Hitting Solid Shots Into the Wind

Many of you are PGA Class A teaching pros, and perhaps you’ll agree or disagree with me. I’ve had the opportunity to receive instruction from some of the best instructors in the country, including Tommy Jacobs at La Costa while I was attending San Diego State.

Despite all of this great instruction I have my own philosophies on how to play better golf. I think it is very difficult to make major swing changes if you’ve been golfing a long time, your swing is your swing. Minor tweaks and different positions are all good, but I have found that to maximize your distance and consistency you need to focus on your ball contact, meaning hitting the ball in the center of the club face.

Even on the PGA tour you have many different swings from Bubba Watson to Jim Furyk, but what they all do very well is hit the ball in the center of the club face. One thing that is available to you are these face tabs you can put on all your clubs to see where you are hitting the ball. If you are hitting the ball low on the driver trying teeing it up higher, and lower if your high on the club face.

But where amateurs really struggle is flighting their ball especially into the wind. Very rarely do I just hit full shots on the driving range, with my 7 iron I am hitting low 100 yard shots, then high fading 165 yard shots going to some slight low draw shots. This is teaching my body what it feels like with the rotation and release to hit these without guessing on the course.

My favorite golf is in Ireland and Scotland because there you MUST flight your ball down. Most golfers from the USA just hit high full shots, head over the pond and get crushed in the windy UK conditions.

Hitting low solid shots is a must in this game, and practicing them is enjoyable and rewarding. Here is a short video on just a few things I do.

Hitting it solid into the wind

Stay tuned, next I’ll give you a MUST DO for all chip shots

GOLF & COVID 19

As this pandemic continues to rage on with no clear end in site, one of the few bright spots has been GOLF.

Golf can be safely played with all the protective guidelines for social distancing while being outside in the clean air. However the air here in California is not so clean, we’ve been hit with another round of devastating wild fires burning uncontrollably.

The world we live in has dramatically changed, mainly for the worse. We have serious social, economic and political issues with vast differences of opinion and policy. This is not a political forum, and I will keep my personal views private. But I think we all can agree that we miss our old way of doing things with the freedom to move about without the worry of contracting this deadly disease.

Golf has been the one solace that many of have found during this pandemic, besides all the series on Netflix that I thought I would never have time for (my Favs are Breaking Bad, Billions, Ozark, Longmire and a few others).

With golf we’ve seen record numbers of players coming out to enjoy one of the few sports that should keep you safe, or at least very low risk of contracting this virus. Last Saturday the Olympic Club had its single biggest days for rounds played with over 500+ rounds.

When I go to practice at Tilden Park which is atop the Berkeley Hills, I find the three tiered driving rank packed with golfers of all ability, and people teeing off as late as 6pm to get in a few holes (yes they do pay a fee to play that late).

Golf has kept many of us somewhat sane during this difficult time of uncertainty and caution. We must use this down time to reflect on the lives we’ve had, and the life we now have and how to safely and cautiously move forward knowing that everything is on the table.

If anyone would listen to me about golf preparation I would tell then to use this down times to better oneself in all the ways possible. It’s not easy to change routine, especially when the routine is not the healthiest. But for me I got to the point where I could not lay on the couch anymore eating pie and ice cream depressed about the world.

Golf tournaments are back, and I have made a commitment to be the best I can be. Its not easy when your appetite is used to sugar, fat and bad carbs. So I ordered an expensive Peloton bike (arrives Oct 15th) and I am now on a GOLO diet eating healthy bowls and drinking 3 times the amount of water as before.

I did cheat yesterday after a -1 70 at the Olympic Club Lake from the back tees, I then had 1 glass of Cab at the club, at Vals I had three pieces of bread, the fish and veggies. I followed that up with my first movie in 7 months at Daly City Century 20 in the good recliner seats with my buddy. We ate popcorn, red vines and some chocolate candy.

Today of course I am disgusted with myself, and will start this new diet all over again. The diet though is the best I have ever tried because is combines all the healthy food groups into a bowl like meal, that keep me very full and satisfied. Combined with 3X more water than normal I stay quite full and happy.

I am also a big believer in the 6 hour window of eating, so my meals occur between noon and 6pm and then I shut it down. Lost 6 pounds so far in a week, and will continue to roll on my exercise ball, do my free weights and wait for my bike to show up.

To compete at your highest level in golf you need an edge, you need to mentally have something that you can draw upon that makes you stronger mentally and physically than the competition. You’ve seen Bryson do it with his program, which I think has given him as much a mental boost as a physical one.

Don’t be afraid to do something radical with your behavior patterns, those that can and will, are usually the winners. Take advantage of these tough times to better yourself and give yourself the mental boost to compete at the level you aspire to compete at.

I could give you chipping technique tips, or tell you to keep your weight on the right when trying to hit your driver further, but in the end the changes that will help most are the ones that will give you a mental edge and keep your focus and confidence at a high level.

And if you find you crash late in your rounds of golf, the #1 reason is usually you have become dehydrated and/or low blood sugar has hit you. YOU MUST stay hydrated throughout the round, otherwise you’re toast.

STAY TUNES FOR – More on the upcoming major events and what I’m doing to prepare

THE FUTURE OF GOLF

I’ve written a lot about Bryson and the power he possess, and how the game has changed because of it. He clearly demonstrated that hitting fairways is not required to win a US Open if you can fly a golf ball 325 yards in the air.

Lets examine this new phenomena – lets take a 500 yard par 4 with graduated rough on both sides of a 28 yard wide fairway. Lets say the graduated rough is 10 yards on each side of the fairway. That gives these bombers almost 50 yards to enable them to have a lie that most likely they can advance to the green.

Additionally if Bryson flies a ball 325 yards with no roll, he then has 175 to a pin, but only needs to fly that shot 150-160 yards in the air, that’s a pithing wedge for Bryson and Wolff. The average tour pro is flying the ball just over 285 yards, which in this example would still leave 215 yards to the green. Even with a 7 iron out of the graduated rough its a very tough shot with over 10 degrees less loft. THAT IS NOT A FAIR FIGHT

So what will the USGA do to combat this length that these players possess rendering their rough almost a joke to them. They have three choices in my view.

  1. The USGA decided to cut the primary rough on Tuesday making it a lot easier for the bombers to negotiate, they will need to make the rough so deep that even the strongest golfers will need to chip it out. This I do not see possible, you’d need rough at 6-8 inches high to accomplish this.
  2. The USGA can roll back how far the ball goes, but still this will allow the bombers to have an advantage over the other players and would hurt the shorter hitters more than the longer ones.
  3. US OPEN course would need to be redesigned with more hazards and OB catching errand foul balls. Most USGA Open venues have very few hazards and OB. Torrey Pines the site of next years US Open is very similar to Winged Foot, with very few hazards and OB in play.

I sent a congratulation text to Bryson and today received a thank you! back from him. We connected when Bryson was only 7 years old, and then later in his career when he decided to try side saddle putting. If you ask him today, he still says that side saddle is a better way to putt than his current awkward way of putting.

Bryson is not the most liked player in world, but I have huge respect for him. Like I’ve always said, nobody knows what goes on behind doors, and Bryson has certainly put the work in to transform his body into a powerful machine that thumps a ball into the stratosphere.

I’d love to hear more on what you think about what the USGA can do to protect the course from the bombers?

My text to Bryson on Sunday eve was almost this”Dude, we both won golf tournaments today, you the US Open and me the Tracy City, I’ll trade you…lol”

More on this subject later- stay tuned!

US OPEN PREVIEW- BEST BETS

Now that sports gambling is totally legal in the USA, you may want to enjoy some extra motivation in rooting for your favorite player. The information below I pay for, and has been very accurate. My own personal picks for this years Open do not include Dustin Johnson or John Rahm.

The best bets are not the odds to win (that’s very tough to pick the winner unless it was Tiger in his prime) but easier to pick the matches. Below you’ll see he likes Colin Morikawa vs. Bryson. I totally agree with this pick as Bryson will be bombing the ball in the rough which you CANNOT do at Winged Foot.

I played in the USGA Four Ball at Winged Foot a few years ago, and its very tough with the narrow fairways and the very tricky greens. I think his pick to win of Web Simpson is a good one, although Web is a very boring player (to me he is because he is not a bomber and just plods along, which is why he’s already won a US Open at Olympic Club in 2012)

Winged Foot is very similar to the Olympic Club with relatively small greens to fire at where shots must be coming from the fairway, not the rough. r

Read below and let me know what you think?

2020 U.S. OPEN: DATA SCIENTIST REVEALS PICKS TO WIN, PROP BETS, MATCHUP PLAYS

Golf handicapper Rick Gehman, who nailed Webb Simpson winning the RBC Heritage at 30-1, gives his best bets for this week’s major championship at Winged Foot.ByRick Gehman@RickRunGoodSep 15, 7:44AM PDT . 6 min read

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With his data-driven approach to betting golf, Rick Gehman routinely crushes sportsbooks. Over the last 18 tournaments, Gehman’s bets are up almost $2,300 for $100 players.

At the RBC Heritage in June, Gehman told SportsLine readers to bet Webb Simpson at 30-1, saying he “certainly appreciates the books dropping Simpson all the way down to 30-1” following a bad performance the week before and noting Harbour Town was the perfect course for Simpson’s game. The result? Simpson fired a 22-under to win the RBC Heritage! 

At the Travelers Championship, Gehman played Doc Redman to make the top 20, a +750 longshot, and Redman cashed easily with an 11th-place finish. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic last month, Gehman put Bryson DeChambeau atop his rankings. DeChambeau fired a final-round 65 to win by three strokes.

And at the Tour Championship, Gehman cashed his 12-1 bet on Xander Schauffele winning (without strokes) in the FedEx Cup playoff finale.

Now Gehman, whose models have produced 11 outright winners in the past year, has analyzed the latest U.S. Open odds from William Hill and revealed his picks to win, top prop bets and head-to-head picks. We can tell you Gehman loves Collin Morikawa  (-118) to win his matchup over Bryson DeChambeau (-106). Gehman said DeChambeau’s grip-it and rip-it game is unlikely to succeed at Winged Foot, and Morikawa “has a game that translates everywhere.” 

Gehman also has isolated three players to win, including a 40-1 play who has been trending toward victory the past several weeks! This player thrives on tough courses and has the grinding mentality a U.S. Open requires. You ABSOLUTELY need to see who it is, along with Gehman’s detailed bets and picks, before you bet the Tour Championship!

Rick Gehman (@RickRunGood) is a co-host of The First Cut podcast (CBS Sports) and a regular contributor to The Pat Mayo Experience (DraftKings). 

Here is Gehman’s writeup (posted Tuesday): 

Last Event’s Recap 
(Tour Championship)

Mackenzie Hughes was a big mover at the Tour Championship, and while he missed out on cashing our top-10 ticket, his matchup victory over Cameron Champ added to our winning week. The big chunk of our success came from Xander Schauffele winning, without strokes, at +1200. It was good for +3.79 units on the week and +15.92 units on the season, and we’re at +22.92 over the past 18 tournaments..

Event Preview

The U.S. Open won’t be for the faint of heart. All reports and expectations are that Winged Foot will play incredibly difficult, with challenging greens and rough that will be extremely penal if you miss the fairway. Not only will it take a complete game to contend, you’ll also need to be mentally tough to deal with four days worth of challenges.

Winner – Webb Simpson (+2500) – 0.55 units

Once they walk off the tee box, Webb Simpson becomes the best player in the world. He gains 1.76 strokes per round in the approach, around-the-green and putting categories. It’s the most of any golfer in the field. And while Simpson’s lone detriment is that he is not a long hitter, being able to find the fairway will be much more important than bombing it over 300 yards at Winged Foot. Simpson hits 67.3 percent of his fairways, which ranked him 18th on Tour last season. Already with one U.S. Open Championship on his resume, Simpson will look to add a second this week.

Winner – Collin Morikawa (+1600) – 0.60 units

The recipe for success at Winged Foot is very clear. Hit the fairway and turn this into a second-shot course. Morikawa can certainly find the short grass off the tee, and when you put an iron or wedge in his hand, he’s one of the best players on the planet. He’s answered every question we’ve asked of his game and continues to improve on a weekly basis. 

Winner – Tyrrell Hatton (+4000) – 0.40 units

Hatton definitely has the “grind” mentality needed to find success at a U.S. Open venue. He was the winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. That was actually the most difficult course played on Tour last season, and Hatton was the one raising the trophy on Sunday. He’s trending in the right direction, with three consecutive top-25 finishes, culminating with a fifth-place finish at the Tour Championship. 

Top 10- Matthew Fitzpatrick (+500) – 0.45 units

It’s not pretty, but Fitzpatrick finds a way to get it done. The more difficult the course, the better. Fitzpatrick played well at Bay Hill, Muirfield Village and Olympia Fields this past season. Those were three of the most difficult courses played, and Fitzpatrick finished T-9, T-6 and T-6, respectively. His back-to-back T-12 finishes at the U.S. Open prove that no stage, course or field is too big for Fitzpatrick.

Top 10- Brendon Todd (+600) – 0.50 units

At first glance, you’d cross Todd off your list of considerations for a major championship, but U.S. Open venues are different. There’s a premium placed on hitting the fairway, which Todd accomplishes 71.36 percent of the time (fourth-best on Tour). There’s also a premium placed on great putting, since these greens are so difficult. Todd ranked 20th in strokes gained putting last season. When you dig deeper, you realize that Todd’s unique game does indeed create a path to success.

Tournament Matchup – Collin Morikawa (-118) over Bryson DeChambeau (-106) – 1 unit

DeChambeau is committed to a strategy that emphasizes distance over accuracy. That works well the vast majority of the time on Tour, but it is untested at a U.S. Open venue like Winged Foot. Morikawa, on the other hand, has a game that translates everywhere. Morikawa’s floor is as high as any golfer on Tour, which usually comes in handy when wagering matchups.

PUTTING – How important is it to putt well – PUTTING LESSON FROM DAVE STOCKTON JR.

It’s an obvious answer to this question. You can do some things in golf very mediocre and still compete, but putting is not one of them. Putting poorly is not going to result in tournament wins or even a possibility of competing.

I’ve won small events with poor putting, recently I won the Oakland City and Concord City tournaments with very suspect putting. But would never come close to winning some of the bigger events that I have aspired to do well in.

So how did I even beat 10 other players this last weekend in the smoke and heat at the Concord City? I did something the pros do all the time, I finally changed putters and gave up on my old faithful STX Side saddle putter and when to the very first putter I used over 20 years ago. Its a Jack Koski “so easy” putter made in his garage. It has a much more solid face so I don’t have to hit my putts so hard, especially on slow greens like at Diablo Creek in Concord.

Sports Psychologists always tell me that you need to show your brain something new, either a new putter or new grip or method of putting. Since I spent $5,000 on a Hypnotist (which made me putt worse) I have finally decided to go with an old look that was good to me in the early years.

On day 1 at Concord I had 27 putts as opposed to 42 and 43 putts at the Truckee event that I bombed out in. If you want to putt well in competition you need to be comfortable over all length putts and not just some certain lengths.

All the top professional players change putters and usually go back to something from the past that they’ve had a positive experience with. Also I think getting a putting lesson is WAY more important than a swing lesson. The foundation of the game is on the greens, you need to have the right feel and technique otherwise the rest is rather mute.

My good pal MM just went to Dave Stockton Jr for a lesson last week in So Cal. he said that Jr had him firm up his left wrist and forearm, while creating more pressure on his overlap left pinkie on top of his right hand. He then said he looks at the cup and then back, but right before he strokes thee putt, he looks about six inches in front of the ball and then quickly strokes the putt.

How did he putt at Concord, well lets just say he made almost every putt he looked at and even called then going in before he hit them. That is not being cocky, that’s the confidence you need to have with your putting to putt like the pros.

And as always I roll quickly here and do not proof read my work, so sorry in advance for typo and gramatical errors.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE ON THIS SUBJECT

TRUCKEE GOLF

I’ll start by ranking the courses that I’ve now played in the Truckee area.

  1. Old Greenwood pros-beautiful layout with good holes and beautiful trees, in decent shape for a resort course. Cons- Its a resort course so the rounds are longer, its very close to highway 80 so there is some freeway noise. They use variable pricing so you can play for less on a weekday later in the afternoon
  2. Martis Camp Club- Pros the condition is very good, and the holes are nice. They have a great finishing 18th hole with a spectacular clubhouse up on a rock bed. Cons- its very private and thus impossible to play without a member. Lots of snooty rich members, and the holes could have been better designed. But sill well worth playing.
  3. Lahontan Golf Club-Pros-very similar to Martis camp in many ways, very well manicured course with beautiful views and practice facilities like MC. Cons- private and hard to get on. Many holes could have been better designed
  4. The Golf Club at Grays’ Crossing- Pros- Very nice resort course and well worth playing. The holes are well designed and the condition of the course is typically quite good. Cons- like Old Greenwood its a resort course so its a slower round than at these private clubs. Practice facilities not as nice as others
  5. Schaffer’s Mill Club- Pros not much here, a few good holes on the back nine Cons- its an expensive disappointment with very poor course conditioning and poorly designed holes, I heard the whole development is in trouble, and I can see why. I would not play this course.
  6. Northstar California Golf Course. Pros- if you are a beginner and don’t mind very poor conditions, Northstar is ok. It goes from a meadow on the front nine to a crazy tight back nine. Cons- very poor course conditions and very slow public course with NO practice facilities. I will never play this course again.
  7. Coyote Moon Golf Course- I have not played this course but have heard its a nice public course, so I would consider playing it in the future.