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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Nick Clearwater on Setup Basics (Video)

The Vice President of Instruction at GOLFTEC's video on setup is interesting because he doesn't address things like ball position. Instead, he focuses on body position.



His three keys are:
  • Feet parallel to aimline
  • Club shaft aimed at belt
  • Trailing arm lowered -- that is, the elbow is a bit closer to your body
I'd like to focus on his second key. Many players don't realize that the higher you hold your hands -- that is, the more vertical your shaft is during your swing -- the less pronounced your release is at impact. As a general rule, high hands encourage a fade while low hands encourage a draw.

In case you don't know what I mean by "a more pronounced release," a player who swings with his hands lower (closer to the ground) is more bent over and tends to position the ball farther from their body, which tends to create a flatter swing with more hand action, and that encourages more of a hook.

Likewise, higher hands mean you stand taller, with your hands farther from the ground, and you tend to have a more upright swing with the ball closer to your body and with less hand action. That makes it easier to hit a slice.

That doesn't mean you can't hit a draw with high hands or a fade with low hands. It just means that those shots are less likely to happen unintentionally.

Keegan Bradley is a good example of a player with low hands who tends to hit a draw. If you use Clearwater's key of aiming the shaft more toward your belly button, you'll probably lean forward a bit more, stand a bit farther from the ball and make a flatter swing. You probably won't bend over as much as Keegan does, but you'll probably have that flatter swing.

It sounds to me as if Clearwater is trying to help players create a somewhat flatter swing to help counteract a slice. Combined with the lowered trailing elbow, this setup should encourage a flatter swing. If you're trying to learn how to hit a draw, this is a setup that just might help you.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Tour Championship

Winner: Tiger Woods

Around the wider world of golf: Steve Stricker won the Sanford International on the Champions Tour; Anne Van Dam won the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open on the LET; Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters on the ET; Kendall Dye won the Guardian Championship on the Symetra Tour; Denny McCarthy won the Web.com Tour Championship; Marcelo Rozo won the JHSF Brazil Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Yuta Ikeda won the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup on the Japan Golf Tour.

Justin Rose and Tiger with their respective trophies

Well, the Big Cat certainly hasn't lost his flair for the dramatic, has he? Had it not been for a birdie by Justin Rose on the final hole, Tiger would have taken it all in the final event of the 2017-18 season.

But somehow I don't think the masses of fans charging down the 18th fairway to watch Tiger hoist his first trophy in five years really cared about that. And based on the tears Tiger himself was fighting back as they gathered, I don't think he cared either.

And perhaps that, in and of itself, is the final proof -- if anybody still needed any -- that Tiger Woods is not the same person he was a decade ago. From the simple raised arms of victory after the tap-in to secure his win, to the many players and fans gathered to greet him as he went to sign his card, to the trophy presentation where he took time to both congratulate and commend Rose's yearlong excellence, followed by more emotions as Justin paid his own respects to what Tiger has done this season -- what more did anyone need to see?

There will be a lot of discussion about Tiger's potential future going forward. He's already the Vegas favorite to win the Masters -- at least it seems a logical choice this time. And the speculation about what he'll do at the Ryder Cup this week will be at a fever pitch when coverage begins today... if it didn't begin already, right after Tiger posed for those photos with the Calamity Jane trophy. (Which, for those of you who somehow missed the history lesson, is a replica of the famous putter Bobby Jones used to make his own history. Or perhaps I should say putters, plural, since Jones wore out the first one and had to have a second made.)

At any rate, Tiger's long dark night is over. And I too am truly amazed, for I have to wonder... how did he ever manage to survive for nearly five years without a new Limerick Summary to grace his trophy case?
It took nearly two thousand days
For Tiger to enter this phase
Of his new lease on life.
Now the drama and strife’s
Given way to his fans’ roaring praise.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

And Now the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Gets in on the Act

Yes, now they have their very own 59-shooter. Meet Canadian Drew Nesbitt.

Drew Nesbitt with record-breaking scorecard

Just as Oliver Fisher did on Friday, Drew went out Saturday with the intention of making the cut. (The second round had been weather-delayed.) However, unlike Oliver, Drew had shot a 79 on Thursday and was all but out the door for the weekend.

It's amazing how a little thing like a 59 can turn things around. The two rounds averaged out under par, putting him at -4 and saving his weekend. But it was the way he did it that caught my attention.

Drew had one bogey. That's not really unusual, of course; many players overcome a bogey in their record-setting round.

But you see, Drew only had five birdies. The rest of his score came from FOUR EAGLES -- specifically, a hole-in-one on the par-3 2nd, a hole-out from the fairway on the par-4 10th, and (more traditional) eagles on the par-5 11th and 18th.

He ended up playing 29 holes on Saturday, so perhaps it's not surprising that his third round was a two-over 73. It's unlikely that he'll win this weekend, but he will get a paycheck. That should help ease the disappointment of his loss.

Oh yeah, and then there's that spot in the record books. Now how do you say "Mr. 59" in Spanish again?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The First European 59... FINALLY!!!

It seems like it took forever, but the European Tour finally saw one of its players break the 60 barrier in an ET event. Say hello to English player Oliver Fisher.

Oliver Fisher with his record-setting scorecard

It only took 46 years and more than 690,000 rounds of golf. A total of 19 other players had fallen just short over that time period. But the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, where they play the Portugal Masters, will forever be remembered as the place where it finally happened.

And as usual, the breakthrough didn't come from one of the Tour's big names. (Hey, Al Geiberger wasn't a big name either!) Oliver Fisher only has one ET win and he's #287 in the OWGR. But now he's the first member of the under-60 set on the ET after a round with ten birdies and an eagle.

Perhaps the coolest part of it all is that Oliver had missed three of his last four cuts and was just trying to make the cut when he started the day. Now tied for the lead at -12, that's no longer a concern.

Start looking for a "Mr. 59" logo on his hat and bag. I know I'd have one, if it was me. After all, he's the first to do it... and they can never take that away from him. Congrats, Oliver -- well done!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Brad Brewer on the Power Fade (Video)

While Brad Brewer (an instructor with GC) is focused on teaching you how to hit a power fade -- and I'll list those key points -- I want to point out something that may be giving you an unwanted slice at the worst possible moment.



How you hit this power fade is simple -- at least, in principle. Power fades are intended to give you more control over the ball's flight, but many of you do these steps unintentionally.
  • Tighten the grip on your lead hand to help prevent flipping the clubface at impact.
  • Aim the clubface at the target, where you want the ball to finish...
  • ...but open your stance so you're aimed along the line where you want the ball to start.
  • Lean the club shaft a bit forward to create more of a downward strike, which helps lower the trajectory for more distance.
But many of you do these steps -- or a slightly flawed version of these steps -- unintentionally when you slice.

In particular, you grip the club too tightly and you do it with both hands.

When playing a power fade, you grip a bit more tightly with your lead hand in order to keep the club face from closing and causing a hook. But what does that mean? You tighten your grip to make the clubface stay open. And if you tighten your grip with both hands, there's a good chance that clubface isn't going to be anywhere close to squaring up.

Furthermore, when you tighten up, you'll tend to create a bit of a "pull swing" even if you don't open your stance. Combine that with your tight grip and the ball will have little choice but to slice, maybe even push-slice!

The first step to curing a slice is usually to relax your grip. That's why many players waggle the club before a swing. I think it's important to try and relax your entire body, since your grip pressure is probably caused by being tense all over... and that's usually caused by trying to hit the ball too hard.

You might say that understanding how to hit a power fade is the flip side of not hitting an unintentional slice. Learn how to do one, and you have a good chance of mastering the other as well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the Tour Championship

Let's make sure we're clear here: I'm NOT picking the FedExCup winner, just the Tour Championship winner. The points race is too unpredictable while the scoring is straightforward. (Which probably explains why the Tour is adopting the "staggered start" for next year's event.)

Bryson DeChambeau, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose

We've only got 30 players to choose from this week, so my odds should be a bit better than usual. (Although better odds haven't helped me much in the recent past!) And after a week off to rest and recuperate, it's hard to say whether any player's form will match how he played at the BMW Championship.

Still, I'm going to give it a go.
  • Bryson DeChambeau has won two of the three Playoff events, so I have to give him a nod. A scientific player is something new to theTour these days, and I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. You do know that he was trying to simulate morning dew on the range earlier this week, don't you? You've got to love that kind of thoroughness!
  • Rory McIlroy has won this event before, back in 2016. He knows what it takes to beat East Lake and his game seems to be back in shape. I know that everyone believes he needs a wet course to win right now but I'm not convinced. I like his chances this week.
  • Justin Thomas has firepower. I know you can say that about a lot of the players this week but JT has demonstrated the ability to unleash it more easily than any of the other players in the field -- at least, he has over the last year or so. And I wouldn't underestimate how last year's loss at East Lake irritates him. Remember, he called the $10mil a "consolation prize."
  • Rickie Fowler is something of a wild card to me. I'm still wondering just how well that injury has healed, whether he'll be able to hold up under the physical strain if he has to do something special to go for the win. He'll have the Ryder Cup in the back of his mind, after all, and he'll want to guard against re-injury. Still, he played very well at the BMW and I can't help but pull for him this week.
  • And for my flier, I'm taking Keegan Bradley. His win at the BMW was a surprise even to him, and there are many unanswered questions in the wake of that win. Has he found something, or is he still in the "lightning in a bottle" stage? Will he be too emotionally drained to get the best from his game this week? Or is he primed to win again if he can just stay out of his own way, now that he knows he CAN still win? Many questions remain, but you can't argue with wins.
It's a stacked deck at East Lake but, when push comes to shove, I'm going with Justin Thomas. While the other players have a lot going for them -- as do players like Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson, who could break out at any event -- I can't help but feel that JT has something to prove this week. And, as Rory said, JT's got a little meanness in him.

I expect to see some junkyard dog from him this week!

The Tour Championship begins its GC broadcasts Thursday at 1pm ET. And PGA Tour Live will be streaming starting at 10am ET, if you've got their app.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to Win the FedExCup

Today is just a link to golfchannel.com's summary of how every player in this week's Tour Championship can win the FedExCup. (Obviously if you want to win the Tour Championship itself... well, you just shoot lower than anybody else. Duh!)

Points leader Bryson DeChambeau

Points leader Bryson DeChambeau has the easiest route, of course. All he has to do is win the Tour Championship and he takes it all. But mathematically he can finish as low as T29 and still win the $10mil FedExCup. It just depends on how the other guys play. (Bear in mind that the only way he has no chance at all to win the Cup is if he finishes alone in 30th place. I'd call that unlikely.)

But as simple as Bryson's road is, Patton Kissire's road is complicated.
  • Wins the Tour Championship and ...
  • DeChambeau finishes in two-way tie for 29th or worse
  • Rose finishes T-9 or worse
  • Finau finishes in three-way tie for 3rd or worse
  • D. Johnson finishes 3rd or worse
  • Thomas finishes in three-way tie for 2nd or worse
  • Bradley finishes T-2 or worse
  • Koepka finishes T-2 or worse
That's tricky but not impossible. Still, I like Bryson's odds better.

Anyway, you can check out your favorite player's chances at the link. In addition, you'll find pairing times and such. Take a peek if you feel so inclined.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Evian Championship

Winner: Angela Stanford

Around the wider world of golf: Wu Ashun won the KLM Open on the ET; Paul Broadhurst won the Ally Challenge on the Champions Tour; Sangmoon Bae won the Albertsons Boise Open on the Web.com Tour; Danny Walker won on the the Freedom 55 Financial Championship on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Nico Echavarría won the Sao Paulo Golf Club Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Hyemin Kim won the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout on the Symetra Tour; and -- dual events here -- Viraj Madappa won the Take Solutions Masters and Sanghyun Park won the Shinhan Donghae Open on the Asian Tour.

Angela Stanford kisses the Evian trophy

In a tournament with a dozen interesting storylines, it was a longstanding one that won out.

Solheim stalwart Angela Stanford is finally a major champion, becoming the second-oldest woman to do so. She turns 41 in November and had almost given up hope of winning a major, given how the "junior" players have dominated lately.

But Angela is a grinder -- it's part of the reason she's been on six Solheim Cup teams -- and her dramatic four-hole finish with eagle-double bogey-birdie-par got her in the clubhouse tied with then leader Amy Olson. She thought she had lost.

Then the unthinkable happened. Olson doubled the 18th to finish one shot back. A shocked Stanford cried, so emotional that she could barely talk.

It's no secret that her mom is fighting cancer again, or that her mom told her to come play Evian anyway because "that's what she does." What we didn't know was that Angela's mom had given her some swing advice earlier this season, advice that apparently was just what she needed Sunday.

Of course, another award was given out after the tournament. Ariya Jutanugarn won the Annika Award for the best record in this year's majors, but I doubt that Angela is particularly worried about that. She's too busy heading home to party with her family.

But I have a surprise for Angela. Because of the way tournaments fell this week, Angela also snags a rare Limerick Summary... and she's waited long enough for it, don't you think?
Pundits say, “the ball don’t know your age.”
Sunday, Angela proved that’s the case!
Though she’s creeping past forty,
Her game was still sporty
Enough for the Evian stage.
The photo came from this page at lpga.com.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dan Martin on Practice Swings (Video)

Yes, Sherman, let's crank up the Wayback Machine and travel back to 2012 for today's golf tip. (That's a Mr. Peabody reference, for those of you who missed it.) PGA insructor Dan Martin has a really cool one for you.



Most of us are aware that our practice swings are usually much more balanced and rhythmic than our actual swings. Martin's suggestion here centers on one very good reason why that happens.

When you make a practice swing, you usually don't hit an actual ball. (If you do, that may be one reason your scores are so high!) As a result, you think about flow and not about the actual ballstriking... and there's a really good chance you don't even realize where the ball would have to be positioned in order for your practice swing to actually hit it.

The great thing about this drill -- making a practice swing on the range, noting where the divot is and then placing the ball in that spot for your actual shot -- is that you can do almost the identical drill out on the golf course. The obvious difference (if I actually need to point it out) is that, once you note where your divot is, you can't move your ball when you're on the course. However, you CAN note the divot position and take your stance so the ball is in the same spot relative to your feet.

This is a drill I think will open your eyes to the real differences between your practice swing and your actual swing. And that knowledge might make a dramatic difference in your game without much extra practice at all! What more can you ask of a drill?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thoughts on the Evian So Far

Well, I don't know about you but this is certainly not what I expected to see. It's thrilling -- I've got no complaints -- but still, not what I expected.

Co-leadersMaria Torres, Amy Olson, Mo Martin and Mi Hyang Lee

I admit that I am most shocked by the weather. It's actually nice! Usually we see a lot of wet weather this time of year, and it has a dramatic effect on the outcome.

But this time, it's the sunshine that seems to bringing the drama.

Our four leaders are certainly not what I expected either.
  • Rookie Maria Torres is playing more like a veteran than the new kid on the block.
  • Amy Olson, still after her first tour win, is playing well in another major this year.
  • Mo Martin -- who does fit my "5 to Watch" criteria for this event -- hasn't been penalized by wet fairways that play long.
  • And Mi Hyang Lee seems to finding these narrow fairways and tricky pin locations just fine despite her stats in those areas.
By comparison, my pick to win -- Jin Young Ko -- isn't hitting greens the way she usually does. And a number of players I left off my list because of their accuracy issues are playing just fine. (As an aside, I seriously considered but specifically passed over Austin Ernst, So Yeon Ryu and Georgia Hall for that very reason.) Ironically, the best performer among my picks is Nasa Hataoka, who was my flier!

And since the weather looks to behave for the remaining two rounds, it appears that we'll have a very different type of winner this year. Will the players even know how to play this event without delays? I don't know. But with 20 players within four shots of the lead, this is anybody's game.

Still, if one of the four current leaders is going to win, I'd put my money on Mo Martin. Mo has not only hit more fairways and more greens than the other three, but her putting numbers are equal to or better than the other three. That means she's not only scrambling less, but she's giving herself better putts as well.

So far, anyway. We'll see what happens.

GC coverage is pretty big today. It starts at 6am ET for five-plus hours then the entire broadcast repeats at 4:30pm ET, so you should have a good chance to see most of it.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Corey Badger on Squaring Your Shoulders (Video)

Yeah, I know the GC video says "change driver position for a variety of shots." But it's really a quick way to make sure your shoulders are aimed properly at address. And Corey says it's an alignment tip in the video!



This idea of aiming your sternum -- or breastbone, if you prefer -- at the back of your driver to make sure you don't turn your shoulders too far toward the target is pretty slick. It seems to me that it might also help if you close your shoulders too much at address.

And it might allow you to play a stinger as well. With the ball teed up a bit more inside your lead foot, your sternum would be aimed back more toward the center of your stance. That should help you hit more down on the ball, which is what you do with a stinger.

Will this work with, say, your irons? Probably not off the tee, especially since the ball is so far forward in your stance. It's the thickness of the driver head that lets this tip work.

However, I could see where this might work with irons off the turf when the ball is back in your stance. If you have a problem with opening your shoulders too much at address, it might be worth a try.

I really do like simple tips like this. It's very easy to tell if you're aimed properly with this tip because you have a very specific spot to aim at -- in this case, it's the very back of your driver, which will mean your sternum is aimed about three or four inches behind the ball.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Just a TV Schedule Reminder

GC's broadcast schedule is a bit odd today since there's no FedExCup Playoff. Here's the lineup, all times ET:
  • 5am: LPGA Evian
  • 8am: Morning Drive
  • 9:30am: More LPGA Evian
  • 12:30pm: ET KLM Open
  • 5:30pm: Golf Central PreGame
  • 6pm: Web.com Tour Albertsons Boise Open
  • 8pm: Golf Central
And then the Evian replays begin. So plan appropriately for your favorite events!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the Evian

It's the final major of the year, folks, so let's make this round of picks a good one!

Defending champion Anna Nordqvist

At least, I hope I can.

The Evian Championship is the ladies fifth and final major, after which the winner of the Annika Trophy (the major winner with the best overall record in all the majors) will be determined. The four players currently in the running are Pernilla Lindberg, Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park and Georgia Hall.

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his website. I'll just say that the event will be played in Evian-les-Bains, France, and the defending champ is Anna Nordqvist. Of course, I suppose most of you know that, so let's move on.

But who to pick? That's a challenge, as only three women -- Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn and Sung Hyun Park -- are multiple winners in the last five months, none of whom have won at Evian before, and we've seen a number of first-time winners. That doesn't give us many favorites to choose from. So I'm going to try a different tack this time.

The Evian course is a tight one and not overly long (although it's mountainous), so I'm looking at driving accuracy (DA) and greens in regulation (GIR) to help me pick. Ironically, this doesn't really match well with this year's winners, but I haven't had much luck going on form so...
  • Marina Alex, surprisingly to many fans, is 6th in DA and 8th in GIR. Despite having only four Top10s this season, she did get her first win. True, having gotten her first win just a couple of weeks back, it's possible that she'll be a bit tired mentally. But she's played very well all year and it was just a matter of time till she won. I think Evian is a good track for her.
  • Jin Young Ko has been forgotten by many fans, but she had a win early this year. She's also -- wait for it -- 2nd in DA and 1st in GIR. Add in ten Top10s and you have the kind of consistency that could win on this tough course.
  • Shanshan Feng is 8th in DA and 6th in GIR. She hasn't won this year and she only has five Top10s, but she has a major pedigree and is entering the time of year when she typically plays her best golf. I wouldn't bet against her.
  • Chella Choi is 4th in both DA and GIR. She has only three Top10s and no wins this season. But again, Chella has been incredibly consistent from tee to green this season, and I believe she just needs one good week of putting to get her first major.
  • And my flier is... Nasa Hataoka. By any measure, Nasa is a longshot -- 95th in DA, 43rd in GIR. But she still has eight Top10s and one victory this season... and the girl is TOUGH. Evian almost always has tough weather conditions, and I believe her toughness may give her the edge she needs this week.
And my pick is... Jin Young Ko. Her problem this season seems to have been her putting, but that didn't stop her from picking up a win or ten Top10s. And let's face it, strange things sometimes happen at Evian. She's got experience and she's proven she's mentally tough as well, so I'm taking her to break through for her first major.

Coverage starts Thursday morning with two broadcasts.
  • 5:00am- 8am ET
  • 9:30am-12:30pm ET
Let's hope this major lives up to the others we've seen this year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 BMW Championship

Winner: Keegan Bradley

Around the wider world of golf: Matthew Fitzpatrick became the first man in 40 years to successfully defend at the Omega European Masters on the ET; Nick Voke won the Qinhuangdao Championship and became the first New Zealander to win a PGA TOUR China event; Thanyakon Khrongpha won the ISPS HANDA Match Play on the Japan Golf Tour; Caroline Hedwall won the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the LET; and at the 2018 World Long Drive Championship, Maurice Allen won the men's division and Phillis Meti won the women's division.

Keegan Bradley celebrates winning putt on first playoff hole

The BMW Championship managed to get four rounds in, after all. I was surprised.

Justin Rose made it to the #1 spot on the world rankings and Tony Finau made it to the US Ryder Cup team. I wasn't surprised.

And then Keegan Bradley tracked down the leaders and took the BMW in a playoff against the new #1...

I was thrilled!

I chose the photo above -- rather than a standard "winner holds trophy" pic -- simply because of the pure joy. After the anchor ban trashed Keegan's game for quite a while, he -- like Webb Simpson -- figured it out and got his first win in six years.

In a week where the best in the world found themselves on a soft course with record low scores every day, Keegan got it done with style. And he did it after a textbook meltdown just a couple of weeks back, which he said helped him feel comfortable down the stretch Monday.

This event meant a lot to Keegan. It gets him back to the Tour Championship, which gets him back in the majors next year, it locks up his card for a couple of years and -- yes, let's just say it -- it lets him believe he still really can get it done when it counts. But it also gives him a gift he didn't expect.

While he's not in the Top5 headed to East Lake, so he doesn't really "control his destiny," he's now #6 in the FedExCup rankings, and that means he WILL have a decent chance to pick up that big $10mil prize. This year has suddenly become a very, very good one for Keegan Bradley, and there's no telling where he might go from here. And that's not even counting the best part of his win.

Yes, Keegan, you DO get your very own Limerick Summary. I know you've missed getting them.
The top spot’s no longer available
But one fact is now unassailable:
Although thirty will cash,
Keegan’s final round dash
Means that eight-figure peak is still scalable.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The BMW Resumes...?

Play is supposed to start at 7:30am ET and GC coverage at 10am ET -- assuming the weather cooperates, that is. Until then, everything from Furyk's final pick to the Limerick Summary is in limbo.

Aronimink under seige

Here's a link to GC's latest update -- at least, the latest at the time I wrote this. The big news is that the event could be cut to 54 holes if the rains keep coming, and that would mean victory for Justin Rose and no Tour Championship for Jordan Spieth. Spieth could also get fined for not playing enough events this season.

So we'll see what happens. But unlike Slugger White, I'm not all that optomistic.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Gary Alliss on Swinging with Rhythm (Video)

Golf Monthly coach Gary Alliss did this short video on making a balanced swing around seven years ago, but the advice is still very valid.



There are three things in particular I want to point out.
  • First, Gary makes it clear that a proper weight shift during your backswing doesn't create a sway. To give you a visual you can use, if you were to set up with your trailing foot against a wall, your trailing hip would not move any closer to that wall during your backswing. Your hip moves back, not sideways, as your hips turn.
  • Second, I often describe the start of your downswing as if you were falling from the top and landing on both feet. This is the move Gary describes, but perhaps his explanation will be a bit clearer to some of you -- simply that your hips turn back square to your address position without sliding toward your target.
  • Finally, I repeat -- you don't shove your hips toward the target on your downswing! Sliding forward like that ruins your balance and either causes you to leave the face open (a big slice) or forces you to flip your hands (a big hook). Don't do it!
Here's a practice tip if you're having trouble making a balanced swing: Don't swing past shoulder height on your backswing. Most players can make a pretty good swing if they keep their hands right around shoulder height, simply because most of the swinging moves we normally make -- whether it's swinging a bat or beating a dusty rug -- are at shoulder height or lower. Making a few swings like that can help you feel the proper rhythm and balance, and make it a bit easier to replicate it with a full swing.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Finau VS Schauffele

Today I'm linking you to Ryan Lavner's article at golfchannel.com about Furyk's final Ryder Cup pick. Things have gotten interesting, and Lavner covera all the bases well.

Schauffele, Furyk and Finau

In case you aren't aware of the situation, here's the nickel summary:

After two rounds at the BMW, Schauffele leads at -13 and Finau is five strokes back. Both shot matching 64s on Friday. Finau has been the more consistent player this season, but Schauffele finished higher on the points list (12 VS 15) due to his play in the biggest events. And Jim Furyk has two days to figure out which one will be the best fit on the US Ryder Cup team.

If Schauffele wins this week, it's going to be a very long Sunday night for Captain Furyk. This is almost more interesting than the event itself -- at least for the rest of us fans. Not so much for Furyk, I guess.

The clock is ticking, Jim. Have fun!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Cathy Kim on Eliminating Half the Course (Video)

In this video from golftipsmag.com, instructor Cathy Kim teaches you how to give your tee shot the best chance of landing in the fairway.



Yes, I know you've heard this before -- although I admit I like the way she words the advice. Set up on the side of the tee THAT YOU HATE! Want to avoid the right side rough? Set up on the right side. Want to avoid the left side? Then set up on the left.

This is simple strategy, of course, By setting up on the side you hate, you'll be playing away from that side. If you set up on the right, you'll be aiming down the left side of the fairway, and vice versa. But I bet you've tried this before and the ball still went where you didn't want it to go, didn't it?

That's because there's something that she didn't mention -- hell, most instructors never mention -- which is an important part of this strategy for most weekend players...
If you set up to avoid one side of the course, don't change your swing to try and make the ball curve differently than normal!
I know, that sounds counter-intuitive, but think about it for a moment. Let's say you're right-handed and struggling with a slice. Are you normally trying to hit a slice? Of course not! You're either trying to hit the ball straight or make it curve left. So you should continue to play that shot when you use this new strategy.

If you're having trouble with a slice but you try to hit a slice, what do you think will happen? The ball will slice even more than normal, and probably enough to counteract the setup change you made on the tee!

So when you change your setup, try to hit the same shot you would normally play. Do you normally try to hit a draw when you get that big slice? Then pick a target down the left side and try to draw the ball toward it. You don't change your shot, just your aim. And if you do that, you'll probably get your usual slice... except it will land in the fairway, not in the right rough.

Be aware that this will be a mental adjustment for most of you. Your mind will likely call you an idiot and tell you that you're going to hook the ball into the left rough. But your mind is wrong this time, because it assumes your aim change is going to change the shot shape. (If you're going to make your normal shot but the shot shape is somehow going to miraculously change, why would you change your setup? That's just poor thinking that comes from not understanding why you're making the change.)

Practice this on the range before you go out on the course, so your mind understands how the ball is going to curve when you make your normal shot with the new setup. If you do that, you should get the results you expect from this setup change.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Bjorn's Four Captain's Picks

And now we know the four European picks. Since I wrote about the US picks yesterday, I should give the Euros just as much respect.

European Captain Thomas Bjorn

I don't think anybody was really surprised by Bjorn's picks. We all knew he needed more veterans on the team, and he picked four -- Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey.

I had already given my four choices on Monday.
  • I felt that Poulter was a given.
  • While Sergio was a less clearcut choice, I picked him because I don't see any mechanical problems in his swing. I just see a new husband and father who rightfully has his mind on his family. Since they'll almost certainly be with him in Paris, and knowing how much he loves the Ryder Cup, I figure his game will be just fine.
I had chosen Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera Bello as my other two picks.
  • My reason for not picking Stenson was simply concerns about his health.
But I didn't give my reasons for not picking Casey, and I think you might like to know why.

The irony of it all is that, when I was looking over the choices and came to Casey's name, I quite literally said to myself, "If the Cup was in America this time, Casey would be a given just like Poulter." Because while Casey has played very well in the US this year, he hasn't played all that well over in Europe and he didn't play in the French Open at all. And given that he hasn't been in a Ryder Cup for around a decade, I felt that was a problem since European courses tend to play differently from US courses.

I certainly understand why Bjorn picked him though. Bjorn was the person who really convinced Casey to play the ET in order to qualify, and Paul did play well in the US all season -- including that win over Tiger early in the year. And we know that Casey has a great match play record, at least when it comes to match play tour events. His record isn't all that remarkable in the Ryder Cup, although he has certainly improved as a match player since he was last in the Cup.

So now we're down to only one US pick -- who I suspect will be Tony Finau, although Kevin Kisner isn't out of the running (I discussed why in that Monday post) -- barring anything unexpected this week at the BMW Championship. Either way, both teams will have a player with questionable health -- Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson -- and twelve very strong players overall.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Furyk's Fourth Pick

Just a short post today. I wasn't able to watch Furyk's announcement -- although that wasn't a big deal, since I already knew them. ;-) But I wanted to take a moment to look at what he said about the final pick he'll make next week.

US Captain Jim Furyk

Furyk gave us two big pieces of info at his new conference.
  • He is still considering -- at least -- the players down to 15 on the Ryder Cup points list. Since DeChambeau, Phil and Tiger were 9,10 and 11, that means Xander Schauffele (12), Matt Kuchar (13), Kevin Kisner (14) and Tony Finau (15) were still in the running...
  • Except that Kuchar is now a Vice Captain.
Whoever else he may be considering, that means there are three main candidates left -- the three I listed in my Sunday post. Most folks (me included, as I wrote Sunday) think Finau is the most likely.

Of course, this simply means that Jim Furyk's job is infinitely easier (thus far) than Thomas Bjorn's will be today.

Okay, Thomas -- show us what you got!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Dell Technologies Championship

Winner: Bryson DeChambeau

Around the wider world of golf: A lot of first-timers won this week! Marina Alex got her first LPGA victory at the Cambia Portland Classic; Scott McCarron picked up another Champions Tour win at the Shaw Charity Classic; Kramer Hickok got his first Web.com Tour victory at the DAP Championship; Richard Jung won his first PGA TOUR - China event at the Suzhou Open; Linnea Ström got her first Symetra Tour victory at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge; Matt Wallace got his third European Tour title of the season at the Made in Denmark; and Rikuya Hoshino won the Fujisankei Classic on the Japan Golf Tour.

Bryson DeChambeau with Dell trophy

I told you that Bryson DeChambeau had locked up a Captain's pick. Do you believe me now?

As of today, he has won the first two FedExCup Playoff events (I believe only Vijay has done that before), guaranteed that he will be #1 on the points list going into the Tour Championship, moved to #7 in the OWGR, become the fourth player with three wins this season, become only the fifth player to win four times before his 25th birthday in the last 30 years... and, oh yes, made a lot of skeptics eat their own words.

Except for a bogey at 13, I'm not sure a DeChambeau win was ever in question Monday. He played a pretty steady round of golf and finally won by two shots over a charging Justin Rose. (Boy, he looks to be in good shape for the Ryder Cup too, doesn't he?)

Whatever was bugging Bryson on the range a few weeks back is little more than a bad memory now. He can focus on this week's Playoff event and getting ready to team up with Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup. Perhaps somewhere in his busy schedule he'll find time to celebrate his third Limerick Summary of the year as well.
A man on a mission? Seems so!
In two weeks of play, DeChambeau
Has removed any doubt;
He’s got FedExCup clout
And, in three weeks, to Paris he’ll go.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Possible Ryder Cup Picks

Since the Limerick Summary has to wait for the Dell Technologies Championship to finish today, let's take a quick look at who might be the Captain's picks for the Ryder Cup teams.

Ryder Cup logo
For the US team, Jim Furyk will be making three of his choices this week. After DeChambeau's showing this week, it's pretty clear that he, Tiger and Phil will be the first three. Taking these three -- who finished in the rankings at 9, 10 and 11 -- also eliminates some potential controversy since Furyk's final choice, to be made next week, isn't quite as clear.

Personally, I think the final choice may come down to just how much influence Phil has. I suspect his choice would be Kevin Kisner, as the two have paired extremely well at the Presidents Cup. But I suspect Furyk is looking most seriously at Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau. In my opinion, Finau is in better form right now, although either player would likely be a good choice and -- let's face it -- there aren't any real rookies on the US team right now. Only JT hasn't been on a Ryder Cup, but he's played in a Presidents Cup so he's been initiated.

For Captain Bjorn, his four Euro choices must be a real headache. Only Molinari, McIlroy and Rose are really veterans, yet the most obvious veterans he will choose from are either slightly off-form or coming off injury. In my mind, only Poulter is a clear choice, as he has been playing well for over a year.

How should Bjorn choose? I think he should look for players who are high on both the World points (W) and European points (E) lists, as well as noting their finish at the French Open. It's also worth noting that, despite choosing from two lists, the eight automatic choices were 1-8 on the European points list. So that gives me the following choices.

I think you have to choose Sergio (W13, E24). I don't think his problem is his game; rather, it's his family that has distracted him -- which, with a new baby, is as it should be -- and I suspect that he can turn it on for one week, especially since his family will likely be in Paris as well. And he finished T8 at the French Open. I don't think that was a coincidence.

Thomas Pieters (W24, E20) has posted two T6s and a T9 in his last few events. He's gaining form at just the right time, and he was a stud at the last Ryder Cup! I think he'll be ready to play.

And Rafa Cabrera Bello (W10, E12), who hasn't played since the PGA, nevertheless finished T17 and T10 at Bridgestone and the PGA, and is 10th in the Race to Dubai (the Euro FedExCup). And he's the perfect partner for Sergio.

Yes, I would love to have Henrik Stenson (W17, E16) on the team but I'm concerned about his health. He was playing extremely well midsummer before the elbow injury, but not so well since. His best finish has been a T20 at Wyndham, and this week he's only T50 after three rounds. I just can't see giving him the nod.

And while I like Eddie Pepperell (W14, E10), his game has been erratic. I think there are too many rookies on the team now and, combined with his up-and-down record this year, I think he's too much of a gamble.

So those are my expectations. I'm afraid Bjorn will take too many vets who aren't on form in an effort to offset the number of rookies on the team. But I think these four veterans -- Poulter, Garcia, Pieters and Cabrera Bello -- are his best bets right now.

We'll find out how I did in a couple of days.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Vice Captain Schools the Rookies

The European players who are jockeying for Captain Thomas Bjorn's attention are getting a lesson from one of the vice captains this week. And I would be lying if I said I wasn't enjoying it!

Lee Westwood

Look, Lee Westwood isn't trying to make the Ryder Cup team. He said as much to europeantour.com:
“He [Bjorn] doesn't want an old man like me playing, he wants the young kids in. I've played ten and I know when my game is really on song ready for the Ryder Cup and I think there are more people deserving of a pick than me.”
But at 45 years old, Westwood is hardly a washed-up player. It's true that he hasn't won since 2014, but most players go through dry spells from time to time. And it looks to me as if he's strengthened some of the weaker aspects of his game during this lull.

As for the Ryder Cup... well, he could still be a viable sub if, at the last minute, one of the team members can't play for some reason.

Lee carries a one-shot lead into the final round at the Made in Denmark, but it could have been three strokes had it not been for a wet final drive that cost him a double-bogey. Still, you've got to like the chances of a man who has won 11 out of 26 times when he has the lead or co-lead.

I don't know what will happen today, but I'm pulling for Lee. I'm one of those fans who believes he can still win a major. And if his game stays anywhere close to the level he's playing at this week, 2019 could be a very good year for him.

But in the meantime, I think it would be really cool if the "old man" taught the youngsters a few more lessons about winning.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Tony Romo's First Step Toward a Tour Card

Tony Romo has taken some criticism for accepting invites to pro tournaments. But now he's proven he's serious about his game. He's on his way to the first stage of qualifying.

Tony Romo

Many fans don't realize how good a golfer Romo is. He entered the pre-qualifying stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament as an amateur with a +0.4 handicap. He would likely be even better had he been able to play more over the last few years.

But while he was still quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, he was criticized by Cowboy fans when he tried to qualify for the US Open. They said he wasn't working hard enough at being a QB, so Romo throttled back his golf until his football career was over. Now he's free to pursue his golf dreams.

While many don't think he's very good, the fact is that Romo has played very well this year. He missed the cut in his PGA Tour debut at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, but posted a nine-shot win at an amateur event in Wisconsin and won the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe, which many consider to be the Super Bowl of celebrity golf.

It's true that Romo made it through to First Stage on a bit of a technicality. He finished the three rounds at +2, which would have missed it by a stroke. But there was a DQ among those who did make it, and Romo was the beneficiary. Nevertheless, he's played well enough this year that this can't be considered a fluke.

You can read more about Romo's finish in this pgatour.com article and in this golfdigest.com article. But regardless of whether you think he's good enough to play the tour or not, the fact remains that this 38-year-old is proving to have some serious game. Give him a little time to adjust to the physical demands of the pro game, and the mental game he learned as a QB just may give him an edge against the big boys. I know I'll be following this story.

Friday, August 31, 2018

How Long Can Brooke Keep It Going?

The next FedExCup event starts today (2:30pm ET on GC). The Web.com Tour is in their second playoff event as well. And the European Tour is trying to finalize their Ryder Cup team.

But it's Brooke Henderson up at the Cambia Portland Classic who has my attention today.

Brooke Henderson

I love this photo, with her hair flying all over the place. That's probably a good metaphor for how she feels after her win last week -- everything is in motion, and she has no idea where it's going to end up! I know both she and her caddie/sister said they were worn out after Thursday's round.

And I can't help but believe she feels some pressure this week. Although a win in Portland wouldn't be as big as her win at the Women's Canadian Open last week, she has won this event two times before. A third win would tie her with Nancy Lopez, the only three-time winner of the event.

Given Brooke's aggressive mindset, I imagine she's putting some pressure on herself regardless of what she says.

For those of you who haven't already checked it out, Tony Jesselli's preview of the event is at this link. You should already be aware that defending champ Stacy Lewis isn't defending because she's on maternity leave from the tour. Again, Brooke has already won this event two times -- in 2015 (when she Monday qualified her way in) and in 2016, making her the most recent champion of the event to be playing.

Despite being tired, Brooke fired an eight-under 64 on Thursday, putting her just two strokes behind leader Marina Alex (who went just stupid low with a 62). Can she keep it up? You can find out at 6:30pm ET today, just after the PGA Tour broadcast.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ernie Els on Swinging Easy (Video)

Here's a clip of Ernie Els from this week's PGA Champions Tour Learning Center. He's talking about how to swing easy... but I don't think most people understand what that means.



Swinging easy, as Ernie says, is about swinging under control. It doesn't mean you swing slow. Rather, it just means you don't swing flat out.

This can be a hard concept to get your mind around. How do you swing fast without swinging hard?

In a word, this is where mechanics become important. I've written a lot about the L-to-L drill, and that's really the key to what Ernie is talking about here. The bulk of Ernie's swing speed is created at the last minute when his own 'L' starts to uncock about halfway in his downswing. If your wrists uncock in the top part of your downswing swing -- and there's a good chance yours do -- then it doesn't matter how hard you swing, you've already lost most of your speed above your waist.

I'm not going to belabor the point in this post, but it's important for you to understand what Ernie is saying here. If you practice that L-to-L drill to learn how what most players call a 'late release' feels, and then practice getting that same feel with a longer swing, you'll see a huge increase in clubhead speed without swinging out of your shoes.

This really is a case where how you think can affect how far you hit the ball. Learn to think about making an 'L-to-L' at impact -- using that drill will help train your mind as well as your body -- and you'll start to see more distance with less effort.

At least, it will feel as if you're using less effort. It's just that the effort will be expended at the ball and not above your waist.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Thoughts on the Rumored Changes to the FedExCup Playoffs

Everybody knows some of the changes coming to the FedExCup next season.

The FedExCup

For example, the Playoffs will finish before football season begins and the number of events will be reduced from four to three. That's part of the reason the PGA Championship was moved back to May. And these changes aren't very controversial for most fans.

But there are rumors of more changes -- none of which are more than rumors at this time -- which will likely cause a lot of debate among Player Advisory Council members, not to mention the public at large. You can read about some of the rumors in this Golf Magazine post.

There's some disagreement concerning when the regular season should end. Currently that's at the Wyndham in Greensboro NC, about a half-hour from where I live. Some folks want it to end a week earlier, at the WGC event. However, that could affect the field at Wyndham adversely, and hurting a Tour stop isn't something the Council will want to do.

I think most folks would like to see the points system changed, although the rumors that it could be eliminated completely may catch many fans off-guard. There's a suggestion that it be replaced by a staggered starting score, where the top player may begin the Tour Championship as many as ten shots under par and other players would start at varying scores beneath that; the further back you start, the more shots you have to make up in order to win.

The winner of the Tour Championship would automatically win the FedExCup, which would mean only one winner would be crowned. The prize would be greater than the current $10mil, and there would be additional payouts at the end of the regular season for the guys who lead the points list at that time.

And those might be only the tip of the iceberg, as there will certainly be more options debated before any decisions are made.

I think it's dangerous to make serious overhauls to a system that has done exactly what the PGA Tour wanted it to do when they created the FedExCup Playoffs. Some of the current ideas make sense to me:
  • I like the idea of a payout to the FedExCup point leaders at the end of the regular season. That would give the regular season added weight, as well as perhaps giving the top points getters a reason to play a bit more as the season ends.
  • I don't mind cutting the number of Playoff events to three, since many of the players only play that many now. I don't see it changing the outcome much, and it makes each event feel more important.
I'm less certain whether making the Tour Championship winner and the FedExCup winner one and the same is a good move. As it stands, if one of the Top5 wins the event, they DO win the Cup. I understand the reasoning behind the potential change -- presumably, the overall winner should always be the last man standing -- but perhaps the fans like having two winners. It does put a bit more pressure on the Top5 to play well in order to win the Cup.

But while changing the points system to something more easily grasped for the Tour Championship makes sense, I don't think trying to jigger the system is the way to go. Presumably the points will continue to be used until the final 30 players are identified, so basically we're just trying to figure out how to make the standings during the Tour Championship easier for the fans to follow.

Match play has been suggested for the final event, and there is merit in this idea. Seeding potentially gives the #1 seed the easiest route to the title, since the higher seeds play the lower seeds, who are theoretically the easiest to beat. But I think the regular approach to match play skews the odds too much in favor of certain players. Ian Poulter and Patrick Reed are two examples of players whose seeding, determined through stroke play, would be inaccurate for match play.

I'm not going to weigh in on all the different rumors in the linked article, but I do have a thought on how the Tour Championship should be handled... and there's no guesswork in how to "handicap" the field.

Once the Top30 are identified, the Top8 in FedExCup points are seeded 1-8 and they skip the first round of the Tour Championship (which will now have five rounds, as you'll see). The remaining 22 players play a single round of stroke play; eight players move on -- use a playoff if necessary to determine these eight -- and the rest of the players receive a payout, as they are done.

The eight who servive the first round are then seeded 9-16 based on their scores in the first round -- lowest score is 9, next lowest is 10, and so on. If players are tied, they simply draw numbers from a hat to determine their seeding. For example, if three players are tied for tenth, three papers marked 10, 11 and 12 are placed in a hat.

The Final16 then play one-on-one 18-hole STROKE PLAY matches to determine the winner, cutting to eight, then four, then two, and finally the winner. (You would have four top players, with "layers" of finishers after that. You guys know how match play events pay out!) This would give the event a unique format that isn't seen in any other pro event, and every shot would count. Fans would know at every stage exactly where players stood, without any attempts to create some bizarre handicapping system. All that would matter is a player's ability to score.

And in my opinion, that's how it should be.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Zach Lambeck on Controlling the Distances You Hit Your Pitches (Video)

Zach Lambeck, "the GOLFTEC Guy," did this short GC video on controlling distance with your pitches.



This isn't anything new, but it may make the concept clearer for some of you.

We often talk about developing three swings of different lengths in order to get three different "part shots" with our wedges and short clubs. But the important thing is to find a couple of distances that you can repeat easily, and learn how far you hit your clubs with each of those swings.

Zach is recommending a three-quarter swing and a half swing.
  • In his three-quarter swing, your lead arm is parallel to the ground at the top of your backswing.
  • In his half swing, your lead arm is at a 45° angle to the ground. (Zach describes this angle in terms of the shaft, but it's the same thing. The arm angle may be easier for you to remember.)
Now the three-quarter and half designations have nothing to do with the actual distance the ball flies. By that I mean that, if you hit your normal gap wedge 120 yards, the three-quarter swing probably isn't going to travel 90 yards or your half swing 60 yards. The actual label you use doesn't mean anything; in fact, you'd probably find it easier to remember that you're making a 9-o'clock swing and a 7:30 swing. You can call them whatever you want!

The idea is simply to find a couple of extra swing lengths -- lengths besides your full swing, that is -- that you can easily remember and repeat, then learn how far you hit the ball with those swings. It just happens that those two swing lengths are fairly easy to remember, simply because of where your lead arm is pointing.

There is no such thing as a perfect golf swing. If you want to score better, the goal is to find swings you can repeat and then get really good with them. Adding a couple of easily remembered partial swing lengths is a good way to add more distance control to your game.

And don't forget that you can use this concept with all of your clubs -- mid-irons, hybrids and fairway woods as well as short irons and wedges. Distance control doesn't have to be complicated, so make it as easy as you can.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Northern Trust

Winner: Bryson DeChambeau

Around the wider world of golf: Brooke Henderson became the first Canadian since 1973 to win the LPGA's CP Women's Open; Robert Streb won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the first of the Web.com Tour Playoff events; Scott Parel got his first Champions Tour win at the Boeing Classic; Andrea Pavan got his first European Tour win at the D+D Real Czech Masters; and Daijiro Izumida won the RIZAP KBC Augusta on the Japan Golf Tour.

Bryson DeChampbeau hoists Northern Trust trophy

There won't be any more questions about Bryson DcChambeau's mental toughness. He started the final round with a four-shot lead -- not the easiest thing to do, because everybody expects you to win -- and when things started to slip (as they inevitably will), he pulled it together and finished with his four-shot lead intact.

It was an impressive show, but I doubt I need to tell you that. What needs to be talked about -- and probably will be over the next week -- is how much this affected the rest of Bryson's season.

I speak, of course, of the Ryder Cup. Bryson wanted Captain Furyk's attention, and you can be sure he got it.

With his win Sunday, DeChambeau got his second win of the season and moved to the top of the FedExCup points list. Since it's unlikely that he'll fall out of the Top5 before East Lake, that means he'll "control his own fate" at the Tour Championship -- no matter what anyone else does, if he wins that event, he wins the Cup.

So when Furyk makes his first three picks next week, we're all pretty sure whose names he'll call. DeChambeau, Mickelson and Woods were 9, 10 and 11 on the Ryder Cup points list, and even before this week we were sure Tiger and Phil were locks. We also knew that Tiger liked Bryson as a partner. Phil could easily team with Rickie, as much as they've played together, so there's no rush to make a Phil-specific pick. Given these facts, does anyone doubt now that Bryson will be the third choice?

Me neither. And that means Furyk really has only one spot left to fill.

But that's a discussion for later. This is Bryson's stage, and he proved he's not ready to take his final bow this season. So his Limerick Summary anticipates his encore performance:
You need guts to make the big shot—
So Bryson said, ”That’s what I’ve got!”
His two wins this season
Are clearly the reason
His Ryder Cup spot seems a lock.
The photo came from this page at thetrentonian.com.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The 5 Most Helpful Golf Apps

Brian over at Hampton Golf, a golf course management company, provided me with a brief survey of what he thinks are currently the five best available golf apps. If you're thinking about adding an app to your phone, one of these five apps could be just what you're looking for.

Post header - player using app

If you're a golf enthusiast and have been playing for years, you're probably used to doing it the old-fashioned way.

However, there's nothing wrong with using a little technology to bring your game to the next level.

There are many golf apps that can help you do just that. Keep reading to learn about the five best golf apps out there.

1. GolfLogix for iPhone

GolfLogix app

Many iPhone users choose GolfLogix as their preferred golf app because of the great features.

Thanks to the aerial views it provides, golfers have a bird's-eye view of each hole. The view allows them to plan their strategy and improve their game.

It also makes predictions, shows the lay-up, and marks distances to hazards. Users can save their scores on the app and the scorecard even looks like a real paper card.

2. Mobitee Premium iPhone Golf GPS

Mobitee app

You can get this app for both iPhone and iPad. Mobitee shows real aerial satellite views of the course.

Other features include:
  • Keeps track of distances with each club
  • Tracks the score of up to 4 players
  • Maps the distance to a hole with a moving target
  • Finds any range and shows distance on the screen
The app is free and it's simple to use.

3. Golfshot: Golf GPS for iPhone

Golfshot app

This app comes in two versions, the classic version or the "Plus Scorecard and Tee Times," depending on which one the user prefers.

The app also comes with additional features such as:
  • Stat visualizations
  • Ability to email scorecards
  • Shot distance tracking
  • HD support for iPad
  • Course handicap calculator
  • Aerial view with zoom and TruePoint
Golfshot has over 40,00 courses for users to pick from.

4. Golf GPS Rangefinder: Golf Pad

Golfpad app

Golf GPS Rangefinder is an app for Android and other smartwatches. It has over 40,000 golf courses available for users, so they can use it anywhere in the world.

With the help of this app, you can map your location and plan your strategy accordingly. You'll be able to save your playing history, penalties, accuracy, game scores, and more. You can always refer back to your scores and past history to help you improve your future games.

5. GOLFLER Rangefinder & Golf GPS

GOLFLER app1GOLFLER app2

This Android app is free. GOLFLER has some great features that allow users to track their location. It also acts as a rangefinder.

It provides weather updates, gives live scores, and offers an option that allows you to order food and drinks right from the app.

Not only does the app show your location, it also lets you know the type of terrain. Even though the app is free, it still has many golf courses from around the world available.

Check These Golf Apps

Although there are many useful golf apps out there, these are some of the best ones out there (in my opinion). Whether you have an iPhone or Android, these have the ability to help you take your game to the next level.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Nine Practice Drills (Video)

This is an older Golf Monthly video -- about two years old -- showing nine different players and a drill each uses. You'll want to look at all of them to see which ones might help you, but my attention was drawn to one very simple drill from Marcus Kinhult that I've never seen before. It starts around the 2:05 mark.



This is just an alignment drill. Why did it catch my attention? Because unlike most alignment drills, which involve laying out alignment rods or golf clubs, I believe this is a drill you can actually use during a round of golf without breaking any rules. Yes, I know Marcus has clubs laid out on the ground, but I believe you can get some value just from using the one club you're about to hit.

All Marcus does is flip his club upside down so he can hold the head. By holding the club vertically, you can use the shaft to make sure the ball is consistently located in the same spot in your stance every time. It's like plumb-bobbing with a putter or standing behind your ball and using the shaft to help visualize your aimline, and you don't even need to touch the grip to the ground. Since you can easily tell if the shaft is vertical, it gives you a convenient way to doublecheck your ball position.

The video has drills from Ian Poulter, Branden Grace, Jordan Spieth and Ernie Els to name a few. Some of the drills are familiar, others are specific to the players using them. But it's likely you'll find something you can use in this short video.

Sometimes all you need to solve a problem is a simple drill to help you focus better. Perhaps one of these will give you some ideas for drills that will help your game.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Mariajo Uribe Sets a Course Record

...and it was tied just an hour later by Ariya Jutanugarn and then by Nasa Hataoka. Such is the way of life in the women's game.

Still, it's exciting (to me, anyway) to see Mariajo at the top of the leaderboard.

Mariajo Uribe

Many of you may not even recognize her name. She's struggled since joining the LPGA, and she only has one professional win -- the 2011 HSBC Brazil Cup, which was an unofficial LPGA event.

Mariajo (a Colombian) first caught my attention when she won the 2007 US Women's Amateur. She was walking around the course, fist-pumping and ordering that ball to get in the hole! It was an impressive performance, and I couldn't wait to see how she did as a pro.

As it turns out, she's struggled to find her place on the Tour just like so many other good young players who come out of college. Don't get me wrong, we've seen flashes of her brilliance -- she won the the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games and the silver medal at the 2014 South American Games. But while she's had numerous Top10s on the LPGA, she still has no official wins and she's struggled in the majors.

I still keep a watch for Mariajo's scores. She's got a lot of talent, although she -- like most players -- probably needs to work more on her short game if she wants to break through. She had a runner-up finish to start the year but has seen her finishes drop further and further down all year. (She missed the cut in Indy last week.) But I keep hoping that maybe this week will be the week. She's a fiery competitor who could really add to the already fascinating mix if she could get in on the action more often.

Maybe a good start like this will be the catalyst she needs to get things going. Maybe...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Tiger-Phil Match, Now Confirmed

I was going to write about the LPGA playing the Women's Canadian Open, or maybe the first FedExCup Playoff event. But no, I can't ignore the new details on "The Match," so here's what we have so far, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Match banner

The article is short and to the point. It says:
  • 18 holes of match play on the Friday after Thanksgiving (November 23), to be played at the Shadow Creek course in Las Vegas.
  • $9mil prize, winner take all. In addition, the two will make side bets during the match on things like who hits the longest drive or hits it closest to the pin.
  • Woods announced that it was "on" in a tweet, which started some exchanges between him and Phil, who finally started his own Twitter account on Wednesday.
  • It will be a pay-per-view event. WarnerMedia has the rights, cost to be announced later.
  • About the availability of the pay-per-view, WarnerMedia said "...pay-per-view coverage will be distributed through Turner's B/R Live, AT&T DirecTV and U-verse, and other on-demand platforms. HBO Sports and Bleacher Report will take part in the promotion."
That's all pretty simple, right?

I'm sure there will be more coming out over the next few months leading up to the event, so get ready for the media blitz.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Martin Hall on Hitting Your Irons Higher (Video)

This could be a useful video for many of you. This is Martin's Extra Credit video from last week on how to hit your irons higher. It focuses, of course, on mid-irons because short irons usually have enough loft for anybody to get height on those shots.



Note that Martin says the first thing you should do is consider a hybrid. While Martin mentions this in reference to mid-irons like your 4- and 5-irons, it is possible to get hybrids for some of your shorter irons as well. But if you're having problems getting height with your short irons, it's probably due to your technique.

Note also that Martin is clearly talking about shots off the turf. If the ball is on a tee, it's pretty easy to hit up on it and get as much height as you need, so bear in mind that these tips are to help you hit the ball off the turf.

And Martin has two tips to help improve your technique.
  • Make sure you're looking at the back of the ball. Martin suggests setting the ball so the clubface will contact the logo.
Don't underestimate the power of this tip alone. Just as you tend to steer your car in the direction you're looking -- which is why you don't want to rubberneck at accidents -- you'll tend to hit the ball on the spot where you're focused. If you're looking at the back of the ball, you'll tend to stay more behind the ball, which means the face of the club should contact the back of the ball, and that should help you get the full loft of the club into play.
  • Practice swinging your trailing shoulder under your chin in order to contact the ball further forward in your swing. That should also help you get more of the full loft of the club into play.
Martin's "swing under your lead arm" drill is intended to help you get the feel of this move. If you don't have someone to help you with this -- as Martin does with Blair in the video -- you may be able to use your driver or a chair as a hand rest for your lead hand.

An interesting aspect of this drill is that -- as many useful drills do -- it helps your footwork so you shift your weight to your lead foot, and that helps you get a fuller finish with your shoulders.

Hitting the ball higher increases the chance that you will hit behind the ball, so you'll need to practice this shot. But this isn't a shot where you try to swing out of your shoes. As long as you try to remain relaxed while you swing, you should be able to get good contact -- and some pretty good height -- with your mid-irons.

And if you decide to use hybrids, it should help you hit them more crisply as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Lower Your Score by Hitting It Shorter

Yes, it sounds wild. But today we're time-traveling back to the December 2015 issue of Golf Magazine where that very piece of advice was given!

It's in that issue's Private Lessons section for High Handicappers (which defined a high handicapper as someone who has "potential but must fix some fundamental swing flaws"). The section gives two steps geared toward getting your driver in the short grass more often, but I can see where these tips could help you with any club that you have trouble controlling.
  • Grip down on the club. The article says that most Tour pros use shafts that are an inch or so shorter than the shafts you get off the shelf at most golf shops. So they recommend that you grip down about two inches on your driver. The shorter shaft length makes it easier to control the club. (As an aside, the typical driver back in Bobby Jones's day was around 42" long, so this advice isn't as strange as it might sound.)
  • Make a shorter backswing. Again, this is about controlling the club better. The article recommends swinging your hands back to shoulder height and no longer. I can tell you from personal experience that this isn't an arbitrary length. I did a lot of experimenting years ago and discovered that you can make almost any kind of swing and get decent results if you don't swing past shoulder high. Why? Because this is the normal range of motion we make in most sports when swinging a bat or a racket, so it's the range in which we tend to have the best control of the club.
This probably won't surprise you, but I would recommend you practice these tips while using the L-to-L drill I recommend so often. The drill will ensure that you get a good wrist cock and, since this is the length swing that is natural to most people, you should get better distance than you might expect. Combined with improved accuracy, this could easily lower your score by a few strokes.

So much for our journey into the past. Welcome back to the present -- now go try it!

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Wyndham Championship

Winner: Brandt Snedeker

Around the wider world of golf: Sung Hyun Park won the Indy Women in Tech Championship on the LPGA; Paul Waring won the Nordea Masters on the ET; Sungjae Im won the Portland Open on the Web.com Tour; Bart Bryant won the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open on the Champions Tour; Tyler McCumber won the The Players Cup on the MACKENZIE TOUR - PGA TOUR CANADA; Marta Sanz Barrio won the FireKeepers Casino Championship on the Symetra Tour; Yuta Ikeda won the RIZAP KBC Augusta on the Japan Golf Tour; and Viktor Hovland became the first Norwegian to win the US Amateur.

Brandt Snedeker with Wyndham trophy

Brandt Snedeker has spent the last couple of years dealing with physical problems that doctors told him only come from contact sports.

This week, the rest of the field must have felt like Brandt was playing full-contact golf.

From Thursday's 59 to Sunday's nip-and-tuck battle with C.T. Pan, Brandt led the whole way. And while Pan's unexpected OB drive on 18 made the ending less of a challenge, Brandt still drained a 20-footer to seal the deal by three strokes.

His return to the winner's circle couldn't have come at a better time. His 59, coupled with this win and his reputation for streaky good play, will certainly grab Jim Furyk's attention as he ponders his four Ryder Cup picks. And let's not ignore the possibilities ahead in the FedExCup Playoffs. After all, Brandt has won the FedExCup before!

Of course, there was also a battle to make the Top125 in order to make the Playoffs, and a couple of things there stood out to me. I'd like to salute Sam Saunders for making his first-ever Playoffs and, while Captain Furyk didn't make them, he finished T4 with his lowest-ever tournament score -- even while he had to take care of Ryder Cup business.

But this was all about Brandt. And, since he didn't need the Wizard to 'tap' his final putt into the hole, I feel totally fine about giving him his newest Limerick Summary.
His game’s not the kind to enchant,
So his chances of late have been scant.
Still, it must be conceded:
When magic was needed,
The true Wyndham Wizard was Brandt!
The photo came from this page at golfweek.com.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Brandt Snedeker on Playing in Tough Conditions (Video)

Brandt will have to play 29 holes today, and in this short video he talked about what he needed to do to play well. I'm posting it because this is good advice, no matter what your tough conditions are.



If you know beforehand that you're going to be in tiring conditions, make sure you get enough rest before you go out.

Most weekend players don't realize you can dehydrate just as badly in cold weather as in hot weather, in wet weather as well as in dry weather. Your body needs water no matter what the conditions are. (And food too. Taking some easy-to-digest snacks along is a good idea as well.)

And finally, avoid "mental lapses." In other words, you'd like to have a plan before you tee off and then stick to it. When you're tired and/or dehydrated, your mind can wander more than usual. If you're in decent shape, you're more likely to make mental mistakes than physical ones.

We'll have to see how well Brandt follows his own advice today. The weather looks iffy again, so he'll have the double challenge of playing more holes than normal and doing so in tough conditions. That three-shot lead may not seem as big by the time he reaches the final nine.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Drill for Squaring Your Driver at Impact (Video)

This is a Golf Monthly video hosted by the guys from the MeandMyGolf YouTube channel. It's a drill to help you keep the face of your driver square at impact.



This is a very simple drill. Just grip down on the club until your trailing hand is almost touching the shaft, then make sure the butt of the grip is pointed at your trail hip as your hands pass your hip on the way back. That will help you keep from twisting your forearms on the way back, and that means you won't have to try and twist them forward the same amount on the way down.

Less excess motion means less inconsistency.

I hope you're starting to notice how many instructors are beginning to stress "stable clubfaces" -- that is, that you don't open the clubface on the way back. If you do, the more clubhead speed you create, the less time you have to compensate on the way down... and the more often your ball ends up in the woods. The only time you should even consider twisting your forearms during your swing is when you're playing FROM the woods and have to hit a duck hook around a tree. Please, please, PLEASE stop twisting your forearms on the way back!

You'll thank me for it.

Really, you will.

Friday, August 17, 2018

59 Watches Everywhere! (Video)

It started when Angel Yin shot 29 on her first nine holes to start the 59 watch at the LPGA event. She didn't make it -- she finished at 64 (-8), a personal best for her -- but that was exciting.

Then Lizette Salas got the 59 watch, but she finished at 62 (-10) to take the lead.

Derek Ernest also got the 59 watch at the Web.com Tour event. He finished at 61 (-10).

But Brandt Snedeker did more than get the 59 watch in Greensboro. He GOT the 59 (-11)! Here's his interview with Lisa Cornwell.



What I'd like you to get from this is that Brandt didn't do what many players try to do. Once he knew he had a chance at 59 -- he says it was at the 16th green, when he knew he was one shot away with two holes to go -- he didn't pretend that it wasn't happening. He embraced it and made a plan.

In Brandt's case, that was simply to get a tee shot in the fairway. He had been there before and had played too timidly. He knew his wedges and his putting are his strengths, so he played to those strengths. He would give himself a wedge shot to the green, try to put it where he would have an uphill putt (so he could putt it firmly) and then, when he needed the putt on the final hole, he decided he would go for the birdie and not worry what he might make if he didn't get it. He didn't smash the ball too hard, but he made sure it got to the hole.

He wanted that 59, and he played to get it. And, because he had been there before and failed to get it done, he had a good idea of what he needed to do.

Those are things you can learn from as you try to get better during your rounds. Know what you need to do, play to your strengths and don't worry about what happens if you don't get the results you want. If you get in that position enough times, you'll eventually break through.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thinking Your Way to Breaking 90

Most of the time I write about improving your mechanics or related subjects. Today I want to talk about strategy, and specifically for those of you who are struggling to break 90. That seems to be a mental barrier for many weekend players but, once you learn how to do it consistently, even breaking 80 doesn't seem that far away.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called A Different Approach to Breaking 90. It introduced the concept of "level fives" from a book called (appropriately enough) How to Break 90. The idea is simply that if you average five strokes for 18 holes, you shoot 90. And the book included a quote which, while obvious, may never have occurred to you:
Consider, if you will, that on a par-72 course you can bogey 17 of the 18 holes and still break 90.
As I said, obvious but probably something that never occurs to most golfers who are trying to break 90 for the first time.

By all means, go back and read the post I linked to earlier in this one. Today I'd like to put some numbers to this line of thought. Perhaps it will make the strategy that much clearer to you.

Let's forget about your driver for a moment, maybe even your 3-wood. Do you have a club that you can hit 170-180 yards with reasonable consistency? By "reasonable consistency" I mean you can hit it pretty much that same distance time after time, and you have a decent chance to put it in the fairway each time. It might be a 3-hybrid, or maybe a 7-wood. (For some of you big hitters, it might be just an 8-iron or 7-iron. Whatever.) Let's do a little simple math here.:
  • Two 170-yard shots travel 340 yards.
  • Three 170-yard shots travel 510 yards.
  • Two 180-yard shots travel 360 yards.
  • Three 180-yard shots travel 540 yards.
I'm going to use a 7-wood and the 170-yard distance for this example.

I'll be able to reach a 510-yard par-5 with three shots. If the par-5 is shorter than that, it's two 7-woods and a shorter club. If the par-5 is longer, it's three 7-woods and (probably) a chip or pitch. If my short game is just decent, that should give me a good chance at a bogey six at worse.

I'll be able to reach a 340-yard par-4 in two shots. If the par-4 is shorter than that, it's one 7-wood and a shorter club. If the par-4 is longer, it's two 7-woods and a shorter club. On a lot of those longer holes the third shot will only be a chip or pitch. Again, if my short game is any good, I should have a good chance to walk off with a bogey five at worse.

And even on a long par-3, I'm probably just looking at one 7-wood and a chip or pitch, and I walk off with a bogey four at worse.

If we make a couple of putts somewhere along the way, we could break 90 by two or three shots. And not once will we have had to use one of our longer woods -- you know, the clubs we keep hitting into the rough.

Even if you don't use this strategy on every hole, it's a good one to try on holes on which you consistently find yourself making double-bogey or worse.

Remember: Many times, bad scores are not the result of poor play so much as of poor thinking.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Two Events I'm Watching This Week

Well, I guess everybody will be watching them, but they're the events that have storylines I'm interested in this week.

Defending Indy champ Lexi Thompson

The LPGA will be at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, which is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (aka "the Brickyard," where the Indy 500 is held every year). Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event here, but there are two things that particularly interest me this week.
  • Lexi Thompson is defending her title, and it's her first event back after her self-imposed exile for personal reasons a few weeks back. I'll be interested to see how she plays.
  • I'm equally interested to see how Emily Tubert plays this week. For those of you who missed it, Emily caught the bug for long drives after attending an event a couple of weeks back. This week she decided to try Monday qualifying for the Tennessee Big Shots tournament... and she not only got in, she won the thing! Then she drove to Indianapolis for the LPGA event, which she was already in. I'm curious to see how she does after her unexpected victory.
On the other hand, the PGA Tour will be in my backyard this week, teeing it up at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro NC. As I'm sure most of you know, this is the last regular season event before the FedExCup Playoffs start, so a number of players are under pressure to secure their Tour cards. But there's more on the line than that.

Henrik Stenson is the defending champ, so his card is secure... but his spot on the European Ryder Cup team isn't. A number of players are in the same boat, jockeying for a spot via the World Rankings point list before the Euro automatic qualifiers are determined. Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick are all in the field trying to make it in... or at least begin the "impress the Captain" process.

Ironically, none of the most likely American choices will be at the Wyndham. They have apparently decided to take their chances with the FedExCup events. (I should note that Webb Simpson, who snagged the last qualifying spot, WILL be playing this week. This is a home game for him.) But it's worth noting that some players who are more than a dozen spots down the US list ARE playing this week. These are players who usually play here -- guys like Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore -- and some good play at a place where they're comfortable could give them a jump on the other guys if that play continues during the Playoffs.

I have my own thoughts on who might be the US picks but I'll wait a bit closer to the Ryder Cup to post them. And I need to see who the Euro qualifiers are before I even try to guess theirs!

Bear in mind that both events begin on Thursday this year. The LPGA event was only 54 holes last year, but it's a full 72 this time around. The LPGA event begins at noon ET while the PGA Tour event follows it at 3pm ET, both on GC.