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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Stacy Lewis on Beating the High Lip Bunker

I've done a number of posts on bunker play but I think this is the first to focus on DEEP bunkers! Stacy Lewis did this great post for that -- pardon the pun -- hits the high points.

Stacy Lewis in a deep bunker

If you take nothing else from this post, remember this: The deeper the bunker is, the more sand you have to dig out. In a bunker you don't hit the ball, you hit the sand; and to make the ball go higher, you have to move a lot more sand with your wedge. Stacy gives a great drill to teach you how to get that extra sand moving!

Draw a four-inch diameter circle in the sand with your ball in the middle. Set up with the ball opposite your lead foot, then remove the ball. Dig your feet into the sand so you have a solid footing, then grip the club with an open clubface. (Remember that the open clubface won't send the ball out sideways because the clubface never touches the ball.)

Then she says to swing as if you're trying to stick your hands in your left pants pocket. (If you're a righty, that is. Lefties, stick it in your right pants pocket!) That's because you want to cut across the ball -- an out-to-in swing. This image will help you do that.

Finally, when you make that swing, try to take all of the sand out of that four-inch circle. And once you get the hang of doing that, put the ball back in the circle and watch that ball fly high and soft!

This is a beautifully simple drill for learning a shot that gives most players fits.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Mariah Stackhouse Meets Hank Aaron (Video)

In case you don't know, Hank Aaron is a baseball legend, one of the greatest home run hitters in history and a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. He also created the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, which he began to help children with "limited opportunities" (which can cover a lot of territory) pursue their dreams.

As it turns out, Mariah was one of the kids he helped... and Thursday was his first time getting to see her play. GC posted this video of the two finally getting to meet.

This was just so cool that I wanted you all to see it in case you missed it

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The LPGA Is Back in Prime Time

Although Tiger and the Arnold Palmer Invitational will get the lion's share of the attention this week, the LPGA plays the Bank of Hope Founders Cup starting today.

Sung Hyun Park, Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer

Tony Jesselli has his usual excellent preview of the event at his site, so I won't repeat that here. But this will be a big tournament for the ladies, not only because of its focus on the history of the LPGA, but because several players finally start their seasons this week.

Paula Creamer is back after wrist surgery. She's got new equipment, a new caddie, and a new coach... but her old husband is noticeably missing. She confirmed to the media that she and Derek Heath have split. She really is starting the season with a clean slate!

Sydnee Michaels is back after nearly a year off with back problems (a herniated disc) and a new four-month-old daughter. She's made some swing changes as well, necessitated by her back.

And Kyung Kim is back after six months off from a car accident. She says she still has some back pain but is ready to go.

And then you've got the players who are already off to a good start. Sung Hyun Park is the top-ranked player in the field (she's less than .8 points behind #1 Shanshan Feng, and Feng isn't playing); both Kordas and both Jutanugarns are there; Inbee Park is playing as are Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson; and of course defending champion Anna Nordqvist is there. You can check out the whole field at this link.

The best part is that, since the LPGA is back in the US, we finally get to watch them play at a normal hour! GC's three-hour coverage starts this evening at 6pm ET, right after the API coverage. Should be fun!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Paul Casey on the High Lob Shot (Video)

Since Casey won last week, he gets to teach a lesson this week. He recorded this lob shot video as one of the Titleist Tips from the Tour shorts.

Before getting to the tip itself, Paul reminds us that he doesn't have to go straight at the pin. This is something we often forget -- there's nothing wrong with playing the safe shot and avoiding the high score if we aren't sure we can play the bold shot. A low-scoring player always considers all of his or her options.

A quick note about that "safe" shot: Paul specifically says it's a lower shot, and it might even be a running shot. That's a lot easier shot to play, and perhaps that should be your choice if it's available to you.

Okay, here are a couple of things I picked up by studying the video, things that Paul doesn't mention and that may not be clear with only one or two viewings:
  • While Paul mentions that his stance is open, you may not realize how far forward his ball position is. He has the ball up even with his lead heel. That's quite far forward when you aren't using a tee, and he has the clubface wide open so he has to catch the ball almost perfectly. This isn't a shot you want to try if the ball is sitting down. You need a good lie.
  • You absolutely can't hang back on your trailing foot! With the ball so far forward and the clubface wide open, that's a sure recipe for a skulled shot. It's true that you can't hit down on the ball with this ball position, but you have to make sure your upper body stays stationary during the swing -- it doesn't move backward but it can't move forward either. (At least, not until after the ball has been struck.) You MUST hit the ball accurately in order to get that high ball flight.
Paul makes this look easy, but you need to be sure of yourself if you want to play this shot. Given how much clubhead speed this shot requires to get both the height and the distance, this is not the shot for you if you aren't confident of your ability to pull it off.

That's when you take the safe shot. Never feel guilty about doing that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Rules Bifurcation Arrives... in a Small Way

It appears that the USGA and the R&A finally decided that some form of bifurcation in The Rules of Golf was inevitable. And it was the pace of play issue that finally forced their hand.

The Rules of Golf book

There are four main rule changes that have been emphasized in the announcements over the last day or two. You can get the lowdown from this article at, this one at and this one at The Golf Digest article also has a graphic showing how the new bifurcated rule will work. Here's what that graphic looks like, although the original is much easier to read:

Graphic showing the new two-stroke rule

Yes, it's the stroke-and-distance rule. Most of us hate the extra trip back to the tee when we lose a ball or simply hit it out-of-bounds. Here's how the Golfweek article summed up the change:
Balls lost or out of bounds: Alternative to stroke-and-distance penalties: A new local rule will be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The local rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite competitions. (Key change: This is a new addition to support pace of play.)
There are two very interesting aspects of this change:
  • It's an optional local rule that courses can use. It's not required, but it's now available as a sanctioned part of the Rules.
  • Most importantly, this optional rule is NOT available to competitions involving professions or "elite amateurs."
That, my friends, is bifurcation. The Rules of Golf will now recognize a rule that affects top-level competitions but not regular amateurs. And it's a rule that will be instituted in order to speed up play.

I'm perfectly fine with this change. Let's face it, most amateurs don't obey the stroke-and-distance rule anyway! This will, as most would argue, simply bring the rule into line with the way most players already play.

But -- and this is just an observation -- I expect this change to have some unexpected side effects. After all, most handicaps are determined by casual rounds, not by official rounds in a tournament. The two-stroke penalty assumes that a player would go back to the tee and hit his or her tee ball somewhere near the spot where they take a drop... but we all know that doesn't always happen.

The handicaps determined through those casual rounds could end up being used by some amateurs when they play in various levels of tournament play. Will it be a large number? Probably not, although this local rule does open the door for some "creative handicapping" if players so choose, and they could argue that they did it legally. (Those handicaps would be better than the player actually deserves, so they might get into a tournament they would not otherwise qualify for.) I don't expect that to be a big problem, as most players tampering with their handicaps would prefer to make them worse so they could sandbag it a bit.

Again, that's just an observation and, from a practical standpoint, it probably won't amount to much. But it's the sort of problem that bifurcation brings to the table...

And I suspect the USGA and the R&A might have chosen this rule to be a test case for bifurcation. Misusing this rule would hurt a player more than help, so it seems a safe way to see how bifurcation might affect the intergrity of the game.

But make no mistake about it: The ruling bodies have given us what we wanted. For better or worse, bifurcation will now officially enter the game of golf, effective 01 January 2019.

Now we'll just have to see where it leads.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Valspar Championship

Winner: Paul Casey

Around the wider world of golf: Matt Wallace beat Andrew "Beef" Johnston to win the Hero Indian Open on the ET; Ashleigh Buhai won the Investec South African Women’s Open on the LET; Vijay Singh won the Toshiba Classic on the Champions Tour; and Martin Trainer won the El Bosque Mexico Championship on the Tour.

Paul Casey with Valspar trophy

And another drought comes to an end -- this time, it was nine years in the making (since 2009).

I've been waiting for Paul Casey to break through for years. (Some of you may remember the many times I picked him as a tournament favorite, only to have him come up just a bit short.) And this week it looked like he might miss out again, as he started the day five shots off the lead of a loaded leaderboard. Justin Rose, Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods (of course!) were all in the mix and all playing well.

And then... Casey came out firing, more than an hour ahead of the leaders. He tied his best round of the year (65), highlighted by the fewest number of putts in anybody's round since 2000 (21). And once he finished, he had a long wait to see what happened. After all, he figured one of the big guns would catch him. Right?

But he was wrong. Reed made the biggest run, starting with an eagle but bogeying his final hole to miss a playoff by just one stroke. Rose came out flat, shooting 2-over on the front nine. And Woods just wasn't as sharp -- to be expected, I think, given how long it's been since he was in contention -- though a birdie bomb on 17 kept his hopes alive. Nevertheless, he too came up a single shot short.

And just like that, Casey found that his long wait was over. And given how well he's played over the last few years, I'd say this win is certainly overdue.

Will this "open the floodgates," as the analysts are wont to say? I don't know. Our game is definitely top-heavy with talent right now, and with both Phil and Tiger both making a comeback, it's hard to believe that Casey will suddenly rocket to the top of the heap.

But that's irrelevant right now. It's hard to win on tour, any tour, and Paul Casey has done something many players go their entire careers and never experience -- he's hoisted yet another trophy. And since I do only one Limerick Summary each week, this one puts him in elite company!
Once Casey’s score made him “The Man,”
A long hour of waiting began.
But though Woods, Rose and Reed
Made a run at the lead,
In the end, only Casey would stand.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Robert Damron on Repeatable Wedge Yardages (Video)

This short video from Robert Damron has a neat twist on learning how to hit your wedges consistent distances. I think you'll find the concept useful.

Robert's approach is different... but it's one I've used myself, although not to the degree he does. Still, it's a very useful way to learn a repeatable swing.

Instead of hitting your wedges to a certain distance and trying to remember the swing, Robert makes a swing he can easily repeat and then measures the distance. For example, if a slow shoulder-height swing feels natural to you, you make that swing ten times, measure the distances and get an average distance. Now, when you need to hit that distance on the course, you can recreate it by feel rather than by mechanical thoughts.

So why post the video? Because Robert has some unusual ways to create those "natural-feeling" swings, and seeing how he does it might help you find some easy-to-repeat swings that you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

As crazy as it may sound, I think you'll get some very useful ideas from this video. Give it a try.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

What Must the Young Guns Be Thinking Now?

I just want to put some perspective on what we're seeing at Valspar this week. We seem to be missing the full picture because we're forgetting some important things.

Tiger at Valspar

For example, since Phil has been mentioned many times because of his win in Mexico, we need to remember that Phil isn't just overcoming the effects of age. Phil still has psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and, although he is using medicine, both are incurable. My understanding is that he can still have flare-ups, even with treatment. So some of Phil's inconsistency could be the result of occasional pain.

Rory, Jordan and Henrik all missed the cut this week but this isn't just a matter of being in a slump. It's true that Jordan's coach Cameron McCormick said Jordan is just trying too hard right now, but we should also remember that Jordan that had a case of mono in December and -- I can say this from experience -- you feel rundown for quite a while, even after you're pronounced "well." I suspect some bad habits from that recovery time have worked their way into his game and it's a simple matter of working them out.

As for Rory and Henrik, both dealt with rib problems late last year and, even though both played well in their ET starts, conditions here in America are different from those in the Middle East. (Henrik didn't play as well in Malaysia either, his last ET event before coming here.) It's going to take some time to adjust to Bermuda grass, and that's why they're here early -- to get ready for Augusta.

Tiger, meanwhile, is playing the Honda and Valspar on the grass he's been practicing on since he started swinging again. You may have heard him say that he didn't know how he'd do at Bay Hill next week because he hasn't putted on bent grass in a while. But he's improving a little each week, and has realized that patience is his friend right now.

What exactly does all this mean to the young guns, who have made no secret that they'd like to face the "old" Tiger (and presumably the "old" Phil as well)?

Even though I expected Tiger to return to form if he was healthy, I didn't expect him to be at this point until much later this year. And while Tiger is playing well on these tough courses, he's certainly not ready for the shootouts he used to win with regularity. I suspect Tiger will be in pretty good form for Augusta -- as will Phil -- simply because both men tend to play well there, no matter what their games look like elsewhere.

But despite everything I've just written, I think the young guns should be a bit nervous -- not terrified, just nervous. JT ran the tables last weekend in Mexico but he still couldn't stop Phil from winning, and a confident Phil is a dangerous Phil. He now KNOWS that what he's been working on has him back in form, and he has Tiger to push him once again. Those two are already talking about inspiring each other, and these youngsters don't know how powerful their rivalry can be as they reassert themselves.

As for Jordan... the fact is this: An admittedly less-than-recovered Tiger just blitzed you by nine strokes on a course he hadn't seen in 22 years, when just nine months ago he wasn't even sure he'd play again. No matter the reason for your struggles, you can't feel good about this. The same goes for Rory -- under no circumstances should someone who spent a couple of years recovering from back surgery beat you by that many strokes.

Rex Hoggard noted that, after Tiger made a great play on Friday, Henrik glanced over at him and raised an eyebrow as if to say "I've seen this before." I can imagine Jordan feeling the electricity in the air and asking Henrik if it was this bad before, only to have Henrik smile and say, "No. It was worse."

Reportedly, Martin Kaymer recently asked Adam Scott at dinner if Tiger had really been that good... to which Adam simply laughed.

I don't expect Tiger to win this weekend, and I don't expect current leader Corey Conners to win either, although I expect both to hold their games together and finish well. This week will be a confidence builder for both players, but I suspect there's just too much talent too close to the lead for them to overcome it. This week, that is.

But Tiger and Phil are clearly sending this young group of superstars a message, and that message is:
We've been sharing our knowledge with you, trying to help you grow and become the players of tomorrow... but now we intend to teach you WHY we know these things. Now the hard lessons begin.
This isn't about intimidation, folks. I don't think Tiger or Phil gives a damn whether the kids are intimidated or not. Because, you see, you don't have to be intimidated to get beaten black and blue by our game.

And I think the young guns are just beginning to suspect that their dream of facing the legends wasn't a particularly smart one.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Robin Symes on Straight Arm Pitching (Video)

Yesterday I did a post about Stricker's pitching technique and pointed out that he doesn't straighten his arms. So today we cover how to pitch with straight arms!

This might seem contradictory but it's not. Different people use different techniques because they get better results with one or the other. The big question is...

How do you know which technique is best for you?

Symes says that this technique feels "wooden." I'm not sure that's a good description. This may be a good technique for you if you use a very shoulder-oriented putting stroke... and if you do, this probably won't feel "wooden" to you at all.

There's really only two things you need to focus on if you want to try this pitching method:
  • Neither elbow bends at any point during the stroke. This is the main difference between this and the Stricker stroke from yesterday's post. That means you have to turn your shoulders a lot during your backswing, which is different from the way most players pitch. Again, that's why Symes describes it as "wooden" -- if you don't do this normally, it WILL feel a bit weird.
  • You'll probably need to limit this technique to shorter pitches. Symes suggests 40 yards or 40 meters (which is closer to 44 yards for us American players) as the outer limit. It's not that you can't use this method for longer pitches; it's just that you're more likely to move a lot over the ball on longer shots. Why? Because the bigger your shoulder turn, the bigger your hip and leg movement. Unless your tempo and sequencing is solid, you may find yourself making poorer contact with longer swings.
Other than those two caveats, this technique really isn't much different from any other pitching method. If you use a very shoulder-oriented putting stroke and are having trouble around the green, you might find this to be a very natural alternative to "normal" pitching methods.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

James Ridyard on Pitching Like Stricker (Video)

With Steve Stricker breaking his win drought this past weekend, I thought a Stricker lesson would be appropriate. James Ridyard from Today's Golfer magazine (a UK pub) has a helpful lesson.

Pay close attention to the technique because it's based around a very simple idea: Don't rotate your wrists any more than necessary. Everything in this video is focused on this simple idea, and it's the key to Stricker's consistency. I want to focus on two things Ridyard says.

First, Stricker sets up with his hands a bit higher than most players. This allows him to take the club back without having to rotate his forearms as much as you would if you carried your hands lower. His lead arm and club shaft almost form a straight line -- almost but not quite. Creating a very straight line would require more tension than Stricker's technique. Less tension equals more feel.

Second, pay close attention to Ridyard's warning against trying to hold your wrist cock late into the pitch. This isn't a power shot, and pulling your hands into the shot that way will make it hard to use the bounce of the club. It might help to think of your hands remaining in front of your belly button all the way through this short swing. Again, this helps reduce the need to rotate your hands at impact.

And remember: The less you rotate your hands and wrists, the easier it is to bring the clubface back square into impact. And that's a major key to a good short game.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Martin Hall's Wrist Cock Drill (Video)

Here's another of Hall's Home School videos that I think is just cool. This short video teaches you how to use a nearly empty soda bottle to improve your release at impact.

Simple enough, right? Just leave a little soda in the bottle, hold it upside down in your golf grip, then make your downswing move and try to keep the soda in the neck of the bottle until you get down near impact. It will help you develop a feel for what a "late release" feels like.

And when you're done, you can reward yourself with a handy drink! How much better does a drill get?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Distance Debate

As I was watching Golf Central yesterday, I couldn't help but be surprised at some of the things that Geoff Shackelford, Jaime Diaz and Matt Adams said about the various statements that have come out from the USGA, the R&A, the PGA Tour and the PGA regarding the distance study. So I thought I'd note a few things that I believe have been forgotten in this discussion.

Ball on tee

In case you haven't heard, the USGA and the R&A released a report Monday which they say shows an unusual jump in the distances golf balls carry on six of the seven tours that were studied. Most thought this report indicated consideration of new rules to "roll back" the golf ball. Here's a link to Golf Channel's post about that report, with a link to the report itself in it.

The first thing that surprised me was the panel's general belief that the statements from the PGA Tour and the PGA probably meant that any meaningful discussions would be stymied. Why? Because the statements made it pretty clear that the ruling bodies and the "playing bodies" had opposing views.

That makes no sense at all to me. We all know that each of the interested parties in this discussion has their own agenda. That's nothing new in any situation like this because the movers and shakers in any discussion have something at stake, and we know that they're always going to take stances to defend those stakes.

In my opinion, knowing what those stances are in advance make it easier to discuss things, not harder. If they made statements that indicated they didn't care one way or the other about the outcome, they would only be saying what they thought others wanted to hear and not what they meant. Knowing where everyone stands up front should make it easier for them to uncover the issues — the real issues — and perhaps make progress toward a solution.

Of course, it's unlikely that any real progress will be made toward a solution anytime soon. The reason? Because the only logical solution involves bifurcation of the rules, and to do that eliminates one of the things that really differentiates our sport from other sports. As it stands, amateurs and pros can compete against each other using handicaps, because handicaps take into account the things that differentiate an amateur's game from a pro's game.

You know, things like differences in driving distance.

But once you bifurcate the equipment, you eliminate even the possibility of a handicap. In fact, you eliminate the very thing which allows amateurs and pros to compete together. Because if they use different equipment, their games don't have enough in common to allow a usable comparison of their games. So the argument that bifurcation of the equipment is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game is actually a faulty one, because the ability of pros and amateurs to compete together is an integral part of our sport.

But that's only the beginning of the problems. Because the basic assumption — that rolling back the ball's distance will mitigate some of the challenges our game faces — is shortsighted.

One of the concerns is that classic courses are becoming obsolete because of the golf ball's distance. However, distance is the least of the problems. Most classic golf courses, having a smaller footprint as they do, don't have the space to handle a modern golf tournament. They weren't built to handle modern crowds, nor the parking that crowd will require, nor the rest of the infrastructure a modern event requires.

Things like grandstands, executive boxes, merchandising tents, and even sufficient trash cans and recycling receptacles to handle the waste a modern crowd creates take up far more ground space than the designers of those golf courses ever expected to need.

Rolling back the distance a modern golf ball travels will have absolutely no impact on those problems.

But can we even be so certain that rolling back the golf ball will have a major impact on the other issues that depend directly on the golf ball? By that I refer to the actual factors involved in the launching and landing of a golf ball. For the sake of this post, I'll ignore the agronomy issue, because hard and fast fairways certainly influence how far the ball travels once it lands.

Let's go back in time to 1997, Tiger's first year as a pro. That's the year the distance became something of an issue as Tiger rewrote the entire concept of the power game. This is before the introduction of the Titleist Pro V1, which debuted in October 2000. I pulled the driving distance of a few big-name pros that year from the PGA Tour's website.
  • Tiger Woods, 294.8 yards (2nd)
  • Phil Mickelson, 284.1 yards (5th)
  • Mark Calcavecchia, 279.1 yards (14th)
  • Ernie Els, 271.6 yards (52nd)
  • Mark O'Meara, 261.7 yards (153rd)
The reason for choosing Tiger and Phil is obvious, but perhaps the others are not so clear. Calc was in one of his better stretches of golf, winning three times from 1995 to 1998; Els was in a dominant stretch which spanned several years, and had won his second U.S. Open that year; and O'Meara won twice that year, with his two majors to follow in 1998. (In case you're curious, the longest driver on tour that year was John Daly at 302.0 yards.)

What's interesting here is that both Mickelson and Els were noticeably taller than Tiger, while Calc and O'Meara will roughly the same height. (Daly was the only one of this crew under 6 feet in height.) The changeover from persimmon drivers was nearly complete, with Davis Love being one of the last holdouts; 1997 was the last year any significant number of players used one.

Note that Woods was significantly longer than Mickelson — and Daly significantly longer than Woods, for that matter — although the major new ball technology had not been introduced yet. All three of these players used swings which were distinctively different from most other players — Woods used a very powerful, muscular swing while Daly and Mickelson both used swings which were much longer and more flowing than the standard tour swing. While it's possible to lay some of the credit for this distance on driver technology, it's clear that strength and flexibility were a much bigger influence on their results.

Look, I'm not saying that the distance golf balls travel these days is an unimportant consideration, nor that we can ignore the challenges it poses to the future of our game. The costs involved in maintaining longer golf courses are a real cause for worry. (As an aside, I suspect that indoor golf courses using simulators may become the next great source of growth for the golf industry. They have far less overhead, it doesn't take any more time to play a long course than a short one, and they are more easily located in population centers where they might attract casual players.)

But I do think the golf ball is receiving far more than its share of blame for modern golf's problems. And I hope the industry proceeds slowly as it pursues possible solutions because, if this is mishandled, we could harm the future of our game far more than we'll help it.

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 WGC-Mexico

Winner: Phil Mickelson

Around the wider world of golf: It was a weekend for droughts to be ended, so let's go from shortest to longest. George Coetzee ended a two-year drought at the Tshwane Open on the ET; Michelle Wie ended an almost four-year drought at the HSBC Women's World Championship on the LPGA; Steve Stricker ended a six-year drought at the Cologuard Classic on the Champions Tour; and Meghan MacLaren got her first pro win at the Women’s New South Wales Open on the LET while Daniel Nisbet got his first pro win at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open on the Asian Tour -- which I guess, since she's 23 and he's 27, could be considered the longest droughts of the bunch.

Phil with the WGC-Mexico trophy

And Phil, of course, ended a nearly five-year drought with his WGC-Mexico win. Now THAT'S how you end a long drought! (Okay, maybe a major would have been better. Still...)

I won't try to summarize the final round since we'll likely be seeing replays of it (and Michelle's win, which was an equally big event on the LPGA but a shorter drought) for the next week or so. And I'm okay with that. There are wins which set the tone for a season, and this is the season for the youngsters to face the comebacks of the players they idolized, who shaped their games...

And who now want them to know what it feels like to be beaten by them! Isn't that what made them idols in the first place?

Part of what makes this "Year of the Comeback" so intriguing to me is the timing -- it's happening right before major season, which adds yet another layer to the increasingly tight competition on all the tours. Because we're now seeing the figureheads of the last couple of decades flex their muscles a bit and make the youngsters sit up and take notice.

Trust me, Justin Thomas won't soon forget that Phil "the Thrill" Mickelson just ran him down despite a 62-64 weekend and then beat him in a playoff. And they all know that Tiger was watching, and they all know how these two have spurred each other on in the past...

Oh yes, this is shaping up to be a great season!

So I'll simply post Phil's long-overdue Limerick Summary and note that Phil has given us thrills for so long, it's about time he had a few of his own. Walter Hagen, watch out -- Phil is after your spot on the all-time winners' list!
The long years since Muirfield left Phil
With seconds aplenty, but still
He was hungry to win,
Hold a trophy again.
It’s about time that Phil got a thrill!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Brandel Chamblee on "the Magic Move" (Video)

I know many of you don't care for Brandel Chamblee, and you know I don't agree with him on everything either. But this short video he did on what he calls "the Magic Move" is a good explanation of what many successful pros have done to get distance.

I want to focus on that "straight right leg" he mentions. (And add that Arnold Palmer may have been the best example of it.) Bear in mind that you aren't necessarily "locking" that knee; it may have a slight flex in it. But it's a very slight flex -- slight enough that it almost feels locked, but without the stress you feel in a locked knee joint. It's straight enough that it doesn't bend easily.

If you let your trailing knee straighten during your backswing, it may sound as if it will limit your ability to launch into your downswing. What it actually does is stop you from "spinning out" at the top as you start down:
  • That straightness makes a fuller hip turn feel more natural, and it almost doesn't require any extra thought on your part. (Automatic moves -- when they're correct -- almost always improve your ballstriking.)
  • It makes it easier to stay relatively still over the ball (no sway during your backswing) without putting extra stress on your back.
  • Since you have to turn your hips to start the downswing rather than pushing hard with your thigh, it smooths out the start of your downswing.
  • You don't have to "drive" forward to get a weight shift to your lead foot -- a straight trailing leg forces you to "fall onto" your lead foot. Instant weight shift!
  • And once your upper body begins to turn with your hips during your downswing, your trailing knee will start to bend automatically. That puts you in position to start using the ground to push up at impact, but it keeps the "push up" under control so you don't overdo it and mis-hit the ball.
This straight trailing leg thing isn't for everybody. But once you get over the unusual feel of it -- and let's face it, this is a move that's rarely taught these days -- it's amazing how easy it is to repeat with each swing. It's also a move that can work with a large number of modern swing methods, without having to make major changes to what you already know.

And as Brandel points out, it's really hard to argue with the success of the players who have used it. It's one of those techniques that I put in the "it's worth a try" category, because if it won't work with your swing, you'll know pretty quick and won't have to waste a lot of time trying it.

But if it works for you... well, Arnie had a pretty good record.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Tiger's Surprise Tour Stop

Unless you were dead most of Friday, you probably heard that Tiger is playing the next two tour stops, the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The API was expected, the Valspar wasn't. Tiger has never played the Valspar before, although he did play the Copperhead Course with amateur partner Kelli Kuehne in the JCPenney Classic way back in 1996. They finished second.

Teammates Tiger Woods and Kelli Kuehne in 1996

The good news here for Tiger fans is that Tiger's back appears to be holding up very well -- well enough for him to tee it up four times in five weeks.
The Valspar was prepared for this possibility. reported:
Valspar tournament director Tracy West said she heard from Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, about 30 minutes before the announcement and put into motion a plan that tournament organizers had been working on for weeks just in case the 14-time major champion committed.
Of course, when Tiger shows up, the Tiger factor ramps things up dramatically. The logistics go through the roof! As reported:
Now in her fourth year running the event, West listed off the changes that Tiger's appearance dictates. Valspar organizers will open up two additional parking lots to handle 5,000 to 6,000 more spots. They'll set up more buses, and volunteers to handle those buses and fans at admissions gates. Increased security. More porta-potties. More food (and beverage) orders from caterers and concessionaires. Friday's announcement has organizers ready to see 10,000 or more spectators per day. Tiger changes the game.

Acknowledging her excitement that crowds could potentially sell out the venue, West remained cognizant of the potential for rowdy Tour crowds like those that have come under scrutiny in recent weeks.

"We're not the Phoenix Open," she said. "It's a balance, right? You want as many people to come and see these guys as possible. We don't want to turn people away. However, we don't want to make this something that gets out of control, and we'll make some judgment calls."
Tiger's surprise decision did knock pro Jonathan Randolph out of a spot -- at least temporarily; he's still the first alternate -- but Randolph tweeted:
Note the #ImNotEvenMad hashtag. As noted, the golf world as a whole seems pumped that Tiger may finally be on the way back.

But that wasn't the end of the Valspar's good news. Shortly after the event got Tiger's call, Jordan Spieth confirmed he would show up as well. Add them to Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio and Henrik Stenson -- among others -- and it looks like the Valspar is going to get the top level field they've been praying for.

This is a surprise that seems to have most of the golf world pleased. Now, if the Valspar can just find a way to get Randolph a spot, this will be a win-win for everybody.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Johnny Miller on Hitting Solid Irons (Video)

Sorry this one's late, folks. The weather took out our cable service last night.

This video tip from Johnny Miller is a simple one -- in fact, you can do it as a drill -- that should help you hit crisper iron shots.

This idea of getting your lead shoulder (Johnny says left because he's a righty -- it's the right shoulder for you lefties!) back to where it was at setup is a simple one, but it can be misleading if you don't think it through.

Many players mistakenly try to do what Johnny says BUT they do it by pushing their lead shoulder TOO FAR FORWARD on the downswing. That will cause problems. You don't want to lean TOWARD the target at impact. Rather, you just want to get your shoulder back to your setup position.

Pay close attention to Johnny's demonstrations in the video. You'll note that in his practice swings his left shoulder is directly above his left foot at the finish, but in his actual swings it isn't quite over his left foot. That's because his upper body is rotating more during the actual swing.

When hitting an iron, this will help you hit down slightly on the ball. You'll "trap" it against the ground and get more spin -- hence, a more solid shot.

Johnny's tip is intended to prevent a reverse pivot, where you lean away from the ball during your backswing and hang back on your trailing foot during the downswing. Depending on your swing tendencies, from that position you'll either hit a push-slice or a duck-hook.

One last thought: Note that Johnny says this can help "a little" with the driver. Under normal circumstances, you want to stay behind the ball at impact with a driver so you can hit up on the ball. (That's why it's teed up, after all, and why you set up with your head a bit more behind the ball. Your lead shoulder will set up AND finish a bit farther behind the ball on a drive than it does with an iron shot.) But if you have a problem with a reverse pivot, this drill can help. And it can also help in a headwind, where you want your tee ball to fly a bit lower. In that case, you'll also want to tee the ball lower.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Martin Hall on Mickey Wright (Video)

This was Martin Hall's Night School video from last Friday. It's hard to go wrong with anything that copies the legendary Mickey Wright -- even Hogan said she had the best swing he'd ever seen. This video has a Wright tip that Martin found.

I like this tip because it's deceptively simple -- just curl your lead fingers around the club handle as you start your downswing. Essentially all you're doing is tightening your grip a little. Mickey said this would help prevent a slice.

PLEASE NOTE: This isn't the same thing as Dustin Johnson bowing his wrist! You aren't manipulating the clubface in any way. You're just firming up your grip so you don't (a) let the club twist in your hand or (b) get sloppy with your wrists and rotate the clubface open. This is just a way to make sure that you start down in the same position that you went up!

I like simple tips like this. It's pretty easy to make them a regular part of your swing without an excessive amount of practice.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The LPGA Moves to Singapore... and Back to Prime Time

At least, it's prime time here in the US. The HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore is the tour's latest stop on the Asian Swing. And it's a limited-field event with only 63 players.

But wow, are those 63 players good!

Inbee Park

Tony Jesselli has done his usual tournament summary, so I'll link you to that post here. I'll focus on what I see as the major storylines this week.

The one that will get the most attention is Inbee Park's return to action. Inbee hasn't played since last year's RICOH Women’s British Open because of a number of injuries she was struggling with, and -- if I remember correctly -- doctors told her she just needed to rest. The good news here is that she's pain-free. Although she's played a bit in South Korea, she still expects to be a bit rusty... but you never count Inbee out.

She IS the defending champion, after all. You can get a fuller update on her at this link.

The other big story is that we could see a change at the top of the Rolex Rankings this week. Here are the current Top4 and their average points:
  1. Shanshan Feng, 7.33
  2. Lexi Thompson, 7.23
  3. Sung Hyun Park, 6.67
  4. So Yeon Ryu, 6.59
And then there's another group about a point back.

I don't know exactly how many points are up for grabs this week, but I think it's safe to say that Lexi could take over the lead with a win. The Top3 are grouped together, so we should get to see them play either Thursday or Friday.

Actually, that would be either tonight (Wednesday) or Thursday, since GC's live coverage starts tonight at 10:30pm ET.

And this week, it won't have to compete with the Olympics.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The USGA Dumps the 18-Hole Playoff Format (Video)

It's official, and here's USGA Executive Director and CEO Mike Davis on Golf Central to explain how and why the USGA changed its mind about Monday playoffs at their events.

So starting this year, the USGA will use a two-hole aggregate playoff to break ties at the end of all four USGA championships and, if that's not enough, they'll go to sudden death till they get a winner.

It'll be interesting to see how the format goes over with the various "voices" around the golf world. But it's worth noting that this brings the USGA in line with the other three majors.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Honda Classic

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Jessica Korda set all kinds of scoring records as she won the Honda LPGA Thailand; Eddie Pepperell won his first ever European tour victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters; and Celine Boutier won the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville on the LET.

Justin Thomas with Honda Classic trophy

Alright, I know Tiger Woods was the top story at the Honda Classic this past week. I know Tiger showed signs of improvement far beyond what any of us really expected so soon into his return. And I know that everyone's on pins and needles waiting to hear when Tiger will tee it up next.

But Tiger didn't win the tournament this week. Let's talk about the guys who really made it exciting coming down the stretch.

Early on, it was Alex Noren who got the buzz going. When he posted at seven-under, we all started getting ready for a playoff. Both Webb Simpson and Tommy Fleetwood made runs of their own, but the back nine at PGA National took its toll on them.

In the end it was the final pairing of Luke List and Justin Thomas, tied for the lead when the day began, who made the game interesting. List struggled early on, with bogeys on holes three and four, but he made up for it on the back nine with three birdies to match Thomas's two birdies. Both men birdied the 18th, ending Noren's hopes for a playoff and setting up a battle of nerves as they came down the 18th once again.

As it turned out, List flinched first. He left himself a tricky up-and-down for birdie while Thomas blistered two nearly perfect shots to the green. A relatively simple two-putt birdie gave him the victory.

With this win Justin Thomas joined Patton Kizzire as the PGA Tour's only two-time winners this season. It also gave Thomas another win on a legendary course — something which he himself said on Saturday that he felt he lacked.

You don't need to worry about that anymore, Justin. Not only did you get a "brand name" win, you got a "brand name" Limerick Summary to go with it!
The wind gave the Honda’s field fits
And the Bear Trap tore most scores to bits!
But List made it a game—
Until Thomas took aim
In the playoff with two well-placed hits.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The High Heat Driver

Today I'm posting a link to about a new version of Knuth Golf's High Heat Driver. I'm sure it's been covered by somebody somewhere, but this article is only a couple of days old.

Knuth Golf’s High Heat Driver

This new version of the High Heat Driver has been redesigned so the "sweet spot" covers virtually the entire face. Knuth managed this by taking advantage of some new USGA changes to the "CT" Rule -- for us normal folks, that's the rule that regulates the trampoline effect. The short version is that the new design produces a 1.41 smash factor all over the face, which translates to around an extra 20 yards.

The article goes into considerable detail if you're interested . There will also be fairway woods and hybrids, and they're all supposed to be available in April. The driver will apparently cost around $500, the fairway woods $450 and the hybrids $260-ish..

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Snedeker's Take on Tiger's Return

Randall Mell's post at is about Tiger's play at the Honda, as seen by Brandt Snedeker. Sneds played with Tiger at Torrey Pines as well as at PGA National, so he's got some realistic perspective on Tiger's improvement so far this season.

Tiger's fist pump Friday afternoon

Personally, I'll just note that Tiger's driving was better at Genesis last week than it was at Farmers, even though he didn't make the cut. And I think the fact that he doesn't have to hit driver on every hole at the Honda certainly helps him in PGA National's tough conditions.

But I really like Tiger's attitude right now. He's still looking at this return as a project that's going to take time. That may end up being the ultimate key to his success.

And if he keeps this incremental progress going, he may actually be a threat at Augusta this year. Wouldn't that be cool?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Bobby Jones on Short Irons (Video)

This old video lesson from Bobby Jones has a surprise in it, one that I've not heard anybody mention before. Can you tell what it is?

The video is full of all kinds of advice on playing short irons. (Depending on who you ask, the mashie-niblick is closest to what we call a 7-iron or even an 8-iron these days.) And you can learn a lot just by watching his rhythm.

But if you pay attention to his swings, especially near the end of the video where he is shown from several angles (in front, behind, above), you'll see that Bobby Jones chicken-winged his left arm just like Jordan Spieth. Surprised?

I guess there really isn't anything new under the sun.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Craig Renshaw's Slope Putting Drill (Video)

GCA coach Craig Renshaw showed this little drill to help you improve your uphill and downhill putting... but I'm going to alter it and create a greens-reading drill.

Craig's drill is simple: Just place tees at various distances on a slope and putt from either end, trying to get your distance correct. This is a great drill that you can use anywhere on the practice green; you don't even need a hole.

NOW let's turn it into a greens-reading drill!

Here's what I want you to do: Find a slope on the green, just as Craig suggests. But I want you to place the tees ACROSS the slope, not up and down along it! If you do this, you can practice several putting distances with the same amount of sideslope. This will help you learn how distance affects the force you need to hit the ball to different holes on the same slope.

Might make an interesting competitive drill during a boring practice session as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The LPGA Heads for Thailand

The LPGA takes a short hop and a skip over to Thailand for the third event of the season, the Honda LPGA Thailand, a limited field event that nevertheless always manages to generate an exciting competition.

Six LPGAers

We do, of course, get the "local color" for which the LPGA is developing a reputation -- like the photo op with the Jakapat Thai national costumes shown in the photo above. Showcasing the outfits are (I think I got them in the right order) Supamas Sangchan, Alison Lee, Moriya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Bo Mee Lee and Muni He.

There are only around 70 players in this event, but that doesn't mean there's no star power. For example, the Top6 from the Rolex Rankings are there:
  1. Shanshan Feng
  2. Sung Hyun Park
  3. So Yeon Ryu
  4. Lexi Thompson
  5. Anna Nordqvist
  6. In Gee Chun
Along with defending champion Amy Yang, who also won this event in 2015, and 2018's first two winners.Brittany Lincicome and Jin Young Ko, there are also six players from Thailand in the field (Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, Benyapa Niphatsophon, Pornanong Phatlum, and Supamas Sangchan). You can get other details from Tony Jesselli's preview over at his blog, as well as the two LPGA posts here and here about the event.

Perhaps the biggest news I can pass on to you is the TV time. I was afraid this event would be too late for the eastern US to see it, but the LPGA website says that GC will be carrying the event beginning tonight at 10pm ET for four hours. It's a bit rough having to go up against the Olympics, but if you'd rather see a warm weather sport...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Adam Kolloff on Hitting Hybrids

Golf Digest instructor Adam Kolloff recently wrote a short article called Get The Most Out Of Your Hybrid. It focuses on hitting hybrids from the rough.

Gripping a hybrid

Kolloff has four tips to improve your hybrid play from the rough.
  1. Keep a firm grip so the face doesn't twist open or closed.
  2. Play the ball in the center of your stance.
  3. Don't sway off the ball. Try to stay very steady over the shot so you can hit down sharply on it.
  4. Be sure to accelerate through the rough.
That tip about playing the ball in the center of your stance is important. Kolloff says that too many players try to play the ball forward like a fairway wood, but I imagine just as many set up with the ball too far back in their stance like a wedge. Hybrids have straighter faces than wedges, so playing the ball too far back can drive it deeper into the rough rather than popping it out of the grass.

These are simple things, I know. But it's usually the simple things that trip us up.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Genesis Open

Winner: Bubba Watson

Around the wider world of golf: Jin Young Ko won wire-to-wire in her first official start as an LPGA member -- only the second woman ever to do so -- at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open; Joost Luiten won the inaugural NBO Oman Open on the ET; and Joe Durant won the Chubb Classic on the Champions Tour.

Bubba Watson with his third Genesis Open trophy

It appears that Bubba Watson is back on the golf map. And contrary to rumors of his impending retirement, he intends to stay there.

At least for a couple more years.

After a solid year of health problems, equipment changes and who knows what else, Bubba is back to his old self. That means, of course, that he's making news for more than his golf, such as playing in the NBA Celebrity Basketball Tournament in the middle of the Genesis Open.

And I mean no disrespect when I say that. Bubba is one of those folks who thrives on variety, on trying different things and not taking himself too seriously. The Bubba Watson who was "playing" all over Hollywood this past week was also playing some of his best golf -- golf we've all been waiting to see again.

He picked a great place to do it, as well. After successfully holding off the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Na, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau and Scott Stallings with a bogey-free three-under on the back nine, Bubba joined Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum as the only three-time winners at Riviera. That's pretty good company he's keeping!

So it's nice to welcome Bubba back to the winner's circle after a long absence... and just in time for this year's Ryder Cup! Here's a fresh Limerick Summary for your collection, big fella:
The last round was close, nip and tuck
Between several players, but luck
Was against all but one—
Bubba’s three-under run
Down the stretch left them all thunderstruck.
The photo came from the website.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Birdies Strike Back (Video)

This is really short, but it's hilarious. In case you missed it, all those birdies Justin Thomas has been making took revenge against him and Amanda Balionis during a post-round interview Saturday.

Yeah, I know. Sometimes the smallest things entertain me. At least it's better than playing with a rubber band.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Graeme McDowell on the 100-Yard Pitch Shot (Video)

Since Graeme is tied for the lead at the Genesis Open, I thought it a good time to post a tip from him. This is a Golf Monthly video on how he plays 100-yard pitch shots.

The biggest thing I want you to take away from this tip is that Graeme likes to have AT LEAST TWO WAYS to play each of his yardages under 150 yards. One of those is a full throttle shot that spins like the devil but isn't necessarily his most accurate, the other a shoulder-height shot that he can control well. (Shoulder height is an easy length for most players to feel.) The hard shot is played with the higher-lofted wedge, the partial shot with a lower-lofted wedge.

Graeme chooses which one to use based on pin position. He uses the hard spinny shot for front pin positions and the partial shot for pins that are farther back on the green. (That partial shot is going to roll out a bit because it's not spinning as hard.)

He's certainly getting good use out of his wedges at Riviera, where it's really tough to get close to the pin positions. Be sure to watch and see if you can pick out which holes he uses partial shots on and which get the full-bore wedge.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Zach Allen on Playing Flier Lies (Video)

PGA instructor Zach Allen did a really nice video explaining exactly what a flier lie is and how to play it. It's short and to the point, which is what you need when facing a trouble shot like this.

First, Zach says a flier lie generally sits in light rough and the grass is growing toward the target. Very important, that -- if the grass was growing against you, it would help hold the ball in place when you hit it, not send it squirting forward. Instead, the grass gets between the ball and clubface, and that makes it come out lower and hotter.

But it's hard to know just how much. We just have to guess.

So here's what Zach says to do: Take one less club than you normally would and make a smooth swing. What he means is that you don't try to swing out of your shoes, as the ball is going to come out quicker and with less spin anyway. Then you just have to hope for the best, since fliers are unpredictable.

All-in-all, a very helpful video for handling a difficult shot.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tee Times for the Genesis Open

The Genesis Open is absolutely loaded with big name players, so I'm posting a list of all the tee times so you can find the ones you're most interested in. I took this list from a post at because it's the easiest to read and the times are all ET. (You might want to check out that post for more tournament-related stuff like TV times and the Golf Digest Fantasy Fix Podcast.) I've boldfaced some of the pairings in the list with Top20 players (plus Phil) so you can find them quicker. I think I got them all.

If you prefer, this page lists all the tee times but in a different format. The tee times on that list are PT, which is three hours earlier than ET. (That is, 7am PT is 10am ET.)

The approach to the 18th at Riviera

Thursday Tee Times (all times ET)
Tee No. 1
9:40 a.m. -- Charlie Beljan, John Huh, J.J. Spaun
9:50 a.m. -- Keegan Bradley, Tom Hoge, Andrew Landry
10:01 a.m. -- Harris English, Parker McLachlin, Thomas Pieters
10:11 a.m. -- Graeme McDowell, Smylie Kaufman, Luke Donald
10:22 a.m. -- Chris Stroud, Aaron Baddeley, Jim Herman
10:32 a.m. -- Jimmy Walker, Charley Hoffman, Shane Lowry
10:43 a.m. -- Cody Gribble, Charl Schwartzel, Brian Gay
10:53 a.m. -- Pat Perez, James Hahn, Padraig Harrington
11:04 a.m. -- Austin Cook, Branden Grace, Paul Casey
11:14 a.m. -- Kevin Streelman, Luke List, Aaron Wise
11:25 a.m. -- Scott Stallings, Morgan Hoffmann, Michael Kim
11:35 a.m. -- Sam Saunders, Rob Oppenheim, Scottie Scheffler
2:20 p.m. -- Martin Laird, Jason Kokrak, Francesco Molinari
2:30 p.m. -- Nick Taylor, Peter Uihlein, Brandon Harkins
2:41 p.m. -- Retief Goosen, Ollie Schniederjans, Beau Hossler
2:51 p.m. -- Ted Potter, Jr., Kyle Stanley, Jonas Blixt
3:02 p.m. -- Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell
3:12 p.m. -- Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson
3:23 p.m. -- Billy Horschel, Cameron Smith, Vijay Singh
3:33 p.m. -- Xander Schauffele, Wesley Bryan, Alex Noren
3:44 p.m. -- Martin Flores, Kevin Tway, Hao Tong Li
3:54 p.m. -- Camilo Villegas, Scott Brown, Kelly Kraft
4:05 p.m. -- Brice Garnett, Adam Schnek, Cameron Champ
4:15 p.m. -- Ben Silverman, Zecheng Dou, Seunghyuk Kim

Tee No. 10
9:40 a.m. -- Matt Every, John Merrick, Andrew Loupe
9:50 a.m. -- Geoff Ogilvy, Derek Fathauer, Harold Varner III
10:01 a.m. -- David Lingmerth, Tyrone Van Aswegen, C.T. Pan
10:11 a.m. -- Bryson DeChambeau, Billy Hurley III, K.J. Choi
10:22 a.m. -- Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods
10:32 a.m. -- Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Tommy Fleetwood
10:43 a.m. -- Brendan Steele, Greg Chalmers, Sangmoon Bae
10:53 a.m. -- William McGirt, Brian Stuard, Charles Howell III
11:04 a.m. -- Ryan Moore, Bill Haas, Chez Reavie
11:14 a.m. -- Chad Campbell, Shawn Stefani, Dominic Bozzelli
11:25 a.m. -- Kevin Na, Anirban Lahiri, Jon Curran
11:35 a.m. -- Abraham Ancer, Xinjun Zhang, Richard H. Lee
2:20 p.m. -- J.B. Holmes, Robert Streb, Sean O'Hair
2:30 p.m. -- J.J. Henry, Lucas Glover, Ryan Blaum
2:41 p.m. -- Cameron Tringale, Bud Cauley, Martin Piller
2:51 p.m. -- Marc Leishman, Adam Hadwin, Peter Malnati
3:02 p.m. -- Ryan Armour, Tony Finau, Ernie Els
3:12 p.m. -- Jhonattan Vegas, Vaughn Taylor, Martin Kaymer
3:23 p.m. -- D.A. Points, Jim Furyk, Rafa Cabrera Bello
3:33 p.m. -- Daniel Berger, Si Woo Kim, Fabian Gomez
3:44 p.m. -- Jamie Lovemark, Sung Kang, Patrick Rodgers
3:54 p.m. -- Troy Merritt, Danny Lee, Whee Kim
4:05 p.m. -- Nicholas Lindheim, Talor Gooch, Stephan Jaeger
4:15 p.m. -- Jonathan Randolph, Tyler Duncan, Vinnie Poncino

So there you go. GC's broadcast starts today at 2pm ET.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dustin Johnson on Practicing Wedges (Video)

This video is four years old. That's when DJ went an entire calendar year without a PGA Tour title (2014) and started working on his wedge game in earnest. It's interesting to hear what he was focusing on during his practice sessions.

Incredibly simple, don't you think? Although we know he started working with a Trackman in order to learn how far he hit his wedges, the actual mechanics he worked on were just getting his takeaway on line and making sure he didn't stop his upper body from moving after he hit the ball.

I hope all of you are beginning to notice how many pros are starting to emphasize what we often call the "belly button to target" move. If they do it, they don't flip their wrists at impact. For the pros, that means they don't hit duck hooks or double crosses.

For most of you reading this, it will help you hit the ball more solidly and consistently. That will improve both your distance and your accuracy. That's reason enough to take this tip seriously.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hurley VS Spieth (Video)

In case you missed it...

Billy Hurley III and Jordan Spieth are both running for Chairman of the Players Advisory Board, and Billy did this awesome campaign video absolutely trashing Jordan. (And yes, Jordan okayed it before Billy tweeted it.) This is the Golf Central clip, which includes Jordan's reaction to it. Fun stuff!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Winner: Ted Potter Jr.

Around the wider world of golf: Mark Calcavecchia got his first Champions Tour win since 2015 at the Boca Raton Championship; Ben Taylor won the Club Colombia Championship on the Tour; Kiradech Aphibarnrat won the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, co-sponsored by the European, Australasian and Asian Tours; Jiyai Shin won the ActewAGL Canberra Classic (her 50th career win!) on the LET; and Kevin Streelman and his amateur partner, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, won the team division of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Ted Potter Jr. with Pebble Beach trophy

Yes, the Wizard worked his magic at the mystical Pebble Beach event and won a lot more than Chocolate Frogs -- in either the green or red wrappers, complete with Wizard Trading Cards -- or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans, or any of the other candy treats mentioned in J.K.Rowland's books. (I don't even want to think about those nasty Cockroach Clusters! UGH!) And I suppose Ted is tired of the "Wizard" nickname he picked up simply because he shares Harry's surname.

But it doesn't change the fact that the name suited him over the weekend, and especially on Sunday. He casually shot -3 on his first seven holes, then parred in on his way to a three-shot win. And he was perfect getting up and down, which is no small thing around Pebble. For a player who hasn't really been in the heat of battle for several years while recovering from ankle surgery AND swing changes, that is a truly magical feat.

And Ted knew it. You could hear the emotion in his voice as Peter Kostis interviewed him on the 18th green. It's true that he had experience to draw on -- in case you didn't hear, Ted confirmed to a reporter that he had indeed won around 60 events if you counted all the two- and three-day mini-tour events -- but he certainly didn't have that kind of confidence in his conditioning yet. He said that his ankle still didn't feel quite right.

But it felt good enough to post this win. And with the two-year exemption he now has, I'd be willing to bet the Wizard will find a few spells left in that magic putter of his. Hey, he conjured up this Limerick Summary, didn't he?
Yes, Pebble can cast quite a spell—
But the Wizard beguiled old Carmel!
Potter needed no wand
Save his putter, which calmed
All the demons and served him quite well.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cathy Schmidt on Finishing Your Swing (Video)

A couple of days back I posted a Martin Hall video on wrist action that I said should end a bit differently. I think Martin does some of the best presentations on general wrist action that I've ever seen but what this video shows after impact could hurt your ability to both release the club and get distance.

Well, Phil -- who regularly comments on various posts -- linked me to a couple of videos from LPGA teaching pro Cathy Schmidt that addressed these exact issues. Since many of you may not have checked the comments, I thought I'd post them today. Neither is very long.

One of my comments was that the wrist problem Martin was trying to stop could be better handled with the old 'belly button to the target' drill. Cathy's first video here shows exactly how that works.

This second one addresses how holding that wrist angle too long will cut your distance.

And in both videos you'll see that she is letting her trailing wrist release after impact; she's not trying to hold the angle.

I hope these videos help those of you who wanted another opinion on the wrist question. I also wanted to thank Phil for posting the video links. ;-)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Debate Over Long Putters Continues

It's not going to go away, despite the rule change. Two Golfweek articles make that very clear.

The first article from January 7th talked about the continuing unrest on the Champions Tour over Scott McCarron and Bernhard Langer's usage of the long sticks, even though they don't anchor them. To quote the article:
“It’s a huge issue,” says Tom Pernice Jr., a five-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions. “A lot of players aren’t going to say anything about it to the press. It’s not fair. If you’re playing for a living, there’s a skill level in putting and that is being able to control the fulcrum point.”
Pernice then goes on to say that just allowing a player's hand to brush their shirt during the stroke makes a difference:
"In my opinion that’s enough of a reference to be able to control the fulcrum point."
I'm not at all sure I agree with that, since you could be brushing anywhere on your shirt. In fact, you could argue that holding both arms straight and rocking your shoulders with a standard putter also provides a 'reference point for the fulcrum point.' But that doesn't seem to bother anybody...

And the second article from February 9th (Friday) seems to make exactly the opposite argument as Pernice. Apparently Adam Scott's return to the long putter, though emboldened by Langer and McCarron's success, lasted exactly one tournament. Adam is once again using a short putter this week at Pebble Beach after shooting 71-74 to miss the cut at the Aussie PGA:
“I want to stick with the short putter,” Scott told The Forecaddie. “… I don’t just want to chop and change or I won’t get anywhere. I want to stick with it. I think in the long run it will be good.”
Look, folks. There's no silver bullet when it comes to putting. What works for one player won't work for another... and even though it works this week, it may not work next week. That's just part of being human rather than a machine.

But knowing that won't change anybody's mind, simply because it's easier to blame your lack of success on someone else using an unfair technique. I'm not calling Pernice a crybaby, but the USGA says that what Langer and McCarron are doing is legal, which means Pernice (and those other players he alluded to) could use it as well. If he chooses not to, that's his decision. But just because he chooses not to doesn't make it illegal. And I suspect that, if he tried it, he'd make the same discovery that Adam Scott made...

The unanchored long putter isn't a silver bullet. It still takes work to get good with it, just like any other technique. And maybe, just maybe, the difference in effectiveness between Langer and McCarron and the rest of the Tour has more to do with practice than anything else. The fact that Adam Scott couldn't make it work -- despite years of using an anchored long putter -- seems to back that up.

But as I said before, it's clear that this issue isn't going away anytime soon.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Martin Hall on Wrist Action (Video)

This is the Home School video Martin posted on Thursday, teaching you wrist action using a spatula. While I definitely see some virtue in it, I question the wisdom of using it exactly the way he suggests. Here's the video:

I'm okay with the idea that the spatula gives you a tactile sense of how your trailing wrist behaves during your downswing through impact. But if you hold the angle as long as Martin suggests, that bothers me. Let me explain.

Your trailing elbow is still straightening at impact, so it makes sense that you would still have some bend in it. But you continue to retain that angle after impact, you'll have to resist the natural movement of your wrists. The butt of the club shaft should be pointing at your belly button shortly after impact -- and I believe Martin himself has said so on his show -- and that simply won't happen if you manage to retain that wrist angle past impact. You'll actually reduce your clubhead speed if you try.

Look, I understand why he says this. Too many people flip their wrists at impact, and Martin doesn't want you to do that... and I agree with him. But if you do flip your wrists, it's because you've stopped turning your upper body toward the target at impact. If your upper body keeps turning -- as the old saw goes, "belly button to target" -- then you won't flip your wrists.

I'm not telling you that you shouldn't use Martin's drill. It can definitely help you learn how your wrists should move until you hit the ball. But trying to hold that angle past impact will hinder your release and reduce your clubhead speed. Just be aware of that.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

How the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth Works

If you were watching the European Tour coverage on GC Wednesday night (well, it was night here in the US) you might not have realized that this week's tournament is one of the ET's new experimental formats. It was pretty successful last year, so I thought I'd make sure everyone is up-to-speed on how it works.

Defending World Super 6 Perth cahmpion Brett Rumford

The ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth looks like a normal stroke play tournament for the first three rounds because it IS a normal stroke play tournament for the first three rounds. There's a "65-man and ties" cut after the second round, not unlike a normal tourney. But after the third round there's a 24-man cut.

That's when the Super 6 really starts to shine.

There are multiple 6-hole matches on the final day, which is known as the Knockout Round. The Top8 players receive "byes" into the second round of these matches, and the other 16 players play matches to reduce their number to 8. If there is no winner after a 6-hole match, they go to a specially-built 90-meter playoff hole called the Shootout Hole. (This special hole is a new wrinkle in this year's event.) The match continues on this hole until a winner is determined.

The 8 players from this first round of knockouts are matched against the Top8, then the 8 winners of those matches playoff down to 4, those 4 down to 2, and the final pair plays off for the title. All-in-all, there are five playoff rounds on the last day.

The new format turned out to be much more popular last year than many of the critics expected. The last day is fast-paced and high-pressure because 6 holes simply doesn't leave time for long-term strategy -- if you fall behind, that's just too bad.

Brett Rumford won the inaugural event last year and, as I'm preparing for bed, he's got the lead after his first round, Lee Westwood is alone in second and there's a small T3 group.

Although the final round is when the real fun begins, these first rounds are important because they not only put players into position to make the final day, those first-round byes to the Top8 in the tourney are valuable. So if you didn't check out any of the first round Wednesday night, you might want to check it out tonight. I know I will.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tom Watson on the Half Wedge (Video)

Here's a Callaway video from roughly two years ago with Tom Watson's keys to hitting half-wedge shots. And I'm going to point out some things that are clear in the video BUT aren't mentioned.

Tom's key -- and yes, he only mentions one -- is pretty simple. He says you need to keep your weight on your lead foot because the half-wedge shot is so short that, if you let your weight move to your trailing foot, you won't have time to move back to your lead foot and hit the ball solidly. He recommends you lift your trailing heel so you're forced to keep your weight on your front foot. That's simple enough.

Now let's look at the unspoken keys.

Number one, Tom is using an open stance but it's only barely open. In fact, it's almost not open at all -- especially after Tom lifts that trailing heel, because he moves his foot back from his aim line slightly when he lifts it. Since he's doing it from a narrow stance, balance shouldn't be a problem.

And number two, which might be the most surprising of all, is how far forward in his stance Tom is playing the ball. He has it positioned opposite his lead heel. Check the video at the :32 second mark and you'll see it. That means his hands are actually just behind the ball and the shaft is almost vertical. (You can see that at the :50 second mark.) Tom is using the bounce of the wedge here, and he's allowing his body rotation at impact to get his hands over or just past the ball. If you have your weight over your lead foot as Tom suggests, that should happen automatically.

So there's another simple tip from Tom Watson... complete with the unspoken keys you might have missed otherwise.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Complete Golf Digest Hot List

Sorry this is late. I'm having internet problems.

Just a link today. I noticed that a lot of you checked out the Driver Hot List that I linked to the other day. Since Golf Digest has now posted the entire Hot List, I thought I'd give you a link to that as well.

Super Game Improvement Irons photoBlade Putters photo

Betwwen all the club and ball listings, this should keep you club geeks busy for a while. ;-)

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 WM Phoenix Open

Winner: Gary Woodland

Around the wider world of golf: Shubhankar Sharma won the Maybank Championship on the ET; Minjee Lee won her second Women’s Oates Vic Open on the LET while Simon Hawkes won the Men’s Oates Vic Open (played on the same course as the women) on the PGA Tour Australasia; and Scott Langley won the Panama Championship on the Tour.

Gary Woodland with Phoenix Open trophy

It looks like Gary Woodland is finally back. It only took five years, which included several injuries, the death in March of one of the twins his wife was expecting and the premature birth of the other. But with the help of many people -- as well as a few instructors like Butch Harmon, Pete Cowen and Brad Faxon -- he, his wife Gabby and their young son Jaxson are doing just fine.

At the Phoenix Open he shot 67-68-67-64 to make a playoff with Chez Reavie, then won on the first playoff hole. You couldn't miss how confident he looked as he walked the fairways -- a hard-won perspective on life will do that for you -- or how well he was putting and chipping on those tough contoured greens.

I don't know that anyone can adequately put Gary's feelings into words, so I won't try. I'll just say that this victory is long overdue... as is his new Limerick Summary. Enjoy this victory, Gary; hopefully it will be the first of many such celebrations for your young family.
In Phoenix, the color is green
And course management’s always a theme—
In both, Gary stood out.
He played rounds without doubt
And his putting was simply supreme.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Martin Hall on Improving Your Impact Without a Club (Video)

This is the Home School video for this past week's School of Golf show. Martin demonstrates how to practice your impact position without using a club or going outside.

I'm also going to refer you to another post I did called The Wall Slap Drill. It's a similar drill except (1) it uses a wall instead of a chair and (2) it uses two hands instead of one. For that reason, I think it provides an action that's closer to your normal swing, and it will adapt very well to Martin's chair drill.

But this is also a good drill to do. Especially if you think of your swing as pulling the club through impact with your lead hand rather than slapping the ball with your trailing hand.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

When to Change Your Ball Position

A couple of days back I posted a video showing how Cristie Kerr positions her ball at setup with a driver. But the driver is different from other clubs since the ball is on a tee. What do you do with the other clubs?

I was digging through some old Golf Magazines and found an interesting one from March 2002. It had an article called Which Way? that claimed to sort out some of the conflicting advice you often come across.

One of the sections was on setup, about whether you should use one ball position for all your clubs or vary your ball position. Their perspective made a lot of sense to me so I'm passing it on.

According to this article, the best time to use a single ball position for all your clubs is when you're making a standard full swing shot. The single ball position always places the ball an inch or two inside your lead heel -- or, if you prefer, even with the logo on your golf shirt (if it has one). With this method, the width of your stance (how far back you move your trailing foot) determines how far forward the ball is in your stance.

On a standard full shot, a single ball position obviously gives you more consistency in your setup because the ball is always in roughly the same position relative to your lead shoulder. (That makes the impact angle of the clubface and ball similar on every shot.) It also helps you stay slightly behind the ball during your swing, which should help you get more distance and -- since your swing will be more consistent -- more accuracy.

By contrast, the best time to vary your ball position is when you want to play a different type of shot (rather than your standard shot) or when you have a bad lie. By moving the ball back farther in your stance, you can get a more downward strike on the ball when you have a bad lie or just need to keep your ball flight down. Or you can move the ball farther forward with your driver, which can be helpful when you want to hit the ball higher to take advantage of a downwind situation.

So there are some thoughts that might help you develop a more consistent approach to ball position. The fewer changes you have to make for each shot -- and therefore the less confusion you have over each shot -- the more likely you are to make the shot you intended.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Golf Digest's 2018 Driver Hot List

Now that the PGA Merchandise Show is over, Golf Digest has posted their annual Hot List of new drivers. The biggest takeaway I got from the review video (which is on every individual driver's spec page) is that you probably need to be fitted using a launch monitor because the new drivers are so varied.

Here's an extra tidbit: Mike Stachura says in the video that, if your driver is a few years old, it's probably six yards shorter than the new drivers when you hit it ON THE SWEET SPOT, and perhaps eleven yards less on an off-center hit.

PXG 0811X driver

And in case you wonder why I chose to show you the PXG 0811X driver -- especially when it only got a silver rating and not a gold rating -- the reason is simple: At $850US, if you're like me, this is probably the closest to it that you're going to get. But it's pretty, don't you think?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cristie Kerr's Driver Setup (Video)

This short clip is from Cristie's driver special on Golf Channel Academy that aired Tuesday night. The way she sets up is so simple that I wanted to post it here.

Here's what she does:
  • To start, with both feet together, she positions herself so the ball would be right in center of her stance. Just draw a straight line from between her feet and the ball is THERE.
  • Since she's righthanded, she turns her left (lead) foot slightly toward the target. Note that she doesn't step toward the target with her lead foot, she just pivots it on her heel.
  • She steps back with her right (trailing) foot and stands so her weight is pretty even on each foot.
And that's it, folks. This position puts her upper body just slightly behind the ball, which will let her hit up on it, just like you're supposed to do with your driver. And because her right hand is lower on the club than her left, she automatically tilts her spine slightly behind the ball.

It really doesn't get much simpler than that. And Cristie's success with her driver proves it works. It's a good way to develop a consistent stance and ball position with the driver, and it doesn't take a lot of fidgeting to get it right.