Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What To Look For: The Honda Classic

The Tour makes the move to the Florida swing after it's West Coast tour of events and plays the 45th Honda Classic.  The Honda Classic was originally the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic at the Inverrary Golf Club down by Ft. Lauderdale.  It then became the Honda Classic and moved up a little north to TPC Eagle Trace and then moved to other south Florida courses like Weston Hills and TPC Heron Bay before planting itself at PGA National in West Palm Beach.

I generally like the design of the course and most of the Tour pros do as well, but it's not something they would want to play every week given its difficulty.  As a Tour event, it draws huge crowds usually near 60,000 per day.  Lots of people with money live in the area during the winter months.  Also, the Tuesday practice round is usually a great time to go to a Tour event as Wednesday is Pro-Am day.  But, with all of the players coming over from Los Angeles and so many players living nearby, they usually skip the Tuesday practice round and stay home and then go to practice at their nearby home courses like the Bear Club, Dye Preserve or the Medalist Club.  So the Tuesday practice round at PGA National doesn't attract as many fans and that may provoke them to come over for the tournament instead.  Also, with Doral no long a Tour stop, we may see a major increase in attendance.

There has been a sizeable shift if Tour players living in the Palm Beach area compared to the Orlando area in the past 10 years or so.  Some players complained about Orlando traffic and crime, but the traffic is actually far worse in Palm Beach (I lived in Boca Raton for 6 months) and in some areas (particularly where fans have to park, which really sucks), it's not exactly a posh country club atmosphere.

Instead, the reason for the move to Palm Beach has mostly to do with the lack of private clubs that can cater to the Tour players.  In Orlando, you have Isleworth, Lake Nona, Interlachen, Orange Tree (very difficult) and Country Club of Orlando (too short).  There's plenty of golf in Orlando, it's just mostly open to the public.  Compared to the Palm Beach and surrounding area where most of the quality golf is very private country clubs that have helicopter landing pads, full-time locker room attendants and bathroom sinks that you need to be a genetic physicist to figure out how to turn the water on and off.

The course is wet due to the rain today and it should rain a bit tomorrow.  However, in the FLA rain doesn't mean necessarily soft conditions as the heat and wind can dry the course up before noon.

This is an approach shot course, particularly from 175-200 yards.  In fact, Padraig Harrington won almost solely on these shots two years ago as his driving was awful and he didn't putt tremendous either.  But, he was hitting these shots nearly 50% closer than the field average which allowed him to beat local Daniel Berger.

While The Bear Trap (holes # 15, 16 and 17) get most of the attention, the last critical hole on the course is #14.  Essentially, yes...the Bear Trap is very hard.  15 is a par-3 surrounded by water that is hard to hit the green in regulation, but is a flat surface green with a very high make percentage.  16 is a difficult par-4 with water in the way and then 17 is ridiculously difficult, especially when the wind blows into your face.  But, the deviation in score is small on these holes and therefore are not likely to decide who wins the event.

Projected Winning Score: -9


Adam Scott +1100
Justin Thomas +1600
Russell Knox +2500
Thomas Pieters +3300
Paul Casey +3300


Ollie Schniederjans +5000
Seung-Yul Noh +8000
Harris English +12500
Luke List +17500
J.T. Poston +20000


Microsoft Azure--Sensoria Smart Connected Golf Grip

Here's an interesting new piece of technology that you may have seen commercials for, the Sensoria Smart Connected Golf Grip with Microsoft Azure.  They have teamed with Bryson DeChambeau to develop and promote the product.

Here's an article on the subject.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Preston Combs on Creating a Stable Environment w/ SAM Puttlab

Here's a video from Preston Combs on creating a stable environment with the SAM Puttlab in order to improve your putting:


Monday, February 20, 2017

Swing Catalyst Tip with Andrew Rice

Here's a video from Andrew Rice showing a lesson he had with one of his students who was shifting the Center of Pressure too early in the downswing:


Friday, February 17, 2017

Flashback Friday: 1991 PGA Championship w/John Daly

Here's videos of the 1991 PGA Championship where a young upstart named John Daly won his first tournament of his career:

Some thoughts:

1. Gee, do you think Daly was feeling it with his putter?

The red dot is where the cup was on this putt. John starts to walk to the cup knowing he made it when the ball is about 5-feet from the hole.

2.  As nonsensical as the Dustin Johnson decision was at Whistling Straits in the 2010 PGA Championship, it would have been colossally moronic to penalize Daly for the Squeeky Medlin incident.  Although it does make me wonder why Medlin ever grounded the flag stick as he had to know how sensitive the rules committee is to any perceived rules infraction.

3.  I'm guessing Daly dominated this tournament off the tee.  He may have had one of the all-time performances off the tee in an event.  It had to be tough for Kenny Knox to watch Daly fly it 40-yards past him and still find the fairway.  Daly shows one of the things I've researched statistically...the biggest advantage of length off the tee is with putting.

As Mark Sweeney ( showed a few years ago, there's a strong indirect correlation between driving distance and length of average birdie putt.  Longer hitters are more likely to have shorter length birdie putts on average.  Thus, longer hitters can putt worse and still be successful on Tour.  And when you combine a long hitter that is putting well, you can get a powerful combination...especially when that long hitter is finding the fairway off the tee.

4.  Following Daly's career, I would label his release as being inconsistent.  When he playing well, like here, he had a little bit of an under-flip release.  When he wasn't playing well, he had a flip-roll release.  With the underflip release, it would just make his dynamic loft inconsistent and he wouldn't always control his trajectory or distance control (as we see in the videos).  But, he could hit the ball straight with the under-flip release.

5.  We'll never likely see a crowd like the Crooked Stick crowd was that week.  Even the 1986 Augusta crowd (which was awesome) still wasn't like the Crooked Stick crowd due to the sheer size of the crowd.  Ordinary people could buy a ticket and watch this John Daly guy hit the ball further than they had ever imagined because he was doing that in round 1, round 2 and round 3.  Augusta has limited availability on tickets (although back then you could get them much easier) and Nicklaus caught fire in the last 11 holes of the event.  And what was great about the Crooked Stick crowd was they were entirely respectful.  Hats off in making one of the very best crowds in golf history.

6.  Daly was using the Cobra Ultramid driver:

The driver was made out of Kevlar (what they use for bullet proof vests) instead of metal.  However, the smash factor on those drivers S-T-U-N-K.  It made Daly's prodigious length even more impressive.

Daly supposedly used the Cobra Ultramid because he kept cracking metal and persimmon drivers and he couldn't crack the Cobra Ultramid.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

What To Look For: Genesis Open at Riviera CC

Riviera was created in 1926 and designed by renowned architect, George C. Thomas.  It has hosted 3 PGA Tour majors and will also be the site for the 2017 US Amateur.  This is one of my favorite Tour stops because the Tour is more or less done with playing events on multiple courses like Pebble Beach and Palm Springs.  But, I also enjoy the history of the even and even more the design of Riviera.

Old school courses (pre-1980) were usually designed with small greens that were very undulated.  They usually feature much less water and more straight forward and simple hole designs as well as being able to get in trouble off the tee, but still find the ball.  Modern designs feature greens almost twice as large and much flatter surfaces.  There's a premium on making picturesque holes, so we see more tricky hole designs which often bust more than they boom.  And there's a higher odds of lost golf balls and with the golf ball market so pricey, I think it adds to less participation and slower play.

Riviera is a hybrid of those theories.  It has some very small greens and then some very big ones.  The make percentages on the greens are usually lower than normal, but not horrifically low as they are at Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach.  It also has some tricked up holes like the 6th, 8th and 10th holes.

The 6th hole features a bunker right in the middle of the green.

The 8th hole features a split fairway.

And then there's the infamous 10th hole which I've written about on GolfWRX.

Years ago, the course used to have a good mix of golfer skill sets that could win here.  It had enough holes to favor long hitters.  The greens could favor the better putters and the approach shots could favor the good ballstrikers that don't hit it long.

Some renovations have been done over the years and that has made the course more of a bomber's course.

The Tour players generally like the course and getting out to LA with all of the history, Hogan's Alley and Bogart's Tree.  However, the course conditions are not always up to snuff and nobody likes the LA traffic.

The course conditions make this a difficult course to project statistically because if the course is firm, the scores rise and it favors the shorter hitters.  If the course is soft, the scores are low and it favors the long hitters.

The weather forecast is calling for heavy rain in the next few days.

Projected Winning Score: -11


Jordan Spieth +750
Dustin Johnson +800
Hideki Matsuyama +1000
Byeon Hun-An +6600
Shane Lowry +7000
Pat Perez +7500
Webb Simpson +8000
Ollie Schneiderjans +10000
Seung-Yul Noh +12500
Graham DeLaet +15000


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Looking for Instruction? My Thoughts (Part 3)

In the final segment of this blog series, I want to look to what to expect after you receive instruction along with some tidbits to help you improve and take full advantage of the instruction you have received.

Part 1:
Part 2:

Changes are worthwhile if you start seeing better results on your new ‘good swings’ than you did with your old ‘good swings.’

Most golfers are too worried about improving consistency instead of improving their high end results. Chasing consistency is Fool’s Gold because you’re always going to hit some poor shots and what separates the better players from the inferior players is their ability to hit better high quality shots. Most Tour players can pipe 300-yard drives down the middle quite frequently while a 10-handicap may achieve that once a year if they have a huge tailwind and are playing on hardpan. The Tour players simply counter poor shots by hitting more good/great shots.

But, the bigger picture is that if you start seeing better high end results, improved consistency will follow.

Too many golfers judge changes by their poor swings. When learning a new movement pattern, there is going to be some difficult in executing the movement time-after-time. So don’t worry too much about those bad swings.

However, if your high end results are not any better (hitting it further or straighter or with a better trajectory), then in all likelihood you just as good with your old swing and you either need to get more reps in with your old swing or find a new instructor.

Working on the grip is the most crippling piece to work on.

I thought my friend and golf instructor, George Hunt (, had a great theory on how to teach any grip changes…save the grip change for the end of the lesson instead of the beginning or the middle of the lesson. George’s reasoning is that if you teach a grip change then the golfer will be handcuffed by the change and will focus only on the grip and not the other parts of the instruction. By saving if for last, the golfer could learn other aspects of the instruction and then better incorporate the grip change.

A grip change is very crippling mentally, but the good news is that you can figure it out in about a week or two by simply gripping clubs or wooden dowel rods or alignment sticks or anything that resembles a stick just around your house. It’s just for that week or two, it’s going to be very difficult to make that change in the grip.

And again, any change we make should be for a GOOD reason.

Don’t expect to play great golf if you’re working on your backswing.

From my experience, there’s something about working on the backswing that equates to more inconsistent golf and a greater learning curve. Provided that you’re working on the backswing for a good reason, don’t expect to play good golf right away until you start to become unconscious competent at it.

Downswing changes are only a little easier to execute, but usually the golfer can play much better golf working on just downswing changes.

The goal is to swing without swing thoughts…and it CAN happen.

I used to think that you couldn’t hit balls without swing thoughts or some type of ‘feel’ (which is really a swing thought in itself). The goal is to be able to have unconscious competency with the changes you make in your swing. I believe that with randomization and slow motion practice you will find yourself being able to swing the golf club without relying on swing thoughts and ‘feels.’

I’m not a fan of drills and training aids.

As sacrilegious as it may sound, I don’t like most swing drills and training aids. I find that drills and training aids in general work best for putting than the golf swing. If you do utilize a swing drill, it’s best to find one that will allow you to take a full swing with an actual club and to hit a ball and be able to do the drill in slow motion. The same goes for training aids…full swings, something that resembles a club and something you can do in slow motion.

For example, I like Kelvin Miyahira’s ‘bucket drill’ because it allows the golfer to do it with a real club, a real golf ball, in a full swing and in slow motion:

A little bit a day is better than feast or famine.

If you’re making changes and want to make them more quickly and permanently, you’re better off practicing a little bit a day over practicing on the range for 2 hours, once a week.

You’re better off spending 5-10 minutes at home utilizing slow motion practice than you are to go out and hit balls for 2 hours on the range on a Saturday and not do anything until the next week when you hit balls for 3 hours. It is literally better to take 5 simple minutes of your day just to get better. Develop a plan to improve your swing with the instructor.

Generally, I’m still a firm believer that you change the swing in order of what occurs first. If you want to work on your takeaway and your transition, you should work on the takeaway first (remember, work on it only if it is for a good reason).

In this example, you will often see good instructors have the student work on the takeaway in order to improve the transition. Once the student improves the takeaway, the changes in transition may be slight or none at all. However, once the golfer focuses on transition with their new takeaway, they should be able to more easily execute the new transition move.

So have you and the instructor determine a plan of what you want to happen and how you want to get there. If you want to improve your club speed and club path, what do you need to change in order for that to happen?

I generally recommend most golfers see their instructor once a month. You’re going to need to fail at some of the movement patterns in order to finally ‘get it.’

Golf instruction is not like going to the chiropractor.

One thing I fell victim to was over-coaching and over-analysis. If you have ever gone to a chiropractor, they will start you off by having you go to the them 3 times a week as they adjust your spine. The idea is that they have to constantly adjust your spine so it stays in the proper place. After about a year of going to the chiropractor 3 times per week, the vertebrae start to stay in place better and now you go to the chiropractor 2 times per week for about a year.

Golf instructor doesn’t work this way. You can’t have a teacher that instructs you every time you make a poor swing and going to a teacher once a week is just a bad idea. You have to fail, be aware of your failure and then allow your brain to adapt and you will start to figure it out more quickly. If you taught step-by-step after every failure, too many thoughts will creep into your mind and you’re not allowing your brain to adapt properly to doing it incorrectly.

You will likely get into a rut with the same instructor after a while

I’ve found that golfers like myself can work with an instructor for once a month for a year and see rapid improvement and then eventually they will plateau and have some stumbling block that they can’t quite get over with the instructor. And then they will discuss ‘leaving their instructor’ like they are some top tier PGA Tour player and the instructor was no good.

A better tact is if you find an instructor that improved your game and you eventually get into that rut, find another instructor with a similar swing philosophy. You’re not deviating too much from what helped you get better and it should be fairly easy to learn a similar philosophy while a new set of eyes and opinion can greatly help get over that hurdle. And when you start to plateau with that new instructor, you can always go back to your first instructor and see if his eyes and opinion will rekindle that improvement.