Master the Trinity of Golf to Score Low

Pelz demonstrates power swing versus finesse swingDavid Pelz’s Front9 article (September 2014 Golf Magazine – reminded me of what the late Ken Venturi said in his eight instructional videotapes entitled The Encyclopedia of Golf.

Pelz cited three swings: putting stroke, finesse swing and power swing. He explained the appropriateness of each one and said most amateurs lack a finesse swing. He stated: “Once you learn the difference between power and finesse, there’s nothing the course can throw at you that you can’t handle.” He added once you get the power and finesse swings down, along with good putting “… you’ll become a complete player. That’s when golf gets really fun!”

Venturi said golf is three games in one: a putting game, a short game and a long game. I think he would concur with Pelz’s complete player statement. Mastery of the three is how to score low in golf. And I agree with Pelz when he said a finesse swing (short game) is what most amateurs lack in their game.

Venturi called the short game the most creative part of golf. I think it is too. Why? Because it takes dedication, practice, patience and imagination to acquire a very skilful short game. It’s a rare thing to find all of them in one package.

With some layout changes, I’m including Pelz’s article. I’ve given plenty of credit to the source. I’d add a couple of variables to Pelz’s finesse swing because they also affect distance control — and control is what matters most in the short game. They are hip rotation speed, hand placement on grip and set up (closed, square or open). Clicking on the article enlarges its viewing size.


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69th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Pinehurst No. 2

Lucy Li

Amateur Lucy Li

11-year-old Lucy Li plays a practice round at Pinehurst No. 2. Local caddie Bryan Bush carries her bag. She carded a 78 on her first day of play on Thursday, June 19. She became interested in the game of golf after watching her older brother play. Her golf coach is Jim McLean. She practices 3 to 4 hours a day.

Bryan Bush Interview and Perspective

Sources & Photo Credits:
Pinehurst Website, YouTube, USGA

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U.S. Am Champ Tees Off at 114th U.S. Open with Phil & Justin

U.S. Amateur Champion Matt Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick Plays with Phil Mickelson, 2013 U.S. Open Champ Justin Rose

If your intent is to make your living as a professional golfer, could an exuberant 19-year-old Englishman do it any better than U.S. Amateur Champion Matthew Fitzpatrick. Amateurs can celebrate with him one last time because next week he turns pro.

Many favor Phil or Rory McIIroy to win. Certainly as tour veterans all the odds are in their favor, but anyone who follows the game knows what sounds reasonable is as certain in golf as making a 10-foot putt.

So, just maybe, for the first time since 1933, against all odds, with a chance slimmer than silkworm thread, Matthew Thomas Fitzpatrick could be the one to make history. After watching him play the back 9 (he teed off on 10) at Pinehurst No. 2, a number of things are clear to me: he has game; demeanor; acumen; and maturity. I love not only his ball-striking but also his pace of play.

He ended round 1 with a 71, one over; while Phil Mickelson carded a 70, even par. Look at his stats compared to Phil’s. Wow!

Round one stats comparing Matt's to Phil's

Am I a dreamer to think Matt could win? He dreamed about qualifying to play in the U.S. Open. And here he is. Right now he’s likely dreaming of making the cut. If he does, he’ll be dreaming of winning the 114th U.S. Open. I hope that dream comes true.

If you’d like to follow him on Twitter, click here.


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U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2 Will Be Events for the Ages

U.S. Open Championship Trophies

The U.S. Open 2014 Championships at Pinehurst Resort & County Club in the Village of Pinehurst Village, an area known as the Sandhills to locals and on a course once called “The Deuce” will hold unique moments — firsts.

  • 114th U.S. Open June 12-15, 2014
  • 69th U.S. Women’s Open June 19-22, 2014

The Pinehurst Resort complex has nine 18-hole golf courses. The addition of a ninth course happened recently when the resort purchased the National Golf Club Course, a Jack Nicklaus design that opened in 1989.

The most famous of the nine is Pinehurst No. 2, a Donald J. Ross design that opened in 1907. It has undergone changes over the years. The most recent one is the restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. What they did to No. 2 and how they went about what they did is a story in itself (see Golf Magazine’s June 2014 U.S. Preview Issue). To see a visual of the changes, click on this text link: Restoration by Coore & Crenshaw.

The “turtleback” greens are the hallmark of Pinehurst No. 2. Approach shots often roll off them like water off a duck’s back. Which is why chipping areas exist near them. Keep an eye on the 5th green because it has the severest crown of all the greens. It’s likely you will see the pin in and around the center of the green on all four days.

Ben Crenshaw, one of the best putters on the PGA Tour during his career, had this to say: “I can count on one hand the places in the world where two shots on and around the green mean more to a player than on Pinehurst No. 2.”

During the broadcast of the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Johnny Miller likened stopping a golf ball on those greens to hitting one on top of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Pinehurst Resort & Country ClubAmong U.S. Open Firsts

♦ No rough! Coore & Crenshaw removed all of the rough on No. 2,  roughly 35 acres of it. It will be the first time in U.S. Open history that the championships will be played on a course without rough. How will the commentators fill up airtime now? How will it affect the bomb-and-gouge player? In place of the rough will be hardpan, sandy scrub, pine straw, wire grass, “Lions! and tigers! and bears! Oh my!”

♦ Eleven-year-old Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California, will become the youngest player ever to compete in the 69th U.S. Women’s Open.

♦ Winning is tough. With only 156 available spots in the field for men and only 156 for women, the percentage for male qualifiers is the lowest ever — 0.81 — because of the number of amateur and professional applicants. And making the two-day cut to be among the sixty to compete on Saturday and Sunday in either championship is even more daunting. By all accounts, the U.S. Open Championships are considered the toughest contests in golf. The win-odds for a pro are low; for an amateur they’re minuscule.

  • Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win the championship in 1932.
  • Jack Nicklaus as an amateur finished runner-up at the U.S Open in 1960.

♦ Two U.S. Open Championships played back to back on the same course have never happened before. For those passionate about the game it will be Christmas in June. For those concerned about the revenue the events generate it should be a bonanza.

♦ Only one stroke apart now. The USGA lowered the applicant handicap index this year for women to 2.4 — only one stroke higher than for men. Many great women players have graced the field over the years but the number of them has increased. What Tiger Woods did to draw talented young athletics to the sport, Annika Sorenstam did for women’s golf.

In spite of all the firsts, rest assured tradition will not be forsaken. On Sunday, on the 18th green, the pin will be in the spot where the late Payne Stewart made his final putt to win the 1999 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2; the flag will read, “One Moment in Time”.

I sincerely believe this course to be the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.… It should call for long and accurate tee shots, accurate iron play, precise handling of the short game, and finally, consistent putting.— Donald J. Ross

2014 U.S. Open pairings & starting times
2014 U.S. Women’s Open field of 156 players

Profiles of Amateurs in U.S. Open
Amateurs & Pros Who Won at Pinehurst No. 2
World Amateur Golf Ranking

Sources & Photo Credits:
Golf Magazine June 2014; The Golden Age of Pinehurst; Pinehurst Resort & Country Club Website; USGA Website; World Amateur Golf Ranking™

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Am Lee Qualifies for U.S. Women’s Open with Final Round 66

World #1 Women's Golf Amateur

World #1 Women’s Golf Am

In her first qualifying attempt, Australian amateur Minjee Lee shot a 5-under par 66 on May 20 during her final round at North Oaks Golf Club in Minnesota to earn a  spot in the U.S. Women’s Open in June at the Pinehurst Resort & CC in North Carolina.

From Perth Lee became the number #1 world women’s golf amateur on Feb. 26. She turns 18 on May 27. I bet her birthday cake will taste better than ever.

  1. Photo Source: Golf Australia
  2. News Source: MGA News Release


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Five Proven Essentials to Proficient Ball Striking

Rotational Force

Titleist Professional Institute (TPI) Cofounder Dave Phillips wrote the article “5 Key Fundamentals to World-class Ball Striking” in the golf swing in 2012. Here are the five:

  1. Contacting the ball in the center of a square club face
  2. Keeping the club face on the intended path
  3. Swinging with rotational force
  4. Performing the swing in the proper kinematic sequence
  5. Maintaining segmental stability throughout the swing

A very important physical aspect of the golf swing is segmental stability. Segmental stability allows the golfer to maintain the postural positions and a fixed spine angle through all phases of the swing. Segmental stability is based upon the muscular system of the body having the required levels of strength to retain the postural positions necessitated by the athletic actions of the swing.

Segmental stability within the core is where many amateurs are deficient. The core is simply a reference to an anatomical area of the body consisting of all the muscular structures from just above the knees to slightly below the chest. Muscle groups included in the core are the abdominals, obliques, lower back, and glutes. The core is actively involved in creating the athletic actions associated with the golf swing in addition to maintaining the required postural positions.
Sean Cochran, Golf Fitness

In an age where golf balls travel farther than their ancestors; where improvements in drivers promise more distance off the tee with fewer fault-showing ball flights; and where equipment makers claim their new irons will knock it close to hole on approach shots, I think avid amateurs must remind themselves of the fundamentals cited by Dave Phillips in his article.

I have seen firsthand the frustration and disappointment of an amateur on the course with a new $300-500 driver in his bag that didn’t fulfill his (it’s generally a male) game improvement expectations.

While equipment makers designed new clubs, TPI used technology and research to heighten our knowledge of the golf swing in ways that were heretofore possible. Phillips’ article is based on that current knowledge. If knowledge is power, then reading the article and taking its content to heart connects you to the true fundamentals of modern golf.

May the “Five Be With You!”

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2014 Masters Tournament App

Par-5 13th Green Augusta National

Par-5 13th Green Augusta National

The 2014 free Masters Tournament App is now available for you to download to your smart phone or device.

It’s a great way to follow the action as it happens at Augusta next week.

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