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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Answering Questions about Swinging (Videos)

A few days back I did a post called Hitting VS Swinging, and Dana left the following questions in the comments:
Mike, can you speak more on the swinger preference and feeling the club pull the hands back. I've been taking lessons from a student of Manuel, and he says 'use the hands to take the clubhead back, then swing the entire club forward.' Also, any youtubes on good swinging motions?
That's a lot to cover in one post, but I'll see if I can at least start clearing up some of the confusion.

I'll start with the last question first. It's really hard to find videos that demonstrate a "historically accurate" swinging motion, because of Ernest Jones. As I noted in that other post, Jones adapted the original classic swing -- which was intended for use with soft hickory shafts -- to stiffer steel shafts. In doing so, he had to drop some of the original techniques that didn't transfer well.

A good example is what many modern teachers call "regripping at the top of the swing." In my copy of the Jones book Swing the Clubhead, on page 33 he specifically says that this is an error that many great golfers did unintentionally. That puts him at odds with Harry Vardon who, in his book The Complete Golfer (which is in public domain here in the US and can be found in several free digital editions at this Project Gutenberg link), not only said that the regripping was on purpose, but told how much movement there was and where to measure it! But Vardon played only hickory and Jones taught his students how to play steel. The "regrip," which really isn't a regrip because those fingers aren't gripping the club -- they actually sense the shaft tension to help you feel what the clubhead is doing -- didn't allow you to load a steel shaft properly. (Don't understand what that means? Check out this post.)

Having said that, the late Manuel de la Torre -- who I have often recommended as an alternative to Hogan for those who requested an option -- based much of his teaching on Jones, and he taught several LPGA major winners. There are some YouTubes of de la Torre, but I have posted one of an old Academy Live show below. I originally posted it at this link, but this will save you some time. Note that, as I noted in my original post, the first five minutes may sound like crazy geometric stuff, but hang in there because there's a lot of good material in this show.



Now, about that "use the hands to take the clubhead back, then swing the entire club forward" comment. I have talked about "flinging the clubhead back" in past posts, which may have added to the confusion. I'm going to try to explain both phrases here, and then I'll call it quits for today.

Here is a video of Harry Vardon I found that illustrates the classic "flinging" motion. I've set it to start at the 1:45 mark (to give you time to close any ads that might appear) where you'll see text that says
The "slowed" view. Note how the hands move back before the head of the club.
If you watch the sequence there closely, you'll see Vardon waggle the club, place the clubhead behind the ball, forward press very slightly, and then the hands will move back noticeably before the clubhead begins to move.



Have you ever heard Gary Player talk about "striking a match" with the clubhead? This is the same movement, only on the backswing. In Player's drill, if you set the club behind the ball and then "strike the match" as you swing to your finish, you'll feel pressure in the back of your trailing wrist. When the clubhead overcomes the friction of touching the ground, it will be flung forward and the motion will feel as if the clubhead is pulling your hands forward.

"Flinging the clubhead back" is the same sort of motion, except you do it on the takeaway and it creates that pressure in the back of your LEAD wrist. When the clubhead starts to overcome the friction of the ground, it is flung backward and feels as if it is pulling your hands upward.

Then, at the change of direction at the top, the pressure will again move to the back of your trailing wrist, just as it did when you "struck the match" earlier. This feeling is caused by the clubhead lagging on the way down as your wrist cock is retained (or whatever terms you want to use to describe it). Your wrists finally start to uncock around halfway down because the increasing speed of the clubhead (acceleration!) starts catching up to the much slower speed of your hands.

In other words, your hands take the clubhead back and then you swing the entire club forward.

This doesn't mean you aren't using your lower body to drive the swing. The laws of physics DEMAND that your swing start from the ground up, both when you start your backswing and when you start your downswing. The problem comes when we start to interfere with the natural motions. Then we create exaggerated motions that overpower the natural motions our bodies are trying to do. And that causes more inconsistency, because we don't overpower the natural motions quite the same way every time. (That's part of the reason pros have to practice so much and yet they still struggle.)

I can hear your protests -- the golf swing ISN'T natural! Well, yes and no. It would be more correct to say that it isn't natural to all of us. Ever wonder why baseball players, quarterbacks and hockey players seem to be much better at the game than the rest of us?

It's all about the shoulder coil. See, most of us never learn what a natural shoulder coil USING BOTH ARMS feels like. Pick up a ball in one hand and throw it overhand. Take a look at yourself in a mirror. I bet your shoulders haven't turned more than maybe 30°, if that. Your hips barely turn at all.

But those three athletes I mentioned, they all learn to coil their shoulders while they hold one object with both hands -- the baseball player swings a bat, the quarterback uses both hands to take the ball up to shoulder height (to secure that large ball in case he gets hit), and the hockey player uses a stick. And the hockey players are typically the best of the three, simply because the hockey stick has a flat surface that they have to learn to control if they want the puck to go where they aim it. So the hockey players are much better with hand/clubface control as well as making a better shoulder coil. These are skills that work for both swingers and hitters, but they really make a swinger into a formidable opponent.

So there you have it. That's sort of a basic course on how the swinging motion works and why some folks are better at it than others. I hope it answers yours and Dana's questions. And as usual, you can drop extra questions in the comments below and I'll try to answer them.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

And Now for Playoff Battle #2

The Dell Technologies Championship -- previously the Deutsche Bank Championship -- is the second FedExCup Playoff event, being held at TPC Boston in Norton MA.

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas

While 100 players were slated to tee it up, only 96 (at this point) will actually do so. Missing will be:
  • Henrik Stenson (right knee)
  • Brandt Snedeker (sternum joint)
  • J.B. Holmes (no reason given)
  • Scott Piercy (shoulder)
Stenson is currently 22nd on the points list so he should make it to the next round without difficulty. The other players are likely done as only Sneds is ranked better than 70th, but at 68 he's probably done as well. (Given how many events he's missed over the last couple of months, it's probably better for his health anyway.)

Also, bear in mind that this is the last event with a 36-hole cut. And players who make it into the 70-player field at the BMW Championship will have a one-week break to get ready.

It's hard to believe that anybody but Dustin Johnson will be the favorite this week, after his performance at Glen Oaks. Spieth, Thomas, Rahm and Matsuyama would be the next tier, based on their play over the last few months. Still, if DJ has truly healed up from his back injury -- and last week's performance would tend to indicate that he has -- he's going to be a tough one to beat.

I suppose the biggest thing you need to remember this week is that the Dell has a Labor Day finish (Monday), so the event doesn't start until Friday at 2:30pm ET on GC. And with CBS coverage done for the season, the 3rd and 4th rounds (Sunday and Monday) will be on NBC.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Devan Bonebrake's Center Contact Drill (Video)

This "gate drill" from GC's Devan Bonebrake should help you improve your ability to hit the ball in the center of the clubface. But what really caught my attention is his explanation of the drill. That may help you most, no matter what form of "gate" you choose to use at the range.



The idea of setting two "gateposts" on either side of your swing isn't a new one, whether you use two empty ball boxes like Devan suggests, or a couple of 2x4s or just a couple of tees. But what makes his explanation great is that he tells you what hitting the "gateposts" means, even when you don't have a ball between them:
  • If you hit the outside or "far post" -- that is, the one farthest away from you -- that means you hit the ball in the heel of the club.
  • If you hit the inside or "near post" -- that is, the one closest to you -- that means you hit the ball on the toe of the club.
Knowing what your error means is critical to successfully correcting it. Devan's explanation, as simple as it sounds, can dramatically improve your practice because most of us try these drills without truly thinking about what the mistakes mean. Remember: If your club's toe hits the "post," you heeled the shot. If your club's heel hits the "post," you toed the shot.

Thoughtful practice always results in faster improvement.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Northern Trust

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Sung Hyun Park won the Canadian Pacific Women's Open on the LPGA; Julian Suri won his first ET title at the Made in Denmark event; Jerry Kelly got his first Champions Tour win at the Boeing Classic; Brice Garnett won the WinCo Foods Portland Open on the Web.com Tour, and the first 25 PGA Tour cards were awarded; and Yuta Ikeda won the RIZAP KBC Augusta on the Japan Golf Tour.

Dustin Johnson with Northern Trust trophy

Well, we wanted to see the big boys dueling in the FedExCup Playoffs. Looks like we got it.

Dustin Johnson's game has been off since he injured his back at the Masters. It appears it has finally healed... and his game came roaring back this week. Trailing Jordan Spieth by three shots entering the final round -- and surrounded by GC's "Spieth Stats" showing that Jordan was 6-for-7 when leading at the halfway point -- DJ calmly told reporters that sure, he'd rather have a three-stroke lead than have to chase, but that chasing wasn't that bad a place to be.

He demonstrated how that can work Sunday.

Jordan started with a three-stroke lead, which he promptly built to five, then lost with a double-bogey and a bogey on the front nine. DJ made a single birdie on the 9th to cut the lead to one, and another birdie on 10 to draw even. The rest of the round was less predictable than the Mayweather-McGregor fight, but certainly offered as much punching and counterpunching. (For those of you who care about my opinion, I expected McGregor to lose -- it's harder to excel at a single discipline because you can't hide any weaknesses -- but I think McGregor fought well enough to gain some cred as a boxer. Mayweather is an artisan when it comes to boxing, and surviving ten rounds that ended with a TKO instead of an actual knockout against him is impressive to me.)

In the end, DJ and Jordan went one extra hole... and the drive that DJ hit, which he managed to place in the correct side of the fairway so he could see the flag, was definitely a knockout.

In a postseason that looked as if it might be all Jordan, what with Rory hurt and Jason Day's game still a bit off, it now looks as if a battle is brewing between Jordan, DJ and quite possibly Hideki and Justin Thomas, given how good their seasons have been. But DJ has drawn first blood in this matchup...

And he's also drawn the first playoff Limerick Summary. These playoffs should be fun!
Dustin Johnson is back on his game
After months when things just weren’t the same.
He and Spieth dropped the field
And when neither would yield,
Jordan taunted, “Come on!” So he came.
The photo came from the tournament page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Justin Rose on Short-Sided Pitch Shots

Today, a link to a short Golf Digest article by Justin Rose called Pitching to a Short-Sided Pin. It's a very short article but I thought the image Justin mentions is worth your time.



Simply put, Justin saw his teacher Sean Foley pitching to a pin from the short side and noticed a tattoo on the inside of his right forearm. (That would be his trailing forearm, so you lefties would see it on his left forearm.) The tattoo was pointing skyward after he hit the ball, which meant that his forearm didn't roll over at impact.

That tattoo image is a good one to help you if you have trouble with this shot. Make a mark or stick something on the inside of your trailing forearm near your wrist, then practice making pitch shots without letting the mark turn to the side of your target line at impact.

A simple fix for a simple problem. Those are the best kind!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hitting VS Swinging

Clyde sent me a Tweet asking about resources for hitting rather than swinging. I recommended Jimmy Ballard and Ben Hogan, and I Tweeted links to two of my own posts that were six years apart:
A Relaxed Approach to Wrist Action (2011) and The Wall Slap Drill (2017). And it occurred to me that many of you might have similar questions:
  1. Just what is the difference between hitting and swinging?
  2. How can I tell which teachers teach which method?
  3. And how do I choose which is best for me?
A complete answer to the first question would require understanding the entire history of the golf swing! In fact, although I tend to draw a line between them based on the equipment, there were hitters even in the days of hickory shafts (Walter Hagen is a great example), and there have been swingers even since steel shafts became the norm (Ernie Els comes to mind). So trying to give you a complete answer -- especially in a blog post -- isn't very likely.

Still, I think I can give you enough info that you can answer that third question. So let's get on with it.

Question 1) The simplest way to define the two is in terms of the swing's length. A practical and easy-to-remember dividing line is a three-quarter swing, as defined by the position of hands on a clock face.
  • For a righthander, a 3/4 swing is a 10:30 swing -- that is, at the top of your backswing -- your lead arm points halfway between the 10 and the 11.
  • For a lefthander, a 3/4 swing is a 1:30 swing -- that is, at the top of your backswing -- your lead arm points halfway between the 1 and the 2.
A swing shorter than that is a hitter's swing, and longer than that is a swinger's swing.

Why is that my dividing line? Because it effectively explains many of the other differences:
  • Hitters focus on power because it takes a lot of effort to create clubhead speed in a short time. Swingers focus on rhythm because the longer swing length allows them to speed up more gradually.
  • Hitters use stiffer shafts because that's the only way to control the force needed to create speed quickly. Swingers use softer shafts because the shafts load more slowly, thus they need to respond under less force.
  • Hitters use leverage to load the stiffer shafts. Swingers use momentum from centrifugal (and centripetal) force to load the shafts.
  • Hitters use less hand and wrist action because they want to focus the force on the shaft itself. Swingers use more hand and wrist action because they use motion to control the force placed on the shaft.
  • Hitters tend to swing flatter, as a more rotary swing creates more leverage by using the hips and legs as the primary power source. Swingers tend to swing upright, as the swing arc is bigger and makes it easier to create a big shoulder turn, which uses the momentum of the club as the primary power source. Note that both swings use both power sources, but in different ways. Sam Snead, for example, knew both swings and was a long driver regardless of which one he used.
Now there are other differences as well, and many of them are specific to certain teaching methods. But as a general rule, the motions are the same -- it's the player's mindset that makes the difference. The player's mental approach determines, for example, whether he (or she) feels the takeaway as his hands and arms pushing the club away from the ball (that's a hitter) or his hands and arms being pulled away from the ball (that's a swinger). Because steel shafts have been the norm since the late 1920s, most of us tend to think like hitters...

Which is a shame, because we now have the technology to make shafts ideally suited to the swinging motion, which is much easier on the average player's body. (Snead said the hardest thing his generation ever had to do was change from hickory to steel shafts. It took Byron Nelson to figure out the primary techniques, over a period of years during the 1930s.) As it stands, true swinging is something of a lost art these days, so it's difficult for players to really have a choice.

Question 2) You can often tell which swing an instructor teaches simply by looking at the length of the swing he teaches. But the truth is that most teachers, even those using some form of the classic swing, tend to teach a hybrid swing that doesn't use the most effective moves of the classic swing. Most classic teaching is based on a book by Ernest Jones, which wasn't published until 1935, roughly eight years after steel shafts became the standard in club manufacture.

In other words, it's actually much easier to find a "hitting" teacher than a "swinging" teacher. Your best chance of finding a "swinging" teacher is to find instructors taught by the late Jim Flick or the late Manuel de la Torre. Bob Toski, who is still alive, also teaches more of a swinging technique, as does Pete Cowen. (At least, his teachings that I'm familiar with seem to be more classic.) I'm sure there are others, but those four are perhaps the best known.

Question 3) Look at your body type and your physical attributes and limitations. These are your best guide. As a general rule, hitters tend to be stocky and less flexible while swingers tend to be thin and flexible. Many pros have back pain because they try to combine the two, creating a huge arc while creating a lot of leverage. Lower backs simply aren't built to handle that kind of stress, especially when you spend hours each day lifting cars and then more hours pumping all that added strength through your lower back on the range.

So here's what I'd recommend for you aspiring hitters out there:

The 3/4 swing puts you in a stronger position to create leverage without straining your back. Making a 90° shoulder coil is the MAXIMUM you want to create; something around 80° is safer. From that position, you can unleash almost as hard as you want without overstressing your back muscles. Just give yourself enough time to finish your backswing. While I hesitate recommending a pause like Hideki Matsuyama has, I'd rather see that than a jerky change of direction since that will hurt your back and also mess up your accuracy.

As for you slim flexible folks who also want to hit the ball, just be aware that you'll need to put in some gym work, especially for your forearms and shoulders. You'd be better to use a hybrid swing like Bubba Watson, who goes very upright and pulls down with high hands rather than around with low hands. That will put less stress on your back. Note that as hard as Bubba swings, we've not heard of him having any chronic back problems.

So there you go. I hope that gives you all some idea how to tell the two swings apart and get the kind of instruction you want. But remember that you can learn from almost any teacher, as long as you understand what kind of swing they're teaching.

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Thought on Starting Down from the Top

Today I have a simple quote from an old book called Such a Little Secret by John W. Barrett. It concerns the change of direction and the start of the downswing. I'm passing this on because it seems to be a good description of what happens, one that is helpful no matter what swing method you use.

Barrett likes to give movements numbers, so when you see Element Number Three in the text, that's just how he refers to the order of the change of direction in the swing sequence. Also, note that he assumes you're righthanded, so you lefties out there should substitute "right" for "left."
The correct hitting stroke should definitely commence with a transferring of the weight below the waist to the left foot and leg (Element Number Three). In many instructional articles this movement is invariably described as "shifting the weight" -- a misnomer that has bred more misunderstanding and early disenchantment with the game than anything else. If "shifting the weight" is ambiguous, then "Let the weight all flow to the left" or "Everything must move to the left with the shot" can be downright damaging. In fact it is only some of the weight which is transferred, that below the waist.

As the transfer is made, the upper body and head must retain their position in a vertical plane, remaining well behind the object to be hit.

The movement of the hips to the left should be just enough to plant the left heel firmly to the ground and lift the right heel from it as the weight transfers. Rotation of the hips occurs simultaneously with their small lateral move to the left. [p132-133]
Let me point out a couple of things here.

First, Barrett says "only some of the weight" is transferred, and that little bit is below the waist. He says at a later point that a "massive hip and knees slide" causes the upper body to move far too much, but that such a move is unfortunately taught all too often. If you keep those exaggerations out of the lateral move, you'll find that your upper body doesn't lurch forward when you swing. That problem is the result of using your legs incorrectly.

Second -- and this is the part that really caught my attention, because he stated it so well in that final paragraph -- is that the hips move toward the target just enough to replant the lead heel and lift the trailing heel. He also says that the hips rotate simultaneously with that small lateral move.

You got that? None of that "slide and turn" stuff. That is an exaggeration that changes all the correct posture you tried so hard to create at address! In past posts I've explained it as "almost falling" from the top of the backswing, because that lets gravity help create the small weight shift you need to get everything moving toward the target without overdoing it. But it doesn't matter how you feel it, so long as you don't overdo it!

This is a very simple tip, but it will do wonders to help improve both your accuracy and your distance, simply because it will help you deliver the clubhead to the ball with more consistency. And if there's a Holy Grail in this game, it's consistency.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

No Rest for the LPGA

Despite an emotional week at the Solheim Cup, most of the contestants will join the better-rested players, who are coming off a week's rest, at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open. Eighteen of the 24 Cuppers are at the event this week.

Brooke Henderson

This event will be held at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club in Ottawa, Canada. The defending champion is Ariya Jutanugarn, who hopefully spent her week off healing from the injuries that seem to have derailed her over the last few months. Likewise, three-time Canadian Open winner Lydia Ko is looking for some better form at an event that must feel like home to her.

You can (as usual) find Tony Jesselli's preview at his site. Also, Tony is at the event and has already begun posting pictures. From the preview page, just click his blog header to see them.

For those of you who don't remember, this event used to be an LPGA major best known as the du Maurier Classic. (The 1999 du Maurier Classic is part of Karrie Webb's superslam.) This event remains one of the most popular on the LPGA.

GC's coverage starts today at 10:30am ET and we're supposed to get three hours of coverage. It'll be a great lead-in to the Northern Trust this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Time for the Final Four... FedExCup Events, That Is

It's finally time for the Playoffs to begin. This week, the top 120 head to Old Westbury NY for the first event, the Northern Trust.

The FedExCup Cup

Glen Oaks Club is a new venue this year. It's a unique setting, as the Club features three nine-hole courses -- the Blue, Red and White -- and the Tour has created a composite course from all three nines -- holes 1-3 and 6-9 from the White course, holes 4 and 5 from the Red and the entire Blue course, giving the field a 7350-yard, par 70 layout.

Patrick Reed is the defending champion but, since last year this was the Barclays and it was played at Bethpage Black, that really doesn't give him -- or anyone else in the field -- an advantage.

PGATOUR.com has a couple of pages that might interest you as you get ready for the event. This page is the power rankings list they will post before each of the events (for you fantasy golfers) and this page is a summary of the storylines for the event.

GC's coverage begins tomorrow at 2pm ET; GC splits coverage with CBS this weekend. And while I'm not doing a "5 to Watch" post for this event, I'm going out on a limb and picking Brian Harman as a favorite -- not just for this week, but as the overall winner. PGATOUR.com's power rankings put him at #16 and he's #10 in FedExCup points, and I like the way he plays longer courses.

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Scott McCarron's Driver Swing (Video)

With his third win of the season at the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open Sunday, Scott McCarron pulled to roughly $800k behind Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer. I thought it might be interesting to look at Scott's driver swing and see what we can learn from it.



Let me start by saying that you don't have to swing like Scott does. That's not my point here. What I want you to see is how his swing works. There are many ways to drive a golf ball, and the best players have figured out how to make the different parts of their swings work together. We want to understand how those basics work in Scott's swing.

And the first thing you'll notice is how far back in his stance Scott positions his ball for a driver. The "scientists" among us say we need a launch angle of about 12°, which means we need to be swinging upward when hitting the ball off the tee. That means we need to have our swing center -- which I would place at the point where your spine meets your shoulder girdle -- that needs to be behind the ball at impact.

Because Scott places the ball so far back in his stance -- just ahead of center -- his address position has to take this into account. Therefore he sets up with his spine tilted noticeably backward, and when he swings it appears as if he moves even farther behind the ball. That's not actually true, though -- although his lead shoulder moves farther behind the ball, you can see that his trailing knee DOESN'T MOVE during his backswing. He's holding himself steady, but his shoulder turn (around his reasonably stationary spine position) makes it look like he's moving away. This is something you might notice on many players with a similar setup if you just look for it.

On the downswing Scott's lower body moves forward a bit more dramatically than I would like to see, but this is also a side effect of his ball position. He needs to shift his weight forward but he also has to keep his swing center behind the ball if he hopes to hit upward on the ball. That creates the dramatic hip shift as he starts down. HOWEVER, note that his lead leg and hip are pretty much vertical at impact, preventing him from ending up in a painful reverse-C position at impact.

So despite the body angles created by his nearly centered ball position, Scott manages to avoid bad extremes that could hurt his back. I still find it hard to believe he can hit up on the ball from that position, but he's averaging 292 yards off the tee this season, so it seems to be working for him.

The lesson here is that your ball position places its own demands on your swing. If you're having trouble with your accuracy, the first thing you should check is your ball position. No matter what changes you make to your swing, you won't get the results you want if you position the ball incorrectly for your swing's mechanics.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Wyndham Championship

Winner: Henrik Stenson

Around the wider world of golf: Team USA won the Solheim Cup 16.5-11.5, although that score is no indication of just how good both sides played; Adrian Otaegui won the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play on the ET; Scott McCarron won the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open on the Champions Tour; Talor Gooch won the News Sentinel Open on the Web.com Tour; Mark Blakefield won the National Capital Open to Support Our Troops on the Mackenzie Tour РPGA TOUR Canada; Jose de Jesus Rodriguez won the Abierto del Paraguay-Copa NEC on the PGA TOUR Latinoam̩rica; Jason Norris won the Fiji International on the Asian Tour; and Doc Redman pulled off an amazing last-minute three-hole rally to win the US Amateur in 37 holes.

Henrik Stenson kisses Wyndham trophy

While it may not have been quite the same level of play as the Solheim Cup, the Wyndham Championship fielded some serious scoring on Sunday. There were a number of 63s and 64s as players fought not only for the victory but for FedExCup points, playoff spots and 2018 playing privileges. And in the process, they ran putts in from all over the place.

Surprisingly, Henrik Stenson was one of the players doing the running. And he probably felt it was about time -- he'd certainly been putting in the practice time this year.

Henrik always seems to be a ball striking machine and he even left his driver out of the bag this week, letting that infamous 3-wood of his carry the load. But even with a couple of fairway woods and a long iron, and a 4-wedge setup which he said was a first in his career, he needed his putter to cooperate if he hoped to win...

Especially with Ollie Schniederjans hot on his trail. The youngster was pushing hard as he came down the stretch, and Stenson thought he had a two-shot lead until he walked off the 17th green and learned the kid had birdied both 17 and 18. All Stenson did was shoot a matching 64 and set a tournament record at -22.

So Henrik gets his sixth PGA Tour win, his first since the Open Championship (and Olympic silver medal) in 2016... and his first Limerick Summary since then as well.
A tournament record was made
After Henrik showed how the game’s played
By a man in control.
(At last! Putts found the hole—
It took months till his work was repaid!)
The photo came from this page at sportingnews.com.

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.