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Do You Take a Divot

do you take a divot?If you watch the professional golfers on TV, you notice both men and women take a divot when they hit the ball.  Many people believe you take a divot then hit the ball but you actually hit the ball then the turf, which creates a divot. 

The best way to learn to take a divot is to have some acceleration in your swing and to hit down on the ball.  A good way to work on proper acceleration and swing sequence is to think of your golf ball in your stance as the finish line.  Take your club back to the top of your swing and stop.  As you take your down swing and follow-through and look to see in what sequence your hands, club head and back knee (right knee for a right handed player) come through the hitting area (at impact).  The proper sequence is the back knee first, then the hands, followed by the club head.  Many golfers get their hands or club head to the finish line (the golf ball) first and not the back knee.  Practice so you feel the back knee first, which will help you generate more power and help you hit down on the ball.

To do this, you need the bottom of your swing arc to hit at the correct place.  A good drill from 2012 PGA Teacher of the Year Michael Breed is to practice this by setting up two golf tees where your ball would be at address – one an inch or two above the toe of the club and the other an inch or two behind the heel (see photo 1).

Now take your swing and see if you sweep the grass (the bottom of your arc) past the golf tees (see photo 2).  This will ensure you hit the ball, then the grass and produce a divot after you hit the ball. 

Don’t try to help the ball get in the air – let the loft of the club do that for you.  The harder you try to hit the ball in the air, the lower it will fly.  Work on taking a divot with your approach shots and before long, you will be hitting down on the ball and taking a divot with your other irons.

Pre Divotafter divot

 

How to Spin Wedge Shots

We’ve all seen Tour players or perhaps even our friends, hit a perfectly crisp wedge shot into a green, take one hop and stop or even spin back. Maybe that’s a shot you’d like to learn but don’t think you can execute. Here are some hints to learn how to spin wedge shots.

Some golfers take a big backswing and accelerate through the shot, but think the way to spin the ball is to “flip” the clubface at impact – and end up closing the face and hitting the shot to the left of the target (for a right-handed golfer).
 

 

Many golfers make the mistake of taking a big backswing and then decelerate on the forward swing. This leads to hitting the ball fat or sometimes even hitting that line drive ball screaming across the green (i.e. a skulled shot). This long backswing and a decelerated follow-through causes the heel and the toe of the club to not move at the same speed.

The key to spinning a wedge shot is for the heel and toe to move through impact at the same speed. To spin a shot, make sure your upper body is active and rotates in your entire swing. You have to accelerate the golf club through the shot to create spin. You will feel the handle of the club finishes to the left, but that produces a crisp, solid shot.

Practice this shot with your clubface in a slightly open (not a club with a lot of bounce), but just open the clubface gently at address before starting the swing. The club should accelerate through impact and produce a shot with a high spin rate. It’s the same line you’ve heard before, “swing the club and let the ball get in the way.” Don’t try to lift it or do anything fancy – just make a good swing and accelerate through the shot.

World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2017

The World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was recently announced to include Davis Love III, Lorena Ochoa, Ian Woosnam, Meg Mallon and Henry Longhurst. The induction will take place on September 26, 2017 in New York City and includes three men, two women and inductees from three countries.  The induction has traditionally taken place in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida in May during the week of The Players Championship. The 2017 event will take place during the week of the Presidents Cup in NewYork City.

New inductees from women’s golf include Meg Mallon and Lorena Ochoa, who join the list of 35 female members out of 150 members currently in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Mallon enters the Hall of Fame with 18 career LPGA Tour victories and four Major Championships.  She is a nine-time member of the Solheim Cup teams and was the captain at Colorado Golf Club in 2013.  Mallon was recognized during the LPGA’s 50th Anniversary in 2000 as one of the LPGA’s top-50 players and teachers.  In1991, Mallon earned the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) Female Player of the Year award.

Ochoa had eight top-10 finishes during her first full season on the LPGA Tour in 2003. She tallied 27 career LPGATour victories, including two Major Championships. Ochoa held the World Number One ranking for 158 consecutive weeks from 2007-2010.  During at three-year stretch from 2006-2008, she won 21 tournaments and two Majors – the Women’s British Open in 2007 at the Old Course at St. Andrews and the ANA Inspiration (formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship) in 2008.  She won multiple events by more than 10 strokes on more than one occasion.  Ochoa retired from competitive golf at the age of 28 to return to Mexico and raise her family.

Members are inducted into the Hall of Fame in one of four categories:  Male Competitor, Female Competitor, Veterans and Lifetime Achievement.  Qualifying is based on a variety of criteria –including age, number of years away from “active competition” and 15 or more wins on “approved tours” or two major victories.  Under previous criteria, players had to be a minimum of 40 years old, which just this year has now been increased to a minimum of 50 years old.  A 16-member selection committee reviews the ballots and votes on players submitted, with election to the Hall of Fame requiring 75% of the vote.  Each year’s election class is limited to two from each of the four categories and five members total.

Congratulations to all five members in the Class of 2017.

GolfTEC Offers Complimentary Lessons this week

Are you looking for a fall tune-up for your golf swing? GolfTEC – an EWGA sponsor and world leader in golf lessons and game improvement plans – is offering one complimentary lesson to anyone who first makes a donation to PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of The PGA of America.

Complimentary lessons are available Nov. 7-13 at all participating GolfTEC locations in the United States. Register online and follow the instructions to make a donation (minimum suggested donation is $25). Contact GolfTEC at 1-877-446-5383 to schedule your lesson or click here to submit an online request. Show your receipt at your local GolfTEC to receive your complimentary 30-minute lesson (valued at more than $85).

GolfTEC lessons are taught by their Certified Personal Coaches in indoor bays that utilize their proprietary teaching technology. As the largest employer of PGA Professionals, GolfTEC Certified Personal Coaches have advanced training technology and have taught more than 6 million lessons at their 200 worldwide facilities. Each Professional completes a multi-week certification on the analysis of the golf swing mechanics, GolfTEC technology and teaching techniques.

GolfTEC also offers EWGA members a 10 percent discount on a variety of services – all designed to help students of all abilities improve his/her golf game. To learn more, visit GolfTEC.

(Photo credit: GolfTEC)

 

Posting Scores During Inactive Seasons

Inactive Golf SeasonIf you live and play golf in a “seasonal” area of the country, chances are your 2016 golf activity may soon be coming to a close.  Many golf associations in the northern and Midwest parts of the country are now or will soon be observing an inactive season for handicap purposes.  The USGA defines the inactive season as “the period during which scores made in an area are not accepted for handicap purposes determined by the authorized golf association having jurisdiction in a given area.” 

This means your local state or regional golf association likely has the jurisdiction in your area and they are responsible for declaring the duration of any inactive season.  A golf club located within the area covered by an authorized golf association must observe any inactive season established by the golf association (a club or facility may not “opt-out” of this requirement.)

Since course ratings are based on the difficulty of a course played under normal mid-season playing conditions, the change in off-season conditions could affect the ease or difficulty of play, based on those conditions (turf grass is harder, perhaps grass is dormant, no leaves on trees, green speeds are slower, the course is not irrigated regularly, etc.)  This is why based on the variety of off-season conditions, that a golf association will declare an inactive season.

Most northern and Midwest golf associations declare their inactive season anytime from mid-October or November in the fall through mid-March or April in the spring.  If you get a nice day to play in the fall during your facilities inactive season, you may not post your score for handicap purposes.  Check the USGA Handicap Active/Inactive Season Schedule to see if your state participates in an active or inactive season.

Some parts of the country do not observe an inactive season and therefore are active year-round (most sun-belt states and the southern parts of the country.)  The USGA Handicap System Manual states, “Scores made at a golf course in an area observing an active season must be posted for handicap purposes, even if the golf club from which the player receives a handicap index is observing an inactive season.”  This means if a player is a member of a facility in Minnesota and she plays golf in Arizona in February, any scores played in Arizona are acceptable and must be posted at the player’s Minnesota facility.  If the player is a member of a golf facility in Arizona, scores must be posted to the player’s Arizona club. If not a member of an Arizona facility, upon return from the trip to Arizona, the player must post these away scores prior to the next handicap index revision. 

Reminder, if you are in a part of the country where there is an inactive season and you play during that inactive season, take advantage of a nice fall day to play since you won’t be posting your scores for handicap purposes.  If you travel to a year-round posting area, you must post any scores played as away scores when you return home (unless you are a member of a second facility that has a year-round season, you would post your scores at that facility.)

Frost Delays

Frost Delay on the Golf CourseIn many parts of the country, the summer temperatures have cooled down and are now providing some great fall days to play golf.  In addition to falling leaves that we discussed last week, the cooler temperatures often times lead to the two words golfers don’t like to hear – frost delay.  What causes a frost delay and why do golfers get so upset with it? 

According to the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America), “Frost is basically frozen dew that has crystallized on the grass, making it hard and brittle.  A grass blade is actually 90 percent water, therefore it also freezes.  Because of the short mowing height (sometimes as low as 1/8 inch) and fragile nature of the turf, putting greens are most affected by frost.  Walking on frost-covered greens causes the plant to break and cell walls to rupture, thereby losing its ability to function normally.  When the membrane is broken, much like an egg, it cannot be put back together.”

As the temperatures drop in the fall, frost delays become common in many parts of the country.  Frost forms when the grass absorbs sunlight and heat during the day, then loses that heat when the sun sets at night, causing the grass temperature to be lower than the actual outside air temperature.  This temperature difference causes moisture to condense on the grass at night.  When the temperature of the grass is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the moisture crystalizes and becomes frost.  Many golfers think an air temperature above 32 degrees will prevent frost from forming, but frost may occur even when the air temperature is in the mid to upper 30s. 

When frost occurs on the golf course, the Golf Professional staff is in close conversation with the golf course superintendent and both parties will agree to delay the start of rounds for the day until the frost melts.  While this is usually not the best news a group of golfers want to hear, it is in the best interest of the golf course.  Frost itself doesn’t kill the grass like it does with flowers and plants, however walking on a frost covered surface will cause long-lasting damage.  Footsteps will cause the frozen grass to break, then turn brown and die.  You will see the footprints in the grass long after the frost has melted (sometimes even three or four days later).  This makes the damaged turf more likely to have disease and weeds in the future, plus it’s very expensive to repair.

From a golf operations standpoint, frost delays usually bring the course to a stand-still until the frost melts.  You may be upset about having your starting time delayed, but the golf facility staff is doing what is best for your enjoyment on the course.  You may notice from the clubhouse that the course appears to be frost-free, but remember there are many acres of grass in shady areas that also need to melt.  The upside is, you can take advantage of some food and/or beverages in the clubhouse along with engaging conversation from your golf group, until the frost has melted.

Is there really a “Leaf Rule” when playing golf in the Fall?

Playing golf in the leavesIf you read The Forecaddie last week and live in a part of the country where the seasons change, no doubt you’ve heard that fall golf is the best time to play.  The demand on the courses ease up since many golfers don’t play after Labor Day, so it’s easier to get a tee time and pace of play is usually faster.  You may wear a light pull-over and have an opportunity to walk the course.  With the temperatures and leaves falling, it does pose a problem with playing fall golf, since a golf ball can easily get lost in a pile of leaves on the course. 

Many golfers in the fall invoke “The Leaf Rule” even though there is no such approved rule in the Rules of Golf.  In the interest of pace of play, some courses will institute a local rule in the fall allowing the natural accumulation of leaves to be treated as ground under repair.  If you or your partners are positive your ball is lost under the leaves, you may find the nearest point of relief from the spot where the ball last crossed the outermost limit of the leaves and take a drop, without penalty, within one club-length of that point, no closer to the hole (Rule 25-1, Decision 33-8/31).

If you are playing a course that hasn’t allowed such a local rule, those pesky leaves are loose impediments and may be removed without penalty.  Be extremely careful when looking for your ball so that it doesn’t move while you are searching in the leaves.  Under this rule, you can't move your ball when removing leaves or it's a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced.  If you find your ball in leaves piled for removal, you can drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole (Rule 25-1b).

In a bunker, remove as many leaves as needed to see part of the ball.  Do not touch the leaves with your club while making a backswing or you will incur a two-shot penalty in stroke play (Rule 13-4c) or lose the hole in Match Play.

Golf purists feel the “Leaf Rule” is a cop-out to allow golfers to “cheat” with a free drop for hitting a not-so-good shot (that landed in the leaf pile.)  They feel the local rule should only be in effect on holes with piles of leaves – stating that most golfers don’t request the “leaf rule” when their ball is in the fairway or on the green.

Take advantage of the fall weather and get out and play!