80% Swing Speed

In Tiger Woods’ DVDs, he mentions that his normal 8I travels 158 yards. The key? Tiger’s normal swing is at 80%.

In Tiger Woods’ DVDs, he mentions that his normal 8I travels 158 yards. That may surprise some people who have seen Tiger hit 203-yard 8Is from the rough to 15 feet. The key? Tiger’s normal swing is at 80%.

Many amateurs falsely believe that trying to swing faster results in higher swing speed. This tends not to be true: timing, rhythm, and balance are all thrown off when you crank up the speed. Your wrists unhinge at the wrong time, your hips slide. Havoc ensues.

Play an entire round of golf at 80% effort. Make comfortable, easy passes at the ball. Don’t try to kill it. My guess? You won’t lose any yardage (you may even gain a few yards) and your balls will find their targets a helluva lot more frequently.

Black Balls Follow-Up

Nike wanted players to use all-black golf balls at the Sony Open. How’d it turn out?

nike_one_blakLast month we mentioned that Nike would be asking its staff players to use an all-black golf ball at the Sony Open to promote the Nike ONE Black.

Turns out the whole thing was a miserable failure.

John Cook played an all-black golf ball. He used it on one hole: the par-3 17th. “We weren’t quite sure how it would look in the rough,” Cook said. “It looked like a bird going up in the air.”

The ball was approved by the USGA prior to tournament and no other Nike staff players report having needed the money as badly as Cook. Errr, ummm, we mean no other Nike staff players report having used a black ball during the tournament.

Hole in One Keeps Maruyama in Front

Maruyama double bogeys the first but aces the par-3 fourth. He holds the lead going into the final round of the 2005 Sony Open.

Ball In HoleShigeki Maruyama, the second-round leader, started Saturday’s round with a double bogey. He got it all back three holes later with a hole-in-one. Maruyama shot a 68 to retain his one-stroke lead going into the final round of the 2005 Sony Open.

In hot pursuit, one stroke back, is Brett Quigley, nephew of Champions Tour player Dana Quigley. Brett remains winless in 220 starts on the PGA Tour, but has fired three consecutive sub-par rounds of 66, 67, 68. Will a 69 on Sunday be good enough to win if the trend continues? My numerology advisor says no. (No, I don’t have a numerology advisor!)

Sony Open: Day 2

Michelle Wie is not the only story in Hawaii this week. Shigeki Maruyama fired a 5-under 65 to take the lead.

Shigeki MaruyamaWe’ll get it quickly out of the way: Michelle Wie missed the cut by seven, six shots worse than last year, finishing at +9. She played well in spots but couldn’t make a putt. She beat 16 men, though, and out of respect for those men’s dwindling self-respect, we won’t be publishing their names. Just kidding – losing to Michelle Wie is not something about which to be ashamed. Shooting +10 or worse? Well, maybe…

The Next Tiger Woods: Michelle Wie?!?!

Wie may have missed the cut at the Sony Open, but in terms of marketability, she’s a cut above the rest.

WieMichelle Wie has missed the cut. She finished at +9 – seven strokes back – six worse than her effort last year relative to the cut. Yet many believe she’s going to be the next Tiger Woods. Not necessarily in the game of golf, but in the business of marketing.

This PGA.com article hints at it, with quotes like this: “Michelle’s creating excitement because she’s breaking down barriers,” said Greg Nichols, general manager at Ko Olina Golf Club and a junior golf coach. “She has created a huge wave for golf.”

Greg Nared, a business affairs manager for Nike, has been scouting Wie for several years. He noted that “she’s good for the game because she could attract younger people and females.” He was also quick to point out that Wie’s South Korean heritage could broaden appeal in the Asian market.

What mega-deal awaits her when she graduates to the ranks of “professional golfer”? “Wie” can only wait and see.

Driver Fitting

Instant improvement doesn’t come often, so take advantage of it when you can. Get your driver fitted.

Have you had your driver fitted? If you can reasonably repeat your swing, get thee to a pro shop. You deserve a fitted driver.

The mantra these days is “high launch, low spin.” A little bit of that will depend on your ball, cut the clubhead and the shaft (particularly the shaft) matter quite a bit. Use this guide to achieve your optimal distance.

Driver Fitting Guide
According to Titleist Science Van representatives, the spin numbers are a bit high.

Now, get thee to the pro shop. Get equipment that suits your game. Instant improvement doesn’t come often, so take advantage of it when you can.

Grip Pressure Tendencies

Your grip is your only link to the club, and your grip pressure says a lot about you.

Your grip is your only link to the club, and your grip pressure says a lot about you. Slice? Hook? Your grip might be telling on you. With some understanding, a change in your grip pressure may help you hit better shots.

If you’re looking to stop slicing the ball, ease up on your grip. A firm grip inhibits the ability of the clubhead to release through impact, holding the face square or open. A gentler grip will allow the forearms to rotate, the hands to rotate, and the clubface to release (close after impact). On the contrary, people who hook the ball may be releasing the club too much, and are advised to grip the club a little tighter.

The next time you’re on the practice range, give this tip a try. Or, give it a try on the course if you’re confident. Perhaps there’s a hole that requires a draw when you normally play a little cut. Give it a go!

Sony, Round One: Ow-Wie!

Let us be the first to say it: Wetterich got beat by a girl. How did the rest of the field compare to Wie?

Michelle WieThe PGA.com title nailed it: Ow-Wie! Amateur teen sensation Michelle Wie was anything but sensational in her 5-over opening round 75. Her round, which featured only one birdie, had one up side. “At least I’m not in last place,” Wie joked. True: at least a dozen PGA Tour players finished worse than +5.

In other words, Wie’s efforts to make the cut will, most likely, keep her short of her goal. Wie remains optimistic, however, saying “I think if I shoot under par tomorrow, if I end up at like 1-over-par, maybe I’ll make it.”

Waialae Country Club played tough in Thursday’s round with winds gusting up to 25 MPH. The breezy conditions frustrated some of the game’s best: Ernie Els shot his first above-par round (71) in 17 rounds at Waialae. Vijay Singh finished with a bogey on the par-5 18th to shoot -1 69. Singh, who made some comments last year regarding Wie, snuck out this year by saying only “It’s tough for the boys over here, you know? Going to be tough for a girl here, too.”

Use One Hand for Solid Putting

Putting with one hand improves your ability to sink them with two, according to Jackie Burke.

PuttingThis tip comes from Masters champ Jackie Burke, widely regarded as one of the best putters of his day and, perhaps, ever.

The tip is relatively simple: practice two-footers with your left hand only. Start with two-footers, and bang several dozen of them in. It may be difficult at first, but your stroke will become smoother as you continue. You’ll strike your putts more solidly. This helps to eliminate the dreaded breakdown of the left wrist.

When you’re confident in your ability to make the two-footers, move back to 10 feet. When you’re comfortable with that, put your right hand back on the putter. You’ll be surprised at the difference.

This drill works for cross-handed putters, “claw grip” putters, and more. According to Burke, it may be the quickest way to turn you into a good if not great putter nearly instantly.