Elephantosis Fechterosis

By Michael FechterJuly 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
It's been said that developing a good golf swing is like eating an elephant -- you can't do it all at once. And, you don't want to try.
 
After my video and computer analysis, I could clearly see half a dozen glaring faults, all of them needing immediate attention. But, as in life, you can only work on one disaster at a time. If I try to do 2 things at once, my mind, and my golf game, gets all screwed up.
 
So, what to work on when there are so many problems to choose from? It's like being President, 'OK, which of the 15,000 dilemmas do I focus on today? Screw it. I'm clearing brush in Texas.'
 
Upon careful consideration, I decided to go with widening my arc and shortening my swing. That collapse at the top that was starting to pain me at night as I went to bed.
 
Sean Petrone from GolfTEC suggested that I feel as if I was hitting nothing but punch shots for awhile. He suggested I feel my thumbs be pointed straight up on both the backswing and the follow-through. All I kept thinking was 'wider arc,' 'shorter backswing' and 'hands lag at the bottom.' It was too many thoughts and I knew it.
 
We were getting some windy, rainy weather and, since I am not a native Scotsman, I was not getting to the links, or even outside, to put any of these thoughts to practice. It was mostly just thinking about my game in the house.
 
Years ago, when I got unhappy with my putting, I started fooling around with different types of strokes. I tried long putters and belly putters. I tried open and closed stances. I tried very short and very heavy putters. I became a regular at the Goodwill and estate sales as I picked through piles of old, dead men's putters.
 
This stench of putter desperation would have shocked my father, because he thought of me as his 'natural-born putter' winning local 'Putt-Putt' tournaments long before I played true golf.
 
As a kid, on the course, I felt sure that I would make any putt 15 feet or under and I could not even imagine a three-putt. I probably went whole summers without a three-putt. Putting was the only easy part of the game.
 
And now, somehow, even putting was not easy.
 
It's not as if I had the yips. I just didn't make as many putts as I thought I should.
 
Then one day, I took a new approach. I kept my left hand at the top of the shaft, and really bent over and put my right hand only 5 or 6 inches from the head of the putter. I made the solid strokes time after time, and 'scared the hole on most anything 20 feet and under.
 
From what I could see, on hundreds of courses, no one else putts like this, probably because it looks ridiculous.
 
Watching me putt, it must look like I am analyzing rodent droppings on the ground. But there's no way for the putter to go off-line and I rarely see a better putter even with almost no practice.
 
I know it worked because people I played with started to copy me.
 
So, during these days of dreary weather, I wondered, 'What if I spread my hands on full shots?'
 
Hands spread would force my backswing to be shorter. And if I really concentrated on extending my backswing 'wide' on the takeaway, really exaggerated that take away with a wide base, while standing closer to the ball then maybe, just maybe, I could create a simple repeatable golf swing.
 
Yeah, and maybe, Cameron Diaz would be calling me in the next 10 minutes to take me surfing.
 
But I thought about it more.
 
The swing I was thinking of is not that much different from the Moe Norman philosophy of hitting a golf ball which is a wide base, big extension and shallow divots and as repeatable as a stamp drill. And, who doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of golfs greatest savant and very sexy, Moe Norman?
 
This split-hands thing seems about right for my personality. I've never been a person afraid to be unconventional. Heck, I sleep on an inflatable mattress and work for free for Orphans. A really weird golf grip won't keep me out of Heaven.
 
There used to be a teaching philosophy that you should use a baseball grip to get more power and better extend down the line. I had certainly tried that before and it worked pretty well.
 
And I have recently started to really spread my hands on short chips from beside the green. Could it carry over to full shots? Or would I at best just hit the ball very straight and very short? It's hard to get shorter than 200 yards off the tee but 'anything's possible' when it comes to stinking at golf.
 
Finally, on the first break in the weather, I drove out to the local college's soccer fields. A few wedges would test my split-hands theory.
 
When I'm making changes to my golf swing, I really exaggerate them because, like Tiger, what I feel is very often not what I'm actually doing. So, if I think I'm taking the club 6 inches outside the ball on the take away, in reality I may be just taking it straight back.
 
I could feel with my hands spread by almost 6 inches that my swing was definitely shorter. There is simply no way for the arms to break down with the right hand locked so low.
 
What I liked was that I was starting to take very long, shallow divots the size of a dollar bill ' the kind of divots that Sam Snead talked about.
 
With this swing, I could really get aggressive and the ball flew an extra 10 or 15 yards with my pitching wedge ' or maybe even farther, because soccer fields are measured in something called 'meters.'
 
Was I really on to something with this spread hands grip, shorter backswing and hands last through the ball???
 
There were a few swings where I even felt my hands lagging behind the drive of my legs. I'd hit half a dozen balls to one target and then switch it up. I would try different winds and different lies but I kept getting good results.
 
I NEVER hit the ball well. Could this really be me? Could this actually be a break-through? Might I one day actually hit the ball solid and no longer be mocked by those with skill?
 
OK, that's asking a lot since, to the traditional golfer, this new swing looks even more ridiculous than my old swing. But, a mans got to dream. It's dreams that keep us going.
 
It has been years since I left a golf course feeling this good.
 
OK, technically, the college soccer field is not a golf course. But, maybe it was something better. It was my soccer field of dreams -- a place where just maybe my dream of recapturing the game of my youth is turning into reality.
 
Golf IS like eating an elephant. And I am starting to enjoy the taste.
 
Tom Werner contributed to this column.
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Fecheter
 
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
 
Related Links:
  • The Gratitude Project
  • Greenway Golf
  • Getty Images

    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

    Getty Images

    John Deere purse payout: Kim wins a million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:07 am

    Michael Kim won his first PGA Tour event, and with it, over $1 million. Here's how the purse was paid out at the John Deere Classic.

    1 Michael Kim -27 $1,044,000
    T2 Francesco Molinari -19 $382,800
    T2 Joel Dahmen -19 $382,800
    T2 Sam Ryder -19 $382,800
    T2 Bronson Burgoon -19 $382,800
    6 Harold Varner, III -18 $208,800
    T7 Kevin Streelman -16 $168,780
    T7 John Huh -16 $168,780
    T7 Chad Campbell -16 $168,780
    T7 Keith Mitchell -16 $168,780
    T7 Andres Romero -16 $168,780
    T12 Scott Brown -15 $117,450
    T12 Steve Wheatcroft -15 $117,450
    T12 Tyler Duncan -15 $117,450
    T12 Matt Jones -15 $117,450
    T16 Zach Johnson -14 $81,366
    T16 Mackenzie Hughes -14 $81,366
    T16 Whee Kim -14 $81,366
    T16 Parker McLachlin -14 $81,366
    T16 Seamus Power -14 $81,366
    T16 David Hearn -14 $81,366
    T16 Johnson Wagner -14 $81,366
    T23 Dominic Bozzelli -13 $48,886
    T23 Joaquin Niemann -13 $48,886
    T23 John Merrick -13 $48,886
    T23 Chris Kirk -13 $48,886
    T23 Richy Werenski -13 $48,886
    T23 Derek Fathauer -13 $48,886
    T23 Fabian Gomez -13 $48,886
    T30 Patton Kizzire -12 $36,830
    T30 Jason Bohn -12 $36,830
    T30 Chris Stroud -12 $36,830
    T30 Robert Garrigus -12 $36,830
    T34 Hunter Mahan -11 $27,453
    T34 C.T. Pan -11 $27,453
    T34 John Senden -11 $27,453
    T34 Vaughn Taylor -11 $27,453
    T34 Austin Cook -11 $27,453
    T34 J.J. Henry -11 $27,453
    T34 Nick Taylor -11 $27,453
    T34 Cody Gribble -11 $27,453
    T34 Denny McCarthy -11 $27,453
    T43 Nick Hardy -10 $18,096
    T43 Dylan Meyer -10 $18,096
    T43 Troy Merritt -10 $18,096
    T43 Steve Stricker -10 $18,096
    T43 Patrick Rodgers -10 $18,096
    T43 Ricky Barnes -10 $18,096
    T43 Blayne Barber -10 $18,096
    T50 Tom Lovelady -9 $13,990
    T50 Kevin Tway -9 $13,990
    T50 Hudson Swafford -9 $13,990
    T50 Stuart Appleby -9 $13,990
    T50 Corey Conners -9 $13,990
    T55 Conrad Shindler -8 $13,108
    T55 Ryan Moore -8 $13,108
    T55 Ryan Blaum -8 $13,108
    T55 Andrew Landry -8 $13,108
    T55 Matt Atkins -8 $13,108
    T60 Nick Watney -7 $12,644
    T60 Lanto Griffin -7 $12,644
    T60 Sam Saunders -7 $12,644
    T63 Mark Wilson -6 $12,354
    T63 Kelly Kraft -6 $12,354
    T65 Benjamin Silverman -4 $12,006
    T65 Arjun Atwal -4 $12,006
    T65 Brett Stegmaier -4 $12,006
    T65 J.T. Poston -4 $12,006
    T69 Nicholas Lindheim -3 $11,658
    T69 Tommy Gainey -3 $11,658
    71 Kris Blanks -2 $11,484
    MDF Chesson Hadley -3 $11,136
    MDF Bill Haas -3 $11,136
    MDF David Lingmerth -3 $11,136
    MDF George McNeill -3 $11,136
    MDF Martin Flores -3 $11,136
    MDF Ryan Palmer -2 $10,730
    MDF Sean McCarty -2 $10,730
    MDF Andrew Putnam -1 $10,556
    MDF D.J. Trahan E $10,440
    MDF Brian Stuard 1 $10,324
    MDF Brendon de Jonge 3 $10,208
    Getty Images

    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:00 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    Getty Images

    Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

    WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

    It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

    Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

    ''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

    The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

    It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

    ''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

    ''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

    A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

    ''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

    Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

    ''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

    ''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

    Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

    Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

    ''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''