Friday, February 27, 2009

Greenside Bunker Shot Fundamentals

• This shot should be performed using a sand wedge or lob wedge.

• Open your stance and dig your feet into the sand. This helps you become more stable.

• Position ball approximately even with the inside heel of your front foot.

• Open your clubface. When addressing ball, keep club slightly above the sand. Touching the sand before you actually make your swing is a penalty.

• Aim for a spot approximately 2-3 inches behind ball. You must hit the sand first.

• Cock your wrists earlier than normal for this shot and take a more upright backswing.

• Take approximately a ¾ swing. Aim for your spot in the sand, blast the club through the sand and be aggressive with your swing.

• Your swing path should be outside in.

• Club should not hit the ball at all.

• Accelerate through the shot and follow through.

• The further your target is, the less sand you will hit behind the ball

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tiger All Business in Return

A few observations on Tiger's return:

He handled the pressure beautifully by starting birdie-eagle on the first two holes.

He didn't seem to swing as hard as he used to. The only hard swing I saw was on his second shot on the par 5 for his second eagle of the day.

He said his short game had improved over the layoff and he was right. Looked great.

He had a few wayward shots but that is to be expected.

He was all business and didn't seem to be amused by anything. He definitely came to win. I think from here on out in Tiger's career, he will be even more serious as far as trying to get Jack's record. He now has the wife, kids, and his health back. The main goal now is getting to 19 majors. He will have tunnel vision until he gets there.

Chipping Fundamentals

• Typically, chip shots are hit with the seven, eight, nine, pitching wedge, sand wedge, or lob wedge. The ball should be in the air just long enough to clear the rough or fringe, and then roll to the cup.

• Grip down on the club so your hands are closer to the shaft. This will give you more control and helps promote a descending swing.

• Use a stance directly square to your target or take a slightly open stance by pointing you front foot more towards your target. Use whatever feels more natural.

• Get into an athletic stance with your knees slightly flexed. Your weight should be distributed more on your front leg.

• Keep ball positioned in the back of your stance just off the inside heel of your back foot.

• As you set up, club should be angled so your hands are ahead of the club head.

• Swing with a pendulum motion. Use your shoulders, arms, and hands together in one motion. Do not break your wrists during this shot. The back of your left hand must lead the club head through impact.

• Strike the ball with a downward, descending blow. Make sure to accelerate through impact.

• Aim for a spot on the green that you would like to land the ball.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Brackets for Match Play

Print your bracket.

The 64 player match play tournament starts Wednesday and there are many excellent potential matchups. In the Bobby Jones bracket (Tiger's bracket), Tiger has the potential to play Goosen in the second round, Rory Mcilroy in the 3rd round, or possibly Geoff Ogilvy, Camillo Villegas, or even his nemesis Rory Sabbatini in the final eight. It would definitely be fun to watch him destroy Sabbatini.

Typically, this tournament is full of upsets and many of the top names get knocked out early. It's much harder to predict than it is for the NCAA tournament. Here are the final four picks that I would like to see and would be huge for television ratings.

Bobby Jones bracket: Tiger Woods (shocker) (winner)
Ben Hogan bracket: Phil Mickelson

Gary Player bracket: Sergio Garcia (winner)
Sam Snead bracket: Anthony Kim

Finals: Tiger Wins over Sergio

Monday, February 23, 2009

Putting Fundamentals

The golf season is nearly here and it's almost time to get back on the course. While preparing for the upcoming season, it's always vital to first know the fundamentals for each part of the game. I will be posting fundamentals for each aspect in the near future. Here are a few putting fundamentals for your review.

• Grip the club in a way that is comfortable for you. There are so many possible grips these days and it's up to you to choose the most comfortable for yourself. Use very light grip pressure and avoid tension.

• Get into an athletic stance with your feet shoulder width apart and slightly flex your knees.

• Ball should be positioned just forward of the center of your stance.

• Your feet should be in alignment parallel to your target line.

• Your eyes should be positioned over the ball which ensures they are directly over the target line.

• Keep your head and body still throughout your stroke.

• Use a pendulum motion for your stroke. Use your shoulders, arms, and hands together in one motion. Do not break your wrists during this stroke.

• Back stroke and forward stroke should be equidistant.

• Focus on solid contact with sweet spot of the club and hit the ball on the upstroke. Accelerate through impact of the ball.

• Follow through straight down your target line.

• The line and speed of the putt are the two most important considerations.

• Always use a pre-putt routine you are comfortable with.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Caddyshack Scene of the Week - 2

News Flash: Mickelson Doesn't Blow It

Playing very shaky most of the day, Phil Mickelson won his first tournament of the year with birdies on two of the last three holes. After an eagle at one, he then went to three over for the day until making great birdies at sixteen and seventeen, and making a nice par save on eighteen.

Phil started the day with a 4 shot lead but winning on tour is never easy. He was being chased by Fred Couples, Andres Romero, Rory(Tiger hates me)Sabbatini, and even after losing the lead to Steve Sticker was able to find a way to win.

For the tournament, he shot 63-72-62-72 and the two great rounds were enough to put him over the top for the week. It was a very nice win for Phil after a rough start to the season. He has been getting grilled all year from various critics and I'm sure he is happy to shut them up for awhile.

Now that Phil has won again and Tiger is coming back next week, the golf world seems to be coming back to normal. The match play event starting this Wednesday definitely should be interesting.

Amateur Danny Lee Wins the Johnny Walker Classic

U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee birdied four out of the last six holes and won the Johnny Walker Classic today in Australia at the age of 18.

"It feels like I'm dreaming at the moment," Lee said. "I won lots of amateur tournaments before and the U.S. Amateur, but this is a totally different feeling.

"It's a pro event. All I wanted to do is make the cut and play well and get in the top 20. But I played extremely well today, and I won it."

This win gives him a three year exemption on the European, Asian, and Australasian tours. He will playing in the Masters this year and will turn pro the week after. This kid looks to be the real deal and joins Rory Mcilroy and Ryo Ishikawa as the top young players in the world.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FAQ From Beginning Golfers

I have taught many group classes with beginning golfers and usually the same questions arise from every class. Here are some of these questions and answers.

How can I hit the ball longer?

First of all, you must know all the correct fundamentals such as the proper grip, posture, alignment, and ball position. In order to gain more distance, you need to swing with consistency, rhythm, timing, balance, as well as hit the ball with the sweet spot of the club. This will take time and a lot of practice to develop. In order to improve your swing speed, you need to become stronger and more flexible. If you work out, talk to your trainer about improving your strength, balance, flexibility, core strength, and cardio conditioning.

Why do all my clubs go the same distance?

When you first begin you will not have much swing speed, and therefore, the loft on your clubs will not make much of a difference. This will develop over time. Once you have increased your swing speed, you can swing harder while still maintaining balance, and you will begin to see a difference in your club distances. Typically, you will see about a 5-10 yard difference between clubs. For instance, a nine iron may go 135 yards, and eight iron will go 145 yards, and so on.

Why do I slice?

There are many possible answers and a pro would need to watch you swing first to give you the correct reason. Typically, there are several reasons for the slice. First, most likely your grip needs to be stronger. This does not mean to grab the club harder. This means you will need to move your left hand more to the right side of your club grip so your left thumb is on the right side of the grip. This allows you to roll your hands over through your swing.

Another possibility is that you have an outside-in swing path. This leads to a fade or slice. If a player wanted to intentionally fade the ball, they would swing outside-in. It sounds weird, but in order to hit it straighter or with more of a draw, you need to swing inside-out and roll your hands.

Another possibility could be that your club face is open at impact. Your club needs to be squared up to your target at impact.

It could also be that you are not shifting your weight to your front foot. If during your swing, your weight stays on your back foot, this can lead to slicing the ball.

How do I get the ball to go in the air?

Many beginners have difficulty getting the ball into the air, especially when hitting irons off the ground. They feel they need to help the ball into the air, and try to hit up on it, or scoop it. In order to hit the ball into the air, the opposite must happen. With an iron, you must hit the back of the ball with a downward and descending blow. If struck properly, you will hit the ball first, and then the club will hit the ground in front of where the ball was, causing a divot.

How is the swing different when hitting my driver?

When you are teeing off with your driver, the ball needs to be up in your stance, typically off the inside heel off your front foot. You need to sweep the ball off the tee and hit the ball on the upswing in order to get the ball in the air. Normally you should have the ball teed up so the top of your driver is lined up with the middle of the ball.

Why do I hit it well on the range, but when I play the real course it’s a disaster?

There is no pressure at the range, you are hitting from a flat surface with no rough or hazards. If you mess up, you can hit another ball. On the course, there is pressure, water hazards, bunkers, trees, wind, uneven lies, etc. You only get one chance for each shot. It will take time to get used to the real course. You need to keep playing over and over in order to get a feel for it and adjust to all the different shots you will face.

There is so much to learn, how can I remember all of this information?

It can be helpful to write down the important tips that you learned through a lesson or during practice. Keep a log of all the most useful tips, drills, and strategies that you have learned. Frequently reviewing and updating this will provide you with a history of all the most important keys to your game.

Why am I not seeing greater improvement?

Golf, like anything else, takes a lot of work to improve and get good. In fact, it’s the most difficult sport to be good at. There are many different aspects to the game, and in order to improve you must put in sufficient practice time. Take a lesson on each aspect of the game, learn the fundamentals, and then practice as much as possible. Practicing is the only way to get better, and you must practice with a specific purpose.

How do they make it look so easy on television?

Imagine if you stopped going to the office 40-50 hours a week and played golf instead. You would probably get pretty good, right? These guys and girls have been playing their entire lives. They play all the time, practice all the time, and take lessons from the top teaching professionals in the world. Many of them are in top physical condition and work with personal trainers, mental game coaches, nutritionists, etc. They also have access to all the top of the line equipment which has been tailored specifically to their game, and they play and practice on the best courses and ranges in the world. They are also highly coordinated, mentally sharp, and can handle a lot of pressure.

Why is Tiger so good?

First of all, he is a phenom and a freak of nature. He has been playing consistently for thirty years, is naturally gifted, and wants to win more than anyone else. He is the most mentally strong player in the world and also one of the best conditioned athletes in the world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Japanese Tiger Woods?

Ryo Ishikawa will make his debut at Riviera this Thursday. He is a 17 year old phenom from Japan and has been dubbed the Japanese Tiger Woods in his home country. Here are a few of the more interesting facts about this kid taken from

Last month, Ryo opened his own private practice range. The facility will eventually have four greens seeded with the same strain of bentgrass that's found at Augusta National Golf Club. The sand in the bunkers was chosen because it's similar to the sand at Augusta National, too.

Last year, Ryo won more than 100 million yen ($1.1 million) -- the youngest to eclipse that milestone on the Japan Tour.

Published reports have the high school senior earning in excess of $10 million in endorsements.

When he turned pro at the age of 16 years, 3 months and 24 days, Ryo told the media that his dream is to be the youngest Masters champion. He'll have several years to eclipse his idol, Tiger Woods, who got his first of four Green Jackets in 1997 at the age of 21 years, 3 months.

It was also being suggested that if Tiger came back for the match play in two weeks as the #1 seed, he could be matched up versus this kid as the #64 seed. Highly doubtful but that would be cool to watch.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weather Wins at Pebble Beach

The weather won out at Pebble Beach today and the final round was cancelled making it a 54 hole tournament. Dustin Johnson won for the second time on tour and with the win, qualified for the Masters and the U.S. Open, moved up to 45th in the world rankings, and adds 1,098,000.00 to his bank account.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hank Haney Fixes the World's Worst Swing

Players to Watch at Pebble Beach

Phil Mickelson: He has won this event three times but so far this year his game has been sub par. He might break out this week.

Vijay Singh: He makes his return from injury and looks to kick start his defense of the Fed Ex Cup, although Tiger is probably laughing at that notion.

Padraig Harrington: The #3 player in the world is now a favorite in every tournament he plays.

Kenny Perry: He has been at the top of the leader board in many recent events and won the FBR two weeks ago.

Nick Watney: He looks to follow up his win last week at Torrey Pines with another strong showing.

Davis Love: His game his coming back into form, and he has won this event twice in the past.

Winner: Davis Love

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Story Lines at Torrey Pines

The Buick kicks off tomorrow at Torrey Pines. Let's take a look at some of the story lines. At least I will, since no one else is reading this.

No Tiger - Tiger is almost back, but not this week. It would have been cool to see him return to the site of his last performance but I guess this will give the other guys a chance. I heard on the golf channel today that Tiger has won 13 career tournaments at Torrey Pines. Gimme a break. Six of the wins were in the Junior golf championships and the other seven were as a pro, including the U.S. Open.

No Rocco - Mediate had to withdraw due to injury. Would have been nice to see him back.

Which Phil will show up? - Mickelson will be playing again this week after his opening week debacle. Every time I saw him last week, he was hitting from behind cactus plants. Last time he played Torrey, he didn't use his driver the first two rounds and got grilled by all the announcers. You never know with Phil. Sometimes he plays two drivers, sometimes he plays none. He actually has a new driver this week that the USGA just approved. He has however, won this event 3 times so he is probably the favorite to take it down.

Padraig makes his debut - Harrington has won the last two majors. Should be interesting to see where his game is at to start the season.

Young Guns - Anthony Kim and Villegas missed the cut last week. We'll have to see if they can get it together this week. Charles Howell and Luke Donald have been the runner up twice in this event so they have a good shot.

Winner - Villegas

Monday, February 2, 2009

McIlroy Wins in Dubai

Rory McIlroy took down the Dubai desert classic at the age of 19 for his first career win. This is an excellent tournament with many of the world’s top players and to win at such a young age makes a pretty strong statement. Past winners of this event include Ernie Els with three wins and Tiger with two wins.

This win should put him into the top 15 in the world rankings. "Ball-striking wise, he's better then Tiger was at 19. There's no reason why he can't win a Major," said Mark O'Meara. "He has the potential to become Europe's greatest ever golfer,” said Ernie Els. People have begun to compare him to Tiger at the same age, and as usual, I’m quite skeptical of this comparison.

We’ve heard these comparisons before with the other “young guns” such as Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Aaron Baddely, Justin Rose, Anthony Kim, and Camillo Villegas, to mention a few. The thing is, these players have a combined zero major wins. It’s all about major victories, by far the most important aspect to becoming one of the greats. McIlroy is only 19, has plenty of time to become a major winner, and this win was definitely a great step in the right direction.