ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

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.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Charley Hull on Hitting a 6-Iron (Video)

While the LET may be having a slow year, that doesn't mean they've stopped doing things. Here's an instructional video from Charley Hull on how to hit a 6-iron. (Actually, it's down below the photo.)

Charley Hull

I don't know about you, but I've always had a problem with 6-irons. I hit my 7-iron fine, and my 5-iron as well. But for some reason, I've never had a 6-iron that looked right to me when I stood over it.



Charley is very precise with her ball position. Unlike most players who simply say "play it near the center of your stance," she specifically suggests placing the ball one clubhead length behind your lead heel. In my case, that's slightly ahead of center. (Perhaps that's been my problem!)

Her other tip is to take the club away "low and slow" for a good tempo. She says this helps her to make a more balanced finish.

It's a short video, but Charley does everything fast, doesn't she?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Dell Technologies Championship

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Stacy Lewis won the LPGA's Cambia Portland Open; Peter Uihlein won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship on the Web.com Tour; Celine Boutier won the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge on the Symetra Tour; Haydn Porteous won the D+D REAL Czech Masters on the ET; Scott McCarron won the Shaw Charity Classic on the Champions Tour; Patrick Newcomb won the Cape Breton Open on the MACKENZIE TOUR - PGA TOUR Canada; and Michael Buttacavoli won the Flor de Caña Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Justin Thomas with Dell trophy

Well, unless Jordan Spieth wins the two last FedExCup Playoff events -- and therefore the FedExCup -- it's hard to believe Justin Thomas won't be the Player of the Year. With five wins, including the PGA Championship and now the Dell Technologies Championship -- his first FedExCup Playoff win -- plus the 63 at the US Open and the 59 in Hawaii, it's pretty much a done deal. After all, Jordan has only three wins (with a major) and Dustin Johnson four wins (no major).

Hey, if that's not enough to win it, what does a guy have to do?

Ironically, JT still isn't the top dog in the Cup race. That honor belongs to Jordan Spieth, after two runner-up finishes in the first two events. Jordan only leads by 27 points, but it's still a lead... and still enough to guarantee the Cup if he wins at East Lake.

Of course, JT can say the same thing if he stays in the Top5 on the points list.

In the end, it was JT's play on the back nine that sealed the deal. Everyone tore up the front side, but none of the leaders could match his -2 on the homeward stretch. The result was JT's second win in three events... and his second Limerick Summary in the last month. Wonder what he'll do after a week to rest up?
For nine holes, the viewers were wowed
As none of the leaders allowed
The rest to break free—
Until young JT
Stepped up to make Mom and Dad proud.
The photo came from this page at espn.com.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Stacy and Peter Finally Break Through

With the Limerick Summary delayed a day for the PGA Tour's Monday finish, I thought I'd take a quick look at two nice stories from Sunday.

Stacy

First, Stacy Lewis broke her three-year winless streak with a victory at the LPGA's Cambia Portland Open. Not only did she pick up a win and a $195k winner's check but, since she had already pledged her entire check this week to the Houston relief effort, her sponsor KPMG announced they would match her donation. And then her husband flew in to be there when she broke her win drought. It was a feelgood story all the way around.

Peter Uihlein with Nationwide trophy

Likewise, when Peter Uihlein turned pro several years ago, he decided to go the same route as Brooks Koepka -- head over to Europe, use the Challenge Tour to get a card on the ET and then use that experience to make it to the PGA Tour.

As it turned out, Peter's route was a lot longer than Brooks's was. He hasn't done badly by any measure -- he's currently #12 in the Race to Dubai. But this year Peter decided to come over to the Web.com Tour Finals and try to get a PGA Tour card that way. And while Peter made $15k less than Stacy with his win at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, it was enough to lock up his Tour card for 2018. As things stand, he plans to play both tours.

On Sunday, both stories took a happy turn with Stacy getting her win (and two huge checks for her hometown's relief efforts, once you add KPMG's) and Peter getting his win (and tour card). And both players have time to celebrate, since today is a holiday here in the US (Labor Day).

Meanwhile, the rest of us get to watch a loaded leaderboard duke it out for the Dell Technologies Championship today. Not a bad weekend at all!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Martin Hall on Wrist Putting (Video)

This is an old clip from School of Golf, back when Sara Brown was on the show. In this clip Martin talks about wrist putting and, while it's not exactly the same style as the pop stroke I covered in Ruthless Putting, there's more than one way to wrist putt and Martin does include the primary fundamentals of any basic wrist stroke.



The key fundamental in wrist putting, the fundamental which all effective versions of the technique share, is that the trailing arm stays stationary during the stroke. You can see this in Martin's demonstration around the 2:05 mark.

When you watch him do it, you might be inclined to stroke the club with your lead hand, and that does work for some people. But you'll probably find it easiest to create a square clubface at impact if you use your trailing hand to make the stroke. That's because your quiet trailing arm limits the extra sideways motion that throws the stroke off line.

Also, you'll probably find it easier to keep your stroke on line if you open your stance just slightly. This is something you'll need to experiment with, but it's because your trailing arm is slightly off to your side rather than out in front of your body.

If you don't hit the ball straight, you may need to adjust your ball position. The wrist stroke is so simple that, if the ball is positioned correctly, the ball should roll straight quite consistently.

One last thought: While it's true that you see fewer pros use a wrist stroke these days because the greens are much faster, that doesn't mean the stroke doesn't work on fast greens. It simply means that you must be more relaxed when you stroke the putt, and the pros use drills that focus so much on line and plane that they "freeze up" over the ball.  An effective wrist stroke is a relaxed stroke, and it will work as well on a fast green as a slow one.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Even the Pros Have Bad Holes

I'm not doing this to be cruel, but I want to thank Kelly Kraft for reminding us all that (1) the pros are human and (2) everybody has a bad hole now and then. A really bad hole.

Kelly Kraft

In case you didn't hear, Kelly carded a 12 on the par-5 second hole at the Dell. That's a septuple bogey which, according to GC's summary, included three penalty strokes, two balls hit into a water hazard and a three-putt from 5 1/2 feet.

Golf.com also posted a play-by-play of the unfortunate score, which is the easiest way to follow what happened.

Kelly withdrew after 14 holes with a foot injury, which will likely end his FedExCup run this season. Given all the places he had to play from on that one hole, I'm not surprised at any injuries he might have gotten.

As I said, I'm not posting this to be cruel. Kelly will likely use the time to rehab and work on his game so he's ready for next season. (Hey, he made the Playoffs so he's got his card. It's not the end of the world!) We just need to remember that even pros have bad days on the course, and they survive them, so we shouldn't let a bad hole or two get to us either.

Friday, September 1, 2017

In Case You Missed Tiger's Tweet (Video)

It's nice to have some good Tiger news. He's not ready to play yet, of course, but it looks like he's no longer in pain.

Unlike all the speculators, I see no reason to think Tiger will be back anytime soon. It should be clear to him and everyone else that his back is going to need some extended rehab before he considers playing tournaments again.

But it's easy to forget that Tiger's legal problems earlier this year were caused by mismanaged pain meds. If he's in good enough shape to do some pitching, the worst of the pain must be over.

I would also add that the whole sad sequence of events began earlier this year after Tiger started traveling. Consequently I don't expect him to do any traveling for quite a while. I'm just glad to see that he's finally on the mend. I think that's something to celebrate.