Class Continues May 3, 2011

By Martin HallMay 3, 2011, 11:00 pm

Q: I have never stepped on a golf course, let alone play golf. I am a fan and would like to try my hand at it. Any advice on inexpensive clubs for a beginner, and should I seek some coaching first?

- Shane T. (Altamonte Springs, FL – from Facebook)

A: I would certainly suggest at least a few lessons before you venture out on the course. Some basic understanding of chipping, pitching, bunker play and the golf swing would be very helpful. A few trips to a nearby driving range where you could rent some clubs and take some group lessons would probably be the most cost effective way to do it. I would also suggest a basic 'how to get started' golf instruction book to give you a big picture view of golf. I hope you get started soon.

Q: I am 12-years old and love to golf but I have a hard time transferring my weight. Do you have any tips on how to transfer your weight in your swing?

- Caleb I. (from Facebook)

A: How and when you transfer your weight in the golf swing will most definitely affect the distance and direction your ball goes. How you turn will affect how you transfer your weight. I am going to assume you are a right-handed golfer. On the backswing, turn your back to the target and feel the weight get on your right heel. Many good players think of loading up the right hip. On the downswing, shift your weight to your left foot then turn your belt buckle and chest to the target. Learn to have the body motion be the motor; the driving force of your swing.

Q: On the practice green, I always seem to miss my putts to the right. I don't push the putt, I just seem to aim right. I am right-handed with left eye dominance. Is it normal for most golfers to miss more on one side than the other?

-'Big John' (Sayreville, NJ)

A: I think all golfers have a tendency to either miss putts to the right or the left; no one putts it perfectly straight all the time. Since you aim right and push your putts right, let me suggest the following: 1. Put the ball more forward in your stance; 2. Draw a stripe on the ball with a Sharpie and aim that stripe where you want the ball to start, then place the putter face at 90 degrees to that line when you set up; 3. Watch the back of the ball very carefully during your stroke; try to see the club face hit the ball squarely. Hope this helps you stop that push. Good luck.

Q: I consistently go beyond parallel in my backswing. Should I stop doing this or should I not worry about it? I feel this causes me to collapse a bit at the top. Any drills?

- John (Lithia, FL)

A: There have been a few good players with long backswings, but for the most part, a shorter backswing seems to make people more consistent. I would suggest a 'YouTube' search for John Cook; this would show a length of backswing that is highly repetitive. A simple thought to shorten your backswing is to feel that your trailing arm bends very little at the elbow during the backswing. Try this as you have someone videotape your swing; you'll be surprised how much that thought helps shorten the swing. Good luck.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”