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

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Keegan Bradley's New Putting Technique

Having talked about Matt Kuchar's putting style yesterday, I thought I'd mention Keegan Bradley's version today. I've found a bit about it in this Golf Digest article, so I thought I'd add it to the mix. Today I'm focusing more on the equipment involved.

Keegan Bradley's putting stroke

The article covers several players' equipment and says this about Keegan's:
Perhaps no player has been affected more by the ban on anchoring than Keegan Bradley, who has struggled mightily on the greens since the rule went into effect in 2016. Bradley has ranked 183rd, 128th and, this season, 186th in strokes gained/putting. Recently, however, the 2011 PGA champ has shown some signs of improvement while using an Odyssey Works Versa 1W Red Arm Lock putter. The putter, which has a head weight of 400 grams and is 43 inches in length with a loft of 7 degrees, is designed to act like an extension of the arm for a smoother, more repeatable stroke. Given Bradley's breakthrough victory at the BMW Championship in the playoff over Justin Rose, and him contending at the previous two events—the Northern Trust and the BMW Championship—it's safe to say he might have finally found his solution.
And a second Golf Digest article added this:
During Monday’s final round Bradley posted an impressive 3.182 strokes gained/putting mark with his Odyssey Works Versa 1W Red Arm Lock putter. The putter is 43 inches in length, with the added length allowing Bradley to brace the putter against his left arm, similar (but not identical) to how Matt Kuchar putts.
This photo comes from that second article. You can see how much the neck of the putter is bent to get that 7-degree loft.

Bradley lines up a putt at BMW

Now it's worth noting that both Matt and Keegan are fairly tall guys -- 6'4" and 6'3", respectively -- so that 43-inch shaft is probably a bit long for a lot of weekend players. However, the 7-degree loft on the face is probably a reasonable number for almost anyone using this method, as the shaft does lean forward quite a bit and you'd need a fair amount of loft to get an effective loft of 3-5 degrees.

Note that the second article says that Keegan's grip isn't identical to Matt's. That's why I included the first photo. It looks to me like Keegan has the shaft going a bit farther up his forearm than Matt. However, that side view clearly shows that the rubber grip is a bit underneath his forearm, as I noted in yesterday's post about Matt's putting.

If you decide to go with a method like this, you'll almost certainly need to go with a specially-made putter as Matt and Keegan have done. It's not so much about the shaft length -- you could have a longer shaft put in almost any putter -- but bending the neck of the putterhead enough to get the necessary loft might be more than a standard putter is made for. You could very well end up breaking the putter. Plus the head is about the same weight as an old belly putter and roughly double the weight of a standard putter. You'll need to take that into account as well.

Anyway, that's a bit more info for those of you interested in the armlock putting method these players use.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Matt Kuchar's Armlock Putting Style (Videos)

I know many of you are curious about the Kuchar Technique, so here are two videos about it. Matt's been putting this way since around 2011, so the first video is from 2013 and the second from a mere four months ago.



In this first video Matt shows his basic technique. Note that the grip only extends halfway up his lead forearm and that otherwise his grip looks pretty normal. He doesn't use his trailing hand to hold the butt end of the shaft against his forearm; rather, he recommends putting with your lead hand alone to learn the technique.

His stance is a little open -- he says it helps him see the line better -- his elbows are held close to his body and from there he just rocks his shoulders. The angle in his trailing wrist stays pretty stable. As he puts it, there's not much happening in terms of movement.

In the second video -- which is five years later -- he talks about the tweaks he's made to his equipment and technique to fine-tune it.



Over that five year period he says he's changed the length and the loft of his putter slightly, to suit the amount of forward press (or, if you prefer, forward lean) he uses. Note that he says the loft adjustment was made purely by trial and error; you would probably want more loft than Matt uses unless you play professional course setups all the time.

By the same token, he has played with his ball position for the same reason -- off his front foot for less forward lean, center of his stance for more forward lean.

And note that he says that comfort is the primary consideration for him.

The only thing I would add is that it looks as if the butt end of the putter is, as you look down in your address position, touching more on the underside of your forearm than centered on the side of it. Again, that's probably part of the comfort thing he mentions, as I think you'd have to bend your lead wrist unnaturally to center it.

And that's it. It's short and sweet, but the technique isn't complicated at all.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Lee Westwood on Weight Distribution (Video)

Of course I'm taking a look at the old guys this week! Here is Lee Westwood demonstrating a proper weight shift.



I'm using Lee's video here to demonstrate something about golf swings -- namely, that what we're doing is often somewhat different from the way our explanation makes it sound.

Look at Lee's demonstration of how you want to shift your weight during the backswing (it's right around the :20 mark). See how much his body seems to move to his right side?

Now look at his actual swing (around the :37 mark). You'll see that his body isn't shifting to his right side nearly as much as his demonstration would have you believe!

In both parts of the video, the principle that he wants you to learn -- that his right hip is braced to prevent a sway -- is the same. But when he makes his actual swing, there's even less movement than in the demo because he's using his whole body to make the actual swing, as opposed to isolated muscles in the turn in the demo.

That's common whenever a player or instructor is teaching a lesson. The demo is an isolated, perhaps even exaggerated move while the swing uses the demo'ed move "in context" and is less exaggerated. You can work on a specific position in your swing all you want, but it will always look slightly different when you make the actual swing at full speed.

Lee's anti-sway move is a good one to learn. But learning that the actual execution of that move is slightly different is a good principle to remember whenever you're trying to learn something new.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Matt Wallace on Swing Thoughts (Video)

Matt Wallace has won three ET events this season, making this his breakout year and getting him consideration for a Ryder Cup pick. Here are his thoughts on swing thoughts:



While Matt says his primary swing thought is to hit the ball in the center of the clubface, his most valuable advice here is about how to choose a swing thought.
  • You need to find the swing thought that works best for you.
  • Finding that thought can give you extreme confidence when you make a swing.
  • You need to make sure it's only ONE thought, in order to better focus your mind.
  • Your swing thought doesn't have to be a mechanical thought.
He also makes an interesting statement related to that last one, that putting is about art and feel, not mechanics.

Matt Wallace won't win the Race to Dubai; at #19 he's too far back in the rankings. But he IS in the field and if he continues to think clearly when he plays, there's no telling how far he may go in the future.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Jason Zuback on Creating Power (Video)

This is an older video, but 5-time World Long Drive Champ Jason Zuback knows a bit about hitting it long. Besides, this drill can help you in numerous ways.



Zuback's drill is simple. He sticks club shafts in the ground touching the outside of each foot, then he tries to make a full swing back and through without his knees hitting the shafts.

This drill encourages a number of good things in your swing:
  • It teaches you to make a good shoulder turn, which helps create clubhead speed.
  • It helps eliminate swaying, a flaw which reduces clubhead speed.
  • It helps you stay centered over the ball, which helps you hit the ball more solidly.
Yeah, I know. Zuback's swing was extremely long and flexible, especially in his younger days. You don't have to go to such extremes. But doing this drill with your normal range of motion will help you create a more repeatable swing without requiring you to learn some unnatural move. Best of all, since you can feel your knees tap the shafts if you sway, you can just swing freely and know that the shafts will give you feedback if you move too much.

A great little drill.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Mayakoba Golf Classic

Winner: Matt Kuchar

Around the wider world of golf: Gaby Lopez got her first win at the Blue Bay LPGA; Vijay Singh won the Schwab Cup Championship on the Champions Tour, but Bernhard Langer got his fifth Schwab Cup; Lee Westwood broke a four-year drought at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on the ET; Tatsunori Nukaga won the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters on the Japan Golf Tour; and Clodomiro Carranza won the Neuquén Argentina Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

Matt Kuchar wins at Mayakoba

It was a weird bit of symmetry. Lee Westwood had won his last tournament on 20 April 2014. So had Matt Kuchar -- exact same day.

And here we were, around four and a half years later. Lee finally broke his drought in South Africa, and Matt broke his in Mayakoba -- exact same day.

The wins themselves weren't quite the same though. Lee posted a dominating four-stroke win.

Matt started the day with a four-stroke lead... but things went a bit downhill after that. He toughed it out down the final stretch to squeak out a one-stroke win over Danny Lee.

Still, after four winless years, it's hard to find fault with Matt's performance. Lee broke down with emotion after his win, expressing how hard it can be when you don't know if you'll ever do it again. The players around Lee struggled down the finish, while Matt wasn't so lucky. A number of chasing players shot four, five, six, even eight-under while Matt could only muster two-under.

Nevertheless, a win's a win and the trophy isn't sized by the margin of victory. A couple of rough seasons have finally given way to victory for Matt, so he gets a fresh Limerick Summary and a wish for a bright 2019. (Lee gets the wish as well, though without the limerick. But I look for him to snag one of his own in 2019.)
And so Kuchar broke through a long drought
But the outcome was not without doubt.
Though he led it by four,
Loose play opened the door;
Just a single shot let him win out.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Gaby Lopez on Uphill Bunker Shots (Video)

With Gaby becoming only the second Mexican winner on the LPGA -- the great Lorena Ochoa being the other -- I thought it might be fun to find a tip from her. And I found a very useful piece of info in this video about playing uphill bunker shots.



For the most part, Gaby's advice here is the same you'll hear for playing most any bunker shot, but few weekend players ever consider changing clubs when the lie changes. The tendency is to always use the same club -- usually your lob wedge -- out of a greenside bunker, but Gaby doesn't.

In this video, she first mentions that she generally takes one more club than usual -- that is, if she normally plays a 60° lob wedge, she'll move up to her 56° sand wedge. The reason is that the uphill lie causes the ball to fly much higher. In fact, she specifically says a lie like the one you see in the video will add about 2° to the loft of the club.

But she doesn't stop there. Later in the video she says you could use other clubs, up to around 50°. Depending on your particular set, that's a gap wedge (typically a 52° wedge) or a pitching wedge (47-48°). Not all uphill lies are the same, of course, so you'd probably want to use one of these clubs on a steeper lie.

And you'll want to experiment a bit to see what works best with your swing; I have successfully used a 9-iron out of a steep uphill lie before when the sand was soft.

If you saw any of Gaby's final round, you know she's a good scrambler. So -- especially if these kinds of bunker shots give you problems -- you may find more success by using a different club, based on her guidelines.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

History

Well, it's official. Suzy Whaley is the first-ever female president of the PGA of America.

New PGA officers Jim Richerson, Suzy Whaley and John Lindert

Actually, that's just one of a lot of firsts Suzy has done. You can get a more complete listing in this PGA announcement -- as well as info on the other two new officers -- and there's a link in that announcement to her bio (which is loaded with her accomplishments) but here's a few of her more notable achievements:
  • first woman to serve as a PGA Officer in the roles of PGA President, Vice President and Secretary
  • first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to qualify for a PGA Tour event (the 2003 Greater Hartford Open)
  • first PGA of America female professional to win the Connecticut PGA Championship
  • first person to represent both the Connecticut and South Florida PGA Sections as PGA President
Ironically, she's the 41st President of the PGA of America. I say it's ironic because the 41st President of the United States of America is George H.W. Bush. He was named after his grandfather George Herbert Walker, who was President of the USGA in 1920 and started the Walker Cup. And of course his son, George W. Bush (often just referred to as "W") was the 43rd President of the US and also very involved with golf.

I won't be surprised if they start referring to Suzy as just "W" before it's all over. Congratulations, Madame President!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Thinking About the 2018-2019 Schedule (Video)

Today I have a link to Rex Hoggard's GC article about the new PGA Tour schedule. It's easy to underrate just how different the season will look when it gets to March next season, and Rex does a good job showing just how things will change.



As Brandel says in the above video clip, the 2019 FedExCup winner could win up to $30mil next year... but to do that, they'll have to make some serious decisions concerning how they'll pace themselves. They will have a three-week break between "seasons" in September, but it's a murderers' row of events from THE PLAYERS at its new place in March all the way to the Tour Championship in late August. How will they chose which events to play and which to skip?

You can see the full lineup in the Tour's 2018-2019 schedule here.

But it's not just the schedule over the spring and summer months that will test them. After that three-week break, commissioner Jay Monahan says the fall events may increase from eight to perhaps eleven. Players will want to play more in the fall, hoping to "get ahead of the curve" so they can take time off in that rough March-August stretch and not fall behind in the points race.

When Monahan says it may take three or four years for players to figure out how to deal with this wealth of opportunities, he may actually be understating the case. We saw how tired players got at the end of the season this year, and next year will be worse.

I want to see how the players deal with this next year -- especially that July jump from the Open in Northern Ireland to the WGC in Tennessee the very next week. The Playoffs start two weeks later. Oh yes, this will be very interesting to watch!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Dan Martin on Using Your Practice Swing (Video)

This tip is so simple that you won't believe it.



I'm always harping on the importance of ball position but even I hadn't realized this.

When you make a practice swing, you are relaxed. When you're relaxed, you don't reach for the ball. Consequently, your practice swing typically uses a 'ball position' that's closer to you. And to get the same smooth swing when you actually hit the ball, you need to make sure the ball is in the same position as it was during your practice swing.

There's not much more to say, is there? Just try it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Tom Watson on Playing Greenside Bunkers (Video)

In this short Callaway Golf video, Tom Watson shows you how to hit out of a greenside bunker. I want to focus on one thing he says, because I don't think most people understand what it means.



Around the 1:20 mark Tom says that the BACK EDGE of the sand wedge's bounce is what contacts the sand and makes it slide through the sand. There's some logic here that affects your address position, and that's what I want to focus on.

In order for the back edge to hit the sand first, you need to open the face of the wedge. In fact, this is the reason you open the face. Since you hit the sand behind the ball and moving the sand is what throws the ball out, you won't get a big slice.

But simply opening the face isn't enough, and that's where most players make their mistake.

I know that you are told over and over that, for most shots, you want to lean the shaft forward at impact. The key words here are FOR MOST SHOTS. That simply doesn't work for a sand shot! If you lean the shaft forward, the front edge of the wedge will hit the sand first even if you open the face. You absolutely do NOT want to lean the shaft forward.

That requires an adjustment to your address setup.

To get the shaft vertical or even leaning backward a bit at address, you want the butt end of the shaft to point at your belly button at address. And if you set up with the shaft vertical and pointing at your belly button -- without the ball, just take the position -- you'll quickly realize that the ball has to be moved FORWARD in your stance. In fact, since you want to hit the sand behind the ball and not the ball itself, you need to set up so the ball is maybe two to four inches ahead of the clubface.

Yes, I know that sounds like a sure recipe for a thin skulled shot, but it isn't. Remember, you're hitting the sand first and letting the clubhead slide underneath the sand. It's the sand being moved by the clubhead that throws the ball out of the bunker.

There's one other thing you need to do. Most players set up with their stance a bit open, and that's so they don't hit the ball with the hosel of the club. Remember, you've opened the clubface so the available area of the face is narrower than when the face is square. From an open setup, you can set up to hit the ball in the center of the clubface like a normal shot.

But you can also hit the ball from a square setup. To do that, you need to stand a bit farther from the ball, so the ball is closer to the toe than to the middle of the clubface. Again, remember that you only have to hit the sand behind the ball, not the ball itself. You'll move plenty of sand to get the ball up in the air cleanly.

So remember, to get the ball out of the sand:
  • Open the clubface so the back of the sole hits the sand first.
  • Set up with the shaft vertical, aimed at your belly button, so the shaft isn't leaning forward at address.
  • Position yourself so the ball is two to four inches ahead of the clubface, to make sure you don't lean the shaft forward at impact.
  • And stand a bit farther from the ball so it's a little nearer to the toe of the club, so you won't hit the ball with the hosel.
It's going to look a bit weird at first, but you'll be surprised at how quickly you can get used to it once that ball starts popping out of the sand and onto the green.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The LPGA on TUESDAY???

Alas, 'tis true. The Blue Bay LPGA is a Wednesday-Saturday event but, with the time difference, we get to watch it tonight.

Defending champion Shanshan Feng

As you no doubt expected, Tony Jesselli has a good preview of the event at his blog (as he usually does for all LPGA events). Shanshan Feng is the defending champion and, as this is a 'home' event for her, she'll be trying to get her first win of the season right here.

Tony noted in his preview that this event doesn't have a particularly strong field, with only 19 of the Rolex Top50 playing this week. (And of that 19, only four are Americans.) I think it's easy to understand why. There's a 13 hour time difference between Hainan Island, China and Naples, Florida, the site of the LPGA's final event next week. I suspect most of the players simply don't want to hit the Tour Championship with that much jet lag.

All of which means that this week's event should provide more chances for the players still struggling to secure their cards or just pick up a win. It won't be easy because there will still be some serious firepower in the field, like Ariya Jutanugarn and Sung Hyun Park. Still, the odds have got to be better against 19 Top50 players than against all 50 of them!

For me, Ariya and Shanshan are the big stories. Ariya has already locked up the LPGA's POY Award and Shanshan, as I said, is still looking for her first win in 2018.

GC will be carrying the event live tonight, but with split coverage. You can catch the first hour of the Blue Bay LPGA at 10pm ET on GC's golf app, then pick up the coverage on GC proper at 11pm ET. This event always provides some excitement, so I look for it to live up to expectations.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Winner: Bryson DeChambeau

Around the wider world of golf: Nasa Hataoka picked up her second LPGA win at the TOTO Japan Classic; Justin Rose successfully defended his title (and regained the OWGR #1 spot) with a win at the Turkish Airlines Open on the ET; and Shaun Norris won the HEIWA PGM Championship on the Japan Golf Tour.

Bryson DeChambeau holds the Shriners trophy

A lot of folks tease Bryson DeChambeau for his "scientific approach" to the game, but the laughter is starting to sound a bit strained.

Yeah, I know he had a bad Ryder Cup. (It was sort of a thing for the US team. I'd rather not talk about it.) But the Golf Machine has now won three of his last five tournament starts, and he's three-for-three when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. It's his fifth win in just 68 starts. And there are some pretty strong wins in there, with two of them being FedExCup Playoff events and another at Jack's Place. That's no laughing matter.

Not only did Bryson chalk up his fourth win this year, but he'll rise to OWGR #5 this week. And while I don't think he'll continue to win at this rate indefinitely, he's certainly proving that he intends to remain part of the conversation about the best young players.

And if he keeps this up, we may soon hear the AJGA players talking about the COR of flagsticks.

But I must say... if he keeps this up, it may become a bit hard to keep coming up with new material for these Limerick Summaries. Still, I was pretty good at math and physics in school, so I do enjoy a challenge!
The Golf Machine’s fourth win this year
Announced to the field, loud and clear,
That he’s going nowhere.
They’ll be pulling out hair
If they’re hoping he’ll just disappear!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

[UPDATE: It wasn't until I started doing the RGWR for this week that I realized Bryson actually has FOUR wins this year. As a result, I've corrected this post and the Limerick Summary. Sorry, Bryson -- didn't mean to cheat you out of a win!]

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Fred Griffin on Long Lag Putts (Video)

GCA coach Fred Griffin did this slide presentation on how to hit long lag putts -- and I do mean long, as he talks about 30-100 foot putts!



Griffin emphasizes that you want to hit your putts with a long smooth swing rather than trying for a short quick "acceleration" (which is just another way of saying you jerk the putter to start your downswing). I've talked about that plenty of times, both in this blog and in my Ruthless Putting book, so I won't belabor that here.

But Griffin's thoughts on how long a lag putting stroke should be are very interesting. (For those of you using the metric system, a meter is about 39 inches or just over a yard. Bear that in mind as you read the rest of this post.)

Griffin says that his research shows you need a backswing that's about 15 inches long (roughly half a meter) to hit a 30-foot putt. Obviously that figure depends on the speed of your greens -- it'll be longer for slow greens and shorter for fast greens. Still, it gives you a baseline from which to begin your practice.

He also says that a 100-foot putt requires a backswing about three feet (36 inches or roughly a meter) long. Think about this for a moment. The putt is over three times as long, but the backstroke is only a bit more than twice as long. It's not a direct ratio -- you don't just say, "oh, this putt is twice is long so I make a swing twice as long." That's why you need to practice your lag putting; it really is a matter of feel.

But he says something else that I think may be more helpful for many of you. He says that hitting a 100-foot lag putt is about the same as hitting a 30-yard pitch shot. While he's using this example to encourage you to use your hips and shoulders more during the stroke, I think it's a great place to start your lag putting practice.

Thirty yards is 90 feet. If you've been practicing your chipping and putting -- which you should, because it's a great way to lower your scores -- then using your pitching and chipping stroke as a basis for lag putts of the same distance is a great place to start. If you have a 50-foot lag putt, that's about the same as a 16- or 17-yard pitch (roughly 15 meters). Start your practice by using that length stroke for your lag putt and see how close you get to the hole. You can adjust from there.

Starting with your pitching swing for a similar distance should help you lag putt the ball closer to the hole with less guesswork. And any time you can make practice in one area of your game do double duty to improve other parts of your game is a winning strategy!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Some Thoughts on Golf, Love and Money

Near the end of the movie Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, there's a scene where Jones (James Caviezel) is asked what's wrong with him that he isn't taking money from sponsors yet.

And Jones responds that the word amateur comes from the Latin word for love and that once you start taking money for something, it's not love anymore. Then O.B. Keeler (Malcolm McDowell) adds that money is going to ruin sports.

You might make an argument for Keeler's thoughts, but I think the movie Jones is completely wrong. And if that's what the real Jones really believed, I'd have to call him a hypocrite.

Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones

I got to thinking about this today when Phil posted a link on Facebook to a Golf Digest article called There's a Class Divide in Junior Golf and We're on the Wrong Side of It. The article's subtitle says it all:
Golf should be a meritocracy, but it's hard not to feel like certain kids are granted a head start.
It details one family's problems financing their teenage daughter's attempts to play amateur golf. It talks about how the kids whose parents had money to spare had access to so many more instructors, equipment (the occasional TrackMan was mentioned), playing opportunities and even college offers. It also detailed how the lack of opportunities compared to those more privileged kids threatened their daughter's dreams, how despair took its toll on her.

Ironically, she has continued to play because of two things. Her father struggled with similar problems growing up, so he has been able to give her some perspective.

The other reason is that, despite all the monetary barriers in her way, she continues to chase her dream because she loves the game.

You might think that's backwards of what Jones is saying in the movie. Jones says that taking money kills love, while I'm saying that being barred from money can kill love. But you're misunderstanding my point.

See, if money kills your love for golf (or anything for that matter) then you didn't really love it in the first place -- you loved the money you thought it would bring you. And i repeat, if the real Jones really did believe what his character says in the movie, I would call him a hypocrite. After all, Jones came from a family of lawyers and businessmen, who could afford to send him to college for not one but TWO degrees -- and just the law degree would have cost a fortune! Jones never had to worry about the money necessary to travel across country or overseas to play in amateur events.

The movie Jones could talk about how horrible money was because he had all the money he wanted. To say that being an amateur made him better than those who took money for playing makes him a hypocrite. And if that's how the real Jones felt... well, I would think less of him because he had no room to talk. He didn't know what it was like for a REAL amateur, who typically has little money to finance his or her love of the game.

There's a Bible verse that gets misquoted all the time. It's 1 Timothy 6:10. People think it says that money is the root of all evil, but what it actually says is "the love of money is the root of all evil." There are people who have a great deal of money but it doesn't have a hold on them, and there are people who have only a little but it rules their lives.

Money isn't the problem for us. It's how we feel about money, how much money controls us. We hear older players talk about how Bernhard Langer remains driven to succeed at golf while they don't. The reason is simple: Bernhard still loves the game more than the money.

The problem today isn't that money steals an amateur's love for golf. The problem is that money has become such a huge barrier to indulging our love for golf that only the rich or the pros can really afford it. It isn't the amateurs who are raising that barrier; rather, it's the people who stand to make the most money off of them.

And until that problem is removed, golf will never be what we all think it should be.

End of rant.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Pia Nillson and Lynn Marriott on Playing in the Wind

Since In-Kyung Kim is doing so well at the TOTO Japan Classic (she's leading as I write this), I thought it might be helpful to see what she works on. This Golf Digest article with Pia and Lynn talks about one of her keys from 2017 -- playing in the wind.

In-Kyung Kim lines up a putt

Lynn Marriott said that, after an injury derailed part of her season, I.K. began focusing on what Lynn calls "the 'human skills' necessary to play satisfying golf."

In the article Pia says:
"It's very important and helpful to be OK with 'good enough' shots -- even if they're a little short, right or left."
And Lynn added that:
...mindset -- always an important component in putting -- becomes even bigger when dealing with windy conditions.
So often we talk about the mental side of golf as if it were some kind of magical hypnosis, where we convince ourselves that we can do something that we aren't really confident about. But what the founders of Vision54 are talking about is something much simpler -- that is, just allowing ourselves to be human and not expecting perfection.

In golf, 'good enough' is often a very good shot indeed!

I'm afraid we've been brainwashed by the unrealistic standards the pros often set for themselves. We see them hitting shots that most of us would pay for, then throwing clubs and berating themselves because the ball landed three feet farther from the hole that they wanted. A judgmental attitude like that isn't conducive to good golf; it causes players to wreck their bodies with too much practice, which won't solve the problem anyway simply because they're human.

And while the pros may delude themselves into believing perfection is possible, the average golfer can't put in the ridiculous amount of practice necessary to make such a foolish goal seem plausible. That's especially true in the wind, where luck can play as much -- perhaps more -- a part as skill does. Your evaluation of your shot should more often follow Pia's guideline:
Did you get a usable result from your efforts?
If you can answer 'yes,' then perhaps you should appreciate what you've done. If you do, you'll probably play better in the wind while also taking more enjoyment from your game.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Auburn and USC Win the East Lake Cup, But...

In the men's competition, Auburn beat Alabama and, in the women's competition, USC beat Stanford. (Yes, those are links to the GC summaries of the events.) Congrats to the champs!

Golfweek photo

For the winners, this may seem to be a case of deja vu. USC won this event last year against Stanford, and Auburn beat Alabama in the SEC Championships earlier this year. Auburn won 4-1 and USC won 3-2. I don't think is so unusual, as both winning teams have largely the same personnel as they did in their previous wins.

What I find more interesting about this event is the controversial attention the LPGA Q-Series received. (And yes, that's a link to another GC article. When you already have thorough summaries, why re-invent the wheel?) As you probably know, the Alabama women's team wasn't at full strength because their two top players were competing in the Q-Series, having received exemptions from the LPGA. Bear in mind that the LPGA exemptions are "generic," in the sense that they are given to the Top5 college players, whoever they may be, as opposed to specific players asking for an exemption.

In this case, Alabama had the 3rd and 4th ranked players -- Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman -- and their trips to the Q-Series basically decimated the team that went to East Lake. I don't mean that as an insult to the players who competed at East Lake but, even in the pro ranks, the Top4 or Top5 players are generally a step above everyone else.

I'll be interested to see what the fallout from this "publicity" finally is. The colleges and the LPGA have generally gotten along pretty well but this could cause some serious friction, depending on what comes of it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Caleb Olsen on Downhill Pitch Shots (Video)

PGA instructor Caleb Olsen teaches both uphill and downhill pitch shots in this video, but it's the downhiller that I'm interested in today. And you'll note something interesting...



Although Caleb says his downhill shoulder is lower than his uphill shoulder (that's his trailing shoulder -- left shoulder for a rightie, right shoulder for a leftie), that isn't what happens at all in this video! Caleb's downhill shoulder is clearly higher, and it's easy to see why.

To get his downhill shoulder lower, he has to lean downhill. That's a very unstable position, from which he'll have trouble making solid impact. But in this position he FEELS like he's raising his trailing shoulder; he's just not raising it as much as it feels to him.

That's why his shoulder turn is so important. Caleb is making a very shallow -- very flat -- backswing. He does bend his trailing elbow a little, but he lets his shoulders do most of the work. That lets him swing his club along the slope even though he isn't leaning forward. On a full shot, this would be a problem because he would have trouble getting any distance at all; this is a very short swing.

But this is a pitch, so he doesn't need a long swing. A short swing with very little hand and arm action gives him a very stable swing, making it much easier to make solid contact.

This is definitely something you need to practice, mainly to convince yourself how little effort you need if you do the swing properly. But it will pay dividends once you find yourself in this position.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Stuff That Happened Monday

I didn't plan on this post but we had quite a bit of news Monday so... here goes.

First off, the European Tour announced their 2019 schedule, which has changed quite a bit due to the PGA Championship moving to May. That put it opposite the BMW PGA, which is the ET flagship event. And changing that set off a whole string of changes.

European Tour flag

The European Tour looks pretty healthy to me. There are 47 events and the events have been shuffled to make the end of their season very strong, just when the PGA Tour will be starting their new season. Remember, the PGA Tour wants to end early in order to avoid competing with the NFL and college football.

To me, this is brilliant scheduling. This is going to give the ET about three months of high-powered tournaments when the PGA Tour is focused on getting the new Web.com Tour grads playing. Especially for the guys who want to play both tours, this could be a dream come true.

If you want more details about the changes, this post by Will Gray over at golfchannel.com will give you the highlights of the schedule changes.

The other news concerns the individual part of the competition at the East Lake Cup, where the college teams jockeyed for seeding. Albane Valenzuela won the women's title and helped nab top seed for her Arizona Stanford Cardinals. And while Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland managed to grab the men's individual title, it wasn't enough to stop the Duke Blue Devils from snagging the top seed among the men's teams.

And before you ask, Duke is a team from North Carolina so, yes, I'm very happy about that.

The team portion of the event begins today and finishes tomorrow. GC will cover it, of course -- the pregame show at 2pm ET and the "official" coverage at 3pm ET.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions

Winner: Xander Schauffele

Around the wider world of golf: Nelly Korda picked up her first LPGA win at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; Scott Parel won the Invesco QQQ Championship, the second of the Champions Tour playoff events; Khalin Joshi won the Panasonic Open India on the Asian Tour; and Cameron Champ got his first PGA Tour win at the Sanderson Farms Championship, the alternate event on the PGA Tour.

Xander Schauffele hoists the WGC trophy

Everybody talks about how far Xander Schauffele hits a golf ball, how he's up there with DJ and Rory and Brooks, etc. But it seems to me that Xander won his first WGC event because he managed his game better than anybody else and made a bunch of putts.

Especially on those last two holes that tortured the field all week. I don't know who had the fewest strokes on 17 and 18 for the week, but Xander was 5-under for the regular rounds and 1-under in the playoff. By comparison, defending champion Justin Rose was 4-over for the week while Tony Finau was also 5-under on the regular rounds... and more importantly, only even in the playoff.

I do know that Xander's 68 was the best round of the day on Sunday, enough to track down Tony's three-shot lead and force the playoff. As crucial as the final two holes were, it was Xander's game management on the tough Sheshan course that got him the win.

As I recall, Xander got passed over for the Ryder Cup team this past time. I passed over him as well, feeling that Tony was in better form. But I don't think Xander will have to worry about making teams in the future -- at least, not if he keeps playing like this. With three PGA Tour wins in less than 18 months -- two of them big titles (a Tour Championship and a WGC) -- plus three Top6s in only seven major appearances, Xander is going to be getting a lot of attention going forward.

And of course, he gets all the Limerick Summary attention this week.
The final two holes in each round
Seemed destined to drag the field down.
Not Xander, of course,
Who felt zero remorse
As he scored while the others’ hopes drowned.
The photo came from the front page at europeantour.com.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Tony Finau Power Drill (Video)

In this short video Tony's coach Boyd Summerhays shows us one of Tony's power drills.



Hitting an impact bag like this is a common impact drill. (When Carl Rabito taught me the basics, an impact drill like this was one of the drills he had me do.) You don't have to buy a bag, btw -- you can take a drawstring bag and stuff it full of old towels and rags. You'll get the same result.

Anyway, the purpose of this drill is to teach you how to use your arms and body together. When a player's body gets ahead of their arms, they often say they've "gotten stuck," and when their arms get ahead of their body, they "flip" their hands. In a properly sequenced swing, the hands stay pretty much centered in front of the chest from halfway in the downswing to halfway into the finish.

You don't have to swing as hard as you can. Just make a smooth swing, and try to carry most of the clubhead speed you created just before you hit the bag into the finish. (That bag's gonna be heavier than you expect, and it will try to stop you. Just look at how much it slows Tony down!) Obviously the bag is going to stop your swing, but you're trying to keep going.

Don't reverse pivot when you do this drill. Try to feel as if you're hitting through the bag, not bouncing off it!

LIke I said, this is a common drill but, in this high-tech age, sometimes we need to be reminded that older drills are still effective. Tony's bag drill is an excellent example of this truth.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ray Floyd's 10 Rules

The September 2009 issue of Golf Digest included an article called Ten Rules for Becoming a Chipping Virtuoso by Raymond Floyd. Those of you who follow my blog know I'm a big fan of Raymond's approach to strategy, so I thought I'd pass on his chipping tips list as well.

Raymond Floyd
His rules are pretty simple though you might not come across them very frequently. I've added a few comments to make sure you understand what he has in mind.
  1. Find your own way.
    Simply put, Ray says everybody has to learn how they chip best. All the best chippers were ultimately self-taught, because the "right" way to chip doesn't fit everybody.
  2. Get your stare on.
    Ray says his stare happened when he got lost in the moment and let his imagination take over. He stopped thinking technique and began to see the shots in his mind.
  3. Underreach at address.
    Don't stretch your arms out so they're overextended. If you do, your actual swing will mis-hit the ball.
  4. The butt of the club never moves back.
    You may want the butt of the club behind the ball on certain sand shots, but not when you chip. If the back of your lead hand faces the sky at impact, you'll mis-hit the chip.
  5. Experience a light-bulb moment.
    Anybody can tell you that you need to practice your short game. But until you have that moment of recognition that YOU need to practice, you won't become as good as you can be.
  6. Get the ball rolling quickly.
    The higher you fly the ball, the harder it hits the ground and can bounce off-line. Keeping the ball low so it rolls more helps the ball track toward the hole better.
  7. Know when to take the flag out.
    If you have a good lie, regardless of whether you're in the rough or not, take the flag out. At least, that's what Raymond did.
  8. Become a great mudder.
    The ball behaves differently when the weather's nasty so practice chipping in wet weather. Most players never do.
  9. Learn the "rut-iron"chip.
    This is the chip shot where you stand closer to the ball, tilt the clubhead up on the toe and open the face a bit. Use it when you chip from the rough. The grass is less likely to grab the club and twist the face.
  10. Save your back -- hit five at a time.
    Move to a new chipping spot after every five balls, so you have to straighten up and move around. Your back will thank you!
It's an interesting list and, no matter how good you are, I bet you found something that you didn't know. And that's no surprise -- he's a World Golf Hall of Famer, after all!

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Quick Check-In at Taiwan

Let's take a quick peek-in at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship. The live coverage is being carried live on GC's online rather than TV (the WGC has that slot). GC is just showing repeats of the LPGA event later on the following day.

Defending Swinging Skirts champion Eun-Hee Ji

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview over at his blog. This is a limited field event and a number of top players are skipping it, as this is the fourth event in a seven-week stretch that spans the globe and ends at the CME Group Tour Championship. That makes this a good opportunity for other players to make up ground or simply try to get a victory.

And Jodi Ewart Shadoff is doing just that. After a seven-under 65 on the first day, she is (at the time I'm writing this) eight-under for the tournament after six holes (just one-under for the day). She's just two shots ahead of Lydia Ko and Wei-Ling Hsu. Three shots back is a group of six -- Ryann O'Toole, Ally MacDonald, Mirim Lee, Moriya Jutanugarn, Megan Khang and So Yeon Ryu.

I currently have the streaming video from GC on and, while the weather looks good, it appears the players are struggling a bit to read the greens properly. The best score I've seen so far is Lydia's -- she's five-under for the day -- but nobody is going particularly low early in their rounds.

Still, this looks to be a very competitive tournament going into the weekend. The leaderboard is tightening up and with only 81 players in the field, we could see someone get their first win this weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Danielle Kang's Exorcist

Earlier this week Danielle Kang told the Morning Drive crew that she had "demons or whatever you call them." (That's not an exact quote but it was something like that.) She said her big battle was with the six inches between her ears.

Randall Mell has written an interesting article about Danielle's new "exorcist." You may have heard of him -- Butch Harmon.

Butch Harmon

Danielle got her second win after only a month working with Butch. Dustin Johnson has been trying to get her to go to him for FOUR YEARS, and she finally got desperate enough to call him.

It looks like it might have been a good choice.

The article is an interesting look at the dynamics of their work together. I just thought you guys might find it to be a entertaining read. After all, how many players do you think Butch would say this about?
“I think she should be a top-five player in the world. She should win two, three, four times a year. She wants to be the best, and she can be. She has a tremendous upside.”
Of course, he also says she drops more F-bombs than he does... and that he kinda likes that.

Yes, an interesting read, to be sure.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the WGC-China

Here we go again! It's already time for my first "5 to Watch" of the new wraparound season, for the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

2017 champ Justin Rose

Last year Justin Rose came from eight shots back to win after Dustin Johnson had an unbelievably bad final round to lose a six-shot lead. And so the questions surround DJ as he enters the week, especially after Brooks Koepka bumped him from the OWGR #1 spot last week.

When picking my "5 to Watch" this week, I found myself wondering just how important power and distance really is at Sheshan International. The event has been a WGC for nine years, with only the 2012 version being played elsewhere (Mission Hills, if you must know, and won by Ian Poulter), and only three Americans have won there:
  • Bubba Watson (2014)
  • Dustin Johnson (2013)
  • Phil Mickelson (2009 -- he also won in 2007 before it became a WGC)
These are the only "power players" to have won the event, so it seems that power is less important than accuracy here. In fact, the par-5s are typically the hardest (as a group) of any course on the PGA Tour.

So let's see what kind of luck I can have picking this event...
  • Brooks Koepka would seem to be the best bet among the power players. Given his play this year, it's hard to bet against him. His position as World #1 is still a bit shaky -- he could lose it this week -- so we'll see if he can respond to pressure yet again.
  • Likewise, it's hard to go against Justin Rose. The defending champion has played consistent if less-than-spectacular golf this year, posting four worldwide wins. (He's been #3 in my own Ruthless Golf World Rankings for a while now.) And unlike Koepka, he has a win here already, so he's a proven quantity.
  • Many of you won't remember, but Francesco Molinari won this event in 2010. I know that's quite a while back, but Francesco isn't the same player he's been over the last few years. Coming off his Open victory, his game is clearly in good enough shape to take this title again. And again, he -- like Rose -- is a proven quantity.
  • This is Jon Rahm's first time in action since the Ryder Cup. And with only one appearance at this event -- a T36 last year -- the Wild Child may not be one of the first names you'd expect to play well here. But I believe the so-called "Ryder Cup bump" may propel him to something special this week.
  • And my flier is... Eddie Pepperell. This is his first WGC, period. But he's 7th in the Race to Dubai and has been playing out of his mind this season, with two runner-ups and a win at a little event called the British Masters. There's something to be said for form over experience, and Eddie might very well prove how true that is.
As for my pick... I'd really like to take Pepperell, but I can't shake the feeling that Molinari will also benefit from the "bump." I know he didn't play so well at the British Masters, but I think he just needed some time to recharge after the Cup. Sheshan is a place with good memories for him, coming off a career season and a historic performance in France. I think he gets it done this week.

And we'll get to see how it all plays out starting tonight, starting at 10pm ET on GC. (Expect some pregame coverage starting at 9:30pm though.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Those Other Two Weekend Stories

There were two stories I didn't get to mention Monday, so let's get you up-to-date in case you missed them.

Sergio with the Valderrama Masters trophy

First of all, the Andalucía Valderrama Masters finished up on Monday. It was weather-delayed -- no rain, just lightning problems -- and shortened to 54 holes. But that didn't stop Sergio from taking the event by a fairly dominant margin of four strokes. The back-to-back win not only defended his title but made this his third win at the event.

While the shortened event is still an official finish, it doesn't carry the full effect it would have had as a 72-hole event. Both the purse and the Race to Dubai points were reduced -- I believe players only received something like 75% of the totals. Still. that moves players up in the rankings... and money's always a good thing to get!

The other bit of news concerns Paul Azinger being named as Johnny Miller's successor at NBC. The new lead golf analyst spent an hour on Morning Drive -- just to get broken in a bit, you know. Here's a segment of Zinger's morning appearance:



Miller is scheduled to end his long broadcast run at the Phoenix Open while Zinger will make his first appearance at the WGC-Mexico Championship in February. And GC's announcement included this interesting bit of info:
In addition to offering his views from some of the biggest events of the year, Azinger will also contribute to various instructional, documentary and news platforms on Golf Channel. He will retain his current roles broadcasting the Masters for the BBC and the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open for Fox Sports.
It appears that Zinger is going to be very busy for a while. And us Zinger fans will get to see him in a variety of roles going forward. I'm especially pleased that he'll be contributing more instructional material because he has a proven ability to explain things clearly.

So now you're caught up on what happened this weekend -- besides Brooks Koepka reminding people who he is, of course.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges

Winner: Brooks Koepka

Around the wider world of golf: Danielle Kang beat seven runner-ups to claim her second LPGA victory at the Buick LPGA Shanghai; Woody Austin won the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the first of the Champions Tour playoff events; Harry Higgs won the Diners Club Peru Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Becky Morgan won her first LET title at the Hero Women’s Indian Open. The ET's weather-delayed Andalucía Valderrama Masters finishes up today.

Brooks Koepka with the CJ Cup trophy

Now the boys on Tour should be starting to get a bit worried...

Brooks was out for a few months early in the year. Then all he did was win two majors and the Player of the Year trophy. And now he's added another worldwide win to his total and move to Number One in the OWGR, shoving his old buddy Dustin Johnson out of the way in the process.

Do you think he feels a bit underappreciated?

Seriously -- was this tournament ever really in doubt after the third round? I know Gary Woodland made a big run at Brooks, actually tying the lead for a while. But Brooks shot a 29 on the way in -- a 29, folks! Nobody was going to stay with him at that point.

So now the analysts will begin their attempts to predict what he might do going forward. Without a doubt, this has been a banner year for Brooks. I already had him in the top spot on my RGWR. In my opinion, the OWGR is a bit behind. But we've seen players rack up great years, only to stumble a bit from fatigue or whatever and not be able to get back to that high level again -- at least, not for a while.

I don't know if Brooks will have that problem. He says that he isn't going to change anything -- and that's good, but I don't think change can be prevented. Even though he won't try to change his game, change is the rule in this life and he's going to have to juggle his own expectations as he moves forward. That alone will give him all he can handle in his attempts to keep it all going.

Still, I wouldn't want to bet against him. I'd much rather be at the height Brooks has reached and try to stay there than to try and fight my way up from underneath. And I don't envy those players trying to take him down a notch, given the beating he's laid on them this season! So I'll just give him yet another Limerick Summary, sit back and watch the fireworks going forward... because I'm sure there will be plenty!
Two majors this year weren’t enough
So Brooks showed the whole world how tough
He can be. No beginner—
The POY winner’s
Now World Number One. He’s hot stuff!
The photo came from this page at golfweek.com.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Zack Lambeck's Putting Game (Video)

GOLFTEC's Zack Lambeck demonstrates a putting game to help you make more breaking putts.



The game is simple enough. You find a putt that breaks noticeably, set a line of golf balls out to the side of the hole -- five balls, three feet apart -- then put a tee in the ground just inside the low side of the cup. Your goal is to hit putts that, if they miss the hole, they miss on the high side and not on the low side.

The scoring is equally simple:
  • A made putt = 3 points
  • A miss on the high side = 1 point
  • A miss on the low side resets your score to 0
  • Winning total is 15 points
You can, of course, play the game by yourself or with others.

Game drills are always more fun than simple repetition drills. And one thing I like about this one is that tee in front of the hole, which I think makes it easier to aim because it gives you a clear indication of where the edge of the hole is. Given that you don't have to buy any new equipment to use this practice rig, I think it's worth a try.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wally Armstrong's Drill for Better Shots Off the Tee (Video)

Wally Armstrong from Golf Tips Magazine calls this drill "sweeping the dew." It's an easy drill you can do on the teebox before your shot.



Placing the clubhead on the ground well back in your stance, then dragging it along the ground and up to a full finish can help your drive in a number of ways.
  • It helps you learn to stay more level during your downswing. Many players think they lift their heads when they actually straighten their knees.
  • It helps you learn to turn fully into your finish. If your shoulders stop turning too soon, that's going to affect how square your clubface is at impact.
  • It teaches you how far to stand from the ball.
I think that last one may be the biggest advantage of this drill. If you stand too close to the ball, you won't be able to use your knees properly, and if you're too far away you'll lose your balance very easily. And it will help flatten your swing just enough to prevent an over-the-top or pull swing.

Yes, I know I harp on ball position all the time. But a huge number of swing problems are caused by incorrect ball position, and yet it's one of the easiest things to fix because it's just a setup issue.

If you do this drill correctly, you should feel rhythmic and balanced all the way to your finish. That, in conjunction with correct ball position, should really help your tee shots with a minimum of practice.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Wie Out for the Rest of the Season

In case you somehow missed it, Michelle Wie's wrist finally got the better of her. She's fought it all year, taking cortisone shots, skipping events to rest and rebuilding her swing again, all in hopes of avoiding surgery. Alas, it was not to be. The deed is done and she's done for the year.




I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” ☺️ A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. ❤️ I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise 🤝
A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on
Personally, I think it shows just how tough and how determined Michelle is to play. Say what you like about her lack of wins, she's been dogged by injuries since her teen years and yet she just keeps coming back. Hopefully she'll start next year the way she started this one, with a win.

In the meantime, get well soon, Wiesy!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Who Says Laura Davies's Best Days Are Past?

This is the first year that there have been two senior women's majors.

Dame Laura Davies owns both trophies. Need I say more?

Laura Davies with Senior LPGA trophy

This one wasn't as easy as her 10-stroke romp at the US Senior Women's Open. The wind howled at 25mph and, as best as I can tell, she still tied the best score of the day with a 70. She beat the field by four strokes in tough conditions.

I'm now watching to see if she can take this form back to the main tour. She HAS to have gotten some real confidence from these performances. Way to go, Laura!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Dame's at It Again!

It was just a few months ago that Dame Laura Davies blitzed the field at the Senior Women's Open by ten strokes. And while she doesn't look to put on that kind of show this week, Laura is once again in the lead at the LPGA Senior Championship.

Laura Davies putting at the French Lick course

It's been cold and windy at the French Lick course in Indiana (and for those of you overseas who might not know, French Lick IN is famous for being the home of NBA legend Larry Bird) so it's put a bit of a damper on the scoring. After two rounds there are only nine players under par and Laura has a two-shot lead at -6 (68-70).

Laura finished her first round with two bogeys, then added two more in the first four holes of her second round before righting the ship to take the second round lead. Her closest competitor, Brandie Burton, has been on a roller coaster, shooting 74-66. And the oldest player in the field, Jane Crafter, is at -3 after rounds of 70-71. Silvia Cavalleri is also at -3, but it's hard for me to believe she's old enough to be in this field (LPGA seniors start at 45).

Perhaps that just shows my own age.

Anyway, the final round is today. I'm going to miss it because of work but at least I can check the scores on the LPGA's live leaderboard. If you're where you can watch it, GC will carry it at 4-6pm ET.

I'll be interested to see if Laura can make it two in a row, regardless of the victory margin. She's definitely making a good go of it so far.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The New Rules for Greens Books

We knew it was coming but the USGA and the R&A finalized their decision on how green-reading books will be regulated.

Typical greens book page

The new rules will limit the size of the books, the scale of the diagrams and even how you read them. (That last bit is the most interesting to me.)
  • The books' size will be limited to 4.5x7 inches, which makes them small enough to put in a pocket.
  • But you could just use smaller print, right? Au contraire, mon ami! The scale at which you draw the books will be limited to 3/8 inch of page for every 5 yards of green (1:480).
  • And just to make sure nobody tries microprinting the details, you can't use a magnifying glass or anything other than prescription eyeglasses to read the books.
The two ruling bodies will continue to allow handwritten notes as long as the writers are the player or his caddie -- in other words, no mass printing of the handwriting!

How is this going to affect the game? I don't know for sure. I suspect we may see a surge in the number of players using AimPoint Express, and I won't be surprised if some enterprising player (Bryson, are you listening?) figures out some new way to notate the contours of the green. All those tiny little arrows you see on the photo above? A few well-placed and well-drawn complex curves might give players the same amount of info without requiring so much detail.

Of course, that would make greens book reading more of an art. But that IS what the ruling bodies are after, isn't it?

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 CIMB Classic

Winner: Marc Leishman

Around the wider world of golf: In-Gee Chun blitzed the field to win the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Bernhard Langer did likewise at the SAS Championship on the Champions Tour; Jared Wolfe won the Volvo Abierto de Chile on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Nick Voke won the Clearwater Bay Open (and a Web.com Tour card) on the PGA TOUR China; Eddie Pepperell won the Sky Sports British Masters on the ET; and Tirawat Kaewsiribandit won the UMA CNS Open Golf Championship on the Asian Tour.

Marc Leishman hoists the CIMB trophy

It only took five holes for Marc Leishman to make his plans for the day clear. Four straight birdies on holes 2-5 gave him a lead that he never relinquished.

And when he birdied the final hole, he left no doubt in anyone's mind that he could be trouble going forward. After all, he's won three times in the past 18 months... and the last two were five-shot blowouts. He set a tournament record (-23) at the 2017 BMW Championship and tied the record (-26) this week.

Oh yeah, the field will take notice of this one.

As for Leish, he knew exactly what his plans for the night would be as well:
"We'll sit that (trophy) in the middle of the table tonight and have a few beers and just talk about it and just have a good night with friends really. I'm looking forward to doing that tonight."
Spoken like a true Aussie. There's not much more I can add...

Well, okay. Just this one little Limerick Summary. Leish is gathering quite a collection of them!
The field knew low scores were a must—
And Leish STILL left ‘em all in the dust!
Once he went five shots clear,
No one else could get near;
All their hopes for a victory went bust.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tommy Fleetwood on Chipping (Video)

This video is three years old, right about the time Tommy started his run back to the top of the game. I won't repeat everything in this video -- that's why I include the video, after all -- but I'd like to point out a couple of things that you may be interested in.



First of all, Tommy now carries four wedges. That's nearly a third of the clubs in his bag, which shows you how much importance he puts on this part of his game. Note that he says the fourth wedge he added, which has slightly less loft than a sand wedge, allows him to take longer clubs off the tee on shorter holes if he so desires. So this fourth wedge is as much a strategy choice as a short game choice.

You'll also want to note that Tommy plays a cut shot for all his chips. As a rightie, he lines up with his feet aimed slightly left and swings down his foot line, which gives him a slight out-to-in swing path. A lot of players and instructors these days prefer to hook their chips to get them running sooner. There is no right or wrong here, but you need to pick the one you think benefits you the most. Tommy is very clear that he thinks a cut shot is the best shot, so that's what he plays. Confidence is important in your short game!

One extra thing I'll mention is that, while Tommy generally plays his chips from a narrow stance, he says he does widen his stance for longer chips that require a longer swing. Note that he doesn't put a length on when he does that, so it's clearly a feel thing for him. That's also worth remembering when you're developing your own set of fundamentals.

And I think that is the biggest takeaway from Tommy's video lesson. You have to develop your own fundamentals, decide on which techniques you're going to use in your own game. I don't care what any player or instructor tells you, there's only one truth when it comes to golf technique:
If it works for you, it's right for you.
There are a lot of ways to get the job done, so the important thing is to make your stroke with confidence. Don't let anybody tell you differently!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kirk Jones on Hand Motion (Video)

You can think of today's tip as the flip side of Thursday's tip. Martin Hall talked about how grip affects your tendency to hook the ball; in today's video Kirk Jones talks about how grip affects all club motion.



While Martin talked about creating a more neutral hand position, Kirk shows why you need to pay attention to HOW you use that hand position.

Even with a good grip to create a desired clubface position, you can alter that clubface if you get sloppy with your wrist motion. Cupping your lead wrist can open the most neutral clubface, while rolling your trail hand over your lead hand (also called bowing the wrist) can close the face down.

Kirk also mentions exaggerating your wrist cock. That contributes to both problems, depending on whether you cup or bow your wrist to create more cock during your swing.

The irony here is -- and I know some instructors will disagree with me but it's true -- you can play good golf with a bowed wrist and you can also play good golf with a cupped wrist. Just look at the history of our game and you'll find great players who used both of these positions at the top of their swings.

The key here is consistency. If you bow your wrist, you need to keep it bowed the same amount throughout your swing. The same is true of cupping. It's when you use a cupped (or bowed) grip at address, bow (or cup) it on the way back and then try to square the face at impact that you get into trouble. For example, DJ bows his wrist during his backswing and then maintains that bow all the way through impact. That makes him a fairly consistent driver despite his length.

Finally, I shouldn't have to say this but I will: Obviously you want to avoid the extremes. A slight bow or a slight cup is pretty easy to maintain throughout your swing; exaggerated cups and bows like Kirk shows in the video are recipes for disaster. Find your most natural position and maintain it throughout your swing, and you'll be surprised at how much more consistent you'll be.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Power Restored!

As you may have guessed from the missing post this morning, we got hit by the storm. Hurricane Michael (you have no idea how many jokes I've heard about that!) hit us Thursday afternoon. It was pretty quick but it was messy, taking down trees and power lines all over the place. One of our neighbors actually had a two-foot diameter tree blown over UPHILL through the branches of a stronger tree that didn't fall.

Anyway, this post is just to let you know that I'm back on line and will be posting as normal tomorrow. We're still straightening out the mess today, but at least we and most of the other folks locally are okay. Be sure to pray for all the people who have been or will be in the path of this storm.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Martin Hall's Hook Stopper (Video)

I do a lot more tips for slicers than hookers simply because there seem to be more of them on golf courses. (Okay, that doesn't sound quite right but we'll press on. ;-) Anyway, this Night School video from Martin Hall has a very simple way to help stop your unwanted hooks.



As you know by now, I love simple fixes... and the simpler, the better. The more complicated a "fix" is, the less likely it is that you'll be able to repeat it. But this grip tip is wonderfully simple. I'll even call it pure genius!

If you hold the club shaft parallel to the ground in your trailing hand and make sure that the face of the club looks straight up at the sky -- Martin says the grooves are parallel to the ground, which means the same thing and it's just a matter of which thought helps you get the face in the correct position -- if you hold the club this way and THEN take your lead hand grip so the back of that hand also faces the sky, you'll get a weaker grip.

And a weaker grip makes you less likely to flip the clubface at impact and hook the ball.

So if you're hooking the ball and yet can't stop using a strong grip, this is a very simple tip to help you get a weaker grip on the club and do it consistently. Consistency is always the key to a permanent fix; if you can't do something the same way every time, you can't correct the problem.

Yes, I love simple tips. And this is a great one if you have trouble with a chronic hook.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Reminder: CIMB Classic TONIGHT

Just reminding you that the CIMB Classic coverage begins TONIGHT on GC at 10:30pm ET. Pat Perez is the defending champion.

Defending champ Pat Perez

As best as I can tell, Kuala Lumpur is 12 hours ahead of us here in the Southeastern US. So the prime time coverage tonight will actually begin at 10:30am Kuala Lumpur time. I don't know how players make such a large schedule adjustment, especially the guys coming from the Safeway Open this past weekend.

Anyway, there will be four hours of live coverage TONIGHT. Just remember that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Furyk on Breaking Up Spieth and Reed (Video)

I wanted to find the entire interview Tim Rosaforte did with Jim Furyk that aired on Monday's Morning Drive, but I haven't found it yet. However, since this has been a major question about his decisions at the Ryder Cup, I thought I'd post this one.



Furyk's explanation makes sense to me. While the possibility of pairing Tiger with Justin Thomas and leaving the Spieth/Reed team intact was there -- that was the reason they were in the same pod -- the decision was made simply because Tiger made the team. And Furyk says all parties knew that was the plan for weeks before the Cup.

The possibility of breaking up one team that had been succcessful in the past -- let's keep that "in the past" bit in mind, as there is no guarantee that Reed and Spieth would have played well this time -- to try and create two winning teams seems a good gamble to me, given the caliber of the players involved. and the fact is that Furyk still fielded one winning team while the second team ended up facing the Euro Superteam every time.

After hearing this, Reed's dissatisfaction with the arrangement after the Cup seems to be the result of poor play more than anything else, don't you think? It's just a shame that he didn't handle it better. Furyk did say that Reed and he had texted each other since the comments, but he didn't go into detail about the content of those texts.

It sounded pretty clear to me that Furyk simply expected guys to "show up" as they have in the past, even when their games weren't quite in shape coming in, and they didn't. But that's golf, isn't it?

Furyk talked about a lot of things in the interview. Among other things, he also noted that he had planned to send Phil and Bryson out in the morning fourballs but Phil didn't feel good about his swing and spent the morning working on the range, that DJ and Brooks laughed about the supposed fight they had, and that the team members seem surprised that everybody thinks things were so bad in the US team room.

If you didn't hear the full interview, you might want to explore the shorter clips that GC has posted on their site. They are very interesting!

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Safeway Open

Winner: Kevin Tway

Around the wider world of golf: Team Korea got their first UL International Crown victory on the LPGA; Lucas Bjerregaard won his second European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship; Ruixin Liu won for the third time this season at the Symetra Tour Championship; Nicolás Echavarría won the San Luis Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Kevin Techakanokboon (an American!) won the Zhuhai Championship on the PGA TOUR China; John Catlin (another American!) won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on the Asian Tour; and Takumi Kanaya won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

Kevin Tway with the Safeway Open keg trophy

Alright, I confess: I was far more interested in seeing the new Doctor Who episode than in the final round of the Safeway Open. (For those of you unfamiliar with Doctor Who, it's a British science-fiction show that has been around for over 50 years, the Doctor is an alien who regenerates into a new body any time they need to change actors, and this is the first time the Doctor has been a woman although they've been hinting that this was coming for around three or four years.) And in my opinion, the new Doctor did not disappoint.

Fortunately, since BBC America chose to do a global simulcast of the show, I didn't have to miss any of the Safeway's final round. Sometimes cable is a wonderful thing!

I don't know if Kevin Tway is a Doctor Who fan (aka a "Whovian") or not, but he certainly debuted a new episode in his own career Sunday. (Wasn't that a smooth transition? I'm proud of that one.) Tway is yet another of those "can't miss kids" who has learned the Tour is a tough place to win -- even if your dad is a major winner.

But like his dad Bob Tway, who won his first event in a playoff against a proven player (the 1986 Andy Williams Open against Bernhard Langer), Kevin claimed his first win in a playoff against two proven winners, Brandt Snedeker (9 PGA Tour wins) and Ryan Moore (5 PGA Tour wins). While Brandt struggled to hold on to his third round lead and Ryan tied the best round of the day (-5), Kevin calmly shot -1 in the windy conditions to make a three-way playoff.

And then all he did was birdie all three playoff holes to grab his first win.

I thought the most telling thing Kevin said after the round was that his dad had been telling him he was good enough to win... but he didn't really believe it until he actually did it Sunday. I don't believe in the old "floodgates" theory, but I can't help thinking that his playoff performance -- three birdies under pressure -- may be the start of some really good performances the rest of this year.

And if I can help kick that streak off with his very first Limerick Summary? Well, I'm glad to help.
The seventy-five holes it took
For Kevin to get his first look
At a victory weren’t bad.
The birdies he had
Could be signs that good fortune’s afoot.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Ian Baker-Finch's Favorite Putting Drill (Video)

I've been doing tips from players in this week's UL International Crown and wanted to do a putting tip from So Yeon Ryu, but all I could find was her mentioning that she worked with Ian Baker-Finch. So here's a drill from Ian...



Ian's favorite drill is one you've probably seen before. He places five balls in a line, starting at three feet from the hole and the next one three feet farther, etc., all the way out to 15 feet. (Or, as he says, you can just use the putter shaft as a rough guide.) Then he tries to make all of the balls, starting with the one closest to the hole. He repeats the drill four times -- uphill, downhill, right-to-left and left-to-right.

What caught my eye is how he practices the downhillers. I was a bit surprised that he placed a target ball PAST the hole. Since he's putting downhill, I would have expected his target to be just short of the hole so he didn't roll too far past.

But Ian is clearly afraid of leaving his downhill putts short. And to be honest, we do see the pros leave them short quite often. But I'm not certain that's a common problem for amateurs. And this is where you need to pay special attention.

This is a great drill for learning speed control. But when you try it, you need to see what your tendencies are and adjust for them.

Do you tend to hit your downhillers way past the hole? Then you should set a target ball that is roughly that amount short of the hole and see how you do when you try to stop the ball there.

Do you tend to leave your uphillers short? Then you should set a target ball that far past the hole and try to get the ball to stop there.

Drills are only useful if they help you get the results you want. Never be afraid to adjust a drill if doing it the way an instructor recommends doesn't help you improve.

Even if that instructor is Ian Baker-Finch.