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The Wedge Guy: It’s a back-handed game

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As I observe the vast majority of mid- to high-handicap golfers, I see the same approach to striking a golf ball, that is an over-reliance on their natural eye-hand coordination. Maybe that starts with the notion that the game is “right-handed” for most golfers, so they feel that this dominant hand is the driving force in the golf swing. (For you 8-9 percent of golfers that play “left-handed,” you likely do that because your left hand is your master hand, correct?)

The simple fact is this: as long as you approach striking a golf ball as a “hit” with your master hand, rather than a swing led by your body core and lead side, it is not likely you will ever achieve consistency or reach your full potential.

When I used to give wedge seminars to custom clubfitters, I had a little exercise that was fun and enlightening. I would have a volunteer from the audience come up and sign their name on my flip chart with a marker pen. Then I would hand them a wedge with a marker pen taped to the hosel and ask them to do that again, but this time holding the grip of the wedge with their hand and signing from that distance away.

You would be surprised at how hard this is because the length of the shaft is an error magnifier. Typically, those two signatures bore very little resemblance. So, if you cannot even sign your name – one of the most familiar things you do with your master hand – from 35 inches away, what are your chances of returning the club to the ball in exactly the same manner time after time?

One of the key fundamentals of the golf swing is that it is much more of a backhanded effort than most golfers realize. No matter which side of the ball you play from, the front side of your body has to lead the swing. For right-handers, that means the entire left side has to be stronger through the ball than your right side. This is tough, because as right-handers, that is our underdeveloped side, both in strength and coordination. We subconsciously are going to go with our stronger, more reliable right side.

Because the golf swing is a back-handed motion, we need to fully engage our body core to generate power and clubhead speed. Once you understand and begin to groove that core-driven rotation/pulling motion of the golf swing, you can add increasingly more master hand power to improve your distance and consistency. The master hand “assists” the lead side, rather than dominates it.

Understand that your lead side is likely underdeveloped as compared to your master hand, so it will take more focus to keep it stronger and in a lead position throughout the swing.

But this is a simple “ah-ha” thing to experience. All you have to do is step out into your back yard and swing a club with your lead hand only. You’ll very quickly find that you’ll use your body core rotation to push the club away into the backswing, and then rotate forward to pull the club through the impact zone and into a full follow-through. It’s almost a self-teaching exercise in feeling what a true golf “swing” feels like.

Once you get the feel of that core rotation/pulling action, you can lightly place your master back on the grip — but leave your thumb and forefinger totally off the club, holding it only in the middle two fingers of your right hand — lightly. That will keep your master hand from taking over.

If you are a mid- to high-handicap golfer and are really interested in making the jump to lower scores, this is the most fundamental change in your approach to golf that you can make. I would love to hear from all of you about this.

Hit some shots and watch what happens. I think you’ll be surprised.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Over his 40-year career in the golf industry, he has created over 100 putter designs, sets of irons and drivers, and in 2014, he put together the team that reintroduced the Ben Hogan brand to the golf equipment industry. Since the early 2000s, Terry has been a prolific writer, sharing his knowledge as “The Wedge Guy”.   But his most compelling work is in the wedge category. Since he first patented his “Koehler Sole” in the early 1990s, he has been challenging “conventional wisdom” reflected in ‘tour design’ wedges. The performance of his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to move slightly more mass toward the top of the blade in their wedges, but none approach the dramatic design of his Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf – check it out at www.EdisonWedges.com.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Sep 2, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    Straight from The Hogan Manual of Human Performance: GOLF, Gerry Hogan, 1991

  2. CG

    Aug 31, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    No it’s not.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba: Outright Betting Picks

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From Bermuda to Mexico, a well-worn path for the PGA Tour as it winds down towards the more novelty events on the approach to Christmas.

With five of the last six winners scoring 20-under or better (Patton Kizzire was just one off that total in 2017) it’s clear this 7000-yard-and-bits course is open to attack from these players, but it still needs a bit of thought.

Most of the contenders over the years point out that the key to being able to throw those darts is getting the ball on the fairway, and whilst that helps every week of the year, with the forecast rain and greens that will run slower than tour standard, there is a premium on good driving – as two-time champion Viktor Hovland said, “there’s a lot of trouble on both sides and being a straight driver and good off the tee, that helps me.”

Quality tee-to-green play is always the first on the list, but players hitting irons from the rough or worse, will find it tough to keep up the birdie chase. Look to Hovland again, this time for the perfect example.

When winning in 2020, the Norwegian saw his tee shot on the 72nd hole just stay on the short stuff – a yard wrong and he was in sand or the rough, and probably would not have given himself such a simple birdie opportunity, holed to beat a charging Aaron Wise (to the chagrin of myself amongst many others!)

Course comparisons are clear – look for those that excel in windy conditions, that constantly find greens, and are coming here with confidence in their putter. Simples.

I’m not sure what to make of former world number one Scottie Scheffler.

The 26-year-old went from the best player not to win a tournament to the best player in the world in the space of a few weeks, before cementing that position with a victory at the most traditional of indicators, the Masters.

Then it all went a bit tired. He should have won the Charles Schwab (former Mayakoba winner Brendon Todd and a certain Tony Finau split 3rd and 4th) to make it five wins in the season. He then had chances at the U.S Open at Brookline and at the final qualifier before the ‘big one’ (so the PGA Tour says), where he allowed an easy lead to slip right away, giving Rory McIlroy the impetus to reclaim the top spot, rightly as it turned out, after his recent run.

Scheffler now comes off a recent outing at the CJ Cup, where again he was thrashed by McIlroy and many of the rivals he faces this week.

If he’s a ‘no’ that leaves dual defending champion Hovland, the afore-mentioned Wise, Collin Morikawa and Aaron Wise to fill the market at 20-1 and less.

Hovland makes obvious appeal and there is little to argue against bar his single-figure price. Morikawa’s putting has returned to the disastrous figures of his early career and Wise just sees too short for his win record.

Sitting brightly amongst those is Tony Finau and, despite the lack of a recent outing, he is easily the highlight of the week.

Where to start? The 33-year-old finally shook off his own Puerto Rico curse when winning the 3M Open, in the process beating Emiliano Grillo (three top-10s here) and followed up a week later when waltzing home at the Rocket Mortgage Classic by five shots from the elite Patrick Cantlay, sixth here in 2019.

I fancied him to get the hat-trick at the FedEx St.Jude after leading the tee-to-green stats by a mile over the previous fortnight, but he could never recover from some wayward driving. Still, an ever-present fifth place is hardly tear-inducing.

After an opening 77, the BMW Championship was a washout and he may well have been feeling the efforts of the previous month when again starting slowly at East Lake before a best-of-Sunday 64 launched him inside the top-10.

That eye-catching effort was surely a prompt to be on him when he re-appeared and I have no problem with the two-month break given he was runner up at the Mexico Open three weeks after The Masters and seems to have had a jolly good time in the interim.

Apart from elite form over the last few months, Finau finished his season ranked 12th for approaches, fifth for greens-in-regulation and in the same position for tee-to-green, all aspects that give him that look of Hovland, no bad thing here.

Previous years have seen the ‘Big Break’ graduate finish in the top echelons for all those vital statistics – it has been a constant, but he now adds confidence with the putter, a facet that has seen him ranked in the top-20 in six of his last nine completed outings.

From six outings at El Chamaleon, he has two top-10 finishes and one 16th and is, of course, a far better player now.

Relevant course comparison form includes a pair of runner-up finishes at Riviera, linking him with winners Hovland and Kuchar, while you can add 2019 winner Todd to those two for form at the Pheonix Country Club and the Charles Schwab.

Farmers sees his form sit alongside efforts from Hovland (again) and 2012 champion John Huh, who turns up at only half-a-dozen courses each year whilst Hovland also won this after Puerto Rico, another 20-under track. And on and on.

Leaving the salivation over Finau’s chances, much of the rest of the field looks limited in their chance to beat the top half-dozen.

However, I’ll back up the main selection with a smaller wager on Tom Hoge, a player who has found his level over the past couple of years after looking as if he would become a journeyman, clocking up the dollars with the odd top-10.

 

Life changed with the victory at Pebble Beach in February, when he beat proven costal player Jordan Spieth, Cantlay (4th) and Matt Fitzpatrick (6th) but it was possibly telegraphed with his fifth at Torrey Pines, third at the Sony in Hawaii, two top-10s at Sea Island and front page finishes in Texas and three times at the Barracuda.

The victory was a step up for the 33-year-old but he has kept up that level of form with top10 at the US PGA, 3M, Tour Champpionship, Shriners and Zozo. The 13th place finish at the CJ Cup meant Hoge had now five top-13 payouts from the same amount of events.

Returning to the course at which he was third in 2020, Hoge has that fine mix of course form mixed with improving current form, all based on the quality of his iron play for which he ranks around 10th on average for his last six completed starts.

Whilst we can surmise Finau’s current form, Hoge is already showing up on the 2022/2023 wraparound stats – sixth in greens-in-regulation, 20th for tee-to-green – whilst over three months he is 11th for all-round ranking, the highlights being 23rd for greens, and 19th for putting average.

Do that this week and he contends strongly.

34-year-old Jason Day completes the trio of each-way bets this week.

Despite his many issues – withdrawals through injury or illness and personal tragedy – the Australian has somehow come through and, whilst he may never approach his former number one ranking, looks on his way to getting somewhere inside the top-50 and those all-important invites to the majors.

It seems as if Day has been around forever but surely because he was a constant on the leaderboards of all the majors – second, third, fifth and 10th at the Masters, four-time runner-up and three top-10s at the US Open, and the sole major victory and five top-10s at the US PGA – impressive stuff!

History dictates he is plenty good enough to be winning an event like this, and recent evidence also suggests getting on before he does finally get over the line once again, adding to his 12 PGA Tour wins.

After years of back problems, Day bounced back to form at the Farmers in January, when he couldn’t hold on to a third-round lead, missing the play-off by a single shot. Still, this was encouraging to say the least, and Day was happy:

“The last couple years have been a bit of a struggle,” he told Golf Digest “But I think more so it’s a real positive, not only personally with my back and then when I get on the golf course I feel good.”

Clearly, the enforced slower and gentler swing has done the trick, although he admits it’s by necessity, ” The good thing is I need to work on my swing because if I don’t then certain things can creep in and I can hurt my back again. So I’ve got to always be cautious of that.”

Since that bronze medal, the two-time Torrey Pines winner has finished 15th at the Wells Fargo, top-20 at the Rocket Mortgage and recently eighth at the Shriners and 11th at the CJ Cup, where at both events he was better as the event wore on.

He went birdie-crackers during the last round at Las Vegas, and whilst the CJ Cup probably asked too much of his driving, he ranked 11th in approaches, 19th tee-to-green and also for putting. At both Day also found greens-in-reg and was smart around the greens.

The easy 2015 PGA champion looks to be close, and at the prices, looks well worth the chance to prove it.

Finally, take a chance with arrow-straight Greyson Sigg to land the top-10/top-20 bets.

Much of what is good was written around 11 months ago in the 2022 Players To Watch column, but it’s worth re-iterating that the 27-year-old was one of a host of top-class KFT graduates from the Lockdown years, something that may have disguised his individual talent.

The two-time KFT winner, including the Knoxville Open – an event that Patton Kizzire (2017 Mayakoba champ) has won – has taken his time to show his best on the main stage, but his best includes a top-10 behind Finau at Twin Cities and at the Sanderson Farms, where he came from 25th overnight courtesy of a final round 67 on a tough Sunday.

At last week’s Barracuda Championship, the former Bulldog lay in eight after the first round and sixth going into payday but, on another tough final day, a one-over 72 was still plenty enough to finish in 11th, his fifth cut in a row.

Sigg simply cannot compete on the big tracks, ranking well outside the top-120 over the last three months, so look for him on all the circa-6800/7000 yard tournaments, as we have here this week,  a course on which he recorded the joint-lowest round of the Sunday with a 64 last year.

Recommended Bets:

  • Tony Finau WIN 
  • Tom Hoge WIN
  • Jason Day WIN/TOP-5/TOP-10
  • Greyson Sigg Top-10 
  • Greyson Sigg Top-20 
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Opinion & Analysis

Stock headcovers: An epidemic that needs immediate attention

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Recently, I went to New Jersey to play golf with my friend Rog and his son (JR) at some legendary courses. Upon arriving, I learned some good news and some horrifying news. The good news is that neither had sun sleeves, iron covers, or putted with a glove on (phew!). The bad news is they both had stock headcovers — a faux pas for which there is simply no excuse.

In fact, stock headcovers, in my opinion, are the new pandemic and deserve our attention. Immediately. Luckily, as with my friends, I am here to help.

The Big Dog

If you’re like junior, an ex-frat boy, when you enter the market you’re gonna want something that screams “bombs away.” This is fine if you bomb it.

I personally use a Dormie Work Shop (supporting my fellow Nova Scotians) Tampa Bay Lightening head cover. Made of real leather, and made to order, the thing is MONEY, plus demonstrates I am also a hockey savant (cost $110).

My cousin Connor, a bomber ex-college baseball player with ball speed in the 170s who never does any corporate golf, keeps things lite on his driver choosing to rep “Straight Outta Bounds” by U Suck at Golf. Lucky he rips it, or those White Claws he drinks would be embarrassing.

Then there is my buddy Brandon. In January he showed in Florida with more stock headcovers than good shots. Three days later, 81 (best round ever), and this setup:

Fairway woods / hybrids

The fairway wood and hybrid present opportunities to either rep your home course or maybe a recent course you’ve visited on a golf trip. I personally use a cover from The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts (a stunning gem). However anything from Cabot Links to Stream Song is sure to impress.

If you’re unsure, a ton of courses stock Am&E. Usually at a fair price ($30-50), they are a great value and my experience is they have top notch craftsmanship.

Putter Cover

Here is the one place you don’t want to cheap out. A top notch putter cover is key. In this department you should expect to spend at least $40 and be willing to settle around $100.

Some of the hottest on the market right now is the recent Bettinardi “Monopoly” release. They sold for approximately $150 retail. All covers are made in house from different types of leather and during the Monopoly release.

More of Bettinardi’s covers, below.

Of course, it goes without saying that the gold standard is still Scotty Cameron. A Circle T (tour only) may run upwards of $500. A fancier, non Circle T goes for around $150.

You might also check out Cayce Golf. I’m a fan of their Chubbs and Major Menu. Although you cannot go wrong if you’re an awful putter with the dumpster fire or Sh*t/[email protected] cover.

Tell me GolfWRXers: What’s your setup?

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Club Junkie

Hatch Golf and the wild world of golf headcovers

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Hatch Golf has been making some amazingly creative headcovers and accessories for the past few years. Sean Farrell is a designer by trade and turned his love of creating graphics with his love of golf to create Hatch and provide golfers with some truly unique items. Hatch Golf mostly caters too smaller, limited runs of their headcovers that sell out rather quickly. If you want to hear the whole conversation with Sean, please check out of the podcast links at the bottom and on any podcast platform that you listen on. Just search GolfWRX Radio.

Sean discussed how his Michigan-based company started out as a hobby and he was just coming up with the designs. He would then send those designs off to a manufacturer and they would actually create the physical cover. This didn’t last long as his supplier stopped taking orders as small as his. So Sean did what anyone would have, he bought all of the equipment and a warehouse to produce his own Hatch accessories. Hatch is now a full time career and he even has his brother-in-law working with him full time as well to produce new products. 

If you are not familiar with Hatch Golf’s headcovers, then you should really head over to their website or social media pages to check out their work. The covers are highly embroidered and contain a massive amount of detail. I asked about using other materials like rubber or leather patches in his designs, and Sean was quick to explain how anything you put on a headcover has to withstand the everyday use and abuse. Tossing bags from the trunk to the cart and the sun’s UV rays take their toll on headcovers. Hatch uses tried and true materials, like marine grade fabrics, to ensure that the cool designs will last for years in the bag or displayed indoors. 

Sean let me in on the fact that he has a “short list” of about a thousand or more ideas for his future covers. He takes inspiration from just about anything and has desire to create a run of covers that look like the car graphics from the original Fast and Furious movie. But cars are just one muse as pop culture and hottest social media trends will influence and inspire designs. Some releases are a little less spontaneous, like covers based on majors or holidays. He is extremely excited for this Halloween as Hatch is releasing multiple covers over a few days. These releases are very limited, only 20-50 pieces of each blade or mallet, and for a few reasons. Hatch would rather have a bunch of designs and options available instead of just making 250 or 500 of just one design. This way customers have more options to choose from and if one doesn’t really excite them, then maybe another will. The short runs also make the covers more collectable and loved by the ones who do get their hands on them. Sean explained how they will never re-run a cover design, once they are done they are done.

Hatch has been growing and we are seeing more and more of the covers on social as well as out in the wild. Sean says it is still very strange to see a golfer with one of his products in the bag and meet golfers who are fans of Hatch’s work. The Hatch team has even done a few events where fans and collectors meet up, show off their gear, and play some golf! These events are humbling to Sean and his team as they never really expected to have such loyal fans who enjoy showing off their collections. At one event a collector was changing out head covers on almost every hole so he could use a display them all. Experiences like that just reinforce that Hatch should stay true to what they do and keeping the customer experience first. 

I find it pretty awesome that a company like Hatch Golf is local to me and doing some amazing work. Sean seems to truly love what he does and love the game of golf. I even asked him about a little WITB and he got into a little of what he plays when he is out on the course. If you are into the headcover and accessory side of golf, it is worth checking out Hatch Golf.

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