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Friday, January 13, 2012

OT: PGA Tour Thread, Winter 2012

This is a test of sorts. Actually I expect little but derision, but that has never stopped me.  Given that we have OT threads on hoops and football and soccer going, and that there’s a pro-bowling obituary up this morning, I wonder if there are any Primates interested in the start of the PGA Tour season in Maui this weekend.  After one round, defending Tournament of Champions Champion Jonathan Byrd leads by one stroke. 

This year’s PGA Tour season faces a number of challenges, many of them unforeseen byproducts of there being “too much money” in the global sport even in the teeth of a worldwide recession.  The opening Tour event in Maui, designed as an elite event involving last year’s tournament winners, has shrunk to a small field, because most of the major stars have been playing all winter in places like Thailand and the Persian Gulf for huge purses, and a purse of a mere $5.6 million isn’t going to get them on the plane to flipping Hawaii to play golf.  Indeed, ordinary weekly events on the PGA Tour, once the center of the golf world, are now mostly optional for the major stars: sponsors are worried that the tournaments will fill with obscurer touring pros (though paradoxically, once an obscure touring pro wins a couple of these ordinary weekends, he becomes a big star and gets to play for millions year-round).  It’s a bloated economic phenomenon, but still a beautiful sport.  Reminds me of baseball :)

BDC Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:24 AM | 106 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. My name is RMc and I feel extremely affected Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:10 AM (#4035939)
I stopped watching golf when Tiger got caught cheatin'.
   2. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:39 AM (#4035947)
PGA tour? Why not test cricket?
   3. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:48 AM (#4035952)
Never saw him take a wicket.
   4. oscar madisox Posted: January 13, 2012 at 09:01 AM (#4035961)
I'd be interested, Bob, but it looks like I might be alone with my thoughts. Not the first time that's happened.

There are some good stories at the Sony Open this week. Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton is playing for the first time as a PGA tour member, and one of last year's top players, Webb Simpson, is off to a good start. But you're right the top stars don't start playing until a few weeks into January when the European Tour visits the Middle East. It's that tour's version of the west coast swing and unlike the PGA Tour, players can get appearance fees to play on the European Tour. It's all about the Benjamins.

   5. JustDan Posted: January 13, 2012 at 09:15 AM (#4035971)
Last tournament Byrd and Stricker were put on the clock (and Luke Donald tweeted about it). I was wondering if it was Byrd or Stricker or both.
   6. Xander Posted: January 13, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4035989)
I can't wait until Hot Topics is comprised of only non-baseball items.
   7. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4036028)
*considers submitting tennis thread*
   8. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4036029)
I can't wait until Hot Topics is comprised of only non-baseball items.

At the rate the site is going, we should be there in another year or so.
   9. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4036048)
a mere $5.6 million isn’t going to get them on the plane to flipping Hawaii to play golf.

I would listen if PGA Tour called.
   10. BDC Posted: January 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4036110)
Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton is playing for the first time as a PGA tour member

One reason I've come to enjoy following golf is this kind of success story. Compton shot a 71 in the first round at Sony: one over par and tied for 80th, but tied for 80th with the likes of Justin Leonard and Vijay Singh is pretty good. Graham DeLaet leads the tournament after the first round; he missed almost a year to back surgery. Tommy-John-like stories abound in pro golf (as do Jim-Morris-like stories ... though fewer Josh-Hamilton-like stories, I'll grant that :)
   11. The_Ex Posted: January 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4036127)
I believe the PGA Tour forbids paying appearance money.

I don't think the same rule applies to overseas events. So the stars go to Thailand or wherever to get guaranteed money rather than play in a tournament where you might win a couple of thousand dollars.
   12. puck Posted: January 13, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4036148)
I can't wait until Hot Topics is comprised of only non-baseball items.


Given how many baseball threads are actually politics or Pavement threads, hasn't this happened already?
   13. BDC Posted: January 13, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4036158)
That's correct, Ex. In fact, till recently, even PGA Tour members had to actually pay an entry fee – $100, IIRC – for every tournament they played. When purses started to hit the $6-8M range, this became absurd, but for a touring pro who was risking not making a cut, back in the 1950s, that was a non-negligible expense.
   14. Srul Itza Posted: January 13, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4036235)
I wonder if there are any Primates interested in the start of the PGA Tour season in Maui this weekend.


Maui was last weekend -- the [Hyundai] Tournament of Champions

The first full-field tournament, currently named the Sony Open, is held at the Waialae Country Club on Oahu (aka City and County of Honolulu).

   15. BDC Posted: January 13, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4036256)
True, Srul, but I posted this a week ago – I reckon the BBTF board took that long to come round to the idea of a golf thread :)
   16. oscar madisox Posted: January 13, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4036273)
Re appearance fees, they're allowed on the European Tour and other worldwide tours. In fact, Tiger Woods has 3 million reasons to play in Abu Dhabi instead of at Torrey Pines in two weeks, even though he's won at Torrey only about a zillion times.
   17. oscar madisox Posted: January 13, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4036282)
Slow play is a terrible problem on tour, which makes it hard to watch sometimes. Remember Sergio Garcia and all the regripping and waggling he used to do before he it. I think it was Byrd who was at fault last week, though both players in the group were being timed. He's pretty slow. Stricker's not so bad,
   18. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4036455)
A question for a golf expert on here with regards to a possible alternative golf ranking method:

What is the best way to translate a score on one course to another course of differing difficulty. IE, how to translate a 68 on some really easy course on a lower tour to a score at Augusta. I'm not talking about one with lots of additional variables like course length and green speeds and such, just the best way to translate one score to the other?

Is it simple strokes where you just add the difference in strokes (whatever you determine that to be), or do you use multiplication (IE, a 3% increase in strokes) or some other method.
   19. AZ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4036477)
Voros -- if you want to compare recreational golfers, you can use the USGA handicap system. ratesDetails here. The USGA rates all the courses for an index and slope, and you calculate your handicap with that information (usually just punch it into a computer). It has a lot of flaws, but that's what most people use to translate their scores based on different courses.

Note that the handicap system isn't really applicable to pros because the way the courses are set up.

I think the best way to compare pros is to compare each pro's score to that of the rest of the field.

I might not be answering your question if you're wondering how to compare pros when the fields are different. This problem comes up a lot when comparing the world rankings of PGA Tour players to rankings of, say, Asian Tour players. And it came up when Tiger won his tournament at Sherwood (The Chevron) and got full world ranking points when the field was only 16 players.
   20. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4036549)
I think the best way to compare pros is to compare each pro's score to that of the rest of the field.

Right, but what I'm saying is what is the best mathematical translation: is it addition where for example one course is 7 strokes easier than the target course so you add seven strokes to everyone's score, or is it multiplication where you would add a percentage like 10% on to everyone's scores, or is it some other more complicated method like converting the scores into a binomial and using probability theory from there. I can check each to see how they work, but what I'm looking for is a more intuitive idea of how it actually works in the minds of golf experts; IE do they expect a guy who is 10 shots worse than the field at the Cow Pasture open, to be 10 shots worse than the same field at the Masters or will he be 15 shots worse (or even possibly only 8 shots worse).

There appears to be a whole host of problems with the World golf rankings, one of which you highlighted. So I'd envision a system where you not only compare the strokes to the rest of the field, but also the field to other fields. The World Golf rankings make assumptions about the field based on the prestige of the tournament, assumptions that don't appear to be all that accurate.
   21. Shredder Posted: January 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4036590)
I'm curious to see if there's interest in this thread. I'm a 2, about to join my first club, and even I don't care all that much about the Tour.
   22. AZ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4036591)
Yeah, I agree that there are tons of problems with the OWGR. The divisor is another big issue -- they divide each players total world ranking points by the number of tournaments played -- but if that number is lower than 40, they still use 40. When Tiger was playing well, that hurt him because he played fewer than 40 tournaments, so his ranking was deflated. I think it still hurts him now because they use the same 40, even though he missed a bunch of tournaments due to injury.

Separately, I also think that one problem with using average score for a field is that it's pulled down by the worst scores. I have to believe that guys who are way off the lead aren't trying very hard, they're just going through the motions, maybe even just practicing on the course. It might be better to use average score of the top 10 or 20 or 30 or whatever.

As far as 10 shots worse at the Cow Pasture vs. the Masters, I'd have to think about it. I suppose you could compare standard deviations of scores at tournaments (although the Masters is a special case because it's a small field, and that field has lots of non-competitive players, such as the previous champions and the amateurs).
   23. Brian Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4036649)
All courses have slope ratings which are used, I have no idea how, to equate the different levels of difficulty on each course. The higher the slope, the tougher the course.
   24. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4036676)
There's actually a few sites out there (too lazy to check now) which you can get into the weeds over course ratings/slopes (not just finding out what they are) but people arguing and discussing alternative means for comparisons. In the end though, I think there are just too many variables (conditions, both course and weather, set up (tees/rough/traps/fairways), pin placements (which are impossible to adjust for w/ slope/course rating)) which make making a clean comparison of a 82 at Augusta = X at Pebble Beach a fool's errand.

I can think of rounds I've shot in the mid 70s at a club I used to play at that would've been 5-9 shots higher had the pins been in different places on the same day. Move the pins on that same day, and those same approach shots would've been that much more difficult, never mind the putts. Good luck trying to account for that.

Watching the US Open (any USGA event) in any year can really show how difficult it can be to measure these things with any bit of reliability, even from day to day, on the same freaking course. There are some US Open pins on the weekend, where getting a ball within, say, 10 feet of the cup is next to impossible. On Thur-Friday it might be a totally different hole.
   25. Lassus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4036694)
I absolutely love golf and I absolutely, positively, hate this thread taking up space on the sidebar.

   26. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:54 PM (#4036864)
I can think of rounds I've shot in the mid 70s at a club I used to play at that would've been 5-9 shots higher had the pins been in different places on the same day.

The idea for the system would not to have a single "Augusta" rating but rather a rating for Augusta on each day of the masters based on a combination of the day's scores (mostly) and a general level of scores for that course (only a little). In other words it would work a little like the strength of schedule algorithms they use in College Football, only the course on that day is your opponent rather than another golfer.

EG, if the best golfers in the world all got together and the best score was a 74, the system would see that as an extremely difficult course on that day even if generally the best round for that course by those golfers is normally a 67. It might not use all seven of those strokes to adjust, but it would use most of them anyway.
   27. Shredder Posted: January 13, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4036875)
The idea for the system would not to have a single "Augusta" rating but rather a rating for Augusta on each day of the masters based on a combination of the day's scores (mostly) and a general level of scores for that course (only a little).
Any 60 PGA Tour guys can shoot anything on a given day.

Joking aside, I'm a little unclear on what this system is trying to measure.
IE do they expect a guy who is 10 shots worse than the field at the Cow Pasture open, to be 10 shots worse than the same field at the Masters or will he be 15 shots worse (or even possibly only 8 shots worse).
Nobody on Tour is ever 10 strokes worse than the field. He may be ten shots worse than the field on a given day, but we'd know that from the scores. The difference in ability between the best Tour players and the worst Tour players is extremely small. And I'd venture to guess that almost none of it is physical.
   28. oscar madisox Posted: January 13, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4036881)
"Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers?"

"by height."

   29. BDC Posted: January 14, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4036977)
Meanwhile, journeyman Matt Every is leading the Sony Open after two days. From his Wikipedia page:

Every was one of three men arrested in a hotel in Bettendorf, Iowa and charged with possession of marijuana on July 6, 2010. In a statement, he denied possessing the drug and apologized for poor judgment.


Presumably good judgment would have led him to possess lots of marijuana.
   30. oscar madisox Posted: January 14, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4037013)
Watch out for this kid Bud Cawley. He's a rookie from Alabama, and like other young kids he hits the ball a long way. He's also pretty good around the greens. He's in the top 10 after two rounds at the Sony.

Also, Tim Tebow might play in the pro-am at Pebble Beach in a few weeks, provided Denver's still not playing football.

   31. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 15, 2012 at 03:48 AM (#4037284)
Joking aside, I'm a little unclear on what this system is trying to measure.

A pro golf ranking better than the current one.

Nobody on Tour is ever 10 strokes worse than the field. He may be ten shots worse than the field on a given day, but we'd know that from the scores.

I know. I'm not sure you're understanding what I'm asking. Let's say you took 120 golfers and had them all play a round of golf at course A. And then a week later took exactly the same identical golfers and had them play a round of golf at course B. If the average score at course A was 69 and the average score at course B was 73, course B was on average 4 strokes "harder" on that day. Like a park factor of sorts. My question is, when using that factor to adjust individual scores, what mathematical form would make the most sense for this adjustment to take? Just add four strokes to everyone's course A scores. Increase the course A scores by 5.8% across the board (so that the lower scores add fewer total strokes than the higher ones), or some other method?

The whole "on any given day" stuff is understood and dealt with eventually, I'm just looking for the most logical way to apply this "course factor" mathematically.
   32. Shredder Posted: January 16, 2012 at 10:23 AM (#4037851)
The whole "on any given day" stuff is understood and dealt with eventually, I'm just looking for the most logical way to apply this "course factor" mathematically.
I'm not sure how you deal with sample size issues. Golf courses change every day. Is 156 players on a given day really a large enough sample? Especially when you'll only get that many guys on a give course just twice per year? We calculate park factors based on thousands and thousands of at bats, and multiple years. I'm also not sure how you adjust for strength of field without the calculation becoming too circular.
   33. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 18, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4039640)
I'm also not sure how you adjust for strength of field without the calculation becoming too circular.

It's intended to be circular. Think spiral instead of circle; eventually you get to the center.

As far as sample size issues go, that's an issue, but not really any more of an issue for this than the current Golf Ranking.
   34. AZ Posted: January 18, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4039680)
Nice win by Johnson Wagner at the Sony. He looks like an average guy, and his golf swing won't be featured in any instructional books, so it's fun to see him win.

On to the Humana this weekend (the old Bob Hope tournament). Phil is in the field this year.
   35. bads85 Posted: January 18, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4039702)
On to the Humana this weekend (the old Bob Hope tournament). Phil is in the field this year.


They dropped Silver Rock as one of the courses.
   36. AZ Posted: January 19, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4040239)
With respect to Voros, I'm not sure that improving golf rankings is a very interesting task. Sure, we know that there are tons of problems with the current OWGR system. And the system is important because it determines entry into a lot of tournaments for players on the fringe. Maybe if you came up with a better system you could sell it to the PGA Tour or the media.

But to me at least, it's not that interesting to know the exact rankings. We can have endless debates around who is the best player in the world, but it's going to be so subjective that no ranking system will solve that. And I don't really care in identifying who the 23rd best player in the world is.

I think more interesting topics for golfmetrics would be looking at the Shotlink data to differentiate players. For example: How does Luke Donald compare to Rory McIlroy in short game? How do each of their games vary week to week, is one more consistent than the other? What were the major improvements in Donald's game that led to to the top?

It would also be good to have a site like baseball-reference.com for golf stats (maybe there is one now that I don't know about). Looking up the stats on PGATour.com is a disaster, and those stats don't include a lot of players and rounds.
   37. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: January 19, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4040306)
It sounds like what Voros wants to do is have a value for Replacement Pro Golfer's score for each round during the season, and then calculate the difference between each individual golfer compared to the RPG for all of their rounds in an eoffrt to see who was the best golfer by actual performance that year. Is that about right?

I would think a ratio of strokes for each golfer over strokes for RPG for each round would be the easiest way to do something like that. The biggest problem with the appraoch is that the fields for each tournament change pretty drastically from event to event. Accordingly, if we could determine with metaphysical certitude who the fifth best golfer in the world actually was, if we just had him play a couple of events with pretty pedestrian fields, he could push his way up the rankings and finish ahead of where he "should" be.

Or maybe I'm completely missing the point on this one.
   38. AZ Posted: January 23, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4043202)
Anybody watch the end of the Humana yesterday? I was glued to my TV. Mark Wilson hammered a 3wood over water at the 18th and then two putted from 60 feet for a birdie. Garrigus puked on himself for three putting 17, and then doing the same on 18, he would have finished solo second but dropped into a tie. Wilson has five victories now -- he's a good player, but it seems like he's good enough to win these b-tier events, but nowhere to be found in majors or WGC tournaments.

Tiger is back this week in Abu Dhabi. Seems like expectations are really high after he won the Chevron. The field is strong with McIlroy, Donald, Westwood, Kaymer, and Schwartzel.
   39. BDC Posted: January 23, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4043264)
Mark Wilson is an interesting late bloomer. He was not a factor as a professional golfer till his early 30s, and now at 37 he's winning every few months. And though you're right, AZ, that he has not been in contention at a major, he made cuts at both the British Open and the PGA last year, the first time he'd ever done so. He may be ready for another move up.

The contrast to baseball careers is interesting. You do see guys like Melvin Mora reach success at age 32 or so, but you know it will be brief: they're not going to accelerate their stardom at age 37.
   40. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: January 23, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4043368)
Just dropped in to see if that wasn't secretly a porn thread or something. Nope, it's about golf.

Carry on!
   41. The_Ex Posted: January 23, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4043397)
We know many baseball players peak in the 26-27 year old range. Is there a golfer peak? I would think early 30's could be it.
   42. AZ Posted: January 23, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4043502)
This paper studied golfer's peaks. The author concludes that the peak is 35 years old. I'm not so sure about the methods used in the study, but I think it agrees with the general notion that a pro golfer's prime is from 30 to 40 years old.

That may be changing, as older guys seem to have had success: in recent memory, Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry. Probably due to a combination of better conditioning and technology.
   43. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 23, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4043604)
That may be changing, as older guys seem to have had success: in recent memory, Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry


not necessarily recent, but Mark O'Meara (2 majors in one year) says hello.
   44. AZ Posted: January 26, 2012 at 09:05 AM (#4046038)
Anyone see Tiger's round? I read that he hit 17 greens but took 35 putts and was only 2 under -- just couldn't read the greens. Sounds like his ballstriking was excellent.
   45. BDC Posted: January 26, 2012 at 09:49 AM (#4046054)
This weekend is a good example of the globalization (and oceans of money) in contemporary golf. The world's best are in Abu Dhabi, but at Torrey Pines, a venerable PGA Tour stop, there are still lots of stars to go around (and a $6M purse). Following the Tour right now I almost feel like I am watching a slightly sub-prime league from which a more elite group has broken away ...
   46. The_Ex Posted: January 29, 2012 at 07:49 PM (#4048921)
I missed the end of todays tournament. It was quite the finish, from the earliest story of the end:

It was a devastating loss for Stanley, who led by seven shots in the round, and was four shots ahead as he stood on the 17th green.

Stanley had a 3 shot lead on the last hole and triple bogied.
   47. BDC Posted: January 30, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4049601)
Kyle Stanley had a Sunday that was kind of like the Texas Rangers' 2011 season in epitome :)

Between that and Abu Dhabi, where the story was "TIGER LOSES / some guy wins," that was a lot of golf. Now the Tour goes to Arizona and possibly the worst corporate-sponsorship name in sports, the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
   48. AZ Posted: January 30, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4049716)
I missed the final round in Abu Dhabi. Obviously Tiger played poorly, after playing well the first three rounds. I suppose both the "Tiger has lost his mental toughness" crowd and the "Tiger is progressing" crowd have supporting arguments. He'll be at Pebble in 2 weeks.

I posted this in the Lounge, but the Tour needs to find some way to improve the beginning of the season. The first event with all the top players is the Match Play -- and that's a bad format for TV, at a bad course, at a bad date (late Feb). As Bob says, the first two months of the year is like the minor leagues -- maybe Phil pops up here and there, but the fields are pretty weak. I'm not sure of the politics, but the PGA and Euro tours should work together to have a WGC event earlier in the year. Maybe make Pebble a WGC event (and dispose with the horrible pro-Am).
   49. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 30, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4049736)
I'm not sure of the politics, but the PGA and Euro tours should work together to have a WGC event earlier in the year. Maybe make Pebble a WGC event (and dispose with the horrible pro-Am).


That won't happen at Pebble because of the history (it was the Bing Crosby Clambake for many years), just like it won't at what used to be the Bob Hope.

Really, you need to look at January as an extension of the Silly Season, because that is more or less what it is.

-- MWE
   50. jingoist Posted: January 30, 2012 at 05:26 PM (#4049856)
Mike is right.
With so much money in professional golf these days it truly is a year round sport.
And guys get ready for the grind of a new tour season in a variety of ways.
Some guys, like Mark Wilson, ensure they play the early tournaments as their game sets up well for the courses involved.
Wilson usually wins out West; he suffers once the tour heads to Doral in March.

Tiger probably is refilling his now depleated coffers with appearance fee golf in the middle east.
He will be at Doral and at Palmers gig 2 weeks later as he tunes up for the Masters.
Likewise you don't typically ( I say typically as there are always exceptions) see the Els, McElroy, Europoean crowd come over until the east coast swing in March.
They also like to tune up for the Masters by playing those March tournaments.

   51. AZ Posted: January 31, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4050707)
I was talking with one of my golf buddies about the belly putter. It would be interesting to see some stats on it: % of putts made with belly putter vs. conventional putter. Broken down by distance (for long putts, you could use distance of next putt since the makes will be low). Also, if any player switched from conventional to belly (e.g. Vijay, Villegas, Furyk), how their putting changed. Data from the Senior Tour would be good too.
   52. AZ Posted: February 01, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4051641)
The architect for the Olympic course in Rio should be selected and announced in the next couple of days. I'm rooting for Doak, but I think Jack (with Annika) will win.
   53. The_Ex Posted: February 02, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4052065)
Personally when I see someone using a belly putter I feel as though it's cheating. I know it's not but golfers use the belly putter when they fail with the concentional one. It seems like they are beating the system.

/ end personal bias
   54. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: February 02, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4052072)
Personally when I see someone using a belly putter I feel as though it's cheating.

I agree. I heard somewhere that the European tour was regulating it in some way (or was about to.) Does anyone know if that's true?
   55. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: February 02, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4052096)
The architect for the Olympic course in Rio should be selected and announced in the next couple of days. I'm rooting for Doak, but I think Jack (with Annika) will win.


That was a good piece on the topic in the WSJ last week. Agree on both points. I'm really glad this is going to be a stroke play medal event.
   56. AZ Posted: February 02, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4052112)
I think belly putter usage is just going to continue to grow. Keegan Bradley won the PGA with it, Webb Simpson won twice. They aren't old guys who failed with conventional ones. I think you're going to see more and more young players use it -- they don't care about the looks, they will use what works. Just like hybrids became popular on the Senior Tour, at first the PGA Tour pros resisted, now they are in almost every player's bag (but not Tiger's).
   57. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: February 02, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4052126)
Apparently it was the European mini-tour that banned the belly putter.
   58. The_Ex Posted: February 04, 2012 at 06:50 PM (#4053596)
I am happy for Kyle Stanley. Stanley blew up big last Sunday but is tied for fourth as I write this on Saturday. If the leader Levin pulls a Stanley, Kyle could win.
   59. Ron J Posted: February 04, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4053625)
#44 (and others) Missed the thread before.

Yeah I watched Woods. Kind of funny. He was playing progressively better each round and then the conditions changed and he was lost.

What was really striking was that his short iron play was dreadful in the last round. In the previous three rounds it basically didn't some up.

He played the first 3 rounds kind of like a long (but not super long) Corey Pavin. Hit the fairways, hit the greens (over the first 3 rounds he was #1 in both stats, but he often had long birdie puts), hope to sink the occasional long put, but don't 3 put.

He normally dominates the par 5, but not in this event. He played safe and rarely even tried to reach the greens in two.

   60. The_Ex Posted: February 05, 2012 at 07:58 PM (#4054076)
Did I call it or did I call it?

Happy for Kyle Stanley.
   61. Shredder Posted: February 06, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4054990)
The architect for the Olympic course in Rio should be selected and announced in the next couple of days. I'm rooting for Doak, but I think Jack (with Annika) will win.
I think Doak isn't likely to get jobs where he's not given free reign. I mean, he realizes that ultimately the course owner is the boss, but he's not likely to be hired by someone who isn't really a big Doak fan. Mike Keiser (Bandon) is a Doak fan, for example. I've played with Doak before, and I'm active on a message board where he participates (he's more active than me), and I don't think he's holding out a lot of hope.

Other things going against him are that he's just not that big of a name outside of the small universe of people who are really into golf course architecture, and his courses aren't the type that are likely to be really well regarded by tournament golfers for tournament golf. His greens tend to be a little more "interesting" than Tour players prefer. His style has a fair amount in common with Mike DeVries, who designed the club I just joined, so I'm a Doak fan, but I just don't see him getting this gig. I'd be happy with Coore and Crenshaw. They're probably the biggest names that are closest to Doak's style.
   62. AZ Posted: February 06, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4055004)
Coore and Crenshaw didn't submit a bid. I've seen Doak's posts on GCA, he seems unwilling to divulge any details. I see that the committee postponed the announcement of the decision. I'm guessing that the delay is bad news for Nicklaus -- perhaps the committee really liked one of the bids from the less famous architects (like Doak or Hanse) and now has to justify that to the IOC and whatever committee is above them. Aside from architectural enthusiasts, no one has heard of Doak or Hanse so I'd imagine there could be some backlash. If they were going to pick Jack, they'd just announce it.
   63. Shredder Posted: February 06, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4055046)
Hanse would be a good choice too. I really like what I've seen of his work, though I've probably only played Rustic Canyon outside of LA. It's arguably the best value in all of golf. Another plus would be lots of information on the build from Geoff Shackelford's blog. Ultimately it's a course I'm never likely to play, so I guess it's not too big of a deal.

AZ, do you post on GCA?
   64. BDC Posted: February 12, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4059480)
Gotta love today's headline on Yahoo! Sports: Mickelson roars past Woods to win Pebble ... roughly the equivalent of "Rangers roar past Red Sox to win pennant." But there is no headline that ignores Tiger Woods, in any event that can be remotely connected to him, let alone one he's playing in. Meanwhile Mickelson's career continues on a level that is simply quantum steps above anyone else's except Woods.
   65. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: February 12, 2012 at 10:47 PM (#4059547)
I'm convinced Mickelson will never win the US Open, no real reason, mostly because I don't think he'll have better chances than he's already had. I hope I'm wrong. Keeps making me think of how Lendl couldn't win Wimbledon, there was always a Pat Cash or a young Boris Becker to snatch victory from Lendl, though Phil has gaffed things more than Lendl perhaps did.

Maybe I need to go back and look more closely, but Vijay definitely had a period of relative dominance to the field, sans Woods*, though maybe my own underestimation or early cheating** episode, of him during that time (his age) makes me inflate his peak ('98-'05). He won "only" 3 majors, but has racked up 34 PGA/a dozen or so European Tour wins. '04 he won 9 times on Tour, I doubt there are many who have done that.

*Singh did get ahead of Woods in the much maligned rankings for a short period in 2004-05.
** He was suspended from the Asian Tour in the 80s when he was accused of fudging his scorecard in order to make a cut or something like that.
   66. AZ Posted: February 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4062438)
Speaking of world rankings, I just found out about the Sagarin/Golfweek rankings. Players rankings are determined by their record against each member of the field in that event.

Jeff Sagarin’s rating system is based on a mathematical formula that uses a player’s won-lost-tied record against other players when they play on the same course on the same day, and the stroke differential between those players, then links all players to one another based on common opponents. The ratings give an indication of who is playing well over the past 52 weeks.

A player’s won-lost-tied record, based on head-to-head competition, in each category. The winner in a 156-player field has a record of 155-0-0, the runner-up is 154-1-0, etc.


Full explanation here.
Ranking here.

Steve Stricker is #1 based on that rating (compared to #5 in the OWGR). Donald, Westwood and McIlroy are 2, 3, and 4 (compared to 1,2,3 in OWGR).
   67. Shredder Posted: March 07, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4075970)
The architect for the Olympic course in Rio should be selected and announced in the next couple of days. I'm rooting for Doak, but I think Jack (with Annika) will win.
And the winner is....Gil Hanse! This a great choice. He's been praised by the Tour for his work at TPC Boston (the before and after pictures are pretty striking). He also designed what stands as probably the greatest value in all of golf, Rustic Canyon in Moorpark, just north of LA. One of the best, most interesting, and most fun courses I've ever played, and you can play it for about $35. Unlike anything else in Southern California.
   68. AZ Posted: March 08, 2012 at 09:53 AM (#4076693)
Yeah, I was pretty surprised by the choice of Hanse. I'd heard of him, but only from GCA, never played any of his courses. It will be fun to watch as the course is being built, and how it plays during the tournament. This has got to be the highest profile design award in golf history.
   69. AZ Posted: April 02, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4094575)
Ahh, the most glorious week of the year. Any thoughts on the Masters? Tiger and Rory both in good shape, if they are both on the leaderboard on Sunday it should be thrilling.
   70. BDC Posted: April 05, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4097857)
It's an odd weekend for me. I am too broke to go to baseball games this year, and as a result am not even following baseball as Opening Days approach. But I am hanging on the Masters leaderboard online, and intend to park myself in front of the TV on Saturday and Sunday (if the CBS broadcast isn't too pixilated, because I can't afford cable either). The Masters is in a league of its own, even if many wannabe corporate-named tournaments of champions have sprung up to offer it competition. One of its particular charms are the places reserved for former champions and winners of prestigious amateur events. Through much of today's first round (for them, starting very early), the field is being trailed by Craig Stadler, asserting his green-jacket privilege, and Randal Lewis, the current mid-amateur champion – both at 7 over after 12 or 14 holes. I love stuff like that (not that they're seven over, obviously, but that they get to play at all).

Two young stars I follow every week are Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson – dunno why, I just like the guys. Neither has won yet this year, but they've played consistently very well, and I like the chances of at least one of them to be around the lead on Sunday.
   71. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM (#4099171)
As far as 1st rounds go, this was very interesting, with a lot of awful tee shots. I caught at least two unplayables (Woods on 18, somebody else) and then Phil losing his ball on #10, he asked for a provisional immediately. I'm not an expert on the grounds, but there sure aren't many places to lose a golf ball at Augusta National. 10 tee left, 11 left, 13 left. I suppose on 5 too.

Henrik Stenson on 18 was a train wreck. Snap hook on the tee. Couldn't punch out of the pine needles on his 2nd, his 3rd shot, played on a bad pine needle lie, was topped sculled like a 28 handicapper, then he slammed his club into the ground. Faldo: "you can't do that at Augusta", Nantz: "shouldn't do that anywhere" Stenson proceeds to air mail his 4th over the green, deep into the patrons. Fat wedge to the fringe, then an amateurish three putt for an 8. HIs 5 under turned into a 71 in just a few minutes.

Phil is a mess right now, don't know how he carded a 74 with the way he was striking the ball. Same with Tiger, off the tee he was bad yet managed to finish even.

final note: I never cease to be amazed at how awesome this course looks in HD (best use of HD technology is watching the Masters). This property looked like hell yesterday after the storm yesterday, yet as usual the place is immaculate.
   72. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 06, 2012 at 02:41 AM (#4099172)
Patrick Cantlay shot a opening round 71. Having just turned 20, you wonder how much longer he can stay an amateur if he keeps showing he can compete at this level.

Obviously there's a huge jump from the amateur's to the PGA Tour, but you don't shoot a 60 in a PGA Your event as a teenager if you don't have some talent.
   73. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 06, 2012 at 03:03 AM (#4099175)
(best use of HD technology is watching the Masters)

Actually if there's a sport that HD has done the most for, it's hockey. You can actually see the puck now.
   74. BDC Posted: April 06, 2012 at 08:10 PM (#4099762)
Stenson's second round included a double bogey on 17, but he still was one under for the day and two under for 36 holes, three strokes off the lead. I know that professional champions have immense experience dealing with adversity, but after the 18th hole on the first day I wouldn't have been surprised to see him simply vanish on the second day. As it is, he still has a reasonable shot at winning.
   75. BDC Posted: April 08, 2012 at 09:07 AM (#4100212)
Peter Hanson leading the Masters on a Sunday morning is the golf-media equivalent of the Royals in the World Series. He's the world #25, but his most thrilling career accomplishment is winning the 2010 Czech Open. So naturally the stories this morning are "Phil Near the Lead" and "Tiger's Sad Fall."

The golf itself today should be splendid, with five players within four strokes of the lead and another four tied five strokes back. Augusta has kicked the butts of many of the favorites this year, as it so often does: Woods, McIlroy, Donald, and Schwartzel are no factor this morning. But there will be some exciting golf this afternoon, for those who don't consider that phrase an oxymoron :)
   76. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 08, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4100240)
The Masters is set up for a great Sunday. The amount of movement at the leader board, especially on the 2nd nine is really what I look forward to. In fairness to the meme of the day, nobody knows who Peter Hanson is, but for very hardcore golf fans.
   77. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 08, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4100286)
for those who don't consider that phrase an oxymoron :)

I think it's great that one who does find it an oxymoron("Golf is boring") goes in only three shots back in the 2nd to last group.
   78. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: April 08, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4100290)
There's a golf thread?
   79. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 08, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4100297)
Since people's attention is on this folder because of the Masters, I thought it would be a good time to post this appeal for advice.

I've always had an interest in golf -- I used to watch golf with my dad when I was a teenager, and it has a lot of appeal for me as a sport: time spent outdoors, the mental aspects of the game. However, it is also something of a rich man's game, so I never really had a chance to participate, apart from six youth lessons more than 20 years ago.

I would like to get into golfing, however, now that I am more middle-class (particularly given my anticipated bump up in salary in August). I have found I am going to be in Michigan for a while, and this area has a huge number of golf courses. Last summer when I was in Charleston I purchased a set of inexpensive golf clubs to play around with.

I do not have any ego tied up in this hobby and am content to be a duffer for the foreseeable future, just hitting some balls and learning by experience. However, after spending some hours at the practice tee, I have discovered that I have a big flaw in my swing. Acting on dimly-remembered lessons and watching golfers in the PGA, I know some of the basics. But when I try to put them into practice, I inevitably slice the ball at a straight 45 degree angle to the right. In fact, I slice so consistently that I can't help but think if I could just hit the ball straight, I'd be pretty good.

I've read golf books and looked up advice on fixing a slice, but nothing I've tried has really worked. The result is that I can't even play a round of golf, not when every other drive ends up out of bounds. So my original plan to just be a duffer and learn by trial and error has failed at the beginning. I think it's clear I need some expert instruction.

Here is where my problem arises. The golf community is one based on individual relationships and 'knowing a guy'. However, I am new in the area and don't know anyone who golfs (I undoubtedly know people who golf, but don't know that they golf). I've tried looking online for golf lessons, but mostly what I have found is a list of names and phone numbers. I am the kind of guy who, when he goes to the store, will know the exact make and model of whatever I am buying, will know its price, and the price and features of all competing products. I am not comfortable calling up some guy I don't know at home and asking for lessons. Particularly when I don't have the faintest idea of what it might cost. This might be a problem that could be fixed in a couple of lessons, or it might require a program of intense instruction costing thousands of dollars. Which I don't have, and in my case might not want to spend on this particular activity. What I would like is the equivalent of an auto mechanic's estimate. But I don't even know any 'mechanics', and they don't give estimates. So I am at a complete loss and would appreciate any advice on how to proceed.
   80. Sunday silence Posted: April 08, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4100344)
I found that the plastic balls, while sort of useless for establishing touch and other skills, useless for chip shot or iron shots. But the one thing they were actually useful for was learning to groove a straight drive (when you hit with the big "driver). They are cheap and you dont have to walk up and down a huge field to repeat the process. So get some of those and perhaps a plastic teee and work on that. Cut a hole in a piece of old carpet, stick the plastic tee through the hole and you will have something sort of like what they have at the driving range.

So you will start hitting the driver: this is working on the tee shot, it will establish how to hit irons and the other short stuff as well. Namely becuase hitting a straight drive is the hardest (well it used to be until they started making all those forgiving drivers) But the pt is if you can hit a straight drive then rest should follow...

THere are a lot of reasons for slicing but easy way to start and almost force yourself to hit a "draw" (the ball curves slightly opposite a slice) is to actually hold your hands apart on the club and swing that way. Until you establish the proper sort of release (movement of wrists as you contact the ball). It's a terrible way to hit a golf ball to be sure, but it should demonstrate how the wrists sort of roll over as you contact the ball. Do it over and over until the plastic ball drifts to the left (thats a fade if you are a right hand hitter) or goes straight and you will start to establish the movment/muscle memory for an anti slice.

You will look stupid, like a five year old with your hands apart like that (say 3-6" on the shaft). But you are learning to release (the movement of wrists as you contact the ball) and the weight shift. It should feel as if the right wrist sort of rolls over the other one as you make contact. ANd you should feel your weight shift, on the downswing; and also feel like your weight is right over the ball as you contact.

Okay so after you hit plastic balls like that for a few days, you can take a real grip and continue to hit plastic balls but with a real grip, stance, etc: Continue to use the plastic tee.

THere are lots of tips that have to do with slicing: keeping the left arm straight, especially as you begin the back swing. Proper weight shift (I found that by beginning the downswing by planting the left heel and then everything that follows works up from there: i.e. the knees, then the hips, then the shoulders) as you begin the downswing. Also keep your head down; also keep your wrists straight especially on the back swing, people tend to "coc.k" or rotate their wrists as they bring the club back it feels natural and you dont notice you are doing it. It's like when you take your right fist and turn it inward, people tend to do that on the back swing, you should try to keep those wrists like you're praying without folding them one way or another; it's not natural you have to work on that.

Also note your address. Your feet should be parallel to the direction the ball will go in, many people sort of aim their feet at the target so you have sort of a "closed stance". Very hard to notice unless you put a club or yardstick on the ground and across the tips of your toes, the yardstick should be sort of parallel to the target, not straight at the target. THis sort of mistake in the stance can throw off everything. Make sure you stand the correct distance from the ball: grip the club and drop it down "naturally" wherever the club contacts the ground that his about how far you should stand. Practice addressing the ball over and over....


NOw the grip and swing: Make sure the "v"s formed by your thumb/forefingers are pointing on either side of your head (refer to internet or magazines for details). Usually you should be able to see two knuckles on your right hand, if you can see 3 or more you will probably rotate your wrists outward as you contact and also slice. A good way to know you are hitting correctly is once you groove your swing with plastic balls then get some real balls and go to a field with real balls....

If you are hitting the plastic balls straight, you should be able to address the ball by seeing two knuckles on the right hand. THen next swing, rotate the right wrist so you can see only one knuckle. THen when you swing the ball should draw (curves left a little) because your wrists slightly over rotate (they "turn over" or roll) as you contact/wrists release. Then turn the wrists so you can see 3 knuckles on the right hand, now you should "fade" ( a slight draw, curving right) because the wrists under rotate. If you can get to the pt. where you can fade/draw/straight hit the ball just be turning your wrists at address you know are doing well. That sort of bio feedback is very useful to see how well you are in control of your body.

So do it in that order; hitting with hands apart is sort of childish it's not proper but it will force you to establish proper rollling over of the club. THen work on: stance and address of hands. This is a static exercise just take your time before each shot. Finally work on the swing in the order it happens: straight take away, proper weight shift, begin donwswing etc. Look up old lessons/tips on internet or in magazines for more diagrams
   81. BDC Posted: April 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4100553)
Sorry to break into the lesson, but: as mrams predicted, quite a final round so far. One of the great shots in golf history, Oosthuizen's double eagle, and he has played very solidly since – though not quite making any amazing putts that would have put the tournament away, he is making par on most holes and nobody's gone crazy to move up and challenge him. An incredible spectacle early in the round of Mickelson fighting with a stand of bamboo on his way to a triple bogey ...
   82. Lassus Posted: April 08, 2012 at 06:23 PM (#4100583)
I was out to dinner, just turned it on, and your post Bob, was the first confirmation of that double-eagle I've seen. I was looking at an online lederboard and simply thought... "what? I mean, wait, that.... wait, what?"

And Watson ties for the lead.

Please, Phil, make that eagle.

Guess not. You know what, Phil, that's ok, get your birdie, and then just more magic upcoming.
   83. Papa Squid Posted: April 08, 2012 at 06:32 PM (#4100590)
Cheering for Watson. I used to play a local course quite a bit when I was learning to play, and I imagined, "I wonder what a Tiger would shoot on this course?" I thought Peak Tiger would shoot 56-58, easy. Local legend is that Bubba Watson has played the course with his father-in-law, and shot a 62, carrying a 3-wood and some irons.
   84. Lassus Posted: April 08, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4100606)
I was going for Phil, but I'll root for Watson now.
   85. Monty Posted: April 08, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4100619)
I was in a restaurant eating breakfast when I saw the double-eagle happen on the television. It was startling!
   86. Papa Squid Posted: April 08, 2012 at 07:34 PM (#4100621)
That approach shot by Bubba in the 2nd playoff hole was ridiculous. Well-earned victory
   87. LionoftheSenate Posted: April 08, 2012 at 09:31 PM (#4100664)
I've played about 20,000 video game holes and made 1 double-eagle, at Pebble actually. This was probably 18 years ago. Still a great memory. Imagine doing that at the Masters.
   88. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: April 08, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4100684)
Somehow it seems totally appropriate for a guy named Bubba to win at Augusta National.
   89. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 08, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4100750)
Too bad Hootie wasn't around to emcee the Jacket ceremony for Bubba.

Say what you want about Augusta National's reputation/membership, the music which some hate, etc. it produces the most consistent, high level, high drama sporting event almost 100% of the time. It has never disappointed me and there's barely a commercial. Remember that when you tune into the US Open, or anything else for that matter.

I had to listen to much of the 4th round on XM radio, the coverage is surprisingly very good, yeah golf on radio, yeah, really.
   90. AZ Posted: April 09, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4100846)
I am not comfortable calling up some guy I don't know at home and asking for lessons. Particularly when I don't have the faintest idea of what it might cost. This might be a problem that could be fixed in a couple of lessons, or it might require a program of intense instruction costing thousands of dollars.

Slivers -- glad to see that you are interested in learning the game. My advice is to find a pro who will give you lessons. You can call up any golf course, as long as it's not a bare bones municipal course, it will have a pro who gives lessons. Lessons generally run $80-120 for an hour, you might get them for less if you buy a package of 5 or 10. Almost all amateurs slice the ball -- your swing fault is not unique. Any decent pro is going to be able to help you fix it. I agree that it's hard to get good reviews on who the best pros in your area are, but frankly, at your level, any pro is going to be able to help you out. The golf swing is complicated and not natural. Some people can learn how to do it from reading books and magazines, but I think that the quickest way is to take lessons from a good pro.

As far as an estimate of how long it will get you to hit the ball relatively straight, well, it depends. The good thing is that you're just starting out so you don't have years of ingrained bad habits like the best of us. The biggest factor is how much work you're willing to put into it. A decent plan is to take lessons once a month and practice once or twice per week.

Golf is a great game but it is not easy. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
   91. Lassus Posted: April 09, 2012 at 09:07 AM (#4100862)
Slivers - adding my advice to the pile -

If you want purely amateur coaching from a stranger on the internet regarding curing a slice (and again, lessons are great and solution #1, even a single one vs. 5 or 10; but I understand not wanting to or being able to spend) I'm going to go a simpler, less complicated route than Sunday Silence's (still rather impressive) lesson:

Go the the range and swing with your slice swing. Then, two things:

1.) Try making sure the ball is not forward in your stance, i.e., closer to your front foot than your back foot. I'd say center is better, but simply close to center is better than forward.

2.) Begin incrementally turning the lower hand on the club (I assume right, but you might be a lefty) forwards (but leaving the club where it is, only moving your lower hand and re-gripping) for a few swings each until you note that a.) the club face "feels" more even at strike and/or b.) you simply slice the ball less.

3.) Swing less hard until you are comfortable with the ball flight, and only then - when you are hitting straight - adding velocity to the swing.

OK, I guess that was three things. But that's how my high school coach cured mine. Still might happen, but those are good basics.
   92. BDC Posted: April 09, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4101090)
I'm not sure that Watson's shot off the pine straw and magnolia leaves (what could be more iconic?) was greater than the double eagle, but it was made under immensely more pressure, and was equally astonishing. I like both Watson and Oosthuizen (based on what? them seeming like good guys, I suppose), and the playoff was thus a matter, as a fan, of feeling both good and bad no matter what. Interesting how individual sports can work that way – golf more than any other, perhaps, because there's no defense and both players are faced with the challenge of the course environment. An amazing day of golf.
   93. Sunday silence Posted: April 09, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4101178)
I agree with most of what Lassus said; I had neve heard of no. 3 although it probably makes sense. I think no. 2 has to do with what I was saying about the knuckles on your hand, I think it comes a little later in the process.

One thing I dont like about the range, it is not really that natural to hit off a tee as the cement surface under neath is very hard and it can hurt your hands. Of course most ranges do have (a few) real grass tees to hit off of, so maybe you can do that. I think it depends on how you swing, I tend to swing right down on the ball, and the last time I hit a bucket plus of balls I had tendinitis in my sorearms for six months! My buddy has a more "sweeping" swing and he doesnt really experience problems hitting off a practice tee. But you do need many swings to hit the ball straight, so I would urge plastic balls , to save wear tear on wrists and hands. Of course learning proper "touch" for short shots etc. you do need practice with real balls, on real grass.

I sort of prefer practice that more resembles real golf, so I dont ilke to hit the same club over and over. And I like to take little breaks between hitting a few balls because that's more what its like.

Definitely work on that stance. THe first part is keeping the proper distance from the ball (based on letting the club drop down to hwere it contacts the ground). The lateral placement is also not too hard. For the nine iron/pitching wedge the ball should be right in the middle, halfway between each foot. For the driver it should be right off the left heel (your left foot should be toed outward slightly at address). THe rest of the irons/woods fall on a continuum between those two extremes. Note also the 9 iron is shortest, and the driver is longest. So considering bringing distance into it; the 9 iron would be placed in the center and pretty close to body; the driver is off the left heel and also further away (as the driver is the longest club in the bag. Fortuneately, these two aspects (lateral position/distance from body) can be determined logically. Not everything in golf is like that! So take advantage of that, and you can take your time taking your stance.


Cointinuing the rest of address...keep your the feet parallel to the target (not pointing at the target) is a little tricky from the stand pt of the golfer. Either put the club down along the toes or have someone else watch you. This is one you have to consciously work on a lot. Note the left foot is slightly flared outward especially for the driver; the irons not really. THen your weight, should be balanced evenly between both feet. I agree with Lassus that you can definitely mess up by "reaching" too far for the ball.

I think it helps to identify which aspects are easy to spot/logical and which are more subtle. Distance from ball, placement between feet, grip: Pretty logical. Foot alignment, co.cking wrists, release of wrists, starting downswing: Subtle.
   94. Shredder Posted: April 09, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4101181)
2.) Begin incrementally turning the lower hand on the club (I assume right, but you might be a lefty) forwards (but leaving the club where it is, only moving your lower hand and re-gripping) for a few swings each until you note that a.) the club face "feels" more even at strike and/or b.) you simply slice the ball less.
Are you telling him to weaken his grip? Rotating the lower (right) hand in manner you're suggesting (unless I'm misreading) is going to promote a MORE rightward trajectory, not less. A stronger grip (right hand more underneath) generally allows for more rotation in the swing, which helps draw the ball.

As for lesson, I'll echo what AZ said. Call a couple courses in the area. They probably all have teaching professionals, and their rates may vary (even pros at the same course may offer different rates). And in my experience, it shouldn't matter if the course is public or private. I took lessons from a pro at a private club where I wasn't a member when I was in high school. And as AZ mentioned, you can usually get a deal on a series of five or six lessons.

SdeB, what part of Michigan are you in? I just joined a club as a national member a little south of Traverse City.
   95. AZ Posted: April 09, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4101222)
Apparently, May is free lesson month. You should be able to find a good pro through that program.

Also, practice the short game (anything within 100 yards of the hole, such as chipping, pitching, bunker play) and putting.

As far as being a duffer, I think that, if you practice once a week, and take lessons once a month, you should get to a decent level within 3-4 months. By decent, I mean that you can roll up to a course and play with pretty much anybody, and be able to play your game without being embarrassed. You might not be shooting in the 90s, but you should be able to hit the ball straight enough to get around the course without slowing the group down (especially if you work on your short game). If you play with strangers, they really don't care what you shoot -- as long as you're a nice guy or gal, and don't slow the group down, they'll enjoy playing with you.
   96. SoSH U at work Posted: April 09, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4101230)
If you play with strangers, they really don't care what you shoot -- as long as you're a nice guy or gal, and don't slow the group down, they'll enjoy playing with you.


And you don't have to be that good to avoid slowing anyone down. Being ready to hit when it's your turn covers up a lot of sins on the ability front.

   97. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 09, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4101245)
Thanks for all the tips fellows, they're very helpful.

THere are lots of tips that have to do with slicing: keeping the left arm straight, especially as you begin the back swing. Proper weight shift (I found that by beginning the downswing by planting the left heel and then everything that follows works up from there: i.e. the knees, then the hips, then the shoulders) as you begin the downswing. Also keep your head down; also keep your wrists straight especially on the back swing, people tend to "coc.k" or rotate their wrists as they bring the club back it feels natural and you dont notice you are doing it. It's like when you take your right fist and turn it inward, people tend to do that on the back swing, you should try to keep those wrists like you're praying without folding them one way or another; it's not natural you have to work on that.

Also note your address. Your feet should be parallel to the direction the ball will go in, many people sort of aim their feet at the target so you have sort of a "closed stance". Very hard to notice unless you put a club or yardstick on the ground and across the tips of your toes, the yardstick should be sort of parallel to the target, not straight at the target.


I've worked on most of those; I think my positioning and foot plant are ok. I plant my feet like Jack Nicklaus recommends (10 and 1 o'clock, IIRC). If there's any systemic issue, it is keeping me head down and staying balanced. I have a tendency to rise up as I swing, this is probably connected to the fact that the clubs feel too short (I use appropriate clubs for my height, according to standard charts). I also have a tendency to feel as if I am about to tip over forward (not literally, but my weight tends to fall on my toes).

One thing I dont like about the range, it is not really that natural to hit off a tee as the cement surface underneath is very hard and it can hurt your hands. Of course most ranges do have (a few) real grass tees to hit off of, so maybe you can do that.


I have no problems hitting practice balls and can hit 60 or 70 off either grass or turf with no problem.

My advice is to find a pro who will give you lessons.


Yeah, I'll probably look into that in the fall after I get back from Europe.


SdeB, what part of Michigan are you in? I just joined a club as a national member a little south of Traverse City.


I live in Mt. Pleasant, so we're probably fairly close to each other.
   98. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 09, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4101298)
SdeB,

It depends on whether you want to fix your swing or just fix your slice. Fixing the slice is easy: start off with an inverse Tony Batista closed stance (while the club is still pointed straight). And open it slightly until you can start actually hitting the ball. There's no way you should slice unless you badly mishit the ball off the side of the club.

Fixing your swing problems is harder. They've got a cheap little device that can work, but it requires work on the range. It's just a foam pad that elevates a foot or two over your ball. If you come over the top (the most common slice problem other than grip which I assume you've looked at) you're going to hit that foam pad every time and so the only way to not do it is to stop. The trick though is whether you'll revert back on the course once the pad is gone. You could also try the no backswing swing at the range and see if that can groove your swing that way.

You could try pinning your right elbow to your side (assuming you're RH), but that too takes a lot of swings because that can result in army golf (left, right, left, right, left, right). This is essentially the same advice as above of keeping your left arm straight (since if you pin your right elbow into your side, you can't possibly swing without straightening your left arm).

The biggest problem with fixing your golf swing is that you find fixing one vexing problem with your swing can cause a new batch of problems to show up0. "Swinging easier" is one such way. It's good advice, but it can also lead to decelerating the club on the downswing which often results in disaster (not just a bad shot but also pain as the club hits the ground behind the ball). It's amazing how quickly a slice problem can become a pull-draw problem.
   99. BDC Posted: April 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4106680)
I'm sorry if I said in some other thread that pro golfers tend to be in pretty good physical shape. Watching Colt Knost and Carl Petterson vying for the lead at Hilton Head today is like watching an episode of The Biggest Loser.
   100. Lassus Posted: April 14, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4106706)
Are you telling him to weaken his grip? Rotating the lower (right) hand in manner you're suggesting (unless I'm misreading) is going to promote a MORE rightward trajectory, not less. A stronger grip (right hand more underneath) generally allows for more rotation in the swing, which helps draw the ball.

No, not at all. I even make a point to say re-grip the club. If you turn your right hand farther under the club, your clubface turns over sooner, preventing that face from being more open when you strike the ball, and therefore preventing both the direction of going right, and the spin to make it go even further right.

You in fact mention it, but a stronger grip is not by default a more underneath grip. You still have to move your hand underneath, which is all I was advising. I may have made it MORE confusing by attempting to detail what "underneath" meant, step-by-step.


I agree with most of what Lassus said; I had never heard of no. 3 although it probably makes sense.

I think this is always good advice for a beginner, but it's probably personal - it may not truly work for everyone.
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