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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Phil’s Detour – How Mickelson dominated his first PGA Tour Champions event

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After missing the cut at 2020’s first FedEx Cup Playoff event at TPC Boston, Phil Mickelson decided to make a quick detour to Ozark National to play his first-ever tournament on the PGA Tour Champions.

A course that fits Mickelson’s style of hitting high bombs, Ozark National features generous fairways and is a shorter track compared to those seen on the PGA Tour. Mickelson was able to hit less than driver on many holes and keep the ball in play. He jumped out to a hot start with a sizzling 61 that included a bogey on the only green he missed.

Speaking of keeping it in play, Mickelson hit an impressive 75 percent of his fairways for the week. In previous articles, we have covered that fairways do not necessarily translate to better scores. However, if you can translate those fairways into greens in regulation, it will. Greens Hit is the best ‘traditional’ statistic in terms of correlation to scoring. Over the three days at Ozark National, Mickelson was able to hit more than 87 percent of the greens. This included 17/18 greens in round one and 16/18 on day three.

In addition to fairways, another way to make it easier to hit the green is to hit it farther off the tee. In general, the closer you are to the green, the better chance you have of hitting the green. Mickelson’s patented “high bombs” enabled him to average 323 yards for the week (on measured holes). This average would be good on the PGA Tour, but it’s outstanding on the senior circuit. Mickelson’s length and the offseason work he has put in to increase his swing speed paid off with the ability to drive key par 4s and shortening par 3s. This included driving the par-4 fifth during the final round and nearly acing the long 12th during the second round.

Using V1 Game’s “Hole by Hole” review, we can see that these two tee shots gained 0.83 and 1.34 strokes respectively. Great shots, to be certain—particularly when you take into account that Mickelson felt like he miss-hit the drive that hit the green on the par 4 and needed only an 8-iron to stuff it from 200-plus yards on the par 3. High bombs indeed.

Mickelson was able to do something this week that he has struggled to do on the PGA Tour this season: play mistake-free golf. Using V1 Game’s Virtual Coach, we can see that he maximized his potential in all three rounds, avoiding the mistakes in our three keys.

Mickelson had just two three-putts on the week. Coincidentally, both came in the final round while he was trying to close out the tournament. He also only had one penalty over the three days. Avoiding scorecard-wrecking mistakes is one of the central keys to scoring at any level and it helped Mickelson coast to a four-shot victory over Tim Petrovic.

Typically, in Ways to Win, we have plenty of advanced metrics such as strokes gained to dive even deeper into the winner’s performance, however tours such as the PGA Tour Champions, LPGA, and Korn Ferry Tours do not utilize the same PGA Tour Shotlink technology as the PGA Tour that allows us to track every shot. V1 Game is equivalent to Shotlink technology for the amateur golfer. So with no Shotlink, this week we captured Mickelson’s data using the simplified V1 Game score entry method. The feature requires minimal input and still provides significant actionable data to help V1 Game users improve.

The biggest takeaway this week is confidence and loving the game not only makes it more enjoyable but improves performance. Mickelson likely went into the week with confidence that he should be the best player on this tour and he legitimately enjoyed his time playing against some of the game’s greatest champions. V1 Game can highlight your weaknesses, help you improve, and give you the confidence to get more enjoyment out of your golf.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Devin

    Aug 27, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Nice V1 ad

  2. Roy

    Aug 27, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    He dominated by playing a shorter course with less rough and trouble than he has for the last 30 years….

  3. Benny

    Aug 27, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    No way is it “easy”. These Champs will smoke any of us on any track. That means anyone reading this boys. I know you may think your +3 index is good but the Sr PGA will still make you look like a fool.
    Phil made short work of the tourney but and hopefully gives him some serious confidence with the majors!

    • Roy

      Aug 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      Easy is a relative term. Easy to a PGA tour player, not easy to any of the +3’s here

  4. Speedy

    Aug 27, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Easy pickings for Phil. Setups are usually tame on the old boys tour. Semi-retirement.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Is lighter always longer?

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One of the continuing trends in golf clubs – particularly drivers – is the pursuit of increasingly lighter shafts; this obsessive goal has given us the premise that the lighter the club, the faster you can swing it. And that idea is driven by the relentless pursuit of distance at all levels, and for all golfers.

But as long as he is, for example, Dustin Johnson ran away with the Masters because he was exactly that – a “master” at ball control and precision. DJ outperformed almost everyone in the field in terms of fairways and greens. That gave him more birdie putts, better looks because of his precise approach shots, and many fewer tough par saves.

But my topic today is to pose the question: “Is lighter really the key to being longer for all of us “recreational” golfers?”
Let me begin by saying that “recreational” doesn’t mean any lack of seriousness or dedication to the game. Hitting better shots and shooting lower scores is the goal for all of us who care about our golf games, right? What I mean is that we do not make our living playing the game. We do not practice incessantly. We do not spend hours at the gym every day specifically preparing our bodies to optimize our golf skills.

Today I’m going to put on my “contrarian” cap and challenge this assumption of “lighter is longer” on a couple of bases.
First, if you watch every accomplished player, you will see that the body core rotation is fast enough to “beat” the hands and clubhead to the ball. All instructors agree that the big muscles of the legs and body core are the key to power and repeatability in the golf swing. The faster you can rotate your body through impact, the more power you generate, which flows down the arms, through the hands and shaft and to the clubhead. This is a basic law of “golf swing physics”.

The simple fact is, the speed at which you can fire these big muscles is not going to be measurably impacted by removing another half ounce or less of weight from your driver. But what that removal of weight can do is to possibly allow for your hands to be faster, which would aggravate the problem I see in most mid- to high-handicap players. That problem is that their body core is not leading the swing, but rather it is following the arms and hands through impact.

Secondly, speed without precision is essentially worthless to you, and likely even counter-productive to your goal of playing better golf. Even with the big 460cc drivers, a miss of the sweet spot by just a half inch can cost you 8-12% of your optimum distance. You could never remove enough weight from the driver to increase your club speed by that amount. So, the key to consistently longer drives is to figure out how to make consistently more precise impact with the ball.

No golf adage is always true, but my experience and observation of thousands of golfers indicates to me that the fastest route to better driver distance is to get more precise with your impact and swing path, and not necessarily increasing your clubhead speed. And that may well be served by moving to a slightly heavier driver, not a lighter one.

I’ll end this by offering that this is not an experiment to conduct in a hitting bay with a launch monitor, but rather by playing a few rounds with a driver that is heavier than your current “gamer”.

Continuing with my “contrarian” outlook on many aspects of golf equipment, the typical driver “fitting” is built around an intense session on a launch monitor, where you might hit 30-40 or more drives in an hour or so. But the reality of golf is that your typical round of golf involves only 12-13 drives hit over a four-hour period, each one affected by a number of outside influences. But that’s an article for another time.

For this week, think about pulling an older, heavier driver from your closet or garage and giving it a go for a round or two and see what happens.

I would like to end today’s post by wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s been a helluva year for all of us, so let’s take some time this week to count our individual and collective blessings.

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Podcasts

TG2: Reviewing the first major OEM (Cobra) 3D-printed putter!

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The first major OEM with a 3D printed putter is Cobra Golf! I took the new Limited Edition King Supersport-35 putter out on the course and found it to be a great performer. Cobra partnered with HP and SIK Putters to create a 3D printed body mated to an aluminum face that features SIK’s Descending Loft technology.

 

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Opinion & Analysis

You went to play, now you want to stay: Homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs

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At some point, we’ve all had that moment during a vacation where we look around and think to ourselves, “Instead of visiting, why don’t we just move here?” It always sounds a little crazy in the moment, but really, what’s stopping you?

Like many, I have done this myself, and it leads me down a rabbit hole of golf destination real estate to places all over North America where you get world-class golf minutes from home.

So whether you’re a big spender or looking to downsize and find a cozy hideaway, these homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs have it all.

Homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs

Inverness, Nova Scotia

Steps away

$1,495,000 – 12 Mine Road Inverness MLS Number: 202011562

Location, location, location!

This is currently the most expensive house in Inverness NS, and for good reason. It’s steps away from Cabot Links and overlooks the resort. It’s over 2,600 square feet of beautiful open concept living, and with a local address, you get a discount on tee times at the course, although with its growing popularity, you aren’t guaranteed times like if you stay on the actual property.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this view every day? Listing: 12 Mine Road – Realtor

Just up the road

$980,000 – 30 Broad Cove Road Inverness, MLS Number: 202010717

If the first one seems a bit crazy, this next one might be right up your alley.

This 4,000 square foot home, is only minutes from Cabot Link and Cliffs and has amazing views that overlook the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It has everything you could want including a large chef’s kitchen and enough room to host friends and family.

Listing: 30 Broad Cove Road – Realtor

Just you and the ocean

$394,000 – 6 Bayberry Road, Port Hood, MLS Number: 202015994

If you like golf but want a little more separation from the Cabot golf resort, less than 20 miles down the road is Port Hood, another quiet seaside town filled with quaint shops and endless views of the ocean.

You can wake up every morning to the sounds of the ocean and the smell of sea air, and when you want to play golf at a top 50 course in the world, you just need to make a relaxing drive along the water to get there—heck, if you are so inclined, and happen to have a boat, you can go almost door to door that way too!

Listing: 6 Bayberry Road – Realtor

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