Archive: February 2009

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February 16, 2009

Tough loss, but Michelle Wie will win soon

Posted at 12:19 PM by Carol Preisinger

How ironic that Michelle Wie left college life at Stanford to play in her first LPGA event as a rookie, only to find herself tied and paired with Angela Stanford on the final day. But this Stanford had a class for Wie as well, and it was called "How to Close Out a Tournament." Wie is just a couple of credits short of graduation.

Wie_300 Going into the final round at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Wie carried herself like a winner, leading by 3 strokes at the turn. But, oh my, how things can turn around faster than a 50-mile-per-hour gust of wind. For 45 holes of the 54-hole event, the typical Hawaiian trade winds were blowing in Wie's favor. Then her tee shot found the hazard on No. 11, beginning a chain of events between Wie and Stanford that all the winds in Hawaii couldn't change.

Stanford and Wie simply changed places on the last nine after a two-shot swing on 11 in Stanford's favor. After taking a drop from the lateral hazard, Wie hit her third shot just over the 11th green. Her next shot, a short chip, ended up short and nowhere near the hole. A fabulous two-putt saved double bogey. It's easy to say "what if," but Wie lost the possibility of an up-and-down to save a shot after what looked like a rushed effort to hit that chip shot.

Hole 13 is where Stanford taught Wie a lesson in experience. Taking deliberate time with each shot, managing the wind and hitting irons with precision, Stanford birdied three holes in a row, propelling her lead to two shots. Then, Wie struck back on 16, sticking her second shot within 3 1/2 feet of the hole, only to miss the birdie putt. Another shot gone with the wind that would have put Wie only one back. After a drive into a fairway bunker on 17, Michelle made her last bogey of the day, and finished with a par on 18.

Before hitting her second shot on 18, the camera zoomed in on Wie and her caddie having a laugh about something. It was nice to see her giggle. It was good to see her comfortable and happy. It was great to see her in contention to win. After she signed her card and posted the second-place finish, Wie admitted her disappointment but said she will take a lot of positives from this experience.

And there were many positives, with only a couple of hiccups. Wie will win, sooner rather than later. After all, she really didn't lose this one; Stanford just came on strong and blew right by Wie.

(Robert Beck/SI)

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Carol Preisinger is director of instruction at the Kiawah Island Golf Club. To learn more about Carol, visit carolpreisinger.com .

Weekend Fix: Set Your Weight for Pure Contact

Posted at 12:08 PM by Jim Suttie, Ph.D.

You know you’re supposed to be in an athletic position at address, but what you might not know is that you’re not always supposed to have a 50-50 weight distribution on your right and left legs. In fact, to smash drives like the big hitters you may want as much as 70 percent of your weight on your back leg, while for soft short irons you might place 60 percent of your weight on your front leg.

So how do you know how much weight goes to each side? Use your club as a guide.

SWINGING YOUR DRIVER

The driver swing is much different than your swing with your irons. For example, the driver swing demands a slightly ascending approach angle with a shallow and wide bottom to it. To encourage this wider, shallower bottom for the driver, you should set up with about 60 to 70 percent of the weight on your back leg at address. Your stance should be wider than your shoulders to ensure that your center of gravity (the middle point between your hips) is behind the ball at address. This wider stance also puts your head and spine slightly behind the ball at set-up—another power key—and will encourage you to naturally make an ascending blow to the ball at impact.

Did you know that virtually all the long drivers in the National Long Drive Championship set up this way? They even appear to leave 60 to 70 percent of their weight on their right leg at impact. The most accurate drivers (players like Fred Funk, K.J. Choi  and Kenny Perry ) all have very wide, shallow downswings. Next time you’re watching a tournament, watch how these players set up with their weight back and even look as if they are releasing the club a little early from the top of the swing. This almost imperceptive move tends to widen out their downswings and makes them very accurate drivers of the ball.

SWINGING YOUR IRONS

The iron swing is very different than the driver swing so you need a different setup. For iron shots, you need to make a descending blow, hitting the ball first and then taking a small amount of turf just in front of the ball. To ensure a descending blow, you should set up with 50/50 weight distribution with the medium irons and hybrids, and 60/40 (front/back) distribution for the short irons. A good rule to follow is the shorter the shot, the more your weight should favor your front leg. Your stance should be narrower than your driver swing, with your center of gravity positioned directly over the ball. The best iron players tend to have higher golf swings with a steep and narrow approach to the ball. Jack Nicklaus in his prime is a great example.

Great iron players all have two things in common: 1.) They all get their weight to their front leg before impact; and 2.) They all have their hands in front of the clubhead at impact. This is easier to do if your weight is distributed slightly to the left leg at address.

DRILLS

To get a feel for the correct weight distribution at address, try this drill. For the driver swing, find a slight upslope. Take your right shoe off and take your driver setup. It will feel like you are hitting up the slope with the weight on the right leg at address and through impact—that’s the feeling you want on the tee.

For the iron swing, find a slight downslope. Take your left shoe off to feel the correct weight distribution for the iron swing. It will feel like you are hitting more down and getting your weight aggressively to the front leg at impact.

If you watch your weight distribution at address, it won’t be long before you are hitting both your irons and your driver with confidence and consistency.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Suttie, Ph.D., is director of instruction at the Suttie Academies at TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. You can read more tips from Jim at www.jimsuttie.com.

February 13, 2009

Ask the Top 100: Stop Losing Distance

Posted at 2:08 PM by Anne Szeker

This week T.J. answers a question about how to stop losing distance off the tee as you get older.

Do you have a video of your faulty swing? Upload the video from your digital camera to a service like YouTube and send us the link. We'll send it off to a Top 100 Teacher for help ASAP.

February 05, 2009

Ask the Top 100: How to stop shanking short chips

Posted at 12:37 PM by T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D.

Dear T.J.,
I have a problem shanking little chip shots around the green. I'm as 5-handicap at my club, but every now and then this error comes out. Do you have any suggestions?
Chad S., Via e-mail

Dear Chad,

Here's what happening when you shank those short ones.

The Problem
Because of the short shaft of your chipping club (made even shorter if you choke down on the club), your weight shifts to your toes without you even realizing it, forcing you to hang over the ball. Your weight is drawn even more toward the ball when you open your shoulders with your back shoulder jutting out closer to the ball. Add anchoring your weight on your left side to the mix and -- Shazam! -- you are a hanging Chad. When you start your downswing on your toes, your back knee works up and out over your back toe in the direction of the ball and you're forced to swing across the ball contacting the ball on the hosel of the club.

The Solution
Address the ball with more weight on the arches of your feet and distributed back toward the your heels. Take some practice swings ensuring that your back knee works toward the target during the downswing versus out toward the ball.

The Drill
Place a shaft on the ground along your toe line and use the shaft to guide your leg action Make sure your back knee never crosses the shaft and ends up slanted toward the target in the direction the ball is traveling. Once you ingrain this feeling of your back knee working toward the target, those shanked chips should disappear.

I don't have to tell you this because you're a 5-handicap, but there are other less fortunate golfers of the high-digit persuasion who simply wave at the ball using their hands and arms to negotiate the chip. If they could only watch you hit the ball with a soft but steady chest rotation all the way to the finish, their chipping problems would disappear.

T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D., is lead instructor at the PGA Learning Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla. You can get more tips from T.J. at www.tjtomasi.com


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