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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rickie's Shorter Driver

With all the reporting this week about Rickie Fowler sporting a driver with a shorter shaft, I started hunting for more info that might be of help for any of you curious to try it. I did find a few useful bits.

Rickie Fowler's finish with driver

According to Golf Digest, Rickie is using "a 43.5-inch Cobra F7+ driver with an Aldila NV2K 70X shaft." The shaft info may not help you, but the club model does because:
The Cobra King F7+ driver features three weights with one of them heavier than the others. Fowler had the heavier weight positioned in the front position, which is designed to produce a lower ball flight with less spin.
I chose the photo above because you can see them. Golf Digest is unclear whether that front weight is heavier or lighter this week, but they know it has been changed since last week. Note that the heavier front weight lowers his trajectory and therefore his carry distance, but doesn't seem to have hurt his overall length off the tee much at all.

In fact, GC noted that there was a noticeable amount of lead tape on the head last week, as Rickie was experimenting to find the best weight distribution. The Cobra techs then took the taped head and made weights that would match.

Here's an interesting tidbit that I didn't know before:
Fowler noted his irons and fairway woods also are shorter in length, and bringing the driver down in length made for an easier progression from club to club, as all are now approximately the same swing weight.
Rickie's only 5'9" tall, so it makes sense that his clubs would be shorter. However, given how long he is with those shorter clubs, it's a bit surprising to find that shortening his driver an entire inch merely brought its length down in proportion to the rest of the set.

The swingweight information is helpful here too. It appears from his comments in the article that his driver was noticeably heavier than his other clubs:
"The club is out in front of me a lot easier and with it being a little shorter, it is easier to save when it does get a little out of position."
The interesting part of this, which I found in a PGATOUR.com article, is that:
Fowler also is playing a left-to-right ball-flight, which helps him better control his tee shots. He was hitting a draw until recently to try to fix a fault in his swing; the club was too steep in his transition to the downswing.
Now that Fowler has fixed that, he can return to the fade.
A fade is his preferred swing, but apparently the length and weight of the driver was forcing his swing off-plane.

So what does all this mean to the average weekend player who may be struggling with the driver?

Well, bear in mind that almost all weekend players tend to hit their 3-woods better off the tee than their drivers... and 43.5 inches is the length of a standard 3-wood. Putting a driver head on a 3-wood shaft would give you extra distance because of the loft difference and the resulting lower trajectory. So the shorter shaft might not hurt your distance after all.

And you want to make sure that your driver isn't heavier to swing than the rest of your clubs. Remember, if you can't get the club around fast enough, it can unintentionally alter your swing..

The changes for Rickie have been dramatic. He's hitting something like 25% more fairways this week.. and that's played him into a 4-stroke lead. Today we'll see if he can bring it home with this new driver setup.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Travis Fulton on the Knockdown Wedge (Video)

Here's a tip from instructor and GC regular Travis Fulton on how to hit knockdown wedges. I always like to see new ideas on how to play common shots, but Travis mentions something you may not have heard before.



This idea of not turning your hips fully as you hit the ball goes against everything you normally hear about the golf swing these days, and there's a reason for that.

Most modern instructors have traditionally taught that you want an exaggerated hip drive and less arm action. (That's Hogan's idea.) Belief in that idea, as I have noted in many posts -- over the last few months especially -- has begun to change. To finish your swing without fully releasing your lower body, which is what Travis is teaching here, requires you to use your arms more. You have to swing your arms past your lower body -- and this is actually a natural movement for most people. You just relax your arms and hips a bit, and let your shoulders turn past your hips.

The fact is that most of you do this frequently in your daily life, whether it's sweeping with a broom or simply moving an item from one spot on the table to another. You can learn to do it with a golf club as well; it's mainly a mental thing for most players. You've trained yourself to do it the other way.

As a general rule, you don't want to restrain your hips on your followthrough. But if you reach the point where your arms and shoulders are pulling your hips through to your finish, rather than driving your hips to pull your arms through, you'll probably have fewer back problems going forward.

Friday, February 24, 2017

"Feel" Fred Couples's Swing for 38 Seconds (Video)

The Champions Tour posted this video of EVERY full swing Fred hit on the back 9 at the Chubb Classic on Sunday. If you want to get a good sense of how smooth his swing is, this will definitely help.


Bear in mind that Fred hits the ball a long way WITHOUT shoving his hips way out ahead of his upper body. His spine doesn't bend backwards at impact. And he never looks to be straining.

Want to hit the ball better? Copying the rhythm and tempo of Fred's swing is a good place to start.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bob Rotella on (GASP!) Choking

Some days you just need an inspirational quote that is so blunt that it hits you between the eyes and you say, "Yeah, I get it." That's what I've got for you today.

Dr. Bob Rotella

This is a quote from sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella, and it's from the foreward to Gary Player's book Don't Choke: A Champion's Guide to Winning Under Pressure.
To learn how to handle, enjoy and thrive on pressure, you have to be willing to choke. With time, experience, a great deal of self-reflection, and honest self-understanding, anyone can learn how to thrive on pressure.

The great competitors actually learn to perform better in pressure situations than in casual ones. But even the best will still occasionally choke and then have to relearn their lessons.
You've probably heard successful people say that, in order to succeed, you've got to be willing to fail. But I bet you've never heard them use the word 'choke'! That's because nobody wants to admit it happened to them.

All of us choke from time to time. We don't just fail, we CHOKE. We may hate the word but it doesn't change the truth of it. Choking is inevitable -- not just in golf, but in all areas of life. Call it what you want, but it happens to everybody. And it's going to happen to you more than once in your life. It's nothing to be ashamed of.

But as Rotella says, there's hope. Anyone can learn to handle pressure. It's a skill you learn, just like everything else in life. As long as you don't give up, you can learn to deal with choking.

Hopefully this quote will help you find the courage to get up, brush yourself off and try again when it happens to you.

And it will. Welcome to the human race.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Golf's Urban Legends Exposed

Here's a cool Golf Digest article explaining the truth about some of golf's most common urban legends. How long will golf balls last? How long will clubs last? Are range balls better than new balls?

Fish exploring a golf ball

It's a short post covering six questions golfers often have. Personally, I was most interested to learn how long golf balls last if I don't lose them. But, the article cautioned, playing balls you found in the water isn't a good idea.
"Water can seep into the core, and that costs you distance and speed," [former golf-ball designer Dean] Snell says. "Velocity slows after 48 hours in the water, but the ball really loses speed after two to three weeks in the water."
Take a look if you have a spare moment. It's a very informative post.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Surprise Tip to Avoid "Getting Stuck"

When you study swing mechanics as much as I do, sometimes you experience a moment of serendipity. That is, two separate things that you thought had no connection suddenly slam into each other... and a little light bulb appears over your head. That happened to me Monday.

Dustin Johnson at top of backswing

Michael Breed was on Morning Drive -- as he often is -- and was talking about DJ's change of direction at the top of his swing. Many players, Breed said, don't get a full shoulder turn like DJ. Instead, their shoulders stop and their arms just keep going, trying to make a longer swing. As a result, Breed said that their trailing elbows move too much behind them and they simply can't return them into the proper position in time to make their downswing. Their elbows literally "get stuck" behind them.

That's when my little light bulb lit up, and I decided this tip might help some of you.

In past posts I have mentioned that some players and instructors recommend pushing your trailing hand away from your head at the top of your backswing. This is supposed to help you keep more width in your swing, which should help you get more distance.

But on Monday morning I realized that, if you push your trailing hand away from your head at the top of your backswing -- that is, if you try to straighten your trailing elbow a little -- then your trailing elbow CAN'T move behind you at the top. Just try it. If you push the club away from you at the top of your backswing, your elbow HAS to move back into the proper position.

Lights suddenly went on. Voilà! No more getting stuck!

Mechanics don't get much simpler than that, folks. If you're getting stuck on your way down, just try to push your hands away from your head at the top. You'll get your trailing elbow back into position without any trouble at all. Problem solved.

I love serendipity.

The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Genesis Open

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: A number of these tournaments are co-sponsored events, but I'm just listing the largest sponsor because some have as many as three! HaNa Jang won the ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open on the LPGA; Brett Rumsford won the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth on the ET; Fred Couples won the Chubb Classic on the Champions Tour; Andrew Putnam won the Panama Claro Championship on the Web.com Tour; and José de Jesús “El Camarón” Rodríguez won the 70 Avianca Colombia Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Dustin Johnson with Genesis Open trophy

The Wild West -- at least, California used to be the Wild West -- was primed for a showdown between the man with the badge (Jason Day) and the upstart gunslinger (Dustin Johnson). But the man with the badge ended up with wet powder and just couldn't get a shot off.

Looks like there's a new sheriff in town, pardners.

Don't give me that sour look! You may not care for my "high noon" metaphors, but you have to admit it: The battle for the top spot in the world rankings has at least resembled the legends of the Wild West lately. And the golf world was ready, even anxious for that showdown. After all, all Jason needed was a Top3 finish but DJ had two runner-ups in the last three years.

Then the rains came. And came. And CAME some more. Bunkers flooded. Trees fell. The final day was a really long, really tiring one. Jason Day finished T64.

And Dustin Johnson finished first in the whole world.

We could be debating how long DJ will hold the top spot for weeks or months or even just days. As far as I can tell, there are only two certainties here. DJ adds yet another Limerick Summary to his growing collection... and there's a nice soft bed calling his name. I hope he wakes up long enough to read the verse:
Enthronement as World Number One
Was certain, once J. Day was done.
DJ held it together
Through wind and wet weather—
Now a warm cushy bed sounds like fun!
The photo came from this page at abcnews.go.com.