Bump and Run Mike Tucker

By David AllenSeptember 4, 2009, 8:00 am
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 Mike Tucker, head professional at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
Bellerive CC head professional Mike TuckerMIKE TUCKER
Head Professional, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, MO
- 2005 Professional of the Year, Gateway PGA
- 2004 Player of the Year, Gateway PGA
- Competed in nine PGA Club Professional championships
- Shot lowest non-competitive round at Bellerive (60)
Web Site:
Contact: 314-434-4405
Bellerive was the host of last year's BMW Championship, won by Camilo Villegas, and the 1992 PGA Championship.
An accomplished player, Tucker followed his brother, Jerry, as head pro at Bellerive. A PGA Master Professional teaching in South Florida, Jerry Tucker has given his famous Tucker Short Game Test to more than 100 pros, including Lee Trevino, Tony Jacklin and Jay Williamson. 'What it does is test all aspects of your short game – pitching, chipping, short putts, long putts and wedge shots, controlling the distance you hit your wedges in the air,' said Mike Tucker. 'It's 100 shots worth of practice, instead of  blindly hitting shots with no results. You're actually competing against yourself.'
To submit a question to Tucker or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered.
You've played with several members of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff, including John Smoltz and Adam Wainwright. What makes pitchers such good golfers?
The pitchers have the best hand-eye coordination of anybody in baseball, and maybe all of sports. What they’re able to do at 90, 95 miles per hour to place these pitches where they do is extraordinary. When they put a golf club in their hands, they can square that clubface up a little more instinctively than most.

Is there a drill the average golfer can try to improve their hand-eye coordination?
There are different ways to get the clubface square to the ball. What I like to do is work with small golf swings, from waist height to waist height, which gives you feedback on what a good ball flight looks like. I like my students to draw the ball. If I can’t get them to hit a solid little draw from a waist-height swing with an 8- or 9-iron, I don’t have much chance at a full swing. Once they feel how to square the clubface and make center-face contact, then we can expand. You can’t go from 0 to 100 (mph) and pass 30, 40, 60 first.
You also recently played with Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa and Hall of Fame basketball coach Bobby Knight in a celebrity event. Did you observe anything from watching these two coaching legends that might help the average golfer?

I’ve played with Tony several times. Skipper is a little quiet – not real demonstrative – but he’s extremely competitive, just as we all know Coach Knight is. He likes to win. Tony was getting frustrated some but he was all about team. He did a good job of complimenting everybody, and if someone didn’t hit a good shot in our scramble he’d pick them up, just as he’d do in the dugout.

You have to be able to learn from your mistakes and some of your bad shots. Tony never quits. By the end of the day I was able to work with him a little bit on his wedge shots and he hit his last two wedges to about five, six feet. In the end, his desire to get better paid off.

I guess the lesson is that it's good to be competitive and to try and win, but be patient. Golf is not a game that’s going to be mastered or perfected.

What was the best wedge tip you gave La Russa? 

When the clubs get shorter, and we get down to the sand wedges and lob wedges, the golf swing gets more upright. Tony, like a lot of mid- and high-handicappers, had the clubhead swinging too far to the inside going back. Because his swing wasn't moving at a very high rate of speed, he had little chance to get the clubface back to square. He'd produce a continual push to the right of the target. I was trying to get him to take the club back a little straighter and more vertical, so he could trap the ball and drive it out there. Once he was able to pick up that concept, he hit straighter shots with a little more solid contact; more of a downward trap of the ball than an inside, thin push.

Any advice for the weekend warrior? Something that may help them drop a shot or two during their Saturday or Sunday round?

Tiger Woods iron impact

At impact, see if you can get your right elbow in front of your right hip pocket, as Tiger Woods demonstrates here.

Always work off a small tee. First of all, you don’t want to challenge the lie; you want a consistent lie. A lot of my students will challenge me and say, ‘Well, the lies aren’t like that in the fairway.’ And I say, 'Let’s make sure we can hit the ball off a good lie first.'

You want positive feedback, and you also want accurate feedback. If I’m hitting off the same lie every time, I can judge my ball flight. We all know how driving ranges are – sometimes the turf is fluffy or full and the ball sits up, and sometimes it’s down in a hole. It’s not good for your psyche or for learning what your golf swing is doing.

One of our readers wants to know how he can speed up his hand and arm action through impact. He has a tendency to lead with the lower body through impact and fade his driver. Any advice?

What he needs to do is think, ‘If I stopped myself at  impact, where should I be?’ Sometimes it helps to go through a slow-motion drill where you can feel where you are at impact. I always try and imagine my lower body turning, or clearing, out of the way. To do that, I need to get my right elbow to line up with the opening of my right pocket at impact, so I know my lower body has turned and my right shoulder is coming down on plane. This image will help you to either speed your lower body up, or, in this reader's case, slow the lower body down.
Related Videos from Jerry Tucker (Mike's brother)
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  • Why You Miss Putts
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.