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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Limerick Summary: The End of 2012

Winner: See all previous 2012 Limerick Summaries!

Around the wider world of golf: No tournaments this past week -- too many parties to plan!

Fireworks

The year formerly known as 2012 is about to end its career with some pretty impressive memories. I've tried to document a lot of them in the Limerick Summaries this year but there's no way I can do justice to them all in one little wrap-up verse.

So let's just say good-bye to the great year of golf that 2012 gave us... and let this week's Limerick Summary look forward to the potential for greatness that could be 2013:
Twenty-twelve didn’t bring us the end
Of the world – just a season that’s been
All that golf fans could ask.
But there’s no time to bask
In past glories. The new year begins!
The photo came from stereotopical.net.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Some Quick Balance Training Routines

After yesterday's post on proprioception, I thought a couple of quick videos showing how simple balance training can be might be useful. Today I have two very short workouts that focus on ankle strength -- a key element of balance -- as well as general lower body strength.

The first comes from St. Mary University's Athletic Therapy Program. It shows a variety of simple exercises to improve balance and ankle strength.



And this second video is extremely short... plus it has the advantage of being specifically intended for golfers. This one is so simple and yet so challenging!



I like these simply because they require no special equipment and it's very easy to adjust them to your current level of strength. The key thing to remember when doing these exercises is to keep your knees flexed. That's the natural way you move in life, so that's how you should move when you exercise.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What the Hell is Proprioception?

Doesn't that sound like an easy subject for a short holiday post? Actually, it is.

Proprioception is a ten-dollar word to describe your awareness of how your body is moving based on how the muscles feel. Here's a good example: Take a spoonful of food off your plate, then close your eyes and try to put it in your mouth. You probably won't have much trouble doing that. In fact, you can probably decide to stop your hand pretty close to halfway between the plate and your mouth without actually seeing where your hand stops.You've made this movement so much that you "just know" where your hand is, even though you're not watching it move with your eyes. That's proprioception at work.

Simple enough, isn't it? Proprioception is what allows you to keep your balance as well.

I've got a couple of short videos for you about it. One was done by Sean Foley for Golf Digest. Yeah, it's got some of the technical talk that Foley is famous for, but it's basically about how swinging barefoot can help you develop a better golf swing a la Sam Snead, who was famous for practicing that way. He even played some holes at the Masters that way one year.



This other video has examples of the kinds of exercises that can help you develop your balance using proprioception. As big as the word is, the exercises it describes are pretty simple.



Many of the drills I recommend on this blog -- especially the ones that don't require a club -- are basically proprioception drills. They help you focus on how your body moves during your swing, so you have a base of "movement knowledge" on which to build your swing skills.

And if nothing else, you now have a new word that you can use to impress your friends at those boring New Year's Eve parties on Monday night. ;-)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Don't Hit the Bottle... with Your Feet

Since I'm keeping things short this week -- holidays keep everybody busy -- here's a quick video lesson from the folks at golf.com.

The video is called Use Your Feet to Catch It Crisp and it teaches you a simple drill to help you stop "spinning out" on your downswing. (That can happen if you hang back on your trailing side during your downswing.) You only need a bottle to do the drill -- no expense there! -- and it gives you quick feedback on the problem.

This looks like a good drill to help you take the moves you learn from the Body Movin' drill -- which I frequently recommend because it doesn't require a club -- and apply them to an actual swing.

When you improve your footwork, you improve your ability to get solid contact because good footwork keeps you more centered over the ball during your swing. If you want a quick drill to help your footwork, this short video just might help you out.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Swing Like Tiger AND Rory?

I know many of you are busy this week -- some have family visiting for Christmas, some are struggling to finish last-minute projects at work, and some are simply taking well-deserved vacations. And while you'd like to think about golf, you don't have time to think too much about it.

Well, I have just the thing for you. Golf Digest put together a slideshow comparing Tiger and Rory's swings. Here's the first "slide" in the sequence:

Start of Tiger and Rory swing sequence

Here's all you have to do. Go to this page in Golf Digest's instruction section, which is called Two Of A Kind: Tiger Woods & Rory McIlroy. There are a couple of buttons -- one at the start of the article and one at the end of the first page -- labeled "View Slideshow." This will take you to a page with a series of slides showing them side-by-side, complete with a description (courtesy of Jim McLean) of what they're doing. You can flip through manually or let them run automatically.

And here's a bonus: Just beneath the slides are links for slow-mo video showing just Rory's swing or just Tiger's swing, if you want to focus on only one.

I think this is one of the best swing sequences that Golf Digest has done. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Getting the Shaft... in Your Next Set of Clubs

Today I'm recommending an equipment article I read over at golftipsmag.com. The article is called Shaft Exchange and the idea is simple: Are steel shafts or graphite shafts better for your irons, regardless of what kind of shaft you use in your woods and hybrids?

picture of graphite shaft used for the article

I'll warn you upfront: It's a fairly long article. But I found it worth reading. Unlike most of these comparison articles -- you know, the ones that bog you down with tables full of figures that you may not even understand -- Ryan Noll did a simple performance test. He used his existing set of steel-shafted irons as his baseline, then took a second identical set and put the same shaft model and flex (but in graphite) in them for comparison.

The article is very enlightening and since I know many of you will start looking at new clubs soon -- the new models will be coming out in the next month or so -- you might find his conclusions very helpful when you start shopping. This isn't a high-tech evaluation so much as a common sense one.

Given all the hype that surrounds equipment these days, that's a refreshing change.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

No post today, just the wish that everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Snoopy wallpaper

This wallpaper came from fanpop.com.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Mayan Apocalypse

Winner: All those tired golfers!

Around the wider world of golf: There wasn't a wider world of golf. The world ended last Friday -- didn't you hear?

Charlie Brown Mayan parody

As there was no golf this past weekend, I figured I might as well take a look at the reason.

That's right. There was no golf this past weekend because of the Mayan apocalypse. Golf courses were empty, as nobody had a tee time. Why set a tee time when there would be no time? There might not even be any golf courses left!

And obviously, without fans to buy tickets and line the fairways, sponsors saw no need to put up prize money. Therefore, there were no pro golf tournaments on any major tour this week.

I was amazed to discover how quickly Wikipedia updated articles on the 2012 Phenomenon and the Mayan calendar to confirm that "Doomsday" was in fact a misinterpretation. A brief portion of the later article states:
Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar was the basis for a popular belief that a cataclysm would take place on December 21, 2012. December 21, 2012 was simply the day that the calendar went to the next b'ak'tun, at Long Count 13.0.0.0.0. The date on which the calendar will go to the next piktun (a complete series of 20 b'ak'tuns), at Long Count 1.0.0.0.0.0, will be on October 13, 4772.

Sandra Noble, executive director of the Mesoamerican research organization Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI), notes that "for the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle". She considers the portrayal of December 2012 as a doomsday or cosmic-shift event to be "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in."
Presumably none of us will have to deal with the uproar that may happen on 13 October 4772.

I decided that, since there were no tournaments this past week, I would use this Limerick Summary to expose the true significance of b'ak'tun 13. Consider yourself enlightened!
Those researchers made a mistake;
Rumors of our demise were a fake!
Here’s the deal: Ancient science
Made clear to the Mayans
That golfers would need Christmas break!
The picture came from comicsbeat.com.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Poulter Plans to Play Hyundai

Mayan golf schedules may have been disrupted when the world didn't end as scheduled on 21 December 2012, but Ian Poulter went ahead and made reservations for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in 2013 anyway.

I don't know how many of the "big names" are going to show, but PGATOUR.com is already listing a few of the confirmed players like Snedeker and Dufner. (There's no complete field listing yet. I checked.) Still, this bodes well for the ToC.

As we all know, it's become something of a trend for the top players to skip the ToC each year. Poults did play there back in 2011, but generally he skips it as well. For him to come back is important because, whether he's high in the OWGR or not, he's a big name in all the ways that matter to golf fans. (Of course, his game is somewhat apocalyptic as well. Just ask the US Ryder Cup team.)

Will Tiger, Phil, or Rory play? I'm inclined to guess that they won't. Still, if the other major names in the game show up in Hawaii, it will both help the Tour's relationship with its sponsors and grab the fans' attention early in 2013.

For those of you who were disappointed not to be annihilated Friday in true blockbuster film style, I hope this gives you something to look forward to.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hank Haney on Chipping from Thick Rough

Today I have a video tip from Hank Haney about a problem we all have at some time or another -- chipping from thick rough.



I like this tip because Haney covers everything, even identifying your ball. Notice that he's using a sand wedge and playing this mostly like a sand shot.

Please note that it's mostly like a sand shot. Haney specifically says this is a chip shot from rough that's close to the green, not far away. That's why he's using an abbreviated followthrough, rather than the long followthrough most pros recommend from a bunker. Thick rough isn't likely to act like sand, so you don't want to hit the ball too hard and send it shooting across the green.

Also note Haney's key point: Try to keep the face open. You want to make sure the ball goes up high, not low left (or low right if you play left-handed). That's your best chance of getting the ball to land soft and trickle to the hole.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Kids of 2012

In my last retrospective of 2012, I want to look at the PGA Tour. (I include the Web.com Tour in this as well, since several of the players jump back and forth.) And ironically, it may be the shortest of the three posts I've done.

That's because 2012 is going to be a tough act to follow. It seemed like every week we had new storylines, new drama, new names stepping into the spotlight. We had Tiger's reemergence, monster comebacks in final rounds (typically 6-7 strokes), blow-out wins (Rory's 8-stroke win at the PGA), dramatic first-time wins (Bubba's wedge to win the Masters), controversy over belly putters, and rookies who showed up the veterans.

So what can 2013 possibly offer us?

The most likely highlight will be a Tiger-Rory rivalry. Tiger appears to have his game to the point where he can focus on fine-tuning, and Rory seems to have figured out how to balance his personal and professional lives enough to play high-quality (if not consistent) golf.

As things stand now, I think Luke Donald and Lee Westwood will continue to round out the Top 4 in the OWGR. Louis Oosthuizen and maybe Charl Schwartzel could make it a Top 6, although that remains to be seen. Louis could have won 6 or 7 times in 2012 had he played just a few holes better. Charl seems to finally be healed up. The two of them have shown streaks of brilliance over the last two years, but are lacking some consistency. If they put things together though, watch out.

The rest of the Tour isn't likely to challenge this group consistently. I don't mean we won't see some high-quality play from a lot of players; I just mean it'll be a lot of players that change from week to week, not a few consistent challengers.

And I won't be surprised if "Wozzleroy" becomes an engaged couple sometime during the coming year. I don't think it will have a big effect on Rory's play, just that it could be the big news story of the year. (Yes, even bigger than belly putters. That issue will be more emotional, though.)

Speaking of belly putters, look for some new technologically-advanced putters. I don't think they'll really help, but the manufacturers will come up with something to become the new cash cow.

After all, if you're reading this, the Mayans were wrong and it looks like you're going to have to learn how to putt after all. ;-) At least we've got a new year of golf to look forward to... and it could be a pretty good one.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Elders of 2012

Today I'm looking back at the Champions Tour... but this will be a fairly short post. Why?

Because I don't expect much to change in 2013.

Most of the big names of 2013 -- Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Michael Allen, and Fred Funk lead this pack -- will just keep doing what they've been doing. We'll see some up-and-comers like Roger Chapman and Kenny Perry continue their rise, and I'm looking for Peter Senior to join the fray after his win in Australia this month. And Steve Elkington will probably make some noise when he joins the Champions Tour in 2013.

Vijay Singh has made no secret that he plans to continue focusing on the PGA Tour. I don't expect to see him in a Champions Tour event unless (1) it's a major -- which may not matter to him either, or (2) there's no PGA event that week and he wants to play anyway.

You may wonder why I haven't mentioned Tom Watson and Fred Couples. Tom should be obvious. Having been named the 2014 Ryder Cup captain, I expect him to play a bit more on the PGA Tour... and when he isn't, I suspect he'll be a bit too distracted to play at the same level as usual on the Champions Tour. That seems to happen to everybody who becomes captain.

As for Freddie, I think his back is becoming a bigger issue than he's letting on. I believeI heard that the back treatment he's had to go to Germany for is going to be made legal in the US, so it will be more readily available... but it seems to have been less effective in the last few months. I can only assume that's due to deterioration in his condition. I hope I'm wrong, but he did cut back on his playing schedule as 2012 wound down.

All-in-all, it will be business-as-usual for the older set... and I'm not sure that will be particularly newsworthy. The Champions Tour still needs something to give it a unique identity, and I'm not sure we'll see that arrive in the coming year....

But we can hope.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Ladies of 2012

Well, it's that time of year again -- the time when we get inundated with "Best of 2012" shows and retrospective looks at what did and didn't happen. Although I don't plan to do anything in-depth (there's plenty of that being done already), I do want to take a look back at 2012 and pick out a few of the major players and events -- and look ahead to what we may see in the future.

Today I'm looking at the ladies. What does 2013 hold for the LPGA and LET?

Clearly things have changed since January. While Yani Tseng is still #1 in the Rolex Rankings, I don't think anybody expects her to stay there. Granted, she might get her game back to where it was 12 months ago... but that remains to be seen.

I think it's fair to say the two new stars on the LPGA are Stacy Lewis and So Yeon Ryu, both of whom seem to have their games in good shape going into the new year. Inbee Park has also resurrected her career after a long quiet spell. Shanshan Feng is a bit streaky but is playing well even when she's a bit off. And Na Yeon Choi has quietly had a very consistent year. I suspect these five players will be the big movers in 2013.

Several players who have been top players in years past now seem to be fighting inconsistency -- Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Jiyai Shin, Paula Creamer, and Ai Miyazato come to mind. Some of that has been the result of injuries and some of it simply because they're trying too hard. They aren't "washed up" by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't look for their frustrations to go away in the next few months. I think they need to get in a rhythm, and that's hard to do when the playing schedule remains a bit sporadic and requires so much country-hopping.

Some of the Euro players like Mel Reid, Azahara Munoz, Caroline Hedwall, and Sandra Gal are in the same boat. When you're trying to get to that elite level consistently, it's easy to try too hard. They're going to face the same problems as the girls in the last paragraph.

Finally, I need to mention Michelle Wie. While several of the typically good players (like Morgan Pressel) have struggled and gotten a pass because of major life changes like getting married, Michelle hasn't. I still think folks are underestimating how disorienting it's been for her to leave the hectic schedule she had at Stanford for five years and try to set up new routines focused purely on golf. I believe Michelle is going to make a serious comeback around middle-to-late 2013.

As for the tours in general, the main thing I expect is for serious talks to start about holding a major in Asia. As I have said in past posts, I expect the LPGA Championship to become a joint LET/LPGA Championship and perhaps rotate throughout Asia. That would give the women two majors in the US, two in Europe, and one in Asia. Although I clearly don't expect it to happen in 2013, I do expect talks to begin.

The LPGA is truly a world tour now and has demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with the other women's tours around the world. That trend is only going to continue in 2013, and so the women's game will evolve more than any of the men's tours going forward. It should be interesting to see what the world of women's golf looks like in 12 months!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Watch Charl Move

Since Charl Schwartzel has won twice in as many weeks, I thought it might be good to take a new look at his swing and see if there's one thing that you guys could put into immediate use. And since he's been so accurate lately -- and since this footage is from only about 4 months ago -- I wanted something that would help your accuracy. Take a look...

u

I've tagged this post "weight shift" because it illustrates an error so many weekend players make but the pros don't.

Charl is clearly "shifting his weight" during his swing but he's not moving nearly as much as most weekend players. If you watch his right (trailing) knee during his backswing, you won't see it move to his right very much... but you can see that it twists enough to "point" a little to the right. That's caused by his right hip moving backward -- away from the camera -- as his body turns. His hips don't slide away from the target, they turn.

Likewise, on the downswing it looks like he slides toward the target... but take a close look. Stop the video when his left arm is parallel to the ground during the downswing (it's pretty easy to stop it there around the :28 second mark) and take a good look at his body. His spine is still pretty much vertical and just slightly ahead of the center of his stance. In fact, his left shoulder is still inside his left instep at this point!

Charl isn't moving a lot. You might find it easier to get this kind of movement if you think about squatting slightly on the downswing, which was Sam Snead's trademark move. Not a big squat, mind you -- just think about starting your downswing by planting both feet flat on the ground. Because your shoulders were turned at the top of the swing, this mini-squat will start your shoulders turning just fine.

If you're having trouble hitting down on the ball, this move will also help that problem.

And it will help you stay more centered over the ball, so you should hit the ball more solidly.

It's certainly been working for Charl.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Alfred Dunhill Championship

Winner: Charl Schwartzel

Around the wider world of golf: Sergio Garcia won the Iskandar Johor Open on the Asian Tour; Daniel Popovic won the Australian PGA Championship on the Australasian Tour; Teresa Lu won the Taifong Ladies Open on the LAGT; Davis Love and his son Dru won the PNC Father/Son Challenge; and Ariya Jutanugarn is leading the LET's Q-School going into its final day.

Schwartzel with trophy

These kind of tournaments drive me crazy. You know -- the tournaments that get played in 2012 but count on the 2013 season. I'm listing this one as 2012 because it IS 2012, dammit!

Fortunately for Charl Schwartzel, it doesn't seem to matter what year it is. After struggling most of 2012 with a variety of swing problems (both physical and otherwise), Charl seems to have hit his stride the last few weeks. After two high finishes in tournaments that he didn't win, he took last week's Thailand Golf Championship by 11 strokes and backed it up this week with a 12-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship down in South Africa.

What can you say about such dominating performances? True, the biggest names in golf aren't playing right now and the other "high-rankers" are scattered around the globe. But winning anywhere is hard, winning two weeks in a row even harder, and going 49-under in those two weeks -- beating the rest of the field by 23 strokes total -- is just unbelievable.

If Charl is finally back in the form that gave him the 2011 Masters title, there could be some bleak days ahead for any field he plays in... and the guys at the top of the OWGR might not be exempt from the pressure.

So this week's Limerick Summary welcomes Charl back to the winner's circle -- he needed this ET win to qualify for my own RGWR -- and takes a quick look into the old crystal ball:
This is two weeks straight Charl’s been the victor.
If December is any predictor
Of Twenty-thirteen,
Going this deep might mean
He’ll squeeze fields like a boa constrictor.
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Backing into Your Putts

This was such a fascinating piece that I just had to pass it on.

reading putts by walking backwards

Over at golftipsmag.com I found an article by Susie Corona of the LPGA called Blind Reading. It discusses a tip she picked up from a blind golfer for getting a better feel for the break of your putt. The short description is that you walk backward from the hole for a few feet, but the reasoning behind the tip is what I found so interesting.

It's a short article, and worth a couple of minutes. You'll have to think about it a little to really understand why it would be better than walking forward, but I think it'll be worth your time.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hitting an In-to-Out Fade

I found this Golf Digest tip video based on some instruction from Mike Bender. It's on that somewhat confusing technique where you hit a fade using an in-to-out swing -- the method most of us think of as a hook move:



The video is pretty self-explanatory. I'd just like to point out that, while the swing path is in-to-out relative to your foot line, it's still out-to-in relative to your aim line. In other words, you actually aim farther to the left (for a right-hander -- a left-hander aims farther to the right) for this shot to make sure the club head still travels across your aim line.

This is part of the reason I think Ben Hogan developed the idea of connection. It helped him get this in-to-out swing path at all times. (I have several posts on connection, but the link sends you to a post with a video of Nick Faldo demonstrating the technique. This link shows Jimmy Ballard demonstrating it, but Ballard is only connecting the lead arm in his video.)

Hopefully this will help you become more consistent at hitting a power fade.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Forget "Grease" -- "Scotland" Is The Word

So Tom Watson got the 2014 US Ryder Cup captain's gig. One thing that became very obvious in all the coverage on Thursday was that the location -- Scotland -- was the overriding factor in this decision.

True, Tom Watson was the last US captain to win an "away game" and his 10-4-1 Ryder Cup record certainly played a part.

But so did his popularity over in Scotland. Clearly it's hoped that his status over there -- he was described at one point as" the most popular Yank since Bobby Jones" -- will help overcome some of the home crowd advantage. (Lee Trevino suggested that Tom's presence may also encourage more Americans to travel to Scotland, which would help even more.)

Tom's knowledge of how to play overseas -- which I believe is a huge factor in the American team's trouble in "away games" -- is also expected to help. He won 4 of his 5 Opens in Scotland, you know. And all that ability to play in less-than-ideal weather -- Scottish weather, of course -- is knowledge he can pass on to his players.

I found it most interesting that the PGA started thinking about Tom as the 2014 captain all the way back in October-November 2010, and that they started talking to Tom about 13 months ago or so. Davis Love was apparently aware of it during his captainship. Which means the media completely missed the boat on this one, as Tom was never discussed as a possibility. It also means that the PGA let all that talk go on without giving any indication that things were going to be done differently this time.

Frank Nobilo noted that this was something of a coup for the PGA, as the Euro team could have trouble finding somebody with enough stature to compete -- publicity-wise, that is -- with Watson, and that may have given the US team a headstart on it all.

Personally, I think it was a smart move just from the standpoint of getting a legend to head the team. Tom is both contemporary with the young players, who seek him out for advice and practice rounds, and yet separate enough to engender a certain level of respect that younger captains might not get, no matter how popular they are.

But in the end, the guys still have to hit the shots... and Tom Watson, captain or not, can't do that for them. I'll be interested to see how he manages to overcome that little problem.

After all, it's been lack of execution that killed US hopes in the past and it'll be execution that finally gets it done... IF it finally gets done.

And that's still one very big IF.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Well, We'll See...

Just a reminder that the 2014 US Ryder Cup captain will be announced today on The Today Show on NBC and followed by a special program about it on GC at 10am ET.

But if Tim Rosaforte is correct, Tom Watson got the nod. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

Tom at the 2009 Open

The photo is from the Telegraph's website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Ryder Cup Shuffle

Thursday morning is when the PGA will announce the American captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup team. And according to GC, we could be in for a big surprise.

Here's why: Apparently the PGA usually gets in contact with their choice well before the announcement is made... and apparently none of the expected choices has been contacted yet.

At least those folks "in the know" about these things don't think they have.

The frontrunners in this little race were thought to be David Toms, Tom Watson, and Larry Nelson. Toms most closely fits the recent profile -- an active Tour player between 40 and 50 with major wins. But he says the PGA hasn't contacted him about anything.

Larry Nelson has been a "sentimental favorite" for some time. I won't go into the whole story, but Nelson gave up a chance to be captain back in the 1990s so Lanny Watkins could do it, having been told he would get another chance. He never got it. There's been a big campaign to make him captain this time... but Nelson says the PGA hasn't contacted him either.

Tom Watson said last week that he'd love to repeat as captain if the PGA would let him. But if they've talked to him, he's staying mum on the subject.

And despite being the Presidents Cup captain, many think Fred Couples might get the job. But Freddie hasn't said anything about it... not that I think he would.

Personally, I think it's going to be Freddie. He's closest to the criteria the PGA has been using for the last couple of decades and, as we all know, he's been very successful as the Presidents Cup captain. Of course, that would mean that Freddie's becoming a professional captain, a position that could curtail his playing somewhat. But given his back problems, that might not be a bad thing for him.

At any rate, I suspect the PGA decided they have only one real criterium for the US Ryder Cup captain -- they want a winner. Of all the potential captains currently available, Freddie is probably the most obvious choice.

We'll find out tomorrow. It's going to be announced on The Today Show on NBC, and GC will then run a special about the choice at 10am ET.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Get More from Your Hybrid

I found an interesting article at golftipsmag.com called 4 Ways to Score with a Hybrid. It's a good source for ideas on how to get more use from your hybrid.

Sole of hybrid club Here are the 4 ways to score that the article covers:
  1. Sand shots
  2. Bump & Run
  3. Downhill Green Shot from Light Rough above the Hole
  4. Ball against the Collar of the Green
You'll also see plenty of tiny pictures scattered through the article. Click on them and they "blow up" so you can see more details.

There's a lot of good info here on how ball position affects these shots, which is often the most important (and least often considered) detail when setting up to play a specialized shot.

The instructor who wrote this article, Frank O’Connell, is also responsible for the Body Movin' drill that I seem to recommend every other month, so you might want to check this new article out as well. (My original post featuring the Body Movin' drill, More Indoor Practice, can be found at this link.)

The photo came from the hybrid article.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Emirates Australian Open

Winner: Peter Senior

Around the wider world of golf: Charl Schwartzel blew away the field at the OneAsia Tour's Thailand Golf Championship; Shanshan Feng blew away the field at the LET's Omega Dubai Ladies Masters; Scott Jamieson won the ET's Nelson Mandela Championship in a playoff; and the team of Kenny Perry and Sean O'Hair squeaked out a win at the Franklin Templeton Shootout (aka the Shark Shootout).

Senior with trophy

When the PGA Tour isn't playing a regular season tournament, I sometimes have trouble picking what other tournament to write about. This week I had already decided to focus on the Australian Open, simply because Opens are usually important tournaments even if they don't always draw the big names. The Aussie Open had Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Tom Watson; most of the other players were lesser-known names. But it definitely turned out to be the most interesting event.

You see, while the winners of some of this week's other events blew away their respective fields, no other tournament can say that its field was nearly blown away!

Even though there was a 3-hour delay because of high winds -- I don't know how high, but I heard there were gusts of 80km (that's around 50mph for my American readers) -- the Aussie Open still finished the event because the greens crew planned for it! They didn't cut or roll the greens and they picked easier pin positions, so the balls might wobble in the wind but they didn't roll away.

I don't think the players really appreciated it that much. Even par was a great score. A few players managed rounds of -1. The only guy to shoot in the 60s was -- no surprise -- Tom Watson, who shot -3.

But the beauty of it all was that the winner was 53-year-old Peter Senior. His final round of even par made him the oldest man to ever win the Aussie Open, beating the previous record set by Peter Thomson at the ripe old age of 43 way back in 1972.

I love it when the old guys prove they're still relevant. Maybe they aren't as flashy as the young kids, but often they're a bit sharper in tough conditions. So this week the Limerick Summary celebrates Peter Senior's newest Christmas present:
Oh the weather outside, it was frightful
And the high winds were never delightful…
But at 53 years
Peter Senior just sneers
When some blowhard says his game’s a mite dull.
The photo came from this USAToday article.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Chinese Golf Is Going to Owe Shanshan Feng a Lot

After becoming the first Chinese player to win a major earlier this year, Shanshan Feng just added another big win over a strong field at the LET's Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.

Feng receives Dubai trophy

And all she did was beat the previous scoring record -- held by both Annika Sorenstam and In-Kyung Kim -- by three strokes. Her rounds of 66-65-67-67 (-21) gave her a five-shot victory over her closest competitor Dewi-Claire Schreefel... who was, in turn, four strokes clear of the third place finishers. Only one player within 9 shots of you? That's a pretty serious beating to put on the field.

Shanshan's currently #6 in the Rolex World Rankings, but I'd be surprised if she isn't #5 or even #4 when this week's rankings come out.

We all know how much of a "rock star" she became in China after she won the Wegmans LPGA Championship earlier this season. This win will only fuel the growing golf frenzy there.

And if China is able to put up a good showing at the Olympics... well, I think they're going to owe Shanshan Feng a huge debt of gratitude for being a trailblazer. As it stands -- if the Koreans are any indication -- we're about a decade from seeing a flood of Chinese professionals.

The US ladies better start practicing.

The photo came from the LET's web page about the event.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Training Aids for the Financially Challenged

Just a link for today.

Battery used for putting practice

I know some of you like to use training aids... but they get awfully expensive sometimes. This article at golftipsmag.com, simply called Homemade Training Aids, will give you some ideas on how to use things you have laying around the house to help your game.

One quick note: They suggest using a towel under your lead arm to help improve connection. Try using it under both arms. You won't be able to make as long a swing -- you may only get your hands to shoulder height -- but it will help you build a connected feel with both arms. It will also help you stop casting when you start your downswing.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Maybe We Could Call It "Wiegeling"

Thursday night Golf Central showed some footage of the new putting technique Michelle Wie's trying over at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. I tried to find a photo of it but, alas, no luck. However, I can show you basically what it looks like.

Diegeling

This, my friends, is Leo Diegel, a two-time major champion from the 1920s. And this unusual putting style became known as "Diegeling." This photo is from 1924 and, yes, it's an anchored stroke.

Michelle is using something very similar, although she has her elbows close to her side rather than pointed out. I don't know if she's anchoring the putter or not; it wasn't clear from the footage I saw. Charlie Rymer questioned whether she could use the style for very long without causing physical problems.

"Diegeling" is one of the more humorous putting styles that has been used over the centuries... but it's not entirely without merit. Ignoring the anchoring and "wings" for a moment, the concept isn't too far from what Dave Pelz teaches. By leaning over so much that your spine is almost parallel to the ground, it puts you in a position where the putter can swing like a pendulum -- or at least as close as a human body is likely to get. Two-time major winner Hubert Green is another pro who was quite successful using a putting style like this.

In fact, you might notice some similarities between "Diegeling" and the putting stroke of an early Jack Nicklaus. I should point out that this was not only effective, but apparently served him well for quite a number of years:

Early Jack Nicklaus putting stroke

So when everybody is laughing at Michelle Wie -- and it's already started, judging by the GC telecast -- "Bear" in mind that this isn't such a bizarre putting concept after all.

The Leo Diegel photo came from this site, and the Nicklaus photo came from this site.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I’ve Got a Driver

It's been a while since I did a song parody... and ironically, I didn't do this one for this blog. Occasionally my love of golf finds its way onto my Will Shakespeare for Hire blog, and I posted this parody there on Monday. But I liked it so much -- I've found myself singing it around the house -- that I decided to post it here as well.

I considered calling it Drive It Far since it's a parody of the Beatles' song Drive My Car, but I've Got a Driver is a line from the original song and just seems to fit the mood of the song better.

I hope you guys like it. Since we're in the lull between golf seasons, it seemed like a good time to have a little fun.

I’ve Got a Driver (with apologies to the Beatles)
My caddie said, “You should listen to me:
I’ve done this job for a decade or three.
The fairway’s narrow and there’s too many trees;
I know what you’re thinking, but won’t you please
Leave that big stick in the bag –
Yeah, I know my plan’s a drag –
But leave that big stick in the bag,
You’ll hit the ball better.”

I ought to listen; my friends say he’s good.
If he says “Hit an iron,” I know that I should.
There’s water short of the green if I dare…
But I’ve got a driver. I could get it there!
He says, “Leave that big stick in the bag –
Yeah, I know my plan’s a drag –
But leave that big stick in the bag,
You’ll hit the ball better.”

I disregarded my caddie’s advice,
Took out the driver and I hit a big slice.
My ball’s in the water, my score’s in the tank…
And I’ve got a driver and myself to thank.
Took that big stick from the bag –
Didn’t want to be a drag –
Took that big stick from the bag
And hit the ball badder…
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no
Uh-oh, splish-splash, no

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Question Mark Concerning This Award

The PGA Tour finally announced its remaining awards... and there were no real surprises.

It's certainly no surprise that Rory McIlroy won Player of the Year. Four PGA Tour wins, including an 8-shot win at the PGA, the money title, and the scoring title will do that for you.

John Huh photoAnd, in my opinion, the Rookie of the Year winner was no surprise. While there was a lot of debate, particularly about Jonas Blixt's late-season run, I never thought anybody should have gotten it besides John Huh, the notorious Question Mark. He was the fastest to the winner's circle (at the Mayakoba in February), he had a runner-up (at Valero), and he was the only rookie to make it to the Tour Championship, finishing 29th in the FedExCup standings and booking a trip to the 2013 Masters. He's currrently #71 in the OWGR.

Barring someone else having multiple wins, I don't know how anybody could overlook his accomplishments.

Huh also becomes the first Korean player to win Rookie of the Year -- at least, on the PGA. I know that doesn't figure into the voting for ROY, but it's another first for him.

For my money, the Tour got it right this year. There was no question mark in my mind who should have been Rookie of the Year... and now the Question Mark has it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Die Is Cast

The Q-Schools are over. In the LPGA Q-School the primary surprises were Christina Kim getting only conditional status and Mel Reid missing the cut. But we'll be seeing both of them a lot, I suspect -- Kim is popular and Reid still has her LET membership.

But there were quite a few surprises at the PGA Q-School. You can see the full results at this link -- 26 players got Tour cards -- but I'll just point out a few of the more interesting results. Bear in mind that the winning score for the 6 rounds was -25.

Kris Blanks got his card quite easily after missing most of the season with injury. He was so gung-ho to play that I'm not sure his finish was ever in doubt. He finished T4 at -23.

Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton put on a run the last two days to finish T7 at -22. His story is the kind that sportswriters love, and it helps that he's just such a nice guy.

And I have to mention Mr. Monday, Patrick Reid. Finishing right on the number -- T22 at -17 -- he said his fiance will be on his bag again next year. Except she'll be his wife then; they're getting married later this month.

I can't even begin to list all the surprises who missed out on a card. Yeah, I know there's only so many cards to go around and there's always a lot of name players who end up missing out... but multiple event winner Camilo Villegas (T32)? Morgan Hoffman, who was near the lead after 2 rounds (T73)? ET Tour players like Oliver Fisher (T27 -- missed by a single stroke) and Alex Noren (T73)? Nick O'Hern, the "Tiger Killer" in match play (T104)?

Many of the players who missed out will get Web.com Tour cards... or have European Tour cards... or will find other ways to get in events. (Jerry Kelly used a one-time exemption so he wouldn't have to go to Q-School at all.)

But any way you cut it, the die is cast. Everybody knows what they have... or don't have, as the case may be. What surprises will 2013 have for them... and for us? I can't wait to find out.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 World Challenge

Winner: Graeme McDowell

Around the wider world of golf: Not much this week, as we're entering the so-called "Silly Season." Arnond Vongvanij won the King's Cup on the Asian Tour; Pornanong Phatlum won the Hero Women's India Open on the LAGT; and Martin Kaymer won the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

McDowell and 'Tiger'

I may start calling Graeme McDowell "Irish Ice" because he's got ice water running through his veins when the pressure is on, yet he always seems to be smiling. He certainly knows how to close out a tournament once he gets the lead.

Granted, he hasn't been too impressive as a closer this season. (The last two seasons, in fact.) He's gone through equipment changes, injuries, some swing changes, relocation, engagement, and a business start-up... and now he seems to have it all working again. He showed signs earlier in the season with some good finishes in majors, but he just couldn't seem to get 'er done.

This week, only Keegan Bradley was able to challenge him... but he just didn't have enough to wipe the smile from those Irish eyes. He just couldn't keep pace with the man who grew up playing in damp weather -- a man who, by the way, has racked up two wins and a runner-up finish in his only three starts at Tiger's tourney.

Graeme will be taking around ten weeks off -- he still has business concerns and such to attend to, as well as just needing a vacation. But 2013 certainly looks bright for him, and this week's Limerick Summary celebrates his victory as well as my new nickname for him.
Let’s just call Graeme McDowell “Irish Ice”
‘Cause he’s cool under pressure, precise
When it counts, and he’s smiling
So wide ‘cause he’s piling
Up cash. Few win this event twice!
The photo came from the front page of PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hitting the Driver

Today I found a new video from instructor Karen Nannen about hitting your driver at golftipsmag.com and decided some of you might find it helpful. After all, you hit the driver with an upward stroke -- not downward, as you do with an iron.



Yes, I've done posts about driving technique before. But I never know when one of these new videos might make the technique clearer to some of you, and since I like short video lessons that get right to the point...

One thing I want to point out -- and this goes for any face-on video you may look at -- is that spine angles can be a bit deceiving from this view. It looks as if Karen is leaning backward when she swings upward, but she isn't. Because she's bent forward at the hips --that is, tilted toward the ball -- it can look as if she's pushed her hips forward and curved her back more than she actually has. Bear that in mind when you make your swing; otherwise, you might unintentionally add a slice by tilting your spine backward too much. If you do that, you might leave the club face open.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Pressures of Q-School

While the main news from this week's Q-Schools has been about the players in contention, I've been more interested in the players who aren't playing as well as expected. Some of their scores are quite shocking. And after three rounds, the PGA has only three more to go, the LPGA only two. Things are getting tight.

For example, Morgan Hoffman dropped from T5 to T44 when he shot 74 on Friday. Even worse, Daniel Chopra dropped all the way from T5 to T66 with a third-round 76. Nick O'Hern and Rod Pampling are all the way back at T75 -- not shooting over-par rounds, but just not getting anything going. With the current leader at -18, the best of these players is 10 shots back!

And they only have 3 days to make up ground. Hoffman is barely hanging on to a Tour card right now at -8. (Yes, 10 strokes back.) For what it's worth, Hoffman's chances might be pretty good. In past years, averaging -3 each round has generally been good enough to lock up a card.

A lot of familiar names are even farther back in the pack. I was shocked to find Patrick Reed, the guy who Monday-qualified for a number of events this year, all the way back at -3 (T98). And ET winner Alex Noren is even par (T132). I never would have expected that.

At the LPGA's Q-School, the big shocker for me is Mel Reid. Mel is T95, an unbelievable +10 while the leader's at -13. With only two rounds left in their qualifier, I don't see how she can possibly make that up.

All of these players are at least "good" players, and some are outstanding... yet, to paraphrase Shakespeare, Q-School makes cowards of us all. Of course, Hamlet was musing about the fear of death, not golf...

But when you're talking about Q-School, perhaps that's an appropriate analogy.