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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Rick Shiels Tests the Bridgestone E12 Contact Golf Balls (Video)

The E12 Contact uses Bridgestone's most unusual dimple pattern -- hex dimples with circular 'bumps' inside the hexes. They aren't Bridgestone's premium balls but just a cut below that, and Rick has been testing them; this video sums up that testing, with special emphasis on the claim that this ball flies longer and straighter. (Don't they all claim that these days?) Anyway, this video gives you the skinny on whether these balls might work for you.


Friday, February 26, 2021

Mickelson VS Langer

Sounds like one of those classic PGA Tour broadcasts, doesn't it? That's because Phil is teeing it up again on the Champions Tour this week.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer

I don't mean to belittle any of the other players in the field at the Cologuard Classic. As pgatour.com says in its Power Rankings, "The field is undoubtedly one of the best to ever tee it up in a PGA TOUR Champions event. There are ten Hall of Famers, 20 major champions and 57 players with a combined 419 PGA TOUR wins."

But Phil and Bernhard will undoubtedly draw most of the attention. Phil is trying to become the first player in Champions Tour history to win his first three events, and defending champion Bernhard is closing in on Hale Irwin's all-time wins record (45).

While the Saturday and Sunday rounds will be broadcast live, GC's first round coverage today will be tape-delayed until 8:30pm ET. Given how stacked the field is -- just take a look at the Power Rankings if you doubt me -- this should be a very competitive event.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Annika. Need I Say More?

This is just a quick reminder that the LPGA is back in action today at the Gainbridge LPGA... and Annika is teeing it up.

Annika

In case you somehow missed it, Annika is NOT rejoining the LPGA. Rather, she's getting her game in shape to play in the US Senior Women's Open, and the Gainbridge LPGA is basically being played in her backyard. She lives just off the 16th hole at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club.

GC's tape-delayed coverage starts today at 7pm ET. It will also be streaming on Peacock and the NBC Sports app starting at 2:30pm ET. It's the first full field LPGA event of 2021 and Jin Young Ko will be teeing up for the first time since she blistered the LPGA in just four events at the end of last year. But it will be fun to see Annika in action again and get some idea how her game shapes up for the summer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Meanwhile, Down in Puerto Rico...

Although Tiger's car crash dominated the news Tuesday, tournaments continue to prepare for this week's competition. One of those is the Puerto Rico Open, the opposite field event to the WGC--Workday.

Defending champion Viktor Hovland

The Grand Reserve Country Club is, according to pgatour.com:

...located along the northern coast of the eastern edge of Puerto Rico that wasn’t spared by Hurricane Maria in 2018. Exposed to the sea, wind always is the primary challenge on the Tom Kite design. To help make it enjoyable (and playable), fairways are generous, the primary rough is trimmed to two inches and average-sized paspalum greens are receptive. They also are governed to just 11 feet on the Stimpmeter.

At 7,506 yards, length can be an advantage, but like any proper host, all skill sets have a fighting chance. Frequency of hitting greens in regulation and precision on approach will yield low numbers even in gusts up to 20 mph all week. They will be prevailing out of the east. Passing showers will be but a minor nuisance.

The defending champion is Viktor Hovland but he's in Bradenton FL instead, prepping for the WGC. That means we'll be seeing a new champion this year, and it appears the favored player -- at least in the pgatour.com Power Rankings -- is Emiliano Grillo, who finished T3 last year.

GC's live coverage runs from 10am-1pm ET on Thursday, leading into their WGC coverage. Now that Hovland has broken the legendary Puerto Rico curse, having won at Mayakoba earlier this year, I suppose players will be even more excited to get a win there. Wonder if we'll see anybody top Hovland's 20-under score from last year?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Tiger's Car Crash

I've decided not to do a big post about Tiger's accident. I'm sure you've all heard about it by now and -- in my opinion -- all we know for sure is that this isn't a life-threatening injury but it is potentially a career-ending one. At this point I feel that anything I could say is less than useless.

All I want to do is wish Tiger and his family well. We're all praying for you, Big Cat.

The crash scene

Twofer Tuesday: WGC-Workday Championship

Twofer Tuesday packs its bags for the long trip from California to Florida for the WGC-Workday Championship.

Defending champion Patrick Reed

The Florida Swing starts a bit earlier this year since the WGC had to move from Mexico City to Bradenton FL due to the pandemic. The Concession Golf Club -- so named in honor of the putt Jack Nicklaus conceded to Tony Jacklin at the 1969 Ryder Cup -- is a co-design by Nicklaus and Jacklin that concedes nothing to the field. It's a par-72 measuring 7474 yards.

I guess you could call Bryson DeChambeau the defending course champion since he won individual honors there at the 2015 NCAA Championship. Patrick Reed comes in as the defending WGC champion.

Picking my Top10ers this week is a bit trickier than normal simply because nobody has a history at this course. (Bryson's so much longer now that he might as well be seeing it for the first time.)

  • My first pick is chalk, pure and simple. Dustin Johnson has posted, like, nine Top10s in his last ten starts. He was T8 at Riviera last week and he really didn't play all that well. But DJ rarely has two 'bad' weeks in a row so I'm taking him again.
  • My other Top10 machine is Tony Finau. You know his ridiculous Top10 numbers since he last won, and his last four worldwide starts are T4-T2-T2-playoff2. I stand by what I said in Monday's Limerick Summary -- he looks like he's gonna win any day now. I see no reason it couldn't be this week.

GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 1pm ET. This week, unlike past years in Mexico City, will give players a legit four-round, no cut break-in to Florida conditions. That means prep for THE PLAYERS in two weeks, the WGC-DeMatch Play in four and the Masters in six. Somebody could be looking at a seriously strong Florida Swing if they get on a streak.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Genesis Invitational

Winner: Max Homa

Around the wider world of golf: Hayden Buckley won the LECOM Suncoast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Max Homa hoists the Genesis trophy

Riviera gave my Twofer Tuesday picks all they could handle. I had Dustin Johnson (T8) and Jordan Spieth (T15). Jordan was looking good until that rough round on Saturday. And just as I predicted, DJ's accuracy was a bit off although he held on for another Top10. Every player has rough weeks, I guess. Still, I'm close to 50% on my picks so far this year.

  • Top10s: 6 for 14 (4 Top5s, 2 other Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 7 events

That rough Saturday round, where play was suspended for around four hours due to winds blowing balls off the greens, took its toll on just about everybody. But Max Homa and Tony Finau each shot 70, two of the better scores of the day, positioning them for the final round -- Max two off the lead, Tony four back.

On Sunday nobody played better. Tony posted 64, shooting the best score Sunday as well as tying the best round of the week, and Max tied three other players for the second-best score on Sunday. But Max kept making unbelievable saves and when he reached the final hole he posted a par to tie Tony in the clubhouse.

You know what happened. Max made another amazing recovery on the first playoff hole to extend the playoff, then birdied the second hole to win. Tony added another runner-up finish to his resume and goes into the Florida Swing looking like he's going to win any day now.

But Max got to celebrate his childhood dream. Like most pros, he grew up wanting to win one tournament in particular -- at Riviera. And not only did he do it, but his idol Tiger Woods presented him the trophy. Some storybook endings just seem to be destined, don't they?

Hopefully his dream scenario included a Limerick Summary... because he just got one. Congrats, Max!

Most pros stake a personal claim
On one course where a win’s more than fame.
Other weeks, they will state
“Winning anywhere’s great”—
Well, for Max this was his Homa game.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Patrick Cantlay's Swing Change (Video)

This Golfing World video is about two years old, but it shows what Cantlay changed to protect his back when he was healing from that fracture that nearly ended his career. He actually stopped driving his lower body so hard without losing his distance. For those of you struggling with back problems, perhaps this video will encourage you to stop swinging so hard.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Paige Spiranac on Practicing in the Wind (Video)

This is a basic primer on how to practice when it's windy -- how to warm up, how to work on tempo, what kind of shots to practice, how to get the most good from that practice, and even when you should skip practicing and just go play.You might learn some things about wind play you never considered before.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Rick Shiels Tests the New Callaway 2-Ball Ten Putters (Video)

I know you readers are always interested in putters, so I couldn't pass up this new test video from Rick Shiels. But I have to admit I had a good laugh over it. After all, he just found a putter that he thinks is almost perfect... but on the video he can't make a putt with it! It's a good reminder that you can't always buy a better game.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

The New Big Wigs in Golf

It's been a whirlwind of change over the last couple of days, hasn't it?

Rory McIlroyMike Whan

First we got the news that Rory McIlroy had been elected as the new Chairman for the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Council, now we learn that Mike Whan will be taking over as CEO of the USGA.

Talk about a changing of the guard!

Rory is the first non-American to be elected to the PAC position, and Mike is not the standard 'purist' the USGA normally likes in charge. Both leaders are outspoken and unafraid to take unpopular positions if they feel they're the correct positions to take. Both are approachable and liked by pretty much everybody they need to deal with. In fact, both men are already well-known by the folks they'll be dealing with.

And let's be blunt about it -- both men are just plain likeable.

If you want a bit more info, Rex Hoggard did an article about Rory's appointment and Jaime Diaz did one about Mike Whan's appointment. Both articles include video footage, including the interview Whan did for Golf Today on Wednesday.

The big takeaway is that we're seeing a change in the leadership of modern golf. It's happening right before our eyes... and it's not a moment too soon. I wonder what the golf landscape will look like in, oh, maybe three years?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

This Year's "New" WGC

First we heard that the WGC-Mexico had to be relocated because of the pandemic. It finally landed at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton FL. But it still needed a sponsor.

Now we know who that is as well. Welcome to the WGC-Workday Championship at the Concession.

Workday tee marker

While this sponsorship is only for a year -- Workday's regular gig will continue to be the Memorial Tournament -- the PGA Tour is loving the fact that Workday is a partner. First they stepped up and sponsored an extra week at Muirfield Village with the Workday Charity Open, at a time when the Tour was struggling to create events. And now, less than a year later, they pick up the slack for a WGC after pandemic concerns threatened to cancel that event for a year.

Simply put, the PGA Tour will once again have a four-event Florida swing, even if it is only for one year. But I'm sure the participating pros are going to enjoy this temporary arrangement.

They say that when times get tough, you learn who your friends are. And based on the statements issued by Workday co-founder and co-CEO Aneel Bhusri and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, both parties have made it clear that this arrangement suits them just fine. It certainly appears that this could be the start of a long, mutually beneficial friendship.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Genesis Invitational

Twofer Tuesday drags its eyes away from the views on the Monterey Peninsula and heads to Hogan's Alley for the Genesis Invitational.

Defending champion Adam Scott

Riviera Country Club, aka 'Hogan's Alley',  is another of the historic tracks on the PGA Tour. The course opened in 1926, hosted the Summer Olympics in 1932 and will do so again in 2028. It's a course with big greens and narrow fairways; if you hit 8 fairways per round, you're beating the average. And the first hole that comes to mind is the par-3 sixth, best known for that bunker placed squarely in the middle of the green.

Adam Scott got the job done here last year, coming from eight strokes back after Round 1 to win by two. But the field is stacked and he'll need to get off to a better start this year if he hopes to repeat.

Given the stacked field, I don't feel bad about going chalk this week. It feels as if almost any pick is a chalk pick! But I'm trying to mix it up a bit.

  • Dustin Johnson is back in action this week, so I'm taking him as one of my picks... although I admit he feels a bit like a gamble at Riviera. He finished T9 and T10 the last two years, and he's been on a tear over the last few months, but he'll need his driver to be on point if he's going to nab another Top10 for me.
  • Jordan Spieth may seem a strange choice for Riviera, especially given how suspect his driving has been. But I'm taking him because of his putting. The greens at Riviera are poa annua, which Spieth has traditionally putted well on. There are a number of more accurate players, like Berger and Morikawa, who are probably better bets. But given those narrow fairways, perhaps the playing field will be a bit more level for Jordan. Plus I like the confidence he's playing with; that could be a game-changer.

GC's official coverage starts from 2pm-6pm ET Thursday, but it appears they'll be carrying some of the PGA TOUR LIVE coverage as well. That expands their coverage from noon ET all the way to 8pm ET. Spieth may be the most interesting player to watch this week, as Riviera is going to be a real challenge to his newly-regained confidence.

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 AT&T Pebble Beach

Winner: Daniel Berger

Around the wider world of golf: Most of the tours took this week off and will return to action next week.

Daniel Burger with the AT&T trophy

After a couple of rough weeks, Pebble proved to be a balm for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Patrick Cantlay (T3) and Paul Casey (T5). Two Top5s were just what my ailing record needed!

  • Top10s: 5 for 12 (4 Top5s, 1 other Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 6 events

It's not unusual for the mystique of Pebble Beach to take its toll on competitors, even the top players in the game. The views and the history can cause any golfer to have lapses of concentration that cost them too much -- Nate Lashley's triple on 16 was just one example of how one shot can ruin your chances on the peninsula.

By the same token, a single good swing can have just as dramatic a result, even more so because so many of the bad shots are so expensive. One well-placed shot late in the final round can give you an almost insurmountable lead. Two can crush your opponents.

But three great shots in a row...? Hand me the trophy, if you please.

Daniel Berger's tee shot at 18 split the fairway, his 250-yard 3-wood second set up a 30-foot putt and an eagle that vaulted him two shots past Maverick McNealy, his nearest competitor.

This is Berger's second win since the Tour resumed in June last year, doubling his pre-pandemic win total. Interestingly enough, the gap between his second and third wins is slightly longer than Jordan Spieth's gap since his last win... and Spieth is starting to show some promise again. If he keeps putting himself in contention, he'll probably get it figured out and return to the winner's circle as well.

But this week the glory is all Daniel Berger's, and he gets another shiny new Limerick Summary as proof. Enjoy the spoils of victory, Daniel -- you earned 'em!

The leaderboard shuffled all week
‘Til Berger imposed his technique.
That eighteenth hole eagle
Proved ever so lethal
To those dazed by Pebble’s mystique.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

After 24 Hours...

We finally got power and internet back. I'm still amazed at how much disruption a relatively small ice storm can wreak on an area. Duke Power said there were 21,359 outages just in the county where I live, and nearly three times that many in the next county over.

Things should be back to normal for tomorrow's post.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Reasons to Use a Tee in Practice (Video)

Mike Malaska gives you several reasons why your practice will improve if you use a tee for every shot you hit on the practice range. It's a simple subject but it might be an eye-opener for you. It will certainly help you get more value from your range time.

After all, it's usually the little things that give you the biggest improvements.


Friday, February 12, 2021

The Anti-Slice Drill That Sounds Wrong (Video)

You're going to watch this video and say, "WHAT? You told us NOT to rotate our forearms!"

But here's the deal. Rick Shiels isn't actually rotating his forearms -- at least not enough to make much of a difference; it just looks that way. And I'll show you what to watch for so you can see what's really happening. As long as you understand what's really happening, this can be a really good anti-slice drill.


Rick is telling you to 'shake hands' on your followthrough. Lots of instructors use this drill and they tell you to rotate your forearms to do it.

But let me tell -- no, show -- you what's actually happening.

When Rick addresses the ball, his hand and arm are in front of his chest -- that is, his shoulders are parallel to his aimline and his hand (representing the clubface) is perpendicular to that line.

When he makes his backswing, his hand is now basically parallel to his aimline. Does that mean he has rotated his forearm? NO. Why? Because now his shoulders are perpendicular to his aimline.

Do you get that? His hand and shoulders are in basically the same position as they were at address, only turned 90° away from the ball.

So what happens after he hits the ball and is in his followthrough and that 'handshaking' position? His hand is parallel to his aimline and his shoulders are perpendicular to his aimline.

In other words, he hasn't rotated his forearms. He has rotated his shoulders.

So why do instructors always tell you to rotate your forearms? It's because the tension in your forearm muscles -- all the muscles in your arm, in fact -- changes as you turn and, because you see your palm go from facing down the line (address) to facing in front of you (backswing) to facing down the line (impact) to facing behind you (followthrough), your mind interprets that as forearm rotation.

The only way you'll actually get the forearm rotation you think you're getting is if you don't turn your shoulders during your swing. If your shoulders remain parallel to your aimline during your entire swing, the only way you can move your hand this way is if you twist your forearm.

But if you really don't turn your shoulders during your swing, the ball won't fly far enough to get in trouble. That's a fact.

So if you understand how this drill is actually done, it can really help you learn to square your hand -- and therefore the clubface -- at impact. And that will definitely help straighten out a slice.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Say Hello to the Popov Rules!

These were announced a couple of days ago but you may not be clear on just how much these rule changes will affect LPGA winners who aren't tour members.

Sophia Popov with WOmen's British Open trophy

Here's a link to Beth Ann Nichols's article for Golfweek about these rules, but I'll summarize the four changes below:

  • If a non-member wins an LPGA major, she gets a five-year exemption on the tour. (Popov got two years.)
  • The winning non-member of any event -- not just majors -- will also get full credit for the points and money that goes with the win after they accept LPGA membership. (Popov started at zero on both counts. She got no CME Race to the Globe points, which cost her an appearance in both the ANA and the Tour Championship, and her money was considered unofficial as well.)
  • The winning non-member immediately qualifies for the next week's event. (Popov didn't get that perk.)
  • And finally, there's one other change. A member playing on a sponsor exemption will now get official money and points for the win. The fact this rule existed at all seems really strange to me, but it's changed now.

In fact, doesn't it seem strange that any of these changes were needed? As Popov herself said, the new rules really just seem like common sense.

There is one irony here. Sophia Popov wasn't the only player bitten by the previous rules in 2020. US Women's Open winner A Lim Kim was also a non-member winner who had to deal with the same inequities that the LPGA finally corrected with these rule changes.

But Popov was a high-profile non-member with a particularly touching story, given her health struggles and the fact that she had been an LPGA member before and was playing the Symetra Tour to regain her card. It was her story which really put this problem in the spotlight.

So the LPGA will just have to get used to these new rules being known as "the Popov Rules." At least she'll be immortalized for good changes to the game.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Annika's Return to the LPGA (for One Event, Anyway)

In case you missed hearing, it's true: Annika is going to tee it up at a regular LPGA event in a couple of weeks, the Gainbridge LPGA Championship.

Annika at the Diamon Resorts Tournament

As lpga.com reported on Tuesday, Annika's announcement sounded like this:

“I am excited to announce that I will play in the Gainbridge LPGA in two weeks at our home course of Lake Nona Golf & C.C. It will be my first LPGA tournament since I stepped away from competition to start a family in 2008.

“A lot has changed for the better during that time, most notably the birth of our two children. Ava and Will are excited to see ‘Mama’ play. I have to admit if this tournament hadn’t moved to our home course, it never would have crossed my mind to enter. But it makes sense to do so, not just because it will be a ‘home game,’ but also because my goal, schedule permitting, is to play in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open later this summer. To work toward that goal, I have realized that I need more tournament reps to have a chance to reach my potential. I’m not expecting much, but I look forward to the challenge!”

You can read the whole story at the link I gave you above. But the important thing is that we'll have a chance to see Annika tee it up with the kids this month and we'll get a chance to see her tackle the legends at the US Senior Women's Open later this year. It's just another reason to be excited in 2021!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: AT&T Pebble Beach

Twofer Tuesday leaves a disappointing week of picks behind and hopes for better luck at this week's AT&T Pebble Beach.

Defending champion Nick Taylor

Yeah, I know it's supposed to have "Pro-Am" as part of the title but let's be real here... it's NOT a pro-am this year. And as a result, the 156 pros teeing it up will play on only two courses, Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill, and there will be a 36-hole cut.

In other words, pretty much a standard week on Tour.

Nick Taylor will be defending but I'm afraid he won't be making my Twofer Tuesday picks... although, given my record over the last couple of weeks, I could certainly do worse! But once again the field is loaded with big names, and I can't ignore them. My only problem is deciding which two names to take.

  • My first pick is Dustin Johnson. Granted, he'll have to deal with that big time change between Saudi Arabia and California, but I just don't think that will be a problem for him. And since he's coming off another win, why should I expect anything less than a Top10 this week?
  • Here's where it gets difficult. But I have to make a choice so I'm taking Patrick Cantlay over Paul Casey. Paul's coming off another good finish in Saudi Arabia and, while I think he can deal with the time change as well as DJ, Patrick is coming off a three-week rest and I just can't ignore that. But I think Paul will probably post a Top10 as well.

GC is giving us early live coverage starting at 3pm ET on Thursday. (That means we'll be watching the noon pairings in California.) So no live prime time golf this week... but we get Pebble Beach. I won't complain about that.

[UPDATE: With DJ's withdrawal (thanks for the tip, IC!) I can take Paul Casey after all. So now my picks are Cantlay and Casey.]

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 WM Phoenix Open

Winner: Brooks Koepka

Around the wider world of golf: Dustin Johnson got his second win in three years at the Saudi International on the ET.

Brooks Koepka with WM Phoenix Open trophy

TPC Scottsdale manhandled my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Webb Simpson (T42) and Ryan Palmer (T42). I had high hopes for both players but they just had off weeks.

  • Top10s: 3 for 10 (2 Top5s, 1 other Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 5 events

I don't feel all that bad, given how unpredictable the Phoenix Open turned out to be. Other than Xander Schauffele and Scottie Scheffler, the Top10 at the end didn't look too much like the early week predictions. Jordan Spieth came out of nowhere with the best golf we've seen from him in years, Steve Stricker took time off from watching potential Presidents Cup team members to make a run at the title, Carlos Ortiz threw himself into the fray on Sunday with a 64 and even past champion James Hahn had us on a Gangnam Style alert.

But perhaps the biggest shocker was Brooks Koepka, a previous winner at this event, coming off a long injury-induced slump and three MCs to take the title. Brooks finally admitted that he had been through some dark days when he wondered if he would ever return to form -- something that most of us had suspected, even when he denied it -- and, like Jordan, the old Brooks returned with a vengeance. He posted three birdies on 13, 14 and 15 before sending a shock wave through the field with a chip-in eagle on 17.

That single shot on the 17th, the hole that destroyed the rounds of his competitors, brought a roar from the small crowd of fans that the event felt safe allowing, and I think it's safe to say that the fans' energy had as much to do with the win as Brooks's healed body did. Most of the big names have expressed their need for fan response in order to play their best, and I think Brooks has proved the point.

Whether you agree or not, the fans clearly enjoyed the return of Brooks Koepka to the winner's circle... and hopefully Brooks will get a similar amount of joy from his eighth Limerick Summary. And he didn't need a major to get it, either!

Perhaps a return to the sands
Of Phoenix where he was the man
When he got his first win
Gave Brooks hope… but then,
Perhaps all he needed was fans.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Paige Spiranac on Finding Fairways (Video)

In this video Paige teaches not just how to hit a stinger but how to vary your setup and approach so you can play a stinger-like shot with any club and from almost any lie -- even off the ground! She also covers the strategy you need in order to use this shot effectively.

She did this video back during the PGA Championship and Draft Kings sponsored it, so there's a commercial of sorts (that is no longer valid) at the beginning. Skip to the 1:45 mark and you'll be at the start of the instruction.


As I said, Paige basically teaches you how to develop a 'fairway finder' game with a stinger-style swing that works from pretty much any lie. You'll find that what she teaches in this video teams up very well with the material from the Mike Malaska video I posted yesterday, so you might want to review that video as well.

If you play a lot of competitive matches with friends, I think you'll find this information very useful.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Mike Malaska Explains Wrist -- and Forearm -- Action (Video)

You're gonna have to watch this video several times, I think. Mike Malaska explains how proper wrist action eliminates forearm rotation and casting, creates clubhead speed, keeps the clubhead square at impact and then he tells you how to practice it... and he does it all in less than 6.5 minutes! This is a great video that can cure a lot of swing problems all at once.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Rick Shiels Tests the Golf Ball Formerly Known as Nike (Video)

Cool title, right? And it's accurate. Rick discovered that RZN golf balls are basically the same as the old Nike version, as they're manufactured by the company that helped Nike develop them. And they cost around half as much, So he tested them to see if they're a good buy. Have a watch...


Thursday, February 4, 2021

Answering a Reader's Question About Forearm Rotation

Last weekend I got a question in the comments for an early blog post called Fanning the Club Open on the Way Back, a post all the way back in 2009. I wrote an answer that I hope helps them (they just signed in as "Unknown," which is fine) but I thought I'd try to give some more ideas that might help.


The reader's problem is that they twist their forearms when they do their forward press to start the backswing, which can cause problems squaring the clubface at impact. The post they left the question on has a drill that I used to stop the problem, and I added another suggestion in my reply. But here is another drill that might help.

I was reminded of this drill when Martin Hall did a quick promo spot Monday for the return of School of Golf. I couldn't find the clip at golfchannel.com or on their YouTube channel... although I did find a clip from two years ago where Martin says he absolutely detests this drill! (Don't give him too much grief over it. Sometimes an instructor's use of a drill depends on what it's being used for, and clearly he doesn't like it for the problem he was dealing with in that video.)

Fortunately I found Cathy Kim's demo of the drill at womensgolf.com (that's the video up above) and it includes a complete printed description of the drill, which you can read by clicking this link.

You've probably seen this drill before. You stick the butt end of a club in your belly button and then swing the club back around waist high without taking the club out of your belly button or bending your elbows. You've seen that before, right?

I am going to suggest a couple of differences to this drill that so that it allows a forward press, which Cathy's version of the drill (as well as the version Martin showed in his clip Monday) would completely eliminate.

First, we need to duplicate the forward press and learn to do it without twisting the clubface open. To do that, take your grip as Cathy demonstrates in her video but don't put the butt end of the club in your belly button. Instead, just keep it close to your belly button and, when you do your forward press, push the butt end just into the leading side (or target side, if you prefer that term) of your belly button. The idea is that you do your forward press and THEN anchor the butt end of the club.

From there you do as Cathy says -- take the club back without any further wrist or forearm action. But I would recommend is that you only swing back until your hands are just in front of your trailing pocket, which is what I told my reader in my response to his question. You don't need to overdo this drill. All you need to learn is how it feels to do a forward press and then start the club back without twisting your forearms.

This should help you learn how to hold that forward press angle just long enough into your backswing to stop the twisting. If you're having that problem, give this a try and let me know in the comments if it helps you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Just an ET Reminder

Today I just want to remind you that the European Tour is playing the Saudi International in Saudi Arabia this week. Graeme McDowell is the defending champion.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell

Why the reminder? Because the field is absolutely loaded this week. Here's a short list from golfchannel.com:

Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Tyrrell Hatton, Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Ernie Els, Marcus Kinhult, Jason Scrivener, Ross Fisher, Oliver Fisher

That's a field worth watching!

GC's live coverage on Thursday runs from 3am-5am ET and then more from 6:30-9:30am ET. I'll be surprised if they don't replay some of the coverage later in the day as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Waste Management Phoenix Open

Twofer Tuesday leaves rainy California for mostly sunny Arizona and the slimmed down Phoenix Open. As pgatour.com put it, "It’s still 'The People’s Open,' just with fewer peoples."

Defending champion Webb Simpson

TPC Scottsdale is notorious for its madhouse 16th hole, but this year it won't be nearly so raucous. The most well-attended golf tournament in the world is limiting its crowds to 5000 per day, but that's still more fans than players have seen in nearly a year! It will be interesting to see how the players react to the larger but still subdued attendance at the event.

Of course, I don't know that it will have any effect on defending champion Webb Simpson. The man really seems to come alive at this event.

In some ways I think the reduced fan count may help scoring at the Phoenix Open, if for no other reason than the noise level will be reduced as well. We'll see if that actually helps my picks.

  • My first pick is the defending champion. As noted above, Webb Simpson just seems to like this place; he has five Top10s in ten appearances, capped by that win last year where he came from ten back to take the title. He should be rested; he hasn't played since the Sony where he posted a T4.
  • And my other pick is Ryan Palmer. The old man is playing some nice golf this season, and he's coming off a T2 at the Farmers last week. Although his recent form at this event isn't so good -- he MCed last year -- I like him to put up another good score this week.

GC's live coverage starts at 3pm ET Thursday, but it looks like they'll be carrying some early coverage from PGA TOUR LIVE starting around 11am ET. (Or so pgatour.com says.) At any rate, my curiousity is roused to see how the wildest golf party on Earth goes when the party has limited attendance.

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Farmers Insurance Open

Winner: Patrick Reed

Around the wider world of golf: Paul Casey won the Dubai Desert Classic on the ET.

Patrick Reed with Farmers trophy

Torrey Pines had its way with my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Rory McIlroy (T16) and Marc Leishman (T18). Rory picked a bad week to have driver problems but Leish just never got it going for his title defense.

  • Top10s: 3 for 8 (2 Top5s, 1 other Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 4 events

Unfortunately I can't write this Limerick Summary without focusing on the elephant in the room. Despite the Tour's declaration that Patrick handled that embedded ball problem properly on Saturday, it remained the big story even after he won by so many shots that a penalty -- had it been necessary, which it wasn't -- wouldn't have made the slightest difference to the final result. But such is life in the age of social media.

I'm not saying Patrick is anything like perfect in his handling of these things, but I do think the "guilty until proven innocent... and you CAN'T prove him innocent" mindset that surrounds him has more to do with his personality than anything else. Under the best of circumstances he seems to rub people the wrong way, and the fact that he seems to play well in spite of the displeasure of others just irritates his opponents even more. And when the USGA and the Tour say he handles things properly, even that doesn't dispel his critics' ire.

And to be honest, I find the 'optics' argument more than a little suspect. The rule-making bodies are plenty sensitive to poor optics, having created more than a few of their own (remember DJ's US Open controversy?) and yet they absolved him on this one. And the sport at large seems erratic in its own approach to 'optics', having never cared how their treatment of minorities came across while going bonkers when Tyrrell Hatton won an event wearing a hoodie because "it just didn't look right."

I won't belabor the point. I know a huge number of you won't agree with me when I say that any attempt Patrick makes to change his reputation is virtually doomed to fail simply because the sport at large doesn't want him to succeed. The mere fact that he refuses to let his critics get the better of him will never endear him to them, no matter how hard he tries... and I think that's why he doesn't seem to care.

Besides, I confess that, while I don't enjoy these controversies, there's a part of me that respects Reed the rebel for continuing to pursue his career whether his critics approve or not. So I take a somewhat perverse joy in awarding him yet another Limerick Summary. Whatever you think of him, this win wasn't given to him... he earned it.

You can love him or hate him… he grins.
You can say he should burn for his sins,
That he’s loose with the rules
And to trust him, we’re fools—
But despite how you feel, Reed still wins.

The photo cames from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Paige Takes On the Hard Shots (Video)

Last week when I found Paige Spiranac's video on wedge play, I also found this video on how to play a variety of trouble shots -- everything from fried eggs and super thick rough to uneven lies, as well as some of the mental approach needed to play them well. I suspect you'll find a number of useful tips in this one, folks.


Saturday, January 30, 2021

The TaylorMade Short Game Session, November 2020 (Video)

It's simple enough. Tiger, Rory and Jason Day are just hanging out at the practice green, trading short game advice, and the TaylorMade guys caught it all on film. It was posted in November so I'm guessing that's when it was shot. It's a bit over 35 minutes long so just sit back, enjoy and see how much you can learn!


Friday, January 29, 2021

Maybe THIS Is Rickie's Problem (Video)

Rick Shiels is testing the Cobra rev33 irons. These are clubs that Rickie Fowler designed for himself, the clubs that he wants in his bag when he's coming down the stretch.

And if Rick is right, then perhaps these clubs are the reason he's been struggling.


I've hit forged blades before. When you hit them well, they feel absolutely awesome in your hands. And when you hit them badly... well, you might as well be hitting rocks. But I can truthfully say that I've never hit a normal set of forged irons that scared me.

If these clubs are as demanding for Rickie to hit as they are for Rick, I have to wonder if Rickie hasn't sabotaged himself. A set like this might be good for practicing, to force you to hit the ball as well as you possibly can during practice.

During practice.

But I see no reason to use clubs during competitive rounds that require you to be perfect on every shot. If you're playing against guys who use clubs that give them just a slight margin for error, you're just giving them shots.

Don't misunderstand me. When you buy new clubs, I'm not advising you to buy the most forgiving clubs you can find. Depending on how good you are, they might feel as bad as these rev33s feel to Rick. But make sure you don't buy clubs that actually hurt your game either, especially if you do so just because they're "clubs for the better player." Get clubs that make the game fun for you. You'll be glad you did.

And your foursome will probably hate you for it. A win all the way around. ;-)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

A Quick Shoutout...

...to the San Diego State Aztecs for their win at the Southwestern Invitational.

Southwestern Invitational champions San Diego State

The weather was absolutely brutal, with 40 degree F temps and high winds for most of the day. But the Aztecs rallied and surged from seven shots back, taking down the Arizona State Sun Devils by three shots.

The Aztecs shot five-over as a team Wednesday, eight shots better than anybody else.

And I also want to give a shoutout to David Puig, the Arizona State sophomore who won the individual title by an astounding NINE shots. He finished the tournament at ten-under.

Way to go, guys. Playing in those conditions, you deserve all the accolades you receive!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Desert Golf Continues on the European Tour

The ET moves up the Persian Coast from Abu Dhabi to Dubai for the Dubai Desert Classic.

Defending champion Lucas Herbert

Lucas Herbert is the defending champion at Emirates Golf Course in Dubai, which is located in the United Arab Emirates. As nationalclubgolfer.com describes it:

Another exposed desert course with tree-lined Bermuda fairways and quick Bermuda greens. Players will need to negotiate with the wind, with numerous dogleg holes and water in play on 10 of the 18 holes. The rough here is often perilous, so finding the fairways will be an important factor for success.

Tyrrell Hatton, hot off his victory at Abu Dhabi last week, is hoping to ride his good play to a win at Emirates. Americans will also want to watch Collin Morikawa and see what he can do on this challenging course; his ballstriking should serve him well here.

GC's live coverage actually begins tonight (Wednesday) at 11pm ET and runs until 4am ET. This is always a great stop on the ET and the field will be loaded with strong players like Fleetwood, Garcia, Stenson and Westwood, so look forward to something good!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Farmers Insurance Open

Twofer Tuesday does double duty this week, checking out the 2021 US Open site while also catching the Farmers Insurance Open.

Defending champion Marc Leishman

Yes, in case you didn't know, Torrey Pines's South Course will host the US Open later this year. And that means this week's Farmers Insurance Open field will get an early look at the major venue.

As will we.

Of course, the field will play the easier North Course once this week and the South Course three times, as usual at this event. But that's cool since that single round at the North Course always makes for an interesting run to the cut by making the exact cutline much less predictable.

The defending champion is Marc Leishman, after squeaking out a single shot victory over Jon Rahm last year before the pandemic threw its chokehold on the sport. More on that momentarily.

But first I need to make my two picks. And unlike last week, where I went pretty deep into the field for my picks, it's sort of difficult not to go chalk this week simply because a number of players just seem to play well at Torrey. So let's get to it!

  • My fist pick is indeed Marc Leishman. It's not just that Leish is the defending champion. The fact is that, as one of GC's analysts noted earlier this year, it's summer in Australia so the Australians just seem to be in better form at this time of year. In addition to his win last year, the big guy has two T2s as well and is a good weather player, should the weather take a turn this week.
  • And my other pick -- which may surprise some of you -- is Rory McIlroy. The time change between Abu Dhabi and California is bothersome but Rory has done it before. While he hasn't won at Torrey, he's chalked up a T5 and a T3 in the last two years. Given his play last week, I think he could be about to get on another run of high finishes... and possible wins.

I guess the elephant in the room here is that I didn't pick Jon Rahm, whose last four appearances have been 1-T29-T5-2. But after missing a week from that back pain scare, I'm hesitant to take him so soon. I need to know that his back will stand up to a hard week at Torrey first.

GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET. Yep, more prime time coverage! And, as noted earlier, we get the double benefit of previewing this year's US Open venue. It's just too good to pass up.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 American Express

Winner: Si Woo Kim

Around the wider world of golf: Jessica Korda won the pro division and Mardy Fish the celebrity division of the LPGA's Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions; Darren Clarke won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the Champions Tour; and Tyrrell Hatton won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the ET.

Si Woo Dim with AmEx trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks didn't do so well, but I did go pretty far off from the betting favorites. I had Patton Kizzire (53) and Chris Kirk (T16). I don't know what happened with Kizzire, but Kirk did well after that emotional high of locking up his card last week. 

  • Top10s: 3 for 6 (2 Top5s, 1 other Top10) 
  • Winners: 0 for 3 events

Si Woo Kim hadn't won in a couple of years, and last year at this event he had to withdraw when his back problems became too much to ignore. While I don't know that he ever doubted he would win again, I doubt any athlete can escape being concerned when they develop chronic physical problems.

It was appropriate that he would break his winless drought in the desert, don't you think?

After a restless Saturday night he began the final round with a share of the lead. But he still couldn't rest because Patrick Cantlay went absolutely nuts during the round and posted a 61, his lowest round ever on Tour, after barely making the cut! He said later that he didn't think he could have played much better, and he posted the clubhouse lead by a single shot.

Si Woo watched the leaderboard all the way to the finish, knowing he had to find some way to keep up with Cantlay's blistering pace. And while his 64 might not have been as impressive as Cantlay's, it was enough to give him a one-stroke win.

He even gave a post-round interview in English, which may have taken more courage than working through the back problems. Asian languages and English are far more different to learn than, say, English and Spanish, which share a lot of words and syntax and are therefore much easier for the speaker of one to learn how to speak in the other. Despite the inherent difficulties, Si Woo did a good job at that as well.

What else can I say? The man deserves a Limerick Summary... and here it is. Congrats, Si Woo!

Another pro breaks through a drought.
I wonder if Kim fought the doubt
That he’d soon win again?
Well, he proved that he can
Once he got his back problems worked out.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Paige Spiranac's Approach to the Wedge Game (Video)

Paige has a unique take on playing wedge shots from 100 yards and in. She patterns her approach after her chipping game and uses the basics of connection to further simplify things. In this video she explains the basics.


A quick summary: The key to your wedge game isn't how far you hit the ball but how well you control your distance. Paige takes more club, chokes down on the grip, keeps her arms connected throughout the swing (note that she mentions a towel drill that can help you with that) and makes a shorter overall swing based on her chipping setup.

I really like her approach because you don't need to think about so much or do anything fancy to get good results. Paige's video will give you a good base on which to build your wedge game. Give it a try!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Rick Shiels Tests the Wilson Staff D9 Driver (Video)

This is an interesting test for one reason: Rick is testing this driver against a 2021 Callaway Epic driver, which is a similar build but costs nearly twice as much. See what you think...


Friday, January 22, 2021

Yeah, I Know They Started Yesterday But...

The Champions Tour is starting their year in Hawaii and it's still cold here on the East Coast of the US. So let's talk briefly about their first event, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez

This event is played at Hualalai Golf Course, meaning this is the third Hawaiian island we get to see this month. (The ladies are down in Florida.) Miguel Angel Jimenez is the defending champion and looking to become a three-time winner at Hualalai so he can join Bernhard Langer, who seems to hold just about every record on the Champions Tour except for the most wins. (That's still Hale Irwin, folks, but Langer isn't that far behind. And Hale is playing this week.)

As we have already come to expect in this year's golf, the players who are in great form aren't necessarily the ones that the analysts are picking. For example, I checked the Power Rankings after Thursday's first round and here's what I found.

Two players are tied in third place so far, Scott Parel and Jerry Kelly, both at -8. Parel is 10th in the rankings and Kelly is 4th. So far so good.

The player in second place is Darren Clarke at -9. Clarke is ranked 7th and, as well as he's been playing, should have more than one win by now. But the routine and courses on the Champions Tour are definitely different than the regular tours, and they take some getting used to. Look for him to play better this year.

But sitting at the top of the leaderboard at -10 is Retief Goosen... and he isn't in the Power Rankings at all. Go figure.

Technically this isn't the beginning of the season because the Champions Tour is treating 2020 and 2021 as one giant season. That should set us up for an interesting final stretch as players position themselves for the Charles Schwab Cup, simply because there are so many events this year where you can pick up points. So these early events may end up being even more important than ususal.

GC's coverage for this three-day event started Thursday and will broadcast at the same time today and Saturday, starting at 7pm ET. Since the players went this low in the first round, this could end up being a real sprint to the finish. I wonder if Retief will hang on and surprise them all?

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The LPGA Starts Their Season Today

With every tour getting back in action this week, I feel the need to give each a quick post about their event. Today it's the LPGA and the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.

Defending champion Gaby Lopez

As I'm sure you all know by now -- but I'll mention just in case you don't -- the LPGA's Tournament of Champions is a pro-am event. However, we don't get a team score; it's just that the celebrity players are playing their own event alongside the LPGA pros. Or, as lpga.com puts it:

The LPGA winners-only field plays for a $1.2 million purse over 72 holes with no cut. The sports and entertainment celebrities compete for a $500,000 purse of their own using a modified Stableford format.

It's an interesting twist on a champions event since you also get a separate celebrity event... but it still feels a bit like the Pebble Beach pro-am on the PGA Tour. The difference is that the pros aren't worried about how their score will affect a team score, so the strategy doesn't change from a regular event.

But it can be more fun to watch than a 'straight' tournament.

Gaby Lopez is the defending LPGA champion while baseball great John Smoltz is looking to get his third title in a row. There are 25 LPGA players and about twice that many celebs, including Annika Sorenstam among them. And since this is the only event we get until the LPGA season starts in earnest a month from now, it's definitely something we want to see.

GC's live coverage begins today at 3pm ET. I suspect it'll be something of a celebration of just surviving 2020 for everyone involved, so we'll probably see players have even more fun than normal.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The European Tour Gets Back in the Game at Last!

It's been a while but the European Tour is finally teeing it up again this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Defending champion Lee Westwood

There are four premium Rolex Series events this year, and the HSBC is the first. And the first defending champion of the season is none other than Lee Westwood, who started 2020 with a win here and finished with the Race to Dubai trophy.

Oh yeah, I'm looking forward to this event!

Last year's win was Lee's 25th ET win, which meant he had won ET events in four different decades. Like so many other players, he seems to be regaining his form at a time in his life when too many people are ready to write him off. But as he tees it up with so many great players from around the world this week, I'm looking forward to him beginning yet another great year.

Yes, I'm even hoping for a major. Keep your fingers crossed.

While GC's TV times are a bit scattered over the next few days, you can catch some live coverage of the first round tonight (Wednesday) on GC at 10:30pm ET. It's great to see European golf back on the air despite the pandemic's continued efforts to disrupt our lives. Let's all pray that things only get better from here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: The American Express

Twofer Tuesday reluctantly leaves Paradise and heads for pandemic-plagued California and the streamlined American Express event.

Defending champion Andrew Landry

When I say streamlined I mean that the event has seen its normal form slimmed down considerably. Due to the rising number of flu cases in California, for the first time in event history the American Express will be played without its usual pro-am format. That in turn means that, also for the first time in event history, the number of courses needed has been trimmed from three to two -- the Stadium Course and the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

With only pros teeing up, a standard 65 cut after two round will be used. That could make a big difference in how the competition plays out.

While the two courses have been lengthened slightly, neither course will play particularly long. Both will measure a bit over 7100 yards, both at a par of 72. While weather could be an issue, I don't see it making this event much different from Sony last week. That means almost anybody could win.

In the first two events of 2021 I made some pretty obvious choices for my picks. This week I'm mixing it up a bit and taking two players who probably aren't in anybody's power rankings, since I'm uncertain how the changes forced by the pandemic in California may affect individual players.

  • My first pick is Patton Kizzire. Patton has been slowly working his way back into form since the wraparound season began, but in his last four events he's had three Top11s, capped by a T7 at the Sony. His history at this event isn't that good -- in fact, he's missed the cut in the last two seasons -- but this week there are no amateurs and only two courses. Given his good play of late, I look for a change in his fortunes here in the desert.
  • And my other pick? Chris Kirk. I know, he's only got one good finish on the PGA Tour this season, and that was his T2 at Sony last week. And like Kizzire, he hasn't had a good record in the desert. But this isn't the same Chris Kirk who has struggled in the past and, with the pressure to keep his card taken away, I look for him to benefit from the changes I mentioned earlier as well as his improved outlook on life.

GC's live coverage begins Thursday at 3pm ET. While the coverage will extend into prime time, it won't run nearly as late because there are two hours difference between Hawaii and California time. Let's see how much difference those two hours make to the players.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Sony Open

Winner: Kevin Na

Around the wider world of golf: One more week to go!

Kevin Na with Sony Open trophy

Another good week for my Twofer Tuesday picks. I had Collin Morikawa (T7) and Joaquin Niemann (T2). No winner yet, but three of my four choices so far have been Top10s.

  • Top10s: 3 for 4 (2 Top5s, 1 other Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 2 events

There were plenty of players -- both recognized and unrecognized -- who could have won last week. Webb Simpson was a popular choice for many viewers, Kevin Na less so. But the beauty of the Sony Open is just how many players have a good chance to win.

Kevin took advantage of that chance. While Brendan Steele was certainly in position to win as they entered the back nine, that's when Kevin's game seemed to come alive. After an unexpected bogey at 12, he calmly birdied the next three holes and added one more on 18 to win the event outright.

It seems Kevin may have chosen the best way to spend his time away from golf when the pandemic first hit. He left the clubs untouched and fully embraced the time with his family. (He mentioned the joy of teaching his young daughter the alphabet.) When he came back out he was refreshed and ready to go, playing some of the most consistent golf he's played in his career.

Now he's added his fifth PGA Tour victory -- that's better than most players on Tour -- and he's had a win in each of his last four seasons. And then there was this little tweet from the US Ryder Cup team:

With so much to look forward to, I guess another Limerick Summary is just icing on a very tasty cake. Way to go, Kevin!

His Tour wins are now up to five,
With four in four seasons—no jive!
At age thirty-seven
The game’s loving Kevin…
And Ryder Cup hopes are alive.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Paige Spiranac on Why Carry Distance Matters (Video)

In this video Paige explains not only why knowing your carry yardages with each club is important, but she explains how to do it, when you should do it, how to keep track of the results and when you should check them again. Then she goes through her own bag and shows you how far she hits each of her clubs, simply because viewers keep asking her for the numbers.


I think a lot of you -- especially you men watching this -- are going to be shocked by how far Paige hits her clubs. For those of you who don't know, Paige is only 5'6" tall so she's not one of the taller female players. And as she tells you in the video, she isn't trying to hit the ball as hard as she can. (She estimates she's making about a 90% effort.) And again, she's only counting carry here, not the roll out after the ball lands.

As an added bonus, you get to see her swing both down the line and face-on with each club. She clearly isn't swinging out of her shoes.

Hopefully, seeing how much distance she gets simply by making solid contact will encourage all of you to focus on hitting the ball well rather than swinging as hard as you can. Add that into what she says about getting your carry distances, and this becomes a very informative video.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Brandel Chamblee on Chicken Wings

You may have seen this already but I thought I'd post it here, just in case. The move Brandel focuses on here is what we normally call a chicken wing finish, and other players besides Joaquin Niemann (like Jordan Spieth) also do it.

Since I'm focusing on "the big picture" this year -- that is, how you hit the ball rather than what your swing looks like -- let's take a moment to understand why Chamblee and others like this move.

The simplest reason is that it mostly prevents a big hook, which a lot of the pros deal with. If you tend to rotate your forearms a lot during impact, having your lead elbow point at the target puts a limit on just how much your forearms can rotate.

If you don't have a lot of forearm twisting at impact and you chicken wing, you'll tend to hit big slices because you'll leave the clubface open.

Many people might consider this a swing bandaid. But I don't think swing bandaids are necessarily a bad thing. In one sense, swing thoughts are typically just bandaids because they provide a temporary fix for a swing problem... and yet instructors often recommend you find a swing thought to help you correct a flaw in your swing.

But what if the bandaid becomes a permanent part of your swing and it makes your swing work? If it does, why not use it? Why spend months, maybe years trying to change your swing if a bandaid gives you immediate and lasting results?

I think that's the key. "Immediate and lasting results" means your swing works and, unless your goal in the game is to have a textbook swing, the ability to play the game well enough that you enjoy it is a good enough reason to use a swing bandaid.

Over the next few months I'll be looking at unorthodox swings that may draw criticism from instructors but have proven to work well for many people -- and in the case of the pros, often made them Hall of Famers.

Because if golf really is like life, then success is less about being textbook and more about making the most of what you have. As my blog tagline says, "it's all about the score."

Friday, January 15, 2021

Rick Shiels Tests the Ping G425 Irons (Video)

Since I posted Rick's test of the G425 drivers yesterday, I figured you might want to see what he said about the companion irons as well. Again, I like his testing because he doesn't say he likes something if he doesn't, and he'll tell you exactly why he does or doesn't like it. And while he says he generally likes Ping irons, it sounds like this set isn't quite as perfect as he'd like. You be the judge...


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Rick Shiels Finds a Special Driver (Video)

Rick Shiels has started his tests of all the new 2021 drivers. This video is about the three new Ping G425 drivers -- the MAX, designed for forgiveness; the LST, designed for better players wanting low spin; and the SFT, designed for players with slice problems. And I think he was actually surprised by the results.


Rick says the SFT, which is set up to draw the ball (and he had trouble hitting anything but hooks with it) might be an option if you struggle with a slice. Although I prefer finding out why you slice and fixing the swing, I'm not against fixing the problem with equipment (assuming you can) if it makes the game more enjoyable for you... and if you can afford it.

But he also says he is ready to say the MAX is the straightest, most accurate driver he's ever tested. And he tests it against an original Ping G driver from several years back to see if it actually is... and he believes he has the stats to validate his conclusion.

So you might find this review particularly informative if you're in the market for a new driver.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Putting on TifDwarf Greens

The greens at Waialae Country Club are planted in TifDwarf grass, a version of Bermuda. So I thought I'd see if there are any putting tips specific to that kind of grass.

TifDwarf grass

First off, TifDwarf Bermudagrass isn't a new type of grass. It was actually released for use all the way back in 1965 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station, according to newlifeturf.com. But it's certainly become very popular because it's heat-resistant and very durable for commercial purposes.

In fact, I found a post at coastalgolfaway.com that says:

Tifdwarf Bermudagrass offers a fine blade and its putting surface can be compared to that of Bentgrass greens. It is very adaptable to heat, brackish soils, heavy traffic and low mowing. Because of its over seeding and transitions characteristics, it is highly effective for year-round play in areas where summer temperatures reach and exceed 100 degrees. Tifdwarf has smaller and shorter leaves, stems and internodes and the leaf blades are dark green in color and have the finest texture of the hybrid Bermuda grasses.

That may be more than you need to know, but the important thing for us now is that it plays very much like Bentgrass. So what can we learn from that?

I found another post, this one on wojdylogolf.com, that points out the main difference between Bermuda and Bentgrass -- namely, that grain is most important for putting Bermuda while slope is most important for putting Bentgrass.

The finer texture of TifDwarf has less grain and provides a smoother, faster roll, so it will mimic Bentgrass in that way.

So if you're putting on TifDwarf Bermuda greens, you should realize that the slope of the green will have a much greater effect on the break than grain will, and the putts will probably roll a bit farther and faster as well.

Hopefully that knowledge will save you a few strokes on the green.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Sony Open

Twofer Tuesday makes the short hop from Maui to Honolulu for the Sony Open.

Defending champion Cameron Smith

Waialae Country Club, the course with the big palm tree W, is a much shorter track than last week's Plantation Course but still offers players all they can handle. That's especially true when the trade winds pick up, as they did last year. Things should be much calmer this year, however, and that means we could see all kinds of fireworks.

Defending champion Cameron Smith leads the field. Waialae is a course where anybody can win if they can position themselves well during their round, so I'm looking for course managers this week.

  • My first pick is Collin Morikawa. Waialae is yet another course that requires some familiarity in order to score well, and last year was his first attempt. He still managed to finish T21. As well as he has played over the last few months, I think he'll finish much higher this year.
  • And I'm hoping to ride some momentum with Joaquin Niemann. He too has played well over the last few months and he made it into a playoff at the Sentry last week. His ability to place shots in tight areas, coupled with his putting skills, should put him in contention again this week.

We get more prime time golf this week, with GC's live coverage beginning Thursday at 7pm ET. And as I said last week, it's hard to go wrong looking at Hawaii when the weather is less desirable here on the mainland.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions

Winner: Harris English

Around the wider world of golf: The rest of the golf world hasn't really started back up yet.

Harris English with SToC trophy

Well, my first Twofer Tuesday picks of 2021 did pretty good for me. I had Justin Thomas (3) and Dustin Johnson (T11). DJ stumbled a bit Sunday and cost me a Top10, but JT put up his normal good run at a title.

  • Top10s: 1 for 2 (1 Top5, 0 other Top10s)
  • Winners: 0 for 1 event

Granted, I went chalk with my picks. But there were so many wild cards in this year's event that it was the only sensible thing to do. Once the PGA Tour decided to make up for the winners of 2020's cancelled events by including the 30 Tour Championship qualifiers -- even if they hadn't won an event -- we had the potential for an unexpected (and unprecedented) champion.

While Harris English wasn't entirely unexpected because he had been playing so well all last year, he had yet to prove that he could get it done. It had been around seven years since his last win and the Plantation Course was giving up ridiculously low scores all week. Then Joaquin Niemann went nuts and shot -9 on Sunday to take the clubhouse lead.

At that point, it was anybody's tournament and we realized that we might see the unthinkable -- a Sentry winner who hadn't won the previous season, for the first time in history.

Then it became a certainty when Harris and Joaquin went to a playoff, which Harris won on the first hole.

While it was a historic finish, in the end it wasn't all that unexpected. As I said, Harry had played well enough to win all year; he just hadn't gotten it done. But now he has and he'll be back in 2022 to defend.

In the meantime, he can bask in the glow of his first Limerick Summary in years. Way to go, Harry!

Harry’s play has been solid all year;
Though he hadn’t won, that much is clear.
Once the Tour felt the virus
Made a field change desirous,
Harry wound up a true pioneer.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Paige Spiranac on Course Strategy (Video)

I know a lot of you don't take Paige very seriously but she does know what she's talking about. In this new video from a couple of days ago she guides you through a reachable par-4, a long par-3 and a potentially reachable par-5. Pay close attention to what she says about the par-4s; it's hard to find good advice on how to play those.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

A Chipping Tip from Justin Thomas

If you've been watching the chipping exhibition Justin Thomas has been giving at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, you might be interested in how he does it. I found an older Golf Digest article with some of his tips on pitching, chipping and putting.

Justin Thomas chipping

Here's a chipping tip from the article. I think it's cool that he got it from Patrick Reed, who has a reputation as a great chipper as well.

Setup is super important when hitting pitch or chip shots. A perfect example is what happened to me at the first event of 2017, the SBS Tournament of Champions. I was practicing these shots, and Patrick Reed saw me struggling. He came over, adjusted my feet and body, and then I started hitting them way better. What he noticed was my body was too open (aligned left of my target), and my lower body looked wobbly when I hit the shot. So he told me to keep my feet a little open, square up the rest of my body a little more, and make sure my legs felt stable when I swung.

It's a short article but you might find something that will help you get your chips and pitches closer. The shorter the putts you leave, the better!

Friday, January 8, 2021

8 Indoor Golf Drills (Video)

Some of us are having bad weather; some of us are stuck in new pandemic lockdowns. This GolfersRx video gives you eight indoor drills so you can at least work on some aspects of your swing.


Which drills you find useful will depend on your swing, since some of these drills may not work with your particular swing method. I do like the two anti-sway drills -- numbers 2 and 5, but I particularly like 2 -- because keeping your turn centered over the ball is a simple way to improve the consistency of your impact position.

Hopefully these drills will help temper some of the frustration I know many of you are feeling right now, regardless of the cause.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Mike Whan Decides It's Time

It was a weird day here in the US. It began with a beloved commisioner who decided it's time to step down and ended with a controversial president who is refusing... and the dumpster fire that followed.

Mike Whan took over as LPGA commissioner back in 2010 for a four-year stint. Now, after nearly three times that long, he leaves the LPGA in a dominant position that many doubted they would ever see.

Rather than write some wordy paean that probably falls short of paying him the respect he's due, I've just decided to post his interview with Golf Today, given early Wednesday when the bombshell announcement was still reverberating through the golf landscape. I know many of you probably didn't get to hear it, and it's a good listen.


The word that people around him kept using to describe him was "transparency." Mike Whan always tried to be honest with his players, even when it wasn't pleasant, and he was their friend as well as their boss. He's going to be missed.

And in case you didn't hear, there's a rumor that he's on the USGA's list of possible new leaders. That's a rumor that could be very interesting!

So, to pick up on the thought that began this post...

The USA will survive Wednesday's debacle in Washington. Our Constitution was created to guide us through times like this, and it has even helped us survive a bloody civil war about 150 years ago. Our democracy will survive this as well if we stick to the principles that have guided us this far.

And while I'm sure the LPGA feels some uncertainty about Mike stepping down, he's leaving a strong organization in place as well as a model of how LPGA business should be conducted and how their relationships should be built. If they hold on to those gifts, the LPGA is going to be fine as well.

Thank you, Mike Whan, and good luck going forward.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Golf and Your Peripheral Vision

I discovered a cool article in Golf Magazine about how your mind focuses on things... and the explanation focuses on this optical illusion.

12dot optical illusion

Before you ask... yes, there are dots appearing and disappearing as your eyes move around the grid. And no, it's not some kind of gif or something; the dots are actually printed as part of the grid. What you see depends on where you look.

You'll want to read the article to understand what this can teach you about how your mind works and how that knowledge can help your golf. It's pretty cool.

And if you're up for another challenge -- one that I don't think they actually intended -- there's a misprint in the article, the kind that is often used in yet another kind of focus challenge to test how attentive you are. Can you find the misprint?

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Sentry Tournament of Champions

Twofer Tuesday eagerly leaves chilly North Carolina for the balmy shores of Hawaii and the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Defending champion Justin Thomas

The SToC has a bit fuller field this year -- 42 players, including the Tour Championship qualifiers -- but otherwise we're looking at the same setup we see every year.

We're back at the par-73 Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort, somewhere around 7600 yards in length with fairways about a thousand yards wide. Yeah, we're gonna see everybody blasting the ball out there as far as they can because missing fairways isn't a huge problem.

And we're probably gonna see the usual suspects on top of the leaderboard, simply because there are some players who just seem to find their games at this course.

Since I'm starting a new year of Twofer Tuesday picks, and since we don't know how players will do with such a short layoff and the assorted problems created by the pandemic, I'm going chalk this week.

  • My first pick is the defending champion, Justin Thomas. I know he's been disappointed that he didn't convert more leads in 2020 but it's hard to believe he won't put up at least a Top10 at this event. After all, he's won twice and his last two years have resulted in a third and a win. In fact, he just seems to play well in Hawaii (remember that 59 at the Sony a few years back?) so why wouldn't I take him?
  • And my other pick (no surprise) is Dustin Johnson. He's a two-time winner and the top money winner in this event, plus he's got eight Top10s in ten appearances. Pardon the pun but he's money at Kapalua.

To be honest, I also like Xander Schauffele but I'm a bit nervous about his energy levels since he's coming off Covid. The virus has proven to be too unpredictable.

GC's prime time coverage starts Thursday at 6pm ET. Since we're expecting some really cold weather here in NC this weekend, I'm looking forward to a few daydreams of warm sunny weather.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Stan Utley on "Legal Anchoring" (Video)

While I think the title of this video is a bit of a gimmick, I do think Stan's instruction could be very helpful to those of you who try to keep a constant triangle in your putting stroke.


I believe that the ability to aim the putterface where you want the ball to go is, like aiming the clubface in your full swing, the basis for good putting. But there will always be a number of ways to putt effectively and Stan does a good job of helping you troubleshoot your putting problems when you use the triangle method.

One more thing: While Stan Utley and Dave Pelz teach different methods regarding the path of your putting stroke, both use the triangle method and are therefore susceptible to the same problems Stan discusses here. So if you use either teacher's putting method, you can still get some useful info from this video.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Mike Malaska's One Hand Drill (Video)

This year I'm going to create a different method to help you improve your game. It's not unusual for me to get questions from players who struggle with mechanics, even the simple ones I teach in my books. And I understand that. Sometimes approaching this game from a mechanical perspective causes you to focus on things that don't really help.

So I've spent several months trying to figure out the best way to sidestep that focus on mechanics... and I think I've found it. This month we'll lay down some basics to get everybody on the same page.

Yesterday the late John Jacobs gave us a basic concept to build on:

"The measurement of whether you have a good golf swing is what the ball does."

That's a great concept but we need a practical way to work that out -- to dig it out of the dirt, if you prefer that phrase. So let's start by watching this Malaska video on the one hand drill.


You may remember a few months back in September 2020 I posted a video on how your dominant hand squares the clubface. But your dominant hand, which for most of you is your trailing hand, can do more than just square the clubface.

Your dominant hand can aim your clubface in any direction you desire. What you need to learn is the feel of aiming your clubface.

If you check that dominant hand video I linked to earlier, you'll definitely see a similarity between it and this Malaska video. But the dominant hand drill is more technical and we want to strip it down even further.

Hence, I'm posting the Malaska drill.

This one hand drill is a good starting place to learn clubface control.

  • It's a very short swing, with the shaft swinging from parallel with the ground on the backswing to parallel (or slightly higher) on the followthrough.
  • It's not a power swing. You're not forcing motion here, just letting the swing happen with a tiny bit of extra effort. That makes it easier to feel the position of the clubface in relation to the position of your trail hand.
  • And finding the proper position of your trail hand -- the hand that, for most of you, is the one that controls the clubface -- finding the position that allows you to consistently aim the clubface where you desire is perhaps the most basic skill you need for this new approach to the game that we're going to take.

The key things you need to remember with this drill is that you:

  1. position the ball under your trail shoulder (or, if you use your lead hand to aim the clubface, under your lead shoulder) and
  2. swing gently.

You aren't trying to smash the ball a long way, only to make solid contact and chip the ball in the direction you want it to go.

What are we looking for when we do this drill?

Pay attention to how you've placed your trail hand on the club when you get the results you want because that will become the new basis for your normal grip.

THAT is what we're after at this point. Use this drill in your backyard frequently, because this is a simple practice routine that will ingrain the feel of aiming the clubface.

And the beauty of this is that we aren't really thinking about mechanics at all. We just want to make the ball go where we want it to go!

Drop any questions you have in the comments. Let me know if you run into any problems with this part of our quest for face control. This is our first step and, if it takes a month to get it worked out, that's a month well spent.

And remember: I don't care whether you have an over-the-top swing or any other swing fault at this point. I just want you to learn how to aim the clubface.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

John Jacobs on the Big Picture (Video)

Let's set the tone for the new year with some basics from a legend of the game. In this short video John Jacobs tells about the very first golf lesson he gave... and then lays the foundation for a good golf game.


Jacobs had a very simple philosophy: "The measurement of whether you have a good golf swing is what the ball does." And if you really want to improve your score in 2021, it's a great place to begin the year.

So this is where we're going to start. Let's get better in 2021!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year, Everybody!

We'll get back to golf tomorrow. For today...

Happy New Year 2021

Good riddance, 2020. Welcome, 2021, and all the hope for better days that you bring!