the French Open, as well as a runner-up and two thirds in worldwide starts this season. Alex is a streaky player, and could be in the early stages of a new streak. He's also extremely aggressive, and Carnoustie could lend itself to exactly the kind of game he likes to play.
  • Nobody is talking much about Brooks Koepka. It's worth noting that they weren't talking about him at the US Open either, and we all know what happened there. It's also worth noting that Brooks finished 6th last year and 10th two years before (he didn't play the Open in 2016), and the time he spent on the European Tour includes several rounds at Carnoustie during the Dunhill Links.
  • Since the beginning of 2017 Brooks has the best score to par in majors... and Rickie Fowler is only one stroke behind him; both are pretty far ahead of third place. Rickie has played very well in the Open -- in fact, in all of the majors over the last year or so -- and he's won the Scottish Open before, so we know he's comfortable on a links.You have to think Rickie has a good chance, especially if the wind does get up over the weekend.
  • And my flier is... Tiger Woods. I know most wouldn't consider Tiger a flier at this point, but I've written at length about my belief that Tiger's nervous system still hasn't recovered from the trauma it's experienced over the last few years. He's only had seven months of tournament play, and I just don't think that's long enough for his nervous system to completely recover yet. Because of that, his playing is still inconsistent, and there's no telling when he'll heal completely. When he does, he'll probably make a dramatic improvement -- dramatic enough to win a major. It could be this week... but I simply don't know.
These aren't the only players I think can win, obviously, but I had to pick just five. However, I feel pretty sure that Koepka should be the runaway favorite, no matter who made my list. He knows he doesn't have to play his best to win, and he has more familiarity with Carnoustie than most of the players in the field.

Rickie is my sentimental fave, but Brooks just seems to be more ready to pick up major #3 this week. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

John Cook on Putting at a Links Course (Video)

Since the Open is this week, here's a Live from the Open clip from Monday, with John Cook demonstrating how to putt on a links course when the wind is blowing. This might help you on any windy course, though.



Cook's keys are simple:
  • Widen your stance.
  • Place the ball near the center of your body.
  • Grip down slightly on the grip.
  • Trust your eyes.
I think the "trust your eyes" advice is interesting, especially since -- after setting up with the ball more centered -- John appears to move his ball forward in his stance! Apparently what John sees in this lesson is a bit different than what he says.

This is pretty standard advice, don't you think? But I find Cook's ball position change to be the interesting bit here. No matter how much instruction you hear about how to do something, when it comes to putting, mechanics are no substitute for feel. It's important to make sure you feel comfortable over a putt. If that means you have to break the rules a bit, so be it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 John Deere Classic

Winner: Michael Kim

Around the wider world of golf: Some players won their events outright. Laura Davies crushed the field by ten strokes in the inaugural US Senior Women's Open; Brandon Stone tied the lowest round in ET history (60) to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open; Cameron Champ won the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour; Ben Griffin won the Staal Foundation Open on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Joseph Winslow won the Yantai Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Stephanie Kono won the Donald Ross Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Justin Harding won the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on the Asian Tour. But we also had a couple of playoffs, as Vijay Singh won his first senior major at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship on the Champions Tour; and Thidapa Suwannapura became only the third Thai to win on the LPGA at the Marathon Classic.

Michael Kim with Deere trophy

Illinois was the place for blowouts on Sunday. Laura Davies won the US Senior Women's Open by ten shots, and Michael Kim won the John Deere by eight. What was going on in the Midwestern US, anyway?

Of the two, Kim's was clearly the biggest surprise. Laura has been playing well all season, just not this well. But Kim's game had been... well, nonexistent. Nobody saw this coming, not even him. He had changed coaches less than a month ago, just to get a new set of eyes on his game.

The changes have been quick and decisive.

Kim celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday with his second 64 in as many days (after a 63 on the first day of the event). He couldn't even sleep on Saturday night, but apparently he no longer needs sleep. After three birdies on his first three holes Sunday, it wasn't even a competition anymore.

Not that Kim is complaining.

He said that he felt a bit left out after his fellow members of the "Class of 2011" -- the guys he beat in college -- came out and started tearing up the Tour. You know, guys like Thomas, Spieth, Berger and Schauffele. He's not left out anymore. He got all the perks that come with a victory -- a huge leap in FedExCup points, a full exemption on the Tour, more money than he can fit in his pockets, and exemptions. Oh yes, exemptions -- like the one in next week's Open.

It'll be fun to see what Michael Kim can do going forward. If he's really found the glitch in his swing that was holding him back, he could run up some serious wins like he did in college. But regardless of what the next few weeks hold, he can at least say he picked up a Limerick Summary. What else really matters?
Sixty-three, sixty-four, sixty-four—
But the Birthday Boy had more in store!
Lightning caught in a jar
Sent Kim way under par…
Then he flew to Carnoustie for more!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Laura Davies on Long Drives (Video)

Since Laura Davies is leading the US Senior Women's Open by five shots going into the final round, this video seemed appropriate. It's from the GCA show featuring Laura with Martin Hall.



Now, you can get all the details of how Laura hits the long ball off the tee just by watching the video -- and I'll be honest, Laura uses some keys that I wouldn't teach because I think they lead to inconsistency -- but they work for her, so you can certainly learn from them. They aren't what I want to focus on in this post.

Instead, I'm calling your attention to how Laura isn't sure about calling her grip a 'strong' grip. She says she thinks that's what it's called, but that "she doesn't follow all that sort of thing." However, that doesn't mean she doesn't know what she's doing. She knows exactly how to set her hands on the club -- that IS the entire point of what she's saying.

Bubba is the same way. He says he doesn't know what he's doing, but he means he doesn't know the terminology to explain what he's doing. If he really didn't know what he was doing, he wouldn't be able to maintain his swing at the level he does, for as long as he has, without a teacher.

What is important for a player to know? It isn't terminology, and it isn't being able to teach others. What matters is that you know what YOU need to do in order to get the results you want. It doesn't matter if other people agree with you or not, as long as you know that it works for you.

That's the biggest thing I believe you can learn from Laura: Do what works for you. And if that puts you in position to win big -- like Laura might do today at the inaugural US Senior Women's Open -- then you get the last laugh. And I'm all for that!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Don't Forget the US Senior Women's Open on FOXSports1 Today

It's only a couple of hours coverage today, starting at 4pm ET, but this inaugural event is shaping up to be pretty good.

Trish Johnson and Laura Davies

You can keep check on the scores at the official USGA website. Of course, I'm a bit excited because of how my picks in my "5 to Watch" post from earlier in the week are doing. While Suzy Whaley missed the cut and my sentimental favorite, Pat Bradley, currently sits at T37, my other three picks -- Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Trish Johnson are T1, 2 and T1 respectively.

That's right, three of my picks hold the Top3 spots. I know it's only been two rounds, but it's rare for me to do THAT well.

As I said, I just wanted to remind you about the TV coverage this weekend. With only two hours each today and Sunday, you don't want to miss it.