How you can change your golf grip without even realizing it

Editor’s Note: Baden Schaff has been a PGA teaching professional for 17 years and is the co-founder of Skillest, a digital platform that connects golf students with golf coaches across the world for online lessons. To learn more about Skillest and to book a lesson of your own with Baden or with Andreas Kali.

The grip causes eternal fascination for golfers. It’s often the first thing I get asked during a lesson. Why is it that the aspect of the swing that creates the most intrigue has nothing to do with the swing itself?

The commonly rolled out line is “because it’s the only part of the body that is connected to the club”. This might well be true, but I think it’s more likely because it’s the only part of the golf swing you can see without videoing it. Your grip is staring you in the face every time you look down at that ball. But why, then, do students still have so much trouble getting it right?

Because they try and fix it in isolation.

Whenever I see a tip regarding the grip it is always a close up of how the two hands are sitting on the club, cut off above the wrists. But what if there is something else at play? What if your grip was influenced by more than just the way your hands are holding the club. Well, there is and it’s got everything to do with your body posture and the way your arms hang at setup. Trying to get your grip right without getting your set up right will drive you mad.

Let’s look at two of the best players in the world. Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. Dustin has an incredibly strong grip and subsequently shuts the club on the takeaway. Bryson on the other hand is the opposite. He has an incredibly weak grip, particularly evident in the left hand, and has a much more neutral face during the golf swing.

Now are these two grips diametrically opposed because they just hold it differently? No, it’s also because DJ generally starts with the body more over the ball and an almost straight down arm hang. This creates more “radial deviation” and gives the left wrist an exaggerated “extension” or cupping. This is what makes it look so strong.

Bryson is the exact opposite. He plays golf with a more upright posture and has much higher hands, almost like the heel of his club is off the ground. This is why Bryson has his clubs lie angles so upright. This setup creates ulnar deviation and less extension in the left wrist and gives it a look of being incredibly weak. It’s not so much the way their hands sit on the club as much as their posture and their arm hang. This is why you can get your grip looking perfect when you hold the club up in front of you but looks completely wrong when the club is down at address.

Grips cannot be fixed in isolation, they are part of a much broader picture.

A great way to test this for yourself is by taking your usual set up. Then, if you want to see your grip weaken without moving your hands on the club, stand slightly closer to the ball, raise your hands so that it feels like the heel of the club is off the ground, just like Bryson.

If you want to see your grip strengthen, push your hands towards the ground and watch the toe of the club come off the ground. You will notice that your left wrist will cup or extend more making it look stronger. When it is set like DJ you will notice that you can see three of four knuckles while setting up like Bryson will show you only one or two knuckles.

Personally, I prefer Bryson’s style, but let’s not detract from the larger point: Your grip can be changed and influenced without ever moving the hands on the club, because it’s affected by your body position. Like always, any change to your swing must be made with a broader context in mind. Nothing ever works independently. Your challenge is finding a coach that understands cause and effect well enough to work with your motion as a whole.

SOURCE:  Golf.com

Harold Varner III just broke an impressive, and slightly odd, PGA Tour record

Harold Varner III delivered fans the greatest show on turf at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And it had nothing to do with TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole.

Varner, 29, opened up the event on Thursday with a par … and over the next two days, followed with 31 straight similar scores. For those of you scoring at home, that would be a whopping 32 pars, which set a PGA Tour record for most consecutive pars to start a tournament in the ShotLink era.

K.J. Choi was the previous title holder with 27 pars at the 2006 Colonial.

Frame this bad boy and put it in the Smithsonian.

Alas, some stars shine so bright they burn out in two wink’s of a coal miner’s eye. Varner’s golden quest was sidetracked at the 15th, where apparently the East Carolina product said “The hell with history” by making a birdie. The audacity. Worse, he followed with a bogey at the infamous 16th, moving him back to even for the event. Clearly, there are golf gods, and they are cruel.

It’s been an inauspicious start to 2020 for Varner, who missed cuts at the American Express and Farmers Insurance Open. Hopefully riding this magical train gets his season back on track.

SOURCE:  GolfDigest.com

Simple steps for getting your hands on right

I see a lot of amateurs approach the golf grip with a lot of tension. Many are holding the club too tightly. I notice it most when they try to waggle. The movement looks stiff and short.
To swing correctly, the right amount of grip pressure—and where you apply it—is important. You should feel the club being supported by the last three fingers of your left hand (above, left). Those fingers should grip the firmest. My longtime teacher, the late Stan Thirsk, used to remind me to keep the club in the fingers of my left hand and never let it slip into the palm.
In the right hand, the middle two fingers do most of the work. The forefinger and thumb of the right hand should feel relaxed. In fact, I’ve seen many great players, including Ben Hogan and Fred Couples, practice with those two fingers clear off the club (above, right).
Back to waggling. With softer grip pressure, your waggle will be looser and will help relax your hands and arms. During the swing, the right hand should be free enough to fire the clubhead through the hitting area.
When it comes to your golf grip, how tight is too tight? Here’s an exercise: Next time you practice, try backing off with your grip pressure until the club is almost falling out of your hands. Then firm it up just enough so you can control the club. That likely is your ideal grip pressure. Will it feel lighter? I’m guessing it will.
Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.
SOURCE:  GolfDigest

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Tiger Woods announces new golf-entertainment business venture

Tiger Woods is getting into the golf-entertainment business with a new business venture that will compete with the likes of TopGolf, Drive Shack and other venues that marry traditional golf with cutting-edge technology.

TGR, Tiger Woods Ventures and PopStroke Entertainment Group Thursday announced they have entered into a strategic partnership.

Founded in 2018, PopStroke is a technology-infused golf-entertainment concept featuring professionally designed putting courses and food and beverage.

PopStroke currently has one facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Locations in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Fort Myers, Florida, currently are under development, and several additional sites are planned for 2020 and beyond. TGR Design and Tiger Woods will be responsible for designing the putting courses at all future PopStroke locations.

“This is a natural extension of my golf course design philosophy and my TGR Design business,” Woods said. “Our goal has always been to design courses that bring people together and are fun for golfers of all abilities and ages.”

Infusing the traditional putt-putt experience, which hasn’t changed in years, with a dose of technology is expected to create a more social and entertaining experience.

The PopStroke experience is enhanced with a technology platform consisting of the soon-to-be released electronic scorekeeping golf ball, the “iPutt” ball. The ball transmits scores electronically to the custom PopStroke app, which can be downloaded in the Apple and Android App stores. Players will be able to compete against each other in a tournament environment while earning “Pop Bucks” through the PopStroke loyalty rewards app program.

“Some of my happiest memories are spending time with my pops (Earl) on the golf course having putting contests,” Woods said. “I’m looking forward to others enjoying time with their kids at PopStroke. This is a new way for individuals to experience the game of golf. It’s about bringing people together.”

Food, soft drinks, signature cocktails, a variety of craft beer and wine options are also available on the app for delivery directly to a golf course location or at the onsite full-service restaurant and bar. Woods has previous experience in the restaurant business as owner of The Woods Jupiter, his flagship restaurant in Jupiter, Florida.

“Tiger Woods has had the most significant impact in growing the game of golf around the world and his investment and partnership in PopStroke will undoubtedly introduce the game to a new and wider audience of participants,” said PopStroke founder Greg Bartoli.

Pete Bevacqua, former CEO of the PGA of America and president of NBC Sports, has agreed to be a member of the board of directors.

SOURCE:  USAToday

 

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20 years after golfer Payne Stewart’s tragic death, son Aaron carries his legacy

Aaron Stewart spent his summers on the road as a PGA Tour kid. The behind-the-scenes visits at the Columbus Zoo during the Memorial Tournament stand out among his favorite memories as well as the “music man” under the big tree on Hilton Head Island.

He grew up on tournament golf.

It’s not surprising that Stewart would want to follow in the footsteps of his father, Payne, a three-time major winner and sporting icon. A humble Aaron calls it more of a blessing than an expectation that he’s now back in golf. The former SMU player (just like dad) was recently named vice president of sports marketing for Diamond Resorts and executive director of the LPGA’s Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.

Oct. 25 marks the 20th anniversary of the day Payne’s tragic death played out on television screens across the country. Four months after Payne won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, a private Learjet carrying the golfer and five others crashed near Aberdeen, South Dakota, after flying on autopilot for several hours.

“The fact that this is 20 years is pretty crazy to me,” said Aaron. “To think that amount of time has gone by.”

Aaron said he recently did an interview for PGA Tour radio with his sister Chelsea, who works for AT&T, and they talked about how their dad would’ve gotten along in today’s PC society. Imagine trying to control him on Twitter, Chelsea said.

“It never came from a mean-spirited place,” said Aaron of his father’s jokes. “Everybody knew that’s Payne having a good time. He was able to get away with it.”

Aaron, 30, looks a lot like Payne. People tell him that all the time. They also tell stories, and Aaron never tires of hearing them. The Stewart family still keeps in touch with many of the PGA Tour families Aaron and Chelsea grew up with.

After completing the program, Stewart landed a job that had over 400 employees reporting to him.

“He was special,” said Flaskey of Stewart taking on such a hefty role at a young age.He grew up on tournament golf.Aaron Stewart, son of late PGA Tour icon and World Golf Hall of Famer Payne Stewart, has been named Executive Director of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Stewart, who also serves as Vice President of Sports Marketing for Diamond Resorts, will oversee all aspects of the LPGA Tour event to be held January 16-19, 2020, at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Orlando, Florida.

After several years as National OPC Program Manager and Regional Marketing Director, Stewart and his wife, Naiara, took a break from work to travel the world, an adventure that had long been in the making.

They visited 40 countries that year, spending the most time visiting family from their mom, Tracey’s, native Australia.

One of the reasons Flaskey created the Diamond Resorts TOC was to focus on a younger demographic. Millennials account for 12 percent of Diamond’s total membership.

 

“We know millennials want to travel,” said Flaskey. “They want to get out there and go.”

When Aaron and his wife returned to the U.S., they decided to move back to Orlando, Florida. He returned to the company in March as Director of National Partnerships.

The 2020 Diamond Resorts TOC takes place Jan. 16-19 on Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando. Winners from the last two seasons are invited to play alongside sports stars and celebrities. Eun-Hee Ji won the 2019 edition along with former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz.

The tournament, which averaged 15,000 fans over the weekend in its debut, aims to be the biggest party on tour. To that end, there will be three concerts in 2020. While LPGA pros compete for $1.2 million over 72 holes, the celebrities vie for their own $500,000 purse using a modified Stableford format. The event has raised $3.5 million for children’s healthcare.

With the LPGA adding a second stop in south Florida after the TOC – the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio – the field at Tranquilo might be stronger in 2020. Michelle Wie’s victory at the 2018 HSBC Women’s World Championship makes her eligible for the season-opener should be healthy enough to compete.

Part of what attracted Flaskey to bring back a TOC format to the LPGA was the fact that it’s an earned event. In Stewart, he has found a man who is uniquely qualified to lead it.

“We just think that growing up in a lifetime of golf brings credibility to our event,” said Flaskey of Payne’s only son. “It helps us really take it to the next level.”

SOURCE:  USAtoday

Golf For Beginners: So You Want To Play Golf

We get it. Golf can seem terribly complicated to the uninitiated. So many rules, so many different kinds of clubs.

That’s where this online beginner’s guide comes in. To those who know nothing about golf, our goal is to shepherd you through this uncertainty. What kind of clubs do you need? How do you practice? When do you know that you’re ready for the golf course? The way we see it, the only dumb questions about getting started in golf are the ones you’re afraid to ask, or worse, the ones for which you can’t find an answer.

No doubt, the right equipment always helps, but it’s not as if you’ll need to empty your savings account to get started. Instead, focus on finding the sort of equipment that will allow you to develop your imperfect skills with minimal expense. There’ll be plenty of time to go after the latest, hot products on the market (and when you do, make sure you start your search with one of our top 100 clubfitters, but at the beginning, make learning — and not buying — your priority.

1. You only need a few clubs: You’re allowed to carry as many as 14 clubs in your bag, but you won’t need nearly that many when you’re first learning. Instead, start with a driver, a putter, a sand wedge (it’s the club that has an “S” on the sole or a loft of 54 to 56 degrees) and supplement those with a 6-iron, an 8-iron, a pitching wedge, and a fairway wood or hybrid with 18-21 degrees of loft. These are the clubs that are the most forgiving and easiest to get airborne. You can find used and new titanium drivers for as little as $75 and putters for much less than online, but most larger golf and general sporting goods stoes also offer racks of discounted and/or used clubs.

2. Don’t guess — try before you buy: If you’re an absolute beginner looking to buy clubs, go to a larger golf shop or driving range and ask to try a 6-iron with a regular-flex and a stiff-flex shaft. (Generally, the faster and more aggressive the swing, the more you will prefer a shaft that is labeled “S” for stiff.) One of the two should feel easier to control. That’s the shaft flex you should start with for all your clubs. Once you get serious about the game and are able to make consistent contact, a clubfitting will enable you to get the most out of your equipment.

3. The more loft, the better: Unless you’re a strong and well-coordinated athlete experienced with stick and ball sports (baseball, softball, hockey, tennis, for example), opt for woods that have more loft. Why? The extra loft generally means it will be easier to get the ball in the air and also can reduce sidespin so shots fly straighter. So go for drivers with at least 10 degrees of loft and fairway woods that start at 17 degrees, not 15 degrees.

4. Take advantage of clubs made for beginners: Some types of clubs are easier to hit than others. For one thing, you’re better off with hybrids instead of 3-, 4-, and 5-irons. And irons with wider soles (the bottom part of an iron) will alleviate the tendency for the club to stick in the ground when you hit too far behind the ball. Also, with more weight concentrated in the sole, the iron’s center of gravity will be lower and this will help shots launch on a higher trajectory. Generally, a more forgiving iron will feature a sole that measures about the width of two fingers (from front edge to back). If an iron’s sole measures less than one finger width, you only should be playing it if you’re paid to do so.

5. Choose the right ball: Buy balls on a sliding scale based on how many you lose in a round. If you’ve never played before or lose two sleeves or more a round, buy balls that cost around $20 a dozen (if you can’t decide between one brand over another, try putting a few to see how they feel coming off the putter face). When you cut the number of lost balls back to maybe three to five balls a round, buy balls that cost less than $30 a dozen. Only if you’re losing less than a sleeve a round should you consider the $40 a dozen balls.

SOURCE:  Golf Digest