Six weeks into the new year, the new set of golf rules have their first adjustment on caddies standing behind their players.
Six weeks into the new year, the new set of golf rules have their first adjustment on caddies standing behind their players.
Golf’s two governing bodies released a clarification on the rule aimed at caddies no longer being able to help players line up a shot. The rule now says a player can avoid the penalty if he backs away from his stance and starts over anywhere on the golf course, and not just the putting green.
It also says caddies will not be in violation if they are standing behind their player without being aware the players are stepping into their stances.
The clarification was in response to a two-shot penalty on Denny McCarthy at the Phoenix Open that later was rescinded so the rule could be studied.
The earliest golf tees rested flat on the ground and had a raised portion to prop up the ball. The first patent for this kind of tee is dated 1889, and was issued to Scotsmen William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. The first known tee to pierce the ground was a rubber-topped peg sold commercially as the “Perfectum.”
What type of tee do your prefer — short, long, wood, plastic, none at all???
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The following at home golf drills are beginner level to build basic fundamental putting stroke skills. You need just a few phone books and a coin or tee to set up these indoor putting practice drills.
Also, you can practice these putting drills on carpet if you don’t have a synthetic indoor putting green.
Drill #1: Phone Book Path
Drop two phone books onto the ground at home and leave enough distance between them that your putter can barely squeeze through. Make practice strokes focusing on keeping the putter path straight and putter face square. If you don’t, you may bump into the books which give you feedback that your putting stroke wasn’t straight for that stroke.
Drill #2: Phone Book with Golf Ball
Set up two phone books again so that you’ve left your putter enough room to make a stroke between them. Now place a 10 foot piece of painter’s tape in the middle of the path and parallel to the books so that it creates a target line. Several feet of tape should be outside the books so that you can see how your ball stays on line for several feet.
Set a golf ball down in the middle of the books path on the target line you’ve created and stroke putts. You can use the books to monitor your back swing length compared to your forward swing length. The forward swing should be equal or slightly bigger than the back swing. Using the books as a guide for a straight putting stroke, try to see how many putts you can keep on the tape/target line.
Drill #3: Right Handed Putts
Pick a target to putt to from 3 feet away and using just your right hand, stroke one handed putts trying to hit the target. Make sure to keep the putter path straight still as well as the face square to your target. This will build your putting stroke by ingraining skill with one hand.
Drill #4: Left Handed Putts
Repeating the same golf drill from above, use just your left hand to stroke 3 foot putts to a target you’ve selected. These two one handed putting drills make a our list of the best golf drills at home because of their simplicity but also their effectiveness.
You’ll be surprised how much more confident you feel once you can master one handed putting strokes. Spend 15 minutes each day and it will add up over the month, you’ll see.
Drill #5: Putting to a Tee
One of the best ways to practice putting at home is simply working on your control of the putter face. Set up a golf tee so that it’s upside down.
Starting 3 feet away, putt a ball to the tee trying to knock it over. Then move back to 4 feet, 5 feet, and so on. Try to work your way back to 20 feet away and still be able to knock the tee over.
You’ll gain amazing feel of your putter’s face and know when you’ve closed the face or opened the face during the putting stroke since you’re hitting to a super small target.
Drill #6: Putting to a King of Hearts
Grab a King of Hearts playing card from a deck of cards and lay it on the carpet or floor several feet away from you. Attempt to putt the golf ball with enough speed that it stops on top of the king of hearts.
This is a challenging putting drill that will improve your putting distance control before you know it. And using a playing card helps simulate a golf hole since it’s small, so you’ll also work on your putting accuracy by making sure you’re aligned to the target properly.
Drill #7: Three Ball Distance Control
For this putting practice drill, you want create a 1 foot long box or zone using tape or some sort of distance marker. The goal is to putt all 3 balls into this zone with each ball going slightly further than the previous ball. But the 3rd ball can’t go beyond the 12 inch zone. It teaches you putting distance control by forcing you to feel each putt and try to replicate that distance but slightly further without over hitting the ball so that it rolls beyond the 1 foot long zone.
Drill #8: Golf Putting Stance Practice
Lastly, we want you to improve your putting set up and your stance. This is a fundamental step to helping you make a straight putting stroke.
Have your putter sitting next to the couch and during TV shows or during commercial breaks, stand up and work on the proper putting stance set up.
Doing this for just 15 minutes per day can build muscle memory and turn into a good habit so that your putting stroke improves without a whole lot of effort.
IF YOU WANT TO GET A few extra yards and take a few strokes off your golf game, you’re probably tempted to splurge on a fancy new driver or revolutionary new golf ball. But the fact is, you can get even better results from proper preparation. Armed with nothing but a pro warm-up routine and a little know-how, you could add a dozen yards to your drive and take several strokes off your score card. Here’s how.
1. Warm up.
I wish two draft beers and half a cigar was a warm-up, but it is not. Full-body movements that include trunk flexing, extending and rotating are a great start. Other dynamic warm-up moves should target hip rotation in all directions. Lastly, making sure that your shoulders are prepared for all parts of your back swing and follow through will ensure a good first shot from the tee box.
Being only 10 percent dehydrated can lead to a loss of up to 5 percent of your ability to produce power. That means that if you’re used to hitting your 9-iron 130 yards, now you’ve lost 7 yards. You like hitting that 5-iron 180? Not anymore: If you’re dehydrated, you’re now only hitting it 170. Any good golfer knows how important being on your distances can be when trying to beat the course. It’s pretty hard to know how far you will hit your clubs if you are not properly hydrated.
3. Get fueled up.
If you think hydration is important for athletic output, then you’d better understand how vital proper pre-golf nutrition is to your success, too. Golf is a marathon with bouts of some pretty explosive movements. And, it all happens over the course of a lot of walking and strategizing. If you don’t have a good base of calories and blood sugar to start with, it’s like trying to drive from Virginia to Maine on a half tank of gas.
4. Keep fueling.
It’s so easy to get lost in the competition of the game of golf. The excitement of good shots. The frustration of duffs and slices. It’s all any of us can do to keep our heads together. Now, try limiting your brain’s energy source during a round and the mental game gets a lot harder. Something as simple as some trail mix, an energy drink or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will keep your mind sharp and your muscles purring.
5. Be strong.
This isn’t necessarily something you can do before each round of golf, but it should be in the forefront of your mind if getting better at golf is the goal. Any strength-building activity you enjoy and can do consistently will work. The important thing is knowing that strength is built in the off-season, sped up in the preseason and hopefully maintained in some manner during the season.
6. Be flexible.
You’re not going to see a lot of true flexibility gains from a few stretches before a round of golf. What you will feel is a much more prepared nervous system and improved joint mobility, which will translate to your golf game as more pure and efficient mobility. This is key for anyone trying to beat a course, break a distance mark or just get through a round without nagging aches and pains.
7. Seek coaching.
Lots of folks are good athletes or have played sports their entire lives, but things seem to change when they pick up a golf club; their athletic experience just doesn’t transfer. As a lifelong baseball athlete, I can speak to this frustration firsthand. There are few things more aggravating than having difficulty hitting that little white ball on the ground.
But put me, or any other experienced athlete, back into their familiar setting like holding a baseball bat, tennis racket or a basketball, and things feel right again. Once you get a pro to look at you swing a club and help you refine some of your technique, your game – and outlook – will improve.
8. Know good pain from bad pain.
Knowing the difference between “good” pain that’s part of progress and “bad” pain that leads to injury starts in off-season golf-strengthening programs and continues through life. Those of us who know what “good” pain is also spend less time sitting out practices or rounds of golf because we know how useful movement is for healing and furthering our own athletic progress.
This term might not be familiar to even serious golfers, but to a strength coach or a physical therapist, this is one of the most important pieces of the golf strength, injury prevention and performance puzzle. This is the term we use to describe how training programs change depending on a golfer’s current fitness level and the time of the year we’re working.
For example, how important is it for a golfer who lives in the mid-Atlantic or northeast to be the most explosive and most ready to play golf in December? Not very. So, seek golf-specific programming for all of the different phases of the year, as well as competition and play. In this way, you can get the most out of each phase and maximize your physical abilities during the golf season.
10. Rest and recover.
This shouldn’t be the first time any good golfer has heard that taking proper care of your body after some time at the range or after a round of golf is a good idea. This might, however, be the first time that you realize that it could be the single most important – and easiest – thing you can do to ensure a pain-free and rewarding golf season.
A six-footer is by no means a gimme, but it’s still short enough that it stings when it doesn’t go in. To make more of these, start by locking in your speed. It’s the most important part of every putt. And when you assess speed, don’t just factor how fast the ball needs to roll to get to the front of the cup. Think about it: You’re not trying to be so precise with your putting that the ball falls in on its last rotation. So forget the front of the cup. You should be looking at a spot 1½ feet beyond the hole. You’ll still be in tap-in range if you miss, but now you know the ball is going to get there every time.
Once you’ve determined that spot, then you can read the break. Start by walking to the hole, and try to picture the line in your head, keeping in mind that it continues 18 inches past the cup. Typically a putt of this length isn’t going to break that much—unless your course is Augusta National.
To get my speed down, I often practice with a small silicone cover over the top of the hole. The ball rolls right over it. If you don’t have one, you can just putt over the location of an old cup like I’m doing here (see bottom photo). The point is to get the ball to stop at a consistent distance beyond the hole. After I hit a putt that rolls over the cup and stops where I want it to stop, I’ll put a dime down to mark that end point. Then I’ll stroke putts over the hole trying to get every one to stop on a dime, so to speak.
DEVELOP A SHOT CLOCK
Having a pre-shot routine is important, but that doesn’t mean only doing the same things before every putt. Just as important is the amount of time you take to do those things. It will make a big difference if there’s a consistent duration from setup to stroke—it gives you good rhythm and confidence. Another thing you should do before you hit a putt is to take one last look at your line of putt all the way to the hole and then back to your ball—but do it quickly. The longer you stand over the ball, the more likely you’ll start to psych yourself out that you might miss. Good putting is a lot more mental than physical. Not a lot can go wrong with your stroke on a six-footer—it’s a fairly short and quiet motion. If you can relax and trust in what you’ve done prior to the putt, your chance of rolling one in will go way up.
BE AN ATHLETE, NOT A ROBOT
If you struggle with these makable putts, it’s probably because you’re too focused on using perfect mechanics. I’ve got news for you, guys like me on the PGA Tour rarely set up and make a textbook stroke, yet the tour average for putts made from six feet last season was 70 percent. What I’m saying is, there are a lot of ways to get the ball to go in the hole.
Putting is extremely personal, but everyone should feel comfortable over the ball. I like when my arms hang freely, and I have a slight roundness to my back. As for the stroke, I don’t think about the length the putter moves back and through. Instead, I try to be as athletic as possible, meaning my process is to look at what I have to do—then react. If you’re shooting a basketball, you don’t think about how hard your arm has to move for the ball to reach the basket, you just look at the rim and let it fly. Try putting with that same mind-set.
It’s Key To Proper Takeaway and Swing Plane
Few aspects of the golf swing hold more fascination for struggling club golfers than how to achieve the correct golf grip.
Swing plane, pronation, supination, re-routing, downswing transition, leg drive, and hip resistance on the backswing are some of the more elaborate theories investigated by golfers who habitually slice or hook. Yet more often than not the real cause of wayward shots lies in the way a golfer places his hands on the club. So, before you start making extreme changes to swing mechanics, you should first simplify the golf swing technique by making sure the grip is correct. Following are three of the most important aspects of the grip that affect the takeaway, swing path, plane, and control.
Correct Golf Grip Golden Rules and Tips
The ‘V’s created by the index finger and the thumb of the left and right hands must point to the right shoulder.
Although this is extremely well known, it’s surprising how many golfers have trouble achieving this orthodox hand position. A golfer who slices normally has a weak grip where the left hand is too much underneath the shaft. If you slice, the first thing you should check is that the left hand is turned more to the right, with three knuckles visible after taking up the stance.
Conversely, a golfer who hooks should check that the left hand is not in a “strong” position where it is turned to the right too much.
How the Grip Affects Golf Swing Plane Mechanics
The path of the golf swing takeaway is directly affected by the grip. If the left hand is twisted round to the right too much in a ‘strong’ grip, it generally sets the left arm higher than the right – this leads to a swing path that is too inside and a swing plane that is too flat, which results in a hook. If the golfer’s left hand is on the club in a “weak” position, the right arm is set higher than the left at the address which leads to an outside swing path, a steep swing plane and invariably a slice. Although you may know that you swing the club too flat or upright, before you try to swing onto a more effective plane, check that the hands are placed on the club in a neutral grip.
The Grip Right Thumb and Index Finger Position
Topping the ball is a very common fault. In many cases it can be cured with the correct placement of the right thumb and index finger on the club of the right hand. As the club comes into impact the index finger of the right hand is responsible for accurately squaring up the blade and must be in the most efficient position to guide the club. The thumb is responsible for driving the clubhead down into the ball. It is vital for the thumb to be set on the left-hand side of the shaft — not on top of the shaft, which may seem logical but is wrong.
Backswing Control and the Long Left Thumb
One of the most common causes of mis-hit shots is the loss of control at the top of the backswing. An overswing means a loss of control but with good placement of the left-hand thumb on the club, unless double jointed, an overswing becomes almost impossible.
When taking up the grip, allow the left thumb to sit naturally on the club and not stuck down the shaft, which creates an ugly gap between the thumb and index finger. With the thumb in this position, it is much more capable of controlling the downswing transition, when leverage is at its maximum.
Golf has actually been played on the moon! It is only 1 of 2 sports to literally have been played out-of-this-world, along with the javelin throw. Back in 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut, Alan Shepard, swung a one-handed shot with a six-iron, which was all his pressure suit would allow.
Tell us the most unusual place you have played golf!
The 2019 Masters Tournament will be the 83rd edition of the Masters Tournament and the first of golf’s four major championships to be held in 2019. It will be held from April 11–14 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
Who will you be cheering for to WIN the 2019 Masters?
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How To Spin The Golf Ball
You have no doubt seen TOUR pros on television, or any good golfer for that matter, hit shots into the green that end up spinning back like a rocket, particularly in wet conditions. You might note how that never really happens when you’re out on the course, and you wonder how exactly they do it! So, how do they put backspin on the ball?
Being able to spin the golf ball is actually something that most amateurs, and even some seasoned golfers, cannot control.
It is something that comes with experience and a certain degree of proficiency. It requires you to know how to make solid, “ball-first” contact with the golf ball, and do it with sufficient speed for the grooves to do the work.
There are, of course, many instances where it would be quite useful to be able to put spin the ball.
Often, it’s from a tight lie off of the green, with rough, a bunker or another obstacle between you and the flag. In such a case, you would typically want to fly the ball close to the spin and have it stop dead or even spin back a little bit.
The focus of this article is to discuss what exactly backspin on the golf ball involves, when you can spin the ball and how it is actually accomplished. Hopefully this can help some of you who want to take your game to the next level!
Backspin (spinning away from the direction of the target) occurs when the clubface makes contact with the ball and the grooves on the face of the club “grab” the ball, imparting a spin before it takes off. There are several key factors which affect how much the ball spins, and they include:
It is widely believed that the steepness of the clubface path coming into the ball, or the angle of attack, affects the spin of the ball given a fixed loft. However, there exists evidence, particularly from TrackMan, that is contrary to this claim. In general, hitting “down” on the ball does appear not affect spin rates. The three factors bulletted above are the primary determinants of golf ball spin.
Based on what I mentioned above, you should do the following if you want to maximize the amount of backspin you generate:
Note that the firmness of the golf course typically determines how far balls spin back. On wet grass (fairways, greens), there is less rollout and most of the spin will go into bringing the ball back. In other words, the result of spin is much more obvious in soft conditions.
Hopefully, after reading and understanding the concise information presented above, you’ll be well on your way to developing a firm control of the spin on your golf ball.
’Twas six days before Christmas
when all through the clubhouse,
Not a creature was stirring—
—well, that’s not entirely true. Creatures were, in fact, stirring when I called Santa Claus Golf Club on Thursday afternoon. Golfers weren’t, though. (Too dark, too cold.) Nary a sign of St. Nick, either. (Too busy.)
“Sometimes we do see his footprints in the snow,” Pia Lillberg, the club’s cheery managing director, told me by video conference.
She was joking. I think.
Santa Claus Golf Club — yes, it’s actually a thing — sits directly on the Arctic Circle, in Rovaniemi, Finland, about 500 miles north of Helsinki. There are no sleigh-carts or elf-caddies or gift-wrapped tee markers, and, no, you don’t get coal after a triple-bogey. But the club does have reindeer. About 30 of them. Lillberg says they’re “quite nice to play with,” if unschooled in the finer points of golf etiquette. Knock your tee shot into a flock, she said, and they’ll be in no rush to clear out. (Evidently the presence of reindeer sausage on the halfway-house menu has not put a scare into them.)
When the club was founded in 1986, it had a far less recognizable name: the Golf Club of Rovaniemi. Its course was built not on grass but on ice and open only in the depths of winter: nine frigid holes set on the river that bisects the city. A few years later, a “summer course” emerged on terra firma with six fairways and a practice area, followed, in 1997, by a nine-hole layout. In 2011, the membership tacked on another nine — resulting in a par-71, 6,500-yard design that winds its way up and down a hillside lined with pine trees — but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the club acquired its current moniker.
“As we are in the Official Hometown of Santa Claus,” Lillberg said (yes, that’s a thing, too; Rovaniemi has it trademarked), “it’s only appropriate that we, too, carry the name. Somehow it seems more suitable to talk about Santa Claus golf than Arctic golf.” It’s also more marketable. The club is in the process of launching a shop on its website where visitors will be able to buy Santa Claus GC-logoed hats, shirts and balls — the perfect stocking stuffers for the golfer in your life.
Christmastime, ironically, is the club’s slow season.
“Sunrise was at 11:07 am today and sunset was 1:22 pm,” said Lillberg, who speaks excellent English with a heavy Nordic accent. “It’s not practical to go and play in the dark.”
It’s also not practical to play in the snow. But that doesn’t stop SCGC’s hardy membership from bundling up and playing the club’s “winter course,” a snowy nine-hole layout (complete with “whites” instead of greens) that the grounds crew spends a couple of months shaping. “We have to have 40 centimeters of snow before we start building it,” Lillberg said.
The course opens in early March, when the days are longer and the temperatures more tolerable. When the sun’s out, the “snow shines like crystals,” Lillberg says, turning the place into a magical golfing wonderland. “It’s perfect. I really can’t say enough good things about it.”
The course hasn’t drawn many American tourists, though one notable member of the golfing establishment did visit last March: USGA executive director Mike Davis. In his first foray in to snow golf, Davis competed in the Santa’s Snow Golf Classic. (“The whites putt beautifully,” he said at the time. “They’re actually not too different from a regular putting green.”) Papa Noel doesn’t visit the course much, either, what with all his duties down in Santa Claus Village. He has some other forces working against him, too, Lillberg says: “It’s a bit difficult for him to see the ball because of the stomach and the beard.”
Still, whether the big man is on site or not, his spirit thrives at the club that bears his name, from Rudolph and Co. grazing in the rough, to the twinkly Christmas decorations in the restrooms, to the staff that runs the place.
“I have to make a confession,” Lillberg said at the end of our call. “I’m actually an elf in disguise.”
Yep, for 10 years, Lillberg said, she moonlighted as one of Santa’s helpers, sorting letters for him at the post office in downtown Rovaniemi.
“Once an elf,” she said, “always an elf.”
I laughed when she said this in spite of myself,
A wink of her eye and a twist of her head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.’