The Local Knowlege


How He Hit That: Robert Streb's playoff-winning iron

If the goal in a sudden-death playoff is to put pressure on your opponent, Robert Streb accomplished that and more at the McGladrey Classic.

On a day when he made nine birdies to shoot 63 and get into a playoff with Will MacKenzie and Brendon de Jonge, Streb hit an 8-iron to four feet on the 170-yard, par-3 17th hole to set up yet another. When he rolled in the putt, the 27-year-old former Kansas State standout had his first career victory in just over two seasons on tour.

"The key to Rob's success is the shape of his overall swing," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs. "He makes a key move in his backswing, and at the beginning of the downswing, that regular players don't. You can see it in the two simulated images I made here, which trace the route his clubhead takes during the swing."

Streb 1.jpg

streb 2-2.jpg

"On the backswing, the handle of the club stays in front of his chest, and by the time he gets to the top, it's above his right bicep," says Jacobs, who runs the X Golf School at Long Island's Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, N.Y. "When he makes a good body transition on the way down, the club lays down a little bit and moves to a flatter position, which you can see in the yellow line. Average players do the opposite; they bring the handle back low and to the inside, and the only option at the top is to throw the club out toward the ball."

Streb's transition move produces the repeatable power and accuracy players have at the PGA Tour level. It's why he can hit a super-high, 170-yard 8-iron in a situation when average players are thinking about using a hybrid.

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #33: Put On Your Game Face

I love Superhero movies, mostly because the idea of a "hero" is really an expression of possibility.

In the story, the protagonist is often someone filled with potential, who in the "real world" lacks the strength, confidence or courage to deliver that potential in a meaningful way. It's their alter ego so to speak that acts as the medium for transforming what is "ordinary" into "extraordinary." In essence, the "hero" represents the person at their best, operating on all cylinders, free from fear, doubt or other.

Common examples we all know might be characters such as Spiderman or Superman. Each full of heart and potential, yet not quite pulling it off as Peter Parker and Clark Kent. To me, this week's challenge of creating your "game face" represents this alter ego. It's who you want to be, need to be and have to be, to deliver your true potential in the heat of the battle.

What if every time you needed a killer performance you could literally transform into a representation of your best self? The game face is the spark that ignites your passion, and the anchor that keeps you fighting all the way to the finish!

This is a fun challenge that can really elevate your game, and a powerful exercise for coaches and business leaders to try with their teams in any endeavor.

Commit to creating a "game face" that brings out your best and you can count this challenge as complete.

Peak Performance Attitude
Increased Mental Toughness
Lower Scores

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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Want to compare your swing to PGA Tour pros or long-drive champs? Now you can

By Steve Hennessey

Most of us golfers are swing-obsessed. We spend too much time looking at our own swings, picking apart our buddies' swings, or watching PGA Tour swings in admiration.

A new feature that comes with a redesigned Zepp golf app, which sends 3-D swing analysis to your smartphone, tablet or computer with a device that clips onto your glove, will feed that addiction.

Zepp has signed PGA Tour players Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele to a deal so that Zepp users can compare their swing to Bradley's or Steele's.

Former Re/Max long-drive champion Ryan Winther will also have his swing on the device.

Related: 19 random things that make great training aids

Swing data and key metrics from each pro's swing is comparable to your moves, and in different angles. There are dedicated sections of the app now devoted to each "Zepp Pro", where you could bring your swing in, side-by-side, to compare it to one of the pros.


Other sports—baseball, tennis and softball—are also offering pro's swings, i.e. MLB All-Stars David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Hunter Pence, or Jennie Finch of U.S. Olympics softball fame.

The Zepp Golf and Baseball apps are free to download in the AppStore or on Google Play in two weeks. And the multi-sport sensor is available in Apple, Best Buy and Verizon stores for $150. For more:

Here's a promotional video from Zepp that explains the features.

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Book Review: The Leadbetter Golf Academy Handbook

The Leadbetter Golf Academy Handbook: Techniques and Strategies from the World's Greatest Coaches, by Sean Hogan, Kevin Smeltz and Allen Richardson Triumph Books, $22.95, paperback, 224 pages


David Leadbetter, currently No. 5 on Golf Digest's list of America's 50 Best Teachers, has been highly visible on a worldwide level for more than 30 years as a teacher of Hall of Fame players such as Nick Faldo and Nick Price. His brand is also worldwide, with 26 golf academies all over the globe. The final third of the worldwide trifecta is the Leadbetter methodology and strategies, which he has promoted and taught extensively in Golf Digest since becoming a Golf Digest Teaching Professional in January 1990.

Related: David Leadbetter's archive of Golf Digest tips

Leadbetter hasn't spread his brand alone, however, and two of his academy proteges have produced Leadbetter's techniques in a well-written, smartly illustrated manual. Hogan is a Master Instructor at the Leadbetter academy at ChampionsGate Golf Resort in Orlando, and Smeltz served as Director of Golf Instruction at the Leadbetter academy at Ishizaka Golf Club in Japan. They've joined to produce a comprehensive full-game instruction book that helps the golfer feel reinforced about his technique through the use of simple-to-use drills. There are also sections on fitness, nutrition, and equipment advice, including selecting the right golf ball to suit your game.

I particularly enjoyed: The short-game instruction. The authors rightfully call a good short game "the great equalizer in golf," and they systematically break down the putting and short-game skills everyone can improve upon. What will be most effective for readers is a host of drills to ingrain technique along with good visuals on the strokes for putting, chipping and pitching.

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How He Hit That: Sang-Moon Bae's pressure-proof deep-grass chip

Sang-Moon Bae had already won once on the PGA Tour -- at the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship -- but you wouldn't have known it by the results leading up to the 2014-15 season opener at the Open. 

The 28-year-old South Korean hadn't recorded a top-10 finish since the Nelson triumph, and his time out of the spotlight showed early on the back nine Sunday. Bae bogeyed the 11th, 13th and 14th holes with three-putts as he saw four of the six-stroke advantage he had built disappear with Steven Bowditch safely in the clubhouse after shooting a closing 67.

But on the par-5 16th, Bae made a clutch up-and-down from deep greenside grass to save par, preserve his lead and, ultimately, pave the way to his second tour victory. "Under pressure, you'll see a lot of players struggle with that shot from deep grass to a relatively close pin, even on tour," says top Georgia teacher Brandon Stooksbury, who is the director of instruction at Idle Hour Club in Macon. "It takes some speed on the clubhead to make it through the deeper grass, and the player is afraid to make that big of a swing under the circumstances."

But with the right club and setup -- a 56-degree wedge with 8 to 12 degrees of bounce, played open with the ball in the middle of the stance -- you can reduce the risk that comes from swinging with more speed. "The two things that are important to pulling off the shot are using the bounce on the bottom of the club effectively and coming in at a steep angle of attack," Stooksbury says. "You want to think of the swing shape as a V. Hinge your wrists quickly on the backswing until the club gets to parallel with the ground, then deliver the club quickly and sharply to the back of the ball. If you come in too shallow or slow, the clubhead will get caught in the grass."

With the clubface open, more clubhead speed will produce more height without a lot of extra distance -- another safety buffer that should help you swing more freely. "Look how big Bae's backswing was compared to the follow-through," Stooksbury says. "The grass absorbed all the energy from the swing. He also had some room to let the shot roll out. If it had been a tighter pin, he could have made an even bigger swing and hit a higher shot. You just have to trust the loft of the club."
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#HelpMeGolfDigest: Top 50 Teacher Randy Smith finds you some room to swing

Randy Smith has been guiding players from junior golf to the PGA Tour for decades from his base at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas. Justin Leonard, Harrison Frazar, Martin Flores and 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champ Scottie Scheffler are just some of the players Smith teaches when he isn't helping 20-handicappers at the back of Royal Oaks' range. 

This week, he sat down an reviewed a handful of hashtagged reader videos for our regular #HelpMeGolfDigest project. He saw a little something at both ends of the performance spectrum. The first swing comes from the appropriately named @randyvous3 via Instagram. His swing is too cramped for comfort. 


I need to work on this...

View on Instagram

"It sounds counterintuitive, but Randy needs to get closer to the ball so he can have more room to swing," said Smith, who is ranked 27th on Golf Digest's list of the 50 Best Teachers. "If he moves closer and gets his chest more upright, he'll be able to turn his upper body on the backswing and create more room for his arms. Right now, they're getting trapped up against his chest. A deeper chest turn will give those arms a way to swing free, and a lot more speed."

Reader @tom_freeman has a nice motion but is leaving too much potential power on the table. 


Last of yesterday's golf trip. @tom_freeman in slo-mo.

View on Instagram

"Everything Tom is doing is pretty good, but he definitely needs some speed," says Smith, who was the National PGA Teacher of the Year in 2002. "He has some of the same issues as the first player, but gets into them in a different way. Tom's first move away from the ball is taking everything back straight toward his right thigh. He needs to get those hands out and away from his body, and create more space between his hands and his head at the top of his backswing. That will give him more time to generate more speed."

Smith's advice for the last reader, @andrew.crowe, doesn't have anything to do with his technique. 



View on Instagram

"Go get an agent," Smith says. "There's so much speed in this swing -- he's hitting a driver with as much lower body speed as can be, but is still under control. I don't think I'd change anything about it. Just go out there and play every day. Put that swing to work."  

Keep submitting your swing videos hashtagged #HelpMeGolfDigest through the fall and winter. More top teachers will be offering personalized fixes for your late- and off-season swing issues. 

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Yes, it's possible for Michael Breed to get even more excited. His show Monday is proof

It doesn’t take much to get Michael Breed excited. If the Golf Channel host were hosting a show about new grass-growing techniques, it would likely be in the same upbeat, breathless fashion that has become his trademark.

On Monday, Breed is not interviewing an agronomist, but World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, in a special edition of “The Golf Fix” that will also feature Masters champion Bubba Watson, U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, and fourth-ranked Jim Furyk. The episode, which will air at 7 p.m. ET from the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, will be a high point of a six-year-old show that has made the indefatigable Breed one of Golf Channel’s most recognized personalities.

"I get excited. I’m living a dream," said Breed, who was 13th in Golf Digest's most recent ranking of America's Best Teachers. "But I don't get nervous because for one thing, these are not my thoughts. It’s their thoughts people are interested in."

Photo by Jessica Danser, Golf Channel

Though "The Golf Fix" is normally geared toward everyday players, the Monday edition will feature lessons from golf’s elite. Which begs the question: how much can the average golfer really learn from players who are busting out 330-yard drives? Breed says plenty.

“I think when you talk about Rory’s swing, the first thing there is efficiency. It just looks like he’s breathing,” Breed said. “Plus, there’s his balance. How do you move the club so fast and stay in balance? What are the keys to his address position? Bubba’s the same way. There’s a way for all of us to generate more clubhead speed. We all want to know these things.”

The 2012 PGA of America Teacher of the Year is set to play in the Grand Slam Pro-Am with one of the four stars next week as well, so he’s got more incentive than usual to pay close attention.

"Listen at the end of the day I’m a viewer just like everyone," Breed said. "I want to hit the ball further. I want to be more consistent. So when Rory says something, you bet I’ll be listening."

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Make The Turn Weeky Challenge #31: One-Minute Swing

A big word I like to hammer home during my coaching sessions is "awareness." In golf, awareness means you have a full understanding of what "IS" within your current pattern. You understand exactly what's happening at impact to create your contact and ball flight, as well as how your club and body are acting to produce the existing result. Once you determine what "IS" you can then begin to consider the future of what you'd like your contact and ball flight to be.

The player who is "aware" operates from a position of power. The power to see the truth within their behaviors and the power to make immediate and informed decisions to shift those behaviors to achieve a more desired set of results.

Although there are many ways to diagnose and develop patterns of movement, one of the best you can do on your own is the "One-Minute Swing." It seems like a pretty simple exercise, but one minute of intense focus directed to every inch of your golf swing can be downright exhausting. When producing this challenge, our crew insisted I go through about a dozen takes, filmed from a variety of angles. By completion I'd worked up a full lather and definitely became more tuned into some issues with my swing. The next day I was even a bit sore, which helped me zero in on some areas I needed to improve physically as well.

One of my favorite mantras is, "In order to become different from what you are, you must have an awareness of what you are." When you elevate your awareness for movement, you gain ownership over the process of learning in a way that dramatically accelerates your progress and enjoyment for the game.

Spend a little time working on this surprisingly difficult exercise. You'll be amazed at just how much you can learn in a minute!

Increased Awareness
Pattern Recognition
Improved Swing Mechanics

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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How He Hit That: Oliver Wilson's controlled iron shots

Oliver Wilson took the long way to win his first European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Not only did the 34-year-old Brit go 227 events into his professional career before his first victory, he also had to hold off Rory McIlroy in a nail-biter at the home of golf -- St. Andrews -- to do it. 


It wasn't until McIlroy putted into the Road Hole bunker on the 17th hole and made bogey that Wilson was a shot clear. Wilson controlled his emotions -- and his game -- to close out the tournament and complete a career renaissance. Ranked 792nd in the world, Wilson lost his card two years ago and was playing on a sponsor's exemption. He wasn't even in the top 100 on the European Tour's minor-league circuit before cashing his $800,000 first-place check and earning a two-year European Tour exemption.

"Oliver Wilson is the quintessential journeyman, and a great example of how perseverance and grit are rewarded," says top Illinois teacher Joe Bosco. "He found the winner's circle for the first time because he was able to control his emotions and control the trajectory of his iron shots on a cold, windy day." 

Wearing a stocking cap and a long-sleeve undershirt, Wilson showed off a variety of short-backswing wedges and short irons Sunday. He hit low-trajectory shots that bounced, check and rolled on St. Andrews' famously large and undulating greens.

"Oliver used the big muscles of the body to control his swing, which both produces a lower-flying shot and also makes for a more pressure-proof motion," Bosco says. "It's a pivot-centric swing that uses the body to bring the club through with forward shaft lean -- the shaft leaning toward the target. Amateurs usually do the opposite, which is they get the arms and hands over-involved and flip the ball up in the air or skull it. 

"To hit shots like these, set up with the ball centered and your weight favoring your lead leg," Bosco says. "Let your arms follow your body turn back and through. Instead of feeling like you're stretching your arms out after impact and swinging high into the air, let them move passively around your body and end up near your left hip. Nobody hits any shot with their follow-through."

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #30: 50-Yard Flag Breaker

Nothing is dicier than those delicate in between shots inside of 100 yards. This is primarily due to the fact that it's difficult to accurately control distance when forced to make less than a full golf swing. If you look at "golf", you could argue that playing a complete game really consists of being able to effectively master multiples games. To break this down you could say that golf consists of a Power Game, Finesse Game, Putting Game, Mental Game and Physical Game. Win the battle of each game and it's pretty much a guarantee you're one heck of a player.

As it relates to the power game, the attitude is basically to hit it as far as you can, with a "full" range of motion with any given club. Here you're getting multiple distances out of one basic swing due to the fact you have 13 or so interchangeable clubs at your disposal. As you move inside of full swing range, distance control becomes increasingly more difficult, as now clubs are limited and swing length must become more variable.

Understanding how to answer this unique challenge associated with short-range "finesse" shots is what made Dave Pelz a valuable asset for any player looking to improve their wedge game. Not only did Dave have a unique perspective on how to coach the short-game as a "game" unto itself, he's also responsible for creating a movement that encouraged coaches to specialize in teaching only certain areas of the game.

Early in my career I had the pleasure of working for Dave Pelz at his facility in LaQuinta, Calif. We had a whole system associated with dialing in distance control on the wedges, but back then it was common to begin by having players learn to master a basic 50-yard shot.

Before my time at Pelz, I had never really practiced to specific wedge yardages. Instead I just trusted my gut to knock it close. At the short game school, however, we had a state-of-the-art facility with targets everywhere to hit to. I'm embarrassed to say, when given the task of consistently hitting a net only 50 yards away, I failed miserably. Pretty quickly I found my groove and for the first time actually knew what kind of swing would hit a repeatable 50 yard shot. Once I could hit it 50 yards in my sleep, I'd then add targets staggered on either side in 10 yard increments, building out an arsenal of dependable distances I knew I could produce. With the 50 yard swing as my anchor, it became very easy to increase or decrease swing length to get the desired result.

Following my time at Pelz, a great mentor of mine, Mike LaBauve, developed a highly effective scoring system to give players valuable feedback on the quality of their short game skills. I've used Mike's test over the years and if you ever have the pleasure of working with him, make sure he puts you through the ringer! This week's challenge was born from spending time with both of these great coaches and I'm forever grateful for the influence they've had on my career.

In looking at this week's video you might say it's unreasonable to exactly replicate this setup. I'm confident, however, that anyone can drop a towel 50 yards out on a practice tee or open field and do themselves some real good tuning up their short range shotmaking! Spend a little time trying to master your baseline 50-yard shot and you can count this challenge as complete.

Improved Rhythm
Better Distance
Control Lower Scores

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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