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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Chipping from Thick Greenside Rough (Videos)

Since the pros at Harding Park struggled so much from the rough on Friday, I thought it might be worthwhile to look at chipping out of really thick greenside rough.

I've linked an article at pgatour.com that describes the basics of "thick rough chipping", but apparently they didn't care enough about it to keep links to the photos that are referenced in the article. Still, the description is very thorough and hopefully a couple of videos will provide the necessary visuals.

One thing you want to remember when reading this article is that they assume you're righthanded. Anywhere you see the word 'left' you should mentally substitute the word 'lead.' That way, you lefties out there can follow the instructions as well.
We'll start with a brief video from Bradley Hughes.

The other video is from Kelly King and goes into a bit more detail.

The main keys you need to remember are:

  • You want to keep your iron shaft more vertical than normal so you can use the toe of the club to hit the ball. That way you don't get caught up in the rough so badly.
  • This means you want to keep the grip more in the palm of your lead hand.
  • The net result of these two keys is that you're going to make a putting motion without a lot of wrist break. (The grip simply won't let you use a lot of wrist action.) That will make for a more consistent contact as you hit the ball.
  • At address the ball should be in the middle of your stance or just slightly back of that and the shaft should point at your belly button. Your weight should stay on your lead side all the way through the swing from start to finish.
  • And make sure you swing hard enough that the club doesn't stop in the grass. You have to swing hard enough to get the club all the way out of the grass; if you just stick the club in the grass, the ball isn't going to come out. For shorter shots use more loft; for longer shots use less loft. The loft will determine how high the ball flies coming out of the rough; learning how much to use is just a matter of practice.

If you follow these keys, the ball will "squirt" out of the rough and run across the green to the hole. That's what you want!

Even the pros struggle when faced with thick greenside rough. That doesn't mean it has to wreck your score if you just keep the basics in mind.

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Chunk and Run Shot, Part 2 (Videos)

Yesterday I posted Dave Pelz's instructions for hitting a chunk and run shot from the bunker. Today I've got four short videos from four different teachers, each demonstrating their approach to the shot.

Each of these chunk and run shots uses the basics of the Pelz shot, but each has that teacher's own twist on the technique. Between the Pelz instructions and these four demos, you should be able to find a technique that works for you.

The first video is from Sandy Jamieson.


The next video comes from Scott Mahlberg.


Here's one from Anne Cain.


And this video is from Mitchell Spearman.

Four different teachers, four slightly different approaches. Try them all and pick the one that suits you best!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Chunk and Run Shot

The chunk and run shot is simply a sand shot that's hit fat on purpose. I found this Golf Magazine article where Dave Pelz explains the basics.

Dave Pelz hitting chunk and run sand shot

Here's a summary of what Dave says in the article.
  • This is a 20- to 40-yard greenside shot for use in a shallow bunker. If the lip is too high, this is the wrong shot. And you need room between the bunker and the hole for the shot to run.
  • Don't use your sand wedge. Dave recommends a 7- to 9-iron.
  • Use your normal setup and open the clubface only a little, just enough to keep it from digging into the sand.
  • Make your backswing about half its normal length and hit four or five inches behind the ball. Remember, you want to hit it fat on purpose!
  • Dave says you're pushing the sand into the ball, not slipping the club under the ball to throw the sand upward. So don't flip your wrists.
  • For a 20-yard shot, finish with your hands around waist high. For a 40-yard chunk and run, make a full finish.
  • Let that baby RUN to the hole!
This is a shot that takes some practice but, hey, how hard can it be to hit the ball fat? Just experiment a little and find out which club works best for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The LPGA Plays the Marathon Classic After All

We weren't sure this event would even be played as little as a month ago, and the virus has left its fingerprints all over the Marathon Classic.

Defending champion Sei Young Kim

We'll start with the obvious: There will be no spectators at this event. That nearly killed the event, as sponsors draw most of the charity dollars from the pro-ams and such that can't be played this year.

Defending champion Sei Young Kim will not defend. She's still in Korea due to travel concerns.

An interesting fact: US players have more wins at this event than any other country (13), but no American has won since 2008 (Paula Creamer). That could change this year, given that many of the international players have -- like Kim -- chosen not to risk the travel. But that doesn't mean the entire field will be US players. A quick glance at the field list shows a large number of international players will be in action.

The field will be headlined by World #2 Danielle Kang and #3 Nelly Korda. Also notable is Ana Belac, a player from Slovenia via Duke University who is making her first Tour appearance on a sponsor's invite. (Is she the first Slovenian player to play at an LPGA event? I'm guessing she is.)

Finally, this note from the LPGA website.
The Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana is the final opportunity for LPGA players to earn a full exemption into the 2020 AIG Women’s Open; after 72 holes, the top 10 LPGA Members not already exempt will earn a spot into the major championship
GC will carry three hours of live coverage starting Thursday at 1pm ET. For those of us who missed women's golf, it's nice to know the LPGA is getting some live coverage amidst all the other tours.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: PGA Championship

Twofer Tuesday is trapped in a time warp! A trip to the 2020 PGA Championship takes us to roughly the same time of year as the 2018 PGA!

Defending champion Brooks Koepka

Well, I suppose we'll survive, given that the same guy won in 2018 and 2019. This time Brooks Koepka defends at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco CA.

The difference, of course, is the pandemic. This PGA will have no fans -- or at least none but perhaps the significant others of the players involved. There is a belief among some commentators that this may open up the potential for an unexpected winner, an inexperienced player who may benefit from the lack of fans. Fewer people on site watching, less pressure on the participants -- or that's how the theory goes.

We'll see about that. Majors carry a pressure all their own, regardless of how many fans are watching.

In the meantime I have to pick two players to finish in the Top10. Forget untested theories -- I'm going chalk.
  • After a near miss last week at the WGC, it's hard not to believe Brooks Koepka will find a way to get it done yet again. The chance to win a fifth major, as well as make history with a three-peat -- that's just too much for a gamer like Brooks to pass up. The massive improvements in his game last week lacked only one thing -- a dependable fade. I bet he'll have one of those this week!
  • Let's see now, who were the last three PGA champs? Brooks won in 2019 and 2018... and Justin Thomas in 2017. The only three-time winner this season is coming off a WGC win where he beat... defending champ Brooks Koepka? Sure, he's been a bit erratic but he's got a win and a runner-up in his last three events. Sure sounds like a recipe for success to me!
ESPN and CBS split the coverage duties this week. If you've got the ESPN+ streaming service, you can watch from 10am-4pm ET on Thursday. But whether you've got that or not, ESPN will air the event from 4pm-10pm ET Thursday. Bear in mind that both will likely be live, as there's a three-hour time difference between the East and West Coasts.

I'm interested to see if the "no pressure" theory actually plays out in San Francisco... but I wouldn't bet on it. I'll be shocked if the winner doesn't come from the Top20 in the world rankings.

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Sam Horsfield won the Hero Open on the ET; Jim Furyk won the Ally Challenge on the Champions Tour; Richy Werenski won the Barracuda Championship, the PGA Tour's alternate field event; Seth Reeves won the Pinnacle Bank Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Danielle Kang won the LPGA Drive On Championship; and Hae Ran Ryu defended her title at the Jeju Samdasoo Masters on the KLPGA.

Justin Thomas with WGC-FedEx St. Jude trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks struggled in Memphis. I had Collin Morikawa (T20) and Webb Simpson (T12). Webb almost gave me a T10 until late Sunday, when the course took its toll on almost everybody. Oh well...
  • Top10s: 15 for 36 (6 Top5, 9 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 1 for 18 events
Justin Thomas had his mind on a high finish this week. After some uneven play since the restart, he was talking about his desire to return to #1 in the world and noted he'd like to spend at least two years there by the time his career ended.

Guess who's back?

Jon Rahm's time at the top ended quickly after a T52 in Memphis but JT's return to the top of the OWGR wasn't a done deal. He started the final round in fifth place -- he'd never come from that far back -- and he was four strokes down, tying the largest deficit he'd ever overcome. And while he made up ground quickly, at one point there were eight players within a single stroke of the lead.

One of those players was Brooks Koepka, also rediscovering some form after a few weeks of struggle. It appeared for a while that he might be back on point and ready to defend his last WGC title... but then he hit the final three holes and the roller coaster took its toll:
  • JT took a two-stroke lead after making birdie on 16 while Brooks bogeyed.
  • Brooks cut the lead to one with a long birdie on 17 while JT could only par.
  • And then Brooks dumped his tee shot on 18 into the water for double-bogey and JT"s par gave him a three-shot victory.
So now Justin Thomas heads to California for the PGA Championship, the major he's won once already and at which Brooks is again the defending champion. But he'll head out well-armed with both the #1 spot in the world rankings and yet another Limerick Summary.
The first man to three wins this season
Leaves Memphis with one major reason
To play well in Cali:
For JT, it’s how he
Finds World Number One so damn pleasin’!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Jon Rahm on the Short Game (Video)

This year-old video is absolutely loaded with Jon's thoughts on the short game. There's a lot here if you take the time to listen.



I think the most useful tip he gives is his preference for shots that don't spin. Jon says that your best chance to make a short game shot -- if it's a shot that you can use, given the conditions -- is to make the shot without spin so it will hit and roll to the hole.

As I said, there's a lot of good thoughts in this video. Given that his approach took him from #8 at the time of this video to #1 now, those thoughts are definitely worth trying out.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Before You Buy Your Next Set of Clubs...

This Golf Monthly video helps you prepare for the potentially expensive procedure of getting a new set of fitted clubs. Check out the ten questions you should ask before you buy!


I have listed the ten questions below but you'll want to watch the video to understand the full importance of each one.

And yes, I know I numbered them backwards. That's just how the HTML coding for the post works!
  1. What is the weakest part of your game?
  2. Where do you play?
  3. Are you taking lessons, and is your handicap coming down?
  4. How important are the look and the feel of the golf clubs to you?
  5. Is the makeup of the set likely to change?
  6. Do you have one consistent shot shape, or do you prefer to hit lots of different types of shots?
  7. How much are you willing to spend?
  8. What would make a bigger difference to your scoring -- hitting it longer or hitting it straighter?
  9. What is your go-to shot?
  10. Where do you most commonly miss?
So if you're getting ready to buy new clubs, take the time to run through these questions. They just might make the difference between a good fit and a less-than-successful fit.

Friday, July 31, 2020

And the Old Guys Are Back Too

Just like the LPGA, the Champions Tour returns to the course today at the Ally Challenge.

Defending champion Jerry Kelly

The Ally is in its third year and returns to the Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc MI. The 81-man field is pretty well stacked since most of the big names are ready to get back to work.

I say "most" because, as we all know, Miguel Angel Jimenez is busy making history over in England at the Hero Open, not only by setting the record of 707 Tour starts but also by shooting a 64 to get himself into a tie for second against the youngsters.

The Mechanic's theatrics notwithstanding, the old guys should still be able to put on a decent show.

The big news at the Ally concerns three new members of the Tour. And just to make things interesting, the new guys -- Jim Furyk, Mike Weir and K.J. Choi -- are all paired together for the first couple of rounds.

GC's live coverage begins today at 11:30am ET. And with that broadcast, most of the world tours are now officially back in action, albeit without fans. But you gotta start somewhere, right?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The LPGA Starts Over Again

The LPGA hasn't gone without a tournament this long in its entire history. This week it gets going again but with a twist. Welcome to the LPGA Drive On Championship.

The Inverness Club in Toledo OH

Here's how the LPGA site describes the tournament:
The three-day, official tournament will be held July 31 to Aug. 2 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Televised on Golf Channel, the LPGA Drive On Championship will feature a field of 144 players competing for a $1 million purse and will take place without sponsors, pro-ams or spectators.
I seem to remember people laughed when Mike Whan created a tournament back during the recession that didn't even have a purse, but look where that led.

What's old is new again, I guess. The coronavirus just keeps throwing us curves but the LPGA just keeps taking them in stride and moving forward.

This brand new tournament gets a high-profile venue -- nothing less than the Inverness Club itself, the legendary site of four US Opens, two PGA Championships, one US Amateur, two US Senior Opens and one US Junior Amateur Championship. And it's going to host the 2021 Solheim Cup.

Not bad for a new start.

There will be 144 players in the field for the three-day event, so this is a full field. GC's live coverage starts Friday morning at 9am ET. It's yet another good thing to look forward to as 2020 moves on!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Modified Stableford Returns!

It's back! The Tour's alternate field event -- the Barracuda Championship -- with points-based scoring instead of stroke-based returns BUT on a new venue...

Defending (but absent) champion Collin Morikawa

One that may actually be better suited to the format.

First of all, defending champion Collin Morikawa won't be defending -- this year he's playing the WGC. But a number of players you know, like Maverick McNealy, Si Woo Kim, Scott Stallings, Brendan Steele, Ryan Moore, Emilio Grillo and Richy Werenski will be fighting it out.

And now about that new venue...

The Montreux Golf & Country Club (in Nevada, between Reno and Lake Tahoe) was the previous site, but this year it is replaced by the Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenwood course near Truckee (still in Nevada). Jack Nicklaus designed Old Greenwood, which opened in 2004 and will play as a par-71 at 7390 yards.

But here's the cool part.

There are three driveable par-4s, plus three par-5s that can be reached in two. (Remember, they'll be at nearly 6000 feet above sea level.) So with eagles being worth 5 points, that gives players a potential 30 points just from these six holes!

Bear in mind that the 18-hole record at this event is only +22 points, and the 72-hole scoring record is only +49. I'm sure you can see the possibilities!

Because this is a West Coast event, GC's live coverage won't start until Thursday at 7pm ET. That means five hours of WGC followed by 2.5 hours of Stableford. Just how awesome is that going to be?

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: WGC-FedEx St. Jude

There's a lot of golf this week... but Twofer Tuesday goes walking in Memphis (that's a Marc Cohn reference, in case you missed it) for the first WGC since the COVID-19 shutdown.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka

TPC Southwind's transformation from a regular event venue to a WGC venue last year may have been a bit less than impressive -- the course played fairly easy compared to past history -- but you have to figure that the stronger field had something to do with that. I expect the course to play a bit tougher this year.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka comes in with something to prove, especially with the PGA -- where he also defends -- coming up next week. He's no longer the odds-on favorite at these events as we all wait to see how the knee problems finally shake out, so there will be a lot of players gunning for his title.

After the pitiful showing of my picks last week, I'm not sure what the best plan of attack is for this week. But let's give it a shot and see if I can up my average.
  • Opposite this event last year Collin Morikawa was winning the Barracuda Championship. This time around he gets a shot at the WGC and I like his chances. TPC Southwind doesn't demand a big hitter, and Morikawa's steady iron play could do some serious damage here, no matter how stacked the field is. At least he'll make the cut. (Little joke there.)
  • This is a tough one. Part of me wants to take Jon Rahm in his first event as #1, but I'm going with last year's runner-up Webb Simpson. Simply put, Webb has played well this season and has a good record in Memphis. And I think he's got his mind on a major this year, so this is a great way to get into the groove.
GC's live coverage starts at 2pm ET Thursday and is scheduled to run for five hours, plus you know we'll get some PreGame coverage. We're in the stretch now, with a WGC, a major, the Wyndham (about a half-hour from my home), and the three FedExCup playoff events. The next six weeks are gonna be WILD!

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 3M Open

Winner: Michael Thompson

Around the wider world of golf: Renato Paratore won the Betfred British Masters on the ET; Ruixin Liu won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Symetra Tour; and Max McGreevy won the Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Michael Thompson with 3M trophy

It was just another day at the office for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Mackenzie Hughes (DNP) and Tommy Fleetwood (MC). Hughes withdrew from the event without telling me, and Fleetwood simply came down with a bad case of iron oxide (rust, that is).
  • Top10s: 15 for 34 (6 Top5, 9 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 1 for 17 events
Michael Thompson, however, got his MC out of the way last week and showed up ready to play at the 3M Open. And play he did!

Perhaps more people will talk about Tony Finau coming up short once again, but Thompson had only three bogeys all week. Only three bogeys! You're gonna have to play some pretty unbelievable golf to compete with that.

Thompson hadn't won since the 2013 Honda Classic, and he was noticeably emotional after this win. With a new daughter joining his son and wife (who he called "my rock") just this year, a huge paycheck, a guaranteed Tour card and a whole load of tournament changes to his schedule -- including a trip to Winged Foot, which he said was a favorite course of his -- he had a good excuse.

I just hope adding a Limerick Summary to his already impressive haul doesn't cause him to completely fall apart. It does that to some people...
Once Mike had this win in the bag,
He headed south loaded with swag—
A ticket to Winged Foot,
His Tour card (yeah, that’s good)
And more time to just be a dad.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Pro V1 VS the Competition (Video)

Lately I've enjoyed watching Rick Shiels's videos where he tests equipment, like yesterday's illegal clubs video. But he made this one a couple of months back and I thought you all might enjoy watching it as well.

In this video, the Titleist Pro V1 takes on the TaylorMade TP5, the Srixon Z-Star and the Callaway Chrome Soft. Which one is the best buy for your money? The answer might surprise you...


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Do Illegal Clubs Really Lower Your Score? (Video)

This is just a fun video to watch!

You've heard the claims for game improvement clubs that violate the Rules of Golf. Rick Shiels has tested a number of them in other videos. In this one he takes a full bag of them and sees if they'll really let him shoot a lower score.



A few quick notes:
  • Since Rick didn't have anything between a hybrid (that swingless club) and the wedges, he didn't really have clubs to cover every shot. Still, he scored pretty well.
  • The putter isn't technically illegal but it does give you a real advantage when aiming. Please note that despite that advantage, you won't sink any more putts than normal if you can't read the greens!
  • You have to love that straight golf ball. If you've ever wondered why the golf ball is under such scrutiny by the ruling bodies, this video should answer all of your questions.
I hope you also noticed how that "sandpaper wedge" tore up a Pro V1 with only one shot. It just goes to show that there's a price to every gain you get in golf.

Enjoy this video, folks. These are things that will NEVER be legal under the Rules of Golf... and that's probably a good thing.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Playing with a Half Set (Video)

If you're a long-time reader you know that I'm a fan of playing some rounds with a half set of clubs. It helps you learn to create shots when you don't have a perfect yardage, as well as teaching you some new shots and even some new strategies for attacking the course.

In this recent video Neil Tappin from Golf Monthly is testing a cheap beginner's half set of clubs. I'm posting it because it may give you some ideas on which clubs to choose from your full set and some of the strategy you might try.



I'll just add that most of you won't have a strong 7-iron and a strong 9-iron in your regular set. If you decide to use Tappin's setup, I'd recommend using an 8-iron and a 6-iron, although I'd probably choose a 5-iron instead of a 6. (Let's just say I have a poor relationship with my 6-iron.)

Of course, there's no rule that you have to use the same 7 clubs as Neil. If you want to try playing with a half set, choose the clubs that best fit the shots you have at your favorite course. And nothing says you can't change them the next time you go out.

But whatever you do, I'd recommend an occasional round with less than a full set. It's a great learning experience that can really help your game.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

How Much Bounce Does Your Wedge Need? (Video)

Nick Clearwater has some tips to help you figure out how much bounce you need on your wedges.



Clearwater's tips here basically tell you to get more bounce than you think you need -- in my experience, he's right -- and his fitting tip using marker tape on the sole is useful. But I can also give you a general rule to help you decide whether you need more or less bounce.

As a general rule, the steeper your angle of attack at impact, the more bounce you need.
  • If you tend to sweep the ball off the turf with your wedges, you can probably use less bounce.
  • If you tend to hit down sharply on the ball and dig into the turf, you should look at higher bounce wedges.
While we generally try to get rid of an over-the-top swing, it's possible to play decent golf that way. One thing that will help is to get wedges with more bounce because it helps keep you from digging into the ground so much.

But you don't need an over-the-top swing to need more bounce.

I used to have trouble getting out of the sand with my old wedges. I realized I needed more bounce when I tried using a 9-iron to get out. I gripped it so the face of the wedge pointed almost straight up (that's wide open, folks) and discovered I could hit the ball out with no trouble. That made me realize that I probably needed more bounce, and that did indeed solve the problem.

Nick Clearwater is right. If you have trouble with your wedge play, chances are that you need more bounce. It's something that a quick fitting at a golf shop can help you find out very quickly and, trust me, getting the correct bounce for your swing is one equipment fix that can make an immediate improvement in your score.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The New UK Swing Starts

This week's Betfred British Masters is definitely worth mentioning because it kicks off the new "UK Swing" of the European Tour.

Betfred British Masters host Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood is hosting for the second time at this event, which is the first of six straight weeks of golf in the UK in the new age of COVID-19 concerns. Westwood has characterized the health measures the Tour is taking at the Close House course at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England as "military-style," and says he is happy with them and believes that most players are going to cooperate.

Personally, I can't stress enough how important this is. A very real part of the reason that we don't have this virus under some sort of control yet is because people still aren't taking this seriously. And the longer that people delay in taking the necessary precautions, the longer we're all going to be stuck dealing with this. Even when a vaccine becomes available, a certain amount of "procedure" will be required in order for it to be effective.

And for sports like golf, setting up a "bubble" like this -- where players can minimize their travel and exposure to potentially new sources of infection -- is one very important step in eradicating this virus.

Anyway, GC will be carrying this event starting at 6:30am ET Thursday for a two-hour window. That coverage will expand over the weekend. But as far as I can tell right now, we won't get coverage of all six events here in the USA (although SkySports plans to carry them all), probably because some will be alternate events to WGC and major events. So you'll want to catch this one while you can.

[UPDATE: One of these days I'll learn not to trust GC's listings. The tournament started this morning -- Wednesday -- with a 2.5 hour window, then picked up again after Morning Drive. Sorry for the wrong info!]

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: 3M Open

Twofer Tuesday regretfully leaves the luxurious milkshakes of Muirfield Village -- as did all the participants last week -- to take in this week's event at TPC Twin Cities.

Defending champion Matthew Wolff

It's only the second year for the 3M Open in Blaine MN, although it was originally a long-running event on the Champions Tour. A par-71 measuring close to 7450 yards, this course is no pushover. But the "superfields" we've been seeing since the restart won't be playing this week -- guys do need to rest, you know. World #4 Dustin Johnson and #6 Brooks Koepka headline the field this week, as does defending champion Matt Wolff.

With a less than awe-inspiring field -- neither Koepka nor DJ has been particularly impressive in the restart (perhaps still dealing with injuries) -- and Matt Wolff's play being so uneven, I've decided to pick a couple of fliers this week. Let's see how they do.
  • I'm taking Mackenzie Hughes as my first pick. Hughes has either been on or (very) off over the last year, with a huge number of MCs and only one Top10 before the break, a 2 at the Honda Classic. But since the restart he's played five events and posted MC-T70-T3-T48-T6.  For someone who's struggled so much, this is a good trend. And given that his good scores have come against strong fields, he may see this week as an opportunity.
  • My other pick is Tommy Fleetwood. Let's be honest here -- Tommy finished out poorly before the break, MCing at the API, and this will be his first week back since the restart. True, that doesn't give me any sort of form to consider... but it doesn't give me anything bad to consider either. Tommy could easily come out rested and ready to play, and TPC Twin Cities may be just the sort of track to inspire a player of his caliber.
GC's live coverage begins Thursday at 2:30pm ET. With most of the big boys taking the week off, this event could be just the thing for the "rank and file" who need reps just to get in the FedExCup hunt. We might see something pretty special this week.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Memorial

Winner: Jon Rahm

Around the wider world of golf: Davis Riley won the TPC San Antonio Championship at the Oaks on the Korn Ferry Tour; Joël Stalter won the Euram Bank Open on the ET; and Soo Min Lee won the inaugural KPGA Open on the KPGA.

Jon Rahm with Memorial trophy

Well! So much for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Justin Thomas (T18) and Bryson DeChambeau (MC). I didn't see either player coming up this short. I'll blame it on Jack letting the course all but die before ripping it out for a refurb -- after all, the grounds crew started ripping up the old sod before the players even finished the round!
  • Top10s: 15 for 32 (6 Top5, 9 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 1 for 16 events
Unlike my picks, Jon Rahm clearly adapted to the tougher conditions better than anybody else. He posted three rounds in the 60s this week VS one round last week. And while his 75 was the highest final round for a winner this season, it was still nearly a shot under the field average.

The only real blemish on his round came from a ball that moved during that amazing birdie chip on 16, a movement that Jon didn't see. But the two-shot penalty given to him by the Tour didn't really matter since it still left him three shots ahead of Ryan Palmer, his playing partner and closest competition.

No, what we'll carry away from this is the history he made. Jon Rahm will become World Number One after this win. He is one of the youngest players ever to become Number One, and he's only the second Spaniard (after Seve)  -- but Seve took four more years to reach that goal. And Seve never won the Memorial, either.

Oh yeah, and Jon picks up yet another Limerick Summary. Don't want to forget the important stuff, do we?
No player from Spain ever won
Jack’s tourney… ‘til Jon got it done!
Muirfield Village played tough
(Not to mention the rough)
But now he’s the World Number One.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Shorter Swing, Longer Drive (Video)

I've written a lot about longer classic swings lately so I thought I'd take a look at shorter modern swings. Rick Shiels and Dan Whittaker take a look at how smash factor affects your distance.



The simple truth here (as measured on a launch monitor) is shown as Rick hits two drives. One is a long swing that doesn't quite hit the ball in the center of the clubface, the other is a shorter swing with better impact.

When you compare the results, the smash factor difference between the two shows us a surprise. While the shorter swing was around 3mph slower, the improved smash factor actually meant the slower clubhead swing created about 8mph more ball speed... and that means a longer drive!

Classic swings (which I think should be more appreciated) don't have to be long and inefficient. What I hope you pick up from this video is that how well you strike the ball is as important -- maybe more so -- as clubhead speed.

If you want to hit the ball farther, your first step should be learning to hit the ball in the center of the clubface.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Annabel Rolley on Plane (Video)

I haven't posted a tip from Annabel Rolley for a while. Here's a short video with her thoughts on plane:



I think the biggest thing to remember here is that your downswing plane is a result of your backswing plane.
  • If your backswing plane is too flat, you'll tend to loop up and come down too upright.
  • If your backswing plane is too upright, you'll tend to loop down too flat.
  • And if you get your backswing plane roughly in the middle -- neither too flat nor too upright -- then you'll tend to come down on almost the same plane.
A simple thing to remember, one that can help you identify (and fix) swing problems quickly.

Friday, July 17, 2020

How to Find a Lost Ball (Video)

This video may make you laugh because these are mostly common sense but if it helps you find a lost ball and save a stroke or two, who cares? There are seven tips here that might help you in your next round.

And make sure you check out the last tip because it's a recent change to the Rules of Golf.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Using Malaska's L-to-L Drill with the Driver (Video)

I've done a number of posts on using the L-to-L drill to improve your overall golf game. (Here's a link to the most recent post I did.) But I found this short video where Mike Malaska demonstrates how to use the drill specifically to increase your driver speed.



Two quick things to note:
  • Creating speed with hand action comes first, then you add body rotation to pick up some extra speed. Contrary to popular belief, body rotation isn't the main source of clubhead speed. 
  • To help increase driver clubhead speed, set up with your trailing leg pulled back and focus on hand and arm speed.
I'm always amazed at how many ways you can use the L-to-L drill to improve your game. This is just one more way this simple drill can help you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Just a Reminder

Just as Muirfield Village is hosting its second tournament in a row, TPC San Antonio is hosting its second in a row for the Korn Ferry Tour.

Will Zalatoris

This week it's the inaugural TPC San Antonio Championship at the Oaks. This is the same course that hosts the Valero Texas Open, measuring almost 7500 yards as a par-72. And Will Zalatoris is back after taking a week off from his first KFT victory at the TPC Colorado Championship. He leads the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list by more than 300 points, so he's the target this week.

Once again, there's no TV coverage, hence this post to give you the link to the event's leaderboard. After all, you want to keep up, don't you?

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Memorial Tournament

Twofer Tuesday enjoyed the milkshakes at Murifield Village so much it stayed over another week for the Memorial Tournament.

Jack Nicklaus and defending champion Patrick Cantlay

The venue is the same as last week, of course -- except that the course will be firmer and faster this week. Jack isn't about to let HIS tournament play as easily as the Workday did!

The field is stacked, with Tiger coming back, Brooks entering after missing the cut last week, and the Top12 in the FedExCup Rankings all there to play. And defending champion Patrick Cantlay should have gotten the rust off his game so he's ready for his title defense.

Knowing that those legendary milkshakes are ready for a second week on duty, let's get right to the picks.
  • My first pick is a no-brainer, I guess. Bryson DeChambeau has been on such a run -- and has been a winner at this event before -- that I can't wait to see what he does with that newfound length of his. Having taken a week off to regroup after his win at the Rocket Mortgage, he should be rested enough to at least give me another Top10.
  • My second choice was a dice toss between the Top2 at Workday. I've decided to go with Justin Thomas. Morikawa's win this past week, having seen Muirfield Village only once, was very impressive... but I think the beast will play differently this week and Collin might have more difficulty. JT's familiarity with the harder setup, combined with his solid play last week, should give him an edge on the field.
GC's live coverage starts Wednesday at 2:30pm ET but you know there will be early coverage on the PreGame Show and possibly even some early PGA TOUR LIVE coverage. As for me, I can't wait to see Bryson square off against Tiger!

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Workday Charity Classic

Winner: Collin Morikawa

Around the wider world of golf: Marc Warren won the Austrian Open on the ET; Mardy Fish won the American Century Championship; David Lipsky won the TPC San Antonio Challenge on the Korn Ferry Tour; Joo Hyung Kim won the Gunsan Open on the KPGA; and the KLPGA's IS Dongseo Busan Open is expected to finish Monday due to bad weather. (Thanks to IC for the Korean updates.)

Collin Morikawa with the Workday trophy and a milkshake

As well as my Twofer Tuesday picks did last week, they struggled this week. I had Patrick Cantlay (T7) and Brooks Koepka (MC). I called Brooks a flier and he played like one this week -- unpredictably. Patrick put up a great Sunday round to grab that Top10 for me.
  • Top10s: 15 for 30 (6 Top5, 9 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 1 for 15 events
Collin Morikawa is now in the strange position of having more wins than missed cuts, having missed his first pro cut just two weeks ago but grabbing his second win this week. And he got that win in a shootout with Justin Thomas that went into three holes of overtime.

Viktor Hovland spiced up the battle on the front nine until two back nine bogeys ended his chances pretty early. But Morikawa and Thomas -- wow! It was back-and-forth all day with JT leading to start, Collin surging past as JT struggled in the first part of the round, then JT returning the favor in the middle, and Collin finishing strong on the final three holes (-1 VS JT's +2) to force the playoff.

And the battle didn't stop there. The high point was the two birdies on the first playoff hole -- JT from 50 feet, Collin from 24 -- and the last two holes were just a question of who would blink first.

With a second tournament at Muirfield Village this coming week, you have to figure these two guys are the favorites. But for now, Collin Morikawa has the best of all worlds with his second win, his second Limerick Summary, and God only knows how many of those legendary milkshakes.
His week was uneven at best
But when, down the stretch, he was pressed
Collin pulled it together—
The prime time pacesetter
Who never once veered from his quest.
The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Mike Malaska on Clubface Control (Video)

This brand new Malaska video teaches you a different way to think about aiming the clubface. I think you'll find it useful.



When Carl Rabito taught me the basics of the golf swing 30 years ago, although he didn't explain it in the same terms, he used the exact same drill to teach me ball control. After some instruction I would swing and, at the top of my backswing, he'd tell me to hit a draw, a fade or a straight shot.

Yes, I could do it. And no, it wasn't that hard.

But I like Malaska's description of the process. Don't think of the shaft as a baseball bat. Think of the clubface as the bat. You might be surprised how much difference a little mental change can make!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

How to Swing Like Bryson (Video)

Bryson DeChambeau uses a single-plane swing just like the legendary Moe Norman did, and Todd Graves learned from Moe. This is a great 16-minute introduction to how the swing works, simple enough that you can learn the basics from this one video.



There a dozens of swing methods you can learn.  I personally prefer a more classic swing similar to the ones taught by past teachers like Jim Flick, Manuel de la Torre and Tommy Armour. But that doesn't mean everybody has to use that swing. It's not unusual for me to get questions from players who ask if they should change their swings.

My answer is "if the swing works for you and it doesn't hurt, don't change it." You can't get better if you change swings every time you struggle.

But even if you've settled on the best swing for you, it never hurts to learn how other swing methods work. Sometimes you'll learn something that can be adapted to help you solve a problem in your existing swing. Knowledge is power!

So take a few minutes to learn how Bryson does it from this video. Todd Graves explains the main points clearly. Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Common Par-3 Mistakes (Video)

The Meandmygolf guys did a short video on the most common mistakes made by all players (including pros) on par-3s.



Here, for your reference, is a list of the mistakes players most often make on par-3s.
  1. Poor club selection
  2. Flag hunting
  3. Misunderstanding hazards
  4. Underestimating elevation and wind
  5. Wrong tee height
  6. Ignoring your shot pattern
Note that all but tee height are strategy problems.

The last half of the video explains how to take these things into account. It's worth watching simply because correcting strategy problems is the easiest -- and fastest -- way to lower your score.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Pretty Much What We Expected

The Ryder Cup 2020 is now the Ryder Cup 2021. What else could they do?

Ryder Cup date changed to 2021

The ripple effect is that the Presidents Cup will also be delayed a year to 2022 -- again, pretty much what we expected.

And certainly it's the right decision. The Ryder Cup is as much about the fans as about the players, and there is no way (given the current conditions) that the fans could be safely included. Postponing it was the only real choice.

You can find plenty of info about the effects of this decision online, but the most interesting to me was the European decision to freeze their points lists until January 2021. I don't guess there was anything else they could do and still give all the players a fair shake, but it's still an unforeseen side-effect.

Likewise, the LPGA's season will start as planned -- without fans and with their first major intact -- but with some uncertainties about the Marathon Classic, which said fan attendance (especially for pro-ams) was a necessity for the event to go on. Again, this sort of on-the-fly decision is pretty much what we expected for the LPGA events, which don't have the advantage of the deep pockets that the PGA Tour does.

But at least we're seeing some amount of predictability in a time of tremendous unpredictability... and that's something worth celebrating. (With masks and appropriate social distancing, of course!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Like Father, Like Son

Well, sort of. The PGA Tour is playing two events at the same venue starting this week, and the Korn Ferry Tour is doing the same thing.

AT&T Canyons Course

While the PGA Tour tackles Muirfield Village in Ohio, the Korn Ferry Tour is doing the same in Texas at TPC San Antonio.

This week the KFT boys are playing the TPC San Antonio Challenge at the Canyons, which will be played on TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Canyons Course. Next week they'll play the TPC San Antonio Championship at the Oaks, on the AT&T Oaks Course.

The Canyons Course is reportedly more "user-friendly" because it has more elevation changes and wider fairways than the Oaks Course. By comparison, Muirfield will be set up a bit easier for its first week and I've heard they'll be using some different tees and such to minimize course damage before the Memorial. Using two different courses at TPC San Antonio will definitely make preserving the course an easier task.

While last week's winner Will Zalatoris is taking this week off, the rest of the 156-man field can look forward to the same sort of benefits the "big boys" will have, given that they won't have to travel between the two events. (They won't get Jack's famous milkshakes though. Bummer.)

Like most of the Korn Ferry Tour events since the restart, we won't be able to watch this one on TV either. However, just so you can follow along:
With the extended season wrapping around into 2021, Tripp Isenhour said that we could easily see more than three players achieve the Battlefield Promotion. That means each of these events could end up being very important for players, so it's worth keeping up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Workday Charity Open

Twofer Tuesday settles in for a leisurely fortnight at Jack's Place, as Muirfield Village hosts two events back-to-back. The first will be the Workday Charity Open.

Workday Charity Open logo

A brand-new event standing in for the John Deere Classic this year, the Workday Charity Open picks up the slack during the restart. Muirfield Village will be set up slightly easier this week -- most notably being stimped at 11 instead of 13+ -- then toughened up to its normal condition for the Memorial next week.

For the players, this must be a dream come true. Jack has a reputation for taking care of them -- the milkshakes are legendary, among other things -- and playing at Muirfield for two weeks, with no need to travel or worry about testing in yet another new venue, has to lighten the mental and emotion burdens COVID-19 has added to their prep.

With a full field of 156 players and seven of the Top10 in the OWGR, the most notable fact about the Workday may be the absence of Bryson DeChambeau. Bryson is taking his first week off since the restart, so we'll have to wait and see how the Kraken fares at Muirfield -- which should be interesting since Bryson won the Memorial back in 2018.

Of course, that means the rest of that field has a week to make their own plan of attack. So who has the best chance to make their mark at Jack's Place this week?
  • Patrick Cantlay is in the field, and he's the defending champ at the Memorial next week. He's only played one event since the restart -- he was at Travelers -- but he shot four rounds in the 60s (his lowest came on Sunday) and he's putting well. He's fresh and he's hungry, a great combination when coming to Jack's Place.
  • In an odd sort of flier move I'm going to take Brooks Koepka. His last appearance at the Memorial was a T31 back in 2017. This is not a venue he plays much and his past history there isn't great, but then he didn't pick up his first major until later in 2017 so he's a bit of an unknown this week. Still, in his two events since the restart he has four rounds in the 60s. That's gotta count for something!
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET. This is going to be interesting since it will be the same course two weeks in a row but with slightly different setups. Will that help or hurt the contenders? We'll see!

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic

Winner: Bryson DeChambeau

Around the wider world of golf: Will Zalatoris won the TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Min Sun Kim5 won the McCol Yongpyong Resort Open on the KLPGA; and Ji-Hoon Lee won the Busan Open on the KPGA (IC tells me the full event name is much longer).

Bryson DeChambeau with the Rocket Mortgage trophy

I enjoyed my Twofer Tuesday picks this week! I had Webb Simpson (T8) and Bryson DeChambeau (1). Webb lost some ground on the weekend but still gave me a Top10, and Bryson... Hey, first win of the year for me!
  • Top10s: 14 for 28 (6 Top5, 8 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 1 for 14 events
Let me take a moment to explain where the Kraken comes from, since so many people don't seem to know.

I'm sure most of you know the Greek myth about Perseus beheading the Gorgon named Medusa, a snake creature with snakes for hair -- if you looked at her, you turned to stone. Remember?

However, most people don't remember why he needed to kill Medusa in the first place.

The Kraken from the 1981 moviePerseus is supposed to marry Princess Andromeda but her mother insulted the gods, who decreed that their seaside city will be destroyed unless Andromeda is sacrificed to a giant sea monster called -- you guessed it -- the Kraken.

That story is the plot of Clash of the Titans, a movie that has been made twice (1981 and 2010). The first starred then-heartthrob Harry Hamlin and is most notable as the final movie with stop-action animated effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen; the second stars Sam Worthington and has some awesome CGI monsters.

And the most iconic line in both movies is when the gods declare, "Release the Kraken!"



While I don't think Bryson realized it, claiming that he couldn't release the Kraken on the seaside course at Hilton Head was sort of meta. But this week the Kraken dragged itself inland and gobbled up both the field and Donald Ross's beloved masterpiece... and still wasn't done.

The sacrifice turned out to be 54-hole leader Matt Wolff, who couldn't escape the Kraken's hungry rampage. Perhaps it was a measure of revenge since Matt beat Bryson this week last year at the 3M Open. In any case, Bryson chased him down to start the round then shot his lowest score of the week, capped off by three birdies on the final three holes. GULP!

So Bryson proved he's more than just 250 pounds of muscle creating 190+ mph of ball speed. No, he's the monster of the fairways and he just sucked down his first Limerick Summary of 2020! The real question is, just how hungry will this Kraken turn out to be?
The Kraken was out in full flight
As Bryson, with all of his might,
Swung hard down the middle
(He missed very little)
And swallowed the field in one bite.
The photo came from this page at golfdigest.com.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

More Thoughts on the Cupped Lead Wrist (Video)

After writing about cupped wrists yesterday, I realized some of you might like to see one way that a cupped wrist shows up in a legend's swing. I chose Harry Vardon because his swing may have been the first to resemble a modern swing.

I included a video made in 1923 in a previous post I did called Some Fun with Harry Vardon (Video), and I'm including it in this post as well. You can actually see Vardon cup his lead wrist as he begins his backswing -- at regular speed near the beginning of the video, and in slow motion after the 1:00 mark.



Yes, you've probably heard analysts talk about how those classic swingers of the late 1800s and early 1900s "dragged the clubhead back from the ball" to start their backswing. As I explained in that other post about Vardon, this is one way they controlled the much more flexible hickory shafts they used back then.

Bear in mind that Vardon would not have held the club like Ben Hogan, with the primary gripping done by the last two or three fingers of his lead hand. Rather, he gripped with the thumb and forefinger of both hands but especially the trail hand, with the heel of the trail thumb (he called it the palm of the trail hand) pressing on the lead thumb. Here's how he describes it in his 1905 book The Complete Golfer:
The grip with the first finger and thumb of my right hand is exceedingly firm, and the pressure of the little finger on the knuckle of the left hand is very decided. In the same way it is the thumb and first finger of the left hand that have most of the gripping work to do. Again, the palm of the right hand presses hard against the thumb of the left. In the upward swing this pressure is gradually decreased, until when the club reaches the turning-point there is no longer any such pressure; indeed, at this point the palm and the thumb are barely in contact. This release is a natural one, and will or should come naturally to the player for the purpose of allowing the head of the club to swing well and freely back. But the grip of the thumb and first finger of the right hand, as well as that of the little finger upon the knuckle of the first finger of the left hand, is still as firm as at the beginning. As the club head is swung back again towards the ball, the palm of the right hand and the thumb of the left gradually come together again. Both the relaxing and the re-tightening are done with the most perfect graduation, so that there shall be no jerk to take the club off the straight line. The easing begins when the hands are about shoulder high and the club shaft is perpendicular, because it is at this time that the club begins to pull, and if it were not let out in the manner explained, the result would certainly be a half shot or very little more than that, for a full and perfect swing would be an impossibility. This relaxation of the palm also serves to give more freedom to the wrist at the top of the swing just when that freedom is desirable.
Yes, Vardon is highly detailed in his descriptions. My own experiments have shown that, if you use an overlap grip as he did, you don't need to grip tightly with the lead thumb and forefinger because the little finger of the trail hand locks the lead forefinger in place, just as the trail thumb locks the lead thumb in place. It really does feel as if you're flicking a vary large flyswatter. (I really should do a post just on the ways that classic players created that "relaxation of the palm" he talks about. Bobby Jones got the same result but with a slightly different method that also works with Vardon's grip.)

But to get back on topic... that dragging motion also creates a cupped lead wrist during the backswing. It's the cupped wrist motion that helps create the clubhead speed legends like Vardon and Jones were known for. That's a topic for another post (or perhaps even a series).

The main thing I wanted to show you today was how a player like Vardon -- who was known for his accuracy as well as his length -- used a cupped wrist to get it. And as I said in yesterday's post about Webb Simpson, Vardon's more upright swing was a natural complement to his cupped wrist.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

How Webb Simpson Gets It Done

Today I've got a link to a Golf Magazine article about how Webb hits it so well when his swing looks so weird.

Webb from impact to finish

The article goes into a fair amount of detail, and the short version is that Webb's swing looks so weird at the finish because he cups his lead wrist during his backswing while the "cool" thing to do right now is bow your wrist (Dustin Johnson being a prime example).

In addition, Webb has a strong lead hand grip which, as the article says, requires him to "roll his wrists over aggressively" as he hits the ball. The reason is that a cupped wrist combined with a strong lead hand grip gets the clubface very open at the top of your backswing, so he has to work to get the face back square.

If you read this blog a lot, then you know that I don't like rolling or twisting your forearms to square the clubface. It's a lot of extra work!

But I want to point out that a cupped wrist at the top of your swing doesn't necessarily require rolling your wrists. In fact, the old classic swingers often cupped their wrists at the top of their backswings.

So what's the trick?

If you set up with your wrists cupped at address, your natural tendency is to keep them cupped at the top of your swing and then automatically "uncup" them at impact. The reason for this is simple: The same centrifugal force that tries to straighten your arms at impact also tries to straighten your wrists from cupped to flat, and that closes the clubface. If your hands lead the clubface into the impact area, the effect is more pronounced.

Now everybody's different and, depending on how you swing, your wrists might not act this way. It's another aspect of the leg drive VS arm swing debate I wrote about yesterday. The more you rely on arm swing, the more likely you are to get this kind of wrist action but the more you rely on leg drive, the less likely you are to get it. (After all, the idea of leg-driven swings is to keep the hands and wrists from being as active.)

Still, it's something to be aware of in your swing. If you want to try it, here's a setup tip. The automatic cupped wrist position at setup typically looks more like a Y with the bottom leg of the Y (the club shaft) pointing at your belly button. If you set up with the shaft and your lead arm forming a straight line, you'll have a straight wrist at address and the cupping will be an extra move on the backswing... and that means you'll have to consciously uncup your wrists on the way down.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Mike Bender on the Downswing (Video)

I picked this admittedly controversal video because the controversy comes from mixing the various methods for swinging a club. Take a look:



Mike Bender is no stranger to controversy, having helped develop the Stack and Tilt swing method. [CORRECTION: It was Mike Bennett who helped create SnT, a classic example of "misremembering" on my part. But Bender does say that this video can be controversial so at least my mistake didn't invalidate my point. Thanks for the catch, Stephen!] SnT was built on some solid principles but instructors love to fight over the "right" way to swing, so SnT attracted some serious debate back when it was popular.

But here's the rub: SnT is just as valid as any other swing method if you keep the basics of the method clear in your mind. And the basics are usually built around the simple truth that different people move in different ways. A "textbook" swing will work for you if you have a "textbook" body -- that is, if you have a body that can perform those swing mechanics in a natural way. If your body can't perform some of the mechanics the way that method requires, then a textbook swing is not for you.

It's the same story with any swing method. And if you blend conflicting swing mechanics from various methods and don't realize you've done so, you can end up with something that doesn't fit anybody's body!

Bender is talking about the great divide in swing mechanics: Should you focus on arm swing or leg drive?

The answer is... it depends. Let me give you a quick and dirty lesson on how the two work together.

From the strictly mechanical perspective of physics, your legs ALWAYS start your downswing. To change direction at the top of your swing, you need the friction created between your feet and the ground to make that change.

But that doesn't mean you feel it that way, or even that it works the same way for everybody.

At its simplest, the basic shape of your swing -- that is, whether you have an upright swing or a flat swing -- determines how much of your swing is legs and how much is arms.
  • If you have a flat swing (that is, your hands are at shoulder level or lower at the top of your backswing), your body has to turn a lot to get your hands back to that direction change. In that case, you have to use a lot more rotary body action and that means you have to drive your legs a lot more.
  • By comparison, if you have an upright swing (that is, your hands are above shoulder level at the top of your backswing), your body doesn't have to do as much. Instead, you have to move your arms up a lot higher to get to the direction change. That means you don't need as much rotary body action but your arms have to do a lot more work.
In each case your body works a bit differently. Flat swings tend to be shorter (check out Jon Rahm's move) while upright swings tend to be long (Bubba Watson is a good example). Players who are thinner and more flexible (like Justin Thomas) are more likely to be upright than a stouter and less flexible player, although that's not necessarily a given. A less flexible player may find an upright swing with a smaller body turn is easier to manage (Colt Knost comes to mind), and "stout" may simply mean the player has a bulkier, more muscular body. (Bryson DeChambeau, anyone?) And a fairly thin player may choose to swing really flat (like Matt Kuchar).

The point here is that leg drive VS arm swing is more about how your swing fits your body than about a "correct" golf swing. I tend to focus more on arm swing on this blog simply because that swing has been somewhat neglected until recently and I think more people should be trying it.

But EVERY swing uses BOTH sources of power. It's just a matter of which is the more dominant power source in your swing, and which lets you play the best.

And that, my friends, is determined by your body, not a swing method.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Cheap VS Expensive Driver Test (Video)

In this Golf Monthly video Neil Tappin tests two new drivers that are both designed for maximum forgiveness and distance, but at very different price points. The TaylorMade SIM MAX costs roughly 2.5 times as much as the Benross Delta. How do they match up?



It probably comes as no surprise that Tappin prefers the TaylorMade. In fact, when he starts he says he has some previous experience with that driver and he likes it.

In addition, I have to point out that this test only involves two drivers, neither of which may be drivers you're considering.

But I'm posting this because 1) it gives you some idea about the kinds of things you want to consider if you're comparing two very different drivers and 2) Tappin does explain at the end that both drivers were "off the shelf," not fitted for him, and that the shafts themselves could have made the difference.

Sounds like if you have a shaft choice, you should test all the available shafts before you choose. It's your money, after all!

In short, this video can teach you how to make smarter choices when buying a new driver. That makes it worth watching, in my opinion.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Another Untelevised Korn Ferry Event

At last year's inaugural TPC Colorado Championship, Argentinian Nelson Ledesma locked up his first PGA Tour card.

Nelson Ledesma with TPC Colorado trophy

We might see another life-changing story this year -- or not, since this Korn Ferry event is yet another that won't be televised.

It's a shame since the event will also be played without fans. Things can get very interesting at TPC Colorado, as PGATOUR.com noted:
TPC Colorado, designed by Arthur Schaupeter Golf Course Architects, can be stretched to nearly 8,000 yards. Last year, the par-5 13th hole measured 773 yards – the longest hole in PGA TOUR-sanctioned history.
You can check out the power rankings at this link. And while three players have withdrawn due to that nasty virus (Brandon Wu, Taylor Montgomery and Jonathan Hodge), make no mistake about it, there are a lot more familiar names in this field -- players like Sam Saunders, Trey Mullinax, Martin Piller, Will McGirt, Curtis Thompson, Dawie van der Walt, Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, Whee Kim and Robert Garrigus, just to name a few.

The TPC Colorado Champion starts today and runs Wednesday through Saturday. But just because you can't watch it on TV doesn't mean you can't keep up with what's going on. Here are links to the GC scoreboard and the Korn Ferry Tour scoreboard. Don't let the lack of TV time ruin your enjoyment of the Korn Ferry Tour this week.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Rocket Mortgage Classic

Twofer Tuesday is still testing negative so we motor on up to Detroit and the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Defending champion Nate Lashley

It's a little more than a month later than planned but the good folks of Detroit MI finally get the RMC underway, albeit without them lining the fairways of Detroit Golf Club's North Course. A legit par-72 (rare these days) measuring 7334 yards, the Donald Ross-designed North Course is over a century old but recently renovated.

2019 was the inaugural playing of this event and Nick Lashley, the last man in the field, went wire-to-wire to win his first PGA Tour event by six shots. With the field so loaded this week, it's hard to believe anybody will duplicate that feat!
  • Okay, I'm still riding with Bryson DeChambeau. His Top10 streak will end eventually -- they always do -- but as well as he's playing, I'm comfortable taking him for another week.
  • And since Webb Simpson is back in this week's field, I'm taking him too. Perhaps the week off took the edge off his mojo after winning at Hilton Head, but the North Course has 4-inch primary rough (demanding accuracy) and bentgrass greens (a smooth putting surface). Both of those should suit Webb very well as he tries to get back on the victory train.
GC's coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET. And given how competitive these events have been with the fields being so deep, it just seems appropriate that the Rocket Mortgage Classic will be played in America's Motor City. Gentlemen, start your engines!

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Travelers Championship

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Kyle Jones won the Utah Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour; Ji Young Kim won the BC Card - Hankyeong Ladies Cup on the KLPGA; and the final round of the JLPGA's Earth Mondahmin Cup was postponed till Monday due to weather problems. (Thanks for those last two, IC!)

Dustin Johnson holds the Travelers trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks came sooo close this week. I had Abraham Ancer (T11) and Bryson DeChambeau (T6). Abraham almost got a Top10 after just losing the tournament last week, and Bryson did pretty much what I expected of him. He's on a streak right now!
  • Top10s: 12 for 26 (5 Top5, 7 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 0 for 13 events
On the other hand, DJ was a pleasant surprise. I understand his caddie said Dustin hasn't been completely healthy -- or at least not healthy enough to do the work on his game that he wanted to do. While he wasn't perfect this week, he clearly seems to have a much better handle on his game than he has the last two weeks.

I'm guessing some of that credit goes to finding a new putter. Normally I wouldn't give a new putter more than passing credit simply because it's a mindset adjustment for most players, just giving the player a different look. But Dustin changed putter types, from face-balanced to toe-balanced, and that's a genuine equipment change that affects how your stroke behaves. He certainly tamed his stroke with it!

While DJ did set some personal records this past week -- reaching 21 wins, winning every year for the first 13 years of his career, and even shooting a personal best 61 in the third round -- I do want to take a moment to shout out Will Gordon. After getting exempt into the Korn Ferry Finals, only to have the pandemic wipe that chance away, he turned his sponsor exemption to this event into a Special Temporary Membership with unlimited exemptions on the main tour. Well done, Will!

But the shining star of the week is Dustin Johnson, back in the winner's circle and pocketing a shiny new Limerick Summary to add to his growing collection. At least it's another bright spot in a pandemic-plagued year.
The 13-year streak DJ’s growing
Has 21 wins and still going!
Shot his first 61
As he got the job done
And left no indication he’s slowing…
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Phil's 3 Chipping Basics (Video)

Here's a short video where Phil gives us his three chipping basics... but are they YOUR chipping basics? I'll help you decide after the video.



Here are Phil's three basics:
  1. Weight forward
  2. Hands forward
  3. Decide: Low or High
But he says two other things which you shouldn't miss.
  1. He chips with the front edge of the wedge.
  2. You can't play with the ball between your feet.
To some degree that first one is always true, but that second one tells you his technique.

When Phil chips, he intends for that leading edge of the wedge to hit the ground. He plays with the ball at extremes -- in front of his lead big toe or in front of his trail big toe, never between his feet. He plays with his hands ahead of the ball at impact.

But if you intend for the bounce of your wedge to hit the ground, then you play with the ball between your feet. The leading edge will NEVER hit the ground in a normal shot if you use the bounce. And in general you'll never have your hands dramatically ahead of the ball at impact. They'll either be even with the ball or even slightly behind the ball (for higher shots).

One example of a good player who uses the bounce method is Paul Azinger. I have at least two posts about his method -- the first one describes the technique and the second one has a video he made.

Don't misunderstand me. There's nothing wrong with Phil's technique nor with Paul's technique. And there's no reason you can't learn to chip both ways if you want and use the one that gives you the best results for the situation you find yourself in.

It's just that you need to know which technique you're using, because if you mix the techniques you'll have trouble chipping. And to be honest, that confusion is probably the source of many chipping problems.

So remember that you can use the leading edge or you can use the bounce when you chip, either one. Just make sure you're using only one method at a time!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Full Irons Golf Clinic (Video)

Peter Finch gave a golf clinic on how to hit irons in late summer 2019. This is the complete video of that clinic.



Right around the 1:00 minute mark there's an index of where to find the various things covered during the clinic. Here's a copy of that index.
  • 1:06 -- Ball Position Drill
  • 4:59 -- Sam Snead Drill
  • 7:55 -- Low Point Drill
  • 10:15 -- Fleetwood Drill
  • 13:25 -- Takeaway Drill
  • 14:55 -- Shanks
  • 18:08 -- Hitting It Low
  • 21:10 -- Should You Hit Your Irons at 100%
Hopefully you'll find something useful here that will help improve your iron play. After a few months of limited play, I think we're all in need of a little practice.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Rickie Fowler on Reading Greens (Video)

The guys over at Meandmygolf shot this video with Rickie earlier this year, detailing how he reads greens, judges pace, etc. Watch, learn and enjoy!


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Bob Vokey's Chipping Tip (Video)

This video from Matt over at the MrShortGame Golf YouTube channel has a tip that he got from Bob Vokey -- yeah, the master of wedge design. That's worth listening to, don't you think?



Using the bounce isn't anything new. Using the bounce keeps the front edge of the wedge from digging into the ground. You'll find a number of posts on my blog that feature videos demonstrating that very tip.

But the Vokey tip here is to open the face of the wedge in order to use the bounce, which raises the front edge of the wedge off the ground. That, as Matt says, scares a lot of players who think they'll hit the ball thin.

Matt says Vokey told him that wasn't the case, even on firm turf, that the ground has some give and you'll catch the ball correctly. He also says that you can move the ball forward or back to hit the ball higher or lower. (Players who don't open the face often move the ball position to create height anyway.) These are good tips.

The one thing I would mention is that you need to experiment a bit if you use a wedge with a lot of bounce (say 12° or 13°). In this case you might have some problems with a high shot. It depends on your angle of approach -- that is, how steeply you swing down on the ball. You'll discover that with a little practice.

But every technique is valuable under the right conditions. And if Bob Vokey likes a certain wedge technique, it's probably a good idea to at least give it a try, no matter how much it might scare you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Thinking About "The Bubble"

With Cameron Champ testing positive with COVID-19, it's time we take a moment to talk about "The Bubble."

Cameron

If you've heard the the term but the concept is unfamiliar to you, the idea behind "The Bubble" is that you create an environment for a group of people -- in this case, athletes -- in which you can control their exposure to outside influences and thus (hopefully) keep them insulated from the effects of COVID-19.

It's the reason for closing events to fans (you don't know if they've been exposed to the virus or not), providing  transportation to events (viruses can spread quickly in the recirculated air on an airplane if just one person is sick), and limiting where and how you can get food (again, to limit contact with possible sources of infection). And with something that spreads as easily as COVID-19, it's a necessary evil.

A positive test (like Nick Watney's last week) was something most of the players expected, most likely because they were in the initial stages of creating "The Bubble." Players may have been exposed before they entered "The Bubble" but, after being in this consistently isolated group for a while, infections would cease to be an issue. So far so good.

But Cameron Champ's positive test has thrown them a bit of a curve. Cam wasn't in the original group so his addition in the third week becomes a wild card. He has potentially set the effectiveness of "The Bubble" back to Step One... and that's not good. The protection this situation was intended to provide is now not so certain, and that's the reason it's being reported that players are more concerned by this second positive test.

The effects could be far-reaching. If players can't be added to "The Bubble" without endangering its safety level, it could affect whether players can be added to fields. It could mean fans have to be excluded from events for a longer time. And it could even result in some events being cancelled in areas where COVID-19 cases are trending upward.

The Tour is already looking at how their testing procedures should be tweaked. I think the Ryder Cup moved a bit closer to being postponed because this uncertainty makes fan participation even less likely. (For the record, I think they should postpone the Ryder Cup. It's just not a Ryder Cup without the fans!)

And, short of a vaccine, if more players test positive over the next few weeks, it will likely make the powers-that-be question how effectively they can protect players from this virus.

Other sports are going to face the same problem. For example, the NBA's attempt to create a bubble by isolating a number of teams at the DisneyWorld's ESPN Resort so they can have some semblance of a playoff run has met with resistance from their players, many of whom are unhappy with the number of restrictions they'll have to follow in order to play.

But even if the players consent to following the rules, a few positive tests could cause their bubble to burst (pardon the pun). I think the PGA Tour must be at least a little worried about the same thing at this point.

We'll have to wait and see, of course. There's no reason to panic yet, as we're still early in the process and no one knows exactly what to expect. And it's always possible that researchers might make a breakthrough sooner than expected and completely change the narrative this story takes.

For the time being though, there's no guarantee that "The Bubble" won't be as fragile as its name implies. All we can do is hope for the best... and make sure you use those masks and sanitizer, okay?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Travelers Championship

Twofer Tuesday leaves the (mostly) sunny South and heads north for the Travelers Championship.

Defending champion Chez Reavie

We get a treat as the Tour continues to get in gear. The Travelers Championship is the first event to actually be played in its original spot on the schedule!

TPC River Highlands in Cromwell CT, a mere 6841-yard par-70, always has a pretty good field but this year it's stacked, as all the fields have been so far since the restart. It's a good place for almost any player looking to break through, and we see everything from first-timers to established stars lift this trophy.

Last year's winner Chez Reavie is a great example of this, grabbing only his second PGA Tour win a full 11 years after his first one. We could see something similar this year.
  • The first of my Twofer Tuesday picks is Bryson DeChambeau. I took him last week simply because I wanted to see how he would do on a tight course. Let's just say I'm suitably impressed at how he harnessed his newfound power when he needed accuracy, and he has a pretty good record at the Travelers. He's on a solid run of good finishes this year, and all he needs is for his putter to heat up a bit. This could be the week.
  • And then I'm taking a bit of a flier on Abraham Ancer. He played well at TPC River Highlands last year (he and Bryson both finished T8), and he's got a lot more confidence now. My only question is whether he'll experience a letdown after coming in second at Hilton Head... but I'm willing to take that gamble.
The GC live broadcast -- sans fans, of course -- begins Thursday at 3pm ET. Being the first of these rescheduled events to be played in its normal spot, it'll be interesting to see if the players who play here regularly have any advantage over the big names playing the Travelers for the first time in a while.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 RBC Heritage

Winner: Webb Simpson

Around the wider world of golf: Chris Kirk won the King and Bear Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour; and So Yeon Ryu won the KIA Motors Korea Women's Open on the KLPGA.

Webb Simpson with the RBC Heritage trophy and tartan jacket

Once again my Twofer Tuesday picks were unsurprisingly mediocre -- at least, they were compared to the scoring barrage we saw this week. I had Collin Morikawa (T64) and Bryson DeChambeau (T8). Of the two, I felt Bryson was the least likely to give me a winner but he surprised everyone yet again by showing his brawn hasn't diminished his touch.
  • Top10s: 11 for 24 (5 Top5, 6 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 0 for 12 events
On the other hand, Webb Simpson's steady plod to the victor's circle wasn't surprising at all. I mean, Webb's rise from the depths of the anchored putting ban is well documented and we all know by now that it wasn't a fluke. It was just the result of hard work -- in its own way, just as impressive as Bryson's weight and distance gain -- and a growing perspective on his life and the relative importance of this game within it.

Alright, that's enough with the philosophical analysis. But you don't learn to play as steadily as Webb does these days just by learning technique. That's clear enough from the number of textbook swingers on Tour who struggle just to keep their cards.

And to do so with the distraction of a storm delay and the uncertainty of whether you'll even finish the round before nightfall makes it all the more amazing. Well done, Webb!

So, appropriately enough, I guess we can say lightning has struck twice. Webb picked up his second win of 2020 (the first was back in Phoenix, which seems like a decade ago) and his second Limerick Summary with a record tournament score at Hilton Head. I guess, given the disruption caused by COVID-19, we should get used to extreme performances in its wake as well.
No thunder or lightning deterred
Webb from having the very last word
At the Harbour Town course.
Down the stretch, he’s a force
‘Cause he’s grown to be more self-assured.
The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Mike Bender's Slap Shot Drill (Video)

Yeah, Bender says it's how you create maximum clubhead speed -- and it will -- but I suspect you'll understand it better if you use it as a drill.



I call it a "slap shot drill" because it feels like you're slapping the ball. Using your hands and arms this way allows you to create a lot of clubhead speed without a violent body turn that can throw you off balance or out of position -- both of which will affect how cleanly you make contact with the ball.

And poor contact means less clubhead speed.

This drill will work well with the ever-popular L-to-L drill, and this most recent post on how to use it to fight a chicken wing will help you get the concept even more quickly. The shorter swing -- and keeping that lead arm more connected to your chest during impact -- will make it easier to create that slap. As you get the hang of it, you can start lengthening your swing to get the full benefit of the technique.

Learning to use your hands and arms (rather than just your body) to create speed is becoming more common with players these days, but it's a traditional way of creating speed that is getting popular again because of the advances in equipment design.

As with most things these days, what's old is new again. You might as well take advantage of it!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Setting Up Your Adjustable Woods (Video)

I'll make this short and sweet so you can get to work on your clubs. Here are the basic things you need to know about how to make all those adjustments when fitting your woods. Enjoy!


Friday, June 19, 2020

Butch Harmon's Chipping Drill (Video)

Just a quick tip today. Here's Butch's drill to help you keep your arms swinging during your chipping stroke.



It's a simple one, don't you think? If you stop turning during your chipping stroke, try letting go of the grip with your trail hand and just let your lead arm keep swinging.

Once you get the feeling of your lead arm continuing to swing toward your target, try to get that feeling by letting your upper body move along with your lead arm. Try to feel as if your chest is turning to face your target. While that move is a bit exaggerated, the effort will help you relax and keep your arms moving.

That is the ultimate problem, of course -- you don't finish your stroke. It's a useful drill to help you relax and turn.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

REVIEW: SuperStroke Wrist Lock Putter Grip (Video)

This video is literally just hours old as I write this.

Most of you know I'm not a fan of locking your wrists when you putt. Personally I feel it reduces my feel too much. But I know a lot of you prefer that method of putting, so this Golf Monthly review of the SuperStroke Wrist Lock Putter Grip is something you'll want to see.



This video describes why this grip is legal under the Rules of Golf (that's important to know). It also lets you know what sort of adjustments you may need to make to your putter if you decide to use this grip (anytime you make a major change like this, there WILL be changes needed).

I hope this video review helps you make a better decision whether this grip is for you or not. It's definitely a thorough review.