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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Henrik and Annika: Separated at Birth?

You've seen pictures of two unrelated people who look very similar, haven't you? Well, Golf Digest did a very interesting article about how similar the swings of Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam are, and it's something you might want to take a look at.

Stenson and Sorenstam comparison at finish

The article is by instructor Jim McLean and has several side-by-side photos of the two Swedes, like the pair of finishes above, that are really quite remarkable in their similarities. Not just because of the large movements but because of the smaller, stylistic similarities -- like the way both players swivel their heads as they hit the ball, or the vertical club shaft finish shown above.

Something that you might find interesting -- that I learned from the article, in fact -- is that both players went through the Swedish Golf Federation at roughly the same time, and that the system the SGF taught was heavily influenced by the teachings of Jimmy Ballard. For many of you, Ballard's name will be familiar because he helped Rocco Mediate recreate his swing, which helped Rocco overcome some bad back problems, but Ballard has helped a number of big names over the years, like two-time US Open champ Curtis Strange.

It's interesting because Ballard's golf book, How to Perfect Your Golf Swing, was considered something of a radical approach when it first came out in the late 1970s. It really popularized the concepts of "releasing your right side" and "connection," although I suppose both of them had been around for some time. If you hang around long enough, you'll learn that there's rarely anything new in golf mechanics -- just fresh presentations of old or forgotten techniques.

Ballard's method is yet another example of an old truism -- that, eventually, every golf swing finds an audience when it's built on concepts that solve new problems that audience is struggling with. And in this case, it resulted in two eerily similar swings by two different golfers with different teachers... who just happen to be major champions who won in dominant fashion.

I wonder if this might spark renewed interest in Ballard's approach? If you're curious about the kind of things he teaches, here's a link to one of my posts about Ballard and Mediate from way back in 2010, and another one from 2011 on how Ballard teaches students to draw the ball. If you're interested in how the Swedes do it, they might be helpful to you.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How Many Drops Did Jordan Get? (Video)

This is a short post but it's about something I learned Friday. This is the video of Jordan's media questions after his round, concerning the complex drop he got. The video came from this page at, where you can also see footage of the actual ruling again. (Use that link if the video doesn't show up below for some reason.)

Anyway, here's the video:

What I learned is that you can get multiple drops for casual water relief, or you can take only one, but after you get the ruling you can change your stance so you're standing in the casual water anyway. That was a new one on me!

Jordan took a stance to get relief from the water so his ball was on dry gravel. However, after that ruling was made to the satisfaction of the official, Jordan was allowed to change his stance. The new stance wouldn't have given him complete relief from the original position; but once the original ruling was made, the new stance would have meant getting a new ruling... which he chose not to get.

To make things even more confusing, Brandel Chamblee believes Jordan could have taken that new "relief from casual water" ruling with the new stance, then asked for another ruling to get a drop from the gravel. Brandel believes that would have let him get a drop in the grass on the right side of the cartpath (the right of the video at that shows the actual ruling, that is), which would have given him a clearer shot at the green.

In any case, knowing that little quirk of the "casual water" rule could help some of you in a tournament sometime... or at least, it might save you a call to the TV station wondering if it's a rules infraction!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Luke Donald on Making a Good Backswing (Video)

I'm posting this video from Golf Digest and Luke Donald about the backswing simply because you may have heard conflicting advice on this subject. There are two very different approaches to cocking your wrists during the backswing, and I want you to understand how to know which one may be best for you.

Now, Luke is recommending an early wrist set in the backswing. There are a lot of instructors who teach this method, and there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, when Carl Rabito taught me the fundamentals, he taught me to make a similar move because I had problems with my takeaway.

By comparison, I now use a late wrist cock, and you'll hear a number of instructors recommend the same approach. The question becomes, how do you know which one is best for you? It may sound very confusing.

In practice, it isn't confusing at all. The key is in the length of your backswing.
  • If you have a shorter, more powerful backswing, then an early wrist set will probably work very well for you. You'll need to create the wrist cock sooner because your backswing is a bit faster. If you delay the cocking action with a shorter backswing, the amount of force on your wrists when you change direction at the top can be painful. In additon, cocking your wrists sooner can help you square the clubface better at impact.
  • But if you have a longer and more "leisurely" backswing, a late wrist set can help with your swing rhythm. Since your backswing changes direction more slowly, it won't hurt your wrists when you change direction at the top. But it will also help you keep that wrist cock -- or "lag," if you prefer -- for a longer time during your downswing.
As you can see, the idea is to match the timing of your wrist cock to the overall shape of your swing -- an early wrist cock for a faster, more compact swing and a late wrist cock for a longer, less violent one. The reason I changed from early to late is because I now make a much longer backswing than I did back then.

Are there exceptions? Of course, because there's an exception to almost everything in golf! But more times than not, this simple guideline will work well for you. Try it and see.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the PGA

Well, it's nearly a day late because of our internet failure, but here are my picks for the PGA Championship. Jason Day is, of course, the defending champion.

Although the tournament is already underway, I haven't changed my picks from who I would have chosen yesterday. So we already have some idea how my picks may fare!

First off, I didn't choose Jason Day, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy. While I believe they're all very capable of winning this week, I also believe the accumulated stress of high-level play for a year or more may be taking its toll on them. As a result, I expect a mixed bag of good and bad rounds from them, which may not be enough to beat the other players who aren't as tired.

And now, here are my "5 to Watch":
  • I agree with David Duval -- it's going to be hard to leave Dustin Johnson off one of these lists for the foreseeable future. It's not just about his improved short game; it's not about his amazing driving; it's not even about his obvious self-confidence. It's simply because he doesn't seem to stress out at all. As I write this, he's at +5 after seven holes so I may be completely off-base with this one. But given how he came back from a slow start last week -- and the knowledge that the winning score will likely be in single figures -- you've got to like his chances to make a run.
  • Sergio Garcia is way under the radar, given that he's had five Top5s in his last six events, including the last two majors. Baltusrol is a shotmaker's course, and that's Sergio's strength. All he needs is a decent week putting and he could chalk up his first major.
  • I also like Zach Johnson because of his straight hitting and his scrambling ability. For some reason this season, his good play hasn't resulted in the scores I'd expect to see. But I can see him getting done this week.
And I have two flier picks... and I think you'll understand why when you see them.
  • The first is Phil Mickelson. It's hard enough to follow up a great round; how do you follow up a performance that would have won 141 of 144 OPENS but didn't win this one? Phil is unpredictable under the best of conditions; I won't even try to guess what he might do this week.
  • And the other, obviously, is Henrik Stenson. Look, I know that Henrik has a proven ability to capitalize on great performances. But this wasn't a Tour Championship, the final official event of the season -- this was THE OPEN, in the midst of a very crowded schedule with the Olympics and FedExCup Playoffs just days away! I'm not sure even Henrik has the endurance to do it again so soon... but he makes my list because, like Phil, he's very capable and very unpredictable.
So who is my favorite to win this week? This is exactly what I planned to write last night: DJ is probably the best choice (not looking like that right now, of course) but I think Sergio just might get it done this time. His game is as good as it's been in a long time, his "head" seems to be in as good a place as it ever has at a major, and I think Henrik's success may have been the extra little push he needs to believe in himself. If he keeps hitting the ball as he has lately, he doesn't need a great week of putting -- just a good one. And I think he's going to have it.

I know -- awfully optimistic for a guy who lost the internet for a day. But I'm like that. ;-)

My Internet Is Finally Back On!!!

We had a lot of thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon and evening. Around 7pm ET we lost internet, TV and phone. (Apparently the cable company took a hit. We didn't even get a power blip here.)

At any rate, things just started coming back up a little after 3pm ET today, so hopefully I can get my PGA "5 to Watch" post up in the next hour or so and we'll be back on schedule. I'm still trying to find out all the golf scores!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the RICOH

We have two majors underway this week -- the men are playing their final major of 2016, the PGA Championship, and the women are playing their fourth major, the RICOH Women's British Open. Today I'll cover the RICOH, tomorrow the PGA.

The girls are already getting into the spirit. I love this photo of Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson having tea at a party hosted by Charley Hull during the Pro-Am!

Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson have tea at a party hosted by Charley Hull during the Pro-Am

This year's Open is being held at Woburn Golf Club in Milton Keynes, England. While this is the first time it hosts the Open as a major, Woburn has hosted the non-major version of the Open (pre-2001) a whopping NINE times! So perhaps this will favor Dame Laura Davies, who was given a special invite to the event, or Karrie Webb, who won here in 1995.

The Woburn Tea Party

If you somehow missed the news, Inbee Park won't be defending her title because she's still resting her hand, hoping her thumb injury will heal in time for the Olympics.

That means we'll have a new Open champ for sure this year. Here are my "5 to Watch" this week. Don't be surprised if some of my International Crown 'winners' from yesterday's post are among them:
  • Mel Reid's performance last week very likely jumpstarted the rest of her year. The work she's done on her swing over the last few months 'clicked' last week, and that may be all she needs to contend at Woburn. And let's not forget, Mel is from England. This is a home game for her.
  • Gerina Pillar hasn't played all that well in the Open. In five attempts she has two T36s and three MCs. But this year's Gerina is a different player and, while she may not win, I look for her to play much better.
  • Although she hasn't done particularly well in the Open lately, and she hasn't had the best of years so far, I simply can't leave Catriona Matthew off this list. She won the Open in 2009, and she's only missed four cuts since 2001. Ignore the Scot at your own risk!
  • And while Karrie Webb hasn't had a great year, I chalk it up to trying too hard to make the Olympics. Now that she knows that won't happen, and after a poor showing at the Crown, I think she may freed up at Woburn. And bear in mind that she's won the Open three times since 1995 and came in second when Catriona Matthew won in 2009, so it would be no surprise if she found her game here once again.
  • My flier this week is Candie Kung, who went undefeated last week in match play. While she's been inconsistent this year, Candie has also had moments of brilliance. Unfortunately, Candie hasn't had much luck at the Open in recent years. But I'm thinking her performance at the Crown may help her overcome that lack of success.
Now, I'm not crazy. I know the money's on players like Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, and I wouldn't be surprised if Stacy Lewis found her game at Woburn. (You may remember that she won the Open in 2013.) And it would probably be smart to take one of those players.

But I'm going with Mel Reid to win it this year. While Mel hasn't played all that well at the Open, she finished T9 last year about two months after getting her first win since 2012, the year of her mom's tragic death. I think her play at the Crown last week may have the same sort of effect this time around -- especially if the weather is good, and the extended forecast indicates that it might be.

Of course, given how unpredictable this season has been so far, it might be worth betting a few quid on the Dame as well. It's a home game for her too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Who Won Big at the UL International Crown?

That may sound like a silly question -- the USA team won, of course -- but I'm not talking about the overall winner of the event. Rather, I'm talking about individual players.

There are 12 events left on the LPGA schedule this season, counting the RICOH Women's British Open this week. Which players walk away with the most confidence?

The victorious USA team with the trophy

I've put together a short list of players who I think may up their games over the rest of the 2016 season as a result of their play at the Crown.
  • Cristie Kerr: Cristie didn't make the Olympic team but her leadership on the USA team here was massive. It seems that all she needed to get her game in shape was a little match play with a patriotic flair! With two majors left in the season, this win may put her back in the discussion.
  • Stacy Lewis: Stacy's wedding is only a few weeks away, and she's got a major this week followed by the Olympics, so things aren't going to calm down for her anytime soon. She needs to calm her mind and stop trying so hard in the meantime; she's been getting in her own way. But her win in Sunday singles could be a turning point for her, simply because she finally closed out a win.
  • Gerina Piller: It's no secret that Gerina has struggled with belief in her own game. But alongside Kerr, she was the rock that helped keep this team in the matches when they fell so far behind the first day. I still believe she'll win a tournament before the end of the season, and her performance in this tournament could end up being the reason why.
  • Candie Kung: Do you realize that Candie Kung didn't lose a single match this past week? She's had a very uneven year so far -- she did have a T2 at Walmart -- but a performance like this could get her back on an even keel. It certainly has to give her confidence going into the RICOH this week.
  • Ayaka Watanabe: Ayaka isn't an LPGA member; she plays the JLPGA and has three wins there, although it's been eight months or so since her last one. She's not listed in the RICOH field this week but, at #43 in the world, I bet she gets another win soon enough.
  • Mel Reid: What can you say about Mel? If that one-on-two performance on Friday didn't send her confidence soaring, what will? I know she didn't win in singles, but I'm not sure anybody was going to beat Kerr on Sunday. With the RICOH being played at Woburn in England, I think a home game should help her build on last week's success.
  • Sei Young Kim: The last on my list may not seem to need any encouragement. She has two wins this season, and one of them was just over a month ago. But her best finish in a major this season is an 11th, and you know that has to eat at her. However, other than a narrow 1-down loss on Thursday, her other matches were solid wins -- including a big 5&4 win against Charley Hull in singles. She must feel great going into the RICOH this week.
By comparison, I don't think Lexi Thompson, Charley Hull, Ariya Jutanugarn or any of the Australian players carry much from this event. While one tournament doesn't ruin an otherwise good year, I don't think it gives any of them a boost going into this week's major.

I'll do my "5 to Watch" post for the RICOH tomorrow. But these are players I think could be dominant for the rest of the season. It's amazing how big a "bump" players can get from a good match play performance.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Jhonattan Vegas

Around the wider world of golf: After finishing the first day in last place, the USA team stormed back to win the UL International Crown on the LPGA; Paul Broadhurst surprised everyone with his come-from-behind win at the Senior OPEN Championship on the Champions Tour; Ryuko Tokimatsu won the Dunlop SRIXON Fukushima Open Golf Tournament on the Japan Tour; Isabelle Boineau won the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on the LET; Nicholas Lindheim won the Utah Championship on the Tour; Laura Gonzalez Escallon won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Symetra Tour; Mark Mulder successfully defended his title at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament; and Sun-Ju Ahn won the Century 21 Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Jhonattan Vegas with RBC Canadian Open trophy

Let's face it, folks -- this isn't the end we expected at the Canadian Open. We figured Dustin Johnson would probably put the hammer down and come out on top. Or maybe Brandt Snedeker would putt like there's no tomorrow and make good on his third round lead. Or maybe John Rahm would get his first PGA Tour victory, since he's been playing so well. Or maybe, just maybe -- a long shot I know, but still possible -- amateur Jared du Toit would play the round of his life and break the decades-old drought of Canadian winners at his national championship.

But we should have suspected something might happen when Geoff Ogilvy posted a 63 to tie the lead before the leaders even teed off. Or perhaps when Ricky Barnes surged to the top of the leaderboard. Or Martin Laird, or Steve Wheatcroft, or Alex Cejka, or... well, you get the picture. Year after year, that final stretch of three holes, with two par-5s and the potential for two eagles, makes predicting the outcome almost impossible.

And yet, while there was no way that anyone watching would fall asleep, the fact remains that after Jhonattan Vegas posted a 64 a full hour before the leaders hit the home stretch -- and did it in style by posting three straight birdies to finish his round -- no one else could get the job done. Player after player reached the 16th with his 12-under score within reach, only to find the task undoable:
  • Rahm went -2 on the final stretch but started the day too far back.
  • DJ went -3... but that was his score for the whole round.
  • Laird and Sneds went -1 but it was too little, too late.
  • And du Toit never factored after a slow start to his round.
And Vegas wasn't really a surprise. He shot a 60 last Friday at the Barbasol but an even par weekend kept him from the win. He talked Saturday about the problems of learning to trust his swing after a rash of injuries... and the joys of having a new 4-month-old son and qualifying for the Olympics.

Perhaps we should have seen this coming.

But whether we saw it or not, it's here. And so is Jhonattan's first Limerick Summary in around five years.
A charge with a strong 64
Gave Jhonny a 12-under score.
He was chillin’ in first
While the leaders seemed cursed—
But the finish let nobody snore!
The photo came from this page at the Albany Herald website.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Lesson from George Knudson (Video)

Actually, I have two videos. I found these on YouTube, from an old teaching DVD by George Knudson called The Swing Motion. Since Knudson is one of Canada's legends and this is RBC Canadian Open week, I thought you all might like to hear some of Knudson's beliefs about the golf swing.

The first video is on this YouTube page, and the second video is on this YouTube page. (Just in case the videos don't show up in this post for some reason.) They're both very short.

Although Knudson was a Hogan fan and most teachers compare his swing to Ben Hogan's, I think Knudson's approach was much simpler than Hogan's. I actually think it's closer to Bobby Jones than Hogan. He approached the swing more like the old hickory shaft players, in that he focused on centrifugal force rather than power to create clubhead speed.

You've got to love this: He says he divides the swing motion into two general categories -- voluntary actions you have to learn, and involuntary actions which happen naturally. (That's something Jones talked about as well. I quoted him saying almost the same thing in this post.)

And here's something you don't often hear nowadays: If you watch the slo-mo part of the first video closely, you'll see that he lowers his head and shoulders slightly during his backswing, then stays down in that position until the ball is struck. It's easiest to see in the "down-the-line from the front" view against the black & white grid. (Most modern players lower themselves during the downswing.) This helped him hit the ball solidly, because he wasn't changing height and trying to create clubhead speed at the same time.

You can also see how flat his swing is; his lead arm is actually slightly below his trailing shoulder at the top of his backswing. This makes his swing appear very short, and makes it feel a bit like swinging a very light baseball bat. (He actually takes the club back more to the inside to start his backswing, rather than a one-piece takeaway. Then he moves upward slightly, above his backswing plane, when he changes direction at the top. Those are more reasons his swing reminds me of Jones.) It's a very rotary action, and he creates it by bracing his trailing leg during the backswing. You can see that clearly in the face-on view against the black & white grid.

And here are a couple more points that are keys in his swing:
  • There is no talk about keeping the head down. He says the head does nothing during the swing except rotate around with the body.
  • And he divides the swing into two simple motions, back and through. He rolls his ankles on the backswing and downswing (that's the bit about the ankles being pivot points). This is probably why he also lowers his upper body during the backswing.
There is absolutely no talk about driving the lower body. HE DOESN'T NEED TO! If you brace your trailing leg during your backswing the way Knudson does, there's no way to avoid a forward weight shift during your downswing.

All-in-all, it's a very simple approach to the golf swing.

For those of you who want to see it, here's the Amazon link to Knudson's book The Natural Golf Swing. The DVD is out of print, although you can find it through the used book channels.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Third Ben Shear Core Workout (Video)

I almost forgot to post this! I posted the first two of Ben Shear's core workout videos for Golf Digest (that link takes you to the second post, which also has a link to the first one). The first video introduced three half-kneeling exercises, while the second video gave you three standing static exercises. (Static because you just stood still and held the positions.)

Today's post gives you the third and final core workout video, which presents three standing dynamic exercises. (That means you move while you do them.) Here's the video:

Again, three simple exercises that work your core in three planes of motion, with the resistance provided by an exercise band:
  • The band is stretched parallel to your shoulders. You straighten your arms in front of your chest and try to keep them there while doing backward lunges.
  • The band is still stretched parallel to your shoulders. You straighten your arms above your head and try to keep them there while doing side lunges away from the band's anchor point.
  • Finally, the band is stretched perpendicular to your shoulders and tries to pull you backward. You straighten your arms above your head but you try to keep them there while doing forward lunges.
The other videos measured your progress by the time you held each position; for these exercises you count repetitions. And of course, you need to do the first two exercises on each side of your body. (You don't have to do backward lunges with the final exercise.)

Shear suggests at least two sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise. If you combine the exercises on this video with the exercises on the first two, you should get a pretty stout core workout without straining yourself. (After all, you're using an exercise band. It's easy to reduce the tension by just standing closer to the anchor point!)

And again, the real beauty of these exercises is how simple they are, as well as how quickly they can be done. The three exercises on each video are pretty much identical, they just add more movement as you progress through them. If you're looking for a decent core workout, these nine exercises might be just what you're looking for.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Butch Harmon on Hitting Irons Perched on Short Rough (Video)

A quick note about GC's golf schedule today: I did a post with a complete schedule yesterday. If you ignore the 6am listing for Golf Central and then move all the other times up a half-hour (for example, the 7am Senior OPEN to 6:30am), everything is in the same order.

Here's another Golf Digest video from Butch Harmon on something you don't hear much about -- how to hit an iron shot when you got a lucky lie in short rough. Your technique has to change just a bit.

The simple summary here is that you sweep the ball off the grass with your iron, just as you sweep the ball off a tee with your driver. But it's not exactly the same.

With an iron, your stance is considerably narrower than it is with a driver. All things being equal, it's more natural to hit down on the ball with an iron. (Yeah, I know many of you struggle with hitting down. But that's because you exaggerate your leg movements, and it causes you to hit the ball thin or fat. You probably aren't hitting your driver well either, are you? It's the same problem.)

I've done a couple of posts that can help you get better at keeping your height during impact, which is what you need to do when you use Butch's advice.
Both of them will teach you to "pick the ball" while making solid contact. If you move the ball slightly back in your stance you'll hit down more solidly on the ball, but if you move the ball slightly forward you'll be able to sweep the ball cleanly without hitting it thin. I recommend both because you may find that one of them is easier for you to use. They're just different mental approaches for the same technique.

Give them both a try. One or the other should help you develop that sweeping motion that Butch wants you to use when you get a nice lie in the rough.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Keeping Track of Today's Golf

There's so much golf on GC today (Thursday) that I thought you might want a quick guide you can read at a glance, rather than scrolling through the GC listings.

All times are Eastern Standard Time (ET).
  • 6am: Golf Central
  • 7am: Senior OPEN Championship, 1st Round (CHAMPIONS)
  • 9am: Morning Drive
  • 10am: Senior OPEN Championship, 1st Round (CHAMPIONS)
  • Noon: UL International Crown, 1st Round (LPGA)
  • 4pm: RBC Canadian Open, 1st Round (PGA)
  • 7pm: Utah Championship, 1st Round (WEB.COM)
  • 9pm: Golf Central
And at 9:30pm the re-airs begin with the RBC Canadian Open.

One other note: The 10am broadcast of the Senior OPEN is live afternoon coverage. Remember, it stays light until almost 10pm at night at Carnoustie this time of year.

That's a lot of golf to keep up with! I hope this helps you make sure you see the events that interest you most.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the Senior OPEN

Yes, let's get a little more links golf under our belts, shall we? The Senior OPEN Championship starts Thursday at Carnoustie, and it should be a good one. Marco Dawson is the defending champion, and he played in last week's OPEN (T68, +12).


For those of you who don't remember, Carnoustie is the site of Jean Van de Velde's notorious OPEN loss in 1999. (Do you remember the eventual victor? Paul Lawrie.) Van de Velde will be playing this week also, and I hope he gets some revenge.

But in the meantime, I need to pick my favorites.
  • It's impossible for me to make these picks and leave Bernhard Langer off the list. He already has three wins this season, including two majors. Why not one more?
  • And how about the Mechanic, Miguel Angel Jimenez? He hasn't played much on the Champions Tour this season but he still has a win. Not only that, he played the OPEN last week and finished T18, at even par. I think you have to like his chances at Carnoustie this week.
  • Billy Andrade hasn't won yet this season, but he has two 2nds and a 3rd, and he hasn't missed a cut. I don't know how well he plays links golf, but when a player like Billy is in good form on a well-conditioned course -- and I have no doubt that Carnoustie will be absolutely pristine -- you have to think he'll contend.
  • Paul Goydos may not be on a lot of people's radar, but he's played very well this year and picked up his first win just a couple weeks back. He hasn't really contended at a major this year, but there's no time like the present.
  • And my flier is Jesper Parnevik. His good friend Henrik Stenson just ripped the history books apart at Royal Troon, so I'm thinking Jesper may be playing with a new sense of what's possible.
It's true that I accurately picked Dustin Johnson to win the US Open but other than that, my record hasn't been too good of late. I've tended to go chalk, and the top players have let me down. For that reason -- and this is probably a bad time for me to do so, given his record -- I'm not going to take Langer, who is the obvious choice.

Instead, I'm taking Miguel Angel Jimenez to snag his first major on any tour this week. The Mechanic has played well this season, and I love that even par finish last week at Troon.

I also predict that Jean Van de Velde, out of practice or not, will successfully avoid the bern on 18. At least that way I should be right about something!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bubba's Got a JETPACK???

I kid you not. Here's a picture of Bubba's new jet-powered golf cart -- as well as his hovercart, which you've seen before -- from the Oakley website. Yes, it's a bonafide jetpack!

Bubba and his jetpack

I've also got a video of said "jetcart" in action. I first saw this at Golf Digest, but there's a lot more about it popping up on the Web.

According to the Oakley site:
"The BW-Air is equipped with a bespoke rotary 210 horsepower engine that allows it to climb as high as 3,000 ft with air speeds up to 46 mph. It also has all the features of a typical golf cart, including space for clubs, sand bottle holders and everything else you need for a great round."
They've made no secret that this is a promo for golf's reappearance in the Rio Olympics... but that doesn't make it any less cool.

Dang. Why does Bubba get to have all the fun?

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 THE OPEN Championship

Winner: Henrik Stenson

Around the wider world of golf: Lydia Ko won the Marathon Classic on the LPGA; Aaron Baddeley won the Barbasol Championship, the alternate field event on the PGA Tour; Martin Flores won the Lincoln Land Charity Championship on the Tour; Taylor Moore won the Staal Foundation Open on the MACKENZIE TOUR - PGA TOUR Canada; Clariss Guce won the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic on the Symetra Tour; and Mi-Jeong Jeon won the Samantha Thavasa Girls Collection Golf Tournament on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Henrik Stenson with Claret Jug

You’ll have to forgive the pun, folks, but… How Swede it is!

This was a tough one for me to watch because I wanted both players to win. I've been a fan of both for a long time. Both Phil and Henrik would make history; both were playing at an absolutely insane level. You know the numbers, I'm sure; they were quoted enough afterward. But they prove that the comparisons with the Nicklaus/Watson "Duel in the Sun" are certainly appropriate.

I mean, really. Mickelson's -17 would have won 141 of the 145 Opens that have been played, and he set the record for the largest gap between 2nd and 3rd place (11 strokes) while still losing by three strokes. Stenson tied the record for birdies made in a single round (10), the lowest final round score to win a major (63), and the record for lowest major score to par (-20); and he set a new record for aggregate score (264).

These sorts of numbers are rarely seen in a generation, let alone in a single championship. So I'm not going to do any kind of tournament summary. There's no need. They'll be showing replays of the 145th Open for decades to come!

So Henrik Stenson becomes the first-ever male major winner from Sweden. He does so in historic fashion, effectively slapping down all his critics who said he was too timid and unable to close out when he had the chance.

And in the meantime, Henrik and Company will be toasting his victory with a tasty beverage -- served from the Claret Jug, of course -- while enjoying his latest Limerick Summary.
We saw two men who just wouldn’t crumble.
Alone, Stenson and Mickelson rumbled
Neck-and-neck at the top.
When the final putt dropped
It was Henrik who couldn’t be humbled.
The photo came from this post at

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Can Stacy Get It Done THIS Time?

She's in position to win yet again at the Marathon Classic. Can Stacy Lewis finally break her drought and post a win?

Stacy Lewis

It's an intriguing situation for many reasons. Not only has Stacy gone winless for a bit over two years, but she's a native of Toledo (the Marathon Classic is played in Sylvania, Ohio, which is a suburb of Toledo) and also a spokesperson for Marathon. And she finally seems to be swinging freely, not getting in her own way out on the course -- her 65 on Saturday was only one shot off the best score of the week.

Unfortunately for Stacy, that 64 was also shot on Saturday -- by Hyo Joo Kim, the leader going into the final round today.

The whole line-up for today seems tailor-made for some drama. Just look at the Top5, who have separated themselves from the rest of the field:
  • Hyo Joo Kim leads at -15. She was tied with Lydia Ko at the start of the day, and just left her in the dust.
  • While Hyo Joo shot 64, Lydia Ko could only manage a 67 and now trails by 3 shots at -12. Of course, if Lydia gets going, that's not too much for her to overcome.
  • Tied with Lydia is Alison Lee, who shot a 66 Saturday. Alison has been recovering from a torn labrum and is just now starting to get healthy. If she wins today, it will be her first win as a pro.
  • Then, just one shot back at -11, is the impressive tandem of Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn, who shot 65 and 66, respectively.
Things get even more interesting when you realize that Hyo Joo, Lydia and Stacy all went bogey-free on Saturday. If they're all on form today, and Alison and Ariya can put together some good rounds...

Granted, it won't be the Stenson-Mickelson duel everybody expects at The Open, but it should still be pretty good. And best of all, The Open will be over by the time the LPGA coverage starts. It's on CBS at 4pm ET.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Henrik Stenson on Ball Position

A very short post today, but one that may help many of you improve your iron game dramatically. Golf Digest did a post with three tips from Henrik Stenson on how to make better contact. I want to focus on his tip concerning ball position.

Henrik at setup

For all of his stock iron shots -- that means all normal shots from a good lie -- Henrik uses the exact same ball position relative to his lead foot. In order to "move" the ball forward in his stance for his longer irons, he merely widens his stance by moving his trailing foot back a bit. That moves his upper body back a little, giving him the same result as if he had actually moved the ball.

The advantage? He simplifies his address position and makes it easier to get the ball in the same position each time for each iron.

This is a trick that many players use. You may have heard it before, but I'm sure many of you haven't. And given how well Henrik is playing at Troon this week, it's clear that it's working well for him! Perhaps it will work for you too.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Martin Hall on Hitting the Stinger (Video)

Since it's Open Week, here's a new School of Golf video on how to hit a stinger, compliments of Martin Hall. Super-simple, easy to follow.

Martin really strips it to the fundamentals here. Three simple keys:
  • Tee the ball low. (Yes, use a tee!)
  • Play the ball back in your stance a bit. (That's different from most tee shots.)
  • Keep your lead wrist bowed at impact. (Watch the video. You still want to 'release' your wrists after impact, because that's the only way you'll get any distance with this shot. But the idea is to delay your release long enough for the shot to launch at a low angle.)
I know what you're thinking: How do I keep my lead wrist bowed? The best way is to "think late." By that, I mean to think about unleashing your wrist cock when your forearms are pointed at the ground about 18 inches past the tee. That should help you keep the bowed position long enough. As you can see in the video, Martin's wrists are starting to uncock before he reaches the ball -- you can tell because of the blur. But contact happens so quickly that you don't need to delay your release for very long!

If you find yourself hitting into the wind and/or absolutely have to get your tee shot in the fairway, this is a great shot. Just remember that the ball doesn't fly as far; it gets most of its distance from roll. Make sure there aren't any hazards -- or gorse! -- in your way.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Ladies Are Playing Too

In case links golf isn't quite your cup of tea, you still have a chance to watch some golf this week. The LPGA is playing the Marathon Classic in Ohio, and GC is going to shoehorn some coverage into its line-up, in-between the Open coverage.

Defending champion Chella Choi with the Maration trophy

The defending champion is Chella Choi, who broke through to get her first win at this event last year.

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his blog. After reading it, I was originally surprised to see that both Brooke Henderson and Lydia Ko are playing this week. But since neither is in the UL International Crown next week, I guess they figure they'll still be able to get enough rest before the RICOH Women's British Open the following week.

However, Stacy Lewis and Haru Nomura are also playing despite being in the International Crown next week. With the Olympics less than a month away, I hope this strategy doesn't backfire on thism.

At any rate, GC will be showing a couple hours of taped coverage tonight and Friday between 8pm and 10pm ET. I'm not sure if Saturday's 6pm-8pm ET coverage will be taped or not, but the CBS coverage on Sunday from 4pm-6pm ET should definitely be live.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Full NBC/Golf Channel Open Schedule

Geoff Shackelford did an article for Golf Digest about how GC and NBC are planning to make sure their first year of Open coverage is really solid. The article makes for interesting reading, as it gives you all the dirt on who will do the production work, the announcing and even the music.

But the most important part is the complete broadcast schedule for the event, starting this morning (Wednesday). I've reprinted that schedule below. Please note that GC is going to broadcast 14.5 STRAIGHT HOURS OF ACTUAL OPEN GOLF COVERAGE on both Thursday and Friday, in addition to the standard before and after wrap-up shows. And that's not including the 10.5 STRAIGHT HOURS of combined GC and NBC coverage on both Saturday and Sunday.


NBC/Golf Channel Programming at the 145TH Open
(All Times EST)
  • Wednesday, July 13
    • Golf Central Live From The Open -- 8 AM -- 1 PM / 7-9 PM
    • Morning Drive -- 11:30 PM -- 1:30 AM
  • Thursday & Friday, July 14-15
    • 1:30 AM -- 4 PM (Golf Channel)
    • Golf Central Live 4 PM -- 5 PM
  • Saturday, July 16
    • 4 AM -- 7 AM (Golf Channel)
    • 7 AM -- 2:30 PM (NBC)
    • Golf Central Live 8 PM -- 9 PM
  • Sunday, July 17
    • 4 AM -- 7 AM (Golf Channel)
    • 7 AM -- 2 PM (NBC)
    • Golf Central Live 6 PM -- 7 PM
Given that GC and NBC already have decades of experience doing this kind of live coverage -- as opposed to FOX, who are still feeling their way through their first couple of years -- this has the potential to be one of the best-televised majors ever. I'm really looking forward to this!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the Open

Defending champion Zach Johnson escorted "Miss Claret" (as he calls her) back to the R&A on Monday, so everything is in place for the start of the 145th Open at Royal Troon this week.

Open pin flag at Royal Troon

The course is wet and windy now. It's going to be wet and windy later this week. And with temperatures expected in the 50s and 60s -- that's Fahrenheit, not Celsius -- it's probably going to be a cool, windy, sloppy wet week.

Ah, yes. Typical Open weather, perhaps a bit softer than usual.

And so I have to take that into account with my picks this week. One caveat here -- I'm leaving Alex Noren off my list. It's not because I don't think he can win; I most certainly do. His play last week at the Scottish Open was awesome. But the odds say a back-to-back is unlikely, despite what Phil Mickelson did in 2013. And the logic makes sense to me, because winning on two links courses in as many weeks -- especially if the weather is rough, as it was last week -- is a huge task.

So while I wish Alex good luck, I'm not picking him this week. Alas, I have too many great players to choose from! But I've thinned it down to these five:
  • Zach Johnson isn't the longest of players. But he is one of the few players to win majors at both Augusta National and St. Andrews, both long courses. And he won those events in bad weather. ZJ is a mudder, his putting seems to be returning to form, and he had last week off so he's rested. I think he could become one of those rare players to defend an Open.
  • Likewise, Dustin Johnson makes my list. DJ also took last week off. In fact, this has been his pattern to win his last two events -- major, week off, WGC, week off -- and he has played well in nasty Opens before. Yeah, DJ makes my list.
  • Danny Lee has only played one Open; that was 2015 and he missed the cut. But I was impressed by his play at the Scottish Open last week, especially in that nasty weather they had the first two days. Instead of sitting home because he couldn't defend at the cancelled Greenbrier, he zipped over to Scotland and got that whole time change thing out of his system. I think he'll be a strong contender at Troon.
  • Matteo Manassero entered last week at 596 in the OWGR. He jumped more than 350 spots to 342 with his T3 finish at the Scottish. He's struggled since trying to add distance a couple of years ago, but he has three Top13s in his last 5 starts. And he played well during the bad weather last week -- he looked like he's back to just "see ball, hit ball, find ball, hit ball again" golf. That could serve him well this week.
  • And my flier? I debated taking Padraig Harrington because he played well last week, but I'm going waaaaaay out on a limb and taking Callum Shinkwin instead. I know, most of you have never heard of this English golfer. He's only 23, he turned pro in 2013, he's a European Tour rookie and he's never played in a major. But he also finished T9 at the Open de France and T8 last week at Castle Stuart. That's some serious golf on two outstanding courses, so he's GOT to be confident.
Picking just one of these guys is hard. But I'm taking Danny Lee to snag his first major, even though Castle Stuart should have worn him out. Nevertheless, Danny has proven to be a bit of an iron man on Tour, so I'm betting he'll buck the odds.

And Callum Shinkwin is my dark horse.

Now I'll just sit back and see who Miss Claret goes home with this year.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 US Women’s Open

Winner: Brittany Lang

Around the wider world of golf: Alex Noren won the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on the ET; Paul Goydos won the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open on the Champions Tour; Rick Lamb won the LECOM Health Challenge on the Tour; Dan McCarthy won the Players Cup on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; and Hideto Tanihara got back-to-back victories by winning the Japan PGA Championship Nissin Cupnoodle Cup on the Japan Tour.

Brittany Lang with US Women's Open trophy

Since the PGA Tour wasn't playing this week -- you'll recall that the Greenbrier was cancelled because of the devastating floods in West Virginia -- I considered my options for the Limerick Summary this week. And although the Scottish Open was tempting, the ladies were playing their biggest major. How could I ignore that, even if it looked to be an open-and-shut case of 'Lydia wins again'?

But it wasn't the Lydia Ko Show after all. In fact, it wasn't the show anybody expected when they looked at the US Women's Open leaderboard before the final round. CordeValle bared its teeth in a way that few expected, with winds gusting over 30mph, and players struggled just to touch the score that led after the first round!

Lydia Ko did manage the feat briefly before a double-bogey at the ninth pretty much dashed her hopes for a third major. She did post her best-ever finish in a US Women's Open with a T3, but she'll probably think about that questionable shot from the rough for a while. Amy Yang managed another Top5 in this event, and Sung Hyun Park proved that even the longest of hitters can struggle against a USGA setup.

Instead, Brittany Lang -- no short hitter herself -- managed a 1-under round to maintain her place at the top while Anna Nordqvist tore a path through the field with an unbelievable round of 5-under. The two friends went to a three-hole playoff where Anna unknowingly grounded her 5-iron in a bunker on her approach to 17. Unlike the men's US Open, there was no question that a rule had been broken.

However, the USGA could have handled it a bit better. In hindsight, the playoff should have been halted momentarily in the 18th fairway while the decision was made. Instead, Anna was allowed to play her third shot without knowledge of her 2-stroke penalty while Brittany DID know before her third. While this hasn't been a banner year for the USGA on these decisions, at least we know Anna was unlikely to make up two shots after the decision was made, regardless of whether she knew before or after her third shot, so the result was most likely unaffected. (This is, btw, also Anna's best finish in this major, and in any major since she won the KPMG Women's PGA back in 2009.)
One other quick note: For those of you who are interested, Gerina Piller's T8 finish was good enough after all. She moves up to #15 in the Rolex Rankings this week and thus becomes the third woman on the US Olympic golf team.
Since Brittany is the only Duke University alumni to win on the LPGA (Duke is located in Durham NC, so of course I'd know that), this win also makes her the only LPGA major winner from Duke. And, appropriately enough, it makes her the only Dukie on the LPGA to merit her own Limerick Summary:
It’s a bittersweet victory for Lang.
They did not know, before Anna swang,
There were penalty shots—
Although, knowing or not,
Lang would likely have won, just the same.
The photo came from this photo page at

Sunday, July 10, 2016

How to Hit a Wedge Farther (video)

That's not exactly what teacher Mike Granato says in this Instagram video, but it's probably how you'll get the most use from his tip. Golf Digest featured the tip, and their article adds some helpful info.

Granato says this tip will help you when you need to hit the ball over a tree and carry a hazard behind it. But I think most of you will use this tip to hit your wedges and short irons a bit farther to hard greens, because the ball stops quicker when it comes down from a higher trajectory.

Here, take a look at the video:

In case you don't understand what Granato's suggesting, he wants you to let the last finger or two of your lead hand hang off the butt end of the club's handle. That means you won't grip the club with the last two or three fingers of your lead hand. Rather, you'll grip with the thumb, index and middle fingers of your lead hand. The last finger or two will just curl up against the butt end of the handle.

The result of this grip change is that you'll effectively get the length of a longer iron when you swing, which means you can hit the ball farther and higher. And that's why Granato recommends limiting this technique to clubs that are 7-iron or shorter -- the longer the club, the harder it will be to control your swing.

As I said, I suspect most of you will find this technique is most helpful when you're hitting to a hard green and need a higher trajectory so the ball will land softer, but the shot is a bit longer than you can normally hit your wedge. Gripping any of your wedges this way could give you another ten to fifteen yards of distance without sacrificing the height of the shot... and that should make it easier to stop the shot quickly.

But make sure you practice this shot before taking it to the course. With fewer fingers gripping the club, it's going to take some getting used to.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Surprises at the US Women's Open

This is Sung Hyun Park's very first US Women's Open -- her first USGA tournament of any kind, for that matter, and only her fifth LPGA start. But here she sits, on top of the leaderboard at the halfway point at -8. I doubt that anyone picked her at the start of the week

But then, it's been a week of surprises so far.

Sung Hyun Park

The cut came at +4, higher than expected because the course turned really nasty on Friday afternoon. Firm conditions and a different wind direction caught players off-guard -- including three of my "5 to Watch" picks. At least Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson and So Yeon Ryu made the cut, but at +3 they're unlikely to be in contention come Sunday.

My other two picks, Amy Yang (-6, T2) and Lydia Ko (-5, T4), made their way to the top as expected. Haru Nomura (also T4) isn't a surprise either. But the rest of the Top10 -- which actually includes 14 players -- is not what most of us expected.

For obvious reasons, I looked for the American players. Danielle Kang and Jessica Korda are at -4 (T6), while Mo Martin, Angela Stanford and Sydnee Michaels are at -3 (T10). Only 'Mighty Mo' has a major, but it's a Women's British Open; given the firm and windy conditions, her accuracy helps her overcome her lack of distance.

In fact, while I don't want to rule anybody out this early, there are four players near the top who are proven in these kinds of conditions -- Yang, Ko, Nomura and Martin. If these conditions continue, they may become the new favorites. (Yes, I know Lydia is always a favorite!)

Can Sung Hyun Park hang on? Will experience win out? Or will we see yet another surprise winner this week? At this point, it's anybody's guess.

Remember that today the Open TV coverage moves from FOXSPORTS1 to the regular FOX Network from 3pm-7pm ET. also says that will broadcast during the same hours.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Jean Van de Velde Joins the Champions Tour

A lot of newsworthy things happened on Thursday. The European Tour had to issue an apology for setting up the Castle Stuart Golf Links course too hard for the weather, while the USGA may think they made the opposite error since Mirim Lee shot a 64 at CordeValle, which tied a US Open record. Bo Hossler confirmed that, surgery or no, he's leaving the University of Texas and turning pro. And Jaco Van Zyl said he's skipping The Open and the PGA Championship to get ready for the Olympics. All very big stories in their own right.

But I have to believe that the most interesting story so far this week is that Jean Van de Velde is joining the Champions Tour this week. Here's the brief clip from GC where Van de Velde talked about it.

USAToday posted this article about his return. You may know that Van de Velde has been running the French Open since he stopped competing in 2011 -- he was front-and-center last week, because he's done a good job at the event. He's always had a sense of humor about his game -- and his disaster at Carnoustie back in 1999 -- and I love some of the comments he's made.

For example, this one about his return this week:
"You feel like you kind of miss the adrenaline of competing, and I have to say that's not something that goes away that easily. Unfortunately, my clubs are not really listening right now."
And you have to love his perspective on the game:
"I want to compete with the guys that I've been playing with over the years. I want to play. I stopped because, you know, not that my time has gone but you're 44 years of age, you have four children, you want to see them grow up, you want to be there a little more."
I've always appreciated Jean Van de Velde's ability to accept the 'might-have-beens' of his life and stay optimistic. I hope he does well on the Champions Tour, because he's the kind of person who will appreciate what they have and what he can do there.

The Dick's Sporting Goods Open -- which is played at the En-Joie Golf Club in New York, home of the old B.C. Open (named after B.C. the comic strip character) -- comes on today at 4pm ET on GC. If you aren't watching the US Women's Open, you might want to peek in on Jean and see how he's doing.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Review: Trials & Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions

Trials & Triumphs book coverI haven't done a book review in a while, and I think a lot of you may be interested in this one. It's called Trials & Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions and it's by Lyle Slovick, who is a consultant for the USGA and a historian. It contains in-depth biographies of six different players and one caddie.

First, I need to give you the customary disclaimer, which is basically telling you how I came to be reviewing this book. There are companies that specialize in getting new books reviewed at a number of blogs on sequential days. It's called, not surprisingly, a blog tour. (This particular company is TLC Book Tours.) I agreed to do this one for a couple of reasons:
  • One, I wasn't required to give a good review if I didn't like the book. (Of course, if they're willing to give you that freedom, you can be pretty sure you won't get a bad book, you know?)
  • Two, because there are so many blogs reviewing the book, I didn't have to do the standard type of review. That means I can do the review in a way I think will give you the best idea of whether this book is for you or not.
And that's what I'm doing. Rather than reviewing the entire book, I'm only going to review one of the biographies and try to give you a perspective that other reviews probably won't. So let's get on with it.

As I said, this book gives biographies of seven golf figures:
  • Harry Vardon
  • Bobby Jones
  • Ben Hogan
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias
  • Charlie Sifford
  • Ken Venturi
  • Bruce Edwards
All of them dealt with unusually difficult struggles in their lives -- illnesses, accidents and racial discrimination. And Slovick does a good job of uncovering all sorts of interesting facts about their lives, and giving us a sense of the person we might have known had we been friends with them.

To demonstrate this, I'm going to focus on only one of the biographies -- that of Harry Vardon. Again, I picked Vardon for two reasons:
  • One, because Vardon was born in 1870 and therefore he's going to be the hardest to find in-depth information about.
  • Two, because I've been studying Vardon's swing in considerable depth, so I have some idea of which information is easily available and which is difficult to uncover.
And I have to say, I am suitably impressed with the information in this book.

Author Lyle SlovickThere are 127 different footnotes in the section about Vardon... and a huge number of them come from sources I had not uncovered. There are facts not only about Vardon's life -- some of which weren't known widely even during his lifetime -- but about key aspects of his golf swing, playing strategies, and even why he dressed the way he did when he played. (I had reasoned out some of it in my own studies, but Slovick found outright explanations that confirmed them.)

Slovick has sprinkled all kinds of little jewels throughout his work. As just one example, I learned that Vardon had two nicknames. One was "the Stylist" because his style was so smooth and rhythmical. The other was "the Greyhound," given to him by St. Andrews pro Andrew Kirkaldy because "at the height of Harry's career other players were unable to catch him." To me, those are the kind of memorable touches that make a book stand out.

To say that I was amazed at the sheer amount of info he found that I had not come across thus far would be a huge understatement!

Slovick has done similar research on all the persons in his book. And in many cases he has found that they had interesting interactions with each other. For example, he writes:
Venturi befriended Charlie Sifford in those days when racism dogged him. When the restaurant at the Pensacola Country Club wouldn't let Charlie eat there, Venturi spoke up, then took his own breakfast and joined Charlie in the locker room to eat. (page xxviii)
Trials & Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions is a fascinating book by a historian who apparently approached this as a real work of love. This book may eventually become a reference book simply because of the amount of information it gathers in a single place. (I know it will be for me.) And even if you only get it for the biography of one favorite player (or caddie!), I don't think you'll feel that you wasted your money.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Second Ben Shear Core Workout (Video)

A little over a week ago I posted the first of three Golf Digest core workout videos from fitness instructor Ben Shear. That one focused on half-kneeling exercises.

Today's video is the second in his three-part series. This one focuses on "resistance" standing exercises.

When I call these resistance exercises, I mean that you aren't trying to make an obvious body movement like a waist bend. Instead, you're just trying to maintain a vertical body position while an outside force -- in this case, a resistance band -- tries to make you move.

Here are the three exercises, all done from a standing position:
  • You straighten your arms in front of your chest and try to keep them there while the band tries to make you rotate.
  • Then you straighten your arms above your head and try to keep them there while the band tries to make you bend sideways.
  • Finally you straighten your arms above your head but you try to keep them there while the band tries to make you lean backwards.
And of course, you need to do these exercises on each side of your body.

One of the things I like about these exercises is that you can position yourself so the band doesn't place too much stress on your body for your current strength level, but you don't have to take time to change weights on a machine. All you have to do is step a bit closer to or away from the band's anchor point to adjust the amount of tension you feel. (Of course, you can do these with a weight machine at the gym if you want, but the band is much simpler.)

As I have said before, I LOVE simple exercises. And they don't get much simpler than these.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the US Women's Open

The women are back in action at a major this week, this time at the US Women's Open at CordeValle Golf Club in Santa Clara County, California. CordeValle hosted the Open for four years, so this continues the new tradition of staging LPGA majors at venues proven to challenge PGA Tour players.

CordeValle Golf Club

Tony Jesselli has done his customary preview of the event, so I won't repeat his work other than to mention that In Gee Chun is the defending champion.

As for making my picks this week, it's hard not to just go chalk. Unlike the top male golfers, who seem to be playing erratically despite continuing to finish high in events, the ladies seem to be in the form you would expect when you see their world rankings.

A few seemingly obvious picks are missing from my list. Ariya Jutanugarn won three in a row earlier this season, but I think that streak is over for the time being. I still think Gerina Piller will win this season, but I think the Olympics are on her mind and that's the reason she hasn't played as well over the last few weeks. And defending champ In Gee Chun just seems a bit off her game lately.

Here are my picks, in Rolex order:
  • Lydia Ko (#1) continues to play well despite the occasional poor drive. Her bad drives are rarely truly horrible, and then she just takes her medicine. As a result, she has a win and a runner-up in a major, as well as two other wins this season. Having just won at the Walmart event, you have to expect another good showing this week.
  • Brooke Henderson (#2) has two wins this season, including one major and a win just this past week. She had a rough couple of putting days in Portland, yet still won the event. The knowledge that she can "win ugly" should stand her in good stead this week at CordeValle.
  • Lexi Thompson (#4) is the only American with a win this season. Her problem -- as usual -- is a streaky putter. If that comes around this week, she should be contending on Sunday.
  • Amy Yang (#9) always seems to end up on leaderboards at majors, but often it's one bad round that takes her out of it. But the US Women's Open is the major where she seems to play best, so this may be the week she breaks through.
  • And my flier -- if you can call any of these ladies a flier -- is So Yeon Ryu (#11). She's been making changes to her game for the last year or so and they finally seem to be taking hold over the last few weeks. I won't be surprised if she has another good major showing this week.
But if I have to pick one -- and I suppose I do -- I'm taking Brooke Henderson. I don't expect her to have another bad putting week, and I think the confidence she gained from defending her title last week will put her in a good frame of mind for this major.

Don't forget that USGA events are carried by FOXSPORTS1 on Thursday and Friday, and on the FOX Network Saturday and Sunday. You can also catch some of the action on each day. The times are listed at the US Women's Open overview page at

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Limerick Summary: 2016 WGC-Bridgestone

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Brooke Henderson successfully defended her title at the Cambia Portland Classic on the LPGA; Paola Moreno won the Tullymore Classic on the Symetra Tour; Thongchai Jaidee won the 100th Open de France on the ET; Taewoo Kim won the PingAn Pravite Bank Wanda Open on the PGA TOUR China; Hideto Tanihara won the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY CUP on the Japan Golf Tour; Carlos Pigem won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on the Asian Tour; and Greg Chalmers got his first-ever PGA Tour win at the Barracuda Championship, the Tour's alternate field event.

DJ with WGC-Bridgestone trophy

"Madness takes its toll. Please have correct change."

So says the plaque sitting on my desk. It seems to be an accurate reflection of what happened at Firestone on Sunday afternoon.

Everything looked normal enough. Jason Day was still struggling with his game a bit, but he was scrambling around and holding things together the way he normally does. Scott Piercy was plodding along, keeping pace and waiting for his opportunity. And Dustin Johnson, who typically struggles around the Firestone layout, was making a late run at the title, much the way he's been doing at big tournaments lately.

And then, for about half an hour, Jason Day lost his mind. Knowing that DJ had just moved one stroke ahead of him and was on the 18th, Jason decided that the par5 16th -- with water fronting the green -- was the place where he had to make a move, despite having missed his tee shot far to the left and then hitting his recovery shot far out to the right. Instead of hitting his third safely short of the water, then using that awesome short game of his to try and salvage par, he tried to curve the ball 200 yards around the water from a poor lie.

Needless to say, the ball went in the water and he had to drop back where the lay-up would have landed anyhow. Hello, double-bogey. Good-bye, WGC title.

Meanwhile, DJ hit his drive on 18 far to the right as well, then hit a branch on his second and found himself in deep rough. He, however, played safe to the right of the green and two-putted for bogey.

Hello, two titles in a row!

Look, I'm not going to criticize J-Day for taking the gamble. He can play shots that I can't even imagine, and his explanation in the media tent almost made sense. But the word PRESSING comes to mind, and the pressure to win seems to be affecting many players these days.

And at least at this point, DJ seems to have learned the value of playing safe sometimes. Given how well he's driving and wedging the ball, and given that his putter seems to have joined the party, he's almost beginning to look like Lydia Ko -- except with the Incredible Hulk driving the ball for her. He's just using his strengths where he can, and accepting his humanity everywhere else. That's why he's got that big grin on his face in the photo above.

It's also why the rest of the field should be a bit nervous when he shows up at Royal Troon in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I am pleased to present DJ with his second Limerick Summary in less than a month. And, given the madness that overtook the leaders at the end of the round, I let a little madness affect my rhythms in the final line. It still rhymes, though:
He chased the whole week, never led—
But he finished the week one ahead!
Now that DJ is rolling,
The putts he was holing
Should send him to Troon with some street cred!
The photo came from the tournament news page at

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Quick Workshop on Brandt Snedeker's Putting

Nick Faldo mentioned an unusual fact about Brandt Snedeker's putting while GC was doing early coverage of the WGC-Bridgestone. I thought it might be fun to see how you could implement that fact into your own putting.

I've got an article from on Brandt's game in general and a putting video from YouTube that was originally on I'll add Faldo's note and my own hint at the end of this post. (The photo below is from the article.)

Snedeker putting, looking back from the hole

As you no doubt know, Brandt uses a short pop stroke rather than the longer stroke most players use. And Brandt refers to it as a "throwback" stroke, because it's much closer to the short but fluid stroke of a Bobby Jones than the supershort stroke that Billy Casper made famous. Here's Brandt's in-depth description and demonstration of his putting stroke.

Some notes from the video:
  • The most important fundamental of a pop stroke is that the head moves more than the butt end of the putter, and the head moves first in the backstroke. That's different from the modern stroke, where everything moves together.
  • Brandt's trailing hand controls the putter, and he does cock his wrist in his backswing. His lead hand basically helps steady the putter, although he says he feels that both hands are making the stroke.
  • 90% of his practice putts are from five feet and in. He putts with a speed that will take the ball three or four feet past the hole if he misses, so this way he never worries about the comeback putt.
There's plenty of good instruction from him in this video if you want to use a pop stroke.

The article has five tips from Brandt (from tee to green), and the last two focus on making five-footers and 15-footers. The main points are:
  • Five-footers are more about mechanics; 15-footers are more about feel.
  • His stroke has virtually NO followthrough after the ball is hit.
  • He has a strong lead hand grip to help keep the clubface from closing at impact. He wants to keep the face square as long as possible.
Now we get to what Nick Faldo said on GC. He asked Brandt about his grip pressure, on a scale from 1 to 10. Faldo figures the average putter would put his pressure at around 5. He was shocked when Brandt said his grip pressure was a 1, which means he is barely putting any pressure at all on the handle! This is particularly interesting since a pop stroke puts a lot more force into the swing.

I've mentioned in other posts that I've been studying classic swings, and I can tell you that the grip in those swings is different from a modern swing. What Brandt says matches up very well with what I've been learning, and I'll tell you one simple way to make a light grip pressure work in your putting stroke -- whether it's a pop stroke or not.

The modern approach is to grip more tightly with the last two or three fingers of the lead hand, which puts the pressure at the butt end of the handle. For a throwback stroke like Brandt's, you want to put the pressure in the thumb and forefinger of the trailing hand, which puts the pressure down closer to the bare shaft. If you do this, you'll find that it stabilizes the handle so much that you can simply use the friction of your palms and fingers to keep the handle in place!

Now take a good look at that photo above. See how the forefinger on Brandt's lead hand overlaps at least two of the fingers on his trailing hand? That makes it even easier to keep the friction against the handle. I don't do it because it doesn't feel particularly comfortable to me -- I just overlap one finger, which is the traditional way -- but I've found that I have no trouble using an extremely light grip pressure as long as I put a bit more pressure in the thumb and forefinger of my trailing hand.

And if you think about it, that's exactly where you put the pressure if you just grip a golf ball in your fingers and throw it underhand, which is exactly the feel this pop putting method was intended to duplicate when the early pros first began using it.

So there you have it -- a quick workshop on the Snedeker pop stroke. Sometimes the old ways are still pretty good.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

And Then There's Muirfield

Unlike a lot of people, I'm not going to rag on Muirfield for not opening its membership to women. Muirfield is a privately-owned golf club and, as such, has a right to set its own policies -- including their decision concerning who they will allow to join their club.

But with Royal Troon's decision Friday to allow women members, it does leave Muirfield in the awkward position of being the only course in the Open rota that doesn't allow women.

Excuse me, I should amend that statement: Muirfield is the only course THAT USED TO BE in the Open rota that doesn't allow women.

Muirfield sign

In fairness, it should be pointed out that at least some women are allowed to play Muirfield as guests for free. In an article with the UK Telegraph, Peter Alliss said he believed women would balk at paying a fee to join. Here's one quote:
“The fact is if you talked to the wives of members of Muirfield they would be horrified at the prospect of being allowed to join. The wives can use all the facilities at the club but it doesn’t cost them anything. If they had to pay to join they would be horrified."
Do the perks of being the wife of a member extend to women who don't hold that position? The article doesn't say. But the rest of the article makes for interesting reading, as it certainly sounds as though other women wouldn't be as welcome as the wives.

After the Muirfield vote, it was reported that Troon intended to have a similar vote, in hopes of heading off a possible boycott of this year's Open, and many expected that the women would win the day. Were the results of the Troon vote further influenced by the R&A's decision to take Muirfield off the rota? It's hard to believe the ban wasn't at least a consideration, and the R&A wasted no time reassuring the club that they would remain on the rota going forward.

Muirfield is supposed to hold another vote sometime soon. The club’s captain, Henry Fairweather, was quoted in the Guardian as saying:
"The club committee believes that a clear and decisive vote in favour of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the club that has been damaged by the earlier ballot outcome.”
But the damage may not be so easily undone. Even if a new vote gives women the nod, that doesn't mean that the attitudes of the members themselves have changed. And even though it appears that the first vote didn't represent the predominant attitude of the club members, it's hard to believe that the negative vote will be forgotten soon. It's just not human nature to forgive and forget.

Muirfield may find that lesson a hard one to learn.

The photo came from the Telegraph article quoted above.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Coach Justin Bruton on Controlling Shot Shape (Two Videos)

Today I have two short videos with tips that might save you some strokes. In the first video, GCA Lead Coach Justin Bruton talks about how to straighten your tee shot when you HAVE to hit the fairway.

Then, in a seemingly contradictory video, he shows you how to control a slice or a hook by changing your trajectory.

Apparently contradictory, but it depends on what problem you're facing.

In the first video, he wants you to hit the ball higher to put more backspin on the ball. That tends to make the ball fly straighter; it's the reason that wedge shots tend to fly straighter than drives. But this advice assumes that you've got pretty good control of your game that day, and you just need to make sure you don't overdraw or overfade the shot.

But what if you're struggling to keep your ball on the fairway to start with? Now you move to the advice in the second video.

If you're struggling with a hook, the natural ball flight is a duck hook -- a low shot. In this case, hitting the ball higher puts more backspin on the ball and the shot tends to straighten out.

But if you're struggling with a slice, you're almost certainly hitting the ball too high -- a shot notoriously known as a 'crop duster'. In this case, lowering the trajectory straightens the shot because you have to square up the face in order to hit the ball lower.

So the advice you should use depends on whether you're in control of your shot and just have a tight fairway to hit... or whether you're struggling to hit a fairway period. Obviously these fixes are meant to be used in the middle of a round, not to be permanent changes to your swing. Fix the problem on the range, but use these tips if you need help during the round.