Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Local PGA Tour Star Kevin Sutherland Talks About His Days at Haggin Oaks on Sports 1140 KHTK

PGA Tour Player Kevin Sutherland was on Sports 1140 KHTK this morning with the "Rise Guys" discussing the upcoming Waste Management Pheonix Open and the notorious 16th hole...During the conversation he discussed growing up at Haggin Oaks as a kid...Have a listen...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rough Made Easy

I found a nice tip on how to handle shots out of the rough from today and thought that I would pass it on to all of you...

Playing shots from the rough requires good judgement. First and foremost, be sure to use a club with plenty of loft, even if it means not reaching the green.

If the ball is deep in the rough with grass behind the ball, do not attempt to hit a fairway wood, medium or long iron. Use a short iron (7 or less) to put the ball back in play in the fairway.

These adjustments will also help (reverse for lefties) :

1. Grip the club firmly with your left hand to prevent the clubhead from twisting.

2. Aim slightly to the right -- the clubhead will tend to shut closed as it moves through the grass.

3. Position the ball right of center in your stance.

4. Hover the clubhead on top of, not down into, the grass.

5. Swing the club up steeply and HIT DOWN sharply, striking the ball first.

By following these swing suggestions, you should find escaping the rough is not as rough as it looks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Should Be More Like Kids...

As I was watching my 2-year-old son take swings today I realized that my students and I can learn a lot from him. You can see from the videos that his grip, stance, and posture are not quite "perfect"...and I have a feeling that he is not too concerned about where his "swing plane" is. What he does have however is a "no-fear", "I can do it" attitude that causes him to relax and just swing away with no worries of what the result might be. It is this type of approach that would make us all better golfers while increasing our enjoyment exponentially. I know the next time I go either practice or play (which unfortunately has not been too often as of late) that I am going to remember watching my son and the lesson that he taught me today...which is to smile and address the ball with whatever skills you bring to the table and swing away with no concern over what the result will be, all the while being excited to stand up and do it again!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oldies but Goodies

Sam Snead had one of the prettiest golf swings ever to grace a fairway...In looking back at some of his advice regarding the best ways to play the game, I find it to be very relevant and sound advice today. Here are 5 of his key words of wisdom:

1 A Bird in Hand

You know one of the main reasons 99 percent of golfers are duds? It's their grip. Hold the club with about the same amount of pressure you would use in holding a bird, just firm enough not to let it fly away, but not firm enough to hurt it. You'll not only hit the ball farther, you'll swing smoother, because you're relaxed.

2 Loose as a Goose

When I'm coming down the stretch and the adrenaline is flowing, I try to maintain a slower pace and keep it even. I try to stay loose. Walter Hagen once told me that he was all right as long as his legs felt nice and loose, but the minute they began to tighten and feel tense, he knew he was in trouble. In general, for all shots under pressure, I just try to shake my arms a little and get as loose as a goose.

3 Pitching Pennies

Making the ball roll the right distance is a lot like pitching pennies. You make a nice, smooth swinging motion with your arms. The longer the putt, or the slower the greens, the farther back and through you want those arms to swing. You want the ball to die at the target. Don't be thinking "never up, never in" on anything you might three-putt. Remember, you're putting on a green, not bowling down an alley.

4 Lobbing to the Green

When I'm pitching over a hazard and have little green between me and the hole, I want a shot that will fly high and slow--one that will settle in its tracks. To execute this type of shot, the first thing to do is address the ball with the clubface laid back more than normal, thus increasing the loft. I take the club straight back and break my wrists early in the backswing. I strike down and through with the hands leading the clubhead, and the wrists snapping into the ball. This gives me a high lob with a lot of backspin. The entire swing should be leisurely and rhythmical.

5 Swing in Waltz Time

I can't tell you the best lesson I ever got, because nobody has ever given me a serious lesson. However, I do recall the best lesson I ever gave. It was to a man at The Greenbrier.

This fellow was what you call a firefighter. He'd swing the club like he was trying to put out a fire. He couldn't get at the ball quick enough. He was trying to hit it 400 yards, and the divots were flying farther than the balls. If I hadn't stopped him, he'd have hurt himself.

Finally I said, "Look, swing the club back a little slower, with some tempo. You know, the old-time pros used to teach by waltz time."

"I ought to know something about that," he said. "I'm a dance instructor."

"Well, hell!" I said. "Don't go at it like a double fox-trot. Swing in waltz time."

You couldn't believe he was the same person. I never saw a man improve so much in just minutes. Suddenly, every swing was smooth and graceful, and his shots were going nice and far and straight.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Golf Digest Companies
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

Monday, February 8, 2010

Technology + Practice = Improved Putting

Putting is arguably the most important part of any individuals golf game as it comprises around 50% of the total score. As is the case with any part of the game there are three key variables that golfers should focus on to have an immediate impact on your score: alignment, club path and club face angle. Finding time each day to work on these key fundamentals for putting can be difficult...until now. Recently while attending the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show I stumbled upon an incredible new putting training aid, the Laser Putting Trainer. Take a look at the video above and see how this new technology allows you to focus your practice on the key variables of alignment, club path and club face angle, while receiving immediate feedback. If you would like to know more about this great tool please leave a comment to this post and I will respond to your inquiry. Happy putting!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Improve Your Putting by Gripping for Feel

If you have decided to stop tinkering with your putting stroke and worrying whether you have a "straight back and thru" motion or an "open to closed arc type stroke", focus only on two simple putting grip tips, and you will immediately hit more solid putts that drop in the hole more often. First, make sure the putter grip is in line with your right forearm, not hanging below it (small pictures). This helps the putter swing more naturally on the correct plane without having to focus on it. Second, set your hands so the grip runs through the lifelines of your palms so that you're holding the handle mostly with your fingertips (large picture). When you were a kid and hoping to "stay in between the lines" while coloring with your crayolas you probably found that you had more success when holding the crayons in your fingertips. Doing this created much more feel...and that is exaclty what you need to do to improve your putting.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The New Groove Rule: What does it mean for you?

The biggest story lately in golf is all about the new groove rule. Here is a story from that should help you understand what all the talk is about.

Prior to 2010, a majority of golfers were using square grooves, or U-grooves. This was beneficial for high-caliber players as it allowed them to put an abundance of spin on their golf ball -- especially out of the rough -- because of the sharp, deep grooves on the clubs. In essence, the square grooves, on wedges particularly, were making it so that hitting a ball out of the rough wasn't as penal as it was intended to be.

With that, the USGA decided it was time to make a change -- one that has also been adopted by other governing bodies, including The PGA of America and the R&A. Essentially, the USGA has "rolled back" the grooves on all irons (not just wedges), reverting back to the previously approved V-grooves -- V-grooves are the most common, but under the new rule the grooves do not need to be V-shaped. They just have to be smaller and not as sharp as the old grooves.

Simply put, with the V-groove design, the grooves aren't as sharp as they were with U-grooves/square-grooves and aren't as far apart, which significantly decreases the amount of spin a player can put on a shot.

So what does the new groove rule mean to you, the average golfer?

According to USGA Senior Technical Director Dick Rugge, not much.

"The new grooves will have little effect on shots from the fairway or off the tee," Rugge said in a release explaining the new rule. "If you were able to spin a shot from the fairway with old grooves, you will be able to do it with new grooves as well. The new grooves primarily affect shots from the rough to the green by reducing spin. Most golfers don't hit greens from the rough very often."

Here's a look at the timeline created by the USGA in its process of implementing the rule:

January 2010 -- All new products submitted by manufacturers for USGA approval must conform to the new groove rule. All PGA Tour (and the U.S. Open) events will use new grooves.

January 2011 -- Manufacturers can no longer manufacture products with the pre-2010 grooves and can no longer ship products with the pre-2010 grooves. Retailers can continue to sell clubs shipped to them before this date as conforming clubs indefinitely.

January 2014 -- All USGA and R&A championships will require the new grooves (U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid Amateur, etc.).

January 2020 -- The USGA will review the current rule and determine if it has had the desired effect.

January 2024 -- If the USGA approves of the direction the new groove rule is taking. This is the first possible date that golfers will need to have the new grooves to post scores for handicap purposes.

Basically, you have more than a decade before you need to get equipment with the new grooves. You can buy wedges today with the latest in groove technology and keep using them for another decade.

However, if you are a competitive player, you have a shorter timeline and will most likely want wedges with the new grooves for U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur qualifiers.

Any clubs you, the average golfer, buy before 2011 will be conforming for several more years. In essence, you can continue to purchase the best performing product available since it won't be available for long.

Cleveland Golf -- one of the game's top manufacturers -- points out that there is, however, a caveat to all of that.

"You can repair your current clubs going forward (re-grip, new shaft), but you cannot touch the head without making the club non-conforming," Cleveland Golf says in its explanation of the new rule. "Any clubs with the current grooves (pre-2010) cannot have the grooves re-finished or sharpened. Any work done on the face of the club will cause it to be considered non-conforming. This comes back to the integrity portion of the rules. Will anyone be standing by the handicap posting station next year to check if you had your current grooves sharpened? No, but you will know you did and in turn using them is a violation of the rules. You need to call the penalty on yourself."