Masters Week 2012

The cream of the crop always rises in golf's major championships and nowhere is this more true than at Augusta National for the Masters.  Here are a few interesting notes to help get you prepared for the event:

If you, like me, are filling out a Masters pool keep the following in mind:

  • Phil Mickelson has only finished outside the top 10 in twice in the last 13 years
  • Graeme McDowell, outside his tie for 17th in 2009, has missed the cut in his other three Masters starts
  • Martin Kaymer is 0-for-4 in getting to the weekend at the Masters (despite his Monday hole in one) and Louis Oosthuizen is 0-3 in cuts made
  • Geoff Ogilvy has six Masters starts, has never missed a cut, and counts three top-16 finishes, including a T4 last year
  • Ian Poulter’s T27 in 2011 was his worst showing in the last five years. He tied for 10th in 2010
  • Justin Rose has never missed the cut in six starts at Augusta. He tied for fifth in 2007, was T11 a year ago, and rolls in with a good dose of confidence
  • David Toms has bounced back with three top-24 finishes in his last four starts
  • Lee Westwood has three top-11 finishes in his last four Masters starts, his best showing being a solo runner-up two years ago
  • Remember what Rory McIlroy did through the first 63 holes last year...and how he recovered from that final nine at Congressional
  • Tiger Woods has won one green jacket in the last 10 years. Yet, dating to his last Masters victory in 2005, he has not finished worse than T6.

If I could pick any three golfers I'd have to go with (in this order) Rory, Phil and Tiger (yes, I know I'm going way out on a limb here)! My sleepers would be Cabrera, Ogilvy and KJ...

I am surprised and disappointed that the Augusta powers have failed to extend an invitation to Ernie Els. Ernie is currently playing beautifully, having finished outside the top 20 only once in his last 5 events. He is 34th in the Fedex Cup and ranked 58th in the world. Not to mention that he has often (albeit, not often enough) contended for the green jacket.  Is Ryo Ishikawa really better than the Big Easy? Or does he just command a greater Japanese television audience?

That being said here is the FIELD and how they qualified.

Full TV Schedule (information found at

Par 3 contest

Wednesday, April 4 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on ESPN

First-round coverage

Thursday, April 5 from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Second-round coverage

Friday, April 6 from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Third-round coverage

Saturday, April 7 at 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on CBS

Final-round coverage

Sunday, April 8 at 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on CBS

As always the premium at Augusta is on the shortgame. Here is Geoff Ogilvy talking about the two toughest chips that almost all golfers will face during the week:

One of the toughest chips you can face on the course is from right of the 11th green, a spot where it seems at least one player in every group is playing from during the tournament. Bailing out away from the water is very tempting but no bargain. It is almost impossible to land a chip short on that green with any confidence; you just don’t know what the ball is going to do after it pitches. Then when it does get on the green it invariably races away. It’s such a subtle test, but one that gives the course much of its character.

The same is true behind the 15th green. It is so difficult to judge how much forward momentum the ball will have after it bounces and how fast it needs to be moving once it gets onto the sloping putting surface. And again, it is a shot that tends to come up a lot over the course of the tournament. Go for that green in two every day and you are likely to finish over the back at least twice.

Having had the opportunity to play both of these chip shots I can second his thoughts. I would almost always go for the front portion of the green at 11 rather than bail out right - water or not. Very tough approach from the right side there.

Here are a few sites that do a fantastic job covering the event:

To see unique photographs from a few of my previous visits to Augusta National click HERE and HERE

Have a fantastic week and enjoy the golf!

Congrats Graeme!

Graeme McDowell Celebrates (Vuich/SI) Well played Graeme! You played like you actually wanted to win while everybody else around you couldn't wait to get their hands off the trophy.

My thoughts:

  • Pebble Beach is great place, but I believe the course needs work. When 7 out of 84! of the best golfers in the world hit the 17th green (on Sunday) in fairly benign weather conditions there is a problem. When the shortish par 5 14th hole plays as the most difficult hole on any day there is a problem. No major changes required - it just needs to be made a little more playable. That being said I thought the course was beautifully set up for the week.
  • Tiger's stock is down once again after a week of better ball striking. Could somebody please teach him how to give a post round interview? Let's start with congratulating the champion....! Much better swing though.
  • Hank Haney (who was at Mission Hills in China during Open week) - if Tiger's numbers were so much better with you than any other coach, then I would expect hordes of Tour golfers to be waiting on your doorstep now that you can teach golfers other than just His Highness.  How is that going for you? (BTW - don't bother emailing me on this one)
  • Ernie Els let another one slip from his grasp. Of the 17 full swings he made on the back nine, 8 were in the poor category and that's not to mention a handful of makeable putts sliding by the edge.  I really thought he would pull it out.
  • Phil was just plain flat!
  • Dustin Johnson will be doing some soul searching today. He is a tough kid who has the ability to let things slide of his back and I firmly believe he will come back stronger than ever. To those who might blame his swing for the breakdown on Sunday, please be quiet - Graeme McDowell has almost the exact same left wrist in his swing and that held up just fine. It's all about impact!
  • Gregory Havret played the best out of all contenders on the back nine. He actually had a real shot at the trophy on the last two holes. Great looking swing and I found myself wondering why he doesn't do well more often. Strange game we play! Did anybody think Steve Martin in Pink Panther during his post round interview?
  • I loved the way Graeme McDowell chatted with the camera coming up the eighteenth hole. He showed confidence and personality. Not that any Irishman has been short on personality! He seemed friendly and likeable.
  • Out of the last eight events on the PGA Tour there has been one US winner! Can you believe it - 7 out of 8 have been foreign. It is such a global game and in my opinion that only makes it more interesting.

Graeme and his Dad (Vuich/SI)

Graeme McDowell's Equipment

Happy Father's Day - I hope you have been as blessed as I have with my dad, Bill Rice. What a truly great man. I owe everything in my life to you Willy - thanks.

Masters Week 2010 Edition

Augusta National

The week that every golfer anticipates from all the way back in November is finally here - Masters Week 2010! I would like this to be a one-stop shop for all things pertaining to Augusta National and the Masters and as a result I have tracked any and all pertinent information down and linked it to the site. Enjoy!


Augusta 15th Hole Aerial (Sports Illustrated)

The "New" Tiger?

The English are coming..... (How/Getty)

Augusta National in Winter

This week also happens to mark the one year anniversary of! In our first year we have had almost 40,000 visitors and continue to grow. Thanks so much for your support and readership and I can promise another year of even better and more insightful content.

BTW - my picks for this week are Phil and the Goose! Yours?

Enjoy the tournament.

News and Notes

Early moring golf anyone....?

  • Could there be many things better in life than getting up early on a beautiful day to play 18 or 36 holes with close friends on a really fun golf course?
  • The weather is getting better here in South Carolina and we are catching glimpses of Spring being just around the corner. I get the sense that most golfers have a case of "cabin fever" due to the taxing winter we have all experienced and are desperate to get out and play a little golf. Nothing turns my mind more to golf than warmth and sunshine after a long, cold winter.
  • Jim Furyk and Ernie Els have won on the PGA Tour the last two weeks - is it really 2010? Its starting to feel a bit like old times. Even Vijay and KJ Choi have been playing better lately!

Tiger Woods

  • As I'm sure you all know Tiger Woods is playing at Augusta. Tiger has surprised us all in many ways throughout his career, but this move truly puzzles me. I had always been under the impression that the man in the red shirt was about winning major championships, yet coming back at the Masters, instead of getting an additional prior event under his belt, tells me this is more about image and self preservation than major championship victories. What chance does he have of winning - really? By not playing at Bay Hill and starting at Augusta National he has said to me that he would rather preserve what is left of his "aura" (with substantial help from the good people in the green jackets!) than give himself another opportunity to get one notch closer to Jack.

Tavistock Cup Logo 2010

  • An interesting note from the Tavistock Cup - Elin was present without Tiger at the lavish party thrown for participants and sponsors at Isleworth last night. Tiger was practicing at Augusta yesterday so read whatever you want into that.
  • My picks for Augusta currently are Phil and the Goose. Lefty has been very quiet lately but that frequently has no bearing on his play in the majors and the Goose has been resurgent with his new belly putter. The course suits his big power game and I really think he might do something there this year.
  • If anybody out there would like a golf lesson to "dust the rust" from their frigid golf games please give me a call at  (843)247-4688 if you are within reach of South Carolina or if not, shoot me a video via where I am listed as a V1 instructor. The cost for video lessons via V1 is $40 and turnaround time is 48 hours. I would appreciate the opportunity to help make 2010 a great year for golf.
  • A recent quote from a golfer who purchased "It's All About Impact"

"I have now read through your book, It's All About Impact, twice. It is very well-done with good, understandable explanations, and the photos illustrate well and definitely define "a picture is worth a thousand words"! I had actually played Monday and just focusing on the 84 degrees and impact made a noticeable difference with balance and actual ball contact. I still have a way to go to get the correct divot but it sure seemed to simplify thoughts. I actually started hitting with more distance without trying due to the more solid contact. Every day is a different day but this sure helps consistency. Thanks!!" DB


I hope "It's All About Impact" can do the same for you and your golf this year!

Please feel free to contact me with any golf queries, questions or ideas you may have. And thanks very much for reading!

2009 in Review

That's all she wrote! The 2009 "official" golf season is in the books and while there were glimmers of excitement, I felt like the year was not one to write home about. Here are a few thoughts: Tiger Woods eclipsed the $10 million mark again - Steve Stricker, his nearest challenger was more than $4 million behind!

Steve StrickerNo majors for Tiger. If he does not win at Augusta next year I predict Hank Haney will be looking for some new students. Biggest surprises in the top 20 on the money list: Kevin Na; Z. and D. Johnson; Y.E. Yang; Brian Gay; Lucas Glover. How about this list of golfers outside the top 125: Chris DiMarco; Carl Pettersson; Stuart Appleby; Rocco; Chez Reavie; Johnson Wagner; Trevor Immelman; Ken Duke and multiple other tour winners.

Read More

Swing Methods and the Fifteen Second Flameout

Butch Harmon

Have you ever noticed how various swing fads seem to come and go?  It seems like just the other day that Bennett and Plummer's "Stack and Tilt" swing was the only way to hit a ball properly.  How about David Leadbetter?  When was the last time you heard from him or one of his players?  Do you remember Jimmy Ballard and "connection"? What about Jim Hardy and his "One Plane Swing"It boggles my mind how these methods pop up, become the hot item and then flare out almost as quickly as they arrived on the scene.  They all have one thing in common that led to their 'success';  a tour golfer who wins an event or two with this 'new and amazing swing' they just learned.  The golfer, feeling indebted to the teacher, proudly proclaims that they could not have achieved their success without this newly discovered way to swing.  Please!
Understand that most of these ideas are thought up by very intelligent and well educated golf teachers.  The problem I have with these methodologies, however,  is that they set their own style of swinging the club.  In other words, the club must be swung in a certain fashion for it to work or function correctly.  I say an emphatic, "Nonsense!" I do not claim to know everything about the golf swing, but I do know that every great player has a different swing that produces fantastic results - or they would not be great!  There cannot possibly be one 'correct' way to swing the club!            

David Leadbetter

 It's a classic case of putting form before function!  "If you swing this new and amazing way you will achieve desired results!"  The best players of all time have always had a knack of getting the club on the ball correctly and the game today is no different.  A feathery needed to be stuck the same way a ProV1X needs to be hit.  Well almost!  If every golfer out there could understand impact and physics that make the ball go in the right place AND the wrong place they would be far better off.  What difference is perfecting the wrist angle at position seven in the moveaway going to make in your game and ability to compress a golf ball!  Form will always follow function.  Just ask Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, Raymond Floyd, Bobby Jones, Nancy Lopez, Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke.......
Function must be King when you work on your game.  Get the ball to sound, feel and fly like you want it to and you are a happy, and very good, golfer!
Things to Ponder:
  • Watching the AT&T on Sunday looked like the King (Tiger) was taking his young Prince (Kim) out for a little schooling.
  • Anyone got an over under on the number of days before Carolyn Bivens is out as the LPGA commissioner?
  • Why when a golfer sets up with their body aiming left it is an 'open' stance and when their clubface is aiming right it is an 'open' face?  Blame the Scots and single malt whiskey for that one.
  • I have a feeling Paddy Harrington will be back in contention at next weeks 'Open' Championship.
  • A claim could be made that Phil has choked away both majors so far this year!?

Hey, thanks for reading and please tell your friends about this amazing new website that is the latest and greatest golf blog in the whole wide world!!

The 84 Degree Secret! (Part 4)

Body position is the most important factor influencing impact and the quality of the golf shots you are hitting. In the illustration notice how Annika's right side seems to form a straight line. From the outside of her back foot all the way up her right side to the right side of her head can be covered with a straight line laying at 84 degrees. This indicates the 84 degree secret.

Mickey Wright

It is quite amazing how many of the top golfers obey this '84 Degree Secret'!

To be clear this is not Stack and Tilt which actually encouraged the golfer to feel as if they are leaning towards the target. Here the upper body remains steady/centered while the body pivots to the top without drifting across the line.

The '84 Degree Secret' is essential to achieving a correct impact as it makes it simple for the golfer to get to the proper hit position. Think of it this way; if you move the upper body six inches off the ball in the backswing, you now have to find a way to get it back to where it started, at exactly the right time, and in one third the amount of time it took to get it out of position.

Keep the upper body centered/over the ball and you will start to compress the ball like never before!

A recap of the last four articles and how they pertain to a great impact:

  • A strong grip allows the handle to lead the club head with the club face remaining square.
  • A 'vertical' set-up where the head is centered between the feet and there is minimal shoulder tilt prepares the body for the proper pivot.
  • A steeper shoulder pivot keeps the upper body centered and allows for a descending attack into the ball.
  • The 84 degree secret! Eliminate lateral motion and keep the head over the ball to make for a simplified transition into the hit.

Should you have any questions or queries please feel free to post a comment!

Things to ponder:

  • Tiger is in for a battle this weekend! Good for golf and good for us.
  • Quail Hollow has the look and feel of a US Open, but trust me it is not even close. There are six holes on the course where I would be thinking birdie! Now the other twelve are a different story......
  • There are over 15 million active blogs available online. Thanks for reading this one!
  • I like what Stuart Appleby said about the 17th at Quail Hollow, "Bad design!" I second that motion.
  • Phil seems to be working out and in better shape, yet how does he always manage to look a little chubby to me? Amy needs to up his shirt size me thinks.
  • Please post a comment - I am heartbroken that there have not been any thus far.........
  • Stay well!