ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Facebook Has Gone Nuts

For some reason Facebook is no longer allowing me to post links. They have been making me do security codes for the better part of a year in order to post, and now it says that my blog is an unsafe link. I have thus far been unable to get an answer from them explaining why.

So for those of you who have been following me on Facebook, I don't know how soon -- if ever -- I'll be able to post links there again. Just so you know, I haven't gone away.

Some days I really hate technology.

Butch Harmon on Chipping

With all the critiques of Tiger's chipping and pitching problems, I decided to just post a short instructional video from Butch Harmon. (Claude Harmon III is also in it.) This one is about how to hit a low spinning chip shot.

I'm not going to say a lot about this video because it's pretty self-explanatory. This one demonstrates that "hinge and hold" technique that Phil talks about all the time, but I think Butch makes it much simpler.

Okay, you twisted my arm. Let me point out two quick things:
  • Butch doesn't want you to exaggerate the "hold" in the followthrough. Note that the club shaft and lead arm form a fairly straight line when they stop. This will help you keep from digging so much with the leading edge of the wedge and also help you use the bounce a bit more. Butch's student isn't taking divots; he's just roughing up the grass a little.
  • Near the end of the video Butch tells his student to slow his stroke a little. Note also that Butch says this technique is from Jose Maria Olazabal, and that you just want to "put your hands ahead of the ball." The idea is that you don't have to swing hard to get the chip up in the air with enough spin to take a hop and stop.
When you try this shot, just try to stay loose and don't stiffen your arms anymore than you have to during the stroke. A soft grip will give you better feel for the distance, and that means better results.

The best thing about this technique is that it will give you a shallower approach into the ball, not the "too steep" approach that Tiger's struggling with right now.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Halfway Through the Coates Golf Championship...

Just before the second round coverage of the LPGA's new Coates Golf Championship ended Thursday -- yes, this event runs Wednesday through Saturday -- Terry Gannon told co-anchor Judy Rankin that he was predicting Ha Na Jang would be leading by the end of the day, even though Jang was only a couple of holes into her round.

As it turns out, he was correct. Although several players will have to finish the second round this morning, no one is going to catch Jang for the 36-hole lead. (The photo comes from this article about last year's Q-School. The photo included on the LPGA's second round update page doesn't show her face as clearly.) Stacy Lewis, who led at the end of coverage, is now a full 4 shots back of the Korean rookie.

Ha Na Jang

Frost has caused some morning delays in the first two rounds. According to the update page:
For those players not completing their rounds on Thursday, the resumption of round two will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
Projected starting times for round three will begin at 10:30 a.m off of the 1st and 10th tees.
When the 120-player field is cut to 70 and ties today, the tournament should get back on schedule pretty easily.

While Jang sits atop the leaderboard at -12, the crowd behind her are mostly names you should know.
  • As mentioned earlier, Stacy Lewis is at -8.
  • Lydia Ko, now sporting contacts, sits at -7 with Azahara Munoz and Angela Stanford.
  • Na Yeon Choi and Jessica Korda are at -6.
  • Cristie Kerr, Mi Hyang Lee (2014 Mizuno Classic winner), Mirim Lee (2-win rookie from 2014), Pernilla Lindberg and So Yeon Ryu are at -4.
  • Alena Sharp and Lexi Thompson are at -3.
There's a large group at -2 that includes Michelle Wie and Ai Miyazato... and Paula Creamer, who made a hole-in-one on the 6th hole, which resembles the 16th at Augusta. The Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club has a number of holes designed to look like famous holes from Augusta National, Royal Troon and St. Andrews, which makes for some interesting viewing.

GC isn't showing live coverage on Friday, which I suppose is okay because the leaders would be going off too late to make the broadcast window anyway. Instead, the third-round coverage will be broadcast from 8-10pm ET tonight. It looks like Saturday's coverage is going to be another live broadcast though, starting at 3pm ET.

So far this new tournament has made for a pretty good show. It looks to be a good weekend as well.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Hot List Link

Today I'm just giving you a link. You can click here to go to the "home page" for Golf Digest's 2015 Hot List. I decided to post it because I know many of you are looking for new equipment this year.

And yes, I realize that some of you actually need new equipment while the rest of you just have club envy after seeing the new stuff at the PGA Merchandise Show. Each to his (or her) own.

Hot List banner

One quick note about this link: Golf Digest hasn't posted all their equipment test results yet. At the time I'm writing this, there are only 3 categories listed:
  • Drivers (14 models)
  • Fairway woods (11 models)
  • Hybrids (13 models)
Also note that some of these models actually represent 2 slightly different club lines, one for the weekend player and one for the pros. If you go shopping, make sure you get the one that's actually designed for your swing.

Golf Digest is adding a new category each day so you'll see a fourth category added today, and more categories over the next few. Have fun dreaming!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tiger Seems Relaxed

They say one picture is worth a thousand words. Just look at this picture of Tiger during his press conference Tuesday, courtesy of When do you last remember seeing Tiger smiling and talking with his hands this much?

Tiger at press conference

You may not know that his press conference was televised live by both GC and ESPN. (ESPN is broadcasting many of their shows live from Glendale, near Phoenix, this week because of the Super Bowl.) While GC had Tim Rosaforte on set to comment, ESPN had Dottie Pepper... and Dottie was clearly excited to see Tiger so relaxed. She commented on the fact that he was not only smiling and laughing, but also handling questions that he wouldn't have dealt with in the past.

If you missed the presser, you missed an unusually cheerful and talkative Tiger. He handled questions about almost everything under the sun, including having the flu for 3 weeks after the Hero World Challenge, his long absence from Phoenix due to security concerns, the condition of the newly-remodeled course, the "Great Tooth Incident" -- which, btw, Dottie says several dentists told her that Tiger's version of what happened is entirely plausible regardless of what you've read on the internet -- and his chipping problems.

In addition, he volunteered anecdotes about moving the boulder as a loose impediment back in 1999, his hole-in-one at Phoenix in 1997, and even laughed as he poked fun at himself. (His remark that “I had the mask on so no one knew who I was, I was trying to blend in because there are not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, okay?” was a memorable one. This article documents some of the highlights.)

And in case you think he let his guard down just because he happened to be in a small group with a few journalists he knew and trusted, think again. This photo (again, from shows only a portion of the journalists there:

Tiger surrounded at presser

The upshot of it all is this: Tiger Woods appears to be at a very good place in his life, a place where he even feels comfortable relaxing in front of the media. And if that carries over onto the golf course, we're all in for a really good year of golf.

Of course, we may not be able to say the same for his competitors.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Extending Your Range

This is a fairly simple tip from but I think simple is good. It's a drill from PGA instructor Justin Klemballa to help increase your driving distance. There's a video that goes with it but wasn't available at the time I did this post. When the video is available again, it will be at the link in this paragraph.

Klemballa says many players don't get much distance off the tee because they don't extend their arms fully through the impact zone. If you don't, you can get the dreaded chicken wing. (He calls it the "classic" chicken wing but I think you have to include that "dreaded" part to be completely correct. After all, everybody else does!)

Anyway, the drill itself is one you may have seen before. As this photo shows, the idea is to start with the club out in front of your ball with your arms extended. From there you swing the club back and then through. (There are more photos included with the article.)

Where most players don't extend

One very useful mental tip that Klemballa included -- and that you may miss if you don't read carefully -- is this (and I quote):
If you collapse after impact, it means you were trying to hit into the ball instead of through the ball, causing you to lose a ton of power.
Memorize that little jewel, folks. It may do more than just help increase the width of your swing; it may just help you relax your muscles during your swing. Martial artists will tell you that relaxed muscles move more quickly than tight ones... and for a golfer, that can mean increased club head speed.

Remember: You want to hit through, not at, the ball. If your arms are relaxed, the swinging motion of the club will pull your arms into a wider arc as you swing through impact. You don't have to forcefully push them out, stiff and ramrod straight, to create width. Trust the swinging motion and you'll get results.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Humana Challenge

Winner: Bill Haas

Around the wider world of golf: Things are still just in the "getting cranked up" stage this season. Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai on the Champions Tour, and Branden Grace won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on the ET.

Bill Haas with trophy

Bill Haas didn't win any tournaments last year, the first year that's happened since he got his first win in 2010 -- which, ironically enough, was at the former 5-round event called the Bob Hope Classic. You know it these days as the Humana Challenge.

The reason for Bill's lack of production can be blamed on a wrist injury he got at the RBC Heritage in April last year. He didn't take time off to recover, although doctors told him he would eventually be forced to do so. Finally, after a lost 2014, he decided to bite the bullet and get well.

But he didn't expect to play very well at the Humana. Seems that his game was a bit flat when he hooked up with his teacher Billy Harmon and his dad Jay the week before.

Didn't look that flat, did it? Bill managed to work his way to the top of the leaderboard Saturday evening, and his scrambling on the final hole Sunday -- especially that bunker shot on 18 that looked more like a baseball swing -- seemed right on the mark.

So Bill not only has a Bob Hope Classic win, but a Humana Challenge win as well. Of course, this is the last time Humana will be the event sponsor. Wonder what it'll be called next time he wins it?

Whatever they call it, I call this win deserving of a Limerick Summary. Bill now has six PGA Tour wins... and he has a Limerick Summary for each. What a fortunate young man!
Bill sure likes the desert a-plenty!
His first win—not coincidently—
Came right here, in ‘Ten;
In ‘Fifteen, again…
So next time? Should be Twenty-twenty.
The photo came from the tournament page at

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Can Erik Compton Break Through at Humana?

Let's face it: Of all the possible storylines on the Humana Challenge leaderboard, a victory for Erik Compton probably leads the list...

A two-time heart transplant recipient is tied for the lead at an event that's built its image around health and healing, and finds himself on the verge of getting his first PGA Tour win.

Erik Compton

Of course, Compton isn't the only guy in the running. Rookie Justin Thomas is also at -17, as are Bill Haas and Michael Putnam. None have yet won on "the Big Tour."

Last year's runner-up Ryan Palmer is just one shot off the lead, as is Matt Kuchar (along with some other players).

And lurking just three shots back is last year's winner Patrick Reed. I didn't even think he would be in the conversation after Friday's round found him twice that far behind.

The simple fact is that last year's total of -28 looks unlikely this year; that would take a 61 from the leaders. And while such scores aren't unheard-of on PGA West on a Sunday, there are rarely more than two and they usually come from someone farther back in the pack. No, it's looking more like -23 or -24 could do it.

And that's very much within Erik Compton's wheelhouse. He shot 66 on PGA West earlier this week and seems quite comfortable with himself, especially after his runner-up at the US Open last year:
“[I’m] probably more at ease with myself and not really feeling like I have to prove anything. Confidence is huge in this game.”
Hey, the guy's survived two heart transplants. I'm not willing to bet against him today.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Me and My Shadow Coach

This tip from Cheryl Anderson, a Golf Digest 50 Best Women Teachers who works with Mike Bender, was so simple and so cool that I had to pass it on.

How about using your shadow instead of a video camera to give you instant feedback on the range? Check out these 3 checkpoints she mentions in the article that I linked to above:

3 shadow checkpoints

Here's the super-simple version of her instructions:
  1. Get the sun behind you and place 3 balls on the ground -- one on each side of your hips and one in the center of your neck. This is your setup position.
  2. Then swing to the top of your backswing and make sure your shadow 's hips and neck are still in the same place.
  3. Finally, go to impact and make sure that the "neck ball" is still in place but your lead hip has moved forward enough to cover the "lead hip ball" closest to the target.
Now notice that these aren't big movements, nor are they rigid. As you see in the photo, the neck shadow can move a bit -- just don't let the sun hit the ball. And you aren't moving a huge amount to cover that lead hip ball -- you just want to move enough to get that forward weight shift.

Also note (when you read the article) that Cheryl's big no-no is covering the trailing hip ball.That means you're moving too far behind the ball -- the one you're trying to hit, that is! -- which can lead to mis-hits.

It's a very simple and free way to check yourself. Hard to find a coach that cheap!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The New "Golf For Her" Website ran an article yesterday about a new website for women called Golf For Her. I flipped over to take a look, and I think you should know about it.

Golf For Her site logo

This is really an ambitious project. The article says:
Mona [that's Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation] said he wasn’t aware of any other sport where all the governing bodies had come together to support an ecumenical site.

“Over time,” he said, “we hope it can become the recognized entry point for women’s golf.”
There are more than just governing bodies involved. I saw logos for at least 11 different organizations on their front page, ranging from the PGA Tour and LPGA to the USGA, Golf Digest, First Tee, National Women's Golf Alliance and more.

Like I said, ambitious.

The World Golf Foundation launched the site on Wednesday and enlisted Stacy Lewis to serve as both launch ambassador and a regular site contributor. The idea is that women who are interested in the game can pop over and find all kinds of info:
  • guidance on how to get started in the game
  • news about new equipment
  • help finding other women golfers in their area
  • instructional articles
  • just entertaining features to read
There's also a newsletter you can sign up to receive.

All-in-all, it's pretty impressive-looking for a new site and appears like it has the potential to do just what the WGF has in mind. You can check it out at

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Piece of the Blueprint

While I have taken Hank Haney to task (a couple of times) for the way he's been advertising his Haney Blueprint system (in this post and in this one, in case you're interested), I've always said I suspected the material in the DVDs themselves was useful.

Well, Haney was on GC's Lesson Tee Live Wednesday night and, while I didn't get to see much of the show, one of the parts I did get to see concerned the Blueprint... and it certainly was good advice.

Haney's ads say his DVDs will help you learn how to eliminate your "big miss," among other things. What he talked about on LTL was part of the strategy that eliminating the "big miss" allows you to use. (In case you haven't seen any of the ads -- don't you ever watch TV? -- Haney says that lowering your score isn't just about your swing. It's also about your strategy around the course, and the Blueprint is supposed to teach you that as well.)

According to Haney, part of the Blueprint strategy simply involves eliminating wasted shots. He divided those into 3 different categories:
  1. Penalty shots: An OB penalty adds 2 shots to your score. Dunking one in the water adds 1 shot, as does having to chip out sideways. You can probably think of others... and if you can't, I assure you that the USGA and R&A have done so for you!
  2. Two-chips: That's when you mis-hit your first chip and have to chip again. Includes two-pitches and two-sand shots.
  3. Three-putts: This one's self-explanatory, isn't it? One interesting thing Haney mentioned -- if I heard him correctly -- was that Steve Williams used to keep his own stats on Tiger's game and he calculated that if Tiger had eliminated all his three-putts, he would have won nearly 85% of his tournaments. In case you didn't know, three-putts are BAD.
Haney said that if you totaled up all of these in your round and subtracted them from your actual score, you'd have some idea of what you were capable of shooting if you just eliminated wasted shots from your game.

Alright, perhaps that sounds like "well, duh" material. But isn't that the stuff that always trips us up?

Whatever you think of Haney's teaching -- many players dislike his approach to plane (he tends to favor flatter planes, for one thing) -- this is definitely good advice if you're looking for a quick way to lower your scores. Even if you can't get rid of your "big miss" right away, do you have a shot you can use when you're faced with a threatening OB? Can you find a little time to improve your short game and putting? Are you willing to try?

If so, then you just might be able to drop a few strokes from your game within the next few weeks. And Haney definitely gave you that info for free. I'd say that's a pretty good deal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DJ, Paulina and Baby Makes Three

In case you missed it, Dustin Johnson and girlfriend Paulina Gretzky's little boy finally arrived Monday morning. Here's the link to the article about the announcement.

Since you've no doubt heard about the interview DJ gave Sports Illustrated, here's a link to the article reprint posted at (Remember, SI and Golf Magazine are owned by the same people.) And if you just can't spend the time to read it, here's a link to the Golf Digest condensed version.

DJ and Paulina

What we don't know yet is exactly which tournament DJ will choose for his reappearance on the Tour. But based on what his agent said a month or so ago, either Phoenix or Torrey Pines is a good bet. Now we wait.

In the meantime, congrats to the new parents!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Final Part of My Series Is Out

Yes, you can finally read the entire Why the Future of Golf Lies in Its Past series. The fourth and final part has been posted, and here's the link.

And of course, I've posted links to all 4 parts over in the sidebar in case you missed any of them.

Chuck Cook Helping Charlie Rymer Could Help You Too

In case you missed Morning Drive on Monday, Chuck Cook -- who works with Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley, among others -- gave Charlie Rymer a tip on how to straighten out wayward drives although I suspect it would also help approach shots.

A little background: Charlie is trying to get his game in shape to play some Champions Tour events but he's missing the ball both ways. Here's the 5-minute video:

I agree with Charlie. This is an incredibly simple image to keep in your head: Simply lay your club shaft against the wall halfway into your followthrough. Here are the simple instructions:

Imagine that you set up with your heels against a wall. Got it? Now...

Do you want to hit a draw? Try to "hit the wall" with the head of your driver on the way to your finish.

Want to hit a fade? Try to "hit the wall" with the grip end of your driver on the way to your finish.

And if you just want to straighten out your shot a little, try to "hit the wall" with the shaft of the club -- slam that thing flat against the wall so the grip and head "hit it" at the same time.

Watch the video a couple of times to be sure you understand the principle, then head for the range. A little practice might be all you need to get a better shot shape. Give it a try!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Limerick Summary: 2015 Sony Open

Winner: Jimmy Walker

Around the wider world of golf: Frenchman Gary Stal won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the ET, and Matias Dominguez of Chile won the inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship.

And there were a couple of other significant sports events: Lindsey Vonn (that's Tiger's girlfriend) won the downhill event at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy Sunday to tie Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Proell's 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins. [UPDATE: Lindsey broke the record today with a Super-G win.] And we now know Super Bowl XLIX will be a battle between the New England Patriots and the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. (Pats quarterback Tom Brady is a pretty decent golfer, btw.)

Jimmy Walker with Sony trophy

Yes, I admit it. The NFC and AFC Championship games -- the ones that determine who will go to the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks -- were my main source of concern Sunday. I managed to keep up with the Sony Open by flipping channels during commercial breaks and timeouts.

But I wrote this week's Limerick Summary before any of it, golf or football, ever began on Sunday. Yes, I was that confident Jimmy would get it done this week -- despite his blowing a lead last week at the Hyundai and Martin Kaymer blowing a big lead Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

It wasn't just the talk he had with Butch Harmon after last week's loss. The fact is simply that Jimmy didn't play that badly last week, and he kept up the pace this week by setting a new Tour record with 29 birdies for the week. In the end, he won by 9 strokes -- another record, this time just a Sony Open record but a record nevertheless.

Just as the Patriots were written off after only their fourth game this season, and just as the Seahawks were written off when they were down 16-0 at halftime in Sunday's game (they came back to win in overtime, the 3rd largest comeback in NFL postseason history), too many folks wrote Jimmy off just because he stumbled in the final round last week. We are so quick to elevate winners after one or two good showings and desert them after a stumble or two.

Fortunately life doesn't have to work that way. Just ask the Patriots... or the Seahawks... or Jimmy Walker.

And so it is that Jimmy Walker picks up his fourth Limerick Summary in only 32 starts. ESPN is already suggesting he's a good choice for the Masters. I can understand their enthusiasm -- after all, it's hard enough to get just one Limerick Summary...
You did it again, Jimmy boy!
Was stumbling last week just a ploy
To drive the field nuts
When you drained all those putts?
They poured in like three-finger poi!
The photo came from the tournament upshot page at

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bobby Jones Talks About Feel

Today I have another bit of instruction from Bobby Jones -- yet another of his short newpaper columns written in the late 1920s - early 1930s. This one is from the book Bobby Jones on Golf, which is probably the biggest collection available (and also considered the best collection of instruction by many people).

This article is simply called The Feel of a Golf Club and because it's only three paragraphs in length, I'm including the whole piece. (It's a very small piece of the book, only taking a half-page.) I've boldfaced a few of the lines, and I'll add a couple of thoughts about them at the end.
There is nothing occult about hitting a golf ball. In fact, although the application may be a bit more complicated, we use no more than the ordinary principles of motion we encounter numberless times every day. Once started upon a correct path, the club will tend to hold to its course until outside forces cause a change.

The great fault in the average golfer’s conception of his stroke is that he considers the shaft of the club a means of transmitting actual physical force to the ball, whereas it is in reality merely the means of imparting velocity to the club head. We would all do better could we only realize that the length of the drive depends not upon the brute force applied but upon the speed of the club head. It is a matter of velocity rather than a physical effort of the kind that bends crowbars and lifts heavy weights.

I like to think of a golf club as a weight attached to my hands by an imponderable medium, to which a string is a close approximation, and I like to feel that I am throwing it at the ball with much the same motion I should use in cracking a whip. By the simile, I mean to convey the idea of a supple and lightning-quick action of the wrists in striking – a sort of flailing action.
Now obviously this piece was written when hickory shafts were still popular -- indeed, steel shafts had not been approved for tournament use by the R&A until a few years after Jones finished his career -- but these concepts continued to be used by dominant players like Snead and Nelson (to name only a couple of prominent golfers) even after the steel shaft "took over." It wasn't until Hogan's techniques -- with their emphasis on controlling every aspect of the swing motion -- became dominant that "feel" became such a difficult concept for golfers.

I boldfaced a few of the lines that were prominent teachings of great instructors like Harvey Penick -- who, I should note, taught players to swing steel-shafted clubs. Think about them for a moment:
  • We worry so much about plane when a properly-swung club creates AND MAINTAINS its plane without extra help.
  • We focus on creating power when the real issue is club head speed, and that isn't a matter of strength.
  • Most importantly, this club head speed is created by a flick of the wrists at impact. That's exactly the opposite of what we're generally taught nowadays.
Now all of these things may sound a bit strange to you. The reason for that is the fourth thing I put in boldface but haven't mentioned yet -- namely, that the feel of the shaft during your swing is more like the feel of swinging a weight on a string. This is a dramatic departure from modern teaching, and you'll miss it if you don't think hard.

Modern teaching says you have to "use the ground" to make your golf swing work. Modern teaching says you push against the ground with your feet and legs, and you push the club back with your hands and arms. You push, you push, you push.

You can't push a string back, folks. The weight at the end of the string has to pull YOU. Jones is talking about a swing where the weight (club head) at the end of the string (shaft) pulls you back to the top of your backswing. And it's this pulling motion that allows you to feel the club head during your swing.

It's the same way we swing tennis rackets and flyswatters, and even the way we swing hammers and baseball bats. It's just that those last two are so heavy that we tend to think more about the effort of getting them started. (Think about what Jones said in relation to the bat or hammer, and you'll better understand that line that says "Once started upon a correct path, the club will tend to hold to its course until outside forces cause a change.")

Once we get these different types of equipment started swinging, their momentum carries them back to the end of our "backswing," and we learn to feel where that backswing is or we hurt ourselves.

For now this is just something I want you to think about. But the players with the longest careers use swings that focus more on feel, and even Tiger is moving back to a swing that focuses more on feel. It's something worth considering.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Part 3 of My Series Is Up posted Part 3 of my series Why the Future of Golf Lies in Its Past on Friday and here's the link.

About Those Amateurs Down in Argentina

Most of you are aware that the inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship-- the joint effort of the Masters Committee, the USGA, and the R&A -- is being played this week in Argentina. If nothing else, you've seen Rich Lerner's live reports during Morning Drive.

What you may NOT be aware of is that -- at least here in America -- ESPN2 has been carrying live coverage of the event. In case you haven't seen any of that, let me bring you up-to-date on what is happening.

Andre Tourinho of Brazil,

The Latin America Amateur Championship was inspired by the success of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and, like the APAC, will award a spot in this year's Masters to the winner. In fact, it awards A LOT of spots:
  • 2015 Masters Tournament
  • 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship (USGA) 
  • 2015 Amateur Championship (R&A)
  • Spot in final-stage qualifying for the 2015 U.S. Open
  • Spot in final-stage qualifying for The Open 2015
This inaugural version of the event is being played at the Pilar Golf Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Next year it will be played on a course affectionately known as "The Teeth of the Dog" at the Casa de Campo Seaside Resort in the Dominican Republic.)

After Round 2, the leader at -8 is Andre Tourinho of Brazil (my friend Paulo in Brazil will be thrilled with that) after shooting 70-68. He's one shot ahead of both Matias Dominguez of Chile and Joaquin Bonjour of Argentina. Many of the players in this event have played at American colleges and Tourinho is no exception; he graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2012. You can read a full summary of Round 2 at this link.

The official website for the event is at this link, and you can find the leaderboards at this link. Also, Bob Harig has done some articles about the event, including this one that will give you some idea of how much Payne and Co. are investing to make this event something special.

And if you want to catch some of the live coverage, here are the times for ESPN's remaining broadcasts:
  • Saturday at 10am-noon ET on ESPNEWS
  • Sunday at 11am-1pm ET on ESPN2
  • Sunday (highlights) at 5-5:30pm ET on ESPN2
(Please note that these times are also good on the WatchESPN app, if you have that.)

Bear in mind that the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has given us, among others, Hideki Matsuyama who is currently #15 (and moving up) in the OWGR... and that event has only been going since 2009. We could very well be watching some of South America's future stars this week.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Of Belly Putters and Backswings

As you probably heard, Webb Simpson had the best round of his life -- an 8-under 62 -- in the first round of the Sony Open. And he did it with a regular-length putter...

Plus a little help from Butch Harmon... but according to Golf Digest, it wasn't the putter that sent him to Butch.

Webb Simpson with short putter

We all heard about Webb's first attempt at switching back to the short stick over in Japan at the Dunlop Phoenix. It didn't go so well, although that seems to have had as much to do with his full swing as with the putter. As Golf Digest put it:
After a disastrous Ryder Cup appearance, one in which he embarrassingly popped up his opening drive in a four-ball match with Bubba Watson and went 0-2 in limited action for USA, Simpson visited one of the high priests of golf, instructor Butch Harmon. The half-day range session in November already is paying dividends. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation with just slight adjustments to his backswing, mainly keeping the club more in front of him instead of getting it trapped behind with the path too far to the inside.
About that lesson with Butch, Webb told
“I had never seen him before,” he said. “What my caddie and I are working on, we wanted to make sure that we were doing it the right way, and he was nice enough to give us some time. I had a good day with him, and the changes are simple. You wouldn't notice them per se, but just trying to get a little better, so that's the goal.”
Combine that improved swing path with a little time on the putting green and you get a back-9 28 that required only 10 putts, which gives you a really nice-looking scorecard. (He had 9 birdies altogether, along with 1 bogey.)

What's the lesson here? We golfers have a tendency to overdo things. We go to belly putters because we get too caught up in mechanics. Some teacher tells us we need to "hit the ball from the inside" and we get WAAAAY too much inside. We exaggerate just about everything we learn in the game and then we wonder why we still have problems.

Take a tip from Webb. Don't go overboard with swing or putting changes. Make simple changes and "just try to get a little better."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Martin Hall's Drill to Chip Like Steve Stricker

Here's a video of Martin Hall and Sara Brown teaching how to chip like Steve Stricker. (Yes, I know he calls it pitching in the video but, as Paul Azinger keeps telling us, pitches use the bounce and chips use the leading edge. This technique uses the leading edge.)

At any rate, Martin's drill uses a tennis sweat band -- the kind that goes around your wrist, not your head.

The idea, of course, is to eliminate the flippy wrist motion that causes you to hit the ball fat and thin. You choke down on the grip a little and the sweatband holds the grip against your forearm so your wrist stays firm throughout the chipping motion.

This isn't a new drill, by the way. Lee Trevino also teaches this drill to help learn proper chipping technique... but he uses thick rubber bands instead of a sweat band. Same principle though.

And the nice thing is that you can use this drill inside, during the winter, when it's too cold to go outside. Just make sure you don't do it on the good carpets since the leading edge of the club will cut through and you'll have to replace them. (And yes, unfortunately, I learned that from firsthand experience so you don't have to.)

And here's the link in case you can't get the embedded video above to play.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Second Post is Up

Here's the link for the second post in the series I did for

I can now tell you for sure that there will be a total of four posts. I'm really pleased with the way they're presenting them too.

Playing Out of a Divot

If you listen to the TV analysts enough, you're probably convinced that playing from a divot is soooooo hard. Well, it really isn't... and here's Aussie teaching pro Lorien Scott to tell you just how simple it really is.

Got that? You just move the ball back in your stance a bit and swing down more steeply. You'll take a bigger divot as a result.

Rough translation: You have to dig for it.

I think the most important thing to remember is WHY you have to do it this way. Because the ball is basically down in a hole, the bottom of the ball is lower than it is on a normal shot. That's the reason you have to go down more steeply -- you're digging it out.

And if you remember that, you'll realize that the same technique applies on almost any shot where the ball is nestled down in a hole. (If the ball is on top of the ground but sitting down in thick grass, that's more of a sand shot. Again, remember the difference and you'll make the right choice.)

One additional thought: When hitting out of a divot, you probably won't get quite as much distance. You'll probably need to take one more club to make your yardage. But use common sense -- if the divot is really deep, you may just need to take a wedge and be sure you get it out. Remember, dig it out.

See? It's not that difficult at all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Limerick Summary: Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Winner: Patrick Reed

Around the wider world of golf: The 2015 season is just getting underway so there's not a lot to report yet, other than Andy Sullivan's victory at the ET's South African Open Championship.

Patrick Reed

Look, I gave up trying to keep up with all the different stats GC was giving on Patrick Reed. When they start giving stats like "most wins for players under 24years 6months of age," my brain starts to pucker up.

But I did get this one: Patrick has 4 PGA Tour wins in only 35 starts. I also checked the OWGR charts and this win leaped him up to #14 in the world. And Ryan Ballengee posted these little nuggets in his column over at Devil Ball Golf:
Reed made an 18-foot birdie putt to secure his fourth PGA Tour win his last 35 starts.
The only person with more wins in that span? Rory McIlroy. 
Reed, who turns 25 next August, is also just one of four players in the last two decades to notch four PGA Tour wins before their 25th birthday. The others are guys known simply by their first names: Rory, Tiger and Sergio. Great company.
That's pretty good stuff if you ask me. Patrick took some grief for saying he was a Top5 player after his Doral win, but he certainly seems to be backing it up. (I know he didn't play well for a long stretch last year, but new babies do tend to be a distraction.)

As for Jimmy Walker's "collapse," I don't think it's such a big deal this early in the year. Nobody plays well all the time and just because his "bad 9" was the back 9 of the final round doesn't mean he choked. Even Patrick credited his mental game for his win Monday; Jimmy should be in fine shape for his title defense at Sony this week.

What should we expect from Patrick going forward? Well, he said that he needs to play better in majors and that's going to be a "major" focus this year. If he sets his mind to it the way he's set his mind to everything else, I suspect he's going to make some serious noise.

In the meantime, Patrick Reed gets his 4th Limerick Summary before his 25th birthday. That's got to be some kind of record...
Though some think he talks a bit much,
Reed’s proving he may have “The Touch”—
Like Tiger and Phil,
He plays with the will
To get the job done in the clutch.
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at

Monday, January 12, 2015

On Expanding the Hyundai's Field

Since the Limerick Summary is delayed a day this week (Monday finish in Hawaii, you know), I thought I'd look at a question that's been discussed quite a bit this past week...

How can you expand the number of players at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions? (I'll just call this event the HToC from here on.)

The discussion seems to be spurred by a desire to make more players want to show up, which is a win-win for sponsors, fans, and TV networks alike. But there are a number of issues that make this a tricky situation...

Matsuyama tees off at the Hyundai

By my count there are only 48 official PGA Tour events each year. (Some of these are alternate events opposite invitationals like majors and WGCs.) So theoretically, you could have at most 48 individual winners in the field as it is currently set up.

But let's be honest. It will be a special year when you have NO multiple winners in a given season. That cuts the number of eligible players considerably.

And it's unlikely that some of those winners will ever show up. For example, Rory isn't there (he won 3 events), Adam Scott isn't there (he won 1), and Martin Kaymer isn't there (he won 2). And although they weren't eligible this year because they didn't win, Tiger and Phil NEVER show up. It's fair to assume that "no-shows" will account for at least 8 to 10 wins in a typical year.

Furthermore, some players might have other obligations. For example, had Ernie Els won this past year he still would have gone to the South African Open where he's the host.

Consequently you end up with a total field like this year's 34 entries... and Kevin Stadler had to withdraw after 2 rounds with hand problems.

Some have suggested that the field be expanded to include past winners from the last 2 years or so. But to me that feels like you're watering down the field since these added players aren't necessarily playing well now.

As you probably already suspect, I have a suggestion of my own. I don't expect it to be particularly popular, but I feel that it fits the spirit of the event.

Simply put, PGA Tour members play all over the world. So why not include any PGA Tour member who wins an event during the year, whether that event is a PGA Tour event or not?

For example, Jordan Spieth won the Australian Open and Lee Westwood won the Thailand Golf Championship in December. Brooks Koepka won the Turkish Airlines Open in November. Louis Oosthuizen won the Volvo Golf Champions and Sergio won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last January. They're all PGA Tour members; why not let them into the HToC on the strength of those wins?

I'll take it a bit further: Allow any player who is a member of the PGA Tour on January 1st before the HToC who won an event anywhere in the world to play IF the event they won awards world ranking points.

Now you could include players who managed to qualify for conditional PGA Tour membership before the HToC who had won elsewhere, or PGA Tour players who win the Hero World Challenge or the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

I realize that this idea is unlikely to gain any traction since no tour wants to share its players with any other tour. Still, I think it's fair that any PGA Tour player with a victory anywhere should be eligible for a berth in the Hyundai.

After all, a champion is a champion. And nothing proves that "these guys are good" more than showcasing that they can win anywhere.

So that's my two cents. The Limerick Summary will be here tomorrow.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hank Haney Tries Again

A few months back I wrote a post about the commercial for Hank Haney's Blueprint DVDs called A Misleading TV Ad. My problem wasn't with Haney or what he teaches -- as I said in that post, he's an excellent teacher -- but I objected to what I saw as a misleading TV ad. As I put it in that post:
Okay, here's the deal. No doubt you've seen the TV ads for the new Hank Haney Blueprint DVDs at The commercial tells you that if you go to that website you'll find a video that will tell you how you can cut 3, 6 or even 10 strokes off your game and furthermore add 4mph to your swing speed. You are led to believe that you will watch a video that tells you how to do this.

Technically, that's true. The video tells you to buy the DVDs. Wow, what a revelation.
And then I listed some some things that bugged me about the video itself. You can go back and read those things if you wish.

Since that time Haney has been advertising another website called that he says gives you an actual free 30-minute training video with a complete lesson -- which is what you were led to believe you'd get at the original website. So, out of fairness, I thought I'd pop over and see if they had addressed what I saw as misleading advertising. And again I have to say...

Technically I guess they have... but I'm not sure. You be the judge.

When you type in the website address you are taken to a slightly different url that asks for your email address. In large type across the top it says:
"Enter your email address to receive 10 detailed golf lessons from Hank Haney, including access to a 28-minute long swing makeover where an amateur golfer added 70+ yards to his average drive after just one lesson."
You'll see the proof, plus get practical lessons to cure your slice, add real distance off the tee, and much more to make YOU a better golfer as quickly as your next round. For FREE.
Then you are asked for your primary email address in order to watch "the next video from Hank." (Yes, it specifically asks for your PRIMARY email address. Apparently just any address won't do.)

I have mixed emotions about this new site.

When I saw the new commercial, I assumed that you went to a site where you would watch a free video. I understand that they want your email address so they can send follow-up emails to try and convince you to buy the DVDs. (That's common business practice on many sites these days, as most of you have probably learned.)

But while the site says this is all free and doesn't require a credit card, the fact remains that this doesn't sound like the same deal that was advertised on TV. In the commercial you were offered access to the 28-minute makeover video mentioned above... but doesn't this site say you're signing up "to receive 10 detailed golf lessons from Hank Haney" in addition to the 28-minute video?

I checked the links at the bottom of the page (the terms of service and terms of use) and found no clear explanation of exactly what I would get if I entered my email address. Am I really getting 10 golf lessons plus the 28-minute video, all for FREE? The little blurb under the photo in the lower left of the page certainly seems to say so.

If that's the case, then why didn't Hank say you would get 10 free golf lessons plus the makeover video in his TV commercial for the site? Wouldn't that be more likely to draw more takers?

That's never really explained. As a result, it bothers me.

So I guess I'm still not convinced. This is nothing against Haney or what he teaches -- again I repeat, Haney is an excellent teacher and I'm sure the material is top notch -- but I really don't like the way this is being presented to the public. Come on, Hank, you're better than this!

BTW Hank, when you send me to a web address for free stuff that includes the words "ambush_opt" as part of the url, that's a real red light for me. Just a little head's-up there.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I've Got a Post at!

Actually it's the first in a series of posts.

A couple of months ago the folks at approached me about doing an in-depth story for them, and they gave me a few topics to choose from. We finally decided I would combine a couple of them.

The result was what most magazines would consider a feature-length article, and it's called Why the Future of Golf Lies in Its Past. The first part of that article appeared Friday at this link. I'm not sure whether the full article will appear as three or four parts, but I'll post links to them as they appear. did a really nice job on the layout. They're making me look real good! Thanks, guys!

It's Official -- Tiger Starts His Season in Phoenix

In case you somehow missed the news, Tiger announced on his Twitter account that he'll be starting his season with back-to-back starts in Phoenix (where he hasn't played since 2001) and Torrey Pines.

To say that's caused a bit of excitement is an understatement. And not just in Phoenix, either.


The rumors had been circulating for a couple of days and the TV folks had a variety of reactions. Tiger has played in Dubai the last few years, where he got appearance money, and I heard some say that the "cash grab" was over for Tiger. (I assume they meant he couldn't get the fees anymore.) Others suggested that the long flight was at odds with keeping his back healthy.

In a more positive vein, GC's Notah Begay said that it was a positive sign, that perhaps Tiger was opening up his schedule and looking to have some more fun. And over on ESPN, Andy North said he thinks it's an indication that Tiger is excited about getting back to the game. (Bear in mind that we rarely see him play back-to-back weeks early in the season.)

Many of us have wondered why Tiger hadn't played Phoenix in so long, but the AZCentral site (the Arizona Republic and News12 site) had some info I didn't remember. They write:
[2015 Tournament Chairman Dan] Calihan added that the Phoenix Thunderbirds will have to re-assess their security measures inside the Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale grounds to make sure Woods is "comfortable and safe."
Woods has not played in Phoenix Open since 2001. That year, a fan threw an orange onto the green while Woods was putting. In 1999, a spectator who heckled Woods was tackled to the ground by security and found to be in possession of a gun.
I can understand why Tiger would have been hesitant to return after all that... but then again, times do change.

Of course, Bob Harig may have uncovered the real reason for the choice when he suggested that Tiger has Super Bowl tickets. (It's being held in the University of Phoenix stadium this year.)

But whatever the reason, it looks like Tiger intends to make a lot of noise with his return to golf this year. It should certainly get the 2015 season off to a lively start.

The photo came from a post about the announcement at

Friday, January 9, 2015

What Bobby Jones Said About Slow-Motion Video

Yes, believe it or not, Bobby Jones actually wrote some things about slow-motion video!

Sidney Matthew, who has written several books about Bobby Jones, did a small collection of Jones newspaper columns called Bobby Jones Golf Tips: Secrets of the Master. And one of those columns, called On Making the Warner Brothers Films, references some earlier slo-mo film shot in 1930 by the Jenkins Laboratories in Washington for the PGA and its teaching professionals.

In case you're interested, here is a YouTube video of that footage. Note that it includes not only Jones but Miss Joyce Weathered (another top amateur at the time, who played a lot with Jones) and the great Harry Vardon. I know this is the footage because Jones mentions Weathered and Vardon in the article.

Jones made some interesting observations about viewing and learning from "slow-motion pictures" that every golfer should hear, given how easy it is to tape your own swing these days -- one observation in particular:
I think, now that we have had years of slow-motion study, almost every first-class golfer knows well enough how he hits the ball. The guess has been removed. But even slow-motion pictures need interpretation. The one great difficulty from the standpoint of the average golfer has been in separating the consciously controlled movements from those that are purely instinctive. (p117, my emphasis)
That's a remarkably wise observation that even TV analysts don't recognize. There are a great many things in your golf swing that you do without even thinking about them, the same as in other area of your life. And if you don't know the difference, you can actually screw up your golf swing because you end up interfering with things you shouldn't try to control.

For example, that's part of the reason why analysts are so confused by Bubba Watson's swing. They can analyze it and figure out what he's doing, but they can't figure out how to duplicate it. That's because they want to control things that Bubba isn't controlling. For example, they want to figure out how Bubba times that little jumping move of his... but that's the wrong question.

Bubba isn't thinking about the jump; he's just thinking about how he wants the club face to contact the ball. When he swings the club, his mind subconsciously sequences his body moves -- including that jump -- so that his hands can get the club into that position.

In other words, they want to consciously control what is actually an instinctive move. And that's just not going to happen!

That's part of the reason my posts -- and my books, I admit it -- sometimes seem to approach things from a strange perspective. I want you to learn how to control the things you need to control but just let the other things happen instinctively, the way they're meant to happen.

Next time you start struggling with your golf swing, it might be a good idea to spend some time on the range just trying to swing the club without so many "I need to..." thoughts in your head. Instead, think about hitting the ball to the target. Focus your attention on the target. You might be surprised just how much of your golf swing is supposed to be instinctive.

At least, that's what Bobby Jones believed... and he didn't do too badly at the game. ;-)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

About Those New Odyssey Works Putters

Golfweek has an article about the new Odyssey Works putters at their website. They'll be available at the end of the month, so I thought I'd take a look at what all the fuss is about.

One of the new Odyssey putters

Although the Golfweek article shows only one of the putters -- technically, it's the "Odyssey Works Tank Versa 2-Ball Fang Putter" -- there are actually 11 new models in the Works line. And it's a good example of what Golfweek says distinguishes the new line:
The goal of the new Odyssey Works line of putters is both simple and ambitious: Create a family of putters that combine as many of the company’s key technologies as possible.
Let's sum up the variety of tech Odyssey is combining in these new putters.

There's the Versa tech, which is the black-and-white high contrast design -- they call it "Visionary High Contrast Alignment" -- that's supposed to help you square the face better at impact by making the face angle more obvious.

Some have the Tank tech, which is a heavy head / counterbalanced grip combination. As I've written about before, counterbalancing is being used by many players as an alternative to long putters.

Then there's the Fang tech, which appears to be the perimeter weighting (the rounded wings) you can see on the putter pictured above.

You know what the Two-Ball tech is. You can see the two ball-sized circles that help you aim the ball straight at the hole. (Obviously, the actual golf ball gives you a "straight line" of three balls.)

Finally, there's the Fusion RX insert. Basically they took the Metal X insert, which has what you might call a wire mesh bound to a thin piece of urethane backing, and they took the thicker soft White Hot insert... and surprise, they combined them. Essentially, the Fusion RX insert is a Metal X wire mesh bound to the thicker White Hot urethane insert.

The different Odyssey Works models each have a different combination of those technologies. The putter shown above has all of them, while others may only have a couple. (The common tech is the Fusion RX insert with the Versa colors.)

They're supposed to start shipping on January 30 but you can see all of them here at the Odyssey website's Odyssey Works page. Be prepared to spend a couple hundred bucks if you want one.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Learning from the Great Walter Hagen

This year I plan to try and pull some tips from the legends of the game, and my first one of 2015 is Walter Hagen. Many of you have seen him portrayed in movies about Bobby Jones because he was one of BJ's primary competitors. During his career -- he turned pro in 1912 -- he had at least 75 wins (45 on the PGA Tour) and he ranks 3rd in the all-time list of major winners. He has 11, behind only Nicklaus (18) and Woods (14).

In addition to 2 US Opens, Hagen won 4 Open Championships and 5 PGA Championships. (The Masters didn't exist for over 20 years of his career; he only played in 6 of those.) I think the PGAs are most impressive because it was a match play tournament back when he won them between 1921 and 1927.

Here's a good video of his swing from the British Golf Museum, from the year he won his 3rd Open Championship, complete with some slo-mo.

The "tip" I want you to pick up from his swing -- besides that smooth rhythmic action of his -- can be seen in the slo-mo starting around the :40 second mark. Many of you try to use waggles and forward presses to start your backswing -- nothing wrong with that, you can see Hagen using them as well -- but what I want you to see is his hip movement.

Hagen starts his takeaway by turning his hips TOWARD the target. It's not a big movement and it can be a bit hard to see at full speed because it happens quickly, but you can see it very clearly in the slo-mo.

For those of you who find that waggles and forward presses don't feel quite right to you -- perhaps because they cause you to change where the club face is aimed before you even start your swing -- but you need something to help you get your swing started, this is a good movement to try. Most weekend players who have trouble starting their swings tend to be a bit stiff in the knees. Hagen's move is a good natural way to "loosen them up" without changing the angle of the club face at address.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The European Tour Restarts This Week Also

The ET continues their season this week in South Africa. Ernie Els is playing host at the South African Open Championship in Ekurhuleni, which is near Johannesburg.

Ernie Els

The SA Open is the second oldest national Open in the world -- this is the 104th playing of the event! That sounds pretty impressive to me, given how economic factors have affected tournament sponsorships over the years. I'm sure that tying it to Ernie's name will certainly help in that respect.

And while the event won't be named after Ernie, his charitable foundations will become major beneficiaries of the event. According to
In addition to the SA Golf Development Board’s Chapter in Ekurhuleni, Els’ two charities, Els for Autism and the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, will become the beneficiary charities of the tournament.
According to the site, the tee times haven't been set yet (or at least they haven't been posted). But the event looks to have a pretty good number of the ET's "name" players, given how close to the holidays it is.

Yes, the tours are slowly starting to get back in action. It appears that GC will begin their coverage very early Thursday morning but there are three separate listings for 3am, 5:30am, and 7:30am and NONE of them tell which event they're covering. So I'm not sure if they're all for the South African Open or whether they're replaying some other ET events to fill time. I'm sure they'll make announcements as the week goes on.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Limerick Summary: Here We Go Again

Winner: ?

Around the wider world of golf: The pros weren't playing this past week... but I would like to note a couple of North Carolina happenings. On the good side, my Carolina Panthers made it through the first round of the NFL Playoffs and will play the defending champions, the Seattle Seahawks. (It's good news that they won. Facing the Hawks is NEVER a good thing.)

I also need to note the passing of ESPN anchor -- and North Carolina boy -- Stuart Scott, who died Sunday morning after his third bout with cancer. Stuart is generally recognized as having revolutionized sports reporting -- not just at ESPN, but for all the sport networks -- and was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance just last July. ESPN posted a long article about him at this link that includes the tribute done by ABC's Robin Roberts. He was only 49 but I can't even remember ESPN without him. I never met you but I'll miss you too, Stu.

The 18th tee at Kapalua

"And so it begins." That's actually a line from the science fiction TV show Babylon 5, spoken by the alien Kosh in the final first season episode, Chrysalis. It's a cryptic warning to Babylon 5's commander, Jeffrey Sinclair, that a war is coming.

Okay, perhaps that's a bit over-dramatic for the beginning of the 2015 part of the PGA Tour's wraparound season. Nevertheless, this is the week when it all begins in earnest -- the prep for the Majors, the race for the FedExCup, and the final qualifying for the Presidents Cup. This is the week when the storylines begin to play out -- Rory and Phil's pursuit of the career Grand Slam, Tiger's pursuit of Jack's 18 majors, and the public's pursuit of the Next Big Thing, whoever he may be.

It all begins at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Resort on the north shore of Maui in Hawaii. (Whew! That's a lot to say.) Zach Johnson comes in as defending champion, and he heads a field filled with most of the Tour's 2014 winners. We still won't see a number of the top players because they either didn't win on the PGA Tour last year or have simply opted to wait and make their debuts in the next month or so. But they all face the same problem...

How to regain the momentum they had last year -- you know, the form that got them to this event in the first place.

So as I said earlier, this is the week when it all begins in earnest. And it's in that spirit that I offer this generic little Limerick Summary that names no one in particular and really doesn't say much at all. After all, that's where we are right now...
Well, the Tour boys are back on the road!
Last year’s winners are up—they were owed
One on Maui’s north coast.
Who will win? Who’ll be toast?
We’ll soon learn whose momentum has slowed.
The photo came from the tournament qualifiers page at

Sunday, January 4, 2015

One Simple -- But Challenging -- Back Exercise

I have always been fairly flexible but I found this back exercise video at and the exercise was a bit of a challenge for me, primarily when I tried to do it to the left. (As a right-hander, that's my followthrough position.)

This is an exercise for the thoracic spine -- that's the middle part of your back -- and not only is it fairly simple, you only have to do one set of 12 reps on each side. Compared to most exercises, that really is simple! Here's the video:

Make sure you read the short article that accompanies the article. It not only gives you a good explanation of how this "T-spine exercise" can help you, but it also has some other potential moves that might help.

I'm going to try and incorporate this move into my own workouts this year. This seems to be a relatively easy way to improve flexibility... and while it challenged me, it didn't hurt. That's a big plus in my book. ;-)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Choosing Which Wood to Drive With

I have an older book called How to Break 90 (2001) by PGA teaching pros T.J. Tomasi and Mike Adams that -- surprise! -- focuses on how to get your score consistently below 90. They begin with the idea of personal par which simply means you focus on making bogey on each hole. As they point out, if you can bogey 17 holes you only need to par 1 hole to break 90.

One of their strategies involves choosing which wood to tee off with. Since the concept is simple, I thought I'd pass it on: You choose the wood you'll tee off with based on the length of the hole and the width of the fairway. Here's how that works out:
  • If the hole is over 400 yards and the fairway's wide, hit your driver.
  • If the hole is over 400 yards and the fairway's narrow, hit your 3-wood.
  • If the hole is 400 yards or less and the fairway's wide, hit your 3-wood.
  • If the hole is 400 yards or less and the fairway's narrow, hit your 5-wood.
  • If the hole is a Personal Par 6, base your wood choice solely on the width of the fairway. At this distance, length off the tee isn't really a factor so hit the wood you know you can put in the fairway.
Tomasi and Adams also recommend these guidelines:
  • If you have a 7-wood, you may prefer that to the 5-wood. And since some 7-woods have longer shafts -- Callaway's HeavenWood is such a club -- you may not see much difference in distance between the two.
  • Take your personal tendencies into account as well. If you have trouble hitting a 3-wood straight and the fairway's narrow, feel free to hit your 5-wood even if the hole's over 400 yards long.
  • They also say that, if you're trying to break 90, you shouldn't use long irons off the tee because you shouldn't even be carrying them. But this book was written back in 2001 and now we've got hybrids that some of you can hit pretty straight and pretty long, so I'd say you could probably consider those in place of the 5-wood.
Remember: Part of the key to breaking 90 is playing from the short grass instead of the trees. Choose your "driver" with that in mind and you'll probably cut several strokes from your score without any other change. Wouldn't that be a nice way to start 2015?

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Skinny on Callaway's New Miracle Ball

No doubt you've already seen the commercial with Phil Mickelson hawking Callaway's new supersoft golf ball that's due out on January 16. ran an article about it -- with a couple of videos -- a couple of weeks back but I just found it. And after reading it I decided it was worth doing a post about, since trying this ball could change your game in ways you don't anticipate.

First let me give you the basics. The ball is called the Chrome Soft and it's a 3-piece urethane covered ball -- available in white and yellow -- that's supposed to let amateur players feel the same sort of compression that a Tour player gets. (Translation: Since Tour players swing faster, they can compress -- or distort the shape of -- the ball more than a weekend player. That lets them impart more force to the ball, thus creating higher ball speeds which result in more distance while still creating spin.) It does this by being supersoft -- only 65 compression as compared to the 85-and-higher compression balls we've traditionally used.

The reason this is a big deal is that, at least in the past, supersoft balls went supershort distances. Just about every weekend player is familiar with this -- softer balls spin a lot more which creates a lot more lift and thus the ball flies a shorter distance, kind of like a pop-up in baseball. If you wanted more distance, you went for the harder balls that flew really long but didn't spin much at all... which meant you couldn't make the ball spin enough to stop unless the green was made of quicksand.

Callaway claims that the Chrome Soft is supersoft BUT DOESN'T SPIN AS MUCH as most soft golf balls. This will supposedly allow you to hit the ball farther with all of your clubs -- not just the driver -- but still give you enough spin to stop the ball around the green. And they say they were shocked to learn that Tour pros also gained an advantage.

Here's a 10-minute video Callaway made explaining the basics:

Something that jumped out at me when I watched the video -- but that the Callaway guys didn't expound upon -- is mentioned right around the 7:00 minute mark. Both men say that, after playing the new Chrome Soft for a while and getting used to it, it's very hard to go back to the "old balls" because they feel like rocks. Yes, I realize there's possibly some hyperbole there... but how much? Harry Arnett (the interviewer) sounds very matter-of-fact when he says it.

While I don't think that's a reason not to try the new ball, I have to wonder what happens if the ball doesn't gain enough market share to stay on the market. It's not unusual for revolutionary technology to stumble in the marketplace initially, even with the starpower of a player like Phil behind it. I'll be interested to see how the Chrome Soft does when it's released. says the Chrome Soft will retail for $37.99/dozen if you're anxious to try them. And if you're not an early adopter... well, Kevin Hart's new movie The Wedding Ringer will also be released on January 16. Isn't it nice to have options? ;-)

Thursday, January 1, 2015