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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 RBC Canadian Open

Winner: Jhonattan Vegas

Around the wider world of sports: Bernhard Langer did it again, winning the Senior Open Championship on the Champions Tour; Mi Hyang Lee tracked down Karrie Webb to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on the LPGA/LET; Erynne Lee won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Symetra Tour; Jordan Smith won the Porsche European Open on the ET; Katsumasa Miyamoto won the Dunlop SRIXON Fukushima Open on the Japan Golf Tour; and Zecheng Dou won the Digital Ally Open on the Tour. And amateur Erica Shepherd won the U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Jhonattan Vegas with RBC Canadian Open trophy

I didn't realize that Canada was so much like Venezuela. But it must be, because Jhonny Vegas feels so at home there. The big guy went back-to-back, the first player ever to do so at the Glen Abbey course.

And it's not like plenty of other players didn't try to steal his thunder. Sam Saunders, Robert Garrigus, Kevin Chappell, Ian Poulter, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland -- it seemed like everybody thought they should be the winner, and each made a run at Vegas. Each one also fell short.

Everyone except Charley Hoffman, that is. The 54-hole leader was 0-for-3 in his previous 54-hole leads, but Sunday he came ready to make good on this chance. And unlike his past attempts he shot a 68, much better than any of his other final rounds as leader, despite Sunday's putter problems.

Trouble is, Vegas shot a 65. It was going to take extra holes to determine the winner. And on the first playoff hole Vegas put his drive in a fairway bunker but got lucky when his second shot hit the lip but still made it over the water and the green. He chipped up and tapped in for birdie.

Charley wasn't as lucky. After laying up on his second, he put his third in a greenside bunker and barely missed his birdie blast.

While Jhonny clearly feels at home in Canada, there's at least one big difference between our neighbor to the north and Venezuela. Perhaps his win will provide some cheer in his homeland, where they're struggling with massive political problems. I can only pray about that... but I can at least give Jhonny a Limerick Summary to commemorate his accomplishment.
Though the holes at Glen Abbey played tough,
Even 72 weren’t enough!
Jhonny needed one more
To show Charley the door
And confirm his defense was no bluff.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Just How Much Performance Data Is Enough?

Golf Digest has put up a fairly lengthy article called Big Data: Info Seekers that I thought some of you might be interested in. It takes a detailed look at how three players -- Zach Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Streelman -- collect and use "big data" to improve their games.

An abstract picture of Kevin Streelman

If you Google "what is big data" you'll get this definition: "extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions." But I think this additional bit from the Wikipedia article on big data adds an important fact:
Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them. Big data challenges include capturing data, data storage, data analysis, search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy.

Lately, the term "big data" tends to refer to the use of predictive analytics, user behavior analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set...
That second paragraph better sums up what golfers are looking for when they turn to big data. They're looking for trends and patterns that may not be readily apparent just from looking at the data itself, simply because there's too much for one person to grasp easily.

Some golfers -- and not just golfers, but other athletes as well -- are looking for something, anything, that will give them a competitive edge against the field. For example, according to the article, Zach is analyzing 600+ performance stats from ShotLink. Bryson is measuring how many millimeters his shaft flexes during his downswing. And Kevin is using a special launch monitor when he putts.

That's right... when he putts.

I'm linking you guys to this article because I know many of you want to copy the techniques of the pros. But you also need to ask yourself... just how much is too much? We can organize tens of thousands of data points if we desire, but does that mean we need to use them all? Is there some point at which all this analysis becomes counterproductive and actually hurts our games?

Those are questions you'll have to answer for yourselves. But this article is a good overview of the kinds of things that the pros are teasing from the multitude of stats that are now available to them. You need to know what's being done before you can decide if you want to pursue the same approach...

Or whether such analysis will simply paralyze you with info that's beyond your ability to use.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Jim Flick on the "Lofted Putter"

This is a tip from the late Jim Flick's book On Golf.
Your ball is off the green, beyond the fringe, sitting up pretty decently in light to medium-length rough -- the kind of average lie you expect to find when your approach to a par-four green comes up a little short. How do you play this shot?

Putt it. That's right, putt it. Only use a six-iron instead of your putter. Think of your six-iron as a lofted putter.

Take the same grip with your six-iron as you do with your putter. Take the same stance. Take care that your hands are about the same distance from the ground as they are with your putter. Note that with the shaft more upright than it is on a six-iron shot the heel of the club comes up slightly. That's okay: this is a putter now, not a six-iron. Eyes over the ball. Now take the same stroke as you do with your putter, which is the most repeatable stroke in golf because there are so few moving parts; arms and forearms, no hands and wrists. The ball comes up and out of the grass on a low trajectory, lands softly just on the green, and rolls toward the pin.

Nice putt.

Do I always use the six-iron? Do I always use the putting stroke around the green? Is this all there is to it?

The answers are no, no, and no. But if you work on the lofted putter idea, you'll find that it's the basic principle underlying many greenside shots. [p156]
That's pretty self-explanatory. The only thing I would add is that you might find another club works better for you. I've had a similar shot for years, only mine uses an eight-iron. It just comes off the clubface better with my stroke.

You might find that a hybrid works best. That's fine. It's the principle of the thing that will take strokes off your game.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tom Watson on Driving in Crosswinds

The reason I'm posting this article's link is because Tom earned it. After the first round of the Senior Open Championship, you may have seen that Tom was T13 at +1, which isn't bad for a 67-year-old. However, if you didn't watch the coverage, you probably don't know that Tom got the bad side of the draw. They had a lot of wind during the afternoon, but Tom's morning wave played in 40mph winds and sideways rain. When he finished, he was T5 and only two shots back.

Yes, when Tom Watson tells you how to drive it lower in crosswinds, he knows what he's talking about!

Tom Watson just after impact

Tom says that you don't want to drive the ball lower in winds unless (1) the ball is going to run a long way or (2) you're in crosswinds. Here's the summary of what he says you should do.
  • Tee the ball a half-inch lower and grip down on the club about an inch.
  • Shorten your backswing.
  • Make sure you're swinging level to the ground when you hit the ball.
Tom goes into more detail, of course. But you need to read the article.

No, really -- you NEED to read the article! Why wouldn't you listen to the master of links golf?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The New LPGA /LET Links Event Begins Today

Did you remember that the first round of the new Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open airs today?

So Yeon Ryu, Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko

Since this is the inaugural event, there is no defending champ. So Yeon Ryu, Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko are the biggest names in the field although, as Tony Jesselli notes in his preview, a number of top players have decided to take this week off and rest. Ariya, who defends at the RICOH next week, and Lydia are both in need of the preparation as neither has been very impressive lately. Am I worried about their games? No, ebb and flow are natural in life, and certainly so in golf.

Nevertheless, their struggles this season are untimely. Neither has played particularly well in the majors. And since the girls will be playing Dundonald Links, where the men played their Scottish Open a couple weeks back, we have some idea what the course will be like. This week could play a key part in determining the winner of next week's major.

GC is shoehorning the ladies in-between the Senior Open broadcasts, with today's two-hour window scheduled from 9:30-11:30am ET. The RICOH will get much more coverage next week but, as I said, I wouldn't underestimate the importance of this week.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the Senior Open

The links fun continues this week. The LPGA stages their first Scottish Open while the Champions Tour heads back to Royal Porthcawl for the Senior Open Championship.

Bernhard Langer at 2014 Open, Royal Porthcawl

Royal Porthcawl is in South Wales, and the defending champion is Paul Broadhurst. He was a bit of a surprise winner last year, but that's part of the beauty of an Open.

It's time to pick my traditional "5 to Watch" at this event. But since Bernhard lost a three-shot lead at the last major -- the one he had won three times in a row -- and since Fred Couples has been fighting back problems again, it's hard to believe there's truly a chalk pick this time. But I shall soldier on and see what I can do...
  • Despite his loss, Bernhard Langer remains a favorite for me. Even the Ultimate Driving Machine's got to have a bad week now and then! As shown in the photo above, Bernhard took the trophy last time they played Royal Porthcawl. In addition, he has a win and two runner-ups in three of the last four Opens. You have to figure he'll be a factor, at least.
  • I almost picked Scott McCarron in the last major, but decided against it. Bad choice on my part. McCarron is playing well as of late, and he derailed Langer's fourpeat attempt. In addition, he was runner-up to Broadhurst last year. Have to give him props this time.
  • Colin Montgomerie hasn't been in the best of form this year; nevertheless he's second in Schwab Cup points and he had a T6 at the Constellation. He was also runner-up to Langer in 2014.
  • This will seem a bit out of left field, but Stephen Ames has Top10'ed in seven of his 12 events this season, and is coming off a string of four straight, including the last two majors.
  • And my flier is... Tom Watson. I don't care that he's 67, he has a good record at Opens. Even if he hasn't won since 2007.
I think we'll probably get another surprise winner this year, but I'm going to take McCarron this week. Langer's record this year is better, but I think he's in a bit of a low point right now while McCarron is on a run -- two wins and two runner-ups this year in 14 events, plus he finally got his first major.

The Senior Open doesn't get the TV coverage of other events -- at least, not here in the US. GC and NBC have what coverage you'll find. Here's the best list I could find:

Jul 27, Thu   
  • GOLF 7:00 - 9:30 AM ET
  • GOLF 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM ET
Jul 28, Fri   
  • GOLF 1:00 - 5:00 AM ET
  • GOLF 7:00 - 9:30 AM ET
  • GOLF 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM ET
Jul 29, Sat   
  • GOLF 1:00 - 6:00 AM ET
  • GOLF 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM ET
  • NBC 12:00 - 2:00 PM ET
  • GOLF 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET
Jul 30, Sun   
  • GOLF 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM ET
  • NBC 12:00 - 2:00 PM ET
  • GOLF 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET
Jul 31, Mon   
  • GOLF 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM ET
Hopefully that will help. This is an important event for the Champions Tour so it's important to be able to find it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

One of Henrik Stenson's Daily Drills (Video)

I've mentioned this drill in a previous post -- I don't remember when -- but this video from Martin Hall is new to me and it demonstrates how to do it. The last couple of minutes of the video is basically an ad, so the meat of this video is in the first three minutes.

This "pressdown" drill is one way to learn a good shoulder coil. It forces you to keep your arms straight for a large part of your swing, which helps you:
  • strengthen your core
  • increase your flexibility
  • sync up your arms and shoulders
  • learn the feel of a full finish
You shouldn't create this much tension during an actual swing, of course. This is a strengthening drill that makes it easier to turn your shoulders properly and consistently. If Henrik is doing it for ten minutes a day, he's treating it as a workout.

This isn't the only way to accomplish these goals, but it's one of the better drills you can use.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 THE OPEN

Winner: Jordan Spieth

Around the wider world of golf: In-Kyung Kim won the Marathon Classic on the LPGA; Nanna Koerstz Madsen won the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic on the Symetra Tour; Sam Ryder won the inaugural Pinnacle Bank Championship on the Tour; and Hank Lebioda won the Mackenzie Investments Open on the MACKENZIE TOUR - PGA TOUR Canada. [UPDATE: I forgot to include Grayson Murray's win at the Barbasol Classic, the PGA Tour's alternate event.]

Jordan Spieth kisses Claret Jug

At least Jordan Spieth will no longer have to answer questions about the 12th at Augusta. Now his opponents will have to answer the question, "What must you do to beat him?"

It didn't look that way as the round got underway. Had it not been for his caddie, Jordan might not have held up. He said as much, confessing that the 12th at Augusta started to haunt him as it all fell apart in the first 13 holes. But as ugly as it was early on, Jordan's play was magnificent as he came down the stretch.

And it's not like Matt Kuchar has anything to apologize for. It was his first time in the final group at a major, and he met Jordan blow-for-blow throughout the round.

But what are you supposed to do when your opponent screws up and you finally take the lead, only to have him go birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie in four straight holes? As Matt noted, he went par-birdie-par-birdie on the same holes -- easily enough to finish off most contenders. But Matt found himself two down with only one to play.

There's just not much you can do at that point!

Get ready for the hype going forward. Jordan, like Rory and Phil, is now only one major from the career Grand Slam. If he wins the PGA next month, he'll be the youngest ever to run the table. (He became the youngest American to win THE OPEN Sunday.) And he only gets one chance at that record, since he'll be 25 at the 2018 PGA.

Yeah. Get ready for the hype.

Only 44 players had won three or more majors in their careers before Sunday. But only Rory could claim a Limerick Summary for each of his. Do I smell a competition brewing? Enjoy your third one, Golden Boy:
Though bad shots got under his skin,
Spieth scrambled ‘round Birkdale again.
Four holes in five-under!
He stole Kuchar’s thunder
And locked up his third major win.
The photo came from the UK Telegraph site.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Matt Kuchar's Swing: The Anti-Spieth Approach

Since Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth are the main contenders in today's final round at The Open -- and I looked at Jordan's swing a couple of days back -- I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at Matt's swing. The photo below comes from a Golf Digest sequence of Matt's swing from 2010 (I think) but it's still accurate.

Kuchar's swing at top of backswing

Now THAT is a flat swing plane! The difference between Kuchar and Spieth is even more dramatic when you consider that Matt is 6'4" and Jordan 6'1", a difference of only three inches. I chose this angle because it makes the flatness of Matt's swing very clear. (The photos from his other side look just as flat, but seeing it from his back seems clearer to me.)

As with most swings, there are good and bad points to this type of swing. Here's a short summary.

A swing this flat requires you to drive your legs pretty hard to make sure you get your lead hip out of the way. Otherwise, you'd tend to "get stuck" and push your shots. Your clubface isn't on the target line very long, so it can be a bit tricky to hit the ball on line consistently. And if you miss the fairway, you'll have a much shallower approach into the ball. That could make it harder to get the ball up and out of the rough.

But there are also definite benefits to this swing, which Matt may take advantage of today. If the winds get up as expected, Matt's lower swing plane may help him stay more steady during his swing. His flatter plane will automatically launch the ball on a lower trajectory, which should minimize the wind's effect on his shots. And the lower launch angle should give him more run on the links fairways, which helps offset his need to keep the ball low.

Matt starts the day three shots behind Jordan and, unless they mess up, the rest of the field will have trouble chasing them down. If the wind gets up as expected and Matt can keep his ball in the short grass, he just might grab his first major win today.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Travis Fulton on Inbee Park's Driver Swing (Video)

Here's a quick video from GC's Travis Fulton, focusing on the things he likes best about Inbee Park's driver swing. I want you to notice one thing in particular, something that I often mention on this blog because I think it helps both your accuracy and your back.

Travis particularly likes the fact that Inbee starts her downswing by moving down rather than laterally toward the target. Travis has his reasons for liking this move, but here's my take on it.
This move keeps you from "getting stuck" and pushing the shot, helps you make more consistent contact with the ball, puts you in a position to "use the ground" to create clubhead speed, and also takes some of the stress off your back.
That's a whole lot of benefits from one simple move, a move that players have used at least since the days of Sam Snead. It's almost like falling from the top of your backswing and landing on both feet -- yes, it's that simple.

And it's definitely something you should consider trying, especially if you have trouble hitting the ball consistently and/or have the occasional sore back after you play.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jordan Spieth Talks About His Swing (Video)

Nearly two months ago, Golf Digest posted a video with Jordan Spieth explaining his "chicken wing" move and why he thinks it works. Since he's leading The Open after the first round, I feel this is a good time to take a peek at it.

This video does a couple of things. It not only explains why Jordan makes the move -- it's how he keeps the face square longer, to improve his accuracy -- but it explains the science behind why you should pay more attention to face angle. You'll learn a lot.

But I want you to understand something that this video glosses over. It's implied that Jordan's success with this move is because it's a better way to be accurate. That's just wrong. If that were true, someone would have discovered that fact long ago because "chicken wings" aren't new. This move definitely works for Jordan, and would likely work for a large number of players.

That doesn't mean it's right for everybody, any more than Sergio's swing is right for everybody or Jim Furyk's swing is right for everybody.

If you take a look at past history, you'll see this fascination with the hottest players' swings at work over and over. For example:
  • Instructors initially said Ben Hogan's swing was "too flat"... until he started beating everybody with it. Then they said it's the best swing ever.
  • They said Jack Nicklaus's "flying elbow" in his backswing was wrong... until he started beating everybody. Then they called it a power move.
  • It wasn't that long ago that you were supposed to keep both feet firmly on the ground during your swing... until guys like Bubba started knocking the cover off the ball. Now they call it "using the ground."
Let me also point out something that wasn't mentioned at all. Jordan prefers to play a fade. In the past, players were told not to "chicken wing" because it would cause a slice. But now we're told that the most desirable shot shape is a fade because "you want to eliminate the left (hook) side of the course."

If you want to play a fade, Jordan's "chicken wing" may be exactly what you need. But if you're after a draw, you might want to keep looking.

Don't let the popular fad of the moment determine how you swing a club. The way Jordan swings might be right for you, or it might not. But no matter whose swing is being praised, always choose your approach based on knowledge, not fads.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lydia Returns to the Site of Her Last Win

According to Tony Jesselli, the field at this week's Marathon Classic isn't all that strong. But I think that's understandable... and that doesn't mean there's no reason to watch.

Lydia Ko

It's understandable because the ladies will spend the next two weeks in Scotland. Next week will see the inaugural Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open, followed by the Ricoh Women's British Open. The first will be held at Dundonald Links -- that's right, the same site as the men's Scottish Open -- and the second at Kingsbarns, so it's no surprise some of the ladies took the week off.

However, several of the big names still plan to play the Marathon. Defending champ Lydia Ko returns to the site of her last LPGA victory, along with Lexi Thompson and Brooke Henderson. These players alone should make the event worth watching.

Granted, GC's coverage will be tape-delayed, as most of the day will be consumed by live coverage and then re-air of The Open broadcast. But the LPGA will get a couple of hours each day, starting with tonight's broadcast at 8pm ET. If you decide you want to watch something besides links golf this week, you'll find it on the LPGA.

This week, that is. Next week, the LPGA goes links. That should be fun too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bobby Jones on Correcting a Hook or Slice

I was rereading in my copy of Bobby Jones on Golf and found a very interesting suggestion on how to correct a hook or a slice. Remember when you read this that Jones was righthanded, so you lefties will need to reverse the advice.

In the section I read, Jones notes that slices are usually caused by swinging out-to-in and hitting the outside of the ball -- what most of us call "cutting across" the ball. Likewise, hooks are usually caused by swinging from in-to-out and hitting the inside of the ball. And, simply enough, he says that the cure for either problem is to do the opposite, although he also notes that most players tend to make the same mistake over and over, only worse.

Check out this simple solution Jones used when he was having a problem hooking or slicing:
When I have been bothered by hooking, I have always found it helpful to pick out a spot on the left side of the fairway, and to try to swing my left hand through the ball, toward the spot. It is a curious fact that the simplest remedy for slicing or hooking is to try deliberately to hit the ball toward the spot where the slice or the hook usually lands; for, if one tries to neutralize a hook by shoving the shot out to the right, or to correct a slice by pulling the ball over to the left, the only thing accomplished is an exaggeration of the fault sought to be avoided. [p. 141, emphasis mine]
Did you get that? Try to swing your lead hand (and the grip of the club, obviously) on an imaginary line that goes through the ball and toward the spot where the ball has been landing. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it?

But if you think about it, this advice makes perfect sense.

If you have been hitting a slice, it's likely that you have been cutting across the ball and hitting the outside of it. If you try to swing through the ball toward the place where the ball keeps landing, you'll swing from in-to-out and hit the inside of the ball!

Likewise, if you have been hitting a hook, it's likely that you have been swinging too much in-to-out and hitting the inside of the ball. If you try to swing through the ball toward the place where the ball keeps landing, you'll swing from out-to-in and hit the outside of the ball.

Granted, you could be making some other mistake that creates your hook or slice. But this is a very simple, very visual way to attack the problem. And it's such a simple thing to do, you might want to try it and see if it straightens out your wayward shots.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at The Open

It's time to get all links-y and make my picks for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Henrik Stenson with the Claret Jug

A quick recap of the stuff you already know: Henrik Stenson is the defending champion, Padraig Harrington won the Open when it was last held at this venue, and (as usual) bad weather is expected.

With the question of who are really the top golfers in the world still up for grabs -- the group changes every week, it seems -- it can be difficult to narrow the potential winners down to a manageable number. In a futile effort to lend some logic to my choices, I've put the following restrictions on them:
  • We've seen a string of first-time major winners over the last couple of years. I think that will continue, so I'm excluding previous major winners.
  • Although The Open tends to skew older, I'm limiting my choices to players under 40.
  • And I'm not worried about whether my choices have much experience at links golf. Rather, I'm taking players I think play well in bad weather.
Those three decisions actually limit my choices quite a bit. For example, Brooks Koepka would be a favorite but he's won a major, is well under 40 and played quite a bit of links golf during his time on the ET. And I'll end up leaving Ian Poulter off, even though I think he's got a good chance this year.

So, given these limitations, let's see what kind of mischief I can brew up.
  • Let's begin with hometown favorite Tommy Fleetwood. This is a home game for him and I think that will work to his benefit. More importantly, his game is on an upswing and he's played well in bad weather.
  • Hideki Matsuyama hasn't played particularly well at The Open, but his major finishes since last year -- as well as his win record around the world -- have been extremely good. In addition, I think the slower greens could help his putting tremendously. Remember, he's won a lot on the ET, and many of those courses play slower greens.
  • Some of you may be surprised that I'm picking JB Holmes. It's true that JB hasn't had that great a record in The Open, but he was T3 in that unbelievably low scoring Open last year. JB is streaky, but he often streaks in bad weather.
  • Rickie Fowler continues to make this list because it feels as if he is oh so close. I actually think he'll have his best chance to win if the weather is bad all four days.
  • And my flier is... Brian Harman. Harman doesn't have much of a record in this event. He's only played in two -- T26 in 2014, MC in 2015. But he's played really well on tough courses lately and is coming off a T2 in wet weather at Erin Hills.
I'm going way out on a limb with this one and pick Harman to win -- although I'm not so sure this is a flimsy limb. He has played well on long courses in bad weather, and  -- with the exception of that last round at Erin Hills -- he has been remarkably accurate both off the tee and into the green. I think he could pull a major upset this week.

Bear in mind that, at least here in the US, this will be an all-nighter if you want to watch The Open live. GC's coverage begins with a late-night Morning Drive on Wednesday at midnight ET, with the coverage proper beginning at 1:30am ET.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 John Deere Classic

Winner: Bryson DeChambeau

Around the wider world of golf: Sung Hyun Park won her first major at the US Women's Open on the LPGA; Trish Johnson won the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship on the LPGA's new Legends Tour; Scott McCarron successfully ran down Bernhard Langer to win the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship on the Champions Tour; Brice Garnett won the Utah Championship on the Tour; Johnny Ruiz won the Staal Foundation Open on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada; and Rafa Cabrera Bello shot 64 and won a playoff to take the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on the ET.

Bryson DeChambeau with John Deere trophy

I'll be honest. I was watching the US Women's Open and just checking in periodically on the SENIOR PLAYERS and the John Deere. I was shocked when Bernhard Langer double-bogeyed the par-3 17th and Scott McCarron cruised past him to stop the four-peat. That kind of thing just never happens!

But I was almost as shocked when Bryson DeChambeau won after posting at 18-under, even though Patrick Rodgers was tied with him and still had two holes to play when I checked. Rodgers's 17th was a par-5 and a likely birdie, which would allow him to play safely to the middle of the 18th green and two-putt for his first title. I expected to check in again as Rodgers tapped in for the win.

Alas, it was not to be. A bogey on 17 and a long chip from behind the 18th (that nearly fell for a playoff) left Rodgers still waiting for his chance... and left DeChambeau choked up as he gave the winner's interview to CBS. The "Mad Scientist of the Tour" has taken a lot of grief for his unconventional approach to the game, and found vindication in the victory.

Oh yeah, and he grabbed the final spot in next week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale -- symbolic in its own way, as the last Open played there (2008) was won by another well-known mad scientist, Padraig Harrington. Like Harrington, Bryson's experimentation had sent his game down some dead-end streets... and like Harrington, his game now seems to be back on track. Just in time for a mad scientist's dream course.

Is there something about Royal Birkdale, or is it just coincidence? We'll find out next week.

In the meantime, no science is necessary to understand why Bryson has gotten his first Limerick Summary.
Some think he’s the king of weird science
‘Cause Bryson does not think compliance
With tradition’s a must.
In his own plan he trusts
And this win validates his defiance.
The photo came from the tournament page at

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why the LPGA Players Are So Consistent

Here's a link to a Golf Digest article about how the LPGA players practice, based on info from Gary Gilchrist's protege Bill Schmedes III. He says it isn't about distance with the women.

Shanshan Feng

The article isn't long (that's appropriate, don't you think?), but it's very informative. Here's a quick quote from it:
Schmedes says that the women on the LPGA Tour aren’t trying to get longer, they’re trying to get more consistent. You can hit it as far as you want, but if you don’t know where it’s going, you’re in trouble. The overriding philosophy right now is that it’s more important to know you can be in the right place on the fairway than know you’re the longest on tour. In turn, more time is spent on developing a predictable shot shape than trying to be long.
Every time you hear the announcers talk about how you need a power game to win -- and they say that about every tour -- take a good look at how the winners get it done. Even when a big hitter does win, it's less about distance than you might think. For example, when big hitter Brooks Koepka won the US Open a few weeks back, he set a US Open record for accuracy... and short-hitting Brian Harmon's driver deserted him during the final round, where he hit about 50% of his fairways. That was over 30% fewer than in the rest of his rounds.

Short hitters of the world, take heart! There's more than one way to lower your score, and you might not need longer drives to do it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

An Old Sand Tip from David Leadbetter

I found this Leadbetter sand play tip in an old Golf Digest magazine from January 2013. (At least, that sure seems old!) There's no tricky setup or swing moves to learn.

DAvid Leadbetter demonstrating sand techniques

The right side of the photo shows the way we're typically taught to play a sand shot -- open your clubface, open your stance, swing the club up sharply along your foot line (that's an out-to-in swing) and then try to "splash" the ball out of the bunker. Leadbetter says this leads to a steep downswing that digs in too deeply and makes sand play harder than it needs to be.

His alternative approach is shown on the left side of the photo. The setup is the same -- you still open the clubface and your stance -- but you play the ball farther forward in your stance (he doesn't say how much, but it shouldn't take much time to find a spot that works) and swing the club straight down your target line, not your foot line. This creates a slightly flatter attack angle when you hit the sand, which makes you less likely to dig too deep, and moving the ball a bit farther forward serves the same purpose.

You might wonder why you still open the clubface. Since the ball is farther forward in your stance, the clubface is going to close a bit more. If you were to set up with the clubface square to the target, you'd probably pull the shot.

This won't necessarily work for everybody. All of us have natural tendencies in our swings, and for some players this might result in a skulled shot. But if you've been having trouble getting out of the sand, this might be a technique you'll want to try.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Getting More from Your Irons

Today I've got a quick link to an iron lesson at Golf Digest about Xander Schauffele and his looooong irons. I mean long as in "he hits a loooooong way." There's a neat drill there you might want to try.

 Xander Schauffele

The article attributes much of Xander's length to (1) precise contact and (2) hitting the ball with less loft. What is different here is that you aren't given the same old advice to make sure your hands are ahead of the ball at impact. The recommended drill is what I want you to get from this article.

This is a drill for iron play, not drivers. The ball is on the turf, not a tee... but you do use a tee.

Put the tee in the ground about six inches ahead of your golf ball and just barely inside your target line, sticking up high as if you were going to hit a drive off of it. Then, simply enough, try to create a divot toward that tee when you hit your shot, a divot that is as long as you can get it. You aren't trying to hit the tee, just create a long shallow divot. The tee is to help you "aim" your divot.

The idea is simple. If you strike down too steeply on the ball, you'll get a short deep divot. If you create a long shallow divot, you'll still be hitting down on the ball -- that's how you get a divot, after all -- but you'll shallow out your attack angle enough to launch the ball a bit higher. That will translate to more distance and, according to the article, more accuracy.

That sounds like a good deal to me.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the SENIOR PLAYERS

Before I focus on the senior men, let me give a quick shout-out to Trish Johnson for her wire-to-wire win at the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship. You don't get much more dominant than that!

And now we move on to the second major of the week, the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship being played at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills MD.

3-time defending champion Bernhard Langer

It's been 15 years since a major was played at Caves Valley, so most of the players probably won't know the course. The director of golf there, Dennis Satyshur, says the course is pretty much "what you see is what you get" but, for some reason, seems to play longer than it actually is. It should play at around 7100 yards for this event, so fatigue could become an issue by Sunday.

Of course, the big story this week is Bernhard Langer's unbelievable chance to become the first player to win a Champions Tour major four times in a row. It will be interesting to see if the rest of the field can keep that dominance from getting in their heads long enough to mount a serious challenge.

So let's take a quick look at my picks this week:
  • As I did with the US Women's Open this week, I'm going to go against my normal mindset and make Kenny Perry a favorite. Perry's story sounds a lot like Danielle Kang's -- he found something the week of the last major, won that one and now tees it up again just a couple of weeks later. Kenny is streaky, and this could be the start of one of his streaks.
  • I have to include Bernhard Langer again. While Bernhard's game has been a bit off lately -- it's not horrible, he just isn't leading events after every round like usual -- the fact remains that he's won two of the season's three majors. It's just too hard to ignore a player that consistent.
  • Brandt Jobe shot a 62 in the final round of the US Senior Open, has won earlier in the year and -- perhaps most importantly -- will be paired with Perry and Langer in the first two rounds. There's a good chance this trio can feed off each other, and that could help Jobe to another good showing.
  • Tom Lehman has been playing well of late and is coming off a T4 at the US Senior Open. And he won earlier in the year, so it hasn't been that long since he hoisted a trophy.
  • And for my flier, I'm going way out on a limb with Jerry Kelly. Jerry hasn't set the tour on fire since he came out, but it takes some guys time to settle in and his last five events have been T13 or better.
To be honest, I don't see any player as a distinct favorite this week. So I'm going with Langer for two simple reasons. One, if this course plays long, his fitness level should give him an edge. And two, I simply see no compelling reason to pick anyone else to beat him. I didn't favor him to win the US Senior Open because US Opens on either tour haven't been particularly kind to him in the past. But now he's under no pressure to go undefeated in majors this year, and he's won three of these in a row.

GC's coverage starts at 1:30pm ET today. If you aren't watching the LPGA on FOX Sports 1, you'll probably be watching this major!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

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

It's time for the third LPGA major of the year, the US Women's Open at Trump National Bedminster in Bedminster NJ.

Brittany Lang, defending champion

The defending champion is Brittany Lang, although in many ways Brittany seems to be a forgotten player this week. Her best finish this season is a T13, and she's missed two of her last three cuts. She'll have her work cut out for her if she hopes to repeat.

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his site. Tony and his wife are at the event this week and you can also see photos he has taken if you check some of his other posts.

Well, that takes care of the window dressing. Time to get down to business and make my picks.

As you may expect, I'm not taking some of the better players who I might typically pick.
  • I still don't think Lydia Ko is quite back in major form.
  • I'm bothered by Ariya Jutanugarn's recent WD due to a shoulder injury.
  • Ironically, I don't think Inbee Park's putting is quite up to the task right now.
  • And while Lexi Thompson's mom is finally finished with her radiation treatments, I'm not sure her mind is going to be fully on her game.
So who does that leave? To be honest, I'm not sure anybody's a lock this week. But let's see what I can come up with:
  • Let's start off with Danielle Kang. Normally I wouldn't pick someone who has just won their first major -- as my regular readers know, I generally figure on a two- to three-month readjustment period. But Danielle has been building to this over the last few months and she said she "found something" at her last event, which happened to be her major. So I'm going to take a gamble on her this week.
  • Likewise, So Yeon Ryu has become a standard in my picks because, even if she doesn't win, she's so consistent that she has a good chance to get in contention. I see no reason to leave her bandwagon yet.
  • Brooke Henderson is right on the cusp of a big win. In her last three starts she got a win at the Meijer and a runner-up at the KPMG. So how can I leave her off my list?
  • Michelle Wie is struggling a mild case of whiplash from an off-season car accident. However, she's played extremely well lately, with three Top4 finishes in her last few starts. I'm thinking that bump-up is the reason she's played with such a controlled swing as of late, and that should serve her well this week. After all, that's how she got her first major -- also a US Women's Open.
  • And my flier is Cristie Kerr, who basically just needs for her putter to catch fire this week. With her, it could happen.
This could be a wide-open major, at least for the ballstrikers. It's a new venue so no one really has the advantage of experience here. That certainly levels the playing field and, although I didn't pick any new winners, I could definitely see one getting the trophy this week.

But I've gotta go with my gut, and my gut says that Ryu is due. She broke through on a tough US Open course, and that's what they should be facing this week. So yeah, I'm going chalk.

Remember that USGA events are being covered by FOX now, so coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET on FOX Sports 1. Also be sure to check out the LPGA leaderboard page, as there are numerous listings for online coverage at

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Rahm Ruling Reconsidered

The Rahm Ruling on Sunday demonstrates how complicated it is to simplify the rules, especially in regards to using video. I'd like to take another look at the bigger issues, the arguments for both sides, and propose one possible rule that might minimize the problems.

Jon Rahm


Just to sum up the original situation: Jon Rahm needed to move his ball marker for his playing partner, but didn't replace the ball in exactly the same place. The ET rules official decided that Jon didn't do it on purpose and that his error wasn't large enough to affect the outcome, so Jon wasn't penalized.

In my view, the two sides in this issue each raised valid points for why the decision was correct or incorrect.
  • Those who agree say that there was no intent to cheat and that the error was minor. To use Jon's example, it wasn't as if he misplaced his ball by three feet on a six-foot putt. This viewpoint believes the rules should adjust the penalties to allow for some human error (that's the "intent" in this).
  • Those who disagree argue that a rule was broken nevertheless and that "intent" is an insufficient guideline for enforcing the Rules of Golf. The main problem -- in the Lexi Thompson ruling, which is often referenced in regard to this ruling -- was the extra two-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. This viewpoint argues for the fairness of the penalties, rather than elimination of them.
I will also add a third viewpoint: Neither side mentioned, although I believe it's important, that the error was only discovered via video replay, which meant the ruling was delayed. While it was handled during the round, the delay still affected the choices available for dealing with the infraction AND the ruling itself could have influenced the outcome. (Although personally I think Jon had the tournament pretty well in hand!)

Let me deal with the original two sides first.

I agree that the rules should make some allowance for human error, especially when that error has little or no effect on the shot that is played. We aren't machines, after all, and this is a game. As long as the rules are interpreted consistently across the field, the fairness and integrity of the game can be maintained for all -- and that is the ultimate goal of rules.

However, "intent" is an unacceptably hazy standard for maintaining that integrity. It makes two faulty assumptions.

The first one is best summed up by a much older friend from my childhood. This adult once told me that "rules are for honest folk." What he meant is that people who obey rules are people who want to obey rules. If someone is dishonest, making a rule won't stop them. It will only define the punishment they'll face if they get caught.

But more important is this ruling's unspoken belief that "intent" can be judged by the size of the error. Let me give you an example:
Suppose a player notices that, on the line of his putt, there is some damage to the green that may affect how his putt behaves but which he is not allowed to repair. He marks his putt to the side, then replaces his ball on the other side of his marker. This might move his ball less than an inch to the side -- and no closer to the hole -- yet it now allows an undamaged path to the hole.
Video may not show this damage, and indeed the angle of the video may not accurately show how much the ball was actually moved. Jon alluded to this viewing angle problem when asked about the ruling, but he noted that it might show excess movement. In either case, the video evidence doesn't present a true image.

Although the error is small, in my example it would certainly affect the shot in ways that aren't clear merely from the size of the error. But more importantly, once we have the full story, there is clear intent by the player to improve his line here... but that intent can't be determined merely by the size of the "error." Rules should focus on aspects of the error that can be easily quantified, without argument, by all parties.

In order for a rule to be applied consistently to every player in the field, the mere fact that a noticeable error has been committed has to be the criteria for applying a rule... and for determining an appropriate penalty. Ultimately, it's all about the penalties.


But I am still bothered by the timeliness of the ruling. This is what determines how many options are available to us, especially if we want to eliminate unfair penalties.

If an error is recognized at the moment it happens, players often have the option to correct their errors and avoid penalties entirely. At the very least, the penalties can be minimized. There are two reasons video has come under such scrutiny:
  • Not all players in the field receive the same video exposure, therefore the potential for unequal treatment is greater for some players than others. I don't think this can be ignored, simply because the benefits of avoiding a penalty can be greater for a player struggling to make the cut than for a player leading a tournament. If you're playing well enough to be in contention, a penalty may cost you a win. But if you're playing poorly, a penalty might cost you a Tour card... and your livelihood.
  • A delayed ruling can multiply your penalties. Let's face it -- had this not bitten Lexi so dramatically, we might not be having these conversations now!
Ironically, the problem presented by video seems quite similar (to me, at least) to the old question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

And if you don't believe that's a real problem, just go to the Wikipedia page devoted to that question. Merely reading the section on the metaphysics of the question will test your mind!

Let me put that question in more modern terms, and I think you'll better understand the problem.

Everyday we are surrounded by radio programs that are broadcast by vast numbers of radio stations around the planet. However, I bet you never think twice about them. Why? Because you can't hear them unless you have a radio tuned to one of the stations. Sound waves can't be heard unless there is a "receiver" capable of converting them to something our brains recognize as actual noise.

Falling trees do the same thing. They don't make a noise; rather, they create sound waves that our ears pick up and our brains convert into a noisy crash. Whether someone is there or not, the action happens -- whether it's the tree falling or, from my earlier example, the radio station broadcasting -- but there is nothing to tell us it happened. That's where the metaphysics come in.

Without someone to observe it, the action might as well have never happened.

Now think about our golf problem. Until someone observes the rules infraction, it might as well have never happened. Of course it happened... but there will be no penalty because no one saw anything that needs to be punished. If no one saw it happen at the time, but a video camera captured the action, you can make a legitimate argument that there was no infraction until the video was seen by someone.

Yeah, I know... it sounds weird. But from a practical standpoint, it's true. Unless someone SEES an infraction being committed, there is no infraction to be punished. And, as Jon pointed out, the viewpoint of the video may not be trustworthy or even understood. (As far as I know, I'm the only person to point out that the Lexi video shows that she couldn't even see her marker... and I had to try and reenact the video to discover that. Do you think they're doing that in the tour video trailers?)

So it seems to me that we need to take this "metaphysical" aspect of video evidence into account when we make our rules.


How do I take the metaphysical questions into account?

That's simple enough. If a rules infraction is discovered using video, that infraction alone can be penalized because -- at least, I would argue -- the infraction didn't even exist until it was actually seen, so it can't have the same consequences it would have had if discovered earlier. In Lexi's case, that would have meant the two-stroke penalty for an incorrect scorecard wasn't included. After all, if the infraction "didn't happen" until after the next day, she couldn't have signed an incorrect scorecard!

I think that's a general principle that would apply to most (if not all) video-related rulings.
The infraction seen on the video is the ONLY one that can be penalized, not any other infractions that might have been a side effect of the video infraction.
Likewise, I think we have to remove any appeals to "intent" when we judge infractions. If a player is honest, they didn't intend to break the rule. And if they aren't honest, do you really expect them to say, "Yeah, I did it on purpose"? That's just ignoring reality. Forget that "intent" crap. If you broke the rule, you broke the rule and there's a penalty to be paid.

However -- and I'm applying this only to a mismarked ball infraction, because each situation should be judged on its own merits -- I think the penalty should be changed. And here's my logic:
  • If there's no infraction, there's no penalty.
  • If there's an infraction and the player corrects it before playing, there's no penalty.
  • If there's an infraction and the player doesn't correct it before playing, there's a two-stroke penalty.
So, if the mismarked ball infraction is found via video -- which means the player had no opportunity to correct it before playing and thus avoid the penalty altogether, I say we split the difference:
If a mismarked ball infraction is discovered via video evidence at any time after the player has finished the hole and begun the next hole, the player will be assessed a ONE-shot penalty.
To me, that seems the fairest answer. "Intent" is eliminated as a criterion for the penalty because "intent" can't be unquestionably determined by another person. The player has broken the rule, so they are penalized. But since the ruling was made too late for the player to have an opportunity to avoid the penalty, they are given a lesser penalty to reflect the "error" of a delayed ruling.

I don't know that the ruling bodies will consider my suggestion. But I think it's the best way to deal with the unpredictable and uneven nature of video rulings -- again, not everyone gets videoed -- and the need to uphold the Rules of Golf.

Because if it doesn't matter whether we follow the rules or not, who needs them?

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Greenbrier Classic

Winner: Xander Schauffele

Around the wider world of golf: Shows what I know -- Jon Rahm DID run off and hide from the field as he won his first ET event at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open; Katherine Kirk won for the first time in seven years at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Chesson Hadley won the LECOM Health Challenge on the Tour, his first win in Three years; Kramer Hickok won the Players Cup for his first Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada title; Erynne Lee won the Donald Ross Centennial Classic on the Symetra Tour; Atthaya Thitikul became the youngest-ever winner on the LET when she won the Ladies European Thailand Championship; and Chan Kim won the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup on the Japan Golf Tour.

Xander Schauffele hoists Greenbrier trophy

For all the flood damage it sustained last year, the Old White TPC looked no worse for wear Sunday. In fact, you could argue that the renovations dramatically improved the track. At least, I think the 18th is a much better hole now since they recontoured the green.

So perhaps it's no surprise that the revamped course gave us another close finish. The Old White is definitely a survivor, just like the folks in West Virginia!

Sebastian Munoz, Robert Streb and Xander Schauffele couldn't decide which of them should win the event, so they traded the lead all day long. No sooner would one take the lead than he'd stumble and another would take his place. In the end, it came down to the final three holes. Munoz was one-over, Streb even and Schauffele two-under... and Schauffele birdied the 18th to post at -14.

He had to wait for the others to finish, but they couldn't get it done at the end. Not bad for a late-comer to the game!

Xander's rookie season is rolling along well. After an invite for his Top5 at the US Open, he now adds invites to the Open Championship, PGA Championship and the Masters. And most importantly, he picks up his first Limerick Summary:
Xander’s win was no casual stroll.
Right down to the very last hole
His win was in doubt
Till the field putted out
And each ball made its very last roll.
The photo came from the tournament page at

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rahm in Position

Jon Rahm and Daniel Im are tied for the lead at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, both having tied the record 54-hole score of -17.

Jon Rahm at the Irish Open

While Im is an American and I am therefore quite interested in how he does, the fact remains that Rahm is the big story at this point. Im is 32 years old and 542 in the world rankings, while Rahm is still fresh out of college and ranked 11th. This would be Rahm's second worldwide win this year.

Don't think for a moment that these two have dominated the tournament -- far from it. While Rory missed the cut because everybody who made the cut was under par, the leaderboard is bunched going into the final round. There are 11 players (including Justin Rose) within five shots of the lead, and seven more just another shot back, with Tommy Fleetwood in that group. Rahm and Im are a mere one shot clear of third place.

With the BBC predicting light rain, light winds and cool temperatures around 13°C (about 56°F), I'm not sure anybody can just run away and hide today. For example, neither Rose nor Hideto Tanihara have made more than two bogeys this week and both are close to the lead (Rose is four back, Tanihara two). And Rose has two eagles as well.

This could be a very interesting final round. Remember, GC has coverage starting at 7:30am ET.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

John Richman on Weight Shift VS Pressure (Video)

I want all of you to watch this short GC video. GCA instructor John Richman may be the first instructor on TV I've heard make a point of differentiating between weight shift and "pressure."

Richman is talking about how to create more torque when you aren't all that flexible. That's a problem everybody has as they get older, and many of you younger players have the problem as well.

When you turn during your backswing and downswing, you don't have to move sideways to create pressure. In golf, we tend to use the terms weight shift and pressure interchangeably, because they feel the same. When you move your weight toward one side or the other, you increase the amount of pressure you feel in your leg and foot on that side. But you can increase the pressure WITHOUT moving your body to one side or the other. Richman demonstrates this in the video.

Body Moving' drill photo

How does this happen? When you turn, the leg on that side has to resist your body's attempt to slide over that leg. And since you have to "dig in" with that foot to stabilize yourself, you increase the pressure you feel in that leg. Years ago I used this 2011 post to link to a drill called Body Movin', and I recommend you use that post to go to the drill. I summed up some points in that post you should take notice of, plus I included a photo there that no longer shows up in the article I linked to. (Why has it vanished? I don't know... but it's still in my original post and I've included a large, albeit blurry version above.) Using that drill will help you feel the pressure without sliding your body from side to side.

Likewise, this post about Paula Creamer's anti-sway drill will also help you feel the move that Richman is talking about. It's a different approach that may work better for some of you.

My point is, Richman is trying to get you to turn without sliding and swaying. If your flexibility is limited, that's the only way you'll create any serious clubhead speed without sacrificing your accuracy.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Question of Self-Taught Swings

There's a fascinating article over at the Golf Digest site simply called Do It Yourself: Swings. And it has this provocative subtitle: Even instructors agree, the best players are often self-taught.

This strikes me as an amazing statement, given the constant stress being placed on drills and stats and biomechanical measurements. But perhaps this article represents a realization by some of the teaching fraternity that we're getting too caught up in the quest for perfection.

Photo from DIY: Swings article

And yes, the emphasis of this article seems to be on finding the way you swing most naturally. Logically, the more natural your swing feels, the more consistent it should be over time. Is that what really happens? It still depends on whether your swing is basically sound or not. After all, if you continue to work against the laws of the natural world, your swing is never going to be all that great!

The article, which is a reasonably complete beginner's guide to finding your own way, has advice from folks like Bubba Watson and Jim Herman, like this quote:
Keep it about outcome, even in the beginning. "Everyone should be thinking about where they want the ball to go while they're standing over a shot, not how or what technique to use to get it there," Herman says.
And Bubba says to focus on the three feet of your swing from just before impact to just after, just as a couple of examples.

That doesn't mean you can't use drills, folks. It just means you should find drills that actually help you. If you're just doing drills to say you're doing drills, that's not going to do your swing any good.

There are also some tips from instructors, as well as some warnings. You can screw your swing up pretty badly if you aren't careful, so they remind you that you can always seek help from instructors if you get stuck. But if you wait too long to get help, it can take quite a while to fix your errors.

I point out this article because it's a pretty useful one. It gives you some solid guidance on how to start maintaining your own swing if you are so inclined, as well as pointing out the potential might run into. If you want to go this route, those are all things you need to know.

I maintain my own swing; I know where I'm most likely to go wrong; I know what I need to work on. But I also began with some solid instruction that I knew worked for me, and I've held firmly to those fundamentals throughout my experimentation to improve my swing. Because of that, even though I've had periods when I struggled while making a change -- change is rarely easy and it takes time, after all -- it's been years since I felt lost. All of my experimentation is based on knowledge of how I swing best, so my fundamentals stay intact.

If you decide to go your own way, just be sure you know where you're starting from. Because I can tell you this from experience: The reason I was able to try things was that I knew what I couldn't change if I wanted to keep making contact with the ball!

Or, to put it another way... you can't get there from here unless you know where "here" is. Take the time to learn that first, and you should be okay. But if you need a coach to keep your swing on track, that's okay too. If that's where your "here" is, there's no shame in acting on it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A New LPGA Event

Without question, the biggest story of the week is the near-miraculous return of the Greenbrier Classic after that devastating flood last year. But, simply because it's the biggest story, it's getting plenty of attention. So I'll focus instead on the LPGA's new event.

Ariya Jutanugarn

This week's Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic is an inaugural event, being held in Oneida, Wisconsin, so there's no defending champion. Which means that this could be a wide open event, with a lot of potential for another young player to break through for their first win. A new venue represents a flat playing field -- since no one knows the course, no one should have an advantage.

In addition, Tony Jesselli notes that, while this is a full field event, the field is relatively weak because this event is stuck between two majors. (You can find Tony's preview of the event at this link.) However, says that there are 12 major winners in the field, including Jutanugarn, Paula Creamer, Brooke Henderson, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen and Karrie Webb.

With the US Women's Open coming up next week, it's clear many of the big names are hoping a week's rest will change their fortunes. (Not Henderson, but she's probably just hoping to stay in the groove she was in last week. And Jutanugarn missed the cut, so she wants reps.) We'll see soon enough whose approach pays off.

Just a quick player note: Although she isn't getting much attention, Aditi Ashok -- the young Indian teen who played so well at the Olympics and won on the LET last season -- is playing very well as of late. She's in the field this week, so I'm watching for her to continue her good play.

The Thornberry is a four-day event, so the first broadcast is tonight at 6pm ET. Despite the past major winners in the field, I'm expecting another first-time winner to step up this week.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Danielle Kang on Hitting Driver (Videos)

I found a series of tip videos that Danielle Kang -- last week's KPMG Women's PGA winner -- did for Golfing World a couple of months ago. This is the first one, about how to hit your driver.

I want to call your attention to some seemingly contradictory advice Danielle gives here. She says "you always have to keep your body moving through the ball in order to get your acceleration." But if you watch her swing, you'll see that she doesn't drive her lower body forward at the start of her downswing as much as you would expect.

That's because when she talks about keeping your lower body moving, she's not talking about how you start your downswing. Look at her position around the 1:18 mark. Note how both of her feet are flat on the ground and her arms are halfway down. She's talking about players who stop their body rotation at that point, long before they reach the end of their finish.

Danielle's drill to help prevent that is an interesting one. She (as a right-hander) tries to get up on her right toes early in the downswing. For a lot of you, that simply isn't going to work because it will affect your ball contact in a bad way, so it's not a drill I would recommend because I think it will lead most of you into bad habits. I say "most of you" because everybody's different and clearly it works for Danielle. But I just want you to understand the drill's purpose.

Apparently, when Danielle's body stops rotating too early, it's because she gets stiff-legged. Her knees don't stay relaxed; instead, they tense up and lock her in that position at the 1:18 point in the video. Why does that happen? Because she's trying to hit the ball hard, and most players tend to tense up when they try to generate power with their legs.

Pushing off with her trailing toes forces her knees to relax and let her weight shift to her lead foot. That relaxation is what you're after. The Ben Hogan hip-to-hip drill -- which I've posted on this blog numerous times and will post again now -- can help you get used to the proper feel.

So there you go -- two drills to help you create the body turn that Danielle says you need. Just remember that any time you have trouble getting "through the ball," check for excess tension in your legs and knees. That's the culprit more times than you might think.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Rudyard Kipling Mindset

I read an interesting sports psychology article over at the Golf Digest site called Confidence Kills: What If Everything You've Been Told To Think Is Wrong? For many of you, it'll be a very different approach to how you think about your game.

illustration for Confidence Kills

Sam Weinman's article combines insights from a number of "sports shrinks" and instructors on what they see as the most effective ways to deal with the inadequacies of your golf game. It includes some unexpected quotes, such as this one from Dr. Fran Pirozzolo:
"Confidence is a garbage term in that it induces illusions of competence."
Not what you'd normally expect, right? There are quotes from Jack Nicklaus and Martin Hall and Dr. Bob Rotella, to name a few... and many of them might force you to re-examine your own mental approach.

You might wonder why I have called this post "The Rudyard Kipling Mindset"? Because this article sounds a bit like some of the things I've written before. One of my favorite quotes comes from Rudyard Kipling's poem If, which you can find at this link. Kipling was writing about the apparent contradictions one must overcome in order to succeed at life, and these couple of lines always stand out to me:
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same...
That's a decent summary of the Golf Digest article. You must learn not to become too comfortable nor too panicky with your game if you want to get better.

Wow. Who knew Kipling was a sports psychologist?

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 Quicken Loans National

Winner: Kyle Stanley

Around the wider world of golf: Danielle Kang made her first LPGA victory a major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship; Kenny Perry grabbed his fourth Champions Tour major at the US Senior Open; Lanto Griffin won the Nashville Golf Open on the Tour (they get a cool full-size guitar as a trophy); Junggon Hwang won the Korean PGA Championship on the KPGA (that's the men's tour, not the women's); Yu Liu took the Tullymore Classic for her first Symetra Tour win; and Tommy Fleetwood won the HNA Open de France for his second ET win of the season.

Kyle Stanley with Quicken Loans trophy

A look at the final round scores at the Quicken Loans National might fool you into thinking the event was an easy one, but you'd be wrong. The final third round score was the winning score! Saturday's leaders struggled on Sunday; charges from those back in the pack made it a race.

For example, Rickie Fowler started out at even, then posted a 65 (with 9 birdies, a personal record) to finish at -5. He slowly worked his way up the leaderboard AFTER he finished his day, ending up T3, just two off the eventual playoff.

In the end, it was playing partners Kyle Stanley (winless for five years) and Charles Howell III (winless for ten years), both four off the lead to start the round, who shot joint 66s and found themselves in a playoff.

While Howell lost the playoff, it's hard to be too hard on him. It was his first start after nine weeks off with a rib injury. As much as he wanted to win, it was clear that he was pleased with his finish after such a long break.

And Stanley? One word says it all: tears. He wept on the 18th green and during the interviews. As we all know, confidence can be a fickle thing. Perhaps this win will be the key to getting his career back in gear.

In the meantime, he can read this Limerick Summary over and over until his confidence is well-rooted again.
Kyle’s desire for a win filled his dreams,
Although few of the players hit greens
Or could get up and down.
But he toughed out his round
And an extra hole gave him the means.
The photo came from this page at the site.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What If Someone Shoots Another 64?

After Jiyai Shin shot a 64 in the third round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, she served notice to all the leaders that there might be another low score out there today. And that leaves the event wide open.

Danielle Kang and Chella Choi

Danielle Kang and Chella Choi lead this major at -10, but neither has won a major before. In fact, they have only one regular win between them. If they stumble at all today, there will be some experienced players ready to take advantage.

At -8 and -7, we have Jiyai Shin and defending champ Brooke Henderson, respectively. Both are major winners, both have several wins, and both are well within striking distance.

At -6 we have Sei Young Kim and Amy Yang. Neither has a major but both have won regular events before.

And behind them at -5 are no less than ten players -- a combination of experienced major winners like Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie and So Yeon Ryu, along with a variety of girls still looking for their first wins.

Kang and Choi have played very well all week, but we all know how final round pressure can affect even the most experienced competitors. I think it's fair to give Shin and Henderson the advantage during today's round. You would expect them to rise to the occasion.

But then, I also would have expected Ariya Jutanugarn, Charley Hull and Cristie Kerr to make the cut, which they didn't. Olympia Fields is living up to expectations, and we could very well see a first-time winner today.

I'm thinking the LPGA will be the best bet if you want an exciting finish today. So if you're interested, remember that coverage starts at 3pm ET on NBC.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Drill for Crisper Irons (Video)

This GC video featuring instructor Brian Jacobs has a very simple drill to help improve your iron play. Yes, the video says it will improve your "iron power" but it's really about hitting your irons more solidly. That automatically gives you more "power" in your shots.

The drill uses a towel placed six inches behind the ball, a tee laid on the ground just in front of the ball, and two other tees placed on either side of the ball to form a "gate." The ball is placed slightly ahead of center in your stance. Your goal is to hit the front tee when you strike the ball, but without hitting the towel or either of the side tees.

In other words, you want to take a divot in front of the ball. That's nothing new.

But I like this drill, not only because it won't hurt you if you hit the towel, but also because it slows the club down enough to give you better feedback. There's no question whether you hit the towel or not! And the "gate" makes it easy to tell if you aren't hitting the ball in the center of the face -- again, better feedback.

If you're struggling with your iron play, you might find this drill very useful.