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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Rick Shiels's Five Scoring Tips (Video)

If you've been watching the Masters, you've seen all of these tips in play already. Rick posted this video just a couple of days back so why don't we compare them to the pros?


I do want to clarify the first tip, although I'm sure you lefties are used to doing that already!

Rick is righthanded so he uses the terms draw and fade to describe a rightie's shots. I'm going to restate this tip in my 'universal' way:

  • If your normal shot curves from left to right, tee up on the right side of the teebox.
  • And if your normal shot curves from right to left, tee up on the left side of the teebox.

In other words, tee up on the side of the teebox your shot curves toward. That way, you can aim at the opposite side of the fairway and get more room for the ball to land safely as it curves back toward the middle of the fairway.

Again, five useful tips to help lower your score. And that's what this blog is all about!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Mike Malaska on the Trail Arm at Impact (Video)

This video is primarily about one simple concept -- if you understand what a good swing looks like at impact, you'll instinctively avoid most of the major swing problems that can mess you up. It's short so let's have a look...


You might think that Mike's first comment, the one about the guy who said he hit the ball best when his trail arm lined up with the club shaft, tells you the position you want to duplicate. But since he doesn't demonstrate what that position looks like, I'm not sure that's what he means. (Personally, I can't find a way to create that position without leaning the clubshaft backwards at impact, and I'm pretty sure that's not what he means.)

I've been studying how the trail arm moves at impact, basically for the reason I mentioned at the beginning of this post -- namely, that if you understand what a good swing looks like at impact, you'll instinctively avoid most of the major swing problems that can mess you up. And while I've developed some ideas about what impact looks like, I'm still working on how I want to talk about it. I plan to do some posts about it soon.

For today, I just want you to become familiar with this concept. I believe it's one of those truths that gets casually tossed out and passed over as if it were self-evident... but I don't think it is. So spend a little time watching this short video until you fully understand what Mike Malaska is talking about.

We'll build on this understanding soon.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Rick Shiels's Slice Cure (Video)

This video show Rick's three-step process for eliminating a slice. In many ways it's a very traditional procedure that any instructor would agree with, but in my opinion it can ultimately lead to a hooking problem.

So, you may ask, why am I posting this video?

Because (1) learning this process is instrumental in understanding why you slice and helping you to straighten it out, (2) because some of you will need to try this method because your slice is so bad that you need to take dramatic measures to straighten it out, and (3) because much of your success in curing a slice stems from your belief that you can actually hit a shot that doesn't slice, and this extreme approach can give you the confidence you need to create a better overall swing.

Understanding the three steps Rick covers in this video is the beginning point for creating whatever swing shape you want, regardless of whether you prefer a draw, a fade or a straight shot. And Rick's explanation is extremely simple to understand. So if you struggle with a slice -- or a hook, for that matter -- this video can teach you the basic keys to getting control of it.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Maria Fassi on How to Aim Your Full Swing (Video)

During Masters Week I think Maria Fassi, the runner-up in the 2019 Augusta National Women's Amateur, is a fitting person to give a lesson on how to aim. The LPGA just uploaded this video and I pass it on to you.


What Maria is describing here is basically the method Jack Nicklaus used when he aimed his tee shots. He used a target 'spot' no more than 18 inches in front of his ball because, as Maria says, it's much easier to aim at a close target than a distant one.

But you might be a bit confused when Maria says she aims her feet a bit to the left. She's not opening her stance; rather, she's using the classic image of train tracks to explain aiming.


If you imagine the aimline of your ball as the rightmost rail in the above image (her aim spot would be located 18 inches ahead of the ball on that rail), then your feet are aligned to the leftmost rail, parallel to your aimline. And although Maria doesn't mention it, it's worth noting that you align your heels to the leftmost rail, not your toes. Your heels determine whether your stance is set up square, open or closed.

This is, as I said, a simple and classic method of describing how to aim your full shots... and it's still a good one to use.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: The Masters

Twofer Tuesday risks azalea allergies to make its way down Magnolia Lane for the Masters.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson

I don't need to give you any info on this event, do I? I'll just remind you that Dustin Johnson has only had the Green Jacket for around five months and will mount his defense in very different conditions than he won last November. That said...

The drier firmer conditions in April could have as big an effect on the outcome as the cool damp conditions had when DJ won. Granted, DJ finished runner-up in 2019 behind Tiger, but it's worth considering how much the softer conditions may have helped him.

And hurt the players who normally contend in April. I'm just saying...

If you listened to Brandel Chamblee on Monday night, you know that all the recent winners except Patrick Reed have been ranked 16 or higher in the OWGR. Those winners have also been ranked very high in Strokes Gained: Approach. If we list the players in the Top16 of both lists, here are our choices (SG:A first, OWGR second):

  • Collin Morikawa (1,4)
  • Justin Thomas (3, 2)
  • Tyrrell Hatton (10,8)
  • Dustin Johnson (11,1)
  • Tony Finau (12,13)
  • Jon Rahm (14,3)
  • Bryson DeChambeau (15,5)

I'm not so sure these players really have the best chances, given the ups-and-downs of recent form, but there they are.

Now here are my two picks:

  • First pick goes to Jordan Spieth. Jordan is clearly in neither list, but that's because his improvement has come in the last couple of months. While I'm not sure Jordan is ready to win Augusta again, I do think his game is in good enough shape to post another Top10 here. And let's face it, there are horses for courses... and Jordan clearly runs well at Augusta.
  • My other choice is Collin Morikawa. He's only played Augusta once -- T44 in November -- but I can't shake that WGC performance at the Concession just a month back. And I think the fast firm conditions this week will suit him much better than the November track.

Coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET on ESPN. There will be a few roars this time as some patrons will be allowed on the course, so the intangible of crowd support will be back in play. There's no telling what we may see as the Masters inches closer to normal.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Valero Texas Open

Winner: Jordan Spieth

Around the wider world of golf: Patty Tavatanakit made her first LPGA win a major at the ANA Inspiration (Lydia Ko tied the course record as she tried to chase Patty down); Stephan Jaeger won the Emerald Coast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour; Tsubasa Kajitani won the Augusta National Women's Amateur; and Mone Inami won the Yamaha Ladies Open at Katsuragi on the JLPGA (thanks, IC!).

Jordan Spieth with the Texas Open trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks have been a bust lately. I had Matt Kuchar (T12) and Ryan Palmer (T17), both of whom looked good until the weekend. But that doesn't help me on Sunday, does it?

  • Top10s: 8 for 28 (5 Top5s, 3 other Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 13 events

When I made my picks I guess I should have paid more attention to the all-time money winner at Valero, Charley Hoffman. He and Jordan Spieth ended up being the story on the back nine Sunday afternoon. Charley went from three shots back with six holes to play to just one back with two to play.

Alas, it was not to be. Jordan birdied 17 and took a two-shot lead to 18. And we all know that you usually have to screw up pretty badly to lose a two-shot lead on the final hole.

Jordan didn't.

So I guess Jordan's 'comeback' is now complete, having broken his four-year win drought in San Antonio, which -- in case you didn't know -- is the home of the Alamo, site of perhaps the most famous battle during the Texas Revolution, which ultimately resulted in Texas becoming part of the US. Given the battle Jordan has had with his game, it just seems appropriate for it to end here.

At least, we think it's ended; with golf you never know. But I wouldn't bet against Jordan continuing to improve. And then there's that little soirée going on down in Georgia next week. I hear Jordan has a standing invitation... You know, this sounds like a good place for a Limerick Summary!

The Golden Boy’s back with a win
In Texas. His face-splitting grin
Had been missed for a while
But it showed up in style…
Now Augusta awaits him again.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Congratulations, Tsubasa Kajitani!

I had to take a moment to congratulate the new 2021 Augusta National Women's Amateur champion, Tsubasa Kajitani.

2021 ANWA champion Tsubasa Kajitani

Tsubasa was the youngest player in the 30-woman field that made the Saturday finals at Augusta, only 17 years old. She and Emilia Migliaccio weren't expected to be the ones to play off against each other, but both of them survived the weather and pressure of the event when the favorites fell away. Like Kupcho and Fassi, they'll be the names we remember from this second playing of the Augusta National Women's Amateur. What a finish!

Obviously both women deserve congratulations but the moment belongs to Tsubasa and there's no telling what effect it will have on Japanese women's golf going forward. Tsubasa said that lately there had been a bit of a downturn in the sport for women in Japan. I think that trend is about to be reversed.

And don't sleep on Emilia's future. Being runner-up in this event, especially given the caliber of players who didn't get it done, isn't going to hurt her career either.

What a great start to Masters Week!