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Feet Together for Balance

Jan. 5, 2005     By     Comments (1)

This drill is perhaps one of the purest drills for improving your golf game.

Feet TogetherWhen my swing feels rushed or I sense that I'm out of balance, I always revert to one very simple drill: I put my feet together and hit shots. The steps?

  1. Put your feet together
  2. Swing
  3. Don't fall over

Start slow, and build up to faster swings. With your feet together, you'll be forced to make a smoother, more balanced swing. Your tempo may improve, as any sudden changes will result in a loss of balance. Your head will stay more centered (if it sways, you'll topple!) and you'll use your shoulder and hip turn to generate power. You should be able to hit most of your shots at least 80 to 90% as far as normal.

This drill is perhaps one of the purest drills for improving your golf game.

Mercedes News and Notes

Jan. 4, 2005     By     Comments (1)

Random scraps of info about the first PGA Tour event of 2005: The Mercedes Championships.

A random smattering of notes leading up to this week's first PGA Tour event of 2005, the Mercedes Championship.

  • Here's our preview. And, uhh, well that's all we have to say about that one.
  • Vijay Singh is going with a new caddie, having run into problems with Dave Renwick. Said Renwick, home in Scotland, "I'm not retired. I spoke to Vijay the other day and said I would call him the first week in March. If I don't come back with Vijay, I'll look for someone else." Singh will use his trainer, Joey Diovisalvi, for now.
  • Todd Hamilton doesn't like golf? Said Hamilton, "I didn't like golf as much as I thought I did" said the British Open champion when asked about his busy silly season in which he played in India, Japan, Hawaii, South Africa and California.
  • Thank you to the commenters on the Grouchy Golf blog. We appreciate the kind words, and also think highly of Grouchy Golf and many of the other good golf blogs that are out there.
  • When the first person tees off, your chance to join our 2005 Fantasy League comes to an end! Instructions have been posted here in our forum.
Television Coverage
Thursday, 7-10:30 pm ET, ESPN
Friday,   7-10:30 pm ET, ESPN
Saturday, 7-10:30 pm ET, ESPN
Sunday,   7-10:00 pm ET, ESPN

Easy enough to remember. I'll be watching quite a bit this weekend as my Steelers have the week off.

Posted in: PGA Comments (1)

Ian Baker-Finch Contemplates Return

Jan. 4, 2005     By     Comments (3)

After eight years away from competition, Ian Baker Finch is considering a return to competitive golf.

Ian Baker-FinchAsk golf fans which professional has had the greatest fall from greatness and immediately names such as Duval, Beem, or Micheel come to mind. However, few people remember the name Ian Baker-Finch. Although it was only fourteen years ago that Baker-Finch hoisted the Claret Jug high over his head, it might has well been a century ago. After Baker-Finch won the Open title at Royal Birkdale in 1991, he attempted to re-tool his swing which lead to him losing confidence. In an interview in the January 2005 issue of Golf Digest, Baker-Finch described the frustration of playing well in practice rounds, but during competition simply hitting snap hooks off the tee and duffing chips on the green. These problems forced Baker-Finch to leave competitive golf and take up a career as a commentator on the ABC sports team.

Posted in: PGA Comments (3)

Understanding Bounce

Jan. 4, 2005     By     Comments (3)

Do you know what bounce is and how it applies to your game? Choosing the right bounce is important in every iron, not just your sand wedge.

BounceThe sand wedge is perhaps the most famous model, but every club has bounce. Bounce is defined as "the measurement, in degrees, of the angle from the front edge of a club's sole to lowest point on the club (which rests on the ground)." Players have worried about bounce in their wedges for quite awhile, but it's important in your other clubs as well.

For example, compare the Titleist 680 and 670. The 680 7I has 3° of bounce, while the 670 has 7.5°. Titleist describes the 680 by saying the "narrow sole, moderate camber and bounce angle are designed for players who like to pick the ball off the turf." Titleist describes the 670 as by saying "the slightly wider sole with more bounce and camber is designed for players with a more aggressive, steeper swing, and is excellent in softer conditions."

In other words, your swing shape has a lot to do with the proper bounce, and bounce matters in more than a sand wedge.

Mercedes Championships Preview

Jan. 3, 2005     By     Comments (5)

The PGA Tour kicks off the 2005 season at the Mercedes Championships.

It's been a long few weeks since the Target World Challenge when the big dogs last teed it up. The Mercedes Championships should soothe the nervous twitches some of us have after this break as the event kicks off the PGA Tour season in Hawaii at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui.

Qualification for the event can only come by winning an official PGA Tour event the previous year. With Vijay Singh dominating the tour win column last year, the Mercedes field is limited to just 32 players out of a possible 48 tournament winners; however, only 31 will be in attendance as Phil Mickelson has once again decided to skip the season-opener.

Posted in: PGA Comments (5)

The Purpose of Grooves

Jan. 3, 2005     By     Comments (3)

Clean your grooves!

GroovesMany people think that grooves exist to impart backspin. This is not true. In tests with Iron Byron, ungrooved irons imparted 98% as much backspin as grooved versions of the same model iron. The main purpose of grooves is to collect dirt, grass, and water, thus increasing ball/steel contact. Think of car tires: in dry weather, racers go with "slicks" and in slightly wet weather, they must use tread. Tread isn't used to "grab" the pavement, but to channel water away so rubber/cement contact can be maximized. Some deformation of the ball occurs at impact, allowing the grooves to "grab" parts of the ball, and this grabbing accounts for the 2% differential seen in the smooth vs. grooved club test.

Keeping your grooves clean is important in maintaining consistent ball/steel contact, which in turn leads to consistent distance, height, and backspin from your irons. Today's tip is more science lesson, but the tip is this: keep your grooves clean. Wipe them with a soft towel, clean the grooves with a sharp end of a tee or a groove cleaner, and keep your clubs dry. If your grooves are already filled with water, they won't do much good.

With "dirty" balls, ungrooved clubs in the Iron Byron test imparted as little as 60% as much spin. Why doesn't your driver have grooves? Because the ball should be relatively clean when you're teeing it up.

Photo Credit: © Unknown.

Hybridized Chipping

Jan. 2, 2005     By     Comments (0)

The next time you find yourself around the green, do as Hamilton does: put that hybrid to work!

Titleist 503.HLike most of the rest of the golf world, you've added a "rescue," "hybrid," or "ironwood" to your bag. You use it out of the rough and off the tee, and it works well for you. Guess what? You're still under-utilizing the club.

As Todd Hamilton showed us at last year's British Open, the hybrid club is also an effective tool around the greens. You may not get as much use out of it as Hamilton did around the links-style Open course, but from greenside rough and fringes, hybrid clubs possess a number of traits that will help you get the ball closer to the hole.

To play a chip with a hybrid, stand the club up on its toe a little and take a putting grip. Play the shot very much like a putt, with very little wrist action. The hybrid will glide through any grass quite easily, ensuring solid contact.

The next time you find yourself around the green, do as Hamilton does: put that hybrid to work!

Balance Those Balls!

Jan. 1, 2005     By     Comments (0)

How much does a good ol' set of balanced balls matter? Quite a bit, it turns out!

Check-GoThis lengthy article at Golf Club Review talks about the value of a spin-balanced golf ball.

A player with a poor stroke may never realize much benefit from the use of balanced balls on the green, but a good putter should be able to reduce his handicap by close to a stroke with careful and sustained use of balance-oriented balls. If he is also adept at using the alignment lines on the ball to aim his putts, he may save substantially more than a stroke a round.

Further reading reveals that Golf Club Review found disparities in long irons, short irons, and driver shots as well. Turns out that balancing a ball is important for more than putting!

You can read more about the Check-Go system here or purchase one from or other retailers.

Best Predictors for Performance

Dec. 31, 2004     By     Comments (0)

What five key stats do the top players in the world have in common?

Risk Reward 18Th Pebble BeachTiger goes for the green. Vijay goes for the green. Phil Mickelson? Yep. Ernie Els? You bet.

According to Jaime Diaz and Steve Evans in a Golf Digest article, careful analysis of Shotlink statistics reveals that five stats in particular are important for high-ranking golfers:

…five others have clearly emerged as leading indicators and predictors of success: "birdie average," "par breakers," "par-5 scoring average," "par-5 birdie percentage" and "going for the green" (the percentage of times a player tries to drive a par 4 or hit a par 5 in two.) In these stats in 2004, the worst ranking recorded by any of the top five players in the world - Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson - was eighth (Goosen in par breakers and Lefty in par-5 birdie percentage). Singh finished first in all but par-5 birdie percentage (Goosen led with 55.3). Woods and Els were in the top five in all five categories.

Your tip of the day? Read the article and apply the knowledge you gain from it to your own game.

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