A common mental block is how best to play a dogleg hole

STRATEGY FOR DOGLEGS

About to turn a corner? First, give that dogleg some thought

You say you can drive it 300 yards, but the last time you did it the hole was downhill, downwind and the ball caromed off the cartpath. You say you shoot in the low 80s, but you haven’t carded an 85 or better without two mulligans and a few generous gimme putts in about four years. When the question about what tees to play is asked, you’re already walking back to the blues or blacks. See where this is going? When it comes to this game, many golfers aren’t exactly honest about their current abilities—especially when assessing their next shot.

A common mental block is how best to play a dogleg hole with real trouble on either side of the fairway, says instructor Sean Foley.

“The ball tails off to the right for most of the golfers I see, so does it make any sense for them to stand on the tee box of a dogleg-left hole and try to curve their drive in that direction? No, but a lot of times they still try,” says Foley, a Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher. “What they should be doing is thinking of how to play the hole to the best of their abilities. In many cases, that means taking a shorter club, one that doesn’t peel off to the right as much, and just getting something out in the fairway.

“The reality is, sometimes the best you can do is give yourself a chance at a one-putt par. You have to accept that your game isn’t designed for certain holes, so your planning should change from How do I get home in regulation? to How do I avoid making double bogey?

That’s good advice, says sport psychologist Bob Rotella. Too often a visually intimidating hole, one that looks like it necessitates a specific type of drive, can cause golfers to divert from their strengths. Bad move.

“Mentally, you’ve got to stick with your game. Don’t let the shape of a hole solely dictate your strategy,” he says. “I wouldn’t try to hit a shot I didn’t know or usually play. If a driver doesn’t fit the hole, hit a 3-wood. If a 3-wood doesn’t fit, hit a hybrid, and so on. Do whatever it takes to put the ball in play. But be clear and commit to whatever shot you decide.”

If you can’t curve the ball to match the hole’s shape, another option is to use driver, but play for the “best miss,” says Hall of Fame golfer Tom Watson. If you analyze a hole carefully, that miss should be evident.

“When curving the ball away from the dogleg, the fairway becomes a smaller target,” Watson says. “The golfer must then think about where it’s best to miss the fairway, and this involves a lot of criteria such as length of the rough, where the flagstick is located, etc. For example, shortening the hole by missing in the interior rough sometimes can be a good option when planning your tee shot, but not on Pine Valley’s par-4 sixth, the hole you see here.”

If you’re skilled enough to be able to shape your tee shot with the dogleg, then consider how much of it you want to take on, Watson says. An accurate distance measurement to the part of the fairway you want to hit is key, but so is that whole thing about being honest with yourself.

“Knowing how far you have to carry the ball to clear a dogleg’s interior rough or interior bunker is not usually thought about by most golfers, but it’s critical,” Watson says. “That being said, most golfers don’t know how far they carry the ball with a driver, which is important in deciding the line to take when cutting the corner on a dogleg.”

That’s why it’s best to be generous with your target line, Foley says.

“If it’s a 200-yard carry and your best drives carry about 210 yards, you probably want to take a less risky route,” Foley says. “Better to be farther back in the fairway than trying to recover from being too aggressive with your line. The penalty for not making it on a dogleg is usually pretty severe.”

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Monahan ruled out his organization creating its own rules on Wednesday

Golf: PGA Tour drives idea of setting its own rules into rough

(Reuters) – PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan ruled out his organization creating its own rules on Wednesday, saying he is happy to leave that task to golf’s two global governing bodies.

The rules of golf have been in the spotlight after new ones were introduced for 2019, with the biggest update in 50 years leading some players to being openly critical of and in some cases hostile towards certain tournament rulings.

World number four Justin Thomas described the new rules as “terrible”, while journeyman Andrew Landry called them “garbage” and called for the PGA Tour to create its own.

Monahan, who recently reminded players that the tour had been heavily involved in the rewriting of the rules, on Wednesday strongly defended the “fantastic” U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient governing bodies.

“We have always played by their rules and we’ll continue to play by their rules,” he said in Florida on the eve of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

“We were fully supportive of the new rules because we were a participant in creating them.

“(When) you roll out 50 new changes there are going to be some things that work well and some that create debate. Lost in some of the discussion is all the things that are working really well.”

The change that appears to have caused most ire has been one that does not allow caddies to stand behind a player and help line up a shot.

This has led to a couple of two-stroke penalties, and also one situation in which a player had a penalty rescinded after officials acknowledged the new rule was causing confusion.

The wording was then tweaked in an effort to make it clearer.

Another bone of contention is that golfers must now drop the ball from knee height, rather than from shoulder height as previously.

Rickie Fowler was the first to fall foul of this when he took a penalty drop from shoulder height at the WGC-Mexico Championship and was penalized one stroke.

SOURCE:  Reuters

Proper Set-Up And Alignment Leads To ‘Full Circle’ Swing

Finish Your Swing Left of the Target

Proper Set-Up And Alignment Leads To ‘Full Circle’ Swing

We have all heard it. When getting information about aim and alignment, we often hear to “finish your swing facing your target.” Don’t do it — you will likely hit a shot that will not end up on line. You need to finish your swing facing LEFT of the target.

Look at all the Tour pros out there, they are clearly facing well left of their target at the finish, and that goes all the way back to proper set-up and address. Here’s how to put it all together:

AIM AND ALIGNMENT

First, place your hands on the grip, keeping the clubface square.

Then, aim the square clubface to the target on the line you established from behind the ball. The leading edge of your golf club will be at a right angle to the target line.

Next, align your body (checking feet, thighs, hips, and shoulders) parallel and left of the target line, addressing the golf ball.

If you feel as if you are really left of your target, you will be aligned correctly. Do not align your body to the target…aim your club at the target and align your body left of the target! (For left-handers — right of the target)

Last, with confidence, trust your aim and alignment and make your best effort to create the shot. Even if you do not hit it perfectly, it will likely be on line, heading towards the intended target—a great miss!

COMPLETE YOUR SWING

This is accurate information: Left is “Right” (correct) at address. However, finishing with your belt buckle facing the target line is stopping short of the full completion of the swing circle.

When you finish a good golf swing, your belt buckle will actually be facing LEFT of your target if you have completed the swing circle. The ball will track towards the target on the line you established in your pre-shot routine, but your body will not finish facing the target. If it does, it could result in a shot that leaks to the right of the intended target.

Think in terms of the two lines at address that might help you understand this critical piece of information relating to the completion of your golf swing motion.

Imagine that the target line is the “ball target” and the parallel line you have lined up your body on is the “body target.” The two lines are parallel at address and remain so during the swing motion, but it is just the golf ball that (hopefully) ends up on the “ball target” line you established.

Ideally, you will end up in a balanced finish position, facing the “body target” line you set at address, clearly left of the ball target line. The swing circle motion has been completed, allowing both the operator and the equipment to hit a shot “on line” to the target!

Understanding this very thing has been instrumental for improved aim, alignment, and result with my students. See if this perception change alters the directional reality of your golf shots.

As my students and I often say about these actions that improve your motion and game, “If you can, you MUST!”

LPGA Master Professional/PGA Honorary Director Deb Vangellow 

SOURCE:  Golftipsmag

Is the second summer of Tiger Woods’ career over?

Count me as somebody who has learned his lesson about reactionary Tiger Woods takes. In 2015, convinced I could read the writing on the wall and more than a little annoyed at the attention Tiger commanded in a moment of generational change in golf, I declared him “done.” But, okay, I didn’t just declare him done—I did it with a sort of reckless abandon that today almost seems designed to place myself on the thinnest, most precarious limb of the hot take tree.

The take remained fresh for a few years, and then, when Tiger came back last season, contended at the big events, and finally broke through at the Tour Championship, my words were fed back to me, one by one, with a heaping side of crow.

Having crashed to hard ground, I have no interest in climbing back on that limb—far be it from me to repeat the mistake and declare the story of Tiger Woods over and done. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to see Monday’s announcement as anything but somber news:

Yeah, but…he’s also 43, and any injury you’ve been dealing with for “weeks” is not so easily shed. There’s also the fact that athletes always—repeat, always—downplay injuries. Plus, as Steve DiMeglio pointed out at USA Today, his litany of injuries is long, and it’s not even the first time he’s had a neck issue:

“Four procedures to his left knee. Four to his back, the most recent a spinal fusion surgery in April 2017. And there was an assortment of other injuries he had to deal with over the years to his neck, Achilles, elbow, wrist.”

I’m no doctor, but I also can’t help but notice that the neck is in close proximity to the back, and that the two are both traversed by the spine. I’ve even heard discussion that problems with one area of the body, even after being repaired, can throw other parts out of whack. Nor, I’m told, do pain and degeneration typically improve with age.

In short, Tiger’s body has been nickel-and-diming him to death for a few years now, and whatever you call his 2018 run—the second summer, the unexpected final bloom—it’s now time to at least ask the question if that unexpected stretch was our last chance to see Tiger at something vaguely reminiscent of his former glory. True greatness comes and goes almost before we understand it was there, and just as Roger Federer had come down from his transcendent peak before the wider world truly understood that he was the greatest of all-time, so Tiger donned the 2001 green jacket without anyone quite knowing that, by the narrowest definition, his prime had passed.

What follows after the shattering act of sublimity are a series of aftershocks, and the greater the talent, the greater the reverberations. Tiger’s after-shocks, which included three more years of winning multiple majors, would dwarf most careers. But like any echo, they diminished each time, until the 2008 U.S. Open came to a close and he’d won his 14th and (to date) final major. His time of relative greatness hadn’t ended, but by 2014 he was no longer winning titles, and by 2017 the last subterranean rumbles had seemed to cease forever.

Which made 2018 such a miracle—his talent was so extraordinary, his will so strong, that his dormancy couldn’t last, and in fact practically demanded one last airing. It proved that people like me were short-sighted in our fatal proclamations, and in some ways that ultimate victory at East Lake cemented his legend.

And yet, there’s also the larger trends, and there’s also time. Look at this major timeline, and tell me what you see:

To torture this “act of god” thing to death, imagine the green boxes as the thunderous explosions and the yellows as the surrounding lightning, while the white represents calm. If the entire chart represents the storm that is Tiger Woods, does it look like that storm is about to rekindle itself, or does it look like we just saw the last downpour? If you made a bigger chart with his non-major wins, the general idea would be the same—we’re looking at an obvious diminution.

Beyond the metaphorical, the trajectory is backed up by the facts. It seemed anomalous for him to make it through 2018 without any major injury scare after battling his body for years, and the realistic conclusion was that his body was on borrowed time. Now, we see some comeuppance, though it’s unclear yet how severe it might be. In any case, as I found recently,wins begin to get scarce at this age for even the best golfers—would you believe that if Phil Mickelson won another major, he’d be the oldest champion ever?—and with exactly one win in the last five years and change, Tiger doesn’t seem likely to throw his hat in the ring with Phil or Sam Snead or Fred Funk or any of the greatest old man golfers in the sport’s history.

It’s easy to get carried away by a year like 2018, especially when there’s a not-very-well-hidden vested interest on the part of the media-industry complex to see Tiger at his peak again. Everyone wants him there, but wishing won’t make it so. And that’s the thing about a second summer—no matter how warm the sunshine, and no matter how we crave its permanence, winter is just on the other side of our dreams. SOURCE:  Golfdigest

A timely fix to the dreaded slice

 

Watch The Face

A timely fix to the dreaded slice

Most players who slice only have a vague idea of why they do so. Some think it’s due to their swing path or their release, and some even blame their equipment. The angle of the clubface is an element they often overlook. However, the simple fact is that if a shot moves left to right, you can be sure the clubface is open at impact. A great way to make sure the clubface isn’t open at the moment of truth is to get your left forearm to rotate through impact.

To see the correct rotation, try this simple drill using your watch. Turn your watch so the face is on the underside of the wrist of your lead arm (the left arm for right-handed golfers, the right arm for left-handed golfers).

Keep your lead elbow a couple of inches from your side and rotate your forearm so you can see the entire face of the watch. The left wrist should be flat. This should help you visualize the proper rotation in your swing and also prevent you from flipping the club with your wrists at impact.

If you don’t rotate the clubface at all, the face of the watch remains pointed at the ground. During your swing, this incorrect movement results in the open clubface that causes a slice. If you try to rotate with your wrist and not your forearm, you won’t see the entire face.

Do this drill with your lead arm alone before practicing with both hands on the club. Continue to work on this movement until you see the watch face consistently, and your slicing woes will disappear for good.

SOURCE:  Golftipsmag

John Smoltz on his senior tour aspirations, winning celebrity golf bragging rights, and his crazy backyard setup

John Smoltz’s first foray into serious senior golf came at last year’s U.S. Senior Open, where he shot 85-77 at the Broadmoor to miss the cut. Not that the ultra-competitive retired pitcher was surprised.

“Look, I had a flight home Saturday,” Smoltz admitted to GolfDigest.com. “I wasn’t really thinking I was going to make the cut.”

But it was on that flight home where he also took copious notes about his performance to prepare for the next time a similar opportunity arose. And that time is now.

Smoltz, 51, will tee it up on the PGA Tour Champions this week at the Cologuard Classic. It’s the first of three sponsor exemptions the MLB Hall-of-Famer has accepted to play on the senior circuit this year.

“When the phone call came for this opportunity to play in three events,” said Smoltz, who is an analyst for Fox and MLB Network. “I was like a little kid who just got one of the best Christmas gifts.”

Smoltz joined me to discuss his latest opportunity to showcase his golf game on a big stage, his recent win at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, his impressive backyard golf setup, and how a big baseball trade changed both his career on the field and on the course. He also talked about his senior tour aspirations going forward and a special buddies trip he’s planning with some former teammates.

Plus, Sam Weinman and Keely Levins joined me to discuss Dustin Johnson’s latest win, the LPGA backstopping controversy, and punching out from the trees. Please have a listen:

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

Lower Back Pain Is No Joke, But It’s Preventable

How to Avoid the Most Common Golf Injury

Lower Back Pain Is No Joke, But It’s Preventable

Golf is a unique sport because you can often participate even if you’re not as physically fit as you once were. That said, golf isn’t always an injury-free sport. Low back pain is the golf injury you’re most likely to sustain. Luckily, it can be avoided.

The following tips will help.

Warm Up

Golf may not seem as intense as a sport like football or hockey, but you still need to warm up before playing. Loosening your muscles helps to prevent discomfort. Practice these basic exercises to prep your muscles for a few hours on the course:

  • Hold the club behind your neck, one hand on each end, and rotate your torso to stretch your neck.
  • Pull your knees towards your chest a few times to stretch out your hips.
  • Keep your hamstrings loose by bending down and reaching towards your shoes.

If you’re having trouble with these stretches, or they don’t seem to be effective, getting direct access to physical therapy could help. A few sessions with an expert could help you learn how to properly stretch before golfing to avoid lower back and other injuries.

Practice Your Swing

Golfers apply torque and torsion to their lower backs in order to generate sufficient club speed when swinging. This puts strain on the lower back. That’s why practicing a swing regularly is important. You want to emphasize smooth motions. Additionally, researchers have found that attempting to mimic the “X-factor” swing of professionals (in which you attempt to maximize rotation of your shoulders relative to your hips) may result in injury.

Maintaining proper balance while swinging also helps protect your back. Keep your knees bent and shoulder width-apart, while maintaining a straight spine.

It will take practice to develop a smooth swing, but it’s necessary. Doing so will keep you comfortable while also improving your overall performance while playing.

Get the Right Golf Bag

Lifting heavy items incorrectly or repeatedly can result in low back pain. In other words, your swing isn’t the only part of your game you need to optimize if you want to avoid discomfort. You also need the right golf bag.

Don’t use one you have to set down on the ground every time you’re ready to take a swing. Get a bag that has a stand, so you don’t have to lift it up repeatedly throughout a round.

Don’t Make Assumptions About Age

It’s easy to assume low back pain is something only older golfers need to worry about. However, the X-factor swing described above is often more likely to cause certain injuries in younger players. They tend to have more muscle mass than older generations, which puts significant pressure on their spines during the swinging motion. They may also be more likely to apply excessive force. Even if you’re a younger golfer, you should keep these tips in mind. Doing so will also help avoid injury as you get older.

Again, golf is the type of sport you can play well into old age. You’re more likely to be able to if you avoid low back pain. Remembering these points will help you stay out on the course for years.

SOURCE:  Golftipsmag

Controlling distance in between yardages

Solutions for when you’re between yardages

You probably feel pretty good when you’re at the perfect yardage for the club in your hands. But what about those annoying yardages, like when a full 7-iron is going to be too much, and a full 8-iron might not get there? Or when you’re 45 yards from the green and your full lob wedge flies 60? I’ve seen many golfers struggle in these situations because they swing too hard or decelerate the club to try to control distance, and neither really works. If you want to hit more shots pin-high, give the methods I’ve used on the PGA Tour a try. Let’s start with in-between yardages. Here I’m swinging a 7-iron. I normally hit it 185 yards, so if I have 175 to the pin, I stand slightly closer to the ball and narrow my stance a few inches.

I also grip down an inch or so. When I swing, the only adjustment is to stop my backswing just short of my usual top position. Then I make my normal through-swing. I don’t change my speed coming through the ball. That’s key.

Swing speed also is important when you have less than a full wedge into a green. This is the area of the course where I’ve noticed amateurs struggle the most. Part of the reason is because they don’t have a consistent plan for how to handle these short shots. If you don’t have a strategy, it’s hard to know what to practice. And without practice, you’re going to struggle on the course.

The way I handle these shots is to regulate the length of the backswing depending on the length of the shot—shorter distances mean shorter backswings. But the thing to remember is, just like with in-between yardages on longer shots, you have to swing through the ball at the same pace no matter the distance.

I practice three swing lengths with my sand wedge that are less than full, so I have three distances locked in when I’m on the course. If I stop my backswing when the shaft is around the height of my hips (above), I know the ball will go 35 yards. When my forearms are parallel to the ground, it’s going 60 yards. And when my hands stop at my shoulders, it’s going to go 80 yards. Again, I can’t stress enough that you never want to slow down as you come through. It leads to inconsistent strikes.

“KEEP YOUR SWING SPEED UP ON SHORTER SHOTS.”

For even better results, add this to your range sessions: Hit 10 balls each with your backswing stopping at three different lengths. Make note of how far the ball goes with each, and rely on those swings to produce the right yardages when you get on the course. You’ll be a lot more confident in hitting half-wedge shots pin-high.—with Keely Levins

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

A Monday finish results in Lefty’s first win of 2019

2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am leaderboard, grades: Phil Mickelson takes home record fifth title

Phil Mickelson touched off the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Monday, a record-tying fifth of his career, the same way he sewed it up late on Sunday. Lefty hit a nasty knockdown shot from 175 yards on the iconic par-5 18th at Pebble to 6 feet and poured that home for birdie — a final round 65 and the 44th win of his incredible PGA Tour career.

The bogey-free 65 was the round of the day, and it came at the perfect time for Mickelson, who trailed playing partner Paul Casey by three strokes heading into Round 4. Casey played nicely in the final round, which spanned two days because of a hail storm on Sunday, but his 71 couldn’t keep pace with the way Mickelson commanded his short irons and wedges over the final 18 holes. Lefty easily cleared him by three at 19-under 268.

“It’s been a very special week,” Mickelson told Peter Kostis of CBS Sports. “This is a special place for me. … To have my pro career start here and to have this victory means a lot.”

Mickelson finished first in the field on his approach shots and T2 in proximity to the hole. If you saw the way he struck the ball in Round 4, it’s easy to see why.

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Mickelson and Casey were the only ones on the course on Monday as everyone else finished up on Sunday in the dark. Mickelson also wanted to try and get home on Sunday, but Casey called it on the 16th green, and Lefty said he was grateful for that even if he seemed perturbed in the moment. It’s very on brand for Mickelson to thank his opponent for setting up a win for him.

“He really protected both of us,” Mickelson said. “The greens were beat up. We had a chance today to come out on fresher greens, better weather, and I was really appreciative of that.”

With the 44th win of his career, Mickelson becomes just the fourth player to win PGA Tour events 28 or more years apart. He also inches closer to Walter Hagen’s mark of 45 PGA Tour wins and a potential tie for eighth all time. Billy Casper is seventh at 51. The fifth Pebble victory ties Mark O’Meara for the all-time record at that event.

We should ignore the “What if I’d told you ‘Phil Mickelson wins at Pebble after a long wait’ would be a headline at the start of the calendar year” storyline for now and obvious U.S. Open implications. Mickelson said after the round that this win has no bearing on what happens at the U.S. Open in June, likely because this will not be the same Pebble Beach after the USGA gets its hands on it.

Still, a victory for Mickelson at age 48 — and nearly two victories in his first three starts of 2019! — is remarkable. As the PGA Tour skews younger and Mickelson nears 50, it becomes more improbable for him to keep up. And yet not only is he keeping up, he’s thriving, he’s winning. He’s dropping filthy 65s in all manner of weather with a Ryder Cup participant leading him and young bucks like Si Woo Kim and Jason Day making runs at him. Mickelson, unlike Pebble Beach, is not timeless, but you may have been fooled if you watched him play golf on Sunday and Monday.

SOURCE:  cbssports

 

Are you topping the golf ball? Try this!

 

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

We have all heard the phrase, “Keep Your Head Down!” Some people might say, “Keep your eye on the ball.” They say this so we do not top the golf ball. It is one of the five old wives’ tales of golf.  In fact, it is the NUMBER ONE Old Wives’ Tale. It won’t help you stop topping the ball.

What is the challenge?  If you look at the top of the golf ball, you will most likely hit the top of the golf ball.

stop topping 1

Look at the photo above. I have placed some golf tees behind the ball.  If I look at the top of the golf ball, I will hit the top of the golf ball when I swing down.  The tees on the ground will not move and the ball will not go get airborne.  Basically, I will top the ball.

How do you fix this? Place a group of tees on the ground about 3-5 inches behind the ball, as I’ve done in the photo below. Place your club head behind the pile of tees. It will seem strange starting the club head way behind the ball.

stop topping 1

Trust me.

Swing the club head and be sure to BRUSH the grass behind the ball, sweeping up all the tees behind the ball.  I guarantee if you do this, you will never top a shot again.

Cindy Miller is 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year, three-time LPGA Northeast Teacher of the Year, 2001, 2005, 2010 and a former LPGA Tour Player. 

SOURCE:  Golftipsmag