The Focus on Ball Flight

By Rex HoggardApril 5, 2011, 4:08 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Like most of the uninitiated, Anthony Kim stepped to the 10th tee at venerable Augusta National and clubbed his tee ball left of the Bobby Jones Expressway. “First time (in 2009),” Kim smiled widely, “I snap-hooked it and thought it was 800 yards left . . . but it was OK.”

Of all of the Georgia gem’s intricacies the widely held notion that to win a green jacket one must be able to draw the ball, at least for right-handed golfers, is the easiest to grasp but perhaps the most misunderstood.

Simple physics support the need for a right-to-left ball flight. The tee shots at Nos. 10, 13, 14, 15 and 17 all promote a draw. “On the back nine it seems like you have to draw the ball on every hole,” Kim figured.

But when newly minted world No. 1 Martin Kaymer talked of altering his world-beating swing to play Augusta National Paul Azinger could only smile.

Justin Rose
Justin Rose tees off Monday at Augusta National. (Getty Images)
“I never wanted to change anything that worked,” Azinger said. “I tried to change (my swing) every year, but my best finish (at the Masters) was when I didn’t try to change anything.”

Off the tee Kaymer, who plays an infinitely repeatable fade with his driver, has a point. The lion’s share of holes at Augusta National favor a draw off the tee, which, at least in part, explains why Phil Mickelson, a left-hander who has taken to playing a fade (right-to-left ball flight) in recent years, has won three of the last seven Masters.

Lee Trevino once swore he would never play the Masters again, in large part because of his inability to hit a reliable draw. In Kaymer’s defense he is 0-for-3 in cuts made at the Masters and cites his inability to confidently draw the ball as a primary reason behind his pedestrian record.

“(No. 13) is a reachable par-5 for most of the players if you can draw the ball. For me it was difficult because I was hitting it straight or with a little fade,” Kaymer said. “Then you’re sitting there with a 3-wood and you don’t want to be going into that green with a 3-wood. So, I’m making the golf course more difficult for me.”

Kaymer is hardly the first player to conclude that the former nursery is best played with a draw, although he may be the first top-ranked player to undertake a swing change, however minor, to answer that challenge.

“You want a swing that can produce one shot, but you never want a swing that can’t hit two shots,” said Sean Foley, whose students on Tour include Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan and Justin Rose. “You have to be able to do both.”

In fact, an unscientific survey of current and former players suggests this particular maxim is more guideline than ground-rule.

According to many players, even the feared 10th hole, which was lengthened by 10 yards in 2002, can be played conservatively with a fade, or even a 3-wood.

“That tee is so far back you can just launch a high (fade) down there or if the wind is helping you can hook a 3-wood into the power slot and it’s going to roll forever,” Jason Day said.

The draw tenet also takes a hit when one considers Jack Nicklaus made the “power fade” famous in his day and his Masters’ resume doesn’t suggest any inherent troubles.

Technology has also reduced how much the modern golf ball moves off line and, in many ways, it’s more important to hit the ball high at Augusta National than it is to either hit a draw or a fade.

“It’s a drawer’s golf course off the tee but a cutter’s paradise off the fairways,” Ryan Palmer said. “A fade drops softer and that’s what you have to have.”

“Go to” shots, more so than a particular flight, are also crucial at the Masters, particularly under Sunday pressure when repeatability counts more than a blueprint.

“If (Kaymer) ends his career with 10 majors and none are at Augusta National I don’t think anyone would care,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “You don’t have to draw it to win. Ideally to play Augusta National you need all the shots.”

Maybe more than a draw Kaymer needs more experience. Just ask Fuzzy Zoeller. He was the last player to slip into a green jacket on his first try . . . in 1979.

Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard


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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.