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