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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Of Course We Have to Talk about Tiger!

But rather than rehash old news, I'll link you to GC's article about his announced return later this year and get on with my own thoughts on the matter.

Tiger on the course

To be honest, I'm not terribly surprised that Tiger plans to tee it up at the Hero. The course is tailor-made for a test of his health and it won't require any real travel for him. And he will have incredible control over his circumstances off the course as well as on, which may be even more important for a successful return. (Remember, Louis Oosthuizen has to carry a mattress with him when he travels.)

As many of you may remember, I questioned his ambitious travel schedule so soon after his last comeback. But perhaps he learned from that little mistake. Let's hope so. If he avoids long plane flights until his back has proven it can handle short ones -- he was sore after two rounds at Torrey last year -- and sticks to domestic tourneys for a few months to be sure he knows the difference, he just might make this comeback stick.

In my opinion, listening for his back's slightest twinge and minimizing his travel for the first few months are key for him. Because I believe this very firmly -- as long as Tiger Woods has that wonderfully strategic mind of his, he can be competitive if he's physically just half of what he used to be.

And if he's patient this time, I think he'll do better than half.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions

Winner: Justin Rose

Around the wider world of golf: Cristie Kerr got her third worldwide win of the year at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Bernhard Langer won his seventh title of the year (and has now gone two for two in the Champions Tour Playoffs) at the PowerShares QQQ Championship; Brian Richey went wire-to-wire at the Roberto De Vicenzo Punta del Este Open Copa NEC on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Emma Nilsson won the Santander Golf Tour LETAS El Saler in the season's final LET Access Series event; Kodai Tatsuya won the Mynavi ABC Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; Panuphol Pittayarat won his first Asian Tour event at the Indonesia Open; Ryan Armour got his first win at the Sanderson Farms Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate field event; if I read this correctly, Hye Sun2 Kim won the SK PINX SEOKYUNG LADIES CLASSIC on the KLPGA; and China's Lin Yuxin won the Asia-Pacific Amateur.

Justin Rose with WGC-HSBC trophy

Although Dustin Johnson appeared to have run away with the HSBC entering the final round, the event turned out to be a real nail-biter. Nobody predicted the ending, nobody could even believe it -- despite watching it happen before their very eyes. Even Justin Rose couldn't believe it, though we've all been there.

It's just hard to believe it could happen to DJ. A six-stroke lead slowly dribbled away as he failed to make a single birdie in his final round, struggling to a round of 77.

But it's easy to forget that almost everybody had problems during the final round. Chilly winds made the Sheshan International course much harder than most expected and they failed to make the proper adjustments to their strategies.

Rose -- written off by most as being too far back -- didn't make that mistake. It seemed to me that he was cautious about his drives, often having a longer shot into the greens than his playing opponents but managing to play from the fairways. While the rest bombed shots long and wide of their targets, often attacking sucker pins, Rose tended to hit lower shots into the safer areas of the greens and trusted his putter. The result was the low round of the day, tied only by Phil Mickelson.

Of course, since he finished ten shots behind Rose, Phil's round didn't really threaten the lead.

This is Rose's first win since he took the Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics. There were rumors that his loss to Sergio at the Masters had taken a lot out of him. Perhaps this will finally get his game back on track -- after all, he's now third in the Race to Dubai and he enters the rare company of those players with two WGCs...

And their accompanying Limerick Summaries. What a haul!
The analysts thought Rose was done,
Too far back to make a real run
And take DJ down.
Instead, what a round!
He was steadiest under the gun.
The photo came from the tournament page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Lee Huntley on Getting Loose for Better Drives (Video)

LPGA instructor Lee Huntley has a simple drill you can use on the course before you hit a drive. She calls it "The 5-Swing Miracle."



Basically, you make five normal full swings without any swing thoughts at all -- all you're trying to go is get rid of excess tension. Then you make five more swings "the wrong way" -- that is, reverse your swing. (If you're right-handed, swing left-handed, and vice versa.)

Lee says reversing your grip is optional but it seems to me that it would stretch your muscles better if you did. However, that's up to you.

The idea here is that you balance the tension on both sides of your body, That way, your normal swing should be more of a free-wheeling move and you should hit a better drive.

Granted, it does seem that this should be called "The 10-Swing Miracle." But if it works for you, who cares? A miracle by any other name...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Double-Decker Trick Shot (Video)

golfchannel.com featured this video a couple of days back and I thought you guys might want to see it too.


What can I say? It's pretty cool. You can find a lot more of Joshua Kelly's trick shots at holein1trickshots. Enjoy!

Friday, October 27, 2017

How Visualization Helps on the Beach

Instructor Will Robins has a new Golf Digest article on how to get out of the sand without practice. Sound interesting? Let's check it out.

Will Robins hitting sand from a bunker

How can Robins make such a claim? Because he says your problem with bunkers isn't your technique. Rather, it's your fear of bunkers.

Alright, I'll bite on that. He says that when you're afraid you tense up, and that screws up your technique. If you just relax, your muscles will do what you know to do without a problem. After all, you can hit several inches behind the ball and still get it out of the bunker.

I'd like him to clarify that a bit. You can hit behind the ball and get it out of the bunker as long as there's a lot of sand in the bunker. If you're in a bunker with a thin lie or just hard sand, hitting too much behind the ball results in a skulled shot. Most of the time, that's not going to get you out.

So I think his advice here is good as long as you've got a standard lie in the sand. If there's some sand under the ball, his advice is probably going to help you... and he's right that you won't need much practice to make it work.

Since you can hit as much as three or four inches behind the ball when you've got a standard lie in the bunker, Robins suggests that you forget about the ball. Or to put it another way, since you don't have to hit the ball at all during a normal sand shot, why worry about what the ball does?

Robins wants you to use a visualization image: Throw a handful of sand onto the green with your club. That's it. You can practice your swing in the rough beside the bunker, making a nice swish that doesn't dig into the grass. Then just do that in the bunker, swinging hard enough to throw some sand onto the green.

The ball will just happen to fly out of the bunker as well.

I really like this advice. Rather than directly trying to attack the fear of leaving the ball in the bunker, Robins wants you to do something you KNOW you can do -- swing hard enough to throw some sand onto the green. From a standard lie, you don't even have to be particularly accurate with your entry point behind the ball to get both sand and ball out of the trap and onto the green.

Once you get over your fear of leaving the ball in the bunker -- however long that takes -- then you can worry about those thin lies. (To be honest, you might just try chipping from a thin lie. The ball's going to come out low anyway.)

In the meantime, just sling some sand onto the green. I bet you can do that just fine.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Art of Swatting Flies, Part 2 (Video)

About a week ago I posted a video from instructor Trent Wearner on how to create more clubhead speed with a flyswatter action. (You can click the link to see Wearner's video.) Today I want to expand on the idea a bit, try to help you feel it a bit more clearly.

In that post I also linked to another post I had done called The Wall Slap Drill. That drill should have helped you get a solid lower body action, one that would make the flyswatter action easier to create and apply to the ball.

Today I want to link to yet another post I did, this one on hitting sand shots with soft arms. The instructor, Rob Strano, likened it to the Carlton Dance -- but his video was specific to hitting sand shots. In today's post I'm going to show you how to combine that technique with the flyswatter motion and apply it to your regular shots.

First, here's the Strano video again:



Now, what you can take directly from that video is the whole "soft arms" idea, the dancing feel. But if you try to do it the way Strano suggests when you play your normal shots, you'll run into a couple of problems:
  • First, you'll create an angle of attack that's much too steep for a standard shot. In a sand shot you want hit the sand first and throw the ball out of the trap, but from a normal lie you want to hit the ball first.
  • Second, if you bend your elbows as much as Strano indicates, you create a very narrow swing arc -- that's why the angle of attack is so steep -- which automatically reduces your shoulder turn. That's going to cut your top clubhead speed.
So the question becomes how to create that soft arm dance feel while creating a big arc and a shallower angle of attack.

Fortunately, the adjustments aren't difficult.

The wall slap drill does more than give you a solid move into the ball. I originally designed it to help to help players extend their arms more. This is something that many of the pros say they consciously work on (Annika is one who comes to mind). That will help you get a bigger shoulder coil with a shallower angle of attack, to take better advantage of the clubhead speed created by the flyswatter motion.

The only other change you should make for regular shots is the amount of elbow bend created by the Carlton Dance feel. As you can see in the video, Strano's elbows are so soft that his elbows bend quite a bit. To create that flyswatter feel, your elbows STILL have to flex during your swing's change of direction. They just don't need to flex as much during a standard swing.

And I won't leave you to guess the amount of flex you need. You're going to bend your elbows straight up for this. (When you do the actual wall slap drill, your arms will automatically create a swing plane because of your combined shoulder coil and elbow bend. What I'm teaching you here will just keep you from exaggerating it.) Here's how you do it:
  • Set up for the wall slap drill and swing your arms up so they're parallel to the ground (the top of the wall slap drill). Get as close to a 90° shoulder turn as you can, which should be easier since you aren't making a full swing. Your trailing hand should point straight out to the side, at just about the height of your armpit.
  • With your arms in that position, change position so your foot line is perpendicular to the wall (you start the drill with your foot line parallel) and your trailing hand's fingertips are touching the wall.
  • Now, bend your lead elbow just enough that your fingertips move four to six inches higher on the wall.
  • Finally, without bending your elbows any more, cock your trailing wrist just a little. This is the position you want to swing to during the drill. The sequence with a club will feel like this: (1) arms swing up to armpit height, (2) lead elbow flexes slightly as arms stop moving upward, (3) weight of club causes wrists to cock, (4) arms start down and then (5) you consciously try to smack the ball by swinging the shaft just past the ball. Yes, the flyswatter move is an actual swatting motion; you use effort (both arms and legs) to swing the clubhead through the ball! When you do the drill WITHOUT a club, this is the feel you are imagining.
By combining the Carlton Dance feel with the wall slap drill, you'll learn the sequence to create a lot more clubhead speed without tensing up during your downswing. You aren't trying to feel as if you're tense and exerting a lot of power. Rather, you want to feel that you are loose and swinging FAST! You're not a weightlifter, you're a sprinter.

I think that's the best I can explain it right now. Learning how your swing should feel is one of the most difficult things to learn because everybody feels it a bit differently, but it's not impossible. It just takes a little imagination.

And as usual, if you have questions, just put them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yes, It's WGC Time Again

And why should you care? Because it's probably the last time in 2017 we'll see so many big names all together.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama

The WGC-HSBC Champions -- or as I tend to call it, the WGC-China -- is both the final WGC of 2017 and the first WGC of the 2017-2018 PGA Tour wraparound season. Hideki Matsuyama, the first-ever WGC champ from Asia, also happens to be the defending champion at this event, and he and Dustin Johnson -- who currently hold all four WGC titles between them -- will try to add another WGC to their respective totals. Even Phil Mickelson is going to play.

The Sheshan International West Course -- 7,266 yards, par 72 -- isn't all that long by Tour standards but has a lot of elevation changes and plenty of distracting scenery to make it a challenge. We usually get to see plenty of impressive scrambling, which could mean plenty of Phil highlights.

Of course, the drawback to all of this -- at least in the US -- is the time difference. GC's coverage starts with the Pre Game at 9:30pm ET tonight, followed by live coverage at 10pm ET. But GC lists coverage until 7am ET Thursday morning, which is HUGE if it's all live. (The rebroadcast runs from 9:30am-2:30pm ET Thursday.)

So while we've still got some meaningful golf to play this season -- the ET's Race to Dubai, as well as the Australian majors -- this is the last hurrah for big PGA Tour golf events this year. It could be a pretty good finale!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Some of Butch Harmon's Biggest Hits

Today I've got a single link for you, but you'll want to read this one. Golf Digest did a fairly long article listing the major swing tips Butch has passed on to his most famous students.

Butch Harmon and Rickie Fowler

This isn't just one or two players. The article includes Butch's work with:
  • Tiger Woods
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Adam Scott
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Greg Norman
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Seve Ballesteros
  • Fred Couples
  • Ernie Els
  • Jimmy Walker
Yeah, that ought to be enough to keep you busy for today! Now you can find out what Butch has worked on with each of his famous pupils, and the variety of problems he helped them with is amazing. It just goes to prove that every golfer is different, and what works for one player won't work for another.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 CJ Cup at Nine Bridges

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Eun-Hee Ji ended an eight-year drought with a runaway win at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; Sergio Garcia got his third win of 2017 at the ET's Andalucia Valderrama Masters; Bernhard Langer won yet again on the Champions Tour at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic; Charlie Saxon won the Lexus Peru Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Gaganjeet Bhullar won the Macao Open on the Asian Tour; and Ryuko Tokimatsu won the Bridgestone Open on the Japan Golf Tour.

Justin Thomas lifts CJ Cup trophy

This is getting a bit ridiculous, if you ask me. I'm sure the rest of the field -- any field he's in, take your choice -- will tell you the same thing. And I doubt they'll be quite so calm about it.

If you ask Justin Thomas, he just says he's tired and needs some rest. I suspect that's just a ploy to avoid laughing like a mad scientist over his latest victory.

But the madness is understandable. As much as we talk about JT's prowess -- how far he hits his driver, how dialed in his wedges are, how good his short game is -- the fact is that he didn't have his best stuff this week. Not by a long shot. His rounds were a bit erratic, with as many double bogeys as eagles during the week.

Again, the fact is simply that Justin Thomas doesn't need his best stuff to win. All he needs to do is show up with what he has and not take himself out of the game with poor thinking -- and his caddie does a very good job helping him do just that. Usually, you don't win because you're better than everybody else -- you win simply because you don't give up and eventually everybody else stumbles. (Ask Bernhard Langer about that. He knows.) And while JT won't win every time, that's enough to win a lot.

Just like he did Sunday. He goes off for a rest while the field tries to figure out what happened yet again.

So while the rest of the field seeks counseling for the trauma JT is inflicting on them, I'll just leave this Limerick Summary on JT's bedside table where he'll find it when he gets up. Creating a monster takes a lot out of a fellow...
Though tired from a year crushing dreams,
Justin Thomas is not through, it seems.
Forget mere submission;
JT’s got a vision
Where anguished fields thrill him with screams!
The photo came from this page at bbc.com.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Kevin Weeks on Body Rotation (Video)

I bet you'll look at this video and say, "Oh, I know that drill." No, you don't -- at least, you don't understand it. Instructor Kevin Weeks has given this drill a twist (pun intended) that you won't believe until you do it.



The standard version of the drill goes something like this: Place a glove or something under your lead arm, in your armpit, and hit balls. It's okay for the glove to drop to the ground when you reach the top of your finish. This teaches you connection.

THAT IS NOT THIS DRILL. Let me explain the Weeks version to you.

You use a towel and fold it up. You want it so that if your arm separates from your chest too much, that baby is going to open up even if it doesn't drop. Then you hold your club in your lead hand ONLY and make swings without dropping the towel at any point in your swing. Why?

Because this drill isn't about connection. It's about body rotation.

You have trouble with slices because you don't finish your rotation during your downswing. You have trouble with chicken wings because you don't finish your rotation during your downswing. You have trouble with weight shift because you don't finish your rotation during your downswing.

Do you understand? Many of your swing problems happen because you don't finish your rotation during your downswing. This drill teaches you what complete rotation feels like.

Weeks says you should only hit the ball around 25 yards or so. That creates enough speed to pull your arm away from your body if you don't rotate completely to your finish, but not so much that your arm goes high and you drop the towel. Your elbow will have to fold and your body will have to turn in order to keep that towel in place.

Learning what rotation to a complete finish feels like is vital if you're going to develop consistency in your shotmaking. This is a great drill that will help you. Give it a try!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Paula Creamer's Early Off-Season

For those of you who haven't heard, Paula Creamer had wrist surgery on Thursday and won't be playing anymore until next year.

Paula Creamer gets medical attention at Evian

Paula's wrist problems have been well-publicized. It was actually pretty amazing that she played so well at the Solheim Cup. Her finishes had been getting progressively worse all year (she only had one Top10) with a number of missed cuts. She hasn't played since she had to WD at Evian and after five weeks of rest without improvement (she also withdrew from the New Zealand event) she finally decided to bite the bullet and get the surgery.

You can get more details from this Golf Digest post. I'm just glad she's taken care of this injury. Michelle Wie's career problems began when she tried to play through some wrist injuries rather than getting them completely healed. I'm glad Paula's not making that mistake anymore.

Friday, October 20, 2017

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

So What's in YOUR Golf Bag?

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

Pat Perez in Kuala Lumpur

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

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

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

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

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

It's worth thinking about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Trent Wearner on the Art of Swatting Flies (Video)

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



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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The New Ko You Need to Know (Video)

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

Jin Young Ko with KEB trophy

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

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

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



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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 CIMB Classic

Winner: Pat Perez

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

Pat Perez hoists the CIMB trophy

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Trent Wearner on Toe-Down Chipping (Video)

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



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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Molinari 12-Hour Ace Challenge (Video)

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



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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jon Rahm on Three-Quarter Shots

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

Jon Rahm

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

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

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

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

Sounds like good advice to me.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dave Pelz on High Pitches (Video)

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



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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

JT Goes for Three

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

JT kisses his 2nd CIMB trophy

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The LPGA's Asian Swing Begins

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

Defending champion Carlota Ciganda

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


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

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Safeway Open

Winner: Brendan Steele

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

Johnny Miller gives Brendan Steele the Big Keg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

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

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


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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Key Area in Brooke Henderson's Swing

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

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

Take a look at the last position in this photo:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

The New Era of Drug Testing Begins

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

Blood testing gear

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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The New Season Already

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

Phil Mickelson

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Robert Damron on Short Game Setup

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

John Cook setup

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Butch Harmon on the Shanks (Video)

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

And it's not for the reason you think.



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

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

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Presidents Cup

Winner: USA, 19-11

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

The US Presidents Cup team

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Jordan's Unexpected Penalty

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


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