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News & Tours

Chris Como just got a new full-time job as Tiger Woods' coach

For the last 10 years, the three most famous instructors in golf have been Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter and whoever is teaching Tiger Woods. 

Now, it's Chris Como's turn to join the group. Woods tweeted the news just before noon, immediately sending the teacher's name to the top of Twitter's trend list and crashing Como's website from the traffic explosion:

The soft-spoken 36-year-old is based at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas, and works with Aaron Baddeley, Jamie Lovemark and Richard Lee on the PGA Tour. He was recently ranked on Golf Digest's list of Best Young Teachers.

He also brings a very useful area of expertise to Woods' camp. Como is finishing up a master's degree in biomechanics at Texas Woman's University, where he is studying under Dr. Young-Hoo Kwon. 

Dr. Kwon is widely considered the foremost expert in golf biomechanics and "sport injury mechanism," or how sports movements impact the body, and he developed his own super-advanced three-dimensional swing analysis software package, Kwon3D, to show instructors exactly what their students' bodies are doing. 

It's a good bet that Como, Woods and Kwon will be spending some quality time together this offseason, taking apart the most famous swing puzzle in golf and trying to put it back together in a way that works for Tiger's age, mileage and fragile back.   

Plenty of other teachers have weighed in on what they believe are Woods' swing issues. Como took a more circumspect route when we asked him about it in August, saying it was hard to know for sure without all the facts. "It's easy to play armchair quarterback, but there are so many factors with Tiger's body and the history of his game we don't know," he said. "Everybody has their idea of what they would want him to do, but it's a different story when you get in there and see what's going on. Without being inside, it's all just speculation."

Not anymore, at least for him.

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #37: Bomb It Big

Everyone wants to hit their golf ball farther! Although it helps to be built for power, anyone can very quickly learn to train themselves into a little more club head speed. 

This week's challenge was presented to me while running my Nike Junior Golf Camps in Pebble Beach. I had hired a good young coach named Jim Waldron to teach on staff and run the fitness component of our program. Jim won the Arizona Long Drive Championship Series in 2014 with a ball of 426 yards. As someone who is built for power, Jim's clubhead speed has been clocked as high as 147 miles per hour!

One morning before camp, I was awakened to the sound of a feverish lashing coming from outside the walls of our camp housing. The continuous "whoosh" was powerful, crisp and concise as if being executed by the hand of an accomplished swordsman like "Zorro" himself. As I walked out to investigate, I saw Jim working on a technique he called "overspeed training." Just like the exercise demonstrated in the video below, Jim would alternate between max speed swings with a light object and slow, elongated, muscle stretching swings with a heavier weighted club. He would spend 10-15 minutes with the practice, training three-four times per week. 

Anything you can do to work towards hitting it harder is worth the effort. I guarantee within your first time trying this exercise you'll begin to notice and "feel" where speed is lacking and how to start producing it. Go as fast as you can with the light shaft or alignment stick swing, but make sure the long weighted club swings are slow and deliberate as to avoid injury. 

Dedicate a few minutes to trying out big Jim's training routine and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

Increased Club Head Speed
Longer Drives
More Fun

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Gear & Equipment

Wilson Golf leans on tour-player input with design of its new FG Tour V4 irons

Although Wilson Staff irons might not get the first look from golfers, the FG Tour V4 has some meaningful technological achievements. Gone is the boxy toe of recent Wilson models, replaced by a rounder shape and a sole grind that matches that preferred by staff player Kevin Streelman.

loop-wilson-FG-iron-300.jpgThe irons are forged from a soft 8620 carbon steel and have an 18-gram tungsten weight in the sole of the 3- through 7-irons. The idea is to help players hit shots with irons that are often the toughest to launch and stop shots on greens using a steeper trajectory rather than relying on spin.

The upper portion of the face area, where impacts are least likely to occur, was thinned by 11 percent with the saved weight moved lower and to the heel and toe areas to assist mis-hits.

The irons ($900) come standard in a 4-iron through gap wedge set and will be available Jan. 15.

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.


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Book Review: The Red Smith Reader

Each week will highlight a golf book that it finds of interest to readers. This week is:

The Red Smith Reader

Edited by Dave Anderson
Skyhorse Publishing, $17.95, paperback, 308 pages

loop-Red-Smith-Reader-275.jpgI see the book this week serving multiple purposes. The most important, however, could be the least obvious: to keep the name of a legendary sportswriter "out there" for today's current sports crowd to know and appreciate should not be underestimated. I've already heard people are asking "Who is Arnold Palmer?" If that's happening, does Red Smith have a shot at staying on the public-awareness meter? For a sportswriter as lauded as Smith, a Pulitzer Prize winner closely associated with New York sports, how tough is it to keep his legacy alive?

This book, which was first released in 1982, does the legend justice and fulfills its other purposes of entertaining, educating and enlightening readers about a bygone world of sports that was embraced by the people who lived it and desired by those who came after it. It reprints 131 of his 800-word columns on subjects such as football, baseball, fishing, boxing, racing and a hodgepodge of other subjects -- including golf -- a diversity that is another of the book's purposes. Any stop within the Red Smith Reader instantly broadens your mind and educates you on a subject you might not know too well.

Related: Catch up on other Golf Digest book reviews

Born in Green Bay, Wis., Smith went to Notre Dame and worked the majority of his career in New York for the Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In 1976 he was given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 1982 at 76. Anderson, a colleague at the Times and a fellow Pulitzer winner, compiled the columns the first time around in 1982 and was involved in this reworking for a new paperback. In a new introduction, he acknowledges the value of an updated edition to bring Red Smith to new readers. He told a middle-aged friend who was not familiar with Smith's writing, only his name, that "They're republishing The Red Smith Reader. You can read him now."

I particularly enjoyed: As far as the writing, I found even the fringe topics good reading. What impressed me the most was making a recent visit to see Anderson and observing his meticulous personal filing on the subjects he covered, with cabinets full of clippings and background material. It reinforced in my mind that he did his homework on selecting these Smith columns, many Dave said he read in his formative years as a columnist.

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News & Tours

Missing Links: The answer to U.S. Ryder Cup woes? Play better, LPGA players say

Stories of interest you might have missed…

The U.S. Ryder Cup woes have been debated ad nauseam, even causing the PGA of America to form a task force to help solve them. But a better answer came from those playing in the LPGA’s CME Group Classic this week: Play better. “Actually there is nothing wrong,” Angela Stanford said in this story by Dave Kempton of the News-Press. “You just get outplayed.”

(Getty Images photo)

Recalling the Ryder Cup at Medinah in 2012, one would assume that Ian Poulter was the least likely candidate to need a putting lesson. Yet he missed a short putt to tie on the last hole at the Turkish Airlines Open last week, after which Greg Norman was on the phone with some putting advice. “The pair spoke on Tuesday night after Norman spotted something while watching Poulter throw away a golden opportunity to win the Turkish Airlines Open,” Derek Lawrenson writes in the Daily Mail.


Charley Hull already is a marquee player at home in Europe. But what about the bigger stage, the LPGA? Hull has entered the final stage of LPGA Qualifying, but it is not do-or-die for this teen mature beyond her years. “I am only 18 so there is no rush to go and play in the States,” she said in this story by Ewan Murray of the Guardian. “I still want to enjoy my childhood, I still have lots of other things in my life that I want to enjoy and I think I should be enjoying at my age.”


Is there nothing 17-year-old Lydia Ko, the LPGA’s Rolex Rookie of the Year, can’t do? “Ko was sweating an acceptance speech she'd have to deliver in roughly 10 hours, when she'd stand in front of a packed ballroom of friends, peers, assembled media and many of the LPGA Tour's top brass,” Steve DiMeglio writes in USA Today. “Turns out she needn't have worried one bit. Ko killed it.”


“Has the big China golf course boom finally gone bust?” Dan Washburn, an expert in all matters Chinese golf and the author of the book, “The Forbidden Game,” ponders that question in this missive on his website. “During my recent two weeks in China, I encountered more pessimism and uncertainty from those in the industry than ever before. Everyone quoted the rumor that up to 100 courses would soon be shut down…Beijing, as it had a handful of times over the previous decade, reiterated its oft referenced but rarely enforced ban on golf course construction. It did so again just this week. Things do appear to be ratcheting up.”

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5 things to talk about with your buddies on the course this weekend

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. Woods v. Jenkins: By now you've heard all about the article Tiger Woods wrote for Derek Jeter's website, The Players Tribune, in which he voices his complaint about Dan Jenkins' satirical Q&A in the December issue of Golf Digest. But the whole situation leaves us with a much more pressing question than who was right or wrong. We wonder which one of Jeter's senior editors -- Russell Wilson, Blake Griffin or Danica Patrick -- had to post Tiger's story?

Related: Tiger Woods' long list of enemies

2. Buffalo: SEVEN feet of snow? In TWO days? In NOVEMBER? We feel for . . . Buffaloans? Buffalites? (*checks Google*) Buffalonians. Seriously, this is awful as Buffalo is on pace to match its annual snowfall (93.6 inches) by the end of the week. Wherever else you live that's being affected by this brutal cold front, just remember, it could be worse.

3. Giancarlo Stanton: Two weeks ago, the Miami Marlins slugger turned 25. This week, he signed a 13-year contract for $325 MILLION. In case you've never seen Stanton destroy a baseball, watch this:

The contract is heavily backloaded to allow the team to sign other players and Stanton has an opt-out clause after the sixth year if he's not happy with the team at that point. But that would mean Stanton walking away from the final seven years and $218 MILLION. Yeah, that's not happening.

4. Oakland Raiders: So this happened near the end of Oakland's upset win over Kansas City. Here's the funniest take (via @Hokey_Wartooth on Twitter) on the couple bozos celebrating a Raiders sack instead of getting back on defense, playing off that recent Geico commercial with Ickey Woods:


Thank goodness for ex-Giant and two-time Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck (miss you on the Giants, Justin!) alertly calling a timeout before the Chiefs had a free play with an 11-to-9 player advantage. Then again, what should we expect from a team that had lost 16 straight games?

Related: NFL stars who love playing golf

5. Sexiest man alive: Chris Hemsworth? Really? The actor was chosen by People Magazine, which apparently forgot that Matthew McConaughey is still alive. Here is Hemsworth, who looks like a slightly manlier version of James Van Der Beek:


Sorry, don't see it. And here's Hemsworth with his actress/model wife, Elsa Pataky.


OK, so he must have something going for him.

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The guy from this crazy photo atop the World Trade Center visits the finished product

Before Friday, Kevin Sabbagh had never seen the World Trade Center in its completion. He’d known it only as a skeleton of a building, with exposed  iron and steel. And he’d known it well -- Sabbagh, a fifth-generation ironworker, helped build the World Trade Center from start to finish. (His great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather helped build the Empire State Building.) 

On September 22, 2012, Sabbagh, a 2-handicap golfer, felt compelled to replicate the famous shot of an ironworker who hit a golf ball off a beam while constructing Rockefeller Center

"I was 100 feet from the top when I posed for this photo,” says Sabbagh. “I aimed down Tenth Avenue. I originally wanted to hit the ball, but the wind was howling that day so I couldn’t.”

Sabbagh clearly knows what it takes to make a balanced swing. He also knows how to slaughter his drives -- he generates a clubhead speed of 120 MPH and hits his tee shots more than 300 yards. 

His tips for balance, distance and scoring:
  • My legs are flexed and in an athletic position at setup. A strong base is everything.
  • As an ironworker, my strength is mainly in my legs, my back and my hands. All three of these things help me hit it far.
  • Focus on the task at hand. As someone who works way above ground, I can’t afford to let anything distract me. My ability to really home in on whatever it is I’m doing helps on the golf course, since I never think about anything but the shot I’m hitting.

As a longtime Golf Digest reader, we were excited to give Sabbagh his first tour of the building we now call our workplace. He walked around the perimeter of our offices, recalling memories and pointing out spots he'd known only as beams. 

Thanks for constructing our great new home, Kevin. The views are terrific. 


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Rory McIlroy's "fat, low, duck-hook runner" will make you feel better about your golf game

Even World No. 1 Rory McIlroy hits a clunker every once in awhile. McIlroy wasn't sharp during Friday's second round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, and the lowlight came on the seventh hole with a 5-wood. Take it away, Rory!

Of course, while average hackers everywhere can appreciate that beauty, not being sharp means something different when you're the best golfer on the planet. Despite the miscue -- and a water ball on No. 18 -- McIlroy managed a two-under 70 and stayed within two shots of leader Henrik Stenson.

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

After the round, McIlroy drew laughs when he described the shot as "A fat, low, duck-hook runner that was not intentional." Now that's well played.

(h/t Geoff Shackelford)

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Weird Golf News

People are stealing disc golf baskets in Wisconsin for some reason

For the second time in a little more than a year, a disc golf basket has been stolen from a Sheboygan, Wisc., park, the Sheboygan Press reported. This time, the basket was stolen from the sixth hole at Quarryview Park.

It's a real shame since anyone who has played disc golf at Quarryview Park knows the sixth hole is integral to the course architect's original vision. Sorry, couldn't resist. Anyway, in case you don't know what such an item looks like, here's a photo of one of the baskets being installed on the course in 2010:


(Photo: Gary C. Klein/Sheboygan Press Media)

In August 2013, a basket was stolen from nearby Vollrath Park. There was a replacement basket on hand then, but that's not the case this time.

"A lot of people are kind of mad about it," said Patti Wield, who with her husband, Dennis, operates The Shack at Vollrath Park.

The basket, worth about $400, was believed to be pulled by the ground using a truck. Wield suspects the thieves might try to sell it online so she's helping to get the word out.

Related: Golf club's dress code leads to violent uprising

"We've reached over 4,000 people on Facebook about this," Wield said. "I don't know if that's going to go anywhere or help. We're just trying to get the word out, if anybody knows anything. Somebody knows something."

While authorities try to get to the bottom of this, let's all enjoy this classic "Seinfeld" clip in which George shows his interest for frisbee golf, aka "frolf":

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Gear & Equipment

This line of Bettinardi wedges was 15 years in the making

If you've toured Bettinardi Golf's headquarters in Tinley Park, Ill., you've seen the assortment of putters, the nifty fitting studio and maybe even the collection of one-of-a-kind flat sticks in Robert J. Bettinardi's office. But you might not have seen the racks of wedges tucked in a back corner.

loop-bettinardi-wedges-518.jpgAfter more than 15 years of tinkering, the veteran puttermaker is branching into the wedge market. The H2 -- named for the high helix cutting tool used in the CNC machines that create the wedges' milled faces -- features a 1020 forged carbon-steel construction.

The wedges will be available next month in five loft/bounce combinations and two finishes (satin nickel, $180; cashmere bronze, $195). The "C-grind" sole pattern is designed to keep the leading edge closer to the ground through the hitting area while adding improved playability for a variety of short-game shots.

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.


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