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Opinion & Analysis

Golf 2019: 10 Quick Things

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The Presidents Cup reminded how great team golf can be, and what an exceptional course brings to the dynamic. It also illuminated that Patrick Reed is his own worst problem. Some people prefer to live amidst controversy. He seems to be one. Instead of laying low during the Cup, he instigated the crowd. Why? He should have taken his medicine after his transgression during the Hero Challenge. Speaking of that mistake, it’d be great if Augusta National would rescind Reed’s invitation for the 2020 Masters. He needs a lesson that’ll hit home. Perhaps suspend him from The Masters. That’ll teach him to own his competitive conduct. Tough love for sure, but good for the young man, and a page from former Orioles’ Manager Earl Weaver’s playbook. He would send Baltimore players down to the minors for transgressions like not running out ground balls. “I’m doing the kid a favor – he needs to learn how to play the game the right way,” he’d rightfully say.

The Rules of Golf changes make playing the game easier, faster, more fun. That wasn’t needed. (Insert sarcasm GIF here.)

Toptracer technology from Topgolf is the best thing for TV golf viewing ever.

technology, golf, television, broadcast

Toptracer technology from Topgolf transformed watching the game on TV , adding clarity and insight about how shots fly and are played.

Phil is phinished as a premier PGA Tour contender. No shame there. Phabulous run, old boy. Better than most all-time.

Others who should join Phil’s phoursome on the “Mount Rushmore of Sports/Father Time is Undefeated” Memorial include Tom Brady, Clayton Kershaw, and Carmelo Anthony.

Like the NBA, professional golf needs a shot clock. Two minutes when it’s your turn to play. No exceptions. Including looking for balls. Go.

turtles, slow, golf

Golfers need to play the game more quickly.

“Iron Byron” was a mind blower when first introduced as a performance measurement tool. Now, with AI seemingly omnipresent in golf – can you spell Arccos? – it seems laughably antiquated.

The LPGA (and its Symetra “Road to the LPGA” feeder tour) grows more compelling with each year. The next decade for women’s golf will be looked back on as the era when it “crossed over.” If you don’t know who Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim, or Brooke Henderson are, you will.

An event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and LPGA would be a great move. Make it a team event that players qualify for like they do for the Ryder Cup. The competition would be outstanding, and the uniqueness would make for a hugely compelling competition.

Dan Hicks proved again this year that he is an all-time great. His seemingly effortless calls make watching TV golf with the sound on not only tolerable but enjoyable. He’s fluent, astute, and avoids hyperbole. His commentary is laced with humor, insight, and, most importantly, is never pretentious. That last trait is incredibly hard to avoid. Right, Joe Buck?

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A University of Maryland graduate, Dan is a lifelong resident of the Mid-Atlantic, now residing in Northern Virginia. Fan of the Terps and all D.C. professional sports teams, Dan fell in love with golf through Lee Trevino's style and skill during his peak years. Dan was once Editor of Golf Inc. Magazine.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Golf Stud

    Dec 27, 2019 at 5:18 am

    The PGA Tour has no authority when it comes to the Masters Tournament. They would be in no position to suspend him from that event.

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 27, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Good point, of course, and my point was conceptual, to show how important it is I believe to penalize in a way that sends a message that makes a difference.

  2. D D

    Dec 26, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Good going Dan I Am.

  3. Jim

    Dec 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    This isn’t an article.

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 26, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      It’s an opinion piece, Jim. Like Popeye, I calls ’em like I sees ’em, and GolfWRX is a platform for publishing all types of content, from news articles and features, to opinion columns.

  4. Devin

    Dec 19, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Huh?

  5. cdnasian

    Dec 19, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    What did I just read?

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 26, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      An opinion column by me. I have played the game for decades and worked in the industry for the past 20 years, including as editor of Golf Inc. Magazine.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Setting goals…and achieving them

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Well, here we are, diving right into the new year of 2022 and seeing where this crazy world is going to take us now. I think we will all admit that the past two years have been a bit crazy, with the arrival of COVID changing everything in ways we would never have imagined at this time two years ago. Regardless of your personal thoughts, ideals and emotions about how it has been handled, it’s been crazy, right?

But that’s not what this column is all about. Today I want to offer some thoughts on how to set your own goals for your own golf this year, and then some ideas on how to make those goals a reality.

If your golf – and getting better at it – is important to you, there is no time like right now to decide what you want to do to achieve that objective. Are you willing to spend the time and energy to work on major swing improvements? Or do you just want to try to score better with a minimal amount of time and energy you have for practice and work?

Are you living where you can still get out to the range or course frequently? Or are you stuck inside for another few months until Spring begins to show? Do you have the desire to invest in instructional assistance, or do you pretty much want to do it yourself?

All these are important questions to answer as you decide your goals for 2022. For today, I’m going to address three ways I believe any golfer can improve their scoring measurably in 2022, regardless of how you might answer these questions I’ve posed. You can decide which of these would have the most impact you your golf as you kick off 2022.

IMPROVE YOUR PUTTING

Regardless of your handicap, a great percentage of your shots are taken with that one club. So, if there is any one part of your game that should get the most attention and work, it should be your putting. Begin by analyzing your own putting performance. Do you three-putt too often? If so, is that because your lag putting distance control is off, or your make percentage of short putts is not as good as it could be? Or do you just not convert enough 5-15 footers?

Putter fitting has become much more advanced these days and is usually worth the investment. You might find that the putter itself is ill-suited to your personal tendencies in the stroke and alignment.
If your mechanics are not reliable, an investment in a good putting mat and a few hours a week will offer huge returns, both in short putts made and improving your conversion of more of those 5-15 footers.

HONE YOUR SHORT GAME

Next to putting, you are likely taking more shots inside 50 yards than anywhere else. Even if you are a GIR machine (and few golfers are), those missed greens are what run up your scores. I see so many recreational golfers who just do not have a sound and repeatable technique around the greens, and that costs them with chunks and skulls that run up scores quickly.

I cannot “teach” the short game here, but there are so many good YouTube videos and books/tapes on the subject, you have no excuse to have a poor technique around the greens. Spend some time studying and learning, and practicing in your basement, den or office. It’s a short swing that anyone can execute – but it takes work. And that work will pay huge dividends.

SHARPEN YOUR MENTAL GAME

Regardless of handicap, I believe many bad shots are ‘pre-ordained’ by a poor mental approach. Many golfers do not get their mind right about what exactly they want to do with any given shot. And very few have a set pre-shot routine that gets their mind right so their body can execute the shot. On the course, it is unproductive to try to process swing thoughts; or at least more than one simple one.

When you are facing a shot, you should have a clear picture of what you want the ball to do and a clear mind to get out of your body’s way of trying to execute that vision. The great book and movie “Golf’s Sacred Journey”, but Dr. David Cook, nails it – “See it. Feel it. Trust it.”

I feel certain that one of these three areas of attention can help nearly every one of you improve your golf in 2022. And I hope to be able to offer you more insight and guidance in that endeavor as I write each week. Let me know if you have subjects you would like me to address, OK?

Let’s do this together.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Review of Fujikura’s Ventus Blue TR shaft and new Cobra LTDx drivers

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Fujikura has a new Ventus TR shaft out and it seems to fit right in between the Ventus Blue and Ventus Black. A Slightly stiffer profile and handle section seem to make a tighter and more stable shaft. Cobra has 3 new drivers out for 2022 and I think they are going to do very well. Great ball speed and stability on mishits keep the ball in play.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 American Express: Best prop bets

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Alongside Matt Vincenzi’s chief betting article, here I breakdown this week’s best side bets for the American Express.

 2022 American Express best props

Lucas Glover Top-20 +400

The 2009 U.S open winner has certainly has had his trials and tribulations both on and off the course, but he looked in good shape when finishing in fifth place at the Sony last week and can put up a similar display this week.

When winning the John Deere last year, the 42-year-old broke a 10-year losing streak, and came via a closing best-of-the-day 64 and a tournament ranking of 3rd and 4th for strokes-gained-approach and tee-to-green.

Nothing much changes for Glover in that regard, and it was good to see him return to that standard of play at Waialae when leading the approach stats and ranking second in tee to the short stuff. That he was 30th off-the-tee gives a further boost to his iron game at present and he showed last year that he can keep the game going when finding form – T21/T0/T21/T23 – through the Charles Schwab, RBC Heritage, Travelers and Rocket Mortgage, at least two of those courses with a correlation to this week’s test.

A couple of top-six finishes at The Players show a further liking for Pete Dye designs, and whilst he will never win the prize for best putter, 2016 winner Jason Dufner showed that a solid tee-to-green game can keep you in contention, whilst they both have form at Colonial and at Sawgrass.

Glover’s first four starts here yielded two top-20 and one top-30 finish, whilst I’ll ignore the two recent missed-cuts given they were his first outing of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The vast majority of winners have played at least two recent competitive rounds before coming to the American Express (and its various guises) and Glover can take encouragement from the vast progress made when down the field at Maui.

Russell Knox Top 20/Top 40 +300 +130

The Scotsman is another that fits with the Dufner/Glover/Henley genre of player.

With an always impressive iron game, it is always encouraging to see players rank highly in approach and greens-in-regulation even if finishing lower than their overall game warranted.

Take, for example, 2021 finishes of 40th and 58th at the RSM and Fortinet. At both, he ranked top-10 for finding the short stuff and continued that form with the irons at last week’s Sony Open, where he ranked 4th for greens, 10th in approach and 8th for overall tee-to-green.

One swallow doth not make a Summer and all that, but he ranked 7th in putting average and inside the top-30 for strokes-gained-putting, a figure that will certainly help him gain his fourth consecutive top-40 here in as many starts.

Alongside finishes of 29th and 37th at this event Knox can also boast a couple of top-20 finishes, the latest 16th a figure that should have been better given a final round 73, he has a win at the Pete Dye River Highlands, and high finishes at Colonial, Harbour Town and Scottsdale.

After a 12-birdie weekend, he comes here in the form that makes me believe anything better than field average on the greens will land the bet.

Luke List Top 10/Top 20 +550/+250

It’s a trio of excellent tee-to-green players this week, and whilst here is another player that often lets himself down with the putter, the case for him to do well is strong enough to make him my play of the week.

Start with his current form, which reads 7th at the Zozo, 11th at Houston and 10th at the Sea Island course. We don’t have full stats for the first-named, but, at the other two, the 37-year-old has ranked top four off-the-tee, and 12th and 17th for approaches, figures that combine to give a ranking of top-four at both for tee-to-green. Also worth noting is that, at both, Luke was inside the top-10 going into Sunday.

That isn’t unusual for the former U.S Amateur runner-up, and once again, it has been the short stick that has let him down. However, rather like the two players above, List should only need to be field average in putting to put up a good show at a course at which he has a best finish of 6th in 2016 and a 21st last year, when a final round 72 saw him fall from an overnight 13th.

List also carries some of the most guarded Pete Dye form, his last win in 2020 being at TPC Sawgrass at Dye’s Valley Course, whilst in 2012 he won his first Korn Ferry event at the South Georgia Classic.

That event was held, until 2014, at Kinderlou Forest on a course designed by Davis Love III, a player that thrived on Dye courses, winning The Players on two occasions and at Harbour Town a total of five times.

Take a deeper dive into a few of the top two finishers at the Georgia track and Brian Stuard, Will Wilcox, Blayne Barber and runner-up Alex Prugh all have form at one or two of either The Heritage, Pheonix, Sawgrass, River Highlands and here at the Bob Hope, as it once was.

In an event that has seen many shocks, and that might be subject to the weather as they rotate around the three courses, I’m happy to be with a player with far more current positives than many at a shorter price.

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