Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 The PLAYERS Championship

The 45th PLAYERS Championship comes this week with the biggest purse of any event on Tour.


Sawgrass is Pete Dye's most famous design due to the famous 17th hole which led to a deluge of island green designs across the world.  But what often gets overlooked is how difficult Sawgrass is and how it counters wreckless bombers out of the event.

Every year, I get complaints from readers because the top of the leaderboard during the tournament lacks starpower and I'm asked why that is.

First, all of the 10 par-4's at Sawgrass are doglegs and many of them feature blind or semi-blind tee shots.  Secondly, there is an even split of 5 dogleg rights and 5 dogleg lefts.  So, it's more of a course about accuracy off the tee and in particular being able to hit tee shots at different directional angles.

Sawgrass is also the one course that may favor long hitters when it is dry and short hitters when it is soft (usually it's the opposite).  Jason Day's 2016 victory showed that as he was able to effectively lay up off the tee and then hold the greens by hitting sky-rocket approach shots.  I'm not sure what the conditions of Sawgrass are like, but it's been pretty windy the past month and thus I'm guessing it's going to play a little firm.

Usually, the 18th hole is the final critical hole on the course.  In recent years, the 17th has been a critical holes as the top contenders have really played 17 well in the past few years (think of Rickie Fowler in 2015).

Projected Winning Score: -13


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Justin Thomas +1,400
Jordan Spieth +1,400
Justin Rose +2,800
Henrik Stenson +2,800


3JACK DARK HORSE PICKS

Bryson DeChambeau +4,000
Daniel Berger +10,000
Rafael Cabrera Bello +10,000
Brian Harman +12,500
Russell Knox +15,000
Byeong Hun An +15,000




3JACK

Monday, May 7, 2018

PGA Tour Averages with the Driver on GEARS

Interesting video from Michael Neff from GEARS on what PGA Tour Averages he is seeing with the driver:






3JACK

Friday, May 4, 2018

Going Over the Lesson with GG

I've had a few readers ask me to go more into detail of what George Gankas and I worked on in our lesson.  Unfortunately, on the day I left to come back home (4/24/18), I caught a fever and then over the weekend I was so sick that I spent about 95% of my weekend either in my bed or couch.  This past week I've been able to work on what GG and I went over and I feel like progress has been made.  I hope to get a video of my swing this Sunday to show the progress.  But, here's what GG and I worked on.

Posture

GG teaches a posture that is closer to standing upright than it is to being bent over.  GG wants the shoulders to be 'rolled over' (ala Nicklaus).  Good checkpoints are to have the armpits over the balls of the feet and the tush line over (or very close to it) the heels of the feet.  IIRC, he wants the angle of the player's back at about 150 degrees.

This picture is a lousy angle, but I did have the armpits over the balls of the feet.  However, the tush line was too far away from the heels of the feet.


The black line shows more where approximately the tush line should be.  It feels very different as it feels like I'm trying to stand up as vertical as I can while still addressing the ball.  It requires you to suck the butt in. 

The idea of this posture is to make it easier for the golfer to rotate the pelvis.  In order to rotate the pelvis in the downswing the golfer needs more of an anterior pelvic tilt type of move. 


That is easier to accomplish if the pelvis is more neutral in the backswing to begin with.  GG also feels that the posture helps with the overall balance in the golf swing.  My old posture made it too easy to get the pressure towards my toes which helps stall the pivot. 

Lastly, I think the GG posture helps a bit with hand path depth in the backswing.  With my old posture, the torso is so bent over that the hand path is likely to get more vertical in the backswing and not very deep.  That shallower hand path in the backswing means less time to rotate in the downswing as well as being more likely to early extend if I try to make an 'inside loop' action with my hands in the downswing. 

Ball Position


GG also wanted me to move the ball position a little more forward, pretty much in line with the left ear.  The orange line shows my ball position and the blue line shows where GG wants the ball position.

The big issue I was having with is low point control.  My AoA with a 6-iron is abuot -1.3 degrees and sometimes it gets shallower than that.  With the driver my AoA is at +5 to +6 degrees.  The big issue with my AoA stems from my body tilts in the downswing and not getting enough pressure towards my left foot prior to p5.  GG felt that part of that may be due to the ball positon being too far back and thus my focus gets more towards getting too much tilt so I can deliver the club to the ball.

It's an interesting question...did I move my ball position back to compensate for my over-tilting or did I over-tilt in the downswing to compensate for having my ball position too far back?


Backswing

GG noticed that I do not 'create a ball' in the backswing with my right hip.

Here's an example with Hogan (who over-did it a little)


The space at the top of the swing GG prefers to be about the size of a golf ball.

Here's my swing


The reason for creating this space is, more or less, to keep the low point forward while we rotate.  GG did give the option to move off the ball with the lower body and to counter that with some upper body tilt.  However, that felt too foreign to me and we worked on 'creating a ball' with my right hip.  I found this pretty easy to do since I was not that far off to begin with and the new posture helped with the process.

Downswing

Here are the tilts of my swing at impact.


With the spine over-tilting and the head hanging back, that shallows out the AoA and adds some dynamic loft.  This causes some real issues with controlling the low point.


It's a bit difficult to see, but my left leg has pretty much straightened at this point.  What you cannot see is I am pushing off the inside of my left foot and pushing myself away from the target.  The pelvis rotates a bit, but then I push off the inside of my left foot, causing my left leg to straighten too early and causing my Center of Mass to move away from the target.  Thus causing me to stall my pivot and over-tilt my spine and shoulders.

Instead, GG wants me to get more flex in my left knee in transition.  But, it's not for cosmetic purposes, the flexion in my left knee is done to use the ground more effectively.  And the key part is to get the pressure more from the outside edge of my left foot instead of the inside edge of my left foot.

I have found that it's much more difficult to straighten the left leg too early in the downswing if the pressure is on the outside edge of my left foot, particularly by P5.

There are a few key checkpoints GG has in the downswing.

P5


At P5, the pelvis should be square to the target line and the left hip should be lower than the right hip.  I did a pretty good job of it with this swing.


P6


At P6, the pelvis should be roughly 25 degrees open with the hips level.  In the picture of p6 above, my left hip is higher than my right hip, thus causing the pelvis to stall and not get to ~25 degrees open to the baseline.

You can see the left knee go from flexion to straightening.  The pressure in the left foot is towards the inside of the elft foot instead of more towards the outside of the left foot.  This difference in where the pressure is in the foot allows me to easily extend the left leg and tilt back and away from the target too much.

Here's a couple of stills of Dustin Johnson.


Now, DJ is hitting a driver.  Thus, his left knee will straighten earlier than if he was hitting a 9-iron.  Even still, look at how much more left knee flexion he has at p6 and how in both p5 and p6, you can see how he has more of the pressure towards the outside edge of his left foot.

Another checkpoint is to make this downswing move without 'backing up' the right hip.


Hogan is more of an exaggeration of the move.  But, notice how he creates space with his right hip at p4 (compared to p1).  And then at about p5.5 his right hip is still on the red line that I drew at p4.  For me, because I over-tilt, my right hip has the tendency to 'back up' behind where the red line would be.

This feels very weird to do this because I'm so used to pushing off the inward portion of my left foot and pushing myself away from the target.

This feels more 'stack and tilt', but the best way to make this comfortable and execute the move is to make sure I get more of the pressure on the outside of left foot prior to p5. 

I have found that I am trying to keep my left knee 'low' and continuing to externally rotate the left leg thru impact.  With my old way, the pressure gets on the inside of my left foot, the left knee 'gets high' and the left femur more internally rotates thru impact. 

Here's a rundown:






3JACK

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Wells Fargo Championship

The 15th Wells Fargo Championship comes this week to the PGA Tour, right before The PLAYERS Championship at Sawgrass.



The Quail Hollow Club was founded in 1959 and originally designed by George Cobb. I’m vaguely familiar with Cobb’s work outside of the Bryan Park Golf Course in Greensboro, Clemson University Course, and Myrtlewood and Surf Club in Myrtle Beach. What I remember was these courses were solid tracks with some ‘potato-chip’ shaped green complexes. I’ve never been to Quail Hollow, but that is the general sentiment with regards to that course as well.

From a statistical standpoint, when the make percentages on the greens are lower it typically favors the better ballstrikers. Often times lower make percentages have smaller deviations in their make percentage and thus good putters that are weaker ballstrikers have difficulty differentiating themselves. Unless this is a course like Pebble Beach where some players have a good feel for those low make percentage greens and course knowledge goes a long way at Pebble.

So, expect a lot of strokes to be gained/lost with the longer clubs and the par-5’s will be very important. And the 18th hole is the final Critical Hole on the golf course.

Projected Winning Score: -14


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Rory McIlroy +700
Justin Thomas +1,000
Paul Casey +2,500
Tony Finau +3,500
Louis Oosthuizen +3,500


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Bryson DeChambeau +5,000
Brian Harman +6,600
Daniel Berger +6,600
Xander Schauffele +8,000
Charles Howell III +10,000




3JACK