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

Friday, April 21, 2017

3Jack Swing Journal 4.21.17



Since I did the ‘re-boot’ of my blog one of the things I wanted to get back into is a swing journal. This time I wanted to make this more detailed and perhaps a little more interactive. I don’t proclaim to be a ‘swing expert’, but I do believe I’m an expert at consuming golf instruction.

It’s a wonderful tat to have.’ – Andy Dufresne

I believe that my experience in golf instruction and continuing to learn how to ingrain new movement patterns along with understanding the pitfalls of trying to improve and when I’m on the right track and when to fold a bad hand can be helpful to other golfers of all different handicaps.

But first, I wanted to give a background on my swing and swing instruction that I’ve received.

As a junior golfer I virtually received almost no golf instruction. I took a lesson when I started at the age of 11 years old and then took a lesson from David Orr (yes, that David Orr www.flatstickacademy.com). It was 1 lesson and we worked on the ole ‘towel under the left armpit connection drill.’ As a junior golfer my learning of the golf swing came from reading the occasional Golf Digest tip and playing…A LOT.

You could only hit the ball about 160 yards in our driving range where I grew up playing or you would strike the houses. So a lot of my ‘practice’ was just going out and playing. Or occasionally dropping some balls when nobody was around and hitting them from the fairway or tee box. It was routine for me to walk and play 45 holes a day. The most holes I ever played in one day (and walked all of them) was 90 holes.

When I started college I had a major issue…not only was I struggling with my swing…but the old Golf Digest tips didn’t work. Even worse is I had virtually NO knowledge of the golf swing. I actually used to think that you took your divot behind the golf ball. With some more knowledge these days I better understand how that lack of knowledge helped me in some senses play so well, but by this point I was struggling so bad that I needed knowledge in order to fix issues.

And the big issue with the lack of knowledge is that I had no idea what teachers knew what they were talking about and which ones didn’t. That goes to one of my main rules about golf instruction:

At the end of the day, an instructor is judged by how well they improve their students.’

This is why I find it critical that when seeking a golf instructor that a golfer look at their students and how well they improve.


*** 

During my college days, I then became obsessed with golf instruction and trying to ‘crack the code’ to the swing. In that time I purchased and read just about every book I could find, took out every golf magazine swing sequence…put it into a plastic sheet and kept it in a loose leaf binder. And I sought out instruction from numerous instructors including:

Butch Harmon
Jimmy Ballard
David Leadbetter
Mike Bender
Rick Smith

Eventually I got into Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine with the help of Chuck Wike (www.chuckwike.com) and that seemed to help the most. However, I was still a better ballstriker as a junior golfer than a college golfer.

After I graduated college I played golf for one more year and then quit the game for 8 years, re-starting in 2009. Here’s what my swing looked like when I first got back into the game after the lay-off:







Soon after I started up with Ted Fort (www.fortifiedgolf.com) and started employing the ‘Hitting’ procedure from The Golfing Machine (in college I was using the ‘swinging procedure’).




I had some good success with that and dropped my handicap to a +1 in about 10 months after the 8 year lay-off. I then started to work with John Erickson (www.advancedballstriking.com) which was a much flatter swing ‘plane’ methodology.



I actually hit the ball well for a good period of time using this methodology, but my club speed was down to the 102 mph mark. I did find on Trackman that I was virtually ‘zeroing out’ all of my numbers with the attack angle, face angle, path and swing direction all at 0 degrees. It would explain why I started hitting the driver extremely accurately.

Eventually, I moved to Florida and started working on M.O.R.A.D. with George Hunt (www.georgehuntgolfacademy.com). Some of the same principles from TGM and John Erickson applied, but the ballstriking and club speed (up to 110 mph) more importantly improved:





George ended up moving away from Florida and I eventually started to see instructors like James Hirschfield and Brendan Kennedy (http://www.heathrowcc.com/golf/garl/instruction)

Eventually I decided to start working with Kelvin Miyahira in October of 2014. I remember the first lesson I had with him I shot 68 at the Legends Course at Orange Lake Resorts. Of course, it wasn’t always 68’s and striping the ball from there. I took a while to understand it which I spent the better part of 2015 doing. I also started working on my swing with Lucas Wald which goes back to one of my big theories about being a golf student:

It’s okay to work with a golf instructor repeatedly for about 1 year. If you like what the instructor is teaching, you may want to find another instructor that teaches a very similar swing philosophy in order to prevent getting in a rut with a single instructor and getting a fresh pair of eyes to attack issues in your swing.'

In 2016 I was committed to playing in golf tournaments and got my handicap up to a +4. These swings were in March of 2016, about 2 months before I started playing arguably my best golf ever (May 2016). I won an amateur event, finished 2nd in another and me and a friend won a 2-ball event. I also shot 65 on 6 different occasions (lowest round ever is a 64 – twice).





As luck would have it, a lot in my life changed in that time as I moved to the Boca Raton area, then moved back to the Space Coast area and had a lot of time that I didn’t get to play golf. I did in 2016 get my club speed as high as 117 mph with the driver on Trackman (and as high as 105 mph with a 3-iron). I checked it a couple of months ago and it was at 113.2 mph.

Right now, I'm at a +2 handicap.  I had some 'struggles' and started to regain my golf swing during vacation in December.  I started to experiment with some new things and they were working well until I had to take a few weeks off due to a bronchial infection.

The past 2 weeks I've struggled with my golf swing, but have managed to keep my scores from being awful with a 74 (+2 over) at Juliette Falls and a 72 (Even Par) at Orange County National - Panther Lake course.

In my next journal entry, I will give a video of my current swing and some of my beliefs on the golf swing.




3JACK

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What To Look For: Valero Texas Open



The Tour makes its way all the way down to San Antonio this week for the 95th Texas Open.  The Texas Open dates back all the way to 1922.  It wasn't named the Valero Texas Open until 2002 as the Valero Energy Corporation bought out the naming rights to the event back then.

The tournament has always been played in the San Antonio area which usually means a blustering wind and fast conditions.  With fast conditions that means that the shorter hitters tend to favor the course over the longer hitters.

Reviews on TPC San Antonio are mixed, but more biased towards the negative side.  Some of the holes are a bit too tricky for Tour players' tastes and many of them hate the design of the greens which are often very undulated.  The event is now ran by Greg Norman's company, Shark Enterprises, and I have to wonder if they chose the TPC San Antonio design since it more resembles an Australian design that Norman grew up playing.

The 213 yard par-3 3rd hole is a good example of why some players have a disdain for the course.

(CLICK TO ENLARGE PICTURE)



Not only is there water in front of the hole, but it's a difficult up-and-down past the hole.  A couple of years ago there was a stiff 35 mph tail wind which made it virtually impossible to stop the ball and players made bogeys left-and-right.  It's also the 'most critical' par-3 on Tour...meaning that is has the highest average deviation in score between the field and top finishers of any par-3 on Tour.

Personally, I sorta like the course because it's a different flavor of course than your normal event and it has some beautiful sight lines.  Furthermore, the 18th hole is a 'critical hole' and the 17th hole has a substantial deviation in scores as well.  So, you can possibly see a lot of drama going on the last 2 holes of the event.  It's also an iron player or putter style course given the difficulty of the approach shots and the undulations in the grens.


Projected Winning Score: -9


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Matt Kuchar +1,800
Ryan Moore +2,200
Brendan Steele +2,200
Ollie Schniederjans +2,800
Adam Hadwin +2,800



3JACK'S DARK HORSES

Tony Finau +2,800
Byeong Hun-An +5,000
Martin Laird +5,500
Cameron Tringale +12,500
Robert Garrigus +20,000




3JACK

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Edel Single Length Irons Interview with Devoted Golfer TV

Here's an interview from Devoted Golfer TV with David Edel on his new Single Length irons:








3JACK

Friday, April 14, 2017

Correct Hub/Hand Path Produces Lag with Shawn Webb

Here's a video from Shawn Webb discussing how 'proper' hand path and hub path produces lag, using GEARS technology.







3JACK

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What To Look For: The RBC Heritage Championship

I wanted to give a few quick thoughts on the Masters.

I, for one, did not root for Sergio Garcia.  Here's what Padraig Harrington had to say about Garcia:

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golf-central-blog/harrington-masters-champ-garcia-was-sore-loser/

While I couldn't say that I never wanted Sergio to win a major (although it didn't mean much to me if he did), I didn't want him to win the Masters since he bashed the course on multiple occasions.  And I got the feeling if he had lost in the playoff, it would be a few years before he would bash the course, again.  I'm a little surprised how many people lost sight of that.

The course played about how you would hope the Masters would play...winning score of around -8 to -10, some very good players shooting some high scores and a somewhat difficult 4 days for most of the field.  It's a major afterall.

It's when Augusta starts yielding super low scores and the players treat the par-5's like medium length par-4's, the course loses a little of its spirit.  I'm still in favor of increasing the length of the rough.  I don't think it should be US Open long by any means, but if it could be Bay Hill long I think it could lead to more exciting tournaments like we saw this past week and make the event more interesting because more varying styles of play could actually win the Green Jacket.

People often talk about the 'modern' age of the Masters as being in the 60's, but in reality it's more in the past 10 years.  Here's a look at the champions since 1980.  As you can see, since Mike Weir's victory the last 12 out of 14 winners were very long off the tee.  Zach Johnson was short off the tee in 2007, but he needed record cold temperatures and breezy conditions for that to happen.


From 1982 to 1999, 10 out of the 17 winners were 'short' (or close to it).  And that was the time that really made the Masters as it exploded into a huge TV ratings phenomenon as you had great Masters in '86, '87, '88, '90, '92, '95, '96, '97 and '98.

As Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini likes to say 'boxers don't make great fights, styles make great fights.'  It's the same with virtually any athletic endeavor.  And while Augusta wasn't originally designed in that fashion, the only recourse to help prevent the outrageously low scores and to make things more interesting is to grow out the rough a little more and make it somewhat of a threat (particularly on the par-5's).


***

I thought the putt on #13 is what 'lost' the tournament for Justin Rose.  Out of all of the putts, that is the one that lost the most strokes from a strokes gained perspective.

I noted on my Twitter that despite being down by 2 strokes, Sergio didn't need to press on the 12th hole because it wasn't likely to help him anyway.

The 12th hole is a 'Critical Hole' at Augusta because so many players will dump it into the drink.  But, once Rose landed safely on the green, the numbers are pretty distinct that going for the pin is a bad idea.

Sergio then bails himself out on 13th hole after a poor drive.  13 isn't a 'critical hole', but it's on the cusp of being one.  It's not a critical hole because not enough players eagle the hole thru the week.  Still, Rose had the chance to gain another stroke on Sergio and he failed.

The 14th hole is a 'critical hole' due to the difficulty of putting on the green and the hole not being that long.  That creates a lot of birdie-bogey scenarios and Rose did his job by making par, but Sergio made birdie.

The 15th is another critical hole because it's a very 'eagle-able' hole and you can make bogey with a 2nd shot that finds the water.  Once again, Rose did his job by making birdie and Sergio got back a stroke by making birdie.

16 and 17 are not critical holes.  18 is and both Rose and Sergio played them brilliantly and could't convert the putt.  While Rose missed the putt on 17, it was longer than the one on 13.

The drive on the 18th hole in the playoff is a good shot to pick as well as being the real 'killer' for Rose.  Where Rose was hurt was with the front left pin location on 18.  If the pin is in back right where it often is on Sunday, Sergio still has to hit a shot in and make par.  But with the front left pin location the approach shot is much easier.  Rose being in the woods on his tee shot more or less relegated him to making bogey.


***



The Tour comes to Harbour Town for the 48th RBC Heritage.

Harbour Town is a Pete Dye design and arguably his first, famous design.  You can see a lot of Dye's favorite design concepts such as the use of railroad ties.  This is really a Dye design thru and thru...tight and 'marshy.'

Where Dye got out of hand for me was in his later designs which were filled with tight, blind tee shots with trouble on both sides that you can't see.  He's always been a designer that swings for the fences and is happy to have 1 beautiful hole if that means making 1 lousy hole in the process.

The course is generally well received by the players as it's a nice place to bring the wife/girlfriend to visit and some low scores can be had.  It's also the week after the Masters so those who played the Masters can make a short trip into Hilton Head.

If the course has its detractors, it's because it favors the shorter, more accurate hitter off the tee.  The bombers tend to avoid Harbour Town like the plague.  It's a very lay-up heavy course off the tee and like most Dye designs, it wants the player to hit the 280 yard tee shot accurately.  If the player is inaccurate, then they get into trouble.  If they lay-up and can't get to 280 yards off the tee, then they have a very difficult approach.

The good news is that the last Critical Hole at Harbour Town is the 18th hole.  However, while it's pretty, from a strategy standpoint it is quite dull as most players will hit a 240-yard lay-up shot off the tee and then hit their approach shot in.  Unlike Bay Hill's 18th hole, there's not nearly as many balls going into the water.  It's just a tough approach shot with a bailout to the right and too many players can't get up-and-down.

Projected Winning Score: -11

3JACK'S FAVORITES

Matt Kuchar +1,400
Kevin Kisner +2,000
Adam Hadwin +2,200
Martin Kaymer +2,200
Charley Hoffman +2,800


3JACK'S DARK HORSES

William McGirt +4,000
Bryson DeChambeau +4,500
Keegan Bradley +6,600
Kyle Stanley +7,500
Andrew 'Beef' Johnston +17,500





3JACK

Monday, April 10, 2017

Recent Thoughts and Ramblings on Putting

A friend and I were discussing putting and in particular Bryson DeChambeau’s putting. DeChambeau’s putting has been notable since he has fooled around with it pretty extensively in the past year or so and recently went to side saddle. DeChambeau has discussed how confident he feels in his swing technique, but has struggled to ‘figure out’ putting.

Prior to officially going to the side saddle motion, DeChambeau claimed that side saddle putting was biomechanically more efficient and I think he felt like he was onto something. However, here’s a look at his Putts Gained per Event in his pro career.

(click to ENLARGE)



Blue Bars = Edel The Brick putter (conventional)
Yellow Bar = Directed Force putter (conventional)
Red Bars = Side Saddle
Green Bars = S.I.K. Putter (armlock)

 We don’t see any improvement in DeChambeau’s putting since changing to side saddle and armlock putting. In fact, it got worse.


 ***




he Side Saddle putter that DeChambeau was using was eventually ruled non-conforming by the USGA. This brings up the point that the USGA recently banned anchor style putting.

I was personally against the anchor ban because I felt the USGA based it’s reasoning solely on speculation and the looks of the anchored stroke rather than actually determining if ‘technology is replacing skill.’

And I don’t have a problem with banning a technique if it looks inappropriate, but at least place the ban when the technique/techology comes out…not wait 25 years in order to do so. I think the USGA was greatly influenced by people like Tiger Woods who had complained that it gives golfers an unfair advantage. Again, that is fine…but you need actual evidence to back up your claim. Otherwise your credibility as a rules organization suffers because it’s apparent that you can be influenced by certain people instead of being an objective committee that is looking out for the best interests of the game thru objective research.

With that being said, I have mentioned that in various editions of Pro Golf Synopsis that I did find that Tour players that used the broomstick non-stop usually found improvement in their putting in the 4th year of use. I predicted this would be the case for Adam Scott and it came true:



Scott started going to the long putter in 2011. He was given rave reviews for his putting in 2011 when he made the switch, but in reality he was still a mediocre putter. At the end of 2013, he started using AimPoint’s green reading system which the data shows takes about 3-12 months for a golfer to see significant improvement in their Putts Gained metric.

The issue with belly putter analysis was the sample size. The belly putter was popular in the early 2000’s, but then died off until about 2009. And by then most of the belly putter users were younger players who had no real data of them using a conventional style of putting.

One could argue that with the drop-off of former belly putters like Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson that it proves the impact that the belly putter had (even still, the USGA still had no evidence of this at the time they made the ban).

And with the broomstick data showing it takes about 4 years for that to kick in that…yes…anchor putting gave an unfair advantage to golfers.

However, I submit that the issue isn’t the technique and that what it is about is the player’s commitment to using 1 particular method of putting and sticking to it. I think with the anchored putting style, those players had just given up on conventional putting and committed to anchored putting no matter how bad they putted. I think the opposite would be true if you had a poor anchored putter that decided to go to conventional style and stuck with the same putter and the same stroke…over time they would improve as well.

One of my Tour clients did this as well. He liked to tinker with his putting and his putter and finally stuck with one putter and stuck with a left hand low putting stroke and decided to not deviate from that no matter what. And the end result is he wound up being a below average putter to one of the better putters on Tour.


***

I think that may be one of the biggest mental barriers for DeChambeau. I think his mindset is that he can find that magic bullet to his putting and that’s really not the case with putting.

I’ve been fascinated by much of DeChambeau’s story and how he came up with his swing and then the single length irons. Essentially, he believed that a ‘Zero Shift’ swing as described in Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine was a superior technique. The issue he found was that the lie angles in his irons needed to be the same and you could not actually achieve that with the varying length irons.

The issue with making the irons all the same length is that the weighting would be off because the iron heads have varying weights as well. Essentially, the long irons would be way too light and the short irons would be way too heavy. He finally found a way to make the heads all the same weight and the first time he tried it he flagged his 5-iron shot-after-shot and that’s when he knew he was onto something.

I get the feeling (I could be wrong) that, in a sense, DeChambeau found his magic bullet with his swing. And therefore, he expects the same with putting. I think this is what many golfers (myself included) have searched for in putting and it simply is not going to happen.

The difficult part in all of this is to determine when to stick with something and when to change it in order to get better.

How does one determine that?

I can try something new and make putts one day, but that may be purely coincidental and then I can’t make anything for weeks.

While SAM Puttlab data is nice, it doesn’t necessarily equate to making more putts.

So, that is really the great unknown. But when it comes down to putting it’s about eventually finding something that works for you and sticking with it. It’s like having an old car that you know like the back of your hand on how to get it to run smoothly and how to immediately repair it when it’s breaking down. It just becomes a question of finding the right car for you.





3JACK

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What To Look For: The Shell Houston Open

The Tour heads to the Golf Club of Houston for the Shell Houston Open.

 

The Shell Houston Open starts all the way back to 1946. The event was played at several different Houston area which included the famous Champions Golf Club which was founded by the legendary Jackie Burke and Jimmy Demaret.



In 2006 the event moved to Redstone Golf Club and has remained here since. The only difference is that they changed the name from Redstone Golf Club to the Golf Club of Houston. The course plays to 7,457 yards and is a good tune up for the Masters as it has some similar traits to Augusta in that there is virtually no rough and shots from 175-225 yards are at a premium unless a golfer bombs his way past those shots.

Generally, the course is well received. Personally, I think the design is so-so, but when it’s well received it usually means 3 things:

1. It’s in great condition
2. There’s a lack of tricked up holes
3. There’s a lot of good courtesy stuff given to the players and the wives.

Despite the Masters taking place next week, the field is pretty strong. It also helps that they just got done playing the match play in Austin which is only about a 2 ½ hour drive away.

I strongly feel the Tour needs to re-work the schedule in order to get strong fields in both the Texas and Florida swings. They may want to go from Riviera to do the WGC-Mexico the following week. Then hit Houston after that and follow up with the Match Play in Austin. Then make the trip over to Palm Beach, then to Tampa and finally to Bay Hill before the Masters.

Anyway, the course will generally favor long hitters due to the length and the lack of rough. However, shorter hitters have some chance due to the difficulty of the greens. The weather forecast looks pretty good, although some wind may pick up. The winning score here is pretty steady, so I don’t expect anything vastly different.

The 18th hole is a great finishing hole as it is the last Critical Hole on the course, so if it’s a close tournament on Sunday, you can see a dramatic finish.

Projected Winning Score: -16


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Jordan Spieth +650
Jon Rahm +1,000
Rickie Fowler +1,400
Justin Rose +2,000
J.B. Holmes +3,300



3JACK’S DARK HORSES

Jimmy Walker +6,000
Jason Kokrak +10,000
Jim Herman +10,000
Luke List +10,000
Kyle Stanley +10,000



3JACK

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ben Hogan on Trackman? My Thoughts...


Here's a fun article by Guy Yocum on what some instructors think Hogan's data would read if he were on Trackman:

http://www.golfdigest.com/story/if-ben-hogan-met-trackman

The general consensus was a square path with a clubface about 1 degree left of the target.

I thought Sean Foley brings up a good point with of Hogan possibly zeroing out both the face and the path with him hitting the ball slightly off the heel.

The 'Hogan hit if off the heel' theory has been bandied about for years as anybody who has ever seen his personal irons saw a wear mark towards the heel.

The only issue with this is a better understanding of the equipment at the time.


For the longest time an issue that manufacturers had with equipment is that the epoxy was not strong enough to hold shafts installed in hosels by itself.  They needed to use epoxy and then drill a hole on the side of the hosel to stick a pin thru to ensure the shaft would not come loose.  You can see the pin hole on the picture above.

In order to do that, they had to make the hosels longer in length.  You would see hosels vary from 2.5" to 3.5" in length.  In fact, Hogan started to popularize a shorter hosel length with his Hogan irons.  These days companies make their hosels much shorter.  With muscleback blades, many OEM's will make the hosel longer because the blades player generally seeks a lower ball flight.  However, the hosels are still shorter than the irons from yesteryear.

As the hosel length gets longer, the Center of Gravity moves up higher on the clubface and also moves more towards the heel.  Thus, Hogan 'hit it off the heel' is a bit of a fallacy that was where the 'sweetspot' was located with those irons.

However, we should remember that the 'sweetspot' is essentially the size of a needle point and as great as Hogan was, it's not hard to imagine that he may have missed that spot on occasion.

I do tend to agree that Hogan likely hot a fairly low Spin Loft number:

Spin Loft = Dynamic Loft - Angle of Attack

The low Spin Loft has a tendency to produce high launch, low spin numbers with the driver.  But, it's also characterized with better impact sound, smaller divots and less spin.

The issue with the old balata balls is that they used to spin like crazy (they also only lasted well for about 3-5 holes).  Combine that with the grooves on the driver, that meant the golf ball was hard to control the curve for us mere mortals.


***

The only issue here is that Trackman only tells us so much and in the case of Hogan, it doesn't tell us nearly enough.  There have been plenty of golfers that could hit similar numbers on Trackman and are nowhere near the ballstriker that Hogan was.

I tend to think what the article missed out on are other key aspects to Hogan's swing.

3-D Flat Spot

There is a 'flat spot' in the golf swing located near the low point.  In recent years, researchers have discovered that there is a scientific advantage to having a longer Flat Spot.  It can help with the Spin Loft, but also give the golfer more room for error in the process.  I believe we tend to see longer flat spots with golfers like Hogan who had a pronounced lateral move in transition and then started to 'back up' their Center of Pressure as they go into impact.

I feel the video below explains a major difficulty of people trying to emulate Hogan's swing.  Most of the Hogan copycats focus on the address position, having a flat backswing and a flat shaft plane in the downswing and trying to create this massive amount of lag. (along with wearing the white cap which is a must for a Hogan copycat).

But, what they miss out on is how much his Center of Pressure (aka weight) shifts towards his front foot in transition and then 'backs up' as he continues to rotate the pelvis and go into impact.





Vertical Swing Plane

This is one of the key elements that Trackman actually measures but was not mentioned in the article.


The flat shaft plane allowed Hogan to move and rotate his body like he did and that worked into an elongated Flat Spot.

Here at about p6, his left wrist is still in flexion.


And if there was anybody that got their Center of Mass of the club moving 'below' the net force of their hands...Hogan's swing was it.


Rate Of Closure

His pivot action helped ensure a slower rate of closure.


These factors helped Hogan reach those numbers and be able to do it with an amazing level of consistency.

That's usually what I find the problem with the Hogan copycats...they look at the wrong things and then to make matters worse, they try to emulate them to a tee.  If they more carefully examined his hand path, wrist movements, lower body motion and his pivot in general, they could end up finding that golf swing they have always wanted...even if it looks nothing like Hogan's.





3JACK

Air Compressor Shaft Puller by Holtzman Engineering

Here's a neat little product I saw a few years ago.

Shaft pullers are really needed for graphite shafts.  It's too easy to overheat the hosel and cause the graphite shaft to splinter and ruin the tip section.

With steel shafts you don't have to worry about the shaft splintering, but if you're looking for more of a professional job and not singeing the hosel, a shaft puller works.

Most shaft pullers require some manual pulling of the shaft.  But, the Holtzman shaft puller is hooked up to an air compressor and as they demonstrate in the video below, with a minimal amount of heat the shaft can be easily removed like a professional.





The Holtzman shaft puller is available for $119.  You can find it at this link:

http://www.holtzmaneng.com/golf-club-making-products





3JACK

Monday, March 27, 2017

Clue Collection, Correlation, Correction with Cameron McCormick

Here's a video with Jordan Spieth's coach, Cameron McCormick, discussing Clue Collection, Correlation and Correction using the Swing Catalyst system.







3JACK

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Cost for Dying the the Ball in the Hole w/John Graham

Here's a video from John Graham discussing the cost of trying to die the ball at the cup when putting.







3JACK

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Flop Shot is Dead

This has actually been going on for a while, but it stood out on Tuesday when I was at Bay Hill watching the practice round and then watching various golfers on the short game green.

For all intents and purposes...the flop shot is dead.

There's little reason to hit the flop shot as pros have discovered and mastered the high spinning pitch shot instead.  I use Calvin Peete's definition of a 'pitch shot' as any time the wrists bend and start to cock.  A chip shot has little to no bend of the wrists in the backswing.

With Tour players, anytime they get into the pitch shot territory the last thing they want to do these days is to hit a flop.  They would just rather hit a lower trajectory shot that spins a ton and stops on a dime.  My guess is that when you get at lower trajectories, it's easier to control the distance than the high launch flop shot.  One of the players I noticed doing the high spinning, low trajectory pitch shot beautifully was Matt Every.  Every even opens the club face a bit, but still gets a lower trajectory that stops in a hurry.

Here's a video from Martin Chuck discussing this shot and hopefully you can add this shot into your game for better and more predictable results:







3JACK

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What To Look For: Arnold Palmer Invitational

The Tour heads to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Arnold Palmer Invitational was originally The Citrus Open at Rio Pinar Country Club on the east side of Orlando until 1966. In 1978, the event moved to Bay Hill which is on the west side of the city and where Mr. Palmer made his residence. Mr. Palmer preferred the Orlando area due to the close proximity to Orlando International Airport as he owned and flew his own airplane. This set off the influx of Tour players and mini-tour players chosing Orlando as the preferred area to live in the state of Florida from the 1970’s to the 2000’s.

Bay Hill was originally built in 1956 by well known architect, Dick Wilson. Eventually Mr. Palmer made some changes to the course. The big issue they had over recent years was the quality of the greens, but they completely renovated the greens to a TifEagle grass which doesn’t quite roll as fast as some of the modern bermuda grass types, but it is the most durable of the bermuda putting surfaces. This works for Bay Hill because they do have a substantial membership and one can play the course if they pay to stay at the lodge. So, the foot traffic is a little more at Bay Hill than most Tour courses.

Having been at Bay Hill, yesterday…the course was in fantastic condition and I have various Tour players and caddies tell me that they think these are the best greens they have played so far this season.

This is not a strong field with most of the top-20 players in the world deciding to skip the event. The main complaint is the schedule with having come off Mexico two weeks prior and then the match play in Austin the next week which starts early. Bay Hill is also a bit polarizing in that players tend to either strongly like or strongly dislike the layout. Shorter hitters may not like it as much because the course plays soft as holes #3 thru #6 sit in a ‘bowl.’

The 18th hole gets all of the fame, but the 17th hole is incredible in it’s own right (click to enlarge).




What I also like about the 17th hole is while it’s a difficult shot into the hole, the green has a very high make percentage. In essence, the classic use of ‘form follows function.’

While the 16th hole is a fairly easy hole, it does get golfers into a situation where a good drive can mean going for the green in 2 shots with an iron or a hybrid and between 16, 17 and 18 you really have a fine stretch of finishing holes. If there’s one thing I strongly dislike about that stretch is that from a casual fan’s perspective the 17th is not very friendly because almost all of the seating around the green is taken up by corporate sponsors and there’s only seating for about 40 people while the rest of the fans have to stand the entire time to see the hole.

Other than that, Bay Hill is easily one of the best fan experiences on Tour. Easy course to walk, free on-course parking Monday-Wednesday and excellent bleacher seating behind the driving range. A great spot to watch players on Tuesday and Wednesday is between the 3rd green, 4th tee and 6th tee. So you can watch approach shots come in on the 3rd hole, see tee shots of the par-5 4th hole and tee shots on the famous par-5 6th hole all by walking roughly 30 yards.

The course has changed over the years in terms of critical holes. The 18th used to be the featured critical hole, but now the last critical hole is the long par-4, 15th hole. However, if the winds continue to be breezy like they were on Tuesday, you should see a momentum change and the 18th become a more critical hole.

LOCAL EATS: Orlando doesn’t have the selection of local eats like Tampa does. This is commonplace in resort areas.

The good news is most of the quality local eateries are near Bay Hill like The Chatham Place, Kokino’s, Rocco's Tacos and the Pharmacy Restaurant.

If you want some places more off the beaten path, I would suggest Graffiti Junktion in Thornton Park, Cuban Sandwiches to Go of Lee Road (they only take cash) and Il Pescatore in Winter Park.


PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -15 (if it continues to stay breezy and cold, expect winning score to be higher).


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Rory McIlroy +700
Henrik Stenson +800
Rickie Fowler +1,600
Justin Rose +1,800
Tony Finau +4,500


3JACK’S DARK HORSES

Zach Johnson +5,000
Adam Hadwin +6,600
Russell Henley +6,600
Keegan Bradley +8,000
Marc Leishman +10,000





3JACK

Monday, March 13, 2017

Some Thoughts on When Golf Instruction Fails



A poster on the GolfWRX forum posted on how golf instruction doesn't work.  I wholeheartedly disagree with that notion.  It certainly doesn't work every time, but I've seen and experienced enough golf instruction to see it work quite well for many golfers thru many different golf instructors.

That's the reality.

However, part of the reality is also that golf instruction could and should be a lot better and there is still a lot of golf instruction that fails.

My answer to the poster was the following:

"In general, golf instruction doesn't work when it's about style over substance and it creates a learning atmosphere to achieve, at best, conscious competence instead of unconscious competence." - Me



I thought this video from Kelvin Miyahira does a great job of explaining an example of style over substance.




I started to think of Seve after watching the movie 'Seve' based on his life.  What's odd is that I remember that many revered Seve's swing prior to his swing being 'declawed', but golf swings were not nearly as analyzed and picked apart as they are today and his once 'great swing' kind of got lost in the shuffle.

I think a large issue that golfer's and golf instruction faces is that a move like Seve's old move or Bubba's swing simply would never be taught these days.  As Kelvin pointed out, it is 'too wild looking' for teachers, yet it was incredibly effective.  Furthermore, it worked for Seve's game because he was a magician in hitting rescue shots and getting up-and-down from the ballwasher along with his putting.

What we know from advanced analytics is that hitting the ball long (and Seve was very long for his day), actually helps out with putting.  There is a strong indirect correlation between distance and average length of the birdie putt (when they hit the GIR).  Meaning, that the longer a golfer hits the ball off the tee, the more likely they will have a shorter birdie putt on average.

This allows long hitters to putt worse (using the strokes gained - putting measurement) and still have success.

Why?

Because if the longer hitters are putting from shorter distances on average, they are very likely to have putts of lower difficulty level.  So they can have LESS skill and still hole more putts than the golfer that is the more skilled putter but is putting from a further distance away.

So increased distance can help any golfer.

But, if a 'bomber' on Tour putts well for 4 straight days, now they are likely to get into contention because they are converting more birdies putts as a whole than the rest of the field.  They are getting shorter length birdie putts and now making those birdie putts.

The difficulty that bombers face is more when they miss the green.  Because they are long and on occasion wildly inaccurate off the tee, when they miss the green they may end up with a much more difficult up-and-down opportunity.  They may pump a drive into the woods, have to punch a rescue shot as close as they can get the ball to the green and end up short siding themselves for a difficult up-and-down.

But with a player like Seve who is arguably the best short game performer of all time, he could handle those difficult up-and-downs. And again, he was arguably the best rescue shot player of all time (I think only Tiger was possibly better and you can see the influence Seve had on Tiger's game).

So by taming Seve's swing, it may have cost him a lot of power which was a key component of his game.  Instead of trying to figure out what exactly his mechanical issues were and how to keep his power and not let his wild shots get too far out of control, something happened to work on the 'look' of his swing and it slowly ruined Seve's brilliant game.





3JACK

Thursday, March 9, 2017

New GolfWRX Column is UP!: Looking at Golf's Next Superstar

My new GolfWRX column is up....looking at Golf's Next Superstar....John Rahm.


I personally feel that pro golf is coming close to reaching a new golden age. While I could appreciate the brilliance of Tiger and Phil Mickelson, the lack of sustained competition from other top players at that time always felt hollow to me. These days we have numerous world class players with incredible golf games who are vying for the No. 1 ranking in golf such as Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama.

The only potential negative issue is that some players may get overrated and overhyped despite not actually deserving it. One could make a case for the 22-year-old Jon Rahm as the young player that is overhyped because he has yet to win a major. However, I think a look at his metrics show that he’s on a path to being worthy of being mentioned among the names I listed above

Rahm is currently ranked 25th in the world and is only 22 years old. I wanted to compare his metrics thus far versus the metrics of Jordan Spieth’s 2015 season when Spieth turned 23 years old, won more than $12 million and also claimed a Green Jacket and a U.S. Open victory


 Read More: http://www.golfwrx.com/406904/is-jon-rahm-statistically-better-than-jordan-spieth-was-in-2015/

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What To Look For: Valspar Championship



This week the Tour heads to Tampa for the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort. The event is growing in popularity because in general the players like the course and many have played it in junior and college golf. The issue is that it struggles to draw the stars now with the WGC event in Mexico the week before.

Innisbrook holds special for me as a few years ago when I did my first interview with Matt Adams on his Fairway of Life radio show, I predicted that Kevin Streelman would win the event. That may not seem like much, but at that time Streelman had never won a pro tournament of any kind and was a 200/1 long shot (meaning if you put $10 on him to win, you would get $2,000 for winning).

The pros like the course because it’s fair, it doesn’t overly favor bombers nor does it favor short, but very accurate hitters of the ball. It also features four par-5’s which is a little refreshing givne that they only play two par-5’s at PGA National, 3 at Riviera and then you get the unusual schedules of Pebble Beach. Innisbrook is in Palm Harbor which is actually northwest of Tampa, so the traffic is a little more relaxed to the player’s liking.

Tampa remains one of my favorite cities in the country with plenty of beaches and people with a very laid back view on life in the St. Pete, Clearwater and Rocky Point sections of town. There’s plenty of good food, old fashioned southern, Cuban tradition combined with post-modern city life to experience. Some of my favorite places to eat are Kojak’s House of Ribs in South Tampa, Bella’s Italian CafĂ© in Hyde Park and the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City (pronounced eee-bore). There’s also Whiskey Joe’s in Rocky Point as a good hangout place right off the beach.


The Par-5’s end up being the big part of the story here. In fact, the last Critical Hole on the course is the par-5 14th hole. The course hasn’t recorded a lot of low scores recently often due to the wind picking up in The FLA this time of year and we can still have some very damp and cool mornings. The wind has been blowing quite hard in Florida recently and that has been causing a lot of brush fires, so I expect the scoring to stay high.


Projected Winning Score: -8


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Justin Thomas +1,000
Gary Woodland +2,500
Patrick Reed +3,000
Graham DeLaet +4,000
Bubba Watson +4,000


3JACK’S DARK HORSES

Martin Laird +6,600
Russell Henley +6,600
Charley Hoffmann +8,000
Tony Finau +8,000
Harold Varner +20,000





3JACK

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Developing Kinesthetic Awareness in Your Golf Swing w/Tony Luczak

Here's a video from golf instructor, Tony Luczak, on developing your proprioception in the golf swing.






3JACK

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rambling About Flattening the Shaft in the Downswing

One of the things I've been discussing since getting back to the blog is the flattening of the shaft angle in the downswing.  This has been prompted by Joe Mayo's and Dr. Sasho MacKenzie's video Understanding Torques and Forces in the Golf Swing.  In the video, the discussion is very much focused on flattening the shaft, but it describes how and why you don't need to flatten it like Ben Hogan in order to strike the ball brilliantly.  And you start to understand why Tiger in his prime and Nicklaus were such great ballstrikers despite having a more vertical 'plane' than Hogan.  Or how somebody like Miller Barber who looked like he was using the 'guillotine plane' was able to strike the ball so well.

I'm a big fan of Joe and Sasho's video, but having readers ask me questions about it, I started to think a little more about the subject and where I think golfers (including myself) are having a disconnect between understanding the move and actually executing the motion.

The big part of this move as far as what needs to happen in order to flatten the shaft is the rear shoulder has to externally rotate.  Joe discusses this more extensively in another video Wrist Angles, Swing Plane and Trail Shoulder Rotation (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/josephmayo)



Using the lead wrist torque action can greatly aid in rear shoulder external rotation, but if you can't get that trail shoulder external rotation, you're just not going to flatten that shaft to your liking.

First, here's a diagram showing 1 version of external vs. internal shoulder rotation.


In this motion, the arm is moving vertically.  And in this motion, the external rotation movement would be to rotate the arm upward.

Kelvin Miyahira referred to this as the 'Stop Sign Move' because it's like a Crossing Guard that pops up their stop sign to tell cars to stop.

So the external rotation move will look like the rear forearm is more vertical as we go into roughly P4.5 (p4 is the top of the swing, p5 is when the lead arm is horizontal to the ground in the downswing)

I'm going to really generalize this concept here, but I'm going to label golf swing positions at p4 in 2 ways:

1.  'Slanted P4' - The rear forearm at the top of the swing is more at an angle with relation to the rearm humerus.  This creates more of a 'across the line' look and the golfer has more internal rotation of the trail shoulder

In order to get the shaft to flatten out, the golfer requires more external rotation.

My friend Victor Rodriguez is a good example of a 'slanted P4.'  But, look at how more vertical his right forearm gets in transition.  This allows him to flatten the shaft.

(click picture to enlarge)



2.  Vertical P4 - These are golfers with a rear forearm that is more vertical at the top of the swing.  They have more of a 'laid off' look to their swing and are more into external rotation with their rear shoulder (as opposed to internal rotation for the 'slanted P4').  In order to keep the shaft flat in transition, they simply need to sustain the vertical angle of their rear forearm in their swing.  Sergio Garcia is a good example.

(click picture to enlarge)


Now, Sergio's right forearm gets a hair less vertical in transition, but it's still very vertical.

But take a look at one of the worst cases of being over the top in Charles Barkley.  Take a look at his right forearm in transition.


Is it really the 'swing yips' or more about awful swing mechanics that will make it impossible for ANY golfer to hit the ball consistently well?  Sure, he hesitates to hit the ball, but I would like to think his mechanics are so poor and the club is in such a poor position that his brain is going haywire because it knows it can't hit the ball with the club in that position, it just struggles to instantly figure out what he needs to do in such a short period of time.

In the end, when it comes to solely flattening the shaft, it doesn't matter really how you do it, but the one common element is the ability to either make the rear forearm more vertical (Slanted P4) or have the rear forearm in a vertical position (Vertical P4).






3JACK

Thursday, March 2, 2017

My Thoughts on Proposed USGA Rule Changes & How the Ball is Affecting the Game



Yesterday, the USGA proposed the following rule changes (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/golf/2017/03/01/proposed-changes-golf-rules-simplify-game/98559136/)

  • A player will not receive a penalty if the ball (or ball marker) accidentally moves on the putting green or in search of a ball.
  • Players can leave the flagstick in the hole while putting.
  • Players may repair spike marks or other damage, including foot prints, on the green with no penalty.
  • Caddies will no longer be able to line up a player. This will be a big change on the LPGA tour, where many players have their caddies line them up before stepping away just before the player makes a swing.
  • Players who have trouble in bunkers could get relief. If you want, you can remove your ball from a bunker (and place it in the fairway or rough behind the bunker, depending on where the bunker is) and accept a two-stroke penalty.
  • A new procedure for how to drop a ball in a relief area.
  • Time searching for a lost ball would go from five minutes to three.
  • There's a proposal calling for players to take no more than 40 seconds to play their shot.
Most of these rulings I like, except for the new procedure to drop the ball which says the player can drop it from any distance above the ground.  I think this allows the player to make a better drop when usually the drop is occurring from a poor shot.  The rule should be simple...the player must drop the ball from above their waistline.

I also thought the time search for a lost ball going from 5 minutes to 3 minutes brings up another discussion....the impact the cost of golf balls are having on the game.

The goals of these proposed rule changes was:

1) Cut down the rule book

2) Help pick up the pace of play.

But, what gets overlooked in all of this is that the cost of the golf ball has greatly hurt the popularity of the game and has greatly slowed down the pace of play.


Recently, the big craze in golf was when golfers started to see that Costco's Kirkland Signature golf ball performed roughly as well as the Titleist Pro V1(x) models.  The difference was in the price as the Kirkland cost only $15 per dozen ($1.25 per ball) to the Pro V1(x) which retails for $48 per dozen ($4 per ball).  That's nearly a 70% price drop.

The Kirkland ball exploded in popularity where in just a couple of short months, Costco ran out of the balls even though the general consensus was that the Kirkland was very slightly inferior to the Titleist Pro V1(x).

That does indicate how a cheaper alternative is important to golfers.  In fact, it appears that Costco is set to bring back the Kirkland ball, but rumors have it being re-priced at $29.99 per dozen because according to Dean Snell of Snell Golf, any company would lose too much money until they start pricing balls at around at least $30 per dozen for a 'tour quality' golf ball.  

And this is not a knock on the other ball makers like Titleist...if it's not feasible to make 'tour quality' balls at under $30 per dozen with no endorsements and advertising, just imagine what happens when you pay Tour players to endorse your product and then have to advertise.  In essence, outside of the alternative companies like Costco, Snell Golf, Nicklaus Golf, etc., the high priced golf ball is here to stay and it will only increase as time goes by.



With the high priced golf ball here to stay (and it's not like $32 a dozen for alternative golf balls is cheap), that means more golfers are going to take more time to find that ball.  And whether the USGA likes it or not, golfers are not going to stick to the old 5 minute rule to look for their ball and moving it to 3 minutes is a good try...but laughable.  

And that's where the USGA needs to tackle the bigger problem....

We need better course designs.  And since courses are rarely being constructed in the US these days...we need more courses re-designed.

Growing up in New York, I grew up playing a course designed by local designers that was built in 1957.  Across town was a course built all the way back to 1897.  Both of them were easy to play quickly because they were walkable.  So if a course was easy to walk, just imagine how quickly you could play in a golf cart.

The two biggest influences on golf course design in the area were Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones.  Both had differing philosophies, but their courses were relatively easy to play quickly.

Ross wanted a golfer to hit every club in their bag at least once in a round.  He offered a few tee shots that required something other than a driver.  His greens were usually on the small side (very popular back then) and usually crowned a bit.  RTJ's concept was 'go long or go home' with courses met to hold big crowds that rewarded the longer hitters, especially if they could get out of the rough.  But generally were fair designs to all golfers and featured enormous greens that were flatter.

What they had in common that made the courses easy to play was smart use of bunkering and water.  A lack of blind tee shots and tee boxes that were very close by to the previous green, making the walk to the next tee box very easy.


What has been lost on the USGA over the years is the major influence that Pete Dye has had on golf course designers.  Often times, golf organizations only count the architects that directly learned under an architect like Pete Dye.  What they miss out is that many courses are designed by locals who are greatly influenced by big name designers that they never met.  Just like so many local courses I grew up playing in New York were designed by locals who were big fans of either Donald Ross or RTJ.

Dye's courses place a heavy emphasis on driving the ball well.  They feature a lot of blind tee shots where there is often trouble on both sides and love for water and bunkers.  Most of Dye's courses feature 'hit or miss' routing where he may make 6 excellent golf holes and then come up with 6 crummy/tricked up holes that were basically made due to him shoehorning those 6 excellent golf holes.  This often means a long distance from one green to the next tee as well.

And the end results is golf balls go missing.  It's more difficult to find your ball when you can't see it land due to a blind tee shot.  And the Dye/RTJ philosophy is more of 'if you hit a bad shot, you will be punished, but you can still find and hit your golf ball.'  Often times in the Dye philosophy it's more like 'if you hit a wayward shot, you're not likely to find your ball.'  

The reality is that the Dye philosophy means more potentially lost balls and more golfers looking longer for their expensive golf ball.  

You really can't change the price of golf balls by much, but the USGA can change the philosophy of golf course design and in turn encourage more current designs to be get renovated.





3JACK