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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Raymond Floyd on Feeling the Target

With all the talk about mental mistakes at the LPGA and PGA Tour events on Friday, I thought it might be worthwhile to look at what Raymond Floyd had to say about the mental game. In his book The Elements of Scoring he has an entire chapter called Let Your Mind Feel the Target that deals with this topic.

Obviously I can't quote an entire chapter! But there are a couple of things he says that I think you could use immediately in your own golf games.

To begin with, he says that we may have the wrong idea about what it means to "play with feel." While it does involve what you feel with your hands to some degree, Floyd says he thinks you use your eyes to play with feel. Things like recognizing shot shapes, improvising swings in tough situations, and such are based on things you see, not things you can touch. He believes this is why so many pros have begun using mental coaches —you need to get out of your own way and give your mind more freedom, more trust to make the right decisions.

Then he says this about what we commonly call "target golf":
As a scorer, your goal on the course should be to just play golf. Even though golf is a slow game that allows plenty of time to think, from the moment you begin your pre-shot routine, you want a clear mind that is thinking only of the simple task at hand, which is to hit the ball to the target. In this state, the body is relaxed, and the focus is strictly on where — not how — you want to hit the ball. Imagine a very hungry caveman throwing a spear at his prey. I seriously doubt he had any thoughts about his release point or how high to carry his right elbow. I'll bet he was thinking


about precisely where he had to throw that spear. If he wasn't "out of his own way," he didn't eat.

I'm not saying golf should be played with a blank mind. Far from it. But rather than having many scattered thoughts, you should have one very focused one. A scorer has control of what he chooses to think of on the golf course. He knows that to a large extent, he is only as good as his thoughts. [p141-142]
Note what he says: "I'm not saying golf should be played with a blank mind. Far from it." Clearing your mind isn't about playing thoughtless golf. But instead of filling your mind with lots and lots of words about how you should do this and how you should do that, you want to fill your mind with a clear picture of what you're trying to do.

And I'm not even sure he's talking about visualization here. I haven't thrown any spears that I can remember, but I have thrown baseballs and discs and hit a few tennis shots and made a few free throws on a basketball court. I can't say that I actually visualize those actions. Rather, I identify my target and anything that might be in the way that I have to avoid, and then I just think about hitting my target. There must be some visualizing in there — I'm seeing things I have to avoid, after all — but it's not a conscious act. I just notice them.

I suspect that's part of why so many of us have trouble with target golf. We try to see lines curving through the sky and other things like that. But that may have the same effect as too many words. Perhaps we just need to "see and do." That certainly sounds like what Floyd is suggesting.

Here's an idea: Next time you need to play a shot — say, a low shot — just try swinging the club at an imaginary ball and imagine the ball coming off the face low when you swing. I bet your hands and arms will adjust to create the shot. If you then try to duplicate that shot without an undue amount of thought, you might pull it off. Maybe not the first time, because learning to play by feel comes from practice. But you might be more successful than you expect.

No lines curving through space, no elaborate body positioning. Just pretend you're Bubba. Playing that game on the range might teach you some new things about shotmaking.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Xander Schauffele on Hitting It Long

Xander Schauffele did an article for Golf Digest on some of his tips for getting big distance when you're a smaller person. You can follow the link to learn some of his tips and feels, but I want to point out one specific thing he says which is different from what you may have heard most instructors say.

Xander Schauffele at address

Xander uses a neutral grip, which goes against the advice most instructors give -- that is, that a strong grip makes for a more powerful strike. But Xander's definition of a neutral grip is very interesting. Here's what he says:
One thing that will help you unleash that power at the right moment is your grip. Mine is neutral. For a stock shot, I see only one knuckle on my glove hand when I look down. This grip allows me to hit draws or fades when I want to. It also lets me release the clubhead into the ball like I’m hammering that nail. If your grip is too strong, you can’t fully release the clubhead, typically resulting in a loss of speed. And a grip that’s too weak makes it tough to square the clubface at impact, so you lose control.
You get that? He can only see ONE knuckle, not two or three. Take a good look at that photo above from the article. Xander also notes that he wants to club shaft almost vertical at address for a drive, not leaning forward. That's important because it works with the one-knuckle grip to get the hands in the proper position at impact. Make sure you read what he says about the one-knuckle grip, shaft lean and ball position at address so you don't turn your grip too weak.

He says these things will help you to get better hand action so you hit the ball farther. He certainly ought to know!

There are several interesting ideas in Xander's article, but this one about the grip really stood out to me. It's pretty clear that Xander is trying to move freely, not "hold" anything in an attempt to create some special position. That mindset change in and of itself might help you get more distance than you do now.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Patrick Nuber on How Tiger Putts (Video)

On the outside chance you missed it -- and I know most of you would be curious about it -- Wednesday's Morning Drive aired a short segment with GOLFTEC instructor Patrick Nuber that dissected Tiger's putting stroke. For those of you who have ever wondered how Tiger does it...

You'll want to watch the video to see the details, but in a few words:
  • Tiger Woods has a putting stroke that travels back and through on a very slight arc.
  • It swings back very close to the ground then moves upward just as it hits the ball.
  • The ball impacts the putter face just slightly above center and toward the toe.
And the video has some great animated visuals to show those details. It's nearly six minutes long and well worth the time. Nuber also demonstrates a simple drill that uses poker chips or nickels to teach you that little upward move at the ball, should you want to practice that.

One other thing: Note that Nuber says it doesn't really matter where you hit it on the putter face; the key is that you hit it in the same place each time. That's how you develop feel. Got that? Consistency of strike equals FEEL. Remember that!

Nuber points out that everybody putts a little differently. Still, it's instructive to learn from a great putter, and Tiger has been one for a very long time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the ANA

Yes, I know this is my first "5 to Watch" post of 2018. This year has thus far been so unpredictable that the thought hadn't even occurred to me until this week. But I can't let a major go by without some predictions.

So welcome to the ANA Inspiration, the first major of 2018!

Lexi at her media presser

The ANA is the LPGA's equivalent of the Masters -- built around a single personality (the late Dinah Shore), always played on the same golf course (the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage CA), and celebrated with a unique ritual (the jump into Poppie's Pond).

And while the defending champion is So Yeon Ryu, it's Lexi Thompson who is most associated with the event this year after that devastating ending last year... and the resulting rule change it pretty much forced on the USGA and the R&A. (A long-overdue change, in my opinion.)

Let me quickly remind you that Tony Jesselli has a preview for this event over at his blog. I will just point out that both Gerina Piller and Suzann Pettersen are missing the event due to pregnancies, and I can only guess that Karrie Webb, at 105 in the Rolex, didn't qualify.

As with the men's game, the women have been mixing it up a bit as well. Past winners have stepped up and, with the exception of Jin Young Ko, have dominated the podium. The question becomes whether the youngsters can turn the tide at the first major of the year?

I know that, no matter who I choose, I'm going to miss some players with a solid chance. So this list is mostly chalk
  • It's hard to bet against Lexi Thompson, and not just because of last year. Lexi has one of the best records around this course of any player -- she has won here before, back in 2014 -- but she hasn't won yet this year. I'm guessing she's hungry for one... and I'd be surprised if the thought of this event doesn't make her ravenous!
  • Likewise, although she's never won here, Michelle Wie has one of the better records around Mission Hills. In fact, she probably would have bet she would win an ANA before a US Open. But Michelle has struggled with injuries and such since she won that US Open, and the key for her now is that she's finally healthy again and seems to be having fun. I could see her breaking through this week.
  • I have to include Inbee Park. Another previous winner (2013), she missed several months with back pain and a hand injury... then walked back onto the course a few weeks ago and promptly crushed the field. Her game doesn't seem to fit this course but hey, she's already won here! Why not do it again?
  • Brittany Lincicome at Mission Hills, in many ways, reminds me of Bubba around Augusta. She can seem to be completely out of competitive shape until she arrives at this course... at which point she finds her game and eagles the last hole for the win. Twice, in fact (2009 and 2015). And, like Bubba, she's already won this year. It's probably not a good idea to bet against her.
  • And my flier is... Laura Davies. That second-place finish at the Founders Cup shows she's still got it, and I'm encouraged that she's putting better. Laura's always been streaky, but it's possible she's starting a streak at the right time. This is a wide-open course, which should suit her game. And I know she hasn't won the ANA before... but that's part of the reason she's a flier!
To be honest, I don't know how to make a reasoned pick this week so I'm making a gut pick. I'd really like to see Laura get this one, as it would be enough to get her into the LPGA Hall of Fame, and I really hope she wins. But I'm going to pick Michelle Wie, simply because I've got a feeling.

Hopefully it's not appendicitis.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Charlier Rymer on Controlling Trajectory (Video)

I have in the past posted a tip from Charlie Rymer teaching an easy way to visualize the trajectory of any iron. Today I've got a video showing Charlie's easy method for controlling distance with trajectory.

This is basically a variation of the way you control the length of chips and pitches by changing the length of your swing. But what Charlie is doing is changing the club also, and the combination lets you hit a variety of shots the same distance but with different trajectories.

To me, the beauty of this is that you can use the other tip to figure out what the trajectory with a given club will be, then you just adjust the length of your swing to get the distance you want. And yes, you'll need to practice that on the range; you have to do that any time you learn how to hit one club several distances. But you won't need much practice to get a feel for this method.

And you won't find many simpler ways to control trajectory than this. Thank you, Charlie!

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 WGC-Dell Match Play

Winner: Bubba Watson

Around the wider world of golf: Eun-Hee Ji won two cars (one with a hole-in-one, and one with a victory) when she won the Kia Classic on the LPGA; Brice Garnett won the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, the alternate event on the PGA TOUR; Julian Etulain won the Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Tour; Steve Stricker got his second win in three weeks at the Rapiscan Systems Classic on the Champions Tour; Austin Smotherman won the 59 Abierto Mexicano de Golf on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Yi Cao won the Chongqing Championship on the PGA Tour China.

Bubba Watson with the Walter Hagen Cup at the WGC-Dell Match Play

It is often said that Bubba is a streaky player and, once he gets it in his head that a course fits his eye, he can rip the field to shreds.

Then look out, world -- here comes Bubba!

On Sunday, Bubba won his second tournament in roughly five weeks. First he won the Genesis Open -- only the fifth player to win that event at least three times -- and now he's picked up his second WGC, this time the Dell Match Play Championship. He beat Kevin Kisner 7&6 in the finals, and his record for the week was a dominant one, going 6-0-1 overall.

The Dell is his eleventh PGA Tour win, his thirteenth worldwide pro win. In-and-of-itself, that's all pretty impressive.

But I've been looking over his record... and I think the golf world should be a bit nervous right now.

I can't find any time in his career when Bubba has won two events this close together. And he's never won twice before the Masters. (In 2014 he won the Northern Trust Open -- now known as the Genesis -- two months before he won the Masters, but that's not twice before...) And Bubba's new putting confidence, courtesy of the Ping club techs, seems to be carrying over from week-to-week. He's hasn't become the best putter on Tour or anything like that, but he doesn't need to be since his overall game is back on track.

Now Augusta is only a week away. And you know, I've heard that course seems to fit his eye...

Let's just say that Bubba is now my favorite for this year's Masters.

In the meantime, I understand that Bubba didn't expect to be playing golf this weekend and had planned a vacation. He had to reschedule the plane flight, of course, but I suspect he'll go relax this week and show up at Augusta ready to play. So to help him chill out with the family, I've penned this little Limerick Summary for him. Maybe he'll get a grin or two from it.
Holes, holes and ever more holes!
They walked till they wore out the soles
Of their shiny free shoes.
Sixty-three had the blues—
But not Bubba. He reached all his goals!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Dr. Patrick Cohn on Escaping Comfort Zones (Video)

I've mentioned Patrick Cohn on this blog before. I have a sports psych book he wrote called Going Low.

Today I found a video he did that briefly covers some mental "tricks" to help you break out of a scoring rut. It's ten years old but the advice is still surprisingly useful.

Cohn defines what a comfort zone is and how it can limit you. Then he gives you some tactics for overcoming those limitations. Although the video says it has three mental strategies, there are really four:
  • Don't set a target score
  • Don't keep track of your score
  • Don't play defense -- stay on the attack
  • Focus on what you want to do, not what you're afraid you might do
The video also says you can get a free report that teaches you six things players do to sabotage their games. I'm not recommending the report; I find most of these things, although they may have useful info, are more often than not just ways to get you on a mailing list. However, the page still exists after ten years and is apparently still being updated, so for those of you who might be interested, here's the link to the report. If you choose to register for the download, you do so at your own risk!

At any rate, the video has some useful info that might help you get out of your own way and maybe break through your own scoring limit. And there's no sign-up form before you can listen!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Brian Harman on Ball Position (Video)

I have a surprise for you lefties today. I found a site with several Brian Harman video tips! And since Brian shocked a lot of analysts by beating the big guns to reach the Sweet16 at the Dell Match Play, I thought I'd post one of them. This one's on ball position.

In this video Brian teaches how he gets the ball in the same position each time and how he adjusts the position for fades and draws. It's really simple -- most good golf instruction is -- but it's not often you see this material filmed for lefties.

Of course, you righties can use it too. But you'll have to do what the lefties normally have to do -- mentally reverse it before you try it! That may actually help you understand and remember the instruction better. Give it a try!

BTW, each of those photo links on the page links to several other videos in each category, so there will be plenty for you to check out. Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The New Tiger Woods Book

Today I'm posting a link to Golf Digest's review of the new book about Tiger. The book is just called Tiger Woods, and the review here sounds interesting.

Cover of the new Tiger Woods book

Here's a brief segment from early in the review:
Culled from more than 400 interviews, including over 250 people from in and around Woods’ life—although tellingly not directly with the title subject—it is a book brimming with revealing details about Woods’ unique background, his rise to superstardom and the myriad character flaws that contributed to his well-publicized fall. But remember, we’re talking about an athlete who has likely inspired more coverage than any in history, so the real achievement in Tiger Woods is not in detailing what has happened in the golfer’s 42 years. Instead, it is in describing how Woods became who he is—uniquely gifted, widely admired, but also emotionally stunted by his parents.
Don't misunderstand -- the review doesn't say that Tiger had horrible parents or that he's not responsible for his own mistakes. But it does point out how a child who is groomed for greatness often doesn't get the same treatment that a "normal" child does, and that those differences sometimes have unexpected effects on that child's growth.

The examples from the book that are given in the review do, as the review points out, help us understand why he seems to be so much happier now despite the dark days he went through. It seems that Tiger is no longer defining himself just by his success on the golf course, and that has begun to free him from his own superhero status.

Sounds like it might be an interesting book. The review alone is worth the read.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Martin Hall's Sponge Drill (Video)

This is a super-short Home School video from Martin on how to use a sponge -- no club -- to keep your hands, arms and shoulders in sync during your swing.

The drill is self-explanatory, but here's why it works: The flat side of the sponge should stay parallel to your chest throughout the drill. You're using a half-swing, about shoulder height. If the sponge starts to tilt so one edge or the other is angled, then your arms and chest aren't swinging together.

This drill will show you whether you're "getting stuck" (your trailing elbow collapses before you hit the ball) or "scooping" (your lead elbow collapses as you hit the ball). It's a nice visual way to get feedback, even without a club.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

More Prime Time LPGA Action

As the LPGA prepares for their first major of the year -- the ANA Inspiration next week -- we (here in the US, at least) get another prime time LPGA broadcast with the Kia Classic.

Mirim Lee with caddie

Tony Jesselli's weekly tournament preview is at this link. I'll just remind you that the event is held in Carlsbad CA and the defending champ is Mirim Lee. She's hoping to recapture last year's magic, having not cracked the Top20 since.

Seven of the eight past Kia champs will be in the field this week. (2010 champ Hee Kyung Seo is the missing one.) Kia does tend to pull a strong field as many players are preparing for the ANA next week. Inbee Park is also in the field -- she's never won but she has a couple of runner-up finishes.

After last week's performance I wouldn't bet against her.

Beyond that, the #1 spot in the Rolex is up for grabs again. Shanshan Feng leads Lexi Thompson by a mere .21 points, with So Yeon Ryu .5 back and Sung Hyun Park another .2 behind her. We could see a shake-up this week.

GC's coverage is tape-delayed at 8:30pm ET Thursday and Friday night, but goes live at 7pm ET on Saturday and Sunday. And I'll say it again: The ANA comes up next week, so this should be a very competitive event.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Your Printable Dell Match Play Bracket

Yes, today is just a link to the bracket for this year's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. (Just look for the words Print Your Bracket in the tabs above the web version.) In case you've forgotten, the event is held in Austin TX and Dustin Johnson is the defending champion.

Dustin Johnson with 2017 Dell Match Play trophy

You can get a summary of all the event details at this page. The Tour leaderboard has a list of all the matches and their tee off times (all times there are CST -- Central Standard Time, which is an hour earlier than the normal ET times -- Eastern Standard Time, on the East Coast of the US).

You can even find all the individual matches for the first three days listed at the event's Wikipedia page, if you so desire.

GC's broadcasts begin at 2pm ET on Wednesday. Get your brackets NOW!

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: Well, she did it again. Although Laura Davies gave it a great run, Inbee Park rode a five-stroke lead to victory at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on the LPGA; Lauren Kim won the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic on the Symetra Tour; Ben Polland won the Stella Artois Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; and Jeffrey Kang won the Chengdu Championship on the PGA TOUR China.

Rory with API trophy and sweater

And another drought bites the dust. This time it belonged to Rory McIlroy, who ended a winless run of nearly 18 months.

Granted, that wasn't quite as dramatic as it could have been, had Tiger ended his drought after exactly the same number of days that it took Phil to end his. But with the Masters coming up, and Rory looking to win the career Grand Slam at Augusta, it couldn't have come at a better time for Mr. McIlroy.

Although his opponents probably aren't all that happy for him. Given how badly Rory torched the field Sunday, posting a bogey-free 64 that was three strokes better than anybody else, they probably feel the immediate future looks pretty bleak.

Only Bryson DeChambeau managed to put the heat on Rory -- or at least it would have been heat if Rory was playing like everybody else. But Rory's stats for the week read like an entire fantasy draft dream team, with him leading the field in Driving Distance, Proximity to the Hole, Scrambling, and Strokes Gained Putting. (That last one was probably a shocker for most of them!) It's kinda hard to beat a fella when he's posting those kind of numbers.

And Rory hopes to keep posting them for another couple of weeks.

In the meantime, he can take a few minutes to relax with a nice cold Arnold Palmer (tea and lemonade) -- with a little umbrella in it, of course -- while lounging in his new red alpaca sweater and gazing lovingly at his shiny new trophy.

And if he feels like it, he can read his new Limerick Summary a few times if he wants, just for kicks. It's been a while since he had one of these as well.
Another drought comes to an end—
The field couldn’t hope to contend
After Rory got hot
(He nailed shot after shot)
And his putter became his best friend!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Inbee Park Proves That Length Is Overrated (Video)

Inbee Park missed several months with back pain and considered quitting the game. But she decided to keep playing.

And now she's leading the Bank of Hope Founders Cup as if she hadn't missed a beat. She even had a 59 watch going for a while on Saturday. That tends to happen when you're six-under after five holes.

You might want to read Randall Mell's article over at about the last few months of her life. It's very interesting. And the video here lets you hear a bit of how she's thinking right now.

But what fascinates me is how she continues to blow her competition away when she's not as long as the big guns. In one round this week she was playing from 40 to 50 yards behind her opponents.

And this is something that weekend players should learn from.

Look, I'm not saying that length isn't an advantage. It can certainly help you post a low score if you're able to capitalize on it. But even among the pros, length doesn't make most players into contenders. DJ and Justin Thomas are the exceptions, not the rule. And unlike Tiger in his heyday, even they haven't proven they can win as consistently as the Big Cat did. I mean, DJ has won every year for over a decade now... but Tiger won five times a year for over a decade.

The players who win consistently are the players who learn to take what they have and post a good score with it. That's a matter of mindset ("I can compete with these other players") and strategy ("My game allows me to do these things really well"). And even if you can't knock the cover off the ball, you can learn to capitalize on your strengths by playing smart.

It's still working for Inbee Park. And while she doesn't win all the time, wouldn't it be wild if it worked today?

I'm not betting against her.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Stacy Lewis on Beating the High Lip Bunker

I've done a number of posts on bunker play but I think this is the first to focus on DEEP bunkers! Stacy Lewis did this great post for that -- pardon the pun -- hits the high points.

Stacy Lewis in a deep bunker

If you take nothing else from this post, remember this: The deeper the bunker is, the more sand you have to dig out. In a bunker you don't hit the ball, you hit the sand; and to make the ball go higher, you have to move a lot more sand with your wedge. Stacy gives a great drill to teach you how to get that extra sand moving!

Draw a four-inch diameter circle in the sand with your ball in the middle. Set up with the ball opposite your lead foot, then remove the ball. Dig your feet into the sand so you have a solid footing, then grip the club with an open clubface. (Remember that the open clubface won't send the ball out sideways because the clubface never touches the ball.)

Then she says to swing as if you're trying to stick your hands in your left pants pocket. (If you're a righty, that is. Lefties, stick it in your right pants pocket!) That's because you want to cut across the ball -- an out-to-in swing. This image will help you do that.

Finally, when you make that swing, try to take all of the sand out of that four-inch circle. And once you get the hang of doing that, put the ball back in the circle and watch that ball fly high and soft!

This is a beautifully simple drill for learning a shot that gives most players fits.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Mariah Stackhouse Meets Hank Aaron (Video)

In case you don't know, Hank Aaron is a baseball legend, one of the greatest home run hitters in history and a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. He also created the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, which he began to help children with "limited opportunities" (which can cover a lot of territory) pursue their dreams.

As it turns out, Mariah was one of the kids he helped... and Thursday was his first time getting to see her play. GC posted this video of the two finally getting to meet.

This was just so cool that I wanted you all to see it in case you missed it

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The LPGA Is Back in Prime Time

Although Tiger and the Arnold Palmer Invitational will get the lion's share of the attention this week, the LPGA plays the Bank of Hope Founders Cup starting today.

Sung Hyun Park, Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer

Tony Jesselli has his usual excellent preview of the event at his site, so I won't repeat that here. But this will be a big tournament for the ladies, not only because of its focus on the history of the LPGA, but because several players finally start their seasons this week.

Paula Creamer is back after wrist surgery. She's got new equipment, a new caddie, and a new coach... but her old husband is noticeably missing. She confirmed to the media that she and Derek Heath have split. She really is starting the season with a clean slate!

Sydnee Michaels is back after nearly a year off with back problems (a herniated disc) and a new four-month-old daughter. She's made some swing changes as well, necessitated by her back.

And Kyung Kim is back after six months off from a car accident. She says she still has some back pain but is ready to go.

And then you've got the players who are already off to a good start. Sung Hyun Park is the top-ranked player in the field (she's less than .8 points behind #1 Shanshan Feng, and Feng isn't playing); both Kordas and both Jutanugarns are there; Inbee Park is playing as are Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson; and of course defending champion Anna Nordqvist is there. You can check out the whole field at this link.

The best part is that, since the LPGA is back in the US, we finally get to watch them play at a normal hour! GC's three-hour coverage starts this evening at 6pm ET, right after the API coverage. Should be fun!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Paul Casey on the High Lob Shot (Video)

Since Casey won last week, he gets to teach a lesson this week. He recorded this lob shot video as one of the Titleist Tips from the Tour shorts.

Before getting to the tip itself, Paul reminds us that he doesn't have to go straight at the pin. This is something we often forget -- there's nothing wrong with playing the safe shot and avoiding the high score if we aren't sure we can play the bold shot. A low-scoring player always considers all of his or her options.

A quick note about that "safe" shot: Paul specifically says it's a lower shot, and it might even be a running shot. That's a lot easier shot to play, and perhaps that should be your choice if it's available to you.

Okay, here are a couple of things I picked up by studying the video, things that Paul doesn't mention and that may not be clear with only one or two viewings:
  • While Paul mentions that his stance is open, you may not realize how far forward his ball position is. He has the ball up even with his lead heel. That's quite far forward when you aren't using a tee, and he has the clubface wide open so he has to catch the ball almost perfectly. This isn't a shot you want to try if the ball is sitting down. You need a good lie.
  • You absolutely can't hang back on your trailing foot! With the ball so far forward and the clubface wide open, that's a sure recipe for a skulled shot. It's true that you can't hit down on the ball with this ball position, but you have to make sure your upper body stays stationary during the swing -- it doesn't move backward but it can't move forward either. (At least, not until after the ball has been struck.) You MUST hit the ball accurately in order to get that high ball flight.
Paul makes this look easy, but you need to be sure of yourself if you want to play this shot. Given how much clubhead speed this shot requires to get both the height and the distance, this is not the shot for you if you aren't confident of your ability to pull it off.

That's when you take the safe shot. Never feel guilty about doing that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Rules Bifurcation Arrives... in a Small Way

It appears that the USGA and the R&A finally decided that some form of bifurcation in The Rules of Golf was inevitable. And it was the pace of play issue that finally forced their hand.

The Rules of Golf book

There are four main rule changes that have been emphasized in the announcements over the last day or two. You can get the lowdown from this article at, this one at and this one at The Golf Digest article also has a graphic showing how the new bifurcated rule will work. Here's what that graphic looks like, although the original is much easier to read:

Graphic showing the new two-stroke rule

Yes, it's the stroke-and-distance rule. Most of us hate the extra trip back to the tee when we lose a ball or simply hit it out-of-bounds. Here's how the Golfweek article summed up the change:
Balls lost or out of bounds: Alternative to stroke-and-distance penalties: A new local rule will be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The local rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite competitions. (Key change: This is a new addition to support pace of play.)
There are two very interesting aspects of this change:
  • It's an optional local rule that courses can use. It's not required, but it's now available as a sanctioned part of the Rules.
  • Most importantly, this optional rule is NOT available to competitions involving professions or "elite amateurs."
That, my friends, is bifurcation. The Rules of Golf will now recognize a rule that affects top-level competitions but not regular amateurs. And it's a rule that will be instituted in order to speed up play.

I'm perfectly fine with this change. Let's face it, most amateurs don't obey the stroke-and-distance rule anyway! This will, as most would argue, simply bring the rule into line with the way most players already play.

But -- and this is just an observation -- I expect this change to have some unexpected side effects. After all, most handicaps are determined by casual rounds, not by official rounds in a tournament. The two-stroke penalty assumes that a player would go back to the tee and hit his or her tee ball somewhere near the spot where they take a drop... but we all know that doesn't always happen.

The handicaps determined through those casual rounds could end up being used by some amateurs when they play in various levels of tournament play. Will it be a large number? Probably not, although this local rule does open the door for some "creative handicapping" if players so choose, and they could argue that they did it legally. (Those handicaps would be better than the player actually deserves, so they might get into a tournament they would not otherwise qualify for.) I don't expect that to be a big problem, as most players tampering with their handicaps would prefer to make them worse so they could sandbag it a bit.

Again, that's just an observation and, from a practical standpoint, it probably won't amount to much. But it's the sort of problem that bifurcation brings to the table...

And I suspect the USGA and the R&A might have chosen this rule to be a test case for bifurcation. Misusing this rule would hurt a player more than help, so it seems a safe way to see how bifurcation might affect the intergrity of the game.

But make no mistake about it: The ruling bodies have given us what we wanted. For better or worse, bifurcation will now officially enter the game of golf, effective 01 January 2019.

Now we'll just have to see where it leads.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Valspar Championship

Winner: Paul Casey

Around the wider world of golf: Matt Wallace beat Andrew "Beef" Johnston to win the Hero Indian Open on the ET; Ashleigh Buhai won the Investec South African Women’s Open on the LET; Vijay Singh won the Toshiba Classic on the Champions Tour; and Martin Trainer won the El Bosque Mexico Championship on the Tour.

Paul Casey with Valspar trophy

And another drought comes to an end -- this time, it was nine years in the making (since 2009).

I've been waiting for Paul Casey to break through for years. (Some of you may remember the many times I picked him as a tournament favorite, only to have him come up just a bit short.) And this week it looked like he might miss out again, as he started the day five shots off the lead of a loaded leaderboard. Justin Rose, Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods (of course!) were all in the mix and all playing well.

And then... Casey came out firing, more than an hour ahead of the leaders. He tied his best round of the year (65), highlighted by the fewest number of putts in anybody's round since 2000 (21). And once he finished, he had a long wait to see what happened. After all, he figured one of the big guns would catch him. Right?

But he was wrong. Reed made the biggest run, starting with an eagle but bogeying his final hole to miss a playoff by just one stroke. Rose came out flat, shooting 2-over on the front nine. And Woods just wasn't as sharp -- to be expected, I think, given how long it's been since he was in contention -- though a birdie bomb on 17 kept his hopes alive. Nevertheless, he too came up a single shot short.

And just like that, Casey found that his long wait was over. And given how well he's played over the last few years, I'd say this win is certainly overdue.

Will this "open the floodgates," as the analysts are wont to say? I don't know. Our game is definitely top-heavy with talent right now, and with both Phil and Tiger both making a comeback, it's hard to believe that Casey will suddenly rocket to the top of the heap.

But that's irrelevant right now. It's hard to win on tour, any tour, and Paul Casey has done something many players go their entire careers and never experience -- he's hoisted yet another trophy. And since I do only one Limerick Summary each week, this one puts him in elite company!
Once Casey’s score made him “The Man,”
A long hour of waiting began.
But though Woods, Rose and Reed
Made a run at the lead,
In the end, only Casey would stand.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Robert Damron on Repeatable Wedge Yardages (Video)

This short video from Robert Damron has a neat twist on learning how to hit your wedges consistent distances. I think you'll find the concept useful.

Robert's approach is different... but it's one I've used myself, although not to the degree he does. Still, it's a very useful way to learn a repeatable swing.

Instead of hitting your wedges to a certain distance and trying to remember the swing, Robert makes a swing he can easily repeat and then measures the distance. For example, if a slow shoulder-height swing feels natural to you, you make that swing ten times, measure the distances and get an average distance. Now, when you need to hit that distance on the course, you can recreate it by feel rather than by mechanical thoughts.

So why post the video? Because Robert has some unusual ways to create those "natural-feeling" swings, and seeing how he does it might help you find some easy-to-repeat swings that you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

As crazy as it may sound, I think you'll get some very useful ideas from this video. Give it a try.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

What Must the Young Guns Be Thinking Now?

I just want to put some perspective on what we're seeing at Valspar this week. We seem to be missing the full picture because we're forgetting some important things.

Tiger at Valspar

For example, since Phil has been mentioned many times because of his win in Mexico, we need to remember that Phil isn't just overcoming the effects of age. Phil still has psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and, although he is using medicine, both are incurable. My understanding is that he can still have flare-ups, even with treatment. So some of Phil's inconsistency could be the result of occasional pain.

Rory, Jordan and Henrik all missed the cut this week but this isn't just a matter of being in a slump. It's true that Jordan's coach Cameron McCormick said Jordan is just trying too hard right now, but we should also remember that Jordan that had a case of mono in December and -- I can say this from experience -- you feel rundown for quite a while, even after you're pronounced "well." I suspect some bad habits from that recovery time have worked their way into his game and it's a simple matter of working them out.

As for Rory and Henrik, both dealt with rib problems late last year and, even though both played well in their ET starts, conditions here in America are different from those in the Middle East. (Henrik didn't play as well in Malaysia either, his last ET event before coming here.) It's going to take some time to adjust to Bermuda grass, and that's why they're here early -- to get ready for Augusta.

Tiger, meanwhile, is playing the Honda and Valspar on the grass he's been practicing on since he started swinging again. You may have heard him say that he didn't know how he'd do at Bay Hill next week because he hasn't putted on bent grass in a while. But he's improving a little each week, and has realized that patience is his friend right now.

What exactly does all this mean to the young guns, who have made no secret that they'd like to face the "old" Tiger (and presumably the "old" Phil as well)?

Even though I expected Tiger to return to form if he was healthy, I didn't expect him to be at this point until much later this year. And while Tiger is playing well on these tough courses, he's certainly not ready for the shootouts he used to win with regularity. I suspect Tiger will be in pretty good form for Augusta -- as will Phil -- simply because both men tend to play well there, no matter what their games look like elsewhere.

But despite everything I've just written, I think the young guns should be a bit nervous -- not terrified, just nervous. JT ran the tables last weekend in Mexico but he still couldn't stop Phil from winning, and a confident Phil is a dangerous Phil. He now KNOWS that what he's been working on has him back in form, and he has Tiger to push him once again. Those two are already talking about inspiring each other, and these youngsters don't know how powerful their rivalry can be as they reassert themselves.

As for Jordan... the fact is this: An admittedly less-than-recovered Tiger just blitzed you by nine strokes on a course he hadn't seen in 22 years, when just nine months ago he wasn't even sure he'd play again. No matter the reason for your struggles, you can't feel good about this. The same goes for Rory -- under no circumstances should someone who spent a couple of years recovering from back surgery beat you by that many strokes.

Rex Hoggard noted that, after Tiger made a great play on Friday, Henrik glanced over at him and raised an eyebrow as if to say "I've seen this before." I can imagine Jordan feeling the electricity in the air and asking Henrik if it was this bad before, only to have Henrik smile and say, "No. It was worse."

Reportedly, Martin Kaymer recently asked Adam Scott at dinner if Tiger had really been that good... to which Adam simply laughed.

I don't expect Tiger to win this weekend, and I don't expect current leader Corey Conners to win either, although I expect both to hold their games together and finish well. This week will be a confidence builder for both players, but I suspect there's just too much talent too close to the lead for them to overcome it. This week, that is.

But Tiger and Phil are clearly sending this young group of superstars a message, and that message is:
We've been sharing our knowledge with you, trying to help you grow and become the players of tomorrow... but now we intend to teach you WHY we know these things. Now the hard lessons begin.
This isn't about intimidation, folks. I don't think Tiger or Phil gives a damn whether the kids are intimidated or not. Because, you see, you don't have to be intimidated to get beaten black and blue by our game.

And I think the young guns are just beginning to suspect that their dream of facing the legends wasn't a particularly smart one.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Robin Symes on Straight Arm Pitching (Video)

Yesterday I did a post about Stricker's pitching technique and pointed out that he doesn't straighten his arms. So today we cover how to pitch with straight arms!

This might seem contradictory but it's not. Different people use different techniques because they get better results with one or the other. The big question is...

How do you know which technique is best for you?

Symes says that this technique feels "wooden." I'm not sure that's a good description. This may be a good technique for you if you use a very shoulder-oriented putting stroke... and if you do, this probably won't feel "wooden" to you at all.

There's really only two things you need to focus on if you want to try this pitching method:
  • Neither elbow bends at any point during the stroke. This is the main difference between this and the Stricker stroke from yesterday's post. That means you have to turn your shoulders a lot during your backswing, which is different from the way most players pitch. Again, that's why Symes describes it as "wooden" -- if you don't do this normally, it WILL feel a bit weird.
  • You'll probably need to limit this technique to shorter pitches. Symes suggests 40 yards or 40 meters (which is closer to 44 yards for us American players) as the outer limit. It's not that you can't use this method for longer pitches; it's just that you're more likely to move a lot over the ball on longer shots. Why? Because the bigger your shoulder turn, the bigger your hip and leg movement. Unless your tempo and sequencing is solid, you may find yourself making poorer contact with longer swings.
Other than those two caveats, this technique really isn't much different from any other pitching method. If you use a very shoulder-oriented putting stroke and are having trouble around the green, you might find this to be a very natural alternative to "normal" pitching methods.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

James Ridyard on Pitching Like Stricker (Video)

With Steve Stricker breaking his win drought this past weekend, I thought a Stricker lesson would be appropriate. James Ridyard from Today's Golfer magazine (a UK pub) has a helpful lesson.

Pay close attention to the technique because it's based around a very simple idea: Don't rotate your wrists any more than necessary. Everything in this video is focused on this simple idea, and it's the key to Stricker's consistency. I want to focus on two things Ridyard says.

First, Stricker sets up with his hands a bit higher than most players. This allows him to take the club back without having to rotate his forearms as much as you would if you carried your hands lower. His lead arm and club shaft almost form a straight line -- almost but not quite. Creating a very straight line would require more tension than Stricker's technique. Less tension equals more feel.

Second, pay close attention to Ridyard's warning against trying to hold your wrist cock late into the pitch. This isn't a power shot, and pulling your hands into the shot that way will make it hard to use the bounce of the club. It might help to think of your hands remaining in front of your belly button all the way through this short swing. Again, this helps reduce the need to rotate your hands at impact.

And remember: The less you rotate your hands and wrists, the easier it is to bring the clubface back square into impact. And that's a major key to a good short game.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Martin Hall's Wrist Cock Drill (Video)

Here's another of Hall's Home School videos that I think is just cool. This short video teaches you how to use a nearly empty soda bottle to improve your release at impact.

Simple enough, right? Just leave a little soda in the bottle, hold it upside down in your golf grip, then make your downswing move and try to keep the soda in the neck of the bottle until you get down near impact. It will help you develop a feel for what a "late release" feels like.

And when you're done, you can reward yourself with a handy drink! How much better does a drill get?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Distance Debate

As I was watching Golf Central yesterday, I couldn't help but be surprised at some of the things that Geoff Shackelford, Jaime Diaz and Matt Adams said about the various statements that have come out from the USGA, the R&A, the PGA Tour and the PGA regarding the distance study. So I thought I'd note a few things that I believe have been forgotten in this discussion.

Ball on tee

In case you haven't heard, the USGA and the R&A released a report Monday which they say shows an unusual jump in the distances golf balls carry on six of the seven tours that were studied. Most thought this report indicated consideration of new rules to "roll back" the golf ball. Here's a link to Golf Channel's post about that report, with a link to the report itself in it.

The first thing that surprised me was the panel's general belief that the statements from the PGA Tour and the PGA probably meant that any meaningful discussions would be stymied. Why? Because the statements made it pretty clear that the ruling bodies and the "playing bodies" had opposing views.

That makes no sense at all to me. We all know that each of the interested parties in this discussion has their own agenda. That's nothing new in any situation like this because the movers and shakers in any discussion have something at stake, and we know that they're always going to take stances to defend those stakes.

In my opinion, knowing what those stances are in advance make it easier to discuss things, not harder. If they made statements that indicated they didn't care one way or the other about the outcome, they would only be saying what they thought others wanted to hear and not what they meant. Knowing where everyone stands up front should make it easier for them to uncover the issues — the real issues — and perhaps make progress toward a solution.

Of course, it's unlikely that any real progress will be made toward a solution anytime soon. The reason? Because the only logical solution involves bifurcation of the rules, and to do that eliminates one of the things that really differentiates our sport from other sports. As it stands, amateurs and pros can compete against each other using handicaps, because handicaps take into account the things that differentiate an amateur's game from a pro's game.

You know, things like differences in driving distance.

But once you bifurcate the equipment, you eliminate even the possibility of a handicap. In fact, you eliminate the very thing which allows amateurs and pros to compete together. Because if they use different equipment, their games don't have enough in common to allow a usable comparison of their games. So the argument that bifurcation of the equipment is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game is actually a faulty one, because the ability of pros and amateurs to compete together is an integral part of our sport.

But that's only the beginning of the problems. Because the basic assumption — that rolling back the ball's distance will mitigate some of the challenges our game faces — is shortsighted.

One of the concerns is that classic courses are becoming obsolete because of the golf ball's distance. However, distance is the least of the problems. Most classic golf courses, having a smaller footprint as they do, don't have the space to handle a modern golf tournament. They weren't built to handle modern crowds, nor the parking that crowd will require, nor the rest of the infrastructure a modern event requires.

Things like grandstands, executive boxes, merchandising tents, and even sufficient trash cans and recycling receptacles to handle the waste a modern crowd creates take up far more ground space than the designers of those golf courses ever expected to need.

Rolling back the distance a modern golf ball travels will have absolutely no impact on those problems.

But can we even be so certain that rolling back the golf ball will have a major impact on the other issues that depend directly on the golf ball? By that I refer to the actual factors involved in the launching and landing of a golf ball. For the sake of this post, I'll ignore the agronomy issue, because hard and fast fairways certainly influence how far the ball travels once it lands.

Let's go back in time to 1997, Tiger's first year as a pro. That's the year the distance became something of an issue as Tiger rewrote the entire concept of the power game. This is before the introduction of the Titleist Pro V1, which debuted in October 2000. I pulled the driving distance of a few big-name pros that year from the PGA Tour's website.
  • Tiger Woods, 294.8 yards (2nd)
  • Phil Mickelson, 284.1 yards (5th)
  • Mark Calcavecchia, 279.1 yards (14th)
  • Ernie Els, 271.6 yards (52nd)
  • Mark O'Meara, 261.7 yards (153rd)
The reason for choosing Tiger and Phil is obvious, but perhaps the others are not so clear. Calc was in one of his better stretches of golf, winning three times from 1995 to 1998; Els was in a dominant stretch which spanned several years, and had won his second U.S. Open that year; and O'Meara won twice that year, with his two majors to follow in 1998. (In case you're curious, the longest driver on tour that year was John Daly at 302.0 yards.)

What's interesting here is that both Mickelson and Els were noticeably taller than Tiger, while Calc and O'Meara will roughly the same height. (Daly was the only one of this crew under 6 feet in height.) The changeover from persimmon drivers was nearly complete, with Davis Love being one of the last holdouts; 1997 was the last year any significant number of players used one.

Note that Woods was significantly longer than Mickelson — and Daly significantly longer than Woods, for that matter — although the major new ball technology had not been introduced yet. All three of these players used swings which were distinctively different from most other players — Woods used a very powerful, muscular swing while Daly and Mickelson both used swings which were much longer and more flowing than the standard tour swing. While it's possible to lay some of the credit for this distance on driver technology, it's clear that strength and flexibility were a much bigger influence on their results.

Look, I'm not saying that the distance golf balls travel these days is an unimportant consideration, nor that we can ignore the challenges it poses to the future of our game. The costs involved in maintaining longer golf courses are a real cause for worry. (As an aside, I suspect that indoor golf courses using simulators may become the next great source of growth for the golf industry. They have far less overhead, it doesn't take any more time to play a long course than a short one, and they are more easily located in population centers where they might attract casual players.)

But I do think the golf ball is receiving far more than its share of blame for modern golf's problems. And I hope the industry proceeds slowly as it pursues possible solutions because, if this is mishandled, we could harm the future of our game far more than we'll help it.

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 WGC-Mexico

Winner: Phil Mickelson

Around the wider world of golf: It was a weekend for droughts to be ended, so let's go from shortest to longest. George Coetzee ended a two-year drought at the Tshwane Open on the ET; Michelle Wie ended an almost four-year drought at the HSBC Women's World Championship on the LPGA; Steve Stricker ended a six-year drought at the Cologuard Classic on the Champions Tour; and Meghan MacLaren got her first pro win at the Women’s New South Wales Open on the LET while Daniel Nisbet got his first pro win at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open on the Asian Tour -- which I guess, since she's 23 and he's 27, could be considered the longest droughts of the bunch.

Phil with the WGC-Mexico trophy

And Phil, of course, ended a nearly five-year drought with his WGC-Mexico win. Now THAT'S how you end a long drought! (Okay, maybe a major would have been better. Still...)

I won't try to summarize the final round since we'll likely be seeing replays of it (and Michelle's win, which was an equally big event on the LPGA but a shorter drought) for the next week or so. And I'm okay with that. There are wins which set the tone for a season, and this is the season for the youngsters to face the comebacks of the players they idolized, who shaped their games...

And who now want them to know what it feels like to be beaten by them! Isn't that what made them idols in the first place?

Part of what makes this "Year of the Comeback" so intriguing to me is the timing -- it's happening right before major season, which adds yet another layer to the increasingly tight competition on all the tours. Because we're now seeing the figureheads of the last couple of decades flex their muscles a bit and make the youngsters sit up and take notice.

Trust me, Justin Thomas won't soon forget that Phil "the Thrill" Mickelson just ran him down despite a 62-64 weekend and then beat him in a playoff. And they all know that Tiger was watching, and they all know how these two have spurred each other on in the past...

Oh yes, this is shaping up to be a great season!

So I'll simply post Phil's long-overdue Limerick Summary and note that Phil has given us thrills for so long, it's about time he had a few of his own. Walter Hagen, watch out -- Phil is after your spot on the all-time winners' list!
The long years since Muirfield left Phil
With seconds aplenty, but still
He was hungry to win,
Hold a trophy again.
It’s about time that Phil got a thrill!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Brandel Chamblee on "the Magic Move" (Video)

I know many of you don't care for Brandel Chamblee, and you know I don't agree with him on everything either. But this short video he did on what he calls "the Magic Move" is a good explanation of what many successful pros have done to get distance.

I want to focus on that "straight right leg" he mentions. (And add that Arnold Palmer may have been the best example of it.) Bear in mind that you aren't necessarily "locking" that knee; it may have a slight flex in it. But it's a very slight flex -- slight enough that it almost feels locked, but without the stress you feel in a locked knee joint. It's straight enough that it doesn't bend easily.

If you let your trailing knee straighten during your backswing, it may sound as if it will limit your ability to launch into your downswing. What it actually does is stop you from "spinning out" at the top as you start down:
  • That straightness makes a fuller hip turn feel more natural, and it almost doesn't require any extra thought on your part. (Automatic moves -- when they're correct -- almost always improve your ballstriking.)
  • It makes it easier to stay relatively still over the ball (no sway during your backswing) without putting extra stress on your back.
  • Since you have to turn your hips to start the downswing rather than pushing hard with your thigh, it smooths out the start of your downswing.
  • You don't have to "drive" forward to get a weight shift to your lead foot -- a straight trailing leg forces you to "fall onto" your lead foot. Instant weight shift!
  • And once your upper body begins to turn with your hips during your downswing, your trailing knee will start to bend automatically. That puts you in position to start using the ground to push up at impact, but it keeps the "push up" under control so you don't overdo it and mis-hit the ball.
This straight trailing leg thing isn't for everybody. But once you get over the unusual feel of it -- and let's face it, this is a move that's rarely taught these days -- it's amazing how easy it is to repeat with each swing. It's also a move that can work with a large number of modern swing methods, without having to make major changes to what you already know.

And as Brandel points out, it's really hard to argue with the success of the players who have used it. It's one of those techniques that I put in the "it's worth a try" category, because if it won't work with your swing, you'll know pretty quick and won't have to waste a lot of time trying it.

But if it works for you... well, Arnie had a pretty good record.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Tiger's Surprise Tour Stop

Unless you were dead most of Friday, you probably heard that Tiger is playing the next two tour stops, the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The API was expected, the Valspar wasn't. Tiger has never played the Valspar before, although he did play the Copperhead Course with amateur partner Kelli Kuehne in the JCPenney Classic way back in 1996. They finished second.

Teammates Tiger Woods and Kelli Kuehne in 1996

The good news here for Tiger fans is that Tiger's back appears to be holding up very well -- well enough for him to tee it up four times in five weeks.
The Valspar was prepared for this possibility. reported:
Valspar tournament director Tracy West said she heard from Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, about 30 minutes before the announcement and put into motion a plan that tournament organizers had been working on for weeks just in case the 14-time major champion committed.
Of course, when Tiger shows up, the Tiger factor ramps things up dramatically. The logistics go through the roof! As reported:
Now in her fourth year running the event, West listed off the changes that Tiger's appearance dictates. Valspar organizers will open up two additional parking lots to handle 5,000 to 6,000 more spots. They'll set up more buses, and volunteers to handle those buses and fans at admissions gates. Increased security. More porta-potties. More food (and beverage) orders from caterers and concessionaires. Friday's announcement has organizers ready to see 10,000 or more spectators per day. Tiger changes the game.

Acknowledging her excitement that crowds could potentially sell out the venue, West remained cognizant of the potential for rowdy Tour crowds like those that have come under scrutiny in recent weeks.

"We're not the Phoenix Open," she said. "It's a balance, right? You want as many people to come and see these guys as possible. We don't want to turn people away. However, we don't want to make this something that gets out of control, and we'll make some judgment calls."
Tiger's surprise decision did knock pro Jonathan Randolph out of a spot -- at least temporarily; he's still the first alternate -- but Randolph tweeted:
Note the #ImNotEvenMad hashtag. As noted, the golf world as a whole seems pumped that Tiger may finally be on the way back.

But that wasn't the end of the Valspar's good news. Shortly after the event got Tiger's call, Jordan Spieth confirmed he would show up as well. Add them to Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio and Henrik Stenson -- among others -- and it looks like the Valspar is going to get the top level field they've been praying for.

This is a surprise that seems to have most of the golf world pleased. Now, if the Valspar can just find a way to get Randolph a spot, this will be a win-win for everybody.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Johnny Miller on Hitting Solid Irons (Video)

Sorry this one's late, folks. The weather took out our cable service last night.

This video tip from Johnny Miller is a simple one -- in fact, you can do it as a drill -- that should help you hit crisper iron shots.

This idea of getting your lead shoulder (Johnny says left because he's a righty -- it's the right shoulder for you lefties!) back to where it was at setup is a simple one, but it can be misleading if you don't think it through.

Many players mistakenly try to do what Johnny says BUT they do it by pushing their lead shoulder TOO FAR FORWARD on the downswing. That will cause problems. You don't want to lean TOWARD the target at impact. Rather, you just want to get your shoulder back to your setup position.

Pay close attention to Johnny's demonstrations in the video. You'll note that in his practice swings his left shoulder is directly above his left foot at the finish, but in his actual swings it isn't quite over his left foot. That's because his upper body is rotating more during the actual swing.

When hitting an iron, this will help you hit down slightly on the ball. You'll "trap" it against the ground and get more spin -- hence, a more solid shot.

Johnny's tip is intended to prevent a reverse pivot, where you lean away from the ball during your backswing and hang back on your trailing foot during the downswing. Depending on your swing tendencies, from that position you'll either hit a push-slice or a duck-hook.

One last thought: Note that Johnny says this can help "a little" with the driver. Under normal circumstances, you want to stay behind the ball at impact with a driver so you can hit up on the ball. (That's why it's teed up, after all, and why you set up with your head a bit more behind the ball. Your lead shoulder will set up AND finish a bit farther behind the ball on a drive than it does with an iron shot.) But if you have a problem with a reverse pivot, this drill can help. And it can also help in a headwind, where you want your tee ball to fly a bit lower. In that case, you'll also want to tee the ball lower.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Martin Hall on Mickey Wright (Video)

This was Martin Hall's Night School video from last Friday. It's hard to go wrong with anything that copies the legendary Mickey Wright -- even Hogan said she had the best swing he'd ever seen. This video has a Wright tip that Martin found.

I like this tip because it's deceptively simple -- just curl your lead fingers around the club handle as you start your downswing. Essentially all you're doing is tightening your grip a little. Mickey said this would help prevent a slice.

PLEASE NOTE: This isn't the same thing as Dustin Johnson bowing his wrist! You aren't manipulating the clubface in any way. You're just firming up your grip so you don't (a) let the club twist in your hand or (b) get sloppy with your wrists and rotate the clubface open. This is just a way to make sure that you start down in the same position that you went up!

I like simple tips like this. It's pretty easy to make them a regular part of your swing without an excessive amount of practice.