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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Stan Utley's Secret to Simplifying Your Short Game

This comes from Stan Utley's book The Art of the Swing, which was unique when it came out (in 2011) for including "scan codes" to let you access smartphone lessons. I thought this short quote from the book might give many of you a new approach to help you better understand how the short game works.

In a chapter about halfway through the book called One Club, Five Shots Utley suggests learning several short game shots with only one club -- he recommends a 58° wedge. Here's a slightly condensed quote from that chapter:
Understanding the basic mechanics that go into the different shots you hit -- and how the concept of sequencing applies to those shots -- is what I would call "school." You have to learn the basics and repeat the lessons, and the tests come at the end, when it's time to go out into the real world.

Now that we've spent some time talking about the form, the sequence and the feel of different shots, I want to take those lessons out of the classroom and onto the course to show how they fit together within your entire golf game.

And I'm going to do it with one club -- my 58-degree wedge.

Why one club? It's simple -- literally and figuratively. When I do a large clinic, some of the first questions I always get are about club selection fro different shots around the green... But I believe doing it that way isn't always the simplest way.

I believe the easiest way to hit consistently good shots and develop better touch and feel is to take one club and make it your short-game specialty club. Then take the time to learn the ins and outs of that one club -- what you need to do to make shots go high or low, long or short. By getting way more practice time and reps with one club, you're going to be more comfortable and confident with it...

Understanding how to play different shots with the same go-to club will make you a complete player. You'll have a better chance of manufacturing a specialty shot for a unique situation using a club you've hit with a million times before. I'm not saying it's wrong to use different clubs around the green... But, I believe you'll get the most consistent positive results from learning the vagaries of one wedge and building a collection of different shots with that wedge. [pp 87-88]
Many of you know that I recommend a two-club approach to the short game -- typically, it'll be a lob wedge for short-sided high shots and either 8-iron, 9-iron or pitching wedge for almost everything else. (Clubs with straighter faces are easier to hit consistently.) But I'm not against Stan's approach. His logic is sound -- if you use one club a lot, you'll get really good with it and be confident when you use it. You probably already do that with other clubs in your bag. (I still remember a scramble I played in where I used a 7-wood from places where my teammates were using lob wedges... and getting my shots closer every time. Confidence matters!)

In the book -- which, unless you can find it used, is no longer available (and the listings I found were awfully expensive) -- Stan uses the one-club approach to teach the low chip-and-run, lofted pitch, bunker shot, trouble shot and distance pitch. In the past I've done posts on just about all of these, I think, although they aren't always called by Stan's names. And if I've missed any, there are plenty of videos and articles about them on the web.

But no matter where you find the instruction, learning the techniques for all sorts of short game shots by using just one club is a solid approach to improving your game quickly. It eliminates one of the variables in the shot -- you're always using the same loft -- so it's easier to learn exactly what you need to do to make each shot work.

And once you learn the techniques, you can always expand your repertoire to include two or three or even more clubs, if you want. ;-)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How Far Can DJ Whack One? (Video)

Forgive me, but I found this little humor piece at the Golf Digest site and couldn't resist posting it. Here -- in various everyday "measurements" -- is how long DJ's longest drive this season is. (If you just want yards, it's 428.)

Personally, I find the school buses are the best unit of measure for me to visualize the distance.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Dean & Deluca Invitational

Winner: Kevin Kisner

Around the wider world of golf: Bernhard Langer won the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, becoming the first player to win all five Champions Tour majors and winning one more CT major than Jack Nicklaus; Alex Noren shot a record-tying 62 at the BMW PGA Championship, becoming the first Swede to win the ET's flagship event; Shanshan Feng won the LPGA Volvik Championship on the LPGA; and Chan Kim won the Gate Way To The Open Mizuno Open on the Japan Golf Tour.

Kevin Kisner with D&D trophy

Although the winds did their damage during the third round of the Dean & Deluca, the final round proved to be the most difficult. With Hogan's Alley tempting the players to go low, the pressure to put up that low score proved a bit much for the leaders. The players posting the lowest scores were just a bit too far back to make a decisive move.

Even Jordan Spieth's impressive bogey-free 65 came up a stroke short, as did the 66s posted by John Rahm and Sean O'Hair, despite final-round leader Webb Simpson's stumble on the way in.

But Kevin Kisner's 66 was, to borrow the words of a certain Baby Bear, "just right."

Kisner has come painfully close to his second win so many times in the last couple of seasons, posting six Top5s just since his first win. But Sunday, his rock-steady play around Colonial was enough to put this title out of everyone else's reach. As Spieth stood on a folding chair beside the 18th green, watching to see if he'd get a chance at a playoff, Kisner calmly made two strokes with his putter to snatch away all hope.

Hogan would have been proud. And I'm proud to give Kevin his second Limerick Summary. Perhaps there will be more on the horizon if he keeps playing this way.
The back nine was brutal. It wrested
The patience from each man it tested.
But Kisner was calm
So O'Hair, Spieth and Rahm
Could say little but how they were bested.
The photo came from the wrap-up page at

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Callaway Puts Jailbreak in Some New Irons

I saw this article at the Golf Digest site earlier this week, but I'm just now posting a link to it. It's not because I expect many of you want to buy a set -- at $2000 for eight steel-shafted irons, it's a hefty price -- but because I suspect we'll be seeing this sort of tech trickle down to lower-priced irons before long.

Callaway Epic Iron

The tech in the new Callaway Epic irons is way too complex for someone like me to explain, but this article does a pretty good job of "dumbing it down" for us laymen. It's not just a matter of incorporating the Jailbreak technology, which stiffened the framework around more flexible driver faces. There is a new cup shape around the iron face, new metal mixtures to redistribute weight removed from the traditional heavy areas, and a new design concept to shape how these innovations are combined.

As I said, I don't know that many of you will be rushing out to lay down hard cash for the irons or the new Epic hybrids, which are also described in the article. But at the very least, you know that Callaway will find ways to incorporate this tech into their less-expensive irons. It's hard to believe that the other manufacturers won't start developing their own versions if the Epic line is as successful as Callaway hopes.

We might as well get a leg up on the tech now, before it gets too complex to grasp.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ai Miyazato to Retire

Earlier this week, it was HaNa Jang announcing she would be leaving the LPGA Tour next month. Now it's Ai Miyazato... but her announcement sounds more final.

Ai Miyazato

According to articles at, and, Ai will be holding a press conference in Japan on Monday to announce her retirement from the LPGA at the end of this year.

Now, it's a bit unclear to me exactly what Ai has in mind. The official (but short) announcement at simply says:
Ai Miyazato announces her retirement from the LPGA Tour at the end of the 2017 season and will hold a press conference on May 29 in Japan. There, she will share her thoughts on the decision and will thank all the people who have supported her during her 14-year professional career.
This announcement says she will retire from the LPGA, which could mean that she might play some on the JLPGA. But it also says she "will thank all the people who have supported her during her 14-year professional career."

Ai's LPGA career is only 12 years long, since 2006. She became a pro and joined the JLPGA 14 years ago, in 2004. That sounds like she's calling it quits on any tour.

In many ways, this isn't a surprise. Ai has dealt with a number of injuries over the last few years. Given that she was never a big hitter, it may have been difficult to get back in playing shape. She's also fought putting problems lately, and has only had one Top10 finish in the last two years. GC's article also notes that she's struggled with motivation -- not surprising, given the other problems she's faced.

It will be interesting to hear exactly what she says Monday. But whatever it is, the LPGA -- and golf as a whole -- is going to miss Ai Miyazato.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dealing with Conflicting Wedge Advice (Video)

A couple days back, I posted a short game video from Lee Trevino. Lee knows what he's talking about because he has always had a great short game.

But so does Phil Mickelson. And if you watch this slideshow of Phil's chipping at the Golf Digest site, you'll get some different guidance than you will from Lee.

And if you watch this short game video from Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Brandon Stooksbury (the video below), you'll get yet another approach. Who's right? Who's wrong? What's a poor player to do?

Let me give you a few tips to help sort things out.

One thing that I noticed right off is that none of these videos is specific about which short game shot they're teaching! I can tell you that Lee is teaching a pitch shot, and Phil is teaching a flop shot, but Brandon is teaching something midway in-between.

How do I know this, you ask? Because I look for some specific clues in the slideshow and videos. You can look for these things too.

First, if possible, I look for clues about the trajectory of the shot.
  • I can see that Lee's shot is flying pretty high when he hits it, and I can see that he and Billy are quite a distance away from the green. Lee is also using a lob wedge; I could tell that when I ran the video full screen.
  • I can see that Phil's shot is shooting almost straight up in the air (the final slide shows all the pictures in sequence), and the text on the second slide says he's using 60° and 64° wedges.
  • I can see that Brandon's shot looks to be flying about the same height as Lee's, but I can see from another section of the video (just keep reading) that he's using a lob wedge like Phil and Lee.
Although all three men are using lob wedges of some sort, the trajectories are slightly different. Those differences are explained as I gather other info.

Second, you need to note the stance. Lee and Phil both use an open stance, Brandon uses a square stance. (Lee doesn't say his stance is open, but you can see it in the down-the-line shots of both him and Billy Andrade.) If you open your stance, you also have to open the clubface. Otherwise you'll pull all your shots.

Third, check the ball position. Lee says to place it back in your stance, Phil has the ball opposite his lead heel, and Brandon say to place it forward although he actually has the ball just ahead of center, as you can see in the video.
Let me make a quick note about playing the ball back in an open stance. It sounds funny but, with an open stance, your stance is effectively narrower than the same width in a straight stance, so the ball is actually closer to the middle of your stance. If that doesn't make sense to you, let me know in the comments and I'll do a post to explain it. For now, just take my word.
But you can't stop with just knowing the ball position...

Fourth, you have to check weight distribution at setup. If your weight is more on your lead foot, the ball is probably being played farther forward. With a more balanced weight distribution, the ball position is going to be farther back. Phil has 99% of his weight on his lead foot, according to the text on slide #3. Lee has his weight more on his lead foot, but not nearly as much as Phil. And Brandon's weight is nearly equal on both feet. (You can tell from Lee and Brandon's videos.)

Finally, you have to check how the hands and arms move when compared to the ball position. And this is where it can get tricky. Check these out:
  • We'll start with Brandon this time. Brandon specifically says not to bend your lead elbow and pull the club across the ball. That's because his stance is square. He lets his arms and shoulders work as a unit, without any manipulation, and the turn of his shoulders provides a very quiet swing where his wrists don't bend forward or back. The weight of the club pulls his hands straight out so his wrists don't flip or bend. He's playing a "straight" shot, and the ball is in the standard mid-stance position for a straight shot.
  • Lee is the exact opposite. You can see him bend his lead elbow somewhat dramatically as he swings along the aimline of his open stance, and finishes with his bent lead elbow close to his side. He's "cutting across" the ball.
  • And Phil? Although he plays from an open stance, he tries to swing straight down the line for as long as possible. The result is that he actually "chicken-wings" a bit, as you can see in the final slide's swing sequence.
These are all things you need to take note of whenever you try swing techniques that are different from what you normally do. Differences in address position make a huge difference in how the swing works, as do extra hand and elbow activity. All of these affect when you actually contact the ball during your swing, and therefore it changes what you're trying to do when you hit it.

Hope that helps you know what to look for when exploring any new golf techniques.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Congratulations, Lady Sun Devils!

In case you didn't hear, the Arizona State Lady Sun Devils won a record 8th National Division 1 Golf title, defeating the Northwestern Wildcats 3-1-1 in match play Wednesday.

Arizona State women celebrate win

And Arizona State senior Monica Vaughn was the NCAA individual champion as well. The Sun Devils cleaned up this year!

But I also send congratulations to the Wildcats. This was only their sixth appearance in this tournament, and their first time making it to the finals. That's definitely something to be proud of!

And now we get ready for the men to fight it out this weekend...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

HaNa Jang Is Leaving the LPGA Tour

In case you missed the news, HaNa Jang is leaving the LPGA Tour next month and will focus on the KLPGA Tour.

HaNa Jang

The reason? A simple one, one that's becoming a bigger consideration for both men and women on all the golf tours -- family. quoted her thus:
"I thought being world number one was the only goal in my life and that was where my happiness comes from," said the 25-year-old, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour. "But I realized there are many more important things than that.
"Even though I won four times (on the LPGA Tour), I still felt empty inside. I made this decision because being with my family is more important to me than being the world's top golfer." further expanded on her quotes:
"I made up my mind after seeing my mother, who's close to 70, lead such a lonely life here," Jang said. "I thought being the best in the world was my only goal. But from now on, I'll spend as much time with my mother as I can." 
Both and also noted that Jang has had some emotional upheavals to deal with as well. Besides the well-documented accident involving In Gee Chun -- which Chun says the two have largely dealt with -- there was criticism from the Korean press and fans over the Beyonce dance celebration at the HSBC Women's Champions, which they thought came too soon after the accident. That caused her more distress than we here in the US realized.

As I said, this isn't the first time we've seen family reasons affect a player's tour decisions. Jiyai Shinn comes to mind, having left the LPGA to spend more time at home in South Korea. Both Annika and Lorena left the LPGA to start families. Several of the PGA Tour players have taken or are taking time off from their tour to deal with family problems when, in years past, they might have tried to maintain at least some kind of schedule.

Like Jang, an increasing number of players are finding that the urge to be Number One -- whatever that happens to mean for that player -- simply isn't as satisfying as they thought it would be. And perhaps the increased prize money has made that sort of decision easier to make. Add in the never-an-off-season grind of professional golf, and it's not so surprising that players are making these decisions.

Hopefully HaNa Jang's decision will bring her the peace she's looking for. And maybe we'll get lucky -- maybe she'll find that she can still play some LPGA events after all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lee Trevino's Wedge Tips (Video)

This clip of Lee Trevino and Billy Andrade comes from Champions Tour Learning Center. Trevino gives a few keys to getting better results with your chip shots.

First, Trevino calls this a "deceleration" shot, although Andrade says he was always told to accelerate the clubhead. Think about Trevino's reasoning for a moment, and it will make perfect sense.

If you shorten your finish -- say, waist high instead of shoulder high -- your hands don't run full speed to the stopping height and then suddenly FREEZE in place! The key here is that you don't try to think about slowing your swing. Rather, it's something that HAS to happen, based on simple physics. Your body will automatically start hitting the brakes sooner -- decelerating -- when your hands have to stop sooner.

Second, he wants you to move the ball back in your stance so you can hit down on it and catch it cleanly.

And third, he wants you to put your trailing hand more on top of the club handle -- weaken your grip. The second and third tips work together. Let me try to help you understand the logic here.

Remember, Trevino says you decelerate on this shot because you aren't firing through to the finish. This is a short shot, after all, not a full shot! Because of that, your body doesn't turn as fully or as quickly on a chip shot as it does on a full shot.

But by weakening your trailing hand, you get it in a position very much like it would achieve in a full turn... but without making the full turn. It does so without making your lead wrist "break down" and flip the clubface.

And the combination of the weaker trailing hand and the ball position allows you to swing freely without worrying about digging the clubhead into the ground and pulling the chip off-line.

The result should be a relaxed swing that hits the ball toward your target, without putting extra effort into the shot. In other words, Trevino's advice should help you use the wedge's bounce better. Give it a try!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson

Winner: Billy Horschel

Around the wider world of golf: It was a busy weekend for golf! Bernhard Langer tied Jack Nicklaus's record of eight Champions Tour majors when he won the Regions Tradition; Lexi Thompson won the Kingsmill Championship on the LPGA; Stephan Jaeger won the weather-shortened BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Tour; Celine Boutier won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women's Health Classic on the Symetra Tour; Alvaro Quiros won the Rocco Forte Open on the ET; Shugo Imahira won the Kansai Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; Rattanon Wannasrichan won the Thailand Open on the Asian Tour; and Ai Suzuki won the Hoken-no-Madoguchi Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Billy Horschel with AT&T Byron Nelson trophy

This was the last time the AT&T Byron Nelson would be played at TPC Four Seasons. And the course made sure to send the Tour on a memorable sendoff.

Each day the wind was different, so it played like four different courses. The greens played hard, making it difficult to hold them with approach shots. And the putts simply refused to be predictable.

Nevertheless, four men fought it out down the stretch. Past winner Jason Day, Billy Horschel, James Hahn and Jason Kokrak each struggled to take the lead yet refused to give up the chase. No lead was safe; as one man poked his nose out in front, his pursuers picked up the pace. Only Hahn managed a birdie in the last two holes, yet he fell short.

It wasn't necessarily poor putting by the players. It was just hard to match line and speed under the conditions and the final-round pressure. That became painfully obvious when Day and Horschel went to a playoff. Neither man could sink a putt to take the title.

In the end, Horschel won when Day was unable to match him for par on the second playoff hole. It was a bit unsatisfactory for both players -- you'd really like to "win" on the final hole, not just "not lose." But a win is a win and both players found positives to carry from the event -- namely, Horschel's first win since winning the FedExCup and Day's first Top10 of the year.

But let's face it -- sometimes, victory is just a matter of outlasting your opponent. And that's certainly enough for Billy Horschel to grab his first Limerick Summary in years. Way to go, Billy-Ho!
The contenders fought hard; none would yield.
In the end, two emerged from the field—
Day and Horschel. Missed putts
At last drove both men nuts;
Horschel won when Day missed. Victory sealed.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Some New Casual Golf Shoes

Back in March I did a post about new golf shoes for 2017. Now Ashley Mayo has a new article over at the Golf Digest site called 7 Golf Shoes You Can Easily Wear Off the Course.

The main problem I have with this article is the price of the shoes. (Of course, that's becoming a common problem with golf shoes. But I digress...) There's only one shoe in her list that's under $100, and that's the FootJoy GreenJoys for $70, shown below.

FootJoy GreenJoys

My original post included FootJoy Contour Casuals for $100, and both FootJoy models appear to have similar soles. In either case, FootJoy seems to be the company to check for less expensive sneaker styles. (My original post included a $90 pair from Biion but those looked more like traditional golf shoes, albeit very light.)

My personal fave from the new list is the Adidas Golf Adicross Primeknit. They retail for $115 and remind me of boat slippers.

Adidas Golf Adicross Primeknit

These appear to have some kind of cloth or synthetic knit upper rather than leather; the description says they're breathable. In any case, they have a simple stylishness that appeals to me.

The list has a fairly wide variety of styles, considering it only contains seven models. Still, it's a quick intro to the types of choices you have if you're looking for golf shoes you can wear when you're in a hurry to leave the course for the 19th hole.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Quick Guide Two-Book PDFs Are Available

The special PDFs I create for sale from this blog are finally available for purchase. Remember, if you're purchasing from a VAT country, you'll need to get the PDFs that are available from Smashwords. (Two are up there; three more to go.) My blog isn't set up for VAT purchases at this point. Confident Swings Pack book cover
Confident Swings Pack
PDF $8.99
Contains Stop Coming Over-the-Top and Think Like a Golfer
Add to Cart View Cart Long and Straight Pack book cover
Long & Straight Pack
PDF $6.99
Contains More Golf Swing Speed and HIT IT HARD
Add to Cart View Cart Short Game Pack book cover
Short Game Pack
PDF $7.99
Contains Accurate Iron Play and The Putt Whisperer
Add to Cart View Cart Smart Putter Pack book cover
Smart Putter Pack
PDF $8.99
Contains The Putt Whisperer and Think Like a Golfer
Add to Cart View Cart Tee-to-Green Pack book cover
Tee-to-Green Pack
PDF $7.99
Contains Stop Coming Over-the-Top and Accurate Iron Play
Add to Cart View Cart

And of course, if you want to get all six books, the MEGAPACK is available for download. Just click on the book cover at the top of the sidebar. That's the least expensive way to get the entire set.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lydia Makes a Statement

I said earlier in the week that I expected Lydia Ko to lose her Number One ranking this week, as So Yeon Ryu and Ariya Jutanugarn are within a mere quarter point of her. And while Lydia hasn't been playing badly this year, she hasn't won yet. With Ryu winning the ANA and Jutanugarn defending this week, I think that's a problem.

Apparently Lydia finally decided to take matters into her own hands.

Lydia Ko earlier in the week at Kingsmill

After the first round, Lydia is at -4 (T5), two shots off Lexi Thompson's lead. So Yeon is three shots behind her at -1 (T34), and Ariya another two shots back at +1 (T73). While one round doesn't normally mean a whole lot, Lydia tied her best-ever round at Kingsmill and beat her best first round score by three shots. That's significant.

The LPGA has done a post with the various scenarios where each player will take over -- or in Lydia's case, retain -- the Number One spot. It's a lengthy list, and confusing. But here they are:
There are several possible scenarios for each player to be ranked No. 1 following the Kingsmill Championship:
  • If Lydia Ko wins, she will remain No. 1
  • If either So Yeon Ryu or Ariya Jutanugarn win, they will become No. 1
  • If Ko, Ryu and Ariya finish T2, Ko will remain No. 1
  • If Ko and Ariya finish T2 AND Ryu finishes 3rd or worse, Ko will remain No. 1
So Yeon Ryu could take over No. 1 if any of the following scenarios (12th or better finish) occur:
  • Ryu is T2 with Ariya AND Ko finishes 3rd or worse
  • Ryu is 2nd alone AND Ko and Ariya finishes T3 or worse
  • Ryu is 3rd alone AND Ko and Ariya finishes T4 or worse
  • Ryu is 4th alone AND Ko finishes 6th or worse AND Ariya finishes 5th or worse
  • Ryu is 5th alone AND Ko finishes 11th or worse AND Ariya finishes 6th or worse
  • Ryu is 6th alone AND Ko is not in top 14 AND Ariya is not in top 6
  • Ryu is 7th alone AND Ko is not in top 18 AND Ariya is not in top 7
  • Ryu is 8th alone AND Ko is not in top 24 AND Ariya is not in top 8
  • Ryu is 9th alone AND Ko is not in top 30 AND Ariya is not in top 9
  • Ryu is 10th alone AND Ko is not in top 40 AND Ariya is not in top 10
  • Ryu is 11th alone AND Ko is not in top 50 AND Ariya is not in top 11
  • Ryu is 12th alone AND Ko is not in the top 61 AND Ariya is not in the top 12
Ariya Jutanugarn could take over No. 1 if any of the following scenarios (7th or better finish) occur:
  • Ariya is 2nd alone AND Ko and Ryu finish T3 or worse
  • Ariya is 3rd alone AND Ko is not in top 5 AND Ryu is not in top 3
  • Ariya is 4th alone AND Ko is not in top 8 AND Ryu is not in top 4
  • Ariya is 5th alone AND Ko is not in top 14 AND Ryu is not in top 5
  • Ariya is 6th alone AND Ko is not in top 21 AND Ryu is not in top 7
  • Ariya is 7th alone AND Ko is not in top 29 AND Ryu is not in top 8
I think it's interesting that So Yeon Ryu has the most potential scenarios to take over the top spot, but Lydia still has a tremendous amount of leeway to prevent her from doing so. I mean, there are scenarios where Lydia can keep her spot just by making the cut. It's insane!

As I said, one round doesn't determine anything. But Ariya is currently below the projected cut and Ryu needs to get past 52 other players -- plus Ko -- to win. (Yes, the top of the leaderboard is absolutely packed after the first round.) If Lydia merely plays solid golf for the rest of the tournament, she's going to be hard to catch.

And that may be the biggest statement Lydia Ko can make this week. I certainly heard her loud and clear.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Quick Look at Byron Nelson's Swing (Video)

Since the AT&T Byron Nelson starts today, I thought I'd give you a quick lesson on how he hit the ball so straight. This is his swing in 1945, when he set all those records.

This video starts with a regular-speed swing, then runs it in extremely slow motion. There are other videos that use this footage, but this one made it easier to see both of the things I want to point out.

First thing: Everybody talks about Hogan's waggle, but there are other ways to start your swing. This video clearly shows how Nelson bent his trailing knee toward the ball to start his backswing. He's not the only player to have done this -- Gary Player comes to mind -- but he may have been the first.

Second thing: And this is the key to his accuracy. You know how every teacher tells you to start your hips before you start your shoulders, so you can increase the angle between your shoulders and hips on the way down to increase power? Nelson doesn't do it! Instead, you can clearly see that the angle between his shoulders and hips doesn't change. In fact, his upper body moves forward, toward his target.

Personally, I'd rather you didn't move your upper body so far forward as you start your downswing. That causes you to lose some clubhead speed. But Nelson starts with so much weight on his lead leg that it can't really be helped -- he has to move away from the target during his backswing or he'll reverse pivot during his downswing. You'll want to keep your weight more centered when you address the ball so you don't have to move your upper body so much.

However, keeping that shoulder-hip angle fairly constant as you start your downswing is a key to increasing your accuracy. When you increase that angle, you do increase power -- but you also alter your spine angle, and that changes your downswing plane, sometimes dramatically. (This dramatic change is a cornerstone of Hogan's downswing, btw. Virtually every good ballstriker's downswing plane is a bit flatter than the backswing plane, but a big change costs you accuracy.)

While you may lose a bit of clubhead speed with this move, you'll also hit the ball more solidly. Given the design of modern equipment, that will add some distance on its own.

And just for the record, the Nelson approach is easier on your lower back as well. More accuracy means more consistent ball contact, and less back pain means... well, less back pain. It's a win-win situation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the Tradition

It's time for the Regions Tradition, the first of the five Champions Tour majors.

Bernhard Langer

The Tradition is currently held on the Founders Course at the Greystone G&CC in Hoover AL. (That's just outside Birmingham, which I think is the biggest city in Alabama.) The defending champion is the Ageless Machine, aka Bernhard Langer.

Enough said, I think. When you say "Langer," you've said it all, haven't you? It almost seems silly to pick "5 to Watch" this week, but I think I can make a good case for some other players.

I should note that Fred Couples -- who would have made this list -- is not in the Tradition's field list. Given that he had committed to the event last month, I can only assume he's having some back problems.
  • Of course, Bernhard Langer makes this list. He has Top10 finishes in the last five editions of this event, including that win last year.
  • So far this season, Miguel Angel Jimenez has almost as good a record as Langer -- 5 Top10s in 7 starts, with one win and one runner-up. (Langer does have two thirds and Jimenez none.) He's certainly in form to give Bernhard a challenge.
  • Kevin Sutherland has no wins this season but has 7 Top10s in 7 starts, with one runner-up finish. And if memory serves me right, he has played well in this major in the past. This may be the best he's played going into this major in quite a while.
  • Scott McCarron has only 3 Top10s in 8 starts this season, but he has one win and is #5 in the Schwab Cup standings. In addition, he was 6th at this event last year. He may be a bit streaky, but I see no reason he couldn't start a new streak at this venue.
  • And my flier is Vijay Singh, who has a win on the Champions Tour this season -- a team win, admittedly, but that's still a win -- and that T16 at THE PLAYERS last week. I like his form coming into this event.
Still, when all is said and done, I simply won't bet against Langer. His record in this event -- and so far this season, leading up to this event -- is so good that I can't imagine him not making a strong title defense. So he's my pick.

GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 12:30pm ET, before the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The LPGA Is Back in Action

Welcome to the Kingsmill Championship, held in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. (That's about halfway up the East Coast of the US, for those of you unfamiliar with our geography.)

Ariya Jutanugarn with Kingsmill trophy

Tony Jesselli, in his preview of the event, notes that this is the first of a consecutive 12-event run for the LPGA, which includes three of their majors. We'll be seeing -- or perhaps it's better to say NOT seeing -- a number of the big names over the next three months as they pick and choose events, hoping to peak for those majors.

However, this week we WILL be seeing defending champ Ariya Jutanugarn, Race to the CME Globe leader So Yeon Ryu and current World #1 Lydia Ko as they battle for that Rolex #1 spot. The three are separated by a mere quarter of a point, which could be easily erased with a win.

Fans of LPGA rookies Aditi Ashok (India), Laura Gonzalez Escallon (Belgium) and Olafia Kristinsdottir (Iceland) will be pleased to know that all three are in the field this week.

One other interesting note: Only Cristie Kerr has managed to win the Kingsmill more than once. And since those wins came in 2005, 2009 and 2013 -- and since Cristie has been playing well of late -- you might make a case that it's her time again! In any case, Ariya will have to buck history if she hopes to successfully defend her title this week, a task made even more difficult by the pressure to gain that Rolex #1 spot.

To be honest, I think Lydia will finally lose the top spot this week -- but I think Ryu, not Jutanugarn, will take it. So Yeon Ryu has been playing the best of the three coming in.

The first two days of the event will be tape-delayed on GC, beginning at 9pm ET on Thursday night. The last two days will be live, starting at 5pm ET. The battle for #1 makes this a must-watch tournament.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 THE PLAYERS

Winner: Si Woo Kim

Around the wider world of golf: Celine Boutier won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic on the Symetra Tour; Matt Wallace won the Open de Portugal on the ET; Yusaku Miyazato won the Japan PGA Championship Nissin Cup Noodle Cup on the Japan Golf Tour; and Ai Suzuki won the Hoken-no-Madoguchi Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Si Woo Kim lifts THE PLAYERS trophy

I have to take issue with Brandel Chamblee and Friends at GC. They said that TPC Sawgrass was "star player proof," that it was designed to keep the best players in the game from capitalizing on their strengths. The implication was that, if the top players could use their strengths, a player like Si Woo Kim wouldn't win because he isn't as good.

Oh, really? You say a long hitter is at a disadvantage on a relatively short course like Sawgrass? Let me pick on Dustin Johnson, since he's a good example here. (I got the Sawgrass percentages from the individual scorecard pages, accessible from THE PLAYERS Leaderboard page.)

According to the PGA stats page, DJ hits 57.45% of his fairways on average while Si Woo Kim hits 55.02%. I would assume that, since DJ doesn't need driver that much at Sawgrass, he should be able to hit quite a few more fairways using 3-woods and long irons, while Si Woo needs driver. (After all, aren't you supposed to be more accurate with shorter clubs?) However, Si Woo hit 69.64% of his fairways while DJ could manage only 51.79% of his.

That's not a big hitter having his strength taken away. Rather, it's a big hitter not using his strength strategically. That's the very thing Sawgrass is designed to test.

Even hitting from the same place in the fairway, DJ should have a huge advantage since he can hit shorter irons in, which means they can fly higher, spin more, and land more softly. Indeed, DJ leads the Tour at 74.44% while Si Woo can only manage 58.59%. And at Sawgrass, DJ posted 69.44% and Si Woo posted 62.50%.

Those Sawgrass figures are still in the ballpark with the yearly averages. The difference could be explained by the course redesign that everybody had to learn. For example, we saw many players miss putts simply because they putted from memory, rather than reading the redesigned greens.

Again, that's a matter of poor strategy. If you know things have been changed, shouldn't you plan your strategy with that in mind?

And that's exactly what Si Woo Kim did. Just because you're a big star doesn't mean you can ignore the basics of the game. After all, Jordan Spieth didn't even make the cut and he's nowhere near as long as DJ. Did the course rob him of his strengths too?

Brandel and Friends lamented that Si Woo Kim's stats didn't allow them to predict his potential win... and I suspect THAT is the real problem for them. All of us -- not just analysts -- believe we have far more control over our games (and our lives) than we actually do. No matter how much data you collect, you can't predict how soon a player will recover from injury (assuming you remember to take it into account, of course, which the GC analysts clearly didn't) or whether the weather will cooperate or even what personal events may affect the game of individual players.

In the end, Si Woo Kim became the youngest-ever winner of THE PLAYERS, something that's not so hard to believe when you remember his amateur career or even analyze his short pro career to this point. And that's why he takes home all THE PLAYERS swag and his second Limerick Summary to boot.
The youngest to take home the prize,
Kim performed like a man who is wise
Far beyond his few years.
Now his future appears
To be brighter than most realized.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Matt Adams's Tips for Buying Wedges (Video)

A few weeks back, Matt Adams did a Morning Drive segment on the basics of buying wedges. This may be elementary stuff to some of you, but wedge design confuses many golfers. Adams used some clear visuals to make the basics very plain in this video.

The basics are very simple. I'll summarize:
  • Bounce is the angle between the leading edge and sole of the wedge. (There's a very nice diagram, using an actual wedge, in the video.)
  • If you have a steep angle of attack on the ball -- that is, you're a "digger" -- you need more bounce.
  • If you have a shallow angle of attack on the ball -- that is, you're a "picker" -- you need less bounce.
  • If you play where the ground is very soft, you need more bounce.
  • If you play where the ground is very hard, you need less bounce.
Again, the basics are very simple. But Matt has some very nice video illustration in this piece, so take a look if the whole bounce thing makes you a bit nervous.

And if the concept of bounce confuses you, don't feel embarrassed. We all have to deal with it. I would have less trouble hitting from the sand earlier on if I had simply known how bounce worked.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jack Nicklaus on Playing a Double Dogleg

Golf Digest just put this strategy article by Jack Nicklaus on the site a couple of days ago. The fact that it's a guide to playing double dogleg holes is awesome enough -- but the hole he uses is the par-4 12th hole at Erin Hills, the site of this year's US Open. This is a chance to get a good strategy lesson from Jack, as well as a first look at the unfamiliar course.

Check out the article at Golf Digest first, then come back and click on the diagram below. It'll open a window. Right-click and choose "view image," and you'll be able to enlarge the graphic so you can read all of Jack's notes.

The par-4 12th hole at Erin Hills
Of all the tips included in the diagram above, the one that stands out to me most is labeled Shorter is Better. Jack says that the green is so small that he can't imagine many situations where he'd want to chip from anywhere but the short grass in front of the green.

THE TIP: Before you hit your approach shot to the green, decide where you want to be if you miss the green. You don't want to shortside yourself, and that's a real possibility on a small green like this.

We're only a month away from the US Open, friends. I bet a lot of the players will be studying this diagram!

Friday, May 12, 2017

In Case You Missed It (Video)

Yeah, it's hard to believe ANYBODY missed it. But it's still worth posting. Here's Sergio's hole-in-one on the 17th at Sawgrass:

Is this an omen of better things for Sergio -- first the Masters win, and now a hole-in-one in his first tournament back? I don't know, but I'm sure Adam Scott doesn't hope so. He followed Sergio with a ball in the water, then went double-double to give up four strokes and the lead at THE PLAYERS.

I still don't expect Sergio to play particularly well this week. He's probably still emotionally spent, and he needed the hole-in-one just to get back to one-over for the day. But it's great to see him have some things go his way, after it took so long for him to break through and get that first major.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

To 3-Wood or Not to 3-Wood? That's the Question...

And it's an interesting question: Just how useful is your 3-wood, really? Teachers Butch Harmon and Mackenzie Mack appear to have a difference of opinion, and Golf Digest has two articles that contrast their thoughts.

Butch Harmon hitting a 3-wood from the fairway

The older article, from Butch Harmon, is called Bench Your 3-Wood. Butch says the only time you should use your 3-wood from the fairway is when you can reach the green. Otherwise, he says you probably won't hit it well and should probably use your 5-wood instead. (I don't carry a 5-wood. My 7-wood has always been my magic wand when I'm in need, and that's my go-to club.)

Butch does say that, if you're going to use your 3-wood, position the ball a few inches inside your lead heel -- that is, closer to the center of your stance -- and make sure you get off your trailing foot during your downswing. (But if you're swinging that hard, so you're reverse-pivoting, maybe you should just lay up to a good wedge yardage instead. That's what I think.)

The newer article, from Mackenzie Mack, is called Three Shots You've Never Used Your 3-Wood For, But Should. Ironically, Mack seems to feel that your inability to hit a 3-wood well can be an advantage! At least, his three shots never get the ball very high off the ground.

He says you can use the 3-wood off hardpan because you just want to keep the ball low and get it rolling. He even wants you to set up to the ball as if it were a putt, so that sounds a bit like Butch's setup. (Personally, I'd be using my 7-wood here. I'd be more confident with it off hardpan.)

He also recommends you use the 3-wood to get out of the trees. Even if the grass is pretty thick. That's what he says, and it's because -- again -- you don't really want the ball to get up in the air in the first place. (You might want to practice that before you try it. I understand the logic, but from thick grass? That sounds iffy to me.)

And finally, he wants you to use the 3-wood to putt from the fringe. For this shot, he wants you to set up with the ball in the back of your stance, as if you were going to chip the ball. (So why not use a shorter club like a hybrid? Still, a 3-wood chip shot is a nice one to have in your arsenal, especially for long chips.)

As you can tell, I believe you should think twice before using your 3-wood anytime it isn't teed up, unless you have practiced with it and are confident using it. Especially if a poor shot might cost you more strokes than a decent shot will gain.

And if you're having trouble breaking 80 -- or even 85 -- that poor shot probably will. Play smart!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Some New Combo Quick Guides in Paperback

Since coming out with the Quick Guide MEGAPACK, I realized that many people were buying two or three of the Quick Guides but not all six -- or at least, they didn't want to buy all six at once. That's a problem I often face when I'm interested in buying a series of books I want. So I've been working to create some two-guide packs, all of which are out in paperback now. (I figure the paperbacks are the most expensive way to buy them.) Here are the five packs I've put out, based on the combinations in which my records say are the most popular. Confident Swings Long and Straight Short Game Smart Putter Tee-to-Green Pack

If you were to buy the Tee-to-Green Pack, the Long and Straight Pack and the Smart Putter Pack, you'd get all six books -- although it wouldn't be as inexpensive as just buying the MEGAPACK. However, that way you don't have to lay out so much money at once. (That was part of the concept behind the Quick Guides in the first place.) All of the packs save you two or three dollars over the regular two-book price.

Like the MEGAPACK, all five two-book packs are available through the regular book channels. However, unlike the MEGAPACK, the electronic versions will ALSO be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, etc. Most of them are out now, but I'm still working on some of them. (It will be a while before I have PDF versions available through my blog.)

Anyway, I wanted to announce that the paperbacks are finally available since paperbacks cost the most. And, as usual, they're all in large print. I'm pretty proud of that too. ;-)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at THE PLAYERS

Once again it's time for me to show my ignorance and try to pick five players most likely to win a big event. This time, it's THE PLAYERS.

Rickie Fowler and Jason Day at the 2016 PLAYERS

You all know the basics of this event, as THE PLAYERS has been played at TPC Sawgrass for decades now. The Pete Dye layout holds the unique distinction of being totally neutral as a playing field -- it doesn't favor long hitters over short, or old players over young.

The one prejudice it holds is that it hates defending champions. In all its years at Sawgrass, THE PLAYERS has never seen a repeat champion.

Therefore, I won't be picking Jason Day this week.

However, the overall fairness of the course doesn't give me much more help than that. Anybody could conceivably win this week, as long as they're on their game. And the changes made to the course for this year's playing should magnify that wide-open mentality.

One special mention: Although he typically plays well at Sawgrass, I'm not including Sergio in my list. This is simply because he hasn't played since winning the Masters and I expect a bit of "major hangover" this week. And he's earned it!

But that doesn't make much of a dent in the potential winners either. Five seems a very small number at this event.
  • After showing very little rust at the Wells Fargo last week, I continue to include Dustin Johnson in these lists. As long as he can keep reasonable control of his irons -- he doesn't really need woods -- I think he can get his first win at Sawgrass.
  • Aside from the missed cut at Zurich, Rickie Fowler has been playing very well this year. And we all remember his dramatic win here in 2015. He's done it before...
  • First-timers don't often win at Sawgrass, but Jon Rahm could certainly be the exception. He already has one win this season and, coupled with his usually straight long game and his touch around the greens, this could easily be his second win of 2017.
  • Justin Rose. I just have a feeling about him.
  • And for my flier, I'm taking Wesley Bryan. Wes hasn't played particularly well since winning the Heritage, and he missed the cut last week. But I'm expecting some magic when I pick a flier, and who better to perform magic than a trick shot artist?
And my pick to win is... SURPRISE! I'm taking Justin Rose this week. I can't tell you why. DJ has every reason to win on his side, but I can't shake the idea that Rose is primed to win.

I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Wells Fargo Championship

Winner: Brian Harman

Around the wider world of golf: The Danish Team (Thorbjorn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaard) won the inaugural GolfSixes event on the ET; John Daly got his first Champions Tour win at the Insperity Invitational; Nate Lashley won the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship, his first Tour win; Sei Young Kim beat Ariya Jutanugarn to win the Lorena Ochoa Match Play on the LPGA (Michelle Wie came in fourth, her best finish in a long time); and the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica's Essential Costa Rica Classic event was shortened to 54 holes but still won't be finished until later today.

Brain Harman with Wells Fargo trophy

We expected the Wells Fargo event to be wide open this year. After all, few (if any) players were familiar with Eagle Point Golf Club, which was standing in for Quail Hollow. (Quail Hollow will be hosting the PGA Championship in a few months, in case you hadn't heard.) But did we really expect this? Eagle Point held the entire field to single figures.

Okay, all but one player. But did anybody think it would be Brian Harman? With all the long hitters in the field, on a course where high ball hitters would have an advantage getting balls to stop on the tricky greens?

Perhaps it was the wind that helped Brian. Swirly winds made it vital to keep the ball low, below the tree line when possible. Even that wasn't enough to keep Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez from posting at -9, forcing Brian to fight just for a playoff spot.

But after a week of magnificent scrambling, Harmon came to the 18th at -9 and only needed a scrambling up-and-down to win the event outright. It looked like a done deal...

Until Harman fatted the chip and left a 30-footer on the tricky greens. If he was lucky, maybe he'd two-putt for the playoff...

And then he drained it for the outright win after all, the second of his short career.

It would be easy to call this luck, but DJ had the best score of the day (67, along with Jonathan Randolph, who finished at -6) and he beat Harman by only one stroke. Harman returned the favor, besting him by only one stroke for the week.

So today the Limerick Summary goes to Brian Harman, who broke his three-year winless drought in a most satisfying way. I just hope he celebrates this as much as he celebrated the win...
At Eagle Point, scrambling was key—
So that fat chip at 18 would be
The unlikeliest way
To give Harman the play
That stole DJ's (or Pat's) victory.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Butch Harmon on Finding Your Driver Rhythm (Video)

Butch Harmon has an article at the Golf Digest site called Finding Your Rhythm With The Driver. It's short but it uses a drill you've probably seen before.

Butch Harmon's driving rhythm drill

Butch says the trick to creating distance with the driver is finding out how fast you can swing it without losing control. To teach you how to do it, he recommends the old drill where you tee up three balls and hit them, one after the other, without stopping. You hit one, step up to the next one as you swing the driver back, then hit that ball and repeat with the third ball.

Essentially, you're just hitting each ball as you walk forward, swinging your driver in time with your walk. This little guy isn't walking very smoothly, but at least he's got the swing rhythm down pat:

The idea here is that if your rhythm is off, you'll lose your balance during the drill. But if your rhythm is correct, there's a good chance you'll hit each ball solidly. And as you get better, you can swing faster without losing your balance.

A simple drill with an easy-to-measure result. And if Butch likes it, it's probably a pretty good drill!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

As Usual, Match Play Presents Some with Opportunities

The Lorena Ochoa Match Play is interesting, simply because so many of the American and European Solheim Cup players are in the field. With the Solheim Cup being played later this year, it's a chance to catch your captain's eye.

And it appears some players might be doing just that.

Michelle Wie

There are, of course, players currently favored to make their teams who have been unexpectedly beaten early on -- Gerina Piller, Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang and Austin Ernst for the US, while Suzann Pettersen and Carlotta Ciganda are the main Euro players to bow out. This isn't necessarily a bad sign, this early in the year, but it certainly doesn't engender any confidence in your captain!

And there are other players -- most notably Cristie Kerr, Charley Hull and Karine Icher -- who are doing exactly what we would expect in match play.

But it's the bubble gals -- and some who don't even have a bubble maker yet -- who are making a real case for captain's picks.

Perhaps the most surprising for the US is Michelle Wie (12 in the team rankings), who has won her matches 6&5 and 3&2. The improvements in her play this season are clearly evident in this format! Other US players making a case are Marina Alex (18 in the Rankings, who plays Wie today), Cydney Clanton (34 in the rankings, who plays Kerr today) and Angela Stanford, who at number 9 is probably making Captain Inkster feel a lot better.

The Euro rankings are trickier to figure out, because they get some players from the LET points list and some from the Rolex world rankings. But the most surprising Euro player has to be Pernilla Lindberg (T70 in the LET rankings and 114 in the Rolex), with 2&1 and 4&3 victories. Unfortunately, she has to play Ariya Jutanugarn today. Still, this has without a doubt put her firmly on Captain Sorenstam's radar.

Likewise, Sandra Gal (15 in the LET, 73 in the Rolex) is doing well. Karine Icher is the last of the Rolex qualifiers currently on the team, but this performance will likely guarantee her a captain's pick -- even if she loses to Stanford today.

Match play events always seem to carry extra meaning. There aren't very many of them on any tour's schedule, and they can be important indicators of who might be a strong member for events like the Solheim Cup. And it looks like this week's event will be no different.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bernhard Langer on Reading Greens (Video)

I know I do a lot of similar posts on reading greens, but it's something we all have to learn. I do a lot of posts, in hopes that at least one of them will "click" with you and make it easier for you to remember the key points.

This video is from GC's PGA Tour Champions Learning Center on Wednesday. Bernhard Langer gives you the basics of reading greens. The site won't let me embed the video, so you can use the link in the previous sentence or click the photo below to go to the GC page.

Langer on the green

A quick summary of what Bernhard says:
  • shiny grass = grass growing away from you = putting downgrain
  • dull grass = grass growing toward you = putting against the grain
  • rough edge of the hole = grass growing away from hole (Bernhard is showing the rough edge in the photo above)
  • smooth edge of hole = grass growing toward hole
And of course, if you're putting against the grain then you have to hit the ball harder.

Yes, those are the basics. Not complicated, but we still tend to get confused when we try to read greens. Hopefully this video will help you keep the basics clear in your mind.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Some Hope for Tiger

Jaime Diaz over at Golf Digest has done a long article called Why Tiger Woods' Fans Can Take Heart After His Latest Surgery. Why am I linking you to this article? Because this is the first article I've read that dives seriously into the complications of back surgery for an athlete.


Diaz not only talked to doctors about the surgery -- which is unusual among golfers, although Dudley Hart had it back in 2009 -- but also to a number of golfers who have had serious back surgery. In fact, two of the golfers who he interviewed extensively for the article, Lanny Watkins and Lee Trevino, are fascinating reads all on their own. Trevino, for example, had steel rollers implanted in his back!

Why am I so surprised by this article? Because in the final paragraphs of the article, Diaz wrote this:
It’s apparent that for the increasing numbers of Woods’ doubters, players who have been there both at the highest level competitively and through the throes of back surgery are revealingly optimistic about Woods’ playing future.
This isn't the sort of thing we're used to hearing from the golf media. Most of them seem to have written him off already. But this is the first fact-based article I've read that seemed optomistic about Tiger's return.

And that in itself makes this a must read if you're curious about Tiger's future in golf.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

No LPGA Match Play Coverage, BUT...

How did the LPGA manage to create a brand new match play event and yet NOBODY GOT IT ON TV?

LPGA contingent plan

According to the LPGA, it was a budget issue with the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play organizers. Perhaps it was for that reason that Tony Jesselli wrote an even longer preview of the event than usual. And the LPGA says they're going to try and fix this problem in future years.

But what can you do in the meantime? Fear not, I have an answer for you!

I assume you noticed the diagram I posted above, which came from that LPGA post I linked to in the paragraph just under it. Here's a quote from that post, giving more details about the workaround that the LPGA has put together.
Please go to and the LPGA app for reports throughout the week and live scoring on competition days, and follow us on Twitter at @LPGA and @LOYMEXICO for regular updates on the matches. Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa will air a 30-minute highlights package on the Saturday and Sunday of the Match Play while Golf Channel will carry a highlights/update package in the United States for Golf Central on each of the four days of competition. We will also be streaming on Facebook Live some of the press conferences and we plan to provide additional coverage of live action from the Hall of Fame exhibition matches over the weekend.
That's not bad for a workaround:
  • reports and scoring on and the LPGA app
  • regular updates on the Twitter feeds @LPGA and @LOYMEXICO
  • 30-minute highlight show on Saturday and Sunday on Grupo Televisa
  • highlights and updates on GC in the US all four days
  • streaming on Facebook Live for press conferences and live broadcasts of the HoF exhibition matches over the weekend
Granted, that's not as good as a hi-def live TV broadcast, but it's a pretty impressive -- and even aggressive -- use of social media to try and cover as much of the event as possible. Give the LPGA credit for trying to make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation.

In the meantime, I'd suggest you keep check on, their Twitter page and their Facebook page to see when things start streaming (or the @LOYMEXICO page for the Spanish updates). You can find all the links and apps at the bottom of the homepage.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Zurich Classic

Winner: Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith

Around the wider world of golf: Haru Nomura won the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout on the LPGA; Yusaku Miyazato won The Crowns on the Japan Golf Tour; Shiv Kapur won the Yeangder Heritage on the Asian Tour; Matt Atkins won the El Bosque Mexico Championship on the Tour; and Alexander Levy won the Volvo China Open on the ET.

Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith with Zurich trophy

Zurich wanted something that would revive an event that was struggling, despite its location in New Orleans, due to its place in the schedule. They got that, and more -- a gripping event where players posted unbelievable scores in tough conditions.

And they got a playoff in the bargain, where two very hot teams had to hang around for an extra day to settle the score. The teams of Kevin Kisner/ Scott Brown and Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith had sunk chips and putts from everywhere with apparent ease during the event proper, despite the tough conditions, leaving their competition to grind their teeth in frustration.

Unfortunately, the playoff wasn't nearly as gripping as the tournament. Perhaps -- and I suspect this is indeed the case -- the players simply burned themselves out in the 72-hole crucible created by 20+mph winds, heavy rain and unpredictable breaks for dangerous lightning. It's the only reason I can find for the lack of birdies in Monday's playoff -- four men play four holes (three par-5s) and they can only muster one birdie.

The drain was evident when young Cameron Smith, getting his first win and a precious two-year exemption, was unable to even tell Dottie Pepper how happy he was. Overcome with emotion, he had to let partner and two-time Tour winner Jonas Blixt do the talking.

While the end may not have been as thrilling as we would have liked, it's pretty clear that Zurich hit a home run with this one. Will it have staying power? It's hard to tell, but the event's uniqueness -- and desirable perks -- may very well do the job.

True, the newly-revamped Zurich Classic doesn't offer a trip to the Masters. But it DOES offer a Limerick Summary, just like any other event. And that's what really matters, isn't it?
Four days battling high winds and rain
Still wasn't enough to restrain
The hot putters of Blixt
And his young partner Smith…
But the playoff was much more mundane.
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at

Monday, May 1, 2017

The PGA Tour Makes It Harder for Injured Players

Obviously there's no Limerick Summary today because, at the time I'm doing this post, the Zurich Classic isn't finished. So I thought I'd comment on a recent turn of events that bothers me.

I'm talking about Brian Gay and Ian Poulter finally getting their Tour cards back. Don't get me wrong -- I'm very happy that they got them back. What bothers me is the Tour error that almost kept them off the Tour. It's time for a rant!

Ian Poulter

I'm linking you to a article that explains the whole thing in more detail, but the short version is that the Tour has changed the way they figure the points for the FedExCup. That's what the Tour is using to figure out when an injured player has played well enough to regain his card.

Again, short version: The Tour has made it harder to get those points since the two men were injured, so it's harder for players coming back from injury to regain their cards. If Brian Gay had not realized what had happened -- and that it shouldn't have applied to him and Poulter -- both men would have lost their cards DESPITE having done enough to get them back.

Brian Gay figured out that something was wrong, went to the Tour and, fortunately, common sense prevailed at Tour HQ and they awarded both men their cards. And I realize most folks would be happy and let it go at that.

But I'm bothered by the Tour's decision to make it harder for a player to come back from a major medical leave. Shouldn't a player trying to return from an injury be granted a slightly easier road back, allowing him to properly return to form?

After all, players keep saying that no matter how much you practice, you need time playing under competitive pressure to genuinely return to form. Logically, players will not finish as well during that "return to form" period.

Yet the Tour has reduced the points that are available for those lower finishes! That puts recovering players in the situation Gay and Poulter found themselves in, and that simply doesn't seem fair to me. If you really want to help players return to the Tour, why would you set the standards so high?

Presumably the Tour has changed the points structure to represent an improved level of play at the top levels of the Tour. I question how making it easier for the top players to gain points while the rank-and-file have to struggle even harder to keep their cards improves the makeup of the Tour. (But since when has the Tour made decisions that are easy to understand?) However, this seems draconian to me.

At the very least, it seems that the Tour should use a different point structure for players returning from a major medical leave -- one that allows them to ease back into the competitive environment of the Tour, rather than expecting them to return in the same form they had before they were injured. As it stands -- using the sample point totals from the article:
Gay began digging into his FedEx Cup totals for his 2016-17 finishes and only then noticed a lightly publicized change to this season’s points breakdown. The Tour has restructured the distribution, giving fewer points to finishes below 14th. For instance, a 20th-place finish last season was worth 51 points, but this season it brings only 45; 30th place has been devalued from 41 points to 28.
Note that Gay was 28 points short of his requirement, which was 464 (125th in ’14-15). But look at how the changes affect him:
  • Two 30th-place finishes -- just outside the Top25, and a reasonable expectation for a player returning from an injury but playing well -- now bring only 56 points rather than the original 82. That's 26 points right there!
  • With five Top20 finishes, he would only receive 225 points instead of the 255 awarded before the change -- 30 points less.
For comparison, Ryan Moore is currently 30th in FedExCup points with 538 points in 12 starts (one MC) this season. Moore has only one T3, one T9 and one T15... but he has 7 Top25 finishes. Most of his finishes are between 15 and 35 (plus a T39 at the Match Play and a T61 at the Phoenix Open).

Drop down to Branden Grace, also with 12 starts (one MC, one WD) this season. He's 64th with 359 points. He has a T10, T11 and T13... and only 4 Top25 finishes. Most of his finishes are between 20 and 35 (plus a T39 at the Match Play, same as Moore).

Neither of these players were on major medical.

Compare them with Brian Gay, currently at 83rd after 11 events (three MC). He has only 280 points for this season. He has two T6s and a T13 (that's three Top25s)... and nothing else higher than a T28. Yet this is better than he did last year when he first came back from the major medical, when he missed 9 cuts. He only had one Top10 last year, a 6th place finish.

You're probably thinking that Gay played so bad, it's no wonder he didn't get his card. But that's the whole point -- under the old system, HE DID! There are a number of healthy players, in no danger of losing their cards, who don't have three Top10s in that time period. Players coming back from a major medical leave simply don't have the consistency of healthy players, yet they have to conform to a new point system that requires consistency to keep one's card.

The Tour needs to fix this. Situations like Gay and Poulter's simply should not happen. Major medical exemptions should help players work their way back into shape, not penalize them for being injured.

End of rant.