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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

How to Lose Fewer Balls Than Eddie Pepperell

Today I've just got a link to a new article over at golftipsmag.com called Eddie Pepperell Could Use These Tips.

Eddie Pepperell

By now everybody knows about Eddie's DQ at the Turkish Airlines Open when he lost all his golf balls on the fourth hole. So why link this article?

Simply because it links to three other articles at golftipsmag.com that contain tips on how to keep your ball in play. The variety of ideas in those articles may give you some new things to practice, things that will help you hit it straighter...

And help you minimize the number of balls you need for one round of golf. With the price of golf balls these days, we can all use a little help!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Andrew Reynolds on Not Topping Your Drives (Video)

This is a dreadfully simple tip but we often forget logic when we try to kill a drive.



"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." You've heard that often enough, right?

But when we get obsessed with 'using the ground' it's very easy to squat down too much... and when we squat too much at address, we're going to stand up at impact. (That's your equal and opposite reaction.) More times than not, that will result in a thin hit.

Teeing the ball up -- which you should do anyway -- and standing taller at address is the logical way to prevent this. When you stand tall, you'll either keep your height or perhaps move down just a little. (Again, that's your equal and opposite reaction.) With the proper address position, either of those should result in a more solid hit.

A simple tip that should be common sense, I know. But it never hurts to be reminded of simple things because those are the things we most often forget.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Are 'Hook Putts' Really Easier to Make? (Video)

This GC video from Billy Kratzert and Notah Begay III tries to explain the science behind the belief that players make more putts that curve around them than putts that curve away from them. It's roughly 5.5 minutes long. However, I'm not sure it's completely successful. Take a look:



For many of you, that circle with the percentages is confusing. Let me try to help. If you imagine a flat green with an axis that runs through the 9 and 3 o'clock positions, the 12 o'clock position is the high side and the 6 o'clock position is the low side.

Remember, they're talking about righthanders here. For a leftie on the same slope (12 o'clock high), the percentages would be flipped. In other words, for a leftie, the 1 o'clock and 11 o'clock percentages would flip, the 2 and 10 percentages, and so on. But I'll just use the circle as you see it in the video and discuss it as a rightie.

If you look at the circle, you'll see an interesting contradiction. Regardless of which way the putt curves, the putts directly on either side of the hole (between 2 and 3 o'clock and between 10 and 8 o'clock) are almost equally hard to make. Conversely, the second-easiest putt is the one from 12 o'clock, the one going straight downhill:
  1. 48.2% is at 5 o'clock
  2. 47.1% is at 12 o'clock
  3. 46.2% is at 7 o'clock
  4. 40.9% is at 4 o'clock
  5. 40.1% is at 6 o'clock
All of the putts between 4 and 7 o'clock are high-percentage shots, better than 40%. So it would appear that not all slice putts are so hard to make. Take some time to study that circle and I think you'll find that some of the slice putts are pretty high-percentage.

It seems to me that Notah has a more helpful tip in the last minute or so of the video. He says the problem seems to be more about the toe of the putter being raised too high on the slice putts. (Hey, we all know that some good players routinely putt with the toe in the air. We'll ignore that for now.) The key, based on what Notah says, is to make sure the sole of the putter rests flat against the slope of the green.

And yes, I know that Notah misses the slice putt he attempts around the 4:45 mark... but if you look closely, you'll also see that he has the toe raised. That's the very thing he says you shouldn't do!

So what do I think you should learn from this video?
  • Slice putts aren't necessarily harder to make than hook putts. Rather, the straighter the putt is -- and the more uphill it is, regardless of whether it's a slice or a hook putt -- the easier that putt will be to make. (Duh!)
  • If you want to make a higher percentage of slice putts, make sure you sole the putter on the green the same way for all putts.
Simple ideas, but putting well is usually about simple things. Remember that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lee Westwood on Winning at 45 (Video)

Today I've got a link for you. When Lee Westwood relives his win at last year's Nedbank Golf Challenge, he also lays out a strategy for weekend players trying to play their best golf.

Defending champion Lee Westwood

The video is called Longevity, and it's appropriately named. Last year's win was Lee's third at Sun City, and his observations on how a 45-year-old won against an elite field are useful. He talks about focusing on your strengths and recognizing how they fit the course you're playing, and about how sometimes you have to attack a course by recognizing where and when to play away from the hole. It's a great player remembering how he did what he knows how to do... and how it was good enough, even when most thought him too old to really compete.

The video is around 12 minutes long and worth listening to, just to hear Lee's version of a dominating performance that broke a three-year winning drought. I know I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Mayakoba Golf Classic

While the Southeast US braces for a wintry blast, Twofer Tuesday flees to the balmy waters of Mayakoba... and the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Defending champion Matt Kuchar

The El Camaleón Golf Club at Mayakoba Resort has more in its favor than just great weather, however. Straight hitters are not penalized here. In fact, they are rewarded by the course because the less you have to scramble, the better your chances of winning.

Then again, you can make a great argument that just being in Mayakoba is a win. But I digress...

Last year was Matt Kuchar's time to shine as he broke a 4.5 year drought. That win launched him into one of the best years of his career, and it could very well happen to a similar player this year. The 7017-yard, par-71 course is exactly the kind of track you want to play as you enter the holiday season, likely with your family in tow for a nice year-end vacation.

So who might come out on top this year?
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Viktor Hovland once again. While he hasn't quite put it all together yet, he continues to play solid golf and rack up those Top25s. It's easy to forget he's only played eight PGA Tour events since turning pro... and five of those are Top25s, with two being Top10s! Mayakoba was his first pro event as an amateur and he missed the cut, but he's not the same player now. It's just a matter of time...
  • And my pick to win is Scottie Scheffler. I've taken Scottie to win several times this year and he's let me down each time -- I seem to pick him on his off weeks. But he's been playing well since getting his Tour card back this season, with a T3, T7 and T16 in five events. Maybe I'll catch him on form this time.
GC's live coverage begins Wednesday at 1pm ET. If the nasty weather that's predicted hits us this week, it'll be nice to at least see some warm weather.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Turkish Airlines Open

Winner: Tyrrell Hatton

Around the wider world of golf: Jeff Maggert won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the Champions Tour, but Scott McCarron picked up the Charles Schwab Cup itself; Ai Suzuki won the TOTO Japan Classic on the LPGA; Puma Domínguez (what a cool name!) won the Neuquén Argentina Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Ho-Sung Choi won the HEIWA PGM Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; and John Catlin won the Thailand Open on the Asian Tour.

Tyrrell Hatton with Turkish Airlines trophy

Not a bad week for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Bernd Wiesberger (49) to win and Kurt Kitiyam (T2) to Top10, and Kurt very nearly won the thing!
  • Winners: 3 for 45
  • Place well (Top10): 19 for 45 (11 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 36 of 90 (21 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Tyrrell Hatton probably wasn't high on most fans' list, especially when he began the final round three shots back. With so many low scores being shot over the weekend, the idea that Matthias Schwab wouldn't break 70 was almost inconceivable. But that's exactly what Schwab did, and Tyrrell managed a birdie on the final hole to card a 67 and gain a spot in a six-man playoff.

There have only been two other six-man playoffs in ET history, the last coming in 2003. If the Tour wanted to get the Race to Dubai Playoffs off to a scorching start, this was certainly the way to do it!

Tyrrell chipped in for birdie on the first playoff hole to keep his hopes alive and then, as darkness fell over the course and the Tour turned on the artificial lighting, he held on to win with a par on the fourth playoff hole against Schwab.

It was his first win in a couple of years, and it couldn't have come at a better time for him. It jumped him all the way to #6 in the Race to Dubai standings. With just two weeks left in the Playoffs I don't know if he's got enough time to win the thing. But I'm guessing he'll finish well enough to have a great Christmas, don't you?

And of course, he picked up a shiny new Limerick Summary. Let's not underestimate how much that means!
He started the day three behind…
But winning was on Tyrrell’s mind!
Six men made a playoff
Where Tyrrell then pulled off
An upset in dark overtime.
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

If You Don't Know Who Ai Suzuki Is...

And you didn't get to watch the live coverage of the TOTO Japan Classic Saturday night, then make sure you watch GC's re-air of the event today. Ai Suzuki of the JLPGA got her sixth win of the season at the TOTO, and there's a decent chance she'll take LPGA membership.

TOTO Japan Classic winner Ai Suzuki

You'll want to get familiar with her and her game. That last round was a pretty dominant performance.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Tom Stickney on the Y Chipping Style (Video)

This is a brand new tip just posted on Friday. Many of you have heard of 'wristless' chipping. In this video, Stickney gives you the basics.



One thing that caught my eye about this video is that Stickney gives you the range for this chipping technique -- from the edge of the green to roughly ten feet off the green. This is not a power chip, folks, so you don't want to use it when you're too far away from the putting surface!

The setup is simple. Just place the ball directly in line with the big toe of your trailing foot and lean the clubshaft forward until your hands are opposite your lead thigh.

And when you stroke, don't use your wrists. Instead, you make a putting stroke controlled by your shoulders. You want to maintain the same wrist angle throughout the stroke. This way, the distance is controlled entirely by the length of your swing.

In my opinion, the biggest advantage you gain by using this stroke is trajectory control. Inconsistency in the distance you hit chips is most often caused by hitting some shots high and others low. This technique eliminates most of that height variation.

If this stroke feels natural to you, it's a mechanically simple way to bring more consistency to your short game.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Presidents Cup Picks Are In

So the teams are now set. Just in case you missed it:

Tiger and Ernie

For the International Team, Ernie picked:
  • Jason Day
  • Joaquin Niemann
  • Adam Hadwin
  • Sungjae Im
And for the US Team, Tiger picked:
  • Gary Woodland
  • Patrick Reed
  • Tony Finau
  • Tiger Woods
No real surprises for either team, I guess. You might argue that Joaquin Niemann was an unexpected choice, but I can understand Ernie going for the widest world representation possible. Joaquin will be the first golfer from Chile to play in the Presidents Cup. And since he's been playing well, why not?

So now we know the line-ups for each team. All we have to do is wait another month to see how they pan out.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

And the Schwab Cup Too

I would be remiss if I neglected the Charles Schwab Cup Championship and the Schwab Cup itself. The end of the season starts today!

2018 Schwab Cup winner Bernhard Langer

The 2018 Schwab Cup race winner is five-time champ Bernhard Langer, although the 2018 championship winner is Vijay Singh. After a brief test, last year the Champions Tour went back to letting the points determine the Cup winner. That means we have four possible winners in the year-long race:
  • Scott McCarron
  • Jerry Kelly
  • Bernhard Langer
  • Colin Montgomerie
Technically, Retief Goosen still has a mathematical chance at the Cup, but he must win and:
  • McCarron must finish T12 (three-way) or worse, and
  • Kelly must finish T5 (two-way) or worse
His chances of getting both seem long to me, but the possibility is there.

You can see the scenarios for each of the possible winners on this page at pgatour.com. McCarron and Kelly are so far ahead that the odds dramatically favor them (all either must do is win and the Cup is his), and they favor McCarron much more than Kelly (because McCarron could potentially finish dead last and still win, depending on what the others do).

GC's live coverage begins today at 3pm ET, amid the coverage of all the other events going on. Bear in mind that if Langer wins, he also pulls within four Champions Tour wins of Hale Irwin, so although he is the only one of the possibles who has won the Cup before, he will be playing with more pressure than the others. Should be fun to watch!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Penultimate LPGA Event of 2019

It's the last event in the LPGA's Asian Swing as well as the last event before the CME Group Tour Championship. It's the TOTO Japan Classic.

Defending champion Nasa Hataoka

The TOTO is played at the Seta Golf Club in Sjoga, Japan, it's a co-sanctioned limited-field event with the JLPGA and the defending champion is Nasa Hataoka. It's worth noting that two of the Japanese players in this week's field, Nasa and Women's British Open champion Hinako Shibuno (aka Smiling Cinderella) have also won the first three JLPGA majors of the year:
  • Hinako won the Salonpas Cup
  • Nasa won the Konica Minolta Cup and the Japan Women's Open
This season, Hinako has won a total of three events and Nasa two. I think they have to be considered favorites coming into this event.

Lexi Thompson is making her first appearance in the 2019 Asian Swing, her last event being the Indy Women in Tech Championship, where she missed her second cut in a row (and third in five events). Since she's the defending champ at the Tour Championship in two weeks, she'll be looking for some form.

Noticeably missing from the field is Jin Young Ko, with five worldwide wins this season (4 of those on the LPGA) and the Player of the Year Award already locked up. She withdrew after two rounds in Taiwan with an injury, so it will be interesting to see how she plays in Florida.

There's a lot still up for grabs this week, as this is the players' last chance to gain points in the Race to the CME Globe. GC's live coverage begins Thursday night at 10pm ET (this is only a three-round event).

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Turkish Airlines Open

Since the PGA Tour is taking a week off before jetting to Mayakoba, Twofer Tuesday joins the ET's Race to Dubai for the Turkish Airlines Open.

Justin Rose after 2018 defense of his Turkish Airlines title

Justin Rose will try to make history as the first three-peater in two decades at an ET event, but he'll have to do it at a different venue. The Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Antalya, Turkey -- designed by Colin Montgomerie, no less -- will host this year's limited field event for the first time since 2015 as the Race to Dubai begins its final three event run. Victor Dubuisson and Brooks Koepka probably wish they were playing this week, as Dubuisson won the event at this course twice and Koepka once.

But the big question is... who will win it this week?

I have no idea, to be honest. I don't remember much about this course from its time as 2013-2015 host, and several of the ET players who are playing well aren't in the field this week. Nevertheless, I have some thoughts...
  • My Top10er this week is Kurt Kitamura. This American has won twice on the ET this season. His most recent win was in early March, but he has been playing some decent golf of late. Although he only posted a T28 at the WGC-HSBC last week, his previous two finishes were a 3rd and a 4th. And after posting a strong 68 in his final round at the WGC, I think he could be a factor this week.
  • And my winner is Bernd Wiesberger. Another player with a so-so finish last week (T49), I can forgive him since he was coming off an Italian Open win. He also won in July and in May, so overall he's played well this year. I could see him picking up a fourth win this week.
My picks have a total of five wins this season, so they should have a decent chance to do well in Turkey.

GC's live coverage starts early Thursday at 4am ET.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: Several events besides the WGC ended in playoffs this weekend. Colin Montgomerie beat Bernhard Langer at the Champions Tour's Invesco QQQ Championship; and Nelly Korda beat Minjee Lee and Caroline Masson to defend at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA. On the other tours, Jung-Gon Hwang won the Mynavi ABC Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; Alejandro Tosti won the inaugural Termas de Rio Hondo Invitational on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Brendon Todd won the Bermuda Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate field event; and Muni He went under-par every round for a wire-to-wire win at the 2019 LPGA Q-Series.

Rory McIlroy with WGC-China trophy

I'm not feeling too bad about my Twofer Tuesday picks this week. I had Xander Schauffele (2) to win and Tony Finau (T53) to Top10. I don't know what happened to Tony but Xander forced the third playoff of the week despite being sick most of the time. It's hard to be too disappointed at a performance like that.
  • Winners: 3 for 44
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 44 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 35 of 88 (20 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Of course, Rory got the win. It was impressive despite going to a playoff, because it enabled him to do something that only Tiger has ever done -- win the PLAYERS and a WGC in the same calendar year. For a player who has seemed to struggle with his game and his life both on and off the course over the last few years, Rory seemed very cool, calm and collected as he shot 67-67-67-68 (plus a birdie on the first playoff hole) with a less than perfect game.

It looks like Rory has found the peace he needed to compete again.

Perhaps even more impressive, he has put together a relatively quiet year that resulted in four big wins in less than eight months -- a PLAYERS, which the WGHoF gives the same weight as a major; the Canadian Open, a big tournament in its own right; the PGA TOUR Championship and the FedExCup; and now a WGC. Perhaps Brooks outplayed him in the majors, yet Brooks won only twice in the same time period, the PGA and a WGC of his own.

It will be interesting to see how Rory finishes out his run for the Race to Dubai. Can he add another win in this calendar year? I don't know, but I know he's added yet another Limerick Summary to his 2019 haul... and perhaps given another big name player something to chew on for a while.
Like Tiger, now Rory’s CV
Has a PLAYERS and WGC
In one calendar year.
Is the rival now here
That Brooks Koepka claimed he didn’t see?
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Louis Oosthuizen's Swing Tempo Tip (Video)

At the time I'm writing this, Louis is co-leading the WGC-HSBC Champions so I thought this video was appropriate. Please note that while Louis mentions his favorite tempo drill, it's what he says later in the video that's really important.



You've no doubt seen his drill many times before. Simply put your feet together and hit 60- to 70-yard pitch shots. The shots are long enough to require a longish swing without you feeling the pressure to swing hard.

But that's really the key, according to Louis:
"You generate your power with your body from the top, obviously going down and really fast at the bottom, but it's a difficult thing to think about, that 'when I get here I'm going to accelerate.' I think it's more getting everything else in position and once you get to that downswing, everything is going to be in position that's going to happen naturally, rather than go start at the top and really swing fast and you're going to swing yourself out of position, and it doesn't matter what you do at the bottom, your timing is not going to be the same. I think it's a more natural thing that will all fall in place if you get everything in position in the right way."
Do you understand what he's saying? If you try to swing fast from the top, you'll ruin your tempo. You've got to give your swing time to get up to speed, even though that feels slower. Louis is a long hitter. He knows that feelings can fool you, and if you feel fast at the top you're probably going to be slower at the bottom because you've ruined your tempo. Instead, you create your fastest speed at the bottom when it feels slower at the top, because it gives your whole body time to properly create that speed.

Sounds weird, I know. But that's just the way swing mechanics work... and Louis is an excellent example of how effective such a swing can be.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Brian Fitzgerald's Swing Path Drill (Video)

Australian PGA pro Brian Fitzgerald's drill isn't new but he's using it a bit differently than other instructors have.



Many instructors would want you to bounce the ball straight down the line toward the target. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, wants you to bounce the ball a bit to the right of that target line. (That's the drill for righties, of course. If you're a leftie, you'd want to bounce the ball a bit to the left of your target line to get the same result.) This is to encourage a bit of an in-to-out swing path.

I hope you're noticing that Fitzgerald is also working from a slightly different philosophy than other instructors. Think about how many instructors you've seen on GC who have preferred a 'swing to the left' motion -- or at least that's what their professional students are after, because they want to create a fade. The Fitzgerald approach is going to create a bit of a draw, as long as you square the clubface at impact.

In this situation, no one is right and no one is wrong. It's just that each is working from a different swing philosophy.

This is something that you have to be aware of anytime you're watching any instructor and considering whether or not to try to incorporate some of their teachings into your game. In this case you need to ask yourself what YOU want to accomplish with your swing.
  • Do you want most of your shots to be fades or slices? Then you would want a teacher who alters this drill to create an out-to-in swing.
  • Do you want most of your shots to be draws or hooks? Then you would want a teacher (like Fitzgerald) who uses this drill to create an in-to-out swing.
  • Do you want a neutral swing plane that swings parallel to your footline because you want to create draws and fades equally but through slightly different mechanics? That's the method Nicklaus used predominantly, and you would as well if you're patterning your swing after his.
I want you be aware of these minor differences in teaching methods because if you try to combine contradictory mechanics, you're only going to become more frustrated with your game. If you want to become a better golfer, you have to learn to recognize which teachers use similar methods (you can often combine their tips) and which teachers do not (because combining those tips will likely cause even more swing problems).

You can do that, folks. Just listen closely to what each instructor says. Most contradictions are obvious if you just pay attention.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Martin Hall on Driving into a Slice Wind (Video)

This Extra Credit video from Martin has a simple way to keep control of your drive in a slice wind... but it may not be obvious to you at first.



The reason I say this might not be obvious is because I suspect many of you chronic slicers have tried something similar in an effort to straighten out your drive... and you couldn't get it to work even if there was no slice wind!

Let's see if we can't make this technique work whenever you need it.

The basics are simple enough. If you close the face of your driver a bit at address -- that's what Martin means when he says to 'toe it in' -- and you don't change anything else, the face should be a little closed when it contacts the ball, and the ball should draw. (Or, in the case of a slice wind, it might go pretty straight or even fade just a little if the wind is really strong.)

Why doesn't this work for you? Why does the ball either duck hook (that is, start with a pull and then hook even more) or just make a bigger slice?

It's because you don't make your normal swing. You do one of two things:
  • You swing more out-to-in (across the line, if you prefer the term, or pull the shot) and then the closed face makes the ball hook even more. You still end up in trouble, just on the opposite side of the fairway than normal.
  • Or you make a normal swing but open the face at impact, so the ball slices anyway. And if you have an over-the-top swing, you get a bigger than normal slice.
Let's figure out how to stop both problems.
  • In the first case, you don't trust the closed face. You try to 'help' the ball hook by pulling the club across your body. Other than learning to trust your swing -- which is the best way but may also be the hardest -- you can try closing your stance so you have to swing more from in-to-out. Even if it just makes you swing straight down the line (because you came over-the-top or pulled the shot), the hook you gain from the closed face will keep the ball from slicing.
  • And in the second case, there's a good chance you're not really closing the face of the club. Rather, you're just twisting your forearms so the face looks closed. What will actually happen is, when you make your normal swing, your forearms will twist back into their normal position and you'll open the face like normal. You have to turn the club handle in your hands so your forearms are in their normal address position even though the clubface is closed. That's just something you'll have to learn through practice -- you have to get used to seeing your arms and hands in their normal position while the clubface is closed.
Neither one of these problems is insurmountable once you understand their cause. Both problems are caused by using your arms improperly -- in the first case, by pulling them across your body instead of swinging them down the line; in the second place, by twisting them closed at address instead of just regripping the club.

Something that may help you solve the first problem is simply setting up with the ball a couple of inches farther from your body. That will force you to swing more in-to-out than usual in order to hit the ball.

For the second problem, try setting up by turning your forearms to a stronger position while keeping the clubface pointed straight down the line, then turn your forearms back to your normal address position without regripping the club. That will cause the clubface to be closed while you're in your normal address position. Then when you make your normal swing, you won't open the face at impact.

Once you get where you can address the ball with a closed clubface and then return the clubface to the ball while it's still closed, you'll be able to hit a draw anytime you want. Even if the wind isn't blowing!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Quick Shoutout to the East Lake Cup Winners

Despite the bad weather, they got it all in. Let me give the victors their due.

The victorious Wake Forest women's team

In the men's individual competition, Wake's Mark Power won the title.

In the women's individual competition, Duke's Ana Belac and Wake's Vanessa Knecht shared the title.

In the men's group competition, the Texas Longhorns beat Oklahoma State.

In the women's group competition, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons beat Auburn.

And for those of you who wonder why I care, both Wake and Duke are teams from NC... and the Wake Forest campus is in Winston-Salem, about 20 minutes from where I live.

Wasn't a bad day around my house. Just saying...

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Ladies Move to Taiwan

Sorry for the delay on this post, folks. Internet problems.

There are only two LPGA events left before the Tour Championship. This week the ladies return to the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, where Nelly Korda is the defending champion. It was her first LPGA victory.

Defending champion Nelly Korda

While we could argue over storylines this week, I think there are two main ones -- Nelly's defense of her first title and the second LPGA appearance of Hinako Shibuno, aka "Smiling Cinderella." You will remember that she was the surprise winner of this year's Women's British Open... although you could argue that, with three JLPGA wins under her belt (one a JLPGA major, the Salonpas Cup), she shouldn't have been a total surprise.

Then again, this is only her rookie season on the JLPGA. Perhaps I'll call her a mild surprise.

GC's coverage begins Thursday night at 5pm ET. I'm guessing this will be time-delayed coverage since Taiwan is 12 hours ahead of us on the East Coast of the US.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: WGC-HSBC Champions

This week Twofer Tuesday does a little island hopping from Japan to mainland China for the last WGC of 2019.

Defending champion Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele is the defending champion at the Sheshan International course this week, and he'll have his hands full. Although the scores may be low because the winds aren't expected to be too strong, Sheshan has proven that it can take its pound of flesh if players get careless. And the par-5s tend to be tough regardless of the wind, so a major scoring opportunity can slip away quickly.

Enough small talk. Let's get to the picks, shall we?
  • My Top10er this week is Tony Finau. Except for last week's T59 finish, Tony's last few events have been in Top10s and -- let's face it -- at #9 in the Presidents Cup standings, he needs a good finish to make sure the Captain gives him that pick. (Especially since the Captain is likely to make his own team.)
  • And my winner is Xander Schauffele. The defending champ has been playing well as of late, with a second at the Tour Championship and a T10 at ZOZO... and the latter was after a lackluster final round. He's already on the team but I think he wants to prove himself to Tiger. Besides, he's a big game hunter and would really like to defend this title.
GC's live coverage begins Wednesday night at 10pm ET. I suspect most of the attention this week will focus on President Cup picks, but I think Tiger's decisions could still be swayed by an outstanding performance (Kisner maybe?) so the play should be very competitive, especially among the Americans. Nobody wants to say that the Captain took his spot!

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 ZOZO Championship

Winner: Tiger Woods

Around the wider world of golf: Steven Brown got his first ET victory at the Portugal Masters; HaNa Jang won the BMW Ladies Championship on the LPGA; and César Costilla won the Abierto del Litoral OSDE on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica (I believe this was a Dev Series event).

Tiger winning the ZOZO Championship

Alas, my Twofer Tuesday luck was not to last. I had Jason Day (T22) to win and Justin Thomas (T17) to Top10. The other three players in the Skins Game earlier this week ALL had Top3 finishes. *sigh*
  • Winners: 3 for 43
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 43 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 34 of 86 (19 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Of course, Rory was T3, Hideki got the fans all worked up with a runner-up finish...

And Tiger walked away with the win and yet another spot in history.

Look, you don't need me to rehash the last few days. GC, ESPN and just about every other sports outlet will be revisiting Tiger's win over the next week so you'll get your fill. But I do think it's worth taking a moment to reconsider Tiger's play since the Masters and what we learned.

Given Tiger's admission that he had intended to have that knee surgery in fall 2018 but postponed it because he was playing so well, and that the knee had become progressively more debilitating after the Masters, and knowing that all the pros struggled to rest during the revamped season, and then seeing how he played this week under stressful conditions and long chilly wet days... I think we're going to have to reassess our expectations for him going forward.

I don't expect Tiger to suddenly begin playing the way he did before all the physical problems; that's just unrealistic. Cold wet days are still going to have an effect on him, as will the compressed schedule and days with more than 18 holes. But we're unlikely to see the fall-off in play after this win that we saw after the Masters... and truthfully, we have no idea exactly what to expect going forward, as we have yet another never-before-seen set of circumstances in Tiger's career.

But what we do know is this: Tiger has three wins in 13 months, the countdown to win #83 has begun and we'll probably see Tiger as a playing captain at the Presidents Cup. Oh yeah, and we know he just added another Limerick Summary to his collection.
Hey, Sam, make some room at the top—
Looks like Tiger’s about to get hot!
He’s back from the bottom.
82 wins? He’s got’em
And I don’t think he’s planning to stop!
The photo came from this page at golf.com.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

LPGA and LET May Be 'Getting Together'

Today I'm just giving you a link to a story from a few days back about the LPGA and LET renewing talks of a partnership. Somehow I missed it, even after Phil messaged it to me.

Carlotta Ciganda teeing off at an LET event

I'm actually surprised this hasn't happened already. Mike Whan has made no secret that his business philosophy is "A rising tide lifts all ships." It has allowed him to lead the LPGA out of a horrible financial struggle simply because he is willing to work with others without 'taking over' their businesses. An alliance between the LPGA and the LET -- who are already doing some cosponsored events and such -- would seem to be a win-win for both sides.

Randell Mell says the two sides are trying to prepare a potential agreement in time for the LET annual meeting in November, so the players can discuss the possibilities.

Here's hoping that something mutually beneficial can be worked out. The LET is too important to just let it fade away.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Dan Martin on Talking to Your Ball (Video)

This simple drill is more helpful than you can possibly imagine.



Dan's idea about 'staying present' during your swing is a good one. By focusing on saying the word hit -- although it can be almost any word (personally, I would say BOOM!) -- you force yourself to concentrate on the moment of impact. That's good for your swing.

But I'll take it even further.

Many players don't realize that they should inhale at some point during their backswing, then exhale as they hit the ball. That's a basic truth, if you will, in all physical effort -- you exert the most force if you exhale as you perform the motion. (For example, if you do squats, inhale on the way down and exhale as you push up because the push is where you need to exert the most effort.)

So, if you speak to the ball at the moment of impact, you have to exhale and it should help you exert the most effort at the correct moment. Best of all, timing the word you speak at impact will automatically unleash the most effort without you having to consciously try to hit the ball hard.

Don't underestimate the value of this tip. Anytime you can get yourself to perform an action that uses tricky timing with a much simpler trigger, you almost always improve your performance.

Friday, October 25, 2019

John Hughes on the Versatile Chip Shot

Over at the Golf Tips Magazine site John Hughes is doing a series on golf milestones. Each article gives a tip for breaking 100, breaking 90, breaking 80 and breaking 70. Today I want to focus on the third article's tip for breaking 100.

John Hughes using a chip shot in different situations

Some of you have figured this out already, but chipping isn't just for around the green. A chip is just a partial shot, one that gives you extra control for better ball contact and better control. You can chip from under or between trees, out of bunkers, off pine straw, out of rough, even from the middle of the fairway if you're worried about nearby hazards.

You can play a chip with any club in your bag, from just about any lie. A bump and run is just a long chip shot, as is a knockdown shot. You can make a very short swing or a controlled three-quarter shot. There is no rule that says you ever have to make a full swing or swing as hard as you can.

Use that versatility to your advantage and you can take a lot of shots off your score.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yes, I Know It's Only One Round...

But Tiger looked really good at the ZOZO Championship.

Tiger at the ZOZO Championship

If you didn't see it, he started on the back 9 by bogeying holes 10, 11 and 12. Then he casually shot a bogey-free 9-under on his final nine holes to post a 6-under 64, which led by two shots at the time he finished. I only saw him hit one wild tee shot -- a push on his final hole -- but he got a lucky bounce off a tree and capitalized on it with an approach to about four feet.

And yes, he made the birdie.

The GC announcers said that, if this lead held up, it would be the first time Tiger had led a PGA Tour event after the first round in ten years. I don't know if that will be the case, as perhaps half the field still had to post scores.

Still, this is a pleasant surprise. Given the struggles Tiger had after winning the Masters, and the fact that he is coming off another procedure on his knee, this is a promising start to his 2019-2020 season.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The LPGA Lands in Korea

This is the first playing of the BMW Ladies Championship.

Jin Young Ko

Obviously we have no defending champion at this event, but you can bet that World #1 Jin Young Ko will be the biggest name in her home country's new event. The course will likely draw some attention as well. Here's what lpga.com said about LPGA International Busan:
Formerly Asiad Country Club, built in 2002 for the Asian Games, the 27-hole complex was redesigned by famed architect Rees Jones, known as the Open Doctor for his many tweaks of what became U.S. Open courses. LPGA International Busan joins LPGA International in Daytona, Fla., also a Jones design, as an LPGA-branded golf course. 
“I'm very impressed that LPGA International Busan is a completely different course from when I visited the venue in March last year,” LPGA Commissioner Whan said when the new facility was unveiled.
This is an invitational event -- as are all the events in this last stretch of the LPGA season -- featuring 84 players. It's the crème de la crème of ladies golf, as you would expect. And now that everybody's got the Race to the CME Globe firmly in view, we should see some really top-notch golf.

GC's tape-delayed coverage starts Thursday at 1:30pm ET. You can stream it live starting at 11pm ET Wednesday night, but I'm uncertain whether that's only on GC's app or whether lpga.com will also carry it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Zozo Championship

Twofer Tuesday visits the Land of the Rising Sun for the inaugural Zozo Championship.

Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama

The Zozo is being held at the Narashino County Club in the Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo, of which most of us got our first look during Monday's Skins Game. The sponsor, ZOZOTOWN Apparel, has signed on for at least six years so I suspect we'll all get used to seeing this beautiful course. What stood out to me during the Skins Game was the double greens, and I'm anxious to see how they end up affecting play.

PGATOUR.com's summary had some interesting facts about those double greens, so I'm including it here:
Narashino CC is a 36-hole facility. A composite course has been routed for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. It's a par 34-36—70 stretching 7,041 yards. The five par 3s range from the 141-yard 13th to the 191-yard fifth. The longest of the trio of par 5s is the 608-yard 14th. The closing hole is a par 5 tipping at 562 yards, so the opportunity for walk-off heroics is in play.
Golf courses of some age in Japan were built with two greens on every hole. At the time, it was a solution to present different strains of healthy grass no matter the season. Today, bentgrass blankets most greens primarily because advances in agronomy have allowed for improved conditioning where possible year-round.
Narashino opened in 1965 with two greens per hole. They remain today. Those utilized for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP have been prepped to run 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter. To honor the tradition of two greens in Japan, both the A and B greens on the par-4 fourth hole will be used at some point during the tournament. It's possible that another hole or holes also will use alternate greens. As usual, targets in play for every round will be determined when hole locations are posted.
If a golfer lands an approach on the incorrect green, the "wrong green" local rule will be enforced. It will allow the golfer relief off the green no closer the hole. No penalty will be assessed.
Like I said, this could be interesting.

Since this is the first playing of this event, I have no past history that might give me a hint about who to pick this week. It's probably unrealistic to hope for as good a results as I had last week... but let's give it a shot.
  • For my Top10er I'm picking Justin Thomas. It's asking a lot for him to go back-to-back, but I see no reason he couldn't add yet another Top10 to his current streak of good play. He's back up to #4 in the OWGR and, with Brooks out for this week, another good finish could help him make up some ground on #1.
  • And for my winner I'm taking Jason Day... for no other reason than he won the Skins Game rather decisively. He's originally from this part of the world and has experience on courses like this. And I can't help but feel the Skins Game gave him a better perspective on Narashino than he would have had with just his normal practice rounds. That shouldn't hurt his chances at all!
GC's live coverage begins at 11pm ET on Wednesday night here in the US. This is the first worldwide event in Japan in nearly two decades, so this should be a really fun watch!

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 CJ Cup

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Nicolas Colsaerts won the Amundi Open de France on the ET; Danielle Kang defended her title at the Buick LPGA Shanghai; Leandro Marelli won the Diners Club Peru Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Christine Wolf won the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the LET; Chan Kim won the Japan Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; and bad weather forced the Champions Tour to finish the Dominion Energy Charity Classic on Monday morning. Of course, I can't give you the winner of the Challenge: Japan Skins game because it's just getting started as I post this.

Justin Thomas with the CJ Cup trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks finally hit paydirt! I had Justin Thomas (1) to win and Viktor Hovland (T31) to Top10. Viktor had an off week but I can forgive him for that because I finally picked another winner!
  • Winners: 3 for 42
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 42 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 34 of 84 (19 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
And because the Challenge: Japan Skins game is just getting underway I'll keep this brief.

I've picked JT to play well a few times over the last few months but his playing has been a bit uneven, even though I've seen constant improvement. (That's why I kept picking him.) But this week he finally got it together -- at least at an event where I've picked him to win -- despite a spirited run by Danny Lee.

JT's game still doesn't look to be quite where it was before his wrist injury early in the season -- the injury that kept him from playing at the PGA Championship -- but his mental game appears to be back on track. While he might not have been as sharp physically, he was clearly managing his game well and avoiding the mistakes that plagued most of the field at the CJ Cup.

I can't help but think this win will help his confidence -- it was his 2nd win in two months, his 10th win in the last three seasons (the best record on Tour) and his 11th PGA Tour win overall. Which means, of course, that he has more Limerick Summaries in the last three seasons than anybody else. Impressive, huh?
His wrist injury now in the past,
JT’s form has returned at long last.
Had YOU written him off?
Thought he’d played his best golf?
Well, here’s one more win Justin’s amassed.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Louis Oosthuizen on Driving (Video)

I'm only going to make two comments about this video. Take a look:



You've probably heard everything Louis says in this short video. His swing is pretty much what you'd call a 'textbook' swing.

Here's all I have to say about it: The key to Louis's swing is that he avoids extremes. Almost everything in his swing, from his setup to his swing path, is pretty much in the middle of what he is physically capable of doing. That helps him avoid most of the big problems that weekend golfers face.

But while you want to avoid the 'happy feet' he mentions in the video, Louis keeps his feet way too quiet. You don't want your lead foot to come up on your toes and twist as he shows in the video, that's for sure. But one big reason Louis fights back problems is because he keeps that lead heel glued to the ground, which puts too much stress on his lower back. Don't do that!

Except for that one thing, there's enough good stuff in this video to help you hit better drives. Enough said.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Karen Nannen on Squaring the Clubface (Video)

PGA instructor Karen Nannen has a simple check to see if you're opening the clubface during your backswing.



I know you've heard this tip before, but you've probably been told you should see a certain number of knuckles on your lead hand. But Karen isn't saying that. She just wants you to count how many knuckles you see when you address the ball and then make sure you see the same number of knuckles at the 3/4 point in your backswing.

It's not about setting your hands a certain way at address. It's just about making sure you maintain that setting near the top of your backswing so you keep the clubface square.

A simple check, to be sure. But if you're opening (or shutting) the clubface at the top of your backswing, you need to know. If you're still square at the top of your backswing, it'll be much easier to square the club at impact.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Mental Side of Shot Shaping (Video)

I bet many of you saw this tip from Zack Lambeck on Morning Drive and, when you saw the last part, you said, "Never works for me." Today I'm going to help you MAKE it work!



You got to that final approach tip and shook your head, didn't you? Zack said that if your normal shot curves 10 yards to the right, you need to aim 10 yards farther left... but it didn't work like he said, did it? You aimed 10 yards left of the target, alright...

And then your shot curved 20 or even 30 yards to the right and you were in worse trouble than ever, correct? It never works for you, does it?

That's because you don't understand -- and nobody ever explains -- the mental side of this tip. Let me do that for you now.

The simple answer to 'why' it doesn't work is that you aren't approaching your 'adjusted' shot the same way as you approach your normal shot. When you try that initial shot that curves 10 yards to the right, you aren't trying to curve the shot at all. You're aiming at the target and your natural swing tendencies keep the ball from going where you're aimed. You're trying to square the clubface and hit the ball straight... and it just doesn't happen.

But when you aim farther to the left, that's no longer what you're doing because your mindset has changed. Now you're TRYING to curve the shot! You may be aimed 10 yards farther left but you're trying to hit the ball at your original target. So what happens?
  • You make a different swing. You don't swing where you think you're aimed; you swing a little more to the right, toward your original target. Or maybe you swing a bit more to the left and cut across the ball. Either way, the ball is going to curve more because...
  • You don't square the face. Your target is now to the right of where you think you're aimed, so the clubface is more open than before and the ball curves more than before.
As a result, you hit a bigger slice than you originally did and you don't even realize it!

So what's the cure?

It's really simple if you just think about it. When you were originally aimed at the target, you tried to hit the ball to the target and your natural swing created a fade. So now, when you set up for a new target that's 10 yards to the left; you actually have to try to hit the ball at your new target that's 10 yards to the left.

To put it another way, at first you tried to hit the green but missed the green to the right. Now, in order to hit the green, you have to TRY TO MISS the green to the LEFT! That's the mental trick that makes Zack's approach tip work.

I won't lie to you. This is going to be a tough adjustment for many of you. You are so focused on hitting to the flag that purposely hitting away from the flag is going to be hard. But that's what you have to do to make your normal miss happen when you're planning for it, instead of creating a worse miss.

And should you find that you actually miss the green to the left when you aim to the left, then it's clear that aiming left changes your swing in a positive way. So then, instead of aiming to miss the green on the left, you start aiming to hit the left edge of the green. And if that works, you start aiming to hit the green about two yards from the left edge. And you do that until you figure out where to aim in order to get as close to the flag as you can.

That may take some time. But at least now you know how to make Zack's tip work. Good luck!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Helen Alfredsson Wins the Senior LPGA Championship By Three

Juli Inkster may have started the day three strokes ahead of her, but Helen Alfredsson had the last laugh. When she could stop shivering, that is.

Senior LPGA Championship winner Helen Alfredsson

The weather at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick was cold and windy; at times it was a three-club wind. How tough was it? Juli had a two-shot lead over everybody to start the day, she shot a five-over 76 and still had a solo second finish.

That also tells you how well Helen played. There were only two rounds under par on Wednesday, and her two-under 70 was one of them. (Michelle McGann shot a 69.)

In the process, Helen joined Laura Davies as a Senior Slam winner by sweeping the US Senior Women’s Open and the Senior LPGA Championship in the same season.

You can read some detailed summaries of the event in this Golfweek article and this LPGA.com article. In addition, here's an LPGA.com video interview between Ron Sirak and Helen. As for my little post here, I'm just going to congratulate Helen on a hard-won victory and a great Legends Tour season!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Jin Young Ko's March Toward History

Today is a link to Kent Paisley's lpga.com article about Ko's amazing season... and what may be on the horizon.

Jin Young Ko

To put it simply, Jin Young Ko is on the verge of taking two records away from Annika -- records that defy comprehension.

Number One, she is currently ahead of Annika's record for all-time lowest actual scoring average. Annika averaged 68.697 in 2002, a year where she won eleven times. Note that this record, for which LPGA players receive the Vare Trophy, is NOT the lowest adjusted scoring average but rather the actual scoring average -- number of actual strokes struck divided by number of rounds played. (For comparison, Tiger holds the PGA Tour's actual low stroke average of 68.17, set in 2000.)

Currently, Jin Young's scoring average is 68.851. She would join Annika as only the second LPGA player with a sub-69 average. And (if I understand correctly) she plans to play four of the remaining five events on the schedule, giving her 16 more rounds on the season; Paisley says she needs only to average 68 for those rounds to beat Annika's record.

The second record? Highest percentage of greens in regulation for a season. Currently, Jin Young's GIR sits at 79.9%, 0.2% better than Annika's record and a whopping 4.7% better than Tiger's 75.2% set back in 2000.

That's right. If Jin Young can hold on, she'll have the lowest-ever GIR record of ANYBODY, male or female, in golf history.

It's worth noting that Jin Young has four LPGA wins this year, two of which are majors, as well as a KLPGA win that doesn't count toward these records. And it's also worth noting that she has already locked up the 2019 Annika Award (best majors performance) as well as another all-time record for the longest bogey-free streak on either the the LPGA or PGA Tour at 114 holes.

This could be another amazing year on the LPGA, folks. And this is only Jin Young's sophomore year...

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: The CJ Cup

Today Twofer Tuesday sprints across the pond -- WAAAAY across the pond -- to South Korea for the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka

Nine Bridges is a par-72 course playing close to 7250 yards, which doesn't sound all that long but it plays tough when the winds blow. The CJ Cup sports a limited field of 78 players and is the first of three such events in Asia (South Korea, Japan and China). The field is a blend of PGA Tour, KPGA Tour and Asian Tour players.

Brooks Koepka is the defending champion and he's in the field this week, as is the 2017 champion Justin Thomas.

My Twofer Tuesday picks have been hit-and-miss so far in this wraparound season, and I'm looking to improve my luck this week. Unfortunately, the players haven't shared my enthusiasm lately, so I'm just taking my chances and hoping the guys show up.
  • My Top10er is Viktor Hovland. The rookie is still looking for his first win and, although I don't expect him to get it this week, I do expect him to continue his string of good play. He doesn't seem to care how tough the field is or that he hasn't played the courses before. I like that about Hovland and I feel good about his chances this week.
  • And my winner is Justin Thomas. As I said earlier, he has won this event before. Likewise, his recent play has been extremely strong since he came back from his injuries earlier this year. I think he may be ready to win again.
My only regret this week is that Bernd Wiesberger isn't in the field. (Apparently he's taking the week off to celebrate.) I realize that winning back-to-back is tough, but he's been playing at an extremely high level these past few months and I think a limited field might have played into his hands.

Because of the time difference between the US and South Korea, GC's live coverage begins tonight (Wednesday) at 10pm ET. So it's almost prime time golf again this week. At least I'll get to watch most of it before going to bed!

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Houston Open

Winner: Lanto Griffin

Around the wider world of golf: Bernd Wiesberger got his third ET win in only five months at the 76° Open d'Italia; likewise, Jerry Kelly won the SAS Championship for his third win this season on the Champions Tour; Justin Shin won the Macau Championship on the PGA TOUR China; and Shugo Imahira won the Bridgestone Open Golf Tournament on the Japan Golf Tour.

Lanto Griffin with Houston Open trophy

Once again it's the status quo for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Scottie Scheffler (T28) to win and Henrik Stenson (MC) to Top10. Granted, it might have helped if I had known about Henrik's 3-wood before I made my picks!
  • Winners: 2 for 41
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 41 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 33 of 82 (18 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
As it turned out, it was a good week for those without any PGA Tour wins on their resumes (or CVs for you readers outside the US). It all came down to Mark Hubbard, Scott Harrington and Lanto Griffin. Griffin had the 54-hole lead, Hubbard was in second and Harrington was three shots off the lead.

They stepped onto the 16th tee all tied, with the 18th -- which was playing harder than the hardest hole on Tour last season -- still ahead. Griffin went one-under on those final three holes to win by one. He said he felt absolutely calm as he stood over the 6-foot par putt on 18 that locked up the win.

The emotions that poured out after it dropped surprised even him, I think. The realization that he had finally achieved his childhood dreams of playing in a final group, getting a win and getting the chance to play in two majors all at once was overwhelming. His phone rapidly filled with congratulation texts and he said he couldn't wait to celebrate with his friends and family.

He'll have nearly three years of Tour eligibility to do so. So I thought I'd kick it all off with a slightly different Limerick Summary than usual -- one that comes from his own words, albeit rearranged to fit the form. Enjoy the win, Lanto. You earned it!
“A dream,” Griffin said at the end.
“All I wanted since childhood, and then
I achieved it today.
It seemed so far away;
Now I can’t wait to share it with friends.”
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Wie Update

Today I'm posting a link to Randall Mell's extensive article on Michelle Wie as she turns 30.

Michelle Wie

I'll just say that the article goes into considerable detail on where Michelle has been, where she is right now and what she has planned going forward. It's the most thorough piece I've seen on her for a long time, and all you Wie fans will want to read it.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ian Poulter's Hybrid Basics (Video)

This is a really short video, but it may help explain some of the apparent contradictions you think you see in some players' setups.



Ian talks about placing the ball forward in his stance, just inside his lead heel, because he wants to hit the ball high and stop it quick. (He's using a 3-hybrid in this video.) He says you want to sweep the ball from the turf, not hit down on it. But if you pay attention, you'll also notice that the shaft of his hybrid is leaning BACKWARD at address.

How can this possibly work? From this position, how can you avoid hitting the ball fat?

At regular speed there's no way to see clearly how he does it, but the slower down-the-line view holds the key. If you watch that slower view, you'll clearly see how Ian's weight is moving to his lead foot as his legs move and his hips turn through impact. In other words, his body moves forward just enough that the club shaft is vertical or even leaning ever so slightly forward at impact.

That's not something he has to think about, folks. It just happens because his weight naturally shifts forward to his lead foot during his downswing. If you stand up right now and turn your upper body back and through, as if you were making a swing -- but without swinging a club, just turning 'away from the target' and then turning 'back toward the target' -- it will happen to you too. It's just plain physics.

So I include this video today just to make sure you understand that. You don't have to try to do it; it will happen naturally if you don't interfere.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Tom Stickney on Hitting Fairway Woods

Golf Tips Magazine posted an article by Tom Stickney on several shots you never practice but should, and they devoted a single page to each. Today I want to focus on his advice for hitting fairway woods, simply because Stickney's instruction is so clear and the drill so easy.

Fairway wood and ball

First, Stickney says that most players don't play fairway woods well and should consider playing nothing longer than a 5-wood. That may sound condescending but there's actually some good logic behind this. The 5-wood has more loft and a shorter shaft than a 3-wood -- two characteristics that make it much easier to hit. It's the same reason that a wedge is easier to hit than a 5-iron.

He says the most important part of hitting a fairway wood is understanding how the lie affects the shot. You need to choose the club AFTER you study the lie because the worse your lie is, the more loft you'll need. (Not to harp on it, but you'll hit a good 5- or 7-wood more often than a good 3-wood for that very reason. By eliminating the 3-wood off the fairway, you're less likely to mismatch the lie.)

Finally he stresses the need for a smooth change of direction at the top of your backswing. Too many players jerk the club from the top because they want to hit the ball hard. When you jerk the club from the top, you change your swing plane, change your swing path and just generally make it harder to return the club to squarely contact the ball.

And that's where the drill comes in. Swing your fairway wood like you swing your wedge. Practice that smooth change of direction by making full swings at half speed, then slowly speed up your downswing until you can make that change of direction smoothly while swinging fast.

Why was I so happy to see this? Because there is nothing in these instructions that an average player can't do! There's no rerouting the club or changing your motion, just paying attention to your lie and swinging within yourself.

And once you get good with your 5-wood, that 3-wood won't be so difficult after all.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Nick Clearwater on How DJ Avoids Back Problems (Video)

This GOLFTEC video has a neat drill to help minimize back strain.



If you read my blog regularly, you know I'm a big believer in hip turn during the backswing. When you try to keep your hips from turning to create more separation between hips and shoulders, you run the risk of really hurting yourself.

Clearwater's drill -- starting your backswing with your trail knee straight and hips pre-turned from the very beginning -- teaches you to move into a position that Arnold Palmer himself used. Arnie would let his trailing knee straighten and his hips turn as he started his backswing. Clearwater is just having you start in that position, to get you used to how it feels.

I don't really need to say a lot about this drill. If you try it, it may feel a bit odd at first but you'll immediately feel less stress in your back. That will tell you all you need to know.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Poulter Goes for Three

I mentioned yesterday that Ian Poulter had passed on a chance to defend his title at the Houston Open. Now we know why.

Ian Poulter in 2002

Ian Poulter won the Italian Open twice in three years, back in 2000 and 2002. The second win came at Olgiata Golf Club in Rome. This year the Italian Open returns to that site.

In addition, the Italian Open is a Rolex Series event. Poults sits at #15 in the Race to Dubai, which Rolex sponsors.

Furthermore, there are a lot of Ryder Cup points available this week. Poults is currently 92nd in the Euro points list and I couldn't find him on the World points list, which goes down to 110. Clearly getting some points at the Italian Open would move him up the chart quickest.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Given what's up for grabs this week, I think I can understand him skipping his title defense in Houston. The ET website has even chosen Poults as one of their Fantasy Three to watch.

GC's coverage starts early Thursday at 4:30am ET and runs until 12:30pm ET. I'll be wishing Poults luck as he tries to make another Ryder Cup team. (I just won't wish him luck once he gets there!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Houston Open

This week, Twofer Tuesday heads down to the Houston Open for a little Texas BBQ.

Defending champion Ian Poulter

The GC of Houston's Tournament Course has most commonly been the site for the Houston Open in March or April, so Tour players will see something a bit different this year. The rough will be a little higher and tougher this week than players are seen in the past, so getting up and down may not be as easy as they remember.

Not that it has been all that easy in the past. The scoring average last year was just over 70 and, while the course does play to a par-72, at nearly 7500 yards players may struggle a bit more. The course doesn't seem to favor length or age, so this is arguably a wide-open tournament.

With defending champion Ian Poulter opting out of the Houston Open to play in the Italian Open, there will definitely be a new Champion lifting the trophy this year.
  • My Top10er this week is Henrik Stenson. The Big Swede has a pretty good record in Houston; while he has never won, he has a number of Top6 finishes to his credit. And while he hasn't been playing his normal great golf over the summer, Houston could be just the place to heat up his game a bit.
  • And for my winner this week, I'm going back to the well and taking Scottie Scheffler. Scottie played pretty well earlier this year and I've picked him to win a couple of times. As it turns out, those are times when he decided not to play so well. Still, I can't help but feel he's due; after a poor showing last week, I think he's hit the bottom and an upturn in his game is in the offing. So why not this week? With all that Texas BBQ to chow down on, I'm sure he can find a rationale for winning!
GC's live coverage of the event begins Thursday at 3pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE begins streaming at 8:15am ET. So let's saddle up and see if my picks can do as well this week as they did last week!

(And I apologize for the rough version  of this post that originally showed up on the blog. I'm breaking in some new computer equipment and accidentally posted this before it was finished.)

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Shriners Hospitals Open

Winner: Kevin Na

Around the wider world of golf: Jon Rahm destroyed the field at the ET's Mutuactivos Open de España; Christine Wolf won the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the LET; Cheyenne Knight won the Volunteers of America Classic on the LPGA; Augusto Nunez won the Banco del Pacifico Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Laura Wearn won the Symetra Tour Championship; Shaun Norris won the Top Cup Tokai Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; and Suradit Yongcharoenchai won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on the Asian Tour.

Kevin Na with Shriners trophy

After a long dry spell, my Twofer Tuesday picks finally paid off. I had Adam Hadwin (T4) to win and Patrick Cantlay (2) to Top10. Although Adam didn't win, I'm not going to complain about two Top5 finishers!
  • Winners: 2 for40
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 40 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 33 of 80 (18 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
That's not to say that my boys didn't make a good run at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open -- especially Cantlay. And if Kevin Na hadn't brought his magic putter, forged by angels in the same fires as the legendary Excalibur, somebody else might have won.

I said might have. The way Na played, I can't say for sure. But that putter allowed him to break all the records for most feet of putts made during a single tournament, and not even a triple-bogey on ten and a bogey in the pond at sixteen could derail his march toward the trophy.

It's a measure of how well he putted that Cantlay made a single error in the last few holes -- a bogey on 17 -- and yet, despite a barrage of birdies coming in, could only manage to force a playoff.

Which Kevin Na and his angel-touched putter won with relative ease.

I don't think I'll ever root against Kevin Na. He's fought a lot of very public battles with his game -- battles that derail many a player's career -- and has come out on top. This was his second win of 2019 and third win in two years, both of which are new territory for him. And the fact that he appreciates what is happening so much makes it easy to root for him.

Tiger likes him too, you know, and I'd be surprised if he isn't rooting for Kevin as well. You can be sure he's watching him closely, what with the Presidents Cup right around the corner.

But while Kevin waits for the Big Cat's phone call, here's another Limerick Summary (his second this year!) to keep him occupied:
On ten, Kevin carded a triple;
Soon after, his ball found a ripple.
They left eighteen tied
But Pat’s playoff hopes died
When Kev’s putter proved it wasn’t fickle.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

How Your Lead Shoulder Helps Control Slicing (Video)

Okay Ryan, let's see if we can't help you understand the role of your lead shoulder in your swing.

For those of you who haven't been following along, a few days back I did a post about a drill from David Ogrin, in which I tried to explain a way to use it that would help eliminate slicing. Ryan had a little trouble wrapping his mind around exactly what I was saying, so I promised to do a post this weekend that would hopefully make it clearer.

This is that post.

I've written about this topic in the past and so I'm going to refer back to some of those posts, in hopes that they may help flesh out what I'm saying a little better.

The first thing you need to understand is that your shoulder bone is shaped more like an upside-down L than an I. Most people don't really understand this and how it affects shoulder movement.

If you take a look at the picture below (which I originally used in this post), I think you'll get a better idea of what I mean.

Diagram of left shoulder

As you can see, your shoulder bone actually bends a little at the top, like an L. And this bend means that, when you raise your arm across your chest as you do at the top of your backswing, the main part of your arm actually swings out toward the ball as well as up towards the sky.

In other words, if you imagine a straight line running from one shoulder to the other, the line gets 'kinked' or bent at your lead shoulder as you make your backswing.

Of course, the movement seems very slight if you're just looking at it. And because you make this movement all the time, it's so natural that you don't notice it anyway. But it does affect the way your hands move when you swing down to impact in your golf swing.

In the diagram below I have done two series of drawings. Both series start at the top of your backswing and follow the movement down to impact. However, the top series includes the shoulder turn, which I have shown by allowing the head to turn with the shoulders. Underneath that series I have drawn the same positions but without the rotation of the shoulders. See how the head is in the same position all the way through?

The important thing for you to note in each of these drawings is that at the top of your backswing, your shoulder has moved toward the ball and created an angle (that little 'kink' I mentioned) between your shoulder line and your lead arm. Then on the way down, your lead shoulder MUST move back into a straight line with your shoulders. (I call this movement 'opening up your lead shoulder'.) If you don't, you haven't returned to your address position and the clubface will not be aimed where was at address.

When you actually make this movement, this 'opening of your lead shoulder', your lead elbow will have to move closer to the side of your ribcage as the clubhead nears the ball.

Also, on each of these drawings I have placed a small X on the lead arm to show where the elbow is. In these drawings the elbow has not bent. In fact, if you allowed your elbow to bend in an effort to keep it pointing toward the ball or down the line at the target, your elbow would actually move farther away from your body and create a chicken wing, which almost always creates a slice.

Swing sequences

At no point in any of this motion does your lead forearm have to twist. In fact, to get your hands from your address position up to the top of your backswing, your lead forearm does not have to twist at all. All of the apparent rotation is created by the bending of your trailing forearm and the shoulder rotation that I've been writing about in this entire post.

In fact, here's a video from KJ Choi's coach Steven Bann that demonstrates how your hands and arms move during your backswing without the shoulder rotation. (It came from this post, although I think I've used it in others as well.)  I know you've probably seen instructors demonstrate this before; you simply lift your hands up to the position they would normally be at when they reach the top of your backswing, and then you make your normal shoulder turn.



Combine what Bann said in the video with what I've been writing about in this post, and you'll eventually realize that neither your hands nor your forearms rotate during your swing. Your wrists are cocked as your trailing elbow bends upward during your backswing, and your lead shoulder actually moves out toward the ball a bit as that happens (because bending your trailing elbow pulls your lead arm across your chest).

To get the clubface back to square at impact, you have to get that lead shoulder back in line with your whole shoulder girdle -- in other words, 'open your lead shoulder up' -- in the position it originally was in at address. When you do this, your lead elbow will move in close to the side of your ribcage and physically pull your hands back into their address position. (That's the move that pros are practicing when you see them tuck a glove under their lead armpit.) If you do that, your hands will square up the clubface and you won't slice the ball.

Ryan, I know I covered a lot of material in this post. I hope it makes sense to you but, if it still has you a little confused, feel free to ask me questions in the comments and I'll try to answer them the best I can. This really isn't that difficult to understand once you can visualize the motion, and I suspect that's what's been giving you the difficulties so far. Hopefully what I've written in this post will allow you to duplicate the motion and from that, understand what's really happening here.

And once you do, you'll have a good start on getting rid of that slice.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Colby Huffman on Hitting Narrow Fairways (Video)

You've probably heard GCA coach Colby Huffman's aiming advice before, but it bears repeating.



I'll be brief because I don't need to belabor the point. No less than the great Jack Nicklaus followed this approach:
  • Visualize the actual shape of the shot as it flies down the fairway.
  • Pick a spot on the ground just ahead of the ball that, if you hit the ball over that spot, it will start to create that shot you visualized.
  • Take your address position and focus on that spot.
  • Hit the ball over that spot.
Instead of being spooked by the narrow fairway and trying not to hit the ball into the trees, focus on the spot and hit the ball over it. It's a simple mental thing but don't underestimate how effective it can be.

Again, just remember that Jack Nicklaus did it all the time... and it worked for him. It can work for you as well.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Barney Puttick on Hitting Solid Hybrids (Video)

Golf Monthly's Top25 coach Barney Puttick has some tips to help you hit your hybrids better.



Note the big takeaway here: A hybrid is more like an iron than a fairway wood. That means you want to hit down on the ball, not sweep it off the ground.

First, the ball position is different. Most players put the ball near the middle of their stance for an iron and near their lead foot for a fairway wood. Go for halfway between them; that means the ball goes halfway between the center of your stance and your lead foot.

Although Barney doesn't say it, you can see that he soles the club with the shaft vertical, not leaning forward. Your lower body action will take you a bit forward at impact, so under normal circumstances you don't want to lean the club forward. Hybrids give you their benefits because they hit the ball higher, so you want to use the full loft of the club. Let your legs create the downward strike at impact.

If you do that properly, you'll take a slight divot in front of the ball, which means you hit the ball first.

Finally, Barney says you should become familiar with how far you hit your hybrids. But really, shouldn't you learn how far you hit all of your clubs? You have to know how far you hit your clubs in order to 'gap' them properly, which just means you choose the clubs in your bag so you don't have a huge gap in distance between two adjacent clubs and then virtually no gap between the next two.

It's mostly common sense, I know. But common sense often leaves us when we're actually playing a round. Make the right choices before you go out -- by setting up your bag correctly and learning how to hit your hybrids properly -- and you'll tend to do the right thing instinctively when you actually stand over the ball out on the course.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Claude Brousseau's Anti-Slice Drill (Video)

On Sunday's post Ryan asked for a more in-depth explanation of the anti-slice move I mentioned. I plan to do a post (more than one if necessary) this weekend to help him. But in the meantime, I offer this video of GCA coach Claude Brousseau's drill to help eliminate a slice.



This isn't a new drill but it might help some of you who, like Ryan, are struggling to wrap your minds around how your lead arm and shoulder movement helps eliminate a slice.

By turning your back to the target, your lead arm and shoulder are forced to create the proper impact positions. Your upper arm is forced to stay close to your rib cage and your lead shoulder is forced to 'open up' at impact. (Don't worry if you don't understand what 'opening up your shoulder' means right now. I'll explain that in this weekend's post.)

Before you ask... NO, you don't want to use this drill anywhere but on the range. If you spend too much time with it, I think it could adversely affect your lower body action. But using it a few times can really help you learn what proper lead side action feels like at impact.

And YES, Ryan, that post is on the way. Be on the lookout for it this weekend.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The LPGA Heads to Texas

The LPGA stays in America for the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic.

Defending champion Sung Hyun Park

The course, the Old American Golf Club, is in The Colony, a suburb of Dallas. In 2018 the event was storm-shortened to just two rounds, with Sung Hyun Park being declared the champion. This is the first year that the VOA will be held in October. You can catch Tony Jesselli's preview of this year's playing over at his site.

In some ways I think the biggest storyline this week is whether Mi Jung Hur can make it three LPGA wins this season, after her dominating performance at Indy. She has quite a few family members at this week's event, and that could help her get past the usually inevitable letdown after a win.

But Sung Hyun Park is also back and would like to defend at a four-round event. Two round events aren't official wins -- just ask Stacy Lewis -- so a win here would not only defend her title but give her a third win this season as well.

This is also the last chance for the ladies to make it into the LPGA's Asian swing. It's the last American event until the CME Group Tour Championship in November.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 1pm ET. It should be very competitive with so much on the line.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Twofer Tuesday tees it up for the kids this week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau

TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas is the site of this week's event, where Bryson DeChambeau will try to defend the title he won during his torrid run of four wins in five months. (Last year this event was held in November, a month later than this year.) Being in the desert, we can probably count on some hot sunny weather and fast course conditions.

Scoring-wise this is not the place for Rory McIlroy, given his comments about birdiefests. At 7255 yards and a par of 71, this course has seen two 60s in its history -- J.J. Henry in 2013 and Rod Pampling in 2016 --and typically the winner finishes at -20 or lower. But this course doesn't favor bombers over technicians -- both Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore share the tournament record of 260 (-24).

Which begs the question: Who can dominate this track this week? My picks are short and sweet.
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay lost to DeChambeau by a single stroke last year in an excellent defense of his first PGA Tour win here in 2017. It's hard to believe he won't do well again, given his past record around the place.
  • And my winner is Adam Hadwin. I'll be honest -- my pick is based purely on his finish last week. I'm just taking the hot hand.
Whenever you're faced with a low-scoring track like TPC Summerlin, it really is a crapshoot when picking a winner. One pick based on proven comfort with the track and one based on current form; I figure I've got as good a chance with these two as with anybody else in the field!

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 4pm ET, which is fairly early for a West Coast event. (At least, it's the West Coast time zone.) PGA TOUR LIVE begins streaming at 9:45am ET. Let's see who can get hot in the desert!

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Safeway Open

Winner: Cameron Champ

Around the wider world of golf: Victor Perez got his first ET win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship; Mi Jung Hur went wire-to-wire at the LPGA's Indy Women in Tech Championship; Marta Sanz Barrio won the IOA Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour; Kirk Triplett won his third PURE Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour; Shad Tuten won his first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica title at the 66 JHSF Aberto do Brasil; Carlota Ciganda won the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open on the LET; Toshinori Muto won the Panasonic Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; and Yuxin Lin won his second Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship title in three years.

Cameron Champ with the Safeway keg

A so-so week for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Justin Thomas (T4) to win and Ryan Moore (MC) to Top10. Although JT didn't win, he did add an overall Top10 to my stats.
  • Winners: 2 for 39
  • Place well (Top10): 17 for 39 (9 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 31 of 78 (16 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
As has been the case for the last two events of the new wraparound season, our winner this week was unexpected. Cameron Champ has won before, of course, but his game hasn't been particularly sharp since his first win. Add to that his grandpa's current battle with stomach cancer and Cam's daily visits to visit him in hospice care -- for those of you unfamiliar with hospice, it's not a good sign -- and you just wouldn't expect him to have his mind on golf.

So it probably comes as no surprise that Cam defied our expectations and got his second Tour victory. It was a tight finish; Adam Hadwin went crazy on the back nine and Cam went to the 18th tee tied for the lead. But after struggling with his driver -- traditionally the strongest club in his bag -- Cam piped it down the 18th fairway and let his short game -- traditionally the weakest part of his game -- do what it had done all week.

The one-stroke victory left Cam in tears as he talked about his grandpa, the man who is responsible for his career in golf. Perhaps it was the perspective of what's important that had evaded Cam lately, I don't know. But I know that he found the proper balance between golf and life this week.

And he also found a second Limerick Summary to add to the rest of his tournament swag, along with my best wishes to his grandpa.
After drives to see Grampa all week,
A drive on 18 let Cam sneak
Just past Hadwin to win
On the Tour once again—
A real bright spot when life has seemed bleak.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.