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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.