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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lee Trevino's Wedge Tips (Video)

This clip of Lee Trevino and Billy Andrade comes from Champions Tour Learning Center. Trevino gives a few keys to getting better results with your chip shots.



First, Trevino calls this a "deceleration" shot, although Andrade says he was always told to accelerate the clubhead. Think about Trevino's reasoning for a moment, and it will make perfect sense.

If you shorten your finish -- say, waist high instead of shoulder high -- your hands don't run full speed to the stopping height and then suddenly FREEZE in place! The key here is that you don't try to think about slowing your swing. Rather, it's something that HAS to happen, based on simple physics. Your body will automatically start hitting the brakes sooner -- decelerating -- when your hands have to stop sooner.

Second, he wants you to move the ball back in your stance so you can hit down on it and catch it cleanly.

And third, he wants you to put your trailing hand more on top of the club handle -- weaken your grip. The second and third tips work together. Let me try to help you understand the logic here.

Remember, Trevino says you decelerate on this shot because you aren't firing through to the finish. This is a short shot, after all, not a full shot! Because of that, your body doesn't turn as fully or as quickly on a chip shot as it does on a full shot.

But by weakening your trailing hand, you get it in a position very much like it would achieve in a full turn... but without making the full turn. It does so without making your lead wrist "break down" and flip the clubface.

And the combination of the weaker trailing hand and the ball position allows you to swing freely without worrying about digging the clubhead into the ground and pulling the chip off-line.

The result should be a relaxed swing that hits the ball toward your target, without putting extra effort into the shot. In other words, Trevino's advice should help you use the wedge's bounce better. Give it a try!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson

Winner: Billy Horschel

Around the wider world of golf: It was a busy weekend for golf! Bernhard Langer tied Jack Nicklaus's record of eight Champions Tour majors when he won the Regions Tradition; Lexi Thompson won the Kingsmill Championship on the LPGA; Stephan Jaeger won the weather-shortened BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Web.com Tour; Celine Boutier won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women's Health Classic on the Symetra Tour; Alvaro Quiros won the Rocco Forte Open on the ET; Shugo Imahira won the Kansai Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; Rattanon Wannasrichan won the Thailand Open on the Asian Tour; and Ai Suzuki won the Hoken-no-Madoguchi Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Billy Horschel with AT&T Byron Nelson trophy

This was the last time the AT&T Byron Nelson would be played at TPC Four Seasons. And the course made sure to send the Tour on a memorable sendoff.

Each day the wind was different, so it played like four different courses. The greens played hard, making it difficult to hold them with approach shots. And the putts simply refused to be predictable.

Nevertheless, four men fought it out down the stretch. Past winner Jason Day, Billy Horschel, James Hahn and Jason Kokrak each struggled to take the lead yet refused to give up the chase. No lead was safe; as one man poked his nose out in front, his pursuers picked up the pace. Only Hahn managed a birdie in the last two holes, yet he fell short.

It wasn't necessarily poor putting by the players. It was just hard to match line and speed under the conditions and the final-round pressure. That became painfully obvious when Day and Horschel went to a playoff. Neither man could sink a putt to take the title.

In the end, Horschel won when Day was unable to match him for par on the second playoff hole. It was a bit unsatisfactory for both players -- you'd really like to "win" on the final hole, not just "not lose." But a win is a win and both players found positives to carry from the event -- namely, Horschel's first win since winning the FedExCup and Day's first Top10 of the year.

But let's face it -- sometimes, victory is just a matter of outlasting your opponent. And that's certainly enough for Billy Horschel to grab his first Limerick Summary in years. Way to go, Billy-Ho!
The contenders fought hard; none would yield.
In the end, two emerged from the field—
Day and Horschel. Missed putts
At last drove both men nuts;
Horschel won when Day missed. Victory sealed.
The photo came from this page at usatoday.com.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Some New Casual Golf Shoes

Back in March I did a post about new golf shoes for 2017. Now Ashley Mayo has a new article over at the Golf Digest site called 7 Golf Shoes You Can Easily Wear Off the Course.

The main problem I have with this article is the price of the shoes. (Of course, that's becoming a common problem with golf shoes. But I digress...) There's only one shoe in her list that's under $100, and that's the FootJoy GreenJoys for $70, shown below.

FootJoy GreenJoys

My original post included FootJoy Contour Casuals for $100, and both FootJoy models appear to have similar soles. In either case, FootJoy seems to be the company to check for less expensive sneaker styles. (My original post included a $90 pair from Biion but those looked more like traditional golf shoes, albeit very light.)

My personal fave from the new list is the Adidas Golf Adicross Primeknit. They retail for $115 and remind me of boat slippers.

Adidas Golf Adicross Primeknit

These appear to have some kind of cloth or synthetic knit upper rather than leather; the description says they're breathable. In any case, they have a simple stylishness that appeals to me.

The list has a fairly wide variety of styles, considering it only contains seven models. Still, it's a quick intro to the types of choices you have if you're looking for golf shoes you can wear when you're in a hurry to leave the course for the 19th hole.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Quick Guide Two-Book PDFs Are Available

The special PDFs I create for sale from this blog are finally available for purchase. Remember, if you're purchasing from a VAT country, you'll need to get the PDFs that are available from Smashwords. (Two are up there; three more to go.) My blog isn't set up for VAT purchases at this point.

RuthlessGolf.com Confident Swings Pack book cover
Confident Swings Pack
PDF $8.99
Contains Stop Coming Over-the-Top and Think Like a Golfer
Add to Cart View Cart
RuthlessGolf.com Long and Straight Pack book cover
Long & Straight Pack
PDF $6.99
Contains More Golf Swing Speed and HIT IT HARD
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RuthlessGolf.com Short Game Pack book cover
Short Game Pack
PDF $7.99
Contains Accurate Iron Play and The Putt Whisperer
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RuthlessGolf.com Smart Putter Pack book cover
Smart Putter Pack
PDF $8.99
Contains The Putt Whisperer and Think Like a Golfer
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RuthlessGolf.com Tee-to-Green Pack book cover
Tee-to-Green Pack
PDF $7.99
Contains Stop Coming Over-the-Top and Accurate Iron Play
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And of course, if you want to get all six books, the MEGAPACK is available for download. Just click on the book cover at the top of the sidebar. That's the least expensive way to get the entire set.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lydia Makes a Statement

I said earlier in the week that I expected Lydia Ko to lose her Number One ranking this week, as So Yeon Ryu and Ariya Jutanugarn are within a mere quarter point of her. And while Lydia hasn't been playing badly this year, she hasn't won yet. With Ryu winning the ANA and Jutanugarn defending this week, I think that's a problem.

Apparently Lydia finally decided to take matters into her own hands.

Lydia Ko earlier in the week at Kingsmill

After the first round, Lydia is at -4 (T5), two shots off Lexi Thompson's lead. So Yeon is three shots behind her at -1 (T34), and Ariya another two shots back at +1 (T73). While one round doesn't normally mean a whole lot, Lydia tied her best-ever round at Kingsmill and beat her best first round score by three shots. That's significant.

The LPGA has done a post with the various scenarios where each player will take over -- or in Lydia's case, retain -- the Number One spot. It's a lengthy list, and confusing. But here they are:
-------
There are several possible scenarios for each player to be ranked No. 1 following the Kingsmill Championship:
  • If Lydia Ko wins, she will remain No. 1
  • If either So Yeon Ryu or Ariya Jutanugarn win, they will become No. 1
  • If Ko, Ryu and Ariya finish T2, Ko will remain No. 1
  • If Ko and Ariya finish T2 AND Ryu finishes 3rd or worse, Ko will remain No. 1
So Yeon Ryu could take over No. 1 if any of the following scenarios (12th or better finish) occur:
  • Ryu is T2 with Ariya AND Ko finishes 3rd or worse
  • Ryu is 2nd alone AND Ko and Ariya finishes T3 or worse
  • Ryu is 3rd alone AND Ko and Ariya finishes T4 or worse
  • Ryu is 4th alone AND Ko finishes 6th or worse AND Ariya finishes 5th or worse
  • Ryu is 5th alone AND Ko finishes 11th or worse AND Ariya finishes 6th or worse
  • Ryu is 6th alone AND Ko is not in top 14 AND Ariya is not in top 6
  • Ryu is 7th alone AND Ko is not in top 18 AND Ariya is not in top 7
  • Ryu is 8th alone AND Ko is not in top 24 AND Ariya is not in top 8
  • Ryu is 9th alone AND Ko is not in top 30 AND Ariya is not in top 9
  • Ryu is 10th alone AND Ko is not in top 40 AND Ariya is not in top 10
  • Ryu is 11th alone AND Ko is not in top 50 AND Ariya is not in top 11
  • Ryu is 12th alone AND Ko is not in the top 61 AND Ariya is not in the top 12
Ariya Jutanugarn could take over No. 1 if any of the following scenarios (7th or better finish) occur:
  • Ariya is 2nd alone AND Ko and Ryu finish T3 or worse
  • Ariya is 3rd alone AND Ko is not in top 5 AND Ryu is not in top 3
  • Ariya is 4th alone AND Ko is not in top 8 AND Ryu is not in top 4
  • Ariya is 5th alone AND Ko is not in top 14 AND Ryu is not in top 5
  • Ariya is 6th alone AND Ko is not in top 21 AND Ryu is not in top 7
  • Ariya is 7th alone AND Ko is not in top 29 AND Ryu is not in top 8
-------
I think it's interesting that So Yeon Ryu has the most potential scenarios to take over the top spot, but Lydia still has a tremendous amount of leeway to prevent her from doing so. I mean, there are scenarios where Lydia can keep her spot just by making the cut. It's insane!

As I said, one round doesn't determine anything. But Ariya is currently below the projected cut and Ryu needs to get past 52 other players -- plus Ko -- to win. (Yes, the top of the leaderboard is absolutely packed after the first round.) If Lydia merely plays solid golf for the rest of the tournament, she's going to be hard to catch.

And that may be the biggest statement Lydia Ko can make this week. I certainly heard her loud and clear.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Quick Look at Byron Nelson's Swing (Video)

Since the AT&T Byron Nelson starts today, I thought I'd give you a quick lesson on how he hit the ball so straight. This is his swing in 1945, when he set all those records.



This video starts with a regular-speed swing, then runs it in extremely slow motion. There are other videos that use this footage, but this one made it easier to see both of the things I want to point out.

First thing: Everybody talks about Hogan's waggle, but there are other ways to start your swing. This video clearly shows how Nelson bent his trailing knee toward the ball to start his backswing. He's not the only player to have done this -- Gary Player comes to mind -- but he may have been the first.

Second thing: And this is the key to his accuracy. You know how every teacher tells you to start your hips before you start your shoulders, so you can increase the angle between your shoulders and hips on the way down to increase power? Nelson doesn't do it! Instead, you can clearly see that the angle between his shoulders and hips doesn't change. In fact, his upper body moves forward, toward his target.

Personally, I'd rather you didn't move your upper body so far forward as you start your downswing. That causes you to lose some clubhead speed. But Nelson starts with so much weight on his lead leg that it can't really be helped -- he has to move away from the target during his backswing or he'll reverse pivot during his downswing. You'll want to keep your weight more centered when you address the ball so you don't have to move your upper body so much.

However, keeping that shoulder-hip angle fairly constant as you start your downswing is a key to increasing your accuracy. When you increase that angle, you do increase power -- but you also alter your spine angle, and that changes your downswing plane, sometimes dramatically. (This dramatic change is a cornerstone of Hogan's downswing, btw. Virtually every good ballstriker's downswing plane is a bit flatter than the backswing plane, but a big change costs you accuracy.)

While you may lose a bit of clubhead speed with this move, you'll also hit the ball more solidly. Given the design of modern equipment, that will add some distance on its own.

And just for the record, the Nelson approach is easier on your lower back as well. More accuracy means more consistent ball contact, and less back pain means... well, less back pain. It's a win-win situation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the Tradition

It's time for the Regions Tradition, the first of the five Champions Tour majors.

Bernhard Langer

The Tradition is currently held on the Founders Course at the Greystone G&CC in Hoover AL. (That's just outside Birmingham, which I think is the biggest city in Alabama.) The defending champion is the Ageless Machine, aka Bernhard Langer.

Enough said, I think. When you say "Langer," you've said it all, haven't you? It almost seems silly to pick "5 to Watch" this week, but I think I can make a good case for some other players.

I should note that Fred Couples -- who would have made this list -- is not in the Tradition's field list. Given that he had committed to the event last month, I can only assume he's having some back problems.
  • Of course, Bernhard Langer makes this list. He has Top10 finishes in the last five editions of this event, including that win last year.
  • So far this season, Miguel Angel Jimenez has almost as good a record as Langer -- 5 Top10s in 7 starts, with one win and one runner-up. (Langer does have two thirds and Jimenez none.) He's certainly in form to give Bernhard a challenge.
  • Kevin Sutherland has no wins this season but has 7 Top10s in 7 starts, with one runner-up finish. And if memory serves me right, he has played well in this major in the past. This may be the best he's played going into this major in quite a while.
  • Scott McCarron has only 3 Top10s in 8 starts this season, but he has one win and is #5 in the Schwab Cup standings. In addition, he was 6th at this event last year. He may be a bit streaky, but I see no reason he couldn't start a new streak at this venue.
  • And my flier is Vijay Singh, who has a win on the Champions Tour this season -- a team win, admittedly, but that's still a win -- and that T16 at THE PLAYERS last week. I like his form coming into this event.
Still, when all is said and done, I simply won't bet against Langer. His record in this event -- and so far this season, leading up to this event -- is so good that I can't imagine him not making a strong title defense. So he's my pick.

GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 12:30pm ET, before the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The LPGA Is Back in Action

Welcome to the Kingsmill Championship, held in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. (That's about halfway up the East Coast of the US, for those of you unfamiliar with our geography.)

Ariya Jutanugarn with Kingsmill trophy

Tony Jesselli, in his preview of the event, notes that this is the first of a consecutive 12-event run for the LPGA, which includes three of their majors. We'll be seeing -- or perhaps it's better to say NOT seeing -- a number of the big names over the next three months as they pick and choose events, hoping to peak for those majors.

However, this week we WILL be seeing defending champ Ariya Jutanugarn, Race to the CME Globe leader So Yeon Ryu and current World #1 Lydia Ko as they battle for that Rolex #1 spot. The three are separated by a mere quarter of a point, which could be easily erased with a win.

Fans of LPGA rookies Aditi Ashok (India), Laura Gonzalez Escallon (Belgium) and Olafia Kristinsdottir (Iceland) will be pleased to know that all three are in the field this week.

One other interesting note: Only Cristie Kerr has managed to win the Kingsmill more than once. And since those wins came in 2005, 2009 and 2013 -- and since Cristie has been playing well of late -- you might make a case that it's her time again! In any case, Ariya will have to buck history if she hopes to successfully defend her title this week, a task made even more difficult by the pressure to gain that Rolex #1 spot.

To be honest, I think Lydia will finally lose the top spot this week -- but I think Ryu, not Jutanugarn, will take it. So Yeon Ryu has been playing the best of the three coming in.

The first two days of the event will be tape-delayed on GC, beginning at 9pm ET on Thursday night. The last two days will be live, starting at 5pm ET. The battle for #1 makes this a must-watch tournament.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 THE PLAYERS

Winner: Si Woo Kim

Around the wider world of golf: Celine Boutier won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic on the Symetra Tour; Matt Wallace won the Open de Portugal on the ET; Yusaku Miyazato won the Japan PGA Championship Nissin Cup Noodle Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; and Ai Suzuki won the Hoken-no-Madoguchi Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Si Woo Kim lifts THE PLAYERS trophy

I have to take issue with Brandel Chamblee and Friends at GC. They said that TPC Sawgrass was "star player proof," that it was designed to keep the best players in the game from capitalizing on their strengths. The implication was that, if the top players could use their strengths, a player like Si Woo Kim wouldn't win because he isn't as good.

Oh, really? You say a long hitter is at a disadvantage on a relatively short course like Sawgrass? Let me pick on Dustin Johnson, since he's a good example here. (I got the Sawgrass percentages from the individual scorecard pages, accessible from THE PLAYERS Leaderboard page.)

According to the PGA stats page, DJ hits 57.45% of his fairways on average while Si Woo Kim hits 55.02%. I would assume that, since DJ doesn't need driver that much at Sawgrass, he should be able to hit quite a few more fairways using 3-woods and long irons, while Si Woo needs driver. (After all, aren't you supposed to be more accurate with shorter clubs?) However, Si Woo hit 69.64% of his fairways while DJ could manage only 51.79% of his.

That's not a big hitter having his strength taken away. Rather, it's a big hitter not using his strength strategically. That's the very thing Sawgrass is designed to test.

Even hitting from the same place in the fairway, DJ should have a huge advantage since he can hit shorter irons in, which means they can fly higher, spin more, and land more softly. Indeed, DJ leads the Tour at 74.44% while Si Woo can only manage 58.59%. And at Sawgrass, DJ posted 69.44% and Si Woo posted 62.50%.

Those Sawgrass figures are still in the ballpark with the yearly averages. The difference could be explained by the course redesign that everybody had to learn. For example, we saw many players miss putts simply because they putted from memory, rather than reading the redesigned greens.

Again, that's a matter of poor strategy. If you know things have been changed, shouldn't you plan your strategy with that in mind?

And that's exactly what Si Woo Kim did. Just because you're a big star doesn't mean you can ignore the basics of the game. After all, Jordan Spieth didn't even make the cut and he's nowhere near as long as DJ. Did the course rob him of his strengths too?

Brandel and Friends lamented that Si Woo Kim's stats didn't allow them to predict his potential win... and I suspect THAT is the real problem for them. All of us -- not just analysts -- believe we have far more control over our games (and our lives) than we actually do. No matter how much data you collect, you can't predict how soon a player will recover from injury (assuming you remember to take it into account, of course, which the GC analysts clearly didn't) or whether the weather will cooperate or even what personal events may affect the game of individual players.

In the end, Si Woo Kim became the youngest-ever winner of THE PLAYERS, something that's not so hard to believe when you remember his amateur career or even analyze his short pro career to this point. And that's why he takes home all THE PLAYERS swag and his second Limerick Summary to boot.
The youngest to take home the prize,
Kim performed like a man who is wise
Far beyond his few years.
Now his future appears
To be brighter than most realized.
The photo came from this page at chicagotribune.com.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Matt Adams's Tips for Buying Wedges (Video)

A few weeks back, Matt Adams did a Morning Drive segment on the basics of buying wedges. This may be elementary stuff to some of you, but wedge design confuses many golfers. Adams used some clear visuals to make the basics very plain in this video.



The basics are very simple. I'll summarize:
  • Bounce is the angle between the leading edge and sole of the wedge. (There's a very nice diagram, using an actual wedge, in the video.)
  • If you have a steep angle of attack on the ball -- that is, you're a "digger" -- you need more bounce.
  • If you have a shallow angle of attack on the ball -- that is, you're a "picker" -- you need less bounce.
  • If you play where the ground is very soft, you need more bounce.
  • If you play where the ground is very hard, you need less bounce.
Again, the basics are very simple. But Matt has some very nice video illustration in this piece, so take a look if the whole bounce thing makes you a bit nervous.

And if the concept of bounce confuses you, don't feel embarrassed. We all have to deal with it. I would have less trouble hitting from the sand earlier on if I had simply known how bounce worked.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jack Nicklaus on Playing a Double Dogleg

Golf Digest just put this strategy article by Jack Nicklaus on the site a couple of days ago. The fact that it's a guide to playing double dogleg holes is awesome enough -- but the hole he uses is the par-4 12th hole at Erin Hills, the site of this year's US Open. This is a chance to get a good strategy lesson from Jack, as well as a first look at the unfamiliar course.

Check out the article at Golf Digest first, then come back and click on the diagram below. It'll open a window. Right-click and choose "view image," and you'll be able to enlarge the graphic so you can read all of Jack's notes.

The par-4 12th hole at Erin Hills
Of all the tips included in the diagram above, the one that stands out to me most is labeled Shorter is Better. Jack says that the green is so small that he can't imagine many situations where he'd want to chip from anywhere but the short grass in front of the green.

THE TIP: Before you hit your approach shot to the green, decide where you want to be if you miss the green. You don't want to shortside yourself, and that's a real possibility on a small green like this.

We're only a month away from the US Open, friends. I bet a lot of the players will be studying this diagram!

Friday, May 12, 2017

In Case You Missed It (Video)

Yeah, it's hard to believe ANYBODY missed it. But it's still worth posting. Here's Sergio's hole-in-one on the 17th at Sawgrass:



Is this an omen of better things for Sergio -- first the Masters win, and now a hole-in-one in his first tournament back? I don't know, but I'm sure Adam Scott doesn't hope so. He followed Sergio with a ball in the water, then went double-double to give up four strokes and the lead at THE PLAYERS.

I still don't expect Sergio to play particularly well this week. He's probably still emotionally spent, and he needed the hole-in-one just to get back to one-over for the day. But it's great to see him have some things go his way, after it took so long for him to break through and get that first major.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

To 3-Wood or Not to 3-Wood? That's the Question...

And it's an interesting question: Just how useful is your 3-wood, really? Teachers Butch Harmon and Mackenzie Mack appear to have a difference of opinion, and Golf Digest has two articles that contrast their thoughts.

Butch Harmon hitting a 3-wood from the fairway

The older article, from Butch Harmon, is called Bench Your 3-Wood. Butch says the only time you should use your 3-wood from the fairway is when you can reach the green. Otherwise, he says you probably won't hit it well and should probably use your 5-wood instead. (I don't carry a 5-wood. My 7-wood has always been my magic wand when I'm in need, and that's my go-to club.)

Butch does say that, if you're going to use your 3-wood, position the ball a few inches inside your lead heel -- that is, closer to the center of your stance -- and make sure you get off your trailing foot during your downswing. (But if you're swinging that hard, so you're reverse-pivoting, maybe you should just lay up to a good wedge yardage instead. That's what I think.)

The newer article, from Mackenzie Mack, is called Three Shots You've Never Used Your 3-Wood For, But Should. Ironically, Mack seems to feel that your inability to hit a 3-wood well can be an advantage! At least, his three shots never get the ball very high off the ground.

He says you can use the 3-wood off hardpan because you just want to keep the ball low and get it rolling. He even wants you to set up to the ball as if it were a putt, so that sounds a bit like Butch's setup. (Personally, I'd be using my 7-wood here. I'd be more confident with it off hardpan.)

He also recommends you use the 3-wood to get out of the trees. Even if the grass is pretty thick. That's what he says, and it's because -- again -- you don't really want the ball to get up in the air in the first place. (You might want to practice that before you try it. I understand the logic, but from thick grass? That sounds iffy to me.)

And finally, he wants you to use the 3-wood to putt from the fringe. For this shot, he wants you to set up with the ball in the back of your stance, as if you were going to chip the ball. (So why not use a shorter club like a hybrid? Still, a 3-wood chip shot is a nice one to have in your arsenal, especially for long chips.)

As you can tell, I believe you should think twice before using your 3-wood anytime it isn't teed up, unless you have practiced with it and are confident using it. Especially if a poor shot might cost you more strokes than a decent shot will gain.

And if you're having trouble breaking 80 -- or even 85 -- that poor shot probably will. Play smart!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Some New Combo Quick Guides in Paperback

Since coming out with the RuthlessGolf.com Quick Guide MEGAPACK, I realized that many people were buying two or three of the Quick Guides but not all six -- or at least, they didn't want to buy all six at once. That's a problem I often face when I'm interested in buying a series of books I want. So I've been working to create some two-guide packs, all of which are out in paperback now. (I figure the paperbacks are the most expensive way to buy them.) Here are the five packs I've put out, based on the combinations in which my records say are the most popular.

RuthlessGolf.com Confident Swings PackRuthlessGolf.com Long and Straight PackRuthlessGolf.com Short Game PackRuthlessGolf.com Smart Putter PackRuthlessGolf.com Tee-to-Green Pack

If you were to buy the RuthlessGolf.com Tee-to-Green Pack, the Long and Straight Pack and the Smart Putter Pack, you'd get all six books -- although it wouldn't be as inexpensive as just buying the MEGAPACK. However, that way you don't have to lay out so much money at once. (That was part of the concept behind the Quick Guides in the first place.) All of the packs save you two or three dollars over the regular two-book price.

Like the MEGAPACK, all five two-book packs are available through the regular book channels. However, unlike the MEGAPACK, the electronic versions will ALSO be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, etc. Most of them are out now, but I'm still working on some of them. (It will be a while before I have PDF versions available through my blog.)

Anyway, I wanted to announce that the paperbacks are finally available since paperbacks cost the most. And, as usual, they're all in large print. I'm pretty proud of that too. ;-)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at THE PLAYERS

Once again it's time for me to show my ignorance and try to pick five players most likely to win a big event. This time, it's THE PLAYERS.

Rickie Fowler and Jason Day at the 2016 PLAYERS

You all know the basics of this event, as THE PLAYERS has been played at TPC Sawgrass for decades now. The Pete Dye layout holds the unique distinction of being totally neutral as a playing field -- it doesn't favor long hitters over short, or old players over young.

The one prejudice it holds is that it hates defending champions. In all its years at Sawgrass, THE PLAYERS has never seen a repeat champion.

Therefore, I won't be picking Jason Day this week.

However, the overall fairness of the course doesn't give me much more help than that. Anybody could conceivably win this week, as long as they're on their game. And the changes made to the course for this year's playing should magnify that wide-open mentality.

One special mention: Although he typically plays well at Sawgrass, I'm not including Sergio in my list. This is simply because he hasn't played since winning the Masters and I expect a bit of "major hangover" this week. And he's earned it!

But that doesn't make much of a dent in the potential winners either. Five seems a very small number at this event.
  • After showing very little rust at the Wells Fargo last week, I continue to include Dustin Johnson in these lists. As long as he can keep reasonable control of his irons -- he doesn't really need woods -- I think he can get his first win at Sawgrass.
  • Aside from the missed cut at Zurich, Rickie Fowler has been playing very well this year. And we all remember his dramatic win here in 2015. He's done it before...
  • First-timers don't often win at Sawgrass, but Jon Rahm could certainly be the exception. He already has one win this season and, coupled with his usually straight long game and his touch around the greens, this could easily be his second win of 2017.
  • Justin Rose. I just have a feeling about him.
  • And for my flier, I'm taking Wesley Bryan. Wes hasn't played particularly well since winning the Heritage, and he missed the cut last week. But I'm expecting some magic when I pick a flier, and who better to perform magic than a trick shot artist?
And my pick to win is... SURPRISE! I'm taking Justin Rose this week. I can't tell you why. DJ has every reason to win on his side, but I can't shake the idea that Rose is primed to win.

I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Wells Fargo Championship

Winner: Brian Harman

Around the wider world of golf: The Danish Team (Thorbjorn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaard) won the inaugural GolfSixes event on the ET; John Daly got his first Champions Tour win at the Insperity Invitational; Nate Lashley won the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship, his first Web.com Tour win; Sei Young Kim beat Ariya Jutanugarn to win the Lorena Ochoa Match Play on the LPGA (Michelle Wie came in fourth, her best finish in a long time); and the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica's Essential Costa Rica Classic event was shortened to 54 holes but still won't be finished until later today.

Brain Harman with Wells Fargo trophy

We expected the Wells Fargo event to be wide open this year. After all, few (if any) players were familiar with Eagle Point Golf Club, which was standing in for Quail Hollow. (Quail Hollow will be hosting the PGA Championship in a few months, in case you hadn't heard.) But did we really expect this? Eagle Point held the entire field to single figures.

Okay, all but one player. But did anybody think it would be Brian Harman? With all the long hitters in the field, on a course where high ball hitters would have an advantage getting balls to stop on the tricky greens?

Perhaps it was the wind that helped Brian. Swirly winds made it vital to keep the ball low, below the tree line when possible. Even that wasn't enough to keep Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez from posting at -9, forcing Brian to fight just for a playoff spot.

But after a week of magnificent scrambling, Harmon came to the 18th at -9 and only needed a scrambling up-and-down to win the event outright. It looked like a done deal...

Until Harman fatted the chip and left a 30-footer on the tricky greens. If he was lucky, maybe he'd two-putt for the playoff...

And then he drained it for the outright win after all, the second of his short career.

It would be easy to call this luck, but DJ had the best score of the day (67, along with Jonathan Randolph, who finished at -6) and he beat Harman by only one stroke. Harman returned the favor, besting him by only one stroke for the week.

So today the Limerick Summary goes to Brian Harman, who broke his three-year winless drought in a most satisfying way. I just hope he celebrates this as much as he celebrated the win...
At Eagle Point, scrambling was key—
So that fat chip at 18 would be
The unlikeliest way
To give Harman the play
That stole DJ's (or Pat's) victory.
The photo came from this page at skysports.com.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Butch Harmon on Finding Your Driver Rhythm (Video)

Butch Harmon has an article at the Golf Digest site called Finding Your Rhythm With The Driver. It's short but it uses a drill you've probably seen before.

Butch Harmon's driving rhythm drill

Butch says the trick to creating distance with the driver is finding out how fast you can swing it without losing control. To teach you how to do it, he recommends the old drill where you tee up three balls and hit them, one after the other, without stopping. You hit one, step up to the next one as you swing the driver back, then hit that ball and repeat with the third ball.

Essentially, you're just hitting each ball as you walk forward, swinging your driver in time with your walk. This little guy isn't walking very smoothly, but at least he's got the swing rhythm down pat:



The idea here is that if your rhythm is off, you'll lose your balance during the drill. But if your rhythm is correct, there's a good chance you'll hit each ball solidly. And as you get better, you can swing faster without losing your balance.

A simple drill with an easy-to-measure result. And if Butch likes it, it's probably a pretty good drill!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

As Usual, Match Play Presents Some with Opportunities

The Lorena Ochoa Match Play is interesting, simply because so many of the American and European Solheim Cup players are in the field. With the Solheim Cup being played later this year, it's a chance to catch your captain's eye.

And it appears some players might be doing just that.

Michelle Wie

There are, of course, players currently favored to make their teams who have been unexpectedly beaten early on -- Gerina Piller, Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang and Austin Ernst for the US, while Suzann Pettersen and Carlotta Ciganda are the main Euro players to bow out. This isn't necessarily a bad sign, this early in the year, but it certainly doesn't engender any confidence in your captain!

And there are other players -- most notably Cristie Kerr, Charley Hull and Karine Icher -- who are doing exactly what we would expect in match play.

But it's the bubble gals -- and some who don't even have a bubble maker yet -- who are making a real case for captain's picks.

Perhaps the most surprising for the US is Michelle Wie (12 in the team rankings), who has won her matches 6&5 and 3&2. The improvements in her play this season are clearly evident in this format! Other US players making a case are Marina Alex (18 in the Rankings, who plays Wie today), Cydney Clanton (34 in the rankings, who plays Kerr today) and Angela Stanford, who at number 9 is probably making Captain Inkster feel a lot better.

The Euro rankings are trickier to figure out, because they get some players from the LET points list and some from the Rolex world rankings. But the most surprising Euro player has to be Pernilla Lindberg (T70 in the LET rankings and 114 in the Rolex), with 2&1 and 4&3 victories. Unfortunately, she has to play Ariya Jutanugarn today. Still, this has without a doubt put her firmly on Captain Sorenstam's radar.

Likewise, Sandra Gal (15 in the LET, 73 in the Rolex) is doing well. Karine Icher is the last of the Rolex qualifiers currently on the team, but this performance will likely guarantee her a captain's pick -- even if she loses to Stanford today.

Match play events always seem to carry extra meaning. There aren't very many of them on any tour's schedule, and they can be important indicators of who might be a strong member for events like the Solheim Cup. And it looks like this week's event will be no different.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bernhard Langer on Reading Greens (Video)

I know I do a lot of similar posts on reading greens, but it's something we all have to learn. I do a lot of posts, in hopes that at least one of them will "click" with you and make it easier for you to remember the key points.

This video is from GC's PGA Tour Champions Learning Center on Wednesday. Bernhard Langer gives you the basics of reading greens. The site won't let me embed the video, so you can use the link in the previous sentence or click the photo below to go to the GC page.

Langer on the green

A quick summary of what Bernhard says:
  • shiny grass = grass growing away from you = putting downgrain
  • dull grass = grass growing toward you = putting against the grain
  • rough edge of the hole = grass growing away from hole (Bernhard is showing the rough edge in the photo above)
  • smooth edge of hole = grass growing toward hole
And of course, if you're putting against the grain then you have to hit the ball harder.

Yes, those are the basics. Not complicated, but we still tend to get confused when we try to read greens. Hopefully this video will help you keep the basics clear in your mind.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Some Hope for Tiger

Jaime Diaz over at Golf Digest has done a long article called Why Tiger Woods' Fans Can Take Heart After His Latest Surgery. Why am I linking you to this article? Because this is the first article I've read that dives seriously into the complications of back surgery for an athlete.

Tiger

Diaz not only talked to doctors about the surgery -- which is unusual among golfers, although Dudley Hart had it back in 2009 -- but also to a number of golfers who have had serious back surgery. In fact, two of the golfers who he interviewed extensively for the article, Lanny Watkins and Lee Trevino, are fascinating reads all on their own. Trevino, for example, had steel rollers implanted in his back!

Why am I so surprised by this article? Because in the final paragraphs of the article, Diaz wrote this:
It’s apparent that for the increasing numbers of Woods’ doubters, players who have been there both at the highest level competitively and through the throes of back surgery are revealingly optimistic about Woods’ playing future.
This isn't the sort of thing we're used to hearing from the golf media. Most of them seem to have written him off already. But this is the first fact-based article I've read that seemed optomistic about Tiger's return.

And that in itself makes this a must read if you're curious about Tiger's future in golf.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

No LPGA Match Play Coverage, BUT...

How did the LPGA manage to create a brand new match play event and yet NOBODY GOT IT ON TV?

LPGA contingent plan

According to the LPGA, it was a budget issue with the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play organizers. Perhaps it was for that reason that Tony Jesselli wrote an even longer preview of the event than usual. And the LPGA says they're going to try and fix this problem in future years.

But what can you do in the meantime? Fear not, I have an answer for you!

I assume you noticed the diagram I posted above, which came from that LPGA post I linked to in the paragraph just under it. Here's a quote from that post, giving more details about the workaround that the LPGA has put together.
Please go to LPGA.com and the LPGA app for reports throughout the week and live scoring on competition days, and follow us on Twitter at @LPGA and @LOYMEXICO for regular updates on the matches. Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa will air a 30-minute highlights package on the Saturday and Sunday of the Match Play while Golf Channel will carry a highlights/update package in the United States for Golf Central on each of the four days of competition. We will also be streaming on Facebook Live some of the press conferences and we plan to provide additional coverage of live action from the Hall of Fame exhibition matches over the weekend.
That's not bad for a workaround:
  • reports and scoring on LPGA.com and the LPGA app
  • regular updates on the Twitter feeds @LPGA and @LOYMEXICO
  • 30-minute highlight show on Saturday and Sunday on Grupo Televisa
  • highlights and updates on GC in the US all four days
  • streaming on Facebook Live for press conferences and live broadcasts of the HoF exhibition matches over the weekend
Granted, that's not as good as a hi-def live TV broadcast, but it's a pretty impressive -- and even aggressive -- use of social media to try and cover as much of the event as possible. Give the LPGA credit for trying to make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation.

In the meantime, I'd suggest you keep check on LPGA.com, their Twitter page and their Facebook page to see when things start streaming (or the @LOYMEXICO page for the Spanish updates). You can find all the links and apps at the bottom of the LPGA.com homepage.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Zurich Classic

Winner: Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith

Around the wider world of golf: Haru Nomura won the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout on the LPGA; Yusaku Miyazato won The Crowns on the Japan Golf Tour; Shiv Kapur won the Yeangder Heritage on the Asian Tour; Matt Atkins won the El Bosque Mexico Championship on the Web.com Tour; and Alexander Levy won the Volvo China Open on the ET.

Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith with Zurich trophy

Zurich wanted something that would revive an event that was struggling, despite its location in New Orleans, due to its place in the schedule. They got that, and more -- a gripping event where players posted unbelievable scores in tough conditions.

And they got a playoff in the bargain, where two very hot teams had to hang around for an extra day to settle the score. The teams of Kevin Kisner/ Scott Brown and Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith had sunk chips and putts from everywhere with apparent ease during the event proper, despite the tough conditions, leaving their competition to grind their teeth in frustration.

Unfortunately, the playoff wasn't nearly as gripping as the tournament. Perhaps -- and I suspect this is indeed the case -- the players simply burned themselves out in the 72-hole crucible created by 20+mph winds, heavy rain and unpredictable breaks for dangerous lightning. It's the only reason I can find for the lack of birdies in Monday's playoff -- four men play four holes (three par-5s) and they can only muster one birdie.

The drain was evident when young Cameron Smith, getting his first win and a precious two-year exemption, was unable to even tell Dottie Pepper how happy he was. Overcome with emotion, he had to let partner and two-time Tour winner Jonas Blixt do the talking.

While the end may not have been as thrilling as we would have liked, it's pretty clear that Zurich hit a home run with this one. Will it have staying power? It's hard to tell, but the event's uniqueness -- and desirable perks -- may very well do the job.

True, the newly-revamped Zurich Classic doesn't offer a trip to the Masters. But it DOES offer a Limerick Summary, just like any other event. And that's what really matters, isn't it?
Four days battling high winds and rain
Still wasn't enough to restrain
The hot putters of Blixt
And his young partner Smith…
But the playoff was much more mundane.
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at PGATOUR.com.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The PGA Tour Makes It Harder for Injured Players

Obviously there's no Limerick Summary today because, at the time I'm doing this post, the Zurich Classic isn't finished. So I thought I'd comment on a recent turn of events that bothers me.

I'm talking about Brian Gay and Ian Poulter finally getting their Tour cards back. Don't get me wrong -- I'm very happy that they got them back. What bothers me is the Tour error that almost kept them off the Tour. It's time for a rant!

Ian Poulter

I'm linking you to a golf.com article that explains the whole thing in more detail, but the short version is that the Tour has changed the way they figure the points for the FedExCup. That's what the Tour is using to figure out when an injured player has played well enough to regain his card.

Again, short version: The Tour has made it harder to get those points since the two men were injured, so it's harder for players coming back from injury to regain their cards. If Brian Gay had not realized what had happened -- and that it shouldn't have applied to him and Poulter -- both men would have lost their cards DESPITE having done enough to get them back.

Brian Gay figured out that something was wrong, went to the Tour and, fortunately, common sense prevailed at Tour HQ and they awarded both men their cards. And I realize most folks would be happy and let it go at that.

But I'm bothered by the Tour's decision to make it harder for a player to come back from a major medical leave. Shouldn't a player trying to return from an injury be granted a slightly easier road back, allowing him to properly return to form?

After all, players keep saying that no matter how much you practice, you need time playing under competitive pressure to genuinely return to form. Logically, players will not finish as well during that "return to form" period.

Yet the Tour has reduced the points that are available for those lower finishes! That puts recovering players in the situation Gay and Poulter found themselves in, and that simply doesn't seem fair to me. If you really want to help players return to the Tour, why would you set the standards so high?

Presumably the Tour has changed the points structure to represent an improved level of play at the top levels of the Tour. I question how making it easier for the top players to gain points while the rank-and-file have to struggle even harder to keep their cards improves the makeup of the Tour. (But since when has the Tour made decisions that are easy to understand?) However, this seems draconian to me.

At the very least, it seems that the Tour should use a different point structure for players returning from a major medical leave -- one that allows them to ease back into the competitive environment of the Tour, rather than expecting them to return in the same form they had before they were injured. As it stands -- using the sample point totals from the golf.com article:
Gay began digging into his FedEx Cup totals for his 2016-17 finishes and only then noticed a lightly publicized change to this season’s points breakdown. The Tour has restructured the distribution, giving fewer points to finishes below 14th. For instance, a 20th-place finish last season was worth 51 points, but this season it brings only 45; 30th place has been devalued from 41 points to 28.
Note that Gay was 28 points short of his requirement, which was 464 (125th in ’14-15). But look at how the changes affect him:
  • Two 30th-place finishes -- just outside the Top25, and a reasonable expectation for a player returning from an injury but playing well -- now bring only 56 points rather than the original 82. That's 26 points right there!
  • With five Top20 finishes, he would only receive 225 points instead of the 255 awarded before the change -- 30 points less.
For comparison, Ryan Moore is currently 30th in FedExCup points with 538 points in 12 starts (one MC) this season. Moore has only one T3, one T9 and one T15... but he has 7 Top25 finishes. Most of his finishes are between 15 and 35 (plus a T39 at the Match Play and a T61 at the Phoenix Open).

Drop down to Branden Grace, also with 12 starts (one MC, one WD) this season. He's 64th with 359 points. He has a T10, T11 and T13... and only 4 Top25 finishes. Most of his finishes are between 20 and 35 (plus a T39 at the Match Play, same as Moore).

Neither of these players were on major medical.

Compare them with Brian Gay, currently at 83rd after 11 events (three MC). He has only 280 points for this season. He has two T6s and a T13 (that's three Top25s)... and nothing else higher than a T28. Yet this is better than he did last year when he first came back from the major medical, when he missed 9 cuts. He only had one Top10 last year, a 6th place finish.

You're probably thinking that Gay played so bad, it's no wonder he didn't get his card. But that's the whole point -- under the old system, HE DID! There are a number of healthy players, in no danger of losing their cards, who don't have three Top10s in that time period. Players coming back from a major medical leave simply don't have the consistency of healthy players, yet they have to conform to a new point system that requires consistency to keep one's card.

The Tour needs to fix this. Situations like Gay and Poulter's simply should not happen. Major medical exemptions should help players work their way back into shape, not penalize them for being injured.

End of rant.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Just a Reminder -- Zurich Tee Times Moved Up

Just a reminder that they're expecting storms in New Orleans today, so the PGA Tour has moved the tee times up. Groups will tee off -- if all goes well -- between 7:40am and 9:20am ET.

GC's coverage should begin around 9am ET. I suppose the CBS coverage later in the day will be time-delayed.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rocco Mediate and Jim Ferree on Swinging Lower (Video)

I know this clip from Champions Tour Learning Center is funny, but I'm posting it here because the drill is so simple and yet so helpful. Take a look:



When Rocco says that you need to swing lower if you're topping the ball, he's talking about a whole lot of things -- footwork, weight shift, balance and so on. Most players think they're lifting their heads and don't realize that you can only lift your head if you straighten your legs too early! And so Rocco and former player/teacher Jim Ferree recommend this simple drill.

Start with a chipping motion. Just hit short chip shots, then gradually lengthen the chip shots until they are full swings. If you do this, you'll learn to hold your posture, your spine angle and your knee flex throughout your swing. Your lead knee should remain slightly flexed until you hit the ball. Your lead knee straightens at that point because body rotation forces it to. Just let it happen!

As Rocco says, this game is a lot simpler than we make it. This drill can help you clear your mind of the over-complications and learn to swing more naturally.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Leaning the Shaft for Different Lies

Shaft lean from the fairwayThere's a short slide show over at Golf Digest called Basics: Get a Handle on Your Short Game that shows how to position your grip (club handle) for four different short game shots. Essentially, it's a photo guide to leaning the club shaft. I'll summarize them here, but seeing the photos will really help you lock them in your memory.

The photo at the side here shows the standard position for a short game shot from the fairway. The shaft is vertical. You want to use the bounce here.

With buried lies -- either in rough or sand -- the shaft leans forward. You want to use the leading edge to get down in there and dig that baby out! The deeper the ball is buried, the more you want to lean the shaft.

And with a fluffy lie -- where the ball is sitting up on top of the grass -- the shaft leans backward. The ball is teed up, if you will, so you want to hit up on it. Otherwise you'll just slide completely under the ball.

Simple guidance that's easy to remember. Just take a look at the pictures and read the captions; it'll really help you remember how to address the ball in each case.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Here's How Lexi Accidently Mismarked Her Ball (Video & Pics)

After listening to Lexi's presser Wednesday -- and recreating the mismarking incident myself -- I think I can finally explain how Lexi could mismark her ball so badly by accident. And since Lexi seemed genuinely confused by the event when asked at the presser, perhaps it will help her as well.

First, here's the now-notorious video of the event, currently posted on this page at the Golf Channel website. (In the photos below, please forgive the ever-present "arrow" -- it appeared every time I paused the video for a screen capture.) The footage I'm using is in the first 32 seconds of the video:



There are actually two things you need to know in order to understand this video, and Lexi told us both of them at her presser. You can find the quotes I'm using in this Golfweek post.

The first is her mental focus at the time. She had just missed a short putt on the last hole and, as she walked up to tap this putt in, she said she could hear her dad's voice telling her to slow down:
Thompson began by explaining how upset she was about her birdie effort from 20 feet in the third round. Terrible stroke, she said.
She initially thought about tapping it in, but because her father, Scott, has fussed about the number of short putts she has missed over the years by moving too hastily – “I’ve stubbed a few” – Thompson decided to mark the ball.
She walked along the line of the original putt to tap in the putt, then decided at the last second to mark it. You can see the momentary indecision in the video. That indecision is why she marked it from the side.

The second is how she marks her ball:
“The way I mark my ball, I mark my ball with a dot, and that’s where I focus my eyes on where I want to make contact,” she said. “So when I went to mark it, I just rotated my ball to line up my dot to where my putter would make contact.”
She uses a dot on the back of the ball, not a line on top, so she's looking at a tiny dot when she marks.

Now we're ready to go through the incident as it happened in the video.

Lexi has just made that "terrible stroke" and walks toward the ball, intending to just tap it in. But she thinks better of it -- her father's voice, if you will -- and decides instead to mark it. Perhaps because she's still frustrated by the miss on the previous hole and the bad stroke she just made, perhaps because she just didn't think things through because it's a spur-of-the-moment decision, perhaps because it's such a short putt, she doesn't walk around and mark the ball as she might for a longer putt. Instead, she marks it from the side. This is the mistake that sets the whole debacle in motion.

You see, Lexi may have thought about her dad's words, but she's still "moving too hastily." Her mindset hasn't changed from "this is just a tap-in." She's more concerned about the dot than the putt.

As we all know, it's very easy to miss the obvious when your mind is on something else. (How often have we heard an announcer say, "He fell in love with the line and forgot to hit the ball?" Same thing.) But because we don't want to be disturbed when we're trying to putt, we're advised to choose a very small target -- like a single dimple on the ball, or a dot -- and focus on that. Lexi's focusing pretty hard on that dot at this point, and not much else.

My first thought was that perhaps when Lexi tried to line up that dot, she tilted her head somehow and changed the way she saw the line. But as you can see from this comparison showing just after she put the coin down to reach for the ball and then just after she set the ball down to reach for the coin, her head is in the same position:

Comparison of Lexi before and after moving her ball

At this point I realized that I needed to try and recreate what she did. Often we watch things over and over without really seeing what's there, and we don't really "see" until we try it ourselves. And that's what happened to me.

Because when I tried to mark the ball just like Lexi did, I suddenly discovered that I COULDN'T SEE THE BALL MARKER AT ALL AFTER I PUT IT DOWN. MY PALM WAS IN THE WAY.

Look, here are four stills from the close-up in the video. I've added a small yellow dot just below the position of the marker. The stills show:
  1. Lexi just after placing the marker
  2. Lexi rotating the ball
  3. Lexi placing the ball
  4. Lexi reaching to pick up the marker
The ball marker is under her palm -- hidden from view -- in all four stills. In fact, I found that rotating the ball as Lexi did actually made the marker even harder to see -- my fingers got in the way.

Sequence of Lexi marking her ball

Why didn't Lexi notice this? Because her attention was on the small dot she was trying to line up with the hole. And from her point of view, her hand never moved from its original position, so no alarms went off in her head.

Go back and watch the incident again at full speed. It's obvious, once you know what to look for.

Look, this doesn't mean that Lexi didn't break a rule, not even when you take the new "naked-eye" and "reasonable judgment" standards into account. The movement is clearly visible when viewed at full speed from the original broadcast footage. But this should put to rest any rumors that Lexi did it on purpose.

However, we should note the cause of this whole sad sequence of events. Once Lexi decided to mark the ball, if she had been thinking about making a normal putt instead of a tap-in, and had lined up the ball as if it were a longer putt, her hand would have been to the side of the marker, not covering it while she marked the ball. She would have had a clearer view and would likely have noticed if she positioned the ball incorrectly.

As much as I hate to say this -- given the current fuss about slow play -- Lexi simply didn't take enough time to gather herself. She probably should have put down her coin, picked up her ball and walked away. She should have taken a few deep breaths, a few practice strokes, and taken time to clear her mind of the bad putt she had just hit. And then she should have taken the time to line up her putt like normal.

In short, Lexi didn't treat this like an important putt. But it was.

There's no such thing as a tap-in at a major. I.K. Kim can tell you that. And now, so can Lexi. Hopefully she'll move past this sooner rather than later.

Of course, we'll get to watch her first tournament back starting today at noon ET when GC broadcasts the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. You can get a quick overview of the event over at Tony Jesselli's blog.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Introducing... the Nordqvist Rule!

Yes, everybody was expecting a Lexi Rule. But what we got wasn't bad at all, in my opinion.

Lexi at the ANA

Decision 34-3/10 institutes two new criteria for judging rule breaches. They are the "naked eye" standard and the "reasonable judgment" standard.

In addition, a new "working group" has been created to examine the best way to deal with video and viewer-submitted evidence when enforcing the rules. That working group includes folks from the USGA, R&A and the major tours.

Personally, I was thrilled to see the "naked eye" test included. If you follow my blog, you know I've been arguing this for a while, as I did in my Why Armchair Officials Are Unneeded post right after the Lexi debacle, where I wrote:
I think that any "infraction of the rules" that can't be seen with the naked eye from a few feet away ISN'T an infraction. That's how the rules were enforced when The Rules of Golf were originally written.
And that's why I call this new rule the Nordqvist Rule -- because it specifically mentions the Nordqvist ruling at the US Women's Open last year:
...there are two situations in which the use of video evidence is limited: When a player unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in a backswing with a club in making a stroke from a bunker... In such situations, if the Committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of a potential breach of the Rules, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules, even when video technology shows otherwise.
The second example they quote happened several years ago. (I forget the name of the player, although GC mentioned him during their broadcast.) The point is that the USGA and the R&A agree that the rules need to evolve along with technology. That's a HUGE step forward, and the fact that they've decided to put it into effect immediately is also very promising. (Kendra Graham told GC that evolving the rules along with the technology is a guiding principle of the new rule revisions and, since it's so basic to the revision, they saw no reason not to put it into effect right now.)

Ironically, neither of the new standards would have actually helped Lexi. According to the video evidence that was used originally, you can see that the ball was moved perhaps two inches from its original position -- no closer to the hole, just sideways. But based on the standards, that's an amount that's observable by the naked eye of a competitor.

The "help" will be left up to the working group. They will work to decide what evidence will be allowed in the enforcement of the rules. And I suspect this will be somewhat messy for a while, as different methods are tried at different events in different circumstances.  Ironically, Kendra said she was all for eliminating video evidence entirely -- but noted that doing so would also eliminate using video to help players, as when it's used to determine where a ball entered a hazard.

MAKE NO MISTAKE -- THERE WILL BE SOME MISTAKES MADE DURING THIS PROCESS. As Kendra noted, there are going to be unforeseen consequences with any decision the group makes, and we'll just have to put up with them during the process.

But I think that's okay. The rules will be worked out in the crucible of the game itself, not in some remote office where only the carpets are green. The actual effects of proposed changes -- the often unexpected repercussions -- will be seen in the real world, not just in some theoretical debate.

In the end, there is no substitute for experience. As critical as I have been of the ruling bodies for some of their decisions, I think this is a necessary step if they really want to make the Rules of Golf work under actual circumstances. I'm applauding them for what they did Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Zurich Becomes the First of the Alternate Format Events

This is the week we finally get to see the retooled Zurich Classic, the singles-turned-team event that has captured everyone's imagination.

Stenson and Rose, together again

The new format is pretty simple: Start with 80 teams. Each plays a round of alternate shot and a round of best ball. Cut to 35 teams. Play another round of alternate shot and a round of best ball. Declare a winner.

I am a bit disappointed that the winners don't get a Masters invite. After all, the event isn't an alternate event, and part of the idea here is to create an event that will appeal to more people, which I think should count as a "grow the game initiative" and therefore get Augusta's support since they're really into that lately.

But at least each of the winners gets all the rest of the normal swag, created by combining normal winning positions (the winning team splits the normal first and second place winnings, the runner-ups split third and fourth, etc.):
  • 400 FedExCup points (800 divided by two)
  • Half of the combined money for first and second place
I'm curious how this will affect Ian Poulter, should he and Geoff Ogilvy place high. Poults only needed around $30k last week to keep his card but now that his major medical exemption ran out, I don't know how much he'd need to regain his card. (Assuming they don't win, of course. I bet that's what he's got his eye on now.)

Plus each player on the winning team gets:
  • Two-year Tour exemption
  • Invite to the invitational events like the Tournament of Champions and THE PLAYERS Championship
  • Invite to the PGA Championship
  • Credit for an official Tour win
So when you combine all that with the ability to pick your own teammate and spend the week in New Orleans, it's not hard to see why this event looks to be even more popular than the Zurich folks ever dreamed.

TV coverage is supposed to start Thursday afternoon at 3:30pm ET on GC. And here's a list of the teams that have signed up, although Jimmy Walker had to back out to begin treatment. Sean O'Hair's new partner wasn't listed.

One final note: I originally had a different title for this post, one that I felt summed up the unexpected popularity of this format change. I don't know for sure yet if this is really true, although the initial response suggests it is. Nevertheless, I guess I should issue a Juvenile Humor Alert before I say:

At the Zurich Classic, Two Balls Are Better Than One.

Snicker at your own risk.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Valero Texas Open

Winner: Kevin Chappell

Around the wider world of golf: Carlos Franco and Vijay Singh set a course record when they won the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf on the Champions Tour (Allen Doyle and Hubert Green won the Legends Division); Bernd Wiesberger won the Shenzhen International on the ET; Florentyna Parker won the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open on the LET; Hannah Green won the Sara Bay Classic on the Symetra Tour; Kenichi Kuboya won the Panasonic Open on the Japan Golf Tour; D.H. Lee won the United Leasing & Finance Championship on the Web.com Tour; and Nelson Ledesma won the Abierto OSDE del Centro on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Kevin Chappell is mildly excited by his win at the Valero

Yee-haw! Kevin Chappell finally broke the bronc that's been throwing him at the end of tournaments for the last few years. That critter pitched and bucked, but ole Kev wasn't having none of it this time. No sirree, that feller pulled out his six-shooter and shot that monkey right off his back and...

Okay, enough of the bad cowboy jokes. But you'd sure think Kevin had just survived the notorious shootout at the OK Corral. Take a good look at that photo! And that was nothing compared to the whole celebration.

But he deserved it. He's been so close so many times, so many runner-ups in the last couple of years, that it just seems appropriate to frame it as a classic western showdown. Even Brookes Koepka, his closest pursuer at the end, seemed genuinely happy for Kevin to finally get that big old monkey off his back.

And how did Kevin do it? By doing the one thing that he hadn't been able to do any previous time -- he hit one close on 18 and drained the putt for birdie to win. In and of itself, that one fact would have been enough to warrant the celebration. But Kevin played solid all the way down the stretch, making smart decision after smart decision. Even his reasoning for the "putt-not-chip" decision on 16 made sense for a guy who hadn't won before.

So this week Kevin Chappell get his first-ever Limerick Summary. It won't shine like his new cowboy boots, and it won't "jingle, jangle, jingle" like spurs, but you can't buy one of these in a store, either!
The long years of waiting are done
Since Kevin at last made the one
Big putt that he needed…
And Koepka conceded.
The boots simply made it more fun!
The photo came from the tournament upshot page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Drill May Have an Important Side Effect! (Video)

This is one of the Night School videos from School of Golf. Martin and Blair demonstrated a drill Martin got from the late Mo Norman... but it may help you in a way Martin didn't mention!



Here's the deal: Martin says it should help your balance, and that's true.

He also says it should help your swing plane. I'll admit I'm not as interested about that, except as it helps your balance. After all, if you take the club back properly (one-piece takeaway, anyone?) then you should come down properly.

But what caught my attention was the stance. Usually this kind of drill is done with the weight on the lead foot, and the trailing foot is drawn back and "unweighted." But this drill is the exact opposite! Your weight is on your trailing foot, and the lead foot is drawn back.

To be honest, my first thought was... won't this teach you a reverse pivot?

Instead -- and perhaps this is because my balance is already pretty good -- I found myself making a swing with no reverse motion at all. But I discovered something else as well.

Martin focuses on how this might help you fight an over-the-top move. But it will also help stop an in-to-out move, which may help a lot of you square up the clubface at impact!

Here's the reason: Both moves are caused because your elbows get too far away from your body -- your trailing arm in the downswing (that exaggerates the over-the-top move) and your lead elbow in the followthrough (that makes many players leave the clubface open). If you keep your lead elbow close to your side until the ball has been hit, the rolling of your lead shoulder will cause the clubface to square up.

Be aware -- and Martin didn't mention this -- if you have a problem with hooking the ball, this drill could exaggerate that problem. So if hooking is a problem for you, you might be better served to make swings with both feet together. Gets the same result for improving your balance without encouraging a hook.

But if you're having trouble squaring the face at impact, you might want to give this drill a try.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cheer Up, Tiger Fans!

Just a link today. Golf Digest ran an article called 9 Facts That Will Cheer Up Even the Saddest of Tiger Woods Fans. And if you're afraid Tiger is done, I think this article will indeed give you some hope.

Tiger Woods

I'm just going to quote one fact for you. It's the first one:
There have been 22 majors won by golfers 42 or older.
Tiger isn't 42 yet, though he likely will be when he finally tees it up again. There is reason to believe that Tiger will be able to play golf again once his back heals. And -- most importantly, in my estimation -- is that Tiger has always beaten other players because he thought his way around the course better than they did.

Sure, Tiger has been able to do some amazing physical feats in his career, and he has won many tournaments because of that. But he has also been able to win a huge number of events when he didn't have his best stuff and couldn't take advantage of those physical abilities. We need to remember that.

I mean no disrespect to any of the other golfers but -- and I'll pick a golfer at random here -- if Tiger Woods had come out with Matt Kuchar's game, he probably wouldn't have won as many events as he did. BUT I feel it's safe to say that he would still have had a Hall of Fame career, and would have won more than one major in the process.

Don't forget that he's won with four different swings (and approaches) so far. Is it such a stretch to believe he could do it with yet another type of game?

When Tiger finally heals, I think there's a good chance he'll have at least as much game as Matt Kuchar. And if he does, I think we're in for a great ride over the next few years.

Time will tell. But I'm not giving up yet. Tiger has surprised me too many times.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Another Back Surgery for Tiger

Was this really a surprise? Probably not. Tiger's recovery after his ill-advised trip to the Middle East in January hadn't gone as well as hoped, although his appearance at Big Cedar Lodge earlier this week raised our hopes a bit.

Tiger Woods

But it wasn't to be. Tiger had another back surgery, and the details are in this Golf Digest article. The most reasonable expectation is that, between rehab and reconditioning, he'll miss the rest of the season.

However, I was interested to note that Tiger had a different surgery this time -- not a microdiscectomy but a single-level fusion. The difference? The first removes herniated material from between discs, the second fuses two discs together. The fusion, according to Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute, who did the surgery, is that this is only a six-month recovery period.

That makes sense to me. For all practical purposes, they're completely removing the source of the problem -- the space between the discs that grinds out that "herniated material" isn't there anymore.

So it seems the big question is no longer whether Tiger will finally be able to function normally in his everyday life; it sounds like this will do the job. But how will effectively having one less vertebra affect his golf swing?

I guess it'll be a while until we know for sure. But in the meantime, it's nice to know that Tiger probably won't be crippled with back pain anymore.

And now we wait...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Update on the Quick Guide MEGAPACK

RuthlessGolf.com Quick Guide MEGAPACK coverI said I'd update you guys as I got the various MEGAPACK formats out, so here it is.

As I said originally, the ebook versions are available in MOBI, EPUB and PDF direct from the blog here. That didn't help those of you in the EU countries that charge VAT, so I was working to get them up at Smashwords.

Smashwords now has a PDF and an EPUB, but not a MOBI version. They'll let me upload an EPUB of my own making but insist on generating the MOBI themselves. However, their software choked on the file and won't create a decent Table of Contents... and the MEGAPACK is just too big to use without one. That means you can only get the PDF and EPUB from them right now.

But here's the big surprise. There is now a paperback version available! (This link is for the Amazon page, but it should be available at BN and the other bookstores as well.) It's 560 pages long and the price is $39.99, which is much cheaper than buying the individual paperback versions. I simply couldn't do the paperback as an exclusive edition and still get worldwide shipping. (Or free shipping for those of you who qualify.)

I started doing these Quick Guides to try and make quality golf lessons available at an inexpensive price. Hopefully this edition will make them even more affordable.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cristie Kerr's Downswing Move #2 (Video)

Yesterday I posted a face-on video of Cristie Kerr smacking a driver, to help you learn a better move down to the ball. Today I want to add a bit to that instruction, and I'm using a down-the-line video of Cristie's drive to help you see this part better.



I quoted this from the Golf Digest article I referred to in yesterday's post:
"Most amateurs are moving their hands hard down toward the ball and moving their bodies toward the target. The key move is to avoid letting your right hip rotate toward the target too early as you move your hands and the club away."
And I said that it's easier to get that result if you focus on your arm and shoulder motion by keeping your trailing elbow straighter, rather than focusing on lower body action. I'm not changing that at all. However, I'm going to tie that advice to another tip I've mentioned many times, a tip that works very well with the arm motion I recommended.

In fact, this tip will make the arm motion much easier to learn.

I have often written that I would rather see you move DOWN to start your downswing, not forward toward the target the way many teachers suggest. That's how Sam Snead used to do it, and they didn't call him "Slammin' Sam" for nothing! Cristie does this as well, and the above video will not only help you understand why I recommend this move, but it will help you start your downswing smoothly.

The second and third swings on the above video are slow -- and the third one is REALLY slow, just like yesterday's video, so it's the easiest one to see the move in. When Cristie gets to the top of her backswing, her trailing knee (her right one) is almost straight. But to start her downswing, she bends that knee. That starts her weight moving downward, and that in turn helps pull the club down without changing the amount of bend in her trailing elbow.

But it does more. Bending her trailing knee -- a mini-squat, if you like -- pulls her trailing hip forward, toward the ball, and shifts her weight onto her lead leg. (It has to. If it didn't, she'd lose her balance and fall down!) It's almost as if she fell onto her lead leg and braced herself with it... and since her lead knee is already bent, it automatically "loads up" to push her upward at impact, effectively "using the ground."

That one downward move -- bending her trailing knee to start her downswing and pull her arms downward without changing the angles created at the top by her trailing elbow -- creates both hip rotation AND weight shift without any kind of dramatic hip or leg action... and that means you stay stable over the ball, creating better contact. It also stops you from uncocking your wrists too early in your downswing, so you create more clubhead speed as well.

If you watch both videos and try to feel the rhythm of her backswing-to-downswing move, and then try it out on your own, I think you'll be pleased with the results you get after just a little practice. It's a simple, natural way to use the physics of your swing to create more clubhead speed with less effort.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cristie Kerr's Downswing Move (Video)

Golf Digest did a short post called Change Directions Like Cristie Kerr to Fix Your Driver. (Pretty self-explanatory, to be honest.) Here's the video they included, which I may have used several months back; I don't remember. It's a good video.



The article says, "Most amateurs are moving their hands hard down toward the ball and moving their bodies toward the target. The key move is to avoid letting your right hip rotate toward the target too early as you move your hands and the club away."

That's good advice, but I think it could be simpler. We're just too hung up on driving our lower body -- we think everything has to be described in terms of leg drive. Let me give you a drill that will teach you the move a bit more simply.

What you want to focus on is keeping your trailing elbow straighter. Don't fold your trailing elbow so much as you swing to the top of your backswing. I know, I know -- it feels as if it stops you from turning your shoulders fully, it feels as if it shortens your backswing. it feels too upright. Ignore these feelings! Here's the drill, which will translate very easily to your swing:
As you take the club away from the ball, keep your trailing elbow fairly straight for as long as possible. I say "fairly straight" because your elbow HAS to bend some. You can keep it straight longer if you let your lead knee bend toward the center of your stance and your lead heel come off the ground. Stop swinging before you get near a 90° bend in your trailing elbow.

Now, to start your downswing, try to plant your lead heel back on the ground AND swing your arms down without bending your trailing elbow AT THE SAME TIME. Basically, it feels as if you're just holding your arms in the same position while you pivot them down from your shoulder joints. It's like a karate chop with both hands. IF YOU BEND YOUR TRAILING ELBOW EVEN MORE AS YOU START DOWN, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!
You may not be able to do this very fast at first, but you'll get used to it. It won't take long. Try it in your backyard until it feels a bit more natural, then try hitting some balls at the range.
It won't take long to catch onto the rhythm of this move. It feels a bit awkward because it keeps your trailing hip from moving forward too quickly. After you get used to the move, your swing speed will pick up and you'll start to naturally bend your elbow a bit more... but you'll also start to create more wrist cock on your downswing. If you watch the third swing in the video, which is in much slower motion, you'll see that Cristie's trailing elbow is bent around 100° and her wrist cock increases before her hands reach waist high on her downswing. That will start to happen naturally.

An added benefit of this move: You'll get more consistent contact because this motion makes it easier to tell where the bottom of the club is. That means fewer fat and thin shots.

UPDATE: I've added a second post at this link, with an extra tip that may make this move easier to learn.