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Monday, May 27, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge

Winner: Kevin Na

Around the wider world of golf: Bronte Law got her first LPGA win at the Pure Silk Championship; Bernd Wiesberger won the Made in Denmark event on the ET; Ken Tanigawa got his first Champions Tour major at the Senior PGA Championship; Scottie Scheffler got his first Web.com Tour win at the Evans Scholars Invitational; Jake Knapp won the Canada Life Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Drew Nesbitt won the Abierto Mexicano de Golf on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Kevin Techakanokboon won the Nantong Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Nuria Iturrios won her first Symetra Tour event at the Zimmer Biomet Championship; Annabel Dimmock won her first LET event at the Jabra Ladies Open; Tomoharu Otsuki won the Kansai Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; and Duke won the NCAA Div1 Women's Golf Championship. Maria Fassi (Arkansas University) won the individual title.

Kevin Na finally hoists the Charles Schwab trophy

Is it my imagination or are my Tuesday Twofer picks just jerking my chain? I picked Jordan Spieth (T8) to win and Graeme McDowell (73) to Top10. Jordan teased me for three rounds before going backward, and Graeme was dead last to make the cut and dead last overall in the field. What's a poor blogger got to do to get a decent pick around here?
  • Winners: 2 for 21
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 21 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 42 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But I'm not too disappointed by Kevin Na's showing -- not only because I like his grittiness but because it gives me another chance to post this music video. It's become my way to celebrate for him!



When asked by the media what he thought he had to shoot Sunday in order to win, Kevin told them he thought 67 -- which would put him at -12 -- would probably win it for him.

As it turned out, he shot 66 and could have won it with 69. Going two-under in the final five holes put it away easily.

And if I didn't have enough reason to like Kevin already, the fact that he gave his caddie Kenny the keys to that sweet 1973 Dodge Challenger would have done it.

They'll be talking about this win for a few days, simply because Kevin made it look so easy. But after taking so long to get his second PGA Tour win, the third one came less than a year later. That -- and a sweet Limerick Summary, of course -- will make this one Kevin will remember for a long time.
Na said, “Twelve gets it done.” He was right!
As it turned out, he took quite a bite
From the field with his run
To thirteen. They were done
Long before the last shot of the fight.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Here's the Story on the LPGA Today...

Or perhaps I should say stories. The top of the leaderboard at the Pure Silk Championship is a very interesting one. In case you haven't kept up with it, here's what we've got for the final round.

Final round pairing: Bronte Law and Nasa Hataoka

Third from final pairing:
  • Madelene Sagstrom (-10): Madelene has three Symetra Tour wins and is looking for her first LPGA win. She's missed four of eight cuts this year and her best finish is a T33 back in February. This is an unexpectedly good week for her, as she comes off a T67 and a MC in her last two starts.
  • Carlota Ciganda (-11): Carlota has several wins, two of which came on the LPGA. She's playing well this year, with three Top5 finishes.
Penultimate pairing:
  • Jennifer Song (-12): Jennifer has two Symetra Tour wins and is looking for her first LPGA win. She lost in a playoff at last year's ANA Inspiration, but has struggled this season. Her last two tournaments were a MC and a T55.
  • Brooke Henderson (-12): Brooke is clearly the favorite in these three pairings. She has eight LPGA wins including one major, and has won once already this year. Notably, a win today makes her the winningest Canadian golfer (male or female) in history. She is coming off a MC though.
Final pairing:
  • Bronte Law (-13): Meanwhile, Bronte is clearly the least experienced in these groups. She has no professional wins of any kind so she's looking for her first LPGA title. She has three MC so far this year and only one Top10, but that was a playoff loss at the LPGA MEDIHEAL, her last tournament, so she's definitely in form to win.
  • Nasa Hataoka (-13): Finally, the youngest of these players has three LPGA wins, including a win earlier this season. She's proven she can close.
Every single one of these players is a valid storyline, and I only took the top six on the leaderboard! I tend to think the winner will come from one of these players, simply because they have all played well every round. And given that conditions will be tough today -- the heat is supposed to be particularly bad -- it will take something special for a player to come out of the pack and catch the leaders.

GC's coverage of the final round starts at 4pm ET today. It could be a race to the finish.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Bronte Law's Hip Decel Drill (Video)

Yes, you read that correctly. This is a hip DECELERATION drill that Bronte was using as she prepared for the pro tours -- I don't know if she still uses it or not. But since she's tied for the lead at the halfway point of the Pure Silk Championship, I thought you all might be interested in it.



After hearing so much instruction about how you have to drive your trailing hip toward the target, this idea of slowing your hip turn in order to create more clubhead speed probably sounds like heresy. But let's think about this for a moment.

The traditional idea is that, because your swing is a rotary motion and so many players are trying to hit the ball as hard as they can while leaving the clubface slightly open (to get that slight fade the big boys swear by), you need to turn as fast as you can so your hands won't pass your hips. If your hands pass your hips, so the logic goes, you'll flip the clubface closed and hit a doublecross.

But all the technology we have now is telling us that your clubhead reaches its peak speed just before impact. And if you've paid attention to all those swing analyses of players like Rory, you'll know that his hips stop during his downswing and actually move backward a bit before they finish their turn through the ball.

That's basically what Bronte's drill does. Throwing that medicine ball straight down at the ground stops her hip turn -- in the drill, that is -- so she can speed up her hands and arms to create more speed.

During your real swing, your hips won't actually stop; they'll just slow down a bit. That's why this is called a decel drill and not a stopping drill. It also stabilizes your swing, so you don't slide too far forward during your downswing, which would cause you to just "wipe" the ball and hit a weak push or slice.

And -- this is very important -- it also teaches you to hit down on the ball instead of lifting up and hitting it thin. You can't slam that ball into the ground if you don't move down!

So this is a simple drill that can help the mechanics of your swing in a lot of ways while giving you a simple swing thought ("slam that ball!") that makes those mechanics happen almost automatically. The less you have to think about mechanics, the more consistent you'll be.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Mike Malizia on Lifting Your Lead Heel (Video)

GCA Lead Coach Mike Malizia did this video about whether you should lift your lead heel or not. Here, take a look:



The key here is that you don't decide to lift your heel or keep it down. Rather, it's your flexibility when you turn that causes your lead heel to lift. Lifting your heel isn't a decision you make; it's just a reaction you have. As Malizia says, the less flexible you are, the more your lead heel will lift. If you stay relaxed, your heel will just be pulled off the ground naturally and the sequencing will be correct.

And when your heel is pulled off the ground, you'll get a very natural weight shift. To start down, you just let your lead heel settle back down onto the ground and -- as I said -- the sequencing will be correct.

But I disagree with Malizia on one point. Just because you're flexible enough to keep your lead heel on the ground doesn't mean you should. I'm flexible enough to keep my heel on the ground... but when I do, my lead hip drops a bit and it changes my spine angle from the way it was at address. Trust me, you have to make a compensation on the way down to correct that! You don't want to make compensations if you can avoid it.

My advice is to just make your hip turn and let your lead heel raise if it wants. Depending on how flexible you are, it may only lift a little... or it may lift a lot. But don't try to make it do either one. Just let it happen naturally and you'll get a more consistent swing motion.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Congrats to the Duke Women's Golf Team!

I have to take a moment to give the gals at Duke a shout-out for their win over Wake Forest at the NCAA Women's Championship.

The victorious 2019 Duke Women's Golf team

The finals were particularly cool for me because both teams are from North Carolina. I live about ten minutes outside Winston-Salem, where Wake is, and Duke is a bit less than two hours east of me in Durham, near Raleigh. I was going to be happy regardless of which team won, which doesn't happen to me very often!

And if you missed it, it turned out to be a very close competition. Duke won 3-2, but only one of the matches could be called a blowout. One match finished 1-up and three others went extra holes -- including the match that decided the winner.

Although I know the Wake team is disappointed, they have come so far in the last year or so that I'm still very happy for them. They had a lot of success this season and have a lot to build on next year.

But you'll be hearing the parties at Duke for a while, I guarantee. Enjoy them, girls -- you earned it!

Now on to the Men's Championship!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Dale Abraham on Reading the Rough

I found this short article over at golftipsmag.com on how to read your lie in the rough and make the proper adjustments.

Two balls, one sitting down in the rough and one on top

Although the article is short, PGA instructor Dale Abraham tells you what questions you need to ask in order to read a lie in the rough and then explains what sort of adjustments you need to make, as well as how those adjustments will affect the ball flight.

Because the article is so short and yet has several photos to illustrate what he tells you, there's really not a lot I can reprint from the article without reprinting the whole thing. Basically:
  • If the ball is on top of the rough you can usually take your normal setup and expect to get a normal shot.
  • If the ball has settled down into the rough, your normal setup will likely result in a topped shot. You'll need to make adjustments.
The two balls shown in the photo above are his examples, and he provides photos (with explanations) showing how you adjust your setup and how the changes will affect your swing.

This is a remarkably informative and helpful article, especially given how short it is. I suspect you'll not only want to read it but also save the page in your browser for future reference. It really communicates a lot of useful instruction in just a few paragraphs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Charles Schwab Challenge

In 2017 it was the Dean & DeLuca Invitational; in 2018, the Fort Worth Invitational; this year, the Charles Schwab Challenge. But you know the venue -- the legendary Colonial Country Club.

Defending champion Justin Rose

This event is an invitational with a limited field of 120. The defending champion Justin Rose is in the field, but the runner-up -- some unknown named Koepka -- is taking the week off this year. Big surprise, huh?

Colonial itself is a par-70 measuring just over 7200 yards and its main defense is the Texas wind, expected to be around 15mph this week. It's one of the courses bearing the moniker "Hogan's Alley" because Hogan won here a total of five times. And it has the record for being the longest-running host course at any non-major, having done so since 1946.

In other words, this course is a known quantity for anybody who's ever played it. Familiarity with the layout is no problem.

However, after a tough week at the Black, I'm not sure how anybody is going to play. The guys coming from the PGA may very well be gassed while the pros who didn't play last week may find their games a bit rusty for a course that tends to favor good ballstrikers. So I'm going to throw caution to the wind, throw the dice and just hope for the best.
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Graeme McDowell. He doesn't play here very often and, in his last visit (2017) he finished T29. But the Irishman has a win this season and after a T29 last week (+5) Colonial will probably look like a relaxing resort course. Plus, with the Open Championship in his sights I think he'll be motivated to improve his current OWGR position of 115.
  • And for my winner I'm taking Jordan Spieth. I know, one good T3 finish doesn't mean he's ready to win yet. But that T3 came at the Black, and he showed signs that he's beginning to just play shots instead of micromanaging them. Like Graeme, I think he'll find Colonial to be a welcome change. And this is almost a home game for the Texas boy, so why wouldn't he?
After all the excitement of last week -- and the relief that they won't have to face down the four-time major winner in back-to-back weeks -- I'm thinking these two may relax a bit and just play golf. If they do that, they could both do some serious damage to the field.

GC starts their coverage at 4pm ET on Thursday while PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 8am ET. It should be quite interesting to see how the field recuperates from the thrashing Brooks gave them last week!

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 PGA Championship

Winner: Brooks Koepka

Around the wider world of golf: Robby Shelton won the Knoxville Open on the Web.com Tour; Evan Harmeling won the BMW Jamaica Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Luke Kwon won the Qinhuangdao Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Helen Alfredsson won the US Senior Women’s Open Championship on the LPGA Legends Tour; Leona Maguire won the Symetra Classic on the Symetra Tour; Céline Herbin won the La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational on the LET; and Seong-Hyeon Kim won the HEIWA PGM Challenge on the AbemaTV Tour (that's part of the Japan Golf Tour).

A tired Brooks Koepka with the Wanamaker trophy

Well, my Tuesday Twofer picks did better this week. I picked Jon Rahm (MC) to win and Dustin Johnson (2) to Top10. I had such a strong gut feeling about Rahmbo when the week started; apparently it was only indigestion. But DJ lived up to expectations and even had a chance to win.
  • Winners: 2 for20
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 20 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 21 of 40 (11 Top5s, 10 more Top10s)
In the end, though, the story was about Bethpage Black. After a few days of slumber the old girl woke up, shook the sleep out of her eyes and began to terrorize the poor mortals who had dared to challenge her.

Even the hero of the script, Brooks Koepka, wasn't immune to her rage. After three days of setting records and humiliating the rest of the field, Brooks learned he wouldn't escape without a fight. On Sunday the Black began stealing back all the strokes he had stolen from her, even putting his victory in jeopardy.

And to whom did she offer it? Why, Dustin Johnson, of course! Had DJ simply managed to go -1 on the last three holes he could have forced a playoff.

But the Black was merely toying with him, it seems. In the end, all Brooks needed was a hard-won bogey on the final hole to defend his title and become the first player ever to defend two titles and hold their trophies at the same time -- in this case, the PGA and the US Open.

Now all eyes will be on him at Pebble. Can he possibly pick up a third US Open in a row? Perhaps the better question is... can anybody possibly stop him?

As of today, the answer is in doubt.

Brooks has broken too many records for me to list here, and he may break more before the year is out. All I know is that he made Brandel Chamblee eat his words -- the photo came from a golfchannel.com article citing Brandel's admission of defeat -- and he challenged me to make him a suitable Limerick Summary. I think I did a decent job. Do you?
His back-to-back majors made history.
His length off the tee and his wizardry
‘Round the greens is so strong
That, unless Brooks goes wrong,
How another might win is a mystery.
The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Brandel Chamblee on Triggering Your Backswing

I guess everybody knows that Brandel Chamblee has written some books on what you might call the "historical mechanics" of the game. Probably the best-known of them is The Anatomy of Greatness, which focuses on the full swing.

The Anatomy of Greatness book coverToday I've got a short quote from that book (well, three paragraphs) that focus on how you trigger your backswing. You need to understand that we aren't really talking about how you move into your backswing. Rather, we're looking at how you prepare to move into your backswing.

That may sound a bit strange. Let me put that another way.

Your backswing is a reaction to movements you make before starting your backswing. Think about using a slingshot -- you don't just lift up the slingshot and expect it to shoot without any effort from you! First you have to stretch the rubber band to put some energy into it. Then, when you let go of the rubber band, that energy is released and the ammo is fired.

This triggering action that Brandel is talking about is the equivalent of stretching the rubber band. Here's what he says about it:
Unlike many other sports in which the athlete reacts to a ball in motion, the golfer must initiate all movement, and before the ball moves -- before the club moves -- the player must.

Almost without exception, going back to the earliest days of this game, the best professional golfers have written about the importance of the movement of the body that precedes the swing, to stave off tension. Some have waggled the club, like Ben Hogan, who famously wrote on the subject, while others like Bobby Jones and Lee Trevino took a few steps as they addressed the ball to kick-start their swings. Still others like Gary Player and Mickey Writght talked of using a forward press to initiate, as much by rebound, the beginning of the backswing. Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead both used a combination of the forward press of their bodies, though it was more pronounced in Sam, and a turning of their heads to the right to serve as a preamble to their move away from the ball.

Perhaps one of the most ruinous trends in professional and amateur golf alike is the death of what Hogan called "the bridge" between the setup and the backswing. As the game's teaching has become more and more complex and microscopic in nature, players of all abilities have become frozen in thought over the ball and, it seems, have lost sight of the fact that the goal is to move in as big a circle as possible, as fast as possible, as smoothly as possible -- and none of those three things can be accomplished as easily without being relaxed as the swing begins. [p71]
Now you might wonder why I chose that section for this post. It's because it addresses a common misconception about triggering the backswing.

There's more than one way to get your backswing in motion!

Look at the number of ways Brandel mentions. You can start your backswing by:
  • Waggling the club. At the very least, you've seen Jason Dufner do it, so that should be self-explanatory.
  • Stepping into the swing. Those steps can be walking up and stepping into your stance, or shuffling your feet around after you take your stance.
  • Making a forward press. That's where you start with your weight pretty even on both feet, then you shift your weight onto your lead foot and use the motion of moving back to an even split to start your backswing. Think of it as a rocking motion toward and then away from the target.
  • Combining a forward press with turning your head away from the target. That's a sequential move, of course; you rock forward, then turn your head as you rock back.
There may be more ways to do it, but Brandel has named four in this short quote. It's likely that at least one of them will work for you, helping you relax and make a smooth start to your backswing. A little experimentation might help you swing with a lot less tension... and a lot more speed and accuracy.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Koepka Show Just Keeps On Rolling...

...and I'm in complete shock at how many big name players missed the cut.

Brooks at Bethpage on Friday

How many records did Brooks set, anyway? I know he set a new 36-hole record (128) and a new record lead for the event (7 strokes, the next closest being 5 strokes back in the Dark Ages).

And what players are seven strokes back? Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott, who have both struggled with their games of late, are the closest big names. Dustin Johnson is eight back and Justin Rose is nine back. It's not until we go ten back (-2) that we find a larger number of "the usual suspects."

I at least understand Tiger missing the cut. I know that, after I've been through a very stressful period, it's when things finally look up and I can relax that I usually get sick. After all the physical problems Tiger has had, capped by the breakthrough at Augusta last month, I'm not surprised that he finally got sick.

As for the rest of the field, I can't help but wonder if this isn't an unexpected side-effect of the new Tour schedule. This is the first year players have had to deal with five majors (and at least as many other big events) in a four-month period. And after that, they'll have the FedExCup to deal with. Players simply haven't figured out how much to play in order to be ready for the Big Five without wearing themselves out.

Reps or rest? It's a puzzle that will probably stump the pros for a while yet. But I think that's the most likely explanation for what we're seeing this week, and I don't know how long it's going to take for them to figure it out. In the meantime, this season might offer some opportunities for those pros who would normally only dream of a major.

Unless Brooks has anything to say about it, that is, He's a greedy fellow!

Friday, May 17, 2019

How Arnold Palmer Got His Distance (Video)

During Live From... last night Brandel Chamblee talked about how Danny Lee successfully got more length without losing his swing the way many players have. He talked about how using your knees creates this extra clubhead speed.

Arnold Palmer used basically the same technique during his career. The main thing he did differently from what Brandel described is that he started the process with his trailing knee straight instead of bent. Otherwise it's the same sequence.

I originally posted this video back in 2014. It explains the basics of the Palmer swing.



In Brandel's explanation he focused on the up and down movement. In my original post I included a couple of photos with vertical lines to help explain the lack of sideways movement that keeps you steady over the ball for solid contact.

When it comes to modern swing analysis, we're learning that the old techniques are new again. You can still learn a lot from the legends of the game.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

REMINDER: The PGA's on TNT

Because it's easy to forget. TNT's coverage starts today at 1pm ET.

2019 PGA Championship logo

And if you want to spend the whole day streaming, PGA.com coverage starts at 8am ET.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tips for Playing in the Rain (Video)

This is an older Morning Drive video (you can tell because Holly Sonders is in it) but the advice is still good. With all the rain we've had lately, tips on playing in wet weather could be really useful!



I'm not going to list everything in the video -- if I did, why would I bother with the video? -- but I do want to mention a few things that stand out to me.

Paige's suggestion about using rain gloves is something that most people don't even think about. The gloves grip better when they're wet, so you don't even need to worry about drying your grips. That's one less thing to think about when you're out in less-than-pleasurable weather.

Charlie's tip about using a gallon-size plastic baggie to keep your phone, watch and wallet dry is another of those "well, duh" suggestions that is so simple we never think of it.

The last one is Paige's thought about casual water. While most of us realize that wet greens are slower than dry greens, have you ever realized that greens with casual water are even slower than merely wet greens? That could save you some three-putts.

Watch the whole video to get all the tips. These are just the ones that stood out most to me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: PGA Championship

First, congrats to Steve Stricker on his first-ever major, the Regions Tradition on the Champions Tour. Stricks started the last round with a two-stroke lead and won with a six-stroke lead. That just might give him enough confidence to finally get a PGA Tour major at the PGA. Maybe.

But it doesn't get him a Twofer Tuesday pick. Sorry, Stricks.

Defending PGA champ Brooks Koepka

The PGA Championship will be played at Bethpage Black (here's a video guide to all 18 holes) and the defending champion is Brooks Koepka. In a way I feel sorry for Brooks because, with the restructuring of the Tour season, he hasn't even had a full year to enjoy his win. That's a bit of a bummer in my opinion. Just because you won two majors last year is no guarantee you'll get another this year, let alone defend one you just won.

However you feel about that, it brings us to the purpose of this Twofer Tuesday, which is me picking a winner and a Top10er for the PGA Championship. Last year I was just picking five players that I thought the winner would come from, which was a lot easier -- although, admittedly, my record wasn't all that good. But at least I felt like I had a better chance.

And the weather hasn't made it any easier. The recent rains have really opened up the scoring possibilities at the Black, since shorter hitters can get their longer shots to hold on the softer greens. But does that mean I'm taking some shorter hitters?

Not necessarily.
  • My Top10 pick is Dustin Johnson. I guess this is my "DJ or Brooks?" pick since it's hard to make a pick this week without taking one of the two. If I was picking five players like last year, I'd have both men in my picks but, since I'm not, I'm taking DJ over Brooks. While there's been a lot of talk about Brooks feeling slighted, I think DJ is probably feeling it as well. Don't you think he's tired of hearing how Brooks has three majors and he has only one? I do, and I also think he's in better form than Brooks. They may have tied for second at Augusta but, in my opinion, that T2 was a better indication of where DJ is than where Brooks is.
  • My pick to win is a bit outside the box though. I'm loving me some Rahmbo this week! While Jon Rahm is a bit down the list for most fans -- and I've heard few analysts pick him -- I like the way Rahm is playing. While it's easy to discount the team win with Ryan Palmer, Rahm has more Top10s this season (8 in 12 events) than anyone but McIlroy (8 in 10 events). If he continues to channel his emotions as effectively as he has so far this season, I like his chances to break through at the Black.
For the record, I would finish out my old "5 to Watch" picks with Tiger and Tony Finau. Tiger has played well in the last three majors, and Tony seems to be learning what he needs to know very quickly.

The big thing you need to remember this week is that TNT and CBS are sharing the coverage this week. TNT's coverage begins Thursday at 1pm ET and PGA.com begins streaming coverage at 8am ET. Let the battle begin!

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson

Winner: Sung Kang

Around the wider world of golf: Marcus Kinhult got his first ET title at the Betfred British Masters; Michael Gellerman won the KC Golf Classic on the Web.com Tour; Richard Jung won the Beijing Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Maria Parra won the IOA Invitational on the Symetra Tour; and the Champions Tour will need one more day to determine the winner of the Regions Tradition.

Sung Kang with AT&T Byron Nelson trophy

My Tuesday Twofer picks struggled this week. I picked Pat Perez (T12) to win and Charles Howell III (WD) to Top10. Perez did put on a run Sunday but was unable to make up enough ground, finishing just outside the Top10. Howell WD'ed after ten holes Thursday, presumable from a back injury (he wouldn't have been the only one).
  • Winners: 2 for 19
  • Place well (Top10): 10 for 19 (5 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 20 of 38 (10 Top5s, 10 more Top10s)
Sung Kang didn't WD, however. In fact, the 61 he shot Friday and Saturday during all the delays probably won the event for him; I think it was the low round of the week. It gave him a buffer that neither Scott Piercy nor Matt Every, both of whom had amazing weekends, were able to make up.

Of the two, only Every was really close enough to give Kang a run... and he certainly tried. I didn't hear much of the action on Sunday -- our TV coverage was largely consumed by tornado watches, caused by the front that terrorized this event and the Champions Tour event this weekend. But I was able to tell that Every would take the lead, then fall back, then retake the lead, then fall back... until Kang went on that birdie tear from 14 thru 16.

This week was good news for Kang in more ways than one, though. Not only did he get his first PGA Tour win, he also got a berth in next week's PGA Championship AND his first Limerick Summary. Of course, we all know which one of those was the most important, don't we?
Lord Byron could not stop the rain
Nor the lightning, but neither stopped Kang—
And neither did Every!
Now… will Kang’s reverie
Lead him to PGA fame?
The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Tim Mahoney on the Correct Ball Position for Drives (Video)

I talk about ball position a lot. This video from Troon Golf instructor Tim Mahoney is yet another of my attempts to make sure you pay attention to it!



The basic principle is this:
  • If the ball is too far back in your stance, you'll tend to hit it with the face open.
  • If the ball is too far forward in your stance, you'll tend to hit it with the face closed.
Notice that I didn't say playing the ball back causes a fade and playing it forward causes a draw. You may find that to be true, but it depends on how you use your hands during your swing and how you align yourself to the shot. For example, if you have very active hands at impact, a "back" position might give you a draw and a "forward" position would give you a duck hook.

You'll need to experiment a little to find out how ball position affects your game. But as a general rule, if you struggle with a slice you should try moving the ball forward first. And if you struggle with a hook you should try moving the ball back first. That's good advice from Mahoney.

However, I'm going to take slight issue with his statement that the correct ball position is always two inches inside your lead heel. I agree that's a good place to begin experimenting with ball position FOR A DRIVE, but there are too many different swings out there for only one position to work. If everybody needed the same ball position, then ball position wouldn't be an issue!

Also, bear in mind that in special driving situations you'll need to change the ball position. For example, if you want to hit a low stinger, you'll probably need to move the ball back a bit in your stance and tee it lower.

I write about ball position a lot because it can make or break an otherwise good swing. Take some time to practice with the ball in different positions so you can learn where you get the best results. And once you find them, write them down so you'll remember them! Proper address position can knock strokes off your score faster than almost any other change you can make.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Hole-by-Hole Tour of Bethpage (Video)

Ron Whitten from Golf Digest did this video just a few days back to help you get reacquainted with Bethpage. Since it's a longer video (nearly nine minutes) I thought I'd put it up early so you'd have time to take a look.



Most of us fans don't get to see Bethpage Black more than once every few years -- this is only the fourth time it's hosted a PGA Tour event -- so hopefully this refresher video will help you get prepared to enjoy next week's PGA Championship.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Basics of Side-Saddle Putting

I am not a side-saddle putter. To be honest, I don't even try to use the technique because I don't feel comfortable with it. But I found this recent article over at the Golf Tips Mag site and was impressed by how thorough it is. PGA teacher Dr. Gerald Walford has clearly learned the ins and outs of this technique.

Side-saddle putting with a long putterI'm not even going to try and summarize this technique. Dr. Walford has written a fascinating four-page article, complete with charts and photos, that documents all the things he has learned in the process of using this method.

I will point out that he says a short putter is inadequate for this style of putting -- you need a long putter to make it work well. He talks about how the equipment needs to be set up, and even how take a short putter and properly lengthen the different types of shafts you might run into.

And when he discusses the mental approach you need, he includes all kinds of data to help you develop realistic expectations.

As I said earlier, I've never felt comfortable using this method, so I'm not the right one to try and explain it. But this is, by far, the best explanation of what's involved in the method of side-saddle putting, the mental approach to the method, and how to adjust your equipment for the method that I have ever read.

If you're interested in side-saddle putting, I think this article is required reading.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The First Champions Major Is Up...

The Champions Tour finally gets its major season underway with the Regions Tradition.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez

Not only is Miguel Angel Jimenez defending at the Tradition this week, but his win last year was his first Champions Tour major. In fact, it was his first major, period. (Hard to believe, isn't it?)

The Tradition is played on the Founders Course at the Greystone Golf & Country Club, which is a par-72 course that can play nearly 7300 yards from the tips. This is the event's fourth year at this venue; Bernhard Langer both won the 2016 and 2017 editions.

Of course, the big question is whether Langer can make it three out of four. His finishes this year, while not as dominant as some might have expected, are still better than most -- T3, 1, T2, T5, T14 and T15. He leads the Schwab Cup standings going into this week but Scott McCarron (#2 in the Schwab race) has two wins and a lot of Top5s. Jimenez has only one Top5 -- admittedly, that's a win -- but it could be tough going against those two juggernauts.

Still, those are the three top picks in the PGATOUR.com power rankings, so we could be looking at a pretty exciting weekend as Jimenez tries to defend.

The Regions Tradition gets underway today on GC at noon ET. Better get your popcorn ready!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Martin Chuck on the Hand-Controlled Pivot (Video)

Martin Chuck did this video for Revolution Golf that teaches some classic swing technique, focusing on using your hands and arms more. It's about five-and-a-half minutes long but it's a good watch -- especially if you struggle to use your legs because of age or flexibility.



The key points from this video are very simple.
  • Narrow your stance so it's easier to turn your shoulders.
  • Bend your trailing elbow on the backswing and don't straighten it until after the ball is gone.
Super simple, right? When you first start doing it, I think you'll find that you need to swing a bit slower until you get the hang of the rhythm. Once you've got it, you can swing as fast as you can control it.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you don't use your legs. YOU DO. It's just that you don't drive your legs with the idea of dragging your hands through impact -- that's what he means when he talks about "pivot-driven hands." In that method, the lower body creates a hitting motion.

With the "hand-driven pivot" he's talking about, your lower body definitely does move and add momentum to your swing. But in this method of swinging your lower body doesn't start the downswing as violently. Rather, the lower body action supports the swinging motion while your hands and arms create the swing.

In both cases, the lower body initiates the swing. That's simple physics. But in the "hand-driven pivot" the hands are consciously used to create speed, while "pivot-driven hands" feel as if they are just responding to the leg action.

For many of you, this method will make it easier to square up the clubface at impact. In fact, this method feels much closer to a pitching motion, the way John Smoltz described it in my Sunday post.

Personally, I think this is the more natural way to swing and, once you get used to the rhythm of the swing, I think you'll find it much easier to repeat consistently. But even if you don't adopt it as your regular swing, doing some range work with it as a drill should help your swing become smoother and more rhythmic.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Byron Nelson

My weekly ritual continues. It's time to make my picks for the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Defending champion Aaron Wise

The Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas TX is a par-71 course that plays to just over 7370 yards. Although that sounds daunting, Trinity's only real defense is the winds, and if they don't show up...

Let's just say that scores are usually pretty good there.

Aaron Wise is the defending champion this week. Wise is defending his first PGA Tour victory and will be the favorite for a lot of fantasy players this week. Not for me, though -- there are too many good players in the field who are in better form going in.

I'm not sure I've picked any of those, however. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
  • My Top10 pick this week is Charles Howell III. He finished T9 at the event last year, and he's played okay this season, although he's missed his last two cuts. But it's amazing how coming to a familiar track, one where you've played well, can quickly turn your game around. I'm hoping he'll get that boost this week.
  • And for my winner I'm taking Pat Perez. Yeah, this pick is a bit off the map because he's coming back from a calf injury. Last week at the Wells Fargo he was in the mix until a final round 74 dropped him to a T8 finish. But Pat has a tendency to play some of his best golf when he's on the comeback road -- perhaps because he feels less pressure to perform -- so I'm thinking Trinity may be a good track for him this week.
My gut feeling is that we'll see an unexpected winner this week, so I'm not going with any of the big names. I suspect they'll have their minds on next week's major... and this isn't a particularly good track to prepare for Bethpage.

GC's official coverage begins at 3:30pm ET on Thursday (the PreGame will likely begin earlier) while PGA TOUR LIVE begins at 8am ET.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Wells Fargo Championship

Winner: Max Homa

Around the wider world of golf: Sei Young Kim won the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship; Mikko Korhonen won the Volvo China Open on the ET; Scott McCarron won the Insperity Invitational on the Champions Tour; Robby Shelton won the Nashville Golf Open on the Web.com Tour; Cristóbal Del Solar won the Puerto Plata Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Katsumasa Miyamoto won The Crowns on the Japan Golf Tour; Taehee Lee won the GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship on the Asian Tour; and Nuria Iturrios won back-to-back tournaments, winning this week at the OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic on the LET.

Max Homa hoists the Wells Fargo trophy

My Tuesday Twofer picks did a bit better this week. I picked Rickie Fowler (T4) to win and Rory McIlroy (T8) to Top10. Rickie put on a run, albeit too late, but Rory continued to struggle on Sundays -- which is why I didn't pick him to win. Hopefully both players will get things figured out soon.
  • Winners: 2 for 18
  • Place well (Top10): 10 for 18 (5 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 20 of 36 (10 Top5s, 10 more Top10s)
But I confess that the Wells Fargo, despite being just a couple of hours from my home, wasn't my first concern this Sunday. Within minutes of the suspension of play due to lightning, I was on my way to watch Avengers:Endgame with friends. (Spoiler alert: The Avangers won.) But Max Homa had a three-stroke lead when I left, and I felt pretty good about his chances.

After all, despite how rarely he's had a chance like this on the PGA Tour, he showed no inclination to start going backward. And but for a bogey on 16 -- highly understandable, given the Green Mile -- he did just what I expected.

Plus he did it without Infinity Stones or a gauntlet. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Lightning delays have been far too frequent on all the tours lately, and the fact that Max dealt with them so professionally bodes well for him going forward. In fact, now that he's in the PGA Championship, I can't help but wonder if lightning might strike twice for the newest PGA Tour winner.

At any rate, Limerick Summaries carry no danger of lightning strikes, so there will be no delay getting it ready for him. In fact, here it is, right now!
In his battle for first, down the stretch
At Quail Hollow, Max still wasn’t vexed
When a lightning delay
Caused a stoppage of play—
Now, could Bethpage be where he strikes next?
The photo came from this page at newsok.com.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

John Smoltz Compares the Golf Swing and Pitching (Video)

I think this is interesting. Smoltz says that most of the comparisons are mental, such as being target-oriented. But he makes a comparison that you rarely hear instructors make.



The idea that you shouldn't shift your weight so far forward is contrary to most instruction. Yet it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. While you don't want to make a reverse pivot, it's far too easy to overdo your weight shift. When you "use the ground" you push upward, not forward.

The Smoltz drill uses a mirror because, if your head moves too far forward -- which means your upper body has moved too far forward -- your reflection will move forward off the edge of the mirror... and it will be very noticeable! You don't need a big mirror; a small one that you can mount on a shaft stuck in the ground and position so you can see yourself will work just fine.

And yes, you can just use a tall shaft stuck vertically into the ground and positioned so your eyes go past it when you go too far forward. You just don't get that added jolt from seeing your face slide off the edge of the mirror!

The big question is... how far forward is too far? That's a reasonable question and fortunately it has a simple answer. Your lead leg should never go past vertical and, when it's vertical, your shoulders should be facing the target and your spine leaning just slightly back away from the target. The reason is that you want your chest to point slightly upward as you swing to your finish. That's a good balanced position that will allow you to fully release the club and finish your swing. But it's just a slight lean; you don't want to get into a reverse-C position that could hurt your back.

I realize that many of you won't bother with this drill because it takes a bit more effort to set up than many drills. But if you're struggling with this problem, you might find it very helpful.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Bobby Locke's Hook Putting Technique (Video)

Since the legends are playing today at the Champions Tour event, I thought it might be fun to look at the unusual putting stroke of a past legend -- the "hooked stroke" of South African legend Bobby Locke. This first video simply shows one of Locke's putts over and over so you can see how he did it.



In this video you can clearly see that Locke uses a closed stance (his trailing foot is farther from his aimline than his lead foot is) and takes the club sharply inside the aimline.

In this video Gary Player both describes and demonstrates how Bobby Locke actually performed the hook putting stroke.



There are four things happening here, according to Gary Player.
  • The ball is placed just off the toe of the putter (not the center of the face).
  • For a straight putt he aims two feet to the far side of the hole. (This aim point changes, depending how far the ball is from the hole to begin with.)
  • He takes the club back to the inside of the aimline.
  • The putter travels only about six inches past the ball on the followthrough.
What Gary doesn't say -- but you can see when he sets up -- is that Locke also hooded the face of the putter. This means that he leaned the putter shaft forward at address so his hands are ahead of the putter face and therefore ahead of the ball. This is part of the key to this style of putting, because keeping the hands ahead of the putter face helps keep you from twisting the face open at impact. If you open the face at impact, the ball drifts off the aimline -- that is, you "wipe" the putt. By hooding the face, you get very solid contact between the ball and the face, which helps eliminate that.

Now there are a couple of other things you might notice while watching these videos that aren't mentioned -- Locke and Player both do them -- so let me explain them briefly.

One thing is that both players keep their hands very close to their thighs throughout the stroke. You have to do that in order to keep the face hooded. (It's also the reason that Locke had such a short followthrough.) If you let your hands drift away from your body, you'll tend to open the face. That's a bad thing because you get that "wiping" motion.

The other thing, which is related, is that it looks as if both men are using their shoulders a lot and pulling the putter through impact. But that's not what is happening; actually, it's the shoulders that are being dragged through the impact area. If you keep your hands close to your thighs as you make this stroke, your shoulders have to move like this because the hands and hips are moving together and the shoulders have no choice but to go along for the ride.

Although it sounds like a crazy way to putt, the hook stroke is actually a very sound approach. It's even possible to get good results by aiming directly at the hole and hitting the ball in the center of the face. That's because, depending on where you position the ball, hooding the face affects how the face closes at impact, and that affects where you aim. Hook putting is something you have to practice in order to get good at it.

But players like Locke have proven that it's a dependable way to putt. As I said, hooding the face creates very solid contact between ball and putter, and almost any putting style works well if it gives you solid contact. So don't be afraid to experiment with this style. You might be surprised at how well it works!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Anne Van Dam on Hitting It Long (Video)

Back on April 24 I did an LPGA post called LA Women about the LA Open. On my Twitter account Alfred Mol dropped me a note about Anne Van Dam, one of the rookies on Tour. Since Anne is tied for the lead at the MediHeal after the first round, I thought I'd post this video she did about hitting long drives.



Anne gives two tips here. (I like when players make it simple!)

The first is something you have probably heard before -- namely, that you need to hit up on the ball when it's on a tee. That means you have to play the ball a bit further forward in your stance because if you hit down on the tee shot, you won't get the height and reduced spin you need in order to get distance.

But it's the second tip that may surprise you, and it's actually good advice for any club when you want to get distance. As Anne says, most weekend players try to swing fast from the top of their backswing... but that's wrong. You don't want to try and swing really fast until you're halfway down!

There are a number of reasons for this. Anne mentions that you'll lose all your speed if you try to create it at the top. That happens because you'll tend to release all your wrist cock in the top half of your downswing if you do. Waiting until late in the swing lets you keep that wrist cock longer.

By waiting until the bottom half of your swing to consciously speed up, you also give yourself a better chance to get the club on line and hit the ball where you want it to go. That's because your body is already in position at that point, so your legs don't twist your body around too soon or too late. You not only get more clubhead speed but you make better contact.

A side effect of this is that you're less likely to stand up and hit the ball thin. When you wait until late in the swing to speed up the clubhead, the effort of getting your wrists to uncock tends to make you move slightly down toward the ball and "stay down on it" better.

This is a case of letting the natural physics of the golf swing work in your favor, so you do the right things automatically. It's a great tip from a player with four LET wins and a big drive. You can read a bit more about her at this post on the LPGA site.

Trust me, Alfred is right. You'll want to keep an eye on her, especially this week.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Kerrod Gray on Keeping Your Backswing in Sync (Video)

I'm going Down Under for today's tip! PGA of Australia instructor Kerrod Gray has a "square" drill to help you strike the ball more consistently.



While Kerrod's "square" drill may sound a bit odd, it's actually a concept that Ben Hogan believed in. Letting your trail elbow get too much behind you puts you too much below your natural swing plane, and as a result you tend to swing up and over to start your downswing. That can create a too-steep attack angle at impact, costing you both distance and control.

The goal of any swing is consistency -- especially if that consistency feels so natural that you don't have to think about it. This idea of getting the upper part of your trailing arm parallel with your shirt seam (I think Hogan described the concept as "pointing your elbow at your hip") keeps you from getting either too deep or too steep during your swing. It also eliminates a lot of potential back strain in the process.

Give this drill a try and see if it doesn't improve your ballstriking. I think you'll be surprised how quickly this more neutral backswing position will both feel natural and help your consistency.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The End of the LPGA West Coast Swing

It's back to Lake Merced Golf Club for the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. Lydia Ko defends her last victory on the LPGA. Tony Jesselli's preview is at this link.

Defending champion Lydia Ko

Last year Minjee Lee forced a playoff between her and Ko, and Lydia walked away with the trophy. Now, fresh off a win last week in LA and a jump to #2 in the Rolex Rankings, Minjee is looking to even the score. That could be a tall order though, as Lydia has won the events held at Lake Merced in 2014, 2015 and 2018. She also made the semis at the 2012 US Girls Junior Championship when it was held there. (Minjee Lee did win that year, however.)

Yeah, Lydia likes it at Lake Merced. And a duel between her and Minjee Lee certainly seems to be in the offing this week.

Of course, they won't be the only players in the field. According to Tony, 36 of the Rolex Top50 will be teeing it up this week, which should give us a very competitive event.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 6pm ET. (Yes, it's another prime time broadcast on the East Coast of the US.) Given the strength of the field, plus the potential battle between Lydia and Minjee, this should be a great event.