Rule 6 – The Player


tigerWith the upcoming US Open at Merion close by it is important to understand rules that will influence the play of these top players and the responsibility that they have.  Rule 6 outlines a variety of different items that the Player needs to be responsible for before, during, and after the round.   Some of these are showing up for the proper starting time, having a caddie, marking your golf ball, and signing the correct scorecard.  These are extremely important because any breach of Rule 6 could add penalty shots to a player’s score and even end in disqualification.

Roberto Di Vicenzo is probably the most well-known (Although he’d rather not be) for signing an improper scorecard which cost him the Masters.  He says that not a day goes by he doesn’t think about it.   Most recently, Tiger Woods 15th hole gaff on Friday of the 2013 Masters almost ended in disqualification as he signed his scorecard after taking an illegal drop.  Since the committee knew about this and deemed it wasn’t an illegal drop at first glance he was able to be assessed a 2-shot penalty and remain in the competition.  In that same event, the youngest ever competitor, Guan Tianlang was penalized for slow play under Rule 6.  There are a ton of examples from the professional ranks of “messing” up Rule 6 so it is important for you to know your responsibilities as a player when you tee it up in your next event.

The rules can be tricky at times because there are so many and a variety of different “decisions” that take it even further.  The best thing you can always due is to read all literature provided to you before an event and observe any “local rules” that are in place for that particular course.  When in doubt, ask the rules official for the event so that you can proceed under the correct procedure.   Knowing the rules will make your time on the golf course less stressful and could even help you out in many situations.


Rule 6 – The Player2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Practice Like Jack & Tiger


tigerjackJack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods both got to where they are right now through doing things the right way. Of course they are naturally talented athletes, but they also work(ed) at their sport. They train(ed) hard and make valuable use of their time – especially when it comes to practice. Most amateurs can learn a lot from Tiger and Jack’s practice routines.

We all don’t have 8 hours a day to practice golf, so when we do have the time – let’s make it worth it. This involves practicing smarter instead of harder. Tiger puts more focus on the weakest part of his game at that time – a lesson every amateur should learn. If you are taking 40 putts per round but hitting your woods and irons just fine, then don’t spend time beating 7-irons down the range. Head to the putting green and spend 70% of your time there.

Jack Nicklaus would often focus on his fundamentals when his swing went south. He would work with his instructor on the basics – grip, aim, and posture. Jack found this the best way to get his groove back after a bad round. You too, can learn from this by not trying to overcomplicate your practice session. Instead of trying to cram in every drill you just read in Golf Digest into one practice session, ask your swing coach to give you one or two good drills that focus on your specific swing flaw. Practice just those few drills and don’t deviate from the plan. This ensures that not too many thoughts are entering your mind while practicing.

Another great aspect of Tiger’s practice routine is his focus on the target. Most amateurs simply go to the range and swing for the fences without a target in mind. Pick a target for each shot and change targets often. This makes sure you are doing something to actually help you game as opposed to just getting exercise from swinging a club!

Next time you’re at the driving range, go through your pre-shot routine on every shot and see how long it takes to hit a bucket of balls. Probably much longer than it typically takes you to finish a bucket – but this is a much more effective way to practice since you’re actually doing the same thing you do on the golf course.

Some tour pros will even “play” a round of golf on the range. They will start with a driver, pick a target, then hit it. From there they will go through the hole in their mind and hit whatever the next shot requires – maybe an 8 iron to a tight pin position. The more you can simulate a real round of golf on the practice range – the better your practice session will become.

Figuring out an ideal practice routine is individual to every golfer. Just make sure that you’re accomplishing something each time you go out – and keep your short game a top priority. Improving in this area will probably drop the most amount of strokes in the quickest amount of time.

Practice Like Jack & Tiger2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Golf Rules: Cleaning the Ball


Knowing the rules of golf is not only beneficial in preventing penalty strokes, but also helpful in those sticky situations when you are unsure of how to proceed. Today we are going to talk about cleaning the golf ball – most amateurs don’t exactly know to what extent they can clean their ball during a round of golf. It might surprise you when it’s legal to clean your golf ball.

wet_golf_ball The most obvious time permitted to clean your golf ball is between holes – when the ball is not in play. The other obvious time is on the putting green – after you have marked your golf ball. Cleaning it in both these times is permitted.

Another time permitted is when local rules permit the “Lift, Clean and Place” rule. This situation usually occurs when the course has seen a lot of rain or inclement weather.

There are a few special circumstances in which you must proceed with caution when picking up your ball.

  • If you are determining if the ball is unfit for play – you can not clean your ball.
  • If you are determining if the ball is yours (identification) you are permitted to only clean the ball “to the extent necessary for identification”
  • If you have to mark your ball somewhere besides the putting green (if it is interfering with another player’s stroke) then you are not permitted to clean the ball and must replace it back to it’s original spot exactly as it was before.

What is the penalty for breach of this rule? It’s a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced.

So next time you find yourself in a situation where you might have the opportunity to clean your golf ball, remember to first assess your circumstances. And don’t forget – a clean golf ball flies further and straighter than a dirty golf ball!

Golf Rules: Cleaning the Ball2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Masters 2013: How To Mathematically Win The Masters



Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters, and he did it by the book. With all the story lines at this years Masters – from 14 year old Tianlang Guan and his slow play penalty / making the cut, to having the world exposed to Rule 33-7 – how Adam Scott won the Masters involved no secret formula.

Adam did what pretty much ever Masters champion has done to put on the green jacket. He hit 76.39% of the fairways (Field Average: 60.2%) and putted like a champion (1.67 Putts Per Green). He also only found one greenside bunker all week.

The stat that you shouldn’t be surprised at is his Fairway’s Hit (57.14%) compared to the field average of 65%. Hitting fairways at Augusta National has never been a key to victory.

So what can we learn from these numbers? If you want to win a Masters you better hit a boatload of greens and putt like it’s no ones business. That’s pretty much true for every Tour event, but is key if you want to own a new piece of clothing at the end of the week.

The everyday golfer can, and should take something away from this: Focus on your short game. Hitting big drives makes you feel good – but shooting the lowest score in your group will probably bring more satisfaction.

I encourage you to take a page out of Adam Scotts 2013 Masters victory and focus this year on your putting and wedges; I guarantee if you improve in those areas so will your scores.

Masters 2013: How To Mathematically Win The Masters2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Master Edition: Navigating Fast Greens



It’s Masters week. One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about the Augusta National Golf Club is their beautifully manicured golf course. They spend millions of dollars every year to keep it looking great.

The most famous course element is the greens at Augusta. They are fast, undulating, and require a large imagination to navigate. Most of us will never play on greens that quick, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to learn from watching the best in the world trying to solve their mystery.

There are a few tips when putting on faster greens.

  • Play more break. The faster the greens the more every subtle slope becomes a factor.
  • Putt to a “target” rather than the hole. Pick an imperfection on the green that is on your intended line and putt to that, it’ll help you focus.
  • Focus on both speed and line – don’t become too obsessed with one or the other.
  • Use your imagination. Use the slopes of the green to your advantage. Perhaps you need to aim sideways on a putt just to get it close – trust gravity.
  • Be smart. Downhill putts will be fast, if you are afraid of the putt and leave it short, you will now face that same putt all over again.

Those are a few keys that will get you started when putting on greens you’re not familiar with. If you want to fine tune your stroke, let’s setup a putting lesson and make sure everything looks great for the coming season.

Master Edition: Navigating Fast Greens2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Practicing During Your Round


RIFElsDefining what “practice” on the golf course is can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the rules. It is okay to practice during a round of golf as long as you adhere to The Rules of Golf 7-2:

A player must not make a practice stroke during play of a hole. Between the play of two holes a player must not make a practice stroke, except that he may practice putting or chipping on or near:

    1. the putting green of the hole last played,
    2. any practice putting green, or
    3. the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round, provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play (Rule 6-7).

Strokes made in continuing the play of a hole, the result of which has been decided, are not practice strokes.

Exception: When play has been suspended by the Committee, a player may, prior to resumption of play, practice (a) as provided in this Rule, (b) anywhere other than on the competition course and (c) as otherwise permitted by theCommittee.

Knowing the rules can help you lower your score throughout he round (as long as you’re not holding up play!)

Practicing During Your Round2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Play The Hole Backwards


Whether you are a tournament golfer or just out on the weekends to play with your buddies, having proper strategy on the golf course can help you minimize mistakes and shoot lower scores.  One way to do that is to try to play the hole backwards in your mind.  This is a common practice of the top tour players in the world.  Here’s why:

timclarkplayingBy knowing how the green is set-up (i.e pin location, slope of green, bunker/hazards, etc) you can decide where it is best to play from with your approach shot into the green.  If the pin is back right, for instance, and your normal shot is a fade, then it would be ideal for you to be on the right center of the fairway.  This would give you the best angle into the green to use your comfortable go-to shot.  There are a variety of scenarios but you need to picture how you would normally play the shot with your skill level.

Now, using the previous situation, you know you want to be right center on the fairway to use your fade shot into the green.   This would lead you to choose which is the best club to hit off the tee.  It would depend on how far of a distance you wanted into the hole with your next shot.  Also, it will give you an idea on which part of the tee box to tee off on. (Most right handed players wanting to play a fade should look at teeing off on the right portion of the tee box to open up the hole a little more).

If you are a tournament golfer you may do this during a practice round and keep notes so you are prepared for the tournament.  If you are a weekend player, you may just take the hole as it appears and try your best to visualize what you would like to do on that hole at that time based on the information you have.

Of course, the execution of the shot is key and the players that can visualize the hole backwards and then execute on that plan tend to shoot great scores and not get themselves in trouble.  Try this next time you are out playing and you will be amazed how you can think your way around the golf course more strategically, which in turn produces less “big numbers” on the scorecard.


Play The Hole Backwards2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Experiment Around The Greens


tiger memorialAs most players already know, a sound short game can be the difference between a really poor round and an average round.  It can always cover up a poor ball striking day by allowing you to save par from tough positions.  Execution is key, but you must have a strategy in place that will help with the execution.  Many players struggle with which shot to play and often times try to hit the “miracle” shot instead of placing the ball 10-12 feet from the hole and having a putt at it.

This is where club selection plays a large role.  If you are comfortable with one club around the green that is fine and feel free to use it a majority of the time.  However, there are instances where you need to be using a different club.

Common Scenario – You are just short of the green in the fairway and the pin is on the back portion of the green.  The green has several bumps and the pin is on the top level.  Your normal comfortable club is a sand wedge.  However, to be effective with the sand wedge you would have to play a very low skipping shot that hits into the hill and has a lot of spin to help it roll out just a bit.  If you hit into the green with the “normal” wedge trajectory the ball won’t have a lot of room to land near the pin and will probably roll off the back of the green.  This is a very tough shot if you don’t practice your short game a ton.

Possible Solution – Choose a less lofted club like a 9-iron and try to get the ball spending more time on the ground than in the air.  You could use the putter, as well, but only if you had little fairway to go until your reached the green.  With a 9-iron you could carry the ball about a 1/3rd onto the green and let it roll the rest of the way.  This is the safer play and will give you a better opportunity to make the next putt.

The main point to make this scenario or any other one work, is that you must practice with different clubs around the green to learn the technique and how hard you need to hit those shots to go the desired distance.  Don’t make the mistake of never practicing with your 9-iron and then pull it out on the back-9 when the match is on the line.

Practice – Go to your local golf facilities short game area and throw 5 balls down just off the green any distance you want.  Next, choose 5 different clubs.  Try to hit one ball with each club and see the results.  You will notice that each club will carry and roll different distances.  You can start narrowing it down to 1 or 2 clubs that you like from that particular situation.  Rinse and Repeat.  From then forward, when you are practicing your short game you can know use those same clubs from the different positions and feel more comfortable because you have already gone through the experimental phase.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with using just 1 club around the green but you must be able to hit ALL the shots to do so.  Help yourself out a little and practice with a few different clubs from time to time just to have a “go to” shot from certain situations.  This will help you stay confident because you have seen the shot before during practice so you know you can execute when the pressure is on!

Enjoy the process of learning and hope to see you out soon!



Experiment Around The Greens2021-03-19T10:41:06-04:00

Match Play – A Fun Tournament Format


Luke Donald Match PlayIf you’re a member at a country club, then you might already be pretty familiar with match play. You’ve probably already played quite a few tournaments where some sort of match play was involved. The casual golfer (unless quite competitive) however, usually doesn’t have a reason to play a “match play” event. So as the PGA Tour is currently playing the “World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship” lets take a walk through the USGA’s definition of what match play is so that you’re more familiar with this type of format.

This particular tournament can be thought of as an NCAA bracket or a “Match Play Tree” whereas the players are slotted in the bracket based on their world ranking number. A typical USGA match play event usually starts with a stroke play qualifier to determine what “seed” or ranking you will be given. This tournament begins with the top 64 players in the world.

Match play is basically a competition between two players to determine who wins the match. Strokes are not tallied up, rather the player who has the lowest score on a hole, wins that hole. Therefore that player is “1 up”. Let’s say that same player has the lowest score on hole 2 – he is now “2 up”. This goes on until one player runs out of holes. For example if a Player A is “4 up” after the 15th hole, then Player B can no longer win, because not enough holes exist. Therefore, Player A wins “4 up with 3 to play” or “4 & 3” for short.

In the event that both players finish 18 holes at “all square” then the match goes in to a sudden death playoff. The players play hole-by-hole until someone wins the next hole. So if both players tie the “19th” hole, but Player A wins the “20th” hole – then Player A wins the match at “20 holes”.

One fun fact is that players can “concede” a hole – if a player hits his tee shot into the woods, he could simply turn to his opponent and say “you’ve won this hole”. Then both players would proceed to the following hole.

The main difference that you might see on TV this week between match play and stroke play is that players don’t have to “finish” the hole. You might see a player make birdie, then the losing player will simply pick up his ball and walk to the next hole. This is perfectly legal.

Match Play – A Fun Tournament Format2021-03-19T10:41:07-04:00

Shafts Explained


shafts-explainedMany amateur golfers don’t seem to realize the importance of having golf clubs that are properly fitted to their game. One important piece of the fitting process is getting the right shaft to match your swing.

So let’s talk about the flex of a golf club shaft. The flex of a golf club basically refers to the ability of a golf shaft to bend as forces are applied to it during the golf swing. Those forces are generated by you the golfer – whether you have a fast, slow or powerful swing speed.

There are generally five types of shaft flex: ladies, senior, regular, stiff and extra stiff. If you have a flex that doesn’t match your swing speed then you’re probably losing distance and/or accuracy. An incorrect shaft flex becomes more noticeable the longer the club gets (ie. with the driver).

Ideally, we want a square club face at impact. As the shaft flexes throughout the swing, the position of the club face can change. An incorrect shaft flex can cause the club face to become open or closed delivering the club head incorrectly resulting in an off center hit. A properly fit shaft can help to reduce the inconsistencies listed above and result in more accurate shots that maximize your distance potential.

Here are a few quick guidelines on some of the characteristics of what an incorrect shaft flex might be doing to your game.

If you tend to hit shots that are low, going right (possibly with a fade or a slice), and don’t ever seem to be hit very solid – then your shaft might be too stiff. Stiff shafts are typically meant for players with high swing speeds or strong, quick transitions in their swing.

If you tend to hit shots that go left, if you tend to have a closed club face at impact or if your shots tend to fly higher than they should – you might have a shaft that is too flexible. More flexible shafts are generally meant for players with slower swing speeds or smoother, more fluid swings.

With the technology that is available for club fitting today, there are many other numbers and calculations to take into effect when fitting a player for the correct shaft. What I have described above is just a general overview of shafts and how their flex can have such an impact on your game. If you unsure if the shafts in your clubs are fit for your game, then let’s schedule a time to evaluate and make sure your equipment is fit for you.

Shafts Explained2021-03-19T10:41:07-04:00
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