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Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Solheim Cup Scores Are a Bit Misleading

Many of you, who haven't been watching the Solheim Cup, may look at the lopsided score going into today's singles -- 10.5 - 5.5 in favor of the USA -- and think the Euros haven't played very well.

It's quite the opposite. This Cup has featured some of the most impressive scoring we've seen in years. Let me give you an example.

The Killer B's, aka Brittanys Lang and Lincicome

Let's look at the afternoon fourball between "The Killer Bs," aka Brittanys Lang and Lincicome, and the team of Mel Reid and Carlotta Ciganda. The Brittanys won 2up -- which means the match went to the 18th -- and the lead was never more than 3up. (That was for only one hole. It was often down to 1up.) Doesn't sound very interesting, does it?

But let me tell you how all that scoring worked out...

Lincicome birdied the first seven holes. The seventh didn't count because Lang eagled it. In total, Lincicome birdied ten holes with her own ball, Lang had five birdies and an eagle. For the Euros, Reid had eight birdies with her own ball and Ciganda birdied six.

Count those up, folks. In that one match, there were a total of 29 birdies and one eagle!

Then, in the Nordqvist/Ewart-Shadoff match -- the only afternoon match the Euros won, and it only went 16 holes -- Nordqvist had eight birdies and Ewart-Shadoff, two. Their opponents, Salas and Yin, posted five and four, respectively. That's 19 birdies in what was probably the lowest scoring match of the day, although the Euros won 4&2.

That's a total of 48 birdies and one eagle in JUST TWO of the afternoon matches. It was like that the whole day.

The Euros have had a tough time for several reasons.
  • The LET is having a tough time getting tournaments, just as the LPGA did several years back. That means many of the players haven't had the tournament play that the US players have.
  • Then there were the sicknesses and injuries.
    • You know that Suzann Pettersen had to bow out with back problems. And while Catriona Matthew was able to replace her -- and I'm a huge CM fan -- the fact remains that she couldn't be paired with as many different players as Suzann could.
    • Anna Nordqvist is recovering from mononucleosis. She played both rounds on Saturday but it remains to be seen how she'll hold up today.
    • And Charley Hull missed Saturday's matches with a wrist injury she aggravated Friday. She plans to play today but, again, we don't know how she'll do.
  • And then there are the rookies. Personally, I think the Euro rookies have played pretty well, given that most of the rookies play primarily the LET and we know how few tournaments they had to play in. The three US rookies have outscored the four Euro rookies, and I'm not convinced that's the rookies' fault.
The odds are against a Euro comeback today. They need to win 9 of the 12 points in order to take the Cup back home with them, and that's going to be a lot harder than the 8.5 points the US needed in Germany. Think about it. How do you get 9 points?
  • 9 wins (3 losses)
  • 8 wins, 2 halves (2 losses)
  • 7 wins, 4 halves (1 loss)
  • 6 wins, 6 halves (no losses)
And that's it. There is no other way that gets them enough points.

But I expect them to put up a magnificent struggle. That's what we've seen from the Euro team so far, and I expect no less today.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cindy Miller on Squaring the Clubface (Video)

This is a short video from one of GC's coaches this past week, Cindy Miller (who you may also remember from Big Break). I'm posting this because it's a simple explanation of how to square your iron's clubface at setup.



Note that Cindy says to use the two vertical lines to line up the clubface, to set them parallel to the direction you want the ball to go. I would add that you can also use the horizontal lines to square the clubface, pointing them 90° to your target line. Personally, I find that a bit easier to do. You should use the method that works best for you.

But the point here is that you need to set the clubface square at address if you want to return it to square at impact. I know that sounds incredibly simplistic, but it's usually the simple things that mess up our shots.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How Far Do Your Chips Fly?

This is a tip I found in Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible. It came from pages 214-215, in section 8.8, No Backspin. Actually, it's a couple of tips -- one Dave mentioned, and one I noticed in the accompanying drawing.

Please note that this book was published in 1999, so pitching wedge lofts may have changed a bit. Nevertheless, this may help some of you chip it closer.

Dave's tip is that if you chip the ball with it placed farther back in your stance, you increase backspin but reduce your accuracy. He set up his little putting robot Perfy and used three ball positions -- centered in his stance, one ball width back and two ball widths back.

What he found is that the ball chipped from the center of Perfy's stance flew higher and rolled straighter after it hit the ground than either of the other two ball positions. That's a useful thing to know -- if you have a choice, a chip shot with less backspin will probably have a better chance of going in than one with more backspin.

Now let me add what I noticed in the drawing, In his illustration, Dave added numbers showing the average carry and roll with each of the ball positions. The numbers are interesting:
  • In the chip from the centered ball position with a PW, the ball carried the same distance that it rolled. In other words, if you carried the ball about halfway to the hole, it would end up very close.
  • And the chip from the ball position that was two ball widths back rolled about twice as far as it carried. In other words, if you carried the ball about a third of the way to the hole, it would also finish very close.
In my opinion, it's pretty easy to mentally divide the distance to the hole in half. That makes this a very simple way to judge how far to carry your chip shot if you center the ball in your stance.

And while it's not quite as easy to estimate one-third of the distance, that two-ball-back position is a useful one if you need to put some backspin on the shot.

So there are a couple of tips that might help you get those chips closer and leave yourself shorter putts. Depending on your PW loft, it might be another club that gets the job done for you. But at least you've got a starting place to experiment.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Second Leg of the North Carolina Swing

It feels weird to write that, because we don't usually have a North Carolina swing! But after playing Quail Hollow last week, the Tour moves to Sedgefield CC in Greensboro, about 90 minutes up the road (and maybe 30 minutes east of my home).

Kevin Kisner

This is the last chance for players to make the FedExCup Playoffs, so many of the big names -- who have already done so -- aren't playing this week. Kevin Kisner is the highest ranked player in the field (9th in the Cup standings) and is playing because he likes the course and hopes to improve his position. His wife Brittany expects their 2nd child during the 3rd Playoff event, and no doubt Kevin would like the option to skip that event if necessary.

According to PGATOUR.com, the point total needed to reach the Playoffs this season is lower than usual, estimated to be between 352 and 363. That's nearly 100 points lower than usual, due to a reweighting of the points as well as four multiple winners this season. That should open up the possibilities for -- depending on how accurate the points projection is -- as many as six players to jump into the Top125.

GC coverage starts this afternoon at 2pm ET. Only 14 points separate #125 and #132 on the points list... and Sam Saunders is #127. I suspect a number of fans will be following him closely.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Welcome to the Solheim Cup

Finally! It's time for the rematch!

The 2015 US Solheim Cup

Tony Jesselli's preview is up at his website, and the official site is at this link. (You can pick Team Europe or Team USA from that page.) The event will be held in West Des Moines, Iowa and the course is nearly 6900 yards long, which is long for an LPGA or LET event.

At this point, each team has at least one questionable player.
  • For Team Europe, Suzann Pettersen is dealing with some back problems, and her status is uncertain enough that Vice Captain Catriona Matthew has been practicing.
  • And for Team USA, Lexi Thompson is dealing with a virus that caused her to cancel her presser on Tuesday.
We don't know if anyone else is dealing with sickness or injury, but losing either player could play havoc with pairings this weekend.

The coverage starts Friday on GC at 9am ET. While I'm pulling for the US team -- I am an American, after all -- I'm not so sure that either team has an advantage this time. During the last Cup, an unexpected turn of events in one match completely stole home field advantage from the Euro team. Given the length of this course, I suspect the matches could turn on something equally small, although I doubt it will be a controversy like the last one.

Of course, not knowing is half the fun, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Learning from Justin Thomas's Swing (Video)

A couple of years back, David Leadbetter did an analysis of JT's swing for Golf Digest. I'm going to suggest a drill that might help you gain some accuracy without sacrificing distance.



If you compare JT's wrist set at the :13 second mark (top of the backswing) and the :14 second mark (halfway down), you'll see that his wrists are not fully cocked at the top and are only at 90° halfway down.. and they lose that cock very quickly. This is part of the reason why he's so accurate -- at least, he's accurate for someone who swings as hard as he does!

When you eliminate the extremes of wrist cock at the change of direction, you eliminate a lot of your inaccuracy. (I'll come back to this in a moment.)

Then, if you check out JT's lead arm as he nears impact, you'll see that he keeps his upper arm close against his chest. This helps him to better square up the clubface.

What I want you to do, as you make your downswing, is try and get your upper arm close to your side when you hit the ball. Perhaps the best way to do this is to think about rolling your upper arm down, across your chest, so your lead elbow is almost against your side at impact. This not only helps you square the clubface, but it forces you to keep turning your shoulders through to your finish.

This drill -- making a full swing without a full wrist cock at the top and then hitting the ball with your lead arm and elbow close to your side -- will help you learn to square up the club at impact. As you get better at it, you can start letting your wrists cock more at the top. With a little practice you'll be able to create a lot of clubhead speed while still squaring the clubface.

In addition, this can form the basis of a go-to shot (if you don't have one). As I said earlier, this move eliminates a lot of inaccuracy. When you absolutely have to get the ball in the fairway, using this drill just might be the key.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 PGA Championship

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Ben Silverman won the Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Web.com Tour; and Sophia Schubert won the US Women's Amateur. The final round of the ATB Financial Classic on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada has been delayed.

Justin Thomas with PGA trophy

It's possible that some of you don't know where "the Green Mile" came from. Let me clue you in, because it's particularly appropriate to today's post.

The Green Mile is a novel by Stephen King, as well as a movie starring Tom Hanks and the late Michael Clarke Duncan. It's set in the early 1930s, at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary. And in that prison, Death Row has been nicknamed "the Green Mile" because of the green linoleum leading from the cells to the electric chair. The story is about some miracles that happened on the Green Mile.

Granted, with all the rain this week, only the greens at Quail Hollow played like linoleum... but the final three holes were a walk down Death Row for a lot of dreams, especially Sunday afternoon. Players would get themselves into position... and then they walked the Green Mile. And just as the inmates at Cold Mountain would face electrocution at the end of the Mile, most of the pros faced their own brand of shock was they finished their rounds.

Except for Justin Thomas. After a miraculous birdie at the par-3 17th, he stood on the 18th tee with a three-shot lead. And he had learned enough from his loss at the US Open that he was prepared this time, avoiding the big mistakes being made by the other players to get his first major.

This season we've seen JT come of age as a player. Perhaps he's not yet as accomplished as the other "young guns" his age, but he's learning. The son (and grandson) of PGA Teaching Pros has claimed the major that probably means the most to his family. And with the support of his friends -- who were waiting to congratulate him at the 18th green -- there's no reason to believe the miracles will stop now.

There's no telling what might happen over the next couple of months. Justin might get on another roll, like he did earlier this season, and make some waves during the FedExCup and Presidents Cup. Or he might have the standard "slowdown" that often follows a first major win. But one thing's for sure...

He picks up his fourth Limerick Summary of the wraparound season. That's a miracle in and of itself!
The Green Mile’s about execution,
Where no player gets absolution
For the poor shots he hits.
While it gave the best fits,
We could all see JT’s evolution.
The photo came from this page at sun-sentinel.com.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Bobby Jones Putting Stroke (Video)

A few days ago I posted a quote from the book Bobby Jones on Golf, from an article called Importance of a Smooth Short Game. Dana left a comment about how helpful a section from my book Ruthless Putting, where I explained Jones's putting stroke, had been.

So here's a segment from the Jones video series from the 1930's, How I Play Golf, that focuses on the basics of his putting stroke.



Jones was very left-sided -- that is, he focused on how his lead hand affected the stroke -- but the stroke works the same if you control it with your trailing hand. If you want to see how it works, just try to create the same smooth hand and wrist action you see in the clip.

The big thing I'd like you all to pick up from this short segment (just a bit over 3 minutes long) is how relaxed and fluid Jones's stroke was. His stroke is so unlike most modern players! He doesn't lock his lower body in place, but he doesn't force it to move either. It's easy to understand why he was such a good putter -- being so relaxed made it easier for him to get his speed correct.

It's interesting to note how Jones "waggles" the club. He touches the ground in front of the ball, then in back of the ball, and then he strokes the ball. That particular motion doesn't work for me, but the principle is sound. Find a way to relax your hands and arms before you putt, and you should make a smoother stroke.

And remember his advice: "The whole idea, it seems to me, is to do the thing in the simplest and most natural way." As long as you don't get sloppy about it, the more natural your stroke feels, the easier it should be to repeat the results.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bobby Jones on Enjoying the Game

A very short post today, but one that might help some of you who are thinking too much about your swing. It comes from the book Bobby Jones on Golf, from the end of an article called simply Golf as Recreation.
The best single piece of advice I could give any man starting out for a round of golf would be "take your time," not in studying the ground, and lining up the shot, but in swinging the club. Strive for smoothness, strive for rhythm; but unless you are something of an expert, save "monkeying" with your hip turn, your wrist action, and the like, until you can get on a practice tee where you can miss a shot without having to play the next one out of a bunker. [p181]
Jones isn't advising you to forget about fundamentals. Rather, he wants you to trust that you've learned them in practice and that they'll be there during the round. Practice on the range, play on the course.

Relax your hands and arms, relax your hips and legs. Forget about consciously trying to cock your wrists, or consciously turning your hips. If your shoulders don't turn as much as you think they should, that's okay -- turn as far as you feel comfortable, without forcing it. You'll probably be more stable over the ball that way as well, so you'll probably make better contact.

Look, at first you're going to think that the ball won't go anywhere. (In that case, move up one set of tees until you find out.) But you'll probably hit it straighter. And as you get more comfortable with your swing, you'll start to pick up some distance. And you'll score better. You can work on your swing at the range.

Not everyone can follow this advice. But when you're on the course, try to enjoy yourself and see what kind of score you post when you're just having fun. You might be surprised how much better you'll play.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Mental Tips from Brooks Koepka

I found this new article -- and when I say new, I mean it was written late yesterday -- over at Golfweek called Brooks Koepka's Recipe for Major Success Is Simple ... Very Simple. And when you read it, you're going to say it's nothing new.

But read it. It will help you.

Brooks Koepka

For example, he says that performing in a major comes down to preparation. But most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, need to have things "dumbed down" a bit. So Brooks says:
Sometimes it’s a lot simpler than people think. I think people kind of psyche themselves out quite a bit in a major, put too much pressure on themselves. It’s the same game I’ve been playing for 23, 24 years. All you’ve got to do is put the ball in the hole and move on.”
Yes, I hear you now. Yes, that's a HUGE understatement. But when you're under pressure to score, you need to keep it simple.

Want to guess what Brooks set as his goal this week? For every major he plays?
Try to avoid double bogeys.
Yes, this short article has quite a bit of terse, simple advice. You'll be tempted to gloss over it.

Don't. Instead, pay serious attention. This is good USABLE advice from a winner. And it's easy to remember.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Make Your Own Headcover (Video)

Yes, a few days back I posted a Golf Digest video on how to make a weekend golf bag from a pair of jeans (or other material, for that matter). So I HAVE to post the companion video on how to turn a teddy bear into a headcover. (They used a panda, so I'm figuring you can use almost any stuffed animal. Cool!)



It looks simple enough for even someone like me. Although I hope the stuffed animals don't really squeal like that when you cut their bottoms. Perhaps pandas are just too wimpy to protect golf clubs.

Anyway, if you're like me, you probably don't want a head cover that looks like everybody else's, so this video is tailormade for you. I'm thinking Stitch (from the Disney movie) might be perfect for my driver. Let your imagination go wild!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Good Move for the European Tour as Well

In the midst of the buzz about the PGA Championship moving to May and THE PLAYERS to March in 2019, you may have missed the ET's announcement. These moves stand to benefit the ET in a big way, and their response demonstrates that they recognize it.

BMW-PGA promo photo

When the PGA moves to May, that will make the Open Championship the final major of the year. Think about it -- the last major of the year will now be the oldest championship in golf, and the final act of the major season will be crowning the Champion Golfer of the Year. Somehow, that just feels right to me.

The promotional benefits of this new position also make perfect sense, as it will increase the perceived importance of the Open. (Let's face it, it seems like a bit of a letdown to have one more major after the Open is over. The Open is... foundational to the game. That's no insult to the PGA, it's just that the Open is about 50 years older. Foundational.) And now, there will be a nine-month gap until the Masters, not just eight. There will definitely be an increased feeling of necessity to get that last major.

But there's more. The ET will be moving the BMW-PGA to September in 2019, and I think that's going to help them as well. As it stands, the BMW-PGA -- the ET's equivalent of THE PLAYERS -- has been played the week after THE PLAYERS, and it put some stress on players wanting to play both events. Some would skip one or the other. That will no longer be a problem.

Ken Schofield even suggested that the ET might seek a co-sanction with the PGA Tour, thus improving the strength of the field. It's already played at Wentworth, a course with a long history. It's the headquarters of the PGA ET and has hosted the flagship event since 1984. In addition, it was the host of the 1953 Ryder Cup and the home of the HSBC World Match Play Championship from 1964 through 2007 A lot of big names won trophies there, and the event deserves more attention.

Even better, the BMW-PGA will probably be played after the FedExCup and will certainly be much closer to the final stretch of the Race to Dubai, lending even more importance to it. With the big events of the PGA Tour finished for the season, many more players will likely take some time to play the ET, which will help balance the world points rankings.

While it remains to be seen how all the necessary event shuffling will be handled by the three organizations, this new era of cooperation looks to be very promising for all parties. And that's good for all of us fans.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the PGA

The final major of the year is finally here. While the news that the PGA Championship will move to May in 2019 set everyone abuzz on Monday, our concern now is August 2017... and my "5 to Watch."

Defending champion Jimmy Walker

The revamped Quail Hollow course is only a few dozen yards longer -- PGATOUR.com is listing it at 7600 yards -- but it's been toughened up. The Green Mile is already considered the hardest final stretch on tour, and now the course opens with a 524-yard par-4. No rest for the weary, it seems.

No one is quite sure how the changes will affect play, especially with the major setup the pros will face this week. One thing's for sure -- Quail Hollow will be a real handful! The only question is who will be able to handle it the best. Since this course normally hosts the Wells Fargo Championship, we do have some recent history that might give us some clues.
  • I have to agree with Jordan that Rory McIlroy is the favorite this week. Rory's the only player in the field with two wins at Quail Hollow (2010 and 2015), and the weather will likely suit him as well. I live about 90 minutes north of the course, and rain is expected in North Carolina virtually every day this week. Need I remind you that most of Rory's majors have been wet ones?
  • While Dustin Johnson may not have returned to his pre-Masters form yet, he's still playing pretty well and he was one of the runners-up last year at the Wells Fargo. Even if he's off a bit, you have to think he'll have a good -- if not exceptional -- showing.
  • Brian Harman was last year's champion at the Wells Fargo, and he gave Brooks Koepka a run for his money at the US Open this year. Had Brian's driver not deserted him on Sunday, that event might have gone differently. Brian's got to have good feelings coming back this week, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him play well.
  • Has Hideki Matsuyama begun another streak with his win at the WGC-Bridgestone? We won't know until we see him in action... but it's hard to bet against him, after that run he put together late last year.
  • And my flier is... Webb Simpson. True, Webb's game has been somewhat sketchy since the anchoring ban went into effect. But he plays Quail Hollow quite a bit, and he's been runner-up at the Wells Fargo before.
My pick this week is... Matsuyama. He was T11 at the Wells Fargo last year, before his streak began. I think this may be the week Japan gets its first-ever major winner.

Remember, this major "belongs" to TNT and CBS. The first round is Thursday from 1pm-7pm ET on TNT.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 WGC-Bridgestone

Winner: Hideki Matsuyama

Around the wider world of golf: In-Kyung Kim finally got her first major at the RICOH Women's British Open on the LPGA/LET; Brittany Marchand won the PHC Classic on the Symetra Tour; Paul Goydos won the 3M Championship on the Champions Tour; Chris Stroud won the Barracuda Championship, the alternate event on the PGA Tour; Martin Piller won the Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.com Tour; Patrick Newcomb won the Syncrude Oil Country Championship on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; and Norman Xiong won the Western Amateur.

Hideki Matsuyama with WGC-Bridgestone trophy

In the end, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was pretty boring. I mean, don't get me wrong -- it's always cool to see someone shoot a 61 to win a tournament.

You'd just like to see the rest of the field make a game out of it, you know?

We all know that Hideki Matsuyama has a tendency to go off on these streaks where he shoots unbelievable score after unbelievable score. The last time came last year, when he won five times in nine weeks, or some ridiculous number like that.

The Tour should probably be worried. That streak included a WGC win, but it didn't start until after the PGA Championship. This time, however, the PGA is squarely in Hideki's sights!

There's really not much more to say. Hideki's game is in good enough shape to win a major, and he finished T4 at the PGA last year. My Japanese isn't very good, Hideki, but everybody understands what a Limerick Summary means... and you just might be on the verge of another, much more impressive one.
What more can we say? Matsuyama
Left everyone crying for mama!
He shot 16-under—
The field watched in wonder
As he stole the tournament’s drama.
The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Weekend Golf Bag from a Pair of Jeans?!? (Video)

I've never posted something like this, but I saw it and was blown away. Golf Digest posted a video on how to make a weekend golf bag from a pair of jeans! How cool is that?



The video is pretty much self-explanatory. And I think the coolest thing is that you don't have to use a pair of jeans -- you can use any type of material you like. Just go to a hobby or piece goods store -- any place that sells material by the yard -- and buy one yard. (How do I know? My mom used to sew. It's called "buying it off the bolt." You'll likely get a piece that's 36 inches long and about 45 inches wide. That should be plenty.)

If you've read this blog for a while, you know I'm all for playing weekend rounds with a half set of clubs to improve your creativity on the course.  A weekend bag is perfect for this, especially if your course lets you walk.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The US Solheim Cup Gets Interesting

I haven't found the effect on the Euro standings yet, but GC posted an article about how the RICOH cut has affected the US Solheim Cup team. Eight players from the US points list and two off the US world rankings (based on the Rolex Rankings) get auto picks, then Juli Inkster gets two Captain's picks. Here's the short version of how things stand.

Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel

The Top6 on the US points list are locks:
  1. Lexi Thompson
  2. Stacy Lewis
  3. Gerina Piller
  4. Cristie Kerr
  5. Jessica Korda (WD'ed from RICOH with injury but still hopes to play Solheim)
  6. Danielle Kang
Michelle Wie is at #7 but could get knocked out by seven other players, depending on how they finish. However, she's high enough on the world list that she could make it that way if she falters in the points list.

Several players need to win the RICOH to make the points list -- Marina Alex, Mo Martin, Jennifer Song and Alison Lee. Alex and Martin could also make it via the world list.

The Brittanies -- Lincicome and Lang -- plus Lizette Salas made the cut at the RICOH and have a chance to make the team via the world list.

Finally, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Angela Stanford, Austin Ernst and Nelly Korda all need Captain's picks. But only Creamer and Pressel made the cut, and neither has played particularly well this season.

So there's a lot riding on the RICOH for the US Solheim Cup team. I'm glad I'm not in Juli Inkster's place. She's going to have some hard decisions to make.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bobby Jones on the "Smooth" Short Game

There are a lot of opinions about how long your backswing should be relative to your downswing, especially in your short game and putting. The great Bobby Jones -- who was no slouch at any of it -- wrote some of his opinions in a 1930s newspaper article called Importance of a Smooth Short Game.

Here are a few thoughts from that article, which is reprinted in a book called Bobby Jones Golf Tips: Secrets of the Master, on pages 33 and 34.
One of the qualities most to be desired in a golf stroke is smoothness, and smoothness becomes impossible unless the backswing is amply long to allow for gradual acceleration of the club in coming down. A backswing that is too short brings about the necessity of making a sudden effort in the act of hitting. Bridging the gap between zero velocity and maximum in the shorter space implies hurry and effort, which can very easily destroy the rhythm of the stroke. Such a procedure is directly opposed to the motion of swinging the clubhead.

Nowhere is the disastrous effect of a short backswing more easily noted than in the play on and around the greens.
He says that some players do become good at holing out their short putts if they practice a lot, but that they will lack the touch necessary for long putts. And after noting how important touch is, not just on short putts but on the long ones as well, he adds:
The man who takes a short, sharp rap at the ball will never be able to compete in these respects with the putter who swings the club.

Almost always I am able to trace my putting troubles to an abbreviated or too rapid backswing. Whenever I am swinging the club back smoothly and in a broad sweep without hurry I am confident of putting well. When I am not doing so I know I will putt badly.
Yes, I know that Brandt Snedeker has a short quick stroke. But can you name anyone else who is known as a good putter with a similar stroke? No. That's because Brandt has a magnificent sense of rhythm, and the length and speed of his swing complement each other. Sneds is the exception that proves the rule.

Then Jones adds this little bit, which I think is a very useful short game tip:
The same thing applies with equal force to chipping and other short approach work. Billy Burke, one of the finest short-game players in the world, has said that he makes a point of swinging back even a little farther than necessary when playing the first few chips of any round. He recognizes the importances of an ample backswing and feels that it is easier to make sure of it at the start than to work into it from the other direction. [my emphasis]
That's a simple way to find your rhythm early on in a round. Your work on the range doesn't always translate directly to the course. This is a nice trick to help you make that transition.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How So Yeon Ryu Got to Number One

Golf Digest just put up an article called How a Team of Aussies Turned So Yeon Ryu into the No. 1 Female Golfer in the World. This excellent article describes the changes So Yeon had to make to improve her game... and many of them are things you can do as well.

So Yeon Ryu at the US Women's Open

About her new coach Cameron McCormick, she says:
“Cameron has helped me enormously with my swing. I now have a much better understanding of what I am trying to do, to the point where I can often fix my swing in the middle of a round. Not always, of course. But even when I can’t, I now know what I am doing wrong. And that is always the first step to fixing something. I don’t have to rely on him totally.
It appears that many of her problems stemmed from the simple problem of having her clubface too open at impact. Bear in mind that she won the 2011 US Women's Open that way, so it wasn't a horrible fault by any stretch of the imagination. But it affected her strategy on the course, and it was keeping her from breaking into the Top5 of the Rolex Rankings. She had to learn a new mental approach in order to change.

In fact, the "Down Under Team" who have been helping her -- yes, all named in the article, for those of you who want to know -- all focused, in one way or another, on her mental game.

This article tells the kind of changes she had to make in all areas of her game in order to get where she is now. I think most of you will find at least one thing that will help you if you take time to read it.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the WGC-Bridgestone

The second of this week's "5 to Watch" posts concerns the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club in Akron OH. (That's Nicklaus territory!)

The

The defending champion is Dustin Johnson, but DJ may have his hands full this year. There are a number of players who are on the verge of getting their games back in shape... and a few who are already on top of their games.

I struggle to pick only five players this week. I find myself leaving red-hot Jon Rahm off my list (you know he's up for this WGC, after getting "DJ'ed" in Mexico), and Rickie Fowler (who always seems to play well in this event), and Brooks Koepka's looking pretty good as well. But I can only pick five...
  • Of course Dustin Johnson makes the list! He finally appears to be shaking off the effects of that fall just before the Masters. And it's not just that he's the defending champion -- we tend to forget that he's won three of the last four WGCs. (You may recall that the WGC-China went to Hideki Matsuyama.) He really just needs a few putts to fall.
  • This one may surprise you, but Kevin Chappell should be high on more lists. He finished T3 here last year, and has only gotten better since. With his first win coming earlier this year, his confidence must be sky-high at this point, despite a few missed cuts.
  • Likewise, Matt Kuchar was T3 at Firestone last year. Do I really need to remind you why he should be on your short list?
  • While his chances are probably being overhyped this week, you have to think Jordan Spieth could get it done. It really is just a question of how much that Open win drained from him. Is he on adrenaline or fumes this week? We'll have to see.
  • And my flier is... Adam Scott. Yeah, I'm calling the man who's fifth on the Firestone earnings list a flier. But something's been missing from his game this season. I have no guarantee that he'll find it this week, but a comfortable track like this might be a good place for everything to fall into place.
My pick is (drum roll, please)... Kuchar. I know he wants to win this one, but I think he's mentally preparing for the PGA next week. Firestone may be the perfect place to get his mind focused for it, and that could result in a WGC win.

GC's coverage starts Thursday at 1:30pm ET, but don't forget about the news conferences today at 2pm ET today.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the RICOH

I've got a couple of "watch lists" to do this week, so let's get started with the RICOH Women's British Open.

Past champions Stacy Lewis, Mo Martin and Inbee Park

You can get a good overview at Tony Jesselli's site, so I'll just stick to the main facts. The course is Kingsbarns, which is one of the three courses that host the Dunhill Links Championship each year, so this course joins the ranks of those hosting both men's and women's events. The LPGA's overview page is listing the course at 6,697 yards, par 72. Kingsbarns is a links course, bordering the North Sea in Scotland.

And the defending champion is Ariya Jutanugarn, but she hasn't played well on "linksy" courses in the past. Given the current state of her game, this doesn't bode well for her this week -- especially if the weather turns.

That's a possibility. The extended forecast calls for temps in the mid-teens C (that's high-50s F) with heavy showers on Thursday (scattered showers the rest of the week) and steady winds around 10-12mph. So who am I picking this week?
  • I start with Karrie Webb. She came close at the Scottish Open last week, and we all know that age means something at Opens. If the weather toughens up, I suspect she'll be right there on Sunday afternoon.
  • The same goes for Cristie Kerr. She hasn't played particularly well in this event in the past. But with a win already this season and a strong Scottish showing under her belt, I think bad weather could play into her hands.
  • Mighty mite Mo Martin always seems to play well at the RICOH and already has one major win in this event, at Royal Birkdale, along with a T2 last year.
  • So Yeon Ryu continues to play well, with the ANA and the Walmart already this season. She also has a strong history at the RICOH. You have to figure the World #1 will have yet another chance at a victory this week.
  • And my flier is... Stacy Lewis. Yes, she has a win at the RICOH (2013) and a 4th last year, but her 3-year win drought will probably make it more difficult to break through this year.
My pick this week is... Kerr, but I confess that my pick is a sentimental one. She's six points shy of entry into the LGPA Hall of Fame, and this major would get her two points closer. If I was betting money on the outcome, I'd take Webb.

Tony's preview contains a full list of broadcast times -- as does the LPGA overview page -- but it all gets underway Thursday morning on GC, from 6am ET to 1pm ET. GC and NBC will share the broadcasts over the weekend.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Jhonattan Vegas

Around the wider world of sports: Bernhard Langer did it again, winning the Senior Open Championship on the Champions Tour; Mi Hyang Lee tracked down Karrie Webb to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on the LPGA/LET; Erynne Lee won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Symetra Tour; Jordan Smith won the Porsche European Open on the ET; Katsumasa Miyamoto won the Dunlop SRIXON Fukushima Open on the Japan Golf Tour; and Zecheng Dou won the Digital Ally Open on the Web.com Tour. And amateur Erica Shepherd won the U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Jhonattan Vegas with RBC Canadian Open trophy

I didn't realize that Canada was so much like Venezuela. But it must be, because Jhonny Vegas feels so at home there. The big guy went back-to-back, the first player ever to do so at the Glen Abbey course.

And it's not like plenty of other players didn't try to steal his thunder. Sam Saunders, Robert Garrigus, Kevin Chappell, Ian Poulter, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland -- it seemed like everybody thought they should be the winner, and each made a run at Vegas. Each one also fell short.

Everyone except Charley Hoffman, that is. The 54-hole leader was 0-for-3 in his previous 54-hole leads, but Sunday he came ready to make good on this chance. And unlike his past attempts he shot a 68, much better than any of his other final rounds as leader, despite Sunday's putter problems.

Trouble is, Vegas shot a 65. It was going to take extra holes to determine the winner. And on the first playoff hole Vegas put his drive in a fairway bunker but got lucky when his second shot hit the lip but still made it over the water and the green. He chipped up and tapped in for birdie.

Charley wasn't as lucky. After laying up on his second, he put his third in a greenside bunker and barely missed his birdie blast.

While Jhonny clearly feels at home in Canada, there's at least one big difference between our neighbor to the north and Venezuela. Perhaps his win will provide some cheer in his homeland, where they're struggling with massive political problems. I can only pray about that... but I can at least give Jhonny a Limerick Summary to commemorate his accomplishment.
Though the holes at Glen Abbey played tough,
Even 72 weren’t enough!
Jhonny needed one more
To show Charley the door
And confirm his defense was no bluff.
The photo came from this page at golfweek.com.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Just How Much Performance Data Is Enough?

Golf Digest has put up a fairly lengthy article called Big Data: Info Seekers that I thought some of you might be interested in. It takes a detailed look at how three players -- Zach Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Streelman -- collect and use "big data" to improve their games.

An abstract picture of Kevin Streelman

If you Google "what is big data" you'll get this definition: "extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions." But I think this additional bit from the Wikipedia article on big data adds an important fact:
Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them. Big data challenges include capturing data, data storage, data analysis, search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy.

Lately, the term "big data" tends to refer to the use of predictive analytics, user behavior analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set...
That second paragraph better sums up what golfers are looking for when they turn to big data. They're looking for trends and patterns that may not be readily apparent just from looking at the data itself, simply because there's too much for one person to grasp easily.

Some golfers -- and not just golfers, but other athletes as well -- are looking for something, anything, that will give them a competitive edge against the field. For example, according to the article, Zach is analyzing 600+ performance stats from ShotLink. Bryson is measuring how many millimeters his shaft flexes during his downswing. And Kevin is using a special launch monitor when he putts.

That's right... when he putts.

I'm linking you guys to this article because I know many of you want to copy the techniques of the pros. But you also need to ask yourself... just how much is too much? We can organize tens of thousands of data points if we desire, but does that mean we need to use them all? Is there some point at which all this analysis becomes counterproductive and actually hurts our games?

Those are questions you'll have to answer for yourselves. But this article is a good overview of the kinds of things that the pros are teasing from the multitude of stats that are now available to them. You need to know what's being done before you can decide if you want to pursue the same approach...

Or whether such analysis will simply paralyze you with info that's beyond your ability to use.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Jim Flick on the "Lofted Putter"

This is a tip from the late Jim Flick's book On Golf.
Your ball is off the green, beyond the fringe, sitting up pretty decently in light to medium-length rough -- the kind of average lie you expect to find when your approach to a par-four green comes up a little short. How do you play this shot?

Putt it. That's right, putt it. Only use a six-iron instead of your putter. Think of your six-iron as a lofted putter.

Take the same grip with your six-iron as you do with your putter. Take the same stance. Take care that your hands are about the same distance from the ground as they are with your putter. Note that with the shaft more upright than it is on a six-iron shot the heel of the club comes up slightly. That's okay: this is a putter now, not a six-iron. Eyes over the ball. Now take the same stroke as you do with your putter, which is the most repeatable stroke in golf because there are so few moving parts; arms and forearms, no hands and wrists. The ball comes up and out of the grass on a low trajectory, lands softly just on the green, and rolls toward the pin.

Nice putt.

Do I always use the six-iron? Do I always use the putting stroke around the green? Is this all there is to it?

The answers are no, no, and no. But if you work on the lofted putter idea, you'll find that it's the basic principle underlying many greenside shots. [p156]
That's pretty self-explanatory. The only thing I would add is that you might find another club works better for you. I've had a similar shot for years, only mine uses an eight-iron. It just comes off the clubface better with my stroke.

You might find that a hybrid works best. That's fine. It's the principle of the thing that will take strokes off your game.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tom Watson on Driving in Crosswinds

The reason I'm posting this article's link is because Tom earned it. After the first round of the Senior Open Championship, you may have seen that Tom was T13 at +1, which isn't bad for a 67-year-old. However, if you didn't watch the coverage, you probably don't know that Tom got the bad side of the draw. They had a lot of wind during the afternoon, but Tom's morning wave played in 40mph winds and sideways rain. When he finished, he was T5 and only two shots back.

Yes, when Tom Watson tells you how to drive it lower in crosswinds, he knows what he's talking about!

Tom Watson just after impact

Tom says that you don't want to drive the ball lower in winds unless (1) the ball is going to run a long way or (2) you're in crosswinds. Here's the summary of what he says you should do.
  • Tee the ball a half-inch lower and grip down on the club about an inch.
  • Shorten your backswing.
  • Make sure you're swinging level to the ground when you hit the ball.
Tom goes into more detail, of course. But you need to read the article.

No, really -- you NEED to read the article! Why wouldn't you listen to the master of links golf?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The New LPGA /LET Links Event Begins Today

Did you remember that the first round of the new Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open airs today?

So Yeon Ryu, Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko

Since this is the inaugural event, there is no defending champ. So Yeon Ryu, Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko are the biggest names in the field although, as Tony Jesselli notes in his preview, a number of top players have decided to take this week off and rest. Ariya, who defends at the RICOH next week, and Lydia are both in need of the preparation as neither has been very impressive lately. Am I worried about their games? No, ebb and flow are natural in life, and certainly so in golf.

Nevertheless, their struggles this season are untimely. Neither has played particularly well in the majors. And since the girls will be playing Dundonald Links, where the men played their Scottish Open a couple weeks back, we have some idea what the course will be like. This week could play a key part in determining the winner of next week's major.

GC is shoehorning the ladies in-between the Senior Open broadcasts, with today's two-hour window scheduled from 9:30-11:30am ET. The RICOH will get much more coverage next week but, as I said, I wouldn't underestimate the importance of this week.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the Senior Open

The links fun continues this week. The LPGA stages their first Scottish Open while the Champions Tour heads back to Royal Porthcawl for the Senior Open Championship.

Bernhard Langer at 2014 Open, Royal Porthcawl

Royal Porthcawl is in South Wales, and the defending champion is Paul Broadhurst. He was a bit of a surprise winner last year, but that's part of the beauty of an Open.

It's time to pick my traditional "5 to Watch" at this event. But since Bernhard lost a three-shot lead at the last major -- the one he had won three times in a row -- and since Fred Couples has been fighting back problems again, it's hard to believe there's truly a chalk pick this time. But I shall soldier on and see what I can do...
  • Despite his loss, Bernhard Langer remains a favorite for me. Even the Ultimate Driving Machine's got to have a bad week now and then! As shown in the photo above, Bernhard took the trophy last time they played Royal Porthcawl. In addition, he has a win and two runner-ups in three of the last four Opens. You have to figure he'll be a factor, at least.
  • I almost picked Scott McCarron in the last major, but decided against it. Bad choice on my part. McCarron is playing well as of late, and he derailed Langer's fourpeat attempt. In addition, he was runner-up to Broadhurst last year. Have to give him props this time.
  • Colin Montgomerie hasn't been in the best of form this year; nevertheless he's second in Schwab Cup points and he had a T6 at the Constellation. He was also runner-up to Langer in 2014.
  • This will seem a bit out of left field, but Stephen Ames has Top10'ed in seven of his 12 events this season, and is coming off a string of four straight, including the last two majors.
  • And my flier is... Tom Watson. I don't care that he's 67, he has a good record at Opens. Even if he hasn't won since 2007.
I think we'll probably get another surprise winner this year, but I'm going to take McCarron this week. Langer's record this year is better, but I think he's in a bit of a low point right now while McCarron is on a run -- two wins and two runner-ups this year in 14 events, plus he finally got his first major.

The Senior Open doesn't get the TV coverage of other events -- at least, not here in the US. GC and NBC have what coverage you'll find. Here's the best list I could find:

Jul 27, Thu   
  • GOLF 7:00 - 9:30 AM ET
  • GOLF 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM ET
Jul 28, Fri   
  • GOLF 1:00 - 5:00 AM ET
  • GOLF 7:00 - 9:30 AM ET
  • GOLF 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM ET
Jul 29, Sat   
  • GOLF 1:00 - 6:00 AM ET
  • GOLF 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM ET
  • NBC 12:00 - 2:00 PM ET
  • GOLF 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET
Jul 30, Sun   
  • GOLF 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM ET
  • NBC 12:00 - 2:00 PM ET
  • GOLF 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET
Jul 31, Mon   
  • GOLF 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM ET
Hopefully that will help. This is an important event for the Champions Tour so it's important to be able to find it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

One of Henrik Stenson's Daily Drills (Video)

I've mentioned this drill in a previous post -- I don't remember when -- but this video from Martin Hall is new to me and it demonstrates how to do it. The last couple of minutes of the video is basically an ad, so the meat of this video is in the first three minutes.



This "pressdown" drill is one way to learn a good shoulder coil. It forces you to keep your arms straight for a large part of your swing, which helps you:
  • strengthen your core
  • increase your flexibility
  • sync up your arms and shoulders
  • learn the feel of a full finish
You shouldn't create this much tension during an actual swing, of course. This is a strengthening drill that makes it easier to turn your shoulders properly and consistently. If Henrik is doing it for ten minutes a day, he's treating it as a workout.

This isn't the only way to accomplish these goals, but it's one of the better drills you can use.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 THE OPEN

Winner: Jordan Spieth

Around the wider world of golf: In-Kyung Kim won the Marathon Classic on the LPGA; Nanna Koerstz Madsen won the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic on the Symetra Tour; Sam Ryder won the inaugural Pinnacle Bank Championship on the Web.com Tour; and Hank Lebioda won the Mackenzie Investments Open on the MACKENZIE TOUR - PGA TOUR Canada. [UPDATE: I forgot to include Grayson Murray's win at the Barbasol Classic, the PGA Tour's alternate event.]

Jordan Spieth kisses Claret Jug

At least Jordan Spieth will no longer have to answer questions about the 12th at Augusta. Now his opponents will have to answer the question, "What must you do to beat him?"

It didn't look that way as the round got underway. Had it not been for his caddie, Jordan might not have held up. He said as much, confessing that the 12th at Augusta started to haunt him as it all fell apart in the first 13 holes. But as ugly as it was early on, Jordan's play was magnificent as he came down the stretch.

And it's not like Matt Kuchar has anything to apologize for. It was his first time in the final group at a major, and he met Jordan blow-for-blow throughout the round.

But what are you supposed to do when your opponent screws up and you finally take the lead, only to have him go birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie in four straight holes? As Matt noted, he went par-birdie-par-birdie on the same holes -- easily enough to finish off most contenders. But Matt found himself two down with only one to play.

There's just not much you can do at that point!

Get ready for the hype going forward. Jordan, like Rory and Phil, is now only one major from the career Grand Slam. If he wins the PGA next month, he'll be the youngest ever to run the table. (He became the youngest American to win THE OPEN Sunday.) And he only gets one chance at that record, since he'll be 25 at the 2018 PGA.

Yeah. Get ready for the hype.

Only 44 players had won three or more majors in their careers before Sunday. But only Rory could claim a Limerick Summary for each of his. Do I smell a competition brewing? Enjoy your third one, Golden Boy:
Though bad shots got under his skin,
Spieth scrambled ‘round Birkdale again.
Four holes in five-under!
He stole Kuchar’s thunder
And locked up his third major win.
The photo came from the UK Telegraph site.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Matt Kuchar's Swing: The Anti-Spieth Approach

Since Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth are the main contenders in today's final round at The Open -- and I looked at Jordan's swing a couple of days back -- I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at Matt's swing. The photo below comes from a Golf Digest sequence of Matt's swing from 2010 (I think) but it's still accurate.

Kuchar's swing at top of backswing

Now THAT is a flat swing plane! The difference between Kuchar and Spieth is even more dramatic when you consider that Matt is 6'4" and Jordan 6'1", a difference of only three inches. I chose this angle because it makes the flatness of Matt's swing very clear. (The photos from his other side look just as flat, but seeing it from his back seems clearer to me.)

As with most swings, there are good and bad points to this type of swing. Here's a short summary.

A swing this flat requires you to drive your legs pretty hard to make sure you get your lead hip out of the way. Otherwise, you'd tend to "get stuck" and push your shots. Your clubface isn't on the target line very long, so it can be a bit tricky to hit the ball on line consistently. And if you miss the fairway, you'll have a much shallower approach into the ball. That could make it harder to get the ball up and out of the rough.

But there are also definite benefits to this swing, which Matt may take advantage of today. If the winds get up as expected, Matt's lower swing plane may help him stay more steady during his swing. His flatter plane will automatically launch the ball on a lower trajectory, which should minimize the wind's effect on his shots. And the lower launch angle should give him more run on the links fairways, which helps offset his need to keep the ball low.

Matt starts the day three shots behind Jordan and, unless they mess up, the rest of the field will have trouble chasing them down. If the wind gets up as expected and Matt can keep his ball in the short grass, he just might grab his first major win today.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Travis Fulton on Inbee Park's Driver Swing (Video)

Here's a quick video from GC's Travis Fulton, focusing on the things he likes best about Inbee Park's driver swing. I want you to notice one thing in particular, something that I often mention on this blog because I think it helps both your accuracy and your back.



Travis particularly likes the fact that Inbee starts her downswing by moving down rather than laterally toward the target. Travis has his reasons for liking this move, but here's my take on it.
This move keeps you from "getting stuck" and pushing the shot, helps you make more consistent contact with the ball, puts you in a position to "use the ground" to create clubhead speed, and also takes some of the stress off your back.
That's a whole lot of benefits from one simple move, a move that players have used at least since the days of Sam Snead. It's almost like falling from the top of your backswing and landing on both feet -- yes, it's that simple.

And it's definitely something you should consider trying, especially if you have trouble hitting the ball consistently and/or have the occasional sore back after you play.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jordan Spieth Talks About His Swing (Video)

Nearly two months ago, Golf Digest posted a video with Jordan Spieth explaining his "chicken wing" move and why he thinks it works. Since he's leading The Open after the first round, I feel this is a good time to take a peek at it.



This video does a couple of things. It not only explains why Jordan makes the move -- it's how he keeps the face square longer, to improve his accuracy -- but it explains the science behind why you should pay more attention to face angle. You'll learn a lot.

But I want you to understand something that this video glosses over. It's implied that Jordan's success with this move is because it's a better way to be accurate. That's just wrong. If that were true, someone would have discovered that fact long ago because "chicken wings" aren't new. This move definitely works for Jordan, and would likely work for a large number of players.

That doesn't mean it's right for everybody, any more than Sergio's swing is right for everybody or Jim Furyk's swing is right for everybody.

If you take a look at past history, you'll see this fascination with the hottest players' swings at work over and over. For example:
  • Instructors initially said Ben Hogan's swing was "too flat"... until he started beating everybody with it. Then they said it's the best swing ever.
  • They said Jack Nicklaus's "flying elbow" in his backswing was wrong... until he started beating everybody. Then they called it a power move.
  • It wasn't that long ago that you were supposed to keep both feet firmly on the ground during your swing... until guys like Bubba started knocking the cover off the ball. Now they call it "using the ground."
Let me also point out something that wasn't mentioned at all. Jordan prefers to play a fade. In the past, players were told not to "chicken wing" because it would cause a slice. But now we're told that the most desirable shot shape is a fade because "you want to eliminate the left (hook) side of the course."

If you want to play a fade, Jordan's "chicken wing" may be exactly what you need. But if you're after a draw, you might want to keep looking.

Don't let the popular fad of the moment determine how you swing a club. The way Jordan swings might be right for you, or it might not. But no matter whose swing is being praised, always choose your approach based on knowledge, not fads.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lydia Returns to the Site of Her Last Win

According to Tony Jesselli, the field at this week's Marathon Classic isn't all that strong. But I think that's understandable... and that doesn't mean there's no reason to watch.

Lydia Ko

It's understandable because the ladies will spend the next two weeks in Scotland. Next week will see the inaugural Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open, followed by the Ricoh Women's British Open. The first will be held at Dundonald Links -- that's right, the same site as the men's Scottish Open -- and the second at Kingsbarns, so it's no surprise some of the ladies took the week off.

However, several of the big names still plan to play the Marathon. Defending champ Lydia Ko returns to the site of her last LPGA victory, along with Lexi Thompson and Brooke Henderson. These players alone should make the event worth watching.

Granted, GC's coverage will be tape-delayed, as most of the day will be consumed by live coverage and then re-air of The Open broadcast. But the LPGA will get a couple of hours each day, starting with tonight's broadcast at 8pm ET. If you decide you want to watch something besides links golf this week, you'll find it on the LPGA.

This week, that is. Next week, the LPGA goes links. That should be fun too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bobby Jones on Correcting a Hook or Slice

I was rereading in my copy of Bobby Jones on Golf and found a very interesting suggestion on how to correct a hook or a slice. Remember when you read this that Jones was righthanded, so you lefties will need to reverse the advice.

In the section I read, Jones notes that slices are usually caused by swinging out-to-in and hitting the outside of the ball -- what most of us call "cutting across" the ball. Likewise, hooks are usually caused by swinging from in-to-out and hitting the inside of the ball. And, simply enough, he says that the cure for either problem is to do the opposite, although he also notes that most players tend to make the same mistake over and over, only worse.

Check out this simple solution Jones used when he was having a problem hooking or slicing:
When I have been bothered by hooking, I have always found it helpful to pick out a spot on the left side of the fairway, and to try to swing my left hand through the ball, toward the spot. It is a curious fact that the simplest remedy for slicing or hooking is to try deliberately to hit the ball toward the spot where the slice or the hook usually lands; for, if one tries to neutralize a hook by shoving the shot out to the right, or to correct a slice by pulling the ball over to the left, the only thing accomplished is an exaggeration of the fault sought to be avoided. [p. 141, emphasis mine]
Did you get that? Try to swing your lead hand (and the grip of the club, obviously) on an imaginary line that goes through the ball and toward the spot where the ball has been landing. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it?

But if you think about it, this advice makes perfect sense.

If you have been hitting a slice, it's likely that you have been cutting across the ball and hitting the outside of it. If you try to swing through the ball toward the place where the ball keeps landing, you'll swing from in-to-out and hit the inside of the ball!

Likewise, if you have been hitting a hook, it's likely that you have been swinging too much in-to-out and hitting the inside of the ball. If you try to swing through the ball toward the place where the ball keeps landing, you'll swing from out-to-in and hit the outside of the ball.

Granted, you could be making some other mistake that creates your hook or slice. But this is a very simple, very visual way to attack the problem. And it's such a simple thing to do, you might want to try it and see if it straightens out your wayward shots.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at The Open

It's time to get all links-y and make my picks for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Henrik Stenson with the Claret Jug

A quick recap of the stuff you already know: Henrik Stenson is the defending champion, Padraig Harrington won the Open when it was last held at this venue, and (as usual) bad weather is expected.

With the question of who are really the top golfers in the world still up for grabs -- the group changes every week, it seems -- it can be difficult to narrow the potential winners down to a manageable number. In a futile effort to lend some logic to my choices, I've put the following restrictions on them:
  • We've seen a string of first-time major winners over the last couple of years. I think that will continue, so I'm excluding previous major winners.
  • Although The Open tends to skew older, I'm limiting my choices to players under 40.
  • And I'm not worried about whether my choices have much experience at links golf. Rather, I'm taking players I think play well in bad weather.
Those three decisions actually limit my choices quite a bit. For example, Brooks Koepka would be a favorite but he's won a major, is well under 40 and played quite a bit of links golf during his time on the ET. And I'll end up leaving Ian Poulter off, even though I think he's got a good chance this year.

So, given these limitations, let's see what kind of mischief I can brew up.
  • Let's begin with hometown favorite Tommy Fleetwood. This is a home game for him and I think that will work to his benefit. More importantly, his game is on an upswing and he's played well in bad weather.
  • Hideki Matsuyama hasn't played particularly well at The Open, but his major finishes since last year -- as well as his win record around the world -- have been extremely good. In addition, I think the slower greens could help his putting tremendously. Remember, he's won a lot on the ET, and many of those courses play slower greens.
  • Some of you may be surprised that I'm picking JB Holmes. It's true that JB hasn't had that great a record in The Open, but he was T3 in that unbelievably low scoring Open last year. JB is streaky, but he often streaks in bad weather.
  • Rickie Fowler continues to make this list because it feels as if he is oh so close. I actually think he'll have his best chance to win if the weather is bad all four days.
  • And my flier is... Brian Harman. Harman doesn't have much of a record in this event. He's only played in two -- T26 in 2014, MC in 2015. But he's played really well on tough courses lately and is coming off a T2 in wet weather at Erin Hills.
I'm going way out on a limb with this one and pick Harman to win -- although I'm not so sure this is a flimsy limb. He has played well on long courses in bad weather, and  -- with the exception of that last round at Erin Hills -- he has been remarkably accurate both off the tee and into the green. I think he could pull a major upset this week.

Bear in mind that, at least here in the US, this will be an all-nighter if you want to watch The Open live. GC's coverage begins with a late-night Morning Drive on Wednesday at midnight ET, with the coverage proper beginning at 1:30am ET.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 John Deere Classic

Winner: Bryson DeChambeau

Around the wider world of golf: Sung Hyun Park won her first major at the US Women's Open on the LPGA; Trish Johnson won the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship on the LPGA's new Legends Tour; Scott McCarron successfully ran down Bernhard Langer to win the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship on the Champions Tour; Brice Garnett won the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour; Johnny Ruiz won the Staal Foundation Open on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; and Rafa Cabrera Bello shot 64 and won a playoff to take the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on the ET.

Bryson DeChambeau with John Deere trophy

I'll be honest. I was watching the US Women's Open and just checking in periodically on the SENIOR PLAYERS and the John Deere. I was shocked when Bernhard Langer double-bogeyed the par-3 17th and Scott McCarron cruised past him to stop the four-peat. That kind of thing just never happens!

But I was almost as shocked when Bryson DeChambeau won after posting at 18-under, even though Patrick Rodgers was tied with him and still had two holes to play when I checked. Rodgers's 17th was a par-5 and a likely birdie, which would allow him to play safely to the middle of the 18th green and two-putt for his first title. I expected to check in again as Rodgers tapped in for the win.

Alas, it was not to be. A bogey on 17 and a long chip from behind the 18th (that nearly fell for a playoff) left Rodgers still waiting for his chance... and left DeChambeau choked up as he gave the winner's interview to CBS. The "Mad Scientist of the Tour" has taken a lot of grief for his unconventional approach to the game, and found vindication in the victory.

Oh yeah, and he grabbed the final spot in next week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale -- symbolic in its own way, as the last Open played there (2008) was won by another well-known mad scientist, Padraig Harrington. Like Harrington, Bryson's experimentation had sent his game down some dead-end streets... and like Harrington, his game now seems to be back on track. Just in time for a mad scientist's dream course.

Is there something about Royal Birkdale, or is it just coincidence? We'll find out next week.

In the meantime, no science is necessary to understand why Bryson has gotten his first Limerick Summary.
Some think he’s the king of weird science
‘Cause Bryson does not think compliance
With tradition’s a must.
In his own plan he trusts
And this win validates his defiance.
The photo came from the tournament page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why the LPGA Players Are So Consistent

Here's a link to a Golf Digest article about how the LPGA players practice, based on info from Gary Gilchrist's protege Bill Schmedes III. He says it isn't about distance with the women.

Shanshan Feng

The article isn't long (that's appropriate, don't you think?), but it's very informative. Here's a quick quote from it:
Schmedes says that the women on the LPGA Tour aren’t trying to get longer, they’re trying to get more consistent. You can hit it as far as you want, but if you don’t know where it’s going, you’re in trouble. The overriding philosophy right now is that it’s more important to know you can be in the right place on the fairway than know you’re the longest on tour. In turn, more time is spent on developing a predictable shot shape than trying to be long.
Every time you hear the announcers talk about how you need a power game to win -- and they say that about every tour -- take a good look at how the winners get it done. Even when a big hitter does win, it's less about distance than you might think. For example, when big hitter Brooks Koepka won the US Open a few weeks back, he set a US Open record for accuracy... and short-hitting Brian Harmon's driver deserted him during the final round, where he hit about 50% of his fairways. That was over 30% fewer than in the rest of his rounds.

Short hitters of the world, take heart! There's more than one way to lower your score, and you might not need longer drives to do it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

An Old Sand Tip from David Leadbetter

I found this Leadbetter sand play tip in an old Golf Digest magazine from January 2013. (At least, that sure seems old!) There's no tricky setup or swing moves to learn.

DAvid Leadbetter demonstrating sand techniques

The right side of the photo shows the way we're typically taught to play a sand shot -- open your clubface, open your stance, swing the club up sharply along your foot line (that's an out-to-in swing) and then try to "splash" the ball out of the bunker. Leadbetter says this leads to a steep downswing that digs in too deeply and makes sand play harder than it needs to be.

His alternative approach is shown on the left side of the photo. The setup is the same -- you still open the clubface and your stance -- but you play the ball farther forward in your stance (he doesn't say how much, but it shouldn't take much time to find a spot that works) and swing the club straight down your target line, not your foot line. This creates a slightly flatter attack angle when you hit the sand, which makes you less likely to dig too deep, and moving the ball a bit farther forward serves the same purpose.

You might wonder why you still open the clubface. Since the ball is farther forward in your stance, the clubface is going to close a bit more. If you were to set up with the clubface square to the target, you'd probably pull the shot.

This won't necessarily work for everybody. All of us have natural tendencies in our swings, and for some players this might result in a skulled shot. But if you've been having trouble getting out of the sand, this might be a technique you'll want to try.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Getting More from Your Irons

Today I've got a quick link to an iron lesson at Golf Digest about Xander Schauffele and his looooong irons. I mean long as in "he hits a loooooong way." There's a neat drill there you might want to try.

 Xander Schauffele

The article attributes much of Xander's length to (1) precise contact and (2) hitting the ball with less loft. What is different here is that you aren't given the same old advice to make sure your hands are ahead of the ball at impact. The recommended drill is what I want you to get from this article.

This is a drill for iron play, not drivers. The ball is on the turf, not a tee... but you do use a tee.

Put the tee in the ground about six inches ahead of your golf ball and just barely inside your target line, sticking up high as if you were going to hit a drive off of it. Then, simply enough, try to create a divot toward that tee when you hit your shot, a divot that is as long as you can get it. You aren't trying to hit the tee, just create a long shallow divot. The tee is to help you "aim" your divot.

The idea is simple. If you strike down too steeply on the ball, you'll get a short deep divot. If you create a long shallow divot, you'll still be hitting down on the ball -- that's how you get a divot, after all -- but you'll shallow out your attack angle enough to launch the ball a bit higher. That will translate to more distance and, according to the article, more accuracy.

That sounds like a good deal to me.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the SENIOR PLAYERS

Before I focus on the senior men, let me give a quick shout-out to Trish Johnson for her wire-to-wire win at the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship. You don't get much more dominant than that!

And now we move on to the second major of the week, the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship being played at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills MD.

3-time defending champion Bernhard Langer

It's been 15 years since a major was played at Caves Valley, so most of the players probably won't know the course. The director of golf there, Dennis Satyshur, says the course is pretty much "what you see is what you get" but, for some reason, seems to play longer than it actually is. It should play at around 7100 yards for this event, so fatigue could become an issue by Sunday.

Of course, the big story this week is Bernhard Langer's unbelievable chance to become the first player to win a Champions Tour major four times in a row. It will be interesting to see if the rest of the field can keep that dominance from getting in their heads long enough to mount a serious challenge.

So let's take a quick look at my picks this week:
  • As I did with the US Women's Open this week, I'm going to go against my normal mindset and make Kenny Perry a favorite. Perry's story sounds a lot like Danielle Kang's -- he found something the week of the last major, won that one and now tees it up again just a couple of weeks later. Kenny is streaky, and this could be the start of one of his streaks.
  • I have to include Bernhard Langer again. While Bernhard's game has been a bit off lately -- it's not horrible, he just isn't leading events after every round like usual -- the fact remains that he's won two of the season's three majors. It's just too hard to ignore a player that consistent.
  • Brandt Jobe shot a 62 in the final round of the US Senior Open, has won earlier in the year and -- perhaps most importantly -- will be paired with Perry and Langer in the first two rounds. There's a good chance this trio can feed off each other, and that could help Jobe to another good showing.
  • Tom Lehman has been playing well of late and is coming off a T4 at the US Senior Open. And he won earlier in the year, so it hasn't been that long since he hoisted a trophy.
  • And for my flier, I'm going way out on a limb with Jerry Kelly. Jerry hasn't set the tour on fire since he came out, but it takes some guys time to settle in and his last five events have been T13 or better.
To be honest, I don't see any player as a distinct favorite this week. So I'm going with Langer for two simple reasons. One, if this course plays long, his fitness level should give him an edge. And two, I simply see no compelling reason to pick anyone else to beat him. I didn't favor him to win the US Senior Open because US Opens on either tour haven't been particularly kind to him in the past. But now he's under no pressure to go undefeated in majors this year, and he's won three of these in a row.

GC's coverage starts at 1:30pm ET today. If you aren't watching the LPGA on FOX Sports 1, you'll probably be watching this major!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the US Women's Open

It's time for the third LPGA major of the year, the US Women's Open at Trump National Bedminster in Bedminster NJ.

Brittany Lang, defending champion

The defending champion is Brittany Lang, although in many ways Brittany seems to be a forgotten player this week. Her best finish this season is a T13, and she's missed two of her last three cuts. She'll have her work cut out for her if she hopes to repeat.

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his site. Tony and his wife are at the event this week and you can also see photos he has taken if you check some of his other posts.

Well, that takes care of the window dressing. Time to get down to business and make my picks.

As you may expect, I'm not taking some of the better players who I might typically pick.
  • I still don't think Lydia Ko is quite back in major form.
  • I'm bothered by Ariya Jutanugarn's recent WD due to a shoulder injury.
  • Ironically, I don't think Inbee Park's putting is quite up to the task right now.
  • And while Lexi Thompson's mom is finally finished with her radiation treatments, I'm not sure her mind is going to be fully on her game.
So who does that leave? To be honest, I'm not sure anybody's a lock this week. But let's see what I can come up with:
  • Let's start off with Danielle Kang. Normally I wouldn't pick someone who has just won their first major -- as my regular readers know, I generally figure on a two- to three-month readjustment period. But Danielle has been building to this over the last few months and she said she "found something" at her last event, which happened to be her major. So I'm going to take a gamble on her this week.
  • Likewise, So Yeon Ryu has become a standard in my picks because, even if she doesn't win, she's so consistent that she has a good chance to get in contention. I see no reason to leave her bandwagon yet.
  • Brooke Henderson is right on the cusp of a big win. In her last three starts she got a win at the Meijer and a runner-up at the KPMG. So how can I leave her off my list?
  • Michelle Wie is struggling a mild case of whiplash from an off-season car accident. However, she's played extremely well lately, with three Top4 finishes in her last few starts. I'm thinking that bump-up is the reason she's played with such a controlled swing as of late, and that should serve her well this week. After all, that's how she got her first major -- also a US Women's Open.
  • And my flier is Cristie Kerr, who basically just needs for her putter to catch fire this week. With her, it could happen.
This could be a wide-open major, at least for the ballstrikers. It's a new venue so no one really has the advantage of experience here. That certainly levels the playing field and, although I didn't pick any new winners, I could definitely see one getting the trophy this week.

But I've gotta go with my gut, and my gut says that Ryu is due. She broke through on a tough US Open course, and that's what they should be facing this week. So yeah, I'm going chalk.

Remember that USGA events are being covered by FOX now, so coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET on FOX Sports 1. Also be sure to check out the LPGA leaderboard page, as there are numerous listings for online coverage at usga.org.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Rahm Ruling Reconsidered

The Rahm Ruling on Sunday demonstrates how complicated it is to simplify the rules, especially in regards to using video. I'd like to take another look at the bigger issues, the arguments for both sides, and propose one possible rule that might minimize the problems.

Jon Rahm

DEFINING THE ISSUES

Just to sum up the original situation: Jon Rahm needed to move his ball marker for his playing partner, but didn't replace the ball in exactly the same place. The ET rules official decided that Jon didn't do it on purpose and that his error wasn't large enough to affect the outcome, so Jon wasn't penalized.

In my view, the two sides in this issue each raised valid points for why the decision was correct or incorrect.
  • Those who agree say that there was no intent to cheat and that the error was minor. To use Jon's example, it wasn't as if he misplaced his ball by three feet on a six-foot putt. This viewpoint believes the rules should adjust the penalties to allow for some human error (that's the "intent" in this).
  • Those who disagree argue that a rule was broken nevertheless and that "intent" is an insufficient guideline for enforcing the Rules of Golf. The main problem -- in the Lexi Thompson ruling, which is often referenced in regard to this ruling -- was the extra two-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. This viewpoint argues for the fairness of the penalties, rather than elimination of them.
I will also add a third viewpoint: Neither side mentioned, although I believe it's important, that the error was only discovered via video replay, which meant the ruling was delayed. While it was handled during the round, the delay still affected the choices available for dealing with the infraction AND the ruling itself could have influenced the outcome. (Although personally I think Jon had the tournament pretty well in hand!)

Let me deal with the original two sides first.

I agree that the rules should make some allowance for human error, especially when that error has little or no effect on the shot that is played. We aren't machines, after all, and this is a game. As long as the rules are interpreted consistently across the field, the fairness and integrity of the game can be maintained for all -- and that is the ultimate goal of rules.

However, "intent" is an unacceptably hazy standard for maintaining that integrity. It makes two faulty assumptions.

The first one is best summed up by a much older friend from my childhood. This adult once told me that "rules are for honest folk." What he meant is that people who obey rules are people who want to obey rules. If someone is dishonest, making a rule won't stop them. It will only define the punishment they'll face if they get caught.

But more important is this ruling's unspoken belief that "intent" can be judged by the size of the error. Let me give you an example:
Suppose a player notices that, on the line of his putt, there is some damage to the green that may affect how his putt behaves but which he is not allowed to repair. He marks his putt to the side, then replaces his ball on the other side of his marker. This might move his ball less than an inch to the side -- and no closer to the hole -- yet it now allows an undamaged path to the hole.
Video may not show this damage, and indeed the angle of the video may not accurately show how much the ball was actually moved. Jon alluded to this viewing angle problem when asked about the ruling, but he noted that it might show excess movement. In either case, the video evidence doesn't present a true image.

Although the error is small, in my example it would certainly affect the shot in ways that aren't clear merely from the size of the error. But more importantly, once we have the full story, there is clear intent by the player to improve his line here... but that intent can't be determined merely by the size of the "error." Rules should focus on aspects of the error that can be easily quantified, without argument, by all parties.

In order for a rule to be applied consistently to every player in the field, the mere fact that a noticeable error has been committed has to be the criteria for applying a rule... and for determining an appropriate penalty. Ultimately, it's all about the penalties.

THE PROBLEM OF TIMELINESS

But I am still bothered by the timeliness of the ruling. This is what determines how many options are available to us, especially if we want to eliminate unfair penalties.

If an error is recognized at the moment it happens, players often have the option to correct their errors and avoid penalties entirely. At the very least, the penalties can be minimized. There are two reasons video has come under such scrutiny:
  • Not all players in the field receive the same video exposure, therefore the potential for unequal treatment is greater for some players than others. I don't think this can be ignored, simply because the benefits of avoiding a penalty can be greater for a player struggling to make the cut than for a player leading a tournament. If you're playing well enough to be in contention, a penalty may cost you a win. But if you're playing poorly, a penalty might cost you a Tour card... and your livelihood.
  • A delayed ruling can multiply your penalties. Let's face it -- had this not bitten Lexi so dramatically, we might not be having these conversations now!
Ironically, the problem presented by video seems quite similar (to me, at least) to the old question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

And if you don't believe that's a real problem, just go to the Wikipedia page devoted to that question. Merely reading the section on the metaphysics of the question will test your mind!

Let me put that question in more modern terms, and I think you'll better understand the problem.

Everyday we are surrounded by radio programs that are broadcast by vast numbers of radio stations around the planet. However, I bet you never think twice about them. Why? Because you can't hear them unless you have a radio tuned to one of the stations. Sound waves can't be heard unless there is a "receiver" capable of converting them to something our brains recognize as actual noise.

Falling trees do the same thing. They don't make a noise; rather, they create sound waves that our ears pick up and our brains convert into a noisy crash. Whether someone is there or not, the action happens -- whether it's the tree falling or, from my earlier example, the radio station broadcasting -- but there is nothing to tell us it happened. That's where the metaphysics come in.

Without someone to observe it, the action might as well have never happened.

Now think about our golf problem. Until someone observes the rules infraction, it might as well have never happened. Of course it happened... but there will be no penalty because no one saw anything that needs to be punished. If no one saw it happen at the time, but a video camera captured the action, you can make a legitimate argument that there was no infraction until the video was seen by someone.

Yeah, I know... it sounds weird. But from a practical standpoint, it's true. Unless someone SEES an infraction being committed, there is no infraction to be punished. And, as Jon pointed out, the viewpoint of the video may not be trustworthy or even understood. (As far as I know, I'm the only person to point out that the Lexi video shows that she couldn't even see her marker... and I had to try and reenact the video to discover that. Do you think they're doing that in the tour video trailers?)

So it seems to me that we need to take this "metaphysical" aspect of video evidence into account when we make our rules.

MY RULE SUGGESTION

How do I take the metaphysical questions into account?

That's simple enough. If a rules infraction is discovered using video, that infraction alone can be penalized because -- at least, I would argue -- the infraction didn't even exist until it was actually seen, so it can't have the same consequences it would have had if discovered earlier. In Lexi's case, that would have meant the two-stroke penalty for an incorrect scorecard wasn't included. After all, if the infraction "didn't happen" until after the next day, she couldn't have signed an incorrect scorecard!

I think that's a general principle that would apply to most (if not all) video-related rulings.
The infraction seen on the video is the ONLY one that can be penalized, not any other infractions that might have been a side effect of the video infraction.
Likewise, I think we have to remove any appeals to "intent" when we judge infractions. If a player is honest, they didn't intend to break the rule. And if they aren't honest, do you really expect them to say, "Yeah, I did it on purpose"? That's just ignoring reality. Forget that "intent" crap. If you broke the rule, you broke the rule and there's a penalty to be paid.

However -- and I'm applying this only to a mismarked ball infraction, because each situation should be judged on its own merits -- I think the penalty should be changed. And here's my logic:
  • If there's no infraction, there's no penalty.
  • If there's an infraction and the player corrects it before playing, there's no penalty.
  • If there's an infraction and the player doesn't correct it before playing, there's a two-stroke penalty.
So, if the mismarked ball infraction is found via video -- which means the player had no opportunity to correct it before playing and thus avoid the penalty altogether, I say we split the difference:
If a mismarked ball infraction is discovered via video evidence at any time after the player has finished the hole and begun the next hole, the player will be assessed a ONE-shot penalty.
To me, that seems the fairest answer. "Intent" is eliminated as a criterion for the penalty because "intent" can't be unquestionably determined by another person. The player has broken the rule, so they are penalized. But since the ruling was made too late for the player to have an opportunity to avoid the penalty, they are given a lesser penalty to reflect the "error" of a delayed ruling.

I don't know that the ruling bodies will consider my suggestion. But I think it's the best way to deal with the unpredictable and uneven nature of video rulings -- again, not everyone gets videoed -- and the need to uphold the Rules of Golf.

Because if it doesn't matter whether we follow the rules or not, who needs them?