Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kodak and Devlin's Billabong Challenge Mickelson, Haas at Torrey Pines

The tricky par 5 18th at Torrey Pines South Course has been intimidating PGA Tour golfers the entire week. For Phil Mickelson and Bill Haas, this golf hole could be the deciding factor in who wins both the Farmers Insurance Open and this week's Kodak Challenge.

As the finishing hole at Torrey Pines, the long par-5 18th hole (572 yards from the tips) has seen its share of great plays, none more calamitous than Bruce Devlin’s "10" in 1975 during the Andy Williams San Diego Open.  Devlin, who was among the lead contenders in the tournament, dropped six consecutive approaches into the pond in front of the green en-route to the 10.

“Devlin's Billabong” is the name now given to the troublesome pond in front of the green.

About Hole No. 18 at Torrey Pines South CourseThe par-5 eighteenth on the South Course demands a very long drive before a challenging second shot over a small but dangerous lake in front of the green. From the back tees this par 5 is a three-shot hole for most players. From the front tees it’s reachable in two shots. Approach shots must be wary of “Devlin’s Billabong,” the small, yet troublesome pond in front of the green.

The quick, terraced green slopes from back to front.

Torrey Pines 18th  
Torrey Pines South Course par 5-18th hole

The Kodak Challenge was created to celebrate the beautiful holes and memorable moments in golf. Golfers must play at least eighteen of thirty Kodak Challenge holes throughout the season to qualify. The golfer with the best Kodak Challenge score relative to par at the end of the season will win the Kodak Challenge trophy and $1 million. 

For more on the Kodak Challenge visit pgatour.com/kodakchallenge. Fans can also follow the Kodak Challenge at facebook.com/kodakchallenge, twitter.com/kodakchallenge, and 1000words.kodak.com/kodakchallenge.

Read more about Kodak Challenge on PGA West par 3, 17th hole


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickelson at Torrey Pines? It could happen!

The 2011 PGA Tour season didn't officially begin this week, but with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson debuting at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, expect the pace to ramp up a bit.

Now imagine these two golfers, with everyone anxiously awaiting their return, playing head to head on Sunday! It's a stretch but it could happen and did occur with their "dream pairing" at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Six wins at Torrey Pines for Woods (at the Farmers, one win at U.S. Open) with three for Mickelson show that these two golfers are confident that they made the right decision starting their 2011 PGA Tour season at this golf course.

credit

Should Phil have begun with business as usual at the Bob Hope Classic? With two wins at this event, it might have made a more positive impact than his decision to tune-up in Abu Dhabi.

PGA.com contended that Mickelson "lost interest in recent years when the tournament started moving away from its traditional rotation of golf courses," resulting in his overseas trip to Abu Dhabi where he placed in the 37th spot.

Both Tiger and Phil have expectations of winning at Torrey Pines but it seems that priorities have changed a bit in the past few years: the Tour is now taking a back seat to kids and their lives. Will this impact their respective games?

As Woods said in his press conference today, "The determination hasn’t changed, it just needs to be put into a proper perspective. I went down a path I never should have gone, so my priority is to keep my life in proper balance.”

Is Tiger or Phil more likely to succeed this week at Torrey Pines?
Devil Ball Golf editor Jay Busbee believes that "Tiger seems to be closer to putting it together than Phil."
Fellow writer Shane Bacon concurred adding, "If one of these two are winning this thing, it's Tiger. He's won the last four times he's played in this event, and took down that U.S. Open you might remember on one leg."

First round playing partner Rocco Mediate didn't say whether he felt Tiger Woods could win this week (memories of that 2008 U.S. Open?) but he does believe that Woods could come away with at least four wins this 2011 PGA Tour season.
A third possibility is that both Tiger and Phil struggle through another 2010 stretch and one of the young guns takes center stage. The wrath of Tiger Woods has eased on his playing partners since his winless season and Mickelson never really made anyone feel nervous on the golf course.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Axis1 Golf to Introduce the UMBRA at 2011 PGA Merchandise Show

Axis1 Golf, maker of the world’s first perfectly balanced and completely torque free putters, announced today the March 25th retail availability of the Axis1 Umbra.

“The Axis1 Umbra, a modern mallet, is uniquely engineered for a breakthrough in control and feel,” said Axis1 Founder Luis Pedraza. “Axis1 Umbra features the world’s first 100% perfectly balanced and completely torque free platform along with the new L-Frame Alignment feature, which perfectly frames the golf ball for easier alignment.”

“We are excited to join the industry in Orlando to launch the Axis1 Umbra Putter to PGA Professionals, some of golf’s most influential retailers and golf media members from around the world,” mentioned Phil Long, Axis1 Golf Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “There is not a better launching ground for a new product, in my opinion.”


Axis1 Umbra:
Considered to be "the putters that never turn on you".

  • Modern Mallet with L-Frame Alignment Feature
  • CNC Milled Face for a solid feel
  • 17-4ph Stainless Steel with black ion plating for enhanced durability
  • Stainless Steel Counterweight Screws for perfect final balance calibration   
  • Individually balanced

Axis1 Umbra Putter

Here's a sneak peek of the new Axis1 Golf Umbra putter



About Axis1 Golf

Founded in 2006 by Luis Pedraza, an internationally-acclaimed industrial designer with over 20 patents and an avid golfer, Axis1 is an innovative putter company dedicated to developing the world’s most perfectly-balanced golf putters.

The Axis1 Eagle is the first 100% perfectly balanced putter. Because it is perfectly balanced, it doesn’t naturally open-up, resulting in more on-line putts and lower scores. This special feat was accomplished by pushing the weight forward with a patented heel counter weight that for the very first time places the center of gravity right on the center of the striking face and perfectly aligned with the axis of the shaft.


Axis1 Golf Awards:
  • Best in Show – Sports Illustrated Golf Edition
  • Best New Golf Product – Golf.com
  • Most Innovative Club – PGA Show
  • Bronze Medal Winner - IDEA® Most Innovative Products of 2010

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

PGA Tour vs European Tour...Golf Smackdown?

The European Tour continues to grow in popularity and this week is no exception as six of the top ten golfers in the official world rankings embrace the WGC HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship as the competitive "tournament of choice".

Mickelson used to enjoy playing his season-opener at the Bob Hope Classic but is it just the stress of a five-day event that has Phil fleeing or is it the allure of $1 million that is tempting Lefty to visit Abu Dhabi?

In order to entice more PGA Tour golfers to play across the pond, spiffs are an integral part of the deal for notables like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who will reportedly receive $3 million to show up in Dubai next month.

The diverse environment also interests Mickelson. "It has been great for me and my family to experience a lot of different cultures and learn from them."

U.S. golfers who add European Tour events to their schedule are being given a royal welcome by their hosts and appearance fees. The grueling PGA Tour schedule with "rigid rules", as mentioned by world's number-one golfer Lee Westwood, also requires play in fifteen events as opposed to thirteen...and the PGA Tour does not offer appearance fees. So, why fly the friendly skies?

Westwood, who gave up his PGA Tour membership, has snubbed in protest various events like the FedEx Cup and most recently, the Players Cup. Other Euro Tour golfers like Rory McIlroy have joined Westwood in his quest to remain Euro-centric and possibly to enhance the importance of their Tour.

In the picture below, newly named 2012 Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal is at the helm of the Abu Dhabi Ocean racing entry with possible picks. Is that Phil Mickelson readying to play for "Team Europe"? Quick Davis, offer an appearance fee...

Abu Dhabi with Phil Mickelson  
credit


I mentioned a few weeks ago that it would be a good idea for the PGA and Euro Tour to mediate in order to give opportunities for the golfers to play either venue.

Westwood's manager, Chubby Chandler pointed out, "There are too many people in power thinking only about their own interests rather than what's good for the game. It does my head in to think the world No 1 in his sport can't play in a tournament he wants to play in, and which the sponsor wants him to play in."

"The Players is a big PGA Tour event – but that's all it is."

To put it in Rory McIlroy's words, "The PGA Tour won’t miss me, because no one player is bigger than the tour.”


I think a Smackdown is on the horizon. Does 'The Rock' play golf?


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kodak Challenges golfers on PGA West par-3 17th hole

The Kodak Challenge, a first-of-its-kind competition for PGA TOUR players and fans, visits hole #17 at the Palmer Private Course of PGA West during the Bob Hope Classic on February 19-23.  The 130-yard par 3 at the Bob Hope Classic is the 2nd of 30 Kodak Challenge holes on the 2011 PGA TOUR this season.

The trip to the Bob Hope Classic marks a unique transition for the season-long $1 million Kodak Challenge competition, as it moves from the PGA TOUR’s longest hole (the 663-yard No. 18 at Kapalua) to the shortest (the 130-yard No. 17 at PGA West).

Robert Garrigus and Bubba Watson both eagled the first Kodak Challenge hole of the season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and co-lead the Kodak Challenge at 2-under-par.  Watson is scheduled to play in the Bob Hope Classic.

The Kodak Challenge celebrates the beautiful holes and memorable moments in golf. PGA TOUR pros must play at least 18 of 30 Kodak Challenge holes throughout the season to qualify. The golfer with the best Kodak Challenge score relative to par at the end of the season will win the Kodak Challenge trophy and $1 million.

Troy Merritt won the 2010 Kodak Challenge in a sudden-death playoff on No. 17 at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. Merritt defeated Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley in a one-hole playoff at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magnolia Course in Lake Buena Vista, FL, to capture the Kodak Challenge trophy and the winner-take-all $1 million prize.


About Hole #17 at the Bob Hope Classic

Proper position is a must on this beautiful, yet dangerous little hole. The 130-yard par 3 No. 17 offers a panoramic view of PGA West and its surrounding mountains.  The deep narrow green is well bunkered on the left and protected by rocks on the right side.  Players must watch the pin placement carefully, as this tricky green slopes right to left towards a nearby canal.  The PGA TOUR’s shortest hole, No. 17 was the 7th hardest hole at the Bob Hope Classic in 2010, yielding 43 birdies, 124 pars, 29 bogeys and 5 double bogeys.


PGA West 17

 credit: PremierAerials.com


“The 2011 Kodak Challenge schedule builds upon the tremendous success of the 2010 season, offering players greater opportunities to participate and move up the leaderboard, while showcasing to fans the greatest scorecard in golf,” said Steve Powell, director of development for the Kodak Challenge.


The Kodak Challenge will once again highlight many of golf’s most exciting and picturesque holes in 2011 as players take on “the greatest scorecard in golf.” From the breathtaking 18th hole at The Plantation Course at Kapalua and the one-of-a-kind 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, to the fabulous finishing holes at Pebble Beach, Harbour Town and Bay Hill, the Kodak Challenge provides fans and players a unique and compelling competition within a competition.


The Kodak Challenge schedule includes 26 of the 30 holes from the 2010 season. The RBC Canadian Open and The Barclays will debut new Kodak Challenge holes in 2011 as the tournaments visit new tournament venues. The Farmers Insurance Open moves to a new Kodak Challenge hole this year, the 570-yard, par-5 18th on the Torrey Pines South Course. Twenty-nine of the 30 Kodak Challenge tournaments for 2011 have been finalized. An announcement on the 30th tournament will be made in the near future.


For more on the Kodak Challenge visit pgatour.com/kodakchallenge. Fans can also follow the Kodak Challenge at facebook.com/kodakchallenge, twitter.com/kodakchallenge, and 1000words.kodak.com/kodakchallenge.


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Monday, January 17, 2011

Jiyai Shin caddy offers insight into Tanah Merah golf course

2010 HSBC Women’s Champions Caddy of the Year Dean Herden has been the man on the bag as his player Jiyai Shin rose to the very top of the game. The 46-year-old Australian has been on Shin’s bag for every edition of the tournament, 7th in 2008, winner in 2009 and 3rd in 2010.  He casts his expert eye on the subtleties of Tanah Merah’s Garden Course, which is rapidly building a reputation for bringing the very best golf out of the world’s very best golfers. Tim Maitland reports, in Dean Herden's own words.

 

I love this course! When they design courses these days it all sets up in favour of the long hitters. At Tanah Merah, if you’re long it is still an advantage, but you’ve got to be straight. I love the course because it gives everyone in the field a chance to win. It’s just a great test.

Jiyai’s not long, but she hits it so well and she hits it solid. Ai Miyazato, who won in 2010, is not that long but she hits it straight. Lorena Ochoa, a longer hitter, won with an unbelievable putting display in 2008, but she wasn’t missing fairways. You’ve got to be on the fairway because the ball sits down in the rough at Tanah Merah so much that you can’t get away with being in the rough all week long. You’ve got to be able to control the ball to get on the right spots on the greens and you can’t do that from the rough.

It brings the best out of the best players. All the winners are superstars. Some courses you’ll find also-ran players will crop up and win because they had a good week on the putter and because the course wasn’t that demanding shot-wise: because it doesn’t demand perfect tee shots and perfect shots into the greens.

Tanah Merah has the beautiful aspect that it all starts from the tee and only the best players are going to win around there; the ones with best records.

It’s a great event and great players will always want to play great golf courses and they’ll always want to come back to Tanah Merah. It’s the golf course that really makes the event. HSBC do such a good job, but the golf course is just so tough and so interesting. Every hole’s a little different and there’s a really nice mix. It’s got some fantastic par threes, not super-long, but daunting. It’s always a lot of fun and because it’s beside Changi Airport you get to see the double-deckers taking off too! It’s a hell of a golf course, it really is. Great golf courses bring out great champions by the end of the week and Tanah Merah does a great job of that.

Hole 1 Par 4 401 Yards 367 Metres
It’s a fantastic starting hole: very tough!
Because the fairway is shaped like a bowl it’s very hard to get the middle of it. It’s either going to kick left or right. It’s a very ‘strong’ hole length-wise because it mostly plays into the breeze and your second shot is uphill 5 or 6 yards elevation.

A very tough pin on this hole is a middle-right pin because, when you look at the pin from the fairway, you’re concerned about going over when in actual fact the grain of the green is towards you and it actually holds the ball quite nicely. You have to be aggressive with that second shot, but it’s hard to convince yourself because you can’t see the pin.

With a back pin it’s very important to tell yourself to be long. It doesn’t matter! Be aggressive! So many players make bogey there because they’ve played to the centre of the green when they should have been more aggressive. Being long’s OK because from there you’re chipping back into the grain, so it’s not a difficult chip shot.

The Smart Play: Take you’re four and get out of there. If you can get a four here on all four days you’ve done well. It’s a great starting hole.

Hole 2 Par 4 381 Yards 348 Metres
Number 2 is a wonderful little par four because it has the lake in front of the green. With the tee shot you can’t really reach the water, but visually it’s a distraction. A lot of the time it plays down breeze and then a lot of players start thinking about hitting three wood. The longer hitters – Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen – if they got hold of one the water is in range, but only if it’s howling.

For a front pin you can be on either side of the fairway, but the big key is the angle of your second shot to the back-right pin; it’s always a big advantage to be coming in from the left side of the fairway because you’re playing down the length of the green. You can aim at the fairway bunker on the left because the whole fairway slopes and it’s always going to kick right. One of the difficult parts of this hole is that the tee faces a little bit off to the right, so setting up to aim to the left is difficult. It’s got its little idiosyncracies this hole.

The grain at the back-right runs away from you and if you pitch your approach two-thirds of the way on it always releases and runs over the back.

The Smart Play: Be smart! For the back-right pin, you’ve just got to aim at the centre. Don’t get too greedy.

Hole 3 Par 3 140 Yards 128 Metres
Most of the time this is into the breeze and it’s a tough little par three when there’s a lot of wind. Because you’re hitting a short-iron into the wind, sometimes you can hit an ‘up-shooter’ which balloons then the wind hits it and it goes nowhere. If the pin’s at the front when that happens you can easily be in the water. 

The thing I’ve noticed about this hole is that, if there’s the slightest breeze, don’t underestimate it, because once the ball’s above the tree-line it could just hit a wall.

The tree-line at Tanah Merah is a big key. The location right next to an airport means you’ve got to be conscious of the fact there has got to be a decent breeze most of the time.

It’s a tricky little par three; an island green and to a back pin you always find everyone short all day. It’s just one of those pins that looks closer to the water behind than it actually is, so you’ve got to trust the yardage. If it’s 150 to the back pin, stick with it, because the grain on that back part is into you, which is another reason why everyone’s always short.

The Killer Play: To the back-middle pin, play to your yardage and be aggressive. I’ve hardly ever seen any players go long.

Hole 4 Par 394 Yards 360 Metres

I love this hole! It takes two strong shots and the tee shot is so demanding. Long hitters have a problem on this hole because they go through the fairway on the left, where it doglegs. For Jiyai the wide part of the fairway just before the bunkers is a good distance for her off the tee. It’s a must to hit the fairway here. It suits someone who can hit a power fade because you can line up on the left and rip it around the dogleg!

There’s also a down slope at 220 to 240 yards from the tee and if you’re playing a longish iron off that it’s a tough shot.

The green is slightly elevated, probably two or three yards, and it’s a green where in the middle of it, it releases out. The front part of the green doesn’t release, but if you hit the top tier of this green the majority of the time it’ll feed over the back. Mate, four pars in four days here and you’ve done well.

The Big Mistake: Keep away from the fairway bunker on the right: it’s pretty much an automatic bogey. The lip of that bunker is hard and you’re coming from 160 to 170 yards to a narrow green.

Hole 5 Par 5 531 Yards 486 Metres
It’s a long slog and a lot of the time it plays into the breeze. It’s a must to get it on the fairway and hit a decent tee shot because you don’t want to mess around with the bunker 120 yards short of the green. If the hole’s is playing into the breeze you don’t want the pressure on your second shot being to have to carry that bunker.

A couple of times Jiyai has been in the position when it’s been howling into the breeze and she didn’t quite get her tee shot away and it’s an eerie feeling to be staring at that bunker – it’s a nasty thing to look at – because you don’t want a long third shot; you really want to be getting to about 80 yards from the front of the green.

It seems like a basic-looking straightaway par five, but it’s a must to get your tee shot away. That makes every shot after that much easier.

The tough part is you can’t see the base of the pin; it’s just that elevation for the third shot that’s nasty… maybe four or five yards up. You see so many players land at the front and spin off the front.

Par’s definitely a good score.
The Big Mistake: Not getting your tee shot away.

Hole 6 Par 4 415 Yards 379 Metres
It play’s tough. It’s a narrow fairway and the bunker on the right just seems to gobble them all up. There’s a massive row of trees on the left and the tee actually faces those, so it’s hard to get angled correctly on the tee. A lot of players will over-compensate and push it right into that trap. Again it’s a must to hit the fairway.

Missing left is actually the better mistake. At least there you get a chance of getting some sort of shot towards the green. For some reason, if you miss right, you just can’t. I don’t know why.

If you do find the fairway it’s still a tough second shot. It’s quite undulating and you never seem to get a comfortable position for your feet; your stance is either uphill or downhill, which makes the second shot that much more difficult. Jiyai will usually have 170 or 180 left so we’re hitting quite a long club in there; a hybrid or the seven wood. There’s a down slope that gives the longer hitters an advantage and they could be coming in from 120-130 yards with a seven or eight iron.

A tough pin on this hole is the back one, because it’s a long shot made even longer and the green’s hard. It’s a very undulating green that slopes away on each side and you have to aim at the spine in the middle of the green.

The Big Mistake: Missing the fairway. When Jiyai Shin won here in 2009 the key was driving it straight. That was a big advantage for us; massive!  

Hole 7 Par 4 384 Yards 351 Metres
The dreaded seventh! Very nasty! The club choice for the second shot is a tough one, always. There’s not much to the tee shot; most players are committed to laying up short of the bunker on the right, which is a good yardage for us. The normal breeze is right-to-left and slightly into you, off the airport on the right-hand side, and we can hit driver down there and be comfortable. The killer for most players is the second shot, because they buried a massive elephant under the green. It’s a tough shot! At least two of the days they stick the pin at the very back and club choice into those pins is so difficult. It’s always a cross breeze, always floating around between two o’clock, three o’clock and four o’clock and you’re never sure if it’s with you or into you. If you catch the down slope it skids through, but you’ve got to get over that mound on the green if the pin is at the back: otherwise it’s a shocking putt… a horror putt! Once it gets over the hill the grain runs down towards the water.

The Killer Play: It’s just a matter of having the yardage on your second shot; that’s the big key. If you get it right, you’ve got a chance of holing it because it will funnel down to the hole once it gets over the mound.

Hole 8 Par 3 153 Yards 140 Metres
A super hole, it really is. It’s so attractive from the tee. It’s a pleasure to play the par threes around Tanah Merah, because they’re not a great length, but they’re all so attractive. They’ve almost all got water feeding around them and the eighth hole is a classic example of that.

The back-left pin is really tough. Anything left is tough. The green feeds from right to left and there’s the wind factor; it’s a down breeze hole most of the time. It’s a toughie! The green is so undulating that it is important to get near the hole, but nine times out of 10 on the back-left pin everyone finds themselves up on the top-right hand side putting downhill, down-grain towards the water.  It’s a great hole. Length-wise I love it. It’s a good length. Jiyai sometime hits a utility or a good solid six iron for a back pin, seven iron for a front pin. It’s a great little hole, a great little hole!

The Killer Play: Putting down that slope from the right to a back-left pin is not easy, not easy at all. It looks like it’s really, really fast, but in actual fact it’s not! It’s so eerie, it looks so fast, but you have to convince yourself to give it some to get it there.

Hole 9 Par 5 497 Yards 454 Metres
Risk-reward! It’s a fantastic par five! You’ve got to get your tee shot away, but you can’t see it land. You’ve got to get the ball turning over right-to-left (for right-handed players it’s a draw, for lefties it’s a fade) to get full advantage of the length of this hole because you’re hoping it will skip off one of the mounds and get down the hill for you. You’ve got to get the shape right with your tee shot, because a straight tee shot always stays at the top of the hill.

Most of the field will have a chance to at least get to the front edge of the green in two. You’ve got the pond on the left of the green, but the long hitters will definitely be going for it. The water on the left is so daunting; it makes the decision to go for it in two really difficult. The bunker on the right-front of the green isn’t that punishing, so this is a definite birdie chance. If you haven’t birdied it three out of the four days you feel like you’ve missed the boat.

I like the two traps on the right 60 to 80 yards in front of the green. It’s more of an optical illusion, but it makes you think you can’t go too far right. It’s a good hole.

The Killer Play: The shape of that tee shot is so important. It’s a great par five because it is risk-reward and it gets the player deciding to have a crack at it or not.

Hole 10 Par 4 382 Yards 349 Metres
What a par four this is! Fantastic! Bunker left and right off the tee. In Jiyai’s case it’s just a driver down there, but the tough part of this hole is that it’s into the breeze most of the time. You’ve got to allow for the kick from left to right. The fairway’s quite narrow down the left-hand side and you’ve got two bunkers down the right-hand side, which will just gobble your ball. If you get in any of the bunkers you haven’t got much choice; you can’t get on the green in two and you have to half-lay-up and give yourself a full shot for your third because it’s such an elevated green. 

The biggest thing about this hole, watching the players over the years, is the green is more elevated than you think. It reads in the yardage book as six yards up but I always allow 10, which is a full club. It’s very rare that you see people go over the back. A lot of players don’t seem to allow enough [for the elevation] on this hole. There’s a massive slope at the front of the green and if you land anything less than six yards on the ball is coming all the way back down that slope: it’s huge! It can run back 30 yards and leave you a daunting 40 or 50-yard half-chip shot back onto the green. It’s not a very deep green either – only 25 yards from front to back – and you’ve got to be spot-on with the club selection.
It’s a strong par four. If you’re going to have any chance of winning on the Sunday making par is a great
indication that you’ll go on and do something. A bogey gets the back nine off to a bad start.
The Big Mistake: Finding sand anywhere, with your tee shot or your second. The other thing, with the second shot is not allowing enough for the two things going against you; the elevation and the fact that the breeze is usually against you and stronger than you think above the tree line.

Hole 11 Par 3 172 Yards 157 Metres
The big one on this hole is it’s always into the breeze. It’s an elevated tee, probably about half a club up, and it’s just a great hole. This green has a giraffe buried under it and that’s the thing about this golf course, the undulating greens. A front pin is not such an ordeal, it brings the water into play on the left, but if you play to the middle [of the green] you’re fine, but a back pin is always tough. Being into the breeze, the longer hitters are taking up to a four iron, but the shorter hitters are taking a seven wood into a green that you don’t want to be hitting such a long club into.

The water guards everything on the left; if you tweak it even slightly to the left you’re in the water and case closed. That’s it.

Being on the right-hand side for a left pin leaves you a very, very fast putt. It’s very hard to stop it and it usually has a massive break in it.

The Killer Play: Just play the right-hand half of the green. Don’t go left! If you make a mistake right, it’s probably going to be a bunker shot and you can get away with that.

Hole 12 Par 4 384 Yards 351 Metres
A dogleg right and it’s no picnic. If you go up the right off the tee you have a blind second shot. You’ve got to get far enough down there so you can see the whole green and if you block it anywhere slightly right you can’t see the green. Anyway the green is angled left-to-right, so from the right-side of the fairway you haven’t got a lot of room to work with.

It sets up really well of the tee and I don’t see many players having too much trouble getting their tee shot down the fairway, but you’ve got to get the ball on the fairway in a position where you can attack the green.

I find the toughest thing for most players is if you’ve got a back-right pin. There’s a swale that runs alongtwo-thirds of the green on that side and to the back pin the grain is running away from you, so I find a lot of players give themselves too much club and they either tend to go a little long, or they don’t give it enough to carry the slope that creates a false front on the first 17 yards of the right side of the green and leave themselves a tricky little chip shot.

The Big Mistake: You don’t want to get into any of the fairway traps and stay away from the bunker at the front of the green; it’s got a massive lip and I’ve seen a lot of players with their balls plugged straight into that lip. It’s nasty!

Hole 13 Par 5 512 Yards 468 Metres
A memorable hole for some players, like Katherine Hull, who went left here when she was in a position to win in 2009. It’s actually very easy to do what she did because the fairway and the tee set-up left and it’s very easy to hit it straight through the fairway. If you go slightly left into the mounds on the side of the fairway, you’re down onto the cart path and in amongst the mess, which is out of bounds for the members. There’s a tree that hangs over the bunker on the right, but the best line from the tee is straight over the left edge of that bunker.

There’s an opportunity for the longer hitters to get there in two, for the medium hitters they still have to lay up. I always think it’s important to give yourself the best yardage for your third short. If you’re going to lay up, lay up. Don’t get caught in between. You need to make sure it’s 90 yards to a back pin or 80 yards to a middle pin; that right yardage where you can hit a full sand-iron or a full pitching wedge, not a half shot.

The green doesn’t break that much, although it looks like it does. I’ve seen a lot of birdies made there because there are no massive hooks or massive slices on that green. They put the pin at the front a lot and it looks like it wants to break everywhere when you’re looking at the putt, but it keeps a pretty straight line from whatever angle you’re coming from.

The Killer Play: It’s a tough fairway to hit because it gets very narrow around the 240-yard range. I think it’s one of the most demanding drives on the entire course. It’s a key tee shot if you’re coming down the stretch on Sunday.

Hole 14 Par 3 169 Yards 155 Metres
The dreaded 14th! It’s a great par three this, although not everyone likes it because it’s tough to stay on the green. You’d be happy with threes here all week. Club choice is of massive, massive importance on this hole.

The big thing is you’ve usually got the wind coming from right to left and into you. The back-right pin is very difficult because you’ve got to carry the bunker on the front-right, but when you’ve got the right club in your hand to clear all that, if it pitches on the wrong spot everything feeds over the back of the green.

Halfway onto the green the grain starts to run away, this is the big key on this green, because on the front half the grain is back into you and therefore the ball stops quicker.

Any player getting within 20 feet of the pin here has done really well and has hit a great tee shot because of those main points; the grain, the wind and the slopes.

Usually three of the four days they put the pin in the back area. The toughest pin though, is middle left on top of the ridge in the green where you’ve only got about four yards in which to land and stop the ball.

Over the back of this green every year you see a bunch of chip-shot marks; two out of every group of three is over the back and chipping.

The Killer Play: It’s about having the right club. The green’s only 30 deep and it’s so tricky with the grain running away from you and taking you over the back

Hole 15 Par 5 554 Yards 507 Metres
It’s a wide fairway for your tee shot; you can push it as far right as you like and you won’t get in trouble. The second shot is a big key here. It gets very narrow. It bottle-necks in with bunkers on one side and the problem is you’ve got water on the left, which is a tough one. The medium-length hitters have got to lay up to about 130 yards to the front of the green, but the green is 42 yards deep, so, if you’ve got a back pin, you’re looking at around 165 yards for a third shot! That’s quite a long way to a very narrow green.

For the players who get a really long tee shot away, if it’s slightly down breeze, they can have a crack at it. I’ve seen a couple of players do it, but there’s water on both sides and it creeps in all the way along the left, so you have to make sure you have enough club to get all the way up there. I remember one day in 2010 it was down-breeze and Jiyai, who is not a long hitter gave it a good try, even though we couldn’t get all the way to the green, because it was such an advantage to get close to the green.

The Killer Play: A demanding second shot on this hole. That’s the key. Don’t get carried away going down the left side because the water follows the fairway.

Hole 16 Par 4 269 Yards 246 Metres
This is a great spectator hole. Great holes don’t have to be long ones and I love this hole because it is risk-and-reward. You can give it a crack and have a go off the tee. With no wind they’ll all be trying, but it’s a very narrow entrance to the green and you’ve got to have a tee shot that is spot on! The golden rule is to make sure you carry those traps that are looking at you 220 yards off the tee. 230 is usually the landing point of most players out here and if they slightly miss the tee shot it’s easy for those shots to end up in the bunker. From there it’s a really tough shot and mentally it affects them because it’s such a basic hole and now they’re struggling.

You’ve got a bunker really tight to the green on the right (as you look from the tee): don’t go in there! It’s deep! A lot of players end up with a chip over that bunker. The rough usually cuts right in on that side, so it’s not a perfect lie.

The sucker thing about this hole is that a lot of players are just chipping to it with their second shot and before they know it they haven’t given their chip shot enough because it is one of those awkward half shots.

The toughest pins are on the right hand side: the right pin, 10-to-15 on, in the middle, just over that right-hand bunker. That’s a really tough pin.

It’s just a great hole because you’ve got a ton of spectators behind the green and they’re watching either birdies or bogeys. It really kills your round when you walk off there with bogey!

The wind can shift. It’s not the prevailing wind, but I remember in 2009 the breeze switched and we had to lay-up short of the bunkers and play it as a true par four! That was really different, making that decision when every other day we’d been going for it.

I love it, because it’s short and dangerous!

The Killer Play: Be aggressive! If you’re going for the green and you’re going to miss, miss left. It’s not a difficult shot from there and you’ve got the whole green to work with.

Hole 17 Par 4 395 Yards 361 Metres
A very important tee shot. I’ve seen so many tee shots go into the nest of bunkers on the right. The problem is the tee faces those bunkers, so you have to commit yourself to going up the left enough. A lot of players don’t do it, but you’ve got to commit yourself to whack it up that left-hand side. It’s a daunting tee shot, it really is and it’s not easy.

The designers point tees at hazards deliberately and it’s great. You have to be really aware of it.

There is also a nasty, deep little grass pot bunker out at about 270 yards. Jiyai doesn’t quite hit it out there, but the killer on this hole is all the stuff on the right. If you get in there your second shot gets real messy and if there’s a back-right pin… forget about it! It gives you no chance at all to get near the pin.

The second shot changes completely depending on where the pin is. If you get a front pin it’s a very basic hole: I remember Jiyai when she won almost holed her second shot. I was surprised the pin was there on the last day because all we were doing was hitting an eight or nine iron in.

I love this hole when the pin is up the back: it’s a real tough hole. The pin at the back-right side makes it a totally different hole and once the pin’s back there you can’t mess with the bunker on the front-right of the green, you have to get your second shot right up there. This hole killed Cristie Kerr’s chances of winning last year.
The Big Mistake: Don’t miss right off the tee. Do that with a back-right pin and you’ve got no chance at all.

Hole 18 Par 4 414 Yards 379 Metres
An awesome finishing hole and a daunting tee shot. There’s a lot of stuff that cuts in on the left, visually, while you’re trying to protect yourself from going in the bunkers on the right. You’ve got more room than you think on the left, but the bushes growing on the rocks on the left seem to loom over the shot when you’re standing on the tee.

I’ve seen a lot of girls make the hole look easy, but it’s not an easy tee shot.

When it’s down breeze, and 80 per cent of the time it is down breeze, you can reach the water; so the majority of the field will be worrying about that.

When Jiyai won in 2009 it was into the breeze and lengthwise it was so long! A second shot that was normally 150 yards and a six or seven iron turned into 190 and you’re hitting a three wood or five wood into a three-tiered green surrounded by water, with a back-left pin on the last day. It wasn’t an easy shot, but she hit a beauty! Ai Miyazato hit a similar sort of shot to the same pin to win last year.
It’s not an easy pin position. It’s 43 yards deep, so when they put the pin at the back it’s a totally different hole!

The Killer Play: Happy with par. A lot of players have blown their tournaments hitting it into the right bunkers off the tee.

 
Credit: Getty Images


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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oversimplification of new TaylorMade R11 driver?

The "revolutionary" new TaylorMade R11 driver has been oversimplified in its new ad campaign, introducing the golf club with children singing an old Sesame Street tune. Although VP of brand and product marketing Bob Maggiore said the TaylorMade R11 driver's "stunning design, technology and performance clearly set it apart from the competition," it's hard not to think in black and white instead of 1080i.

TaylorMade R11 driver


The new TaylorMade R11 driver head is white, atypical for the most part but that is not what sets it apart. The R11 can be fine-tuned to the user by changing loft, face angle and flight path. This concept was probably too complicated for the masses, especially when attempting to explain it in a TV commercial. Instead, let's sing a song!

Here is TaylorMade missing the boat in an earlier TV commerical, Transported.

I'm not saying that the ad for the R11 isn't "cute" because it is but... I don't want a cute driver and I don't want a golf club that I picture comes as part of a kids set! I want one that sends my golf ball thirty yards longer so that I can't see where it landed but I know that it landed in the middle of the fairway.


From the time I was able to sit up and focus, Sesame Street was one of the programs regularly watched on the family's enormous antiquated TV tube/stereo combo. Imagine how I felt when I heard the old Sesame Street favorite being linked with the new TaylorMade R11 driver!

Perhaps I can show you how I felt right here. Does the TaylorMade R11 driver - Sesame Street connection work for me? I guess it could if Grover or Kermit the Frog were taking a swing!

For more information on the new TaylorMade R11 driver visit TaylorMadeGolf.com.



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Golf snitch tweets in DQ, should Poulter be offended?

"An armchair official tweeted in to get Camilo DQ. What is wrong with people have they got nothing better to do?" tweeted an angry Ian Poulter after a fan spotted a rules violation on TV by Villegas and decided to say something about it.

 

In this world where everyone is now connected through the internet and social media, Dave Andrews decided to tweet it. The question was not whether Villegas is guilty of the infraction but whether fans should come forward or leave policing and the outcome of the game to pro golfers?

 

"No one likes a snitch," continued Poulter. True but also no golfer wants to lose a big paycheck and FedEx points at the end of the day...and no golfer wants to win for the wrong reasons.

 

Poulter made a good case on Twitter for why fans should see something, say something, "I still dont know all the rules, theres too many. More to life than eating rule books." 

 

Yes it is difficult to remember all of the rules...there are so many (that is why golfers carry around the Rule Book) but, in this case, the ball did not come to rest as Villegas flicked dirt from its path, possibly affecting its line. Most amateur and even many beginner golfers understand to wait for a golf ball to come to rest before addressing it. The mind focuses on what it wants to and Camilo was probably thinking of his next shot. Villegas understood his infraction and graciously took his medicine learning this lesson in the process:

 

Rule 23-1: ''When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.''

 

I wonder how many golfers realize that a hole is not complete until a golf ball drops to (and comes to rest at) the bottom of the cup?

 

Ian Poulter should perhaps also understand that without the avid golf fans who tune in to watch and learn about the sport from professionals (and have nothing to do?), events like the Hyundai Tournament of Champions which could not draw three out of four major winners, would probably never take place. No play day, no pay day for the golfers.

 

"Case closed, yes he should have been punished but it's a shame it wasn't before he signed his card," ended Poulter's tirade.

 

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]

Ian Poulter (credit)

 

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Men technical, women more social golfers says LPGA Coach

To meet golf professionals through social media services takes just a single click, a simple "LIKE" or "FOLLOW" and maybe a note asking, "Will you join my professional network on LinkedIn?"

Golf is considered a "social" sport and I believe that interactions and connections made on services such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn may just help to solve fundamental issues and grow the sport for future generations. I continually search out and invite golfers into my professional networks and find that they do the same.

A connection through LinkedIn is how I met Mary Paulson, LPGA Professional Golf Coach at Total Approach® Coaching, Site Director LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of El Cajon and a firefighter in San Diego. Mary's interest in growing the game of golf for girls, ages 7 to 17, to "build lasting friendships and experience competition in a fun, supportive environment," led me to send her a friendly email. With Mary's okay, here is our "chat":

STACY SOLOMON: Do you find it easier to teach men or women?

MARY PAULSON: Men vs Women. Good question! Honestly, I enjoy working with men more than women, but there is also a difference.

With men, they are more technical and they are willing to do whatever I ask and tend to be very receptive to my instruction. They get alot out of it, they want to talk about what they know and they will tell me what is wrong with their game!  It makes it too easy for me! The downside is that I will only see the male golfers once or twice a year!  They get what they need and then they are good for the golfing season.

With women, they want to learn the game. They don't neccessarily know the technical aspects and I find that I need to teach them more basic terms and techniques. They are there to learn for more social reasons, to spend more time with their husbands or to go out with their lady friends. I will hear back from the women and get more returning lessons.

So, yes, I spend more time teaching women and beginners because they take more lessons! But I really enjoy working with the advanced and professionals, who tend to be more men, because we can get deeper into the skills and they will take it and go apply it.

With that said, it can go in the opposite direction too!  My least favorite students are men who are just learning the game, and my absolute favorites are coaching competitive and professional female players!

The beginner male students have egos. They have been watching the golf channel, reading books, watching professional players on TV and they have a preconceived idea of how to swing a golf club. So I am faced with breaking down their egos before I can get them to make a decent swing.

With my female players, they leave their egos at home. They get it. They know their game, they understand the swing concepts and what their swing is. With them, I am able to get past the technical and get into what I truly do best, and that is the Mental & Emotional game!

Does that answer your question?  <haha!>  Although I am guessing that you weren't expecting a one word answer, were you.

STACY SOLOMON: How many of the same lesson does it take before that lesson "sinks in" and the student "gets it".

MARY PAULSON:  You asked about lessons and learning retension.  It's all relative. How does the teacher communicate with the student? Do they use the students' dominant sensories to learn effectively, or do they just show the student the skill movement and tell them to scrape and hit?

Definitely golfers need to practice a skill over and over, when it's new, for about 4-6 weeks until the muscle memory kicks in. Your brain can get the skill down within hours! But if the motor functions don't know what the skill feels like, it won't be consistent, which is why practicing new motor skills are so important. But once your motors get it.... it all now becomes mental and a whole new learning skill! haha!

Simply, for golf Beginners, you MUST get out to the range and practice the swing between lessons. If you don't practice, then you will be spending money on learning the same thing from your last lesson!  At least they will if I'm their teacher. :))

There are 4 sections of the swing. 1/4  1/2  3/4 & full swing. I will start you with the 1/4 swing. If you are unable to hit the ball consistantly with a 1/4 swing, I will not move on to the 1/2 swing. Why? You haven't mastered the 1/4 yet.  See what I mean?  But if you go out and practice 1/4 swings everyday for 2 weeks, then I have every faith in the world that I can advance you to a 1/2 swing. The larger the swing, the longer it takes to master the movement (more moving parts.)


STACY SOLOMON: I would also like to ask you a few more questions about the LPGA National program and how you became interested in being a teacher.

MARY PAULSON:  Why I had chosen to become an LPGA Golf Coach gets a bit complicated. We all have our own journeys and mine would have to begin when I began to learn how to play golf back in 2001.


It was a spiritual epiphany. I was watching Karrie Webb getting ready to win the U.S. Women's Open for the 2nd year in a row. Nobody was close and the TV announcers were putting trivia on the screen because they were following Karrie live back from the 16th hole. One trivial tidbit was showing where the US Women's Open would be played for the next 7 years. In 2008, it would be at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, MN.  My childhood hometown!!

Instantly I said to myself, "I'm supposed to play in that!"  This was a country club that my family didn't belong to, nor was I ever invited for even a Sunday brunch!  So, when I saw Interlachen CC, I knew that I wanted to play in the most prestigous Amateur/Professional women's golf event!  Ha!  I would not only have brunch there, but play it!

But I didn't play golf yet. In fact I needed clubs, bag, balls, and all the essentials. AND A COACH!  I needed to find someone to show me how to qualify to play in this event in 7 years!

That in itself is a long story. The short end of the story is that my journey to the 2008 U.S. Women's Open sent me to find a support team of the best golf coaches, sports psychologists, spiritualists, trainers, etc., that helped me attain my goal.

What I came to learn during the entire process was that I didn't neccessarily enjoy competing! I really dreaded getting up early and playing in tournaments with the county ladies. Once I was out playing I was fine, but I really didn't have the heart of a competitor. It was okay if I didn't win! In fact, I very rarely tried to win! I just wanted to play my shots the best I could, and what the score was... that's what it was!

But what I LOVED while practicing and playing was showing people how to create shots. I loved watching others play well!  I knew that this journey to the open wasn't about me playying in it; it was about what I would do AFTER 2008. I have the heart of a COACH. That is the spirit of the game for me. 

I did go to the U.S. Women's Open Qualifier and participated as a player. I was able to use that round as:

1) The final lap to my 7 year journey
2) My score qualified me to turn professional and enter the LPGA Teaching & Coaching Division.  I did it!  I had made my goal!

Funny, when I began the golf journey to Interlachen CC in Edina MN for 2008, I was doing it to prove something. I don't know who I was trying to prove anything to, nor do I really know WHAT I was trying to prove. But I dedicated my entire life for 7 years to do it!  But by the end, I was a completely different person with a new future. I was a better person, who was no longer needing to prove anything to anyone, but wanting to impart all of the lessons I learned, and from the best in the world, to those younger that do have the heart of a competitor.

I started playing golf at the age of 37. I turned professional at the age of 44, and when I turn 50 I will retire from the Fire Department as a Engineer Driver operator firefighter and travel full-time with my players and prepare them for their qualifiers and tournaments!

So that is why I chose to become a teacher. I have the heart of a coach, and for me, the spirit of the game is creating shots and showing others how to play their best! If you aren't true to your spirit of the game, will not be successful. You will not be at your peak performance.  So, I am a coach. :))

Oh! And I did go to Interlachen CC for the 2008 U.S. Womens Open, not as a player, but as a coach!  

I was lucky enough to participate in a coaching seminar during the Open with my teachers, Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. It was wonderful!  They were working with several players in the Tournment and all of us coaches were sent out on to the course to observe 3 players each day, then come back together and discuss what we each observed.

It was wonderful training for me as a coach! No, I never played Interlachen. But the original journey turned out to never be about playing! It was about coaching.

Enjoy your day, and happy 1-putts!

Mary~

You can contact Mary Paulson, LPGA Coaching Professional at:

Total Approach® Coaching
Site Director, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of El Cajon
(619) 414-4495
http://www.totalapproachcoaching.com
http://elcajonlugg.blogspot.com
and, of course, through LinkedIn!


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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Does the 2011 PGA Tour season start in Kapalua or Torrey Pines?

With neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson starting their respective golf season until the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and with a lack of "star power" in Kapalua, will the kick-off at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions become a non-event?

 

The Hyundai Tournament of "Champions", the PGA Tour's season-opener, will be short several winners including Mickelson (Masters), Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) and the big talk of the 2010 golf world, Lee Westwood. Three out of the four major's champions will not be in Hawaii at an event meant to bring them all together for the kickoff of the season.

 

Tiger Woods did not win a single event in 2010 and therefore was not invited to the season opener. Woods' return to Torrey Pines was carefully thought out as Tiger has won the last five events he has played there, including a U.S. Open.

 

Woods and Mickelson were more visible in tabloids and in tweets than on the leaderboard last year. Tiger's indiscretions overpowered his golf skills and Phil's (and family) medical problems overshadowed his single win at The Masters Tournament. The void left from both top PGA Tour golfers has golf fans searching for new heroes during the 2011 season.

 

At least 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell will dazzle the crowd and show off his new Srixon golf equipment. "The golf ball is probably one of the things that attracted me most," said McDowell. "I felt like it was a golf ball I could get to the next level with."

 

McDowell is ready to perform in 2011 stating, "I want to maintain this World Ranking and prove that I'm a world-class player." 

 

Ernie Els will be in attendance as well as Geoff Ogilvy, whose 7:1 odds make him a favorite to win.

 

There will be a slew of terrific golfers this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions but the PGA Tour is going to have to pull a rabbit out of its hat in order to interest more viewers without relying on Woods or Mickelson to set the pace or the 2011 season may not pick up speed until it gets to Torrey Pines.

 

Credit

 

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

How to avoid a snowball effect in your golf swing.

With the New Year upon us, golfers thoughts turn to fervid resolutions of more purposeful practice with the hopeful results showing through fewer strokes and a lower handicap.

 

Work and life get in the way and, for golfers who had glitches in their golf swing from the start, it is inevitable that those inconsistencies will creep back into the swing. Practicing the basics of the golf swing can save your season and can stop a small swing flaw from turning into into a swing hitch.

 

Golf for Beginners presents excerpts from an article by Brant Kasbohm, PGA Director of Instruction for FixYourGame.com called "The Snowball Effect".

 

What better way to start a New Year than with the fundamentals of a good golf swing?

 

The Snowball Effect, By Brant Kasbohm

 

We all know how (in our lives) one bad decision can breed others, or how one small white lie can lead to more & bigger ones. Such is true in the golf swing. One minor flaw in any of the core fundamentals will only compound and grow as you swing the club. This is the snowball effect—think of the cartoons of the snowball rolling down a hill getting bigger and bigger as it continues to roll. The problem (both snowball and golf swing) gets bigger and bigger the farther it goes.

 

So how do you stop the snowball from rolling when it comes to your swing?

 

You have to focus on the core fundamentals—grip, posture, alignment (aka G.A.S.P.). Most people grip the club poorly (commonly known as a weak grip) with the club in the palms of the hand. This limits the flexibility in your wrists and forearms, which inhibits your release of the club, which causes an open club-face, which causes a slice. People also have bad posture, with their spines crooked, and out of balance. This limits the flexibility and inhibits the torso rotation which reduces club-head speed, and can cause an outside-to-in swing path, which also causes a slice. To correct these flaws, people aim farther to the left to allow for the slice, and guess what happens? The farther left you aim, the more the ball slices. This is how the snowball effect works in golf. I’ve seen this happen hundreds of times.

 

Read the full article and view videos on FixYourGame.com

 

"Mr. Kasbohm's instruction philosophy focuses on the core fundamentals of grip, posture, alignment, weight transfer, and acceleration. These fundamentals are not sexy or exciting, but provide a solid foundation for a repeatable golf swing." FixYourGame.com

 

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