I hope you enjoyed watching the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play as much as I did. Most of the early televised matches were very close so every hole won or lost was critical for each player. There were a number of international players who added to the suspense. I always found myself rooting for one of the players in every match. Typically I found myself rooting for the underdogs and they surprisingly came out on top.
There were 8 playoffs at the end of Round 3 to eliminate a number of players from the 64 player field. In those playoffs 7 of the 8 matches were won by the underdogs. The #3 seed, Jon Rahm, was the only low seeded player to win his playoff.
One of the most exciting matches was between Bryson DeChambeau (#5- the giant killer) who was booming every drive against one of the smallest players in the field, an Englishman, Tommy Fleetwood (#22). Tommy was leading the match by 1 over Bryson going into the 18th hole. Both shot long tees shots (328 and 338 yards) but both landed in trouble in the rough.
Tommy landed his tee shot on a patch of grass in a creek where he had an impossible stretched-out stance with low hanging branches leaving a gap between himself and the hole (at least 20 feet above his location). He had a clear 69 yard shot to the hole but he realized that a low shot up hill would either hit the low hanging branches or never stop as it passed over the green. Adding to the pressure, Bryson had a clear up hill shot to the hole. Losing the hole to Bryson would result in a playoff.
Tommy Took his Medicine Tommy realized that he had 3 more shots to tie the hole and win the match only if Bryson played a poor chip and then missed his birdie putt. Tommy “took his medicine” to miss the low hanging branches and pitched 91 yards to the rough on the other side of the green but away from the tree. He landed his chip about 8 feet from the hole and sank his par putt after Bryson missed his own 8 foot birdie putt.
It was fun to watch Tommy make his decision to take the shot which was the lesser of 2 evils. The shot was very difficult but he could not afford to take an unplayable penalty shot or he would have lost that hole and possibly the match.
A Great Lesson for All of Us Don’t take the hero shot especially when the odds are stacked against you. Depend on the shot that will give you the best chance to recover. I don’t think that many recreational players could have made all 3 shots that Tommy had to make to win the hole but it was a great lesson for all of us. Golf is a game where dumb shots don’t payoff. If you hit into a bad location it is far better to take your medicine and waste a shot by hitting to an easy recovery location than it is to end up with a high score on any hole.
Learn to take your medicine and control every shot by practicing with GOLFSTR+. Buy one today at www.GOLFSTR.com
Golf Truism #53: It’s amazing how a golfer who never helps out around the house will replace his divots, repair his ball marks and rake his sand traps.
We often hear TV commentators refer to the impact of the grain direction of the grass on greens. The grain definitely affects the speed of your putt but it appears that greens with Bermuda Bent Grass will affect the direction of your putt more than any other type of grass growing on greens. When you golf in Hawaii or the Caribbean islands and tropical Florida you definitely need to read the Bermuda grass which is used on most of the greens.
The following information came from an article written by Mark Immelman, brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman.
Grain Affecting Your Putt (especially on strains of Bermuda Grass): Grain is the direction that grass grows flat on a green. [Slope of the green (or gravity) has a much greater effect on a putt than the direction of the grain but grain direction will slow down putts when putting into the grain or speed up putts when putting with the grain.] By walking around the putting line of your ball to the hole, you can see lighter green areas where the grain is running away from you and darker areas where the grain in running toward you.
Reading the Grain at the Cup:
The grain of a green has its greatest effect as the ball slows down near the cup. The cut of the grass around the cup will always have a jagged edge on the side where the grain is growing away from the holes. If the clean edge is on the high side of the hole your ball will tend to break into the hole at a faster pace from that side.
Gravity over grain: Mark Immelman said “I know and trust gravity enough to believe that it will always beat grain when influencing the roll of the ball.” That being said, every so often you may face a putt where the grain is running against the slope of the hill. In that case, play for a little less break than normal, but never aim below the cup and expect the grass to push the ball up the hill. On the flip side, if you happen to face a breaking putt with the grain running in the same direction as the slope, play for more break to allow for the combined efforts of gravity and grain on the rollout of your putt.
Green imperfections caused by golfers using their putter as a crutch near the hole or a poor hole cutting job will always redirect your ball unless you have enough speed at the hole. They are called the “rub of the green” Strike putts solidly on grainy greens and late in the day when grass on greens will start to lift up toward the sun or rough up with a lot of wear and tear during the day. A mishit putt on bent grass (Bermuda Grass) can still roll out significantly, but a green with coarse, thick grass will normally slow down your putt. Expect speed differences on bent grainy grass from conventional fine grass greens. Learn the green speeds on the practice green before you play a round of golf and practice with GOLFSTR+ to make flat leading wrist putts on your chosen target line. Buy one today at www.GOLFSTR.com
Golf Truism #51: It takes longer to learn to be a good golfer than it does to become a brain surgeon. On the other hand, you don’t get to ride around on a cart, drink beer and eat hotdogs when you are performing brain surgery!
I loved watching The Players Championship at Sawgrass last week. Sawgrass is an amazing course and I hope to play it someday (most likely from the seniors tee). The most exciting part of the match happened on #4 on the final day. Bryson DeChambeau and Lee Westwood had both been playing controlled golf but their games went sideways on that hole. Yes the pros top it, shank it and slice it too!
Watching these champions play like recreational players was pretty exciting. We all know the feeling when we lose control of our minds and our game. Fortunately for them they both got back on track to finish their rounds with respectable scores. What can we learn from this?
The Situation: Bryson topped a drive into the deep grass in front of the tee boxes. Lee must have been excited about his opportunity to gain some ground on Bryson so he smashed a crazy slice into the water in an out of bounds area. Funny how our minds can mess up opportunities. But wait, the plot thickens. For Bryson’s second shot, he shanked his ball about “50 yards wide of his target”, into a grove of trees and bush. He found his ball but his recovery shot hit another tree on the way out. He ended up with a double bogie and finished his round at -1.
Lee continued his shaky round and finished at Even after missing a make-able putt on the 17th hole which would have put him in a playoff with Justin Thomas.
The Opportunity 1/ We were watching the best of the best. We can only imagine the errant shots which were made by others who didn’t make the cut. All golfers make poor shots.Golfers with low scores know how to shake it off and get on with their game. Ben Hogan said, “The most important shot in golf is your next one.” 2/ I just watched a champion take a 7 on a par 3 during a championship match. Instead of composing herself after hitting over a green and into the water on an island green, she quickly chipped over the green again and into water on the other side of the green. After another poor chip and 2 more putts she was steamed. She will regret her hasty action if she lost the match. 3/ Bryson sets up to drive, chip and putt as stiff as a board. Aren’t we supposed to relax our muscles to get the most power and best control out of them? He goes against every rule that we have ever heard about golf swing perfection. Unless you have the body and mentality of Bryson: DON’T TRY IT. 4/ We all need a fiancé like Lee Westwood had on his bag. Helen Storey helped him get over so many poor shots in his final round. If only she could have sunk that key putt for Lee on the 17th. Justin Thomas won the tournament but in my mind, Helen was the star of the show.
After every poor shot you make, get your mind back on track. Just put Helen in your mind to get you back on track. DON’T RUSH THE NEXT SHOT. Practice with GOLFSTR+ and remember how to keep your leading arm straight through impact for every shot and putt. Remember your limited lag for chips and the power that you generate when you take your time to lag your club. Stay calm and relaxed. Buy one today at www.GOLFSTR.com.
Golf Truism #50: It is surprisingly easy to hole a 30 foot putt – for a 10
You may have seen Justin Rose or other professional golfers try to read the break of a putt by using their putter as a Plumb-Bob (PB). Standing behind your ball and using your putter to determine the break of a putt is USELESS. PB only helps you understand the break of the green UNDER YOUR FEET. Since your ball breaks the most as it slows down near the hole, you should only use PB FROM THE HOLE SIDE of the ball’s path to the hole. You rarely see this done correctly by the pros on TV.
When to Plumb-Bob 1/ Don’t waste your time plumb-bobbing when you can see an obvious break on the path from your ball to the hole. You still have to estimate the amount of break for your putt. 2/ If you can see 2 or 3 breaks on the path for your ball (DON’T PLUMB-BOB) just make your best guess where your ball will break to reach the hole and prey for a 2 putt green. 3/ Ideally you should plumb-bob if you can’t see the break on a smooth green for up to a 10 foot putt. Slight breaks on a downhill putt are the most difficult to read and should be read by using PB.
CALIBRATE YOUR PUTTER BEFORE you ever Try to Plumb-Bob Every putter head has a different weight so it may change the angle of the shaft as it hangs down from your hand. In any building, close one eye (remember to always use the same open eye for PB) and hold your putter with an outstretched arm as you line up a specific side of your shaft facing the frame of a door (not including the grip). Change the orientation of your putter head until one side of the shaft lines up perfectly with the frame of a door and remember that exact orientation.
Always use the SAME open eye, SAME side of the shaft and SAME direction of your club face FOR ALL OF YOUR PLUMB-BOBBING. [I use my right eye to line-up the left side of my putter shaft while using my right hand to hold the putter with the putter face pointing directly at the hole.]
Plumb-Bobbing on the Green 1/ Stand below the hole (but fairly close to the hole) and ONLY use your PB eye (close the other one) to first line up the center of the hole with the center of your ball. 2/ Then hold your putter in front of that eye with the correct putter face orientation (as it was calibrated) and line up the BOTTOM of the correct side of your putter shaft with the center of the hole. 3/ The UPPER end of your putter shaft will only line up with the center of your ball if there is no break at the hole. If the correct side of your shaft lines up on one side of your ball (the left of right side), that side is the HIGH side of the green so your ball will break from that side down to the hole as it nears the hole. You can only practice putting to understand how much break to expect.
You still need to account for the initial break that your ball may make as it starts along the initial 75% of the path to the hole. WARNING: Plumb-Bobbing only helps you estimate the direction of the break near the hole(or more accurately where your feet are standing). The Science of Plumb-bobbing only gives you the direction of the break. The Art is in estimating the AMOUNT of break. Practice your putting with GOLFSTR+ for a flat wrist swing from your shoulders. Buy one today at www.GOLFSTR.com
Golf Truism #49: The only thing you can learn from golf books is that you can’t learn anything from golf books, but you have to read an awful lot of golf books to learn it.
Golf can be such a frustrating game because very minor errors can add a stroke to every hole you play. Mishitting a fairway shot or burning the edge of a hole with a short putt are so easy to do if you don’t pay attention to the small changes required in your stance or grip. Changing wind and contour of the ground always impact your shots but you need to appraise and adjust for every condition. That’s why you can always improve your game. Check out these tips.
Tee Height: If you normally use your 5 wood to hit off the deck on the fairway, don’t tee it up to use it like a driver on the tee. Don’t tee up with the ball off the heel of your leading foot for a 3 or 5 wood (instead of your driver). I learned this the hard way. After hitting 3 duck hooks on 3 successive holes I finally learned that my brain was not adapting.
Adjusting for Up or Down Slope in Your Stance: Always adjust to swing with the plane of the slope. Adjust your feet and shoulders to swing up on an up slope and down on a down slope. Use a lower lofted club for an up slope (to compensate for the distance that you will lose with your higher trajectory shot) and a higher loft club for a down slope.
Adjusting for a Side Slope: It’s pretty easy to adjust for a ball above your feet as you need to compensate for the amount of distance and direction that you will pull your shot. It’s much harder to adjust your swing for a ball on an angle below your feet. The heel of your club may contact the ground before it reaches the ball. A sever slope below your feet will force you to take your medicine and chip out of that location before you consider taking a full swing.
Sinking Short Side Hill Putts: I recall seeing Ernie Els take a 9 while attempting about 6 putts to sink a side hill putt. A firm putt which breaks downhill is risky (DON’T DO IT). Plan for a putt above the hole that dies downhill into the hole. If you miss, at least you will have a short putt. [Short putts on a FLAT surface should all be firm and in the hole as weak putts may move away from the hole with any imperfections near the hole.]
Planning for a Downhill Putt: Speed and break are both critical. Hopefully you can learn from the putting speed and break attempted by another player in your foursome. I can’t help you with the speed but if you can’t see a break you should use your putter as a plumb-bob. Stand below the hole, directly in-line with the hole and your ball. Hang your putter in front of you so that the putter shaft lines up with the center of the hole. If the upper end of your shaft (below your grip) lines up on one side of the ball, that is the high side of the green where your ball will break from.
NOTE: Because every putter has a different head weight, you need to calibrate your putter by lining it up with a door frame in your house before you use it on the course for plumb-bobbing. Our blog next week will provide more details on when and how you should plumb-bob.
There are so many rules that you can apply to golf to improve your game. Learning the proper swing with GOLFSTR+ with 6 swing fixes is a good starting point. Solving problems on the course is a life long journey. Buy one today at www.GOLFSTR.com
Golf Truism #48: A ball you can see in the rough from 50 yards away is not yours.