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Sunday, June 30, 2019

David Thomas on Spine Angle (Video)

David Thomas from the PGA of Australia has a drill to help you learn how to keep your spine angle the same during your backswing.



The drill itself is pretty much self-explanatory. But I want to talk a bit about the ball position during the drill, since it's not what you might expect.

David says to place the ball about 1.5 meters away from you, opposite the inside of your right foot.
  • First of all, for you lefties, that will be your left foot.
  • And for all my American readers who, like me, don't think in meters, 1.5 metters is roughly 5 feet. Yes, that's much too far away for you to actually hit the ball during a swing!
But that's the point here. Your hands and arms hang from your shoulders, and you aren't aiming your hands and arms at the ball. Rather, you're aiming your shoulder line at the ball. And that line will be shallower than your swing plane.

Yes, I know that's counter-intuitive. We are so used to thinking about swing planes that we often forget that there is more than one plane in a golf swing. The shoulder plane is perpendicular to your spine angle; your swing plane is steeper.

This drill will help you learn how to maintain your spine angle during your backswing and not stand up. Standing up during your swing will cause you to mis-hit the ball at impact, and we don't want that!

It's a simple drill that you can do inside, whenever you have a spare moment. Furthermore, you can do this drill quickly while out on the course during a round if you need to check your spine angle. In my book, that's a good drill.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Michelle Wie's Prolonged Break from Golf

So Michelle Wie finally decided she's had enough this year. She posted this on Instagram:


It's probably for the best. Doctors may have decided that playing can't injure her wrist any worse, but that doesn't mean she's well enough to play. After being reduced to tears by the pain at the KPMG Women's PGA, rest is what she needs.

And as much as she loves golf, it's not like she has nothing to do while she recovers. In fact, using her time to plan her wedding later this year to Jonny West may be the best therapy she can get.

We could see this coming, couldn't we? I wrote about it myself just a week back. And Golf Digest also posted an article that sums up the situation pretty well.

I'm just glad she's decided to take action... even if that means taking herself out of action for a while. Get well soon, Michelle!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Jason Sedan on Downhill Pitch Shots (Video)

Make sure you understand what GCA coach Jason Sedan did when he pitched from this downhill lie.



It's easy to see that he has set up with more weight on his lead leg BUT did you pay attention to that followthrough? There is no weight shift during the pitch!

That's a critical thing to remember. If you set up with your weight ahead on a downslope and then shift your weight even further forward, you're going to fall down the slope. If you're playing a full shot from this lie, "stepping through" the shot isn't such a bad thing.

But with the shorter swing of a pitch, that extra movement can ruin your distance control -- which is critical with a pitch shot -- as well as causing a mis-hit, creating either a fat or thin shot.

Remember that this isn't a power shot. It's a finesse shot and your "touch" will make or break the result.

Here's a bonus tip that Jason doesn't mention: While he calls this a downhill sloping shot, he focuses on the downhill part. But if you look at the down-the-line view of this shot around the :12 second mark, you'll note that the ball is ever so slightly below his feet as well. Sidehill shots often require a special setup but when the lie is only slightly sidehill, you may not need to adjust for it if you stay steady over the ball while you pitch.

You should practice this shot to see just how much slope you can safely ignore but the less you have to think about when standing over this shot, the easier it will be. Remember: The more you know about your game, the more confident you'll be on the course.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Deb Vangellow on NOT Keeping Your Head Down

This came from a very short post at golftipsmag.com. Deb Vangellow gives you a different image to use when working on impact.

Deb Vangellow at impactIf you try to "keep your head down," what you do is lock up your neck and shoulders. That stops you from making a smooth motion through the ball.

Instead, focus on simply seeing the clubhead collide with the ball. As you can see in the photo, even though Deb is clearly watching the ball, she doesn't have her head bent over with her eyes staring at the ground. Her neck is relaxed and her head is free to swivel back and forth. In fact, as her trailing shoulder moves under her chin, her neck is relaxed enough that her head can "ride along" with her shoulders and come up until she's facing the shot.

Her focus isn't on head position. Rather, it's on seeing the clubface make contact with the ball.

For some of you, the instant of contact is so short that you may not be able to actually say, "THIS is the moment the two connect." That moment may just be a blur and you hear it more than actually see it. But that's not the point. The point is that focusing on seeing the moment of contact keeps your neck and shoulders relaxed so they can move freely, not interfering with the moment of impact.

Distance comes from relaxed speed. Accuracy comes from solid contact. Keeping your neck relaxed helps both. Give it a try!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Third Champions Tour Major of 2019

If Brooks Koepka thought he was tired after three majors, just imagine if he was on the Champions Tour. Their last three majors happen every other week for the next three events! This week, it's the US Senior Open.

Defending champion David Toms

The defending champion is David Toms, but the course where he'll defend is entirely different from last year. He won at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs (over 6000 feet above sea level) but this week the Tour will play Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame (between 700 and 800 feet). Among other things, that will certainly affect driving distance.

While I don't know the exact figures the USGA will use this week, the Warren GC site says the championship tees usually play as a par-71 measuring 7020 yards. I won't be surprised if that's reconfigured to a par-70.

The first two majors of the year were won by Steve Stricker (the Tradition) and Ken Tanigawa (the Senior PGA). Personally, I favor Scott Parel to win this week. (And no, this isn't a Twofer Tuesday pick. I'm just saying...)

Remember that since this is a USGA event, FOX will be carrying the event. FOX1 will begin their coverage on Thursday at 3pm ET. The USGA streaming at usga.org will start at 11am ET that day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Rocket Mortgage Classic

Time to try my luck again, I guess. This week's Twofer Tuesday picks center around the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Defending Quicken Loans National champ Francesco Molinari with Tiger Woods

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is a new event for the PGA Tour. It replaces the Quicken Loans National (same sponsor), becomes a full-field event and moves from Washington DC to Detroit MI. Technically I guess that makes Francesco Molinari the defending champion, but it's going to be a very different course.

Detroit Golf Club is a par-72 course playing over 7300 yards. It's a Donald Ross design with poa greens. (The pros have been putting on poa greens for a couple of weeks now, so they should do pretty well.) The course is actually made up of two courses -- it uses 17 holes from the North Course and one hole (the par-3 fourth for the pros) from the South Course.

So let's not beat around the bush any longer. It's time to make my picks!
  • My Top10er is Chez Reavie. I know that the guy who just had his best major finish two weeks ago (T3 at Pebble) and won this past week is probably a bit tired. But he's been playing reasonably well all year and seems to be riding a streak of confidence. As far as I'm concerned, it only has to hold out for one more week. He can take a rest later!
  • And my winner is Xander Schauffele. Xander has only played two of the last four weeks, joining Reavie with a T3 in his last start at Pebble. With two wins in this wraparound season and his last win coming in January, I figure he's due for another title run.
Since this is a new course for all the pros, this should be a pretty level playing field. We may very well see another surprise winner, given that this course shouldn't play all that long. (It's a par-72, after all.) But since my picks haven't been doing very well lately, I suppose any of my picks that pan out this time will be a surprise!

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET and PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 7am ET.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Travelers Championship

Winner: Chez Reavie

Around the wider world of golf: Hannah Green made the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship her first LPGA win; Jerry Kelly won the American Family Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour; Daniela Iacobelli won the Island Resort Championship on the Symetra Tour; Alex Chiarella won the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Zhengkai “Bobby” Bai won the Huangshan Championship on the PGA TOUR China; Andrea Pavan won the European Tour's BMW International Open; Jazz Janewattananond won the Kolon Korea Open Golf Championship on the Asian Tour; and Thai amateur Atthaya Thitikul won the Ladies European Thailand Championship for a second time. The Korn Ferry Tour's Wichita Open continues their playoff today. [UPDATE: I forgot to include James Sugrue, winner of the 2019 Amateur. And Henrik Norlander won the Wichita Open playoff. So much golf this past week!]

Chez Reavie with the Travelers trophy

My Tuesday Twofer picks were both new pros so I admit I didn't have terribly high hopes. I picked Viktor Hovland (T54) to win and Matthew Wolff (MDF) to Top10. But at least I was correct that Hovland played the better of the two.
  • Winners: 2 for 25
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 25 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 50 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But just like last week, it's hard to believe that anybody would have picked this week's winner. It's true that Chez Reavie has been playing pretty well -- he finished T3 in Pebble last week -- but he hasn't had a PGA Tour win since his original win back in the 2008 RBC Canadian Open. (That was almost exactly 11 years ago!)

It's not that Reavie is a bad player. Far from it! He's won on the Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) since his first PGA Tour win. It's just that, like so many other players, his career has been plagued by injury. It's hard to build any consistency that way, even though he almost won twice in that time.

But Chez never gave up. And now his work has finally paid off.

He went into Sunday's final round with a six-shot lead. And while he only shot a one-under 69, that was enough to withstand the runs put up by Zack Sucher and Keegan Bradley and give him a four-shot win. That should be enough to push him up above #48 in the OWGR, which is where last week's performance at the US Open put him.

And it's good enough to give him his first-ever Limerick Summary. (My blog didn't exist back in 2008.) And hopefully for him, it won't be his last.
Chez won back in 2008.
His health at times hasn’t been great
Though he almost won twice
On the Tour. Ain’t it nice
That his work paid off after that wait?
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Bob Strano's Milk Jug Drill (Video)

GCA's lead coach Rob Strano has an interesting drill to increase your distance, and it uses a milk jug.



This drill is simple enough but I feel I should point out something. Strano says to fill up the milk jug with water. Be aware that a gallon of water weighs around 8.34 pounds or 3.785 kilograms. When you hold that out at arm's-length, that's gonna be pretty heavy, especially if you aren't used to it!

So be careful if you try this drill. I'd recommend only filling the jug halfway when you first try it.

The idea behind this drill is that it teaches you to keep your arms extended well into your takeaway, as you can see in the video. It's just another approach to making a one-piece takeaway, which is one of the few things I consider important in a golf swing.

As you regular readers know, I've done a number of posts on this. This link takes you to my basic one-piece takeaway drill, which doesn't require any props at all. (You can find the complete four-post series I did on my Some Useful Post Series page; it's called Dexter's Coming Over the Top.)

Regardless of which drill you use, the principle is the same: You get a bigger swing arc when you extend your arms, and a bigger swing arc can create more clubhead speed. And the beauty of extension is that you can usually get a bigger swing arc this way, even if you aren't flexible enough to increase your shoulder turn very much.

No matter what kind of swing method you use, this principle always works. So if you want to get more distance, you want to incorporate a larger arc into your swing .

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Tom Blanckaert on Playing from Wet Sand (Video)

With so many tours playing in wet weather, this just seemed to be a no-brainer. How do you adjust to play from wet sand?



Tom's tips are very simple:
  • Learn how firm the sand is by taking your stance. Obviously you can't "test" the sand by digging in, moving out and then taking your stance. But in the process of taking a normal stance in the sand, you will be able to tell how compacted the sand is.
  • Use the front edge of the club, not the bounce. In wet sand the bounce will just make the club... well, bounce. You need to take a thin divot, not bounce off the sand and thin the shot. You can figure out how much less to open the face in the practice bunker before your round.
  • Hit the sand closer to the ball. Tom says if you normally take four inches of sand, cut the distance to two inches. Since you're playing this more like a chip shot than a normal sand shot, you won't need to take as much sand.
  • Don't swing as hard as normal. That's just simple logic, don't you think? Since you don't have to move a lot of sand, you don't have to swing so fast. Again, think chip shot rather than sand shot.
And don't miss the last thing Tom says. Since you aren't hitting the ball as high as a normal sand shot, the ball will roll a bit farther after it hits the ground.

Playing from wet sand isn't that much different than playing a chip shot from a firmer lie. Once you practice a little to get over the fear of it, it shouldn't be much harder than any other short game shot. Just practice a little!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Michelle Wie's Injury Battles Strike Home

If you saw Michelle Wie weeping during her interview with GC on Thursday, you'll understand why I'm writing about her today. Too many people have viewed Michelle as little more than a golf sideshow, but this latest bout of injuries should make it clear to everyone how much she loves the game... and how frightened she is about her future in golf.

Michelle Wie at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

I'm going to link you to Randall Mell's piece over at golfchannel.com about Michelle's situation, simply because he handles it so well. But I'd like to point out two things that I think many of her critics have missed:
  • Unlike Phil Mickelson's arthritis, Michelle's isn't treatable with medicine. She can no longer take cortisone treatments, the collagen seem to be having a limited effect, and the surgeries she's had don't seem to be helping much either.
  • And second, no one who has any contact with her questions either her work ethic or her love for the game.
The fact that Michelle is beginning to wonder if it's only a matter of time before her arthritis ends her career is heartbreaking. Imagine if you were suddenly unable to do the thing you most love to do and there was nothing anyone could do to help you. I'm sure she hopes for some kind of miracle, some currently elusive treatment that will give her some options, not unlike the arthritis drug that helped Phil or the fusion surgery that's given Tiger a new lease on life.

But for now, that miracle hasn't made its presence known. And Thursday that burden became pretty obvious in her after-round interview -- which, as Lisa Cornwall noted, most pros probably wouldn't have bothered to give, no matter how concerned her fans were.

For the time being, all we can do is pray for Michelle Wie... and perhaps be a bit less critical of her. Too many people view social media as a license to be cruel. We could all use a bit more of the Golden Rule in our dealings with others -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Regardless of how you feel about her, right now Michelle is more vulnerable and more "human" than anyone has ever seen her. Perhaps it's time the rest of us treated her better and did what we can to encourage her. It's the least we can do.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

AKA the Korn Ferry Tour

The Web.com Tour is under new management, effective immediately. Say hello to the Korn Ferry Tour!

New Korn Ferry Tour logo

Since this new sponsorship takes effect RIGHT NOW, it seems appropriate to take a moment and make sure you know who the new sponsor is.

Korn Ferry is a management consulting firm with headquarters in Los Angeles CA, and it's a BIG company. Excuse me, companies -- I counted 41 when I Googled it, and Wikipedia's Korn Ferry page says they have (as of 2018) 106 offices in 52 countries. The name may sound a bit unusual, but it's simply the last names of the two men who founded it nearly fifty years ago in 1969, Lester Korn and Richard Ferry.

And the new sponsorship deal is for ten years, through 2028. Here's GC's announcement if you're interested. Yes, friends, the PGA Tour's development tour has picked up a huge sponsor.

I suspect we'll be learning more about it as the year goes on, but for now it appears that nothing major will change other than the brand on the tour. And that's good news all around.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Third LPGA Major of 2019

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship looks to be in for a rough ride, given the weather forecasts. But that just means it'll be a tougher test.

Defending champion Sung Hyun Park

And a test it will be! This year's edition is being held at legendary Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. It's a par-72 set up to play at just over 6800 yards. That's long for the ladies to begin with, but the northern part of the country has been battered by storms for most of 2019 -- and this week they appear to be in for more of the same.

There are, as far as I can tell, four primary storylines at the forefront this week:
  • The length of defending champion Sung Hyun Park, who won in a playoff last year, should give her a real advantage when the bad weather comes in. She's #4 in the Rolex and has one win this season (HSBC Women's World Championship) and one runner-up (T2 at the Kia Classic) but otherwise she hasn't been particularly consistent.
  • Lexi Thompson's length off the tee should also set her in good stead if the weather turns bad, but she's #2 in the Rolex and comes in with considerably better form. Her questionable play early in the year has given away to an amazing run of top finishes. Her last seven starts are: 3-MC-T4- MC-T2-1-T2. If her improved putting continues, she could be a juggernaut this week.
  • Brooke Henderson (also a long hitter) comes off a historic performance. At #5 in the Rolex, she has two wins this year -- which has made her the winningest Canadian player ever (either male or female), plus she's got a T2 mixed in for good measure. Oh, and she won this event in 2016.
  • And then there's Michelle Wie, #53 in the Rolex, making her first appearance after missing two more months with wrist injuries. She only began hitting chips and such last week, so she expects to be rusty. But she says her doctors told her that sitting out any longer won't help her heal.
Park has two majors, the other three have one each. The first three are each likely to be in the mix come Sunday evening. And while Michelle probably won't be a factor at the end, that doesn't mean she won't be a focus of attention.

And once you add in all the other players who are in form at this time of the season, it shapes up to be an exciting major. You can get more details about the event over at Tony Jesselli's preview.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 6pm ET.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Travelers Championship

My weekly horror show is back. This Tuesday, I'm picking from the Travelers Championship field.

Defending champion Bubba Watson

Wow, has it really been a whole year since Bubba won a tournament? Indeed! Bubba's streaky play put him in the winner's circle three times in 2018, and the Travelers was the last of his streak.

TPC River Highlands lends itself to streaky winners though. A par-70 measuring only 6841 yards, it's the site of Jim Furyk's 58 in 2016. However, the shorter length isn't the only reason for the sometimes unpredictable winner. Its position in the schedule, traditionally right after the US Open, means the big names are often absent -- and their decision to rest gives the rest of the field a better chance.

This year, however, that's less of a factor. While Woodland and Rose are taking a break, Brooks Koepka has elected to give the field a collective heart attack by teeing it up again. While the Beast teed it up last year after his second US Open win, he only posted a T19. And non-major or not, you have to figure he's gonna have some pent-up energy he'll want to expend this year!

Plus he's certainly not the only big name in the field this week. Day, Spieth, Molinari, Leishman, Oosthuizen, DeChambeau -- it's a who's-who of big names looking for some respect after getting left in the surf -- er, dust last week.

So who should I pick this time? I'm stepping way outside the box with these picks...
  • For my Top10er I'm certainly stepping outside the box with Matthew Wolff. Wolff is in the field on a sponsor's exemption and I think the new pro could surprise a lot of people this week. And coming off the NCAA Division I individual title and a victorious run at the Palmer Cup, I think he'll be ready to test himself against the big boys.
  • But for my winner I'm stepping even farther outside the box -- I'm taking the newest amateur to turn pro, Viktor Hovland. In yesterday's Limerick Summary I was trying so hard to remember to mention Emily Toy's victory at the Women’s British Amateur that I completely forgot to give Viktor a shout-out for beating the amateur scoring record of 270 set by Jack Nicklaus way back in 1960... by two strokes! I don't think Viktor has to prove he can compete; his T12 finish at Pebble already proved that. But he's clearly got the game to handle TPC River Highlands, so why not show off a bit?
I realize that picking two brand new pros isn't the most intuitive way to improve my record. But when I can't even get a Top10 by picking Tiger and Phil on a course they both love, it's clear I need to try a new strategy. I certainly can't do any worse.

GC's coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET. PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 7am ET. And I've already started chewing my fingernails...

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 US Open

Winner: Gary Woodland

Around the wider world of golf: Brooke Henderson became the winningest Canadian golfer ever (male or female) with her win at the Meijer LPGA Classic; Jillian Hollis won the Forsyth Classic on the Symetra Tour; Xinjun Zhang won the Lincoln Land Championship on the Web.com Tour; Jake Knapp won the GolfBC Championship on the Mackenzie Tour; Cyril Bouniol won the Suzhou Open on the PGA TOUR China; Scott Vincent won the Landic Challenge on the Asian Tour; and Emily Toy won the Women’s British Amateur.

Gary Woodland kisses the US Open trophy

While my Tuesday Twofer picks didn't do so well, I wasn't expecting much. I picked Tiger Woods (T21) to win and Phil Mickelson (T52) to Top10. At least both of them made the cut!
  • Winners: 2 for 24
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 24 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 48 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But it's hard to believe anybody picked this week's winner. Gary Woodland hasn't had the best of luck at majors, except for a couple of Top10s at the last two PGAs. Even Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen were outliers of a sort, since neither seemed to be in the best of form lately.

And admit it -- you had to figure that Brooks Koepka was the favorite, given that he had won four of his last eight majors (plus one runner-up finish).

But Gary had an ace in his corner -- Amy Bockerstette, the Special Olympics golfer he became friends with at the WM Phoenix Open earlier this year. He credits her friendship, along with the highs and lows of becoming a father, with helping him gain more perspective on his game. And that new perspective was on full display Sunday, as he calmly dealt with Rose and Koepka's attempts to catch and pass him on the leaderboard.

In case you didn't see the final round, Rose tied him on the first hole, then dropped back on the second hole and neither Rose nor Koepka caught him after that. And just to punctuate his victory, Gary birdied the final hole for a three-stroke victory.

The discussions have already begun. You know the ones -- will this win "open the floodgates" and Woodland begin winning at an accelerated clip? Who knows? But I do know this: Gary Woodland has just picked up his first major Limerick Summary. It may not be as shiny as his first major trophy, but hopefully he'll get some joy from it as well.
A win from the lead’s not a given,
So Sunday’s win must feel like heaven!
With Gary’s last round
He took Brooks Koepka down
And made this his first major. That’s livin’!
The photo came from this page at chinadaily.com.cn.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Talking About Making US Open History...

While Brooks Koepka tries to make history today, I decided to look at some past US Open history. I realize most of you will be watching golf today so I'm just linking you to a Golf Digest article about Francis Ouimet's victory in the 1913 US Open, which many view as the real beginning of golf in America.

Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet and Ted Ray at the 1913 US Open

Many of you will have seen a movie called The Greatest Game Ever Played -- GC plays it often enough, don't they? -- where Shia Lebeouf played amateur Francis Ouimet. Movies about real events typically aren't all that accurate, but I was surprised to learn just how much of the movie did follow the actual events of the tournament.

For example, Ted Ray really did punch out a fellow competitor at dinner one night, and fans really did pass a hat around and collect money for Ouimet's young caddie Eddie Lowery. (According to the article, they took up around $150, a huge sum at that time.)

If you have some moments to spare during the action today, I think you'll find this article to be an interesting read.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Kirk Triplett on Calibrating Your Putting Technique (Video)

If you're looking for a putting drill to help your consistency, Kirk Triplett may have just the drill for you.



The details of this drill aren't really what's important here. In fact, Kirk says it doesn't really matter exactly what techniques you use. (Which is a good thing, because if your swing is an arc, the straight shaft he uses as a guide won't work for you!)

What matters here is the methodology that you use. Let me outline the key points for you.
  • You want to pick a straight putt, roughly six feet long, for your practice putt. What he's done is pick a common length putt that you expect to make, and he's chosen a straight putt so you take greensreading out of the equation. This drill is all about setup.
  • You lay down a straight -- or curved -- guide for the impact area of your putt. This gives you a visual guide for the stroke, to insure that you make the same stroke each time. You don't want to take the putter straight back one time, take it inside the second time, and take it outside the third time. That's a sure road to inconsistency.
  • Finally, you use this guide to insure that your address position is the same each time. Place the ball at the same spot, stand the same distance from the guide each time, and take the same stance each time -- open, closed or square; weight forward, back or evenly divided between both feet.
The idea is to give your body the best chance of feeling the same each time you stand over a putt. In time, even if you don't see a difference in your setup, you'll feel it if you're setting up a bit differently than you normally do.

That's when your putting stroke starts to feel "natural," because your body is doing the same thing each time. Once you build that kind of trust in your stroke, it's much easier to make good putts.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Mark Crossfield on Putting from Deep Rough (Video)

Yes, I know he says he's chipping... but he's using a PUTTER!



This is a shot from a gnarly buried lie. It's not something you want to do unless you have to... but if you need it, it's a great shot to have!

This is definitely something you'd need to practice but, as Mark says, it's hard to get a clean strike with a wedge from this kind of lie. Positioning the ball way back in your stance -- opposite your trailing toes -- and just hitting straight down so the ball pops out and runs will at least get the ball out of the rough.

Please note that the ball is very close to the green for this shot. (Mark's only a foot or so from shorter grass.) You'll need to see exactly how far away from the green you can be and still get this to work.

Also note what Mark says: The ball comes out hot if it comes out -- this is a very bad lie, and you need a bit of luck -- and you'll have very little control. It's all about how hard you hit the ball. If you don't hit it hard enough, it won't come out. If you hit it too hard, it will rocket across the green. You'll have to practice this shot before you try it during a round!

Even with all the drawbacks, I agree with Mark -- this is a clever shot to use when you're in an otherwise impossible situation. (I bet some of the guys at Pebble this week wish they had this shot.) I wouldn't spend a lot of time practicing it, but a couple of minutes spent each time you hit the range could give you a really cool weapon for your short game.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How a SAM Putter Fitting Works

Found this new article over at golftipsmag.com and thought it might interest some of you. I'm a big believer in getting your putter fitted, and this article walks you through a putter fitting on perhaps the most popular putter fitting system out there, better known as Science & Motion Sports, or SAM.

The SAM putting system

This five-page article details what it's like to get your putter fitted to your stroke and explains what kind of info you'll get from it. For those of you who have never considered having your putter fitted, it just might be an eye-opener.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Willie Anderson, the King of the US Open

Willie AndersonSince Brooks is trying to match the record of the great Scottish player Willie Anderson, I thought it might be nice to give you a bit about him -- especially, about his swing.

I found this article written by author Douglas Seaton for the North Berwick Hall of Fame in Scotland. It includes a brief description of his swing -- and how it seemed to fit Anderson -- and I found it very entertaining.
Anderson's accuracy was legendary particularly with his favourite club the mashie, equivalent to the present day five iron. He had a swing as flat as his nose and neither his game nor his facial features were flattering or classical. He looked more like an average middleweight boxer than a special golfer. He had bulging forearms and wide, muscular shoulders, a physique more suitable for carrying bags of coal from door to door instead of a golf bag from course to course.

Willie's unhurried move through the ball disguised effortless power and he was also a rhythmical putter but his main attribute was his unflappable demeanour. Described as a dour man who attended strictly to business and displayed little sense of humour on the course but he was a mixer off the course and popular with his fellow professionals. Golfers during Anderson's time essentially wore clothes formal enough to attend church in but not Willie Anderson. His typical attire was a tartan wool cap pulled low (to camouflage his large ears), baggy plaid trousers, a plain shirt, a cloth neckerchief (instead of a silk tie), and an old tweed jacket.
Willie Anderson in 1909I love that description of his swing being "as flat as his nose."

As you can see in this Wikipedia photo from 1909, the year before he died, Anderson was indeed a very muscular player. Despite that, Seaton notes that Anderson had an unhurried move -- no violent lashing at the ball -- and had a rhythmic putting stroke.

He sounds very much like the descriptions I've read of Ben Hogan on the course -- very much an intense, even grumpy-looking fellow who kept to himself and focused on his own game, apparently oblivious to those around him. However Seaton says he was a very social person off the course and very popular with the other players, perhaps in part because he was willing to buy the drinks.

Ironically, although he doesn't seem to have been a party animal himself, Anderson died at the young age of 31 from arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which is generally thought of as an old person's disease.

Although he is officially credited with four majors -- all US Opens, won in 1901 and the three-peat in 1903-1905 -- Anderson also won four Western Opens (the modern BMW Championship) which were considered majors at the time.

To finish out, here are a few interesting facts:
  • Anderson is the only man to win three consecutive US Opens.
  • Only Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus have matched his four US Open titles.
  • And he's the only man to win the US Open playing both gutta percha and rubber core golf balls.
This is the legend that Brooks Koepka is chasing this week. If he can catch him, Brooks will certainly inscribe his name in the history books and be well on the way to becoming a legend himself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: US Open

The men are back at it this week... and so am I. It's time for the US Open Twofer Tuesday.

Two-time defending champ Brooks Koepka

The venue? That's Pebble Beach, hosting for the sixth time. At 7075 yards, this par-71 is the shortest of the major tests but the small greens and ocean winds can make it a real bear to score there. Right now the conditions are gorgeous, but no one can guarantee we won't see some kind of interference from the weather before this thing is done.

The two-time defending champ? That's Brooks Koepka. He finished T50 last week but that hardly means anything in the grand scheme of things. He's the two-time defending champion, for Pete's sake! A win this week will make him the first three-peater since Willie Anderson back in 1905. (Just for the record, Anderson won four times from 1901-1905.) And you can be sure Brooks is aware of that and would love to become a legend in his own time.

And he would. That's no exaggeration.

My record in the Twofer Tuesday picks has been abysmal over the last few months. I've tried everything I can think of to break out of this rut, but to no avail.
  • If I was picking on form, I'd take Brooks and DJ (which one I'd pick to win and which to Top10 would vary, depending on the day).
  • If I was a bit of a gambler, I'd take Rory to win (despite the difficulty of winning in back-to-back weeks, especially when the second is a major) and Jordan Spieth to Top10 (since he seems to be getting his form back).
  • Wouldn't it be cool to see Rickie Fowler or Matt Kuchar drop that "best player without a major" label?
  • And that doesn't even touch the international contenders like Tommy Fleetwood or Francesco Molinari!
However, none of these approaches has worked so I'm just gonna go with the best stories.
  • My Top10er is Phil Mickelson. After six runner-up finishes Phil still needs this major for the career Grand Slam. But Pebble is a great fit for him. Given the length of the course, he won't need the driver in order to hit those bombs he loves. While he admits that the US Open layout won't be the same as the AT&T Pro-Am, the fact remains that he won that event earlier this year and is very much at home on this course. And don't overlook the history here -- Sam Snead didn't get the career Grand Slam because he couldn't nail the US Open either. Phil could make some serious history this week.
  • And my winner is Tiger Woods. As much as I'd like to see Phil get that career Grand Slam, the Masters has rejuvenated Tiger's belief that he can still win majors. Pardon the pun, but the Woods irons are the key this week; since he won't need that driver any more than Phil, his distance control will determine his success. He too has a bit of history with Snead on the line -- a win this week and Tiger ties Slammin' Sam's win total, and does it at the major Sam never won. And a 16th major suddenly changes the dialogue about the Nicklaus chase.
So we'll see if pure sentimentality can get me a winner where logic and stats haven't.

Remember that FOX has the broadcast rights to all the USGA events. Thursday's broadcasts run from 12:30pm-7:30pm ET on FOX1 while USGA.org will stream from 10:30am-9:30pm ET. You can find the complete list of televised and streaming windows at this page at usga.org.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: The Thai team of Phachara Khongwatmai and Thongchai Jaidee won the GolfSixes Cascais on the ET; Scott McCarron won the Mastercard Japan Championship on the Champions Tour; Lexi Thompson won the ShopRite LPGA Classic; Rhein Gibson won the rain-shortened BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Web.com Tour; Perrine Delacour won the Four Winds Invitational on the Symetra Tour; and Mikumu Horikawa won the Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup Shishido Hills.

Rory McIlroy with the Canadian Open trophy

I've finally figured out the Tuesday Twofer puzzle. My picks are checking to see who I picked, then they take the week off. I picked Dustin Johnson (T20) to win and Corey Conners (MC) to Top10. My drought continues...
  • Winners: 2 for 23
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 23 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 46 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
But at least we had the satisfaction of seeing the big story of the week come to pass. Of course, I'm speaking about Graeme McDowell finally locking up that Open invite with a T8 finish.

Hey, don't laugh. Rory agreed with me, saying that he was watching the leaderboard himself to see if Graeme could get the job done.

And well he might, because there was no drama at all over who was going to win the RBC Canadian Open. And while Rory didn't get his 59... or his 60... that 61 left the field hopelessly in the dust, the closest being seven strokes back. And in doing so, he became only the sixth player ever to win the Canadian, US and European Opens. Even Jack Nicklaus couldn't do that.

When Rory was asked about the "Lucky Loonie," a Canadian $1 coin that he marked his ball with, he not only said that "every bit helps" but that he might be taking it to Pebble Beach this coming week.

The rest of the field can only hope it gets confiscated at the border. If Rory can hold this form at the US Open, Phil and Tiger don't have a chance. In the meantime, Rory gets yet another Limerick Summary to add to his collection. Luck had nothing to do with that.
On Sunday it just wasn’t fair.
While others hit balls everywhere
Rory pounded it straight
Right out of the gate…
And his chasers just watched in despair.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Michael Breed on Increasing Driver Swing Speed (Video)

I didn't pick this video for the reasons you might expect. Rather, it's because Breed gave me a great image that can help you swing better.



It's that coffee cup image. It's a perfect picture of a swing with perfect rhythm and tempo! So let me repeat it again for you.

Imagine that you're driving to work and you want to accelerate your car into traffic. The problem is, you've just bought a cup of hot coffee, you're holding it between your legs and it has no lid on it. You want to get up to speed as quickly as possible without getting a wet scalded crotch. How do you do it?

Simple. You accelerate slowly and smoothly.
  • You have to do it slowly enough that the coffee doesn't slosh over the lip of the cup.
  • But you also have to do it smoothly. You want the car to get up to speed but if you start slowly and then suddenly stomp on the gas, the coffee will still slosh out of the cup -- only it will happen after you think you got away with it.
Mess up either way and you are in pain. (And you have to buy new pants or a new skirt as well!)

Bobby Jones once said that if you swing properly, it feels like you have all the time in the world to hit the ball. That's because the change of direction at the top feels leisurely. If you do it right, the clubhead will be flying by the time it reaches the ball!

So try using this image to help smooth out your swing. Once you eliminate the jerkiness at the start of the downswing, you do more than pick up speed. You also improve your impact with the ball, and that insures that you get the full benefits of the speed you create.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Kerrod Gray on Making Better Contact (Video)

Let's go Down Under again for another video from PGA of Australia's Kerrod Gray. This short video is on making better contact.



Clearly Kerrod wants you to stop hitting the ball thin, and to do that you need to extend your arms through impact into the finish. This little drill, which uses club shaft contact with your belly button to teach proper extension, is very simple and can even be done during a round if you fall back into bad habits.

One thing I'd like to point out is that you don't want to create a reverse-C finish, which you might do by accident if you don't understand what Kerrod is telling you to do. He says you want to finish TALL, with your chest up, not leaning too far backward. He's exaggerating just a bit to make sure you shift your weight onto your lead leg. (It doesn't hurt that he's fairly tall and flexible as well!)

But note that his lead leg is perpendicular to the ground; his lead hip is not pushed out past his lead foot. This should be a stable position that you can hold easily without hurting your back.

This little drill can really help if you have a tendency to fall back onto your trailing foot during your finish -- a reverse pivot -- by teaching you what a balanced finish feels like.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Jason Sedan on Distance Control in Putting (Video)

GCA's lead coach Jason Sedan has a simple drill that might help you get better distance control with your putter.



I like this drill for two reasons.

One, you'll note that Jason says using it will help eliminate EXCESSIVE hand action. With the ball between your putter handle and your lead wrist, you should still be able to get a slight bit of wrist flex on the backswing without dropping the ball. But if your lead wrist breaks down at impact, the ball will fall out.

We don't want stiff wrists during our swing. We just don't want our lead wrist to bend backward at impact.

And the second reason? It's a major reason for choosing the drills I include on this blog: You can use them during a round without penalty. Artificial teaching aids are against the rules, but drills using your normal equipment are not. And although you can't actually hit practice putts during a stroke play round, you can use this drill to make practice strokes while you wait for your turn to putt.

It's a simple drill to help you learn proper hand action while putting.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Johnny Miller's 3 Stroke Savers (Video)

Lower your score without changing your swing? Count me in! Johnny Miller has three strategies to help you lower your score immediately.



These tips will sound overly simple, but even the pros get tripped up when it comes to following them.
  • Take one more club. Weekend players are always coming up short but I remember four different pros coming up short on the 12th at Augusta a couple of months back, don't you? If you've been watching any golf over the last few months, you don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times players have come up far short of their targets. Forget the Superman cape and take more club!
  • Favor the safe part of the green. You can forgive the pros for shortsiding themselves, at least occasionally, because they're after a win -- and that not only means a boatload of money but two or three years of Tour membership and invites to majors. YOU, however, will get NONE of these things. All you're gonna get when you shortside yourself is a higher score. Try and leave yourself in position for an easier next shot.
  • Be smart about risk. Johnny calls it "green light, yellow light, red light golf" but all he means is that you should be honest with yourself about your chances of actually pulling off the shot you're considering. If you insist on trying Mickelson shots because you like the excitement, then shut up about your high scores because you aren't trying to avoid them! If a particular shot is something you frequently play well, that's one thing; but going for a pin that requires a once-in-a-lifetime shot is scorecard suicide.
I know, you've probably heard all three of these suggestions before. I know, you think they're a one-way trip to a boring round of golf. But I also know that you come up short, shortside yourself and try impossible shots way too often... because we all do it.

Good golf is a matter of discipline, of making the right choices instead of trying to impress others. Play smart and your scorecard will do all the impressing you could ever want!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

It's GolfSixes Time Again!

I like to do posts about the GolfSixes event every year because it's an unusual format that's really fun to watch.

Defending champions Team Ireland, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan

This year's GolfSixes will be held at Oitavos Dunes Golf Club, which is part of the Portuguese coastal resort of Cascais. It's a two-day event played on Friday and Saturday, June 7-8, using a modified Greensomes match play format for six-hole matches, hence the name. I did a post on the Greensomes format a couple of years back, and the extra links in that post still work, so that's a good place to start if you don't understand what this is all about.

At its simplest, each member of the two-player teams hits a drive. They pick the drive they like best, and it's alternate shot from there. The team with the lowest score wins the hole and goes one-up, just like any other match play event. Here's a link to the five things the ET wants you to know about the event.

There are sixteen two-player teams competing, in four-team pool play, and one of the fun aspects of this tournament is that both male and female teams play against each other. (In fact, Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew competed as a team last year.) You can learn about all of this year's teams at this link.

The defending champions are Team Ireland are Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan, who are back to defend.

According to pgatour.com, the TV times are:
  • Friday: 6am to noon ET on GC
  • Saturday: 6am to 12:30pm ET on GC
In my opinion -- and yes, I say this every year but I mean it -- the GolfSixes event is one of the most innovative and entertaining events we see all year. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: RBC Canadian Open

How would I describe Twofer Tuesdays lately? An Old Testament character said it best: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Nevertheless, I'm gonna try again.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson

The RBC Canadian Open has been moved this year. It's nearly two months earlier in the schedule -- before the US Open instead of after the Open Championship. Will that make a difference in who plays well this time around?

I have no idea. But then, my recent record says I haven't had any idea for the last several weeks!

Moving on...

Because RBC is the sponsor, there are a number of bigger names in the field -- they have sponsorship deals with RBC -- so we'll be seeing players like DJ (the defending champ), Graeme, Jim, Webb, Matt and Brandt, to name a few. So the field will be pretty strong.

As for the venue, Hamilton Golf & CC plays at 6966 yards and a par of 70. It's over a century old but it still stands up well, being one of those courses where both bombers and "accuracy players" can win. However, it hasn't been particularly kind to Canadians.

Let's make a couple of picks and see how they do this week.
  • My Top10er is Corey Conners. I know, he's an unusual choice but I think a Canadian will at least give the title a run and Corey is #23 in FedExCup points and 6th in GIR. And while he's missed a lot of cuts this season, he's only missed one since winning the Valero Texas Open in April. I can't help but feel he'll be low Canadian this week.
  • And my winner is -- shocker here, folks -- Dustin Johnson. DJ is the defending champion, of course, but I know he's looking toward the US Open. (Yeah, he wants a piece of Brooks, and we all know it.) So I expect him to be extra sharp this week.
So three are my picks. Perhaps I haven't put as much thought into them as I have other weeks... but then again, thinking hasn't particularly helped me. Come to think of it, going with my gut hasn't worked either. But the law of averages has to play in my favor eventually, don't you think?

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE's stream starts at 7am ET.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Memorial

Winner: Patrick Cantlay

Around the wider world of golf: Sebastian Cappelen won the REX Hospital Open on the Web.com Tour; Kevin Sutherland won the Principal Charity Classic on the Champions Tour; Paul Barjon won the Bayview Place DCBank Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Patrick Flavin won the Bupa Match Play on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Jeongeun Lee6 won the US Women's Open on the LPGA; Min Lee won the Valley Forge Invitational on the Symetra Tour; Guido Migliozzi won the Belgian Knockout on the ET; and Yuta Ikeda won the Gate Way To The Open Mizuno Open on the Japan Golf Tour.

Patrick Cantlay with trophy and Jack Nicklaus

These were my worst Tuesday Twofer picks yet. I picked Tony Finau (MC) to win and Matt Kuchar (MC) to Top10. What more can I say? I'm in a slump!
  • Winners: 2 for 22
  • Place well (Top10): 11 for 22 (6 Top5 finish, 5 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 22 of 44 (11 Top5s, 11 more Top10s)
Patrick Cantlay, however, is most definitely NOT in a slump.

And it doesn't hurt that he's friends with Jack Nicklaus. While Jack is always willing to give advice to players -- especially the younger players who are looking to get their careers in gear -- there are players who he takes a special interest in, simply because he is drawn to them and their determination.

And because they will listen.

Patrick said after his final round that Jack had simply told him to relax and enjoy the game. (Sounds a lot like yesterday's post, doesn't it?) And Patrick took it to heart, blistering the field with a bogey-free 64. That's hard to do anywhere, let alone at Muirfield on Sunday. His score was two strokes better than anybody else in the field, and he won by two strokes for his second PGA Tour win.

This win puts Patrick in the Top10 of both the FedExCup points standings and the OWGR... and number one in this week's run to the Limerick Summary. He's hit his stride just in time for the last three majors of the year. Perhaps he'll pick up another Limerick Summary as well!
At Muirfield the players are blessed
‘Cause Jack gives them more than a test—
He gives them direction.
Pat had no objection!
He played like a man who’s possessed.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Vic Williams on Forgetting About the Score

The motto of my site is "It's All About the Score" but sometimes the score can get in the way. So when I found Vic Williams's article called Forget The Golf Score And Just Play I knew I needed to bring it to your attention.

Circling Raven Golf Course in Idaho

To the best of my knowledge, Vic isn't an instructor. He's just a guy struggling to get better, like most of us. But his article about dealing with the frustrations of a game that just didn't come to the course with you rings true. In part, he says:
I realize that the numbers we write down on that scorecard are, to most of us, the point of playing golf, but by constantly keeping tally as we go, we often short-circuit our innate, subconscious ability to get out of our own way and simply execute.
See target, swing at target, hit target.
The one out there, that is — the fairway, the green, the hole itself — not the accepted “par” printed on the card and in our heads. Hit the real target, and the other one will take care of itself, shot by shot and hole by hole.
He also links to a couple of instructional pieces that Golf Tips Magazine has on their site -- one on the mental game and one on the mechanics of the swing -- and you might want to take a look at those.

But his simple take on just playing the game when the scoring isn't there is something we all need to be reminded of. You don't have to "work" on something every darn day, you know? Some days it's better to just go out and enjoy the game we love.

After all, everybody needs a vacation from time to time.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Butch Harmon on Spraying the Ball Everywhere

I found this tip in an old issue of Golf Digest (May 2013) in an article called Last Thought Before Driving. It gives swing thoughts for handling different problems. This is one he gave for when you're hitting the ball everywhere.

Butch HarmonButch's swing thought is "Maintain your arm speed to the finish" and he has this to say about it:
If you're feeling totally lost on the tee, you need a swing key that combats a lot of potential problems. Try keeping your arms swinging at a constant speed through the ball and all the way to the finish. Many golfers swing to the ball and stop; they "throw" the club at the ball. This can lead to misses of all kinds, so picking the proper correction can be confusing. If you keep up your arm speed, you'll create good rhythm and flow through impact. You might be amazed at how things fall into place. Making an aggressive pass through the ball is always better than trying to steer it down the fairway. Remember, you're making a golf swing, so keep those arms swinging.
Let me explain something quickly here, because this swing thought seems counter-intuitive if you don't understand the physics behind it.

If you drop a ball from shoulder height, it doesn't fall to the ground at a constant speed. It actually accelerates toward the ground, at a speed of 32 feet per second per second. (That means each second the ball is falling, it falls 32 feet per second faster than it did the second before. Starting from a dead stop, it falls 32 feet during the first second, 64 feet during the next second, 96 feet during the third second and so on.) The same thing happens when we swing a golf club.

However, because we're used to moving this way, we think we're moving at a constant speed because we don't have to try to speed up. What we think of as a constant rhythm is actually an accelerating swing. So if we think about moving our arms at a constant speed when we swing the club -- not trying to jerk our arms up to speed but just swinging smoothly and quickly -- we'll actually be gaining speed as we swing.

That will give us a smooth swing that repeats. If our swing repeats, we'll make a mechanically consistent swing that creates the same shot shape over and over. And once we're creating the same shot shape over and over, we can figure out how to aim it so we control where it lands.

So try to swing your arms in a constant rhythm all the way from start to finish, and that thought should help you get control of the ball's flight. Butch ought to know, don't you think?