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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 usatoday.com.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The High Heat Driver

Today I'm posting a link to golftipsmag.com 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 golfchannel.com 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 golf-monthly.co.uk 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 golfdigest.com 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 PGATOUR.com 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 Web.com 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 golfweek.com.

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 Web.com 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 golfweek.com.

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.