No Major for The Players

The article below is an one I wrote two years ago expressing my concerns about the golf course at TPC Sawgrass and how worthy it is of hosting a "major championship".  My sentiments have not changed....

When was the last time the top 10 players in a major were a combined 55 under par after one round?  When in a major have 57 players shot under par on any day?  The PGA Tour is trying to buy their way into a major championship by touting The Players as the "5th Major".

Not many people are aware that the PGA Tour does not operate or run a single major championship. The Masters is run by Augusta National, The US Open by the USGA, the British Open by the Royal and Ancient and the PGA by the PGA of America.  With the Players Championship the PGA Tour is making a vain (in my opinion of course) attempt to get into the mix.  From the monstrous clubhouse, to the monstrous purse, to the monstrous public relations spin they put on the event - they are eagerly attempting to join a closed club.

My primary reason for voting out the Players is the golf course!  Sure the holes we see all look frightening, with tremendous risk and reward, but what about the rest of the course.  Ever notice how much the Tour focuses on the closing holes?  Please don't get me wrong - you must be a ball striker to do well here, but this is simply Harbourtown where rough has replaced trees.  Distance does not make a great course , but give the best in the world ten opportunities from inside 140 yards and look out.  There are 10 short, legit birdie opportunities on the course (holes 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17).  Holes where every player in the field, from the longest to the shortest, should be thinking birdie or par at worst.

I have taken the rounds of two players, the longest and the shortest, namely Bubba and Fred Funk and broken them down for your perusal.  Let's start with Fred Funk who played earlier this morning.  When it comes to driving distance Fred Funk is currently 62nd on the Champions Tour with an average drive of 265.9yds.  That would leave him at 183 out of 185 on the PGA Tour ahead of only Faxon and Pavin.  His driving distance was 260 today and he scored a +1 /73.  The following numbers indicate the yardage he had into each of the 10 selected holes in regulation:(They include all four par fives and a par three)

1-156yds, 2-82yds, 4-115yds, 6-115yds, 9-87yds, 10-146yds, 11-101yds, 12-81yds, 16-4yds, 17-137yds for an average of 102.4 yards.

The shortest player in the field averaged just over 100 yds into 10 holes on a major championship course?

Now let's check in with Bubba Watson who played nicely and shot -5 /67.  He is currently the longest hitter on the PGA Tour at 313.8 yards per poke.  Today he averaged 318 yards off the tee.  His yardages into each of the ten selected holes were:

1-90yds, 2-53yds, 4-91 yds, 6-104 yds, 9-76 yds, 10-139 yds, 11-29 yds, 12-92 yds, 16-3 yds, 17-137 yds for an average distance in of 81.4 yards.  I wonder how many drivers Bubba used on these holes?

The facts indicate that every player in the field is faced with 10 holes on a supposed "major championship" course where the longest shot they are required to hit is approximately 140 yards.  And this is with a rainy night before the tournament got under way.  What major course has a four hole stretch (9-12) where no approach shot of over 125 yards is required?

In 2008 the greens had just been reshaped and surfaced and as a result were rock hard.  The wind blew between 15 and 25mph each day starting at 10 am.  In other words conditions were as tough and challenging as they could get and yet, the playoff number was -5.  Can you imagine conditions being brutal at Winged Foot or Carnoustie and -5 playing off...?

Grow all the rough you want, make the greens rock hard and roll at 13 on the stimp, but my belief is this - if they have soft conditions and windless days the winning score will be lower than -15.  You heard it here first - this is no major, just an over-sized, over-hyped attempt by Tim Finchem to create a PGA Tour major.  Sorry Tim, I vote NO!

That being said it should be a fun-filled event with a fantastic field - enjoy!

TrackMan: Definitive Answers at Impact and More

Here are a few very interesting facts that I have learned with the help of TrackMan. TrackMan is a radar unit that measures both club delivery and the full trajectory of any golf shot – essentially it measures almost everything pertaining to a golf club striking a ball. This might shed some light on, or dispel, a few of golf’s oldest myths:

For PGA Tour golfers (please note that these are averages):

  • All clubs, on average are struck with a descending blow from a PW (-5.0 degrees) to a driver (-1.3 degrees).
  • Every club in the bag hits the ball at the same height 30 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with the Driver is 112 mph; ball speed is 165 mph and carry distance is 269 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with an 8-iron is 87 mph; ball speed is 115 mph and carry distance is 160 yards.
  • Clubhead speed increased by 2 mph from club to club.
  • In conditions that eliminated any roll, an average PGA Tour player would hit a driver and a 5-wood 500 yards; a driver and a 7- iron 441 yards; and a driver and a PW 405 yards.
  • The Carry distance difference between each iron is 12 yards (8-iron 160 yards and 7-iron 172 yards).

For LPGA Tour golfers (please note these are averages):

 

  • All clubs are on average struck with a descending blow other than the driver which is 3.0 degrees upward.
  • Every club in the bag hits the ball the same height25 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with the driver is 94 mph; ball speed is 139 mph and carry distance is 220 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with an 8-iron is 74 mph; ball speed is 100 mph and carry distance is 130 yards.
  • Clubhead speed increased by 2 mph from club to club.
  • In conditions that eliminated any roll, an average LPGA Tour player would hit a driver and a 5-wood 405 yards; a driver and a 7- iron 361 yards; and a driver and a PW 327 yards.
  • The carry distance difference between each iron is 11 yards (8-iron 130 yards and 7-iron 141 yards).

General information:

 

  • Shot accuracy is primarily determined by a combination of face angle, club path and point of contact.
  • The ball launches PRIMARILY in the direction of the club face - approximately 75-85% on full shots.
  • For putting, shot accuracy is determined primarily by the face angle - the softer the hit (as in chipping and putting) the greater the effect of clubface. In putting the face accounts for 95+% of where the ball goes.
  • Face angle (largely) determines the launch direction while shot curvature/shape is mostly determined by the club path relative to the face angle – the opposite of what has been taught for years. Think of it this way: when a ball is struck with a descending blow, i.e. ball first, divot second, the attack angle is down, yet the ball goes up. The ball goes up due to the angle/loft of the face!
  • The initial ball direction falls between the club face angle and club path - remember that it greatly favors the face angle.
  • The further apart the club face and club path diverge from each other (basically - point in different directions) the more the ball's spin axis tilts and the more curvature exists on the shot.
  • By the way - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SIDE SPIN - it is merely back spin on an axis and the more the axis tilts, the more the ball flight curves.
  • The only way to hit the outside of the ball is to have the face closed relative to the target line and to hit the inside of the ball the face must be open relative to the target line. Path plays very little role in what part of the ball we hit.
  • The highest recorded clubhead speed on the PGA Tour in 2009 was Bubba Watson at 128 mph while the World Long Drive Champion, Jamie Sadlowski used a clubhead speed of 145 mph (418 yards!) to win. The average male golfer swings a driver somewhere between 82 and 90 mph.

  • A carry distance of 100 yards for ladies is equivalent to a carry distance of 130 yards for men; 200 yards for ladies is equivalent to 250 yards for men.
  • A par four of 350 yards for ladies is equivalent to a par four of 430 yards for the men.
  • The most important factor in increasing carry distance is clubhead speed. For every 1 mph you can add to your swing speed you stand to gain almost 3 yards.
  • An increase of 1” in the length of a club can increase the clubhead speed by as much as 4 mph.
  • The quality of the hit is very important as it relays clubhead speed into ball speed. Smash factor is calculated by dividing the ball speed by the clubhead speed. The maximum smash factor is just above 1.5 (e.g. 100 mph clubhead speed divided into 152 mph ball speed) and indicates an ideal transfer of energy to the ball. A smash factor of 1.5 is most often only attainable with a driver.
  • The ball spends 1/2000th of a second on the clubface. That means it would take a scratch handicap golfer almost 28 rounds of even par golf to have the ball be on the clubface for one second!

Something to keep in mind is that no golfer should discard accuracy in search of distance as there should always be a balance between the two. It is, however, possible for just about any golfer to significantly increase their distance with only a marginal decrease in accuracy as a result of a sound, long-term plan coupled with commitment and discipline.

Interesting stuff - any thoughts or questions?

To hit it like a Tour player check THIS out!

Distance: How to get more of it!

There are three factors that go into making a quality golf shot; the distance the ball travels, the accuracy of the ball flight and the quality of the strike on the ball. Very often golfers are striking the ball well enough and hitting it straight enough, yet there is a definite lack of distance. In this case there is a need for speed. Jamie Sadlowski is the current World Long Drive Champion. He weighs in at 165 pounds and his longest drive in competition is 419 yards. He generates 140 mph of clubhead speed which equates to almost 200 mph of ball speed! I believe that hitting the golf ball further has very little to do with strength and everything to do with speed - and Jamie is certainly testament to that.

When running backs in the NFL train, they are often hooked up to wind resistance chutes behind them. They then run as hard as they can in an effort to overcome the wind resistance. This exercise gets them to run "stronger" but not necessarily faster. Sprinters on the other hand are hooked up to a device on the track that actually tows them down the track at a faster rate than they are accustomed to, thus getting their limbs to move faster than they are used to. This is the formula we need to apply to golfers who are in search of a few extra yards - and we all could do with that!

Try this drill consistently over the course of a month:

During each practice session count out 12 balls (and only 12

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No 5th Major at TPC Sawgrass

When was the last time the top 10 players in a major were a combined 55 under par on day one?  When in a major have 57 players shot under par on any day?  The PGA Tour is trying to buy their way into a major championship by touting The Players as the "5th Major". Not many people are aware that the PGA Tour does not operate or run a single major championship. The Masters is run by Augusta National, The US Open by the USGA, the British Open by the Royal and Ancient and the  PGA by the, well, PGA. With the Players Championship the PGA Tour is making a vain attempt to get into the mix. From the monstrous clubhouse, to the monstrous purse, to the monstrous PR spin they put on the event they are eagerly attempting to join a closed club.

My primary reason for voting out the Players is the golf course! Sure the holes we see all look frightening, with tremendous risk and reward, but what about the rest of the course. Ever notice how much the Tour focuses on the closing holes?  Please don't get me wrong - you must be a ball striker to do well here, but this is simply Harbourtown where rough has replaced trees.  Distance does not make a great course , but give the best in the world ten opportunities from inside 140 yards and look out. There are 10 short, legit birdie opportunities on the course (holes 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17).  Holes where every player in the field, from the longest to the shortest, should be thinking birdie or par at worst.

I have taken the rounds of those two players, the longest and the shortest, namely Bubba and Freddy Funk and broken them down for your perusal.  Let's start with Fred Funk who played earlier this morning.  When it comes to driving distance Fred Funk is currently 62nd on the Champions Tour with a distance of 265.9.  That would leave him at 183 out of 185 on the PGA Tour ahead of only Faxon and Pavin.  His driving distance was 260 today and he scored a +1 /73.  The following numbers indicate the yardage he had into each of the 10 selected holes in regulation. They include all four par fives and a par three.2006 PGA Championship Third Round, Round 3Saturday, August 19,

1-156yds, 2-82yds, 4-115yds, 6-115yds, 9-87yds, 10-146yds, 11-101yds, 12-81yds, 16-4yds, 17-137yds for an average of 102.4 yards.

The shortest player in the field averaged just over 100 yds into 10 holes on a major championship course?

Now let's check in with Bubba Watson who is playing nicely and shot -5 /67.  He is currently the longest hitter on the PGA Tour at 313.8 yards per poke.  Today he averaged 318 yards off the tee.  His yardages into each of the ten selected holes were:

1-90yds, 2-53yds, 4-91 yds, 6-104 yds, 9-76 yds, 10-139 yds, 11-29 yds, 12-92 yds, 16-3 yds, 17-137 yds for an average distance in of 81.4 yards.  I wonder how many drivers Bubba used on these holes?

The facts indicate that every player in the field is faced with 10 holes on a supposed 'major championship' course where the longest shot they are required to hit is approximately 140 yards.  And this is with a rainy night before the tournament got under way.  What major course has a four hole stretch (9-12) where no approach shot of over 125 yards is required?

bubbawatson1

In 2008 the greens had just been reshaped and surfaced and as a result were rock hard.  The wind blew between 15 and 25mph each day starting at 10 am.  In other words conditions were as tough and challenging as they could get and yet, the playoff number was -5.  Can you imagine conditions being brutal at Winged Foot or Carnoustie and -5 playing off!  Grow all the rough you want, make the green rock hard and roll at 13 on the stimp, but my belief is this; if they have soft conditions and windless days the winning score will be lower than -15.  You heard it here first - this is no major, just an over-sized, over-promoted PGA Tour dream.

I love the event, just not the way the Tour is painting it!

Slow the Golf Ball Down - It Goes Way Too Far!

Phil and Tiger (Cannon/Getty)I watched the broadcast from Quail Hollow yesterday and was shocked at what I saw; these golfers were playing some of the hardest holes I have ever seen with 9-irons and wedges for their approaches.  I have been to this event and the 'Green Mile' holes are as they have been promoted - BRUTAL!  The leaders made them look a little silly (even though none of them managed to hit the 17th green!):

  • O'Hair had 154 yds. left in to the 480 yard 16th and the hole played slightly into the wind! Nine iron!
  • Number 17 played 225 yds. to the back pin and into a light wind.  Now I comprehend that the green was rock hard and with water lurking over the green and a back pin the optimal spot was to leave the ball a little short, but Lucas Glover hit a 5-iron!  That is ridiculous!
  • The uphill closing hole measures 478 yds. and played slightly down breeze.  Tiger Woods hit 3-wood, 9-iron to pin high! (Tiger also drove the 14th green (345yds.) with his 3-wood)  Bubba Watson had a flip wedge in from 135 yds. after hitting what looked like an easy cut driver!  Number 18 is the hardest hole I think I have ever seen and to play it with a fairway metal and a short iron is just wrong.
  • Bubba Watson hit a tournament long drive of 374 yards!  I know the guy is long but that is obscene.

I firmly believe that the USGA and RnA has dropped the ball (pun intended) on this matter and something needs to be done soon.  Gone are the days of upper echelon golfers hitting a 3-iron into a par four unless weather conditions exist.  Without changing the ball the only way that could be done would be to have par fours of over 530 yards and golf courses that measure 8,000 yards!  Whether it means changing the size of the ball, it's dimples, materials or construction, something needs to be done.

For more detailed quotes and information on this topic please link to http://www.geoffshackelford.com/the-list/

Things to ponder:

  • Zach Johnson looked like a regular weekend warrior out there on the 2nd hole; a little cart path, a little pine, a three putt, hello triple!
  • Sean O'Hair's mental toughness will carry him far.  Even though he finished bogey, bogey I never thought he looked afraid.
  • Well done to Bubba Watson!  He is more of what the PGA Tour needs and no that new hair-do is not a mullet.
  • Tiger needs to lose the driver and hit 3-wood on every hole.  The driver and 3-wood swings look so different.
  • How about David Feherty calling Tiger a loser!?  Tiger smiled, but I don't think we'll be seeing Feherty do the Tiger post-round interviews any longer.
  • Brandel Chamblee made the one of the dumbest statement of the year following the broadcast on the Golf Channel. In referring to Tiger's position at the top of his backswing;  "He needs to do something, because you cannot play golf from there!"  I'd like to not play like that.
  • The so-called 5th major is at TPC Sawgrass this week and it is my opinion that any golf course where every player in the field can hit 9 iron or less into more than half the holes cannot possibly be a major. (#1,2,4,6,9,10,11,12,16 and 17)