The Local Knowlege

How He Hit That

How He Hit That: Jamie Donaldson's Cup-winning wedge

Jamie Donaldson ended the Ryder Cup on his 15th hole Sunday, but it really was a mercy killing. Not only was the Welshman 4-up on Keegan Bradley, but the board was filled with European blue on a day when the Americans needed to win eight matches just to get close. 

Donaldson's pitching wedge to a foot from 146 yards capped a breakout week for the 38-year-old Cup rookie, who also went 2-1 as a part of partnership with Lee Westwood. Donaldson's simple, repeatable swing has produced three victories on the European Tour to go with what will probably go down as the most memorable pitching wedge of his career. 

"Jamie's arm and body motions put him in a position to hit extremely, powerful consistent shots," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs, who is based at the X Golf School in Manorville, Long Island. "In the final phase of his downswing, his left arm hangs straight down from his shoulder. It shows his body has moved in the right sequence, and he's in a position where he can transfer all that speed from his wrists into the clubhead. If your left arm floats in a higher position, you waste a lot of that potential energy. That's why he's hitting super high 146-yard pitching wedges and most of us aren't." 


Even if you can't produce a tour player's clubhead speed, you can get more distance and make more consistent contact if you try to copy that feeling of the lead arm hanging straight down through the last part of the downswing, says Jacobs, the 2012 Metropolitan Section PGA Teacher of the Year. "Get it right and your ball-strking will immediately improve, and you won't be so reliant on perfect timing. That's going to give you confidence when you're playing your own important rounds. 

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Make The Turn Challenge #29: Walk To Win

Golf is the ultimate lifestyle sport. There are many ways that the game engages our minds, bodies and senses. It's both competitive and social, full of moments of challenge and personal discovery. Perhaps the greatest gift is the opportunity to create experiences limited only to one's imagination, never to be bound by landscape or zip code.

If I think about my greatest days spent on a golf course, the most memorable are always when I've played on foot. Nearly every round as a kid was enjoyed walking and now as I get older, I've re-embraced the notion that a "rolling stone" gathers no moss.

This, of course, wasn't always the case. Somewhere between then and now, I became either tired or lazy. It was too easy to drive my car to the course, only to throw my clubs onto a tinier car, which was then often restricted to the cart path. If someone in my group suggested walking, my excuse was always that my large Staff Bag would be unreasonable to carry. It's safe to say I went the better part of a decade riding out of what I thought was convenience. In reality, all I was doing was robbing myself of the gift of playing the game the way it was meant to be played.

To really soak all you can out of anything, you've got to be present. Nothing allows you to slow down and take notice on a golf course better than walking. I recently re-discovered what it means to play golf and I owe that to slinging the bag over my shoulders and getting after it. Whether it be enjoying the unique design features of the course, feeling the burn in my legs or elevating my heart rate on a steep climb, I now feel more "in" the game than ever.

This perspective isn't meant to slight anyone who isn't physically equipped to play the course entirely on foot. It is saying, if you CAN walk the course, I believe doing so will greatly elevate your enjoyment of the game. If walking isn't possible, simply take this challenge as an opportunity to slow down, get into the moment, and increase your "awareness" as you play.

There are lots of ways to walk. Carry a light bag, get a slick new push cart or even pay a kid a few bucks for the loop. The key, is to start moving and keep moving as long as you can. Commit to playing your next round on foot and you can count this challenge as complete.

Increased Awareness
Improved Fitness
More Enjoyment

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 ... Read

How She Hit That: Hyo Joo Kim's record-breaking swing

Before last Thursday, nobody had ever shot a round better than 62 in a major championship. South Korean teenager Hyo Joo Kim not only erased that record with her first-round 61 at the Evian Championship, she also birdied the 72nd hole Sunday afternoon to beat seven-time major champion Karrie Webb by a shot and win the title. 

Kim's free-flowing swing produces effortless power and accuracy to match from a 5-foot-3 frame. In France, she averaged 250 yards per drive and missed only nine fairways over four days. "Her swing works for two main reasons," says Michael Jacobs, the 2013 Metropolitan PGA Teacher of the Year. "It's because of how her arms travel 'up' in the backswing and the way she uses her lower body to turn her hips on the downswing.

"On the backswing, her left arm and hand travel up above her right shoulder," says Jacobs, who runs the X Golf School at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, Long Island. "If your arm moves too low across your chest, you're going to lose freedom and speed. On the downswing, she pushes with her right foot before the club has even reached the top, which initiates a powerful hip turn. Then she uses great left leg action to get her left hip out of the way. The result is a club moving through impact in a very fast and repeatable way."

To produce more speed in your swing, Jacobs says, check your position at the top of the backswing and make sure your left arm is either matched to the line of your shoulders or above it. On some smaller, slower swings, practice initiating your hip turn toward the target before the club reaches the top and feel your left hip move around and behind, giving your arms room to swing through. 

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#HelpMeGolfDigest: Top 50 Teacher Kevin Weeks fixes a second round of your swings

Top 50 Teacher Kevin Weeks took a trip to the Northeast to work with Kevin Streelman the week of the Deutsche Bank. But before he tuned up the 2014 PGA Tour winner, he took a detour to Connecticut and Golf Digest headquarters to take a look at a few more reader swings in our regular #HelpMeGolfDigest program.

Weeks, who is based at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill., created his own mini-instruction videos for three readers. In the first one, @tweaver9s has some issues with the transition from his backswing to downswing. 


@pwhite1711 has a strong swing that just needs some fine-tuning at address. 


@bobby_maho is a self-described low-handicapper whose progress has stalled. Weeks helps with some tips for taking better swing video and finishing the swing. 
Be sure to submit your chipping and putting swings hashtagged #HelpMeGolfDigest for the round of analysis from a top teacher. 

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News & Tours

How a one-time Tiger Woods instructor not named Butch or Hank might advise his former pupil

Following Tiger Woods' announcement last week that he was parting ways with instructor Sean Foley, several voices weighed in on how the former World No. 1 should proceed to get his game back on track. Naturally, the thoughts of Butch Harmon and Hank Haney claimed headlines, but arguably the most interesting opinion came from a less-heard-from former Woods instructor.

At 93, John Anselmo still teaches at Meadowlark G.C. in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he worked with an adolescent Woods between ages of 10 and 16. Jaime Diaz talked to Anselmo for a feature in the Sept. 2 issue of Golf World that explores where Woods might turn next regarding his swing. Among Diaz' conclusions, after talking to Anselmo, was that coming full circle and returning to the advice of Tiger's youth might be the best approach for the 38-year-old given he doesn't necessarily have time for another extensive overhaul of his swing.

Anselmo said it's been several years since he saw Woods and the idea of speaking again with him would be gratifying. "Lots of things I'd like to tell him," Anselmo told Golf World. "First, quit trying to kill the ball. And I would ask him what he feels during the swing, because he was a feel player. I don't know if it's possible for him to be the player he was. But I know he hasn't forgotten how to create a swing. There's still some greatness in there."

Jaime Diaz: Coaching Tiger is a near-impossible job

In watching from afar, Anselmo believes the biggest issue for Tiger is a loss of confidence with his driver, a problem that has its roots back to when the two of them worked together.

"It started because ever since he was little, he's been obsessed with hitting it far," Anselmo said. "That was why he put on a lot of muscle weight training in college, which changed his swing. But swinging too hard can destroy a good player. Snead used to go at it about 80 percent, and it looked like less than that. As he got older and still wanted to be the longest hitter, Tiger lost that controlled smoothness with the driver."


Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, celebrate the first of his three U.S. Junior titles in 1991, when he turned to John Anselmo to work on his swing (Getty Images).  

As Woods was winning his record three straight U.S. Junior titles in the early 1990s, his partnership with Anselmo was winding down. In 1993, the instructor had to stop teaching for eight months to battle colon cancer, and it was then that Woods began working with Harmon. Anselmo told Diaz he understood why Woods made the change, but laid out an intriguing "what if?" scenario.

"If I hadn't gotten sick, I think he would have stayed with me," Anselmo said, believing that the two might have maintained the same type of long-term relationship that Jack Nicklaus had with Jack Grout and Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite had with Harvey Penick.

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How He Hit That: Billy Horschel's turf-digging chunk at the Deutsche Bank

All misses count the same, but the strokes Billy Horschel lost on the 18th hole Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship probably don't feel that way right now. 


Horschel was in the middle of the fairway, 198 yards away from reaching the par 5 in two. He trailed Chris Kirk by a shot, but was playing a hole he had birdied the previous three times he played it. 

Instead of setting himself up for the win -- or at least a spot in a playoff -- Horschel made what he called his worst swing of the week at TPC Boston, chunking his 6-iron so badly that it not only didn't carry the hazard in front of the green, it barely made it into the marsh. After dropping, pitching on and missing his putt, he signed for a 69 and a three-way tie for second with Russell Henley and Geoff Ogilvy. 

"A chunk isn't uncommon when pressure is at its highest," says Jorge Parada, a head instructor at the Tour Academy at TPC Sawgrass. "Your body is physically reacting to the pressure -- your pupils dilate, your muscles constrict and your breathing gets shallow. Your body moves slower, and your rhythm isn't the same. It's easy for a motion as complex as a golf swing to get thrown off."

The secret to avoiding a heavy shot like Horschel's is the one Tiger Woods has used to win so many tournaments -- familiarity. "The only way to handle pressure is to put yourself in those positions as often as possible," says Parada, who works with Jonas Blixt, David Lingmerth and Anna Nordqvist among other tour players. "During your practice time, give yourself scenarios where you need to execute a shot to win something important. Go through your entire routine and focus on slowing your breathing and keeping a normal rhythm. Hit the shot and grade yourself on the result."

To amp up the pressure training, do a vigorous set of wind sprints or jumping jacks just before you hit the shot. Give yourself 45 seconds to go through your routine, modulate your breathing and make your swing. "At first, you'll be shocked at how hard it is to even hit a five-foot putt with your heart rate up and adrenaline pumping," says Parada. "But the more you practice it and work on slowing down your breathing, you'll feel your muscles relax and your heart rate slow down. That's a great tool to have when you need it over an important shot."

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #25: Worst Ball Workout

If you care about your game, chances are you’ve spent hundreds of hours practicing or playing by yourself. Over time, it can become difficult to find ways of getting more out of a weekly practice session or late 9 after work.

As the son of a club pro, I literally spent my childhood living at the golf course. During the summer months, If I wanted to play golf, I had get up early and go into work with my Dad. Wake up was 6 a.m. and there were a number of times when I needed extra incentive to make it out of bed. Dad’s favorite means of motivation was often a cold glass of water in the face, which surprisingly, I found to be pretty amusing. It still remains a fond memory of the fun we had getting ready to go to the golf course.

No matter how early our day started, I never missed the opportunity to go to the course and practice. Once I was there, however, I was tasked with staying busy until the shop closed and it was time to head back home. I’d often putt for hours in the morning, pretending I was about to win the Masters or U.S. Open. By noon I had hit every shot you could imagine, re-gripped some clubs or put “whipping” on a few wooden heads to help lessen Dad’s workload.

Not until 2:00 were juniors allowed to tee off and have the run of the course. It was excruciating for me to wait to play each day, and my father patiently put up with years of me trying to break this rule. I often had someone to tee it up with, but there were many times when it was just myself, going around as many times as I could before dark.

Without the fun of competing against friends, I found simply keeping score alone to be pretty boring. This is when I came across this week’s exercise in the form of the “Worst Ball” workout. I’d say no other exercise makes you fight for a good score more than this, and it’s a practice every competitive player should really spend time doing.

If you think you’re pretty good, this is a great drill that really puts your game to the test. Commit to spending at least 9 holes grinding out the best score you can, and you can count this challenge as complete.

Practice Under Pressure
Identifies Weaknesses
Reveals True Skill Level

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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Think teaching 30,000 lessons is a lot? Well, think again.

As of today, I feel like such a slacker.

The newest member of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, Matt Fields, has traveled the world -- Bolivia, India, Taiwan, you name it -- and taught "over 30,000" golf lessons (that's an average of one a day for 82+ years, if you're keeping track).

To give that many lessons, your daily schedule would have to include five students, over the course of two decades, even on the holidays. Either this man is the best multi-tasker or he never takes a break.

"He has experience," said Gilchrist, with whom Fields has reunited after years teaching together at the International Junior Golf Academy, "that is much unparalleled in the game."

You would think.

But as it happens passing that 30,000-lessons barrier is more like hitting .300 than .400 over a 162-game major-league schedule. 

Scores and scores of teachers have already reached that plateau. And with another 30,000 lessons, Matt's hobby would match this Hobby's hobby. But he'd still trail a bunch who've surpassed 70,000 lessons.

Ernie Boshers, who's been teaching since 1986, boasts 80,000. The late Jerry Belt's bio cites he stood on the practice tee for all 100K. Just to count that tally, alone, takes 77 hours—sacrificing another 77 possible lessons. But who's counting?

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #24: Healthier Happy Hour

For most adults, a round of golf is commonly associated with enjoying social time in the clubhouse or 19th hole.

If you belong to a club or play often, golf is part of your lifestyle. A "lifestyle" is a pattern of behaviors which make you not only who you are, but who you're going to be. Make bad choices related to your health, and over time you might find yourself in a hole you can't get out of.

I love everything associated with a great day at the course, including a post-round celebration with my group. But, just because it's time to cut loose doesn't mean you can't still make mindful decisions that allow you to unwind while protecting your health.

Being healthier, doesn't mean you have to take on some "all or nothing" effort that leaves you feeling deprived. In fact, getting started is as simple deciding to choose one thing to upgrade and one thing to drop. What if you did something as easy as dropping the bread from your normal post-round burger, while upgrading your fluid intake by drinking a couple tall glasses of water between cocktails? You'd rehydrate, help prevent a hangover AND take a step towards reducing your waistline.

make-the-turn-healthy-happy-hour-518.jpgBack in the day, there was no one who could kill a club sandwich or crush a mountain of nachos better than me. Through committing to making more mindful choices, I've made progress towards creating a healthier lifestyle that's simple, delicious and sustainable without feeling left out on all the fun!

See if you can make some better choices during your next happy hour or post-round meal and you can count this nutrition challenge as complete.

Healthier Indulgence
Support Weight Management
Healthier Lifestyle

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 ... Read

GIF: Tiger Woods' golf swing with Butch vs. Haney vs. Foley

On Monday Tiger Woods split with his instructor Sean Foley, marking the end of what was essentially the fourth era for his ever-evolving swing.

It started with Butch Harmon, Phil Mickelson's current instructor who Tiger began working with in college, and who oversaw Woods' first major swing overhaul in the latest 1990s. Before ending their relationship in 2003, the pair won eight majors together. Woods' swing in the first GIF is during the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

The second GIF is Tiger's swing under Hank Haney, who he won six majors with between 2005 and 2008. It's a little more precautionary than his swing with Butch, guarding against that failing left knee he was worried about at the time.

The final GIF is of Tiger's swing at this year's Honda Classic, under the tutelage of Sean Foley. You'll notice his body staying a little more central over the ball, which is one of Foley's keys for hitting good iron shots.
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