Posted by: randyhaaggolf | December 22, 2015

2015 in Review & A look into 2016

2015 will end an era of “anchored” style putting, it will be interesting to see what happens with those pros that haven’t yet made the switch. Will Adam Scott ever win a major again with a regular putter and putting style?

Will Tiger ever win a major again???? I say that Tiger will never win another PGA tour event, after total domination for close to 15 years. Will 2016 see Jordan Spieth continue his dominance in majors or will Jason Day retain his #1 ranking and win other majors?

Does anyone really care about the LPGA, Champions, or European tours? Is golf losing its popularity with the “nice guys” leading the pack?

Will troubled Dustin Johnson get over his funk and win his first major? Does anyone really care about DJ? I know I don’t after spending a week with him at the Olympic Club at the 2012 US Open at Olympic club, Dustin refused to sign any autographs, he wouldn’t sign any at all. I watched him say “I’ll sign later, I’ll sign later” I was asked to work with Bobby Brown (his caddie then) and Dustin to assist them with their tee to green strategy. Dustin was not a nice guy, Dustin was a poor listener, and at the end, I was disgusted with how he treated the fans, the lifeblood that has given him the opportunity to play golf for a living and make millions. I will always give everyone the benefit of doubt as a human, and that we can all change from being less than we can be. I hope Dustin has learned some humility from all his close calls in the majors.

I also viewed Tiger in a similar way, I knew Tiger as a fellow amateur in the 90’s and played with him in the 1994 California State Amateur. He was an arrogant and cocky kid, with immense talent and stature. He was not kind,warm and engaging like others great players I encountered. One of the nicest guys I ever met was Amateur turn pro at 47, Mark Johnson, who won on the Champions tour. Mark was a beer truck driver who loved golf, was a true gentleman. Its really a mixed bag out there of characters.

In 2015 I was fortunate to play in these major events- The Finals of the World Club Championship in South Korea with partner Kory Storer (we lost in the final match just aired on The Golf Channel), USGA Senior Open (Del Paso Sacramento), Senior British Open, Senior British Amateur, Carr Mara in Ireland, USGA Senior Amateur. And recently qualified for the 2016 USGA Four Ball being held at Winged Foot in NY in May 2016. But yet I don’t necessarily view 2015 as a successful year, I didn’t have a high finish in any of the major events (I missed the cut in the Open by 3 shots) and physically I was not at my best.

My good pal, Chip Lutz had a dream year, winning his first National Championship, one that has eluded him since turning 55. Chip has arguably been the best senior amateur in the world over the past 5-6 years. Over that time he’s won two British Senior Amateurs, has been Silver medalist in the Senior Open three years in a row, and has won the Canadian National Senior Amateur. His win rate over this time is probably close to 50%+ of the events he plays in, he wins!!

To win a National Championship, your game needs to be on a different level than 99.5% of the other guys in these events. It takes superior performance under the most extreme pressure. I feel like if I was to play casual golf with Chip, we’d probably split our wins fairly closely, but in a situation like the majors, I believe Chip is a far superior player and his track record shows that clearly. I believe the reason is, his swing is better built to handle pressure, his body doesn’t wear down as much while these long events get into the later rounds. And he is supremely proficient in all aspects of his game, especially the short game along with a VERY straight driver. I would even venture to say, he is one of the VERY few amateurs that probably could have made it on the Champions tour if that was his goal.

So if I am going to compete against the best, what do I need to do in the off-season to elevate my game to the next level? The answer – each year I need to work even harder than the year before, especially in the off season. I need to get in the best physical shape I possibly can, I need to improve my short game technique, and long game. I need to simplify my swing in many ways.

But the most important difference maker in the game is pressure putting. But how can you practice this aspect of the game? Without the pressure its way easier to stroke a putt, but have a putt to win $100, or an important tournament, and most are not going to stroke those putts as smoothly as they may on the practice green. I’ve even had to go to an eyes closed method of putting so that I do not anticipate the hit (similar to what Jordan does when he looks at the hole when holing his shorter putts) You might want to try or practice this technique, just take a practice stroke and then before pulling the putter back, close your eyes and feel your stroke smoothly go back and through the putt. I think it can even help feeling the distance, especially when lagging from long distance.

I have also benefited from the video clips I receive almost daily from Revolution Golf, especially the tips from Sean Foley,  good stuff!!

I’m looking forward to 2016, to regain some consistency in playing better once I have qualified for some of these major events. I also plan to write more here in 2016, on all aspects of the game, especially about the places and events I will travel to in 2016.

Happy Holidays and stay tuned!!

 


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