Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What to Look For: The Open 2017

Before I go on to The Open, I wanted to discuss Bryson DeChambeau's victory at the John Deere Classic.

DeChambeau came in to the Tour with some controversy with his swing philosophies and the Single Length irons concept.  There has been a lot of attacking the Single Length iron concept, but here's Bryson's current rankings of key performance metrics:

(out of 202 golfers)

Driving Effectiveness: 21st

Green Zone (75-125 yds): 200th
Yellow Zone (125-175 yds): 61st
Red Zone (175-225 yds): 31st

Short Game (<30 b="" yards="">82nd

Putts Gained: 173rd

As we can see, ballstriking has not been the major issue for Bryson.  He has struggled from the Green Zone (75-125 yds), but that is a fairly volatile metric where players often perform well there one season and struggle from there the next season.  In fact, Bryson ranked 44th from the Green Zone in 2016.

Having hit the Sterling Single Length irons and Cobra One Length irons I have been amazed how easy it is to hit the long irons straight.  I generally don't have an issue hitting long irons given how much of my practice is focused on the long irons, but the ability to hit them straight has been impressive.

In the end, when it comes to distance with irons it's about proper gapping, the landing angle of the ball and the spin rate.  The claim 'they've tried this before and it didn't work' neglects the changes in technology and the more advanced engineering concepts that exist today.  Engineers like Tom Wishon, David Edel and the people from Cobra have been able find ways to allow their irons to properly yardage gap, get the proper amount of spin and compatible landing angles.

Single length irons won't be for everybody but neither will variable length irons.  It's just something to keep an open mind about when looking for a set of irons.




***

Royal Birkdale was built in 1889 and received 'Royal' status in 1951.  The Clubhouse to Birkdale is unusual in the sense it looks like it was from 1970's architectures with it's clean lines and boxy design, but it was actually built in 1935 which makes me think they were 35 years ahead of time on a very fad-ish design concept.

The course is more appealing for TV than your typical Open course although you probably won't see the great views like you will see at Royal St. George or Royal Liverpool.  But the course is well received because the tee shots are more 'fair' and it is supposed to be in great condition.

Looking at the past two championships at Birkdale the common theme of the top finishers tends to be Red Zone (175-225 yds) play, short game performance and putting.  Typically, I don't focus on good putters when making picks for an event because usually putting is too unpredictable on almost all of the courses on Tour.

Years ago, I asked Aimpoint creater (www.aimpointgolf.com), Mark Sweeney, about what the most difficult courses where to read the greens.  I thought he would reply with Augusta National, but instead he said that Augusta's greens are not all that difficult to read.  Instead, he mentioned the various courses in the Open cycle because they often feature odd locations for anchor points (lowest point of the green) and that makes the reads very difficult to accurately see.

Therefore, given this information and Royal Birkdale's past history of favoring good putters, I will consider putting more here in these picks:

3JACK'S FAVORITES

Rickie Fowler +1,600
Jon Rahm +1,600
Louis Oosthuizen +4,500
Thomas Pieters +5,000
Marc Leishman +5,000
Justin Thomas +5,000


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Ian Poulter +6,600
Daniel Berger +8,000
Matthew Fitzpatrick +8,000
Bernd Wiesberger +10,000
Kevin Na +25,000



3JACK

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What To Look For: The John Deere Classic

The Tour comes to Illinois for the 46th John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run. Ed McMahon served as the original host of the event from 1975 to 1979.

 

TPC Deere Run was designed by former Tour player, DA Weibring. It was built in 2000 and plays to 7,258 yards long with a 144 slope and a 75.8 rating. However, the course does not play anywhere close to that difficult for the John Deere Classic. The ball tends to roll out pretty good making the course play shorter and it has very receptive greens and flat putting surfaces which mean a lot of approach shots are struck close and a higher percentage of putts are being made.

Generally the course is liked by the Tour players because it’s not a completely grueling dogfight and it’s rather fun to play. It plays fairly tough off the tee because some of the landing areas are pretty small. This places an emphasis on driving the ball, but once you get out to the approach, most shots are gained/lost from 135-170 yards.

The field here is unpredictable from year-to-year because the British Open is the following week and many of the Canadian players want to prepare for the Canadian Open which is the following week after the British Open. It often depends on how the top stars feel about playing the British Open and if they are lukewarm on the Open, they may be more willing to play the John Deere.

Anyway, expect low scores and lots of birdies. Generally favors mid-length drivers of the ball and makes life difficult on the longer hitters.

The final official critical hole is the par-5, 17th hole. But the 18th almost made the list of critical holes. That means the final 2 holes can provide for some real excitement even if it is a low scoring event.


PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -21


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Brian Harman +1,600
Charley Hoffman +1,800
Kyle Stanley +2,200
Steve Stricker +2,200
 Ben Martin +4,000
Bryson DeChambeau +4,000


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Chez Reavie +4,500
Ryan Palmer +6,600
Rory Sabbatini +17,500
Rick Lamb +30,000







 3JACK

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What To Look For: The Greenbrier Classic

The Tour comes back to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia after playing the Quicken Loans at TPC Potomac.



I didn't do a What To Look For last week due to the Tour having not played TPC Potomac in a while and the course went thru renovations and re-design in the process.  What's interesting is that the course, back when it was known as TPC Avenel, was once won by one of the premier ballstrikers at the time in Grant Waite.

Kyle Stanley is now one of the best ballstrikers on Tour and the course was very much about driving off the tee with a bias towards hitting fairways rather than distance.  Stanley is one of the best drivers on Tour (currently 5th in Driving Effectiveness) and favors more accuracy (currently 7th in Adjusted Hit Fairway Percentage) than distance off the tee.


***

The Greenbrier Classic will be played at The Old White TPC.  The Greenbrier Classic replaced the old Buick Open which was being held in Michigan and had the second most raucous crowds next to TPC Scottsdale.

The Old White TPC was built in 1914 by Charles Blair MacDonald.  It went thru some re-designs and then had some slight re-designs last year after the flood which destroyed the course and killed 20 people.


The course has been well received by Tour players since the Tour started coming here.  In fact, Bubba Watson took up a summer residence here and it is frequently visited by Lee Trevino.  The renovations have kept much of the course the same except they had to re-do each of the 18 greens and supposedly they move the greenside bunkers a little closer to the greens.

I know in the south Bermuda greens are supposedly good for roughly 14 years.  When they get renovated with new bermuda grass, I find it usually takes about 1 year for the greens to settle in.  So with the bunkers being a little closer to the greens and the greens possibly being firmer (although they have bent grass greens), greenside bunker player could play a factor.

In the past, long approach shots and 3-wood play was quite important here.

Projected Winning Score: - 15


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Kevin Kisner +1,400
David Lingmerth +2,500
Webb Simpson +2,800
Graham DeLaet +5,500


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Nick Watney +6,600
Ollie Schniederjans +6,600
Luke List +9,000
Scott Stallings +12,500
Hudson Swafford +12,500
Harold Varner III +12,500

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What To Look For: The Travelers Championship

The Tour comes off the US Open to play the 65th Travelers Championship.


First, some thoughts on the US Open.

I felt that Brandel Chamblee made some great insight into what the US Open should be. It should be an intimidating golf course and unfortunately while Erin Hills was a great layout it failed to intimidate players. However, at the other end of the spectrum Chambers Bay and often times Pebble Beach which are great layout in their own right (yes, Chambers Bay is a great layout) where so tricked up that they look visually unappealing and do not represent the best of what US golf has to offer.

I feel the USGA needs to forget so much about even par being the winning score and instead create an intimidating course. If you hit a good shot, you’re rewarded. If you hit a bad shot you are severely punished. And if you hit an average shot you’re at least risking a severe penalty, but not guaranteeing a severe penalty.

I grew up a fan of baseball before I got into golf. And in the 90’s when baseball badly needed a surge in popularity, they allowed an era of steroids, juiced baseballs, shorter fences, stadiums designed where the airflow would help propel the ball further and smaller strike zones to allow more home runs and offense…using the old adage ‘offense sells tickets.’

This led to Sammy Sosa bettering Roger Maris’ home run record in a season and Mark McGwire destroying Maris’ home run record by 15%. And over the course of the next 3 seasons, McGwire, Sosa and then Barry Bonds made Maris’ home run record look like a mere pittance. Maris also set the record at the age of 26 years old compared to McGwire and Bonds setting their records at 34 and 36 years old respectively. Furthermore, prior to the ‘steroid era’, the closest anybody ever came to Maris’ record since the year he established it (1961) was 52 home runs by Willie Mays and George Foster.

The steroid era created a jump in the popularity of baseball, but that was short lived and not only was Maris’ record deemed meaningless…but the records set by McGwire, Sosa and Bonds were cheapened by the fact that Major League Baseball essentially found ways to lower the bar enough to make it possible to break Maris’ record. For roughly 35 years, nobody could sniff Maris’ record and in roughly a 3 year span there were players easily beating the record.

Don’t get me wrong, records are meant to be broken. But, they are also meant to be cherished. Protect the integrity of your records and that record will protect you. Had any player in baseball broken Maris’ record ‘legitimately’ the game would have gotten a lot more mileage from it.

And that’s the problem with making a low scoring US Open where records are almost easily destroyed. It cheapens the legacy of the tournament and it doesn’t do the participants any justice.

For instance, Justin Thomas did shoot a brilliant 63. But the below chart shows that when you base in on relation to the average score that day, Johnny Miller’s 63 at Oakmont was indeed better.

(Click to Enlarge)

(credit: https://twitter.com/Robopz)


Statistics are not always convenient.  However, it's okay to compare and contrast performances in different situations.  Statistics can provide a much clearer picture to accurately depict the situational and to help better formulate your thoughts.

While Thomas’ round wasn’t as impressive as Miller’s play at Oakmont, it was still an incredible round. However, that was tarnished by the fact that anybody could see the 60 yard wide fairways on display and start to see that the course was made far easier than just about any US Open venue in history. But again, Thomas still played an INCREDIBLE round of golf.

IMO, the problem lies with the USGA’s inability to understand what makes golf holes difficult and easy. How to make particularly holes more difficult than normal or easier than normal. If they do have knowledge, it’s essentially a guessing game based on old golf adages instead of using hard, detailed data.

This isn’t exactly rocket science. All it takes is good ole fashioned research, data collection and testing. Trying to determine with greater accuracy to project how difficult each hole will play and if a hole projects to play easy, how to reasonable create factors to counter the ease of the hole and vice versa. Instead of guessing, it’s a strive for excellence in both difficulty and visual appeal.

That striving for excellence is something that would be the very best possible representation of the US Open.


*** 

The Travelers Championship was originally the Insurance City Open as the state of Connecticut has more insurance companies headquartered in Connecticut than any state in the US. Manhattan is the banking and financial headquarters of the US and insurance companies wanted to be near Manhattan, so they chose Connecticut.

Eventually it was changed to the Greater Hartford Open. TPC River Highlands was originally known as Middletown Golf Club and then Edgewood Country Club. The PGA Tour bought out Edgewood Country Club and had Pete Dye re-design the course and name it TPC Connecticut. In 1989 the course went further re-design under architect Bobby Weed (excellent designer) with the help of pros Roger Maltbie and Howard Twitty.

Last year, Jim Furyk shot the course and PGA Tour record of a 58 at TPC River Highlands:


Generally, TPC River Highlands is a well liked course by Tour players. It’s private and has bentgrass greens, so they can usually keep it in excellent shape. It’s not too taxing mentally and it provides some advantages to the long hitters, but also allows shorter hitters to compete. The reason for it not being played by more players on Tour is due to it usually coming the week after the US Open and the purse size ($6,800,000) is on the lower end.

The long hitters have an advantage because the course allows them to hit a lot of drivers. The shorter hitters can compete because iron play is quite critical here and one cannot recklessly bomb it off the tee and be rewarded if they are hitting inaccurate tee shots.

So, I would be on the lookout for either superior iron players or long hitters having a good week driving the ball and leaving themselves with shorter and easier approach shots into the green. Also the final critical hole on the course will be the par-4 17th hole.

PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -15

3JACK’S FAVORITES

Jordan Spieth +1,000
Justin Thomas +1,200
Paul Casey +2,000
Bubba Watson +3,000
Brendan Steele +3,300
Charley Hoffman +3,300


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Kyle Stanley +4,000
Ryan Palmer +10,000
Lucas Glover +10,000
Boo Weekley +40,000







3JACK

Monday, June 12, 2017

What To Look For: The US Open

The 117th US Open will take place at Erin Hills this week:



The construction of Erin Hills began in 2004 and it officially opened in 2006.  Courses like Erin Hills  developed the latest trend in US golf course instruction...find unused land out of the middle of nowhere and develop that land into an upscale golf retreat.  Much like Bandon Dunes out in Oregon or Streamsong Resort in Florida.

The course was designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan.  I have played a couple of Hurdzan's designs and his early designs I really didn't care for.  However, you could see tremendous progress he has made in his design concepts as his more recent designs are quite excellent.  The general reviews for the design of Erin Hills are very positive.  It's just a case of how much the USGA wants to mess it up.

One of the issues at hand is the tall fescue that apparently is on every hole.  Kevin Na recently discussed this in an Instragram video he made:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVNSL7OBWMu/?taken-by=kevinna915&hl=en

I'm a huge fan of the US Open and all things being equal, it's my favorite golf tournament.  But my worries are that the USGA will, once again, make the course visually and physically unappealing to watch.  I've heard nothing but good reviews about Chambers Bay by golfers that have played there, but the 2015 US Open made the course look like a goat track and play like a pinball machine.  Sure, everybody is playing the same course, but turning a good course into a disaster just lacks common sense.

In essence, the USGA needs to do away with the 'we want the winning score to be even par' mantra and just break it down into:

1.  If you hit a below average shot you will likely be penalized

2.  If you hit a better than average shot you will not be penalized for it.

It's not rocket science.


***

I actually like that the US Open is now being played at more modern courses.  Traditional courses like Baltusrol, Medinah and The Country Club are fairly boring to me.  And honestly, I find Oakmont to be boring outside of the incredible speed of the greens and the church pews.  I still think Pebble Beach is a fine course, but the conditions during the US Open are almost always dreadful.

What we know about Erin Hills is that it may play to over 7,800 yards and has an index rating of 77.9 with a slope of 145.  The greens are bentgrass and should be fairly slick.  However, I doubt they'll get them above 13 on the stimp (let's keep our fingers crossed with the USGA) due to the undulations and possible winds which would make it difficult to keep the ball from rolling on the greens if they are too fast.

What's also nice is that they haven't created any super ridiculous par-3's and have reserved more of the length of the course for the Par-5's which are 608, 607, 613 and 663 yards a piece.

It's always difficult to project a course that the Tour hasn't played, but Kelly Kraft won the US Amateur at Erin Hills in 2011.  Here's a look at Kraft's key performance metrics this season:


It's a stretch to accurately judge the winner by looking at Kraft's metrics six years after he won a US Amateur there.  But, my educated guess is that iron play will be a larger deciding factor and because it'st he US Open, I would look at performance from 175-250 yards (yes, extend out to 225-250 yards).  It's interesting that he is a poor Driver and Short Game performer.  However, Payne Stewart wasn't the greatest driver of the ball when he won his US Opens and Graeme McDowell was a notoriously poor around the greens when he won the US Open at Pebble Beach.

With that being said, the safe bets are still to look at:

- Performance from 175-250 yards
- Performance off the tee
- Short Game play from 10-20 yards
- Avoid players that missed the cut at Memphis
- Avoid players that have never won a PGA or European PGA Tour event

Since the field is so much larger at the US Open, I will give 20 picks (10 favorites, 10 dark horse picks):


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +750
Jordan Spieth +1,200
Rory McIlroy +1,200
Jason Day +1,400
Jon Rahm +2,000
Justin Rose +2,200
Sergio Garcia +2,200
Adam Scott +3,000
Justin Thomas +3,300
Branden Grace +4,000



3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Louis Oosthuizen +5,000
Kevin Kisner +6,600
Shane Lowry +6,600
Daniel Berger +6,600
Jason Dufner +6,600
Marc Leishman +8,000
Byeong-Hun An +10,000
Brendan Steele +12,500
J.B. Holmes +12,500
Martin Laird +20,000









3JACK






Sunday, June 11, 2017

Swing Journal 6.11.17

I decided to take another lesson from Denny Lucas & Jeff Haas (www.kelvinmiyahiragolf.com) on Saturday, June 10th.  Unfortunately, I could not get a video of my swing prior to the lesson.  Those who live in Florida know that this past week we were bombarded with rain almost every day.  Here's video of my swing that I took over 3 weeks ago.





What I want to go into in this particular post is the question of 'When should I get another lesson?'

Based on my experience of taking lessons, I find it best to give your latest lesson an honest try, first.  That's why I think it's a bad idea to get a lesson once a week.  You have to fight thru the difficulties and also allow the teacher to better determine why you are unable to execute the motion that you are trying to make.

From there, the big question is 'Are you progressing?'

Now, I would advise that if you're playing well...keep on playing.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor.  But once you start plateauing in your scores AND your technique, then it's time to get a new lesson.  But again, it's important to reward yourself if you are playing better by not taking a new lesson.

For me, I figured it would take me roughly six weeks for a new lesson.  I thought it would take me about 2-3 weeks to get the backswing pieces down pat and then 3-4 weeks to make some progress with the downswing pieces.

I did shoot 68 (-4) the last time I played, but I could see the scores plateauing and I was executing the downswing pieces less often.



***

Prior to my lesson I got on Trackman and only had time to hit 6-irons because the shop was going to close down for the night.  Here's some key numbers I was getting with the 6-iron.

92-96 mph club speed
126-132 ball speed
18-20 degrees launch angle
~ 6,000 rpm spin rate
-1.8 to -2.7 degrees attack angle

Here is a view of the PGA Tour averages on Trackman:

(Click to Enlarge)



So while the club speed and ball speed numbers are good, the launch angle indicates the bigger issue of my swing.  Furthermore, the spin rate is slightly lower than the PGA Tour average (6,000 rpm vs. 6,200 rpm), but that is still too much spin for that type of high launch angle.

This would also explain one of my issues with mid to short irons...distance control.  The launch angle is too high and when the spin rate gets close to 6,000 rpm that cause more of a ballooning, soft ball flight.  And when I get the spin rate closer to 5,000 rpm, then I may miss long due to creating a high launch, low spin rate conditions with the ball flight.


***

With that, Denny, Jeff and myself worked on the following parts:

BACKSWING

-  Standing Taller at address
-  Not going 'up' so much
-  Getting more left lateral bend at the top of the swing.

In the last swing journal post I had discussed how by 'going up' in the backswing it allowed me to get more leverage and keep the swing shorter.  The issue was that I over-did it a bit and that would make it difficult to get the left hip into flexion in the downswing which will help in rotating the pelvis and getting the torso more tilted towards the target instead of the torso tilting back and away from the target.  That will create more forward shaft lean at impact and lower the launch conditions.

Below is a diagram showing more of what we are trying to achieve thru impact.  The yellow line represents the middle of the torso to where the head should be.

The red line represents the left arm and shaft in a 'drive-hold release.'


By being more crouched over at address and having to go upward so much it makes it difficult to get the left hip into flexion and instead the pelvis slides instead of rotates and we get that excessive torso tilt.

Like I always say We only make a change if it is for a good and detailed reason.

Standing taller at address also helps give some 'leverage' so I don't over-swing the arms in the backswing.


DOWNSWING

- Continue to work on the left hip flexion, creating the 'K' look on the downswing
- Create the left hip flexion by flexion and lowering the left hip instead of raising right hip
- We want the left hip and leg to flex independent of right leg movement.
-  Proper left hip flexion will cause the lower spine to tilt towards the target.
-  Scapula 'lift' to help shallow out the shaft plane

The first 4 bullet points are basically the same motion, it's just more detail in hopes to better understand the motion.  But, the 'K' look is an important concept.


When we have the left hip flexion and the pelvis is rotating, we see a semblance to a 'K' from the left side of Sadlowski's torso down his left leg.  This is common with drive-hold release swings because the golfer is getting the necessary left hip flexion in order to rotate the pelvis and make for it easier to execute the drive-hold release.

In my swing, I didn't get enough left hip flexion and didn't get the lower spine tilted towards the ball and the target and I could not create that 'K' look:


We discussed some things further about this and we worked on what we call the 'scapula lift' where the left scapula lifts upward in the downswing in order to help flatten the shaft plane.  As I've discussed many times on this blog, if you struggle with rotating the pelvis often times the shaft plane being too steep is the cause.  However, I will get into the scapula lift in later swing journal entries.

For now, I plan on working on the following at once:

- Standing taller at address
- Left lateral bend at the top of the swing
- Left hip flexion in downswing to create the 'K' Look
- Scapula Lift

So far, the one that is difficult to implement is the left hip flexion.  The other three pieces I caught on to quickly and do not seem difficult for me to learn.  However, since the left lateral bend and scapula lift go hand-in-hand, I will work on them at the same time.




3JACK

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What To Look For: FedEx St. Jude Classic

The Tour takes a trip to Memphis for the 59th St. Jude Classic:


The St. Jude Classic was originally set at the famous Colonial Country Club in Memphis which is now the site of many big Tennessee events and US Open qualifiers. Colonial CC was also where Al Geiberger shot the first 59 on Tour.


It’s a bit interesting that when I grew up in the game Geiberger was usually considered to have one of the greatest golf swings of all time. But as we reached the internet age that seemingly has been replaced by Hogan, Snead and Mac O’Grady while Geiberger’s swing is mostly forgotten.

Anyway, the Tour moved the St. Jude Classic to Cordova and then moved the event to TPC Southwind in 1989 which was designed by Ron Prichard with Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller consulting on the project.

I generally don’t know a lot about TPC Southwind because most of the Tour players I’ve dealt with do not consistently play here due to the US Open being the following week. And with The Memorial the week before being such a huge purse a lot of players don’t want to go to Memorial, then put up with a week of sectional qualifying for the US Open, playing Southwind and then traveling to the US Open. However, now is a good time for many Tour players because between Memphis and Hartford (the week after the US Open), they can take advantage of weaker fields.

In general, the tournament and course appear to be well received. The course is usually in great condition, the layout isn’t too funky and doesn’t have too much of a bias towards one particular style of player. And it helps contribute to the great cause of the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital:


From a statistical standpoint, TPC Southwind is akin to Muirfield Village in the sense it’s very much an approach shot and short game around the green course. Unlike Muirfield Village, TPC Southwind has a low hit fairway percentage, but the ability for a long/inaccurate driver or a short/accurate driver to gain strokes off the tee is limited compared to superior approach shot play and the ability to clean up any mistakes.

The cool part of TPC Southwind is that the 17th and 18th holes are the last 2 ‘critical holes’ on the course.

Here’s a nice Google Earth overview of the layout of the course:

https://nebraskapga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/nebraskapga11/course/tpcsouthwind/aerial.htm#


PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -13


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Rickie Fowler +750
Adam Scott +1,200
Phil Mickelson +1,600
Francesco Molinari +1,800
Kyle Stanley +2,500
Daniel Berger +2,500


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Chad Campbell +10,000
J.P. Poston +10,000
D.A. Points +17,500
Tim Wilkinson +25,000






3JACK

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Swing Journal 6.4.17

Here’s a link to my last swing journal post:

5/4/17 Swing Journal

Here’s the swing video almost 3 weeks ago (2 weeks from the lesson)





My swing has progressed since then as up until that point in time I was only working on the backswing.

I prefer to work on my swing in order (address first, takeaway second, backswing third, etc.)

If that doesn’t work, I will work on the pieces that I feel I can start ingraining the soonest.


The good news for me is that not only were the backswing moves to be worked on before the downswing moves, but I felt that the backswing moves were easier for me to start ingraining quickly.

As we can see, my backswing is noticeably shorter.




Normally, I wouldn’t bother posting this video because it’s 3 weeks old. But, I wanted to go over the transformation in the backswing to a shorter backswing. But first…

There is no evidence that lengthening the backswing, in itself, will make hit the ball more crooked or be more inconsistent. Conversely, there is no evidence that shortening the backswing (in itself) will make you hit the ball straighter or be more precise.

I see a lot of golfers that want to shorten their backswing and struggle to do so. Usually one of two things will happen:

1) They focus on shortening the backswing and at the very last bit of their backswing their swing lengthens out and they still have a long backswing.

2) They shorten the backswing by restricting the body rotation, but struggle to hit the ball better.

It’s not so much about shortening or lengthening the swing as it is about the transition phase of the golf swing. The move a golfer makes in transition largely dictates their handicap.

And I think the length of a golf swing is mainly about the golfer’s brain telling them ‘you’ve got enough leverage to power your downswing to your liking.’

Here are a few ways that I believe golfers create leverage in their backswing:

A) Arm Swing
B) Wrist Hinging
C) ‘Going Upward’ (body going from flexion to extension)
D) ‘Going around’ (body rotation)
E) Shifting the ‘weight’ to the rear foot

I think most golfers looking to shorten their golf swing are in the same boat as I am…they are actually trying to shorten their arm swing.

However, this takes away one of the key ways to create ‘leverage.’ So for golfers that solely focus on shortening the swing and make no other changes…their brain tells them to ‘create more leverage!’ and they unconsciously continue to swing the arms back and cannot shorten the swing.

Personally, I’m not big into restricting rotation in the backswing for many reasons. It can cause a severe lack of power, throw off your downswing sequencing and cause injury.

What I did was I used ‘C’ and ‘E’ and created more leverage with them in order to make up for the loss of leverage by shortening the arm swing. By not flexing the left knee and getting some much forward tilt of the torso at the top of the swing that allowed me to ‘go upward’ more and ‘shift the weight’ more. I still had to focus on not abducting the right humerus bone, but it was easier to do so when I created more leverage by ‘going upward’ more and ‘shifting the weight’ more.

So if you’re looking to shorten your swing, make sure you’re doing so for a good reason other than the fallacy it will automatically make you more consistent and straighter. And note that because you’re losing leverage by swinging the arms less, you’ll want to make up for that leverage somewhere else.





3JACK

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What To Look For: The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village

The Tour comes to Ohio for 41st Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.


The greater Columbus area is where Nicklaus was born, raised, learned the game of golf, went to college, and started his own family. It was his vision to create a golf club that embodied his personal and professional life and to create a golf tournament that would long represent his passion for tournament golf, and would give back to a community that has embraced him and the game. This was fulfilled in May 1976 with the first Memorial Tournament, two years to the day after the course opened at Muirfield Village. The par-72 course was set at 7,072 yards (6,467 m),[5] a considerable length for the mid-1970s.

Nicklaus signaled his intent to host his own tournament during Masters Week in 1966, when he spoke of his desire to create a tournament that, like The Masters, had a global interest, and was inspired by the history and traditions of the game of golf. He also wanted the tournament to give back in the form of charitable contributions to organizations benefiting needy adults and children throughout Columbus and Ohio. The primary charitable beneficiary of the tournament is Nationwide Children's Hospital. (credit Wikipedia.org)


Muirfield Village is a pretty easy driving course and really stresses approach shots and short game shots around the green. Lots of greens are missed due to approach shots missing their mark and the areas around the green are very test to save par. It’s a big reason why Tiger Woods won here 4 times because the driving wasn’t overly difficult and he was the best iron player in the world with a fantastic short game.

Overall, the course is well liked by Tour players. Outside of the players that can’t crack an egg on the course (there’s always going to be those), they rave about the conditions and generally like the design.

I think it’s an interesting design statistically because it allows many different styles of play to compete. The long bomber that’s a bit wild off the tee can contend here because they can hit their drives closer to the hole to leave themselves with some easier approach shots. The precise ballstriker can win here thru superior iron play. And the shorter hitting but good short game player can win here if their iron play is pretty good, they make some putts and they make those critical saves when they miss the green.

PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -13


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +600
Jon Rahm +1,100
Jordan Spieth +1,200
Rickie Fowler +2,500
Justin Thomas +3,500


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Emiliano Grillo +5,500
Marc Leishman +6,600
Kyle Stanley +8,000
Gary Woodland +9,000
Brian Stuard +30,000





3JACK

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What To Look For: DEAN & Deluca Invitational

The Tour comes back for the 71st annual event at Colonial Country Club for the DEAN & Deluca Invitational

 

The DEAN & Deluca Invitational is a rare event on Tour in the sense that it has always been played at one course instead of the Tour moving it around to different golf courses.

Ben Hogan won the event on five different occasions and has been unofficially associated with the event since. Colonial is a neat course in the sense that it really fits Hogan’s game as it is a ballstriker’s course that places an emphasis on accuracy off the tee combined with a lot of doglegs on the par-4’s going in both directions.

The course was famously known for having bent grass greens despite being in Texas. As a New York native that grew up on bent grass greens and having lived in the south for the past 20 years I often get asked about ‘playing the grain’ on Bermuda and its difference between bent grass.

These days the different types of Bermuda grasses are so good that they can roll as smoothly as bent grass greens. Championship Bermuda can roll just as fast as most top quality bent greens. TifEagle is my preferred Bermuda grass because of its smoothness and it’s durability as it can handle a lot of foot traffic and doesn’t need as much money and resources to care for it like Championship Bermuda. However, I wouldn’t push anything more than 11 on the stimp with TifEagle (and really 10 to 10.5 should be the limit).

TifDwarf can handle faster speeds, but requires a lot of care and isn’t good when you have a lot of traffic. Miniverde is excellent although it seems to grow more rapidly by the evening and sometimes is difficult to get a feel for the roll.

Red Stick Golf Club in Vero Beach, FL initially installed bent grass on their greens as they wanted to be the only club in Florida to do so. But, they found out the hard way that it just doesn’t work and found exactly what I was saying…well kept Bermuda rolls just as well as bent grass greens.

So, what’s the advantage of bent grass greens? If you want a super-duper ridiculous stimp..bent works better (although it better be in a climate conducive to bent). Augusta National greens simply wouldn’t be as slick with Bermuda. However, Augusta can sustain bent grass greens as the weather isn’t as hot as people think it is there.

But the main benefits of bent grass greens up North is that courses with little funding, limited resources and greenkeepers with less experience and skill can still have excellent bent grass greens. With Bermuda it takes money, resources and a skilled greenkeeper along with some cooperation with the weather to make quality greens. And if you don’t have one of those things such as the weather not cooperating…it’s going to be a tough go to make quality Bermuda greens.


***

Most of the players on Tour like Colonial a lot due to its old school design features and its history and prestige. It doesn’t draw in more players partly due to the low purse and it has similar features to Sawgrass…a tight course that features some severe doglegs on the par-4’s which takes away the advantage of hitting it long off the tee.

You’ll generally see players that are very accurate off the tee do well here. For the longer hitters, they better be good with the 3-wood to keep shots in play. There are some key long approach shots and some key short approach shots. It also doesn’t have a super high GIR, so players need to be able to get up-and-down to keep themselves in contention. The course is playing a little soft which may benefit the longer hitters slightly, but give the tightness of the course I think that advantage would still be slight at best.

PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -13

3JACK’S FAVORITES

Jon Rahm +1,100
Jordan Spieth +1,100
Paul Casey +2,200
Kevin Kisner +2,200
Matt Kuchar +2,500


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Webb Simpson +4,000
Kyle Stanley +5,000
Wesley Bryan +7,000
Nick Taylor +7,500
Aaron Baddeley +17,500




3JACK

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tranverse vs. Coronal Adduction of Right Arm by Andre Van Staden

Here's a video from golf instructor, Andre Van Staden, discussing the Tranverse vs. Coronal adduction of the right arm in the downswing:








3JACK

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What To Look For: The PLAYERS Championship

The Tour comes to play the 5th Major at Sawgrass this week:



The PLAYERS Championship started in 1974 and was played at the famous Atlanta Country Club. It then moved to Colonial Country Club in 1975 before going to the Inverrary Club near Ft. Lauderdale. Then it moved to Sawgrass Country Club (not part of TPC Sawgrass) and in 1982 it moved to TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course.

The Stadium Course was built two years prior to it hosting the event. It has 36 holes, the Stadium Course and Dye Valley. It still remains Pete Dye’s hallmark design.

At the time, Dye was becoming the hotshot designer of golf courses. While he got criticism for his designs, most of time his designs were highly sought after by amateurs and land developers and he was usurping the premier designer over the years in Robert Trent Jones. Jones favored long, but open courses with enormous greens and greenside bunkers. Eventually, Jones’ designs started to fall out of favor as being ‘boring’ and Dye’s designs started to become increasingly popular with the exotic designs of holes.

Personally, I always felt that Dye liked to swing for the fences with his designs and was willing to make 1 incredible hole if it meant having 2 pedestrian holes. The other part I dislike with Dye’s designs is his overuse of blind tee shots…particularly blind tee shots where there is trouble on both sides nearby. It not only makes for incredibly difficult golf, but it slows down play. Of course, Pete Dye was a heckuva golfer in his own right so hitting difficult tee shots was likely not an issue for him as a golfer.

This leads to TPC Sawgrass where Dye (I believe) created the first ever ‘island green’ on the 17th hole.


The Island Green design came by accident: the original design for the 17th was to be a simple par-3 green only partially surrounded by a lake. However, the soil surrounding the 17th consisted of sand, which is necessary to build a good golf course, but rare on the otherwise swampy property, and by the time the course was near completion all the sand had been dug from the area, leaving a large crater. Alice Dye suggested the Island Green concept, remembering another course with a similar green.[14] Pete was not thrilled at the idea but went ahead with it, in the process creating one of golf's most recognizable holes.” – Wikipedia

Sawgrass was not only known for the 17th green, but it also developed a bad reputation as the course was greatly disliked by most of the players and the term ‘Dye-abolical’ became a nickname for Dye.

JC Snead once said of Sawgrass that it was "90 percent horse manure and 10 percent luck."

Sawgrass is about hitting that 275-300 yard drive accurately and precisely. After 300 yards, it greatly reduces the room for error. Less than 275 yards it makes for approach shots that are too long and too difficult.

The bombers are at a disadvantage because they can’t use that awesome power to blow it by the rest of the field. But, they can use that awesome power to lay-up with shorter clubs off the tee and hit approach shots so high that they can get them to hold.

Short knockers can hit their drivers and be accurate enough and not have to worry about distance control like they would with a 3-wood off the tee. But, the length of approach shots, particularly on the par-3’s (except for 17) poses a problem for them if they don’t hit the ball high enough. And mid-range distance off the tee players have a blend of advantages and disadvantages in playing the course.


***

I’m not a big fan of going to Sawgrass to watch the event. There’s no place to sit and watch guys on the range. The parking lot is about the size of Detroit and any walk back to the car is going to be a long one regardless of where you park.

You really can’t cut across holes due to the design of the course and there’s not a lot of great places to sit and watch golfers. Lastly, mid-May is about when the heat really turns up in the state of Florida. I would recommend walking the course during the practice rounds and then sticking at 17 for the day when the tournament is in action.

However, if you're visiting the area it's a beautiful area with the historic downtown St. Augustine nearby and all of the beaches.  There are also plenty of great places to eat like Hot Stuff Mon, awesome breakfast at The Bunnery and LuLu's Grille in Ponte Vedra.



***

What becoming better and better about Sawgrass is that the last 6 holes of the event are complaint with great made-for-TV golf.


The 13th hole is a par-3 over water and they love to tuck the over the left side to force players to hit it closer to the pin otherwise being left with a 3-putt likely 40+ foot putt on a treacherous green. The 13th has been a ‘Critical Hole’ in years past and is still one of the more ‘critical holes’ out there, but the deviation in scores over the past 3 years has gotten smaller. It’s still a good hole to consider when watching.


The 14th hole is a very difficult par-4 as it’s long and the player can’t miss anywhere right because of the huge moguls that run down the right side. The player also can’t miss left as the ground drops off completely. The 14th is another hole that has been a ‘Critical Hole’ in the past because of the difficulty of the drive and the length of the approach shot.


The 15th hole is a difficult hole for those that do not hit a fade off the tee as draws and straight shots will require to cut over the trees and laying-up too far to the left will require a tough approach shot to a green that usually doesn’t hold well.


The 16th hole is an exciting par-5 and the easiest hole in the course that can yield eagles.


The 18th is a very difficult hole as it forces the players to hug the water in order to get it into the fairway or bail out to the right and end up in the trees or hit a 3-wood and leave themselves with a 200+ yard approach into the green.

And then there’s the 17th which after the last 5 events it is now a ‘critical hole’ as the better players have dominated the hole during the week.



PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -13


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Jordan Spieth +1,200
Sergio Garcia +1,800
Jon Rahm +2,200
Rickie Fowler +2,200
Kevin Chappell +4,500


3JACK’S DARKHORSES

Ryan Moore +8,000
Brendan Steele +15,000
Kyle Stanley +20,000
Jim Herman +30,000
Brian Stuard +40,000





3JACK

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

GolfWRX Column: The Numbers Behind Rickie Fowler's Improvement



Two years ago, fan favorite Rickie Fowler took what many felt was a leap into superstardom with his win at The Players Championship. Since then, Fowler has continued his success and was in contention at the Masters this April. Many analysts and fans feel that Fowler is on pace to have the best season of his career and perhaps secure his first championship victory.

The notion that this could be Fowler’s best season has some merit, as he is currently No. 1 in Adjusted Scoring Average on the PGA Tour. Many (including Fowler himself) have credited his shorter-length driver shaft as a key part of his success. In this article, I’m going to examine the data and see what Fowler’s strengths have been this year compared to his previous seasons on the PGA Tour.

Scoring



Read More: http://www.golfwrx.com/437290/the-numbers-behind-rickie-fowlers-improvement/





3JACK

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Swing Journal 5.4.17

This past Saturday I took a lesson from Denny Lucas and Jeff Haas (www.kelvinmiyahiragolf.com).  For the past month I had been struggling with my ballstriking, only getting a few rounds in the 60's and mostly hovering in the 70 to 76 scoring range.

I started to see some improvement with some changes the week before the lesson, but the mechanics looked too off to me and even if I were to get back to my March-May 2016 swing, there were still some mechanics I wasn't quite 'hittin' the lick.'

I suppose I will get asked this question 'when should I take a lesson?'

I think that's a question that depends on the golfer, their situation and what their goal is.  However, I would say that you should not take a lesson when your playing well.  If anything, allow yourself to stop and smell the good ballstriking for a while.  This game is difficult and frustrating enough as it is, so you're better off allowing yourself to fully enjoy playing well.

I think constantly getting lessons, regardless of how well you're playing can start to get you into unnecessary changes and starts to get into the mindset of 'playing golf swing instead of playing golf.'

When the progress stops, it's best to try and give yourself a little time to figure out a way to start progressing again.  If after some time you can't make that progress...then go for a lesson.


***

There were a few things I didn't like about my swing going into the lesson.  I was struggling with getting into Right Pelvic Tilt too early, but that's more about what is causing that to be a struggle. Instead, most amateurs tend to see a fault and try to correct that exact fault instead of looking what came prior to that 'fault.'

I really didn't like how my torso was more bent over and my left arm was very upright at the top of the swing.


Obviously, these moves go hand in hand, so I needed to figure out a different way to stop this 'bent over trunk/upright left arm' move.

The issue I had with this move is that it requires a large move to flatten out the shaft plane and can cause early extension.

Another issue I had was with my left leg position at impact.  Here's a swing I made from 2016 when I was swinging well.


In the bottom picture the left leg is straight and the left hip is pulled back. The issue is that I want to see more of that type of leg position and movement at impact.  Instead, I wait too late for that leg position and get look at almost the finish position.


***

One of the first things we worked on was the backswing.  As you can see below, it's much shorter.


Most people will focus on the length of the swing, but as we talked...and something I have believed for years:

The length of the swing doesn't matter anywhere near as much as how the golfer is achieving the backswing and the compatibility of their transition move.



The bigger change here is the right arm/shoulder.  In the before picture, the right arm is abducted and the humerus is almost parallel to the ground.  We wanted to get out of this so the move to get the shaft to flatten out in transition wasn't so big and it would be easier to rotate the pelvis instead of getting early extension in order to 'fit' the steep shaft plane into the ball at impact.


The other change in the backswing was to not get so much left knee flexion at the top of the swing and close that 'gap' between the left and right leg from the Down the Line view.  The left leg needs to be straighter in order to do this.  This allows the trunk to not be so bent over and helps flatten the left arm so much.


***

The other move that I had the correct idea on was the left leg straightening and the left hip pulling back at impact.  There's moves before that which will allow the golfer to more easily get that position such as getting the left hip into flexion in transition.  JB Holmesis a great example of this:




***

Here's a couple of golden rules I live by when it comes to practice after a lesson:

1.  Generally, I try to work on things in order...from the address position to the takeaway to the backswing to transition to the downswing to the follow thru.

2.  If that doesn't work, I generally try to work on the pieces I think I can start executing the soonest.


For now, I've been working on the backswing pieces (arm motion & left knee flexion).  Not only are they the backswing moves, but I feel those are a little simpler for me to execute since they are not as foreign of a move as the downswing pieces we discussed.

I did play the day after and just focused on the backswing pieces and played okay (74).  However, I never take a round after a golf lesson with more than a grain of salt...changes take time and reps.

Next week, I will hopefully show a swing update





3JACK

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What To Look For...Wells Fargo Championship



The Tour plays the 14th annual Wells Fargo Championship this week in Wilmington, NC. The tournament has been played at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, but since Quail Hollow is hosting the PGA Championship this year, they moved the event to Wilmington and will move back to Quail Hollow the following season.

I am a bit surprised that they are having the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow as the course gets a lukewarm reception from players due to their funky green designs. It also tends to favor the bombers as witnessed by Rory McIlroy’s domination there. And August weather in Charlotte isn’t exactly fun, but they have had the event at Atlanta Athletic Club before as well.

On a side note from last week, we saw Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt win. Typically TPC Louisiana favors the longer hitters and especially the better Red Zone players. But once again, the twosome pairings (alternate shot) showed a favoritism towards short game around the green players as Blixt and Smith are a couple of the best out there. It was hard to tell if that would apply at the Zurich because it’s no Ryder Cup, but Blixt and Smith showed the importance of being able to recover from when you miss greens in the alternate shot format.

Back to the Wells Fargo Championship…

Since the Tour has never played Eagle Pointe, I would generally favor the Red Zone players. Especially since the Tour has a tendency to find very Red Zone heavy courses when they opt for a replacement golf course. The field is pretty barren this week since The PLAYERS Championship is going on next week. That’s the biggest purse event of the year, so players are more apt to get some rest for that event especially since anybody from a short hitter to a bomber is a style that can win there.


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +450
Jon Rahm +1,100
Paul Casey +2,000
Kevin Kisner +2,200
JB Holmes +5,000


3JACK’S DARK HORSES

Hudson Swafford +6,000
Lucas Glover +6,000
Shane Lowry +6,600
Jason Kokrak +12,500
Smylie Kaufman +17,500




3JACK

Monday, May 1, 2017

Shot Bubbles with Athletic Motion Golf

Here's an interesting video from Athletic Motion Golf discussing how to 'play for your average swing' in a round of golf.



As I've mentioned in the very first Pro Golf Synopsis, the essence of strategy is to play for the results of your average swing.  I find that low handicap golfers, even Tour players, tend to have a bias towards playing for their worst swing.  If there is trouble that can be found with the driver on a bad swing, the low handicapper will lay-up even if it requires a bad swing to find that trouble with the driver.  The issue is this...there's no guarantee that you'll not make a bad swing with the 3-wood off the tee.  And if you do...now you are in real trouble because you're in a bad location and further away from the hole.

The other issue is that golfers, even Tour players, often greatly underestimate how being closer to the hole can help their score.  The 13th hole at Bay Hill is a great example of this:




Most Tour players prefer to lay-up in the middle of those fairway bunkers.  However, ShotTracker2 clearly shows that hitting the tee shot past those bunkers...closer to less than 110 yards to the hole will significantly drop the expected score.

So, why do Tour players lay-up in the middle of the fairway bunkers?

1.  That's what everybody else does.

2.  I'm afraid of where I will end up with a bad swing and if I lay-up I only have a 9-iron or P-Wedge into the green.

What they don't understand is that the hole was specifically designed to get them to fall into that trap.  The design of the green makes it more difficult to hit that 9-iron or P-Wedge than normal and we also have to consider the wind that comes up (and is accounted for when the designers design the hole).  They are better off playing for the results of their 'average swing' that worrying about what everybody else is doing and the possibility of taking a poor swing.

***

The higher handicappers tend to have a bias towards playing for their best swing.  Often this is careless thinking and they will try to hit that 3-wood from the high rough that even an aggressive Tour player that strikes a great 3-wood wouldn't even try.  Or they'll try to cut corners when it's unlikely to do so or the ole 'see flag, fire at flag' approach.

Their 'shot bubble' is larger and thus, they need to account for that more.

One thing I really liked about the video is the use of the term where you are likely to end up.

If there are some issues with the video it's that the idea of changing one's aim based on how they are hitting the ball *that* day is a bit optimistic.

First, there's always the tendency to try to correct your issues in order to get your stock shot back.  In the case of the video, there's going to be a tendency for the golfer to try and unconsciously figure out the push and start hitting a draw.

The other issue is that from my experience if I usually hit a draw and start hitting a push...aiming left to play for the push may cause me to start hitting a pull hook.

In a case like this your shot bubble has essentially become larger and unless you start to figure it out you're probably better playing a bit more conservatively.  And in the end, work on your swing to improve the results off your average swings.





3JACK

Friday, April 28, 2017

Swing Journal 4.28.17

In this post I’ll go over some of my basic core practicing beliefs.  Then, I will go to the 1 Swing Journal post per week, next week.  I'll get back into the What to Look For posts and the other goodies.

In the previous posts I described the Drive Hold Release and the upper and lower body movements that I work on in order to, one day, execute the Drive Hold Release.

In this Swing Journal, I will usually try and focus my efforts on one or the other…either the Upper Body Movements or just the Lower Body Movements.

I find that it generally works best just to concentrate on either the upper body or the lower body, not both at the same time. Sometimes I can do both at the same time, but too much mix-matching between lower body and upper body mechanics tends to mean a larger learning curve.



One of the keen coaching methods I observed was from Bill Parcells. Parcells is arguably the greatest developer of Quarterbacks in the history of the NFL as he not only went to 3 Super Bowls with 3 different QB’s, but each QB regressed after he left and he made lesser talented QB’s like Ray Lucas and Quincy Carter became respectable starters and Vinny Testaverde became a Pro Bowler under Parcells’ watch.

Parcells had a thing with each of the QB’s in where he would remind the QB of ‘when you get into trouble.’ For example, with Tony Romo Parcells would say ‘when you get into trouble, your footwork is the issue.’ With Testaverde he would say ‘you get into trouble when you start audibling too much.’

With that, I’ve got a few of ‘when I get into trouble’ mantras:

1. When I get into Right Pelvic Tilt too early in the downswing (this is a real killer, almost can’t hit the ball out of my shadow).

2. When I don’t get Right Shoulder external rotation in transition.

3. When I don’t get enough knee flex at address (weight gets too much on my toes at address and it’s an impending disaster).

4. When I get ‘lazy’ with my backwing (lack of backswing pivot)


I find this ‘when I get into trouble’ to be more productive than taking notes after each range session. Somedays you’re just not going to have your A Game. You may not quite have the hand-eye coordination you usually do or you may just struggle with concentrating that day. Thus, taking notes after each range session is ‘chasing mechanics’ and often certain mechanics will be incorrectly blames for struggling (while other mechanics will be incorrectly credited for that one day you happen to hit it well).

Find 3 or 4 ‘when I get into trouble’ mechanics and stick with it.


***

As far as my practice goes, here are some tenets that I believe in that have worked for me over the years that I’ve either gained from experience and/or discussing with motor skill learning and neuroscience experts.

You’re trying to ingrain your golf swing, you’re not going to the chiropractor.

If you go to the chiropractor they will try and set you up for appointments 3 times a week. Eventually about a year down the road they’ll cut it back to 2 times a week. And eventually that will lead to 1 time a week.

Why?

Because chiropractors are adjusting your spinal column and at first they need to keep adjusting the vertebrae constantly so the vertebrae will stop moving out of place.

Golfers tend to think that way with their golf swing. They think if they can constantly observe their swing, it won’t get out-of-whack. Instead, they are actually putting themselves on track to never ingrain your swing. You’re better off having issues where you do not execute the mechanics you want in order to eventually have the lightbulb go on that will determine what you have to do in order to properly execute the mechanics you desire.

I use slow motion practice

I’ve found that full-swing, slow motion practice works the best in terms of ingraining new moves. The best way to do it, IMO, is to do it with a ball, in front of a mirror and try to execute the moves *exactly* how you want them. This actually beats over-exaggerating a move. The issue is that I don’t have a full length mirror that I can bring out to the range.

When I use slow motion practice the best, it’s amazing how I can take it to the course and have an out-of-body experience. Not only can I visualize the shot I want to hit in my pre-shot routine, but when I’m really going good I can visualize watching myself hit the shot in my pre-shot routine..

I also like to use Ikkos’ CopyMe Golf system which provides visuals to copy and bring in your swing. The video I’m using now on Ikkos is this one below:



As you watch Sadlowski’s belt you can see how he rotates the pelvis by focusing on his tailbone as well as he doesn’t get into Right Pelvic Tilt too early.


I randomize my practice

Some excellent thoughts from Mike Hebron on the subject.





Casual Rounds are a great way to become Unconscious Competent with your swing.

Dr. Fran Pirozzolo discusses 'massing' versus 'interleaving' practice.  Massing is much like going to the range and hitting shot after shot usually to the same target.  Interleaving is more like randomizing the practice, but also getting out to the course and bringing what you have been working on to the golf course.

The issue I've found is that the score and 'embarrassment' gets in the way.  A golfer starts playing poorly and it's easy to get away from what you've been working on.  The brain almost goes into survival mode and reverts back to old mechanics rather than new mechanics.  And the different environment of the course where the lies are uneven, there's greater consequences to a bad shot, the wind plays a larger factor, etc. all serve to sabotage the golfer.

By taking score out of the way and putting more focus on getting the mechanics 'right', the golfer can start to use this to ingrain the new mechanics more quickly AND take these mechanics from the range to the course.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Swing Journal 4.26.17

n the last post I described how my goal with the swing is to develop a low rate of closure and low overtaking rate release referred to as the ‘Drive Hold Release.’ While it may sound like we are just trying to put my hands in a position of the Drive Hold Release, what we are actually working on are the mechanics prior to the release phase of the golf swing. Those mechanics will make it easier and more likely to execute the Drive Hold Release. Without those mechanics…it’s unlikely I will obtain a Drive Hold Release.



Before we go on, it’s important to note a couple of my beliefs thru my experience as a consumer of golf instruction.

I don’t buy into swing models.’

I don’t buy into ‘swinging your swing.’ The swing is learned and not innate.’

The problem with swing models is that very rarely you see one person do everything an instructor desire. Let’s say an instructor has 6 key pieces to their swing. Usually you will see a great player have 4 or 5 of those pieces. Or they execute those pieces sorta similar to what the instructor teaches…but they exaggerate it enough that it doesn’t look the same…but, it’s essentially doing the same thing.

Thus, expecting me or any golf student to execute the model is likely an exercise in futility and could be very detrimental.

I would rather figure out what I do well and what I do poorly. Figure out what hurts my ballstriking and what does not hurt my ballstriking and then attack those weaknesses and try to come up with mechanics that have some resemblance to what the golf instructor wants to the point where it is no longer a detriment to my game.


***

I break down Kelvin’s work into Upper Body Mechanics vs. Lower Body Mechanics. I’ve found that this helps me understand the swing better and better break down things so I can practice them more effectively.

I prefer to work on either just Upper Body or just Lower Body mechanics if I can. Working on both at the same time can be problematic.


LOWER BODY MECHANICS

Strong Pelvic Rotation on the downswing
Avoid Right Pelvic Tilt too early in the downswing
Femurs will Abduct in transition and then adduct into impact (Sam Snead Squat)

We are trying to get pelvic rotation in the downswing because we don’t want the pelvis to stall otherwise it will be near impossible to obtain a Drive-Hold Release. IMO, the players that continue to swing the arms with a stalled pelvis will develop a Roll Release (high rate of closure). Those players that stall their arms with a stalled pelvis will develop a Flip Release (high overtaking rate).


The diagram above is showing the back view of a human and getting into right pelvic tilt. The reason we want to avoid Right Pelvic Tilt too early in the downswing is that the pelvis rotation will stall. Right Pelvic Tilt is more of a ‘sliding’ motion of the hips than a rotational motion.



Here’s a pic of Dustin Johnson in the downswing. He is in LEFT Pelvic Tilt which aids in him being able to continue to rotate. You will also see that both of his femurs are in abduction, aka the Sam Snead Squat. Eventually his femurs will adduct and help keep the pelvis rotating thru and past impact.




As far as ‘weight’ (aka Center of Pressure) transfer goes, it should look something like this:



You will see that in the backswing Victor gets his weight all on his right foot.




He then transfers his ‘weight’ to over 80% on his left foot in the downswing.



However, before impact his hips are still rotating and that causes his ‘weight’ to be nearly 50/50 at impact (actually 52% on his right foot/48% on his left foot)



This is described as a ‘fishhook’ trace because of how the CoP trace forms a pattern that looks like a fishhook. This is common with the drive hold release in the golf swing.


UPPER BODY MECHANICS

Lumbar Lordosis in Backswing
Lateral Bending of the Spine in Downswing
Rear Shoulder External Rotation
Getting Center of Mass of Club below the Net Force of the Hands

Kelvin describes lumbar lordosis in the golf swing on his blog. That’s usually not a big issue for me other than I occasionally get ‘lazy’ in the backswing and don’t get into lumbar lordosis and have to be reminded to do so.

Since Kelvin’s methodology focus on rotating the pelvis with little lateral movement (rotational = biased towards a slice), we counter that slice action by moving the torso more ‘underneath.’ Meaning that the rear shoulder moves downward, sorta creating an ‘oblique crunch’ in the downswing while the pelvis is rotating. As Kelvin once told me ‘It may feel like you’re making an over-the-top move with your pelvis and making a swing to hit a hook with your shoulders and torso.’

The movements of the upper body (linear movements) and lower body (rotational movements) not only counter each other to produce a more square path, but there is a ‘coupling action’ in the body where the pelvis will rotate *more* when the spine tilts into to the hips. This is described in this video by Dr. Bob Olivieri.



Dr. Olivieri is discussing this with regards to the backswing, but it applies to the downswing as well.

So…we are trying to rotate the pelvis to create a drive-hold release which will help control the face and dynamic loft. But, with this rotation of the pelvis it will also help with club speed. And that’s where many of Kelvin’s players and Lucas Wald’s players hit the ball very long…the rotation of the pelvis helping create more club speed (all the while a drive-hold release helping control the face and dynamic loft).

So in essence, we are trying to get a lot of pelvic rotation with lateral bend (i.e. the oblique crunch).

However, all of this is for not if the player gets into Right Pelvic Tilt too early. The coupling action disappears when the golfer gets into Right Pelvic Tilt.


***

Lastly, the motion of the arms and shoulder joints is important. I would certainly consider this motion an Upper Body Movement.

The big key is the external rotation of the rear shoulder in the downswing:


The external rotation of the rear shoulder helps get the Center of Mass below the Net Force of the hands (aka getting 'on plane' instead of being 'over the top').

The shoulder joint is also the fastest moving joint in the body so if it is externally rotated in the downswing it will eventually internally rotate with great force.  And all of this leads back to the 'Drive Hold Release.'

Here's a good video from Grant Hooper, who never actually took a lesson from Kelvin, but simply read his articles and the progress he made.  Not only was the progress amazing, but Grant describes so many of the key pieces such as the lateral bend of the spine, not going into right pelvic tilt (feeling like your rear shoulder and rear hip are going to 'kiss' in the downswing).  As well as the external rotation of the rear shoulder.




Tomorrow, I will go into some of my practice beliefs.  That post should be much shorter.





3JACK

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Swing Journal 4.25.17

I’m going to try and not fill up the blog with Swing Journal entries. I will try to keep the Swing Journal entries to no more than once per week as the blog is really about looking at a smorgasbord of things involved with golf that the reader can find interesting and useful to improve their own game. However, this week I would like to get a few entries in as I want to go into my current swing philosophies.

Again, these Swing Journal posts will be tagged as ‘Swing Journal’ for readers to easily go back and view if needed.

Anyway, here’s a swing video I took of myself a month ago:



And here’s one that I took of myself about a year ago, right before I started striking the ball extremely well.



We can see some differences as my backswing is more upright and my downswing is steeper, both of which I have been trying to avoid.

Currently, I still work on a Kelvin Miyahira (www.kelvinmiyahiragolf.com) swing discipline. I have worked on this swing with both Kelvin and Lucas Wald.



This goes into one of my key beliefs in golf swing improvement:

“It’s alright to work with one particular coach on a consistent basis for about a year. Afterward, you should seek out a new coach that teaches the same swing philosophy for a different set of eyes and perspective on your swing (provided you are happy with the first coach).”

It’s very easy to get into a rut with any coach, but when you feel you’re onto something good it’s hard to make that change. Instead, change over to a new coach but keep the philosophy the same. Eventually, you can go back to that original coach.

***

You can read about Kelvin Miyahira’s swing philosophies and research on his blog on his Web site at www.kelvinmiyahiragolf.com.

I think the most popular misconception about Kelvin’s work is that it is based on hitting it long or that it’s based on the Jamie Sadlowski golf swing. In essence, my perspective on Kelvin’s philosophy is that he feels that the ‘Drive-Hold Release’ is the superior release style in golf. So, it’s not actually about swinging like a long driver as many of the Re-MAX long drive competitors do not have a Drive-Hold Release.

Kelvin has discussed the Drive-Hold release extensively on his blog, but my best way to explain the Drive-Hold release is:

1. It’s a release pattern with a slow Rate of Closure.
2. It’s a release patther with a slow ‘overtaking’ rate.

One can discuss the supination of the wrists, pronation of the lead forearm, etc…but if you understand Rate of Closure and Overtaking Rate…that’s what the Drive-Hold is about. And consistently, the best statistically proven ballstrikers on Tour tend to have a Drive-Hold release, like Dustin Johnson:



The rate of closure will affect the golfer’s ability to control the face.

Are there great golferst that have a high rate of closure? Sure. Phil Mickelson and Martin Kaymer are great examples. However, their ballstriking tends to run hot-and-cold with Mickelson being, at times, a dreadful driver of the ball (historically a great iron player). Kaymer has been as good as the #1 ranked player in the world and a US Open winner to a guy that seemingly falls off the face of the earth. When they are running on all cylinders they are very long off the tee and tough to beat. But their level of consistency with their ballstriking is a different story.

Players with a high rate of closure release styles will be referred to as a ‘roll release.’ They are rolling the forearms, wrists and hands and they swing thru the ball.

Overtaking rates tend to cause more dynamic loft issues. Thus, players with high overtaking rates tend to hit the ball shorter and can have some distance control issues. If the dynamic loft should be at 25 degrees with a particular iron, theirs may be at 31 degrees and thus they are hitting the ball higher and shorter. These types of releases are referred to as a ‘flip release.’

Many people confuse the ‘flip release’ with the high handicapper ‘flipping at impact.’ The difference in the ‘flip release’ by a Tour player is that they are typically ‘flipping’ thru and after impact whereas the high handicap ‘flipping at impact’ starts to flip prior to impact. The good news about the flip release is that a player can be very accurate with a flip release if they are are not ‘rolling’ the release. The face angle is stable and that means shots are starting more on-line and are curving less. Also, more of the flip release players on Tour tend to be good from 75-150 yards. Unfortunately for them, those shots don’t count as much as shots from 150-225 yards and drives off the tee.

The dreaded release is the ‘flip-roll’ release where the golfer has a high rate of closure and a high overtaking rate which means difficulty in controlling the face angle and the dynamic loft.






3JACK