This is Part Two of Gedman’s Series, “The Frost Delay: A Winter Golf Survival Plan.” Click here to read Part 1.
When I was in high school I used to carry an old Wilson Staff 4 wood with a ridiculously whippy aluminum shaft. I loved it because I could hit a big, high 215-yard fade that would check in a couple feet or a low bullet hook that would often roll out north of 250 yards (that was a big poke in the days of the Maxfli HT). Looking back, I might have been way ahead of the curve on this whole hybrid thing, but I digress.
The actual point of this anecdote is what this 4 wood did to the ceiling of my childhood bedroom. I’m not sure if this was just the club I always grabbed when I was working on my swing or if the Staff’s black paint just left the most convincing marks, but my ceiling looked like pit row at a NASCAR track. In fact, I still blame my tendency to go flat on my parent’s lack of foresight in not building 9 foot ceilings into my childhood bedroom, which brings us neatly to the first thing I learned when trying to put my indoor hitting area together.
Make sure you have enough space to do it.
After a couple dings and mild cussings from my normally lovely wife, I swiftly realized that there is no place in my current house that I can safely swing anything longer than a wedge. On to plan B. My business is headquartered in an old barrel building in downtown Kansas City with 20 foot ceilings. We have a 5000 square foot room we use for video production, making it the perfect candidate for my range. But using shared space came with its on batch of problems: I needed a net that was large enough to catch any ball fired at it (the last thing I need is a drunk intern shanking an 8 iron off a 25K camera lens) and portable enough that I can bag it in five minutes.
I started by shopping at my usual local haunts (Golf Galaxy, Edwin Watts and Golfsmith), and both had a pretty limited selection in-store. After taking my search online I quickly landed on something called the Izzo Giant Hitting net on ebay.
This thing is, in fact, giant. I’m not sure that I needed to go this big (the poles are easily 20 feet before you bend them to shape), but like I said, while space wasn’t a limitation, catching moron shanks was. It goes up and down in under 5, so all in all, the net felt like a win. When it arrived via UPS we were in the middle of an Indian Summer, so I set it up in my driveway. I quickly ran to Target to grab a mat (for $15) and grabbed a wedge to hit a couple warm up shots. It took me two balls (and the resulting pain they sent up my tendinitis-prone elbow) to realize that a mat from Target wasn’t even a short-term solution.
Assuming that I wasn’t the first person to find this a problem, I popped on the old internets in an attempt to dig a bit deeper into hitting mats. Truth be told, I had never even considered the fact that there were different kind of mats — I thought it was a one-size fits all kind of thing. Wow, was I ever wrong. Nets go from $15 on ebay to thousands of dollars from several specialty manufacturers. Some are large enough to take over a backyard, some are as little as the strip I bought from target.
My research told me that I need something sturdy enough so that it wouldn’t move when I hit it, soft enough that it wouldn’t destroy my joints and engineered well enough that I’d get realistic feedback on fat shots. In addition, I knew that I needed it to be portable (and not $500).
I settled in on a two-mat system from a company called Birdie Ball. By all accounts, their birdieturf mat system met all my needs and was available on Amazon for $100. It arrived a couple days ago and it’s almost perfect. My only complaint is its interaction with 8-PW — it’s a bit on the firm side. It was an easy problem to fix, though.
While searching for mats, I had previously come across the Real Feel Country Club Elite mats. As a single solution, they didn’t quite work for me (not super portable and they were a bit out of my price range), but after digging down on the page, I noticed that they sell 10-inch by 30-inch hitting strips for $46. This worked out as a perfect solution for two reasons: First off, the interaction with the turf on this mat with wedges is significantly more realistic, and second, by setting this on the inside of the dual mat Birdieturf setup, I can move through my golf bag without ever having to move the foot mat. All in all, I’m extremely happy with the setup, and after some clever shopping came it at under $250 (without shipping).
Now I’m just waiting for it to cool down again as I’m binging on as much fall golf as I can right now. I’m hitting the ball better than I have in years, and I’m finally seeing the results of my swing changes translate to better scoring. My last two rounds have been a respectable 77 and 78 with plenty of shots left out on the course.
Next column: Developing a golf-specific workout for a dude that hates working out.
Fantasy Preview: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open
There is a sense that this is the week where the 2018 PGA Tour season truly gets underway. An iconic golf course playing host to a world class field, which includes none other than Tiger Woods. Last year, Jon Rahm won the event in sparkling fashion, draining a monster eagle putt on the 18th green to take the title by three strokes at 13-under par.
With a top field usually on show here, it’s no surprise that the role of honor list is so impressive. Besides Tiger Woods having won the event a remarkable seven times, the likes of Snedeker (twice), Jason Day and Bubba Watson have all won here in recent years — the only surprise victor in the past seven editions being Scott Stallings in 2014. With this being his first event of 2018, Tiger will grab the headlines no matter what happens, and I think every golf fan will be fascinated to see how the 14-time major winner will perform on a course he dearly loves.
The event is played over two courses on the opening two days, Torrey Pines (South) and Torrey Pines (North) before switching to the South Course for the final two days. The South Course is a real test, measuring more than 7,500 yards and usually with thick rough. The shorter North Course offers up the best opportunity for scoring, which adds pressure to each player’s solo trip here during the week. There is even a difference on the greens, as the South Course uses Poa Annua while the North Course has Bentgrass.
Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)
- Jon Rahm 8/1
- Rickie Fowler 12/1
- Hideki Matsuyama 14/1
- Justin Rose 16/1
- Jason Day 18/1
- Tiger Woods 22/1
- Marc Leishman 22/1
On such a long golf course such as the South Course here at Torrey Pines, there is no doubt that length off the tee is important. But the ability to find the fairway is equally so. It was a surprise that up until last year Justin Rose (16/1, DK Price $10,600 ) had never displayed his best golf at Torrey Pines, but a T4 in 2017 shows that at long last he may have finally figured out the course.
The usually reliable Rose ranks sixth in this field for Strokes Gained Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds and third in Strokes Gained Total. With limited birdie opportunities available, certainly on the South Course, I expect Par-5 scoring to be crucial this week… and Justin is a player with the ability to eat up Par 5’s. He sits fourth in Strokes Gained on Par 5’s in this field over his last 24 rounds. Performance on Par 4’s in the range of 450-500 yards should also prove vital with both courses containing five holes each in this range. Rose is 15th in Efficiency on holes of this length and sixth in Strokes Gained on all par 4’s in his last 24 rounds.
Rose made an important birdie on his final hole last Friday to make the cut in Abu-Dhabi, and in doing so seemed to shake off some of the rust in his game over the weekend. The current Olympic Champion shot bogey-free rounds of 67 and 69 over the weekend, giving him good momentum for this week. Rose finished ninth in Driving Distance last week and 10th in Driving Accuracy. If he can replicate that sort of form with the driver, then he should be able to give himself an excellent chance come Sunday afternoon.
The Farmers Insurance Open is an event which Tony Finau (35/1, DK Price $8,700 ) seemingly loves. In three appearances, he’s improved each time with finishes of T24, T18 and most recently T4. His reliable Tee to Green game is a key factor behind his joy at Torrey Pines. Finau ranks 11th in this field in Strokes Gained Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds and ninth in Strokes Gained Approach. On the important 450-500 yard Par-4 range, he sits 13th in Efficiency over the same period. The long hitter also excels on the Par 5’s. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks third in this field for Strokes Gained on Par 5’s. As usual with Finau, the question mark surrounds his putting. But he seems to be a little more comfortable on the greens at Torrey Pines, where he has gained strokes over the field on the greens in all three previous visits here.
If you’re looking for reliability in your DraftKings lineups this week, then it’s hard to look past Charles Howell III (45/1, DK Price $8,300 ). In his last five trips to Torrey Pines, the Augusta native has finishes of T9-T37-T5-T16-T2 with a career Strokes Gained Total of +39 here. DraftKings players using Charles this week will also be glad to know that he has never missed the cut at this event in 15 visits. He scores very well on the key statistics for the week, suggesting another high finish may be in the offing.
Howell III is fourth in this field over his last 24 rounds on Par 4’s between 450-500 yards, while he’s 19th in Strokes Gained on Par 5’s in this same period. He is also trending upward in 2018, finishing T32 at the Sony Open and T20 at CareerBuilder last week. It would hardly be a shock to see Charles post his best finish of 2018 at a site he loves, and if he is ever to win again it would probably be less surprising to see him do it at Torrey Pines than anywhere else.
In terms of value down the board, J.J. Spaun (90/1, DK Price $7,500) jumped out right away at being a little undervalued this week. It seems like Torrey Pines is a good fit for the California native. Last year he finished an impressive T9 on his debut. It also seems like Spaun is hitting the ball better than ever at the moment. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks ninth in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, seventh in Ball Striking, fourth in Approaching the Green and seventh in Strokes Gained Total — excellent statistics that he will be eager to see manifest into positive results soon. Spaun is sixth in Par 4’s ranging between 450-500 yards over his last 24 rounds and is also very competent on Par 5’s, where he sits 21st over the same period. At a price of $7,500, there seems to be good value in adding Spaun to your DraftKings line up this week.
- Justin Rose 16/1, DK Price $10,600
- Tony Finau 35/1, DK Price $8,700
- Charles Howell III 45/1, DK Price $8,300
- J.J. Spaun 90/1, DK Price $7,500
More Distance Off the Tee (Part 1 of 3): Upper Body Training
If you read my previous story, Tour Pro’s Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up, you are well aware of the fact that improving your upper body power is one of three sure ways to increase your distance off the tee. If you have not, I strongly suggest you check it out to gain some context about what is to follow and what is critical for your golf game.
Through our testing and the testing done of many of the industry leaders in golf performance, we have found that the ability of golfers to generate “push power” from their upper body is critical to maximize efficiency and speed in the swing. The way that you can test your power is simple. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your back on the chair, chest pass with both hands a 6-pound medicine ball as far as you can. When you compare this to your vertical jump as described in More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training Plan, the number in feet you threw the ball should be relatively close to your jump in inches.
If you threw the ball and it went 5 feet, you have an upper body power problem. If you threw the ball 25 feet and jumped only 14 inches, your upper body is not the problem — you probably need to focus on your lower body. It’s not rocket science once you understand what you are looking for. What can be challenging is knowing how to improve your power once you identify a problem. That is where the rest of this article comes in. What I am going to outline below are three of the most common upper body power exercises that we use with our amateur, senior and professional golfers.
The key with any power training exercise is to make sure you are as rested as possible between sets so that you can be as explosive as possible for the repetitions. Try not to do more than 6 repetitions in a set to assure that each one is as fast and explosive as possible.
Med Ball Chest Pass on Wall
This is one of the most basic exercises there is for developing upper body push power. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and don’t be afraid to use your legs to help maximize the punishment you deliver to against the wall!
Med Ball Wall Ball
Watching the video, you may be scratching you head and wondering why this is in the upper body power article when clearly the athlete is using his legs. The reason is that in the golf swing, power starts with the legs.
Med Ball Sky Chest Throws
This one is simple. Laying on your back, all you need to do is push the ball up as high as you can, catch it on the way down and the explode it back up into the air as high as you can. If you incorporate this exercise into your routine even once a week, you will see huge gains in your ability to swing faster if this was a problem area for you.
That being said, power creation requires not only speed but also strength development. It is also important that you have a solid strength program to increase your ability to generate more force. While this is beyond the scope of this article, finding yourself a solid golf fitness expert will help you create your ideal program.
GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience
Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.
Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!
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