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Friday, April 19, 2019

TaylorMade's Mini Driver

TaylorMade's new Original One Mini Driver just became available for pre-order a couple of days back and should hit retail outlets early next month. And if you're struggling off the tee with your regular driver, maybe you should consider it.

First let's talk some specs. I'm comparing it to a standard 15° 3-wood here.

TaylorMadeForget your 460cc big stick -- the Original One Mini has a mere 275cc head. That may sound incredibly small, but bear in mind that the M3/M4 3-wood was around 176cc while the M5/M6 is 161cc. So this mini driver is still noticeably larger than a 3-wood.

It comes in two lofts, 11.5° and 13.5°, it's 43.75" in length (a regular M5/M6 3-wood is 43.25") and it's intended to give players of all playing levels another option off the tee. Yes, it's been designed to fit between your driver and your 3-wood, should you be inclined to carry both.

I suspect this club would be a replacement for a standard driver for most weekend players. If you don't get a lot of distance with your driver because you don't generate as much clubhead speed, the extra loft should help you get that higher launch angle that normally comes from extra speed. And it's got all the same tech that goes into the regular drivers, like that twist-face all the pros seem so excited about.

Plus it comes at a lower price than the driver. At $400 it might be the way to go if you want the tech but don't want to pay for a driver that you don't hit all that well to begin with.

Obviously I don't know what would work for you and what wouldn't. But if you're considering something like this, here's the page at TaylorMade's website that has all the specs for the Original Mini One and here's the announcement of the club from Golf Tips Mag's site, which includes some guidance on whether you should consider it or not.

Personally, given how many of us prefer 3-woods off the tee anyway, I'm glad to see TaylorMade catering to that potentially large group of players.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

And Let's Not Forget the Amateur of the Week

We really should take a moment. After all, Isaiah Salinda went five extra holes to get the individual title at the Western Intercollegiate.

Western Intercollegiate individual champion Isaiah Salinda

Salinda plays for Stanford, so it's probably no surprise to you that Stanford won the team title as well.

I'm going to link you to Brentley Romine's article over at golfchannel.com for the details, but I did want to mention something Salinda's coach said because it might help some of you.

Romine writes: "Stanford head coach Conrad Ray credits the development to Salinda learning how to play well without his best stuff." He also notes that Salinda told his coach how proud he was to have won when he wasn't playing his best.

Scoring when you don't have your best stuff is mainly about strategy -- learning what you can still do on those days when your game is off and making a game plan that uses those strengths. It's also about keeping your head and not getting down on yourself.

Anybody can learn to do those things, folks. Anybody.

Ironically, the NCAA doesn't recognize playoffs so Salinda and his fellow competitor (and teammate) Brandon Wu share the individual title in their records. (Yet one more thing the NCAA needs to change.) But we all know who the winner is. Congratulations, Isaiah!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Ladies Head to Hawaii

The LPGA is back in action this week at the LOTTE Championship. Brooke Henderson is the defending champion.

Defending champion Brooke Henderson

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event over on his blog. The LOTTE is played at the Ko Olina Resort in Kapolei, on the island of Oahu. The course is just under 6400 yards long and the winds almost always have a say in the outcome.

I can't think of much to add to Tony's preview except to mention that Paula Creamer plans to play. She hasn't played since before the Founders Cup and she gave no reason for withdrawing at the time. Whatever the reason, it appears that she's ready to go.

And there's one more important thing to know -- namely, that this is a Wednesday-Saturday event so things get underway TONIGHT. GC's live prime time coverage -- at least, prime time on the East Coast of the US -- is scheduled for 7pm-11pm ET each night. And how can you lose with all that beautiful scenery in Hawaii to watch?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: RBC Heritage

The madness of the Masters is over. While Tiger chills at home in his nice new green jacket, a number of pros will unwind at the RBC Heritage.

Defending champion Satoshi Kodaira

At least they say they're unwinding down there at Hilton Head Island. I see a Pete Dye special with extremely tight fairways and small greens and a lot of wind, thanks to its location along the SC coastline. That doesn't sound all that relaxing to me but, hey, after the complicated greens and chipping areas of Augusta National, perhaps Harbour Town GC seems more relaxing.

Or maybe they just like the laid-back atmosphere of Hilton Head and golf is just an excuse to spend a week there. I could understand that as well.

Alas, there is no rest for me. After a couple of decent picks at the Masters -- correct except for the order of finish -- I move on to Twofer Tuesday in Hilton Head. While the course is pure Pete Dye, it has proven friendly to first time winners like Wesley Bryan and Satoshi Kodaira, the last two victors.

But I'm not taking a first-timer this week, no sir.
  • My Top10 pick is Webb Simpson. Webb has rediscovered his form over the last couple of years, and his Top5 at the Masters last week was a great showing for him. I'm not sure how much that T5 took out of him so I'm not taking him to win, but his accuracy should help him place well even if he's tired. It's not like he'll have to hit the ball hard or anything.
  • And my winner is Jim Furyk. What can I say? I'm going chalk, baby! Furyk is the all-time money winner at Harbour Town and has won there twice. Given how well he's been playing this season, I can't help but feel this is a great place for him to pick up another win. By the way, did I mention his last win came here in 2015?
It's rare for someone who fared well at Augusta to play well at Harbour Town, simply because Augusta takes so much out of the players. That may be why first-timers do so well here -- often they haven't played the Masters! And Furyk didn't play the Masters this year, so...

Chalk, people. I'm big on chalk this week. ;-)

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Masters

Winner: Tiger Woods

Around the wider world of golf: Yes, it's true that some pros didn't watch the Masters. Andrés Echavarría won the Molino Cañuelas Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and David Kocher won the Haikou Championship on the PGA TOUR China.

Tiger celebrates his fifth Masters win

Well, my Tuesday Twofer picks went better this week. I picked Francesco Molinari (T5) to win and Tiger Woods (1) to Top10. While I got the order reversed, it's still two Top5 picks for me this week and -- let's face it -- I'm not disappointed with the outcome.
  • Winners: 2 for 15
  • Place well (Top10): 9 for 15 (5 Top5 finish, 4 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 17 of 30 (8 Top5s, 9 more Top10s)
And the whole golf world seems to agree with me.

After the first Augusta National Women's Amateur and the Annual DC&P competition, Masters Week just got better and better -- in large part because Augusta National took on so much water that even the Competition Committee couldn't dry it out. All they could do was make it reward good shots... and boy, did we get good shots! The number of records that were broken last week was amazing.

Hole Number 12 turned out to be the turning point, as it so often has in the past, but on a level that was unexpected. Was it the wind or the Tiger Effect that caused Molinari, Koepka, Finau and Poulter all to come up short and post double-bogeys? We do know that it was Tiger's experience that let him walk away with a par.

And by the time he reached 18, with the crowd chanting, "TIGER, TIGER!" at a deafening volume, you have to wonder if the youngsters are really all that glad they got that taste of "PrimeTime Tiger" they've been saying they wanted. I suspect the older players are getting a good laugh about that.

In the meantime, Tiger got his first-ever come-from-behind win, his fifth Masters victory, his 81st tournament win (just one behind Sam Snead) and another round of Tigermania -- only this one must be bigger than even he expected. At least his latest Limerick Summary will be quiet enough that he can get some well-deserved sleep today!
His first major win from behind!
The Tiger we hoped he would find
Is back on the track
To chase after Jack;
It all seems like some grand design…
The photo came from this page at golfdigest.com.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Just a Reminder...

In order to beat the storms, the Masters field will tee off in threesomes on split tees starting at 7:30am ET. CBS will begin coverage at 9am ET. Don't miss it!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Jack Nicklaus on Hitting It Long and Straight (Video)

The weather in Augusta is supposed to turn bad today, so perhaps some help from Jack Nicklaus on how to hit the ball long AND straight might be helpful.



I like Jack's answer to the question, "How far can you hit it?"
"As far as I need to."
And he notes something that is overlooked by a lot of people -- namely, that he utilized his adrenaline when he needed to hit the ball a long way. That's a strategic decision, folks, based on knowing how your body is reacting to the situation you're in at the time.

The key to drives that are both long and accurate is, according to Jack, to swing within yourself. While he says that golf is played from the ground up -- which means you need good footwork and lower leg action -- the key is to do that without throwing your body around in a sloppy way.

In other words, you can swing hard as long as you stay in balance.

Yeah, that covers a lot of things like sound mechanics and proper sequencing and self-awareness, among other things. But while you may not be able to know for sure how well you're doing all those things, you CAN tell if you're swinging in balance.

And the best drill to get better at that is simply swinging as fast as you can without losing your balance. Start with half swings, then go to full swings -- and don't hit balls with either. What you want to do is start swinging at a speed where you can keep your balance, then try to swing faster and faster until you can't.

The fastest speed at which you CAN keep your balance becomes the starting point of your drill. Mix it up -- make some fast swings, some slow swings, some medium-speed swings. And after you do that, try hitting some balls while making the same swings.

And focus on staying in balance. Watch some video of Jack in his prime. No matter how hard he swung, Jack was never out of balance.

That's how you begin developing your ability to play by feel. Swinging in balance is the basis of playing by feel. Learn to swing in balance and you'll make a huge stride towards hitting the ball longer and straighter.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Odds Have Changed

I don't do a lot of articles like this lately, but the great play on Thursday has changed the odds so dramatically that I thought you might be interested to see how they're evolving just since the first round finished.

New betting favorite Brooks Koepka

Here are the odds from Westgate LasVegas Superbook, as listed by Will Gray on golfchannel.com.
  • 9/2: Brooks Koepka
  • 6/1: Dustin Johnson
  • 13/2: Bryson DeChambeau
  • 10/1: Tiger Woods
  • 12/1: Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm
  • 14/1: Rickie Fowler
  • 20/1: Adam Scott, Francesco Molinari
  • 25/1: Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy
  • 30/1: Kevin Kisner, Tommy Fleetwood
  • 40/1: Jason Day
  • 50/1: Gary Woodland, Cameron Smith, Tony Finau, Louis Oosthuizen
  • 60/1: Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar
  • 80/1: J.B. Holmes, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
  • 100/1: Justin Harding, Charley Hoffman, Justin Rose, Marc Leishman, Xander Schauffele, Lucas Bjerregaard, Corey Conners
  • 150/1: Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Thorbjorn Olesen, Patton Kizzire
Note that Brooks has leapt all the way from 20/1 to 9/2 while Rory fell from 9/1 to 25/1. Tiger and Phil improved incrementally while Bryson also made a big leap toward the top.

Why do I find this so interesting? Here are the odds Gray listed back in August 2018. Take a look:
  • 10/1: Jordan Spieth
  • 12/1: Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas
  • 14/1: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
  • 16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm
  • 20/1: Jason Day
  • 25/1: Bubba Watson
  • 30/1: Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama
  • 40/1: Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Tony Finau, Adam Scott
  • 50/1: Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman
  • 60/1: Alex Noren, Xander Schauffele, Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen
  • 80/1: Thomas Pieters, Branden Grace, Ian Poulter, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Charley Hoffman, Cameron Smith
  • 100/1: Kevin Kisner, Tyrrell Hatton, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Ryan Moore, Aaron Wise, Russell Henley, Charl Schwartzel
Obviously they didn't know every player who would qualify back at that time. But look at how much some of these players have changed! The most glaring change is Jordan Spieth, moving from the 10/1 favorite to a 150/1 longshot. And -- surprising to me -- Jason Day's odds actually improved despite the obvious back discomfort he experienced Thursday.

Granted, it's only been one round and a lot can change before Sunday night. But it demonstrates how seriously the betting community takes the stat that says most Masters champions are in the Top10 after the first round.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

John Hughes on Better Scoring Through Smarter Golf

PGA instructor John Hughes has a lengthy article at golftipsmag.com on how to improve your scoring by using a strategy better suited to your game. I think it's a good article to study.

Pick a target for your shots

Here are the basic points of his article.
  • Aim your shots toward smaller, more precise targets. Even if you don't hit them, you'll improve your results by focusing on a smaller target.
  • Rather than trying to hit every club as far as you possibly can, choose clubs that you know you can hit pin-high without a struggle. You'll put yourself in better position more often.
  • Aim for the middle of the green. You're more likely to make a long putt on the green than a tricky chip from a tough lie.
  • Understand the challenges of the course you're playing. That way, you can figure out how to put the shots you already know how to hit in play more often, and that will eliminate a lot of your big scores.
  • Finally, play to your strengths. You'll always score better if you hit shots you have confidence in than if you try to hit shots you have trouble with.
I know, it all sounds terribly basic. But it's always the basics that trip us up. How many poor shots have you hit because you were set up improperly? How often have you hit a ball into trouble because you didn't take enough club? How many times have you ended up in trouble because you tried to hit a club that you never hit well, even on the range?

John Hughes has a lot of good tips on how to take these simple tips and apply them consistently to your game. If you spend some time reading and studying this article, your game will improve -- even if you don't get a lot of practice.

Remember: You always play better when you know what you're doing and why!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Rob Strano on the Perfect Tee Height (Video)

Today I have a cool tip on how to tee your ball perfectly every time from GCA coach Rob Strano.



A simple idea: Push the tee into the ground beside the ball so that the top of the tee is level with the top of the ball. Seriously, how cool is that?

Using the ball itself to determine how high the tee should be is a no-brainer for getting it right without guesswork. Give it a try and see if you agree.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: The Masters

The women have played. The juniors have played. Now it's time for the Masters proper. That's why Tiger is smiling...

Tiger Woods

I'm not going to bore you with any details of the event -- you KNOW the history of the Masters and what it's all about. So let's just get to the picks, okay?

The Masters is always a bit difficult to pick for a variety of reasons. The players are extremely familiar with the course, there's usually very little rough, and many of the players just seem to find another gear at Augusta, no matter what their form looks like going in. Add a lot of rain into the mix -- which traditionally seems to have favored the short hitters -- and you've got a free-for-all just waiting to happen.

But this year adds a new wrinkle, and that's the dramatic schedule change. There are no off-weeks this season, and players are feeling their way through the new schedule. I think that may have a bigger effect than most expect, but there probably won't be any way to quantify its effect or even prove that it has an effect. At any rate, it's yet another unpredictable factor in the picks.

Let me eliminate a couple of favorites right now. Jordan Spieth could certainly find his game this week but I just don't see him putting four rounds together -- and that's basically what has killed his chances for the last two years at least. And while I like Rory McIlroy's new mental approach and expect him to win a Masters in the next two or three years, I simply don't expect it to happen this year -- I don't think he'll be able to apply that new mental game until he's found out exactly what Augusta will throw at him this year.

So who should I pick?
  • For my Top10 I'm taking Tiger Woods. I'm not sure Tiger has had time to find the balance of play and rest in this new schedule. I think he will before the year is out but, as with Rory, I think Augusta might throw him a few curves this time around. Still, I think his game is in good enough shape that he can make a run on Sunday and post yet another Top10 at this event.
  • And my winner? I have to take Francesco Molinari. His win at the API was proof that his game is back in shape, he should be well rested after a week off -- he also took a week off before the API -- and I think the wet course may help him by allowing aggressive shots with longer clubs. And that will only give him more opportunities to exploit that awesome short game of his.
Let me add that I'm pulling for Rickie Fowler to break through this time, but I think Francesco has a better chance of winning so he's my pick. If Rickie wins, I won't complain about being wrong. ;-)

This page at pga.com has the complete TV schedule for Masters week. Bear in mind that ESPN has the Thursday and Friday coverage, while CBS has its traditional weekend coverage. ESPN's coverage starts at 3pm ET on both days of their coverage, and they'll be covering the Wednesday par-3 tournament as well. Masters.com will be handling the streaming coverage.

Given all the storylines at play this week, this should be a fun Masters to follow!

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Valero Texas Open

Winner: Corey Conners

Around the wider world of golf: Jennifer Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur; Jin Young Ko got her first major at the LPGA's ANA Inspiration; Daan Huizing made golfing history by becoming the first player to win the Jordan Mixed Open, a full-field mixed professional tournament on the ET/LET (yes, that means men and women playing against each other in the same event, and Meghan MacLaren finished runner-up); Leona Maguire won the Windsor Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour; Jun-Won Park won the Novil Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; and Sadom Kaewkanjana won the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open on the Asian Tour.

Corey Conners with his Valero Texas Open trophy

Tuesday Twofer picks are definitely NOT going according to plan. I picked Aaron Baddeley (T30) to win and Abraham Ancer (T42) to Top10. After the first day or so I thought I might have done better this week but alas, it was not to be.
  • Winners: 2 for 14
  • Place well (Top10): 8 for 14 (4 Top5 finish, 4 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 15 of 28 (6 Top5s, 9 more Top10s)
Maybe I'll do better at the Masters this week.

Corey Conners probably doesn't care how I did with my Twofer Tuesday picks. After all, he finally snagged his first Tour win. He had a near miss last October at the Sanderson Farms Championship. But Sunday must have been a real test of nerves.

Check out his scorecard: He birdied four of his first five holes, then bogeyed the next four, and finished with six birdies on the back nine. His poor wife Malory looked like she was dying by the time he reached the 18th green! When she leapt into his arms after he holed out, she asked him if this was real.

Corey better get used to it being real, and get used to it quick. He needs to get to Augusta today, since he snagged the final spot in the Masters field with his win. He no longer has to Monday qualify for events -- he Monday-qualified for Valero, in case you didn't know -- and he's locked up his Tour card for a couple of years or so. And he qualified for a bunch of key events.

Of course, he also picked up his first Limerick Summary, but it may take him a while before he realizes that. It's a big honor to process, after all.
With only three pars on the card,
Poor Corey was working so hard
To get the job done
That, after he won,
His wife’s nerves were falling apart.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The First Woman Ever to Win at Augusta

This is more than history to me. You see, I live just outside Winston-Salem NC, where Wake Forest University is.

And Jennifer Kupcho is a senior at Wake Forest.

Jennifer Kupcho with Augusta National Women's Amateur trophy

By now everybody knows that Kupcho made history in a lot of ways, and Maria Fassi also did her part. While Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur by four shots over Fassi, Fassi herself was four shots clear of third place. It's hard to argue with that kind of debut!

People would pay for this kind of play in the Masters. Kupcho was rankied #1 in the world and Fassi #9, but Fassi is a power player against Kupcho's more precise game. Both have already qualified for the LPGA but postponed turning pro to play in the Augusta event and finish out their college careers this spring. And both played Augusta National for all it was worth.

Although, after shooting -5 on the last six holes, you have to say that Kupcho clearly earned that trophy!

So yeah, I think I've got a good reason to celebrate. And I also think we'll be hearing a lot more about this event over the next week, given that the Masters can now be a celebration of women's golf, junior golf and men's golf. No other event can make that claim.

The Kupcho-Fassi duel is history now. And if there was ever any doubt that this new event would be a success, those two sure took care of that!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Paul Foston on Stack and Tilt (Video)

This video from the Golf Monthly UK site (here's a link to the text that accompanies it) talks about the basics of stack and tilt, which used to be fairly popular but has fallen out of fashion with instructors. This happens quite often with any new swing method -- for example, David Ledbetter's A-Swing seems to have already suffered the same fate -- but there are reasons that these methods become popular in the first place.

I think Foston does a good job of explaining why stack and tilt originally became popular and what you can still learn from it.



I actually did a couple of articles about stack and tilt way back in 2010, on August 31 and September 1. The second one was done after one of my readers (who was more current on the swing than I was) pointed out some changes that Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, the creators of the method, had made since they wrote the Golf Digest articles from which I had originally learned the technique. In the end I summarized stack and tilt this way:
When you strip away all the strange-looking moves, the "Stack and Tilt" is little more than a full swing made from a short game setup.
And Foston says basically the same thing. The swing didn't work for me as a full swing because my hips weren't -- and still aren't -- all that flexible but it's definitely a solid approach to the short game and partial shots. It's also a great way to learn how to swing without swaying off the ball, since it forces you to keep your weight on your lead leg all the way through your swing.

All of those things are still true. While the stack and tilt never caught on the way some other swing methods have, it definitely has strengths that many players can learn from. And the technique is a good one to use as is for pitching and chipping the ball.

So take a couple of minutes to watch the video and see if it can help you improve your short game. You might be glad you did.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Nancy Lopez's Two Tricks for Forgetting Bad Breaks

Nancy LopezI found this bit of "mental trickery" in Nancy's book The Education of a Woman Golfer. (It's an older book, from 1979.) Perhaps it will help some of you put those bad breaks out of your mind quicker!
I try to put bad things that have happened to me out of my mind right away. I've two pieces of knowledge that let me do just that, hard as it was at the beginning before my philosophical education took hold [that is, before she purposely developed a mental game]. The first is that over so long a stretch as fifty-four or seventy-two holes of golf, similar misfortunes are sure to overtake virtually everyone else. The second is that in so lengthy a competitive stretch, there's plenty of time and opportunity for your skill -- or luck for that matter -- to have a good chance to take effect and even things out. If you're the best or one of the best, time is on your side, so don't panic. In any case, you can't do anything about spilled milk. All the gnashing of teeth in the world isn't going to change that double-bogey-6 back into the par-4 you should have made, but a couple of birdies will make up for it. About all I do after a bad hole is draw a little fence around the figure on my scorecard, so it won't spill over onto the next hole! When I make a birdie I draw a star. Does that mean I'm superstitious? Sure. Who isn't one way or the other? [p127-8]
Now I know that you're going to fixate on the "pro" parts of her advice and say that it won't apply to you. But it does.

After all, everything is a matter of perspective -- or, as Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke, "What I told you is true... from a certain point of view."

First piece of knowledge you should learn: One day of golf isn't how your whole game will go from now on, just as one day of your life isn't the way your whole life will go from now on. You have good days and bad days, and so does everybody else. So don't develop tunnel vision and think your golf world is in shambles just because today was a bad day.

Second piece of knowledge you should learn: One day of golf isn't all you'll have in your life. (Well, probably not. I suppose you could just give up after one day...) Over time, you're going to get better -- and worse -- over and over, and you're going to get some lucky breaks and some unlucky breaks. As Nancy says, "time is on your side." Things will even out over time.

Maybe you won't make a couple of birdies to make up for that double- or triple-bogey you made, but you might make some bogeys and pars if you don't beat yourself up over the bad holes.

And I have to admit that I like the idea of drawing fences around bad scores on your card. And you can draw stars for pars or even bogeys if those are good scores for you. BTW, there's nothing wrong with 90 or 100 being a good score for you. If you aren't a pro golfer and your life isn't built around playing golf, you shouldn't judge your game by a pro's standards. Presumably you play golf because you enjoy the game, not for your ego. Enjoy yourself and ignore other people's opinions!

Nancy's point is that you can't get your self-worth from a stupid game, so don't even try. Golf should help you handle life better, not make your life more stressful. If it's not relieving stress for you, then you need to work on your mental game... or take up a new hobby.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Martin Hall on Shaping a Draw (Video)

This video is pretty much self-explanatory, but I want to call your attention to something you may not know about shaping shots.



Although Martin says that all players at Augusta, regardless of whether they're right- or left-handed, need to be able to curve the ball from right to left, what he shows here is the technique for hitting a draw. (Which means it's less helpful for lefties trying to hit the ball right to left, which is a fade for them.)

But what I want to point out -- that "both sides" can use -- is a different way of shaping shots than what you may have heard before. We'll use a draw as an example, since that's what Martin demonstrates here.

The most common way of setting up to hit a draw is to close your stance, which creates an in-to-out shot shape. But you'll note that Martin has Blair set up square and move the ball position back a little. That also creates an in-to-out shot shape because the club, which has to swing around your body, is still coming from inside if your stance is square but the ball is back. Are you with me so far?

Now here's the trick that you may not have known before.

Near the end of the video when Martin goes to the big screen and draws on it, over on the right hand side you can see two numbers. One is labeled "Club Path" and the other is "Face to Target." See how Blair's swing shows 5.6° inside out (a closed club path)? That's what I was talking about just a couple of paragraphs back.

BUT take a look at the other number. It shows 3.5° open. Do you see that? OPEN! Sounds like it should cause a fade, right? But you can clearly see in the shot trace from earlier in the video that Blair's shot curved from right to left -- a draw.

How can this be?

This is what I want you to understand. As long as the face is open LESS than the club path is closed, the ball will DRAW. In this case, the club path is 5.6° closed but the face is open only 3.5°, so the face is open less and the ball draws.

No matter how your feet are lined up, if you make an in-to-out swing and the ball still fades, you have the face open MORE than the path is closed and THAT is what makes the ball fade. To stop the fade, you need to stop opening the face so much. Understand?

There is more than one way to shape a shot but you need to understand what you're doing before you can fix an incorrect shot shape. Let me say this one more time: The clubface doesn't have to be square in order to get a draw. It just needs to be less open than the club path is closed. Get a handle on that little fact and you should find it much easier to create a draw.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Two Majors for the Ladies

Of course I speak of the first-ever Augusta National Women's Amateur and the ANA Inspiration. Let's start with the am. First, here's a photo of the new trophy:

The Augusta National Women's Amateur trophy

And yes, I know this new event isn't a major... yet. I think it could, in time, become one. We'll see.

The Women's Am holds two rounds at Champions Retreat Golf Club on Wednesday (today!) and Thursday, after which the field will be trimmed to 30. Those 30 will get a practice round at Augusta National on Friday before playing the final round there on Saturday. NBC will cover that final round live from noon-3pm ET.

For those of you who want the info:
Those should get you started.

And then Thursday (tomorrow) the LPGA gets into the act with the first official major of the year, the ANA Inspiration. (Unlike me, a lot of people don't consider THE PLAYERS a major.)

You can find Tony Jesselli's preview at this link. I always try to include a link to Tony's previews because he puts a lot of work into them and you always learn some fun stuff that you won't find anywhere else -- like the fact that the Top25 in the Rolex Rankings are all in the field. Even Michelle Wie is going to give it a go, and I suspect that's why she skipped the Kia last week. She's still having some problems from the wrist surgery she had in the off-season.

The ANA -- still called the Dinah by some, the Kraft Nabisco by others -- almost always provides some drama, whether it's something like the freak penalty to Lexi Thompson in 2017 when So Yeon Ryu won in a playoff, or last year's epic 8-hole playoff where Pernilla Lindberg got her first LPGA win by beating Inbee Park.

Please note that GC's live coverage is split on the first two days. The early coverage is from noon-4pm ET while the late coverage is from 7pm-9pm ET. The last two rounds will have four straight hours of coverage from 5pm-9pm ET. That's because of the three-hour time difference between the East and West coasts.

If you're a fan of women's golf, you'll have a full plate this week. Enjoy!

ADDITION: Phil Clare sent me a couple of extra links for these events.
Both are over at foregals.com. Thanks, Phil!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Valero Texas Open

This week we move to the Tour's last stop in Texas, the Valero Texas Open.

Hole #1 at TPC San Antonio

TPC San Antonio always gives the pros all they can handle. It's over 7400 yards and has four par-5s -- uncommon at a pro event these days -- yet the course has NEVER averaged under par. (Last year the average was 72.367.) The course can be windy and the greens are hard to putt even when the winds are down.

All of this leads to surprise winners... and since the final Masters spot is awarded to the winner of this event, that spells opportunity for the players this week. PGATOUR.com says that, as of Monday afternoon, only 17 players in the field are in the Masters.

And that brings us to my Tuesday Twofer. I haven't done as well as I'd hoped over the last few weeks -- I still can't get over JT getting crushed in pool play last week -- so I'm throwing caution to the Texas winds.
  • My Top10 pick this week is Abraham Ancer. Ancer didn't do so well last year, placing T58 in his first appearance. But he's not a rookie anymore and, while his play has been a bit up-and-down this season, he had a T12 and a T17 in his last two starts (THE PLAYERS and WGC-Match Play). Given that those were both first appearances for him, I think he might have the game to excel on this tight course.
  • And my pick to win is Aaron Baddeley. Despite an MC at THE PLAYERS, his last four events have been T2-T17-MC-T7 (that last one at the alternate event last week). Baddeley scrambles and putts so well that I think TPC San Antonio fits him, and he seems to be in form to take advantage of that fit.
Granted, I have no idea how these players will do this week. And there are other wild cards in the field -- like Rickie Fowler, making his first-ever appearance -- who could easily be the surprise winner this week since he has no record here. But maybe I'll get lucky this time.

GC's live coverage begins Thursday at 3:30pm ET. You can get all the TV times (and a link to all the Thursday tee times) at this golfchannel.com page.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 WGC-Dell Match Play

Winner: Kevin Kisner

Around the wider world of golf: Nasa Hataoka got her third LPGA win at the Kia Classic; Stephen Gallacher broke a five-year winless streak at the Hero Indian Open on the ET; Dan McCarthy won his first Web.com Tour event at the Savannah Golf Championship; Jared Wolfe won the Buenaventura Classic for his third PGA TOUR Latinoamérica victory; Taihei Sato became the first Japanese player to win a PGA TOUR Series-China event at the Chongqing Championship; Jillian Hollis won the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa for her first win on the Symetra Tour; and Graeme McDowell broke his winless streak at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate field event, for his fourth PGA TOUR win. The Champions Tour will finish a playoff today to learn whether Kevin Sutherland or Scott Parel will win the Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Kevin Kisner with the Walter Hagen Cup

I confess that I'm dumbfounded at the results of my Tuesday Twofer picks. I picked Paul Casey (T9) to win and Justin Thomas (T24) to Top10. Molinari knocked out Casey, I can accept that, but JT didn't even make it out of pool play! What has the world come to?
  • Winners: 2 for 13
  • Place well (Top10): 8 for 13 (4 Top5 finish, 4 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 15 of 26 (6 Top5s, 9 more Top10s)
Oh well, at least we got some killer matches this year.

As it turned out, the championship match wasn't one of them. But I suppose that's to be expected after seven rounds in five days. It's got to take a toll on players, no matter how they try to pace themselves.

The fact that Kevin Kisner made it back to that final match for the second year in a row was just amazing. And when you realize that Kisner trailed in the semis against Molinari on only one hole (the 3rd) and NEVER trailed Kuchar in the finals, youi have to concede that Kisner's play on Sunday was better than the telecast might have made it look.

It took him fourteen matches -- seven last year and seven this year -- to get the job done, but he did it. He can't help it that his opponents just couldn't get it done against him.

This is definitely the biggest win of Kisner's career so far, and it's his third PGA Tour win. Moreover, it helps establish him as an elite match player -- something that will not be lost on future Presidents and Ryder Cup captains!

But for now, Kevin, a mere week away from the Masters, you have my permission to just sit back and celebrate -- and read your newest Limerick Summary as many times as you wish. You won't have to compete against anybody to do that!
Consecutive years, fourteen matches
Where Kisner was golden in patches—
But this year he won!
He got the job done
‘Cause Matt failed to score with his chances.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.