Golf Digest
Why speed is the key on every putt
Pick a spot for aim and distance: in line with the apex of the break and a couple feet past the hole.
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!
Want more tips from top instructors and tour pros? Check out Golf Digest Schools.
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.
Originally published on Golf Digest
Golf Digest
A short, heartwarming story about Vijay Singh. No, seriously
By Joel Beall
It was in the Tuesday twilight of Masters week, some 20 years ago. Most of the patrons had departed for the day, their stomachs filled with pimento, their wallets barren from merchandise sprees. But in spite of the ever-growing shadows at Augusta National, a small company remained. Because no matter how much time you spend at golf’s mecca, it’s never enough.
This was well before the club’s modern, expansive practice facility was built, back when players were confined to the 260-yard range or the short game area situated between Magnolia Lane and the par-3 course. I was at the latter that evening, blessed to have an intimate, unobstructed view of my favorite player—a player who was the favorite of many; still is—working in the fading light. It’s still vividly ingrained in my mind: from pitches to flops to sand shots, no matter the distance, each ball coming to rest within feet of the hole.
In my hands were a marker and a Masters flag, radiant in yellow and gleaming with signatures. The names were a who’s who of that period in the game, but it wouldn’t be complete without an autograph from him, and he was right there. Eventually, with his head down, he ventured in my direction. I remember shaking, in disbelief at my fortune and overwhelmed that this was actually happening.
Only it didn’t. He wasn’t heading towards me but through me, his thoughts lost in whatever things run through a player’s mind during Masters week. My presence startled him something fierce. Chalk it up to shock, a bad mood, or merely the judgement that I had the audacity to be where I was, he looked down at me with disregard and uttered, “What the…get out of my face,” and marched on to the clubhouse.
What significance sports hold varies from person to person, yet its weight is undeniable when you’re a kid. In truth, it probably means too much, each game viewed as life or death, when athletes are more than athletes. And in that moment, my world was wrecked. Even in recollection, I feel like I need a blanket and hot chocolate.
I can’t tell you how long I stared forward, trying my damnedest to regain my composure, but it was somewhere between five seconds and forever. However, with the utmost clarity, I can tell you what snapped me out of the trance.
Emerging from thin air was an arm that seemed as big as my body, and it wrapped around my shoulder like a tentacle. As I turned my head to the right to see this massive limb, a voice boomed from above: “Hi son. How are you doing?”
I gazed up to see a towering man, his glasses tucked underneath a Wilson visor and his shirt so drenched it appeared he had fallen into Ike’s Pond. And smiling. I’ll never forget that smile from Vijay Singh.
His arm still around my shoulder and a rope in between us, Singh guided me from the practice area to the side of the clubhouse. As we walked, he peppered me with question after question: “How was your day? Is this your first time here? What was your favorite hole?” He treated each answer with interest, as if I had unlocked Hogan’s secret. He told me how much he enjoyed Augusta National, and what a delight it would be if he could win the green jacket. “I don’t think I would ever take it off!” he laughed.
We finally reached the veranda, and Singh grabbed my flag and signed it. Before he left, he leaned down and said, “Thank you for coming.” He took a few more steps towards the clubhouse, looked back, and waved.
When I looked down, I noticed Singh had signed the back of the flag. The front was covered with a dozen names, among them four Hall of Famers. But for years, on a bulletin board hanging above a desk in my bedroom, those names were hidden, because Singh’s was the only one that mattered.
Two decades later, Singh—who eventually got that green jacket—is in the final group of the Honda Classic. With a victory, he’ll become the oldest winner in PGA Tour history at 56 years old. But if he pulls it off, it won’t be as celebrated as it should, because Singh evokes a past that continues to haunt in the present.
And that rap, that stigma…it’s probably fair. But as he attempts to do the unthinkable at PGA National on Sunday, know that Singh, and his story, are far more than that.
Originally published on Golf Digest
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.
Originally posted:
Source: GolfDigest
By Keely Levins
Pull yourself out of that rut and hole more putts
By Cameron McCormick
Was your performance in 2016 slightly less than satisfying? I know it’s not enough to hear it happens to everyone from time to time. You want to shake off the year of stubs, lip-outs and three-jacks before golf season rolls back around and you’re racking up missed putts again like a kid catching Pokémon. Well, if you really want to fix this flat-stick fiasco, you’re going to need a bit more than a 30-minute session rolling balls into those tiny golf cups. I recommend a full reboot. Here I’m going to give you four ways to pull yourself out of that putting rut. Sometimes only one of these will do the trick, but be prepared for the reality that you might need all four. Best get started. —With Ron Kaspriske
1.) BENCH YOUR PUTTER
If you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a putter, gives it a good spanking when it isn’t performing, and even threatens to back the pickup truck over it in the parking lot, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” conversation. Bench your putt-er for something different. Use a blade? Switch to a mallet. Always preferred heel-shafted putters? Try a centershaft. Everything from club length to grip circumference is up for consideration. Go get fitted (View: Your Ultimate Guide To Finding A Better Game). The big switch works for two reasons. First, there are no bad memories with a new putter. It’s a new day. Second, assuming the old one isn’t now residing in a scrap-metal yard, you’ll make it just jealous enough that it will perform its best when you rekindle your relationship.
2.) REALLY BENCH YOUR PUTTER
“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t fly as a break-up excuse after the second Tinder date, but it’s probably true of your relationship with the putter. It showed up ready to bury every five-footer—but sometimes you didn’t. You need a refresher on mechanics. So I suggest you practice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is propelled by the shoulders and requires minimal hand or wrist action. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hitting the ball at its equator with the leading edge (above). This type of practice elicits precision and is good for the ol’ ego. You’re more apt to forgive yourself for a miss, which helps reduce those anxious feelings that turn you into a puddle of goo when the putts actually count.
3.) GRAB AND GO
You’ve held your putter the same way for so long the grip is starting to look like one of those training clubs that has grooved channels for your fingers. It’s time to switch it up, because what you’re doing, as they say here in Texas, is as pitiful as a three-legged dog. The easiest switch would be to flip hand positions so the higher one is lower. But I think you should take it a step further. Get crazy with it. Try the saw, the claw, the paintbrush, the non-anchored belly grip. Sometimes all you need is a dramatically different way of holding the club to reset your brain and start rolling the ball the way you used to.
4.) HIT SOME BOMBS
On the putting green you need to be more Picasso than Pythagoras. In other words, knowing the math behind a putt is important (speed, slope, etc.), but don’t let it squelch your right-brain artistry. You probably aren’t crunching numbers when you ball up a piece of paper and try tossing it into the garbage. You just use your feel. My suggestion? Go deep. Find the longest, craziest putts on a green and try to make them. Even putting from well off the green will help you get your feel back. You know you have to hit the ball hard, and you know it’s going to break, but when you try these long-distance putts, you become less concerned with the mechanics and tap back into the hand-eye coordination you thought you lost. Another benefit? It will free up your stroke. No more trying to steer them in. You’ll putt without fear of missing. Reboot complete.
Cameron McCormick is Jordan Spieth’s instructor and teaches at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.

Much like he did last summer, Francesco Molinari snuck up on everybody on Sunday at Bay Hill. Trailing by five strokes entering the final round, the reigning Open Champion shot an eight-under 64 to capture the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his third career PGA Tour title, all of which have come in his last 12 starts.

Molinari, who teed off 10 groups ahead of the leaders, got off to a hot start, making three birdies and no bogeys on his first seven holes. Just as it looked like he’d cool off at the par-4 eighth, where he badly missed the green with his approach, Molinari played a deft chip that found the bottom of the cup for another birdie. He made four more on the back nine, including a 43-foot bomb at the 72nd hole that wound up ultimately giving him a two-stroke win over Matthew Fitzpatrick, who shot a final-round 71.

“I don’t know, I’m just super glad,” said a shocked Molinari, who just put new clubs in the bag this week. “First week as a Callaway player, so happy to see that the switch I made wasn’t as crazy as some people thought. The clubs are good for me and I showed it this week.

“It’s great, to do it here, to get it done here at this place knowing that my wife and the kids were watching back home, it’s just a special, special one.”

By far the best club in the bag was Molinari’s putter, which he used to hole 146 feet of putts on Sunday, the most in his career. The 36-year-old from Italy called it his “best putting round ever,” a bold statement with the way putted on Sunday at Carnoustie to win his first major. While Arnie’s event isn’t a major, it felt just as good as one for Molinari.

“Incredible, it’s high up there with the best wins I’ve had. He [Arnold Palmer] was a special player but most of all a special person and a global icon for the game. For someone like me coming from Italy, he and Jack [Nicklaus] were up there as gods, so to win here is truly special.”

Fitzpatrick wasn’t able to close out his first PGA Tour victory, but he did finish alone in second. Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello tied for third. As for Rory McIlroy, it was another final-round dud. The Northern Irishman shot an even-par 72 to finish in a tied for sixth.

Source: golfdigest.com

Golf fans and media alike had a lot to say about the early leader board this week at the Honda Classic. Most of the complaints were because of the lack of star power, which was to be expected with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and others skipping the event with Bay Hill and the Players lurking on the schedule. Naturally, the final round of the Honda proved to be the most exciting Sunday of the year.

Most of the excitement was due to Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka getting into a tie at eight under in the clubhouse, with Vijay Singh and Wyndham Clark still in reach out on the course. But it was Keith Mitchell, a 27-year-old playing in just his second full season on the PGA Tour, who wound up claiming his first career victory. The University of Georgia alum carded a three-under 67 that featured birdies on four of his final seven holes, including a 15-foot conversion at the 72nd hole, yielding a fiery fist pump.

“Everybody dreams about having that putt on the 18th hole to win a tournament,” Mitchell said afterwards, adding, “and I had it today, and fortunately I was able to capitalize, and it feels awesome.”

Had Mitchell’s putt not dropped, he would have been in a three-way playoff with Koepka and Fowler, two players with their fair share of victories. But Mitchell spoiled the party, impressively bouncing back after a poor drive at the par-5 18th that found a fairway bunker. He was forced to lay up, and then hit a 129-yard wedge shot 15 feet below the hole and buried the putt.

“It was awesome. I wish I could come up with a better word than that,” said Mitchell. “But just having a chance to play — coming down the stretch against Rickie Fowler and Brooks, those guys are the best in the world, and they’ve been out here proving themselves. I’m just pleased that I could prove myself against guys like that in such a great field and a great tournament, the Honda Classic.”

Prior to this week Mitchell had four career top 10s (all coming last year), including a solo second at the 2018 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. He showed plenty of potential as a rookie, reaching the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but has struggled a bit in his sophomore season. Safe to say he’s had a successful year now, as this victory will give him nearly $1.5 million in total earnings in just 10 starts, almost eclipsing his total earnings all of last season.

Singh’s effort in pulling off the unthinkable was a valiant one, and on the 17th tee he still had a legitimate chance to win the golf tournament. But the 56-year-old badly hit his tee shot left and short of the green, and it bounced back into the water. He finished with an even-par 70, which earned him a solo sixth finish. Ryan Palmer and Lucas Glover finished one stroke ahead of Singh, tying for fourth.

The fix for golf’s worst shot
By Keely Levins
We know, we know. You don’t even want to talk about the shanks for fear bringing the subject up will cause you to catch them. But like it or not, you might find yourself in a situation where you’re going to want to know a solution. Though awful, the plague of the shanks is curable.
First thing you have to do is take a break from the course. You need some alone time to sort this out on the range. Start by checking in on a few basics. Make sure you’re standing tall with your chest up during the swing, don’t hold the club too tightly, and make sure your weight isn’t sneaking up towards your toes. David Leadbetter told us that not tending to all of these little things could be the root of your struggles.
He also gave us a drill that will cure your shanking woes.
Set up like you’re going to hit it, and then put a tee in the ground just outside the toe of the club. While you’re swinging, think about keeping the grip end of the club near your body. “Miss the tee at impact, and you’ll hit the ball in the center of the face,” says Leadbetter.

As expected, Tiger Woods will not play in all of the PGA Tour’s upcoming Florida Swing events. Shortly before his opening round on Thursday at the WGC-Mexico Championship, Woods announced he would be skipping next week’s Honda Classic, while officially adding the following two weeks’ events, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players, to his schedule.

The decision to not play the Honda Classic is a bit of a surprise when you factor in the proximity of PGA National to Woods’ home in Jupiter, Fla. However, having already played at last week’s Genesis Open, an event that benefits Woods’ foundation, adding Honda to these other events would have meant Woods playing at least five consecutive weeks. Also, Woods’ record at Bay Hill, where he’s won eight times, was certainly a factor. Tiger has never won in four starts as a pro at the Honda.

Following his comeback campaign in 2018, an “exhausted” Woods said he planned on playing a more limited schedule. Not too surprising considering he’s a 43-year-old golfer with a fused back.

Woods didn’t specify if he would play in the Valspar Championship, which is the week following the Players. However, it seems unlikely he would play at Innisbrook despite nearly winning in his debut there last year because with the WGC-Match Play the following week, that would likely mean four consecutive starts.

Woods isn’t the first high-profile player to struggle with making his schedule under the new, more compact slate that features the Players back in March from May and the PGA Championship moved up to May from August. Phil Mickelson didn’t play in his hometown event at Torrey Pines for the first time in 29 years and recently hinted he might not tee it up at the Players, the PGA Tour’s flagship event.

Woods, who is coming off a T-15 at Riviera in his second start of 2019, is playing alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Abraham Ancer in the first two rounds of the WGC-Mexico Championship beginning Thursday. Although, technically, he’s a seven-time winner of the event, it’s the first time he’s playing competitively in Mexico.

Source: www.golfdigest.com

By Brian Wacker

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Two days after playing 30 holes, Tiger Woods went another 28 on Sunday at Riviera Country Club. It proved a cold reminder that he is, after all, a fused-together 43 years old.

“Yeah, I got tired,” Woods said following a final-round one-over 72 to end his week at the Genesis Open at six under and tied for 15th. “I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I definitely felt it.”

He wasn’t. But Tiger was the only one playing to have undergone four back surgeries. Still, for a while he put on a show.

Woods’ day began at 6:45 a.m.—or at 1:30 a.m., the time he said he woke up to get ready for the resumption of the third round. And after getting up and down from just short of the green to save par at the 17th when play resumed, he added an eagle at the par-5 first for his second eagle of the round.

It brought him within five of the lead with a lot of golf still to be played as he closed out a third-round 65.

Teeing off in the final round 40 minutes later, he kept the momentum going with three birdies in his first seven holes on Riviera’s back nine to climb into a tie for fifth.

The bad news was that he was still eight strokes off the lead. The worse news was that he followed with four bogeys in a six-hole span to quickly fade.

It didn’t help any that the temperature dipped and the wind picked up throughout the afternoon, making the course as difficult as it had played the entire week.

Neither did some of the places Woods hit it. Or how he putted it.

On the par-4 second, Woods badly pulled his second shot from the right rough, going long and left of the green and leaving an awkward shot from a downhill lie that he wasn’t able to get up and down from.

Then came a long three-putt from 60 feet on the third and another from 30 feet on the fifth. Sayonara.

Woods called this one of the worst putting weeks he has had, which was true given he had round that included four three-putts (his opening round), and just 50 feet, 6 inches of putts made in the final round.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Woods said. “Those clubs aren’t coming out of the travel case.”

It won’t be long, though. Woods will head to Mexico City on Monday for next week’s WGC-Mexico Championship and his third start of the year.

Source: golfdigest.com

By Michael Breed
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).
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.