Bump and Run Martin Hall

By David AllenAugust 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
We know it's difficult to find time to practice during the week. When a Saturday or Sunday tee time rolls around, you're hoping to find some spark or productive swing thought that will help you break 100, 90, 80 or whatever your scoring goal may be.
 
With the weekend warrior in mind we created Bump and Run, a weekly Q&A with some of the game's top instructors. Each Friday, a teaching professional will occupy this space and answer questions directed toward improving your game. This week it's Martin Hall, the 2008 PGA National Teacher of the Year.
Martin Hall HeadshotMARTIN HALL
Director of Instruction, Ibis Golf & Country Club West Palm Beach, Fla.
 
Accomplishments:
- Golf Digest’s Top 10 Greatest Teachers
- Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers in America
- 2008 PGA National Teacher of the Year

 
Students (past and present):
Morgan Pressel, Lisa Hackney
 
Web Site:
www.ibisgolf.com
 
Contact: 561-624-8922
Hall was the lead instructor for the Nicklaus/Flick Golf Schools for seven years prior to joining Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., during which time he spent many hours with Jack Nicklaus conversing about his 18 major triumphs and many swing theories.
 
'What’s remarkable about Jack – and we will see about Tiger [Woods] – is that he did everything with five kids,' said Hall. 'He’d get on a plane Friday night to watch one of his boys play in a basketball game, and then fly back to the tournament Saturday morning. The stories you read about family first, golf second certainly applied to Jack.'
 
To submit a question to Hall or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered. Who knows, it just might be the impetus you need to shoot your best round ever come the weekend.
 
What's the most memorable tip you received from Nicklaus?
 
I have no doubt about that one at all. One afternoon I said to him, ‘Can you tell me why you won 18 professional majors?’ He said, ‘Well, it was a lot of things.’ He felt like he was more conservative on the back nine come Sunday, while others were too aggressive, and he made a lot of critical putts. But then he said, ‘You know what, what really did it for me was that during the last nine holes of a major, I knew I wasn’t going to miss the target one yard to the left of where I aimed.’ I replied, ‘Well, how did you do that?’ And he said, ‘That’s simple, I just made sure I wouldn’t let the toe of the club pass the heel after the ball was gone.’
 
Jack's thought was that at hip height in the follow-through, the palm of his right hand would face skyward. I said, ‘Jack, I have hours and hours of video of you and it certainly doesn’t look like you kept the right palm up to the sky after impact.’ He responded with a few choice words and said, ‘I know what I felt.' That was his way, even though it didn’t show up on video, of eliminating any chance he had of hitting a hook.
 
Now, as a caveat to the readers, this is fantastic advice if you never want to hook the ball again. However, should you slice the ball you must do exactly the opposite: If you don’t want to lose the ball to the right, turn the right palm down to the ground after impact.
 
There are those who argue that Jack was the greatest player ever, and those who say Tiger is the best ever. In your mind, what are both of them greatest at?
 
What was remarkable about Jack was that he was the first person to take a golf course apart by having yardages, sectioning up the greens and knowing where to hit the ball. I believe he was the first person to pace yardages out and know how far he had to hit the ball. And his mental strength was immense, just like Tiger’s. I think under tournament pressure he never doubted himself.
 
As far as Tiger – and Jack did say this to a very good friend of mine – he is the greatest putter the world has ever seen. I think he’s also the best at getting up and down that we’ve ever seen. Tiger seems to have an ability to pull off the most ridiculous shots at the most opportune times. …like chipping in from the back of No. 16 at Augusta National. His ability to do the unbelievable is, well, unbelievable. I don’t know how in the world you teach that. Maybe he is the chosen one like his father said.
 
Just how does someone hit an 8-iron from 181 yards to a foot, like Tiger did recently to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational? What makes him such a great iron player from that distance? (Woods is ranked No. 1 on the PGA Tour in approaches from 175-200 yards, with an average leave distance of 29 feet.)
 
If I knew that I wouldn’t be teaching. It’s a combination of strength and [clubhead] speed and how he releases the angles on the downswing. The handle is still slightly ahead of the clubhead at impact.
 
If you want to know how to hit your irons high like Tiger did on that particular shot, I’d say first of all proceed with caution. Trying to hit irons really high is a rather dangerous thing for most club golfers because it leads to them scooping at the ball.
 
Unless you’re a single-digit handicapper, you shouldn’t worry too much about flying your irons high. You should worry about making more solid ball-turf contact. The angles of Tiger's swing are exemplary; very much on-plane the entire motion. And if you look at his 7-, 8-, 9-iron and wedges, he never swings the club back to parallel. It’s sort of an on-plane, three-quarter backswing. That's where he gets his accuracy.
 
Any advice for the weekend warrior? Something that may help them drop a shot or two during their Saturday or Sunday round?
 
Teaching legend Harvey Penick said of all the things he did for his students, the thing that benefited them most was to get them to stop using a driver. Actually, when he died they went to this locker and found about 60 drivers that he confiscated from his students. Penick felt his club players would be better off using a 3-wood instead.
 
A lot of people think putting is the most important element in the game, but I once chatted with Bob Ford, the head pro at Oakmont, and he said, ‘There’s no question if you can’t putt, you can’t score. But let me tell you this, if you can’t drive, you can’t play.'
 
Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan both felt that driving it in play was the most important part of the game, and so do I. The club player should leave their driver at home for the weekend and see how much better they score. If most people used a 3-wood off the tee, they wouldn’t give up that much distance and they’d be in the short grass.
 
One of our readers, Arthur, writes in: I raise my head up to keep track of the ball, and as a result often hit it to the right. Is there a drill that will help me keep my head down?
 
I’d answer that by saying, ‘Look, I could give you a drill to stop hitting the ball to the right, but I’m not going to give you a drill for keeping your head down because no one who’s any good does that.' Good players keep their head relatively still until they make contact with the ball, but then they release it toward the target.
 
Some of the best ball-strikers the world has ever seen turn to look down the target line very early, Annika (Sorenstam) being one. And I think if you slow-mo Tiger he’s looking down the target line pretty early these days. You want the head to chase the ball, and if you try and keep it down it’s not going to release. You do that long enough and you’re either going to get a bad back, a bad neck or a bad left elbow. Or all three.
 
Do not think that lifting your head makes the ball go to the right. Lifting your body too much might cause you to top the ball, but what makes the ball go to the right is an open clubface. If you’re a right-handed golfer, that means you’re hitting the ball with the side of your left hand and giving the ball a karate chop. What he should concentrate on is rotating both forearms a bit more as he goes through the ball, or go back to the opposite of Nicklaus’ thought and turn the right palm down after impact.
 
Martin Hall Instructional Videos
  • Swing Power Drill
  • Shut Your Face
  • Launch Drives Farther

  •  
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    J. Korda leads M. Jutanugarn by four in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 3:00 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand - Jessica Korda kept an eye on her younger sister while firing a 4-under 68 in the third round of the LPGA Thailand on Saturday to lead Moriya Jutanugarn by four strokes.

    A day after a course-record 62 at Siam Country Club, Korda fought back from a bogey on the front nine with five birdies to finish on 20-under 196 overall. The American was on the 18th hole when concerns over lightning suspended play for 30 minutes before play resumed.

    ''(I) was playing really well at the end of the season, but I haven't been in this (leading) position. Being back, it just takes you a little bit of time,'' said the 24-year-old Korda, who won her fifth and last title at the LPGA Malaysia in 2015.

    Her 19-year-old sister Nelly Korda (65) is eight shots off the lead.


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    ''I'm definitely a leaderboard watcher. I love seeing her name up there,'' said Jessica Korda, who was playing her first tournament since jaw surgery.

    Propelled by eight birdies and an eagle on the par-4 No. 14, with three bogeys, Moriya signed off with a 65 and a total of 16-under 200.

    ''Everybody has the chance to win as all the top players are here this week,'' said Moriya, who has a chance to become the first Thai winner in her home tournament.

    Australian Minjee Lee (68) is third on 15-under 201, followed by former top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn (65) on 202. Lexi Thompson (69), the 2016 champion, is a stroke further back. Michelle Wie (69) is tied for sixth.

    Brittany Lincicome was in second place after the second round, four shots behind Jessica Korda, but the American dropped down the board and is tied for ninth after a 73.

    Getty Images

    The Tiger comeback just got real on Friday

    By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 1:11 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Slow play was a big storyline on the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing, but not so much anymore.

    Not with Tiger Woods speeding things up Friday at the Honda Classic.

    Not with Woods thumping the gas pedal around PGA National’s Champion Course, suddenly looking as if he is racing way ahead of schedule in his return to the game.

    The narrative wondrously started to turn here.

    It turned from wondering at week’s start if Woods could make the cut here, after missing it last week at the Genesis Open. His game was too wild for Riviera, where a second-round 76 left him looking lost with the Masters just six weeks away.

    It turned in head-spinning fashion Friday with Woods climbing the leaderboard in tough conditions to get himself into weekend contention with a 1-over-par 71.

    He is just four shots off the lead.

    “I’d be shocked if he’s not there Sunday with a chance to win,” said Brandt Snedeker, who played alongside Woods in the first two rounds. “He’s close to playing some really, really good golf.”

    Just a few short months ago, so many of us were wondering if Woods was close to washed up.

    “He’s only going to improve,” Snedeker said. “The more time he has, as the weather gets warmer, he’ll feel better and be able to practice more.”

    Snedeker has had a front-row seat for this speedy Tiger turnaround. He played the third round with Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open last month. That was Woods’ first PGA Tour start in a year.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    How much improvement did Snedeker see from that Torrey Pines experience?

    “It was kind of what I expected – significantly improved,” Snedeker said. “His iron game is way better. His driver is way better. I don’t’ see it going backward from here.”

    This was the hope packed into Friday’s new narrative.

    “I’m right there in the ballgame,” Woods said. “I really played well today. I played well all day today.”

    Tiger sent a jolt through PGA National when his name hit the top 10 of the leaderboard. He didn’t do it with a charge. He did it battling a brutish course in wintry, blustery winds, on “scratchy” and “dicey” greens that made par a good score.

    When Woods holed a 25-foot putt at the ninth to move into red numbers at 1 under overall and within three shots of the lead, a roar shook across the Champion Course.

    “It got a little loud, which was cool to see,” Snedeker said. “It’s great to have that energy and vibe back.”

    Woods sent fans scampering to get into position, blasting a 361-yard drive at the 10th, cutting the corner. He had them buzzing when he stuck his approach to 9 feet for another birdie chance to get within two of the lead.

    “I thought if he makes it, this place will go nuts, and he could get it going like he used to,” Snedeker said.

    Woods missed, but with the leaders falling back to him on this grueling day, he stuck his approach at the 12th to 10 feet to give himself a chance to move within a shot of the lead.

    It’s another putt that could have turned PGA National upside down, but Woods missed that.

    “It really is hard to make birdies,” he said. “At least I found it hard. It was hard to get the ball close, even if the ball is in the fairway, it's still very difficult to get the ball close, with the wind blowing as hard as it is. It’s hard to make putts out here.”

    Patton Kizzire, a two-time PGA Tour winner who won just last month at the Sony Open, could attest to how tough the test at Honda has become. He played alongside Woods this week for the first time in his career. He shot 78 Friday and missed the cut.

    Kizzire had a close-up look at what suddenly seems possible for Woods again.

    “He’s figuring it out,” Kizzire said. “He hit some nice shots and rolled in some nice putts. It was pretty impressive.”

    Woods could not hide his excitement in getting himself in the weekend hunt, but his expectations remain tempered in this comeback. He knows the daily referendums his game is subject to, how we can all make the highs too high and the lows too low.

    “We’ve got a long way to go,” Woods said.

    Woods lost a tee shot in a bush at the second hole and made bogey. He hit his tee shot in the water at the 15th and made double bogey. He three-putted the 16th to make bogey. He knows this course can derail a player’s plans in a hurry, but he knows his game is quickly coming around.

    “I’m right there where I can win a golf tournament,” Woods said. “Four back on this golf course with 36 holes to go, I mean, anybody can win this golf tournament right now. It’s wide open.’”

    Woods hit his shot of the day at the 17th to right his game after the struggles at the 15th and 16th. He did so in front of the Goslings Bear Trap Party Pavilion, cutting a 5-iron to 12 feet. It was the hardest hole on the course Friday, with nearly one of every three players rinsing a shot in the water there. Woods made birdie there to ignite an explosion of cheers.  He got a standing ovation.

    “I was telling you guys, I love Riviera, I just don't play well there,” Woods said. “So here we are, we're back at a golf course I know and I play well here.”

    So here we are, on the precipice of something special again?

    Woods seems in a hurry to find out.

    Getty Images

    List, Lovemark lead; Tiger four back at Honda

    By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 12:41 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Even with a tee shot into the water for another double bogey, Tiger Woods could see the big picture in the Honda Classic.

    He was four shots out of the lead going into the weekend.

    Luke List delivered a round not many others found possible in such difficult conditions Friday, a 4-under 66 that gave him a share of the lead with Jamie Lovemark (69). They were at 3-under 137, the highest score to lead at the halfway point of the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National in 2007.

    So bunched were the scores that Woods was four shots out of the lead and four shots from last place among the 76 players who made the cut at 5-over 145. More importantly, he only had 13 players in front of him.

    ''This is a difficult golf course right now,'' Woods said. ''Making pars is a good thing. I've done that, and I'm right there with a chance.''

    And he has plenty of company.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Race to Dubai on the European Tour last year, scratched out a 68 and was one shot out of the lead along with Webb Simpson (72), Russell Henley (70) and Rory Sabbatini (69).

    Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger each shot 72 and were in a large group at 139. They were among only 10 players remaining under par.

    Fleetwood laughed when asked the last time he was at 2 under after 36 holes and only one shot out of the lead.

    ''Maybe some junior event,'' he said. ''It's good, though. These are the toughest test in golf. Generally, one of the best players prevail at the end of weeks like this. Weeks like this challenge you to the ultimate level. Whether you shoot two 80s or you lead after two rounds, you can see what you need to do and see where your game is. Because this is as hard as it's ever going to get for you.''

    The difficulty was primarily from the wind, which blew just as hard in the morning when List shot his 66 as it did in the afternoon. More aggravating to the players are the greens, which are old and bare, firm and crusty. It's a recipe for not making many putts.

    Defending champion Rickie Fowler had six bogeys on his front nine and shot 77 to miss the cut.

    ''It's unfortunate that the greens have changed this much in a year,'' Fowler said. ''They typically get slick and quick on the weekend because they dry out, but at least there's some sort of surface. But like I said, everyone's playing the same greens.''

    It looked as though List was playing a different course when he went out with a bogey-free 32 on the back nine, added a pair of birdies on the front nine and then dropped his only shot when he caught an awkward lie in the bunker on the par-3 seventh.

    ''It's very relentless,'' List said. ''There's not really too many easy holes, but if you hit fairways and go from there, you can make a few birdies out there.''

    List and Lovemark, both Californians, have never won on the PGA Tour. This is the third time List has had at least a share of the 36-hole lead, most recently in South Korea at the CJ Cup, where he shot 76-72 on the weekend.

    ''It's kind of irrelevant because there's going to be 30 guys within a couple shots of the lead,'' List said. ''It's going to be that type of week.''

    He was exaggerating – there were 11 players within three shots of the lead.

    And there was another guy four shots behind.

    Woods brought big energy to a Friday afternoon that already was hopping before he overcame a sluggish start and holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to make the turn at 1 under for his round, and leaving him two shots out of the lead. Everyone knew it just from listening to the roars.

    Woods had his chances, twice missing birdie putts from inside 10 feet at Nos. 10 and 12, sandwiched around a 12-foot par save. His round appeared to come undone when he found the water on the 15th and made double bogey for the second straight day.

    Then, he hit out of a fairway bunker, over the water and onto the green at the dangerous 16th hole and faced a 65-foot putt. He misread the speed and the line, so badly that it was similar to a car driving from Chicago to Denver and winding up in Phoenix. A bogey dropped him to 2 over.

    The big moment was the 17th hole, 184 waters into the wind and over water. That's where Rory McIlroy made triple bogey earlier in the day that ruined his otherwise solid round of 72, leaving him seven behind. Making it even tougher for Woods is the Brandt Snedeker hit 5-iron before him to about 6 feet. Woods got to the tee and the wind died, meaning 5-iron was too much and 6-iron wouldn't clear the water.

    He went with the 5-iron.

    ''I started that thing pretty far left and hit a pretty big cut in there because I had just too much stick,'' Wood said.

    It landed 12 feet below the hole for a birdie putt.

    Thomas made 17 pars and a double bogey when he three-putted from 6 feet on No. 16. He felt the same way as Woods.

    ''I'm in a good spot – really good spot – going into this week,'' Thomas said.

    Getty Images

    Woods to play with Dufner (12:10 p.m.) in third round

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 12:10 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Jason Dufner in the third round of the Honda Classic.

    Woods and Dufner, both at 1-over 141, four shots back, will tee off at 12:10 p.m. ET Saturday at PGA National. They’re in the 10th-to-last group.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Co-leaders Luke List and Jamie Lovemark will go at 1:40 p.m.

    Some of the other late pairings include Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, who will be playing together for the third consecutive day, at 1 p.m.; Louis Oosthuizen and Thomas Pieters (1:10 p.m.); and Webb Simpson and Russell Henley, in the penultimate group at 1:30 p.m.