The Local Knowlege

Instruction

Weekend Tip: Plot your course
like Patrick Cantlay

By Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

Cantlay.jpgPatrick Cantlay after shooting 60 at the Travelers earlier this year.


As Patrick Cantlay goes head to head with Tiger Woods at the Frys.com Open on Thursday-Friday and is on the cutline for the weekend, my colleague and Assistant Managing Editor Jeff Patterson reminds me that he interviewed the amateur sensation earlier this year at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn. Patterson spoke to Cantlay three days before he shot that remarkable 60 in the second round.

Here are some thoughts from Cantlay, a sophomore at UCLA, on how he manages his game and gets around the course in as few strokes as possible:

-- I don't have any swing thoughts out on the course, just lines and yardages and I concentrate on being fresh and ready to hit each shot.

-- I have lines off the tee. I want to make sure I have real specific lines, so I know where I'm going to hit it ahead of time.

-- And spots to each hole location, so that if the pin is back, I want to know if it would be better to miss short-left or short-right.

-- I have lines that I pick, so I can make aggressive swings on somewhat-safe lines.

When you examine these thoughts from a very young player, you quickly realize that he's not thinking mechanically, but rather plotting his way from shot to shot, and making sure that those shots (or "lines" as he calls them) provide optimum safety. This is a good lesson for all of us.

Good luck with your game this weekend.
... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: Master the sand with Paul Runyan

In doing some research for an article in Golf Digest this week, I re-read the classic book by Paul Runyan: The Short Way to Lower Scoring. It reminded me once again that Runyan was a genius about the golf swing--especially about the short game. Here are a couple of quick thoughts on sand play from the man they called "Little Poison" because of the way he took down bigger and stronger players. He famously defeated Sam Snead, 8&7, in the final of the 1938 PGA Championship, even though Snead outdrove him by as much as 75 yards!


runyan_470.jpgRunyan, shown here in the 1936 Met Open, was a master out of the sand. Photo by AP.

Here are some thoughts from Runyan about how to handle different lies in the sand:

The deeper the ball sits in the sand, the deeper the penetration must be to move the clubhead under the ball. If you see that the lie is good, with the ball setting atop or just slightly down in the sand, you would tentatively plan to play a shot with minimal clubhead penetration. In that case, you would set the clubface slightly open at address and apply [your] normal V-shaped swing.

If the ball is half buried, you need a deeper penetration. Thus you plan to address the shot with your sand wedge square or somewhat closed to the left and/or plan on a more upright backswing and more descending downswing. Again, lean more to the left, possibly playing the ball farther back in your stance as well to increase the angle of the descent further.

If the ball is almost fully buried, I suggest you play the shot with a pitching wedge or a 9-iron. These clubs, lacking any inversion, will give you even deeper penetration. The clubhead can clear the underside of the buried ball
.

I hope these thoughts from Paul Runyan help you this weekend. If you have confidence in your sand game, you can fire at more flags, knowing you have a good chance of getting the ball up and down if you end up in a bunker. Also, you can go for par 5 greens in two with the knowledge that hitting into a greenside bunker is not a bad place to be. That's the way the pros think. They often would rather be in a bunker near the green than have to pitch from the rough. Good luck with your game this weekend.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman






... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: A crafty pro from Scotland on playing in the rain

Last week I was lucky to play some great courses in Scotland, from Dornoch and Brora in the north, to Gullane outside Edinburgh. I was a bit unlucky to encounter some horrendous weather--the tail end of Hurricane Katia dumping lots of rain on the courses, then its aftermath with 40 m.p.h. winds.

But at one of the courses, Craigewan Links at Peterhead Golf Club, an unheralded beauty just north of Cruden Bay and Royal Aberdeen, its club professional for 30 years, Harry Dougal, was nice enough to caddie for me. And along the way, he gave me a lot of excellent advice for playing in bad weather. He had me hitting shots I would never have thought of, and with pretty good success. Over the next few weeks, I will return to Harry's sage lessons, and pass them on to you.

Here are some of Harry's tips you can put into play this weekend, especially if you're in the northeastern U.S., where we're getting hit with a lot of rain:

1. Pack at least two dry towels and put one in the bottom of your bag so your grips stay dry.

2. If you wear a glove, carry two or three spares, preferably in a zip-lock bag.

3. Make sure any waterproof clothing you buy is generous in fitting and does not restrict your movements in any way.

4. Thin to win. Try to pick the ball cleanly from wet turf. Even a slightly fat shot can be
... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: Why you need
a swing trigger

By Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

The term "paralysis by analysis" is a common one heard in golf. How many times have you seen your fellow players virtually freeze over the ball just trying to take the club back. Their arms are so stiff, it looks like rigor mortis is about to set in.

What these golfers need is a swing trigger, something that becomes a habit, gets their mind off swing mechanics and gets their swing started the same way every time. Ideally, it also puts the swing into a smooth, fluid motion, so they can hit shots in a repeatable, consistent fashion.

Sam Snead comes to mind. He often cocked his chin to the right, just before taking the club back. Jack Nicklaus played with Sam once as a youngster and developed a similar swing trigger. "If it was good enough for Sam, it was good enough for me," Nicklaus told me in an interview I did with him recently. That swing trigger also allowed Sam and Jack to make a fuller, more deliberate shoulder turn, which resulted in more distance.

Tom Kite developed a little bending of both knees at address as a last move just before starting the club back. His coach at the time, Chuck Cook, told me it was a trigger designed not only to start the swing, but to get Kite feeling more athletic at address, so he would engage his leg muscles for better support.

One of the more famous swing triggers is Gary Player's kicking in of his right knee. He has done this consistently throughout his long career (see video below). Player told me once that this trigger got his weight moving laterally, which he needed more than most golfers due to his diminutive size. This move got his swing flowing in the direction he would be shifting his weight, and he took it a step farther (literally) when he completed his swing by stepping through with his right foot toward the target on his finish.

It doesn't matter what your trigger is, just as long as you have one. It not only makes it easier to start the club back, it can also promote good things in your swing. If you don't currently have a swing trigger, I suggest you work with your teacher to adopt one.


... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: Like Hogan,
start down with the lower body

The other day, I was having a friendly argument over lunch with my golfing buddy, Charlie Miller, about what starts the downswing. Jack Nicklaus, I noted, says it's the feet--"swing from the ground up." Jack's coach, Jim Flick, concurs: "Left foot, leg, knee, thigh, hip, in that order."

But my friend Charlie, an avid student of Ben Hogan's swing, notes that Hogan himself said repeatedly in his book, Five Lessons, that the left hip starts the downswing. I checked the source, and Charlie's right. But then I found this video on You Tube, in which Ben says it's the lower body.

All I know is, you don't want to start the downswing with the upper body, especially not the right shoulder, which many higher-handicappers (and some lower-handicappers) do. That causes your swing path to come from outside the target line and causes you to restrict your release (otherwise you'll hit pulls and pull-hooks). The result is often a weak slice or a low-left line drive.

So start the downswing with your lower body and let your upper body follow. This will allow you to swing the club into the ball on an inside path so you can release the club fully for a powerful strike without fear of hooking. That's exactly what Hogan did. Check his swing below. I hope this weekend you hit at least half as many fairways and greens as Hogan did.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

 


... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: Winning at match play

I've noticed at a number of clubs this weekend, at least across the Northeast, that a lot of golfers are gearing up for their annual Club Championship. Just on Cape Cod, where I play a lot of golf, Old Barnstable, Eastward Ho and Pocasset all have club championships starting this morning. The same is true in Connecticut, where my home club, Aspetuck Valley, is holding it's club championship. Most of these events are usually contested at match play. Suddenly, you go from playing casual golf (often with a partner), where putts are given easily and there's no pressure, to intense golf, where every tee shot sets up a win, halve or loss on a hole, and you might be told to mark a sliding two-footer on greens that the superintendent mowed and rolled so they Stimp at 11 instead of 8.

OK, what to do? Here are 10 tips from PGA Master professional Rick Martino, who teaches at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. Note that Martino cites possibly the greatest match player of all time, Walter Hagen, who won five PGA Championships at match play. I hope these tips elevate your game this weekend and help turn your club championship into a fun and successful event.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman



1. Play the course, not your opponent. While you certainly want to be aware of how your opponent is playing and how the match stands, it's important to avoid the trap of getting swept up in the emotion of the match. It's a waste of energy and focus to personalize the competition.

2. Always play first. Whenever possible, play first, because if you hit a good shot, it will increase the pressure on your opponent and possibly force him or her to hit a poor shot. Walter Hagen (below), who won five PGA Championships at match play, would often start a game by hitting a 3-wood from the tee. While he might leave himself a slightly longer approach shot, he knew that by playing first to the green he might get an edge over his opponent.

blog_walter_hagen.jpg
(Photo by Allsport Hulton/Archive)


3. Get the ball into the hole first. Again, this is a way of increasing the pressure on your opponent. You shouldn't rush your putt by any means, but do putt out if possible.

4. Always assume the worst. This might be the most important rule of match play. There's nothing that sets you back quicker than assuming you have a hole won, only to see your opponent pull off a miracle shot or sink an impossible putt. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be optimistic--far from it. But you should always temper your optimism with a healthy dose of reality.

5. Take it one shot at a time. Just as in medal play, you have to try very hard to play one shot at a time. Don't dwell on the past, since you can't do anything about what has already happened. When the time comes to play, concentrate on the shot at-hand and only the shot at-hand.

6. Play to your par. Now, depending on your handicap, par is the score you figure you need to shoot in order to win a hole. For higher-handicappers, "par" might be a bogey or even a

... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: Stay 'tall' through impact

So much was made Thursday about Tiger's flawed swing, and how he squats on the downswing, then tries to straighten up through impact. As Frank Nobilo noted on Golf Channel, Tiger has gotten so crouched on the downswing, especially with his irons, that if he doesn't time his "straightening" just right, he has no room to swing the club and his shots go to the right. Or he tries to save the shot with his hands and he might pull or hook it left. Hence, the water balls and drives that stay out to the right.

There's a tip for you in all of this: Stay tall through impact.

First, here's Secret Handshake's version of Skee-Lo's song I Wish, courtesy of my 20-year-old daughter: Click here. Then try using the following thoughts in your swing. Use the lyrics of the song as a reminder: "Wish I was a little bit taller..."

Start at address in a nice and relaxed posture, knees slightly flexed, chin up, bending at the hips, your arms hanging straight down.  Then as you swing, try to maintain that general feeling
... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: Nicklaus on how to make the big putt

Last month, during the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, I had the good fortune to conduct a one-on-one interview with Jack Nicklaus about a variety of instructional topics. Every time I sit down with the man who won 18 professional majors plus two U.S. Amateurs, I'm amazed how his thinking process works and the attention to detail he displays in his thoughts about the game in general and the swing in particular. I asked him what his mindset was when he had to make a big putt--and along with Tiger he made more big putts than anyone. Here's what he told me. I hope his insight helps your game this weekend, and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest


blog_putting_nicklaus_0728.jpgJack Nicklaus: "In a big situation, I just told myself I had to make it. That's the simplest answer I know. I never stroked a putt until I was ready. What was I thinking? I was trying to make sure I had the feel and that it was lined up. I was simply getting ready to put the ball in the hole and not get sloppy with it.

"I see guys today, and they just put the putter down and hit the ball. They have an automatic routine and stick with it. How can they even think about what they are doing? Not me. I could hit a putt in one or two seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, because I'm not concerned with how long I'm over the ball, I'm concerned that I'm ready to play the shot.

"And I'm thinking of fundamentals, too. One is that my eyes are over the putting line. I'm thinking to make sure I keep my head still, which is usually my last thought. If I've done all the other things right, but then move my head, I'm not going to make the putt. So that's why it is the last thing I say to myself."
(Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)
 

... Read
Health & Fitness

Saturday Morning Tip: Playing golf in extreme heat

Whether or not you believe in global warming, one thing is for certain: New York City is suffering from the highest temperatures since the summer of 1977. So is Chicago. And Minneapolis. This past week, more than 15 states experienced heat indexes of more than 105 degrees. Yes, much of the country is experiencing a heat wave of unprecedented proportions. Here is one scary ABC News report. And at the same time, much of the country will be out playing golf. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 318 Americans die every year of heat-related illnesses. Most of these deaths could be avoided if people better understood the dangers. So how do you protect yourself from heat stroke and heat exhaustion? And how do you make sure your golf game doesn't suffer? Well, here are some great tips from the Texas Heart Institute that you should follow today, tomorrow and throughout the summer as you hit the fairways in 90+ degree temperatures. Good luck and stay cool (or at least hydrated)! And remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest



How much water should I drink during exercise?

(Editor's note: Yes, golf counts as exercise, especially if you're walking and carrying your clubs.)
Exercising vigorously in hot and humid weather can be challenging and even dangerous. But you can safely exercise in hot weather if you take the proper precautions. One of the most important things to do is stay hydrated and decrease your exercise intensity on very hot days. Keeping your body hydrated during exercise helps replace the water lost from sweating and prevents fatigue and poor physical performance.

Feeling thirsty is not the best indicator of your body's water needs, because thirst occurs after your body is already dehydrated. Also, your thirst is usually satisfied even before your body's water supply is fully replaced. This means that during workouts, you should drink water even if you do not feel thirsty.

The amount of water your body needs to stay hydrated depends on your body weight, body temperature, and the type of exercise you are doing. If you are dehydrated after an exercise session, it will take time to replenish the body's water. Drink several glasses of water spaced out throughout the day. You are usually well hydrated if you pass a good amount of very light yellow or clear urine a couple of times before going to bed.

For workouts of less than 1-1/2 hours, you should

--Drink about 16 ounces (500 mL) of cool or cold water 1 to 2 hours before you exercise.
--Drink about 16 ounces (500 mL) of cool water or a sports drink 15 minutes before you exercise.
--Drink about 5 ounces (150 mL) of cool water every 10 minutes during exercise.
--Have about 34 ounces (1 L) of cool water on hand per hour.
--Drink about 16 ounces (500 mL) of cool or cold water or a sports drink just after exercise.


Other Pointers and Recommendations:

--Wear loose-fitting clothing that will allow air to circulate but protect you from the sun.
--Avoid direct exposure to the sun. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
--Do not take salt tablets. Salt tablets make dehydration worse because they drain the water from your body.
--Drink cool water rather than cold water, because the body absorbs cool water faster.
--Do not drink juices or sodas during exercise, because these drinks contain more than 10 percent carbohydrates (sugar) and are not absorbed well during exercise.
--It is okay to drink sports drinks because they usually contain less than 8 percent carbohydrates, but these can lead to too many calories if you drink too much of them.

Final point:
When it comes to workouts lasting less that 1-1/2 hours, there is no difference between drinking sports drinks and cool water to stay hydrated. Sports drinks do replenish the salt and minerals lost through sweating, although a healthy diet is usually adequate for this.

A final editor's note: Stay away from coffee (even ice coffee) because the caffeine acts as a diuretic. And stay away from alcoholic beverages, even beer. Alcohol actually dehydrates you. You're just asking for trouble. In the heat, nothing is better for you than sports drinks in moderation and pure, clean cool water.
... Read
Instruction

Saturday Morning Tip: 3 Ways to Fix Your Slice

Usually if I were to seek instruction advice from someone named Dustin, I'd turn to Dustin Johnson. But when my golfing buddy Bill Whitney on Cape Cod sent me the following three-part clip from the nationally syndicated comic strip, "Dustin," I decided this one might work just as well:


Dustin-1.jpgDustin-2.jpgDustin-3.jpgGolf Digest's instruction can certainly be parodied, and I must admit that these strips made me laugh out loud. But I also loved the clarity of the wife's succinct advice to fix a slice in the last frame of the June 29th episode:

"For Pete's sake, close your stance, strengthen your grip and swing from the inside out!"

I know, it's a little easier said than done. But if you're having trouble getting your shots to curve left instead of right, here are three simple keys to put what she says into practice:

1. Close your stance. This one's pretty easy. Take your normal stance, then drop your right foot back (away from the target line) an inch or two. This basic move allows you to make a better hip turn on the backswing so you can get the club to track more on an inside path.

2. Strengthen your grip. Not only does this make it easier to turn your hands over through impact (which helps to square the clubface), it also encourages you to do No. 3. (Keep reading to find out why.)

3. Swing from the inside out. If you have a strong grip and don't swing from inside the target line on the downswing, you'll hit pulls or pull-hooks. A strong grip, over time, will encourage you to improve your swing path so your shots start slightly right of your target. One of the best thoughts for swinging into the ball from the inside is one I learned from the legendary teacher and CBS commentator Peter Kostis. He told me to "turn back and swing through." In other words, make a full shoulder turn on the backswing, then on the downswing think of keeping your shoulders turned and focus on swinging your arms and hands down. This key will result in the club returning to the ball on the inside-to-out path you are striving for.

Good luck with your game this weekend, and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest

(Dustin is reprinted by permission of King Features.)

 





... Read
. Close

Thank you for signing up for the newsletter.

You will receive your first newsletter soon.
Subscribe to Golf Digest

Subscribe today

Twitter

Golf Digest Perks

Golf Digest Tablet Editions