Solutions for when you’re between yardages

You probably feel pretty good when you’re at the perfect yardage for the club in your hands. But what about those annoying yardages, like when a full 7-iron is going to be too much, and a full 8-iron might not get there? Or when you’re 45 yards from the green and your full lob wedge flies 60? I’ve seen many golfers struggle in these situations because they swing too hard or decelerate the club to try to control distance, and neither really works. If you want to hit more shots pin-high, give the methods I’ve used on the PGA Tour a try. Let’s start with in-between yardages. Here I’m swinging a 7-iron. I normally hit it 185 yards, so if I have 175 to the pin, I stand slightly closer to the ball and narrow my stance a few inches.

I also grip down an inch or so. When I swing, the only adjustment is to stop my backswing just short of my usual top position. Then I make my normal through-swing. I don’t change my speed coming through the ball. That’s key.

Swing speed also is important when you have less than a full wedge into a green. This is the area of the course where I’ve noticed amateurs struggle the most. Part of the reason is because they don’t have a consistent plan for how to handle these short shots. If you don’t have a strategy, it’s hard to know what to practice. And without practice, you’re going to struggle on the course.

The way I handle these shots is to regulate the length of the backswing depending on the length of the shot—shorter distances mean shorter backswings. But the thing to remember is, just like with in-between yardages on longer shots, you have to swing through the ball at the same pace no matter the distance.

I practice three swing lengths with my sand wedge that are less than full, so I have three distances locked in when I’m on the course. If I stop my backswing when the shaft is around the height of my hips (above), I know the ball will go 35 yards. When my forearms are parallel to the ground, it’s going 60 yards. And when my hands stop at my shoulders, it’s going to go 80 yards. Again, I can’t stress enough that you never want to slow down as you come through. It leads to inconsistent strikes.

“KEEP YOUR SWING SPEED UP ON SHORTER SHOTS.”

For even better results, add this to your range sessions: Hit 10 balls each with your backswing stopping at three different lengths. Make note of how far the ball goes with each, and rely on those swings to produce the right yardages when you get on the course. You’ll be a lot more confident in hitting half-wedge shots pin-high.—with Keely Levins

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Who Knew??

The original Augusta was intended to have a hole 19, giving losing golfers a chance to win their money back on a quick round of double-or-nothing. It was indefinitely tabled because the hole would ruin the flow of the golf course.

Would you like the option of winning your money back?

 

Phil Mickelson ties tourney record with 5th win at Pebble Beach

With plenty of sunlight and no drama, Phil Mickelson finished off a 7-under 65 to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Monday and match the tournament record with his fifth victory.

Mickelson had a three-shot lead over Paul Casey with two holes to play when it was too dark to finish Sunday night — no matter how hard Mickelson lobbied to keep going — because of delays from rain and a hailstorm.

Casey’s only hope was for Mickelson to make a mistake on the closing holes, and there was little chance of that.

Mickelson was at his best on a course he loves. He drilled a 7-iron into 8 feet on the par-3 17th and made par, and then played conservatively up the par-5 18th and finished with a 6-foot birdie for a three-shot victory.

He matched the low score of the final round while playing in the last group, turning a three-shot deficit into a three-shot victory. Mickelson never came close to making bogey and won for the 44th time on the PGA Tour.

He finished at 19-under 268 and joined Tiger Woods as the only players to surpass $90 million in earnings.

Casey finished with a birdie that was worth $152,000 because he wound up alone in second place. He also won the pro-am with Don Colleran, the chief sales officer for FedEx.

Even so, it was the fourth time Casey took a 54-hole lead of at least two shots into the final round on the PGA Tour and failed to win. There wasn’t much he could do to stop Mickelson, who at age 48 looks just as tough as when he won his first PGA Tour event in 1991 when he was still at Arizona State.

Mickelson tied Mark O’Meara’s record with his fifth victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach, the first one also a Monday finish in 1998 because of bad weather, with one big difference — that Monday finish was more than six months later in August.

Mickelson argued that he could “see just fine” on Sunday evening, moments after sunset with two holes remaining. Casey said there was no way to finish and they had to return Monday morning.

Mickelson, seen shaking his head when the horn sounded Sunday night, said he thanked Casey on Monday morning for holding his ground because it was fair to both of them.

“Sometimes I get in my own bubble,” Mickelson said.

Scott Stallings finished Sunday night with a 66 to finish alone in third.

Mickelson won on American soil for the first time since the Phoenix Open in 2013. He won that summer’s British Open at Muirfield and last year’s Mexico Championship.

He will return to Pebble Beach in June for the U.S. Open, where he made his pro debut in 1992. The U.S. Open remains the final piece missing for him to complete the career Grand Slam, though Lefty was quick to caution that this week had no bearing on this summer.

Pebble Beach was so soft that balls were plugging in the fairway when they landed. And while the fairway lines already have been brought in to be much narrower than usual, the rough was light.

“It’s nothing like the course we’ll see,” Mickelson said. “I’ll deal with that in six months.”

For now, he was glowing over another victory that keeps him as relevant as ever. Along with five titles at Pebble Beach, he ties Woods and Billy Casper — all three native Californians — with his 14th career victory in the Golden State.

SOURCE:  ESPN

Keep The Lead Hip Firm For A Solid Swing

For More Power, Avoid Sliding Toward Target
One of the most prevalent issues that I see with my students, is sliding the left, or lead hip (right-handed golfer) too far toward the target in the downswing.

Most of us, when we first started playing the game, were told to hit against a firm left side. When the left hip moves well past the left foot, there isn’t a whole lot of firmness. And, there isn’t a whole lot of rotation. And without rotation, power is dramatically reduced.

Here is an analogy that might help put you back on track:

Maybe you have a fenced-in back yard with a gate. If you don’t, humor me and just pretend that you do. If the post that the gate is attached to is straight up and down, the gate opens and closes perfectly. If the post is tilted, good luck with the gate. Same with your golf swing. At impact, if the left hip is over the left knee and left ankle, forming a straight vertical line, your right hip will rotate perfectly just like the gate. If the left hip slides past the left foot, rotation is diminished along with power and accuracy.

Here is a drill to help you get the hang of it:

Stand in a doorway with the outside of your left foot touching the door jam. Cross your arms across your chest. Make a backswing turn and then a through swing turn. During the latter allow your left hip to move laterally just enough to make contact with the jam. That amount will put you in a vertical left leg position, the perfect place for maximum lead hip rotation. And hip rotation translates to more power, which we all want.

John Marshall is a two-time American Long Drivers Association super senior national champion and five-time RE/MAX World Long Drive finalist

SOURCE:  Golftipmag

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Who Knew??

The longest recorded drive on an ordinary course is one of 515 yards by Michael Hoke Austin of Los Angeles, California, in the US National Seniors Open Championship at Las Vegas, Nevada on September 25, 1974

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Ho-Sung Choi and his swing gyrations already have everyone’s attention at Pebble Beach this week

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Ho-Sung Choi was so excited to talk to the media Tuesday afternoon at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am that he ran from the player hospitality tent to the media center, a lengthy jaunt, when he could have just waited for a shuttle ride.

“It is my first time here in the United States, so I can’t even put into words how incredibly happy and grateful I am to have this opportunity here,” he said through an interpreter.

When the likes of Aaron Rodgers, the All-Pro quarterback from the Green Bay Packers, requests to be paired with the late-blooming Korean sensation, it’s safe to say that the excitement is mutual. America is ready to embrace him.

Choi might not speak much English, but he is the undisputed World No. 1 in body language. His pirouetting, leg-kicking golf swing, a cross between the Gary Player walk-through and an Olympic ice dancer – called a “fisherman’s swing” in some circles – has caught the attention of golfers and fans the world over.

“I’m actually fascinated clearly by his swing and the way that he … moves around,” said former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth, who won here in 2017. “But I would almost say funniest … the most entertaining videos I’ve seen were actually some of his putts where he’ll spin the way he wants the ball to start moving around and then when it goes in he’ll give one of those kind of fist pumps and it’s just, it’s really entertaining.”

It also has been pretty effective. Choi, 45, is a two-time winner on the Japan Tour, having won most recently at the Casio World Open in November, and he is No. 194 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But it’s his penchant for natural showmanship with his homemade swing that made him a perfect fit for a sponsor exemption – adding another layer to an event famous for its inclusion of celebrities and entertainers.

Comedian Bill Murray once spun around an old lady in a bunker here. This guy needs no assistance, corkscrewing himself into a pretzel after most shots.

“I know sometimes after I’ve hit the ball I sometimes will the ball to go in the hole and in my mind I feel like that helps the ball go in the hole, so I’m going to keep doing that this week,” Choi explained. “And I feel like in my mind the way I move my body, sometimes it feels like I have remote control that wills the ball to go in the hole, so I’m going to keep doing that, because I feel like it helps.”

Choi is hardly self-conscious about how he looks on his full swing. He was happy to demonstrate it during his press conference, standing up on the dais to show the full move. The swing, he noted, was even wilder in his earlier years than it is now. It was born from hitting a shot out of the rough and following through with his whole body, something Tiger Woods has done routinely when he goes for extra speed from heavy lies. Choi, who averages about 280 off the tee, figures he gains an extra 10 yards from the pronounced action.

“I personally love my swing,” he said. “I didn’t start golf until I was in my late 20s, so technically I didn’t take any lessons growing up. But regarding flexibility or anything like that, I might not have as much compared to the other tour players, but I do what I can with what I have. And also with the advancement in technology and with how far these players are hitting it nowadays I needed to find my own unique way to get that extra distance. And by hitting it hard and by swinging hard I was able to swing the way I do right now, so that might result in to how I’m swinging it.”

It also results in delight from those who watch it.

“Yeah, I think it’s great. I think it’s unique, for sure. Nobody swings a golf club like that and I’ve never seen anybody move that way when they swing a golf club,” said U.S. Ryder Cup player Tony Finau. “I think it’s great for the game, and obviously he’s playing with Aaron Rodgers this week. And I was just with Aaron this morning, and he’s excited to watch him play. I mean, how is that not really cool for our game to have someone like him wanting to play with someone like Ho-Sung Choi? So that’s, I think he brings some excitement to this tournament. And as players it’s really cool to see someone that that’s different and that unique of a golf swing.”

Some guys would cut off their right arm to have a chance to play golf professionally. Choi cut off his right thumb.

As he tells the story, he went to school to specialize in a job in the fishing industry. When he was 23, he accidentally amputated a portion of his right thumb with a chain saw. (Somewhere Greg Norman is cringing knowingly.) Though the tip was reattached, Choi’s right thumb is shorter than his left. But from that mishap started his long road to an unlikely golf career. About two years after the accident, in 1995, he got a part-time job at a golf course. He said his responsibilities included “anything from from cleaning locker rooms to stocking vending machines, to taking the coins out of the vending machines. On hot summer days I would be the one responsible for putting the cold ice towels inside the locker, inside the ice boxes for the players.”

When the course opened a new practice area, the owner encouraged employees to learn the game. From these humble beginnings, a star was born – and the Internet sure helped. Everyone recognizes Choi, who actually will partner for three rounds with actor Chris O’Donnell. Rodgers and Wisconsin native Jerry Kelly, one of several Champions Tour players in the field, are paired with them. They are in the celebrity rotation, meaning Choi will likely get his share of airtime during Saturday’s CBS telecast from Pebble Beach.

Good thing he’s not shy – and that his real strength, he said, is his mental game. He doesn’t care what others think. He just wants to play.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said when asked about how others might view him. “My only goal is to give it my all and to play my best when I’m on the golf course. I’m just not worrying about what other people say or do and just focusing on my own game.”

Before he left the dais, he was asked to demonstrate his swing one more time. He was only too happy to oblige, and he was so focused that once he was finished, he left behind his cell phone.

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

An Easy Accuracy Tip For Consistency

Stare down the ball: Not with your eyes, with your clubface

Every bad result in golf can be traced back to a root cause. If you’re struggling to hit accurate drives, the issue is a lack of clubface control.

Many amateurs start their backswings by whipping the driver way inside the target line and opening the face. From there, they re-route the club on a looping path that comes into the ball from outside the target line—the classic over-the-top move—with an open face in relation to the path. You can guess what happens next. The ball slices right of the target. If by some luck or last-second adjustment they can close the face, the ball flies on a straight line but left of the target. How many times have you heard another golfer get frustrated after setting up to hit a drive that flies left to right—and presumably in the fairway—only to see the ball go dead left and into the trees?

If a round of golf for you is constant guesswork of where the ball might end up, you can improve your accuracy if you fix the cause and control the clubface better through impact. It starts by making a better takeaway. No more whipping the club inside. Instead, pretend the clubface has vision, and its job is to swing back while keeping its eyes on the ball. In the photos above, my club starts squarely behind the ball and does not rotate open in the takeaway. Copy this move. I want you to keep it staring at the ball as long as you can when you take it back.

What you’ll find is that this gets you to make a backswing where your club, hands, arms and body all turn together. This is the type of synchronized movement that allows you to control the clubface.

Ideally, it should return to the ball facing your target, and your shot will fly straight. Even marginal improvements in clubface control will reduce the dispersion of your off-line hits. You’ll be in play a lot more often. — With Ron Kaspriske

MY TRICK FOR HOLING ALL THE SHORT ONES
You’ve probably heard someone tell you to keep your head still when you’re on the green—especially if you’re trying to hole a short putt.

The advice is well intended. The less you move, the less chance you will twist the putterface open or closed and miss the putt. No steering! Unfortunately, locking down your head can add a degree of tension and prevent you from making a confident, relaxed stroke. Since we’re on the subject of vision on this page, I’ve got a better way to help you control the putter as you make your stroke. Instead of thinking about keeping your head still, your swing thought should be keep my eyes still. You’ll notice right away that it has the same effect of minimizing body movement, but it doesn’t add extra tension to the stroke.

David Leadbetter, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs 32 academies worldwide.

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Justin Rose, Adam Scott hit $50M milestone together

Justin Rose won at Torrey Pines. Adam Scott challenged him to the final hole. And thanks to that 1-2 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open, both surpassed $50 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.

It’s a feat achieved by only five other players. These days, it’s little more than a monetary milestone.

But it was fitting they did it together.

Born 14 days apart in July 1980, they have been great friends since they tussled in South Africa at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in January 2001. Both were 20. Scott made a 4-foot birdie putt on the last hole to beat Rose and win for the first time as a pro. Oddly enough — or maybe not — Rose won his first professional title a year later in the same tournament.

What makes the timing so appropriate that both joined the $50 million club on the same day is that their PGA Tour careers effectively began together, with a little help from the men who now run the PGA Tour (commissioner Jay Monahan) and the PGA of America (chief executive Seth Waugh).

Waugh at the time was CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, the title sponsor of a new tournament that had the Tiger Woods Foundation as the charitable arm. Monahan was hired as the tournament director.

“We gave them both exemptions,” Waugh said Tuesday from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he was caddying for his son in a PGA Tour Latinoamerica qualifying tournament. “Adam was pretty obvious. Jay called me and said, ‘Let’s talk about exemptions,’ which I’d never done.”

Monahan mentioned using a special exemption for international players on an English kid who had had a good British Open, turned pro and missed 20 consecutive cuts before getting his career on track. Waugh already was aware he was talking about Rose, who had won on three tours (Europe, South Africa, Japan) the previous year.

And then Waugh really got to know him.

“We get to the pro-am draw party Wednesday night at the statehouse in Boston,” Waugh said. “It was a formal deal. Mitt Romney was the governor, and we’re all giving our suit speeches. There’s this tall kid by the seafood bar eating shrimp and looking lonely. I walk up to him and said: ‘How are you doing? Are you Justin Rose?’ I said, ‘What are you doing here?’

“He said Deutsche Bank was nice enough to give him an exemption and he thought he would come up and thank somebody,” Waugh said. “He was staying all the way in Providence. I said, ‘You just did.’ But that’s Justin. No agent, nobody telling him what to do. He ended finishing third. And the rest is history.”

The history between Scott and Rose was just getting started.

They have piled up victories around the world, amassing long streaks of winning. Scott went 14 consecutive years with at least one victory worldwide and has 27 for his career. Rose won Sunday for the 22nd time worldwide, extending his streak to 10 consecutive years with at least one victory, including his gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

They now are neighbors at Albany in the Bahamas, both married with two children.

They each have won one major, which they won consecutively.

Scott finally delivered Australia a green jacket when he won the 2013 Masters. Rose sent him a text message of congratulations, which prompted this famous reply from Scott: “This is our time.”

Two months later, Rose won the U.S. Open at Merion.

He had practiced the week before the Masters with Scott in the Bahamas, even played a couple of rounds together.

“I took his money both times,” Rose said.

And then Scott won the Masters, which made the text exchange really hit home.

Indeed, it was their time, and they kept going. Scott reached No. 1 in the world in the spring of 2014. Rose reached No. 1 in the world late last summer, and the Englishman extended his lead atop the world ranking with his two-shot victory at Torrey Pines.

Waugh still thinks about that Monday afternoon at the TPC Boston, where Scott and Rose spent the entire week together, at restaurants and on the leaderboard. They have won so much and done so well that money doesn’t define them.

In this case, it was simply a reminder of where it all began.

SOURCE:  USAToday

8 Simple Indoor Golf Putting Drills to Practice Daily

The following at home golf drills are beginner level to build basic fundamental putting stroke skills. You need just a few phone books and a coin or tee to set up these indoor putting practice drills.

Also, you can practice these putting drills on carpet if you don’t have a synthetic indoor putting green.

Drill #1: Phone Book Path

Drop two phone books onto the ground at home and leave enough distance between them that your putter can barely squeeze through. Make practice strokes focusing on keeping the putter path straight and putter face square. If you don’t, you may bump into the books which give you feedback that your putting stroke wasn’t straight for that stroke.

Drill #2: Phone Book with Golf Ball

Set up two phone books again so that you’ve left your putter enough room to make a stroke between them. Now place a 10 foot piece of painter’s tape in the middle of the path and parallel to the books so that it creates a target line. Several feet of tape should be outside the books so that you can see how your ball stays on line for several feet.

Set a golf ball down in the middle of the books path on the target line you’ve created and stroke putts. You can use the books to monitor your back swing length compared to your forward swing length. The forward swing should be equal or slightly bigger than the back swing. Using the books as a guide for a straight putting stroke, try to see how many putts you can keep on the tape/target line.

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Drill #3: Right Handed Putts

Pick a target to putt to from 3 feet away and using just your right hand, stroke one handed putts trying to hit the target. Make sure to keep the putter path straight still as well as the face square to your target. This will build your putting stroke by ingraining skill with one hand.

Drill #4: Left Handed Putts

Repeating the same golf drill from above, use just your left hand to stroke 3 foot putts to a target you’ve selected. These two one handed putting drills make a our list of the best golf drills at home because of their simplicity but also their effectiveness.

You’ll be surprised how much more confident you feel once you can master one handed putting strokes. Spend 15 minutes each day and it will add up over the month, you’ll see.

Drill #5: Putting to a Tee

One of the best ways to practice putting at home is simply working on your control of the putter face. Set up a golf tee so that it’s upside down.

Starting 3 feet away, putt a ball to the tee trying to knock it over. Then move back to 4 feet, 5 feet, and so on. Try to work your way back to 20 feet away and still be able to knock the tee over.

You’ll gain amazing feel of your putter’s face and know when you’ve closed the face or opened the face during the putting stroke since you’re hitting to a super small target.

Drill #6: Putting to a King of Hearts

Grab a King of Hearts playing card from a deck of cards and lay it on the carpet or floor several feet away from you. Attempt to putt the golf ball with enough speed that it stops on top of the king of hearts.

This is a challenging putting drill that will improve your putting distance control before you know it. And using a playing card helps simulate a golf hole since it’s small, so you’ll also work on your putting accuracy by making sure you’re aligned to the target properly.

Drill #7: Three Ball Distance Control

For this putting practice drill, you want create a 1 foot long box or zone using tape or some sort of distance marker. The goal is to putt all 3 balls into this zone with each ball going slightly further than the previous ball. But the 3rd ball can’t go beyond the 12 inch zone. It teaches you putting distance control by forcing you to feel each putt and try to replicate that distance but slightly further without over hitting the ball so that it rolls beyond the 1 foot long zone.

Drill #8: Golf Putting Stance Practice

Lastly, we want you to improve your putting set up and your stance. This is a fundamental step to helping you make a straight putting stroke.

Have your putter sitting next to the couch and during TV shows or during commercial breaks, stand up and work on the proper putting stance set up.

Doing this for just 15 minutes per day can build muscle memory and turn into a good habit so that your putting stroke improves without a whole lot of effort.

SOURCE: golfpracticeguides.com