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Saturday, October 31, 2015

An Old Johnny Miller Drill for More Clubhead Speed

Wow, this is some old video footage! Here's Johnny Miller demonstrating what he calls "two secret positions that every Tour pro knows." What he's talking about is how your wrists uncock at impact to create clubhead speed. Then he shows footage of Jack Nicklaus doing it when he hits the ball.

The drill is simple, so simple that you might be inclined to ignore it. Don't -- it will help you more than you know.

In many ways this is no different from some of my old Route 67 posts about "the swoosh at the bottom." (You can find those posts by clicking the Route 67 Posts button just under the header, if you're interested.)

This drill exaggerates the movement a bit because a short swing requires more effort to uncock your wrists at impact than a full swing does. But if you practice this drill using a short swing, you'll find it's much easier to do it with a full swing. Plus you can do it in your backyard, using tees as targets instead of balls to help you get familiar with the move before you take it to the range.

And for you Michael Breed fans, it will help you get that delayed swooshing noise just past the ball that he keeps trying to teach you.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Inbee Park May Be Done for the Season

The second round of the Blue Bay LPGA event is underway as I'm writing this, but Inbee Park is no longer in the field. And it's entirely possible that we may not see her for the rest of the season, as there are only three more events after this one.

Inbee Park during first round of Blue Bay LPGA

According to GC, Inbee withdrew from the event after the first round:
Park withdrew Thursday night after shooting a 75 in the first round and complaining of pain in the middle finger of her left hand. She told LPGA staff that she has been dealing with a cyst on the finger for about three weeks, and she is unsure when she will be able to tee it up again.
We've already seen how a cyst can disrupt a player's season. Azahara Munoz had to have a cyst removed from her hand earlier this season. She missed roughly a month and a half during March and April recovering from surgery. And Lydia Ko had a cyst removed back in 2014, sidelining her for around the same amount of time.

While Inbee certainly hasn't said anything about surgery at this point -- and some cysts can be effectively treated with antibiotics, among other possibilities -- the LPGA season will end in three weeks. That doesn't leave much time for any sort of treatment to take effect.

Before the Blue Bay LPGA began, the talk was about the battle for World #1 between Inbee and Lydia. Even after the first round, the LPGA was already projecting what Inbee needed to do if she wanted to regain the title this week.

But now that's all just talk. Until we hear exactly what Inbee intends to do about this cyst, it looks like Lydia is firmly entrenched at World #1 and Inbee may start to fall down the rankings from lack of play.

In the meantime, let's all just wish Inbee a quick recovery.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

But Where Are the Women's Clubs?

Golf Magazine has put up an article summarizing some of the new clubs for 2016, complete with pictures and videos. It looks to be a good overview of the new men's clubs that have been introduced so far and, for those of you looking for new sticks, it looks to be fairly thorough. But unless I overlooked them, something is missing.

Where are the women's models?

Big Bertha metal woods

Perhaps I'm just overlooking them, I said to myself. Perhaps I just need to Google it.

So I did. I popped over to Google and searched for "2016 women's golf clubs." And I found NOTHING. Oh, there were listings of women's clubs for sale... but I couldn't find anything with both "2016" and "women" in the hits.

For an industry that claims it needs to "embrace" more of the potential golfing population -- especially women -- it seems strange to me that the marketing for new models excludes them. I'm sure that's really going to encourage women to take up the game.

Perhaps I'm alone in my disappointment. I understand that men's clubs make up the bulk of golf sales and that manufacturers will therefore focus their marketing efforts on those models. And perhaps those potential players who are being ignored won't care -- after all, once they take a quick look and find nothing, they'll put that silly idea about playing golf out of their minds and move on to sports where the equipment is more readily available.

Still, it disturbs me. I have heard endless talk about "growing the game" yet none of the movers and shakers -- that is, the folks with the money to make it happen -- seem interested on following through. Golf is expensive and time-consuming, and perhaps some of that can't be helped. But we could at least make the equipment easy to obtain.

And if we aren't going to do even that much, perhaps it's time we stop moaning about the declining popularity of golf. Let's just admit that we want golf to be an elitist sport and that we like it that way. As someone once said, it's time to put up or shut up.

End of rant.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yet Another Guide to the Anchoring Ban

Golf Digest has done its own guide to anchored VS unanchored putting strokes, with diagrams and explanations. It's not very long but the explanations seem very clear.

For example, this diagram comparing a legal short putter stroke with both elbows tight against the sides to an illegal anchored stroke with a broomstick putter includes this as part of the explanation:
"If the forearms are resting against the body, this method is acceptable only if the hands are not separated. They can still work independently when making a stroke this way."
That phrase I highlighted, "...only if the hands are not separated," is a great reminder of the diagram and provides an easy-to-understand reason for why one method is legal while the other isn't.

Broomstick putter, unanchored and anchored

Between this guide and yesterday's video from Golf Central, you should get a pretty clear picture of which putting strokes will be legal and which won't be when 2016 officially arrives.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Mechanics of the Upcoming Anchoring Ban

Since GC had their rules expert Kendra Graham and commentator Tripp Isenhour explain some of the finer points of the anchored stroke ban on Golf Central Monday, I thought I'd post the video here. This should really help you -- if you'll pardon the pun -- "get a handle" on what's going to be legal and what won't.

In case the video didn't embed properly, you can find the original at this link. The video is the entire Golf Central broadcast, but it starts when Graham and Isenhour came on. The part you need to see is only three or four minutes long.

Let me try to sum up the key points in a few words.
  • First, it isn't the equipment that will be banned -- just the way you hold it. Broomsticks and belly putters will still be legal.
  • It is illegal for the butt end of the club to be anchored against your torso, so you can't hold broomsticks against your chest or belly putters against your belly.
  • You can't use your clothing to help anchor the club. As Kendra says, it would be illegal to grip your tie against the handle.
  • The butt end of the club can't touch your body if that would make the butt end of the club into a pivot point, nor may your elbow act as an anchor point.
That last one may not be clear although Kendra and Tripp tried to illustrate it. It all comes down to whether the club and your arms are "swinging" the club rather than acting as a pivot point. Let me give you their examples with further explanation.
  • The butt end of a broomstick can't touch your chin because the club would swing like a pendulum pivoting from your chin.
  • The butt end of a belly putter can't touch your belly because the club would swing like a pendulum pivoting from your belly.
  • A less-obvious example: You can't hold a broomstick away from your chest BUT anchor your elbow. This creates a pendulum pivoting from your hand, and that hand is being anchored in place by your elbow.
Now let's look at the other four oddball examples that Kendra mentioned. First, the illegal one.
  • ILLEGAL: The belly putter with the butt end of the club touching your lead bicep is illegal because the butt end is anchored. How? Your lead hand is holding the club against your lead bicep just as firmly as if your lead hand were holding the club against your belly.
Now the three legal ones.
  • LEGAL: The broomstick held away from your chest AND the elbow held away from your body have no more contact with your body than holding a short putter with your elbows away from your body. Therefore, no anchor is created and no pendulum is created.
  • LEGAL: This one confuses a lot of people. The short putter held with both elbows anchored against your torso is legal because this forms the exact same kind of triangle as a short putter with both elbows held away from your body. (In fact, you can still swing your hands and arms independently of your body when you do it. Give it a try and see.)

    HOWEVER, IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL IF you anchored both of your FOREARMS against your body, since you would have completely locked both hands in position.
  • LEGAL: This one probably confuses players the most. The Kuchar method, where the handle is laid against the lead forearm and held there by the trail hand, is legal because there is no pivot point as there is when the belly putter is anchored against the bicep. The entire SIDE of the handle is laying against the side of the lead arm and not touching the lead arm above the elbow. Locking one wrist in position isn't the same thing as anchoring.
Hopefully this post and video will help you sort out the whole anchoring thing. It basically comes down to swinging the club VS pivoting the club.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Shriners Hospitals Open

Winner: Smylie Kaufman

Around the wider world of golf: Lydia Ko posted a 9-shot win at the Fubon LPGA Thailand Taiwan Championship, becoming the youngest player ever to win 10 LPGA events (and also regaining her #1 world ranking); Justin Rose won the UBS Hong Kong Open, giving him a win on both PGA and European Tours this year; Kristine Pedersen got her first professional win at the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the LET; and Matt Kuchar and Justin Hueber won the Bridgestone America’s Golf Cup (a team event) on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Smylie Kaufman with Shriners trophy

Will McGirt drew first blood, posting a 62 very early in the final round to take the clubhouse lead at the Shriners Hospitals for Childrens Open. Unfortunately for Will, that lead didn't last very long and he ended up in a tie for 8th. While Will would have been a first-time winner, this week's event was slated for a different first-timer.

Not long afterward, Smylie Kaufman posted a 10-under 61 that gave him a two-shot margin over McGirt and set the mark for the rest of the field at -16, about two-and-a-half hours before the leaders were expected to finish. With scores like McGirt's and Kaufman's -- and the reputation for low scoring that this event has built over the years -- you'd think that somebody near the fourth-round lead would make short work of Smylie's lead.

But you'd be wrong. For some reason the rest of the field just couldn't seem to get it going Sunday. Big guns like Morgan Hoffman and Jimmy Walker stumbled right out of the gate, spraying the ball everywhere. First-timers like Brett Stegmaier and Patton Kizzire played nicely -- Kizzire even posted a 63 -- as did veterans like Alex Cjeka and Jason Bohn, but nobody could break the -15 barrier. Even Kevin Na, who once again put himself in contention, got fooled by a chip on the 17th and once again posted a runner-up finish.

Instead, Smylie found himself in the unbelievable position of winning the tournament a couple of hours before it finished. According to GC, first-timers haven't won the first two events of the season since 1980. I don't know if this portends anything unusual over the next few months of the new season, but I'm certain Smylie isn't worried about it.

After all, long odds are common in Las Vegas.

In the meantime I'm sure he'll find a good way to celebrate his first PGA Tour win since he's right there in Vegas -- a celebration we'll probably never learn the details of, assuming the commercials are correct -- but at least we all know he'll be getting a nice new Limerick Summary. Why, look -- here it is now!
Smylie’s score left the field quite deflated,
And for two-and-a-half hours he waited
To see if the rest
Could match up to his best…
But they couldn’t, so Smylie’s elated.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, October 25, 2015

History in the Making

As I'm writing this, the final round of the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship is still underway and it's early in the round.

As I'm writing this, history hasn't been made yet.

But in all likelihood, by the time you read this, Lydia Ko will have rewritten history again.

Lydia Ko

As I'm writing this, Lydia Ko has a 5-shot lead over Eun-Hee Ji, her closest competitor. In and of itself, that's no big deal. The Kobra has done this sort of thing before, simply because she doesn't make big mistakes very often. For example, when the rest of the field struggled in poor conditions during the third round, Lydia shot 67 and made it look almost effortless. The only other player in the Top10 to shoot a better score was Suzann Pettersen, and Pettersen is under par again today...

But she's still 9 shots behind Lydia. Nine shots behind... and that still puts Suzann in solo 5th place. That's because Lydia is 3-under on the day after only 7 holes. (And that's with a bogey on the 7th!)

If Lydia pulls off this victory today, she'll once again be #1 in the Rolex Rankings... but that's not the history-making part. The win itself will make history, as it will be the Kobra's 10th LPGA win. The fastest player to reach 10 LPGA wins -- as I'm writing this, that is -- is Nancy Lopez, who chalked up her 10th LPGA victory at the age of 22.

Lydia is still only 18, folks. If she wins, she breaks the record by more than 3.5 years! We aren't just talking history here, we're talking about something never seen before in the world of golf... and the sports world as a whole has yet to take notice of it.

As I'm writing this, Lydia Ko has yet to make history again. But even if she doesn't do it today it's only a matter of time. Her achievements are not only rewriting the history books but the expectations of everyone who wants to be a professional golfer. Players like this don't come along every day. Take notice of her performance, folks... and be sure to appreciate it.

[MORNING UPDATE: In the end Lydia won by 9 strokes. I wonder how long it will take her to reach 20 wins?]

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Going High, Low and Around with Kevin Kisner

Golf Digest posted an article with Kevin Kisner describing how to hit shots around various obstacles. In the article he tells how to hit the ball high, low, hooked and sliced. This video that accompanies the article demonstrates how to hit the ball high.

Now obviously, I can't just copy the article and repost it here -- and that's what I'd have to do, since the article is little more than a summary of the steps you should take to hit each of those shots. But you might find it useful to know how the ball position changes for each of these shots:
  • To hit the ball low, you don't have to change your ball position at all. Just take a longer club and choke down.
  • To hit the ball high, you move the ball forward in your stance. Kisner says, "Ball position is crucial. Address it almost like you were hitting a driver, off your front heel." In fact, his instructions sound like a driver setup. As a result, he says weight shift during the downswing is very important if you don't want to hit the ball thin or fat.
  • To hook the ball, move the ball just back of the center of your stance.
  • To slice the ball, move the ball just forward of the center of your stance.
Notice that you don't have to make major changes to ball position EXCEPT when you need to hit the ball higher than normal -- and in this case, we're talking much higher than normal.

But if you take a moment to consider how you would combine these instructions -- for example, to hit a low slice -- you'll realize why most players consider hitting a high draw to be the most difficult shot. You're supposed to move the ball forward to hit it high but back to get the draw. You can't do both!

In order to hit a high draw, you're forced to move the ball forward and hit the draw from there. That greatly increases your chances of hitting the ball fat or thin.

Hopefully Kevin's instructions will help improve your ability to maneuver the ball... and also help you understand why some shots are more difficult for you than others.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jeff Flagg on Hitting It Long

Since I've spent considerable time this week focusing on the World Long Drive Championship and how to hit the ball farther, I thought I'd add one more post on the subject. This time, I'm linking you to an article at Golf Digest by 2014 Long Drive Champion Jeff Flagg and I'm focusing on a few thoughts in the article that may go against things you've been told.

Jeff Flagg

Here are five quotes from the article that may surprise you.
  • THE LENGTH OF YOUR BACKSWING DOESN'T MATTER. What matters is that it ends when you feel coiled but not stressed. At the top of my swing, I can have a normal conversation with you. I'm not straining. If you start straining, you'll lose the energy you were trying to store for the hit.
So Long Drive Tip #1 -- Stay relaxed, even if you don't get a 90° shoulder turn and your hands aren't way up over your head.
  • WHAT AM I THINKING ABOUT WHEN I SWING? My only real thought is, Right hand and arm drive the swing. That's it. I'm literally trying to make a sidearm throwing motion—like a 3-6-3 double play in baseball. If more golfers swung with the same motion, as if they were skipping stones, they'd pound the ball.
Long Drive Tip #2 -- Think more about swinging your arms faster, and particularly your trailing arm, than about driving your lower body.
  • I RELATE THE GOLF SWING TO SPRINTING. For me, the feel is that my arms are out-racing my body. You know what track coaches say: "Fast arms equal fast feet." It's similar in golf. The faster my arms can go, the faster the club is moving.
Long Drive Tip #3 -- Think more about swinging your arms faster than about driving your lower body.
  • IN TRUTH, MY HIPS LEAD THE DOWNSWING. But I don't think about that. They just do. Do you think pitchers, quarterbacks or javelin throwers think about clearing their hips before they throw? Their arms dictate all of that motion subconsciously.
  • IF YOU NEED ONE THING TO FOCUS ON, make it swinging your arms as fast as you can.
Long Drive Tip #5 -- THINK MORE ABOUT SWINGING YOUR ARMS FASTER THAN... Hey, are you seeing a pattern here yet???

These are just a few quotes from the article that I think are seriously overlooked in modern teaching. There's a lot more good stuff there, though, so be sure to stop by the Golf Digest site and read the whole thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tim Burke Gets His 2nd Title in 3 Years

All he needed in the finals was 394 yards, that's all.

Yeah, that sounds like a lot to us mere mortals. But Tim Burke, 2013 World Long Drive champion, had smacked it over 400 yards in each of the previous two rounds... and he pretty much needed it both times.

Tim Burke on the deck

The big shocker of the night was when Jamie Sadlowski missed the grid with ALL of his shots in the Round of Four. The competition had taken a turn when the wind picked up during the Round of Eight, quartering into the players from the left, but Jamie had successfully negotiated it to take out Jeff Crittenden.

Then the 10th seed, Jeremy Easterly, who had quietly upset each match with consistent if less than impressive drives -- if you can call 380-yard drives "less than impressive" -- posted a drive and Jamie simply lost his rhythm. Whether it was the wind, the clock, or just wanting it too much, Jamie failed to put even one ball in the grid and was eliminated.

That brought the match down to former champ Tim Burke and first-timer Jeremy Easterly.

You can find the video of the final between Easterly and Burke at this link if you missed the actual competition and the video didn't embed properly above this paragraph. It's an amazing shot.

I'm sure Tim Burke will be watching it over and over and over. After all, he's the 2015 champion now as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Lot of Stuff Happened Tuesday

So many newsy bits came out yesterday that I thought I'd list them, in case you missed some of them.

1. The big news at the World Long Driving Championship semifinals was that Joe Miller went out right off the bat. Joe was considered the favorite to win the event, and hit the second-longest drive of the entire 16-player field (396 yards) but came up two yards short. In match play that's all it takes.

That probably leaves Jamie Sadlowski as the new favorite, and his clubhead speed is about 10mph or so better than the rest of his bracket. I would like to see Jeff Crittenden win -- he lost by only 13 inches last year! -- but he faces Sadlowski next. Not likely to be a good night for Jeff.

2. We learned that Tiger hasn't even begun his back rehab yet and that he expects it to take some time. Just from the sound of things, he could be looking at a year -- which is probably what he should have taken after the last surgery. Live and learn, I guess.

3. The 2019 Open Championship is going to be held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, which is long overdue in my opinion. And it's going to be a bit unusual since Royal Portrush is a very green links course. I didn't even know they made those.

4. Jordan Spieth announced that he's going to play at the Singapore Open instead of the Farmers Insurance Open in late January, which has upset some people. Last year they complained because he played the John Deere instead of the Scottish Open; this year they're complaining because he's cashing in on some of the appearance fees he can now claim. Both events (Deere and Farmers) gave him exemptions when he was trying to get his card. And it's worth noting that he has played Farmers each of the last three years, so I can't see why skipping it for one year would be any different than skipping Deere last year would have been.

Can't please everybody, Jordan. Better get used to it.

5. Finally, Rich Beem gave up his spot in the UBS Hong Kong Open so Ian Poulter could make his European Tour minimum schedule, which ultimately could have kept him out of the Ryder Cup next year. Beem has taken considerable ribbing over it, since most Americans would probably like it if we didn't have to face Poulter in the Ryder Cup, but Beemer said it was the right thing to do and I agree with him.

I think that pretty much covers it all. It's unusual to get so much news from so many different camps on one day, but that should get you caught up on it all. I think the Royal Portrush announcement was probably the most important.

At least, unless you're Joe Miller.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stepping into a Longer Drive

This is the week of the World Long Drive Championship -- they start tonight -- and GC had long drive champs Joe Miller and Jaime Sadlowski on Morning Drive, The Golf Fix and Playing Lessons Monday. Obviously, they were there to talk about how you hit longer drives.

Charlie Rymer hosted Playing Lessons and he asked the two for a simple tip that weekend players could put into practice without a lot of difficulty, and their answers were the same. First of all, you want to hit the ball in the middle of the club face. And second, you don't want to swing harder, which also makes it harder to hit the ball solid..

If you want to hit the ball farther, they said, you want to swing LONGER. And they likened it to how Jack Nicklaus became one of the longest hitters of his day. Here's a video of Jack's swing, from various angles, at various speeds. Watch it, then I'll explain what Joe and Jamie said you can learn from Jack's swing.

Both long drivers pointed to how Jack let his lead heel come off the ground during his backswing. Here's how the sequence works:
  • You want the swing to be longer, so your shoulders have to turn more on the backswing.
  • For your shoulders to turn more, your hips have to turn more.
  • For your hips to turn more, your lead heel needs to come off the ground.
Note that Jack's lead knee moves back behind the ball. You may not need to lift your heel that much -- that might make it hard for you to come back down accurately -- but your lead knee should bend some when your heel comes up. This isn't a stiff movement; just relax.

Now, to start your downswing, all you have to do is place your heel back down on the ground. Please, please, PLEASE understand that you don't have to STOMP the ground with your heel! You don't want to jerk the club down from the top; that will throw you off-plane. If you just "step" back into your address position, you'll automatically shift your weight forward and start that club moving smoothly down from the top. And you'll have plenty of time to build up speed before you hit the ball.

That's the tip that two long drive champs gave. It's probably a pretty good one.

And don't forget that you can watch the semifinals of the World Long Drive Championship tonight at 8pm ET.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Open

Winner: Emiliano Grillo

Around the wider world of golf: Lexi Thompson won the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship (her second win this season); Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong of Thailand won the Symetra Tour Championship; Bernhard Langer won the San Antonio Championship on the Champions Tour (his second win this season); Andy Sullivan walked to a 9-stroke win at the Portugal Masters on the ET (his third win this season); Nicholas Lindheim won the Mundo Maya Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Xinjun Zhang won the Chongqing Jiangnan NewTown KingRun Open on the PGA TOUR China; Scott Hend won the Venetian Macao Open on the Asian Tour; and Teresa Lu won the Fujitsu Ladies on the JLPGA (her fifth win of the season -- bangkokbobby has details).

Emiliano Grillo

Before I get to the PGA Tour event, let me make a couple of shout-outs to LPGA players Yani Tseng and Amy Yang. Yani has two runner-ups, a fifth place finish and a MC in her last four events, and Amy merely birdied the ENTIRE back nine of her final round in South Korea to card a 27. Outstanding play from both women!

It was just seven months ago that Emiliano Grillo missed a short putt to win the Puerto Rico Open and lock up a PGA Tour card.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that Emiliano Grillo sunk a long putt to win the Tour Championship and lock up a PGA Tour card.

Then on Sunday Emiliano Grillo did it all -- sink a long putt to force a playoff, miss a short putt to win the first playoff hole... and then, just for good measure, he sunk a slightly longer putt to win the Open and lock up his next three years on the PGA Tour.

And he did it all in his rookie debut. You got to admit, the young Argentinian's got style.

The playoff was another near miss for Kevin Na, who hardly anybody expected to factor in the event. Most everybody thought it would be one of the Justins (Rose or Thomas), one of the other veteran players like Jason Bohn or one of other rookies like Tyrone Van Aswegen, all of whom kept making birdies -- and then bogeys -- to keep the scoreboard in constant flux down the stretch. It was a dramatic send-off for the Open, which will re-emerge as the Safeway Open next season.

Grillo may be new to casual golf fans but he certainly isn't new to the scene. He's got several Top5 finishes on the European Tour, as well as wins on the Tour and now the PGA Tour. And he isn't new to the Limerick Summary, as he got one for that Tour win just a couple weeks back.

Well, Emiliano, now you get one for the Big Tour as well:
A flash in the pan Grillo’s not;
He’s good to the very last shot.
He won two weeks back;
Now he’s right back on track—
Guess he struck while his irons were still hot!
The photo came from the tournament daily wrap-up page at

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Most Interesting Woman in Golf?

I discovered this over at and decided it was just too good to resist.

You want to do that warm-up routine that Miguel Angel Jimenez has become famous for? Here's Annabel Rolley from Golf Channel Academy walking you step by step through the Mechanic's pre-round stretches.

So it seems that there really is method in the Mechanic's madness. But it would have been even more interesting if Annabel had done it with a cigar in her mouth...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The First Cut is the Deepest

That's an old song written by Cat Stevens and recorded by a number of singers -- I usually think of the Rod Stewart version -- but it certainly describes the first PGA Tour event of the new season. The cut at the Open fell at -2 which I find amazing, especially given the problems players seem to have had reading putts on Silverado's greens.

Hole #1, Silverado Course

While the big names (Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose) are in contention just like we would expect, the leaderboard is filled with the mixture of other players we're used to seeing in these early events:
  • Past winners like Jhonattan Vegas, playing on a past champions exemption this year, and Russell Henley, who's still trying to hit his stride
  • Up-and-comers like Justin Thomas and journeymen like Graham DeLaet, both seeking their first wins
  • New faces fresh off the Tour like Harold Varner III, who's a North Carolina boy like me!
And of course there's the leader, Brendan Steele, a one-time winner hunting for his second. Brendan shot a 62 in the first round but could only muster a 70 in round two. He currently sits at -11; historically, the lowest winning score has been -18 so we're unlikely to see a lot of really low scores in the next two days. The second round was a tough one for most of the players, as it usually is.

Likewise, over at the LPGA event -- which will have finished its third round by the time you read this -- the ladies aren't finding many low scores either. First round leader Sung Hyun Park, who was holding her own against long-hitting playing partners Lexi Thompson and Gerina Piller, shot a -10 round of 62 on Thursday but fell back with a +2 round on Friday. Lydia Ko slowly picked her way to the top of the leaderboard with rounds of 69-65 (-10 after two rounds), but Park was making a comeback in the third round. There's no cut at this LPGA event, so a low score could get almost anyone into the mix.

By comparison, over in Portugal, Andy Sullivan shot back-to-back 64s to take the lead... but that didn't stop several other players from shooting 64s as well. The cut at the Portugal Masters was almost as low as the, falling at -1. But bad weather is on the way to the European Tour event, bad enough that the Tour plans on a shotgun start to try and get players around before the worst of it hits. Scores probably won't be so good in the third round!

Overall it seems that this week's fields -- whether you're talking PGA Tour, ET or LPGA -- are going pretty low on tough courses at a time of year when you would expect fatigue to be a factor. The real question is whether the chase packs can keep it up and put some pressure on the leaders this weekend.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Some Tips on Getting the Right Shafts

I found a short article over at Golf Digest called Finding the Right Shaft for Your Golf Clubs that has some good info but is far too short. Still, I think the few thoughts passed on by Dana Upshaw from Dana Golf might help you sort out whether your swing problems are caused by your shafts.

Golf club photo from <b>Golf Digest</b> article

Upshaw says there are three main keys to getting the right shafts:
  • Fit the flex to the clubhead speed at impact.
  • Fit the shaft weight to the downswing tempo.
  • Fit the bending profile to the wrist release point.
He also says that shaft weight (the second key listed above) is "...critical but not for the reason most believe." Upshaw says that you need a heavier shaft is your downswing is very fast.

Obviously, a faster downswing requires a stiffer shaft flex -- at least, it does with a modern swing. A classic swing is a different animal altogether but I doubt many of you swing like Bobby Jones or Harry Vardon.

And although he doesn't say, I'm guessing that the bending profile (the third key) refers to the kick point height and that the faster your downswing is, the higher your kick point should be. (The kick point as where your shaft bends the most during your swing. A shaft with a low kick point is more flexible down near the club head. Low kick points make the ball fly higher. Faster swings create more spin, which means the ball flies higher anyway, so fast swingers often prefer a higher kick point.)

While it's not a lot of info, it should at least give you a place to start when you shop for new clubs. It always helps when you have some idea what your clubfitter is talking about!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Asian Swing, Take 2

The late baseball player Yogi Berra -- famous for odd but unusually quotable sayings, such as the infamous "It ain't over till it's over" -- once said, "It's déjà vu all over again." That certainly fits the LPGA this week.

Some of this week's players
In the photo: Back -- In Gee Chun, Lydia Ko, Alison Lee; Front -- Sei Young Kim, Minjee Lee, Hyo Joo Kim.

Last week the PGA Tour played the Presidents Cup in Incheon, South Korea. This week the LPGA is playing the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship in Incheon, South Korea.

The Presidents Cup was played at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, a course designed by Jack Nicklaus. The LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship is being played at the Sky 72 Golf Club Ocean Course, a course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

And just like the Presidents Cup, the LPGA event is being broadcast live, late at night.

Wow, déjà vu.

As usual, Tony Jesselli has done a preview which you can read at this link. I'll just mention that this event is a co-sanctioned event between the LPGA and the KLPGA, which means you'll get to watch some up-and-coming players who you may not otherwise get to see much. For example, the defending champion, Kyu Jung Baek- -- who gets listed on the LPGA leaderboards simply as Q Baek, which I think is very cool -- is also a rookie on the LPGA this year.

At the time I'm writing this, Charley Hull and Gerina Pillar are tied for the lead at -6. Both are well into their rounds -- 17 and 14 holes, respectively -- so I'm guessing they'll still be near the lead when the second round is broadcast. GC's live broadcast of the second round begins tonight at 11:30pm ET.

Guess I'll be watching some late night golf this week too. Wow, it really is déjà vu all over again! I guess Yogi knew what he was talking about...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jackie Stoelting on Hitting Hybrids

Jackie Stoelting, former Big Break winner and back-to-back Symetra Tour winner, was on Morning Drive Tuesday morning. After they talked to her about her two recent wins, she headed over to the simulator to hit some hybrids and wedges.

Here's the video of Jackie hitting shots in the simulator. I want you to pay special attention to the first part where she talks about hybrids. She has a very different approach from most players.

Did you get that? Jackie says hybrids are the best part of her game... and she feels that she hits her hybrids more like wedges, not fairway woods as so many players teach. A different approach indeed!

In doing this, she specifically mentions that she puts the ball a bit more forward in her stance with a hybrid than an iron. She also says she tends to "pick" or "sweep" them off the turf, although she credits that to time spent playing on Bermuda grass, which is thicker than a lot of other common golf course grasses.

But this is much more of a mental approach than a technical one. Most of us feel more comfortable standing over a wedge shot than a fairway wood. Stop and think about this for a moment... what do you do different when you play a wedge than when you play a fairway wood?
  • Although Jackie says she plays the ball a bit more forward than a typical iron, she isn't playing it as far forward as most weekend players might play a fairway wood. So you might try playing your ball just slightly ahead of the center of your stance, and move it forward slightly as an experiment until you find the most comfortable spot for you.
  • Because wedges have shorter shafts, most of us make a shorter backswing with them. You might try making a three-quarter swing with your hybrid.
  • Most of us also put our weight just a bit more on our lead foot with a wedge. Perhaps that's worth trying with your hybrid -- just don't put as much weight forward as you would with a wedge. This is a longer shafted club, after all!
  • And since most of us don't drive our legs hard when we hit wedges -- we're after accuracy with them, not distance -- I would also suggest a bit less leg drive with your hybrids. You can always swing a bit harder once you feel comfortable hitting your hybrid.
Bear in mind that Jackie Stoelting isn't unusual. If you watch the LPGA much, you've heard the commentators comment about how much closer the ladies hit their hybrids than the men. I've frequently heard their hybrid proximity to the hole likened to the PGA pros' 8-iron shots.

Perhaps the ladies get short iron proximity because they approach their hybrids like short irons. I know I'm going to try it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

That Crazy Thing Fitzpatrick Does

European Tour rookie Matthew Fitzpatrick was the 2013 US Amateur champ, and he got his first win at the British Masters this past weekend. He jumped up to 59th in the OWGR -- making him the youngest player in the Top100 -- and 12th in the Race to Dubai with the win. Not bad for a 21-year-old!

He's not incredibly long; his 2015 average is just short of 288 yards. Still, he makes good use of that distance, as he manages to hit just over 71% of his fairways and nearly 76% of his GIR.

But Matt has one of the more unusual moves you'll see in a golf swing. This slow-mo video from teacher Rob Chruszcz shows the swing in more detail, but I've isolated a few key frames in the picture farther down in this post.

At address Matthew doesn't look very different from anybody else. In fact, he doesn't look that different when his hands are at waist level or at shoulder level either. But take a look at that top of the backswing position!

Sequence of Matthew Fitzpatrick's swing from address to top of backswing

As you can see if you watch the video, Matthew uses his hands a lot more than most players. He loops the club at the top, not only "laying the club off" (which makes the club face point up to the sky like Dustin Johnson) but also dipping the club head way below parallel, then dropping his hands on the way down to get back on plane.

It's interesting to compare Zach Johnson with Matthew. Both turn very rapidly as they bring the club down to hit the ball, but Zach hits the ball with his right hand -- that is, Zach's right hand is moving a bit faster than his left at impact, causing him to "fling" the club head at the ball and uncock his wrists. If you look at a photo of Zach at impact, the club shaft and his left arm form a fairly straight line.

Matthew, by comparison, swings both hands at roughly the same speed, which causes him to retain some wrist cock. His hands are still ahead of the ball when the club head makes contact. However, the two players are almost the same height and drive it about the same distance -- Matthew is maybe 5 yards longer -- and their accuracy is about the same.

It will be interesting to see how Matthew does going forward, since he's on track to qualify for all the majors in 2016. (He only needs to make the Top50 in the OWGR to do that.) It's clear that loop is natural to his swing and he's very good at repeating it. Let's hope that nobody tries to change it and ruins his game.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Presidents Cup

Winner: USA 15.5-14.5

Around the wider world of golf: This was an amazingly busy week for golf! ET Rookie Matthew Fitzpatrick got his first win at the ET's British Masters; Tom Lehman shot 5-under on the last 4 holes to win the SAS Championship on the Champions Tour; Wil Bateman won the Abierto de Chile, becoming the first Canadian to win on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Bryden Macpherson won the Lushan Open on the PGA TOUR China; Jessica Korda broke a string of missed cuts to win the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on the LPGA; Jackie Stoelting got back-to-back wins by taking the IOA Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour; Hye In Yeom got her first pro win at the Xiamen International Ladies Open on the LET; and Bo-Mee Lee won the Stanley Ladies Golf Tournament on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

The US Presidents Cup team

I know it's a small sample -- only one Presidents Cup -- but it certainly appears that International Captain Nick Price was 100% correct when he said the format needed to match that of the Ryder and Solheim Cups. Over the last two days when the new format matched those other events (save for that "every player must play twice in the first four sessions" requirement), the two teams played each other to a draw.

Everybody be sure to thank him for forcing the issue with the PGA Tour. He may have finally given the Presidents Cup a future.

And when Adam Scott said that this Presidents Cup put the Internationals in the same spot that Seve said the first 'European Team' Ryder Cup went -- namely, to a place of hope -- it looks as if he was correct as well.

I won't even try to go into all that happened; there was simply too much for a single blog post. I'll just sum it up by pointing to Chris Kirk and Bill Haas's clutch play at the end of the singles session. It took some heroics by the overwhelming favorites to win this Cup by the narrowest of margins, and that bodes well for the event going forward.

Likewise, I won't be as hard on players like Jason Day or Aniban Lahiri as some may be. It simply takes time to learn how to play under team pressure. Hey, for all his "ability to finish" we need to remember that Jordan Spieth has yet to win a singles match in either professional team event, and even a team stalwart like Matt Kuchar came up blank this time! Pressure finds a way to embarrass us all from time to time, and the Internationals will learn how to deal with it eventually.

In the meantime I offer this simple Limerick Summary to the victorious US Team -- who, I feel compelled to add, better come better prepared next time or things might turn out a little differently...
The battle was closer this time
As changes brought scores more in line
With Ryder Cup tallies.
But last minute rallies
By Jay Haas’s team turned the tide.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fairway Bunker VS Greenside Bunker

I guess everybody saw Phil Mickelson hole out for eagle from the fairway bunker on the 12th during Friday's fourball matches. That shot got played over and over and over, especially because it came just a few holes after the notorious "lost two holes at once" ruling.

In case you missed it, here it is again:

Golf Digest did a short write-up about the shot, including some interesting instruction from instructor Kevin Weeks about the difference between a fairway bunker shot and a greenside bunker shot.

Why do most weekend players struggle so much with fairway bunker shots, even when they've heard so much instruction? Weeks says it's because they don't realize that you have to play fairway bunkers differently than greenside bunkers.

Phil Mickelson hits from fairway bunker at Presidents Cup

From a greenside bunker, you want to hit the sand first and let it throw the ball out onto the green. This is typically the shot that most instructors are teaching, simply because that's where most weekend players need to save strokes.

From a fairway bunker you need to hit the ball first and then the sand. If you hit the sand first, as in a greenside bunker, the ball will pop out high but fly short. That's okay if you have to get over a lip and have no other choice, but that's a lay-up shot. And if you hit the ball only, chances are good you'll skull it and maybe even leave it in the bunker.

For the fairway shot, Weeks suggests moving the ball slightly back of the center of your stance. (Of course, the ball would be forward of center for a greenside bunker.) Set your weight a bit on your lead foot and make a three-quarter swing so you don't move off the shot -- if your weight moves to your trailing foot, you're more likely to hit the sand first. He suggests this practice drill as well:
"To practice it, draw a line [in the sand of a fairway bunker] perpendicular to the target and make three or four practice swings where your divot is past the line. Then put a ball on the line and replicate the same feel."
Remember: For a fairway bunker shot, ball first then sand. For a greenside bunker shot, hit sand only. Even if you don't hit it like Phil, that should improve your chances of hitting the shot you intended.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

How J.B. Holmes Hits Fairway Woods

Now that you've watched J.B. Holmes murdering golf balls for a few matches at the Presidents Cup, here's his most recent video tip on how to do that from Golf Digest. He does it with a 3-wood in this video but it's the same for any fairway wood.

Note that J.B. says this is more of a sweeping swing but he's trying to hit down on the ball. The reason for the apparent contradiction? If you make a full swing with a fairway wood, the longer shafts force your swing plane to be slightly flatter than an iron swing -- it's not something you try to do, it just happens -- so the angle of attack on the ball is shallower and therefore more of a sweeping motion. But that happens automatically; you're still thinking about hitting down on the ball.

Remember: don't try to help the ball up in the air with a fairway wood. Hit down on it, like you're swinging an iron, and the sweeping part of the swing will take care of itself.

Friday, October 9, 2015

How to Lose the Same Hole Twice in One Match

In case you missed it, this is one of the craziest rule infractions I've ever heard... and apparently even the rules officials got it wrong!

Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson

Here's the deal: The US team of Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson are playing fourballs against the International team of Adam Scott and Jason Day. The teams are all square on the 7th tee. Then Phil tees off with a different type of Callaway ball, apparently to get more distance off the tee. It appears that this is legal in most of the matches.

But according to the Captain's Agreement, this is a rules infraction in fourballs only that will result in an "adjustment" of the score at the end of the hole. Phil was apparently told -- incorrectly -- that he was DQ'ed from the hole so he picked up his ball and Zach finished out on his own.

Now it gets interesting.

Zach lost the hole so Scott and Day go 1up. THEN the score gets adjusted... and Scott and Day are now 2-up. And once they tee off on the 8th, Phil can no longer go back and finish out the hole.

As a result, Phil and Zach lost the same hole twice. And US Captain Jay Haas told GC that they were trying to find out exactly what Phil was told and whether that affects the ruling in some way, so rules official Mark Russell entered the fray. The matches continued, of course, but the momentum had changed as the International team appeared to flip another losing session into a winning one. I don't know that this one match was responsible for all of that, but I suspect it will get the credit. We humans like to have simple explanations for things, after all.

And just to make things more interesting, even the live scoreboard at didn't get the score correct. They never showed the 2up score.

While I was writing that, Phil and Zach won the 9th hole and went to only 1down. The live scoreboard then showed that match all square... still incorrect.

After the meeting with Mark Russell, Jay Haas received an apology. It seems the ruling committee did indeed tell Phil he had been DQ'ed. which was an error. However -- and we shouldn't really surprised by this, since this is how it works in most sports when the officials make a bad call -- Russell said there was nothing they could do about now. (Will something be done later? That remains to be seen, but I seriously doubt it.)

In the meantime, Phil and Zach got the match back to all square... and the live scoreboard was STILL wrong! And the momentum seemed to be changing again, although the International team still led the session overall.

It's crazy rules like this that make golf incomprehensible to most people, even if they play the game. How did such a weird thing get into the Captain's Agreement in the first place? It seems to me that, since you can't make adjustments to clubs during play, you shouldn't be able to change the type of ball you use either. Rules should make the game simpler, not harder to understand.

The irony of it all is that this could be the very thing that finally turns the Presidents Cup into a competitive match. Remember what happened after 'GimmeGate' at the Solheim Cup a couple of weeks back! The question becomes... who will finally gain that competitive edge?

But given that Phil just holed out from a fairway bunker for eagle at 12 to put him and Zach back in front, I'm not so sure it will be the International team.

Btw, as I finished up this post, the live scoreboard at STILL hadn't got it right.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The LPGA Is in Asia Too

While the men tee it up in South Korea at the Presidents Cup, the LPGA has begun its Asian Swing. The first event in this five-tournament series is the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, held in Kuala Lumpur at the appropriately named Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Kuala Lumpur G&CC clubhouse

Tony Jesselli has done his typically well-done preview of the event at this link, and I recommend you take a moment to check it out. In this post I'll focus on a couple of things not in Tony's fine piece.

I found this interesting tidbit at the LPGA site, which you should know in case you're one of those people who believe that the LPGA plays courses that are not as good as the PGA or European Tours:
Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, the host of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, holds a distinction that no other venue in the world can claim in 2015. KLGCC will have hosted a PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and European Tour event all in the same year.

This week Malaysian fans will get a glimpse of women’s golf’s best taking a crack at the East Course at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club with the LPGA’s stop sandwiched between the European Tour’s visit in early February for the Maybank Malaysian Open, which Anirban Lahiri won, and the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic. The CIMB Classic will tee off October 30 here on the West Course.
Don't underestimate the women's game, folks. There's a reason that I say watching them can help you improve!

The defending champion here is Shanshan Feng, but 10 of the 12 Solheim Cup players are also in the field. (Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lincicome aren't playing.) We often talk about 'bumps' for players after a team competition, so perhaps it's no surprise that the leader -- at least, the leader as I'm writing this -- is Alison Lee. Lee was at the center of "GimmeGate" (one of the coolest -gate names I've heard yet!) and bounced back by winning her singles match that afternoon. Alison and Gerina Piller are the only two US players without wins, so maybe this will be the week one of them breaks through.

Obviously GC's coverage of the event will be tape-delayed but at least we'll get to see some of the action now that the women are back in action. GC's first round coverage runs for two hours today, starting at noon ET.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why Trailing Arm Arc Is Important

I know you probably expected a post about the Presidents Cup but we've got plenty of time for that this week. Instead, I want to look in more detail at something Michael Breed discussed on Monday's Golf Fix. (I looked for a video clip at the GC website but it's not up yet.)

Breed called that something TRAIL ARM ARC but many players and teachers refer to it differently. Annika Sorenstam, for example, has talked about how she tried to feel as if she was pushing her trailing hand away from her shoulder when she reached the top of her backswing. Breed's 'trail arm arc' is the same thing.

The reason I decided to write about it is because this 'move' helps you create more clubhead speed, although the logic behind it may not be readily apparent to you. But the concept itself is really simple to understand.

To help explain this I'm using another of my stick figure drawings. The reason I use stick figures and not photos is because ten people can be in the exact same position and all will look different. However, stick figures always show the same angles, and those angles are what you need to understand. So here's the drawing:

Trailing Arm Arc drawing

Let's focus on the top two figures first.
  • The thick dark lines represent your shoulders and the thin black vertical line represents your spine. The letter 'b' represents the angle your shoulders turn.
  • The straight blue line represents your lead arm, which is straight of course, and the small black circle represents your hands.
  • The bent black line represents your trailing arm, which is bent at the elbow. The angle of that bend is labeled 'a'.
  • And the thin green line extending across the drawing represents where your hands are at the top of your backswing. The club shaft would be pointing down this line, over your shoulders and toward your target.
The drawing labeled '1' is the SHORT trailing arm arc, and the drawing labeled '2' is the LONG trailing arm arc. And remember, the term 'trailing arm arc' is just a fancy term to describe pushing your trailing hand a bit farther away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your backswing.

Are you with me so far?

Now, you may have heard that the 'textbook' amount of bend in your trailing elbow (that's 'a' in the drawings) is around 90 degrees. And if you look at my drawings, you'll see that the LONG arc is just a little over 90 degrees. That's because it's really hard to push your hands very far away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your swing.

You should be asking yourself, "Why?" The answer to this question is why pushing your trailing hand away from your trailing shoulder creates more clubhead speed.

When you push your trailing hand away from your trailing shoulder, you force yourself to make a bigger shoulder turn -- or 'coil' if you prefer that word.

Look at the difference in 'b' between those two drawings. The SHORT arc gets the hands to the top of your backswing without out creating very much shoulder coil at all! However, the LONG arc creates a much bigger shoulder coil, which lengthens your swing and gives you more time to build speed during your downswing.

And if you look at the bottom drawing in the the gray box, you'll see a drawing with the SHORT arc's shoulder turn but the LONG arc's hand position. See how the hands are nowhere near the top of the backswing? That's because the swing is so much shorter, and that's why it doesn't create as much swing speed.

So let me sum this up: The reason you want a LONG Trailing Arm Arc is because it forces you to make a bigger shoulder turn, and a bigger shoulder turn helps you create more swing speed.

I hope that helps you understand why Breed made such a big deal out of this, and why so many players and teachers talk about pushing your hands away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your backswing. It's all about creating a big shoulder coil.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TaylorMade's First Un-Metal Wood

I know you've seen TaylorMade's commercials for the new M1 driver, which they are calling an "un-metal wood." Golf Digest put up an article about the new driver (and the associated fairway woods, hybrids and irons) about a month ago and it's clear that we've got even more adjustments to deal with now.

Take a look at this picture from the article. While a lot is being made of this being TaylorMade's first driver to use a composite top instead of a titanium one -- it not only reduces weight, it lowers the clubhead center of gravity down to the middle of the face -- it's those sliders on the bottom that caught my eye.

Yes, there are TWO of them. That's as new for TaylorMade as the composite top.

The two weight adjustment sliders on the M1 driver

One slider adjusts a 15-gram weight from heel to toe so you can give the driver a fade or draw bias. The other slider moves a 10-gram weight from face to back that lets you change the trajectory of your shot. That's pretty cool.

Then add in the 12-way adjustment that gives you a plus/minus 2 degrees of loft change -- see the black knob on the hosel? -- and you've got one seriously adjustable driver.

I'll be honest with you. While I like adjustability in a driver, I don't like all those little crevices where mud can get in. Clubheads are hard enough to keep clean without all the slots and ridges! But such things make it easier to get a club that fits you, so I guess we just have to live with it.

While the fairway woods and hybrids (also in the M1 line) also include all the adjustments (although with different weights and slider placement), the new irons focus on using a variety of slots in the face and sole to improve their playability, along with thinner faces. They're called the PSi and PSi Tour irons (the Tour model has smaller heads).

You can read the whole article over at Just be aware that this new tech comes at a price -- $500 for the driver, $300 for the fairway woods, $250 for the hybrids, $1100 for the PSis and $1300 for the PSi Tours.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Tour Championship

Winner: Emiliano Grillo

Around the wider world of golf: Thorbjørn Olesen won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the ET (the pro-am team of Florian Fritsch and Michael Ballack won the team division); Danny Chia won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on the Asian Tour; and In-Gee Chun won the Japan Women’s Open, the second JLPGA major of the year (bangkokbobby has details).

Emiliano Grillo

I didn't get to see much of the final round of the Tour Championship on Sunday. I and some friends were trying to get back to North Carolina from Hilton Head, and the historically heavy storms that hit South Carolina were determined not to let us pass. First I-95 was under 10 feet of water and all the surrounding roads were shut down as well; we were forced to backtrack 20 miles or so to try another route. And while we made it home going that way -- trust me, we are extremely grateful to be home, because this is an unprecedented disaster in our region of the States -- we saw plenty of signs of the devastation, including a car completely submerged except for its roof where it was deserted while still clearly in the middle of an exit ramp!

While the battle for Tour cards was hardly as life-threatening as those storms, it was nonetheless a life-changing event for a number of players. Chez Reavie won the Golden Ticket for the Tour playoffs while Patton Kizzire kept his hold on the Golden Ticket for yearlong Tour play. The guys who came in at the lower end of the card privileges still get the chance to play the Big Tour, even if they aren't fully exempt. And the other guys each have their own tales of fortune or woe. You can see the final rankings for the 50 new card holders at this link.

Emiliano Grillo defintely gets one of the better stories. As yet another member of 'Class of 2011' which includes Jordan Spieth and friends, there are a lot of expectations on him. If you've been watching him this year -- and in this tournament, with the pressure on -- you know he'll likely be just as good as his compatriots.

What I DID get to see Sunday was nothing different from what Grillo has shown us all year. Tied with Reavie on the 18th hole, all he did was drain a 20-footer for birdie, forcing Reavie to do the same if he wanted a playoff. Reavie couldn't do it, and Grillo walked off with the title. Just like Spieth and the other early-20-somethings, he has that 'something' that tells fans he means business... and that he can finish that business as well. I won't be surprised to see him build a huge following on Tour.

And since he holds the fourth card, I suspect he'll have plenty of chances for those potential followers to see him. He just might -- if you'll forgive the pun -- take the Tour by storm.

In the meantime, I offer the young Argentinian this congratulatory Limerick Summary to add to his rather substantial haul:
His accurate play is the reason
He’s bound for the Big Tour next season.
His Spieth-like intensity
Shows the propensity
Grillo might have for fan-pleasin’.
The photo came from this wrap-up page at

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Some New Guys Learn How Quickly Things Can Turn

Over at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, two new pros made their debuts with stellar performances on Day 1 and Day 2... and less-than-stellar performances on Day 3.

Those two players, of course, were Paul Dunne and Jimmy Mullen (pictured below). After two rounds Mullen had a share of the lead and Dunne was just a shot back.

Jimmy Mullen

Then Carnoustie happened. Dunne dropped back to T13 with a par 72, Mullen to T21 with a two-over 74. Meanwhile, other players went low at St Andrews and Kingsbarns:
  • Joakim Lagergren picked up eight shots on his back nine at Kingsbarns to post 62. He's now T4.
  • Two other players shot 64s -- Florian Fritsch (2nd) at Kingsbarns and Brooks Koepka (T8) at St Andrews.
  • And Thorbjorn Olesen shot 65 at St Andrews to take the lead at -17, three clear of Fritsch.
Personally I like Olesen's chances today. He's been battling injuries but finally seems to be past them... and his putter is heating up. His rounds of 68-66-65 may be the most consistent in the field, and that 65 came on St Andrews. That's where the final round will be played today.

As for Dunne and Mullen, they've got their work cut out for them. Not only did they lose ground on Saturday but neither shot better than -3 when they played St Andrews on Friday. They're getting a firsthand lesson on how rapidly pro golf -- as opposed to amateur golf -- can turn on you.

But I believe there's a silver lining for both players. You see, each player had his best showing at Kingsbarns with a 64. Given that Kingsbarns is a bit more 'American' in its style of play -- it's more target golf than links golf -- this may bode well for both in the majors going forward, as most of those courses tend to be more target-oriented.

That's not gonna help them much this week. Still, both should get decent checks for their first outings as pros, and that's always good for a player's confidence. We'll need to keep an eye out for them over the next few months and see how quickly they can get into the flow of pro golf.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Using a Cup from the Sand to Help You Get in the Cup

The October issue of Golf Magazine has an unusual short game drill. Joe Hallett -- you may know him because he teaches Stacy Lewis on the LPGA -- mentions this drill as a way to help you hit better sand shots from greenside bunkers. It's on page 41 of the issue (and, if you have the Digimarc Discover app on your phone or iPad -- it's a freebie app, btw -- you can scan the photo there and see a demo video).

All you need is one large plastic drink cup. (Based on the photos in the mag, I'd guess it's a 9-ounce cup.)

Here's how you do the drill:
  • Drop your ball in the sand.
  • Set the cup over the ball, upside down. You don't put anything (like more sand) in the cup, you just want to cover the ball with the empty cup.
Hallett says the rim of the cup is about the right size for the amount of sand you want to 'take out' with your swing. And since the cup hides the ball, you'll tend to concentrate on the sand you want to hit.
  • Address the cup just as you would normally address the ball.
  • Then make your swing. Try to enter the sand just behind the back edge of the cup and exit the sand just past the front edge.
If you do it correctly, Hallett says that both the cup and the ball should land on the green.

Oh, and one other thing. He says you might want to find a part of the practice area where you'll get a little privacy. After all, it might look a bit strange to some folks...

Friday, October 2, 2015

How Long Should Your Practice Putts Be?

This will be a short post but the tip I found may also streamline your putting practice.

Over at Peter Kostis has done an article called These 3 Moves Will Shrink Your Handicap Fast. It's the third tip I want to focus on here... and it's a putting tip, which means it doesn't require any special techniques.

Here's part of what Kostis says:
Let's look at Tour putting stats from 33 feet. Why that length? Because from 33 feet, the pros two-putt 88 percent of the time, while three-putting and one-putting an identical 6 percent of the time. Therefore, when they go beyond 33 feet, pros are more likely to three-putt than they are to hole it. The lesson: Even the best struggle from long distance, so get good at distance control from 33 feet—and don't bother practicing from farther out. Also, spend plenty of time rolling three-footers. If you can consistently two-putt from 33 feet and drain most of your three-footers, you'll have the third key to posting better numbers than ever.
Working on the three-foot range is no surprise, is it? Most of us struggle a bit with that length, primarily because we feel that we SHOULD make those and it gets in our heads a bit.

But when Kostis said not to bother practicing beyond 33 feet, that caught my attention. That's the make-or-break distance for two-putting according to the stats he cites, so if you can putt it well enough from that distance to two-putt most of the time, you're golden!

And it makes sense that those two lengths should be the most critical since a good first putt from 33 feet would leave you something around three feet. (Hopefully, anyway!)

So this tip from Peter Kostis should help simplify your putting practice considerably. If you develop your touch from three and from 33 feet, there aren't many putts that are going to stump you on the greens.

Of course, you'll want to read the rest of the article to get the other two tips also. But it's a quick read with easy-to-apply guidance, well worth your time.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Other Shoe Drops on This Week

Okay folks, it's finally here. It's time for the final 25 PGA Tour cards to be awarded at the Tour Championship.

18th hole, TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley course

The course is the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley course, which many players believe is more difficult than the more familiar THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. And with the added pressure -- this is the final chance to get your Tour card for next year, after all -- it will play just that much harder.

If I remember correctly, it will likely take around $44,000 to get that card. This article suggests that perhaps 15 players have locked up a card with their play thus far, so there should be plenty of drama coming down the stretch. And this article describes how those cards will be doled out, including how ties will be dealt with.

GC officially begins their broadcast at 3pm ET this afternoon. I say "officially" because there will probably be a pre-game show with some extra coverage. After all, we all love to see when players rise to the challenge... or crash and burn.

We'll likely see both this week.