Wednesday, November 14, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 RSM Classic

The Tour comes back to Sea Island for the RSM Classic.

But first, I wanted to talk about The Golf Channel’s Driver vs. Driver Season 2 finale which saw the Cortex driver by Evan Hoffman win.

The show drew the ire of a lot of golfers after the disastrous first season which saw too much fluff, a bad selection of judges, a puzzling winner in the Triton which was outperformed, not enough hard data and then the Triton didn’t conform initially and came off like a weak design.

A friend of mine owns the Triton and I got to hit it out on the course. The big issues I had was the face was hooded severely and the sound was terrible. Almost like a ‘hitting a Molitor’ type of sound which is rather unpleasant. Don’t get wrong, I’m all about performance with a driver. But, I couldn’t stop hooking the Triton with the hooded face design and it didn’t out-perform drivers for me to overcome the sound.

And I wasn’t the only person that complained about the sound:

It didn’t help that they had Brian Urlacher as a judge. He seems like a good guy and all, but he’s a chop and using his expertise was virtually worthless. Roenick is a good golfer and a long time golfing fanatic and was a much better selection. So was Rick Shiels who brings 400,000 YouTube subscribers.

The en vogue thing to do these days is for some English golf professional to have their own YouTube channel and try out equipment in a studio with a launch monitor and show the numbers and get their opinion. This was popularized by Shiels and Peter Finch. While I find these reviews to be lacking because they don’t get into the nitty gritty of CoG location, heel-toe and crown-to-sole MOI along with true lofts, etc……I find that Shiels does the best job of the bunch and he has his hand on the pulse of golfers that regularly buy equipment along with understanding the technology behind equipment.

Season 2 got off to a bit of a rough start. While I can appreciate Tim Clarke playing the role of the uncompromising critic, saying that you cannot market technology that people cannot see makes a President of a company look bad. Having worked in marketing and advertising departments for 15 years (albeit in the analytics side), the job of those departments is find ways to market aspects of the product to make them appealing to the customer. We cannot actually see the ‘Twist Face’ Technology, but TaylorMade still marketed it to show what it is about and present it as an advantage over other designs. Just like I cannot see Callaway’s ‘Jailbreak Technology’ (hell, I don’t even quite understand it), but Callaway has marketed it as Jailbreak Technology = Ball Go Far and that’s how I got interested in testing out the Callaway Rogue SubZero driver and I now own that model along with the 3-wood.

But the key point is that this season it was about performance. It wasn’t about alignment aids on the driver which reek of Game Improvement style models as any decent golfer will tell you that alignment aids on a driver really don’t help a player hit it more accurately. And that was a step in the right direction for Wilson.

And yes, I do believe that there’s still room for better performing drivers in the industry. Here’s a video from BeBetterGolf at the MyGolfSpy laboratory showing that the popular TaylorMade R7 from 2007 is inferior in performance from the TaylorMade M1

A lot of that has to do with the M1’s design replacing titanium with carbon fiber and moving the CoG around to create more of a high launch, low spin driver.

They told us back in 2007 that drivers couldn’t really improve and yet they are clearly going much further today with some changes in design philosophy.

Also, I think this is a good move for Wilson in terms of creating a better product just because I think it’s easy, for as brilliant as many of these designers are, to get stuck in a bubble where philosophies tend to meld together as one.

Anyway, DvD 2 came down to four interesting designs that each had possible advantages from a design standpoint that could greatly produce an advantageous performance.


I know a lot of viewers did not like the attitude of designer Jimmy Huynh, but understand that the Magnus was his baby and it’s difficult to take people criticizing your baby. Also, the odd look probably had to be kept in tact or the driver would not perform like it was designed to perform. And it did register the highest smash factor numbers and tested out to be the accurate on the Iron Byron due to it’s symmetrical bulge design.

Now, the smash factor numbers can be skewed due to Trackman having difficulty reading club speed numbers correctly. Trackman is notorious for reading club speeds too slow because it reads too much towards the heel which is traveling at a slower rate than the toe of the clubhead. Supposedly, the Magnus has more of a ‘bulge’ in the back heel section of the club and that may have caused Trackman to read the club speed even more closer to the heel…thus producing readouts of slower than actual club speed numbers and higher than actual smash factors.

But, the accuracy on the Iron Byron couldn’t be denied. And if the Magnus was truly out-performing the other drivers…while Huynh could have used a better tact in dealing with this…he has a point. This isn’t and should never be a beauty contest.

As I always say, people though the Ping Anser putter was gaudy when it first came out, but they learned to love the look when it was performing much better for them.


The launch pad was designed by AeroSpace Engineer, Jeremy Chell. The idea was to be able to pop open the crown of the club and to be able to easily change the weights inside of the head.

The advantage of this idea is that it allows more of a change in the CoG location of the club head and to be more precise with where the CoG is located to fit the golfer’s swing.

CoG location is CRITICAL in fitting for a driver. I tell people that you should first fit for a club head with a CoG location that fits your swing the best. If you’re a high launch player, the last thing you want it is a spinny head design. The shaft can help counter that high spin, but it can only do so much.

The problem is that you may not find a head that has a CoG location suitable for you or you have to go to a high-end brand agnostic fitter like TrueSpec Golf in order to finally find that head that fits you. And it still may not be the best fit.

With the Launch Pad design, this would allow for any player to be able to get the CoG location precisely where they want it to fit their swing (theoretically).

The problem was that the hood on the crown that opens up kept popping off. And Wilson felt that they couldn’t make a club in time that would not break. And I question if they would ever be able to figure out how to do that using the current design. However, if they were able to get the design to work, it would be very appealing.


The Rozwell driver was designed by Tim Slama, an engineering student at Oregon State University.

The Z Track sole is designed to allow the golfer to have more range to adjust the weights to change the CoG of the club. What the judges liked about the Rozwell is that it had shelf appeal when the customer looks at the Z-Track, but had a classic look when they turn the club around and lay it down on the ground. The Rozwell also featured Trabecular technology that was supposed to work with properly dampening the vibration to the golfer’s arms and elbows.

The problem was that the Rozwell was consistently about 3 mph less in ball speed and had issues on toe hits.


The Cortex is more of a modern design style. The difference is that the Cortex designed used more Carbon Fiber than many of the top designs. The Carbon Fiber is lighter and they can take the titanium and put more of the titanium in certain areas of the head to get the launch performance characteristics that they want.

The Cortex also features a very long weight track so the golfer can slide the weight considerably to the back of the club which will increase MOI, launch and spin if needed. There are also two weight ports, one of the heel and one on the toe. Wilson provides a 2 gram and 8 gram weight and the golfer can add weights if they want more of a fade or a draw bias or they can place two 8-gram weights on both ends if they want the head to feel a little heavier.

In the end, the Cortex had everything Wilson was looking for. It had the looks on the sole for shelf appeal and on the ground for a classic looking shape. It had the right sound, it had good adjustability, it had the performance and it was ready to go off the shelfs immediately without any further tweaking of the design or working out additional kinks.


Webb Simpson +800
Chesson Hadley +3,300
Sam Ryder +4,000


Whee Kim +5,000
Chris Kirk +5,000
Nick Watney +8,000
Vaughn Taylor +10,000
Robert Garrigus +12,500
Dominic Bozzelli +17,500
John Huh +25,000


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Shriners Hospital for Children Open

The Tour comes back to Las Vegas for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open.

The course being played is TPC Summerlin which was built in 1991 and designed by Bobby Weed. I’ve played a few of Weed’s courses and really like his work. Yes, I even like TPC Tampa Bay quite a bit (I’m one of the few that I know that likes TPC Tampa Bay).

The course is a par-71 playing 7,255. However, it’s elevation is about 2,700 feet above sea level.

What’s interesting about Summerlin is that it is arguably the most difficult course on Tour in terms of hitting Short Game shots around the green, close. However, short game play has little impact in terms of performance due to it being a high GIR course. I think the big key is for players to not get frustrated if they miss a GIR and hit a poor quality pitch or bunker shot. Instead, just keep plugging along and if you hit some quality approaches and putts, you’ll move up the leaderboard nicely.

The greens at Summerlin are also bent grass. So they are fast and relatively flat so the make percentages are fairly high. It’s also very important to find the fairways on the par-5’s. I would almost guarantee that unless it’s Cameron Champ, the winner will have hit a high percentage of fairways on the par-5’s.



Rickie Fowler +1,200
Jordan Spieth +1,400
Patrick Cantlay +2,000
Aaron Wise +2,000
Cameron Champ +3,300
Sam Burns +3,300


Martin Laird +10,000
Sam Ryder +10,000
Corey Conners +15,000
Dylan Meyer +20,000


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Safeway Open

The 2018-2019 season starts with the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort and Spa in the Napa Valley.

The North Course at Silverado is a par-72 playing to 7,166 yards with a 74.3 index and a 135 slope. The course is at 235 feet above sea level.

The course was built in 1955 and then re-designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. in 1966. This is about the tightest you will see a RTJ type design which doesn’t mean much as RTJ preferred to open courses up off the tee.

You will also get to see these nifty lil’ tee markers:

Like most RTJ designs, it’s about the long approaches. He also designed this course with a lot of crowns and saddles (old school AimPoint terminology) in the greens which frustrates a lot of golfers that have never played there before.

With the Alfred Dunhill Cup going on over in the UK, the field isn’t particularly strong. I didn’t list Brendan Steele in my favorites to win, despite winning here the last two years as his numbers just don’t fit the course this year. But, this is the time for a Tour rookie to stake claim to their Tour card right away with the weaker field.

As far as the course goes, I’ve gotten mixed responses from Tour players on the course. Some think it’s a really solid design. Others would rather stay away from it.

Projected Winning Score: -15


Patrick Cantlay +1,200
Phil Mickelson +2,200
Ryan Moore +2,200
Joaquin Niemann +2,500
Adam Hadwin +3,500


Chris Kirk +5,000
Dylan Fritelli +5,500
Kevin Streelman +7,000
Cameron Champ +12,500
Sung Kang +15,000


Monday, October 1, 2018

My Putting Lesson with David Orr

At the beginning of the year I decided to make a list of everything that I hated about my golf game. The goal was to take those things that I hated, whether it be performance related or aesthetically related, then determine if it was hurting my game. If it was hurting my game, I would then seek ways to get rid of it.

For instance, one of the things I hated was my sawed off looking finish in my golf swing.

I started to understand why I was making that sawed-off finish position. It was mainly a function of a club path going too far left with a chest that was not open enough at impact. This would hurt my game, mainly making it more difficult to control the clubface. So I have worked to fix that and over time my finish has looked more ‘pro-like.’

With my putting, I took note of the following things:

- I hated how I putted on putts from 4-10 feet. I was a poor putter, relative to the baseline avg. make % on these putts.

- I hated how I putted on slow greens. I was a poor putter, relative to the baseline avg. make % on these putts.

- I would have a putt that I despised making…this low launching pull that looked like it just got eaten up by the grass and I had no chance of making it and it would miss left and short.

- I was a good putter, relative to the avg. make % on fast greens.

- I was a good putter, relative to the avg. make % on putts from 10-20 feet.

For a long time I have wanted to see my friend, David Orr ( for my putting. I first met David when I was 14 years old as we grew up not too far from each other in New York. David was an aspiring Tour professional who was a really good ballstriker, but struggled with the putter. Eventually, he became an instructor and he wanted to understand the science of putting and is, arguably, the greatest putting instructor in the world. His students have included numerous pros such as Justin Rose, Suzanne Pettersson, Hunter Mahan, Cheyenne Woods, etc.

If you ever go onto David’s Web site (, it has an enormous wealth of knowledge on what seems like an infinite amount of subjects with regards to putting. The site’s membership is $6/month and you can end your subscription at any time. To me, it’s by far the best golf instruction online membership site on the internet, today.

The only issue is that it’s always difficult to diagnose your own putting issues. And for me, I became averse to working on my putting because I didn’t want to work on bad habits. Going to see David in person meant that we could properly diagnose my strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to follow to make for permanent improvement.

And I also wanted to understand those things that I hated about my putting.


David now bases his golf instruction out of the Pine Needles Lodge and Golf. This is located just minutes away from Pinehurst. David has excellent packages that include putting instruction, putter fitting and lodging at the resort.

Pine Needles is a fantastic resort. The lodging can hold up to 4 people in an old fashioned lodging design.

You have quality restaurants and bar/grilled just a short walk away as well as a top-notch practice facility with Pro V1 range balls where you can hit balls from various locations and a short course that is 4 holes called ‘The Loop’ which is a blast to play.

David has an outdoor, real grass putting green designed just outside his studio that is about as perfectly flat as an outdoor real grass putting green can be. And the Pine Needles and Mid Pines golf courses right there, you have the chance to play top of the line golf courses that I just a short walk to get to:


My lesson was the 3 hour package. The first thing we did was have me putt some on the regular practice green. David observed my putting stroke and eventually had me putt some uphill and downhill putts that left-to-right and right-to-left. He also took some videos of my putting stroke outdoors.

The main theme of our lesson?

Working on the Smash Factor of my putting stroke.

The putter has the highest smash factor of any club in the bag. Whereas a driver may get up to a max of 1.50 Smash Factor (Smash Factor = Ball Speed / Club head speed), the putter can a smash factor up to 1.90.

Obviously, a mis-hit will reduce the smash factor. But, I was hitting my putts on the sweet spot of my putter. The problem was my stroke was designed to not allow much energy transfer from the putter head to ball.

In essence, I had a long backstroke and I had to have a longer backstroke because the ball came off the face too ‘softly.’ The only way I could get the ball to the hole was to take the longer backstroke.

And this explained one of the questions I had:

Relative to the avg make % being the baseline…why am I an better than average putter on fast greens and a miserable putter on slow greens?

I think it’s because I’m a pretty good green reader that read those putts on faster greens. But, the faster greens means that I can take a shorter backstroke and there would be less for me to ‘screw up’ from a putting stroke perspective.

In my case, David saw that I had what he calls an ‘under-twist’ motion. A small clockwise motion from my right hand thru impact.

And this would explain my issues on putts from 4-10 feet.

Those putts have a little less to do with green reading (IMO). You can be a little off with the green reading on those putts and still make the putt whereas a putt from 10-20 feet if you’re a little off with the read, your chance of making the putt plummets.

The 4-10 foot putts are more about initial direction of the putt, launch, etc. A poor quality of strike will likely mean a miss than a weak read (IMO).

David actually brought his own putter to the green and started putting with me. He then went over some instruction with me on the green. We changed my grip (I had a very strong right hand grip) as well as going over different types of rotation in the putting strokes (closed to open, open to closed, square to square). And we also worked on the radius of my stroke as I had a tendency to lengthen the radius in my backswing.


We then headed to David’s putting studio.

The putting studio has 3D motion capture, Puttview, Sam Puttlab, a putter fitting setup, etc. First, we got in front of a mirror and altered my setup position a little. I had the ball too far forward at address. David also added a little bit of right lateral bend at address (about 3 degrees). He showed it in the mirror so I could see what I looked like with the new address change.

From there, we went onto the SAM Puttlab on the Puttview platform and measured my stroke.

A few notes from my original SAM Puttlab measurements:

- My aim was only off by about 0.4 degrees to the right at address.
- My path moved quite a bit to the left which helped cause the Smash Factor issues.
- I opened the putter face quite a bit in the backstroke.
- I had too much forward shaft lean at impact

If you haven’t seen PuttView…you’re missing out. And if you want to become an expert putting coach, PuttView will greatly help expedite that process.

First, PuttView can change the degree of the slope on a putt by 4%. So if you want to work on a 2.3% right to left putt, the platform can change to that. It takes about 15-20 seconds to change the slope.

Then there’s all of the PuttView optics, many of which are shown in the video. You can show the AimPoint, the tangent line, the line of the putt where it hits the entry point of the cup, the ‘banana view’ (3 different lines to the hole depending on the speed you want to hit it), etc.

I thought one of the coolest things PuttView offered is that it would show the line of the putt with the line going from the ball to the cup at the same speed as a putt that ends up 1 foot past the cup or a putt that dies into the hole.

For my situation, we used PuttView mostly because of how I putted Right-to-Left putts. I would aim very square to the target on straight putts and left-to-right putts. But, I would aim DEAD RIGHT on right-to-left putts. Combine that with the ‘under-twist’ movement, it was a clear fear of hitting a pull…particularly on right-to-left putts.

Some more alterations were made to the putting stroke as we adjusted my wrist position at address. And amazingly enough, just by looking at my stroke David could tell that I didn’t have enough pressure in my right middle and ring fingers! Just by looking at the stroke he could see that I would lose that pressure in my fingers during the stroke and we worked to keep that pressure constant throughout the stroke. When we started to look at my stroke on the SAM Puttlab with those changes, we started to see even better aim at address, less face change and rotation and a smaller path to the left.


This led to the putter fitting. I have always been confused by what putter I should use as I’ve virtually been fitted for mallet style putters by every fitter I’ve ever worked with. Yet, I have never putted well with mallets for any length of time. In fact, the best I ever putted was with a Wilson 8802 putter as a junior golfer. And I would have fitters tell me that my stroke didn’t fit that 8802!

Going into the lesson, I figured that I would probably be fitted for a Fang Style putter. David has said on his Web site that golfers that want to avoid a pull tend to go to the mallet style putter. I have never used a Fang style putter, so I figured that would probably be the best option for me to avoid the pull, but not be your typical mallet design that I suck at putting with.

Instead, David had me fitted with a blade style putter. In fact, probably the bladiest blade of all blades.

The SeeMore mFPG

While we were fitting for the putter, we made a couple more alterations. Particularly taking the forward shaft lean out at address because I had too much shaft lean at impact. The SeeMore works well in that regard because of the Red Dot they have to help align the golfer without the shaft lean.

That’s when my stroke on the SAM Puttlab became really good. The aim was off by less than 0.3 degrees at address, the face change and rotation greatly reduced and the path was only going about 0.3 degrees to the left. Originally it was going about 2 degrees left.

And this meant a much shorter backstroke with a far better smash factor. And my aim on right-to-left putts when from aiming wayyyy right to basically being spot on.

But, David also gave me some options of putters to choose from and we went on the SAM Puttlab to try them out.

The Toulon Austin putter was arguably the best fit for me with the SeeMore.

We also tried the TaylorMade Soto:

The TM Soto didn’t fit as well, although it was worlds better than my gamer, the Bettinardi Queen B #9.

In the end, David preferred the SeeMore for me. Although his intuition was that I would likely have the best possible fit with a blade/Anser style putter that either had no or ½ offset and the hosel location was somewhere between the SeeMore and the TM Soto hosel locations. I do have the Toulon Long Island at home that I haven’t used in a while:

David said he wished that I had brought it with me as that may have been a better fit. However, the Toulon Long Island is at 2/3rd offset. It’s also hard to argue how good I was stroking the SeeMore and it has the red dot to help me align my hands at address properly.

So I purchased the SeeMore with the following specs, per David:

35” long (my Bettinardi was at 34” and was way too short for me).
3* loft
70* lie angle
Midsize Pistol Grip

In all it was a fantastic time that has gotten me excited about putting again. The following day I played Pine Needles and I couldn’t get over how much better my putting from inside 10-feet was despite having to use my Bettinardi putter which doesn’t fit me at all.

And I think David has some incredible instruction/stay packages available. Between the instruction and the fitting, serious golfers like myself will save a lot of money and frustration by putting better and having to use 1 putter instead of inconsistent putting and buying a new putter every year, hoping that will finally cure your woes.

While there are some really good putting instructors out there, I don’t think any of them are the complete package as David and his understanding and data on the hands and wrist movements in the putting stroke is unparalleled. And more importantly, I think he's going to get rid of all of those things I hate about my putting.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Tour Championship

The Tour Championship will be played this week at East Lake.

East Lake plays to over 7,300 yards at a par-70 with an index of 76.2 and a slope of 144.

It was originally designed by Donald Ross and then re-designed by Rees Jones. The area around East Lake was one of the most dangerous areas in the country and was once given the nickname lil’ Nam (as in Little Vietnam).

When I lived in Atlanta, a neighbor of mine told the story of getting onto East Lake with his boss back in the 80’s and while they were playing a man jumped the fence…robbed them at gun point and then hopped the fence again and disappeared.

Anyway, the neighborhood has completely changed and embraced the event. However, I’m not the biggest fan of the actual course. From talking to players, they seem to like it but I tend to think that they are just happy to be there because it means they are in the Tour Championship and they are exempt from almost every event and are exempt from every major next season.

Jokingly, I wonder if part of the prize for making it to the Tour Championship was to not have to play in Pro-Ams for the next season if that would put extra pressure on players during the season.

Anyway, this is a Red Zone course and a bomber’s course. Wide open and very long. The par-3’s are brutal. They did the smart thing by changing up the nine’s so that the 18th hole is no longer a par-3 (and a worthless par-3 to boot).

But, it’s also a course that stresses short game around the green. Typical of Donald Ross designs.

Projected Winning Score: -12


Rory McIlroy +900
Justin Rose +900
Justin Thomas +1,200


Hideki Matsuyama +2,000
Tommy Fleetwood +2,500
Kevin Na +7,000


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 BMW Championship

The final leg of the FedEx playoffs is at Aronomink Golf Club, just outside of Philadelphia.

Aronomink was built in 1896 and designed by Donald Ross, my personal favorite golf course architect. Ross’ designs often featured golfers using every club in their bag with crowned and elevated greens that put an emphasis on precise iron play and capable skill around the greens.

The main issue with Ross’ designs is that he had not adequately prepared for the distance gains stemming from new technology and many of his courses were severely diminished or became obsolete. In 2003, Donald Ross expert Ron Prichard headed up the renovation of Aronomink that recaptured Ross’ design concepts.

In 2017, Gil Hanse led further renovations at Aronomink. For myself, the jury is still out on Hanse as an architect. As difficult as the green surrounds that Ross would design, Hanse has carried a reputation of being ridiculous in these features. However, there are plenty of respectable golfers that give Hanse high praise.

The lengthening of Aronomink means that the key approach shots should be a little longer and that will likely mean more missed greens and thus short game performance should matter more. I have the last critical hole on the course, based on the AT&T National Championships held at Aronomink in 2010 and 2011 as the 15th hole.


Dustin Johnson +900
Justin Rose +1,200
Brooks Koepka +1,400
Tiger Woods +2,000
Rory McIlroy +2,000
Tony Finau +2,000
Jordan Spieth +2,200
Hideki Matsuyama +2,500


Patrick Cantlay +3,500
Phil Mickelson +4,000


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Dell Technologies Championship

The second stage of the FedEx playoffs at TPC Boston this week:

TPC Boston was originally designed by Arnold Palmer in 2003 and then re-designed by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon in 2007. It plays to a par-71 at 7,216 yards with a 77.6 index.

I’m not very familiar with Hanse’s designs. He designed the recently opened Streamsong Black which I have yet to play. He also re-designed The Blue Monster at Doral. I’m a big fan of Arnold Palmer’s designs and really think that Bay Hill is a vastly underappreciated design particularly as I started to study the course from an analytics standpoint. But, Mr. Palmer wasn’t a big fan of creating a torture chamber and would lean towards making the course too easy versus too difficult. Hanse and Faxon may have been brought in to toughen up the course a bit.

From what I’ve been told from people that have played Hanse designs is that the green contours are super challenging. But given the performance at TPC Boston the past few years it appears that the course isn’t overly difficult and is more Palmer biased than Hanse designed.

Most of this course will revolve around driving and mid-length approach shots. The par-5, 18th hole is the final Critical Hole on the course.

Projected Winning Score: -15


Justin Thomas +1,000
Brooks Koepka +1,200
Jordan Spieth +2,000
Tony Finau +2,800
Patrick Cantlay +3,300
Bryson DeChambeau +3,300
Henrik Stenson +3,300


Billy Horschel +4,500
Kyle Stanley +8,000
Byeong Hun An +12,500


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Northern Trust Championship

The first leg of the FedEx playoffs takes place at Ridgewood Country Club for the Northern Trust Championship. Ridgewood CC was built in 1929 by one of the legendary designers, AW Tillinghast. It was listed in the Register of Historic Places in 2015 and re-designed by Gil Hanse in 1995.

I often go between my favorite designers being either Donald Ross or Tillinghast. Both stressed a good variety of holes and getting the golfer to use every club in the bag in a round of golf. My experience with Hanse is limited, but from what I’ve seen he stresses golfers with tricky green complexes.

In the past Ridgewood has served as a course that favors all-around play with a stress on driving, mid iron play and shots around the green. They’ve made some additional renovations, so it will be interesting on how the course turns out.

Ridgewood is also where Byron Nelson cut his teeth as a professional. had a nice writeup on Mr. Nelson’s time at Ridgewood that can be found here: Byron Nelson at Ridgewood

Projected Winning Score: -15


Justin Thomas +1,200
Justin Rose +1,600
Francesco Molinari +2,200
Tommy Fleetwood +2,800
Patrick Cantlay +4,000


Rafael Cabrera Bello +8,000
Ryan Moore +10,000
Kevin Streelman +12,500
Ryan Armour +15,000
Keegan Bradley +15,000


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 PGA Championship

The 100th PGA Championship occurs tomorrow at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

What many people do not realize is that the PGA Championship was originally a match play format before moving to stroke play in 1958. 

There's always the contention that the PGA Championship isn't really a 'major' from small factions of people.  I get the idea as it lacks some identity.  With the Masters you have the 1 course played each year and you have those Augusta greens.  The US Open was about the brutal rough and the British Open is about the links design and in particular, the wind.  But with the PGA you really lack that identifiable trait.  That's why I propose that they make this a global event with the tournament being held at a different course in the world each year.

This year the venue is Bellerive Country Club.  It plays to 7,547 yards at a par-71 that is 530 feet above sea level.  It's a Robert Trent Jones design.  I grew up playing a lot of RT Jones designs as he graduated from Cornell University and got his start in the Central New York area.

Jones' calling card is somewhat wide fairways and very long holes.  You can gain some strokes off the tee, particularly if you're long and somewhat straight off the tee.  But most of the strokes will be lost/gained from the Red Zone in Jones' designs.

Here were the '94 top finishers:

1st - Nick Price
t-2nd - John Cook, Nick Faldo, Jim Gallagher, Jr. and Gene Sauers
6th - Jeff Maggert

Peter Jacobsen, a very underrated ballstriker, won the 2004 US Senior Open there as well.

Nick Price was one of the best drivers of the ball on Tour since 1980.  In fact, when I wrote about the players that accomplished the feat of being 1 standard deviation above the mean in both driving distance and driving accuracy in the same year since 1980 (2011 Pro Golf Synopsis) Price was one of the few players to have done it in two different seasons (so did Nicklaus, Lietzke and Duval).

But, Price was also a superb Red Zone player.  John Cook's data follows the same suit, but Faldo and Maggert were more excellent Red Zone players than great drivers of the ball.  Combine that with Jacobsen's victory, I would look out for quality drivers and Red Zone players of the ball. 

The players are believing that this is a low scoring course, but you never know when the tournament flags go up.  What would concern me is that the top finishers in '94 were mostly very accurate off the tee.  That likely means firm and fast fairways.  However, St. Louis has had a lot of rain recently.


Dustin Johnson +800
Rory McIlroy + 1,200
Justin Thomas +1,400
Brooks Koepka + 1,800
Justin Rose +2,000
Jon Rahm +2,500
Tommy Fleetwood +2,500


Francesco Molinari +3,000
Gary Woodland +10,000
Kiradech Aphibarnrat +20,000


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 WGC - Bridgestone

The Tour comes to Firestone Country Club for the last time for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The original tournament at Firestone was the NEC World Series of Golf which was originally a 4-man event, taking each of the 4 major championship winners to play in the event. Eventually in 1999 it turned into a WGC event.

The south course was originally designed by Bert Way in 1929 and then re-designed in 1960 by Robert Trent Jones. Jones was once the premier designer, particularly for major championship courses, on Tour. Having grown up playing numerous RT Jones designs (he was a graduate of nearby Cornell University) his courses are very long and fairly wide open. But, he does stress quality driving…it just tends to be more distance biased than accuracy biased.

To my knowledge, Firestone – South is the only RT Jones design left on Tour. Most of the current Tour courses have more dogleg that have sharper bends to them. If the rough is short and the conditions are soft, it generally gives an enormous advantage to the long hitters. If the rough is long and the course is firm, it favors short, but accurate hitters off the tee. With RT Jones designs, it should favor longer hitters, year after year.

Watch out for some big drives here as last year Rory McIlroy was hitting speed rams and routinely pumping 370+ yard drives. But, this should mostly come down to longer approach shot plays and who can make some mid-length putts.



Dustin Johnson +700
Rory McIlroy +1,000
Justin Rose +1,200
Jordan Spieth +2,000
Jon Rahm +2,000


Henrik Stenson +4,000
Patrick Cantlay +6,600
Bryson DeChambeau +6,600
Kyle Stanley +12,500
Gary Woodland +20,000


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What To Look For: RBC Canadian Open

The third oldest tournament on the PGA Tour, The Canadian Open, comes this week from Glen Abbey Golf Club just outside of Toronto:

Glen Abbey is the most common course played for the Canadian Open. It was designed in 1976 by Jack Nicklaus. Ironically, this is one of the few pro events that Nicklaus never won.

This is a critical event on Tour for many players because the field is somewhat weak since the British Open was the week before. This will allow for some players with less FedEx points to possibly make a large leap in the FedEx standings before the playoffs.

Overall, the course is not that well liked by the players. Most of the strokes will be gained/lost off the tee and on mid-iron approach shots. The par-5’s are critical as well, but they are more about the drive than the 2nd shot.

The par-5 18th is the final critical hole on the course.


Dustin Johnson +650
Brooks Koepka +1,100
Tony Finau +1,600
Tommy Fleetwood +1,600
Charley Hoffman +2,500


Gary Woodland +4,000
Byeong Hun An +5,000
Sam Ryder +8,000
Hunter Mahan +12,500
Conrad Shindler +15,000


Friday, July 13, 2018

Making Par vs. Saving Par and Pre-Shot Routine with George Gankas

Here's a video that I really liked from George Gankas on his new YouTube channel.  You can find his new YouTube channel at this link:

George Gankas YouTube Channel

In my lesson with GG back in April we discussed some statistical analytics in golf and a little bit of strategy. But, he didn't need much help as most of the stuff I have seen him discuss is on the same wavelength with what the data tends to show.

What I like about this video is the pre-shot routine analysis. Recently the European Tour did some analysis on pre-shot routines and the consistency and time it takes and its impact on performance.

My only issue with the RSM study is that the sample size (20 players over 8 rounds) is questionable at best. But, I do believe that with a more sufficient sample size the main conclusion would be the same.

I also like GG's solution for separating swing thoughts from your round of golf in order to get the golfer to 'play golf instead of playing golf swing.' 

I'm a firm believer in utilizing slow motion practice. Not only because it works well at ingraining mechanical movements in your swing. But, I have found that when I'm really in tune with slow motion practice I can get out on the course and play without using swing thoughts. In fact, it's almost like a weird out-of-body experience where I can stand behind the ball, visualize the shot and visualize myself hitting the shot before I actually hit the shot. Golf becomes automatic from there.

The issue is that if you're working on new mechanics and want to play it will take time to get to that level with slow motion practice. So, I really like GG's instruction of making the first practice swing with your swing thought and then 'turn that thought into a feel' on your 2nd practice swing.


Having said that, to me it's not really a 'feel' as much as my braining SENSING how my body needs to move to hit the shot I want to hit.

I remember years ago reading an article and they asked Fred Couples on how he hits a draw on purpose (at that time he played a fade). Couples' response was that he simply visualized the ball drawing in his pre-shot routine and then he simply got up there and hit the ball and it would draw. I used to think that Fred was full of shit and that there had to be some type of actual swing thoughts and step-by-step instruction to do so. But about 20 years later I started to realize that Couples was telling the truth and he was simply sensing what his body had to do in order to produce a draw.

I relate this sensing to watching musicians play a song that they are not quite familiar with.  My sister was an accomplished violinist and occasionally would hear a popular song on the radio and play it with her violin.  She didn't need sheet music or think about what actual notes to play or how he was holding the violin, etc.  Instead, she could hear the music and her brain could sense that if she made a certain movement it would produce the sound she wanted.


The concept of making par vs. saving par also reminds me a lot of what Jim Furyk once said in a Golf Channel Playing Lesson.  Furyk hit a poor drive on a hole and the host asked him what was going thru his mind.  Furyk's reply was there was no reason to get upset and instead he imagined that he was playing from the tee box from that location and it was a par-4 from there.  His goal was to hopefully make a faux 'birdie' (actually a par), but he didn't want to make anything more than a faux par (actual bogey).

In GG's case, saving the actual par was not overly difficult because he did have some semblance of a shot at the green and he didn't have a long ways to go.  But, the concept should stay the same.  Losing your cool on the golf course is understandable and even to a degree, acceptable.  But if it works against you being able to properly focus then it will be a detriment to your score.

One of the main concepts to come away from all of this is that data analytics and psychology in golf are often intertwined.  They operate in a vacuum in golf far less often than people think.  Things like confidence, etc. often produce 'good numbers' for golfers, but playing the odds correctly can often produce a healthy golfer from a psychological standpoint.  And we can use data analytics to measure how things like pre-shot routines can impact performance and then use neurological and psychological experts to give detail as to what occurred to produce those observed results.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Do Slower Greens Favor Better Putting?

I received this question from a Twitter follower:

It's a bit difficult to decipher Fowler's point as the phrase 'good putting' is not defined by him. My guess is that he believes that the more skilled putters (we'll say that 'more skilled' are the players that finish near the top in Strokes Gained - Putting) tend to out-putt the rest of the field on slower greens.

In that case, it depends on a few factors.

If you were to take the same course and change the stimps, typically the faster stimps favor better putting. The better putters on Tour tend to gain more of an advantage on putts that break more and going from a 9 stimp to a 13 stimp on the same course will mean the putts will have more break.

But, there are a lot of other factors to be considered.

Faster greens, be it for Tour pros or amateurs, tend to have a higher make % from inside 20-feet. Faster greens tend to be smoother and thus the make % increases. There’s probably something to be said for having to hit a putt softer and taking a shorter stroke as well. But faster greens also tend to have a higher 3-putt percentage. It’s close to being all or nothing, either make the putt or end up with a longer following putt and increasing your probability of 3-putting.

Having said that, the slower greens, particularly on Tour, tend to be on courses designed prior to 1980 with little or no renovations to the greens. Architects from that era makes greens nearly half the size of modern design greens. Thus, 3-putt probabilities are more likely to be lower due to the likelihood of having a much shorter first putt on average. These architects also favored more undulated green contours and thus the greens could not sustain fast stimps.

In a case like Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines, both courses with very low make percentages that the best putters tend to gain the biggest advantage on the greens…they have slow greens, but with some of the most undulated green contours on Tour.

But, if those greens were to play at a faster stimp they would inevitably give good putters a stronger advantage. Thus, it’s really about the size of the break which is a combination of stimp and % of slope. Slow flat greens will not favor good putters more than fast flat greens much less fast, undulated greens.

From my examination of Tour players and their performance on types of breaking putts, almost everybody on Tour can putt well on straight putts or near straight, but uphill putts. What separates the best putters on Tour from the rest is that they can make a higher and near equal percentage of left-to-right versus left-to-right breaking putts. The rest of the Tour is filled with putters that do not putt nearly as well at both types of breaking putts.

Noticing that the best putters on Tour tend to putt both types of breaking putts better and don’t have a bias between the two is like noticing that NBA players tend to be tall.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Greenbrier Classic

The Tour returns to the Alleghany mountains for 8th annual Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC course:

The Old White TPC course was built in 1910 by Charles B. Macdonald.  It currently plays to nearly 7,300 yards as a par-70.  It's also still one of the most respected courses on Tour.  It features a lot of square and rectangular shaped greens and the finishing hole is a 177 yard par-3.

The last critical hole on the course is the 616 yard par-5 17th hole.  Despite it being 616 yards, it's quite reachable in two shots.  Here's a look at the cumulative 2nd shots tht either found the green or close to it last year:

It just requires 2 quality strikes and the big thing is finding the fairway off the tee. 

Other than that, The Old White TPC is a long iron and wedge course and often times the winner here is a surprising player that has been striking the irons well all year long, but has failed to get the payoff:



Brian Harman +2,500
Charles Howell III +2,800
Jimmy Walker +3,300
Bill Haas +5,000


Keegan Bradley +5,500
Kevin Chappell +6,600
Nick Watney +8,000
JJ Spaun +10,000
Alex Cejka +15,000
Tom Hoge +20,000


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Quicken Loans National

The Quicken Loans National was established in 2007 as the AT&T National, known as ‘Tiger’s Event.’ It has been held in the DC to Philadelphia area with Congressional being the main course it has been held at. While the range from DC to Philadelphia may seem like an expansive area to cover, it’s only about a 2.5 hour drive from the two cities.

Congressional has soured on the event in recent years as it takes time for the course to recover from the event and there’s limited time each year to play at Congressional. That leads the Tour coming back to TPC Avenal…now TPC at Avenal Farm in Bethesda, Maryland:

I don’t know a lot about TPC at Avenal Farm other than it was one of the courses they used to have on the early versions of PGA Tour golf video games. But, I’ll let Wikipedia give the background on the course:

Originally opened thirty-two years ago in 1986, the course was roundly criticized for poor design in its early years. It was also plagued by years of flooding and drainage problems and by various turfgrass issues which affected the greens and often produced less than satisfactory tournament conditions. As a result, many top professionals stayed away, and the Kemper/Booz Allen tournament became unofficially relegated to "B" event status. 

In the summer of 2005, Dewberry and Davis land surveying crews were regularly seen taking measurements across the facility, sparking rumors that the long criticized course would finally be reconfigured. Confirmation came in 2007, when a $32 million golf course and clubhouse renovation commenced in an effort to bring back a tournament to the Washington D.C. area. The renovation covered the entire course, which has been reshaped into a new 7,139-yard (6,528 m) course at par 70 with Rock Run Creek being expanded and cleaned up. 

The controversial sixth hole (conceived as a weak copy of the 13th at Augusta National) was changed to a straightaway long par-four with the green now short and left of the creek. The par-3 ninth (famously maligned by Greg Norman, who suggested the original be "blown up with dynamite") was rebuilt with a new green up on a hill near the old practice green. The old 10th and 11th holes have been combined into the new tenth, a long par-five playing around the restored creek feature. The old 12th is now the 11th, with the old par-five 13th (another popular target of player angst) eliminated and replaced by a new, uphill par-three 12th and a short, par-four 13th. 

In addition to the golf course, the project also included a new practice facility and short game area, and clubhouse renovations. In November 2015, the 7th and 16th greens were renovated to flatten contours and provide additional hole locations in anticipation of hosting the Quicken Loans National in 2017. Additionally, small improvements were made to a number of holes, including creating bent grass chipping and collection areas around the 3rd, 4th, and 18th greens, widening the 5th and 6th fairways, and flattening the front portion of the 13th green to create additional hole locations. Finally, the on-deck putting green was quadrupled in size from 1,500 square feet (140 m2) to over 6,000 sq ft (560 m2).

Last year TPC at Avenal Farm greatly favored players that were good at avoiding bogeys. Usually avoiding bogeys on Tour requires quality driving, long approach play, short game around the green and putting from 3-6 feet. The last critical hole on the course is the Par-4 16th hole which plays to 415 yards.

What I saw out of the 16th last year is that it was very difficult getting up-and-down when a player missed the green in regulation:

Players that missed short of the green or in the short right bunker only got up-and-down about 30% of the time. It sort of fits the characteristic of a ‘Critical Hole’ as the green is fairly shallow, but it’s not a super long hole and the up-and-down percentages are low. Since it’s not a long hole, plenty of players can find the GIR. But given that it’s a shallow green with low scramble conversion %, lots of players can easily make a bogey.



Tiger Woods +1,200
Kyle Stanley +2,000
Charles Howell III +2,500
JB Holmes +2,500
Byeong Hun An +3,300


Kevin Streelman +5,000
Si Woo Kim +5,000
Adam Hadwin +6,600
Martin Laird +7,500
Alex Cejka +15,000


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Travelers Championship

The PGA Tour comes back to Hartford for the 66th Travelers Championship:

TPC River Highlands was created in 1928 and was designed by Robert Ross and Maurice Kearney and was originally called Middletown Golf Club. Later, it changed its name to Edgewood Country Club in 1934. The course went thru a re-design by Pete Dye in 1984 as was renamed TPC of Connecticut. It then went thru further renovations from Bobby Weed (one of my personal favorites) along with Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie and changed its name to TPC River Highlands.

The course is well received by the players. Perhaps due to the much needed break from the US Open. However, I do not find it surprising as a lot of the Pete Dye courses I’ve played that were later tweaked and renovated tend to be very good. Dye has a lot of good ideas, but tends to go overboard…particularly with blind tee shots where it’s difficult to get a feel for the line.

TPC River Highlands is pretty straight forward. It’s a course for good drivers that leans towards power off the tee and then is about mid-length iron shots. Get those two areas of the game down and you’ll likely get into the top-20 even with poor putting.

The big hole that the telecast will focus on is the par-4 15th hole that only plays to 296 yards. And it is a ‘critical hole’ at Hartford. However, it’s not exactly my favorite type of reachable par-4 design as it’s pretty straightforward in that any player should go for the green.

Here’s the data of tee shots from #15 last year. It appears there were only 7 layups, each resulting in par.

The last critical hole is the devious 17th hole where water comes into play on the tee shot and the approach. This should be the hole that gets a lot of attention because it is what separates the contenders versus the rest of the field

Projected Winning Score: -15


Justin Thomas +1,200
Paul Casey +2,000
Bryson DeChambeau +2,500
Emiliano Grillo +4,000


Kyle Stanley +6,000
Chez Reavie +6,600
Keegan Bradley +6,600
Brendan Steele +6,600
Kevin Streelman +10,000
Pat Perez +10,000


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 US Open

The 127 year old Shinnecock Hills Golf Club will host the US Open this week.

The Hamptons in Long Island is the home to gazillionaires and in the summer time the crowds and traffic in Manhattan dissipate (by Manhattan standards), particularly on Fridays, as the movers and shakers look to spend their time in the Hamptons.

It’s one of the big things I noticed when I moved to the south coming from Upstate New York…summers are much more fun in the Northeast. After getting killed by the snow and crappy weather for most of the year, come summertime people from the Northeast are ready to make the most of it. That means plenty of vacation time to be used and plenty of time to party and do the outdoors stuff while the good weather lasts.

The Hamptons provides that environment. And because you’re on Long Island, the traffic is unbearable and you’re going to hear about the bad traffic on the telecast, The Golf Channel, etc.

Shinnecock was originally designed as a 12-hole course by Willie Davis in 1891. Three years later, Willie Dunn added 6 more holes. It was then re-designed again in the 1937 to make the course 6,700 yards long. Currently, it is playing to ‘only’ 7,445 yards. That’s ‘only’ to US Open standards. However, it’s a par-70 and if the winds pick up, it can be quite treacherous.

Currently, Shinnecock ranks #6 in top golf courses in the world by GOLF Magazine. The general consensus from natives is that they prefer National Golf Links (ranked #7) over Shinnecock.

The US Open is difficult to predict because the field is so vast. The other issue is that you don’t know what the USGA is going to do with the design. For instance, Erin Hills was so wide open that it massively favored the long hitter. When Rory McIlroy won at Congressional, you would have thought that this was just another Tour stop than a US Open course. Chambers Bay was a disaster conditioning wise. Merion made drastic changes (and I think was probably the best design for a US Open course in a long time). They also completely revamped Pinehurst #2 when Kaymer won it.

So, it becomes very difficult to judge what a course will do, even if you have past history at it. My guess is that Shinnecock will stay the same based on past history. There’s talk about the course being wide open and providing the long hitters with a tremendous advantage. But, I don’t see the people at Shinnecock kowtowing to anybody. The US Open could always use Shinnecock, but Shinnecock doesn’t need the US Open. And thus, I see Shinnecock making little in the way of changes to appease the USGA. You’re just not going to see the disaster you saw at Chambers Bay happen at Shinnecock. And my guess is that the people of Shinnecock have too much pride in the club to let it get steamrolled by the field like what happened at Erin Hills and Congressional.

Looking at the history of Shinnecock, the real premium appears to be short game play and iron play. Here’s a look at the top finishers in 2004:

1st – R. Goosen
2nd – P. Mickelson
3rd – J. Maggert
t-4th – S. Maruyama
t-4th – M. Weir
6th – F. Funk
t-7th – R. Allenby
t-7th – S. Flesch
t-9th – S. Ames
t-9th – C. Dimarco
t-9th – E. Els
t-9th – J. Haas

Out of those 12 players listed, the only poor short game performers were Maggert, Allenby and Ames. And those three were all fabulous iron players in their primes. Then we go back to 1995 when Corey Pavin won. Pavin is one of the greatest short game performers of all time. That Open was filled with more great iron players at the top like Greg Norman, Tom Lehman and Bill Glasson. But, Norman was a pretty sound short game performer.

Then we hit 1986 when Raymond Floyd, another one of the all time great short game players wins followed by Chip Beck (excellent iron player and short game), Lanny Wadkins (all-time great iron player and good short game), Hal Sutton (excellent iron player), Lee Trevino (legendary iron player and short game performer).

Projected Winning Score: -3


Dustin Johnson +800
Justin Rose +1,400
Justin Thomas +1,400
Jordan Spieth +1,800
Rickie Fowler +1,800


Branden Grace +3,300
Paul Casey +5,000
Marc Leishman +6,000
Louis Oosthuizen +6,000
Cameron Smith +15,000


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic

The Tour heads to one of my favorite Tour stops for the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis:

TPC Southwind is widely considered one of the best designs on Tour by the players and embraces a great charity in the St. Jude’s Hospitals. The event and the course do not quite get the recognition of other events and courses as the field is often weaker due to the US Open being on the following week.

But, it’s a fantastic design by Ron Prichard who was known for doing renovations of courses from my favorite architect, Donald Ross.

The course plays to 7,244 yards at a par-70. The final critical hole is the 453 yard par-4 18th hole.

The drive on 18 shows why it’s a hole with such great deviation in scores:

That red dot way up in the fairway is Brooks Koepka.

However, this is really an approach shot course and players that win here tend to be good from longer approach shots and some shorter approach shots due to some of the short par-4’s and par-5’s that may not be reachable with a mediocre drive. There’s always the possibility that a player like a Koepka can drive it well and overpower the course and leave themselves with shorter approaches and take advantage of the field anyway. This course generally favors the top players more, but that’s because the field usually presents itself with weaker players due to the US Open. But in the end, there’s a lot of different types of players that can win at Memphis.



Dustin Johnson +700
Brooks Koepka +900
Henrik Stenson +1,400
Phil Mickelson +1,400
Tony Finau +2,500
Daniel Berger +2,800


Joaquin Niemann +3,300
Luke List +4,000
Chris Kirk +8,000
Matt Jones +10,000


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Memorial Tournament

This week the Tour will be at Muirfield Village for Jack’s tournament, The Memorial Tournament in central Ohio.

This marks the 42nd Memorial Tournament, all played at Muirfield Village. Muirfield Village was designed by Mr. Nicklaus and is one of the more well respected golf course designs on Tour.

The design focuses on approach shots and short game shots. Driving is not a very big factor here as the fairways are pretty wide when driver is needed. Typically the field average hit fairway percentage is around 70-75%. One can use the Bubba Watson method where he hits it so long to those open fairways that he gets left with short approach shots while the rest of the field is hitting logner approach shots. But, in general there’s going to be some critical greens that will be missed and players that cannot make difficult up-and-downs will likely be taken out of contention.

The 18th hole is also the final critical hole of the event.



Justin Rose +1,400
Justin Thomas +1,400
Jordan Spieth +1,600
Tiger Woods +1,800
Henrik Stenson +2,800


Hideki Matsuyama +3,300
Louis Oosthuizen +7,500
Bill Haas +12,500
Jamie Lovemark +12,500
Bud Cauley +17,500


Thursday, May 24, 2018

New GolfWRX Column: An Early Look at the Potential US Ryder Cup Team

With the Masters and the Players Championship complete, I wanted to examine the statistics of the current leaders in Ryder Cup Points for the U.S. Team. Over the history of the Ryder Cup, the U.S. Team has relied on pairings that were friends and practice-round companions instead of pairing players that were more compatible from a statistical standpoint. This has led to disappointing performances from the U.S. Team and top players such as Jim Furyk performing poorly at the Ryder Cup, as he is ill-suited for the Fourball format.

After a disastrous 2014 Ryder Cup where the U.S. Team lost by a score of 16.5-11.5, the U.S. decided to use a more statistical approach to Ryder Cup play. According to my calculations, the 2016 U.S. Team’s pairings were the closest to optimal that the U.S. Team has compiled in the last seven Ryder Cups. And not surprisingly, the U.S. Team won 17-11 over the Europeans.

Since there are several months to go before the Ryder Cup, I won’t get too much into potential pairings in this article. Instead, I will focus more on the current games of top-12 players in U.S. Ryder Cup Points Standings and how that translates to Ryder Cup performance.

Read More atGolfWRX: An Early Look at the Potential US Ryder Cup Team


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 Ft. Worth Invitational

The Tour is at Colonial this week for the 72nd Ft. Worth Invitational:

This season the tournament does not have a lead sponsor which was putting the tournament's future in doubt.  However, next season it will be sponsored by Charles Schwab.

The tournament also has the unique Champion's Choice Tradition where last year's champion is allowed to select two, young and up and coming players to participate in the event that they are typically not qualified to play in.

The event is known as Ben Hogan's tournament as Hogan was a long time member at Colonial.  The course itself fits along the lines of Hogan's game with difficult tee shots that require ultimate precision and a lot of difficult approach shots.

Colonial was designed in 1936 by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell.  The course was created by Marvin Leonard who was obsessed with having smooth rolling, bentgrass greens in Texas.  Redstick Country Club in Vero Beach tried to get bentgrass greens but it was nearly impossible for them to maintain.  Ft. Worth is probably a little more reasonable as the humidity in Florida doesn't jive well with bentgrass.  But in reality, today's bermuda grass strains roll pretty much as well as bentgrass greens.

The difference with bentgrass is that it does not take a lot of resources and does not require perfect weather to get excellent putting complexes.  Growing up on bentgrass greens, you would be surprised how many rinky-dink clubs with a small crew working on the greens can produce world class putting greens.  In fact, the best greens I've ever putted on were at small Wellsville Country Club in Wellsville, NY. 

Bermuda requires a lot of resources and time to sustain the greens.  In Florida, the bigger courses have a distinct advantage in their greens upkeep during the spring.  But, come summer that advantage minute as everybody is struggling to keep up their greens and some courses just happen to get a break with the weather conditions over others.

Where I tell golfers that are used to playing on bentgrass and are going to bermuda to get used to is the rough.  Particularly around the greens.  Last year when I went back home to play on bentgrass for the first time in nearly 15 years...I was shocked by how much softer I had to hit the ball from the bentgrass rough. 

The other big difference is bermuda greens need to be replaced every 12-15 years. They just don't hold up well after that.

Here's my thoughts on different bermuda green strains:

TifEagle - my preferred choice.  Extremely durable and can still run very smooth with a lot of foot traffic.  However, best to keep the stimps under 11 and struggles to maintain on 'sunken' green complexes.

UltraDwarf - works better at faster stimps than TifEagle, but needs constant maintenance and doesn't handle traffic nearly as well.

Championship Bermuda - When well kept, the best greens of the bunch and closest to bentgrass.  Usually takes approach shots well and it can be difficult to find the pitch mark.  Can easily run to 13 stimp.  But, it's very expensive and required a lot of care and doesn't work that great with heavy foot traffic.

Miniverde - excellent strain that tends to look a little more grainy, but still rolls quite smooth.  Plays more in between TifEagle and Championship Bermuda.

Anyway, most of the pros on Tour like Colonial.  Those that avoid playing here tend to do so because the course doesn't fit their game instead of avoiding it because they don't like the design.  This is very much a course about driving accuracy and long approach shots.  The 18th hole is the final critical hole on the course.

Projected Winning Score: -12


Jordan Spieth +900
Jon Rahm +1,400
Justin Rose +1,800
Xander Schauffele +4,000


Beau Hossler +5,500
Brian Harman +6,600
Chris Kirk +6,600
Chez Reavie +8,000
Andrew Landry +10,000
Kevin Streelman +10,000


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


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


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


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:


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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: