Note Sergio's putting-grip progression, from conventional to left-hand low to the claw. (Photos by Getty Images)
Sergio's comeback seems to have started with a tip he got from putting guru Dave Stockton, who recounted the story while visiting with a group of Golf Digest editors in our Wilton, Conn., office on Friday. Here's a short report from Assistant Managing Editor Jeff Patterson:
Stockton said that when he's asked to take a look at someone's putting stroke, he also likes to see their chipping motion. Naturally, Sergio Garcia was brought up. Senior Instruction Editor Peter Morrice asked Stockton why Sergio seems to have so much creativity around the greens, but little success on them. After saying Sergio looked all right in his 11-shot victory the weekend before at the Castello Masters, Stockton related an interesting anecdote:
Stockton was on the putting green at Firestone Country Club during a practice round for the 2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. While Dave worked with one of his tour pros, Sergio was within earshot. The message Stockton was trying to
Unless you're teeing it up in Phoenix, where it was more than 100 degrees this past week, chances are you're about to play some cold-weather golf. The forecast in Connecticut, where I'll be playing, is for 48 degrees on Saturday and 53 on Sunday. It's still nice enough to play and have a good time, but you better prepare yourself. Here are some tips I've gleaned from the pages of Golf Digest and other sources. I hope they help you play to your potential and enjoy your game this weekend.
--Invest in a pair of thermal underwear--tops and bottoms. A great brand I've discovered recently is Under Armour. They fit skin tight and allow you to dress in layers over them. They will keep you toasty in quite cold conditions.
--Keep your feet warm as well by wearing an extra pair of socks--thin ones so your shoes don't feel too bulky.
--Buy some of those dry-chemical hand warmers you see in the ski shops (Dick's sporting goods carries them; so do camping stores), and put them in your golf bag. About 20 minutes before your round, open and shake them, then put one in each pocket. When you play, make sure you keep your hands in your pockets between shots. Open a new pair somewhere on the back nine so they don't get cold on the last couple of holes. Nothing ruins a good day of golf faster than not being able to feel the club in your hands.
--Before you leave the house, heat up some herbal tea and put it in a small thermos. Take small sips throughout the round to keep you warm. Unless you're addicted to caffeine, stay away from real tea or coffee. It will only make you jittery on the greens.
--Do your stretching while you're still at home. Ride an exercise bike for 10 minutes or take a hot shower first to get warm and limber. Stretching on a cold practice range or the first tee just won't cut it when it's 50 degrees.
--Wear a ski cap, even if you don't like the look. You lose most of your body heat through your head. Keeping your head warm will help you stay warm.
--Invest in a pair of cart gloves. I like cart gloves, rather than winter golf gloves, because you can continue to wear your conventional glove and just take them off to hit your shots. You'll also have better feel on the greens if you're wearing a normal glove.
--Try to insist on walking instead of riding. This will help get the blood flowing so you stay warm. If you have to ride, consider bringing an extra coat--even an overcoat--and put it over you when you're in the cart.
--Alternate golf balls on each hole. Keep the ball you're not playing in your pocket against your hand warmer so it stays warm. John Calabria, whom I caddied for in a varsity golf match at Florida State University many years ago, showed me this trick. It was about 40 degrees that January day in Tallahassee, and John shot even par. In fact, he told me to keep the balls you are going to play with inside the house overnight so they don't get cold sitting in your car or garage.
--Remember to take more club. The colder air temperatures will reduce the length of your shots by at least 10 percent. It's better to be a little long than a little short on most approaches.
--Finally, save the alcohol until after your round. Drinking a shot or two of whisky might make you feel warmer, but that's only an illusion. It might cause you to think you're playing better, too. Come to think of it, that might not be all bad!
Read more advice on playing golf in cold weather >
Here's Ron: In an informal poll of several sports-medicine, pain-management and orthopedic doctors about cortisone, the consensus is it's one of their most effective tools for combating joint pain and inflammation.
That statement is absolutely true. But I wonder if it's also a little careless.
Many doctors believe cortisone should be, at best, a last resort in the treatment of arthritis, tendonitis, joint inflammations, etc. Dr. Paul Sethi of Greenwich, Conn., for example, usually tries to talk patients out of these injections. The problem is cortisone, if used frequently, can cause tissue damage. There's also the concern that because it masks pain, a person can do further damage to an injured area as a result of a false sense of good health. Pain is the
This week we hear from Douglas D'Avignon, who writes to us from Vermont. Here's how he fixed his slice:
As someone who speaks from experience, it is very difficult to rid yourself of a slice. I suffered from the slice for several years before I decided to do something about it. If your slice is caused mainly by an out-to-in swing path, this tip is for you. One thing I did was turn my rear foot out so it was perpendicular to my front foot. This will cause your swing path to become more in-to-out, far more desirable. If you use this tip for, say, two to four weeks on any shot that you usually slice, when you go back to your normal foot placement, your swing will have adjusted so you'll now have a well-shaped path. The movement will have had time to become muscle memory and will be like second nature to you.
(Related: Above, Matt Killen demonstrated a similar tip in the September, 2010 issue of Golf Digest)
Editor's note: This is a neat tip, and one that I had not heard before--turning your back foot so radically out that it is perpendicular to your front foot. That really will encourage a fuller hip turn so your arms and club will swing more around your body. From there you can deliver the club on an inside path to the ball.
Managing Editor Golf Digest
Editor's note: Every Monday, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the game of a recent tour winner and tells you what you can learn. A Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, Kevin is the Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Golf Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., and is a Lead Master Instructor for the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Resort & Spa. He also teaches at Drive 495 in New York. He has seen thousands of swings and has helped golfers of all abilities, from rank beginners to tour players. This week, Kevin takes a look at the unique swing of Sergio Garcia, who finally won after a three-year drought, dominating by 11 strokes in Spain.
Kevin Hinton: Sergio Garcia has long been one of the game's elite ball strikers. The combination of length and accuracy off the tee, as well as solid iron play, are consistent assets in his game. There is no doubt Sergio is one of the most talented players in the world, but historically he has been let down by average to poor putting, and at times what would seem to be a shaky mental game at best. Off course distractions and suspect putting is a tough combination to overcome. However, Sergio's trouncing of the field in Spain is certainly an excellent sign that he has righted the ship. Garcia's final three rounds of 63-64-63 carried him to an 11-shot victory, and his reentry into the discussion of the best players in the world. Let's take a look at Sergio's driver swing below. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of it during Sunday final rounds in 2012.
Sergio has a few very notable characteristics to his swing. The first is that the club is in a relatively laid off position at the top of his swing. This is no problem at all, and has been this way throughout his career. Having the shaft point down the line is far from a fundamental to great ball striking, however, it is a perfectly fine thing to practice. The relationship that typically exists is that the more laid off the club is at the top, the more likely a player is to fade the ball. If the shaft points across the line(the opposite to Sergio), the more likely the club will swing down on an inside path producing a draw. This is why most tour players, who hate to see the ball hook, would rather err on the side of the club being laid off. However, the amateur player often struggles with the opposite miss. In my experience, the average player does better if the club points down the line, or is slightly across the line. It helps to avoid slicing.
All kidding aside, I've noticed in three recent instruction articles in Golf Digest that top teachers and players are advocating that it's better to stand too close to the ball at address than too far away. First, we hear from Golf Digest Teaching Professional Randy Smith, who writes in the November issue (on newsstands now, Bubba Watson on the cover):
Closer is better than farther
I've gotten loads of putting advice from my friend Ben Crenshaw over the years, but it was long-game advice I heard him give on a telecast that can help an amateur player through the bag: "It's possible to stand too close to the ball, but nobody ever does."
When you set up close to the ball with a long club, the club goes back on a natural plane, and you will be more athletic and powerful. When you're too far away, you tend to manipulate the swing with your hands and arms and create an artificial plane.You pull the club inside then swing over the top--leading to a loss of posture and weak toe hits.
Then I noticed that Michael Breed, in the same issue, advocates you stand closer on your chips:
Crowd your chip shots
If your chipping is inconsistent, the fix could be as simple as standing closer to the ball. This will encourage you to swing the club more straight-back, straight-through, instead of on a rounded arc. A mental image that works great is to think about swinging the clubhead as if it were a Ferris wheel, straight up and down.
Here's Ron: Recently I asked top PGA Tour fitness trainer Ben Shear (back9fitness.com) about deadlifts. They have long been one of my favorite strengthening exercises for golfers--particularly dumbbell Romanian deadlifts because they allow you to train the sides of the body independently. Deadlifts strengthen the glutes, the hamstrings, the hip capsule, the shoulders, the back. They provide stability to your core and help fuel the explosive push-off movement golfers need to make through impact.
With all that in their favor, I figured Ben's response would be that he "loves deadlifts" and implements them in every golfer's workout. Instead, he told me this: "I rarely use them." Silence. "Most people don't do them correctly. So it ends up hurting them," he said. "So I don't really use them."
The biggest problem, Shear said, is that people don't bend at the waist. They don't stick their rear ends out and keep their backs straight as the weight drops down. Instead, their backs get rounded as they drop the weight down using their lower backs. They also need to keep their heads in alignment with their spines, he said. He does not like the head up.
If done correctly, however, deadlifts can be a great addition to your workout. Shear said he advocates golfers doing them if they get the form right. "The best way to perfect the form is to watch yourself from the side in a mirror," he said. "But again, I stress that if you can't do them right, don't do them at all."
To see me demonstrate how to do a Romanian dumbbell deadlift, click on the video below. Note, I'm keeping my head up in the video to check my form. But once you do the correct movement, Shear would prefer you keep your head down and in line with your spine.
A couple of weeks ago we solicited from you, our valued readers, the best tips you ever received, whether from a book, a magazine, a video or DVD, your club pro, or your grandmother. Every week I will post one of these tips and will explain why it's effective and who would most benefit from it. You can submit your favorite tip by email to Editors@GolfDigest.com.
This week's tip is from Cody Pinkston, Media and PR Director at Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he also coaches the men's and women's golf teams:
As much as I know about the swing and as well as I can play, I was never a great iron player. I just didn't really trap it like I needed to until a fellow coach, PGA Professional David Andrews, watched me hit a few on the range and said: "Get your knuckles down at impact."
He demonstrated with his left hand, exaggeratedly. It took me a few swings to trust it, but it was off to the races after that. I felt my irons compressing the ball like they never had. I now hit 12 to 15 greens per round and have lots of makable birdie putts. Even the driver is much more solid.
A similar tip from Jim McLean, demonstrated here by Webb Simpson, was selected as one of Golf Digest's all-time best tips in 2010.
Thanks, Cody. The reason this thought works so well is because it gives you an easy way to feel your left wrist staying flat or slightly bowed, which delofts the club at impact. This reminds me how the noted teacher Jim Flick told me to do something similar a few years ago. I had lost the zip on my iron shots. To ingrain this move, he had me hit balls on the range from bare lies or even old divots. Doing that forces you to turn your knuckles down--otherwise you'll hit the ball fat. And Cody's right: You really will start compressing the ball for longer iron shots with more control.
-- Roger Schiffman, Managing Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @RogerSchiffman
When Ben Crane birdied 14 through 17 yesterday to get into a playoff with Webb Simpson, whom he beat on the second extra hole, he did something we all have the chance to do from time to time: Finish off a hot round.
Granted, you're not going to post a little 63 next weekend, like Crane did, but whatever your level, you have days when things are clicking, right? At some point you ask yourself that horrible question, Can I keep this going? That's usually when your round takes a turn the other way.
Butch Harmon gave us a memorable tip on finishing strong in a recent Golf Digest: "You've allowed yourself to get here, now allow yourself to finish."
Below are highlights of Crane's 63:
Senior Editor, Instruction
I was happy to see Golf Digest Playing Editor Rickie Fowler finally break through last week and win his first tournament as a professional, the Korea Open. He beat a strong field by six strokes, including Rory McIlroy. He did it with some tremendous ball-striking in the third round (shooting 63), but he also pitched the ball extremely well to "hang on" (as he put it) in the second round. Here are some of his thoughts on pitching, which ran in the August issue of Golf Digest. They are simple to remember, and I bet they help your game.
Rickie Fowler's 3 setups for 3 hole locations
Remember: Pin in the middle of the green, play the ball in the middle of your stance. Pin front, ball front. Pin back, ball back.
1. Standard pitch: (For middle hole locations.) Set your hands slightly ahead to give the shaft some forward lean. Then just flow that heavy wedge back until your wrists start to hinge. Feel