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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Martin Hall on Drawing and Fading Wedges

I heard this on School of Golf Wednesday night and it was so informative that I wanted to pass it on.

Martin Hall said that only a lefty could hit the hooked wedge shot that won Bubba Watson the 2012 Masters. (Bear in mind that the shot would have been a slice for a righthander.) And in the explanation he gave a tip for fading a wedge shot.

Bubba hitting hooked wedge in 2012 Masters

Since I want to write this for both lefties and righties, let me define hooks and slices this way:
  • A hook is a shot that curves around you.
  • A slice is a shot that curves away from you.
Simply put, when you hook a wedge you close the clubface (also called 'hooding' the clubface) and the ball comes off the wedge at a low angle.The more you close it down, the lower the angle.

But when you try to slice the wedge, you open the clubface and it sends the ball almost straight up in the air. And the more you open the face, the straighter up the ball goes. It creates plenty of sidespin but no curve.

In other words, you can't aim the face far enough away from you to create a curved ball flight. Martin demonstrated with a rod attached to the face to show where it was aimed. It makes perfect sense if you think about it... but it also raises a question:
How do you make a wedge shot curve away from you when you need to?
Martin's solution was simple but it's probably not your first instinct. If you need to make a slice shape to your shot, take a longer club -- Martin suggests a 7- or 6-iron -- move the ball slightly back in your stance and make a shorter swing. This brings the ball's flight angle down low enough to mimic that of a hooked wedge, and then you can get the ball to slice.

So here's the rule of thumb: Hook a full wedge but slice a chipped 7-iron. Very simple to remember and to do, but probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you're stymied behind that tree.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Bird's-Eye View of Augusta National

Most of us have seen the Masters so often that we're pretty familiar with the layout of each hole. However, it's easy to miss some of the simpler strategic aspects if you only have the various TV angles to go by.

Golf Digest has been kind enough to do a slideshow featuring an overhead view of each and every hole at Augusta National, complete with a brief description of what makes each hole a challenge. For example, here's the photo of Hole #1:

#1 at Augusta National

Unfortunately they didn't include the names of each hole. (The first hole is called Tea Olive, btw.) If you want those, you'll need to check out either the Augusta National listing at Wikipedia or the Augusta Names page at

Hopefully this will help you enjoy the Masters even more this year. If that's even possible.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the ANA Inspiration

Major season is finally here! The LPGA strikes first with the ANA Inspiration (formerly the Kraft Nabisco, and formerly formerly the Dinah Shore) at the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club.

The Dinah Shore statue at the 18th green

Picking my "5 to Watch" for this event -- as it will be for the Masters next week -- is difficult, simply because so many players are in good form. One player who won't make my list, despite playing well, is Lydia Ko. For some inexplicable reason Lydia struggles in the desert, and I haven't seen anything to convince me she won't struggle this time. (Bear in mind that Lydia is generally playing well when she reaches this event, but it never seems to matter.) If she plays well it won't surprise me, but I simply can't pick her as a favorite.

Likewise I have to skip Stacy Lewis, whose game is in pretty good shape but who I fear is still struggling with her mental game. I think she wants it too bad right now and just keeps getting in her own way. A major is rarely the place to overcome that kind of problem. (I would be pleasantly surprised if she proves me wrong, however.)

With those caveats in mind, I offer my list of the five players most likely to hoist the ANA trophy on Sunday.
  • Inbee Park is a past winner of this event (2013) and seems to have finally gotten past her back problems. And with her runner-up finish to Lydia at the Kia Classic this past weekend, it looks like she's knocked the rust off her game and is ready to make a run at Major #8.
  • Lexi Thompson is also a past champion (2014) and she won the Honda LPGA Thailand earlier this year. While Lexi's putting can be streaky, she's gotten much better in the last year at getting streaky more often. Mission Hills suits her game, so this is as good a time to get streaky as any.
  • HaNa Jang has only played this event twice, but she improved last year from T55 to T41. Yeah, I know -- that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of her chances. But HaNa is a much improved player this year, with two victories already under her belt this season. If Inbee can conquer this track, I know HaNa can.
  • Sei Young Kim also has a win this year, to go with the three wins from her rookie season in 2015. Like Lexi, Sei Young has the power game to handle this track, as evidenced by her T4 finish last year.
  • And my flier pick is Catriona Matthew. Her 2016 season has been anything but impressive so far, but she has a pretty good record at the ANA over the last few seasons. I see no reason why she shouldn't find her game at Dinah's Place.
I think most of these are pretty safe bets to do well, but I don't apologize for that. What can I say? My success at the Match Play this past week spoiled me, and I want to do it again.

Of my choices, Jang and Kim are in search of their first majors, Lexi and Catriona their second. And as Lydia put it, Inbee is going to do her "Inbee thing" and probably be there near the end. So let's face it -- these five would make for a pretty exciting final round, don't you think?

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 WGC-Dell Match Play

Winner: Jason Day

Around the wider world of golf: Lydia Ko won the Kia Classic on the LPGA; Tony Finau won the Puerto Rico Open, the PGA Tour's alternate field event: and Ha-Neul Kim won the AXA Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Jason and family with trophy

So my pick to win the WGC-Dell Match Play (Louis Oosthuizen) didn't win. I still take some solace in the knowledge that the two Final Four picks I got right both made it all the way to the Championship match. That's a first for me.

Of course, the Championship match wasn't a first for Jason Day. He won the thing back in 2014. But it certainly appears that we're seeing a much different Jason Day than the one who won that event.

The various TV announcers talked about the mental toughness it takes to keep your mind on the game for seven rounds in five days, and David Feherty said that Jason had been working specifically on that. It showed, as all three of the other competitors seemed to struggle on Sunday. Louis said as much, said that it even happened to him briefly during both of Saturday's rounds. It's the most logical explanation for Rafael Cabrera-Bello's meltdown during the semifinals Sunday morning. And how else can you explain Rory losing to Rafa during the Consolation match?

Everybody can take something out of this tournament. Louis saw his game in better shape than it's been in a long time. Rafa got a ticket to the Masters. Even Rory had to notice that he had fewer big numbers this week than we've seen lately.

And Jason? He regained the OWGR #1 spot from Jordan and will likely still be #1 entering the Masters, even if Jordan wins this week. He went two in a row, like Adam Scott, and both of his wins are BIG titles. And how can he not be the favorite to win his second major in a row? Maybe he has a chronic back problem, but Jason and little Dash may be dancing on the 18th at Augusta two Sundays from now.

In the meantime, perhaps he can convince his back to do a little shimmy in celebration of his second Limerick Summary of 2016!
His seven-match journey is done.
Now Jason’s once more Number One
And off to Augusta
Where most think he’ll bust a
Few moves in a two-major run.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 27, 2016

So My Choice Is...

Well, I've found myself in the unusual situation of having a choice about the winner of the WGC-Dell Match Play after Zach Johnson fell to Rory McIlroy in the round of 16. Zach did a good job, taking World #3 all the way to the 18th, but Rory managed to hold on.

So I still have to choose between Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen as my pick to win the whole thing. Who, oh who should I choose?

Louis Oosthuizen on Saturday

This isn't an easy choice for me. The Final Four are all strong contenders. Jason plays Rory, and that's anybody's guess since both seem to be on their games. Rory has tended to start slowly and gain momentum throughout the match while Jason starts fast out of the gate.

In the other match, Louis takes on Rafael Cabrera-Bello -- who, if you haven't watched much of the European Tour on GC, is a really good player. In my opinion he should have won more than he has, but he tends to be a bit of a gambler. That costs him in stroke play but should stand him in good stead during today's final rounds. On the other hand, Louis is a steady player who doesn't make many mistakes.

Choosing between Jason and Louis is a challenge. Jason's back hasn't held him back so far but that doesn't mean it won't affect him today. That's offset somewhat by Jason regaining the World #1 ranking with his win against Brooks Koepka Saturday afternoon, so he's surely anxious to prove he earned it.

Louis comes out on the short end compared to Jason, especially in terms of PGA Tour wins -- Louis has none in the last few years while Jason has five in the last few months (one a major) and he won this event in 2014. But as I said earlier this week, I think Louis is way overdue and his European Tour win in Australia just a month ago is a sign that he's in form.

So I'm going with King Louis to take it all. We'll see if I'm right later today but in any case, we should have a really good final today.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Three Out of Four Ain't Bad

After three days of pool play at the WGC-Dell Match Play, my picks haven't done too badly.

The Walter Hagen Cup

As you may recall, earlier in the week I picked my own "Final Four" to make it to Sunday. And while we've only made it to the "Sweet Sixteen" -- for those of you unfamiliar with NCAA college basketball playoffs (aka "March Madness"), those are how the brackets are designated -- I've done much better than normal.

Three of my picks -- Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Day and Zach Johnson -- breezed through their pools, each sweeping all three of his matches on his way to today's Sweet Sixteen. Only Lee Westwood failed to make it, finishing 1-2-0 -- but then again, Lee was my flier pick so his chances were pretty long to start with unless he found his Ryder Cup form.

While I'm excited to have three picks make it this far, they're a long way from safe:
  • Jason Day's back is still an issue, and he may have been bailed out when Casey conceded after only six holes. (You may recall that Casey was my flier last year and nearly made it, only to fall sick on Saturday. The Match Play doesn't bode well for Casey's health, apparently.)
  • Zach Johnson drew Rory McIlroy for today's first match, which could be really bad if Rory starts hitting fairways and greens.
  • And Louis Oosthuizen drew Jordan Spieth first today, who seems to have figured out the swing problems he's had the last few weeks.
Still, I find myself facing a possibly pleasant predicament: I don't think my picks have ever done this well this deep into the matches, and I may have to single out one of them at the end of today as my choice to win! I may have had two make it to the Final Four before, but it's rare I even get one pick there. My best finish so far was in 2014, when Victor Dubuisson finished runner-up to Jason Day.

Can I do better this year? That remains to be seen. But for the first time, my odds are looking pretty good to have a winner among my picks.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Lee Trevino's Tips for Senior Golfers

Here's a short clip with Lee Trevino giving tips for senior golfers. It's humorous but it has some good ideas to consider if you're trying to get distance.

Even if you're not particularly senior.

Here are the four tips he gives:
  • Weaken your trailing hand grip a little -- that is, turn your trailing hand a bit more on top of the handle. When your trailing hand is too strong, you tend to lean away from the target during the downswing and leave the face open, so this helps you square the clubface a bit more easily; I know it works for me. NOTE: It's important that you leave your lead hand a bit strong on the handle to make this work. Don't weaken your lead hand!
  • Slow down your backswing. The faster you try to take the club back, the shorter your backswing will be. Lee recommends using a three-count to time your backswing before starting down, to give yourself enough time to finish your backswing.
  • Flex your knees. Too many seniors straighten their knees at address, which makes it harder to turn your shoulders and hips during the backswing.
  • Don't just lift your arms. This is actually related to the third tip, since part of the reason you lift is because you didn't turn. In a lot of ways, this is a poorly-done one-piece takeaway since your arms tend to be ramrod straight and the clubface is pointing down at the ground. When your takeaway is done properly, the toe of the club should point to the sky. Lee says this error causes you to re-route the club at the top, which puts the club shaft in a position from which you can't square the clubface at impact.
I think these tips are useful even if you aren't a senior. Players have a tendency to tense up at address, which makes their swings stiff and jerky. Lee's tips should help you keep your muscles more relaxed during your swing, and relaxed muscles can move faster so you get more distance.

Since these are simple tips for address and takeaway -- the two slowest and easiest parts of the swing to control -- they're worth trying if you're looking for more yards, no matter how old (or young) you are.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Golf Digest's New Golf Ball Hot List

Today I'm just passing on a link to the new Golf Ball Hot List from Golf Digest. Let's face it, choosing a golf ball has become far more difficult than choosing clubs, simply because we can understand things like perimeter weighting, how it looks and how it works. Not so with balls -- they all just look round and dimply. (And occasionally a different color, but that doesn't affect how they fly. Or at least I don't think so...)

Stylized drawing of the insides of a golf ball

Golf Digest broke the balls into three categories:
  • over $35
  • $26 to $35
  • under $26
and ranked them with 1 to 5 stars for a number of different characteristics within each category. (Half stars indicate the ball is near the top of that ranking.) As a general rule, the more expensive balls rank higher because they have more technology in them. Each ball is shown in cross-section (so you can see what it looks like inside) with a brief explanation of how the construction affects the ball's performance.

I admit that I had no idea the balls looked so different inside, given that each of them is basically just layers of high-tech material wrapped around a core. If you're looking for a new ball, be sure to check this guide out. It may save you a lot of experimentation.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My "4 to Watch" at the WGC-Dell Match Play

For those of you not familiar with this, I typically do a "5 to Watch" post for big PGA Tour events during the year, where I pick five players I think will do really well and -- if I'm particularly psychic that week -- one of which will win. I forgot to do one for the WGC-Cadillac, which is probably a good thing because my picks wouldn't have been anywhere close to decent.

The Walter Hagen Cup

But for the Match Play I generally just pick a "Final Four," the players I expect to come out of the four main groups in the bracket. I used to pick the whole bracket but it's too frustrating to have your bracket busted in the first round. (And no, I don't do March Madness brackets either. College basketball is always too unpredictable for my tastes.) Then, if I'm lucky enough for one of them to make it through, that player becomes my choice to win the whole thing.

Since this year we don't have official names for those four main groups, I'll just call them by the #1 seed in each group. As for my criteria for picking winners, since Austin Country Club is a completely new venue, I'm basing my picks on one thing -- I'm under the impression that this course is set up to play somewhat like Augusta National but with tighter fairways.
  • In the Jordan Spieth bracket, which I think is probably the toughest overall, I debated over a number of great players like Phil Mickelson, Jamie Donaldson, Andy Sullivan, Patrick Reed... you get the picture. But I finally settled on Louis Oosthuizen, who I think has been playing really well for over a year now but is only recently seeing the results. If you think he's an upset pick, that's fine with me since this is match play and we see upsets a lot.
  • In the Jason Day bracket I really wanted to pick Danny Willett, and I still think he may be the one who comes out of this bracket. But I'm going chalk and taking Jason Day, simply because he proved last week (to me, anyway) that he can win without his best stuff. And if this course really does play fast like Augusta, where he has a great record, and if it's tight like Whistling Straits was... well, you can see how I settled on Jason.
  • In the Rory McIlroy bracket, I'm torn between Zach Johnson and Branden Grace because I think this course actually gives both of them an advantage over the field, as it appears the course will play under 7200 yards. But I'm going with Zach Johnson because he plays well at Augusta and he's also extremely accurate, which should work well on this tight track.
  • And in the Bubba Watson bracket, I think it will come down to Lee Westwood or Sergio Garcia, since both are in the same pool and at least one will be knocked out by Friday evening. I'm taking a bit of a flier here and going for Lee Westwood, although he hasn't been playing as well lately. These two play each other in the very first match, so we should get some idea how they're going to do pretty quickly. (I'm aware that neither has a particularly good record in this event, but since this is a new venue...)
So there you have my admittedly unscientific picks -- Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Day, Zach Johnson and Lee Westwood. The WGC-Dell Match Play gets underway on GC at 11am ET TODAY, so don't forget to tune in!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

More on Wrist Cock and Swing Plane

In some ways I suppose this post could be called The Bent Trailing Elbow Drill, Part 9 since it adds some thoughts to that series. But this is some general info that can help all of you, no matter what your swing looks like.

This post is about how your swing plane can affect how your wrists cock and uncock during your downswing. How you think about your swing has a lot to do with your mechanics and how well -- or how badly -- you manage to keep your swing working.

I spent a fair amount of time talking about wrist cock in the elbow posts. I divided wrist cock into two parts:
  • The first was sidecock, the wrist movement you use if you make a karate chop with the side of your hand.
  • The other I dubbed backcock, where the back of your hand hinges toward your forearm.
I also talked some about downcock, a term most instructors use to describe wrist cock that happens during the downswing, after the change of direction. I said that we tend to think of it only in terms of sidecock, but backcock is actually a very important part of the action. Because of that, the place of sidecock in a swing is a bit difficult for most weekend players to get a handle on.

One of the reasons sidecock is a challenge has to do with your swing plane. Most of you know that your swing plane can be either flat or upright -- Dufner has a flattish swing while Bubba's is wildly upright, for example. If you're somewhere in the middle, teachers will often refer to that swing as a neutral swing.

But the part of your swing from around waist high down to the ball -- the impact zone -- acts pretty much the same no matter what your plane looks like. And that probably needs some explanation.

Here's the picture of HaNa Jang that I used in a lot of the elbow posts, showing her as she enters the impact zone:

HaNa Jang enters the impact zone

At this point, your wrist cock is mostly backcock. Backcock is the easiest way to chip, which is the way Pete Cowen, one of the top instructors on the planet, teaches chipping. This post included a video where he demonstrates the technique. And as you swing back to the position where HaNa Jang is in the photo, you bend your trailing elbow and that brings your backcocked wrist up into the position she's in.

Is that clear so far? No matter how flat or upright your plane is, at impact you're still swinging the club out away from your body as you turn and shift your weight to your lead foot, so you get the same basic rotary motion regardless of your swing plane. The distance your club travels in the impact zone is pretty much the same for an upright or a flat plane.

However, it's different with the upper part of your downswing, depending on how flat or upright your swing plane is.
  • In a flat swing, the down part is roughly the same as the around part. That is, you travel downward very close to the same amount you're moving toward the ball in a flat swing. Because of that, backcock is responsible for a lot more in a flat swing. A good example of this is a two-handed tennis forehand, where it's all backcock and there's no sidecock at all, simply because your arms travel parallel to the ground throughout the stroke. 
  • But an upright swing travels more down than around. Because of that, you create a lot more sidecock in the upper part of your swing. The backcock becomes most pronounced as you near the impact zone, simply because the momentum of the clubhead tries to stay on the plane as you come down. You try to turn, the momentum resists, and your trailing wrist bends backward more as your body turns to face the ball. Otherwise the club would ALWAYS come over-the-top on the way down.
My point here is that sidecock plays a much bigger part in an upright swing than in a flat swing. This may be why many instructors believe an upright swing creates more power than a flat swing, but it's also why it's harder to square the clubface with an upright swing than a flat swing. The flat swing primarily uses backcock so there's very little rotation involved when you square the face. But in the upright swing, it feels like you need to twist your wrists in order to square the face.

In the elbow series I focused on a flatter plane swing -- which most modern instruction also teaches, so most of you are probably more familiar with it -- because the swing is simpler to understand. I have an upright swing so, although I use a lot of backcock in the swing, I use a lot of sidecock as well. But my understanding of my swing -- my swing image, if you will -- uses lead shoulder rotation (which I talked about in the first few elbow posts) to smooth out the transition from mostly sidecock to mostly backcock during the downswing. That's a lot more difficult to explain in blog posts although the drills would help you create the move, even if you didn't understand it.

The purpose of this post is much simpler. I just want you to understand that, if you have an upright swing and you're having trouble getting backcock early in your downswing, there's nothing wrong with you. But you should be able to use backcock in the impact zone with little or no trouble. If you're having a problem there, it's just a matter of understanding how your hands and wrists work during impact, and working with the drills in the elbow series will help you develop that understanding by "digging it out of the dirt", as Hogan would say.

I hope that clears up any problems you might have. As usual, you can post questions in the comment section and I'll try to answer them.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational

Winner: Jason Day

Around the wider world of golf: Sei Young Kim won the JTBC Founders Cup on the LPGA; S.S.P. Chawrasia won the Hero Indian Open on the ET/Asian Tour; Woody Austin won the Tucson Conquistadores Classic on the Champions Tour; Wesley Bryan won the Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Tour; Derek Rende won the Lexus Panama Classicon the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Kaori Ohe won the T-Point Ladies Golf Tournament on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Jason Day with API trophy

Tiger told him that he had to be both patient and aggressive to win at Arnie's Place, and that if he didn't have his best stuff he'd just have to find a way to get it done.

Jason Day listened. He had played well most of the week but found his game was a bit off on Sunday. He didn't let it stop him, however. Jason just managed his way around the course and scrambled well when he got in trouble.

Then, when it counted down the stretch, he went par-birdie-par on the last three holes to win by a stroke. His closest competitors all stumbled:
  • Henrik Stenson doubled the 16th.
  • Kevin Chappell bogeyed the 18th.
  • Troy Merritt doubled the 18th.
Jason's unlikely birdie at 17 gave him the lead outright, and an equally unlikely scramble for par at 18 locked up his first API victory.

He had found his way.

In an interview with GC late Sunday night, Jason talked about how lucky he was to be friends with his boyhood idol and how he had been picking Tiger's brain for every bit of help he could get. He talked about gearing his workouts and diet to prevent injuries, and about keeping journals of every shot he hit in practice.

In other words, Jason Day intends to retake the Number One spot on the OWGR. And he will be second when the new rankings hit today, perhaps less than .3 points behind Spieth.

Jason Day is back on the list of "players most likely to win the Masters" now. He's also back on the list of "players receiving the most Limerick Summaries in the last year":
With Tiger’s advice in his ear,
The Aussie made one thing quite clear:
His skills aren’t diminished.
Day’s birdie-par finish
Showed he wants a major this year.
The photo came from the tournament upshot page at

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Brandel Chamblee and the Holy Grail

Anatomy of Greatness coverI couldn't resist that title -- especially since I can blame Golf Magazine for it!

Brandel Chamblee has a new book out called The Anatomy of Greatness, which looks at the things all the great players of the game have had in common. And Golf Magazine has done an article, with a video interview that's pretty interesting, at this link, and it focuses on the one thing that Chamblee believes most weekend players need to know to improve their golf games.
BTW, in the video Chamblee refers to a now out-of-print book called The Methods of Golf's Masters. If you happen to be interested in finding a copy, I've read the book before and you should know that there are two different editions. The original stops with players of the 1960s; Brandel mentions the second edition, which includes Seve and Greg Norman, among others. Make sure you get the one you really want!
I haven't read Chamblee's book but I like a lot of what he says in the interview. His 'Holy Grail' is lifting your lead foot and letting your lead knee move behind the ball during your backswing, which goes against the 'restrict your lower body' advice that is generally given to players today.

Chamblee blames this on Ravielli's drawings in Hogan's book Five Lessons, and he says Ravielli misinterpreted Hogan's words -- that Hogan actually did lift his lead heel. In reality, it's a bit more complex than that. Here is what Hogan says in the text of the book, from pages 74 and 75 in my paperback edition:
THE LEGS. When the hips enter the swing, as they are turned they pull the left leg in. The left knee breaks in to the right, the left foot rolls in to the right on the inside part of the sole, and what weight there is on the left leg rides on the inside ball of the foot. LET ME CAUTION YOU AGAINST LIFTING THE LEFT HEEL TOO HIGH OFF THE GROUND ON THE BACKSWING. IF THE HEEL STAYS ON THE GROUND -- FINE. IF IT COMES UP AN INCH OFF THE GROUND -- FINE. No higher that that, though -- it will only lead to faulty balance and other undesirable complications.

The body and the legs move the feet. LET THEM MOVE THE FEET. As regards the left heel, how much the left knee breaks in on the backswing determines how much the heel comes up. I never worry about the left heel. Whether it comes off the ground a half inch or a quarter of an inch or remains on the ground as a result of my body and leg action on the backswing -- this is of no importance at all. I pay no attention to it.
"This [lifting the lead heel] is of no importance at all." Hogan can't disagree with Chamblee much more than that! To keep his foot that close to the ground, he has to restrict his hips during the backswing. Hogan HAS been treated like a god -- that's Chamblee's description, but I've used it myself at times (I maintain that no one player is right about everything, not even Hogan) -- and Ravielli's drawings accurately depict Hogan's lead heel barely leaving the ground.

I found Chamblee's remarks about the Long Drive champs particularly interesting -- namely, that if restricting your lower body led to longer drives, they'd all do it. But they don't! (I should note that some of the longer hitters on Tour do keep their lead heels on the ground, but none of them routinely hit the ball over 400 yards. Yet many of them also struggle with back problems, which the Long Drive champs rarely do.)

It looks like I may have to pick up a copy of his book just to see what else is in it. I don't always agree with Brandel, but this book -- controversial as it will likely be -- may be just the thing the golf community needs.

The book cover photo came from

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cheyenne Woods on Mastering Your Swing

I believe this is the first time I've had a tip from Cheyenne, and this is an extremely good one. You can read the entire article at this Golf Digest link, but I'll add a few extra thoughts.

Cheyenne Woods

Basically, Cheyenne's tip boils down to this: You can dramatically improve your game by focusing on just one club. In her case, it's the wedge. No, she doesn't say which one... and that's what I want to focus on.

Many of the great players in our game have learned to play with just one club. Seve learned with a 3-iron, and stories of him hitting greenside bunker shots with one have become legend. Judy Rankin recommended beginning your golf education with an 8-iron in an instruction book she wrote. And I remember reading a magazine article where Chi-Chi Rodriguez talked about the things you could learn by playing a full round of golf using only a 4-iron.

What makes a single club such a valuable learning tool?
  • Using one club makes it easier to learn consistent contact because you don't have to keep adjusting for different shaft lengths. (You can learn that after you can hit one club reasonably well.) Cheyenne mentions this in her article.
  • To hit shots of different lengths, you have to learn how to match up swing length with shot length. You won't be hitting every shot with a full swing!
  • Tagging on to the last one, Cheyenne mentions that hitting many less-than-full shots will help your weight shift. If you aren't trying to kill the ball, which makes you tight, it will translate to a more fluid motion.
  • Like Seve, you'll learn to manipulate the loft of the club to create different trajectories for different shots. Chi-Chi specifically mentioned learning to control distance by learning to draw and fade a single club.
  • In general, it will just force you to think creatively when you play. You'll have to think about shots when you can't just pull another club from the bag.
Just spending some time on the range, hitting a single club to a variety of different flags, using different shot shapes and trajectories, and then doing some chipping and putting with the same club, can help you become more confident of your ability to work your way around the golf course.

It's a simple tip that can be fun as well. Try a 9-hole match with only one club, letting each player choose the club they want to use. That can really liven up a game... and make for some interesting betting!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Se Ri Pak Says 2016 Is Her Last Full Season

After her round at the JTBC Founders Cup on Thursday, Se Ri Pak told GC that 2016 would be her last full season on tour. The retrospective articles have already begun... and they're all well-deserved.

Se Ri Pak

I still remember watching a very young Se Ri win the 1998 US Women’s Open over Jenny Chuasiriporn in a playoff. (Yeah, she won the 1998 McDonald’s LPGA Championship-- now the Women's PGA -- earlier that year, but the US Open is the one that stuck with me.) Her two majors set off the avalanche of Korean -- and other Asian -- players that are such a dominant force on the women's tours today.

Se Ri wasn't just a great player, she was fun to watch. She added some spice to the brewing rivalry between Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb, to create an international Big3 on the LPGA. The Korean-Swedish-Australian trio was something new in women's golf, and after years of American domination they brought in a whole new worldwide audience.

I hope that since Se Ri said 2016 would be her last full season, we'll still get to see her play in a few events going forward. She says she plans to focus on helping young Koreans get ready to play the tours, and that shouldn't be too hard for her.

After all, if there's a Big3 of the modern game, you can make an argument that it's Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros and Se Ri Pak. (If we went for a Mount Rushmore of Golf, Tiger would probably take the fourth spot.) Their influence goes so far beyond records that they're in a class by themselves.

Here are links to just three of the posts that have been done about Se Ri's retirement so far:
There are -- and will be -- many more, but these will get you started.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spieth's New This Is SportsCenter Commercial

ESPN does a lot of funny SportsCenter ads featuring athletes from a number of sports, including golfers. You may have seen it already -- I think just about every golf blog on the planet is posting it -- but if you haven't, here's Michael Greller helping Jordan pick the proper utensil for eating mac & cheese:

However, I don't know if anybody posted the short version, with Spieth's successful bite, and since I wouldn't want you to miss anything:

While some of the other websites have mentioned Bubba's commercial with the Stanford Tree, nobody mentioned the much more entertaining "shot off a keyboard from a swivel chair", which I think is way cooler:

And in case you've missed the legendary spot with Arnold Palmer making the perfect Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade), let's remedy that as well:

ESPN really gets it when it comes to commercials. Never boring. And now we know Spieth has truly made it in the wider world of sports, because he's got his own SportsCenter spot.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pitching with a Restricted Backswing

Golf Magazine has a really neat tip in the April issue but I have been unable to find it on the website. Therefore I have no link for you. You'll just have to settle for my version of it.

Here's a picture of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky from his page at Wikipedia. See that split grip he uses on his hockey stick? (You righthanders just reverse the hands.) This is the key to this tip.

Wayne Gretzky

Let's say you've hit your ball into some trouble and you have a restricted backswing. Maybe a tree branch is in the way, or some other form of vegetation, or an immovable obstruction like an OB fence. The best you can do with your regular stroke is knock the ball a few feet... and that's not enough.

Try this hockey-style split grip. Obviously you won't split your hands as wide as Wayne holds his hockey stick, but you can split them to the ends of the grip. You open your stance and move the ball back to the middle of your stance, and your shoulders will be tilted much more than normal because your trailing hand is lower on the club. Then you just cock your wrists quickly and make a "slap shot" with your club.

This will take a bit of practice, but you just focus on really using your trailing hand while your lead hand keeps the club steady or even moves slightly backward. You can create a lot of speed this way, which will help you get more distance from that restricted backswing.

One caveat: Golf Magazine says you don't want to use this tip on a full swing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Search for the Perfect Swing

Jean Luc left a comment on Sunday's post (about the baseball drill) where he mentioned a problem that many of you have -- namely, that you have spent a lot of time trying different swing methods and now find yourself confused. I wrote him an extended reply, most of which I'm going to repeat in this post (with some extra thoughts) because I know many of you are in the same boat.

Perhaps it will help some of you find peace with your swing.

I learned the basics of the game over 25 years ago from Master Teaching Pro Carl Rabito. (There's a link to his site in the sidebar, if you're interested.) And around a decade later I also spent time trying a lot of different swings, just to test what he had taught me and make sure it was the best way for me. It didn't harm me at all -- in fact, I now have a better grasp of what will and won't work for me, so I don't waste time now practicing tips that won't help me.

Your time trying different swings should have taught you that, for the most part, every swing has a handful of things in common. My absolute basic list of fundamentals has 3:

  • a one-piece takeaway, because an inside takeaway generally leads to an over-the-top swing;
  • you reach the highest point of your swing before you start your downswing (over-the-top swings are generally still moving upward when the downswing starts); and
  • your trailing elbow stays bent from the top of your backswing until your hands are around waist high, because you lose power if it doesn't.
Occasionally you find an exception to my first basic; Bobby Jones is an excellent but rare example. (It causes him to violate my second basic as well. It works for him, but I've never even been able to duplicate the move!) However, these basics will pretty much guarantee you'll come into the impact zone in good position to hit the ball solidly and with control.

The way you work your hands to aim the shot can vary -- some will work for you, and some won't -- but you'll still be close if you can do those three things.

And there are other things you can do that will improve your ability to hit the ball farther or straighter
-- some will work for you, and some won't -- but you'll still be close if you can do those three things.

You will sometimes read things on this blog that seem to fly in the face of my own fundamentals. That's because everybody's body is different and sometimes I get questions from players who clearly have a need for a different approach. For example, if you have an unusual arm motion that you've had since you were a child, often it's better to incorporate that 'quirk' instead of trying to change it.

Sometimes your physical make-up dictates a different move in different swing methods. Take me, for example. If I try to make a Hogan-style swing, my trailing elbow points down toward the ground at the top of my backswing. But if I try a more classic swing, like Harry Vardon, that elbow has to fly. I have learned, purely from experimentation, that if I switch those elbow movements, I'll push the ball badly. That's because each swing makes my body move differently and that affects what my elbow has to do if I'm going to stay 'on plane'.

My advice is to pick the swing you tried that feels best to you, that's easiest for you to repeat without pain. There's almost always a way to 'tweak' a comfortable swing so it works better. And that's really all you want to do -- find a swing that works and make minor adjustments that fit your physical abilities. Use the things you learned from your experimentation to help you understand how your body should move to give you the most control over your ball flight. None of that 'play time' was wasted.

In the end, there's no perfect swing. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses; each method was originally developed to solve a different swing problem; and the key to success is realizing that no swing can do everything. The legends are the guys who accepted the limitations of their swings and simply learned how to get the most out of them... and sometimes that has more to do with strategy than with technique.

Remember: As long as you can predict -- with some degree of accuracy -- where your ball is going to land when you hit it, you can learn to plot your way around the course and post a score. It doesn't matter whether that swing is pretty or not, or whether you can hit any shot shape you want. As long as you can say, "I want my ball to land somewhere around THERE" and then get it close to that spot, you can play this game... and play it well.

And learning to control your shots isn't all that difficult once you realize that you don't need a perfect swing to play this game. That's what I try to do with this blog -- help players find a swing they can score with. And that's not beyond any of you, as long as you aren't obsessed with becoming the next Jack or Tiger. That kind of pressure even gets to our new Big4 on occasion!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 Valspar Championship

Winner: Charl Schwartzel

Around the wider world of golf: Jung-Min Lee won the World Ladies Championship, as well as the team portion of the event with Jin-Young Ko, on the LET/KLPGA; and Scott Hend won the True Thailand Open on the ET.

Charl Schwartzel celebrates his victory

'Snakebit' is an overused term at the Valspar Championship, especially in regard to the Snake Pit (holes 16-18), but most players would agree it's an appropriate one. The two players most folks thought would battle it out for the title -- Bill Haas and Graham DeLaet -- both felt its fangs in Sunday's final round. Most of the other players with high finishes managed to get through the Pit in even par. Nobody seemed able to figure out the newly reseeded (and therefore much slower) greens.

Except Charl Schwartzel, that is. He squirmed through the Snake Pit at 1-under, finishing the round with an amazing 4-under 67 in tough windy conditions, then parred 18 to beat Haas in a single-hole playoff.

Charl has been all but forgotten on the PGA Tour since winning the 2011 Masters in dominating style, with four birdies on the final four holes. He continued to win an occasional event around the world but couldn't get back in the PGA winner's circle.

Until Sunday. And it couldn't have come at a better time, with Augusta right around the corner once again.

In the last four months Charl has won the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Tshwane Open on the ET, and now he adds the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour. Three worldwide wins? That's enough to put him back on my RGWR radar and, for this week at least, knock Jason Day out and take over the fifth spot. That could change with a good Day next week, but this is this week. And who knows? Maybe Charl has turned a corner and is about to regain his past form.

At any rate, Charl merits his first Limerick Summary since that 2011 Masters win, to go along with his nearly $1.1mil payday:
The new greens made putts roll so slow…
But Charl snaked some in, just for show!
When none could shoot lower
Than his 4-under score,
A playoff won Charl all the dough.
The photo came from the tournament upshot page at

Sunday, March 13, 2016

David Leadbetter's Baseball Drill

I bet many of you have seen the video of Lydia Ko trying to hit baseballs while her coach David Leadbetter watched. (Note that I said she was trying to hit baseballs. Even Lydia Ko can't do everything.) Leadbetter has recommended a baseball swing drill for years as a way to learn how a golf swing should feel.

Here's one of the videos he did that demonstrates that drill. With a club, not a bat.

The concept is pretty simple. Using a 5- or 6-iron, you make baseball swings that are level to the ground, just as if you were using a bat. You gradually 'tilt the plane' until you can actually hit balls, which he recommends teeing up to make it easier.

The reason I'm posting this is because of the 8-part Bent Trailing Elbow Drill series I finished last week. I want you to watch how his trailing elbow works during the drill, and how little that changes as the clubhead gets lower to the ground. (As the clubhead gets lower, his elbow moves farther away from his side when his shoulders are fully turned, but returns to his side at the impact position.)

This isn't exactly the same feel as my drill -- the hands work a bit differently, because my drill was meant to teach you clubface control as well -- but this is a great way to help you get that trailing elbow into a similar position using a motion that most of you have probably tried before. (Even if you couldn't hit any better than Lydia.)

And there's one extra benefit to this drill. It's really hard to watch it -- or even try it -- and continue to believe that the golf swing should be as difficult as we tend to make it. If you can hit balls with this drill, all you have to do is learn to control where the clubface is pointed and you'll have a usable golf swing.

Even if you don't look like Rickie or Rory or Jason or Jordan.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A New Golf Shoe Guide to Check Out

Golf Digest has done a slideshow of 32 new golf shoes that seems to hit just about every kind of shoe you could imagine... and some you couldn't. I mean, I couldn't have imagined the Royal Albartross Club Royale with Vibram soles -- Vibram being the makers of the 'five-toe' running shoes -- and Italian leather uppers. (I couldn't have imagined the $350 price either, but that's another thing altogether.)

Royal Albartross Club Royale golf shoe

And check out these boat shoe-inspired golf shoes from Canoos, the Tour 2.0. They're around $150 and seriously stylish. They're designed to be worn both on and off the course. I really like the looks of these.

CANOOS TOUR 2.0 golf shoe

You can find high-tops, flexible soles, retro designs -- I mean, this is a really nice cross-section of what's available this season. Even if you aren't in the market for new golf shoes right now, this is a great overview of the diversity that's become available... for future reference.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Chris O'Connell on Playing in the Wind

I don't know about the rest of you, but we've had quite a bit of wind around here lately. So I dug up this Morning Drive segment on wind play featuring instructor Chris O'Connell, who teaches Matt Kuchar (among others).

The neat thing about this is that O'Connell lists a number of ways you can bring your ball flight down -- that is, lower your trajectory. For example, you can:
  • Flatten your swing plane.
  • Shorten your backswing and followthrough. (You can also use a longer club with this method, to make up for lost distance.)
  • Use less wrist cock (less hand action, aka swing more like Steve Stricker).
When he demonstrates a low shot at the end of the video, note that he combines those last two -- making a shorter swing with less wrist action. That appears to be his preferred method.

One interesting tip he mentions came from Lee Trevino, who told Matt to go to the top of his backswing, take his trailing hand off while keeping his lead wrist cocked, and see if he could touch the clubhead with his trailing hand. If he could, he had too much wrist cock for playing in the wind.

O'Connell also notes that you can move the ball back a bit in your stance and keep your hands a bit forward at impact, BUT he cautions not to depend on those setup things. Rather, you want to use the swing methods because they give you more control over trajectory.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Happy Jordan Spieth Day!

Yes, for all you Jordan Spieth fanatics out there, do I have news for you! GC has decided to make today Jordan Spieth Day!

Jordan posing after a shot

How do I know this? I looked at the TV schedule. All the following times are ET.
  • 10am: Morning Drive. Spieth tees off at 8:07am on the 10th, so you can count on some 'live peek-ins' during the show.
  • Noon: The first of Feherty's two shows with Jordan -- the one they originally showed Monday night -- will re-air.
  • 1pm: This year's Valspar Pro-Am re-airs. I didn't see the original airing but I'm guessing Jordan got some air time.
  • 2pm: Golf Central Pre-Game gets you ready for the Valspar. Guess who the defending champion is?
  • 3pm: Live coverage of the first round of the Valspar. As I said, Spieth tees off at 8:07am on the 10th so he won't be playing during the broadcast window. But GC will probably show highlights, a post-round interview, clips from last year, and I won't be surprised if they invite him into the booth for a while.
  • 6pm: Golf Central will recap the day, and will almost certainly include a number of clips showing Jordan.
  • 7pm: Re-air of the Valspar first round.
  • 10pm: Another re-air of the Valspar first round.
So all you Jordan fans should get a fix today. And tomorrow he'll be playing during the broadcast window, so you'll get to see him live. (And replayed, if you're into that sort of thing.)

BTW, Jordan is playing with Bill Haas and Henrik Stenson. You know, the forgotten men. In case any of you are curious about how they score.

And no, I'm not anti-Jordan or anything. I just wonder if Jordan is getting as tired of this obsessive coverage as Tiger did.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Quick Wedge Tip from Rickie Fowler

This is a really short post, but this is something I've used before and hearing Rickie say he uses the same tip convinced me to pass it on. It's from a new Golf Digest article on how Rickie has improved his wedge play this season.

Rickie Fowler at top of full wedge swing

The tip is on playing those partial distances you often end up with when you have a wedge into the green -- but it's not for the pitches and chips. Rather, it's how Rickie adjusts his distance on a full wedge shot. He says quite a bit about his technique, but check this out:
Now suppose your full gap wedge goes 110 yards and you’ve got 104 to the hole. To make that wedge fly six yards shorter, a lot of amateurs swing softer. They try to slow down a hair at impact, but that often causes them to hang back and flip their hands. Forget distance control—now they’re lucky if the ball gets in the air. A better method is to set your hands lower on the grip, then swing at normal speed. For me, gripping down an inch takes off five yards. Sometimes I’ll go down the entire length of the grip to take as much as 20 yards off a wedge.
Now it's quite possible that your numbers will differ from Rickie's -- after all, he hits the ball a fairly long way with his wedges. (The article says he hits a 62° lob wedge 90 yards.) But his rule of thumb here -- gripping down an inch takes off around 5 yards of distance, and gripping all the way down takes off around 20 -- is pretty close to what I've found, and I'm not nearly as long as Rickie.

So this little tip could give you an easy way to improve your wedge play. And can't we all stand to hit our wedges a little stiffer?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

One More Look at Ha Na Jang's Swing

If you saw the photo of Ha Na Jang I used in the Bent Elbow Drill series (and how could you miss it? I had it in almost every post!), this is the video I snagged it from. And given the torrid winning streak Ha Na is creating on the LPGA this season, especially after that dominating win this past week, I thought I'd post the actual video. It's from a practice round at the 2015 LPGA season finale.

I just want you to appreciate how simple this swing is. And after those eight posts I did, you should now know enough to understand exactly how she does it. The video gets progressively slower as it goes on, and thus it's easier to pick out details. Take a few moments to watch it and learn from it.

And on the off-chance you missed it (just what were you doing this weekend?), here's Ha Na's Beyoncé-inspired celebration dance from her win this past weekend.

I know it's easier to enjoy yourself when you're playing this well, but Ha Na always seems to have a smile on her face, no matter how her day is going. You can learn from that as well, since it's easier to have a good day when you're having fun.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship

Winner: Adam Scott

Around the wider world of golf: Ha Na Jang got her second victory of the year at the HSBC Women's Champions on the LPGA; Stacey Keating won the Brisbane Invitational and Katelyn Must won the BWAC Regional Services ALPG Pro Am, both on the ALPG; and Teresa Lu won the Daikin Orchid Ladies on the JLPGA.

Adam Scott with WGC-Cadillac trophy

Apparently nobody wanted to win at Doral. I mean, it looked like it was Rory's to win, then it looked like anybody could win... and then the race backwards began. Players would leap to the front of the pack, only to throw it away on the next hole they played.

In the end, Adam Scott decided he'd had enough of the wishy-washiness. After barely missing the water on 18 and leaving a tricky uphill lie in the hazard, he scrambled an up-and-down to lock up the title.

Now in some ways I feel I should cut them all a bit of slack. I don't think anybody was ready for the winds around Doral on Sunday -- when Zach Johnson puts two in the water on the same hole, you know something's up! But Adam Scott made TWO double-bogeys on the front nine and STILL outplayed the field. No one else in the Top10 made even one!

This is two weeks in a row that Adam has made a huge number -- the quad last week, the two doubles this week -- but bounced back with enough birdies to take down his competition. After a three-week run of 2nd-win-win, Adam has made himself a favorite going into Augusta.

And, it seems, he's put to rest all the debate about whether he could play golf without an anchored putter. SPOILER ALERT: He can, and does it very well indeed!

So after the better part of two years without a Limerick Summary, Adam lands his second one in two weeks. The rest of them boys better get their games in gear... and quick!
Seemed nobody wanted to win…
Then Adam’s approach at the end
Scared the hazard (but sank not).
It left a steep bank shot
That left him victorious again.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Bent Trailing Elbow Drill, Part 8

Finally! This is the last post in this series. Everything I've written about in the previous posts are fundamentals that you can use in pretty much any swing, but today we'll put it all together into an example swing you can actually use.

In addition, I'll be talking about one more fundamental that I call the trigger move. I think this will help you make your change of direction more easily and consistently. But first I'll outline one way you can integrate all of these fundamentals into a usable swing.

Ha Na Jange entering the impact zone

For lack of a better name, I'll call this the Compact Full Body Swing:
  • Compact, because it assumes you can't make a full 90° shoulder turn. If you can, that's great, but this swing is designed to give you some serious clubhead speed even if you can't.
  • Full body, because most swing methods focus on either leg drive or arm swing. In this swing, I've tried to balance the two, in order to give you the most swing speed possible with the reduced shoulder turn.
Here's how you put the Compact Full Body Swing together:
  • You start with a one-piece takeaway, to make sure you get a wide arc that will be on plane when you reach the top of your backswing. If you don't know how to do a OPT, here's the link to the post where I explain it. It's part of the Dexter's Coming Over-the-Top series, to which you can find links on the Some Useful Post Series page.
  • Wrist cock during your backswing can take three forms:
    • early wrist cock, where your wrists are fully cocked before you reach the top of your backswing;
    • late wrist cock, where they don't cock until the last moment at the top; and
    • no wrist cock, where (DUH!) you don't cock them at all during the backswing.
    This swing will work best with either early wrist cock (Cristie Kerr is a good example) or no wrist cock (J.B. Holmes is one example). The late wrist cock needs to be timed in a slightly different way -- I know because I use a late wrist cock -- and that just complicates this swing.
  • At the change of direction you use the trigger move I'll discuss in a few moments. It's an easier way to change direction than trying to feel a pause or something similar.
  • The downswing and finish is the move that I taught you with the drills in the earlier posts. It attempts to recreate the sidearm throwing feel that the long drive champions use to get distance. The key 'position' that you swing through is the "bent elbow at your side" position you see in the Ha Na Jang photo that I've used in most of these posts. (And while I don't know how she'll finish, as I'm writing this post Ha Na is leading the LPGA event this week after three rounds. How convenient since I've used her as a model!)
That should be a fairly straightforward swing once I explain the trigger move, which is what the rest of this post is about.

I spent a fair amount of time on wrist cock in the previous posts. I divided wrist cock into two parts:
  • The first was sidecock, the wrist movement you use if you make a karate chop with the side of your hand.
  • The other I dubbed backcock, where the back of your hand hinges toward your forearm.
I also talked a bit about downcock, a term most instructors use to describe wrist cock that happens during the downswing, after the change of direction. We tend to think of it only in terms of sidecock, but backcock is actually a very important part of the action. Downcock helps create more clubhead speed, but it's a bit difficult for most weekend players to get a handle on.

Enter the trigger move, a way of creating downcock by focusing more on backcocking than sidecocking. While downcock tends to be created by 'letting' gravity and momentum flex your relaxed wrist and forearm muscles -- in other words, it's something that 'just happens' rather than something you 'do' -- the trigger move gives you something to consciously 'do' that creates the downcock. It's always easier to 'do' something than to 'not do' something!

If you're confused, don't worry. It'll be clear in a moment.

We finally had a decent day of weather this past week, which means I had a nice sunny day to take photos. Since I had to do them by myself, I only have one hand on the club -- my trailing hand, which happens to be my right hand. Your trailing hand is the one that you primarily feel the trigger move with.

The first pair of photos here shows the start and finish of the trigger move. The left photo shows my trailing hand at the top of my backswing, just as I start to change direction. The right photo shows the finish of the trigger move, after my hand has moved down slightly.

The start and finish of the trigger move with the trailing hand

Please understand that there are TWO things happening here, and neither of them is a huge move:
  • My hand has moved downward. (And away from me -- see how my hand looks a bit smaller in the second photo?) The move down is only an inch or so.
  • The tricky part is the apparent rotation of my hand. See how my fingers and the heel of my hand below my thumb are clearly visible in the left photo but are both pretty well covered by my thumb in the right photo? If you look closely, you can also see (because of the shadows on my thumb) that my thumb has rotated forward a bit. The shaft is a bit more vertical in the second photo but that's because I was trying to maneuver the camera with my other hand; if I was making a real swing with both hands, the shaft would actually be on the same plane or slightly flatter.
Why do I say that the rotation is 'apparent' and that it's the tricky part? That's because you don't feel the move as a rotation, but rather as a push.

And yes, I'm going to teach you what that feels like. It's actually a very simple thing... and I have more photos to prove it.

These were taken inside the house, in a room where the sun would cast shadows (for depth perception, since there's movement TOWARD the camera) as I did this little drill. Again, the photo on the left is the start of the move, the one on the right is the finish. Because doorjambs don't move, we have to do this drill by tilting our trailing hand backward. But once you've done it a few times, it's easy to translate it to a push move. The explanation is under the photos.

The start and finish of the trigger move drill

As you can see, on the left I've put my hand on the doorjamb as if the ridge was the club shaft. The pad at the base of my thumb is against the flat side of the doorjamb that faces the camera. Nothing tricky there.

In the right photo I've used my thumb pad as a pivot point and bent my hand backward -- creating backcock, as it were. When I do, my thumb and fingers move back away from the doorframe. The move creates the same angles as the apparent rotation in the outdoor photos above. It's not a rotation so much as seeing the back of your hand at a different angle.

If you do this backcocking move a few times, it won't take long before you can start feeling it as a pushing move. The easiest way to get the hang of it is to place your hand higher on the doorframe; I found 'forehead high' was a good place. If you drop your elbow a bit so your thumb pad 'rolls' slightly downward to create the backcock, it's pretty easy to feel as if you're pushing your hand away while it moves down.

Remember, when you actually use a club to do this, the momentum of the clubhead at the change of direction will help create the backcocking action. And with both hands holding the club handle, this move will actually cause your lead wrist to bow slightly, a position many players try unsuccessfully to create in other ways.

When you first insert this trigger move into your swing, make the swing more slowly. This isn't a sloppy move, so the club shouldn't wiggle around all over the place! Make shorter swings, then gradually lengthen them as you get used to the move. This trigger move should make it much easier to create that sidearm throwing feel with the drills in the earlier posts.

And that wraps up this post series. Hopefully this info -- and if you need it, the Compact Full Body Swing I created to demonstrate it -- will help your game. As usual, if you have questions you can just put them in the comments section below the relevant post. I've got the blog set up to alert me whenever a new comment appears, so I should be able to answer it within a day or so.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Butch Harmon on Hitting from a Sanded Divot

Butch Harmon is doing some new videos for Golf Digest. In this video Butch demonstrates how to hit from a divot full of sand.

It sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Three steps:
  1. Place the ball in the middle of your stance.
  2. Keep your hands a bit forward of the ball (lean the shaft forward).
  3. Make a steep downswing so you can hit down on the ball.
Bear in mind that this is one of the few times you really want to hit down on the ball. Hitting down on the ball makes it squirt out of the divot. (Under normal circumstances you want to come into the ball fairly shallow and catch the ball near the bottom of your swing arc. That gives you the most distance and height.)

Note also that Butch says the clubface will be a bit open. You don't have to change your grip to get that. It happens because you move the ball back in your stance and lean the shaft forward, which means you hit the ball before your club has time to square up completely. You might want to allow a little for that when you address the ball, but don't open your stance much. That's something you'll learn with experience.

And remember, this creates a lower squirting shot, so you probably don't want to try carrying hazards -- at least, not until you've hit this shot a few times and know what to expect.

Friday, March 4, 2016

In Case You Missed It...

Here's the video of 11-year-old Taylor Crozier making a hole-in-one with the very first shot ever hit on Tiger's new Bluejack National Course... and Tiger's reaction afterward. This happened on Wednesday but I just found the video today.

Some kids have all the luck.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Jessica Korda on Hitting It Long

Here's a link to a Golf Digest article by Jessica Korda on how to get more distance by using your flexibility and rhythm. She has a number of thoughts and drills on how to do it, but I'm focusing on one in particular. Check out the photo:

What is Jessica doing? She's finding the balance point for her driver at the top of her backswing. She wants the club to feel very light so she can stay relaxed, so she swings the club up to the top with only three fingers.

This is clearly a relative thing. The club is going to feel heavier when you hold it with only three fingers than when you hold it with both hands. But what you're looking for is where the club is easiest to control.

Take note of Jessica's club position in the photo -- although you've been told to get the shaft to parallel, it isn't parallel in this photo. And the article also has a photo of Jess at the top of her backswing. While the shaft is lower than in the above picture, it still isn't quite parallel. You want to find a position where you can control the club with the least tension.

As I've said repeatedly on this blog, relaxed muscles move faster. That's what you're after with this drill -- the most relaxed position at the top that you can find.

She has other tips in the article as well, but this drill really caught my eye. It will help you become more aware of the feel of the clubhead at the top, and that's always a good thing!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Three-Step Leg Workout

Golf Digest ran an article with this quickie three-exercise leg strengthening routine that looks really simple while still working your legs in a number of different ways. They recommend a mere 8 to 12 reps of each exercise -- of course, since each leg is worked separately, that means you have to do each exercise twice to get both legs.

Lateral squats

The first one, pictured above, is a lateral squat. Pretty much self-explanatory, huh? One leg bends while the other stays straight.

The other two exercises have 'moving photos' ('gifs' for all you computer geeks out there) to demonstrate the movements:
  • The prisoner split squats look a lot like lunges to me.
  • And the single-leg deadlifts remind me of those old 'drinking bird' toys. Remember them? You put a glass of water in front of them and they bobbed up and down, getting lower and lower, until their beaks dipped into the water. Then they popped back up and started all over again.
Bear in mind that you don't have to go as low as possible if that means you can't get back up! Go down only as far as you can without hurting yourself. Over time you'll get stronger and can go lower if you want.

As I have said before, I love exercise routines that are short and simple. You don't have to spend hours in a gym to get stronger.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

More Late Night LPGA Golf This Week

It's another limited-field event for the LPGA this week. The HSBC Women’s Champions has a mere 60 players in the field, but that includes 48 or 49 of the Rolex Top50. (According to Tony Jesselli's preview of the event, Line Vedel is out with an injury. The LPGA says two of the Top25 are missing but doesn't name them.)

Lexi Thompson with Honda trophy

The talk, as usual, is about Lydia Ko and defending champ Inbee Park squaring off against each other. But maybe it should be about Lexi Thompson, hot off her win at the Honda last week and her resulting leap to #3 in the world. Nobody knows exactly what to expect from her -- she has had a tendency to be either hot or cold, with no real logic to which way she'll play in a given week -- but you have to think she's in a good frame of mind to contend at this event.

Or she's emotionally drained and will experience a tremendous letdown at this event. Take your choice.

You also have to think that Stacy Lewis is extremely frustrated at this point. It's not enough that she's been bumped down to #4 in the world rankings. She's also having a slow start this year -- after a T2 in the Bahamas she's posted a T22 and T35, hardly what we've come to expect from her. I tend to believe she's just pressing too hard, but it could also be the travel. Hopping all over the planet isn't easy for anybody, but when you're also struggling with your game it can't make things any easier.

In Stacy's favor? She won this event in 2013, so perhaps she'll have some good memories to draw on.

Of course, just because those are the Top4 players in the world rankings doesn't mean they have some kind of lock on this event. If you want me to take these four or the field, I'll take the field. (Despite Lydia's T3-win-2nd start this year.) But it should be an interesting battle!

As the title of this post says, it's more late night golf this week. GC's live coverage begins Wednesday night at 11pm ET.