ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Quick Shoutout to the East Lake Cup Winners

Despite the bad weather, they got it all in. Let me give the victors their due.

The victorious Wake Forest women's team

In the men's individual competition, Wake's Mark Power won the title.

In the women's individual competition, Duke's Ana Belac and Wake's Vanessa Knecht shared the title.

In the men's group competition, the Texas Longhorns beat Oklahoma State.

In the women's group competition, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons beat Auburn.

And for those of you who wonder why I care, both Wake and Duke are teams from NC... and the Wake Forest campus is in Winston-Salem, about 20 minutes from where I live.

Wasn't a bad day around my house. Just saying...

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Ladies Move to Taiwan

Sorry for the delay on this post, folks. Internet problems.

There are only two LPGA events left before the Tour Championship. This week the ladies return to the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, where Nelly Korda is the defending champion. It was her first LPGA victory.

Defending champion Nelly Korda

While we could argue over storylines this week, I think there are two main ones -- Nelly's defense of her first title and the second LPGA appearance of Hinako Shibuno, aka "Smiling Cinderella." You will remember that she was the surprise winner of this year's Women's British Open... although you could argue that, with three JLPGA wins under her belt (one a JLPGA major, the Salonpas Cup), she shouldn't have been a total surprise.

Then again, this is only her rookie season on the JLPGA. Perhaps I'll call her a mild surprise.

GC's coverage begins Thursday night at 5pm ET. I'm guessing this will be time-delayed coverage since Taiwan is 12 hours ahead of us on the East Coast of the US.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: WGC-HSBC Champions

This week Twofer Tuesday does a little island hopping from Japan to mainland China for the last WGC of 2019.

Defending champion Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele is the defending champion at the Sheshan International course this week, and he'll have his hands full. Although the scores may be low because the winds aren't expected to be too strong, Sheshan has proven that it can take its pound of flesh if players get careless. And the par-5s tend to be tough regardless of the wind, so a major scoring opportunity can slip away quickly.

Enough small talk. Let's get to the picks, shall we?
  • My Top10er this week is Tony Finau. Except for last week's T59 finish, Tony's last few events have been in Top10s and -- let's face it -- at #9 in the Presidents Cup standings, he needs a good finish to make sure the Captain gives him that pick. (Especially since the Captain is likely to make his own team.)
  • And my winner is Xander Schauffele. The defending champ has been playing well as of late, with a second at the Tour Championship and a T10 at ZOZO... and the latter was after a lackluster final round. He's already on the team but I think he wants to prove himself to Tiger. Besides, he's a big game hunter and would really like to defend this title.
GC's live coverage begins Wednesday night at 10pm ET. I suspect most of the attention this week will focus on President Cup picks, but I think Tiger's decisions could still be swayed by an outstanding performance (Kisner maybe?) so the play should be very competitive, especially among the Americans. Nobody wants to say that the Captain took his spot!

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 ZOZO Championship

Winner: Tiger Woods

Around the wider world of golf: Steven Brown got his first ET victory at the Portugal Masters; HaNa Jang won the BMW Ladies Championship on the LPGA; and César Costilla won the Abierto del Litoral OSDE on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica (I believe this was a Dev Series event).

Tiger winning the ZOZO Championship

Alas, my Twofer Tuesday luck was not to last. I had Jason Day (T22) to win and Justin Thomas (T17) to Top10. The other three players in the Skins Game earlier this week ALL had Top3 finishes. *sigh*
  • Winners: 3 for 43
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 43 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 34 of 86 (19 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
Of course, Rory was T3, Hideki got the fans all worked up with a runner-up finish...

And Tiger walked away with the win and yet another spot in history.

Look, you don't need me to rehash the last few days. GC, ESPN and just about every other sports outlet will be revisiting Tiger's win over the next week so you'll get your fill. But I do think it's worth taking a moment to reconsider Tiger's play since the Masters and what we learned.

Given Tiger's admission that he had intended to have that knee surgery in fall 2018 but postponed it because he was playing so well, and that the knee had become progressively more debilitating after the Masters, and knowing that all the pros struggled to rest during the revamped season, and then seeing how he played this week under stressful conditions and long chilly wet days... I think we're going to have to reassess our expectations for him going forward.

I don't expect Tiger to suddenly begin playing the way he did before all the physical problems; that's just unrealistic. Cold wet days are still going to have an effect on him, as will the compressed schedule and days with more than 18 holes. But we're unlikely to see the fall-off in play after this win that we saw after the Masters... and truthfully, we have no idea exactly what to expect going forward, as we have yet another never-before-seen set of circumstances in Tiger's career.

But what we do know is this: Tiger has three wins in 13 months, the countdown to win #83 has begun and we'll probably see Tiger as a playing captain at the Presidents Cup. Oh yeah, and we know he just added another Limerick Summary to his collection.
Hey, Sam, make some room at the top—
Looks like Tiger’s about to get hot!
He’s back from the bottom.
82 wins? He’s got’em
And I don’t think he’s planning to stop!
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, October 27, 2019

LPGA and LET May Be 'Getting Together'

Today I'm just giving you a link to a story from a few days back about the LPGA and LET renewing talks of a partnership. Somehow I missed it, even after Phil messaged it to me.

Carlotta Ciganda teeing off at an LET event

I'm actually surprised this hasn't happened already. Mike Whan has made no secret that his business philosophy is "A rising tide lifts all ships." It has allowed him to lead the LPGA out of a horrible financial struggle simply because he is willing to work with others without 'taking over' their businesses. An alliance between the LPGA and the LET -- who are already doing some cosponsored events and such -- would seem to be a win-win for both sides.

Randell Mell says the two sides are trying to prepare a potential agreement in time for the LET annual meeting in November, so the players can discuss the possibilities.

Here's hoping that something mutually beneficial can be worked out. The LET is too important to just let it fade away.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Dan Martin on Talking to Your Ball (Video)

This simple drill is more helpful than you can possibly imagine.

Dan's idea about 'staying present' during your swing is a good one. By focusing on saying the word hit -- although it can be almost any word (personally, I would say BOOM!) -- you force yourself to concentrate on the moment of impact. That's good for your swing.

But I'll take it even further.

Many players don't realize that they should inhale at some point during their backswing, then exhale as they hit the ball. That's a basic truth, if you will, in all physical effort -- you exert the most force if you exhale as you perform the motion. (For example, if you do squats, inhale on the way down and exhale as you push up because the push is where you need to exert the most effort.)

So, if you speak to the ball at the moment of impact, you have to exhale and it should help you exert the most effort at the correct moment. Best of all, timing the word you speak at impact will automatically unleash the most effort without you having to consciously try to hit the ball hard.

Don't underestimate the value of this tip. Anytime you can get yourself to perform an action that uses tricky timing with a much simpler trigger, you almost always improve your performance.

Friday, October 25, 2019

John Hughes on the Versatile Chip Shot

Over at the Golf Tips Magazine site John Hughes is doing a series on golf milestones. Each article gives a tip for breaking 100, breaking 90, breaking 80 and breaking 70. Today I want to focus on the third article's tip for breaking 100.

John Hughes using a chip shot in different situations

Some of you have figured this out already, but chipping isn't just for around the green. A chip is just a partial shot, one that gives you extra control for better ball contact and better control. You can chip from under or between trees, out of bunkers, off pine straw, out of rough, even from the middle of the fairway if you're worried about nearby hazards.

You can play a chip with any club in your bag, from just about any lie. A bump and run is just a long chip shot, as is a knockdown shot. You can make a very short swing or a controlled three-quarter shot. There is no rule that says you ever have to make a full swing or swing as hard as you can.

Use that versatility to your advantage and you can take a lot of shots off your score.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yes, I Know It's Only One Round...

But Tiger looked really good at the ZOZO Championship.

Tiger at the ZOZO Championship

If you didn't see it, he started on the back 9 by bogeying holes 10, 11 and 12. Then he casually shot a bogey-free 9-under on his final nine holes to post a 6-under 64, which led by two shots at the time he finished. I only saw him hit one wild tee shot -- a push on his final hole -- but he got a lucky bounce off a tree and capitalized on it with an approach to about four feet.

And yes, he made the birdie.

The GC announcers said that, if this lead held up, it would be the first time Tiger had led a PGA Tour event after the first round in ten years. I don't know if that will be the case, as perhaps half the field still had to post scores.

Still, this is a pleasant surprise. Given the struggles Tiger had after winning the Masters, and the fact that he is coming off another procedure on his knee, this is a promising start to his 2019-2020 season.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The LPGA Lands in Korea

This is the first playing of the BMW Ladies Championship.

Jin Young Ko

Obviously we have no defending champion at this event, but you can bet that World #1 Jin Young Ko will be the biggest name in her home country's new event. The course will likely draw some attention as well. Here's what said about LPGA International Busan:
Formerly Asiad Country Club, built in 2002 for the Asian Games, the 27-hole complex was redesigned by famed architect Rees Jones, known as the Open Doctor for his many tweaks of what became U.S. Open courses. LPGA International Busan joins LPGA International in Daytona, Fla., also a Jones design, as an LPGA-branded golf course. 
“I'm very impressed that LPGA International Busan is a completely different course from when I visited the venue in March last year,” LPGA Commissioner Whan said when the new facility was unveiled.
This is an invitational event -- as are all the events in this last stretch of the LPGA season -- featuring 84 players. It's the crème de la crème of ladies golf, as you would expect. And now that everybody's got the Race to the CME Globe firmly in view, we should see some really top-notch golf.

GC's tape-delayed coverage starts Thursday at 1:30pm ET. You can stream it live starting at 11pm ET Wednesday night, but I'm uncertain whether that's only on GC's app or whether will also carry it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Zozo Championship

Twofer Tuesday visits the Land of the Rising Sun for the inaugural Zozo Championship.

Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama

The Zozo is being held at the Narashino County Club in the Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo, of which most of us got our first look during Monday's Skins Game. The sponsor, ZOZOTOWN Apparel, has signed on for at least six years so I suspect we'll all get used to seeing this beautiful course. What stood out to me during the Skins Game was the double greens, and I'm anxious to see how they end up affecting play.'s summary had some interesting facts about those double greens, so I'm including it here:
Narashino CC is a 36-hole facility. A composite course has been routed for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. It's a par 34-36—70 stretching 7,041 yards. The five par 3s range from the 141-yard 13th to the 191-yard fifth. The longest of the trio of par 5s is the 608-yard 14th. The closing hole is a par 5 tipping at 562 yards, so the opportunity for walk-off heroics is in play.
Golf courses of some age in Japan were built with two greens on every hole. At the time, it was a solution to present different strains of healthy grass no matter the season. Today, bentgrass blankets most greens primarily because advances in agronomy have allowed for improved conditioning where possible year-round.
Narashino opened in 1965 with two greens per hole. They remain today. Those utilized for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP have been prepped to run 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter. To honor the tradition of two greens in Japan, both the A and B greens on the par-4 fourth hole will be used at some point during the tournament. It's possible that another hole or holes also will use alternate greens. As usual, targets in play for every round will be determined when hole locations are posted.
If a golfer lands an approach on the incorrect green, the "wrong green" local rule will be enforced. It will allow the golfer relief off the green no closer the hole. No penalty will be assessed.
Like I said, this could be interesting.

Since this is the first playing of this event, I have no past history that might give me a hint about who to pick this week. It's probably unrealistic to hope for as good a results as I had last week... but let's give it a shot.
  • For my Top10er I'm picking Justin Thomas. It's asking a lot for him to go back-to-back, but I see no reason he couldn't add yet another Top10 to his current streak of good play. He's back up to #4 in the OWGR and, with Brooks out for this week, another good finish could help him make up some ground on #1.
  • And for my winner I'm taking Jason Day... for no other reason than he won the Skins Game rather decisively. He's originally from this part of the world and has experience on courses like this. And I can't help but feel the Skins Game gave him a better perspective on Narashino than he would have had with just his normal practice rounds. That shouldn't hurt his chances at all!
GC's live coverage begins at 11pm ET on Wednesday night here in the US. This is the first worldwide event in Japan in nearly two decades, so this should be a really fun watch!

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 CJ Cup

Winner: Justin Thomas

Around the wider world of golf: Nicolas Colsaerts won the Amundi Open de France on the ET; Danielle Kang defended her title at the Buick LPGA Shanghai; Leandro Marelli won the Diners Club Peru Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Christine Wolf won the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the LET; Chan Kim won the Japan Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour; and bad weather forced the Champions Tour to finish the Dominion Energy Charity Classic on Monday morning. Of course, I can't give you the winner of the Challenge: Japan Skins game because it's just getting started as I post this.

Justin Thomas with the CJ Cup trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks finally hit paydirt! I had Justin Thomas (1) to win and Viktor Hovland (T31) to Top10. Viktor had an off week but I can forgive him for that because I finally picked another winner!
  • Winners: 3 for 42
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 42 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 34 of 84 (19 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
And because the Challenge: Japan Skins game is just getting underway I'll keep this brief.

I've picked JT to play well a few times over the last few months but his playing has been a bit uneven, even though I've seen constant improvement. (That's why I kept picking him.) But this week he finally got it together -- at least at an event where I've picked him to win -- despite a spirited run by Danny Lee.

JT's game still doesn't look to be quite where it was before his wrist injury early in the season -- the injury that kept him from playing at the PGA Championship -- but his mental game appears to be back on track. While he might not have been as sharp physically, he was clearly managing his game well and avoiding the mistakes that plagued most of the field at the CJ Cup.

I can't help but think this win will help his confidence -- it was his 2nd win in two months, his 10th win in the last three seasons (the best record on Tour) and his 11th PGA Tour win overall. Which means, of course, that he has more Limerick Summaries in the last three seasons than anybody else. Impressive, huh?
His wrist injury now in the past,
JT’s form has returned at long last.
Had YOU written him off?
Thought he’d played his best golf?
Well, here’s one more win Justin’s amassed.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Louis Oosthuizen on Driving (Video)

I'm only going to make two comments about this video. Take a look:

You've probably heard everything Louis says in this short video. His swing is pretty much what you'd call a 'textbook' swing.

Here's all I have to say about it: The key to Louis's swing is that he avoids extremes. Almost everything in his swing, from his setup to his swing path, is pretty much in the middle of what he is physically capable of doing. That helps him avoid most of the big problems that weekend golfers face.

But while you want to avoid the 'happy feet' he mentions in the video, Louis keeps his feet way too quiet. You don't want your lead foot to come up on your toes and twist as he shows in the video, that's for sure. But one big reason Louis fights back problems is because he keeps that lead heel glued to the ground, which puts too much stress on his lower back. Don't do that!

Except for that one thing, there's enough good stuff in this video to help you hit better drives. Enough said.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Karen Nannen on Squaring the Clubface (Video)

PGA instructor Karen Nannen has a simple check to see if you're opening the clubface during your backswing.

I know you've heard this tip before, but you've probably been told you should see a certain number of knuckles on your lead hand. But Karen isn't saying that. She just wants you to count how many knuckles you see when you address the ball and then make sure you see the same number of knuckles at the 3/4 point in your backswing.

It's not about setting your hands a certain way at address. It's just about making sure you maintain that setting near the top of your backswing so you keep the clubface square.

A simple check, to be sure. But if you're opening (or shutting) the clubface at the top of your backswing, you need to know. If you're still square at the top of your backswing, it'll be much easier to square the club at impact.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Mental Side of Shot Shaping (Video)

I bet many of you saw this tip from Zack Lambeck on Morning Drive and, when you saw the last part, you said, "Never works for me." Today I'm going to help you MAKE it work!

You got to that final approach tip and shook your head, didn't you? Zack said that if your normal shot curves 10 yards to the right, you need to aim 10 yards farther left... but it didn't work like he said, did it? You aimed 10 yards left of the target, alright...

And then your shot curved 20 or even 30 yards to the right and you were in worse trouble than ever, correct? It never works for you, does it?

That's because you don't understand -- and nobody ever explains -- the mental side of this tip. Let me do that for you now.

The simple answer to 'why' it doesn't work is that you aren't approaching your 'adjusted' shot the same way as you approach your normal shot. When you try that initial shot that curves 10 yards to the right, you aren't trying to curve the shot at all. You're aiming at the target and your natural swing tendencies keep the ball from going where you're aimed. You're trying to square the clubface and hit the ball straight... and it just doesn't happen.

But when you aim farther to the left, that's no longer what you're doing because your mindset has changed. Now you're TRYING to curve the shot! You may be aimed 10 yards farther left but you're trying to hit the ball at your original target. So what happens?
  • You make a different swing. You don't swing where you think you're aimed; you swing a little more to the right, toward your original target. Or maybe you swing a bit more to the left and cut across the ball. Either way, the ball is going to curve more because...
  • You don't square the face. Your target is now to the right of where you think you're aimed, so the clubface is more open than before and the ball curves more than before.
As a result, you hit a bigger slice than you originally did and you don't even realize it!

So what's the cure?

It's really simple if you just think about it. When you were originally aimed at the target, you tried to hit the ball to the target and your natural swing created a fade. So now, when you set up for a new target that's 10 yards to the left; you actually have to try to hit the ball at your new target that's 10 yards to the left.

To put it another way, at first you tried to hit the green but missed the green to the right. Now, in order to hit the green, you have to TRY TO MISS the green to the LEFT! That's the mental trick that makes Zack's approach tip work.

I won't lie to you. This is going to be a tough adjustment for many of you. You are so focused on hitting to the flag that purposely hitting away from the flag is going to be hard. But that's what you have to do to make your normal miss happen when you're planning for it, instead of creating a worse miss.

And should you find that you actually miss the green to the left when you aim to the left, then it's clear that aiming left changes your swing in a positive way. So then, instead of aiming to miss the green on the left, you start aiming to hit the left edge of the green. And if that works, you start aiming to hit the green about two yards from the left edge. And you do that until you figure out where to aim in order to get as close to the flag as you can.

That may take some time. But at least now you know how to make Zack's tip work. Good luck!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Helen Alfredsson Wins the Senior LPGA Championship By Three

Juli Inkster may have started the day three strokes ahead of her, but Helen Alfredsson had the last laugh. When she could stop shivering, that is.

Senior LPGA Championship winner Helen Alfredsson

The weather at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick was cold and windy; at times it was a three-club wind. How tough was it? Juli had a two-shot lead over everybody to start the day, she shot a five-over 76 and still had a solo second finish.

That also tells you how well Helen played. There were only two rounds under par on Wednesday, and her two-under 70 was one of them. (Michelle McGann shot a 69.)

In the process, Helen joined Laura Davies as a Senior Slam winner by sweeping the US Senior Women’s Open and the Senior LPGA Championship in the same season.

You can read some detailed summaries of the event in this Golfweek article and this article. In addition, here's an video interview between Ron Sirak and Helen. As for my little post here, I'm just going to congratulate Helen on a hard-won victory and a great Legends Tour season!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Jin Young Ko's March Toward History

Today is a link to Kent Paisley's article about Ko's amazing season... and what may be on the horizon.

Jin Young Ko

To put it simply, Jin Young Ko is on the verge of taking two records away from Annika -- records that defy comprehension.

Number One, she is currently ahead of Annika's record for all-time lowest actual scoring average. Annika averaged 68.697 in 2002, a year where she won eleven times. Note that this record, for which LPGA players receive the Vare Trophy, is NOT the lowest adjusted scoring average but rather the actual scoring average -- number of actual strokes struck divided by number of rounds played. (For comparison, Tiger holds the PGA Tour's actual low stroke average of 68.17, set in 2000.)

Currently, Jin Young's scoring average is 68.851. She would join Annika as only the second LPGA player with a sub-69 average. And (if I understand correctly) she plans to play four of the remaining five events on the schedule, giving her 16 more rounds on the season; Paisley says she needs only to average 68 for those rounds to beat Annika's record.

The second record? Highest percentage of greens in regulation for a season. Currently, Jin Young's GIR sits at 79.9%, 0.2% better than Annika's record and a whopping 4.7% better than Tiger's 75.2% set back in 2000.

That's right. If Jin Young can hold on, she'll have the lowest-ever GIR record of ANYBODY, male or female, in golf history.

It's worth noting that Jin Young has four LPGA wins this year, two of which are majors, as well as a KLPGA win that doesn't count toward these records. And it's also worth noting that she has already locked up the 2019 Annika Award (best majors performance) as well as another all-time record for the longest bogey-free streak on either the the LPGA or PGA Tour at 114 holes.

This could be another amazing year on the LPGA, folks. And this is only Jin Young's sophomore year...

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: The CJ Cup

Today Twofer Tuesday sprints across the pond -- WAAAAY across the pond -- to South Korea for the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka

Nine Bridges is a par-72 course playing close to 7250 yards, which doesn't sound all that long but it plays tough when the winds blow. The CJ Cup sports a limited field of 78 players and is the first of three such events in Asia (South Korea, Japan and China). The field is a blend of PGA Tour, KPGA Tour and Asian Tour players.

Brooks Koepka is the defending champion and he's in the field this week, as is the 2017 champion Justin Thomas.

My Twofer Tuesday picks have been hit-and-miss so far in this wraparound season, and I'm looking to improve my luck this week. Unfortunately, the players haven't shared my enthusiasm lately, so I'm just taking my chances and hoping the guys show up.
  • My Top10er is Viktor Hovland. The rookie is still looking for his first win and, although I don't expect him to get it this week, I do expect him to continue his string of good play. He doesn't seem to care how tough the field is or that he hasn't played the courses before. I like that about Hovland and I feel good about his chances this week.
  • And my winner is Justin Thomas. As I said earlier, he has won this event before. Likewise, his recent play has been extremely strong since he came back from his injuries earlier this year. I think he may be ready to win again.
My only regret this week is that Bernd Wiesberger isn't in the field. (Apparently he's taking the week off to celebrate.) I realize that winning back-to-back is tough, but he's been playing at an extremely high level these past few months and I think a limited field might have played into his hands.

Because of the time difference between the US and South Korea, GC's live coverage begins tonight (Wednesday) at 10pm ET. So it's almost prime time golf again this week. At least I'll get to watch most of it before going to bed!

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Houston Open

Winner: Lanto Griffin

Around the wider world of golf: Bernd Wiesberger got his third ET win in only five months at the 76° Open d'Italia; likewise, Jerry Kelly won the SAS Championship for his third win this season on the Champions Tour; Justin Shin won the Macau Championship on the PGA TOUR China; and Shugo Imahira won the Bridgestone Open Golf Tournament on the Japan Golf Tour.

Lanto Griffin with Houston Open trophy

Once again it's the status quo for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Scottie Scheffler (T28) to win and Henrik Stenson (MC) to Top10. Granted, it might have helped if I had known about Henrik's 3-wood before I made my picks!
  • Winners: 2 for 41
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 41 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 33 of 82 (18 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
As it turned out, it was a good week for those without any PGA Tour wins on their resumes (or CVs for you readers outside the US). It all came down to Mark Hubbard, Scott Harrington and Lanto Griffin. Griffin had the 54-hole lead, Hubbard was in second and Harrington was three shots off the lead.

They stepped onto the 16th tee all tied, with the 18th -- which was playing harder than the hardest hole on Tour last season -- still ahead. Griffin went one-under on those final three holes to win by one. He said he felt absolutely calm as he stood over the 6-foot par putt on 18 that locked up the win.

The emotions that poured out after it dropped surprised even him, I think. The realization that he had finally achieved his childhood dreams of playing in a final group, getting a win and getting the chance to play in two majors all at once was overwhelming. His phone rapidly filled with congratulation texts and he said he couldn't wait to celebrate with his friends and family.

He'll have nearly three years of Tour eligibility to do so. So I thought I'd kick it all off with a slightly different Limerick Summary than usual -- one that comes from his own words, albeit rearranged to fit the form. Enjoy the win, Lanto. You earned it!
“A dream,” Griffin said at the end.
“All I wanted since childhood, and then
I achieved it today.
It seemed so far away;
Now I can’t wait to share it with friends.”
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Wie Update

Today I'm posting a link to Randall Mell's extensive article on Michelle Wie as she turns 30.

Michelle Wie

I'll just say that the article goes into considerable detail on where Michelle has been, where she is right now and what she has planned going forward. It's the most thorough piece I've seen on her for a long time, and all you Wie fans will want to read it.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ian Poulter's Hybrid Basics (Video)

This is a really short video, but it may help explain some of the apparent contradictions you think you see in some players' setups.

Ian talks about placing the ball forward in his stance, just inside his lead heel, because he wants to hit the ball high and stop it quick. (He's using a 3-hybrid in this video.) He says you want to sweep the ball from the turf, not hit down on it. But if you pay attention, you'll also notice that the shaft of his hybrid is leaning BACKWARD at address.

How can this possibly work? From this position, how can you avoid hitting the ball fat?

At regular speed there's no way to see clearly how he does it, but the slower down-the-line view holds the key. If you watch that slower view, you'll clearly see how Ian's weight is moving to his lead foot as his legs move and his hips turn through impact. In other words, his body moves forward just enough that the club shaft is vertical or even leaning ever so slightly forward at impact.

That's not something he has to think about, folks. It just happens because his weight naturally shifts forward to his lead foot during his downswing. If you stand up right now and turn your upper body back and through, as if you were making a swing -- but without swinging a club, just turning 'away from the target' and then turning 'back toward the target' -- it will happen to you too. It's just plain physics.

So I include this video today just to make sure you understand that. You don't have to try to do it; it will happen naturally if you don't interfere.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Tom Stickney on Hitting Fairway Woods

Golf Tips Magazine posted an article by Tom Stickney on several shots you never practice but should, and they devoted a single page to each. Today I want to focus on his advice for hitting fairway woods, simply because Stickney's instruction is so clear and the drill so easy.

Fairway wood and ball

First, Stickney says that most players don't play fairway woods well and should consider playing nothing longer than a 5-wood. That may sound condescending but there's actually some good logic behind this. The 5-wood has more loft and a shorter shaft than a 3-wood -- two characteristics that make it much easier to hit. It's the same reason that a wedge is easier to hit than a 5-iron.

He says the most important part of hitting a fairway wood is understanding how the lie affects the shot. You need to choose the club AFTER you study the lie because the worse your lie is, the more loft you'll need. (Not to harp on it, but you'll hit a good 5- or 7-wood more often than a good 3-wood for that very reason. By eliminating the 3-wood off the fairway, you're less likely to mismatch the lie.)

Finally he stresses the need for a smooth change of direction at the top of your backswing. Too many players jerk the club from the top because they want to hit the ball hard. When you jerk the club from the top, you change your swing plane, change your swing path and just generally make it harder to return the club to squarely contact the ball.

And that's where the drill comes in. Swing your fairway wood like you swing your wedge. Practice that smooth change of direction by making full swings at half speed, then slowly speed up your downswing until you can make that change of direction smoothly while swinging fast.

Why was I so happy to see this? Because there is nothing in these instructions that an average player can't do! There's no rerouting the club or changing your motion, just paying attention to your lie and swinging within yourself.

And once you get good with your 5-wood, that 3-wood won't be so difficult after all.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Nick Clearwater on How DJ Avoids Back Problems (Video)

This GOLFTEC video has a neat drill to help minimize back strain.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I'm a big believer in hip turn during the backswing. When you try to keep your hips from turning to create more separation between hips and shoulders, you run the risk of really hurting yourself.

Clearwater's drill -- starting your backswing with your trail knee straight and hips pre-turned from the very beginning -- teaches you to move into a position that Arnold Palmer himself used. Arnie would let his trailing knee straighten and his hips turn as he started his backswing. Clearwater is just having you start in that position, to get you used to how it feels.

I don't really need to say a lot about this drill. If you try it, it may feel a bit odd at first but you'll immediately feel less stress in your back. That will tell you all you need to know.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Poulter Goes for Three

I mentioned yesterday that Ian Poulter had passed on a chance to defend his title at the Houston Open. Now we know why.

Ian Poulter in 2002

Ian Poulter won the Italian Open twice in three years, back in 2000 and 2002. The second win came at Olgiata Golf Club in Rome. This year the Italian Open returns to that site.

In addition, the Italian Open is a Rolex Series event. Poults sits at #15 in the Race to Dubai, which Rolex sponsors.

Furthermore, there are a lot of Ryder Cup points available this week. Poults is currently 92nd in the Euro points list and I couldn't find him on the World points list, which goes down to 110. Clearly getting some points at the Italian Open would move him up the chart quickest.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Given what's up for grabs this week, I think I can understand him skipping his title defense in Houston. The ET website has even chosen Poults as one of their Fantasy Three to watch.

GC's coverage starts early Thursday at 4:30am ET and runs until 12:30pm ET. I'll be wishing Poults luck as he tries to make another Ryder Cup team. (I just won't wish him luck once he gets there!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Houston Open

This week, Twofer Tuesday heads down to the Houston Open for a little Texas BBQ.

Defending champion Ian Poulter

The GC of Houston's Tournament Course has most commonly been the site for the Houston Open in March or April, so Tour players will see something a bit different this year. The rough will be a little higher and tougher this week than players are seen in the past, so getting up and down may not be as easy as they remember.

Not that it has been all that easy in the past. The scoring average last year was just over 70 and, while the course does play to a par-72, at nearly 7500 yards players may struggle a bit more. The course doesn't seem to favor length or age, so this is arguably a wide-open tournament.

With defending champion Ian Poulter opting out of the Houston Open to play in the Italian Open, there will definitely be a new Champion lifting the trophy this year.
  • My Top10er this week is Henrik Stenson. The Big Swede has a pretty good record in Houston; while he has never won, he has a number of Top6 finishes to his credit. And while he hasn't been playing his normal great golf over the summer, Houston could be just the place to heat up his game a bit.
  • And for my winner this week, I'm going back to the well and taking Scottie Scheffler. Scottie played pretty well earlier this year and I've picked him to win a couple of times. As it turns out, those are times when he decided not to play so well. Still, I can't help but feel he's due; after a poor showing last week, I think he's hit the bottom and an upturn in his game is in the offing. So why not this week? With all that Texas BBQ to chow down on, I'm sure he can find a rationale for winning!
GC's live coverage of the event begins Thursday at 3pm ET while PGA TOUR LIVE begins streaming at 8:15am ET. So let's saddle up and see if my picks can do as well this week as they did last week!

(And I apologize for the rough version  of this post that originally showed up on the blog. I'm breaking in some new computer equipment and accidentally posted this before it was finished.)

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Limerick Summary: 2019 Shriners Hospitals Open

Winner: Kevin Na

Around the wider world of golf: Jon Rahm destroyed the field at the ET's Mutuactivos Open de España; Christine Wolf won the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the LET; Cheyenne Knight won the Volunteers of America Classic on the LPGA; Augusto Nunez won the Banco del Pacifico Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Laura Wearn won the Symetra Tour Championship; Shaun Norris won the Top Cup Tokai Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; and Suradit Yongcharoenchai won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on the Asian Tour.

Kevin Na with Shriners trophy

After a long dry spell, my Twofer Tuesday picks finally paid off. I had Adam Hadwin (T4) to win and Patrick Cantlay (2) to Top10. Although Adam didn't win, I'm not going to complain about two Top5 finishers!
  • Winners: 2 for40
  • Place well (Top10): 18 for 40 (10 Top5s, 8 more Top10s)
  • Overall Top10s: 33 of 80 (18 Top5s, 15 more Top10s)
That's not to say that my boys didn't make a good run at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open -- especially Cantlay. And if Kevin Na hadn't brought his magic putter, forged by angels in the same fires as the legendary Excalibur, somebody else might have won.

I said might have. The way Na played, I can't say for sure. But that putter allowed him to break all the records for most feet of putts made during a single tournament, and not even a triple-bogey on ten and a bogey in the pond at sixteen could derail his march toward the trophy.

It's a measure of how well he putted that Cantlay made a single error in the last few holes -- a bogey on 17 -- and yet, despite a barrage of birdies coming in, could only manage to force a playoff.

Which Kevin Na and his angel-touched putter won with relative ease.

I don't think I'll ever root against Kevin Na. He's fought a lot of very public battles with his game -- battles that derail many a player's career -- and has come out on top. This was his second win of 2019 and third win in two years, both of which are new territory for him. And the fact that he appreciates what is happening so much makes it easy to root for him.

Tiger likes him too, you know, and I'd be surprised if he isn't rooting for Kevin as well. You can be sure he's watching him closely, what with the Presidents Cup right around the corner.

But while Kevin waits for the Big Cat's phone call, here's another Limerick Summary (his second this year!) to keep him occupied:
On ten, Kevin carded a triple;
Soon after, his ball found a ripple.
They left eighteen tied
But Pat’s playoff hopes died
When Kev’s putter proved it wasn’t fickle.
The photo came from this page at

Sunday, October 6, 2019

How Your Lead Shoulder Helps Control Slicing (Video)

Okay Ryan, let's see if we can't help you understand the role of your lead shoulder in your swing.

For those of you who haven't been following along, a few days back I did a post about a drill from David Ogrin, in which I tried to explain a way to use it that would help eliminate slicing. Ryan had a little trouble wrapping his mind around exactly what I was saying, so I promised to do a post this weekend that would hopefully make it clearer.

This is that post.

I've written about this topic in the past and so I'm going to refer back to some of those posts, in hopes that they may help flesh out what I'm saying a little better.

The first thing you need to understand is that your shoulder bone is shaped more like an upside-down L than an I. Most people don't really understand this and how it affects shoulder movement.

If you take a look at the picture below (which I originally used in this post), I think you'll get a better idea of what I mean.

Diagram of left shoulder

As you can see, your shoulder bone actually bends a little at the top, like an L. And this bend means that, when you raise your arm across your chest as you do at the top of your backswing, the main part of your arm actually swings out toward the ball as well as up towards the sky.

In other words, if you imagine a straight line running from one shoulder to the other, the line gets 'kinked' or bent at your lead shoulder as you make your backswing.

Of course, the movement seems very slight if you're just looking at it. And because you make this movement all the time, it's so natural that you don't notice it anyway. But it does affect the way your hands move when you swing down to impact in your golf swing.

In the diagram below I have done two series of drawings. Both series start at the top of your backswing and follow the movement down to impact. However, the top series includes the shoulder turn, which I have shown by allowing the head to turn with the shoulders. Underneath that series I have drawn the same positions but without the rotation of the shoulders. See how the head is in the same position all the way through?

The important thing for you to note in each of these drawings is that at the top of your backswing, your shoulder has moved toward the ball and created an angle (that little 'kink' I mentioned) between your shoulder line and your lead arm. Then on the way down, your lead shoulder MUST move back into a straight line with your shoulders. (I call this movement 'opening up your lead shoulder'.) If you don't, you haven't returned to your address position and the clubface will not be aimed where was at address.

When you actually make this movement, this 'opening of your lead shoulder', your lead elbow will have to move closer to the side of your ribcage as the clubhead nears the ball.

Also, on each of these drawings I have placed a small X on the lead arm to show where the elbow is. In these drawings the elbow has not bent. In fact, if you allowed your elbow to bend in an effort to keep it pointing toward the ball or down the line at the target, your elbow would actually move farther away from your body and create a chicken wing, which almost always creates a slice.

Swing sequences

At no point in any of this motion does your lead forearm have to twist. In fact, to get your hands from your address position up to the top of your backswing, your lead forearm does not have to twist at all. All of the apparent rotation is created by the bending of your trailing forearm and the shoulder rotation that I've been writing about in this entire post.

In fact, here's a video from KJ Choi's coach Steven Bann that demonstrates how your hands and arms move during your backswing without the shoulder rotation. (It came from this post, although I think I've used it in others as well.)  I know you've probably seen instructors demonstrate this before; you simply lift your hands up to the position they would normally be at when they reach the top of your backswing, and then you make your normal shoulder turn.

Combine what Bann said in the video with what I've been writing about in this post, and you'll eventually realize that neither your hands nor your forearms rotate during your swing. Your wrists are cocked as your trailing elbow bends upward during your backswing, and your lead shoulder actually moves out toward the ball a bit as that happens (because bending your trailing elbow pulls your lead arm across your chest).

To get the clubface back to square at impact, you have to get that lead shoulder back in line with your whole shoulder girdle -- in other words, 'open your lead shoulder up' -- in the position it originally was in at address. When you do this, your lead elbow will move in close to the side of your ribcage and physically pull your hands back into their address position. (That's the move that pros are practicing when you see them tuck a glove under their lead armpit.) If you do that, your hands will square up the clubface and you won't slice the ball.

Ryan, I know I covered a lot of material in this post. I hope it makes sense to you but, if it still has you a little confused, feel free to ask me questions in the comments and I'll try to answer them the best I can. This really isn't that difficult to understand once you can visualize the motion, and I suspect that's what's been giving you the difficulties so far. Hopefully what I've written in this post will allow you to duplicate the motion and from that, understand what's really happening here.

And once you do, you'll have a good start on getting rid of that slice.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Colby Huffman on Hitting Narrow Fairways (Video)

You've probably heard GCA coach Colby Huffman's aiming advice before, but it bears repeating.

I'll be brief because I don't need to belabor the point. No less than the great Jack Nicklaus followed this approach:
  • Visualize the actual shape of the shot as it flies down the fairway.
  • Pick a spot on the ground just ahead of the ball that, if you hit the ball over that spot, it will start to create that shot you visualized.
  • Take your address position and focus on that spot.
  • Hit the ball over that spot.
Instead of being spooked by the narrow fairway and trying not to hit the ball into the trees, focus on the spot and hit the ball over it. It's a simple mental thing but don't underestimate how effective it can be.

Again, just remember that Jack Nicklaus did it all the time... and it worked for him. It can work for you as well.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Barney Puttick on Hitting Solid Hybrids (Video)

Golf Monthly's Top25 coach Barney Puttick has some tips to help you hit your hybrids better.

Note the big takeaway here: A hybrid is more like an iron than a fairway wood. That means you want to hit down on the ball, not sweep it off the ground.

First, the ball position is different. Most players put the ball near the middle of their stance for an iron and near their lead foot for a fairway wood. Go for halfway between them; that means the ball goes halfway between the center of your stance and your lead foot.

Although Barney doesn't say it, you can see that he soles the club with the shaft vertical, not leaning forward. Your lower body action will take you a bit forward at impact, so under normal circumstances you don't want to lean the club forward. Hybrids give you their benefits because they hit the ball higher, so you want to use the full loft of the club. Let your legs create the downward strike at impact.

If you do that properly, you'll take a slight divot in front of the ball, which means you hit the ball first.

Finally, Barney says you should become familiar with how far you hit your hybrids. But really, shouldn't you learn how far you hit all of your clubs? You have to know how far you hit your clubs in order to 'gap' them properly, which just means you choose the clubs in your bag so you don't have a huge gap in distance between two adjacent clubs and then virtually no gap between the next two.

It's mostly common sense, I know. But common sense often leaves us when we're actually playing a round. Make the right choices before you go out -- by setting up your bag correctly and learning how to hit your hybrids properly -- and you'll tend to do the right thing instinctively when you actually stand over the ball out on the course.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Claude Brousseau's Anti-Slice Drill (Video)

On Sunday's post Ryan asked for a more in-depth explanation of the anti-slice move I mentioned. I plan to do a post (more than one if necessary) this weekend to help him. But in the meantime, I offer this video of GCA coach Claude Brousseau's drill to help eliminate a slice.

This isn't a new drill but it might help some of you who, like Ryan, are struggling to wrap your minds around how your lead arm and shoulder movement helps eliminate a slice.

By turning your back to the target, your lead arm and shoulder are forced to create the proper impact positions. Your upper arm is forced to stay close to your rib cage and your lead shoulder is forced to 'open up' at impact. (Don't worry if you don't understand what 'opening up your shoulder' means right now. I'll explain that in this weekend's post.)

Before you ask... NO, you don't want to use this drill anywhere but on the range. If you spend too much time with it, I think it could adversely affect your lower body action. But using it a few times can really help you learn what proper lead side action feels like at impact.

And YES, Ryan, that post is on the way. Be on the lookout for it this weekend.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The LPGA Heads to Texas

The LPGA stays in America for the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic.

Defending champion Sung Hyun Park

The course, the Old American Golf Club, is in The Colony, a suburb of Dallas. In 2018 the event was storm-shortened to just two rounds, with Sung Hyun Park being declared the champion. This is the first year that the VOA will be held in October. You can catch Tony Jesselli's preview of this year's playing over at his site.

In some ways I think the biggest storyline this week is whether Mi Jung Hur can make it three LPGA wins this season, after her dominating performance at Indy. She has quite a few family members at this week's event, and that could help her get past the usually inevitable letdown after a win.

But Sung Hyun Park is also back and would like to defend at a four-round event. Two round events aren't official wins -- just ask Stacy Lewis -- so a win here would not only defend her title but give her a third win this season as well.

This is also the last chance for the ladies to make it into the LPGA's Asian swing. It's the last American event until the CME Group Tour Championship in November.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 1pm ET. It should be very competitive with so much on the line.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Twofer Tuesday tees it up for the kids this week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau

TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas is the site of this week's event, where Bryson DeChambeau will try to defend the title he won during his torrid run of four wins in five months. (Last year this event was held in November, a month later than this year.) Being in the desert, we can probably count on some hot sunny weather and fast course conditions.

Scoring-wise this is not the place for Rory McIlroy, given his comments about birdiefests. At 7255 yards and a par of 71, this course has seen two 60s in its history -- J.J. Henry in 2013 and Rod Pampling in 2016 --and typically the winner finishes at -20 or lower. But this course doesn't favor bombers over technicians -- both Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore share the tournament record of 260 (-24).

Which begs the question: Who can dominate this track this week? My picks are short and sweet.
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay lost to DeChambeau by a single stroke last year in an excellent defense of his first PGA Tour win here in 2017. It's hard to believe he won't do well again, given his past record around the place.
  • And my winner is Adam Hadwin. I'll be honest -- my pick is based purely on his finish last week. I'm just taking the hot hand.
Whenever you're faced with a low-scoring track like TPC Summerlin, it really is a crapshoot when picking a winner. One pick based on proven comfort with the track and one based on current form; I figure I've got as good a chance with these two as with anybody else in the field!

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 4pm ET, which is fairly early for a West Coast event. (At least, it's the West Coast time zone.) PGA TOUR LIVE begins streaming at 9:45am ET. Let's see who can get hot in the desert!