As we celebrate Memorial Day and thank those who have served both past and present, it seems timely that we talk about how the golf world shows its support of service members and their families. One such organization is Caddy For A Cure, which has just launched a new program called Operation Warrior Golf.
Operation Warrior Golf’s mission is to offer wounded warriors and active duty service members the opportunity to use state-of-the-art teaching technology to receive free professional golf instruction. With the help of V1 Sports, a digital media technology and sports motion analysis company, Operation Warrior Golf is able to give virtual lessons wherever a student is located.
“This new platform allows me to be able to give lessons on the go from wherever I am, and more importantly, from wherever they are,” said Russ Holden, CEO of Caddy for a Cure. “It’s the perfect tool for enabling us to achieve our goal of benefiting many more warriors than we’re currently reaching with this great game of golf.”
Caddy For A Cure was created by Holden, who has spent more than 25 years teaching and caddying on the PGA Tour. The organization offers the chance to walk next to the greatest names in the world of golf at a sanctioned PGA Tour event. Since the beginning, Caddy For A Cure has been committed to helping others through the game of golf. It is a not-for-profit organization helping others through children and families affected by Fanconi anemia (a genetic disorder that most commonly leads to cancer), Birdies for the Brave, the PGA Tour player’s charity, the PGA Tour host site charity and the PGA Tour Caddy Assistance Fund. It is impressive that 100 percent of the proceeds raised by Caddy For A Cure go directly to charity. Offering unforgettable memories to service members during the years has been very rewarding for Holden, but he still wanted to offer more.
Teaching has come naturally to Holden, who has has coached two-time Masters Champion Bernhard Langer and is a PGA Class A Professional and former head professional at Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla. He has always felt golf is a great therapeutic vehicle and has used the V1 teaching platform for a number of years with some of the best golfers in the world as well as his warrior students. The price of bringing in service members and setting them up with lessons and lodging can easily add up, and the high costs and logistics have always been problems limiting Holden.
Holden contacted V1 Sports to explain his idea. As Gary Palis, vice president of V1 Sports explained, his company was more than happy to say yes.
“We have been supporters of Caddy For A Cure since its inception nearly 12 years ago,” he said. “We have watched the good that they do for so many and when Russ called about this new mission, we could not say ‘yes’ fast enough. We are proud to support this PGA Professional and his drive to assist our brave wounded warriors and active duty servicemen and women serving overseas.”
Through use of the V1 Golf App, Holden can give virtual lessons to a limitless number of students that he would otherwise be unable to reach. V1’s software can be used with any compatible smartphone. A warrior or service member can send a video of their golf swing and have it analyzed. So, students are not just getting a free golf lesson, they are getting true, professional instruction from a PGA professional.
Through Caddy For A Cure and now Operation Warrior Golf, Holden and his team are not only sharing their knowledge and love of the game, they are giving back to those who have given so much for all of us.
You can find out more about Caddy For A Cure and Operation Warrior Golf at: www.caddyforacure.com/operationwarriorgolf
The Wedge Guy: What you CAN learn from tour pros
I have frequently noted how the game the PGA Tour players play is, in most ways, a whole different game than we “mere mortal” recreational golfers play. They hit their drivers miles it seems. Their short games are borderline miraculous. And they get to play from perfect bunkers and putt on perfect greens every single week. And it lets them beat most courses into submission with scores of 20-plus under par.
The rest of us do not have their strength, of course, nor do we have the time to develop short game skills even close to theirs. And our greens are not the perfect surfaces they enjoy, nor do we have caddies, green-reading books, etc. So, we battle mightily to shoot our best scores, whether that be in the 70s, 90s, or higher.
There is no question that most PGA Tour players are high-level athletes, who train daily for both body strength and flexibility, as well as the specific skills to make a golf ball do what they intend it to. But even with all that, it is amazing how bad they can hit it sometimes and how mediocre (for them) the majority of their shots really are — or at least they were this week.
Watching the Wells Fargo event this weekend, you could really see how their games are – relatively speaking – very much like ours on a week-to-week basis.
What really stood out for me as I watched some of this event was so few shots that were awe-inspiring and so many that were really terrible. Rory even put his win in jeopardy with a horrible drive on the 18th, but a very smart decision and a functional recovery saved him. (The advantage of being able to muscle an 8-iron 195 yards out of deep rough and a tough lie is not to be slighted).
Of course, every one of these guys knocks the flag down with approach shots occasionally, if not frequently, but on a longer and tougher golf course, relative mediocrity was good enough to win.
If we can set these guys’ power differences aside, I think we all can learn from watching and seeing that even these players hit “big uglies” with amazing frequency. And that the “meat” of their tee-to-green games is keeping it in play when they face the occasional really tough golf course like Quail Hollow. Do you realize less than 20 of the best players in the world beat par for those 72 holes?
It has long been said that golf is a game of misses, and the player who “misses best” is likely to be “in the hunt” more often than not, and will win his or her share. That old idiom is as true for those of us trying to break 100 or 90 or 80 as it is for the guys trying to win on the PGA Tour each week.
Our “big numbers” happen for the same reasons as theirs do – a simply terrible shot or two at the wrong time. But because we do not have anywhere near their short game and recovery skills, we just do not “get away with” our big misses as frequently as they do.
So, what can you take away from that observation? I suggest this.
Play within your own reliable strength profile and skill set. Play for your average or typical shot, not your very best, whether that is a drive, approach shot, or short game recovery. And don’t expect a great shot to follow a bad one.
If, no, when you hit the “big miss,” accept that this hole can get away from you and turn into a double or worse, regroup, and stop the bleeding, so you can go on to the next hole.
We can be pretty darn sure Rory McIlroy was not thinking bogey on the 18th tee but changed his objective on the hole once he saw the lie his poor drive had found. It only took a bogey to secure his win, so that became a very acceptable outcome.
There’s a lesson for all of us in that.
Ways to Win: Horses for Courses – Rory McIlroy rides the Rors to another Quail Hollow win
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: Rory McIlroy wins at Quail Hollow. The new father broke his winless streak at a familiar course on Mother’s Day. McIlroy has been pretty vocal about how he is able to feed off the crowd and plays his best golf with an audience. Last week provided a familiar setting in a venue he has won twice before and a strong crowd, giving McIlroy just what he needed to break through and win again. A phenomenal feat given that, not long ago, he seemed completely lost, chasing distance based on Bryson DeChambeau’s unorthodox-but-effective progress. McIlroy is typically a player who separates himself from the field as a premier driver of the golf ball, however this week it was his consistency across all areas that won the tournament.
Using the Strokes Gained Stacked view from V1 Game shows that Rory actually gained the most strokes for the week in putting. Not typically known as a phenomenal putter, something about those Quail Hollow greens speaks to McIlroy where he finished the week third in strokes gained: putting (red above). He also hit his irons fairly well, gaining more than 3.6 strokes for the week on a typical PGA Tour field. Probably the most surprising category for McIlroy was actually driving, where he gained just 1.3 strokes for the week and finished 18th in the field. While McIlroy is typically more accurate with the driver, in this case, he sprayed the ball. Strokes gained: driving takes into account distance, accuracy, and the lie into which you hit the ball. McIlroy’s driving distance was still elite, finishing second in the field and averaging more than 325 yards as measured . However, when he missed, he missed in bad spots. McIlroy drove into recovery situations multiple times, causing lay-ups and punch-outs. He also drove into several bunkers causing difficult mid-range bunker shots. So, while driving distance is a quick way to add strokes gained, you have to avoid poor lies to take advantage and, unfortunately, McIlroy hurt himself there. This was particularly apparent on the 72nd hole where he pull-hooked a 3-wood into the hazard and almost cost himself the tournament.
It’s rare that a player wins a tour event without a truly standout category, but McIlroy won this week by being proficient in each category with a consistent performance. From a strokes gained perspective, he leaned on his putting, but even then, he had four three-putts on the week and left some room for improvement. He gained strokes from most distances but struggled on the long ones and from 16-20 feet. Overall, we saw good progress for McIlroy to putt as well as he did on the week.
McIlroy also had a good week with his irons, routinely giving himself opportunities to convert birdies where he tied for seventh-most in the field. When he did miss with his irons, he tended to miss short from most distances. His proximity to the hole was quite good, averaging below 30 feet from most distance buckets. That is surely a recipe to win.
When you add it all up, McIlroy showed little weakness last week. He was proficient in each category and relied on solid decision-making and routine pars while others made mistakes on the weekend. Sometimes, there is no need to be flashy, even for the best in the world. It was good to see McIlroy rejoin the winner’s circle and hopefully pull himself out from what has been a bit of a slump. Golf is better when McIlroy is winning.
If you want to build a consistent game like Rors, V1 Game can help you understand your weaknesses and get started on a journey to better golf. Download in the app store for free today.
Club Junkie: Fujikura MC Putter shaft review and cheap Amazon grips!
Fujikura’s new MC Putter shafts are PACKED with technology that you wouldn’t expect in a putter shaft. Graphite, metal, and rubber are fused together for an extremely consistent and great feeling putter shaft. Three models to fit any putter stroke out there!
Grips are in short supply right now, and there are some very cheap options on Amazon. I bought some with Prime delivery, and they aren’t as good as you would think.
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