Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Friday, October 29, 2010

Time Away from the Game

I recently had some time away from the game, nearly a month where I did not touch a golf club. As I often do when I don't get a chance to practice or play, I think about my game. I think about various aspects of my game including; full swing, short game, putting, bunker shots, punch outs, decision making, etc. I often have my best ideas about how to improve my game while not playing.

I played last weekend with some buddies and had a chance to use my “new swing.” I can hear my wife now saying “did it really work this time?” Like most golfers, I always think I have the fix. Then I get on the course and usually realize I don't. However, this time my “fix” actually worked. I smiled at my wife and said “Yep!”

During this month-long break I found a solution to my full swing. It’s a problem that has been plaguing me for several years. My “miss” has been a block to the right with the full swing. All along I thought it was my swing plane when it was actually my release. I went through a checklist in my mind as to what could cause a ball to go right, but only on occasion. Golf is a cause and effect game. So, there are only so many possibilities as to what can cause golf ball to go right on occasion and not every time. If my club is on plane, going down the line through impact, and the clubface is square, what else could be the problem?

After some thinking about it, the light bulb went on. I was not fully releasing the club head through impact. Before my round, I headed to the range and tried my new “fix.” Thankfully, it worked. More importantly, it worked on the course.

The lesson here is this: the next time you have a break away from the game, try this exercise to fix a flaw in your game.

  • First, think through the problem in your game with some intensity. Before you can work on a fix you must thoroughly understand the problem. In most cases, this problem occurs on a consistent basis.
  • Next, think about some of the changes you have made in the past to try and correct the issue and what the results were. Write them down if you need to.
  • Then, think through all of other options that may work, and why. The “why” is very important. Refer to my previous post- The Why in Golf Instruction for more information.
  • Finally, try them on the practice tee one at a time. This process is usually not a quick one so patience is imperative. In most cases you will try many different variations to fixing the problem before you find a solution. Once you do find a fix you will know it.
  • To test it out, go out on the course. The fix will work on the course and will work over time if it is correct.
One last thing to remember is, if a change does not work, go back to the drawing board. Building bad technique on top of bad technique will make things worse, not better.

Are you looking for a fix in your game? If you have a consistent problem that you can’t seem to fix, send me an e-mail at burghgolfer@gmail.com. I’ll feature the issue in a future post.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TPC Piper Glen

I had the opportunity to play the TPC Piper Glen Golf Club this spring. The TPC Piper Glen is located in Charlotte North Carolina and is a terrific golf course in a magnificent setting. The TPC is a championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer that is very playable for all skill levels. The course can stretch from 4,771 yards at the Forward Tees to 6,901 yards from the Championship Tees. So, there are a number of options for players of all skill levels to choose from.

The course has a nice variety of geographical features and elevation changes. Many of the holes are tree-lined with plenty of lakes and water features. The water features provide beauty and challenge as they are strategically placed. Most of the holes are fairly generous off the tee. However, many of the green complexes are well-protected with sand and water. This makes positioning off of the tee important and knowing your yardages into the green imperative.

In addition to a fantastic design, the setting is beautiful. Even though the course is surrounded by custom and executive homes, it still feels very peaceful and tranquil. It is listed as one mile from the city center in an urban environment, although you would never know it during a round.

The driving range is first rate, as you would expect at a Tournament Players Club facility. In addition to the teeing ground, they offer a separate short game area and bunker complex. This is where I need to spend more time, especially practicing in the bunkers. Whether you are looking to just warm up or seriously practice, this facility will fit the bill.

In addition to the golf course, the clubhouse and pro shop are very professional and well stocked. If you are looking for a gift to take home as a souvenir or golf attire you will not be disappointed. The locker room is complete with lockers (get a locker key from the pro shop) and full amenities.

There is a lot of history at this club so take a few minutes to look at the photos and take a look around.

If you ever get the opportunity to play TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte, don’t pass up the chance. You will surely be challenged, and don’t get distracted by the gorgeous scenery.

Hole 14
source; tpcpiperglen.com

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Three PGA Tours

For most of us when we think of Men’s Professional Golf we think of the three primary tours here in the USA. They are; The Nationwide Tour, PGA Tour, and Champions Tour. I have been saying for several years there are actually three versions of the Men’s PGA Tour.

The Big PGA Tour is the primary PGA Tour that includes the best players, biggest events, Major championships and now The FedEx Cup Championships. This tour holds all the big events, sees the best players on a frequent basis and draws the focus and attention of the average spectator.

The Second Tour has all the “other” events besides the big tournaments. Not to take anything away from these events but they just do not get the top players entering the events. They are held throughout the season and are played with little fanfare.

The Final Tour is the Nationwide Tour or as some would call it, the minor leagues. Not that the players are minor league in any shape or fashion. This tour has a lot of great players who have played on the Big Tour in the past, and will be on there again in the future. However, due to the PGA Tours size limitation, the remaining players need a place to play and compete if they wish to remain in the US. For most of them, this is where they play.

Most recently, there is the PGA Tours “Fall Series”. The Fall Series is a set of events that are going on right now after the Big Tour winds down. In my opinion, the Fall Series is the PGA Tours creative way of drawing attention to the events and to create a buzz. Let’s face it; most of us do not pay a lot of attention to events where Tiger, Phil or Ernie is not playing. I watch golf more than most and even I pay little attention to these events.

I remember a few years ago when Tim Finchem (PGA Tour Commissioner) had a disagreement with Greg Norman over an idea that allows the best players in the world to play against each other on a global basis. Norman wanted to create a World Tour whereby, the best players around the globe could compete against each other in a set number of events each season. Tim Finchem of course, was against the idea and chastised Norman for the concept. In the end, Norman was correct and Finchem saw it as a threat to the “PGA Tour Brand”. However, Finchem went on to create this very concept with the current PGA Tour schedule. On the (Big PGA Tour) there are the Four Majors, FedEx Championships, Players Championship, The Memorial and Bay Hill, etc. This is where the best players in the world gather to compete for prestigious titles and a lot of money. The remainder of the events (Second Tour) may be classified as the PGA tour but really they are not. Below is a quote from PGA Tour Member Charles Howell recently which illustrates my point on the inequity that exists among the events.

“Somehow (Fall Series events) got classified with an invisible asterisk besides them,” Howell said on Sunday at the McGladrey Classic. “If you win some of these tournaments, you should get in the Masters. How you can make a decision where if a guy wins a Fall Series event he's not in the Masters. I don't understand that. You look at the field we have this week. Sometimes decisions like that are made that aren't the best decisions.”

Source; Golf Channel.com

Sunday, October 10, 2010


We often here the term “Stimpmeter” when watching golf on TV. We also hear phrases such as “how fast did the greens stimp today?” I know a Stimpmeter is used to measure the speed of the greens however, I never knew its history or its connection to Oakmont.

It was designed by golfer Edward Stimpson, Sr. in 1935.[1] The Massachusetts state amateur champion, Stimpson was a spectator at that year's U.S. Open at Oakmont. After watching a putt by a top professional (Gene Sarazen) roll off a green, Stimpson was convinced the greens were unreasonably fast, but wondered how he could prove it. He developed a device, now known as the Stimpmeter, which is an angled track that releases a ball at a known velocity so that the distance it rolls on a green's surface can be measured. Although the original device was made of wood, in 1976 it was redesigned from aluminum by Frank Thomas of the United States Golf Association (USGA). It was first used by the USGA during the 1976 U.S. Open at Atlanta and made available to golf course superintendents in 1978. The official USGA stimpmeter (painted green) is not sold to the public.

Source; http://www.wikipedia.org/

Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Ryder Cup

I had the opportunity to watch some of the Ryder Cup this morning. Between the weather delays and early starts, it has been tough to catch on TV. I do not know about you, but waking up at 3am to watch golf is not exactly my thing. As much as I love to watch the Ryder Cup that is not going to happen. Thank goodness for the DVR’s.

As we enter the final day of “Singles” matches, the US team is once again down to the European Ryder Cup team in points. The score thus far is Europe 9 1/2, USA 6 1/2. That is a tough deficit to come back from but the US team is capable if they play really well.

Each time the Ryder Cup comes around the Golf Analysts always ponder why the US team has not done better in the matches against Europe? Especially, when the matches are played in Europe. In watching today’s play I came to the conclusion that it comes down to four primary reasons which I call the four P’s.

The Four “P’s” are; Patience, Pace, Passion and Preparation.

Patience: the pace of play was difficult to stand as a spectator let alone as a player. It seems to me that the players take an inordinate amount of time around the greens reading puts and playing shots. Especially the European Team where they need a decision by council before striking a putt. I believe this pace annoys many of the US players and probably disrupts their rhythm. The game is hard enough to play under pressure when your rhythm is good, let alone, when it is slowed down dramatically, by the opposing teams. Notice there is no pace of play rule or “clock” for slow play like there is on the PGA Tour.

Pace: The greens in Wales could not be any slower. I challenge you to count the number of times a US player leaves a putt short. Even when they have a free run at the putt the leave it short. The US team is just not used to playing on greens this slow. I know, the argument it that they are the best players in the world and should be able to adjust their speed. However, I beg to differ. Players at that level have a tough time adjusting to greens that slow every four years. The European side is much better adept at playing on greens of a slower pace. They face these cold, damp, wet conditions much more each year that the American players do.

Passion: Again, I have to criticize the US players and Captains on this point. The Analysts always talk about how much more passion the European Players play with. I have to agree, it almost means more to their team for some reason. In addition, why do our Captains continue to pick players who have little fire or energy, like Stewart Cink. Even Johnny Miller has questioned Cink’s place on the team. Cink, who has an abysmal Ryder Cup record, continues to get picked. Why we cannot pick players who play with passion and can make lots of birdies is beyond me. After all, each Ryder Cup seems to come down to these two elements as the most important in winning.

Preparation: Again, I think the US players probably do not and cannot prepare for the conditions they will face in Europe. Playing, practicing and working on your game in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nevada or California is never going to prepare you for the conditions in Europe. Unfortunately, that is where most US players live and practice. Paul Azinger was the US Teams Ryder Cup Captain when the matches were played two years ago at Valhalla. He developed a system that produced a winning team and was praised for it. He even wrote a book about his winning strategy. That strategy seems to have been ignored by this year’s Captain Pavin. Perhaps, we should have sent a copy to Captain Pavin’s house before this year’s Cup.

I sure hope we win the matches tomorrow and retain the Cup. However, if the US Team does not begin getting these four critical areas corrected every Ryder Cup is going to be a real test. Especially, when they are playing on foreign soil.

What are your thought and recommendations on how the US team can fare better in the Ryder Cup?