Use this simple drill to make sure your shoulders remain down your intended line: Take a coin and place it under your golf ball. Hit your putt and focus on the coin, not the location of the ball.
During your next round, focus on the same objective and visualize a coin on the ground. The more you stay within your stroke, the more putts you'll see drop.
By Megan PaduaWhen someone comes to me saying they don't hit their fairway woods well off of the ground, I immediately look for two things:
- Where is the ball position located in the stance?
- Are both elbows pointing downward after impact?
Now that the ball is more forward in your stance, your arms will be able to get in an extended position when they release through the ball to the target (as shown, above). When your arms extend in the follow-through, both elbows will point down toward the ground. When the elbows separate, the radius of your golf swing gets shorter and causes you to hit the top of the ball.
Next time you're practicing with your fairway woods, make sure to check these two essential keys.
By Ron Sirak
NAPLES, Fla. -- Legend has it that when a newspaper prematurely published his obituary, the humorist Mark Twain responded by saying, "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." The LPGA knows all about that.
The tour, which will play its 65th season in 2014, has been portrayed by many as on the ropes frequently since it was launched in 1950. But the truth is that the LPGA is not only a survivor, but frequently thrives.
And the truth is that the LPGA, despite the naysayers and their predictions of doom, is the oldest and most successful women's professional sports organization in the world.
Yes, there have been ebbs and flows. There was the low point of 24 tournaments in 1972 and then the expansion that began with Nancy Lopez's rookie year in 1978 and peaked at 42 tournaments in the late 1990s.
And based on the news of the 2014 schedule presented Friday by commissioner Mike Whan at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders, the tour is on another upswing.
After bottoming out in 2011 at 23 events following the perfect storm of Carolyn Bivens and the Great Recession, the LPGA will play 32 official events next year, plus the International Crown.
During that dismal 2011 season, when the Scottish player Janice Moodie told me, "I now have a part-time job," Whan also told me he needed to get to 30 tournaments to eliminate the seemingly endless off-weeks and get the exposure to grow.
When I heard those words, I thought it would take him the rest of the decade to get there. He did better than 30 and we are not even halfway to 2020.
Just as importantly, Whan said the Symetra Tour, the developmental circuit that had 15 events this year, would have more than 20 when the schedule is announced in January.
While there is still some work to be done -- getting on network TV is a goal for Whan and a couple more domestic events wouldn't be a bad idea -- the news Friday was in line with the logo used on the stage where it was announced: UP.
Next year's schedule will have 23 full-field events, nine limited field events (all abroad) and the International Crown, which will have four-player teams from eight nations: Australia, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States competing at Caves Valley in Maryland.
The comparisons between next year to even this year -- let alone 2011 -- are startling. The schedule goes from 28 events to 32; the prize money from $48.8 million to $56.3 million; Televised events from 27 to 32.
Perhaps most importantly, in 2010, 63 percent of the TV hours for the LPGA were on delayed tape. Next year, more than 90 percent will be live. In my opinion, the single biggest thing the LPGA needs to grow is better TV exposure, and thankfully, Golf Channel seems to be figuring that out.
When I talked with Whan in 2011 he said he was "embarrassed" that the tour had three consecutive off weeks in April. It's difficult to build momentum with your fan base that way.
Next year, there are two weeks off between the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic and the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; and again two dark weeks between the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore and the first domestic event, the Founders Cup in Phoenix, March 20-23.
After that there are no consecutive off weeks the rest of the season, which ends Nov. 20-23 at the Titleholders back here in Naples.
The first major will be the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif., April 3-6. The contract with Kraft Nabisco expires in 2014 and that will be interesting to watch.
Twice in 2014 an LPGA major will be paired with a men's major. On June 19-22, the U.S. Women's Open will follow the U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.
The Ricoh Women's British Open will be at Royal Birkdale July 10-13, the week before the men play the British Open at nearby Royal Liverpool. Having majors adjacent to the men -- both chronological and physically -- should help increase the media presence.
The Wegman's LPGA Championship was moved from early June to Aug. 14-17 to create better spacing of the majors and will relocate to Monroe CC in Pittsford, N.Y., a significant venue upgrade.
The fifth and final major, the Evian Championship, which was shortened to 54 holes by rain in its debut this year, will be Sept. 11-14 in Evian-les-Bains, France.
Whan, who took over in 2010 with a miserable hand dealt to him by Bivens, has to be given high marks for this schedule. Fueled by a conga line of empty diet soda cans, his infectious energy has translated into partners.
Also sharing in the credit is chief marketing officer Jon Podany, Whan's college roommate at Miami of Ohio, who left the PGA Tour when the LPGA was at its lowest point. Now that's a loyal friend.
Yes, there will be those who will find the dark cloud in this silver lining -- when it comes to the LPGA there always are. But the bottom line is this: Mike Whan has a good product, the economy is rebounding and the salesman is selling. All is good.
It's no secret that golf has long been used as a business tool. But should that by itself be enough to draw more women into the game?In a recent survey conducted by the Southern California Golf Association and highlighted by the San Diego Union-Tribune, playing golf because it helped advance their professional life was listed as one of the top 10 reasons why the SCGA's 150,000 members play golf.
That's not exactly shocking, but what is slightly more surprising is how some organizations are interpreting the data.
"If business is who you know and how you know them, golf is an amazing way to be able to build those relationships and get to know people on a deeper level," Harris said.
Michelle Bergquist, CEO of Connected Women of Influence who also spoke to the Union-Tribune, echoed that thought:
"Women are left out of relationships that lead to client engagement opportunities and career opportunities because they're left off the golf courses," Bergquist said. "In some ways they were never socialized to think that golf is a way to build relationships."
Is playing golf as important as networking? Let us hear you thoughts.
Next time you're on the course, in addition to keeping your score, you should play the following points game: Every time you hit the fairway you get one point, when you hit a green in regulation you get an additional point, and when you make an up-and-down or a two-putt give yourself another point. Track your progress over a few rounds and see if you're able to focus more on accuracy off the tee and distance control with your irons.
If you can master accuracy with your driver and distance control with your irons, you will improve immediately.
Already a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour at age 16, Lydia Ko has petitioned the tour to waive its minimum age requirement for membership. Ko still has another two years until she hits the LPGA Tour's magic number of 18 -- the age she can turn professional without needing to petition. Ko is the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history with her win at the CN Canadian Open last year, a title she defended this summer and followed with a second-place finish at the Evian Championship a month later. The numbers speak for themselves: She can play on the LPGA Tour. Now it's up to commissioner Mike Whan to decide if she will. While Whan cannot stop Ko from turning pro (rumors are swirling that she will play her next event as a professional) his decision as to whether or not he's going to allow her to be a member of the LPGA Tour brings forward two important questions: What's gained, and what's lost by turning pro at a young age? One of the biggest benefits to turning pro for the individual is money, and the fact is Ko could have made a nice pile of cash had she been pro. The win at the CN Canadian Open alone would have been a $300,000 payout. Current LPGA Tour player Nicole Hage is in favor of Ko cashing in while she can. "She needs to take advantage while she's hot. Golf is so about timing. Right now is her time," Hage said." "She's dominating." Another benefit goes beyond Ko as an individual, and extends to the tour itself. "It's great for the tour to have young players. We've got a wide variety of ages. It's fun to watch, it's fun for the fans," Wendy Doolan, a recently retired LPGA Tour player who won three times on tour, said. "It brings in a whole different fan base when you've got 16, 17, 18-year old girls playing, which is cool for the LPGA Tour." Related: Video: The remarkable shot that led to Stacy Lewis quitting Twitter. Historically, younger players have brought more attention to the LPGA Tour, and that factor is not ignored -- just two years ago the age requirement was waived for Lexi Thompson. But while the benefits are obvious, there are potential consequences to be considered. While Michelle Wie turned pro and still went to Stanford, not every young player turning pro can manage both education and a professional career. Some would argue to play golf well, you'd have to forgo college to put necessary focus on practice and allow for travel. "I don't think that turning pro or not will really hurt or help [Ko's] golf game," Doolan said. "I think it's more about are you looking for an experience to be young and go to college and enjoy that lifestyle, or not?" Even if Ko tried to balance both college and pro golf, that doesn't mean she'd get the same opportunity to be a college kid. She wouldn't be able to play on a college golf team, and travel for the tour would alter her collegiate experience significantly. Ko's petition, coupled with Charley Hull's petition in August, makes it seem the LPGA Tour could be facing this decision more and more frequently. While Doolan can see the benefits and the players' skill, she isn't convinced turning pro and being on the LPGA Tour is the best decision. "For me it just seems like a shame," Doolan said. "They may miss out on being kids." Follow @keelylevins
There are a lot of reasons to wear hats when we're playing golf -- most fundamentally, they protect our faces from the sun and unwanted visits to the dermatologist. So, if we should wear hats, they might as well look good. Titleist is releasing new women's hats later this month, including two Pink Ribbon hats -- perfect for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Another company that is coming out with new hats is Ahead -- they introduced their new line in August, including a few in the women's Kate Lord line. Following the trend of pros on tour, Kate Lord has ventured down the bright color route. The hats and visors are mostly white, with the color coming in accents along the bills and in personalized stitching. Antigua debuted its 2014 Spring line, and started shipping at the beginning of September. The three styles released for women are the Fierce, the Flirt, and the Frill. Besides alliteration, these hats have basic style in common, too. Each features a base color, with brighter colors highlighted in sparingly. The Fierce is a military-style cap, while the Flirt and Frill are more classic baseball caps. The Frill is pictured here -- each color option starts with the heather base and there are seven different color stitching options. While stocking up on these new hats is going to do a lot for color variation in your closet, take a look at Nike's fall/winter hat collection to survive the imminent chilly weather. Shown here is the Pom-Pom Knit. Follow @keelylevins
By Megan PaduaAvoiding an obstacle on the golf course can actually draw you towards it. When you tell yourself not to focus on something, your mind doesn't know the difference between "do" and "don't". Try this: Close your eyes and picture a lion. Try to see his big mane, wagging tail and sharp teeth. Now tell yourself, "Don't think about the lion, don't think about the lion's mane, don't think about him waving his tail or snarling his teeth". The only thing you're thinking about right now is that big lion.
The same applies to your golf game. When you say, "Don't hit it into the water," your brain hears, "Hit it in the water". Committing to your target is essential if you want to execute any golf shot. Tell yourself what you want to do, not what you want to avoid, and you'll have a much better chance of succeeding.
Next time, instead of thinking, "Don't hit it in the water," you might want to tell yourself, "Hit it to the tree with a right-to-left ball flight". Start to commit to your intention, define clear targets, and see vividly what you want your ball to do.