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How low can you go?

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An anonymous pro golfer commented on one of my articles last month (What score makes you happy?) saying that he’d once shot a 60 and hadn’t been aware of his score at all while he was playing the round.

Since I’m no pro golfer, at any point of the 18 holes I can usually tell you pretty accurately how many birdies I’ve had that day, though granted, it doesn’t take too long to count to zero.

But it got me wondering about low scores, and how low can you go.

“I had a 76 last year. That’s my personal best,” Kenny told me around the driving range at Anaheim Hills. “I was just unconscious. I’ve only broken 80 three times in my life, so far.”

“I had 12 pars and shot an 83 once,” said Bill, while shielding his face from the sun with his arm as he waited to tee off at Marshal Canyon one Saturday morning. “Can you imagine how badly I had to play on the other 6 holes to shoot 83?”

“It wasn’t my lowest round ever but the first time I broke 90, I had to make a birdie on 18 for 89,” Manny told me over his hot dog in the snack bar at Griffith Park.

“You talk about pressure. My friend told me on the 18th tee I needed birdie. It was at Los Serranos South, the long par-5, but we were playing the white tees. Hit my third shot on to about 15 feet and made the putt. It was in from the second I hit it; the putt was perfect. I was dancing around the green.”

“I had 62 once,” and I looked kind of incredulous at the quite overweight 60 year old who I thought maybe was telling me how many donut holes he’d eaten this week. “Seriously, a 62. Course it was a 4-man scramble, but it was still fun to go that low,” and as he laughed his belly shook.

“My low net was a 63 in a tournament once,” Devin told me at the driving range. “People were saying I was a sandbagger but I just had one of those days; shot a 75 playing off a 12 handicap. I got what’s called an ‘exceptional tournament score.’”

That is exceptional, I said. “I haven’t shot another 75 since that round,” he answered, shaking his head. “The next tournament my handicap was 3 strokes lower and that time I think I had a 75 net.”

Six times on the PGA Tour a pro golfer has broken 60. Those competition-record 59s were rewarded with cash and admiration, not a handicap penalty. But how do you shoot a score that low?

“I got off to a good start one day last summer,” Arturo told me at Montebello Country Club. “I was 2-under through six holes, made the turn at 1-under and I was still under par through the 13th hole. On No. 14 I hit a great drive, then nearly shanked my second shot out of bounds. Finished with a 74 and I was pissed all day until I realized that it was still my best round ever. But I’m still upset about that shot, really… the worst shot I hit all year and it came during the best round I ever played. Strange.”

“I broke 100 for the first time last year,” Adam said while practicing his putting at La Quinta. “I’ve only been playing for two years and this summer I’m going to break 90.” He said it with the optimism of someone who still thinks golf can be mastered.

“I remember the first time I broke 80,” Larry told me in the coffee shop at Indian Hills. “I didn’t even know it until after I added it up. I knew I had a good round going and I was nervous over the 5-footer for bogey on 18. If I had known it was for 79 there’s no way I would have made it.”

I asked him if that was his best round.

“No, that was a few years ago. I’m a 9 now so I’m in the 70s pretty often. Had a couple of 75s last year, and a 73 two years ago, that was my best,” he added. “My dream is to shoot even par. My fantasy is to break par someday.”

A stooped man with silver hair was hitting long putts from one side of the practice green to the other at Griffith Park. I figured if he’d broken 90 he’d have a story to tell me.

“A 64,” he said, and I guess I looked surprised. “I had a slew of ‘em. I golfed all my life — I only putt now. I putt every day until I make one from one side of the putting green to the other. Some days it takes longer than others.”

His name is Stan. “I shot in the 60s pretty often. It was a bad day if I wasn’t at least at par. There were some great players around then,” and he mentioned a couple of names that I didn’t recognize.

“We used to play all over, but the first 64 was at Hacienda. It was in 1951, we played a lot after the war and those were good times.” I asked if he remembered any of the shots from his first 64. “Like it was yesterday. There was no drama to the end though, we’d already won the match. We were playing against some hot-shot lawyer and his partner I can’t remember — took home some good money. My guy Bill was good that day too; we would play anybody, anywhere.”

“The 64?” I asked.

“Yep, I don’t know how many of ‘em I had, there was a bunch. Never shot a 63. A couple of ‘em could have been better, but I wasn’t playing for the score, I was playing to win.”

Just like that anonymous pro, I realized.

What’s your lowest round ever and what was it like?

Let us know in the comments section below and read the first chapters of Tom Hill’s humorous golf book, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth 18 Holes of Golf in Pursuit of the Round of a Lifetime, at 7-ironpress.com. Get free shipping on the paperback with the code GOLFWRX, or $4 off the e-book when you enter the code GOLFWRX1 at check-out.

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Tom Hill is a 9.7 handicap, author and former radio reporter. Hill is the author of the recently released fiction novel, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, a humorous golf saga of one player’s unexpected attempt to shoot a score he never before thought possible. Kirkus Reviews raved about A Perfect Lie, (It) “has the immediacy of a memoir…it’s no gimme but Hill nails it square.” (kirkusreviews.com). A Perfect Lie is available as an ebook or paperback through 7-ironpress.com and the first three chapters are available online to sample. Hill is a dedicated golfer who has played more than 2,000 rounds in the past 30 years and had a one-time personal best handicap of 5.5. As a freelance radio reporter, Hill covered more than 60 PGA and LPGA tournaments working for CBS Radio, ABC Radio, AP Audio, The Mutual Broadcasting System and individual radio stations around the country. “Few knew my name and no one saw my face,” he says, “but millions heard my voice.” Hill is the father of three sons and lives with his wife, Arava Talve, in southern California where he chases after a little white ball as often as he can.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Joe

    Aug 10, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    My lowest score ever is a 67, an extremely good iron round and I didn’t have too many putts over 16 feet. That was in 1983 when I was a 2 handicap.
    Since that time I have had only 2 or 3 sub 72 rounds. Now in my twilight years (75 years old) and playing to a 12, sub par rounds are only a memory and could only happen on a putt-putt course.
    Damn that Windmill hole.

  2. stephenf

    Jun 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Lowest score was 64, but it was mostly just good midrange-to-long putting. Didn’t hit it any better that day than most days, and actually sort of scraped it around on some of the holes, but it was a nonpenal golf course, frankly, so you could go miss-miss-putt for birdie a lot (by “miss,” I mean “miss” for a scratch player, which I was). Miss the drive into the scraggly, sparse rough, get lucky enough for some kind of lie, blade it out of there on the green, make a 25-footer, or whatever. The score was more or less a fluke, and not a “best” round, really.

    Later, as a plus-2, I did have a few 65s (very few — I was more of the steady 69-70 shooter rather than the 63 one day and 78 the next) and quite a few 66s and 67s. I remember one 65 in a tournament fairly well — hitting it OK off the tee, not awesome, but good enough, and hitting it pretty well with the irons. Closed with a disappointing miss on the 17th from 12 feet for eagle after a 250-yard 2-iron (not all that awesome — it was well-hit, but with the old standard Wilson Staffs, sort of hard in front of the green…well-judged, hit solidly, and on line, I guess, but it’s not like I flew it 250 and stuck it by the hole), then hit 9-iron to about four feet above the hole on #18 and saw two breaks, had to make a decision…still kinda proud of that make.

    One more, a 66 I’m still pissed about: Again in a tournament round, started out (no kidding) seven under after the first six holes, hit it at least as well from that point to the end of the round and never made another putt. Had a shot at 28 on the front nine until I missed a sidehill three-footer for par on #8 and then a five-footer for birdie on #9. Missed about four from inside 7-8 feet on the back nine for birdie. Just disgusting. I really felt like a 60 or even 59 was coming that day, felt good all day, hit every putt exactly like I wanted, but they just stopped dropping. Sometimes it works out like that. Years and years later, I still hate it, but that’s golf. (I still contend that for six holes, I might’ve been playing better than anybody in the world that day. Can’t disprove it, so it must be true. 😉 )

  3. Martin

    May 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    My best round is +4 to par, a 75 on a par 71 and last summer a 76 on our par 72 course.

    The 75 was a few years ago, teed up on 17 +1 with a short par 3 and a relatively easy par 5 18th. 3 putt bogey on 17, teed off on 18 with a 3w to play safe, pushed it a bit didn’t have a full swing. Punch it down the fw, had exactly 300 yards into the green, perfect 3H. Hit one of the alltime worst shots ever, 130 yards and 80 yards offline.

    Made a double for a 75.

    Last summer playing with 3 guys I work with, sloppy front including 2 doubles, 41, birdies 10 and then made 8 pars for a 35 on the back.

  4. Ryan

    May 22, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I find the notion that people can finish and round and not know how many under they are just crazy. I’ve tried my very hardest to immerse myself in the shot at hand for 18 straight holes and I haven’t found the secret yet. It’s just so exhausting.

    Personal low is 62 on a par 70, but shot 63 on a par 72 in college. I was in the zone on both rounds but still knew where I was to par, just didn’t “care”. A few beers probably helped in both cases.

    I’ve shot 30 twice for nine, both with excellent opportunities to put up the magical 29, and couldn’t do either. First time I came to the 18th -7 after 8 on the back (par 36), short par 5, got it down by the green in two, skulled a chip, chunked another, then got up and down for 30. Still burns to this day even nine years later. Second time was a par 35, came to the ninth -5 and needing birdie for 29, hit it to 8ft and lipped out the putt. That one doesn’t hurt because I didn’t choke.

    Realizing over the last couple years that I need serious work on my mental game to have these kind of rounds happen more often, not just once a decade.

  5. Sean D

    May 21, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I was 18 years old in 1998. My dad was the superintendent of the course where I grew up so I played there every day and worked for him on the course. I was like a 5 handicap at the time. I think my lowest score ever at that point was a 73. Par was 71. Never shot even. It was in the fall in up state NY and they had just finished spiking the greens over a three day period. This was a muni course so there’s still sand all over them and there Bumpy as hell. It was Men’s night at the club which was on a Tuesday. I shot 66 on the worst spiked greens you ever saw. I made every putt. Thinking back about it now it was a joke. I had two bogies that day too. Whenever I go home to visit and play with my dad the old timers who still have coffee at the club every day pull me aside and say “I still remember the day you shot 66 on spiked greens.” 17 years later and these guys in their mid 80’s remember. I won mens night and like $15 bux in pro shop credit. So I’ve got that going for me.

  6. Griiz01

    May 18, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I’m 52 years old. Been playing since I was 5 years old. A lot of good rounds and a lot of bad ones. I’ve been as low as a 1 handicap but with life getting in the way I probably stay around a 9-10 handicap these days. My best rounds are when I’m not thinking. Meaning that I’m not thinking about my swing at all. I will think about where I want to place the ball or even how a shot needs to come off, but I’m never thinking about the swing (the mechanics).

    When I was younger, I thrived on competition, the more pressure you put on me the better I played. I ate it up. I was too young to know better. I didn’t know I was suppose to be nervous or worried. I just knew I was suppose to do all I could to win.

    Now-a-days, I just like going out and enjoying my time on the course. I don’t worry about scores, I just completely enjoy the greatest game ever played by man.

  7. Adam

    May 18, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    One thing I’ve always found interesting. On my best rounds, I haven’t been the one keeping score. Lately, I’ve had some of my better rounds, but certainly not my best, and those rounds have been when I’m keeping meticulous note of stats…FIR, GIR, sand saves if applicable, putts, etc. The rounds that have been my absolute best are the rounds when I’m just along for the ride and don’t keep score other than telling my playing partner what I got on the hole. Anyone have similar experience?

  8. Robert

    May 14, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I shot 62 at my home course Holly Tree CC earlier this year. It tied the course record from the men’s white tees. I didn’t make a birdie until the 5th hole and turned in 3 under. But I got crazy hot on the back nine (29). That was the first time I broke 30 for nine, and I’ve had a lot of close calls. I wasn’t even thinking about going that low until I holed out for eagle on the 16th hole which put me to 8 under. The final two holes are good birdie opportunities, so once I got to -8 I knew today was a great chance to tie or beat the course record. I made birdie on 17 making a really good 10 ft putt. The 18th is a very reachable par 5. I hit a great tee shot and had between 5 and 6 iron to the green. All I could think of was, just hit the green and give yourself a chance. I did get home in two but had probably 60ft for eagle. I hit a good putt to about 4-5ft and somehow rolled that in. Not bad considering I played 14 holes 10 under and par’d two of the four par 5’s. Pretty good feeling that day and I don’t think I’ve been so nervous on a golf course since I first broke 70. Looking back on it I don’t think I was striking the ball any better than usual, it was just a really good day with the putter. I had to make an 8-10ft par save on my second hole. I don’t make that and the whole day is probably changed. I had three other 63’s out there both from the white tees and two from the championship tees, one of them was in a pro-am. I wish I could boil all those rounds down into some kind of secret to going that low but there isn’t. Sometimes it’s just your day and you’re making all the putts, sometimes you just start hitting it close and it seems easy. It’s just golf, you never know what’s going to happen, and I think that’s why we all continue to play again and again.

  9. RG

    May 14, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Wow, people posting here claiming handicaps that obviously don’t know how GHIN works should stop, it’s embarrassing.
    Tom, A Perfect Lie is a good name for your book if your adding some of these replies.

  10. Fiorenzo

    May 14, 2015 at 3:54 am

    74 playing in a mixed golf day with my wife as partner and sharing a cart. At the time I was playing off an 8 handicap. Due to the constant bickering I was not really aware of what was happening till the last few holes which led me to tighten up and possibly loose out on a better score. Now, years later there is not much chance to improve that score although the bickering is still there and going strong.

  11. Ryan J

    May 14, 2015 at 12:32 am

    I’ve shot 68 more than a dozen times and one 66 on a par 70.
    When I shot the 66 I played the first nine in 38 strokes and then finished with a 28 with a bogey. I didn’t even notice how low I was because I was frustrated with a few three putts that first nine and had three or four of those back nine birdies inside five feet.
    That round was the third time I had broken 30 in nine holes but the other two ended at 68 because I got caught up in the score trying to go low.
    In golf, the hardest person to beat is yourself.

  12. Tim

    May 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Personal best is a 74 (par 72), which includes a triple bogey on the first hole, and a double bogey on the second hole. So after starting the round 5 over, I followed it up with my longest stretch of under par golf ever including holing out from a bunker on 17 for a birdie. I knew during the round I would easily best 80 but didn’t want to do the math until after the round because I knew it’s possible I was flirting with even. Prior to that my personal best was 79.

  13. Bob

    May 13, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    74. I hit the ball straight all day, got my chips one-putt close, and sank most of the makable putts I had. There weren’t any miracle shots– just a day of good golf for 18 holes instead of 14 or 15.

  14. Joel

    May 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I have shot 72 twice in my 45+ year golfing career. The interesting thing about each was I pulled off the birdie hat trick on the last 3 holes, 38 out and 34 in. Can only imagine the possible score without a couple of mistakes. I am working to break par this year and move my handicap below 2.0(currently 4.6).

  15. Horace

    May 13, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Shot 70 once (probably a 12+/- HC then). Had an eagle ($25 skin), three birdies, and three bogies in a weekly Sunday 4-5 person BB Tournament on a San Antonio muni with hard-pan and some thin turf. The bogies came on three holes where one competitor beat me to tee box and hit out of turn.

  16. Joe

    May 13, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Dear Stone Thrower,

    An 8 handicap shooting even par should call no one a sand-bagger.

    Signed,

    Glass House

  17. John

    May 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    I have only shot even par for 18 holes twice, but the second time was special. Driver, 5-iron on the 490 yard par five 18th hole for a double eagle for a 72… should have retired from the game right then and there – it doesn’t get much better than that!

    • Craig

      May 14, 2015 at 4:13 am

      What is a double eagle. It is called an albatross.
      Some STUPID yank commentator calls it that. HE is not correct
      -1 is a birdie
      -2 is an eagle
      -3 is an albatross

  18. Sam

    May 13, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    My best is a 78, your wouldnt believe it but I went bogey, double then bogey on my first three holes, I then oplayed that nine in another three over and somehow I shot even on the back nine to shoot my best round to par, (I had a 75 but on a par 68). I noticed that on the back nine I just started to not care and I made two birdies in a row. I went on to place 3rd in the tournament but I know if i hadn’t gone +4 on the first three holes, it could have been and even better day.

    • Bob

      May 13, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      I believe it. You just had your bad holes all at once instead of sprinkling them throughout the round.

  19. Blake

    May 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

    My best is a 62… I was -8 thru 12 and it was a par 70, so you know what crossed my mind… Anyway, the putts stopped dropping and I played par golf in for -8..

  20. Ben

    May 13, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I shot 75 (+3) last summer as a 9 index. Had a great feeling before the round but that quickly faded after bogeying 4 of the first 5 holes. Settled in after that and hit 11/13 greens, made 3 birdies, and shot even par on the back 9. On the last hole I pulled my tee shot way right but then hit my 135yd uphill, blind approach over towering pines to 3 feet. I was almost emotional after tapping in knowing I just played the round of my life.

  21. Paul

    May 13, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Par 73 shot 65 4 times but twice I was -7 after 9 and started thinking 60 choked my way in both times but I think my best round was playing match play a few years back tripled 3 to go 3 over finished eagle,eagle to finish 8 under on 12 no gimmies last eagle holed 8 iron my opponent was just laughing he was more excited then me I think.

  22. Joe

    May 13, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Shot 59 to break my own course record of 62 last year (par 72), club championship, second round of stroke play. It was an interesting round… I demolished an entire pizza in the restaurant in between rounds so I was in a complete food coma, practically unconscious for the front 9 and part of the back. I don’t even remember clearly what I did on those holes. I didn’t realize where I was at until I eagled the 14th, happy to maybe get a skin in our side game and noticed the guys I was playing with looking at me and the scorecard nervously (they know not to say anything if I get something going). I had to ask, they told me I was -12, and I played the most nervous closing 4 holes of my life. Scraped out a birdie on 17, almost blew it on 18 by driving it through the fairway close to water but managed to get it done. One of the biggest achievements of my career and I don’t even remember most of it lol.

    • Progolfer

      May 16, 2015 at 1:30 am

      Great story Joe. I’m the anonymous profesisonal golfer he’s referring to in the beginning of the article. Isn’t it funny that on our career days, we had no idea what was really going on? Everything always slows down when I’m playing well, and I just get so into it and absorbed. That’s the key to success in golf (and life, too)– you get out of your own head and connect with what you’re doing. The rest just takes care of itself… Thanks for sharing your story.

  23. Nate

    May 12, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I was around a 20 handicap until I got serious about my game after graduating from business school two years ago. Last summer, I broke 85 for the first time playing with a coworker at a local metro. I was -1 through 6, even through 8, and finished with an 11 over 83. Was a great round but I am still kicking myself for for playing the final 10 holes at +9. I just started leaking oil on the back 9…spraying the driver all over the place!

  24. Martin

    May 12, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    My best two scores are a 75 on a par 71 slope rating 124 course with a bogey, double finish and a 76 last summer on our par 72/133 course, shot 41/35.

  25. other paul

    May 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Played 9 holes on a local muni. Shot 38, on the 9 hole course. I have never done better then an 84.

  26. RobG

    May 12, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve broken 80 about 6 times but two times really stand out for me.

    I grew up playing golf around guys with money but they only gambled during their men’s league. The summer I turned 19 (legal age in BC) I joined the men’s league and my first night out, the money and prizes were on the back nine. I went out in 38 (+2) and came back in at 35 (-1). I took about $260 in birdie and skins money. Not bad for a 1st impression.

    The second round (same course, same summer) I shot a 76. This one is special because 3 days prior I was sitting on the hood of my brothers car catching a ride up to the house when he gunned it and shook me off as a prank. I was wearing steel toed work boots and couldn’t catch my feet. I landed hard on the dirt driveway and mangled both my hands. I was picking rocks out of my palms for 2 days. I was playing golf with two gloves on packed with gauze and by the end of the the round blood had soaked through both my gloves. I guess the pain kept me from gripping too tight because I hit about 6 of the best shots of my life that day. Karma is a wonderful thing, I took my brother for $60.

  27. Mike

    May 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Broke par through 9 holes for the first time last week then sorta choked on the back. Still my best ever at a +2, 74.

  28. Alex

    May 12, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Last year I made par at my home course (71). My handicap at the time was 8 so I shot 63 net. The best thing was I was +3 on the 10th tee and I made 3 birdies coming home. The bad: I lost by 1 to a sandbagger LOL.

    • RG

      May 14, 2015 at 8:05 am

      You are obviously making this up and have no idea how GHIN works, stop you are embarrassing yourself.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Plenty to be thankful for

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golf course sand bunkers

This has always been my favorite week of the year, well, at least since I got old enough to understand that Christmas gifts do not just “appear” out of nowhere. I think that was about 60 years ago! This is the week of the year where, hopefully, we all take time to ponder the wonderful blessings of our lives.

No matter what 2022 might have brought you, I’m sure you can find at least a handful of blessings to be thankful for. My favorite holiday movie is a 1942 Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film called Holiday Inn. If you haven’t seen it and enjoy old movie musicals, you might make it a “must see” this season. Besides being the movie where the classic White Christmas was introduced, there is a wonderful song for Thanksgiving called Plenty To Be Thankful For. It’s also a favorite of mine.

As I ponder my own year and the 70 years before it, I realize I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for. That starts with my blessing of good health. I find it remarkable to be on the north side of 70 and still have no issues. No prescription drugs. Only one visit to the hospital in my life, the result of a motor scooter incident when I was 13. A fabulous Mom and Dad, small town upbringing. A lifetime of great friends and the blessing of living in a small town on the Texas coast. And most recently, the entry of a great lady into my life that makes it all so very much better.

I have the opportunity to run a fledgling custom wedge company, Edison Golf, which allows me to challenge the entire category with different thinking. And I love writing this column every week to share the many lessons learned and observations made in this 40-year career in the golf club industry.

There are just so many things I cannot list them all. But right there with them is the blessing of the strength and flexibility to still move the golf ball around pretty good. To be able to still play to a low single digit handicap from the regular tees (no ‘senior tees’ for me, thank you), and test courses from the back tees occasionally is fun.
That last blessing comes straight from God, of course, but I “help Him out” by making stretching and fitness a part of my daily regimen for over 30 years. And that is something anyone can do to improve their golf scores.

As we all face the “off season” (even here in South Texas it gets cold and rainy occasionally), you can make the decision to have lower golf scores to be thankful for this time next year. Just because you are cooped up inside for the next few months doesn’t mean you have to forego golf and preparation for next year can begin right now.
I believe flexibility is more crucial to stronger shots and lower scores than strength. A simple internet search can turn up dozens of good guides to stretching for a longer, fuller and stronger golf swing. If you add a bit of endurance and strength training to that, it’s amazing what will happen to your golf fortunes. Nothing more complex than a daily walk and swinging a weighted club daily or several times a week will pay off big dividends when you can get out on a winter golf vacation or next season starts.

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, and I look forward to another year of being able to share my lessons from a lifetime in golf and over 40 years in the golf equipment industry. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship: Betting Tips & Selections

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Is Cam Smith in Oz the Jon Rahm of the Spanish Open?

The recent, dominating T2/winner of the DP World Tour Championship went off at around 9/4 to beat Tommy Fleetwood, Min Woo Lee and company in Madrid in October, eventually sauntering home by six shots and delighting home fans supporting his third win at his home Open.

This week, Smith looks like going off at much bigger (at 7/2) to beat a slightly fuller depth of field, again including Min Woo, to win his third Australian PGA, after going back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.

There is little left to say about the winner of the 150th Open Championship in terms of class, summarised by the run of T2/T10/T3 at the three most recent Masters, as well as wins at the Sony Open, Tournament of Champions and The Players.

Of course, his career year has also been hot with controversy, denying a move to LIV and then vehemently defending his right to join the Greg Norman-led tour a couple of weeks later, but that’s not our concern as bettors. Indeed, look at the way his presence has been received back home.

Smith’s local Brisbane Times reports that the 29-year-old superstar was the first golfer to be awarded the ‘keys to the city’ and will also probably get his desire of a LIV event in Queensland.

He’s huge news back home, and if we are looking back at that Rahm comparison, looks pretty big at over 3/1.

Smith, though, is a grinder, no matter how good of one, and whilst wins have come in decent numbers under par, he tends to win when the short game simply outlasts everyone else in tough conditions. I’m not certain he gets that here, where the winning score was 22-under last time (in January 2022), and examining his impressive victories, it’s worth noting that none of his six PGA Tour victories have been by more than a single shot, with his second Oz PGA by just a stroke further.

You can count the LIV victory as better than I do if you like. No complaints on that score, but following that win he’s gone 42nd and 22nd on LIV – beaten by a lot less a player than he faces this week.

The filthy each-way doubles look certain to be popular, with Smith across the card from Joburg fancies Bezhuidenhout and Lawrence, but in a light betting heat, I’ll take a chance with just a couple of wagers.

Just one outright for me this week.

Golf form site, tour-tips.com  rates Ryan Fox the number one this week, a short-head over Smith, and whilst he isn’t quite that elite class, his form shows he is plenty good enough to beat the favourite on his day, and hasn’t that much to find in comparison to Adam Scott, MIn Woo and Cam Davis, all of whom are rightfully respected and popular.

Fox is easy to precis.

In what has been a stellar season for the always-promising Kiwi, the 35-year-old has improved from around 200th in the world rankings at gthe start of ’22, to a current ranking well inside the world’s top-30, and certain of invites to all the most desired events.

Fox waltzed home by five shots in the desert at Ras Al Khaimah and won again by a stroke at the Dunhill Links, an event including tournament stalwarts Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood. In between, Fox posted eight top-10 finishes including running-up in Belgium, at the Dutch Open, Irish Open and, just a couple of weeks ago, by a shot to Fleetwood and one of the latter’s favourite courses, the Gary Player GC.

Fox went into last week’s DP championship as a live contender for the title, which, given his commitment to the European Tour, would have been richly deserved. Perhaps that’s too political for here, though.

Either way, despite starting slowly in Dubai, he made his way up to 19th after four steadily improving rounds, enough to hold off Rahm from swapping places at the end-of-year rankings.

The silver medal is the least Fox should have got, and with a strong game on the sand-belt and a significant win in Queensland at the QLD PGA in 2018, challenging here should be a formality.

Fox has always had a strong driving game, and finding greens has rarely been an issue. However, he’s now gone from being one of the worst with the flat stick to ranking in the top-10 for putting average at even the toughest of courses.

I have the selection at the same price as Min Woo, who may have needed the run-out when a beaten 6/1 favourite here 11 months ago, so that 14/1 is simply too big to resist, especially as the latter has not won since July last year.

Fox can continue a big year for the Kiwis following Lydia Ko’s brilliant victory and subsequent crowning as this season’s LPGA queen.

The only other wager that appeals as a value pick is defending champion Jediah Morgan over Marc Leishman in a match bet.

Leish is a bit of a hero of mine, but it may sadly be time to give up on him as a serious potential winner in this class.

After a lucrative career, the 39-year-old came off a Covid slump to once again show up at Augusta over the last couple of years, but this has been a poor year.

There have been highlights – top-15 at the U.S Open, maybe – but he played poorly at River Highlands, in an event at which he historically does very well, and followed that with missed cuts at the Scottish Open and Open Championships, and midfield, don’t-write-home-about-it efforts at the first two FedEX play-off events.

Leishman is now at LIV, doing nicely ‘thank you’ and collecting $3 million for doing nothing much. In fact, his individual results gained him less ‘sole’ money than Pat Perez, another who caught onto the coat-tails of his teammates.

Respect to him, but Leishman isn’t going forwards these days, and will need the weather to turn bad if he is going to be able to live with some of these birdie machines.

Count Jediah Morgan as one of those birdie machines.

Although he produced a 100-1 shock in January when winning this event in just his fourth event as a professional, Morgan did it in some style.

The 22-year-old recorded three rounds of 65/63/65 to take a nine shot lead into Sunday, and simply went further clear, crossing the line 11 shots clear of Andrew Dodt, himself with plenty of previous in this grade at home, and a further shot clear of Min Woo.

In 2020 Morgan had won the Australian Amateur around this course, beating Tom McKibbin (see Joburg preview for his chances over there) by 5 & 3, an event that has thrown up Cam Smith amongst other multiple international winners, and whilst he hasn’t shown his best lately, returning to a venue he knows so well should be to his big advantage.

Morgan was one of the surprise signings to LIV Golf, although, as he admits, he “didn’t have much in my schedule,” given his exemption to the DP World Tour didn’t kick in till the 2023 season, plus it gave him the chance to compete at Centurion Club for LIV London – “The field is nice and strong so it’s a cool format to see how I shape up.”

Morgan has played every event since, although mixing it up with sporadic entries and invites onto the PGA, DP and Asian tours do not help a young golfer settle.

His Dunhill Links effort wasn’t bad – a 76 on that horrendous day two the cause of his eventual missed cut – but 25th and 13th at the last two events are as good as Leishman produced at the same events.

Leish has the back-form and the class but looks on the way down, and while the attention of being defending champ could overawe the younger man, he has put up with ‘Golf, but louder’ for a few months now.

I have these much closer than the prices suggest, so take the 8/5 in a match.

Recommended Bets:

  • Ryan Fox 14/1 Each -Way
  • Jediah Morgan to beat Marc Leishman -72 holes – 8/5 
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TourPutt – The secret of the pros?

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Driver vs. Putter: Your Choice?

If you were granted one golf-related superpower, which would you choose? The ability to hit 300-yard drives straight down the fairway all the time, or never 3-putt again?

Bobby Locke, one of the greatest putters in the game, said to ‘drive for show, but putt for dough’ And when you consider that the putter is the most used club in the bag, it seems like a no-brainer. But then again, according to Mark Brodie and his ‘strokes gained’ method, a long, straight driver may be more important to saving strokes. So what would you choose?

For me, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with the putting skills as I am currently suffering from the worst case of yips I’ve ever experienced in over 30 years. Sure, it’d be nice to outdrive the guys in my regular foursome, but I don’t think I can live down the shame of missing inside of 3ft all day, every day. And with no genie in site, I have searched high and low for that perfect putter that can cure my woes.

After trying nearly 50 putters over the past two years and enduring numerous snide remarks to get putting lessons instead, I finally gave in. I bit the bullet and sought professional help from Jong-hwan Choi, Korea’s number one putting coach to the pros.

Choi’s resume includes LynnBlake Master Instructor certification, AimPoint LV3, PuttDoctor, MichaelHebron Neuro Learning for Golf, and many others.

Choi is an accomplished Tour putting coach who has made a name for himself through relentless research and dedication to master his chosen craft. Thus far, the pros and elite amateurs he helped have won a total of 350 tournaments, including KPGA, KLPGA, and LPGA wins. He is so popular that it can take up to a year to book a lesson with the man himself, but I was desperate. After pulling all the strings I can muster, I was able to get an interview with him in the hopes of getting some help
with my flat stick.

When the day finally came, I arrived at Choi’s academy armed with 3 of my current best-performing putters. I was eager to glean the secrets of the pros and to find out which of these best fit my stroke. I was greeted by Choi and briefly shown around the spacious academy, which had a large flat putting surface and some basic training aids that are common online. Upon chatting about Choi’s background and teaching philosophy, he reminded me of the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. He was constantly emphasizing positivity and proactive learning reinforced with hard work and dedication towards self-growth – that skills are built, not born. Sure, I get that.

But surely, preaching alone doesn’t improve (my) putting?

TourPutt: The Secret of the Pros?

When Choi offered (after some subtle arm twisting) to look at my putting, I was puzzled when he pulled out a tablet rather than some kind of putting trainer. I figured maybe he was going to film me first, then point out some flaws on the monitor. Nope.

We were going high-tech for this one. We were joined by his friend and business partner Chan-ki Kim, a software engineer who co-developed TourPutt, a state-of-the-art putting training system.

According to the dynamic duo, TourPutt was developed to accurately assess a player’s putting tendencies, habits, and skills utilizing big data and A.I. Rather than second-guessing and trying to identify the faults, Tour Putt acts like an MRI machine that shows the doctor where to problem lies. Once the diagnosis is made, Choi would bring to bear his extensive experiences to cure the ailing putter. Sounded simple to me. But how would it know what my problem was?

As Choi’s fingers danced over the tablet in his hand, the TourPutt sprang into action and a small circle the size of a hole-cup appeared on the artificial putting surface. As I surveyed the circle of light beamed from a ceiling projector, Choi asked me a question I hadn’t considered before. ‘Which breaks are you most comfortable with on short putts? What are the odds that you make them?’ Taking my blank look as his cue, Choi proceeded to explain the process of mapping my putting pattern to gauge my stren gths and weaknesses.

To begin, I was directed to putt a golf ball into a hole from 36 random locations ranging from 3 to 6 ft. A ball tracking camera with two projectors mounted on the ceiling rendered various crisp, clear images onto the putting surface. Prior to start, I was informed that the putting surface was sloped 3% from top to bottom. So if you were to imagine a clock face, the 12 o’clock location would be a 3° downhill straight putt, while 6 o’clock would be a 3° uphill straight putt.

As I am right-handed, all putts from the left side of the 3 o’clock would be a hook like, and the left side a slice lie, all to varying degrees. When I asked why it was fixed at 3%, Kim explained that tour regulation greens don’t allow for more than a 3 degree slope within 6ft of the hole. Also, most amateur golfers had a difficult time detecting such a small amount of slope, and thereby misjudge the breaks to a higher score.

Knowing Where to Tap

After the pattern test began, it took me a little over 20 minutes to complete a total of 36 putts at random locations. I was quite conscious of the many eyes on my performance and equally frustrated at how often I was missing putts despite my best efforts. After I was done, Choi pulled up my results, or key performing index (KPI), on a large screen TV where I was able to see exactly where I was effective in my short putts. In brief, I had a tough time with both hook and slice lie putts. I showed slightly better results with uphill straight and slice putts, but absolutely nothing to write home about.

Now, I’m sure many of you are familiar with the story of the plumber who was called to fix a steam pipe. After looking around the pipes and tapping a couple of valves, he charged $200 for his services. When the irate customer demanded to know why it cost so much and asked for a detailed breakdown of the services, the plumber replied, ‘$10 for tapping, $190 for knowing precisely where to tap.’

As such, my results from the pattern test were eye-opening. I’ve never known what lie I was more effective at, much less the percentage of probable success. For example, the more often I use TourPutt to practice or diagnose my putting, the more accurately it can diagnose my skills. Thus, I can pinpoint which area to improve through practice, as well as try to get the ball to an area I am more likely to save par.

Wow. This was tour pro stuff. Was this the secret of the pros?

The green area indicates a successful putt and the red is where I missed. The numbers show how long it took me to strike the putt after being instructed by a bell sound.

I was starting to get heady with the possibilities this digital marvel was able to provide. It took both of them to bring me down to earth again by informing me that knowing the areas of improvement is only half the battle.

For the actual tapping part, Choi and Kim then walked me through the many innovative features of TourPutt focused on helping me improve my putting. I was mesmerized by the detailed graphics that flashed all over the putting surface.

I was already impressed with the diagnostic aspects of TourPutt, but upon seeing the actual features to help me improve my putting, I was doubly blown away. From reading the green speed and breaks accurately to effective swing tempo and motion tracking, the system seemed straight out of the future.

Putting from variations of the 3% slope helps golfers to get a better feel the greens, a skill that can translate onto reading the breaks on actual greens.

Before TourPutt came into being, Choi was frustrated with the difficulty in collecting crucial data from an actual green as it was difficult to find a flat area to map his student’s patterns. When he discussed the matter with Kim back in 2019, Kim immediately became interested in ways to mesh modern technology and A.I. driven data to the art of putting. As an elite level golfer with extensive knowledge in the fields of VR and AR (virtual and augmented reality), Kim understood right away the issues faced by Choi and how he could help.

Delving deep into Choi’s experience and insights, Kim designed the TourPutt’s interface to yield accurate and reliable data that can be cross-checked, correlated, and compared across past and future performances. Best of all, TourPutt and its proprietary app feature the ability to keep track of all of my performance from any TourPutt system and access the data anywhere at any time. I could even replay all of my past putts and see the speed and the path it took, and compare them with other golfer’s data in the system. Mind. Blown.

Kim further explained that this feature of collecting real-world significant big data is one of the biggest advantages of TourPutt, and enables it to evolve further with every putt stored in its vast database.

The app can be used in both English and Korean, and can keep track of my performance and improvements.

The Student Becomes The Teacher

Once the flaws are identified, we moved on to the more traditional slow-motion video to see what I was doing wrong to miss the putts. For me, I kept too much weight on the back foot, and also needed more forward press to keep the putter head online through impact.

After several minutes of drill to correct the issues, I was holing the putts much better. The data from the second pattern test confirmed the improvement, and I was also shown the actual paths that my two putts took before and after the fix. All in all, being able to verify that the diagnosis was correct with immediate results, all backed by data was highly reassuring and enlightening. But what if these improvements were short-lived? That as soon as I walk out of Choi's presence, the magic evaporates and my crappy putting returns? I can’t tell you how often a club I thought was the answer to my prayers devolved into an ordinary stick as soon as I paid for it. It’s downright uncanny how often this happens.

To this end, Choi gave me a glimpse of hope. He assured me that since I was investing time into my skills and not money into more equipment, it will definitely last longer. Also, the coaching provided by Choi is reflected in each and every putt I had made since the lesson and recorded as part of my putting profile. So if I were to stray from the ‘good’ putts, the system can be used to bring me back on track. And if this cycle of improvement continues, I would be able to be my own teacher and
eventually practice effectively and independently on my own.

Honestly, I don’t know about this part. After all, I too know that the right diet and exercise will give me a six-pack; but knowing and doing it are two separate things. In the end, how effective any tool can depend on how well I make use of it, so it will have to remain to be seen. What I can say with certainty, however, is that TourPutt seems to work for a lot of people. Choi’s students continue to post wins on various tours with regularity, each crediting him with their improved putting performance. In turn, Choi credits his partner Kim and TourPutt’s growing database for accurate diagnosis and self-learning.

ToutPutt and its built-in sensors are capable of sensing where the lies have changed. The self-learning A.I. system actively adjusts for the changes to the putting surface, thereby eliminating the need for recalibration.

In Korea, the art of putting has found its poster child in Choi, with more and more golf academies and private studios installing TourPutt for its members. Several local tour pros and top amateurs have also installed the not-so-cheap system in their homes and have said to benefit from the move. Remember when Tiger showed up one day at the range with his own Trackman? I would imagine having a TourPutt in your basement is something like that, but I can only guess. I don’t have a personal Trackman either.

Choi attends seminars all over the world each year to continue his improvement in putting instruction.He is currently working on compiling his own training and certification program to impart to a new generation of would-be putting gurus.

Now that I know where I need to improve on, does this mean I will be taking money off my foursome buddies with alarming regularity? Well, let me see. I signed up for pilates a few months ago and found out exactly where I need to work on for more flexibility. But as I still creak all over when bending over to tie my shoes, I’d guess my putting won’t miraculously improve right away neither. But hey, that’s on me. I’ll just have to start working on the tapping part. Anyone looking to buy some used putters?

For more information on TourPutt from the man himself, check out the video below.

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