Dave Pelz: Putting with the Flagstick

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Dave Pelz: The science proves you should leave the flagstick in when you putt

By Dave Pelz
Thanks to a rules change by the USGA, golfers will now have three options when putting in 2019: Remove the pin completely, have someone tend the pin, or leave the pin in and unattended. If your putt hits the pin in the third scenario, there’s no penalty (formerly two strokes or loss of hole).
It’s a major change in the name of speeding up play. While I certainly applaud that effort, I’m more excited about something else: I can’t wait to see the PGA Tour ShotLink data that will be generated by this rule change, because I think it will help golfers hole more putts.
In a statement on its website, The USGA says there “should be no advantage in being able to putt with the unattended flagstick in the hole.” It continues by saying that “In some cases, the ball may strike the flagstick and bounce out of the hole when it might otherwise have been holed,” while “in other cases, the ball may hit the flagstick and finish in the hole when it might otherwise have missed.”
But before you decide how you want to putt, let’s review some facts:
  1. Assuming the pin is securely in place, standing vertical and not swaying in the wind, the hole is 4.25″ wide.
  2. The diameter of a standard flagstick is 0.5″ (some pins taper to ¾” and even 1″ above the hole).
  3. If you look at the space left for a golf ball, the 2.125″ half-hole minus the 0.25″ half-pin, leaves 1.875″ between the cup edge and the pin.
  4. Golf balls are 1.68″ in diameter. This leaves a .195″-gap of open space for the ball to fit into the hole with the flagstick in place.
This doesn’t sound like much space, especially if the pin is leaning slightly toward the golfer. This effect, however, has been tested, and my studies show conclusively that you should putt with the pin in!
I conducted my original Pin In/Pin Out test in 1990, and published the results in the December issue of GOLF Magazine. The testing was performed with a special putting device built to roll putts accurately aimed with a laser–and a true, pure roll–from two feet away. We rolled putts at different speeds hitting different parts of the pin on flat, uphill and downhill sloping greens. The test results were conclusive: You will hole a higher percentage of putts when you leave the flagstick in.
The reason for this effect is that a significant amount of energy is lost from a putt’s speed when the ball hits a fiberglass flagstick. The speed-loss enables gravity to pull the slower moving ball down into the hole more often. Even though balls have changed since my testing, holes and flagsticks have not, and the “energy-loss” effect will still win the day.
To make you feel better about leaving the pin in, think about how many long putts and chips you’ve seen crash into the pin and still stay in the hole. If you’re watching golf on TV, you’ve also seen several shots fly into the hole directly from the fairway and stay in.
After the new rule change was announced, Bryson DeChambeau told GOLF Magazine that he planned on putting with the pin in this season.
Keep an eye on his performance, and for your own good, test this new rule for yourself. Putt 12 balls from a three-foot circle all the way around the hole. Do the same drill for six-foot putts. Repeat this drill 10 times on 10 different days, and keep tab of your results. Share your results with us on social media (@Golf_com). I’ll tabulate the “amateur” results against the Tour’s ShotLink numbers, and let you know the overall results.
Whether or not this test makes a believer of you, you will have forced yourself to practice your putting, putting you a solid step ahead of your foursome.
Originally published by Golf.com

4 Ways to Reboot your Putting

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.

Molinari Wins API

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.

Mitchell Wins Honda Classic

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.

How To Cure The Shanks

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.

Tiger Woods to Skip Honda Classic & Play at Bay Hill

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

Catch Up With Tiger Sunday at Riviera

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

Michael Breed’s Secret Move!

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.

Phil Mickelson wins at Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — With plenty of sunlight and no drama, Phil Mickelson finished off a 7-under 65 to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Monday and match the tournament record with his fifth victory.

Mickelson had a three-shot lead over Paul Casey with two holes to play when it was too dark to finish Sunday night — no matter how hard Mickelson lobbied to keep going — because of delays from rain and a hailstorm.

Casey’s only hope was for Mickelson to make a mistake on the closing holes, and there was little chance of that.

Mickelson was at his best on a course he loves. He drilled a 7-iron into 8 feet on the par-3 17th and made par, and then played conservatively up the par-5 18th and finished with a 6-foot birdie for a three-shot victory.

He matched the low score of the final round while playing in the last group, turning a three-shot deficit into a three-shot victory. Mickelson never came close to making bogey and won for the 44th time on the PGA Tour.

He finished at 19-under 268 and joined Tiger Woods as the only players to surpass $90 million in earnings.

Casey finished with a birdie that was worth $152,000 because he wound up alone in second place. He also won the pro-am with Don Colleran, the chief sales officer for FedEx.

Even so, it was the fourth time Casey took a 54-hole lead of at least two shots into the final round on the PGA Tour and failed to win. There wasn’t much he could do to stop Mickelson, who at age 48 looks just as tough as when he won his first PGA Tour event in 1991 when he was still at Arizona State.

Mickelson tied Mark O’Meara‘s record with his fifth victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach, the first one also a Monday finish in 1998 because of bad weather, with one big difference — that Monday finish was more than six months later in August.

Mickelson argued that he could “see just fine” on Sunday evening, moments after sunset with two holes remaining. Casey said there was no way to finish and they had to return Monday morning.

Mickelson, seen shaking his head when the horn sounded Sunday night, said he thanked Casey on Monday morning for holding his ground because it was fair to both of them.

“Sometimes I get in my own bubble,” Mickelson said.

Scott Stallings finished Sunday night with a 66 to finish alone in third.

Mickelson won on American soil for the first time since the Phoenix Open in 2013. He won that summer’s British Open at Muirfield and last year’s Mexico Championship.

He will return to Pebble Beach in June for the U.S. Open, where he made his pro debut in 1992. The U.S. Open remains the final piece missing for him to complete the career Grand Slam, though Lefty was quick to caution that this week had no bearing on this summer.

Pebble Beach was so soft that balls were plugging in the fairway when they landed. And while the fairway lines already have been brought in to be much narrower than usual, the rough was light.

“It’s nothing like the course we’ll see,” Mickelson said. “I’ll deal with that in six months.”

For now, he was glowing over another victory that keeps him as relevant as ever. Along with five titles at Pebble Beach, he ties Woods and Billy Casper — all three native Californians — with his 14th career victory in the Golden State.

Source: espn.com

How A Doorframe Can Help Your Golf Swing

Learn how to turn back, not sway.
By Keely Levins
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.