Martin's Blog - January 27, 2012

By Martin HallJanuary 27, 2012, 2:00 pm

Contact Us
Like School of Golf on Facebook: Join The Class
Follow School of Golf on Twitter: @SchoolofGolf

Facebook Questions From the Class
Q: I’m a lefty. I used to use the baseball grip and would play a fade. Recently started using the interlock grip and I've been making much better contact, but developed a quite distasteful hook on my bad shots. What are some keys to fixing this? (Cameron James Kantor)

A: It sounds like with the interlock grip, you have your left palm too far under the club at address. Make sure your grip is neutral with your left hand. There’s no reason for the interlock to cause a hook shot.

Q: I am new to the game. Although I bought my first set of clubs, I'm lost as to what to do. I have gone to the driving range a few times and to a course once. My question is how do I practice alone, since everyone I know that plays lives 2 hours away and I can't afford to pay for lessons? (Danice Bragg-Watts)

A: I would recommend a book. Nick Faldo's 'A Swing for Life' is a very comprehensive one that will give you a very solid base.

Q: I haven't played in over 3 months. Is there a drill or tip to get the rust off? (Hunter Russell)

A: When you haven't played, work on hitting the ball in the center of the face first of all. Watch the replay of “Chapter 1: Dead Solid Contact” and read the Cliff Notes of Martin’s Blog from Wednesday, it’s all you need to know!

Q: How do you release the club? (Chris Puente)

A: You need a definition of what release is. My favorite comes from The Golden Bear who says 'Just after impact, I want the club head as far away from my left shoulder as it could be.' I would strive to put that in your golf swing.

Q: I’m having trouble getting my woods and hybrids up in the air, along with my long irons. On my irons from wedges up to 7, I get it up into the air. I have the ball placed in the forward half of my stance. What I'm I doing wrong? (Robert Cvengros)

A: Sounds like you must be lunging forward with the upper body. Try and keep your head behind the ball and have the right shoulder go under the chin just after impact. That should help.

Q: I'm having trouble taking a full swing. My practice swing is fully extended but when I address the ball I don't take a full swing. Please help. (Manuel Mendoza)

A: You're probably tightening up during the swing or prior to it. Before you swing take a quick body scan, notice your grip pressure, arm pressure and pressure in the chest. Feel like that never changes from start to finish.

Q: I took lessons and got fitted for clubs. How can I get my whole game in sync at the course? I can be on the green in regulation and then 3-putt all day. I struggle to get on the green and make a 10 foot putt. I have time to practice and I get to the course early to warm up. I need help getting my game together. (John Davis)

A: I would recommend both working on your technique and touch to improve your putting. For technique, try putting two clubs down parallel to each other and create a track to keep the putter head on. Hit putts doing that. For touch, practice putting to the edge of the green. See if you can stop the ball right on the edge of the fringe. Two good drills to get you going.

Q: What kind of shots do you use the SW for when not in the sand? (Peter Morgado)

A: Many options for the SW. Out of a bad lie in the rough, to get it over a bunker, and anytime I need to get the ball to go high and stop quickly.

Q: When I'm on with the driver, I'm on! When I'm not, I struggle to find the fairway. It’s hard to get a tan playing from the trees. I'm a visual kind of guy. If you're looking to hit it straight with a baby draw, in what position should the club, club head and body be in at waist high after contact? (Robert Hornberger)

A: I would say anytime you want consistency, reduce wrist action both on backswing and follow-through.

Q: I have been learning golf for the past 7 months. I found that my best distance for my 7-iron is is 80-90 yards. Is this normal? How should I get more distance, especially the tight compact swoosh into the ball when someone hits 150 yards? (Yuelin Chen)

A: Distance is not just club head speed, but club head speed applied correctly. You need to hit the ball in the center of the club face and you need more lag in your downswing.

Q: I'm a 7 handicap, but what to do to hit a baby draw instead of my fade? (Jason Smith)

A: The easiest way to hit a baby draw without changing your swing too much is aim well right of your target and close the club face to your setup position. It's not the only way and it may not hit the highest draw, but it is the easiest.

Next Week’s Show
Chapter 2: Improving Your Tempo (January 31, 2012)
Post your questions for next week on Email or Facebook

Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”