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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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Korn Ferry Is Still Under the Radar

The Korn Ferry Tour tees it up for the second consecutive week -- albeit without TV coverage again -- at the King & Bear Classic.

Joseph Bramlett

The King & Bear Classic will be played, appropriately enough, at The King & Bear GC at World Golf Village in St. Augustine FL. The new event allows the Tour to stay in Florida and minimize travel... and will boast a Wednesday start and Saturday finish, giving players an extra day before they head to next week's Utah Championship.

PGATOUR.com's power rankings list Joseph Bramlett (pictured above) as their top choice this week. After a T2 finish at the Korn Ferry Challenge they believe he may be ready to break through for his first TOUR-sanctioned win. Combine the 7279-yard, par-72 course with the shortened time between events and you have to like his chances to keep in form.

But here's the big news for fans. While there may be no TV coverage at the venue this week, the upcoming Utah Championship will be back on GC. So we'll just have to bide our time and keep checking the leaderboard this week to see how the Korn Ferry players get along. The wait won't be long now!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: RBC Heritage

Twofer Tuesday once again dons its gloves and mask as it heads to the rescheduled RBC Heritage.

C.T. Pan with RBC Heritage trophy

It's easy to understand why Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head isn't hosting any fans. The course is notoriously short and narrow; at par-71 and just under 7100 yards in length, it effectively levels the field between long and average-length hitters. And as a joint effort between Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, it's about as strategic as any course on Tour.

C.T. Pan is the defending champion and, if he succeeds at doing so, he'll break the string of four first-time winners at this event. So there's a good chance we'll see another firsttimer this week.

Enough of the formalities -- let's get to my picks.
  • After just missing out in a playoff at Colonial, I'm taking Collin Morikawa. He's currently riding strings of 22 made cuts and 28 rounds of par or better. And that missed putt on 17 in the playoff? A number of players missed putts on that green, so I expect him to realize that and put it behind him quickly. Harbour Town is a great place for him to pick up his second win.
  • And I HAVE to pick Bryson DeChambeau. Why? Because he's gone to a place no one has been before by bulking up massively without losing his game. He just missed out on the playoff last week. Plus he has two Top5s in four trips to the coast. Could he be the guy to win this event with a power game? I wanna see!
GC's official fanless coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET, but you know they're going to do a pregame show and they might even work out something with PGA TOUR LIVE, just like they did last week.

In any case, we're up for some more golf, baby!

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Limerick Summary: 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge

Winner: Daniel Berger

Around the wider world of golf: Luke List won the Korn Ferry Challenge; and Hye-Jin Choi unofficially defended her title at the weather-shortened S-Oil Championship on the KLPGA.

Daniel Berger takes a selfie of himself with the Schwab Challenge trophy

First, let's deal with something new after three months: my Twofer Tuesday picks! I had Matt Kuchar (MC) and Justin Thomas (T10). Kuchar didn't play nearly as well as I had hoped, but JT did well until Sunday. Oh well, it was only their first week back.

As for me, my great ability to pick winners hasn't fallen off at all...
  • Top10s: 10 for 22 (5 Top5, 5 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 0 for 11 events
And then there's the photo. I usually look for a photo of the winner with the trophy -- in this case, there would also have been a tartan-style jacket -- and I found plenty. But let's face it, Berger taking a selfie seems more in the spirit of how this event actually worked, don't you think?

After three months of waiting, the final round turned out to be much closer than I expected. Some of the best players found their scoring to be a bit uneven, as Rory discovered on the front nine Sunday. Several players -- Bryson DeChambeau comes to mind -- totally shocked us all with what they did over the break.

And, I'll be honest here, I have to put Jordan Spieth in that group as well. Despite his struggles on Sunday, he played really well this week. I recall -- I believe it was early 2019 -- saying that what he needed was some time off from the Tour to work on his game alone. I just didn't expect it to happen during a pandemic.

In the end, it was the 17th that determined this event. DeChambeau lost a shot there, as did Schauffele, and then Morikawa lost one there during the playoff. Only Berger played the back nine cleanly, and he walked off with the trophy. He was playing well when the Tour had to stop, and he played well when the Tour restarted.

And that's good enough for his third Limerick Summary, which sounds a little different from how I usually write them. But then, that was the theme of golf this week, wasn't it?
Those last three months off were the worst,
But the feverish pace of the first
Event back showed the Tour
Could pick up where they were;
Daniel Berger proved that in Fort Worth.
The photo came from this page at golf.com.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

60 Seconds with Justin Thomas (Video)

This short video is one of Golf Magazine's 60-Second Swing Studies -- in this case, it's about Justin Thomas's swing.



This video is from late 2019 -- so it's one of the more recent ones you'll find -- and it's accompanied by a pretty thorough article going into more detail about various parts of his game.

Best of all, the article is by JT himself, so you'll get the tips directly from him. This is how he sees his game and what he tries to do on the course.

Given how well he's playing Colonial after that long layoff, you might find some useful tips to help your own game.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

After Two Days at Colonial...

Here are my reactions two days after the PGA Tour restarted their season.

Second-round leader Harold Varner III

For one thing, I'm surprised but pleased at how well Harold Varner III is playing. Harold's a North Carolina boy like me, and I'm always pulling for my fellow North Carolinians to do well. But given all the attention that's been focused on him in the wake of George Floyd's death, I'm really impressed by his ability to play so well under so much attention after such a long layoff. Way to go, Harold!

And there are four players I'm watching to see how they do this weekend. On the one hand, I didn't  expect Justin Rose and Justin Thomas to play so well out of the gate but go flat on the second day. Rose is such a steady player and Thomas such an explosive one that Day 2 just caught me a bit offguard.

But at the other extreme, Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau have simply shocked me. Both players posted back-to-back 65s and are tied just one stroke off Harold's lead. I didn't expect Jordan to put things together so well during the layoff... and besides the shock of seeing how HUGE Bryson is, I am simply amazed that he has continued to turn this massive body change into such consistent play! I'll be interested to see if both guys can hold it together this weekend.

Otherwise I haven't been all that surprised by what I've seen. We really had no idea which players would come out hot and which would come out cold, but it seems as if most of them have benefited from the break. Most seem to have picked up pretty much where they were when the season abruptly stopped, and all of them seem to be much calmer and even more businesslike in their approach to the week.

All-in-all, thus far I've been reminded how much I've missed live golf. It's too bad the fans can't rejoin the fun yet. But while the lack of fans does seem a bit odd, I have learned one thing...

Namely, that I don't miss the cries of "Mashed Potato!" at all.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Chipping Over a Bunker to a Tight Pin (Video)

Peter Finch's new video is humorously entertaining... but also very informative. Here's a brief but complete lesson on how to make your best score when a bunker gets in the way.



I've done posts on how to use the bounce on your wedge to chip and pitch, and Peter doesn't throw any curve balls at you. After all, solid technique is solid technique. But his review of how bounce works and how to set up so you can use the bounce most effectively will be a good refresher for those of you who have forgotten the basics.

Or a good intro if you don't know the basics.

But perhaps the greatest value of his video is his strategic approach to this shot. Peter divides golfers into four groups -- from totally lost on this shot to Mr. Hotshot recording his efforts for uploading -- amd demonstrates the strategy that will require the fewest shots at your skill level.

All-in-all, I like this video and recommend Peter's approach.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Picking a Putter That Works for You (Video)

This video begins with a segment on pre-putt routines but I've keyed the video to start around the 4:12 mark, which is when Peter Finch begins talking about choosing a putter. This covers the basics of grip size, shaft length and putter head shape -- the minimum qualities that you should consider when purchasing a putter.



While he doesn't really spend any time on it besides saying it's personal preference, I want to add one thing about whether the shaft connects to the head at the end or in the middle.
  • Middle-shafted clubs ("face balanced") tend to work best for players who like to keep the face square to the line during their stroke (a straight line swing path).
  • End-shafted ("toe balanced") putters tend to encourage opening and closing the face during your stroke (swinging on an arc).
Whether you prefer to putt with an arc stroke or a straight line stroke is definitely personal preference, but knowing which type of shaft/head attachment encourages that kind of stroke is worth knowing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Event You WON'T See

Let's take a moment to acknowledge the event you won't be seeing on TV this week -- the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass.

TPC Sawgrass

This first week back for the Korn Ferry players will be missing both fans and cameras at the Dye's Valley Course, but the KFT guys are probably happy just to be playing again. It's been around three months off for them, just as it has at the other tours, but even in the best of times they never get the attention most of the other men's tours garner.

It's probably given them a measure of hope as well. They had only played six events this season before COVID-19 shut them down, but this is the first of five new tournaments the Tour scrambled to create for them after their season was effectively destroyed. It's about financial survival for many of this tour's players and you can bet they appreciate efforts on their behalf.

This event kicks in $600,000 to help their cause. And best as I can tell, it's a full field event.

Since we won't be able to watch on TV, we'll have to rely on reports from the Korn Ferry social media and updates from GC. You can find those media links in this golfchannel.com post. And you can get more background on the event at this pgatour.com link.

I know it might sound like an inauspicious start but bear in mind that COVID-19 is still bearing its claws. The LPGA's Evian Championship is the latest victim. So don't underestimate the importance of this event.

At least for now, the Korn Ferry Tour is back at work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: Charles Schwab Challenge

It's been so long... three months since the last Twofer Tuesday. For our first time back we take a look at this week's PGA Tour event -- the Charles Schwab Challenge -- from a safe social distance.

Kevin Na with Charles Schwab Challenge trophy

The Charles Schwab Challenge wanted to be the first event back and they waited an extra three weeks to do so. As a result, they have been rewarded with the best field to show up at any regular event in years! (No Tiger sightings yet, however...)

And of course, the field at Colonial will be headlined by defending champion Kevin Na.

It appears the biggest storyline of the week for this spectatorless event is that Jon Rahm has a chance to take the #1 spot away from Rory McIlroy, thus becoming only the second Spaniard ever to hold that spot. (Naturally, Seve was the first and only thus far.)

Look, there's no magic to my picks this week. Nobody has any idea what to expect from the players. We know they've been practicing but that's not the same as playing in a full field event, and there's no telling what sort of effect the lack of fans may have on play. (One of the pros has humorously remarked that there will be a lot more lost balls, but I do think that the lack of fans may affect distance perception on some holes.) At any rate, I'm gonna roll the dice and make my customary two picks.
  • Matt Kuchar's swing is so solid that a few weeks away from competitive golf shouldn't hurt him too much. He normally plays pretty well at Colonial, so I'm expecting good things from him this week.
  • And I really like Justin Thomas to make a good show. Ironically, I think his stint as a course correspondent at The Match 2 a few weeks back may have helped him mentally prepare for this. Yeah, he tends to unexpectedly self-destruct at times but I think he'll be focused this week.
The event preview over at pgatour.com is worth a quick look to get yourself back in the swing of things. And then GC's live broadcast officially starts at 4pm ET Thursday but I expect a pregame show before that.

And please forgive me if this post seems a bit awkward. Unlike the pros, my Twofer Tuesday prose is definitely rusty!

Monday, June 8, 2020

How to Test a Wedge (Video)

While this new video from Rick Shiels is about testing a wedge to see whether it's a gimmick or not, I'm posting this video because it offers a great method for testing ANY wedge you're considering for purchase to find out whether it will really help your game or not.



Check out the shots he tries with this wedge:
  • Chip from fluffy/slightly thick lie
  • Sand shot
  • Pitch from 30 yards or so, which isn't a shot he likes
  • Full shot
  • Chip from a tight lie, which is a shot that gives him trouble
These are all shots he might want to hit with this club. Note that he not only tests the wedge for shots he doesn't like and for shots that give him trouble, but also for shots he already plays well. He's looking for a wedge that will help him with difficult shots while still giving him good all-around performance -- not just for a club to add to his bag, but for a better club to replace a less-useful one.

You should also pay attention to how he judges the shots. He's not looking for perfection. Rather, he hits six balls for each shot and looks for the majority of them to give results he would accept during a regular round.

While I know that wasn't the reason he made this video, it's still a great primer on how to test a potential new addition to your bag.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Jason Day's Driving Tips (Video)

Just discovered this -- a three-month old video of Jason Day talking about the things that have made him such a great driver. Enjoy!


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Annabel Rolley on How to Stop Being Ball Bound (Video)

You know what it means to be ball bound? It means you swing just fine until you actually have to hit a ball! Well, Annabel Rolley has a few drills to help you get over that mental hurdle...



Basically, you want to trick your mind into "ignoring" the ball by changing what you focus on  -- a focus point that allows the ball to "just get in the way of the clubhead." (I bet you've heard that phrase before, haven't you?) Annabel has three drills to help you do just that:
  • Place a tee far enough ahead of the ball so that trying to hit the tee smooths out your swing.
  • Practicing on grass without a ball helps you work on mechanics and rhythm alone.
  • And practicing in a bunker without a ball allows you to create your own targets, ones that suit you best.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to improve your game is just change the way you think about your swing. Annabel's little mind games can help you learn to do that more quickly. Try them and see which one helps you the most!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Getting Your Gear Ready to Start Playing Again (Video)

There's not much to say here -- it's a video on what you can do to get your golf gear ready for action again, especially if you didn't prepare it for storage when the pandemic started. Use it as a reminder of things you may already know you should do.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Is It Really Harder to Hit a Driver Than an Iron? (Video)

I found this short but interesting Mike Malaska video about why more people have trouble hitting their driver than their irons.



The idea that it's a mindset problem seems to be a simplistic answer, but let's think about it for a moment.

Most players do try to swing their drivers much harder than they swing their irons. It makes a lot of sense that this extra effort could mess up their normal sequencing, especially if they're trying to swing really hard.

It's obviously more difficult to hit irons well if you try to swing much harder than usual. So why should it surprise us that the problem is even worse with the driver, a club that most of us want to hit as far as humanly possible? (Or at least to hit it farther than our playing companions!)

Malaska mentions both hip movement and hand action as being keys to getting your driver under control. Since I've done posts with his videos on both of those topics, I'll give them to you again here.
But whether you try those tips or not, if you're having trouble hitting your driver, try his advice about not trying so hard. Start by practicing with shorter swings, then gradually lengthen them until they're full swings, and then try slowly speeding up your swing until you know how fast you can swing your driver before you lose control.

Remember: It's better to hit the ball pretty long but have it in play than to hit it really long and not find it!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Annabel Rolley on Chipping with a Hybrid (Video)

I want you to learn something specific from this video, so take a look and then I'll point it out.



Annabel says something that is very easy to overlook:
Now I want to pick a spot, a spot to land my ball. And because this is about 40 yards, 50 yards long, it's going to be one-tenth of the way and then the rest of the way, the ball is going to be releasing out.
That one-tenth is part of a good strategic approach to chipping, with irons as well as with hybrids. But that doesn't mean you always use one-tenth of the distance for a hybrid (or iron) chip. Let me explain.

I sometimes refer to this as an air-putt because that's how I think of it. You use a putting motion (Annabel mentions that) and I place the ball in the same position that I would if putting the ball on the green (she doesn't mention that). The idea is to get solid contact without getting a lot of spin on the ball because you want it to be as putt-like as you can get it... only the ball flies through the air at the beginning of its run.

The distance the ball is going to fly varies depending on the shaft length and loft of the club you're using. That 40- to 50-yard distance works for Annabel's hybrid -- note that she didn't mention what the loft is, so that distance might be different for your favorite hybrid. You'll find out the best distance for your hybrid with a little time on the practice green.

A shot like this can be a real weapon in your short game arsenal if you just take a little time to learn it. To build on what Annabel says, I'd say this shot is almost as safe as a putt but much more useful if the grass is just a bit too thick to get a good roll. You definitely want to learn it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Hybrid VS Utility Iron: Which Is Best for You? (Video)

This video -- roughly a year old -- compares two similar clubs, one a hybrid and the other a utility iron. Joel Tadman from Golf Monthly runs both through their paces, on the practice tee and on the course.



If you're torn choosing between the two, this video just may help. It not only looks at what each club does well (or not so well) but also at how weather affects each club and why even the kind of courses you play might help you decide between them.

I know I learned some things I didn't know. Hope it helps those of you looking for the best option for your own game.

Monday, June 1, 2020

A Quick Check on the Virtual Tour

Several weeks back I did a post about the short virtual tour set up by the European Tour while players were locked down... but I realized this week I hadn't really said much more about it. So let's get caught up on the virtual action.

TrackMan golf simulator

Quick review: The ET set up a five-event virtual mini-tour to be played on five well-known courses:
  • May 9: St. Andrews (Old Course)
  • May 16: Royal Portrush
  • May 23: Golfclub München Eichenried
  • May 30: Real Club Valderrama
  • June 6: Wentworth
And while I thought at first there were only five players involved, there turned out to be more. First week had 18, then 28, 29 and 39 this past weekend.

Anyway, four of the five events have been played and the winners are:
  • Joost Luiten at St. Andrews
  • Connor Syme at Royal Portrush
  • Wil Besseling at Golfclub München Eichenried
  • Rafa Cabrera-Bello at Real Club Valderrama
The final event is to be played next weekend. You can check the scores here.

Although I did remember to mention Connor's win in the KLPGA Championship Limerick Summary I did that week, I have tended to forget about them. I blame that on the fact that I'm in the USA and the virtual events are already played by the time I think to check them. But I wanted to remind everyone about the final event next weekend.

In case your memories are better than mine.