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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the RICOH

Our fourth consecutive week of links golf brings us to the Ricoh Women's British Open, where I.K. Kim will be the defending champion.

Defending champion I.K. Kim

Tony Jesselli has his (as usual) top-notch preview of the event at his blog. This year the Ricoh will be held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, which last hosted the "big tour" back in 2012 when Ernie Els won and the women in 2009 when Catriona Matthew won. (The Champions Tour hasn't been there in over 20 years.)

At this point, it appears that the course is 'gettable.' In Monday's final qualifier, Swedish amateur Linn Grant shot a 10-under 62 to take the medalist position. Englishwoman Cloe Frankish (an LET player) came in second with a 66. The 17 players who qualified all shot 69 or better, and there was a seven-way playoff for the final spot.

Yeah, we could see some low scores this week. But who will shoot the lowest scores of the bunch? I have some ideas...
  • Of course, Ariya Jutanugarn has to make my list. Coming off a win at the Scottish Open, in difficult conditions, you have to think she'll be in a good frame of mind to possibly get two in a row.
  • Minjee Lee is playing ridiculously well to have only won once this year. I don't think I've picked her as a Top5 pick in any major this season... but this week she makes my list. Her form has held up week after week, and it's that consistency -- combined with a runner-up last week at the Scottish Open -- that makes her a pick this time.
  • Remember 'rookie' Jin Young Ko? While she has cooled off a bit from her two wins in late 2017-early 2018, she's still playing extremely well. She finished T3 last week, her eighth Top10 of the season, and she put up a 67 in the tough conditions Sunday to get that T3. She could rise to the occasion this week.
  • I.K Kim seems happy to be back on the links, having posted a seventh-place finish last week. She proved last year that she can handle this style of play, and a return to the style of golf that broke her "major curse" should put her at ease as she tries to go back-to-back.
  • My flier is Mo Martin. Mo has only one LPGA win, but it's the 2014 Ricoh. She's been playing pretty well this year and, although she's one of the shorter players on tour, that doesn't really matter in links golf and she plays well in tough conditions. She won't be first on most people's list but I wouldn't bet against her if she gets in contention.
And my pick is... Minjee Lee. While Martin is a sentimental favorite and I think Ko may be underrated at this point, Minjee is waaaaay overdue for a major win, and her consistency this season bodes well for a good showing at Royal Lytham.

GC's coverage of the Ricoh begins Thursday morning at 6am ET. Best of all, it looks as if the women are going to get seven-hour coverage windows each day, so we should get to see a lot of the players for a change.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Senior Open, giving him two Champions Tour majors this season; Ariya Jutanugarn won the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open on the LPGA/LET, which should also give her the #1 spot in the Rolex Rankings; Martin Trainer secured his PGA Tour card with a win at the Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Web.com Tour; Peter Campbell (a Canadian!) won the Beijing Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Kendall Dye won the Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY for her third Symetra Tour win; Justin Harding won the Royal Cup for back-to-back Asian Tour titles; and Richard McEvoy won his first European Tour title at the Porsche European Open.

Dustin Johnson with Canadian Open trophy

It was the last time the RBC Canadian Open was to be played at Glen Abbey, and Dustin Johnson didn't want to waste the opportunity.

So the new RBC ambassador didn't. After some close calls in Canada, he ran away from the field for a three-shot victory.

There's not much to say about it, really. DJ basically played the par-5s with driver and wedge, putting him four-under on his final round with very little effort. Three more birdies (against a single bogey) turned Sunday's round into a casual stroll to victory.

A stroll interrupted by a rain delay, but we all know that DJ isn't bothered by little things like that.

The big news wasn't the win so much as what the win did for him. It gave him 19 total PGA Tour wins in his career, tied for third among active players on the main tour; made him the first player since Tiger to win at least three times in each of three consecutive years; and it vaulted him to the top of the FedExCup standings.

To be honest, DJ has won so much over the last few years that I'm running out of superlatives to describe how he plays. When his game is a little off, we all march out the "he doesn't work hard enough" talk. But when he has it all together, the rest of the field can only shake their heads and wish he'd work even less. Counting his missed cut at the Open, he's got two wins, a third place finish and a T8 in his last five events. How realistic are the complaints?

I'm not complaining, DJ. Here, have another Limerick Summary on me.
For DJ, it’s nineteen and counting;
The case for his greatness is mounting!
Ten wins in three years
Gives his fans cause to cheer
While competitors find themselves frowning!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A New Use for an Old Drill (Video)

Martin Hall originally did this Extra Credit video to teach how Nick Faldo hit a draw that would hold its flight against a stiff wind on the links. I'm going to use it to help those of you struggling to control your clubface.



At around the 1:20 mark Martin demonstrates the drill. He uses his trailing hand to hold his lead elbow against the side of his chest at impact and during the finish. I've written about this "flying lead elbow" problem before. If your lead elbow moves away from your body at impact, you can get a chicken wing move... and that's bad for clubface control. It's why a number of you can't draw the ball.

Obviously, Martin's drill will help you develop a draw if you don't have one now.

But it may be less obvious why this 'chicken wing' can also interfere with any effort to hit a fade, especially if you've seen Jordan Spieth using just such a move to create a fade. Those of you paying attention may have also noticed, however, that Spieth has a tendency to hit out-of-control banana balls as well... and that also comes from that chicken wing maneuver.

Here's why: When your lead elbow starts moving away from your side, it doesn't always move the same amount. That's a problem, people. For example, if it moves toward the ball a bit more than usual, you'll get more of an in-to-out swing than you expect... and if you're hitting a fade, you'll end up with a push-fade that can head out-of-bounds. It can also cause you to leave the clubface more open than you planned, which can create the same result.

By the same token, if your lead elbow doesn't move out as much, you might get too much forearm rotation and VOILA! instant duck-hook. If you were expecting your little fade, you get the classic double-cross. Neither of these is good for your score.

If, however, you keep your lead elbow close to your side all the way through your downswing, you create a more consistent rotation that happens in the big muscles of your lead shoulder. Unlike the smaller muscles in your wrist and forearm, you get far less variation with your shoulder movement, and that minimizes the range of variation in your clubface position.

Martin's drill can help you, regardless of whether you struggle with a hook or a slice. Give it a try and you'll see what I mean.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Tiffany Joh's Swing (Video)

Tiffany Joh has yet to win on the LPGA but she's leading the Ladies Scottish Open by three strokes. I don't know if she'll win but there's one thing I think you should learn from her swing. This video shows her hitting a hybrid.



There aren't many videos on YouTube of T-Joh's swing. In part, that's because she hasn't won yet. But there's a more important reason, and it's very simple:

There is nothing special about T-Joh's swing.

Do you understand what I'm saying? Tiffany doesn't have some unusual move that makes her stand out from the crowd. She's got a very good swing, and she hits the ball very solidly. This week she's playing some of the best golf of her life, and the rest of the field is struggling to catch up.

Her swing isn't the reason T-Joh hasn't won. If you look at her stats, you'll see that she doesn't hit many fairways or greens, she's not ranked very high in putting, and her scoring average is only 71.81, good enough for 81st on the Tour. That's just over 2.25 strokes behind the Tour's best, Ariya Jutanugarn... yet she's 81st on Tour! Cristie Kerr, at exactly 71.00, is 38th.

In other words, she hasn't won because she just needs to practice more. She's good enough to keep her card, but she hasn't been good enough to win. Tiffany just needs to learn how to score better.

This week she seems to have caught lightning in a bottle, at least for two rounds. Perhaps she'll get it done in Scotland, and that would be great. But she's a good lesson to everyone -- you don't need a great swing, you just need to make sure it works well most the time.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Kenny Nairn on the "Bump and Scrape" (Video)

This is one of the wildest drills I've seen in a while, but it teaches an equally weird shot. GCA coach Kenny Nairn's bizarre chipping drill is something to use in links play and perhaps on really tight, fast lies.



The drill is simple. Pull a hybrid from your bag and take your putting grip, then let go with your lead hand and just use your trailing hand to drag the clubhead back along the ground. Then, stroke your 'putt' without letting the clubhead leave the ground!

I tried this and it feels really weird. If you're like me, the clubhead is going to make a loop on the ground -- it will go back fairly straight but it will try to move closer to you on the forward stroke, creating a teardrop-shaped swing. After a little practice, I managed to create more of an arc with it -- but it does take some practice.

Of course, it gets even weirder when you try to make this shot with both hands. It doesn't get any easier with two hands -- at least, it didn't for me.

And to be honest, I can't tell you how it works because I don't have anywhere nearby where I could actually test this putting technique. This is definitely a links technique, not something you would use on a putting green.

So why am I showing you this? Well, even if you don't currently have a use for this shot, I think it might be useful to help you develop a lighter touch with your putter. The idea is to hold the club as lightly as you can while still maintaining control of the motion. To gain better control of the clubhead without gripping it too tightly, you'll have to turn your shoulders a bit more. That will also help your rhythm when you try swinging an actual putter.

The lighter you can hold your putter while maintaining control, the easier it will be to make a consistent stroke. This odd drill may be just the ticket for some of you, so give it a try and see.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Ladies Go Scottish

The LPGA is in Scotland this week, at the same venue the men played a couple of weeks ago, for the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.

Defending champion Mi Hyung Lee

As usual, you can get a good preview of the event at Tony Jesselli's blog. I'll just note that they're teeing it up at Gullane Golf Club, the same as the men did, only they'll be playing it at 6480 yards.

This is only the second playing of the event but Aberdeen's sponsorship has already given it a certain amount of stature, given that it's held the week before the Ricoh Women's British Open -- the same situation as the men's event, which precedes the Open Championship -- on the same course. At this point it hasn't become quite the warm-up that the men's version has, but I suspect in time that it will. There just aren't that many chances for the ladies to work on their links play, especially the week before their Open.

Of course the biggest news so far is Lexi Thompson's announcement that she's skipping this event, the Ricoh and perhaps others to "work on herself" after a particularly trying 18 months. We'll just have to wait and see what she does, but it does add to the big names skipping this event -- although there will be plenty who WILL be there.

Personally, I'm anxious to see how Laura Davies does after her dominating victory at the Senior Women's US Open.

You can check out the official website here. This link is for the LPGA's leaderboard for the event. And while the event starts in less than two-and-a-half hours from the time I'm writing this, GC's coverage begins at 9:30am ET today (Thursday), between their coverage windows for the Senior Open.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the Senior Open

It's the final major of the year for the old guys, the Senior Open, and of course I can't let it go by without making an effort to pick the winner. I had Molinari in my "5 to Watch" last week, so perhaps I can do at least that well this week.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer

The Senior Open will be played at St. Andrews this year, which should get the blood of all the seniors pumping! We should expect another hard and fast course, with around a 15mph wind (if current conditions hold). So let's get to it and make some picks.
  • Everybody has Bernhard Langer, the defending champion, as the favorite this week... and with good reason. Langer's 3-under finish at Carnoustie against the youngsters shows that he's in good form and ready for tough conditions. But did last week's challenge tire him too much to compete this week? I wouldn't bet on it, but it's possible.
  • Although he missed the cut at Carnoustie by a shot, I like the fact that Tom Lehman has already played some competitive links golf going into this week, plus he has a win this season. Add the wider fairways at St. Andrews to the mix and you could be looking at a good chance for Lehman to pick up this major.
  • Paul Broadhurst won this event back in 2016 -- at Carnoustie, ironically -- and has picked up another major this season (along with a 'regular' win), so he certainly knows how to get it done on the links. Like Langer, he's another player in good form entering this event.
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez has been playing pretty well all season, and he did win the Regions Tradition earlier this year. Worldwide, he's got a lot of Top10s this season. You know he'd like to add an Open to those figures.
  • And for my flier, I'm taking Brandel Chamblee. I know Brandel hasn't played competitively in a decade, but he did go through qualifying to play this event which means his game is in pretty good shape. The video footage I saw of his play in the qualifier looked solid as well, and -- as with Lehman -- I think the wider fairways at St. Andrews might give him some confidence.
I have to go with Langer, of course, simply because he has the scoring this season -- and especially last week -- to back him up. But I think Chamblee might place pretty well also. Since he doesn't have any competitive rounds under his belt, I think he may play more conservatively than the others... and that could help him play better than most expect.

The Champions Tour website says the coverage starts Thursday morning at 7am ET on GC.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Denis Pugh on More Consistent Ballstriking (Video)

Francesco Molinari just won the Open, so of course I have a video from his coach Denis Pugh. In this video Pugh is trying to help a player hit the ball more consistently.



Pugh wants -- as I do -- for you to learn how to turn without sliding. When you slide too much toward the target, you do all kinds of crazy things like change your spine angle, change your body position relative to your ball position, and throw your balance off. If you want more consistency, you need to stop that!

As you can see from the video, what Pugh tries to get this student to do is open his legs as he turns through the ball. (That's why he sticks the club shaft between his legs and holds it against the inside of his trailing thigh.) However, you can't hit balls with someone holding a club between your legs, but you can learn this move by using a drill.

Fortunately I have one for you. It's been on my blog for over seven years, and here's a link to it. It's called the Basketball Drill, and it's very simple. You hold a basketball between your knees, and you try to drop the ball during your downswing by moving your lead knee forward -- that gives you the hip opening move that you try to create when you slide -- while your trailing knee doesn't move so much. It minimizes lateral movement toward the target while still letting you unwind your hips as quickly as you can.

I think you'll find this drill actually lets you create more hip speed than the slide does because you don't waste energy pushing your body forward. But -- and this is important -- it DOES allow you to create a weight shift, which moves you toward the target a little but not enough to change your body's position relative to the ball. As a result, you get more consistent contact.

A simple but very effective drill. It may not turn you into Francesco Molinari (that's a matter of practice) but it will teach you the basics of a solid move into the ball.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 THE OPEN

Winner: Francesco Molinari

Around the wider world of golf: David Skinns won the Pinnacle Bank Championship on the Web.com Tour; Tyler McCumber won the Osprey Valley Open on the MacKenzie Tour; Yechun “Carl” Yuan -- an amateur! -- won the Qingdao Championship on the PGA Tour China; and Eun Jeong Seong won the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic on the Symetra Tour. The Barbasol Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate event, won't finish up until Monday morning; it's airing at 10am ET on GC.

Francesco Molinari with the Claret Jug

There are so many storylines we could talk about, concerning Tiger and Rory and Jordan and Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele -- just to name a few -- but that would be disrespectfully stupid. There's really only one story.

Francesco Molinari just made history, and he did it in a way that ought to put all of his critics to shame.

Over the weekend, on two days of dramatically different course conditions, Francesco posted two bogey-free rounds of 66-69. That's seven under par... and the winning score was only one shot lower than that. He's won three times (with two runner-ups) in his last six starts, during which he posted weekend scores of 66-68 at the BMW and 65-62 at the Quicken Loans... and he had a grand total of ONE bogey in all six of those weekend rounds.

That's just freaking unbelievable!

In the process, he become the first Italian golfer to win a pro major -- ANY pro major -- and will debut at #6 in the OWGR on Monday. He and his older brother Edoardo -- who won the 2005 US Amateur -- have also won the 2009 World Cup together and were on the victorious 2010 Euro Ryder Cup team. In essence, we watched the Molinaris become Italy's First Family of Golf with Francesco's win on Sunday.

Oh, and Francesco did it while playing in the maelstrom that is a Tiger Woods pairing. Tiger himself praised Francesco's play after the round, noting how he was even working his short game shots around the greens to leave himself easier putts.

All this is to say that we can't even begin to appreciate what Francesco has done yet. But although I am at a loss for words, that won't stop me from giving him the best bilingual Limerick Summary I can come up with.
Molto bene, Francesco—you won!
Turin, Italy’s favorite son
Just took down the best
With a swing that seemed blessed,
Going bogey-free under the gun.
The photo came from this page at PGATOUR.com.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Martin Hall's Swing Plane Drill (Video)

I think Martin has the name for this drill wrong. It's his Night School video from early June, which I think can be very useful to you... but I still think the name's wrong.



While Martin says this drill helps with your swing plane -- and it might help you get a more neutral swing plane, as opposed to an in-to-out or out-to-in plane -- I think its real value is in helping you get a fuller shoulder turn with your backswing and a fuller turn into your finish.

In order to get your lead arm to match that 45° backswing shaft, you have to get a good 90° shoulder turn on the way back. And to get your trailing arm to match that 45° finish position shaft, you need to get your upper body turning all the way through (belt buckle to the target, if you will) when you hit the ball.

Will that help your swing plane? Probably. But if it does, it's because getting your shoulders back and around so you "finish your backswing" and "swing to a full finish" primarily helps you get the ball on line better.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Zach Johnson on Controlling Pitches (Videos)

Since Zach Johnson is leading the Open at the time I'm writing this (between 2nd and 3rd rounds), I thought it would be fun to look at his pitching technique. I have two videos, one for a 40-yard shot and another for an 80-yard shot, to give you a better look at his technique.



Compare the similarities between the 40-yarder in the first video with the 80-yarder in the next one.



Note that Zach has a very flat, very "under the plane" swing. While I generally talk about one-piece takeaways, simply because most players don't swing as flat as Zach, his full swing is flat as well so he uses the same technique. The more similar you can make your short game and long game techniques, the more consistent you'll generally be.

Between the two videos, we can pick out these keys for a pitch shot:
  • Narrow stance, slightly open, a little more weight on the lead foot. (Zach says 60%-40%, but you don't have to be too exact about it.)
  • Ball is back in his narrow stance, just inside his trailing foot.
  • Zach doesn't use the "clock technique" -- that is, various length backswings with your hand positions described by clock hands (ie, eight o'clock) -- but goes entirely by feel.
That feel thing is the primary thing he does differently from most of the instructional books you'll find (including mine). He may make the same length swing on both of the shots in the videos, but vary the speed of his swing rather than the length. It's a method that requires more practice but may suit some of you better. Trust me, you'll know if it does!

And clearly it works well for Zach. Always go for the method that works best for you, not some supposedly "right" way of playing. We're each different, and we have to learn to play to our strengths if we hope to play well.

It will be interesting to see how Zach finishes this major. Tough conditions play into his hands, as witnessed by his two majors coming on tough courses in nasty conditions. One thing's for sure: if it comes down to a war of wedges, my money's on Zach.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Todd Sones and His Radical Putting Technique (Video)

I said it's radical, but I'm going to take it even farther and teach you what I do. GCA coach Todd Somes wants you to ignore your putter's swing path!



Somes says not to worry about your swing path, just think about where you want the ball to go. But I'm going to take it a step further...

Your putter's swing path doesn't matter!

I mean it. Seriously. Your putter's swing path doesn't matter at all. Here's why:

When your putter is one foot behind the ball, does it contact the ball at all? No. So it doesn't affect your ball there. Nor does it affect the ball from two feet back or six inches back. Which begs the question: Exactly when does the putterhead affect where the ball goes?

ANSWER: From just a fraction of an inch before contact until the ball is no longer touching the ball. That is no more than TWO INCHES, give or take a quarter inch.

Now consider the nature of a putter's stroke. No matter whether your putter travels forward and back in a straight line, or in a gentle arc around your body, there is a short section of that stroke where the putterhead is traveling in a straight line. That section might be as long as four to six inches, depending on your stroke, and the middle of that section is when the putter shaft is vertical.

Which means that, no matter what shape your putter stroke takes, the putterhead travels straight toward the hole in the middle of your stroke, and it does so for long enough to hit the ball on your chosen aim line. All you have to do is get the ball position correct and this will happen automatically, no matter how you swing the putter.

So the real question is... where should you position the ball?

ANSWER: Hold your putter in your normal putting grip and stance, and let your arms and hands hang down so the shaft is vertical. When you do, the shaft is pointing to your ball position. When you place the ball there and take your stance, your hands will be over the ball and the shaft will lean ever so slightly forward.

I've recommended this ball position several times in this blog. It's the simplest way to get a consistent ball position, which means you'll get a more consistent strike. Your stance may be square, open or closed; it just doesn't matter. As long as the ball is in the middle of that little straight section of your putting stroke, the ball will go down your aimline without any manipulation by you. You can focus on your speed.

It sounds too good to be true, I know. But I have a friend who used to be a PGA Tour caddie and, every time he sees me putt, he comments about how solid my six- and seven-foot putts are, and about how little time I take to putt them. That's because I KNOW that, as long as I can see my line, my ball will usually go where I want it to go. Nobody makes everything, but I make enough to feel confident when I stand over the ball. (And most of my misses are misreads. Nobody's perfect!)

Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but it IS true. This isn't rocket science, folks. Don't make your putting harder than it has to be. Ball position is the most important key to better putting. It really is that simple.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Peter Thompson on Hip Turn (Video)

The record for winning Open Championships is six, held by Harry Vardon. But four players are tied with five, one of whom is the late Peter Thompson. So it's appropriate to share some of his swing tips this week.



Since he made this his #1 tip, Thompson clearly felt that hip turn was a crucial part of the golf swing. It was a forgotten fundamental for a while. Players tried to keep their lower bodies almost locked in place, attempting to create more power in their swing. That back-wrecking maneuver is finally being replaced by common sense, but some teachers like Thompson never forgot it.

The keys to note here are that when Thompson's hips turn, the trailing hip actually moves toward the target, not straight back. This causes the trailing knee to straighten during the backswing and then stay pretty straight during the downswing. You often see it in the swings of legends like Arnold Palmer.

This move isn't for everybody -- not all players are comfortable straightening that trailing knee -- but why might you want to try it?

If you have a problem with a sway in your backswing, or if you tend to reverse pivot during your downswing, this more extreme hip turn might help you. Both of those faults happen because you move away from the target and shift too much weight onto your trailing leg during your swing. Thompson's turn forces you to brace that trailing leg, stopping any movement away from the target.

You might think that straightening your trailing knee would steal some power from your swing, but power players like Palmer prove that's not the case. So this is something you might want to try it you're fighting a sway or a reverse pivot. If you'll pardon the pun, winning five Opens certainly gives this tip some legs!

[UPDATE: Well, I guess the joke's on me. I got a note from SJ letting me know that this isn't the Peter Thompson I thought it was, but that it was a good tip nevertheless. I didn't realize I pulled up videos from BOTH Thompsons when I did my YouTube search.

At least it was a good tip. ;-)
]

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the Open

I dread picking just five players this week. The Open is, in my opinion, too wide open to limit the field that much. I can easily pick 15 players who deserve to be seriously considered as favorites.

18th hole at Carnoustie

Carnoustie has never been as hard and fast as it is this week, nor has the rough been so sparse. At least, not in anybody's memory. Nor is the weather expected to be much of a factor at this point. And that means short hitters don't have to worry about hitting long approach shots, and they don't have to worry how far the big hitters hit it. It may simply become a game of "miss the bunkers and make the putts," and that could make for a very interesting competiton.

All of which means that it's very hard to figure out which five players are most likely to win this week. But I'll soldier on and we'll see how I do.
  • Perhaps the hottest player in the field this week is Francesco Molinari. In his last four worldwide starts, Francesco has two wins and two runner-up finishes. As good as Francesco is with his irons, all he needs is for his putter to stay somewhat warm. If it does, he could be lifting the Claret Jug at week's end.
  • Alex Noren is coming off a win at the French Open, as well as a runner-up and two thirds in worldwide starts this season. Alex is a streaky player, and could be in the early stages of a new streak. He's also extremely aggressive, and Carnoustie could lend itself to exactly the kind of game he likes to play.
  • Nobody is talking much about Brooks Koepka. It's worth noting that they weren't talking about him at the US Open either, and we all know what happened there. It's also worth noting that Brooks finished 6th last year and 10th two years before (he didn't play the Open in 2016), and the time he spent on the European Tour includes several rounds at Carnoustie during the Dunhill Links.
  • Since the beginning of 2017 Brooks has the best score to par in majors... and Rickie Fowler is only one stroke behind him; both are pretty far ahead of third place. Rickie has played very well in the Open -- in fact, in all of the majors over the last year or so -- and he's won the Scottish Open before, so we know he's comfortable on a links.You have to think Rickie has a good chance, especially if the wind does get up over the weekend.
  • And my flier is... Tiger Woods. I know most wouldn't consider Tiger a flier at this point, but I've written at length about my belief that Tiger's nervous system still hasn't recovered from the trauma it's experienced over the last few years. He's only had seven months of tournament play, and I just don't think that's long enough for his nervous system to completely recover yet. Because of that, his playing is still inconsistent, and there's no telling when he'll heal completely. When he does, he'll probably make a dramatic improvement -- dramatic enough to win a major. It could be this week... but I simply don't know.
These aren't the only players I think can win, obviously, but I had to pick just five. However, I feel pretty sure that Koepka should be the runaway favorite, no matter who made my list. He knows he doesn't have to play his best to win, and he has more familiarity with Carnoustie than most of the players in the field.

Rickie is my sentimental fave, but Brooks just seems to be more ready to pick up major #3 this week. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

John Cook on Putting at a Links Course (Video)

Since the Open is this week, here's a Live from the Open clip from Monday, with John Cook demonstrating how to putt on a links course when the wind is blowing. This might help you on any windy course, though.



Cook's keys are simple:
  • Widen your stance.
  • Place the ball near the center of your body.
  • Grip down slightly on the grip.
  • Trust your eyes.
I think the "trust your eyes" advice is interesting, especially since -- after setting up with the ball more centered -- John appears to move his ball forward in his stance! Apparently what John sees in this lesson is a bit different than what he says.

This is pretty standard advice, don't you think? But I find Cook's ball position change to be the interesting bit here. No matter how much instruction you hear about how to do something, when it comes to putting, mechanics are no substitute for feel. It's important to make sure you feel comfortable over a putt. If that means you have to break the rules a bit, so be it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 John Deere Classic

Winner: Michael Kim

Around the wider world of golf: Some players won their events outright. Laura Davies crushed the field by ten strokes in the inaugural US Senior Women's Open; Brandon Stone tied the lowest round in ET history (60) to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open; Cameron Champ won the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour; Ben Griffin won the Staal Foundation Open on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Joseph Winslow won the Yantai Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Stephanie Kono won the Donald Ross Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Justin Harding won the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on the Asian Tour. But we also had a couple of playoffs, as Vijay Singh won his first senior major at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship on the Champions Tour; and Thidapa Suwannapura became only the third Thai to win on the LPGA at the Marathon Classic.

Michael Kim with Deere trophy

Illinois was the place for blowouts on Sunday. Laura Davies won the US Senior Women's Open by ten shots, and Michael Kim won the John Deere by eight. What was going on in the Midwestern US, anyway?

Of the two, Kim's was clearly the biggest surprise. Laura has been playing well all season, just not this well. But Kim's game had been... well, nonexistent. Nobody saw this coming, not even him. He had changed coaches less than a month ago, just to get a new set of eyes on his game.

The changes have been quick and decisive.

Kim celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday with his second 64 in as many days (after a 63 on the first day of the event). He couldn't even sleep on Saturday night, but apparently he no longer needs sleep. After three birdies on his first three holes Sunday, it wasn't even a competition anymore.

Not that Kim is complaining.

He said that he felt a bit left out after his fellow members of the "Class of 2011" -- the guys he beat in college -- came out and started tearing up the Tour. You know, guys like Thomas, Spieth, Berger and Schauffele. He's not left out anymore. He got all the perks that come with a victory -- a huge leap in FedExCup points, a full exemption on the Tour, more money than he can fit in his pockets, and exemptions. Oh yes, exemptions -- like the one in next week's Open.

It'll be fun to see what Michael Kim can do going forward. If he's really found the glitch in his swing that was holding him back, he could run up some serious wins like he did in college. But regardless of what the next few weeks hold, he can at least say he picked up a Limerick Summary. What else really matters?
Sixty-three, sixty-four, sixty-four—
But the Birthday Boy had more in store!
Lightning caught in a jar
Sent Kim way under par…
Then he flew to Carnoustie for more!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Laura Davies on Long Drives (Video)

Since Laura Davies is leading the US Senior Women's Open by five shots going into the final round, this video seemed appropriate. It's from the GCA show featuring Laura with Martin Hall.



Now, you can get all the details of how Laura hits the long ball off the tee just by watching the video -- and I'll be honest, Laura uses some keys that I wouldn't teach because I think they lead to inconsistency -- but they work for her, so you can certainly learn from them. They aren't what I want to focus on in this post.

Instead, I'm calling your attention to how Laura isn't sure about calling her grip a 'strong' grip. She says she thinks that's what it's called, but that "she doesn't follow all that sort of thing." However, that doesn't mean she doesn't know what she's doing. She knows exactly how to set her hands on the club -- that IS the entire point of what she's saying.

Bubba is the same way. He says he doesn't know what he's doing, but he means he doesn't know the terminology to explain what he's doing. If he really didn't know what he was doing, he wouldn't be able to maintain his swing at the level he does, for as long as he has, without a teacher.

What is important for a player to know? It isn't terminology, and it isn't being able to teach others. What matters is that you know what YOU need to do in order to get the results you want. It doesn't matter if other people agree with you or not, as long as you know that it works for you.

That's the biggest thing I believe you can learn from Laura: Do what works for you. And if that puts you in position to win big -- like Laura might do today at the inaugural US Senior Women's Open -- then you get the last laugh. And I'm all for that!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Don't Forget the US Senior Women's Open on FOXSports1 Today

It's only a couple of hours coverage today, starting at 4pm ET, but this inaugural event is shaping up to be pretty good.

Trish Johnson and Laura Davies

You can keep check on the scores at the official USGA website. Of course, I'm a bit excited because of how my picks in my "5 to Watch" post from earlier in the week are doing. While Suzy Whaley missed the cut and my sentimental favorite, Pat Bradley, currently sits at T37, my other three picks -- Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Trish Johnson are T1, 2 and T1 respectively.

That's right, three of my picks hold the Top3 spots. I know it's only been two rounds, but it's rare for me to do THAT well.

As I said, I just wanted to remind you about the TV coverage this weekend. With only two hours each today and Sunday, you don't want to miss it.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Alex Nicolson on Making a Target-Oriented Swing (Video)

While Bryson DeChambeau's shoulder is the big news from Thursday, we don't have any real details on the severity of his injury yet. So I decided to post another teaching video instead. This is an older Golf Monthly video featuring teaching pro Alex Nicolson, who demonstrates a couple of drills to help you smooth out your swing by being more target-oriented.



The second drill is simply a club-throwing drill. I'll leave that one to your imagination, if you need help throwing clubs! Instead, we'll focus on the first drill, which is quite interesting.

In order to make your actual swing more closely match your practice swing, Nicolson recommends hitting shots with your eyes closed!

Yeah, that was my reaction as well. But if you can find a place on the range where you aren't afraid you'll hit someone, there's a lot of value to this suggested drill.

If you focus on a mental picture of your target, you'll be forced to think more about hitting to the target and less about actual ball contact. (Sort of like putting with your eyes closed.) And if you can't see when you're about to strike the ball, you're less likely to tense up and ruin the rhythm and sequence of your swing.

I would advise teeing the ball up so you don't worry about hitting the ground so much, and also starting with a half-swing or even less, to build your confidence that you can actually hit the ball with your eyes closed.

While it is a bit odd-sounding, this drill might actually help smooth out your swing. Anything that helps you gain confidence in your ability to hit the ball solidly should do that, because tension can usually be traced to the fear that you won't. If you struggle with a belief in your swing, it's worth a try.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Martin Hall on Drawing a Wedge (Video)

Here's a technique I haven't posted before, so you can thank Martin Hall for this one. Here's Martin demonstrating how to hit a draw with a wedge.



Most of this sounds like typical instruction for playing a draw with any club. I'll use Martin's description, which is for a righthander, and I'll put the lefthander's version in brackets:
  • Aim the clubface at the spot where you want the ball to finish.
  • Aim your body to the right [left] of your target.
  • Twist your forearms as you hit the ball and follow through to close the face. Martin uses a bucket to demonstrate the motion.
I admit that I don't care for all that twisting. While there are times where extra forearm action is needed -- hooking the ball sharply around a tree comes to mind -- you'd generally like to keep your forearms as quiet as possible. However, hooking a wedge is difficult, so I can see where you might need some extra "stuff" to make the wedge shot hook. (I'll have to try it myself and see, when I get a chance. It clearly worked for Bubba at Augusta!)

However, here's an extra key thought that you may never have heard before, and it might help you when you need to draw the ball with other clubs as well. Martin says you want to keep your trailing shoulder high, which may be a bit misleading. It's more like you avoid dropping your shoulder as much as you normally would. (After all, your trail hand is lower on the grip than your lead hand, so obviously your trail shoulder has to be a bit lower than your lead shoulder -- and it will be unless you do something strange. If you do something strange, you'll probably pull the shot as well as hook it... and that's not good.)

Anyway, this is a good thing to remember when you absolutely have to hit a draw with any club, but especially a wedge. Feel as if you're making a level shoulder turn and that should help you get that extra curve you need. The ball should fly lower and hit the green with a lot of spin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the US Senior Women's Open

Well, it's about time, isn't it? And since the USGA finally gave the older gals a major of their own, I'm going to make some picks. Welcome to the US Senior Women's Open!

Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley

The US Senior Women's Open will be held at the Chicago Golf Club -- one of the five founding clubs of the USGA, in case you didn't know -- which will be playing at 6082 yards and a par of 73. There's all kinds of info you can get about the event from this USGA fact sheet, especially concerning the course, its setup and history.

I also want to link you to this great article by Beth Ann Nichols about time she spent with Pat Bradley, who will be playing in this event. The official website is this page at the USGA site, which has all kinds of links to the field. And by letting those articles give you the info you need, I can focus on my "5 to Watch" picks.

True, I often say that it's hard to pick winners for various reasons, but it's rare that I can point to a relative lack of playing time. It's true that there's a Legends Tour, but many of these players haven't played competitively for years. It's enough of an issue that the USGA has admitted they're more or less guessing at how to set the course to make an event that's competitive but not overly difficult. I doubt that will be as much of a problem in future years, but it's a reality for the 2018 edition.

Nevertheless, I have found five ladies who I believe have a serious shot at this title.
  • Laura Davies is still playing on the LPGA, so I think she has a real advantage in this inaugural event. Laura's game is not only sharper than many of the other players, but she still has a lot of her length off the tee. (That's just a function of continued competitive play.) And given the form she's shown this year, she has to make my favorites list.
  • The same is true of Juli Inkster, who, while she's playing a more restricted schedule these days, is still an active LPGA member. There is simply no substitute for competitive play, and even a limited schedule with the youngsters has to be good for them.
  • Trish Johnson is not only still active on the LET, but she's a multiple winner on the LPGA Legends Tour -- in fact, she won only a month ago! She too is in good form for this event.
  • Suzy Whaley, the first female officer of the PGA and soon to be the next PGA president, has played against the male pros before and is still very young for this event -- a mere child of 51, thank you very much. Still very active in the game, I think she also comes in with some confidence.
  • And my flier is Pat Bradley. To the best of my knowledge, Pat isn't playing the Legends Tour anymore. But if her nephew, PGA Tour player Keegan Bradley, can be trusted, her mind is as sharp as ever... and her competitive spirit as well. On a 6000-yard track, I can see her making a run at this thing.
My pick -- perhaps a sentimental one, but I don't care -- is Pat Bradley. I've seen her play some with the men on the Champions Tour, and she has more than held her own. I think she'll surprise a few fans this week, and perhaps more than a few of the competitors!

Actually, I believe quite of number of the ladies are in good enough form to take this event. The Legends Tour boasts more than 120 members, so I suspect this event will be much more competitive than many people expect.

The real bummer here is the minimal TV coverage the event is going to get. However, FOXSports1 will provide at least four hours of coverage on Saturday and Sunday, from 4-6pm ET. How can you miss a historic event like this?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the SENIOR PLAYERS

We've got two majors this week, so let's get to it with the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS on the Champions Tour.

Defending champion Scott McCarron

The event is being played at Exmoor Country Club near Chicago, and the defending champion is Scott McCarron. I should note that Bernhard Langer won the three editions of the event before that (2014-2016). so he has been a dominant figure at this event.

Having said that -- and noting as well that Langer is in fourth place in the Schwab Cup, only $300k behind leader David Toms -- I don't feel there's a clear-cut favorite in this major. Of the Top10 in the Cup race, only Paul Broadhurst (in fifth place) has more than one win this season. That hardly makes anyone a betting favorite.
  • However, Paul Broadhurst's two wins include one of the Champions Tour majors, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. He's only $5k behind Langer, in fifth place. And with the Bass Pro Shop tournament also in his pocket, as well as a T5 at the US Senior Open, I have to put him in my "5" again.
  • I won't pick Steve Stricker again -- I checked, he's playing the Deere this week -- but I think I'm going for his Wisconsin buddy, Jerry Kelly. Kelly has 9 Top10s in 13 starts and one win, with a T8, T3 and T2 in the previous three majors this year. I figure he's due.
  • Miguel Angel Jiménez has the best record of anyone in majors this year; he's 1, 5 and T2 so far. It's hard to bet against him since he, like Stricker, continues to play strongly against the young players on the "big" tours.
  • David Toms has been quietly improving this year. He leads the Schwab Cup by only $12k over Jerry Kelly, who doesn't have a major like Toms. But he does have 8 Top10s in 13 starts, and has improved in each major he's played this season. (Yes, he won the last one.) Perhaps he's figured out how it's done on the Champions Tour and can grab another major.
  • And my flier pick... hmmm, who's flying under the radar? Ah, Colin Montgomerie. He has no wins this season and only 3 Top10s. Thing is, two of them -- T6 and T3 -- came in his last three events, the first being the Senior PGA. Perhaps Colin has finally found his stride this season...
So my winning pick is... Jerry Kelly. I can't help but think he's due, and this major will be up in his area of the country. I know that's no guarantee that he'll play well, but I can't shake the feeling that he'll win a major this year... and he's running out of majors! Let's see what he can do at this one.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Greenbrier

Winner: Kevin Na

Around the wider world of golf: Sei Young Kim crushed the LPGA's all-time tournament scoring record (which she and Annika held) with a -31 at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Russell Knox sank the same 40-foot birdie putt TWICE to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the ET; Nelson Ledesma won the LECOM Health Challenge on the Web.com Tour; Mark Anguiano won the Windsor Championship on the MacKenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; Brad Kennedy won the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; John Catlin won the Sarawak Championship on the Asian Tour; and the US Team successfully defended their title at the Palmer Cup.

Kevin Na with the Greenbrier trophy and jacket

Okay, first of all: I know the tournament is now officially called A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. But that was just too long for the blog title.

And second, I don't care how silly it sounds, it seems like I've been waiting forever to post this:



Yes, I think it's appropriate. On a Sunday when all kinds of records were set by players going crazy with their putters, Kevin Na sank over 142 feet of putts -- double the Tour average for a round -- to pick up his second PGA Tour win. This song has become a legendary sports celebration song, and if anybody deserves this particular song, it's Kevin.

I can't help myself. I absolutely love Kevin Na. He's dealt with any number of technical problems and come out on top. When he's gone through a particularly bad stretch -- remember when he set the PGA Tour record for high score on a single hole (16)? -- he's had a sense of humor about it. (He not only talked about it after the round, but let GC film his revenge with a chainsaw.) And he's given us more good-natured entertainment (like the recent exchange between him and his longtime caddie) than most players.

It makes me feel good to see him pick up his second win. It was emotional for him, as you know if you saw his interview with Amanda Balionis right after he won -- and coming right after the news that he'd made the Open this year, it just seemed like life was fair this weekend.

I won't go on about it. Just play the video, dance around a bit, and know that Kevin will probably hear it quite a bit this week as he and his friends celebrate. As for me... well, the video even made itself felt in his Limerick Summary. Way to go, Kevin!
For seven years Kevin asked “Why?”
But Sunday his spirits were high!
He started one back
But then broke from the pack
And with 64, kissed ‘em goodbye.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Cindy Miller on a Relaxed Lead Arm (Video)

This older video from LPGA instructor Cindy Miller kind of goes along with yesterday's post about topping... but it approaches the problem of poor ball contact from the "other side" of the swing -- the upper body, rather than the lower body.



Cindy is attacking the myth that you need to keep your lead arm straight during your swing. Now, we're not talking about bending your lead elbow at a 90° angle at the top of your backswing. (Although some players do learn to play well that way. If you do, you know it.) Rather, we're talking about trying to keep your lead arm dead straight throughout your swing.

I've mentioned this "ramrod striaght" myth many times when talking about the one-piece takeaway. You don't want your lead arm stiff -- it should be relaxed and will flex slightly as you swing to the top of your swing, then return to its address position as you make your downswing. This is a natural movement for your arm -- you do it all the time when you make any kind of sweeping motion with your arm. You want to just let it happen when you swing the club as well.

In this video Cindy mentions two problems that keeping your lead arm stiff will cause. First, it can cause you to "stand up" during your backswing, just as Andrew Reynolds mentioned yesterday in that post. Stiff arms cause you to lift up and straighten up -- but this time, you overcorrect on your way down and stick the clubhead in the ground. Can you say fat shot?

The second thing this move does is cause you to open the clubface on the way back, then you leave it open on the way down. That's because a stiff lead arm won't drop back down into your normal address position, which means your arms don't rotate back to their address position where the face was square.

Ironically, you can do this upper body lifting and yesterday's lower body "push up" at the same time. What happens? Depending on which one you exaggerate, you might hit the ball fat or thin, without any apparent logic. And if you do hit the ball, the combination will likely create an over-the-top swing with an open clubface, creating that nasty banana ball we all hate.

So hopefully this week's series of posts will help you understand how excess movement in your swing -- created by trying to reach for a bigger turn than is natural for your flexibility -- can create poor contact and unwanted ball flights. So many of these problems, both with your upper body and your lower body, are caused by unnecessary tension in your arms and legs.

Maybe I'll try to post some relaxation drills next week. Learning to relax isn't hard, but a little encouragement can't hurt!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Andrew Reynolds on How to Stop Topping the Ball (Video)

This is a simple tip to improve the consistency of your impact from coach Andrew Reynolds for Golf Monthly. It's short but important.



I know this tip may sound childish at first, but it's about the logic of your golf swing... and most people never stop to reason out why the ball behaves the way it does. Let's look at it -- from a logical standpoint -- for a moment.

So many golfers believe they can stop topping the ball if they just keep their head down. As a result, they try all sorts of things to keep their heads from moving during the swing, including squatting more at address (which Reynolds mentions here) and ducking their heads on the downswing.

But topping is most often caused by raising not just your head, but your entire upper body. And that happens because you straighten your legs during your downswing. THAT is what most players refer to as "using the ground." But -- and I have written about this before, most recently a week ago -- pushing up with BOTH legs is incorrect technique. Only your lead legs pushes up when you use the ground.

In this video Reynolds offers a simple way to minimize this problem: Just stand taller at address. The logic here is simple -- if your knees are already mostly straight, and if your spine is more erect when you begin your swing, only your lead knee will bend more during your backswing. And on your downswing, straightening your lead knee will cause your body to rotate more freely while your trailing knee will be forced to bend in reaction to that turn.

And that will make the clubhead strike downward as it approaches the ball. No more topping!

Don't be quick to write this short video off as being too simplistic. It's actually a very easy way to use natural body motions to create a more consistent strike. And when you can make the correct motion happen automatically, your game will improve naturally.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Gary Player on Being Yourself

Today I have a short quote from Gary Player's book, Don't Choke.
Make your plan and stick to it. It's when you move away from your plan that doubt creeps in. And that's when the seeds of choking are sown.

It's so easy to get sidetracked from what you have set out to do. There are so many factors pulling our minds in different directions every single moment of every day. It can be the challenges of juggling a family with your career aspirations. It can be work colleagues feeding you negative thoughts. It can even be your boss, whose own indecision influences your strategy on a particular project.

But trust yourself. After all, that's why you are in the position you are and get paid what you are paid. You are there because somebody believes in your ability to make good decisions. So believe in yourself.

Once you have considered all the necessary information, make your plan and stick to it. [p130]
Granted, Player is talking in terms of job expectations here. But the sentiment seems to fit life in general, don't you think?

Most of us second-guess ourselves on a regular basis. And we don't necessarily feel equipped to deal with many of the problems we face each day. But much of our doubt doesn't come from lack of knowledge, but from fear of what others may say or simply because we think we have to be perfect. (That's a huge problem in learning to play golf for many people as well.)

However, life isn't about being perfect. Nobody is perfect. And most of us worry about things that will never happen. As Player says, once we've considered the necessary information -- the things we need to know -- the best thing to do is make a plan and stick to it. As long as you're willing to adjust when the situation demands it, you'll probably do just fine.

After all, the people who are successful in their endeavors are generally the people who actually DO something. And Gary Player is certainly someone who knows about that.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Why You Shouldn't Always Copy the Pros (Video)

In this short video from Wednesday's Morning Drive, GOLFTEC instructor Patrick Nuber shows the difference between the ways pros and amateurs use their wrists during their swing. It might convince you that the L-to-L drill isn't something you should use... but you'd be wrong. I want to show you why copying the pros isn't always a good thing, and how "the numbers" don't always tell the whole story.



The L-to-L drill gives you the same result during the backswing that his video diagrams show. There's no conflict there.

At around the 2:20 mark Nuber shows the difference between how pros and amateurs' wrists behave as they move up to the finish. His numbers show that the amateurs bend their wrists upward much more at the halfway up point. That's the position you'll get if you use the L-to-L drill. Nuber says the pros keep their wrists much straighter at the halfway point, and that this creates more clubhead speed.

There's a lot that he doesn't say here. Let me explain some of it to you.
  • First off, bear in mind that Nuber's diagrams are taken from a full swing, not the half swing that you use in the L-to-L drill. I don't care how strong they are, no pro will make a full-speed half swing and stop with the shaft at the angle in his diagram.
  • Here's something important that you can see in the diagrams. If you look closely at the two figures -- not at the wrists, but at the upper bodies of the figures -- you'll see that the pro figure has turned his chest toward the target far more than the amateur figure. If the upper body position isn't clear to you, just look at the legs and hips -- it's VERY noticeable there. That means that the amateur figure has stopped turning, so the arms have slowed down and the wrists HAVE to bend upward. THAT'S the cause, the reason the amateur loses clubhead speed, not the wrist bend. The extra wrist bend is merely the result of his body slowing down too early.
  • Here's a corollary to the last point: If you keep turning your body as you swing into the finish, your wrists won't bend upward until much later in the followthrough. In other words, the pro arm position Nuber shows will happen automatically if you turn properly.
  • Did you notice that Nuber says the lesser wrist bend causes the ball to fly lower? Most amateurs are struggling to hit the ball higher and get more spin on wedge shots. The last thing they need is to consciously try and hit the ball lower. They should focus on creating as much clubhead speed as possible before they start trying to hit the ball lower.
  • Finally, think about your short game. When you want to hit the ball lower AND SHORTER, you cut off the finish -- exactly what his "point the shaft" drill teaches you. If you want to increase your distance, this isn't the way to do it.
Understand what I'm saying here. It's not that Nuber is wrong about what the numbers say. Rather, it's a misrepresentation of what the numbers mean, a misrepresentation that happens in any discipline when you become too enamored with the numbers. Trying to duplicate measurements taken from the middle of a motion without duplicating the entire motion will not give you the results you expect.

This is one of the great problems with our reliance on numbers. Numbers may not lie, but numbers mean nothing until they are interpreted... and interpretations lie all the time. Don't try to duplicate numbers. Focus instead on learning to play golf, and in time the numbers will take care of themselves.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July! (Disney Fireworks Display Video)

I know the 4th of July isn't celebrated all over the world, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the fireworks. This is the 2017 display from DisneyWorld -- over 14 minutes of fireworks. Enjoy!



Just for the record, Disney does a big fireworks display almost every night at Magic Kingdom. Still, there's something special to us Americans when it's an Independence Day celebration.

And in the same vein, let me offer early wishes for a great Bastille Day (July 14th) celebration to my readers in France. Over there, it's called either "la Fête nationale" or "le 14 Juillet." I hope you have a great one, whichever you prefer to call it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Josh Kaufman on Learning the Basics of Any Skill (Repost Video)

I'm afraid many of you missed this video because it was tacked on to the end of Sunday's post. It fit there but it can help you in so many ways besides golf, so I'm reposting it today.

Josh Kaufman is author of The Personal MBA, among other books.



Here's the quick summary of the video as posted by QuickTalks (from the video comments). I can't say it any better:

Summary: Just 20 hours is enough to become “reasonably good” at any skill.

  1. Deconstruct the skill - Break the skill down into its most basic parts. Which parts are necessary for hitting the goal you have? (i.e. if your goal is to sing a song in Korean, you can primarily focus on pronunciation, not learning a bunch of vocabulary)
  2. Learn enough to self correct - Learn enough to realize when you're making mistakes.
  3. Remove barriers to practice - Turn off your phone, unplug the TV. Put your guitar, piano, language book in the middle of your room, not behind your stack of dirty laundry.
  4. Practice for at least 20 hours - Commit to 20 hours from the start. You're going to be frustrated at times, so committing beforehand will help you push through the frustration.
Spend some time with this video, folks. It will not only help your golf, it will help you learn all sorts of things that you may wanted to learn but believed the task would be too much for you. It's an excellent video.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Quicken Loans National

Winner: Francesco Molinari

Around the wider world of golf: David Toms got his first Champions Tour major at the US Senior Open; Sung Hyun Park got her second LPGA major at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Muni He won the Prasco Charity Championship on the Symetra Tour; Anders Albertson won the Lincoln Land Championship on the Web.com Tour; Alex Noren won the HNA Open de France on the ET; Chan Kim defended his title at the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; and Jazz Janewattananond won the Queen's Cup on the Asian Tour. [UPDATE: I forgot to add Leonie Harm's win at the Ladies' British Amateur. Can't forget that!]

Francesco Molinari holds the Guicken Loans trophy

If you were unfamiliar with Francesco Molinari before this past week... well, you better get real familiar, real fast.

I remember being very impressed with Francesco the first time I saw him play, which was back in November 2010. In fact, I was so impressed that I mentioned him in three consecutive posts -- one with a Limerick Summary for his second individual European Tour win at the 2010 WGC-HSBC Champions, a "Player to Watch" mention in a Ruthless Golf World Rankings post, and a look at his golf swing in a post called Francesco is Italian for "I Piped It Again." He showed great shotmaking prowess even then.

Francesco's career has been somewhat hit-or-miss over the years though. Interestingly enough, he has tended to win ET events every two to four years -- 2006, 2010, 2012, 2016, and 2018. (He also had two non-ET wins in 2009.) But 2018 has been different, as he has two "big tournament wins" within a month of each other -- the BMW PGA, which is the ET's equivalent of THE PLAYERS, and now the Quicken Loans National, his first PGA Tour win. And both have been dominant wins -- he chased down Rory at the BMW and he won by eight strokes (and set some tournament scoring records along the way) at the Quicken Loans.

To what does he owe this sudden improvement in his play? There are two things. First, he has greatly improved his strength and flexibility, resulting in a much smoother and more powerful swing. Coupled with his already impressive shotmaking ability, that has lifted his game a few notches.

But he's always been a shotmaker. It's his newfound success with the putter that has made the biggest difference. He's always had plenty of birdie opportunities, but now he's taking advantage of them -- and, as a result, of the rest of the field. Poor unfortunate fellows!

Francesco gained a lot this week. He's going to move up in the world rankings; he pretty much locked up a couple of weeks in the FedExCup Playoffs, which he said was the main reason he played in the Quicken Loans rather than the French Open (which is held at the venue for this year's Ryder Cup); and he pretty much locked up a spot on said Ryder Cup team with his play. But we all know what he REALLY cared about... so here's your Limerick Summary, champ.
If Francesco’s career has seemed static,
It’s because his short game’s been erratic.
Now he’s putting lights-out—
And he’s left us no doubt
That his Ryder Cup team is ecstatic!
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Jim Flick on Execution VS Understanding (Plus a Video)

This post is about more than golf. That's why it's so long. But if you stick with me till the end, you might be surprised at what sort of new "tools" are at your command.

The late Jim Flick worked with a lot of amateur players as well as pros. In fact, he and Jack Nicklaus ran golf schools together. So why was he so successful as a teacher?

This short section comes from his book On Golf, and it sums up why so many people struggle to get better at the game.

DON'T CONFUSE THE INABILITY TO EXECUTE
WITH THE INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND

Every now and then, someone in a school session will say, "Well, I don't understand that."

My usual answer, unless I'm having a bad day and realize I'm being particularly obtuse, is what Peter Kostis, an old colleague of the Golf Digest schools, used to say: "Don't confuse the inability to execute with the inability to understand."

And I go on: "You understand the material very well. Right now you haven't done it often enough that you can execute it. So don't try to get more material. Spend more time on execution."

I'm not trying to be harsh. I'm trying to be realistic. You learn golf the way you learn everything else: step by step. Get too much all at once and you break down from information overload.

Let's say you're a grown-up and you decide to study French. Do you go to school for a semester and then one day wake up speaking the language perfectly? No! You practice, you absorb, you learn in stages. Golf is exactly like learning a language: there's a huge gap between intellectual understanding and physical feel. You bridge that gap with repeated execution. In other words, practice. [p44]
You don't have to learn everything about golf all at once. You don't have to learn to hit the ball both long and straight at the same time. You don't have to learn to hit both fades and draws all at once. You don't have to learn to hit both high and low shots right from the start.

Pick one basic skill. Find a drill or two that will help you get better at that skill. And then work on that skill. You'll get better.

When you go out to play a round of golf, use that skill as much as you can. Did your ball end up in a very tight lie but you can't hit the ball well enough yet to go at the green? Then don't try. Use your putter to advance the ball into a lie you can hit from, even if that's just ten feet away. Or don't try to hit it at all -- pick it up, carry to a spot you CAN hit from, and hit the ball from there.

Don't worry about your score. Just get better at that skill.

Or, to put it in Flick's language example, if you're learning basic words, you don't worry about creating syntactically correct sentences. You just focus on making your limited vocabulary understood. You use gestures -- like pointing at signs or acting things out -- to get your point across, and you don't worry about what you don't know.

THAT'S a good way to approach your golf game. And realize that the sooner you get this one skill down, the sooner you can start working on the next one and the quicker your game will get better.

In other words, folks, be patient with yourselves.

Unlike other posts I do with videos, this one doesn't have a golf instruction video. Rather, it's a video about how to learn new skills. I think it might be eye-opening for you.

I know you've heard people say you have to do a thing for 10,000 hours -- roughly five years of 40-hour workweeks -- to become an expert at it. BUT HERE'S THE TRICK: You don't have to become an expert at something to be very good at it, and you don't need 10,000 hours to become skilled. This video from Josh Kaufman shows why it only takes 20 hours to start developing a sound skill base in a new area. The key is to focus on the important skills at the start.

This video really opened my eyes when I saw it -- primarily because I realized that I had picked up a large number of skills in my life by doing exactly what he says!



So try approaching your golf -- and anything else you want to learn -- using Kaufman's mindset. And since I've been harping on it all week, let me suggest you begin this approach using the L-to-L swing drill as a starting place. It's easy to grasp and it builds basic skills you use in pretty much every part of your game.

And if you try to learn other things by using this mental approach, you might do more than just improve your golf. It might lead you in all kinds of exciting directions!