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You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How Horschel Smacks It

I found this cool footage of Billy Horschel from the Valero Texas Open a couple of weeks ago and, since he won this past weekend, it seemed like a good time to take a look.

While there are many good things Billy does when he swings, this video focuses on his leg action. Leg action is obviously important because your lower body is your connection to the ground and it's where your swing starts from. (To put it another way, without the friction between your feet and the ground it's impossible to make all the other movements in the swing without your body just spinning uselessly in space. Just think about how hard it is to swing in wet weather, with your feet slipping when you try to turn.)

If you place your mouse pointer over his trailing knee and watch until the top of the backswing (that's when they zoom in for a closer look) you'll see that his knee stays firmly in place.

And after they zoom back out, you'll see that his trailing knee continues to stay in roughly that same position until his lead arm is nearly parallel with the ground on the downswing.

Simply put, Billy Horschel is staying very steady over the ball throughout his swing. That not only encourages solid ball contact, it also helps him maintain his intended swing plane during that time.

That's the kind of consistency that helps you chalk up three Top10s and a win in just four weeks.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Zurich Classic

Winner: Billy Horschel

Around the wider world of golf: Inbee Park showed why she's #1 on the Rolex by winning the North Texas LPGA Shootout for her third victory this year; Brett Rumford won the Ballantine's Championship on the ET; Brad Faxon and Jeff Sluman won the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf on the Champions Tour (Ian Baker-Finch and Bart Bryant won the Raphael Division); and Will Wilcox won the South Georgia Classic on the Tour.

Horschel excited

The Tour continued to have weather problems this week as the final round of the Zurich Classic stopped and started and stopped and started due to storms. Appropriately enough, Billy Horschel stormed the course, posting a 64 in his final round and draining a long putt on the 18th to seal the deal.

Of course, the Florida Gator had shown his kinship with the wildlife living on the TPC Louisiana all week. He ate up the course with 26 birdies in his four rounds (and he managed to keep 20 of them down -- important when you're near a culinary center like New Orleans). As you can tell from the photo, that last birdie was particularly spicy!

Only D.A. Points was able to hang with him, finishing one back. Points noted that Horschel had finished one back of him when Points won at Houston a few weeks back. The fact is, Horschel has been all around the lead lately. His last four tournaments are T2, T3, T9, and 1, and he also leads the Tour in consecutive made cuts with 23.

Sure sounds like one hungry Florida Gator to me!

So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the newest first-time winner on Tour -- who, it seems, is right at home with the native wildlife down in the biyou:
Though real gators lay there in wait,
Young Billy decided to sate
His hunger for birdies
(He ate nearly thirty!)
And cleaned out the Pelican State.
The photo came from the front page of And some of the facts came from this wrap-up report.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Brittany Lang Gets Engaged and Cut All at Once

Was it a good day or a bad one for Brittany Lang? I guess that depends on your point of view.

On the one hand, she missed the 2nd cut at the North Texas LPGA Shootout. On the other hand, she now has an engagement ring. (It's literally on the other hand. Try to keep up with me, people.)

Lang gets engaged on 18th

If you're interested, GC caught the whole proposal on tape and you can see it here. Apparently they met in the parking lot of her home golf course... so I would have thought it more appropriate to pop the question in the parking lot while she was slamming her trunk lid. Then again, perhaps I lack a sense of romance.

For what it's worth, she seems pretty satisfied with the way things turned out.

The photo came from

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Guan Made the Cut. Do You?

This will be a short post because I just want you to think about something.

Guan Tianlang made the cut at the Zurich Classic, becoming the 2nd youngest man to make the cut at a PGA tournament. (He became the youngest at the Masters, of course.)

Guan with driver

Guan's average driving distance for six PGA Tour rounds is just over 262 yards. (That's 186th on Tour, according to the stats page.) The fairways at TPC Louisiana are wet, so the announcers say he's only averaging somewhere between 260 and 260. And did I mention that the course is over 7300 yards long?

He's not even particularly accurate. Although the stats have him 6th in the field hitting fairways (71.43%), he's 185th in Total Driving and 186th in GIR (a mere 40.28%). According to his stats he's not a birdie machine either, so it's not like his short game has him chipping in from everywhere.

And yet this 14-year-old, who has to hit hybrids into most of the greens, has played this 7300-yard monster in 3-under. That's rounds of 72-69 (par and 3-under). And he's not griping about how hard the course is. He says he likes the course and he's having fun.

Here's what I want you to think about: Next time you start telling yourself how you're just not long enough or accurate enough to play a decent round of golf, think about Guan. Your ability to think your way around the course is far more important than you think.

It looks like the old saying is right. A mind truly is a terrible thing to waste. Especially on the golf course.

The photo came from the front page of

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Pair of 64s

It's unusual for the men and the women to tie for low round of the day. That's not a sexist observation, however it may sound. Rather, the tours don't set up courses the same way every week. Some courses are known for low scores while others have reputations for being... difficult. Rarely are both the PGA and the LPGA playing courses set up for the same type of scoring.

It's even more unusual for neither of the leaders to be big name players. And yet, this week we have that very situation. Two 64s were posted Thursday -- Ricky Barnes posted -8 at the Zurich Classic (New Orleans LA) and Caroline Masson posted -7 at the North Texas LPGA Shootout (Irving TX).

Caroline Masson Ricky Barnes

Perhaps this is a matter of proximity, as the two cities aren't that far apart. But the PGA played twice in Texas right before the Masters and the courses were quite different in levels of difficulty.

Conversely, the two players themselves seem quite different at first. Masson is a German rookie on the LPGA (she's still got a three-year card for the LET) while Barnes has been a pro for ten years.

And yet the similarities are striking. Masson has missed 3 of 4 cuts in 2013 (75%), and her best finish is a T13; while Barnes has missed 7 of 10 cuts in 2013 (70%), and his best finish is a T16.

I see this as a reminder that golf is truly an egalitarian sport, as neither gender nor experience is a guarantee against disappointment. Or, to put it another way, golf is an equal opportunity torturer.

For Caroline and Ricky, two things are certain: First, they both need a good week to get their 2013 back on track. And second, there are enough big name players chasing them that this just may not be the week for 2013 to start looking up.

Still, if you've got to be tortured, a pair of 64s isn't a bad way to start.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Method Behind the Madness

Every teacher has reasons for teaching the things he or she does. Generally these reasons are based in his or her beliefs about the best way to get results in a golf swing. I'm no different in that respect.

However, instructors often don't explain the rationale behind their approaches. It's been a while since I've tried, so I suspect many of you have begun reading my blog (and my books) without knowing why I sometimes sound like every other teacher... and sometimes I sound like I'm from another planet. I thought I'd take today's post to make sure you all know the whys behind what I teach.

First of all, there are LOTS of ways to hit a golf ball because teaching methods are designed to correct certain problems. For example, Stack'n'Tilt was designed to solve a different problem than Hogan's swing. If you don't have the problem Stack'n'Tilt was designed to solve, it may seem like a funky way to swing; if you do have the problem, it will seem like manna from heaven.

Likewise, if you don't have the problem a swing was designed to solve, that swing method may convince you that you can't play golf at all. There's a reason so many people who try Hogan's swing method struggle with a slice -- Hogan designed the swing to combat a duck hook and, if you don't already have a bad hook, his "corrections" can cause you to slice or at least push the ball. Unless your instructor removed the "hook corrections" from the swing he taught you, of course... but many don't know to do that. (God bless them, many don't even know that they should.)

But that's part of the reason golf is so frustrating. Which leads to my next point...

Second, just because there are LOTS of ways to hit a golf ball doesn't mean any of them are necessarily "right" or "wrong." That's not a cop-out -- all you have to do is compare Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo, and Jack Nicklaus. You have three entirely different swing methods there, yet they account for 24 major wins. And before you ask, the fact that Jack has more than the other two doesn't mean he was "more right" than the other two. Jack was more athletic and his career was much longer than the other two as well.
  • Lee won five of his majors between 1968 and 1974 (7 years), with one more coming in 1984.
  • Nick won five between 1987 and 1992 (8 years), with one more in 1996.
  • Jack won 17 between 1962 and 1980 (19 years), with one more in 1986.
If you break Jack's career into 7- or 8-year stretches (and you can choose any stretch you see fit, it doesn't have to be just the first, middle, or last third of his career) you'll see that the number of majors each has is very similar. Each man had a swing that was right for him, and he may not have been as successful had he used a different swing. (You know this is true. Isn't the ability to win using different types of swings one of the reasons we're so in awe of Tiger?)

One of the guiding principles behind the method I prefer is that I'm writing for weekend players, people who don't have a lot of time to practice. Because of that, I focus on what I call low-maintenance swings. That actually shapes what I teach in a lot of ways.
  • I assume you don't have a lot of money for lessons. Some people think my books are cheap, but they aren't. I simply focus on one thing at a time and, with the exception of Ruthless Putting (which is a full-size book), I write very focused booklets covering a single skill in detail rather than large expensive hardbacks that give you a little bit about a lot of things.
  • I assume you don't have a lot of time to practice. I try to teach you the simplest and most natural way to swing I know. The easier it is to learn, the easier it will be to replicate on the golf course... even if you haven't been able to play for a while. I know it takes time to incorporate new things into your swing, but it shouldn't take months of practice to start seeing results.
  • I have really minimized the fundamentals of the swing. Different players do the same thing but get different results. For example, many pros dip their heads during their downswing; some of them hit the ball a long way and some don't. The ones who hit it a long way (like Tiger) spend hours practicing so they can hit the ball consistently. The ones who don't hit it a long way (like Paula Creamer) try to minimize the move, which also takes lots of practice. Since its effectiveness varies from player to player and it takes a lot of practice, I don't teach it as a fundamental.
  • My fundamentals tend to be big, multi-purpose moves. You'll read lots of instructional articles that focus on controlling some small move that has to happen during your swing anyway unless you mess it up. I focus on a handful of large moves that make other things happen automatically during your swing... and I teach them in a way that will stop you from interfering with those automatic moves. For example, I make a big deal of one-piece takeaways because if you do it right, you automatically get width in your swing, a good shoulder turn, a good start for a proper shoulder plane, and begin your swing with good legwork... and since those things happen automatically, they tend to stay automatic during the rest of your swing without thinking about them. Likewise, I teach that you don't consciously rotate your forearms during your swing because a certain amount of rotation happens automatically and I don't want you to interfere with it. If you're going to swing well, you need to have as few swing thoughts banging around in your skull as possible.
  • I recommend you have a filter. A filter is one teacher or player whose teachings you know work for you.(That filter needn't be me, btw. Most basic moves work with any teacher, whether they like to admit it or not.) Whenever you hear some new technique you'd like to try, check it against your filter. Will it work with the things your filter teaches? If it doesn't, don't even bother to try it because it will just mess up your swing. This goes back to the practice thing -- things that will work with your filter's swing should start working almost immediately.
So hopefully this gives you a better understanding of why I say:
  • Playing basketball isn't hard. Playing like LeBron James is hard.
  • Playing tennis isn't hard. Playing like Maria Sharapova is hard.
  • Playing golf isn't hard. Playing like Tiger (or Rory, or fill in the blank) is hard.
The difference is that nobody expects a weekend 3-on-3 baller to play like LeBron, or a weekend singles player to play like Maria... but everybody seems to expect weekend hackers to play like the top pros. It's ridiculous, and I think it's the biggest reason golf isn't as popular as it could be. That's why I teach the game the way I do.

And if you think that makes me crazy, so be it. At least now you know the method behind my madness.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Chipping Tip from Natalie Gulbis

If you saw Playing Lessons with the Pros Tuesday night, you know that Holly Sonders was picking the brain of Natalie Gulbis. She also mentioned that there was a video of a "chipping contest" between her and Natalie at

Well, it's more than just a contest. Natalie teaches you how to hit a fairly tricky chip over a bunker from a sidehill lie to a green that slopes away from you. Not mentioned (but clearly visible) is that this is from a tight lie.

Ok, here's a quick summation of Nat's tips:
  • Ball forward in stance
  • Club face really open, like a bunker shot
  • Fly the shot right into the upslope (before the green slopes away)
Obviously you won't always have a hump in the green to hit the ball into. But in this video Nats hits it into the slope while Holly carries it over the slope to the downhill part... and both get the ball to stop.

Not a bad little shot to add to your repertoire.

On the outside chance that the video above won't work, here's the link to the original at

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Another New LPGA Event

This week the LPGA debuts another of their new tournament stops. This one is in Irving TX, and it's called the North Texas LPGA Shootout. In addition to the tournament home page link, you can also check out Tony Jesselli's preview. Isn't this a cool logo?

New tournament logo

The North Texas LPGA Shootout is the first LPGA tourney in Texas in more than 20 years. This is probably music to the ears of Angela Stanford, who's from Texas and has a swing well-suited to the typically windy conditions there. (Stacy Lewis, who's also getting a lot of attention, is an adopted Texan. She was actually born in Ohio and currently lives in Florida, but she did live in Texas for a while and went to college in Arkansas, just north of Texas but with similar winds.)

For those of you who have never been to Texas, it's notoriously flat. I went down there on a mission trip when I was just out of high school and -- as the old joke goes -- How flat was it? It was so flat that everybody on the bus stood up and applauded when we saw any sort of mound. The only thing is... it wasn't a joke. We really did stand up and applaud. It really is that flat in most of Texas, and that's why the wind is such a factor.

According to the blurb on the page at where I found the logo:
With a $1.3 million purse, the North Texas LPGA Shootout will feature a full-field of 144 players contending over four days of 72-hole stroke play competition. The “shootout” format of the tournament will consist of two cuts; the first will be made after the second round to the top-70 and ties, and the second cut will be made to the top-50 and ties after the third round on Saturday.
I know the men have done two cuts on occasion, but it usually isn't planned that way from the start. (The old International tournament used multiple cuts, but it used Stableford scoring as well.) This should make the tournament a bit more "cutthroat" if you know what I mean.

A quick check over at showed probable winds in the 10-15mph range. Hold on to yer hats, pardners -- looks like them girls are gonna have their hands full! Welcome back to the Lone Star State, ladies!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 RBC Heritage

Winner: Graeme McDowell

Around the wider world of golf: Lots of golf this week! Marianne Skarpnord won the weather-shortened South African Women's Open on the LET; Raphaël Jacquelin won the Open de España on the ET in 9 extra holes (tying the ET record); Yoshinobu Tsukada won the Token Homemate Cup on the Asian Tour; Suzann Pettersen won the LPGA LOTTE Championship on the LPGA (her 2nd win of the year); Bernhard Langer won the Greater Gwinnett Championship on the Champions Tour; Angel Cabrera won the 82° Abierto OSDE del Centro on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Jake Roos won the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open on the Sunshine Tour.

Graeme's new trophy

After I did a post about Charlie Hoffman's swing a couple of days ago and then Charlie went nuts Saturday, it looked like I was going to be a prophet and Charlie was going to walk away with the RBC Heritage. However, the wind came up Sunday and everyone found it hard to walk.

Except for Graeme McDowell and Webb Simpson, that is. Not only could they walk, but they could control their golf balls as well! Both had something in common -- they were U.S. Open champions who won their Opens in California, within spitting distance of the Pacific Ocean. They knew how to deal with ocean winds.

Of course, growing up in Ireland apparently gave Graeme a slight edge over Webb in that department. Graeme made only one bogey all day. Webb had four; unfortunately, one came in the playoff. That was one too many.

This was Graeme's first PGA Tour win since his U.S. Open, but given how well he's been playing (that missed cut at the Masters was the only real blemish this year) this win could be just what he needs to catapult him into a strong run at 2013's remaining majors.

Appropriately enough, this week's Limerick Summary looks ahead to the Irishman's potential going forward:
His Irish home sounds so romantic…
But winds blowing off the Atlantic
Meant Graeme’s golfing background
Gave Webb quite the smackdown;
For Graeme, this win could be gigantic.
The photo came from the front page of

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stricker Goes All Steven Wright on Us

I considered writing about the LPGA LOTTE Championship -- and those of you who missed it missed a good one! Suzann Pettersen started the day 5 strokes ahead of Lizette Salas and shot 67 (-5)... only to have Salas shoot 62 (-10 and the lowest round of the year so far) to force a playoff. Suzann won it after Salas hit her second shot fat -- probably the worst shot she hit all day. But the Constructivist already did a post about it, and Tony Jesselli will probably have one up by the time you read this.

So I decided to post something funny I just saw, although apparently it's been out for about a week. It's an Avis commercial starring Steve Stricker:

What more can I add? I guess living in Wisconsin will turn any man into a savage. Smiley Faces

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Charlie Hoffman Takes a Swing at the Heritage

I don't mean that the videos I'm using in today's post were made at the RBC Heritage. I mean that Charlie's making a play for a win there. After two tough days -- the course is tight to begin with, and the wind came up Friday -- the big guy is tied for the lead at -6.

The particular videos I'm using were uploaded to YouTube last July, but they clearly show what I think is making Charlie such a threat down at Hilton Head. First, here are the videos:

What I want you to pay attention to is Charlie's footwork. Looking at the face-on video, you can see that Charlie doesn't slide away from the target during his backswing. If you place your mouse pointer on his trailing hip as he starts away from the ball, you'll see that it stays pretty stable until he starts down. That means that his trailing foot and knee are "braced," to borrow a popular term -- they don't move on the backswing.

Looking at the second video, that stability is even more obvious. See how his head stays at roughly the same height from the time he starts his backswing until he hits the ball? See how his body doesn't move toward or away from the ball during that time? His spine is in roughly the same spot the whole time, just rotating away from and then back toward his target.

A major reason for that his that he doesn't straighten his knees until after the ball is long gone. See how his trailing knee keeps a little bend all the way back to the top of his backswing? Just as importantly, I want you to see that his knee bends a little more as he comes down... but only enough to allow for his trailing hip to turn through. See how his trailing hip looks like it stays at the same height all the way through his swing until after the ball is well gone? That's because his trailing knee stays "soft" -- that is, he doesn't push up or just let it collapse during his swing.

That's part of the key to keeping a consistent swing plane throughout your swing... and a consistent swing plane makes it much easier to hit the ball where you're aiming. That's what Charlie Hoffman does, and it's allowing him to "thread the needle" on those narrow fairways down at the RBC Heritage.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Women Resume Their Battle for #1

While the men decompress from the Masters, the ladies are trying to get back on top.

Well, three of them are, anyway.

Inbee Park is the new #1, Stacy Lewis is #2 (a mere .04 points back), and Yani Tseng is #3. A win this week at the LPGA LOTTE Championship will propel any of them to the top spot. After two rounds (the LOTTE started on Wednesday, not Thursday) Lewis is at -6, Park at -3, and Tseng at -1.

However, Suzann Pettersen leads at -10 and she's #6 in the world. That's too far back to take the #1 spot... but getting her second win of the year would certainly give her a boost toward that spot!

The fact that this tournament is in Hawaii -- and is therefore broadcast during primetime (6:30pm-9:30pm ET) -- makes this tournament more interesting than some of the ladies' events.

If I had to place a bet on a new #1, I'd bet on Lewis right now. Park seems to be a bit off her game -- expected after winning her second major just a couple of weeks ago -- and Tseng is still trying to get things back on track. But given the Hawaiian winds, you've got to like the chances of a strong player like Suzann... or defending champion Ai Miyazato's, who's only one stroke back.

But we may end up with a new #1 in the world yet again. That's the real intrigue this week.

Remember, the tournament is being broadcast LIVE on GC at 6:30pm-9:30pm ET tonight and Saturday night.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Book Announcements

I finally have some new books to talk about. One is the new long-delayed Quick Guide -- I'll get to that one in a minute -- but I've got a non-golf book out as well.

Many of you know I have a poetry blog called Will Shakespeare for Hire, which I write as -- tah dah! Will Shakespeare. While I occasionally do serious poetry, the vast amount of it is, shall we say, off the wall. (Even more so than the Limerick Summaries I do each week or the odd song parody on this blog.) I do Will's blog purely for fun... but he's been writing a lot of stuff!

The Murder at Muffet's Place
As a result, Will now has a book out. It's called The Murder at Muffet's Place and Other Poetic Parodies. Although it's a collection of some of my favorite funny stuff from Will's blog, a lot of it is completely new material -- somewhere between a quarter and a third of the book, in fact. I'm quite proud of it, actually.

At any rate, the ebook is already available on Kindle and Nook and I expect to have the paperback available sometime next week. (It takes time to get my proof copy via snail mail.) The Smashwords version -- they do the Apple and Kobo versions -- is in the works, but it's hard to give hard and fast times on when it will be available. The ebooks are $4.99 and the paperback will be $9.99.

The golf book should be out sometime in the next three or four weeks. It's been a real pain to write because I've had to rewrite it several times. Why, you ask? Because the focus of the book kept changing. Originally I had planned to focus on connection in the golf swing... but if I did that, I was really writing about how to control your plane. So I rewrote it about swing planes... but when I did that, I had to go into detail about legwork and footwork.  And after I rewrote it to include that...

Well, each Quick Guide focuses on only one idea, which is why I think they've been so popular. That singular focus makes them easy to understand and start getting results quickly. Once I added all those components, what was the focus? It took months of trying different things to figure it out.

The new Quick Guide is simply called HIT IT HARD, and it teaches you how to do just that. You may ask -- quite rightly -- what makes this book different from More Golf Swing Speed. MGSS is about getting more distance without swinging harder. The new book is for when you need to muscle the ball out of a tough lie or want to use the techniques from MGSS to hit the ball as far as you possibly can.

And it does that through a series of drills that build on each other, one motion at a time, to teach you how to swing as hard as possible without losing control. It teaches you how to control your swing plane, improve your balance, and swing hard without tensing up.

I'll do a post about it when it's finally available. Like I said, it should be ready in the next three or four weeks.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: April 2013

Actually, I should probably call this the April-and-a-half rankings. I meant to do this a couple of weeks ago but got delayed, and since we've only had a couple of tournaments since...

Well, things didn't change much. In fact, except for Tiger and Rory nobody has more than 2 wins. That means Top5s are more important in this ranking than they have been in past months.

Here are the RGWR criteria:
I focus on the last 12 months of play -- that's long enough to see some consistency but short enough to be current. Every player in the RGWR won at least once on either the PGA or European Tour. The OWGR rates consistency over the last 2 years, so I see no reason to rank that; my RGWR says if you're a top player, you've won somewhere recently. My priority list (based on quality of field) looks like this:
  1. majors, TPC (PGAT), BMW PGA (ET), and WGCs
  2. FedExCup playoffs and prestige events (like Bay Hill and Dubai), the latter often determined by the history and difficulty of the course
  3. other PGA and ET events
I put extra emphasis on recent form -- 2 wins separated by 6 months don't carry the weight of 2 wins back-to-back -- and I make some allowance if you're recovering from injury or serious sickness. Also, remember that I count Top5s as a separate category from wins; if you see a player has 3 Top5s, those are seconds through fifths only.

I assign points to tournaments this way:
  • Majors: 10 points
  • TPC & BMW PGA: 8 points (yes, I'm calling them equals!)
  • WGC: 7 points
  • Prestige events: 5 points
  • Regular wins: 3 points
  • Top 5 finishes: 2 points
  • Other wins: 1 point
I give full credit (not in point value, but they carry the same weight as "official" victories) for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Australasian Tours provided the winner has a current win on the PGA or European Tour. These wins will count only as "regular" wins and not "prestige" wins, no matter how prestigious they may be for their tour, because they generally don't have the field strength of a regular PGA or ET event.

I don't count the Grand Slam of Golf as a win in my rankings. I've decided that 4 players isn't a large enough field to give it the weight of a win against a larger field. However, I do take a win there into consideration in my rankings, much as I do money title or scoring awards. Other limited-field events (up to maybe 24 players or so) are counted as wins if the player also has an official win on the "big tours" but they only get a single point. The OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup (the 2-man team event) counts in this category.

And because of a strange quirk on the ET site, I've decided I have to specifically state that a tournament win can only count once. Therefore, to avoid possible confusion, I'm just telling you that the RGWR says you can only win a tournament once at a time.

As usual, although the point totals (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings, they don't override my personal opinions. It's my ranking system, after all:
  1. Tiger Woods: 4 wins (1 WGC, 3 prestige), 5 Top5, 35 points. Tiger moved to the top of both the RGWR and the OWGR with his WGC win.
  2. Rory McIlroy: 4 wins (1 major, 4 prestige, 3 awards), 4 Top5, 36 points. Despite his struggles since the year started, Rory's still way ahead of just about everybody else.
  3. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins (2 prestige), 6 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 23 points. The sore ribs didn't hurt him that much. Brandt played well at the Masters, barely missing the Top5.
  4. Matt Kuchar: 2 wins (1 TPC, 1 WGC), 2 Top5, 19 points. Kuch is a bit slim on the Top5s but he's won a couple of heavyweight events.
  5. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins (1 prestige), 6 Top5, 20 points. Like Brandt, King Louis keeps posting Top5s.
  6. Dustin Johnson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 14 points. Among the two-timers, DJ is one of the few to add any Top5s.
  7. Adam Scott: 1 win (1 major), 3 Top5, 16 points. Not only did Adam get his first major but he also added a Top5. Given how most players are just treading water, that's enough to jump him ahead of some players who might seem to have better stats.
  8. Luke Donald: 1 win (1 TPC), 6 Top5, 20 points. Luke added another Top5 in late March.
  9. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 other), 5 Top5, 14 points. Treading water, lost a Top5 from his stats... still better than most.
  10. Lee Westwood: 2 wins (1 other), 5 Top5, 14 points. Lee is Charl's twin brother. See comments about Charl.
Players to watch:
  • Thorbjorn Olesen played well in his first Masters. He's had my attention for several months -- he's a Euro Tour player, in case you don't recognize his name -- and he just seems to be getting better with each tournament.
  • Jason Day added his second solo 3rd at the Masters to the 3 Top10s he'd already posted this year. He's close to a win, maybe a major this year.
  • Look out for John Huh and Tim Clark going forward. After T11s at the Masters, I think they're both looking good -- especially Clark, who seems to have finally gotten healthy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Swing That Changed History

Since Adam Scott's swing has rewritten Masters history -- and Australian golf history as well -- it seems only fitting to take a look at the swing some people believe is the best in golf.

It used to be popular to say Adam's swing was a copy of Tiger's but, if you compare the two (using Tiger's swing when he worked with Butch, of course), you'll see that Adam's swing isn't nearly as violent as Tiger's was. In particular, Tiger's lower body was much jerkier than Adam's.

Part of what makes Adam's swing so good is just how quiet his body stays during his swing, especially given how tall Adam is. Here are a couple of videos from almost a year ago. The first video is particularly interesting because, after several views of the actual swing at different speeds, you get to see one of Adam's practice swings. Interesting stuff...

The main thing I want to point out in these videos is how quiet his body is during the swing -- especially when you compare the full swing to the practice swing. There's not a lot of hip sliding from side to side, which would also cause excess upper body lean. Note that Adam's stance is much narrower during his practice swing. If he moves too much, he's not going to keep his balance.

And I'm pointing this out because Adam himself points it out! In this video from Titleist, listen to the tip he gives. There are several players on this video; Adam is number 2 and his bit starts just after the :35 mark:

Keep your arms and body in synch, he says, to minimize extra movement. He says it's a rhythm thing, and that's a good way to describe it. (Some instructors would call it a sequencing thing, but the two concepts are intertwined.) It may seem that I've been riding this particular horse for several posts now, but I can't over-emphasize it enough. The more excess movement you have in your swing, the more difficult it is to make solid contact with the ball or keep your swing on plane... which means you lose both distance and control.

There's a reason Adam Scott rewrote history on Sunday. It can help you rewrite your playing history as well.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Masters

Winner: Adam Scott

Around the wider world of golf: Yes, there was golf other than the Masters this past weekend! Lin Wen-tang won the Solaire Open (in Manila) on the Asian Tour; Yumika Adachi won the Yumeya Championship on the LAGT; and Alex Aragon won the WNB Golf Classic on the Tour.

Adam celebrates

Nick Faldo called him the Wizard of Oz. Ian Baker-Finch said they'd be on top of the world down under.

Adam Scott just said, "FINALLY!" after breaking the Aussie Curse at the Masters and simultaneously getting his first major win.

After three somewhat anticlimactic rounds, the Masters delivered one of the best final rounds in years. As commentators on GC, ESPN, and CBS all pointed out, everyone in the last few pairings except Marc Leishman had had a Top3 finish at the Masters before. And while Tiger Woods didn't win, he had two weekend rounds under par at a major for the first time since the 2010 Masters. That has to bode well for the rest of the year.

But the big story was that Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera gave us a Masters where the winner actually won the thing -- you know, went out there and shot scores that had to be beaten, not just endured. And did it in pouring rain, no less! Two clutch birdies on the 18th, then Adam winning with a center-cut birdie on the second playoff hole after Angel's birdie putt clung to the edge of the hole in near darkness.

It just doesn't get much better than that. And not only does Adam get a piece of history and his very own major, but he jumps to #3 in the OWGR this week.

Since Adam made history for Australia here, I'm sure we'll be watching replays for the next couple of weeks at least so I won't bore you with details. If somehow you missed it, you'll get a chance to see it again.

Instead, I decided to give Adam a special gift of my own. I've altered the normal rhythm of this week's Limerick Summary so I could give him a proper Aussie cheer. Good on ya, Adam!
The Aussie curse is over! Boy oh boy!
Adam got a Masters and he’ll enjoy
All of the attention
That goes with his ascension.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy, oy, oy!
The photo came from the front page of

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Feel the Need to Rant

Tiger made a bad ball drop on Friday. Emotion on both sides blew the ruling all out of proportion on Saturday. I had my TV turned to ESPN and my computer streaming GC all Saturday morning, trying to sort the facts from the fumes. It hasn't been easy, but I think I've finally figured out what happened... and what should have happened... and maybe even why it all happened in the first place.

Let me take you through the facts first. To start, the Rules of Golf that are involved are:
  • 26-1, Relief for Ball in Water Hazard (I also heard 20-7 quoted for this rule)
  • 33-7, Disqualification Penalty; Committee Discretion
  • 6-6, Scoring in Stroke Play
What happened: During the second round on hole 15, Tiger's third shot hit the flagstick and bounced back into the water in front of the green. It didn't come straight back at him but ricocheted at a slight angle. Tiger dropped the ball behind the spot from which he hit his third shot, hit this fifth shot close and sank the putt for a 6.

According to a statement released by the Masters Rules Committee, they received a phone call that questioned Tiger's drop. They reviewed the footage as Tiger played the 18th and decided there was no violation. Tiger signed for his 6 and went to do interviews. During the interviews he said he dropped the ball about two yards behind the original spot (ESPN says it was more like four feet) to get a better distance to the pin. This sent up red flags for the committee.

Saturday they talked to Tiger and decided that he had in fact violated the rule. However, they invoked the new "TV rule" (33-7) and, instead of DQing him (per 6-6), they assessed a 2-stroke penalty (per 26-1).

And then the emotions blew up. Let me take the various questions one at a time.

What did Tiger do? In the heat of the moment, Tiger apparently combined 26-1a (drop ball as near as possible to original stroke) and 26-1b (drop on a line that keeps the spot where the ball entered the water between him and the pin). I can understand how that happened, as I made the same mistake when I watched the video showing the infraction. I couldn't figure out what he did wrong until they showed the text of 26-1 on the screen and I went, "Oh yeah! What was I thinking?"

The fact that he volunteered that he dropped the ball two yards back clearly shows it was an accident. If you did it on purpose, why would you call attention to it? This was an innocent mistake.

Did Tiger get an unfair advantage with his drop? No -- at least, not based on 26-1b, which was one of the two drop methods he confused:
Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; (emphasis mine)
Let's take a look at the actual scoring, since some have argued that the two-stroke penalty he finally received didn't offset this error. Tiger hit his incorrectly-dropped shot a distance that he expected -- as he had done with most of his shots all day -- and then one-putted for a 6. The penalty made that an 8.

Assuming he had hit from the correct spot, got his shot somewhere close (a reasonable assumption, given his play during the day) and then two-putted, he would have made a 7. The 8 he actually got is worse.

Suppose he had sunk the correctly-dropped shot for a 5. A two-stroke penalty (giving him a 7) would have still been the same as the pitch-and-two-putt I mentioned above. Under no circumstances would the two-stroke penalty have given him a better result than he could have gotten by playing from the correct spot and just aiming a bit to the side to make sure he didn't hit the pin again. He got no advantage at all.

Did he sign an incorrect scorecard? This is where much of the confusion is coming from. NO, he didn't sign for a wrong score. Let me explain.

The statement from the Masters makes it clear that the ruling committee had decided his drop was correct before Tiger signed his scorecard, therefore the 6 he signed for was the correct score. Rule 6-6b says:
After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself and return it to the Committee as soon as possible. (emphasis mine)
Since the committee said there were no problems, he didn't break rule 6-6; and if he didn't break 6-6, he shouldn't be DQed.

Was Tiger given favored treatment? No, he wasn't. I know there's a whole conspiracy thing going on, that Tiger was spared to help TV ratings, but the fact is this: Had the committee told Tiger he had dropped incorrectly before Tiger signed his scorecard and then he signed for a two-stroke penalty at the end of the round, nobody would have blinked twice. As it is, Tiger signed a scorecard that was correct according the Masters Rule Committee, which means he didn't sign an incorrect scorecard and therefore should not have been DQed. Rule 33-7 just gave them the freedom to do the right thing since it all started with a viewer phone call.

What is the real problem? Tiger made have made a bad drop, but it was the Masters Rule Committee that really dropped the ball.

Everybody is going to debate the value of Rule 33-7, but the rule isn't the problem. The problem is that there was no predetermined procedure in place to enforce the rule. Here's the procedure that should have been followed:
  1. The committee receives the viewer phone call questioning the drop.
  2. Tiger is informed immediately that there is a question about the drop and that he needs to talk to them before signing his scorecard.
  3. The committee begins their own review to see if the violation is obvious or not.
  4. After his round, Tiger meets with the officials. If the violation is obvious -- like clearly grounding a club in a bunker or something -- the committee shows it to Tiger and simply says, "This is clear, here's your penalty. If it's not clear -- and in this case it wasn't -- they go through the standard Q&A until they decide what to do.
Sounds remarkably like the standard procedure already in place, doesn't it? That's because it is. And had normal procedures been followed, Tiger would have signed for a two-stroke penalty and this would have never been an issue.

The committee's mistake had nothing to do with 33-7. Rule 33-7 was created to prevent players from getting DQed when the committee didn't find out about a violation until after the scorecard was signed, which meant they didn't have a chance to confront the player and give them a chance to make sure their scorecard was correct.

In this case, the committee made a unilateral decision without ever consulting Tiger. They made a decision based on incomplete knowledge of the situation and were forced to backpedal when that knowledge came out in the after-round interviews. As a result, they didn't confront Tiger and give him a chance to make sure his scorecard was correct. Rule 33-7 simply gave them the means to correct their error rather than summarily DQ him because of their own mistakes.

I understand that not all phone calls result in penalties. In fact, most of them are just wrong. But this situation wasn't cut and dried after viewing the video. For those of you who haven't used cameras much, I say this because lenses that are adjusted to show a lot of things clearly -- like both the player and the green, nearly 100 yards apart -- those lenses compress the scene so things seem closer than they really are. (Just like a rear view mirror.) You couldn't adequately determine the distance between the ball position of Tiger's third and fifth shots just by looking at the video. But since the committee decided everything was ok based on the video, they never even asked Tiger about it.

Unfortunately, the committee's decision left Tiger holding the bag. No one is going to place the blame on the Masters Rules Committee where it belongs.

It's no surprise that Faldo at GC and Azinger at ESPN initially disagreed with each other about this, is it? Faldo said Tiger should withdraw to protect the integrity of the game, but softened his stance as more info came out. And while Azinger worries that 33-7 could at some point be used to keep a popular player in an event merely for ratings purposes, he believes that this is a test case for 33-7 and that, since Tiger didn't make the error, if he withdraws he will effectively gut this rule of any importance. Frank Nobilo made the same point: If Tiger says the rules don't matter and withdraws on his own, why have rules in the first place?

And that brings me to the point of this post. Do you mind if I rant? (It doesn't really matter, you know... I'm going to rant anyway. I just wanted to be polite.)

Boys and girls, there's a difference between
and the golfing world seems to be losing track of it. In our sport we like to point out how much character our players have, as opposed to those other "lesser" sports. (Stick your nose in the air noticeably as you say that.) But we better make sure we know exactly what "character" is.

Character is when you break a rule and nobody else sees it but you call it on yourself... regardless of whether you do it during a round and take a penalty or you do it after the round and get DQed.

Character does NOT mean that you deliberately give up a chance to win when the officials screw things up for you! If they do, and then try to correct the problem and you decide that's not good enough for YOU (stick that nose in the air again), then YOU are officially STUPID.

All the arguments about whether Tiger should have been DQed or not calmly ignored that this rules breach was entirely unlike any of the previous rule breaches that it was compared against. In those previous breaches -- like Stadler's towel -- the officials themselves never signed off on it and said that, as best as they could tell, the player had done nothing wrong. If the officials say there is no rules infraction, then the player has committed NO rules breach! And if there is no rules breach, there are no grounds for DQing the player!

In no other sport do officials change the results of a sport after the round is over because they made a mistake. We saw a huge uproar over replacement officials in the NFL last season. The substitutes weren't prepared for the speed of the game and made bad calls, some of which changed the outcome of games. Even though the NFL would later admit to these mistakes, the results stood.

In this case, the officials screwed up. They knew there could be a problem with Tiger's score and didn't even even tell him about it. They admitted that it was a conscious decision, and it deprived Tiger of the chance to avoid all this trouble. Come on -- do any of you really think Tiger would have looked at the video, reread the rule, and then said, "I refuse the penalty?" Of course not! But he wasn't even given the chance.

Personally, Tiger has taken this better than I would have. In other sports results aren't changed once the play is finished. In golf players aren't allowed to change their scores after the scorecard has been signed. So why should the officials be allowed to change Tiger's score after the fact once they had ruled that he was not in violation of a rule? I think his -3 score should have stood and he be allowed to play as is on Saturday, because he had done everything he was required to do.

Instead, he rather gracefully accepted the penalty in what I consider a character move, apparently deciding that he would have accepted the two shots on Friday... had they bothered to tell him about them, that is.

And that's something all of those people complaining that Tiger should have withdrawn on his own should think about. This was an unusual ruling but, given the ridiculous complexity of our sport, it was a fair one. If gracefully accepting the rulings passed down by the committee isn't good enough for the complainers, then what is "the integrity of the game" anyway?

We keep saying we have this great game and everyone should play. We say that we need to simplify rules and make equipment and rounds cheaper if we want to attract more people. But this incident has highlighted a far more dangerous attitude that we need to deal with...

If we've reached the point where a player has to throw away chances to win in order to be respected, we aren't golfers anymore. We're in danger of becoming just another batch of masochists and sadists -- people who enjoy suffering and watching others suffer -- and only a fool would want to play a game that values such stupidity. We need to stop that RIGHT NOW and regain some perspective!

End of rant. Go enjoy the last round of the Masters.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What You Can Learn from Tianlang Guan

Yep, the 8th grader did it. And he proved something that I've said over and over on this blog:

We make this freaking game too hard.


According to GC the average score for both rounds was just over 73 (+1) and 74 (+2), respectively. Tian shot 73 and 75, that last one including a one-stroke penalty for slow play. So a 120 lb 14-year-old shot the average score of a gang of pros on a course set up for a major.

But that's not all. That course was around 7500 yards long, and he got the bad end of the draw. He had to hit fairway woods into greens that most of the pros were hitting with short or medium irons, in bad weather, and he hit less than half of them. (GC said he hit 17 out of 36.) His short game got a good workout, from what I understand, but I'd say he did pretty well.

How well? Well, he tied last year's winner, Bubba Watson, for one thing.

And how about the major winners who didn't even make the cut? Y.E. Yang, Larry Mize, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Ben Curtis, Mark O'Meara, Mike Weir, Padraig Harrington, Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Ian Woosnam, and Ben Crenshaw. I know you want to say some of those guys are "too old" to count... but are you telling me they couldn't hit the ball at least as far as Tian? Not to mention that they have that all-important "course knowledge" that everybody says is so important.

And how about those bombers who are supposed to have such a big advantage, like Nicolas Colsaerts? Or the king of clutch, Ian Poulter? Or multiple WGC winner, Hunter Mahan?

None of the players in those last two paragraphs will play the weekend. Tian will.

Tian doesn't have all the skills of a pro. He doesn't have the power of an adult. He doesn't have the knowledge of an experienced player. (If he did, he might not have gotten that penalty stroke.) Hell, he probably doesn't even have a glamorous girlfriend like Wozniacki or Vonn to follow him around! (We do know he's popular with the girls back home, however. Thank you, ESPN.)

None of this stopped Tian from being the only amateur to make the cut, which guarantees him the low amateur trophy.

Here's what you should learn: Tian's swing and approach to this game are so simple that they didn't fall apart under pressure. He didn't try to do more than he's capable of, and he didn't apologize for not doing more than he could. He just played the game and had fun. You can do that, can't you?

Don't make this game hard when it doesn't need to be. When you're tempted to do so, just think about Tian. I can promise you that he doesn't.

The photo came from this page at Yahoo Sports.

Friday, April 12, 2013

How the Bubba Shot Works

I've been waiting for this to come out, and it was finally posted on ESPN's site Thursday.

I suppose you've seen some of ESPN's Sports Science shorts. They look at all kinds of sports accomplishments and analyze them to see exactly how they were done.

Well, they got Bubba to help them analyze his wedge shot at the 2012 Masters. Here are four screen shots from the video:

The coolest thing I think they discovered is how he created the spin. You know how everybody says you can't create sidespin with a modern ball? Well, according to John Brenkus and his team, Bubba actually did it with backspin. Yes, you read that right... BACKSPIN.

And that final capture above definitely shows Bubba using the new ball flight laws. Bubba gets a hook by aiming the club face between his swing path and his target line. This way, the ball lands to the left of his target line and then spins toward the target, rather than landing in front of the target and spinning past it.

Anyway, it's definitely worth watching. Here's the high-quality link at You might even learn something!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Masters Broadcast Info

Ok, here's how both the online and TV times for the Masters work out for today.

ESPN has the tournament proper, and will broadcast from 3PM-7:30pm ET today. (I believe they're going to run a rebroadcast at 8pm tonight. That's what they did last year.)

BUT that's not all. ESPN said on Wednesday that they would be doing live updates all day -- I suppose as part of SportsCenter, which airs for several hours each day. Likewise, GC said they'll be doing some updates during Morning Drive from 6am-8am ET, then Live From runs from 8am-3pm ET.

But that's STILL not all. will also be doing some broadcasts during the day starting at 10:45am ET. You can get the complete listing at the schedule page there; they're going to do 5 different broadcasts, starting at different times and overlapping. (For example, you can watch the Amen Corner live broadcast from 10:45am-6pm ET.)

Hopefully it'll be enough to satisfy your lust for Augusta National.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My 5 Masters Picks

Well, it's time for me to make another futile attempt to pick major winners... although I must say that I did pretty well at last year's Masters, having picked both Bubba and Louis, the winner and the runner-up.

Let's face it, I'm unlikely to get that lucky this year!

This year's field has me stumped. It looks pretty wide open to me and I have no idea how to begin to thin out the prospects. Therefore, for the first time, I'm picking (all three in the same tournament):
  • Tiger Woods
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Rory McIlroy
The reasons are pretty simple. Tiger has 3 wins already -- and yes, I know that hasn't bode well for his Masters hopes in the past, but I think he's on a mission this year. Phil has 1 win and when you consider how he can "turn it on" at Augusta, I feel he's going to do well. (With his notorious Phrankenwood in the bag, how can he miss?) And Rory seems to have gotten his swing back on track, plus he's the only one of the three with several weeks of play leading into this major.

Yeah, I know. Sellout picks, every one of 'em. They're on everybody's short list, but I think they really deserve it this time.

But my last two picks...? Those aren't so clear to me. For my fourth pick I'm choosing:
  • Graeme McDowell
Graeme's been playing really well this year, with 3 Top5s and a T9 in his first 6 events. I know he's a bit of a low ball hitter -- supposedly the kiss of death at Augusta -- but that didn't stop Arnold Palmer or Zach Johnson from winning. He's 4th in Driving Accuracy, 12th in Strokes Gained Putting, and 9th in Scoring Average.

And traditionally, my last choice is a dark horse, a longshot nobody expects to do well. So I'm picking:
  • Freddie Jacobson
He's played pretty well this year, but the Junkman is NEVER a factor at Augusta. I'm picking this to be his year. And why not? After all, it's a wide open field.

Besides, if all else fails I can always fall back on the glory days of my picks at the 2012 Masters. "You know, young whipper-snapper, I remember back in the good old days..." Ah, memories...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How Inbee Does It

Inbee Park is proof that you don't need a spectacular, awe-inspiring swing to rip your opponents to shreds. A couple of days ago I discovered I hadn't done a post on her -- and was surprised that I hadn't, to be blunt -- so her second major is a good reason to correct that little oversight!

Looking at Inbee's stats, you might be surprised that she plays so well. She averages just over 245 off the tee, only 62nd on Tour and not that long for a 5'6" woman. She hits 70% of her fairways -- better than my Rule of 67, but only 71st among the ladies -- and 71% of her GIR, which puts her at a slightly better 39th on Tour. Doesn't sound so hot, does it?

But she's 6th on Tour in putts per round (28.45) and 2nd in scoring average (70). I'm sure all of you are thinking about those long putts she sank at the Kraft Nabisco, but there's more going on here than that. That 70 average means she averages 2-under each round she plays... but she putts well enough to be 5- to 8-under each round. She simply doesn't 3-putt very often and when she misses the green, she gets up and down more times than not. It's been enough to get her two wins this year, and one of those is a major.

This video from around a year ago shows her swing face-on. Notice how good her basics are -- a one-piece takeaway, which means she's connected to start her swing; she stays connected and doesn't sway on the way back; she stays centered between her feet as she starts down (that is, there's no huge hip slide toward the target), and she finishes nice and balanced. Her swing doesn't even look that powerful, does it? But it's consistent and repeatable.

What I'd really like to talk about is the "pause" at the top of her swing that many commentators point out. In this slo-mo it's pretty clear that she doesn't really stop, but it's not really obvious why it looks that way at full speed. Here's another video from about a month ago that shows exactly what's happening.

As the slo-mo gets slower and slower, you can see what's going on very clearly. At the top of her backswing, the head of her club actually travels backward and parallel to the ground! Instructors often refer to this as "laying off" the club, and a lot of power hitters like Sergio use the move to increase their wrist cock during their downswing. But those players generally have flatter swings, and that's not what Inbee is doing here.

You probably heard several times this past weekend how upright Inbee's swing is. (It's not as upright as Thaworn Wirantchant's, but it's not far off.) The key here is her trailing elbow. If you watch the progressively slower downswings -- especially the 3rd one -- you can see that she's actually twisting her elbow away from her body as she hits the ball! I suspect she had trouble with a push at some time in the past (meaning her swing comes from the inside much more than she'd like) so she started trying to square the club up better during her downswing. But since she probably wasn't strong enough to twist her forearms the way a lot of the men do, she ended up twisting her entire arm.

Normally that wouldn't be a particularly accurate move -- and I certainly wouldn't recommend it -- but Inbee does the motion with her upper arm rather than her forearms. As a result, she's controlling the move with the large muscles of her trailing shoulder rather than the smaller twitchy muscles of her wrists. That's part of the reason why she's able to be fairly consistent with such an unorthodox move.

But the biggest reason is that so much of her swing is fundamentally solid, that one unorthodox move doesn't wreck her swing. Swings don't have to be perfect to work well; they just have to be dependable... and that describes Inbee Park's swing to a T.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Valero Texas Open

Winner: Martin Laird

Around the wider world of sports: Inbee Park got her second major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship on the LPGA; Wade Ormsby won the Panasonic Open India on the Asian Tour; and Benjamin Alvarado won the Brasil Classic on the Tour.

Laird with trophy

Well, it looks like Martin Laird's swing changes have finally taken hold... and he's finally taken hold of that old belly putter he used to use so very well.

I'm pretty sure of this because he shot a course record 63 Sunday to turn Rory McIlroy's resurgence into an "also-ran" story. He did the same to Jim Furyk and Billy Horschel.

What else can you say about a guy who was having trouble making cuts but suddenly rips off a bogey-free round with 9 birdies on a tight course that's one of the hardest on Tour?

Just "whew!"

This did screw up Martin's travel plans a bit. Now he's got to scramble to find a place to stay down near Augusta National. (Excuse me if I don't cry too loudly.) He should certainly get some attention coming into the Tour's first major of the year... but I suspect right now he's quite happy just to be back in the winner's circle.

So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the latest shooting star on Tour as he shoots on down to the Masters:
TPC San Antonio caters
To those with control, so it favors
A bomber like Laird…
Who I’m sure is prepared
For the howls of those anchored stroke haters!
The photo came from the home page for the Valero Texas Open at

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Can Anyone Catch Inbee?

I'm on the library's waiting list for Cold Days, the latest of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novels. (If you saw any of the Syfy series Dresden Files and if you've read any of the novels, you probably understand why the series only lasted one season. Harry Dresden is both a private detective and a wizard, and the TV series came nowhere close to the total coolness of the books.) As it is, I'm having to make do with the latest military sci-fi novel from David Weber.

Weber's latest novel Why am I telling you this? Because I was reading a lot Saturday and I suspect I'll be reading a lot today. While Inbee Park and Lizette Salas had a pretty good third-round battle -- and will likely have another good one today -- I'm not sure there's much doubt who's going to win the Kraft Nabisco this year.

Inbee is 3 strokes ahead of Lizette, who is in turn 3 strokes ahead of the next group of players. Granted, that group includes Suzann Petterson, Angela Stanford, Karine Icher, and Karrie Webb. They could make a run. They could.

But I don't expect it. The best score of the week is -6, shot by Stanford on Saturday, and I just don't expect both Park and Salas to stumble today... and to be honest, I don't expect Park to stumble by herself. I guess she could get up with a crick in her neck or a pulled muscle, but I just don't expect it. And if Park doesn't stumble, Salas is the only player with a realistic chance to catch her. I don't expect any real suspense about the outcome.

I do expect to be reading David Weber though. I'll have one TV on the LPGA and one on the PGA, but mostly I'll be checking up on the Star Empire of Manticore's budding war against the Solarian League. I'm pretty sure Manticore will eventually win...

Just like Inbee Park.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Inbee Moves In Front

The wind came up Friday at the Kraft Nabisco... and so did the scores. Although par is 72, I can only find 9 scores in the 60s during the second round. Suzann Petterson and Na Yeon Choi played together both days; they shot 68s Thursday morning and 75s Friday afternoon. It was a tough day.

Inbee ParkAnd Inbee Park shot the best of them, a 67. She's got a one-shot lead on Lizette Salas. You haven't heard of Lizette? Then you may not have heard of the other gals up around the lead. The big names have fallen several shots back.

Don't get me wrong. The girls at the top of the leaderboard are up-and-comers on the Tour. It's just that we aren't seeing the big names we expected at the top...

Except for Inbee Park, who's making a habit of mixing it up at the majors. She won the 2008 U.S. Open, so she's done it before. Last year she won twice and had six more runner-ups, plus she won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If you listened to the coverage Friday, you may have heard them describe Inbee this way: There's nothing outstanding about her stats... except for scoring.

Around this blog, that's the kind of player we like!

I'll have to do a post on Inbee's swing sometime soon. In the meantime, Inbee can teach you this: You don't need a flashy game to post good scores. And if Inbee keeps on like this, she may be posting another major win come Sunday.

The photo came from Inbee's profile page at

Friday, April 5, 2013

So Yeon Ryu's Footwork

While I was watching the Kraft Nabisco yesterday, I saw a slo-mo close-up of Jane Park's leg- and footwork that I thought was really instructive. However, I couldn't find anything similar on YouTube.

But a little searching turned up this video of So Yeon Ryu, who's currently at +1 along with most of the other folks we expected to be near the top of the leaderboard. This is short -- a regular speed swing followed by a slo-mo -- and extremely clear.

I don't need a lot of words to explain what's happening here. Here's what I want you to do, and you'll learn almost everything I could tell you in one post.

All I want you to do run the video a few times. Each time you do, position your mouse cursor over one of the following areas:
  • her trailing knee
  • her trailing hip
  • the lower left corner of that big sign behind her
Granted, this is a driver swing... but bear in mind that a driver swing has MORE motion than an iron swing. This is the most she moves during a normal swing.

I want you to see (1) how long her trailing side stays stationary and (2) how little "targetward" movement there is in her swing. If you're having trouble making good contact with the ball, check your leg- and footwork. I bet you're moving way too much.

If you want a drill to practice that doesn't use a club -- so you can practice it even when you don't have a place to swing a club -- try the Body Movin' drill. And here's a recent post with a couple of other drills you can use, with or without clubs, that can help you calm down your excess body motion.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Just a Reminder...

GC confirmed during Wednesday's broadcasts that they'll be doing a pregame show leading into the Kraft Nabisco Championship at

11am ET

so you need to tune in a full hour earlier than the official times given earlier in the week. You can be pretty sure that they'll be including some extra coverage during that time -- they usually do.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Major Season Is HERE!

Once again the ladies get the jump on the men. The Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first of the LPGA's five majors this year (remember, the Evian becomes a major this year), beats the Masters by one week.

You may also remember that this event provided the year's most heart-breaking moment in golf -- I.K. Kim's missed putt of perhaps 18 inches on the final hole that cost her the first major of her career. She then lost on the first playoff hole to Sun Young Yoo.

Obviously Kim has been asked about that putt until she's tired of it, yet she continues to answer all the questions without getting angry. In fact, Whit Watson interviewed her on Golf Central last night, and you can see that interview here. I don't know if I'd do as well.

There's going to be a lot of attention paid to Lydia Ko, who could become the youngest-ever winner of a major, as well as Yani Tseng and Paula Creamer, both of whom are trying to get their games back on track with a win of any kind. And, of course, Stacy Lewis is the favorite this week, as well she should be.

After all, Stacy's already won twice this season.

As usual, Tony Jesselli has done his usual top-notch preview of the event, and you can read that post at this link. One thing I'll add is that, although Tony and the LPGA site both list the first broadcast time on Thursday as noon ET, GC said they would start at 11am ET. I'm guessing they plan to air a pregame show, so you might want to check in an hour early just in case.

And as usual you can catch the KNC live leaderboard at this link.

Now you're ready for the year's first major -- starting TOMORROW!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Michael Breed Demonstrates Some of My Basics

I love it when one of the big name instructors -- in this case, Michael Breed -- recommends swinging the way I teach!

On Monday night's Golf Fix Michael showed a drill that he calls "Wide to Narrow." Fortunately, there's a clip showing the drill on GC's website. Here it is:

In this clip Michael demonstrates several of the things I frequently talk about here on the blog and in my books, like connection, the one-piece takeaway, delayed wrist set, and delayed wrist cock. This drill is a good way to teach you how wrist cock gets "held" until late in the swing.

Here's a tip that Michael doesn't give you: That "flicking motion" he mentions is largely caused by your trailing elbow. Note that, if you make a one-piece takeaway on the way back, your trailing elbow is straight -- that's the wide part of the drill. Then you start your downswing by bending your trailing elbow so it's close to your side -- that's the narrow part. If your lead elbow stays straight and your trailing elbow bends, it will cause your wrists to cock. If you keep your grip too tight, you'll interfere with that cocking action.

For most of you it's going to feel weird. That's because you're doing the incorrect "narrow to wide" move he talks about. (That's called casting, btw.) You may find that you have to make a slower change of direction in order to keep this "flicking" under control. That's why many pros appear to have a pause in their swing.

Have fun with it!

On the outside chance you can't see the video above, here's a link to the page at GC's website where it's posted.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Shell Houston Open

Winner: D.A. Points

Around the wider world of golf: Marcel Siem won the Trophée Hassan II on the European Tour; Ariya Jutanugarn won the Lalla Meryem Cup on the LET; and Scott Hend won the Chiangmai Golf Classic on the Asian Tour.

Exclamation Points

"D.A. Points... D.A. Points... where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah. That's the guy Bill Murray carried to a win at the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am!"

I'm sure even D.A. would get a laugh out of that... and maybe even agree that's how most golf fans remember him. Since that win he's missed nearly half his cuts. Occasionally he's posted a Top10 and then he's gone on a string of forgettable double-digit finishes. And just when you're sure he'll only be remembered as Carl Spackler's sidekick...

Out pops something like this -- a win under difficult conditions (in this case, a drenching rain delay that made mud balls a real possibility), clinched by a clutch par putt on the final hole. Who'd-a thunk it?

"What an incredible Cinderella story! This unknown comes out of nowhere to lead the pack..." OK, Murray's classic Cinderella story monologue puts the winner at Augusta, not Houston, and D.A.'s only unknown to the casual golf fan. But I'd be willing to bet Murray texted him something similar after this win...

And so this week's Limerick Summary salutes the return of the Cinderella story to the winner's circle. 'Nuff said.
“How the time since my first win has flown!”
D.A. said. “My game’s seen Points unknown
Since I won then with Murray.
But you needn’t worry –
I’ve proved I can win on my own!”
The photo came from the front page of