Posted by: randyhaaggolf | June 29, 2015


It was quite obvious to me, that those playing in the US Senior Open with length had a chance in this event, while the others struggled. On longer par 4 holes of 450-500 yards you need length off the tee to be able to hit higher lofted shots into these greens, especially to firm open greens. Tom Watson did remarkably well in this Open at age 65, as he stated, he drove the ball well and putted well, but was not able to hit his irons shots with the necessary height into those firm elevated greens. So I am stating the obvious, but lets examine how to create additional length and club head speed. I can assure you that eating Ice Cream on the couch is not the answer. The answer is hard work, but it can be fun, and quite rewarding. So many great golf specific exercises are available to golfers today, that your a fool if you ignore the benefit you’ll derive from consistently trying these exercises.

I work with an amazing TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) instructor here in the Bay Area, and would be happy to share her contact information with anyone thats ready to get their club head speed up. Additionally I recently ran into this video that has several very good exercises that are not that tough, but will yield great results.

So get off your ass, and see if you can bomb it by me…..if you can, then lets see if you then can make some putts under pressure, that will be my next topic. But for now, get fit, and you’ll see the results immediately. If you find this blog to be interesting and beneficial, please share it with your friends. I derive ZERO profit from this blog, and write here to share with you my experiences and knowledge of the game as I pursue my passion competing around the world as an amateur golfer.


Posted by: randyhaaggolf | June 27, 2015

Great short par three hole

IMG_7535The second hole at Del Paso is about 170 yards and plays quite tough. I noticed many of the players made bogey on this hole despite it only being a 7 iron shot. I made bogey here both days, which is why I am writing this to you now, and not playing. Its something about hitting it between these two trees that made me a bit uncomfortable. Lets see what the big boys do here on the weekend?

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | June 27, 2015


I hope to remember this amazing experience as a positive one, and not one that ended in a missed cut. I never like listening to excuses as to why players don’t perform their best, so I am not going to either. Playing in an Open is all about positioning off the tee, and then accurate shots into the correct portion of the greens. I was not able to accurately drive the ball, followed by too many loose iron shots, especially on the par three holes.

My first tee shot on #10 at 2:19 on Thursday was AWESOME, as my heart was pounding, I was able to somehow stripe a 19 degree rescue down the middle, that left me an awkward short shot from 70 yards to a front pin. But got that first par under my belt and felt pretty good until I hit a very bad bogey stretch.

Day two started out glorious with a ripper down the middle of #1, a three medal to 8 feet for eagle. Was lucky to walk off with birdie as I ripped the putt well past the hole, and unlike DJ, was able to make the come backer. I would love to know what Dj’s pulse rate was when standing over that 4 footer to tie Jordan? I am sure that he will never forget that, even if he ends up winning 5 majors in his career.

What is crazy about golf, are the different levels of pressure, you could be playing in a club event and be nervous out of your mind, as well as an amateur playing in the US Open teeing off in front of thousands of people. What;s tough about this sport is starting from a still position and going into motion. It requires great tempo, balance and technique to do it under the gun. I was thrilled to hit the fairway on both of my opening tee shots, but I certainly missed way to many fairways, especially on the tougher holes.

Talking to Tom Watson at breakfast and then Bernhard Langer at lunch, is what makes this event for players like me, we mostly get to watch these mega talents on TV. They are engaging, and very kind with their time and sincere interest in what is being discussed (especially Langer) Some of the other guys, a few notches below, are a bit arrogant, and are not as approachable. I leave those names off the blog for now. But at the end of the day, these are great guys, and what impressed me most was when I said hello to Kenny Perry on the putting green, and told him I have been a fan of his for 30 years, and was devastated when he and Tom Watson in the same year missed winning the Masters, and British Open in the same year. He spoke to me for 5 minutes, was not in a hurry and was about as nice a man as you would expect him to be from what you see through the media.

THE COURSE- AMAZING what these guys can shoot with rough as long as I’ve ever seen anywhere. This being my 28th USGA event, I have never seen the rough this tough in any other event I’ve played or witnessed. The course set up was VERY fair, with many of the tougher holes being played a tee up. Yesterday on #16 I was actually able to hit an 8 iron into this very demanding hole over water. My finish on 18 I will never forget, I dead blocked my drive into the grand stands on the right, but drew a very good lie. I had a tree in front of me, and 195 to cover the hazard short of the green. Had about 200 people watching me, so I mentioned to them that I was sure they would rather see me go for it. Of course they cheered me on to do something very unwise, as if I was at or near the cut line, I would have taken the safe route and layed up of the hazard short of the 18th green. But instead I rifled a 4 iron that stayed under the tree and just cleared the water part of the hazard, even though I was still in the hazard I had a good lie, and flipped a high 60 degree sand wedge shot to 4 feet, made par, and walked off with a smile on my face.

Playing in an event like this is like no other drug, you want to have another chance, another shot at perhaps making the cut and seeing what its like to play on the weekend. In my 6 professional majors I’ve played in (2 US Opens, 4 British Opens) I’ve been fortunate to have made 3 cuts, and have won 2 Silver Medals in the British as low amateur. But nothing like my pal Chip Lutz that right now is on a three in a row streak winning the Silver Medal in the British Senior Open, and again is exempt into this years event at the amazing Sunningdale. I will board a plane on July 14th, arrive in London on July 15th, and do everything I can to qualify on July 20th for the British Senior Open at Sunningdale, which is the site of my first major I qualified for in 2009, when I turned 50.

I guess this is all about chasing a dream, a dream to be playing alongside the best 50+ year old players in the world. But everyday, more and more talent gets added to the pool. At Del Paso, I ran into my old pal Scott McCarron, who turns 50 in July and will debut in the British Senior Open at Sunningdale. Scott in his career won 3 times on the PGA tour, 6 runner up finishes, made over $12,600,000 in prize money. He still hits it VERY long, and I’m sure he’s licking his chops to get out there with the guys he played with many years ago. But anyone that thinks they are going to step in am dominate these older guys is fooling himself. I can assure you that guys like Langer and others have not slipped much from their younger days.

I’ve got two more events before I depart to London in search of major #7, I head down to the Monterey City for a great three day event at Del Monte, and then the NCGA stroke play at the somewhat improved Poppy Hills. never the less, hard to go from the Open at Del Paso, back to NCGA events. More hard work ahead to get back into one of these amazing events. More on the Side Saddle putting coming soon.

Stay tuned

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | June 25, 2015


Tom Watson is still a major force in the golf world at age 65 9 months and 25 days, shoots a 66 on a VERY hard golf course. The common theme with all the players is the rough, the rough is wicked, and if you find it, you’ll pay. Tom in his interview said it was the toughest rough he’s ever seen in any US Open. I agree, but I have not played in as nearly as many as Tom, but in my 6 professional majors I have played in, I have never seen rough like this.

Even the US Open’s at the Olympic club did not have rough as thick and gnarly as what I saw today. My round was a round of unforced errors, I hit enough fairways to shoot near par, but my short sided 7 and 8 irons did me in today. The afternoon heat was stifling at 103 degrees.The greens were firm, but not super fast.

Despite having played in many golf tournaments in my life, I was especially nervous on the 10th tee today at 2:19. With my heart pounding at probably 140 I was able to find the fairway on #10.

Tomorrow I go at 8:34 and probably need an even par 70 to make the cut. The two players I am pulling most for are the 65 yr old Tom Watson, and fellow Olympian Michael Allen. This course is going to get tougher and tougher as we approach the weekend.

In the ned though, I enjoyed every moment of being able to compete in the same event as some of the best players to ever play the game.

Stay tuned

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | June 25, 2015


In about 4 hours I will be teeing off in the US Senior Open at Del Paso CC in Sacramento. The temperature should be about 100 when I tee off, climbing to about 104 by 5PM. This is a VERY tough test of golf, long, high rough, and definitely will favor the bombers. It also has perhaps the toughest finishing hole stretch I’ve seen, other than at Carnoustie 15-18.

It’s been a real  treat for an amateur to be sitting at breakfast with the likes of Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, and other legions of the game. I played a practice round with Peter Senior, and Eduardo Romero (Champion of the Open in 2008) these guys can still play…WOW they are very straight and accurate, and its obvious to see why they have made a living playing golf. The common theme is how great these guys are to the other players, and the golf fans. Not like some of the PGA tour players I’ve seen shy away from signing autographs (I won’t mention any names DJ).

Despite my surprise at how DJ at Olympic in the 2012 US Open would not sign ANY autographs, I still find myself feeling bad for all of golf when he three putted from 12 feet to hand the Open to Jordan.

The Senior US Open should make for some great viewing, and scores will not be low, I predict. But remember these guys are good….even the older guys are really good!!

Scores are live at

Stay tuned

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | June 3, 2015


Okay yes, it is the US Senior Open, but still counts as a National Championship. The funny part is the course is in Northern California (Del Paso) which I’ve never played, while the US Open at Chambers Bay, I’ve played many times. I think the Pros’ will be scratching their heads over playing a US Open on a course that used to be a mining quarry, where you have to land shots well away from your intended target. It should make very interesting TV viewing!

Okay back to the Senior Open, on Monday the Olympic Club hosted a qualifier that had 84 pros and amateur vying for a mere 2 spots. Since we just hosted the first ever USGA Four Ball Championship a few weeks ago, the club decided to keep the rough at US Open length, making the course very very tough. I guess Mike Miles, a pro from Southern California didn’t find it too tough as he shot a blazing 66 to easily punch his ticket into the Open.

Having just played in 3 fantastic 4 ball tournaments, at three of the best venues in the World (Spyglass, Whisper Rock, and Nine Bridges in South Korea) with partners that played brilliantly, I was not coming into this qualifier with a lot of confidence. Especially since I was having some injury issues in South Korea. But nobody wants to hear whining and excuses, the most common question asked is just “what did you shoot”. Well I shot 72 on Monday to grab the 2nd spot, while fellow Olympian Mark Sanchez fired a solid 73 to take the first alternate spot. Legendary golfer, Gary Vanier was even for the day with 5 holes to play and slipped on the long par 5 16th hole that also got Jim Furyk in the 2012 US Open at Olympic.

As most of you know, I putt side saddle, which for 15 years was magical for me. My putting was always my best weapon, and the great equalizer for me. Since 2012 I have struggled mightily, and have resorted to an eyes closed approach as to not know when I am making contact with the ball. In a way its very similar to looking at the hole like what Jordan does on occasion. But on this day, the eyes closed approach on these lightning fast greens worked, and without making a few clutch putts down the stretch, it would have been another missed opportunity. You’d think after 40 years of competitive golf, I would not get rattled by the group behind us walking up to our tee box, and watching us hit our shots. On two occasions I hit shots that you’d want to run and hide after hitting. I started on #9 and made two early bogeys, followed by two solid birdies to get back even. On the second hole I made a very solid up and in for par, leaving the toughest stretch of golf to follow 3-8 at Olympic Lake are VERY tough. After waiting on the 212 yard par 3 third hole, I took my 5 iron and hit a dead shank almost hitting the guys on the 4th tee. It was a very embarrassing moment, and lead to an ugly double bogey. SO now I’m plus two with hard holes ahead, its at that moment that something happens, and on occasion I’m able to shake off the disaster that just occurred, and use it to find a deeper focus. With that focus I parred the 4th hole, birdied the tough 5th hole, and then had to make 3 six foot par putts in a row to finish at +1 for the day. I waited for two hours on pins and needles to see if my 72 would hold up, and to my surprise the scores came in higher than I expected. It’s been a long time since feeling that amazing twinge that comes with qualifying for a National Championship. In 2011 I was able to play in 4 National Championships (US Am, US Mid Am, US Senior Open, and British Senior Open). Its been a long dry spell, and I hope to report more to you on my experience as an amateur, playing in a professional major on June 25-28th STAY TUNED

If you’ve got the YIPS, am I mean the bad YIPS, your crazy not to try Side Saddle putting. See my previous Posts on this crazy good technique.


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