Cameron Smith’s trick for tight-lie chips: Turn more!

TOUR-TESTED TIPS: Golf’s best players make the game look effortless. How do they do it? That’s what we wanted to find out. Luckily, these guys were more than willing to talk. We tracked down Cameron Smith to teach us the secret to tight-lie chips.

Cameron Smith:

“Weekend players fear tight lies, but the setup is really the same as a basic high chip. My keys are to open the face, position the ball just forward of center in my stance, and make sure that my spine angle is perpendicular to the ground.

From there, I pick out a spot where I want to land the ball on the green then take a final moment to soften my arms and release any tension. From this relaxed position, all you need to do is rotate around your body, back and through, at a smooth pace. There’s no need to lift the ball into the air. The loft on your wedge does it for you.

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Study shows modern golf swing causing more back injuries to players, and at younger ages

Source: GolfWorld
By Joel Beall

Tiger Woods is beginning the second year of his latest comeback campaign, a return from multiple surgeries on his back. While Woods has remained relatively healthy over the past 15 months, precisely what caused Woods’ woes remains a debate. Some point to the staggering amount of swings he’s taken in his lifetime. Others assert Tiger overdid it in the weight room, former caddie Stevie Williams claims it is self-inflicted from Woods’ fiddles with military training, and parts of the Internet subscribe to more cynical theories.

However, according to a new study, Tiger’s injuries—and injuries of other modern golfers—can be distilled to a far more elementary notion.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, a group of doctors from the Barrow Neurological Institute make the case that the modern “X-factor” swing favored by many professionals may hit balls harder and farther, but it can also put extra strain on the spine.

Comparing today’s players with legends like Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan, the doctors maintain today’s players are more muscular and have more powerful downswings, and this can put increased force on the spinal disc and facet joints, which leads to repetitive traumatic discopathy.

“We believe Tiger Wood’s experience with spinal disease highlights a real and under-recognized issue amongst modern era golfers,” writes Dr. Corey T. Walker. “RTD results from years of degenerative ‘hits’ or strains on the spine resulting in early onset breakdown, instability, and pain. We hope medical practitioners, and surgeons in particular, will be able to diagnose and treat golfers with RTD in a specialized fashion going forward.”

The group continues that, not only are current golfers experiencing more back injuries than their predecessors, but that they are victims to such issues earlier in life than non-golfers in their age range.

This line of thinking is not new, as Phil Mickelson has long been a proponent of these findings. “You can play golf for a lifetime and injury-free if you swing the club like Bobby Jones did, like Ernest Jones used to teach—where it’s a swinging motion rather than a violent movement,” Mickelson said at the 2016 Masters. “A lot of the young guys get hurt as they create this violent, connected movement, and I don’t believe that’s the proper way to swing the golf club.”

While the report can be worrisome for golfers both professional and amateur, other health experts maintain stretching and improving your core muscles can stave off injury. Golf Digest Fitness Advisor Ben Shear says back discomfort can be avoided by “Strengthening the muscles at the bottom of the spine, and improve flexibility in the mid and upper back.”

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How to hit the deceptive ‘fluffy’ lie chip shot, according to a three-time PGA Tour winner

Source: GOLF.com
By GOLF Editors

PGA Tour player Russell Henley explains how to hit the tricky, fluffy chip shot…

You missed the green, but hey, the ball’s sitting up in the rough. Good, right? Maybe. In this situation, it’s not always certain how the ball will come out. As with all short-game shots, crisp contact is the key.

Step 1: Even if you’re short-sided, refrain from opening the face too much. With the ball up, you risk sliding the club right underneath it if you add extra loft. The ball won’t go anywhere. I keep the face square in this situation, or barely opened if I really need more loft to stop it close.

Step 2: I swing as if I’m hitting a little draw, with the club moving in-to-out and my hands rolling over slightly through impact. This helps the club remain shallow, which usually results in cleaner contact. My main thought is to get as many grooves on the ball as possible. Think “glide,” not “chop.”

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WHEN (AND WHERE) SHOULD YOU LET A GROUP PLAY THROUGH?

Source: GOLF.com
By Josh Sens

The Etiquetteist: When (and where) should you let a group play through?

The progression of golfers around a course is similar to traffic on city streets, replete with slowpokes, speedsters, bottlenecks and breakdowns.

The difference is that traffic on a course is mostly self-policed.

In the absence of strict laws and rigid enforcement, we’re left to follow the unwritten rules of etiquette, which brings us to this week’s comportment dilemma: When should you let another group play through?

The first commandment is as simple as a tap-in: If you’re holding up traffic, let the folks behind you pass, just as you should if you’re puttering along the freeway at 40 miles per hour.

Faster travelers always deserve the right of way. Unless, of course, they’ve got nowhere to go. On jam-packed tracks, there’s no point playing leap frog. Doing so helps no one. It can even make things worse.But let’s assume congestion isn’t an issue (and if there’s a hole open ahead of you, it’s not), and your group is on the green, with golfers standing, arms-crossed, in the fairway behind you — the golf equivalent of flashing the high beams. If this happens once, it might be an aberration. If it happens a second time, guess what? You’re the problem. Proper etiquette requires you to step aside.

There’s a good chance this will happen on a par-3, where slowdowns are most common. The process here is easy, says Lou Riccio, author of Golf’s Pace of Play Bible: “Wave them up while you are near the green, let them putt while you are planning your putts, then let them go to the next tee first.”

If they catch you on the tee box of a par-4 or par-5, Riccio says, “Let them tee off right after you have hit, then let them move down the hole with you but at some point let them go ahead.”

Riccio’s emphasis is pace of play. But pace and etiquette are interrelated. Most golfers understand this. Sadly, a myopic few do not. They refuse to let folks through, or they piss and moan about it. Why is sometimes hard to say, though it often boils down to ego or entitlement, or, most likely, a little bit of both. It’s never too early in a round to do the right thing (if your foursome’s on the 1st tee, and a single ambles up, let the single go). But is it ever too late? The 16th tee is a reasonable cutoff, unless the group behind you is shattering a land-speed record. Though the rules of etiquette do not require it, you’re wise to let them through whenever they catch you, even as late as the 18th tee.

That’s a rare occurrence. But golf’s a funny game; odd things happen. Good thing is, when it comes to waving through, two fundamental rules should cover all scenarios: apply common courtesy and common sense.

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Michael Breed: Try My Secret Move To Flush It From Any Lie

Here’s a good tip we found from GolfDigest to help you with muddy lies.

Source: GolfDigest
By Michael Breed

If winter for you meant no golf, I know you’re itching to get back out there. First, we need to do a little prep work. I’ve learned from all my years in New York that spring lies—those muddy ones with no cushion under the ball—are prime territory for fat shots. And when you hit a few of those, you can lose it fast. Let’s talk.

Golfers who are afraid of hitting the ball fat tend to bend over too much, with their weight on their toes. They feel more in control if they’re closer to the ball. But your body will find its balance as you swing, so you’ll pull up and dump the club behind the ball (fat) or hit it thin. To stay in the shot, set your weight in the arches of your feet. Next: ball position. With an iron, play the ball in line with a spot on your body between the buttons on your shirt and your chest logo (short irons in line with the buttons, longer irons farther forward). I’ve got a 6-iron here (see below).

Image: Click here

Now I’m going to give you just one swing key to think about: Drive your left shoulder closer to your left hip as you start the downswing (far right). That’s probably a strange concept for you, so let’s break it down. I want you to shift toward the target and feel like your upper body is leaning that way, your spine tilting left—we call that side bend. That will shift the low point of your swing in front of the ball so you hit the ball, then the ground. You’ll love that crisp impact, and your confidence will soar because you won’t be worrying about the next iffy lie.

That move—left shoulder toward left hip—also causes your upper body to turn open slightly. Perfect, because that brings your arms and the club back in front of your body, which is another key to avoiding fat shots. Golfers blame fat contact on a steep, choppy swing, but a shallow swing will often skim the ground before impact—and that’s fat, too. The common denominator is, the club hits the ground too soon. Driving your left shoulder forward will prevent that and add compression to your strikes.

So get the ball in the right spot, set your weight in your arches, and focus on that left shoulder. You’ll have the pieces in place to hit it solid—and beat those muddy lies. Come on, spring!

BUTTONS TO THE BALL
Focus on two positions at address: (1) Weight in the arches of your feet, never on your toes; (2) Ball just ahead of your shirt buttons (for a middle iron).

TURN INTO YOUR RIGHT SIDE
Let your weight shift to the heel of your right foot, and be ready to drive forward. What you do next will determine how solidly you strike the ball.

LEFT SHOULDER TO LEFT HIP
This is the key move for solid contact: Drive your left shoulder toward your left hip to start down. When you feel like your spine is tilting left, you’ve got it.

Michael Breed is Golf Digest’s Chief Digital Instructor.


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Why speed is the key on every putt

Source: GolfDigest
By Michael Breed

You’re looking over a long, breaking putt, and in your mind you start drawing a picture of the ball snaking its way to the hole. What’s wrong with that image? Nothing, as long as you don’t forget about speed. Speed is the biggest factor in putting. Good speed with a bad line almost always puts you closer to the hole than bad speed with a good line. Think about that.

“IF YOU USE AN AIMING POINT, MAKE SURE IT’S BEYOND THE HOLE.”

What you need is a way of combining those two elements. You probably already pick an aiming spot on long putts. For a lot of golfers, that spot is the high point of the break, which might be halfway down your line. If that’s what you do, don’t be surprised if you’re leaving putts short—you’re aiming at something halfway to the hole!

For better speed control, try this method. First, estimate the high point of the break, then draw an imaginary line through that point to a spot even with the hole. Second—and this is the big one—move that spot a couple feet farther out on the same line (below). Why? Because you want the ball to have a little roll left when it approaches the hole. To quote Yogi Berra: “Ninety percent of putts that are short don’t go in.”

Here’s one more image to help you get putts to the hole: Picture one of those annoying speed bumps three or four inches before the cup. You want to hit the ball with enough pace to get over the bump. You can even practice this concept with an alignment stick on the green.

The best part about getting the speed right is, you become a better green-reader. You’ll have a mental database to access when you’re reading a putt. The more putts you’ve hit with proper speed, the more experiences you have to guide you. Putts hit with poor speed poison the database.

Michael Breed is Golf Digest’s Chief Digital Instructor.

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How A Doorframe Can Help Your Golf Swing

Source: GolfDigest
By Keely Levins

Learn how to turn back, not sway.

Let’s talk about hip turn. James Kinney, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers and Director of Instruction at GolfTec Omaha, says that from the data GolfTec has collected, they’ve found lower handicap golfers have a more centered lower body at the top of the swing. Meaning, they don’t sway.

If you’re swaying off the ball, you’re moving yourself off of your starting position. The low point of your swing moves back when you sway back, so you’re going to have to shift forward to get your club to bottom out where the ball is. That takes a lot of timing, and is going to end up producing some ugly shots.

So, instead, Kinney says you should turn.
“When turning your hips, you are able to stay more centered over the golf ball in your backswing and the low point of your swing stays in the proper position, resulting in consistent contact.”

To practice turning, Kinney says to set up in a doorway. Have your back foot against the doorframe. When you make your lower body move back, your hip will hit the door fame if you’re swaying. If you’re turning, your hips are safe from hitting the frame.

Remember that feeling of turning when you’re on the course and your ball striking is going to get a whole lot more consistent.

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The 30-second guide to the Genesis Open: Who won, best shot, best storyline and more

Source: GOLF.com
By Josh Berhow

Justin Thomas led heading into the final day of the Genesis Open, but J.B. Holmes, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and others were lurking in what was a long and cold day at Riviera Country Club. Here’s what you missed.

Who won: J.B. Holmes (one-under 70, 14 under overall)

How it happened: Lots of golf was played on Sunday. Thursday’s rain delay pushed the entire tournament back and players returned to the course early on Sunday to finish their third rounds before teeing off for their final round. Thomas was two holes into his third round and led by one when play was called on Saturday, and when the third round was complete he was at 17 under and leading by four. But a lot changed Sunday afternoon. Thomas bogeyed three of the first five and Holmes took his first solo lead with a birdie on 10 when Thomas made bogey. Thomas birdied 11 to Holmes’s bogey to retake a one-shot lead, but Thomas needed seven putts on the 13th and 14th and made double bogey and bogey to fall two behind Holmes. Thomas birdied 16 to cut the lead to one, but couldn’t make a final birdie to catch Holmes. Thomas signed for a 75.

Key hole: Holmes and Thomas alternated two-shot swings on the 10th and 11th holes, but Thomas four-putted for double bogey on the 13th. That costly error gave Holmes a lead he never lost.

Why it matters: It’s the 36-year-old Holmes’s fifth win of his PGA Tour career and first since the 2015 Shell Houston Open. Holmes’s first two victories came in 2006 and 2008, and he later overcame brain surgery in 2011 before rejoining the PGA Tour in early 2012. The 2014 Wells Fargo Championship was his first victory after returning from surgery.

Best shot when it mattered: Holmes, leading by two with three to play, hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th into the bunker, but he made a key par save from 11 feet. Thomas followed by knocking in his short birdie putt, but Holmes’s clutch par kept him out in front and prevented the two-shot swing.

Notables: Woods closed with a 72 and finished T15, McIlroy shot 69 to finish T4 and Jordan Spieth made quad on the par-4 10th and shot a 10-over 81, his highest score in relation to par in his pro career.

Best secondary storyline: J.B. Holmes’s sluggish pace was noticed by the broadcast team — and social media.

Up next: Phil Mickelson defends his title south of the border as we gear up for the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. Woods is also in the field.

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Can meditation make you a better golfer? Yes . . . eventually

Source: GolfDigest
By Sam Weinman
Accompanying video: Click here

An experiment with three golfers revealed the practice can make a difference. Just not the one you might expect

A few months ago Golf Digest set out to answer a question almost as old as the game itself: does alcohol make you play better, or worse? The experiment and resulting video with three too-eager participants, was illuminating, comical, and fairly conclusive: a little bit of “swing oil” has some residual benefits owing to a decrease in tension and inhibition. Too much, however, leads to deteriorating focus and coordination, and then you just stop caring about advancing the ball at all.

A subsequent experiment with marijuana yielded similar results: some weed might take the edge off and loosen up your swing, but anything more than a little becomes counterproductive.

That brings us to our recent experiment exploring the effects of meditation, structured like the first two, but also plenty unique. Here, too, we submitted three golfers of varying playing ability to a series of golf tests while interspersing the influence of an outside element–beers and tokes became 15 minutes of meditation. The difference is that while meditation does induce some immediate physiological effects and boasts several long-term health benefits, we’re still talking about a rather nuanced exercise that is difficult to quantify. And if you really wanted to measure it well, best to do it over a few months instead of a couple of hours.

Still, a few hours is what we started with one day this summer, and I, along with colleagues Keely Levins and Ben Walton, was selected as one of three golfers who would spend the day hitting golf shots and meditating to see what type of difference we’d see. Although Keely and Ben had limited experience with meditation, I’d recently begun dabbling in no small part because mindfulness, as it’s also known, has been hailed as perhaps the best way to temper the freneticism of our modern lives. And no doubt I was a worthy candidate: a digital editor who spends his days tethered to one electronic device or another, a father of two high-energy boys, and someone who can overthink everything from family dynamics to what club to hit off the tee. As I said in the video, I first told my wife that I thought meditation would help because, “I run pretty hot during the day.”

“No,” she corrected me. “You run hot all the time.”
So in terms of how a few minutes of meditation a day can calm the mind and harness focus, I was already sold. What I hadn’t explored, and what we sought to discover that day, was how it might affect one’s performance on the golf course. Plus, we saw it as an opportunity to debunk misconceptions about meditation — what exactly it is, what you do, and why it might mesh well with the mental and emotional demands of golf.
The day was broken into segments of three different golf challenges–driving for distance, approach shot accuracy, and putting–followed by brief sessions with meditation teacher Jonni Pollard. Pollard is the founder of a meditation app, 1 Giant Mind, and a personal mentor to a roster of clients that includes corporate executives and professional golfers. With a clean-shaven head, an Australian accent, and an affable manner, he spent the day convincing us of the ways meditation can not only help us think clearer on the golf course, but at work and home as well.

Among Pollard’s central arguments is that for all our technological progress, the human body has remained virtually unchanged from man’s earliest days fending off regular physical threats, which is why we process stress the same whether it’s an unpleasant email or a bear attack. This disconnect between how we live now, and the biological constraints of our bodies and brains, can explain why we often feel scattered so much of the time, and why even the mundane stresses of everyday life can elicit profound physical reactions.

“This is the little glitch in our system,” Pollard said. “We are entrenched in a dysfunctional state of defensive living because the way we’re living now is so far removed from how we’ve biologically evolved.”

What does this have to do with our ability to hit a drive in the fairway? Plenty, actually, because the same forces that leave us feeling frequently disjointed also factor into our performance on the course.

Almost every golfer has to negotiate the chasm between the shots he’s capable of producing, and the those he actually hits. We’re too quick, we’re too distracted, we’re worried about the pond on the left–when the result falls short of our potential, it often emanates from somewhere between the ears. By contrast think about the time you mindlessly hit a shot on the range and it soars perfectly off the clubface; or when you rake in a conceded putt from afar without even trying, and it rolls straight into the hole. It’s precisely because you “weren’t thinking” that it worked out so well.

This, Pollard said, this is where meditation can make a difference.
“What it does is it hits factory restart and restores our natural capability,” Pollard said. “Our natural capability is there and we need to allow it to be there, so what is the thing that’s inhibiting it? From my perspective it’s the hyper stimulation of the thinking mind.”

Which is not to say that each meditation session sets you on a path to a truer golf swing. Not exactly at least. As the afternoon unfolded, my driver carry improved, but my approach shots were looser, and my putting stayed about the same. To think of meditation as some type of performance enhancer in deep-breathing form is to misinterpret the underlying machinations at work. As Pollard said, when you meditate for 20 minutes, focusing on your breath or a mantra and allowing outside elements to recede into the background, it’s similar to doing a set of bench presses at the gym. The act itself may make you stronger, but it’s really repetition and time that allows the effects to take hold
“The conversations I like to have when talking about meditation is one, it’s really wonderful to alleviate short term the symptoms of stress,” Pollard says. “But also it creates the internal infrastructure for us to be able to become resilient in this life, rather than feel like life is taxing you.”
Beyond technical improvement, what we really detected was an underlying sense of calm, noteworthy on what could have been a stressful day. Although Keely played college golf, Ben and I were not used to the strain of having every shot measured so precisely. Throw a handful of cameras and a crew of about 10 into the equation, and under normal circumstances I’d question if I could even draw the club back. But after each session with Pollard we began to mind the attention less, and distractions subsided.

“It became easier to be over the shot,” said Keely. “I had this odd sense of detachment to where it was going, like I didn’t want to look at the result. Not every shot was great, but there was some freedom and ease in not feeling painfully invested in how straight my drives were flying.”
This is what Pollard means when he describes the “infrastructure” meditation helps construct. Scientific studies of meditation have shown that the practice strengthens the pre-frontal cortex portion of the brain responsible for concentration, focus and problem solving while shrinking the amygdala section that triggers our panicky “fight or flight” response. So even though I didn’t hit the ball markedly better that day, the ingredients were all there to do so–I was more focused, less fatigued, not nearly as wrapped up in the shot I just hit or the one still to come.
And therein lies the real breakthrough, because golf is nothing if not an opportunity for self-sabotage. You start a round poorly, you stress over wanting to play better. You start out playing well, you wonder how long it will last. Pollard and other meditation experts like to say that the practice improves “present moment awareness,” which is a variation of the old golf cliche of “taking it one shot at a time.” Roll your eyes if you must, but think about how much easier the game would be if your mind were free of competing narratives and you just played.

Our Max Adler played a round of golf last year with Sadghuru Jaggi Vasudev, a spiritual leader with millions of followers and a surprising affection for golf. Adler attended one of the guru’s workshops to better understand how Eastern practices like meditation can translate to athletic performance. Sadghuru, too, emphasized the value of getting out of your head.

“People trip on their own minds,” Sadghuru said. “They need to create a little distance between what they think and what they do.”
So, to get back to the original question: Does meditation help you become a better golfer? The short answer is yes. The longer answer might be encapsulated by an experience from a few weeks after our session with Pollard, when I developed a wicked case of the shanks.

For about 10 days in the heart of the golf season, I had a hard time hitting an iron or wedge without the ball screaming off the hosel right into some unspeakable place. Golfers who’ve experienced the dynamic know no more maddening affliction, and in the grips of it, I couldn’t hit a simple 30-yard pitch without panicking. Then I recalled an exercise we learned with Pollard for right before address. We’d stand behind the ball, place both hands on the grip of the club, and take in a deep breath before proceeding. For an entire round, I did this over every shot –a mini-meditation session that attempted Pollard’s version of “factory restart.” My head clearer, my breath slower, the panic receded, and solid contact soon returned.

So if you’re asking, no, I don’t think you can measure the efficacy of mediation by saying it will drop this number of strokes from your score. But what I have noticed is that it can work to flush out our worst instincts–both on the course and everywhere else. I, for one, need all the help I can get.

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Pro forced to WD from Pebble Beach Pro-Am after missing flight