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Friday, November 15, 2019

Andrew Reynolds on Not Topping Your Drives (Video)

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



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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lee Westwood on Winning at 45 (Video)

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

Defending champion Lee Westwood

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Mayakoba Golf Classic

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

Defending champion Matt Kuchar

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Turkish Airlines Open

Winner: Tyrrell Hatton

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

Tyrrell Hatton with Turkish Airlines trophy

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

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

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

TOTO Japan Classic winner Ai Suzuki

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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Tom Stickney on the Y Chipping Style (Video)

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



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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Presidents Cup Picks Are In

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

Tiger and Ernie

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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

And the Schwab Cup Too

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

2018 Schwab Cup winner Bernhard Langer

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Penultimate LPGA Event of 2019

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

Defending champion Nasa Hataoka

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Turkish Airlines Open

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

Justin Rose after 2018 defense of his Turkish Airlines title

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions

Winner: Rory McIlroy

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

Rory McIlroy with WGC-China trophy

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Louis Oosthuizen's Swing Tempo Tip (Video)

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



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

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

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

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Brian Fitzgerald's Swing Path Drill (Video)

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



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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 1, 2019

Martin Hall on Driving into a Slice Wind (Video)

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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