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Friday, October 20, 2017

In Case You Ever Need to Chip a Short Putt (Video Tweet)

In case you missed it, the PGA Tour tweeted this shot from Justin Thomas. His ball was on the 5th green, very close to the hole, but the green in front of the ball was scuffed so badly that he decided putting was out of the question. If you ever find yourself in this position, here's how to handle it with a wedge.


This same technique was used a century ago when a player's ball was "stymied" by another ball between them and the hole. This shot is only three or four feet long! Note that JT either didn't touch the green at all or touched it so gently that you can't see where the wedge's bounce scraped the green.

Learn this shot and you've got a new weapon in your arsenal. It really isn't that hard because you don't need to create power. All you have to do is make good contact.

And yes, a putting grip will work just as well with this shot as a chipping grip will. Use whichever grip works best for you.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

So What's in YOUR Golf Bag?

Golf Digest, as usual, posted an article outlining what equipment the past week's PGA Tour winner was carrying. This week's article concerned CIMB winner Pat Perez, and the list piqued my interest.

Pat Perez in Kuala Lumpur

You'll probably enjoy the short article simply because PXG founder Bob Parsons tells how he and Pat got hooked up. But it was the equipment list itself that really made me stop and think.
  • Ball: Titleist Pro V1
  • Driver: TaylorMade M2 2017 (Mitsubishi Tensei Pro White 70 TX), 9.5 degrees
  • 3-wood: PXG 0317, 15 degrees
  • Hybrid: PXG 0317X, 19 degrees
  • Irons (3-4): PXG 0311XF; (5-PW): PXG 0311
  • Wedges: PXG 0311T (52, 60 degrees)
  • Putter: PXG Gunboat (a mallet putter, described in detail in the article)
Now, here's what caught my attention. Obviously the ball and driver are the ones he was using originally. And like everything else Pat does, he went "whole hog" and changed every other club to PXG. But let's think about this for a moment...

Pat has only been back from shoulder surgery for around a year. He has changed every club in his bag, except for his driver. Yet, unlike other players who make equipment changes, this complete overhaul doesn't seem to have hurt his game one little bit!

Given that Lydia Ko also changed to PXG but seems to have struggled to adapt, much as Rory did when he changed to Nike back in 2013 and as other players who change clubs seem to do, I have to wonder if Pat simply approaches his equipment with a different attitude from other players.

Perhaps he doesn't experiment as much with his clubs; perhaps he doesn't make drastic changes, in hopes of finding some new weapon; perhaps he simply sticks with what he knows has worked for him in the past. I don't know.

What I do know is that Pat has a pretty traditional setup -- two woods, one hybrid, seven irons, three wedges and a putter -- and he's pretty successful with it. Next time you go shopping for clubs, perhaps you should avoid dramatic changes to your current setup unless you know your game has changed enough to make the change worthwhile.

It's worth thinking about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Trent Wearner on the Art of Swatting Flies (Video)

If you've read my blog for any period of time, you know I frequently use a flyswatter as my example of how your forearms and wrists work during a swing. Well, instructor Trent Wearner actually posted a video with a flyswatter drill to help you get more clubhead speed. Of course I'm going to post it!



The drill is self-explanatory. I've posted some similar drills before, but actually seeing this move made using a flyswatter with a golf grip may help some of you get a better feel for how the motion works.

The one thing I wish Wearner had done was make a "swatter swing" using both hands so you could see the actual arm motion of each arm. It may help you figure out the motion more easily if you cock your wrists upward directly in front of your body, with the shaft swinging up and down vertically. Both elbows will bend slightly as you change direction -- the bend will feel bigger than it actually is -- and to get the same feel in your normal swing you'll have to make sure you let your shoulders turn fully in your backswing.

You might find that my post called The Wall Slap Drill is useful for transferring the feel of the "swatter swing" to your regular swing.

This really isn't difficult unless you're dead set on tensing your muscles a lot during your golf swing. A flyswatter-style motion feels a lot more relaxed, and consequently a lot more natural, than most players think their swing should feel.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The New Ko You Need to Know (Video)

The "New Ko" is of course Jin Young Ko, the KLPGA player who won the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship on Sunday. Consider this your crash course on the LPGA's newest winner.

Jin Young Ko with KEB trophy

Korean golf fans are well-acquainted with Jin Young Ko. When you see her, you may be struck by her resemblance to World #1 So Yeon Ryu, although you wouldn't confuse the two. She's 22 years old, been a KLPGA pro since 2013 and had nine KLPGA victories until winning the co-sponsored LPGA/KLPGA event this past weekend. She also won the 2016 World Ladies Championship with partner Jung Min Lee.

Stats-wise, she's 5'7" tall and hits the ball around 250 yards, which is plenty long for most of the women's courses. And she's deadly on the course -- her KLPGA page (this version is in English, but you'll have to pick the 'K' category and then pick Ko Jin Young from the list) puts her Driving Accuracy at 82% and her GIR ar just under 80%. She leads the KLPGA in both categories.

And here is a nice video of her swing -- regular and slo-mo, face-on and down-the-line -- kindly posted this weekend by Golfcast TV.



In my opinion, the only real question at this point is when she'll join the LPGA. She has the option of do it now (so she can play the few remaining events this season) or wait and start fresh in 2018. Because in my opinion, Jin Young Ko definitely has the game to take her place on the LPGA.

And the rest of the Tour should probably be a little nervous about that.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 CIMB Classic

Winner: Pat Perez

Around the wider world of golf: Jin Young Ko earned her LPGA Tour card with a win at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Tyrrell Hatton made it two weeks in a row as he won the ET's Italian Open; Colin Montgomerie won the SAS Championship on the Champions Tour (playoffs start next week); Rodolfo Cazaubón won the 64º Aberto do Brasil on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Yuta Ikeda won the Japan Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour.

Pat Perez hoists the CIMB trophy

There was a time when Pat Perez was regarded as a can't-miss kid (he beat Tiger at the 1993 Junior Worlds) who couldn't control his (mostly angry) emotions on the course, which cost him a lot of chances to win. He won only once, back in 2009 -- nearly a decade after he reached the Tour.

About five years ago, he says he started to change. About a year-and-a-half ago, he had shoulder surgery and his club sponsor dropped him. That was a bad choice on their part -- although not for PXG, who snapped him up -- because he won last November, made it to the Tour Championship for his first time ever...

And then, this past week, the 41-year-old entered the final round of the CIMB Classic with a four-stroke lead, which he stretched to six strokes at one point before pounding the field by that same four strokes. That's two wins in less than a year, for a guy many had written off as done. To be specific, two wins in his past 25 starts versus one in his first 378.

I love these kinds of stories! And I love his approach, since he knows what got him to this point (his short game and putting). As PGATOUR.com quoted him, "I'm not going to change anything. I'm still not going to work out. I'll still have a bad diet and I'm going to enjoy myself."

That's the way to do it, Pat -- your way. And while you're at it, have a beer to celebrate your second Limerick Summary in less than a year. There aren't many players who can say they've done that either!
A bum shoulder isn’t the end.
With both temper and game on the mend,
Pat seems to have found
How to shoot a low round
Without giving his club shafts a bend.
The photo came from the tournament page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Trent Wearner on Toe-Down Chipping (Video)

A simple GC video but very informative. Instructor Trent Wearner teaches the basics of toe-down chipping from thick rough.



I was very interested in this because tilting the club up on the toe tends to change your aim. How would he deal with that? I did a walkthrough of his technique and was surprised.

Wearner simply takes a wedge -- he recommends pitching wedge -- and sets up normally, then steps closer to the ball. That automatically gets the club up on the toe. You may need to grip down a bit. (I did.) He says you can use your putting grip if you're so inclined. (I didn't.)

Then you step toward the target a bit to move the ball back in your stance. And that's it -- no adjustment to the face.

What surprised me? I automatically hooded the face a bit, so it looked to be aiming at the pin. I like it when things I desire happen automatically!

I can't promise that you'll make the auto adjustment when you move the ball back, but it appears that Wearner expects that to happen since he says nothing special about it. So try it -- if it works for you, it should simplify many of the tricky chips you face from the rough.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Molinari 12-Hour Ace Challenge (Video)

I'm sure a number of you have seen this, but I'm still fascinated by it. Edoardo Molinari -- the brother of Francesco Molinari, the defending champ at the Italian Open -- made 500 attempts from 145 yards in 12 hours to make a hole-in-one. He failed...



But I can't get over how many times he came close to doing it! In fact, he nearly holed his very first shot, missing by only FOUR INCHES.

Sometimes it's good to just sit back and appreciate how good ALL of these players are, not just the biggest names.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jon Rahm on Three-Quarter Shots

Jon Rahm did a short Golf Digest article on what he's learned about hitting three-quarter shots. He says it lets him hit and hold more greens, so let's take a quick look at his keys.

Jon Rahm

Jon doesn't use a club longer than a 7-iron. He says the longer clubs hit the ball too low to be of any use UNLESS there's a lot of wind.

He plays the ball back in his stance. He doesn't give specifics here but he says "slightly." I would take that to mean it's just a little back of center.

In terms of mechanics, he makes the three-quarter swing with less than full wrist cock. He makes sure he gets a full shoulder turn so his downswing isn't too steep, and he cuts off his finish just a bit -- hands at roughly shoulder height with the club pointing straight up. (At least, that's what the header photo shows.)

Jon says the shot creates less spin but flies straighter and is easier to control the distance. And he quotes Lee Trevino: "Hit the ball only as high as you need to."

Sounds like good advice to me.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dave Pelz on High Pitches (Video)

Yes, I have to post a tip from School of Golf's Wedge Week with Dave Pelz. Here's Dave on how to hit a high pitch with a 60° wedge.



Note how Dave alters his address position. At first he sets up perfectly square to his aim line, with everything -- feet, knees, hips, shoulders -- aligned parallel to a line straight at the pin. The ball is in the center of his stance. That means a line from the ball position running between your heels forms a T with your aim line.

Then he shuffles around counter-clockwise so his stance is open to his aim line and he's aimed left. BIG NOTE HERE: These instructions are for righthanders. IF YOU ARE LEFTHANDED, you will shuffle around clockwise so your stance is open to your aim line but you are aimed right. You got that?

However, one thing remains the same in both cases: The ball position is still in the center of your stance, as it was when you were lined up straight at the hole. The difference is that your T is now OPEN -- it points to the open side of the flag. Then you just rotate the club in your grip so the face once again points STRAIGHT AT THE FLAG. Now when you swing along your foot line, the ball will fly toward the flag, not curve.

How can this be? you ask. Simple -- although the ball is still positioned in the center of your stance, shuffling around had the effect of moving the ball back into the curved area of your swing. The club is actually moving toward the flag when it strikes the ball, even though it won't necessarily look that way to you while you're standing over the ball.

Confused? Don't feel bad. The reason we all have trouble getting our mechanics correct is because we often have trouble understanding how body rotation alters swing path. Just trust Dave here and do what he says. After a bit of practice you'll be happy with the results.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

JT Goes for Three

While it's still early in the new season, I guess today opens the first BIG story of the year. Can Justin Thomas continue his good play with a three-peat?

JT kisses his 2nd CIMB trophy

The CIMB Classic is played at TPC Kuala Lumpur, the same venue that hosts the LPGA in a couple of weeks. (The men play the West Course, the women play the East Course.) The PGA Tour lists the par-72 West Course at 7005 yards. That may sound short but the extreme heat and frequent rains in the area makes it feel a few hundred yards longer.

This is a limited field of just 78 players, just like the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship taking place this week in South Korea. Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson are sitting this one out, so JT and Hideki Matsuyama (#4 and #3 in the world, respectively) headline the field.

Assuming he's still on form, I think JT has to be the favorite this week. TPC KL is all about the putting, and JT has certainly had the West Course's number over the last two years. However, it will be interesting to see how Xander Schauffele handles the course. The Rookie of the Year was ranked a few spots higher than JT in the Strokes Gained: Putting stat last year. Can he figure the course out quick enough to challenge JT? Inquiring minds want to know...

Unlike this week's LPGA event, the CIMB will be broadcast live starting tonight at 10:30pm ET. So pour your favorite dose of caffeine and settle in for the night.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The LPGA's Asian Swing Begins

The first event in the Asian Swing, the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea, is this week. (Remember, there are five consecutive events in South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan and China. The Tour Championship in Florida is the final event.)

Defending champion Carlota Ciganda

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event over at his website. But here are the broad strokes:
  • An invitational event with only 78 players
  • Played at the Sky 72 Golf Club Ocean Course
  • 72 holes since 2014
  • Par 72, 6316 yards (that's from the LPGA site -- Tony lists 6364)
  • Carlota Ciganda is the defending champ
The Top3 in the world -- So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and Lexi Thompson -- are all in action, so presumably the #1 spot is up for grabs once again. The last two winners -- Brooke Henderson in the LPGA New Zealand event and Cristie Kerr in the LET France event -- are both playing. And Michelle Wie is making her first appearance after her appendectomy. You may have seen her Instagram photo:


The event will be tape-delayed on GC all four days, beginning at noon ET on Thursday. But at least we won't have to stay up all night to watch.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Safeway Open

Winner: Brendan Steele

Around the wider world of golf: Tyrrell Hatton became the first-ever back-to-back winner of the ET's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, while Tommy Fleetwood and Ross Fisher set course records at Carnoustie (63) and St. Andrews (61) respectively; Cristie Kerr got her first LET and second worldwide win of the season at the LET's Lacoste Ladies Open de France; Yusaku Miyazato won the Honma Tourworld Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; Ajeetesh Sandhu won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship; and, if I've read this correctly, Yumiko Yushida won the Stanley Ladies Golf Tournament on the JLPGA. The Symetra Tour Championship has been shortened to 54 holes due to bad weather and is scheduled to finish today.

Johnny Miller gives Brendan Steele the Big Keg

It appears the PGA Tour resumed its business the same way it stopped -- at full speed. Brisk winds and hard greens made the Silverado Course in Napa CA play tougher than players expected, but the young guns (and one notably older gun) came out with all barrels blazing.

Gun barrels, that is, like sharpshooters in the wild west. The barrel trophy that I call the Big Keg sat quietly and waited.

The big talk at the start of the day was whether new Tour member and 54-hole leader Tyler Duncan could hold on. He couldn't, but he got his career off to a great start anyway.

By the time the field reached the back nine, a few names stood out -- defending champ Brendan Steele, Chesson Hadley, Tony Finau and an unexpectedly focused Phil Mickelson. While others made short runs at the leaders, only these four consistently challenged for the top spot. And all but Steele stumbled in the last two or three holes.

Brendan Steele marched along the course as if he owned the place instead of Johnny Miller... and if he keeps this up, he may own at least a house there before all is said and done! After all, he's the first player to go back-to-back in this event. (If he plans to win very many of these, he's going to need a big trophy case. The Big Kegs take a lot of room!)

In the meantime, Steele gets his season off to a strong start, just as he did last year... with a win, a keg and a Limerick Summary. Way to go, Brendan!
In Napa they put on a show
As Finau and Hadley went low.
Phil made an appearance
But Steele’s perserverance
Won him two Big Kegs in a row.
The photo came from this page at usatoday.com.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Yes, It's the Tiger Swing Tweet (Video)

The reason for posting this tweet is simple -- it's great to see Tiger gradually increasing his flexibility. This isn't about when he comes back to play, but just about him getting healthy.


I have no idea when Tiger will be back playing, although I do think he will eventually be able to play again. I just hope his doctors do a better job managing his recovery this time than they did the last time.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Key Area in Brooke Henderson's Swing

At least, this is what I see as the key area. And unlike other aspects of her swing, this is something you can learn from and -- even if you can't do it the way she does -- you can use some of it.

The photos below come from a Golf Digest article about Brooke's swing. The article focuses on her lower body and makes the point that most of us can't do it. Why? The word they use to describe her hips is "hypermobile," which means she is inhumanly flexible. But what I see in the photos isn't mentioned at all.

Take a look at the last position in this photo:

Brooke from setup to halfway down
and the first position in this photo:

Brooke from halfway down to finish
Granted, I doubt that you can get the amount of wrist cock Brooke does in that first photo. That just looks painful to me! It's not as dramatic as it looks though; Brooke flattens her swing plane on the way down, so the angle isn't quite as sharp as it looks from our point of view.

But I want you to notice how little her arms have moved from the end of photo 1 to the start of photo 2... and yet how much her wrists have uncocked in that same amount of time! This is the key thing I see in the photos.

Many of you lose clubhead speed because you uncock your wrists between the third and fourth positions in photo 1. That's much too early in your downswing. The key to keeping your wrists cocked until you reach that fourth position is a combination of relaxed wrists and letting the inertia of the clubhead keep them cocked. It's all in how you make your change in direction.

The question is... how do you learn to do this? It's a progressive thing you learn a little at a time. Here's my drill:
  1. Start by only swinging back to position 4 in photo 1 -- in other words, make a short backswing and stop there. Don't worry about getting as much wrist cock as Brooke because you probably won't. If you create a 90° angle between your club shaft and lead arm, you're golden.
  2. Now swing down slowly to position 1 in photo 2. Please note that the club shaft/lead arm angle is STILL 90°! During an actual swing, your change of direction will create enough motion to keep relaxed wrists in this position. Keep your wrists as relaxed as you can while you move GENTLY between these two positions. You don't have to hit a ball, just move between the two positions. Move as slowly as necessary; this is a feel drill.
  3. After you do that a few times and feel fairly good about it, try moving SLOWLY AND SMOOTHLY from the first position all the way down to impact -- position 2 in photo 2. Study this last position -- the shaft points straight out from your lead arm to a point that's a few inches in front of the ball. This is all about sequence -- position 4 in photo 1, to position 1 in photo 2, to position 2 in photo 2. DO IT AS SLOWLY AS NECESSARY TO CREATE THE PROPER SEQUENCE.
  4. Once you get the hang of that, try to make an actual swing -- A SLOW ONE -- from setup to position 4 in photo 1, to position 1 in photo 2, to position 2 in photo 2, and let the momentum take you to whatever finish you need. (It'll probably be short.)
What you're training yourself to do is feel the proper cocking and uncocking sequence to create clubhead speed. Do this sequence until it feels pretty good. You'll gradually pick up a little speed but don't worry about that too much -- after all, this is a short swing so it won't create a whole lot of speed. But it will create more speed than you expect!

And once you get comfortable with that, start lengthening the swing. Just remember that the uncocking action ALWAYS HAPPENS AT THE SAME PLACE. The longer swing will automatically create more speed and, once you feel comfortable at a certain speed, you can TRY to swing a bit faster. But as I said, just remember that the uncocking action ALWAYS HAPPENS AT THE SAME PLACE. That means you CAN learn to repeat this.

This is more of a mental adjustment than a physical one. You need to get used to WHERE you create speed. And once you do, it will start to take hold very quickly. Give yourself a month and I bet you'll be surprised at how much speed you can create.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The New Era of Drug Testing Begins

Just a link today. Golf Channel posted an article about the new drug testing protocols that began this week at the Safeway Open.

Blood testing gear

What's new is blood testing, as opposed to just the urine testing that has been done in the past. Some performance enhancers only show up in blood tests, and that's critical if golf is to remain in the Olympics (among other things).

You can get the details from the article. I just wanted to make sure you know the new policy is now officially underway.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The New Season Already

Yeah, the "off season" lasted three whole days... if you're liberal in your definition of "off season." But here we are, and the Tour is back in action at the Safeway Open.

Phil Mickelson

Okay, here's the skinny: The Safeway Open is held in the Napa Valley (California) at the Silverado Resort & Spa (North), a 7166 yard par-72 layout of which Johnny Miller is part owner and also the course redesigner. As a result he serves as the host of the event, and most of the players love what he's done with the place.

The defending champion is Brendan Steele, but he'll have his hands full this week. As you have no doubt heard, Presidents Cuppers Phil Mickelson, Adam Hadwin and Emilio Grillo are also teeing it up... and Grillo is the the 2015 champ at this event. Former #1 amateur Maverick McNealy makes his pro debut at the Safeway, Sangmoon Bae is making his Tour premiere after serving his mandatory military stint in South Korea, and of course several of the Web.com Tour grads will be playing this week as well.

PGATOUR.com lists the TV times as 5:30pm-8:30pm ET on GC each day, today through Sunday. Most of the players should be chomping at the bit to get back on the course but I'll be interested to see how the Cuppers do after such a busy month or so. If Phil can continue his good play, he just might get his first win since the 2013 Open.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Robert Damron on Short Game Setup

This is so new I couldn't even find the video. On Tuesday's Morning Drive, Robert Damron gave a neat tip to help you line up for short game shots. (The photo is from another segment and shows John Cook.)

John Cook setup

Lining up for a short game shot can be tricky. Just because you get your shoulders aligned doesn't mean the rest of you is lined up.

Damron's tip is very simple. Most players set up for short shots with their hands pretty close to their thighs. (See how Cook is set up on the left?) So, if you line up using your thighs and knees, and if you then swing your hands along your thigh and knee line, you're more likely to swing on your intended line. After all, your thighs and knees can be clearly seen, and they're the closest parts of your body to your hands.

No setup tip is foolproof, but this is a pretty sound approach. If you're having trouble getting your short shots on target, give this tip a try.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Butch Harmon on the Shanks (Video)

Here's a Golf Digest video where Butch Harmon gives a drill for eliminating a shank. You can get that drill from the video. I'm posting this because he explains why you shank.

And it's not for the reason you think.



Here's the deal: You think you're shanking because the clubface is open... but Butch says you've got the clubface CLOSED. When the face closes down, the toe digs into the ground and makes a skinny trench that drags the hosel closer to the ball. And most people try to fix it by closing the clubface even more (because they think the face is open), and that just makes it worse.

To fix a shank, you have to learn how to leave the clubface a bit open at impact, which typically means you hit the ball slightly from the inside. There are a number of drills that will teach you that, Butch is just showing you one way.

But you can't fix a problem if you don't know why you have it. And if you shank the ball, now you know why.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Presidents Cup

Winner: USA, 19-11

Around the wider world of golf: Brooke Henderson won the McKayson New Zealand Women's Open on the LPGA; Azahara Munoz won the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino on the LET; Paul Dunne won his first ET event at the British Masters; Satoshi Kodaira won the TOP Cup Tokai Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; and Gavin Green won his first Asian Tour title at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters. Events on both the Symetra Tour and the Web.com Tour have been delayed and will finish sometime today.

The US Presidents Cup team

I may decide to do a post on this Presidents Cup later in the week -- I think there are some things to be learned from it -- but today I'll limit myself to a couple of observations.

First, this is the first team competition I can remember where one of the teams was both on form AND healthy. I think this has as much to do with the US Team's juggernaut performance as anything. It's easy to forget that the International Team has been plagued by problems this season, everything from Jason Day dealing with his mother's cancer to Si Woo Kim's back problems to Hideki Matsuyama's broken driver, which I think may have been partially responsible for his remark about his timing being off. (Try to adjust for one club, it will affect all the others. Trust me on this.)

And second, the International Team's performance in singles makes me believe the ultimate problem they face at this point is their lack of team play experience. The weekly Mickelson money games have clearly had an effect on the US Team's ability to get out of their own way and just play good golf. We saw a lot fewer strategic mistakes from them this time around, while the International team made numerous plays during the team sessions that they didn't make during the singles. In other words, the Internationals are basically where the US was a decade ago. They'll figure that out soon enough.

Therefore, while the US Team gets the Limerick Summary this week, the Internationals get some "rhyme time" as well. After all, their play on Sunday was a step above their normal singles performance and a clear indication that they're making progress.
Though by Sunday there wasn’t much doubt
That the US would win in a rout,
Nick Price’s fine team
Found one last head of steam
Just to prove they were down but not out.
The photo came from this page at presidentscup.com.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Jordan's Unexpected Penalty

In case you wonder what happened to Jordan Spieth on the 12th hole Saturday, Golf Digest published a short piece explaining it. Ironically, the Internationals also pleaded Jordan's case, even though the ruling was in their favor.


Of course, a violation is a violation -- Jordan touched an opponent's moving ball. Still, it points out how many of the Rules of Golf have become a bit silly. I know the rule was created to prevent one team from interfering with another team's score, but perhaps this is another rule that needs to be interpreted by the spirit rather than the law.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bobby Locke Putting (Video)

Everybody talks about how the great South African golfer Bobby Locke used to pull his putts into the hole but was a great golfer anyway. I found this video that really gives you a good view of how his unorthodox putting technique looked from the hole. (We're not looking straight down his putting line, which means he's REALLY pulling the ball. In this video, the hole is actually directly "below" the shoelace on his lead foot.)



As you can see, he took the putter way inside on the way back -- see how closed his putting stance was? -- and then he hit the ball with the putterface hooded (closed to his putting line). This caused the ball to actually move straight toward the hole or just slightly to the left. (If he had been a lefty, the ball would have moved to his right.) And his hands didn't move a whole lot because he used a very wristy stroke.

Why am I showing you this?

It's because we get so bound up in mechanics. We try to set our feet exactly parallel to our aim line. Then we try to swing the club back either perfectly straight along that aim line (Pelz style) or we try to create a nice gentle arc (Utley style). Then we worry about whether we keep our wrists firm or keep our lead wrist bowed through impact or...

And we still miss putts.

Bobby Locke, on the other hand, is considered one of the best putters ever to have played the game. (Among his 74 worldwide titles, he won four Opens and 15 PGA Tour events.) Does his putting stroke look like he even thought about all those things? No way!

The best putters relax and let the putter swing freely at the ball. They aim the face of the putter where they want the ball to go, and then they don't worry about the path so much. You're unlikely to make such a bizarre stroke as Locke's, but if he could make putts with that stroke, you can make putts with yours!

Simplify things -- just focus on aiming the putterface at the hole and getting your speed correct. You'll make more putts that way.

BTW, if you're curious, here's the reason his stroke worked: Modern science has proven that most of the direction your putt travels is determined by where the face is aimed at impact. (I believe Pelz says it's 84%.) That means that Locke's extreme inside swing would still send the ball out a little to his right -- a pushed putt. But by hooding the face, he actually aimed his ball just a bit to the left of his swing path, and that compensated for the small amount of push the club's path would have created.

The hooded face also insured that he hit the ball solidly, the way a good ballstriker does with his or her irons, so he never hit the ball with a weak stroke. That made the ball roll end over end more often.

A stroke like Locke's is the result of practicing enough to trust your aim. But once you get that, it's just a matter of hitting the ball with the right speed.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Sam Saunders Mindset

Yesterday Sam Saunders became the first player to shoot 59 in a Web.com Tour Finals event. Are you curious how he did it?

He says it was his putting, and it's true that he took only 20 putts.

Sam Saunders

He says he got lucky, and that's true as well. As he said, he made a couple of putts that really had no business going in. (That happens to Jordan Spieth all the time but that's another story.)

And he says that, when a player gets in the zone like that, they really don't think much about what they're doing. They just do it.

But early in the day, long before he teed off, he talked with Chantel McCabe about his mindset these days. And that mindset might help some of you take strokes off your own game.

Sam said that he had finally accepted the fact that he wasn't always going to play well. If you're playing well, you won't do it every day. And if you're playing badly, it probably won't last. He said he liked the general direction his game was going and he was just going to go out and play.

The quotes you heard after the round (and quoted in this PGATOUR.com article) fit into that mindset very well.
“It was fun. You know, it was a good time out there and it was a real special day. Certainly memorable. I played with my buddy Steve Wheatcroft and we kind of fed off each other,” said Saunders of his fellow Atlantic Beach member. “Honestly, it just felt like a regular day at home playing our little money game and I got into a good rhythm. It was a blast.”
Brandel Chamblee noted after the round that Sam was #20 in birdies on the PGA Tour this season. That's better than Mickelson, Day and Casey, and all of them made it to the Tour Championship. Yet Sam was ranked #24 going into this week's final event, needing something special just to keep his card.

After the first round, he's ranked #1. It's amazing how much difference your attitude makes.

I'm interested to see how Sam follows it up in today's second round. Things will be different -- playing at a different time of day, different tee boxes, different pin positions, different conditions. Expecting to shoot the same kind of score on a different course is where many players get derailed.

But if Sam holds on to the attitude he told Chantel about, he could very well win this final event... and perhaps get to the Tour Championship next year. Never underestimate the power of your mindset.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

David Leadbetter on Buried Lies from a Bunker's Upslope

Golf Digest (and David Leadbetter) did an article on how to dig your ball from a plugged lie on an upslope. The article is short but I'll summarize anyway.

Patrick Reed from the bunker

When you're plugged in a bunker's upslope:
  • Square up the clubface. You don't need to open the face because you'll be swinging up anyway. Plus you want the front edge to dig in since the ball's buried.
  • Set your weight on your lead foot and lean forward a bit. You want to get steady footing on that upslope.
  • Swing aggressively down into the sand. You won't have much of a finish because you're digging into the sand with the front edge.
  • Step down the slope with your lead foot as the club hits the sand. The timing on this one can be a bit tricky, but it helps create more power to get the ball out of the sand. Besides, on some slopes you'll just naturally fall backwards...
You'll need a little practice to get the hang of this, but there aren't any special techniques you have to learn. Unless you count falling backwards without hurting yourself as a technique. ;-)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Some Thoughts on the Presidents Cup

I feel that I need to do a post on the Presidents Cup but I admit I'm at a bit of a loss. The Presidents Cup is important to golf as a whole, yet storylines don't jump out at me the way they often do at other events.

Steve Stricker and Nick Price pose with the Presidents Cup

The matches will begin on what is normally the 5th hole, which makes sense to me because most matches will end around the 18th hole (14th with the new routing). Match play is about getting the most exciting play, not about playing every hole. Not really a story, is it?

Team USA has already decided they won't be doing any protests like the NFL has been doing. Again, that makes sense to me. I realize the choice is probably driven as much by public opinion and perceived economic impact as anything, but the current protests are having a mixed effect. The fact is that most people don't want to deal with the real issues that caused the protests in the first place, so the public debate has become one about "respect" rather than the racial profiling and brutal treatment that prompted the whole thing. The existing protests are at least keeping people talking; it will take something else to focus the debate on the real issues -- things which are unlikely to happen at the Presidents Cup. So this isn't really a story either.

But ten of the 24 players are rookies, and only two of them are Captain's Choices. That's something that could potentially be a story. The Ryder Cup considers large numbers of rookies undesirable, so this event is where we get our best chance to see future team players. (A note: The Euros have other team events that they use to "break in" their new guys.)

With six rookies on the US team and four on the internationals, I actually believe this helps the Internationals. The US players may be rookies, but they're more used to playing together. (The Mickelson team practice rounds are legendary!) The Internationals will have two "vets" for each rookie, which should give them more potential pairings for getting production right out of the gate. Don't be surprised if the Internationals get off to a fast start this time.

Finally, I think the language issue is going to be much less important to the Internationals. I believe all of their players except Matsuyama and Kim speak English, and Matsuyama has been here before so that should be less of an issue for him this time. (And if I'm not mistaken, Matsuyama can understand some English, even if he's uncomfortable speaking it.) In addition, this is Price's third time as Captain. If I'm right, that all means the team dynamic should be much better for them this time around.

So who's going to win? As an American, of course I'm rooting for the US team. But I think this Cup is far less predictable that the others have been. I think the teams are much more evenly matched than the stats predict, and I won't be surprised if the Internationals pull an upset. I guess we'll know soon enough.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Guess Who Steve Williams's New Bag Is?

No big article today -- this news was big enough (to me, anyway) to merit its own post. Steve Williams and Adam Scott have officially stopped their "sometimes" caddying because Adam wants a single caddie from now on. So Steve is taking on another player this week...

Danielle Kang.

A post shared by Danielle Kang (@daniellekang) on

Golf Digest posted a brief article about the change. But I see this as a big win for Danielle and -- given Danielle's reputation as a fun-loving player -- a breath of fresh air for Steve.

This team should be very interesting to watch for the rest of this year!

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 TOUR Championship

Winner: Xander Schauffele

Around the wider world of golf: Bernhard Langer won the Pure Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour, while he and First Tee partner Justin Potwora also won the pro-junior division; Nicholas Lindheim won the DAP Championship (and his Tour card) on the Web.com Tour; Juan Álvarez won the Dev Series’ Bolivia Open Mitsuba on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Lindsey Weaver won the Guardian Championship on the Symetra Tour; Daisuke Kataoka won the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; and Lucas Bjerregaard won the Portugal Masters on the ET.

Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele with their trophies

Well, it looks like I'm going to have to learn to spell Xander Schauffele's last name now. Because he certainly looks like someone who'll be winning a few Limerick Summaries in the future.

Of course, I had already awarded one to Xander, back in July when he won the Greenbrier Classic. But Xander was a rookie -- granted, a very impressive one -- and I didn't expect to see him up on top again this year.

Boy, did he prove me wrong! All he did was win the biggest non-major event of the season this week. And he did it against the guys who had proven to be the most consistent and dominant of the season -- most of whom, btw, didn't really show up this week. Only Justin Thomas, who I think has safely pocketed the Player of the Year Award, held up down the stretch.

And it still wasn't enough. Xander says he was shaking so badly over that final putt that he was almost surprised that it went in. But the ball don't lie -- it corkscrewed its way down into the cup and gave him the title of Tour Champion.

Alright, so Justin Thomas snagged the FedExCup. Xander has just become a two-time Tour winner -- one of those wins being a very prestigious one -- and the first rookie to place third or better in the FedExCup. Not a bad day's work if you can get it.

Xander did get it... and another nice shiny Limerick Summary as well. Yeah, I'm gonna have to go practice that last name some more...
Off the tee, Xander gives it a whack
And with putter in hand, he attacks!
JT still took the Cup…
But once Xander moved up
At the top, he refused to look back.
The photo came from this page at golfweek.com.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Charley Hull on Playing from the Rough (Video)

I'm back from Disneyworld, back in North Carolina. (And for the curious among you, I took a plane, not a banshee.) But I'm much more tired than I expected, so this post will be a short one.

Hopefully it's still a helpful one.

Here's Charley Hull with some tips on playing from the rough. She should be an expert on that!



Most of the tips are standard stuff -- 56° sand wedge, ball back in stance, weight more on front foot, etc. -- but her advice to chop down like a bunker shot is a bit unusual. Watch the video closely and you'll see that Charley is leaning the clubshaft forward at address, which is a different approach from most who say this is like a bunker shot.

Charley is focusing less on distance control and more on just getting the ball out of there. This is a shot you play to get safely back in play; if the ball gets close to the hole, that's a bonus.

And now I'm headed to bed. I'll be back on schedule with the Limerick Summary on Monday, and then we'll see what we can turn up going forward. But right now, I need sleep!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

How to Ride a Banshee (Videos)

Friday was the last day of my vacation at Disneyworld, so by the time most of you read this I'll be back in good old North Carolina. But rather than write about golf -- which I'll have plenty of time to do over the next few days -- I thought I'd tell you about something unbelievably fun that I did at Disney.

On Friday I rode the Avatar: Flight of Passage ride in Animal Kingdom -- that's right, the one where you get to ride an ikran, better known to us humans as a banshee. For those of you who never saw the movie Avatar, here's what a banshee looks like:

Mountain Banshee with Na'vi warriors

Pretty cool, eh? I think the ride has become way more popular than Disney anticipated because... well, let's face it. Most rides, if there's a 90 minute wait time, people don't get in line. They try to get FastPasses -- a pre-arranged time to return and ride without much of a wait -- and barring that, they simply wait to ride some other time.

However, the word of mouth about the banshee ride is different. FastPasses were unavailable all week (for several weeks, based on what I've heard) yet every person I talked to this week said I should ignore the time in line and JUST GO. And so I spent three hours Friday getting a ride -- it was a two hour wait when I started at 11:15, then some of the simulators went down from apparent overwork, and I finally finished the ride at 2:15.

And they were right. It was TOTALLY worth it. So I found some YouTube video that gives you an idea how Disney managed to make this thing believable.

If you've ever ridden Soarin', Disney's hang glider sim, AFoP is Soarin' overdosed on steroids. You can actually feel the banshee breathing as you sit on it! Add in the sensations, the sounds, the smells, even the feel of the wind and ocean spray, and you end up with an amazingly real experience. They even found a way to simulate the feel of your avatar's actual movements as you sit on the simulator, which is quite simple but blindingly effective. It's just cool.

And I've found some YouTube videos to help you understand what I did Friday. First, here's a video from Attractions Magazine that was shot when the ride opened back in May. It shows you the simulator "saddle" and some of the stuff that you go through before you ride. But this doesn't show you everything. This is just the basic orientation stuff. There some fun stuff where, for instance, your DNA gets scanned for an avatar match, that isn't shown here.



But somebody taped their entire 4:30 ride and posted it to YouTube. I've included it below. Bear in mind that this doesn't even begin to let you know how the ride feels -- for example, the whale that leaps out of the water in this video is HUGE when you're on the ride and it nearly lands on you as it comes down. You can hear the person who taped this screaming as she rode... and it's not just for effect; I found myself doing the same sort of thing.

And I just don't do that, people. But this one had me reacting as if I was really plunging straight down toward the ground on the back of a flying lizard. Have a look:



This isn't a sales pitch by any stretch. But this is one of the best vacations I've ever had, and I have to attribute much of it to this ride.

So remember, folks: There's way more to life than just golf... and riding a banshee definitely fits in that category! The next few weeks are gonna feel a bit boring by comparison.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Variety of News Articles

Although I've been keeping up the posts this week, I am in fact on vacation in Disneyworld with friends. I haven't had time to do swing analyses and such, so I haven't tried. And while the trip is almost over, it's still going to be a couple of days before I'm back in North Carolina. So today I'm just linking you to some interesting news bits that I've run across -- in-between flights to Mars, fireworks displays and trips to a comedy club run by monsters, that is.

Catriona Matthew

I found articles at both Golfweek and Golf Digest about Catriona Matthew's appointment as 2019 Solheim Cup captain. I don't think this is any real surprise, as that competition will be held in Perthshire, Scotland. Still, it's nice to know that the Euro team didn't drag out what really should be a no-brainer.

Golf.com has a neat article about a new Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Beer Pong Golf. To quote the article:
The venture was launched on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter earlier this summer, and in a few days it had sailed past its goal to raise $20,000. As of Thursday morning, 874 backers have poured $138,274 into the project
The irony here is that something simple like this may be a bigger draw to new golfers than some of the more publicized (and expensive) attempts to create a simple entry point. This is a grassroots, play-it-in-the-backyard approach that could become addictive.

I also found two articles about the new Titleist AVX ball. Golf Digest focuses on the initially limited distribution while Golfweek focuses on the construction. But neither article is very long because the ball is so new.

And finally, Golf Digest has an article about how Michael Phelps is helping Tiger Woods -- and other athletes -- deal with the various drug-related depression problems and such that are becoming more common among star athletes.

Those are the interesting bits I've seen between vacation highlights. Hopefully you'll enjoy them. (Especially the Beer Pong Golf. That really sounds like fun!)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The New 2017-2018 PGA Tour Schedule Is Out

Golf Digest just published a summary article about next season's schedule. I'll leave it to you to read it -- if you're interested in it -- but I'll mention a few things that caught my eye.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan

There are two new events on the schedule, bringing the total to 49. Both events are outside the US -- one in South Korea, one in the Dominican Republic. And there's a roughly six-week break for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Tiger's event in Washington, now just called "The National", is without a venue or sponsor. Monahan said they needed to put it on the schedule because everything is still in negotiation. Likewise, the Barbasol Championship is a sponsor looking for a venue and the Houston Open is a venue looking for a sponsor.

And finally, the one-week break in the FedExCup Playoffs moves to the week between the BMW and the Tour Championship -- which makes sense if you look at almost any other sport's playoffs. (The two-week break before the Super Bowl is almost legendary at this point.)

All-in-all, it sounds like business as usual to me. Until they start shuffling big events in 2019, we're unlikely to see anything really new and interesting.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the Tour Championship

Welcome to the culmination of the 2017 FedExCup race, aka the Tour Championship.

The FedEx Cup

You know the score -- East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta GA, 30 players, Top5 automatically win the Cup with a tournament win, $1.89mil to the tournament winner, $10mil bonus to the FedExCup winner.

Okay. Without further ado, here are my "5 to Watch" this week:
  • Jordan Spieth is a no-brainer here. He's won the Tour Championship and the Cup before (2015), and he's #1 in FedExCup points going into the week. He's also gone runner-up, runner-up, T7 in the first three Playoff events. Hard to bet against a man like that.
  • Likewise, Justin Thomas is almost a no-brainer. He's been a bit inconsistent lately, but he's #2 in the points list and he won the Dell Technologies Championship, the second Playoff event. Not as big a favorite as Jordan, but you can't sleep on him because he's too good when he's on.
  • Rickie Fowler... he's #6 on the list and yet I'm not quite sure what to make of him. He's too good not to make this list, and too unpredictable for me to make him my pick this week. But I wouldn't fault anybody who did pick him to win. If he can find one good week of properly controlled aggression, I think he gets it done.
  • Justin Rose hasn't played the way I think a solid #8 should. Until last week, I wasn't sure he would make this list at all. But I saw signs at the BMW that he has rediscovered the form he lost after the Masters. If I'm right about that, he could easily shock the field with a win this week... and yet it wouldn't really be a shock at all.
  • And my flier is... Marc Leishman. I know what you're thinking -- how does the #4 guy rate being a flier? He caught fire at the Dell, where he came in second, then won the BMW last week. Yet I feel he's a bit of a dark horse who turned a corner in his career at the Dell. It's been difficult for players to turn in a winning performance the week after a win. (Witness Justin Thomas's T47 at the BMW.) But if his putting continues, he could spoil a whole lot of parties this week.
And my pick is... Leishman. Despite the number of things I see that seem to be against him, I can't shake the feeling that he's on the verge of doing something big. And while that "something" might be a record performance at the Presidents Cup, I see no reason that he couldn't use the Tour Championship as a warm-up for that Cup as well.

The Tour Championship coverage begins Thursday at 1pm ET on GC. And given the way this season has played out, I think we could see something really special this time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why Randall Mell Might Be Wrong

It's become very popular over the last week to criticize how the Evian Championship played out, with the first round being wiped out, the event shortened to only 54 holes and the apparent mandate to finish the major in Sunday's broadcast slot. Randall Mell even wrote an opinion post called Randall's Rant: The Evian earned a major* asterisk to focus on what he sees as the problem.

He points to Mike Whan's belief that "We have to start thinking like title sponsors," that the LPGA needs to focus more on its sponsors than on the inherent integrity of the game.

photo for Mell's editorial

Now don't misunderstand. Mell isn't criticizing Whan's importance to the LPGA or the women's game in general. What he questions is whether Whan's approach works for majors as well as it works for women's golf in general.

And make no mistake, it has worked spectacularly.

As I see it, his question ignores a very important fact: The reason that the other four women's majors have become so respected is because Whan has adopted this approach. Let me explain, and I'll try to keep this short because I think the issue has been blown out of proportion but does deserve to be addressed.

Mell points out that, among Whan's other great achievements as LPGA commish, one of the things he has done successfully is convince (if you'll pardon the pun) major players in the men's game that the women deserve to be taken just as seriously. And the very reason Whan has achieved this "rise in status" for the women's game has been his attention to the sponsors. Let's look at some things that have happened since Whan became commish in late 2009.
  • More Open venues have become hosts of the RICOH Women's British Open, beginning with Carnoustie (2011) and Royal Liverpool (2012).
  • The PGA of America and the LPGA have begun working together, and that has resulted in the LPGA Championship becoming the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and expanding its play to the same championship venues that the men routinely play.
  • The PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour have begun working together, and this has also resulted in better quality events overall.
All of these advancements took time, but they happened in a much shorter timeframe than most expected. This is because Mike Whan has consistently taken gambles that appeared foolish, even contrary to the health of the women's game. Time after time, Whan's instincts have proven to be not only correct but successful to an inexplicable degree.

So when Mell ends his article with a medley of faults inherent in the Evian -- faults which he believes have become damaging to the LPGA -- and with the following statement:
Riboud’s working on it [the shortcomings], and Whan’s working on it, but we saw decisions last week that clash with major championship tradition.
I find myself laughing. As Mell himself notes, Whan declared the Evian a major just five years ago. I ask, what was the situation like at that time and how has it changed?

Evian was, at that time, considered a major by the LET although it wasn't accorded such status by the LPGA, and the sponsors had been the sponsors for a long time with little change made. Yet, in five short years, the Evian Championship course has undergone major renovations -- which are still continuing, as Mell notes in that previous quote -- the purse has gone up dramatically and the women themselves are taking it more seriously.

Is it perfect after five years? Of course not, and the tweets from the women themselves this past week indicate that they aren't satisfied yet. But this event has come much, much, MUCH further along than it would have without the "Whan approach." And we know that Mike Whan himself, as well as the sponsors -- who were satisfied with the event for so long -- we know that none of them are satisfied either.

In a word, we wouldn't even be having a discussion about how far this event has to go if it weren't for Mike Whan risking this sort of criticism. If not for Whan's somewhat radical approach, the LPGA would likely be in worse shape than the LET is right now... and the LET is willing to listen to Whan's ideas because Whan's involvement causes the Men's ET to get involved.

Randall Mell is wrong. The Evian doesn't get an asterisk for failing. Before long it will likely be seen as a major stepping stone in the growth of women's golf, because we know Mike Whan & his co-conspirators will use this as a goad to drive their game to higher levels of excellence.If this Evian gets an asterisk, it will be for inspiring new advancements in women's golf. And why am I so sure?

Because that's what Mike Whan has done time after time since he became LPGA commish. Given his success rate for meeting challenges so far, I see no reason to believe he won't meet this one as well.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 BMW Championship

Winner: Marc Leishman

Around the wider world of golf: Anna Nordqvist won the Evian Championship, the LPGA's final major of the year; Jerry Kelly won the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship on the Champions Tour; Chesson Hadley won the Albertsons Boise Open on the Web.com Tour; Rico Hoey won the Freedom 55 Financial Championship on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Hannah Green won the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout on the Symetra Tour; Romain Wattel won the KLM Open on the ET; Yuta Ikeda won the ANA Open on the Japan Golf Tour; and Richard T. Lee won the Shinahan Donghae Open on the Asian Tour.

Marc Leishman with BMW trophy

Let's face the facts: Except for a couple of holes early on in the final round, Marc Leishman's victory at the BMW Championship was never really in doubt. He started with a five-shot lead; he finished with a five-shot lead.

In fact, the only real challenge to the wire-to-wire winner came from an unexpected source -- Justin Rose. Rose finally seems to have refound the form he showed at the Masters, and he posted a near-perfect 65 to make Leishman at least think about the rest of the field.

However, Leishman didn't think about them for very long. An unexpected birdie at 15 triggered a three-under run to the end of the round. Unlike the final round lead he gave up in his last event, he stayed steady all the way to the end and got the biggest win of his career. Plus, he gained one of those highly-coveted spots in the Top5 next week at the Tour Championship.

Regardless of what happens next week, Leishman has turned a corner in his career this season. This is his first two-win season, peppered with some of the best scores of his career. And more importantly, he joins that exclusive group of players to receive two or more Limerick Summaries in one season!
Marc spent the whole week at the top;
The rest of the field couldn’t stop
His blazing hot putter.
At best, they could mutter
About how much champagne he’ll pop.
The photo came from the tournament page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Some Ideas for Cool Weather Golf Gear

This article over at Golf Digest lists some ideas for stylish fall golf gear. Maybe I'm just behind on the fashion scene (yes, sad but quite possibly true) but I found a couple of things that sort of surprised me.

Like puffy down jackets. Apparently they don't restrict your swing although they can make those irritating zippy noises. This Under Armour ColdGear Reactor jacket is an affordable one that isn't supposed to make noises.

Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Jacket

The other thing they mentioned was hoodies. Apparently some of the companies are making hoodies that are "safe" to wear on the golf course -- that is, they won't get you thrown off.

All-in-all, they listed 11 different types of gear that they say you should consider. For my tastes, some of it was too expensive and some was just not me. But you might find the article instructive if you're looking for something fashion-forward to spice up your golf wardrobe.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Skinny on Ben Crane's 8-Stroke Penalty and DQ

Today I've just got a link for you. Here is Golf Digest's explanation of what happened to Ben Crane at the Albertson's Boise Open in the Web.com Playoffs. After reading the article I finally understand why Ben got DQ'ed. At least Ben had a sense of humor about it.

Ben Crane

But it still seems a bit senseless to me. The stickers had no more influence on the club's performance than the company engravings on the clubhead did. And given that he hadn't even used the clubs...

Let's just say I have mixed emotions about this ruling. There's the letter of the law, and there's the spirit of the law. Perhaps the rather important distinction between the two has been forgotten here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Joe Miller on Range of Motion (video)

Golfing World did a few videos with long drive champ Joe Miller. This one focuses on range of motion -- yes, that insanely long swing Joe uses -- and he demonstrates the basic principles by helping host Anna Whitely pick up some distance.



Here is what I want you to get from this video. These couple of points are dirt simple but so easy to misunderstand.

First, Joe says there are two main ways to create swing speed:
  • One is force. You try to swing the club down as fast as you can. Joe says most people think this is the most obvious way.
  • Two is length of swing. If your hands -- yes, Joe focuses on hands rather than clubhead -- travel a longer distance, the club has more time to pick up speed. This is the one Joe says he uses.
This is basically the difference between the modern and classic swings.
  • Modern swings try to swing as fast as possible. Many people tense up their back muscles and jerk the club from the top when they try. And then they wonder why they have back problems!
  • Classic swings don't necessarily try to swing harder, but by swinging longer the club picks up speed more smoothly.
And second, swinging longer automatically makes you swing faster. You don't have to try any harder than normal to pick up speed if you just swing longer.

Joe and Anna are using a device that measures speed. And simply by swinging longer -- watch the video and see, Anna isn't trying to swing out of her shoes -- she picked up 6mph. That's 15-20 extra yards.

I'm not saying you have to twist yourself into a pretzel and swing like Joe Miller. But I keep telling you that swinging relaxed will increase your swing speed... and trust me, you can't swing like anything like Joe Miller if you tense up and try to swing hard. Let gravity do most of the work. The key is to stay as relaxed as possible until your arms are near parallel to the ground in your downswing. (I'm giving you a safety measurement here. At this point, your body will be less likely to pull any muscles. Always better to be safe than sorry. Trust me on this.)

Watch this video a few times then try to practice making a longer, more relaxed swing. I'm thinking you just might pick up some yardage without lifting cars in the gym everyday... and with fewer back problems as well. REMEMBER: Always err on the side of safety!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Latest Caddie Change

For those of you who missed Jason Day's explanation of his "split" from caddie Colin Swatton, here's a Golf Digest article that gives the details.

Jason Day and Colin Swatton

I put the word split in parentheses because while everybody is using the word, it doesn't sound like the right word to me. Their business relationship hasn't ended, not the way Phil and Bones ended theirs, or Rory and J.P. did, or even Lydia Ko and Gary Matthews (after a mere nine events). Cole is still Jason's coach, which he was before. He just isn't looping for him right now.

And Jason told GC that it might end up being temporary, but that he felt he needed the change to keep from possibly ruining their friendship. Remember, Cole has basically been Jason's dad since J-Day was 12. Jason also said it was ironic that, having made this choice, he was actually getting to spend more non-business time with him.

In other words, Jason has -- at least for the time being -- returned his relationship with Cole back to what it was when Jason was a teenager more in need of guidance than a caddie. And given all the upheaval in his life this year, including the stress of his mother's battle with cancer (again, remember that at one point he thought he was going to lose her), it sounds to me as if Jason has simply decided he needs his "dad" more than his caddie at this point in his life.

All-in-all, that sounds pretty smart to me. And I won't be surprised if Cole is back on his bag sometime next year, after Jason's back in a good place emotionally. We'll see. For now, let's see if Jason can make it to East Lake next week.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kyle Morris on Chipping VS Full Swing (Video)

On a previous post about swinging, I mentioned some things that Dana asked me to expand upon if possible. Here's my first post to try and help explain them. This chipping video from GC instructor Kyle Morris talks about how chipping is different from your full swing.



One of the things I mentioned in the classic swing post was that modern pros have to learn two different swings because good short game players use classic technique for their short game instead of the modern swing techniques used in their full swings. The reason is that full swings focus on generating power while short games focus much more on touch. The short gamers use the bounce more while the long gamers are using the leading edge of the club.

I'm not telling you anything new here. I've done numerous posts on how you use the bounce and how to use the leading edge, as have almost every instructor you've watched on GC's shows. And if you're using stiffer shafts -- which you need to use if you use a modern swing for your full game; otherwise the shaft will flex too much and you'll lose accuracy -- you have to consciously change your technique as you go from one to the other. The process of creating power to flex the shaft requires different timing, as Kyle demonstrates in the above video.

However, Dana's teacher is a disciple of the late Manuel de la Torre, who taught a more classic technique based in the Ernest Jones method. In their more classic swing, there is no difference between long and short swings. I know you're wondering how that can be, especially given Kyle's explanation.

The classic swing isn't dramatically different in terms of technique, but it's a different mental approach. Perhaps the best way to explain it is to think of using a flyswatter, which is an image I use frequently. Flyswatters are very flexible, so you create more speed by "flicking" the swatter rather than trying to "hit" the fly with it. In fact, if you try to "hit" with an old metal flyswatter, you'll actually bend the handle and never hit the fly at all.

That's because you can't "flick" with power. The soft shaft requires you to do it with technique.

The classic swing, for lack of a better term, uses a softer shaft and a "flicking" motion to create clubhead speed. And as the swing lengthens, the speed of the clubhead increases. Now, here's the trick: That speed increase, coupled with the "flicking" motion, means that the conscious change Kyle is demonstrating between long and short swings is automatically created by the speed increase in a classic swing.

Modern technique requires a firmer grip and therefore less flexible wrists. You have to consciously relax your wrists at the right moment, which is why it takes so much practice to create consistency.

Classic technique, on the other hand, uses a more relaxed grip and therefore your wrists act more like unpowered hinges. The sequencing of the change of direction in a full swing is therefore different than the sequencing of the change of direction in a short swing. AUTOMATICALLY. And if that's hard to understand, don't feel bad. Like I said, it's a different mental approach and it's harder for many if not most people to understand. (It gave me problems too. But once I got it, it seemed dreadfully simple.)

Just for the record, my Quick Guides are sort of a halfway house. They use a more modern approach, but I've removed much of the exaggeration required in a modern technique. In other words, I've incorporated some very fluid Sam Snead moves into the more mechanical Hogan techniques. That way, you can get some of the benefits of both without having to relearn things. (Pure classic swing uses that slight difference in hand technique, coupled with that different mental approach which actually changes how the swing feels. I'm planning a book on it, but it's going to be a while.)

So anyway, I hope that gives you folks a start at understanding how classic swing and modern swing, while using basically the same techniques, can work so differently. I'll be doing more on this topic in the future, because we now have the equipment to use either swing effectively... but modern instruction apparently hasn't realized it yet.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the Evian

The final women's major of the year kicks off in just a couple of days. The Evian Championship usually gives us some real drama at the end of the major season, and I expect this one to be no different.

So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park

This event is played at Evian Resort Golf Club, in beautiful Evian-les-Bains, France. The defending champion is In Gee Chun, who you may remember set the major scoring record of 21-under. (And yes, that's the record for both women AND men. To quote Darth Vader, "Impressive. Very impressive.") And as usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his website.

The big story this week -- for most fans, anyway -- is the three gals in the photo. Any of the Top3 in the Rolex Rankings -- So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park -- could be #1 by the end of this major. But I think there will be some other, equally big storylines to watch...

And some of those players are in my "5 to Watch."
  • The first story on my list is Lydia Ko. No, Lydia hasn't had a bad year but we expect her to dominate. Last week she showed signs that her game may finally be coming back, and Evian was her first major back in 2015. Definitely a storyline to watch.
  • Georgia Hall is high on my watch list this week. After playing so well at the RICOH Women's British and the Solheim Cup, I think she may be ready to take the next step. Evian has been kind to first timers, and Georgia definitely has the game.
  • Evian is a ballstriker's course, and Danielle Kang is clearly a ballstriker. She picked up her first major earlier this year, and I think she's had enough time to come down from the emotions of the Solheim Cup. I wouldn't be surprised to see her double up and make both of her first two wins majors.
  • Lexi Thompson is a streaky player and she's certainly on a streak lately. In her last ten events she has two wins and three runner-ups. Coming off that impressive win at Indy, I don't expect her to have any letdown. This is her chance to pick up the one she missed at the ANA.
  • And for my flier... Moriya Jutanugarn. Ariya's older sister has been a Top10 machine this year. I know she hasn't won on the LPGA yet, but neither had Danielle and look what she did! Evian isn't long but it's hilly and the greens are contoured (boy, is THAT an understatement!), which plays right into her game.
The last three majors have had first-time major winners. I think that trend continues, so I'm picking... Georgia Hall. She's proven that she, like Danielle Kang, can handle the pressure. And I think she'll do just that.

Because of the time difference, GC's Evian coverage starts at 5am ET early Thursday morning. However, after three hours of early round coverage, they'll be back with late round coverage at 9:30am ET for another three hours. Lots of major golf this week!

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Indy Women in Tech Championship

Winner: Lexi Thompson

Around the wider world of golf: Colin Montgomerie won the Japan Airlines Championship on the Champions Tour; Matthew Fitzpatrick won the Omega European Masters on the ET; Kramer Hickok won the Ontario Championship on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Oscar Fraustro won the San Luis Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Shingo Katayama won the ISPS HANDA Match Play on the Japan Golf Tour; and Anne-Catherine Tanguay won the Garden City Charity Classic on the Symetra Tour.

Lexi Thompson (with trophy) kissing the Yard of Bricks

Since the PGA Tour has the week off, I couldn't resist doing a limerick that could legitimately use racing lingo. And for me to explain it, you need to learn a bit of racing history...

Beginning with that photo of Lexi above.

What Lexi is doing is called "kissing the bricks" -- specifically, the Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Indy Women in Tech tournament was played. (You can get the entire history of the tradition here.) The original Speedway was built with over 3 million bricks back in 1909. By 1961 nearly the entire speedway had been repaved with asphalt -- except for one 36" strip at the finish line.

That is the Yard of Bricks and since NASCAR racer Dale Jarrett kissed the bricks after his win at the 1996 Brickyard 400, every Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 winner has adopted the tradition.

And probably every future Indy Women in Tech Championship winner will as well, now that Lexi has honored the tradition.

While we normally think that being "in the pits" means that everything is going wrong, in racing it means that your car is being refueled or repaired during a race. It just happens that both meanings explain Lydia Ko's game this year. She's played alright, but not up to her record. This week it appears that the "pit crew" has got her game firing on all cylinders.

That improved game let her and Lexi match each other shot-for-shot until the 11th hole of the final round, when Lydia's bogey gave Lexi a three-shot lead that she never relinquished.

Leading, of course, to the photo you see above.

So this week's Limerick Summary is awarded to Lexi for her speedy return to the winner's circle -- also a racing term, in case you didn't know:
Although Ko’s game has been in the pits,
Lexi also has taken some licks.
The two ran neck-and-neck
Till Ko’s 11th-hole wreck
Left the Thompson team kissing the bricks.
The photo came from this page at golfdigest.com.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Camilla Lennarth on the Driving Iron (Video)

Camilla Lennarth probably isn't too familiar to American fans. She's a Swedish player who's been on the LET for several years, with one win. So why am I featuring a player who hasn't become a household name yet?

Because she did a short LET instructional video on how to use a driving iron, a club which is gaining in popularity but about which there aren't too many how-to videos yet.



The first thing to note is that this isn't some kind of 12° or 15° long iron. If I'm reading the numbers on the sole correctly, her driving iron is 21°, which is why Camilla says that a driving iron is basically the same as a hybrid -- that is, you play it virtually the same way. So why would you use one instead of a hybrid?

The driving iron has more weight on the back, which helps you get the ball up in the air while still getting less spin on the ball. That creates more run when it hits the ground. You also get a flatter launch angle (Camilla calls it a "bullet shot") which makes it easier to control the ball in the wind.

Camilla's tips (which may help you with your hybrids as well):
  • Ball position is the same with both clubs. She says she plays the ball slightly ahead of her 5-iron position, so she can get the ball up in the air more easily.
  • This ball position means the clubshaft is almost vertical at setup, rather than leaning forward. You can see this in the video.
  • And you can also see in the video that she doesn't exaggerate her forward weight shift during the downswing. You don't want to hit down on the ball. The weighted sole keeps the ball low without putting so much backspin on it.
Some of you might find that a club like this has a place in your bag. If so, now you know how to play it.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Mike Davis on Downhill Lies (Video)

GCA teacher Mike David did a short segment on how to play off a downhill lie that I found very helpful. Of course, I'm going to try and simplify it a bit.



Davis lists five primary keys to making a good shot from a downhill lie:
  1. Tilt your torso with the slope
  2. Widen your stance
  3. Ball position is a bit tricky -- imagine a line rising perpendicular from the ground to the downhill side of your face and put the ball there
  4. Swing easier
  5. No weight shift -- set up with weight on downhill leg
Okay, let's see if we can make these things a bit more instinctive.

Numbers 1, 2 and 5 can be made a bit simpler by combining them and studying the video. When you tilt your torso, you're trying to get your shoulders more in line with the slope. But if we widen our stance and set up with our weight already on our downhill side, we can effectively get these three correct by simply placing our head directly vertical over our lead foot and then moving it ever so slightly to the uphill side. That's simply a balance thing -- we don't want to lose our balance and fall down the hill when we swing! Widening our stance and setting our head almost over our downhill foot automatically creates a spine angle suitable for the slope.

To get the ball position correct (key #3), let's use the address position we just created. Instead of trying to create a line perpendicular to the slope -- we've already created several angles in our address -- let's just place the ball vertically below our UPHILL EAR. If you look at the video, you'll see that's roughly where the ball is... and you can find that place during a practice session simply by dropping a ball held beside your uphill ear and watching to see where it lands.

Finally, instead of trying to change our swing speed (key #4) let's just think of this swing as a big pitch shot. That will keep us from swinging too hard or too long, and we can just make a normal swing from about shoulder height.

Those three keys should help you duplicate the Davis setup from this video without getting too caught up in the angles you're trying to create. Addressing the ball on a downhill slope affects both your balance and your vision, so you might as well make it as simple as you can. This way, you can use gravity to help you create a consistent address position.

All you need is a little time on a slope practicing your setup. You won't need to hit balls at first -- just get familiar with the setup. As Davis says, learning to predict your distance comes with practice.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Build-Your-Own Weighted Swing Stick (Video)

Another Golf Digest project video -- this time, a swing training aid from household items.



This is self-explanatory -- fill a tube with sand and seal the end with duct tape. (PLEASE NOTE: The broomstick they used is a hollow metal one.)

To be honest, I think this would be easier to make if you just bought some 3/4" PVC pipe and used screw-on or glue-on fittings at the ends. (You could still use duct tape to save money, if you want to.) While you might not have those things just laying around the house, many of you probably don't have a hollow metal broomstick laying around either.

While I don't care for expensive swing aids, something inexpensive like this can be useful if you have a need for it. And I like the idea that you can make this swing stick as heavy as you want (if you use a mixture of sand and ball bearings, for instance).

Of course, you could also just swing two golf clubs at once. Each to his own.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

LPGA Meets NASCAR

Not into racing? Never fear, I'll get you up to speed. ;-)

For many race fans, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (aka the Brickyard) is the home of the Indianapolis 500 (aka the Indy 500), part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport. Drivers race in IndyCars, which are similar to open cockpit Formula One cars. That's the oldest racing tradtion at the Brickyard, going back to 1911.

Being from North Carolina, I'm as likely to think of it as the home of the Brickyard 400, part of the NASCAR Series. Drivers race in "stock cars," which look very much like regular street vehicles but are much faster. This race was first run in 1994.

Now the LPGA hopes to add their name to those attached to the Brickyard when they tee it up at the Women in Tech Championship today for the first time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, aka the Brickyard

The golf course is the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort, which you might be surprised to know was opened as the Speedway Golf Course in 1929. Fourteen of the holes surround the track while four are in the infield. Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his site.

There's really not a lot to say about the event at this point, simply because it's an inaugural event. The location of the golf course should create some excitement, and possibly the Saturday finish (this is a three-day event). I suspect there will also be some curiosity about how Stacy Lewis will play this week, after her emotional breakthrough win last week

The Women in Tech Championship starts today at 3pm ET, but GC will have a PreGame show at 2:30pm ET. I for one will be very interested to see how the course fares when the pros start racing around it.