PGA Tour: Tee-to-green key to Donald’s rise


Interesting article with an in-depth look at Luke Donald’s stats.  With Luke Donald ranking low on the driving distance category you would have expected him to rank higher in accuracy, given that his low ranking in distance would put him at a disadvantage on approaches from the rough.

I’ve always considered myself a decent iron player, but I’ve made a concerted effort as well to improve my accuracy off the tee.  I’ve noticed an improvement in my scores from that.  Here’s what Luke had to say about his improvement in this area.

“At the beginning of the year the focus was to get my percentages up, getting it more in the fairway, hitting more greens,” Donald said. “I think the last few years — I’ve said this before — I think I got it to a point where I was trying to hit the ball too hard.

“My swing got to a place I didn’t really like, and it was affecting me quite heavily off the tee. … For as far as I hit a ball, I needed to hit more fairways than I did.”

Rickie Fowler – He gets it

Watching Morning Drive this morning, I was in total agreement with the comments that Brandel Chamblee (@BrandelChamblee) made about Rickie Fowler.

“You understand the best way to play golf, this is my opinion, is to go out there and try to hit shots…You know,it’s the big lie to me, that you can go out there and swing perfectly.  And I understand why guys do it.  I mean literally they’re trying to play this game in the most organized fashion, there’s so much money out there, and if you can stay on tour a long time, you can get ridiculously rich. So what are you gonna do? You’re gonna work out, you’re gonna get a sports psychologist And you’re going to take all these lessons ’cause you want everything to be perfect. And Rickie’s like ‘No, I’m gonna go out and I’m gonna hit golf shots. I’m gonna hit it high, I’m gonna hit it low, I’m gonna draw it, fade it.’  And I know it’s because of the way he was taught the game. His teacher was very much into hitting golf shots. And that’s why he plays fast.  Because he’s not out there thinking about a pre-shot routine, and he’s not out there thinking about swing mechanics. He’s out there thinking about golf shots.”

There’s a ton of wisdom in what Brandel said this morning.  This is why Rickie is the future of golf.  And I think he is going to stun us with what he is going to accomplish in his career.

I want to contrast this style of play with Tiger Woods.  And my intention is not to bash Tiger but to look at differences.

Tiger Woods when he was dominant could hit every shot in the book and then some.  He created that famous stinger and it appears he doesn’t even have that shot any more.  Tiger said he is thinking about his swing and swing mechanics now before every shot and it looks that way.  When he gets off track, he goes into repair mode, and it’s mechanics, mechanics, mechanics.  The artfulness seems to be have left him, at least for now.

On the other hand, Rickie Fowler (and several other players, most notably Bubba Watson), look like golf artists.  They see shots, and they hit shots.  They use the golf course as their canvas and they create masterpieces of golf.  Plus they’re really fun to watch.

So where does this leave us (the amateur golfer)?  Well, for one, I know when I’m playing my best it’s when I’m seeing and hitting shots and when I’m not thinking about mechanics.  There are times when golf seems so much easier.  Conversely, when I’m playing poorly, it’s all about mechanics.  The swing ends up feeling like it’s separate from me. And it feels forced.

If you’ve read this blog for a while you know that I’ve moved away from mechanics to a feel based approach, where I not only see the shots I’m trying to create, but try to feel what it’ll feel like to hit them.  And every shot is unique and feels differently.  This makes golf more fun, and the end result for me has been better scores, more fun, and not having to practice as much.

Other posts about Rickie Fowler:

Pro’s slow motion swings

Rickie Fowler – a result of Consistent Coaching

Stuck in a slump?

McIlroy shoots course record to win the Quail Hollow Championship

Rory McIlroy put on an incredible performance to win The Quail Hollow Championship.

“I suppose I got into the zone, I hadn’t realized I was going in 9, 10 under. I just know I got my nose in front and I was just trying to stay there,” said McIlroy after the round.  In his post round interview he also said that he was really seeing his shots, and hitting them, and that he saw his lines much clearer.  He wasn’t being technical or addressing the ball full of swing thoughts.  He was visualizing and executing, and it’s a great way to play golf.

One of the amazing things about that round is that he stayed in the zone and in the moment.  He wasn’t trying to break the record.  He wasn’t forcing shots.  He recalled a similar time that he had been in the zone like that and it helped keep him going.

Most golfers whenever they’re close to a record, usually their personal best, they end up sabotaging themselves.  One of the things that separates tour players from almost every other golfer, besides their sharply honed skills is that they are not afraid to go low.  Many golfers have a fear of success and is one thing keeping them from playing their best.  We can all learn from and be inspired by young McIlroy’s achivements.  He’s got a great mind to go with a great game, and I’m sure there is a lot more we’ll see from him.

What you can learn from the groove change

As we know the USGA has adopted a new groove rule that went into effect this month for the PGA Tour.  These new “v” grooves are not as sharp and have 40% less volume than box grooves.  While this change does not affect the vast majority of amateur golfers we can all learn by how PGA Tour players are adapting to the change.

Amateur players should watch how the pros approach shots from the rough especially close to the green.  Because these new grooves don’t have the same kind of bite, tour players have adapted by playing the shots differently.

How this helps amateurs

Amateur golfer typically do not have the swing speed or technique to generate the kind of spin the pros do.  The example the pros have set the past few years typically does not translate well to amateurs.  Although those shots (high spinning, stop on a dime shots) are beautiful to look at, most amateurs just aren’t going to pull them off very often.  But now we have an opportunity to watch shot making return to the game.

The new grooves are forcing the professionals to hit higher softer shots and rely less on spin.  What I saw at the Sony Open in Hawaii was a lot of shots landing short of the green and rolling on the green.  You also saw pros punished a bit more when they short sided themselves.  So what you are also seeing is that the pros are being encouraged to have their misses leave plenty of green to work with.  This is something amateur players should really pay attention to.

How the pros are adjusting:

  1. Hitting higher softer shots to stop the ball.
  2. Playing for fliers and the lower spin out of the rough by bouncing balls onto the green.
  3. Making sure their misses leave plenty of green to work with

Do these things and you should see your scores drop as you eliminate big numbers.

Spotlight Swing: Hunter Mahan

Hunter Mahan has a wonderful swing that we can learn from.

Hunter’s swing is uncomplicated and allows him to be very consistent.  Watch how he gets on plane, and stays on the same plane coming down.  There is no wasted movement, no extra effort added.  It is a swing that conserves as much energy as possible to be transferred into the ball instead of into compensations.

Doesn’t it just look like a simple, repeatable motion?

One the downswing watch how everything comes down and through the ball together, very nicely synchronized.

Through the ball watch the hip rotation.  He does not overly rotate the hips, everything just remains together and through the ball.  The follow through happens naturally as a result of the swing.

This is an excellent example of a rotary swing.  A simple and effective swing that can serve as a great model for anyone who wants to learn a great rotary swing.

Tiger Woods, first athlete to a billion

So Tiger’s got another honor.  First athlete to earn 1 billion dollars.  That’s 1,000,000,000, or 1 thousand million.  Crazy.

He has earned it.  He has an amazing track record, legions of fans, has singlehandedly kept the golf industry alive, and even when he doesn’t play, he almost wins the tournament (except for the British Open, or The Open as it is called, where he missed the cut).

As someone who is working toward becoming a scratch golfer, Tiger’s accomplishments seem so unreal.  Don’t get me wrong, the man is not perfect, and he is not a saint.  He is a human being, with an enormous amount of talent, at the right place, and the right time, and has an incredible work ethic to top it off.

It just amazes me that anyone could accomplish what he has.  I think human potential is virtually unlimited, and for the most part untapped, except for a few people who somehow make extraordinary things happen.