ANNOUNCING…

The Fanatics Cup!

The PGA Tour has its FedEx Cup, we have the Fanatics Cup!

So you think you’re a golf fanatic? Here’s your chance to prove it. Throughout the 2018 PGA Tour season I’ll be sending out questions for you to answer. If you score 100% at the end of the year you really ARE a golf fanatic. If you don’t, you have work to do.

The questions will come in the form of quizzes sent out as blog posts, so be sure to sign up to receive my blog posts via email. The easy sign-up form is in the sidebar on every page and at the bottom of the home page on our site.

Sometimes it will be a single question, other times there may be several questions. It just depends on my mood. 🙂

Here’s a sample of the kinds of questions you’ll be receiving (and these are EASY ones):

[onionbuzz quizid=1][/onionbuzz]

If you’d like to brag about your score or tell your friends about the Fanatics Cup you can add a comment to the post and share using the social media buttons below your quiz results.

Here’s wishing you success in the inaugural Fanatics Cup.

Let the games begin!

The Head Fanatic

 

 

 

 

The Secret to Practicing Like A Tour Player

This is good…

by Jonathan Wallett

Practice until your hands bleed is advice often given to young players who aspire to a career in professional golf. Repeat, repeat, repeat so you play like a machine and mistake-free is another mantra preached by some parents and coaches. It’s well meaning advice, but it falls short.

The most common mistake I see young elite players making is looking to build a machine-like swing and then looking to engrain it through repetitive practice from dawn to dusk. Instead, what I’ve learned firsthand from tour players is that they look to build skill and confidence with their practice time.

So what’s the difference between engraining the perfect swing and building skill?

A mistake many golfers make is to get several buckets of balls, put down an alignment aid, grab a 7-iron and just work on trying to hit the ball perfect with the same flight to the same target every time. These golfers think that the more balls they hit, the more muscle memory they’re create. They believe they’ll be able to take it to the course or tournament and be able to play automatic, machine-like, mistake-free golf.

Why does this not work?

Let’s first understand that the emotional or psychological aspect of hitting a ball on the range and hitting a ball on the course in tournaments are poles apart. If you hit a poor shot on the range, you just take another ball and look to correct the swing in the next shot. On the course, you first have the physical challenge the golf architect of that course set – perhaps water down the left, trees on the right, a fairway bunker, etc — but then you have the mental challenge. You want to do well, you want to shoot a certain score, you’re thinking what other players are doing, etc. These two scenarios bear little relation to each other, and that’s why trying to engrain a machine-like swing on the range has very limited value.

So does that mean practice is for nothing? Absolutely not. Practice is where you can develop your skills. The critical point are: (1) How you practice, and (2) Under what conditions.

Practice until your hands bleed is advice often given to young players who aspire to a career in professional golf. Repeat, repeat, repeat so you play like a machine and mistake-free is another mantra preached by some parents and coaches. It’s well meaning advice, but it falls short.

The most common mistake I see young elite players making is looking to build a machine-like swing and then looking to engrain it through repetitive practice from dawn to dusk. Instead, what I’ve learned firsthand from tour players is that they look to build skill and confidence with their practice time.

So what’s the difference between engraining the perfect swing and building skill?

A mistake many golfers make is to get several buckets of balls, put down an alignment aid, grab a 7-iron and just work on trying to hit the ball perfect with the same flight to the same target every time. These golfers think that the more balls they hit, the more muscle memory they’re create. They believe they’ll be able to take it to the course or tournament and be able to play automatic, machine-like, mistake-free golf.

Why does this not work?

Let’s first understand that the emotional or psychological aspect of hitting a ball on the range and hitting a ball on the course in tournaments are poles apart. If you hit a poor shot on the range, you just take another ball and look to correct the swing in the next shot. On the course, you first have the physical challenge the golf architect of that course set – perhaps water down the left, trees on the right, a fairway bunker, etc — but then you have the mental challenge. You want to do well, you want to shoot a certain score, you’re thinking what other players are doing, etc. These two scenarios bear little relation to each other, and that’s why trying to engrain a machine-like swing on the range has very limited value.

So does that mean practice is for nothing? Absolutely not. Practice is where you can develop your skills. The critical point are: (1) How you practice, and (2) Under what conditions.

In a conversation 17 years ago with Michael Campbell, who went on to win the 2005 U.S. Open, he revealed a concept that he referred to as the one-third rule. In essence, it means dividing your practice into three parts.

  • In the the first part, you focus on progressing your technique.
  • In the second part, you focus on rhythm and motion.
  • In the third part, you simulate competition.

So if Michael was doing a 60-minute long game session, he may divide it into the following three parts.

Part 1: 20 minutes working on swing technique, using key drills set for him by his coach. In this part of practice, it’s fine to hit to just one target with one club and use training aids like alignment sticks.

Part 2: In this part of practice, no technical thoughts are allowed. Every shot must also be different. You may use the same club for five shots, but you must aim at five different targets. Or do Steve Bann’s nine-shot drill where you hit each of the nine ball flights on different balls. It can also mean changing clubs every shot. In essence, it’s about variability. When swinging, golfers need to be focused on the shot instead of the technique.

Part 3: In this part of practice, you put yourself under pressure by introducing a “win-lose” element. This last section creates a bridge from your practice to your play. It helps you transfer your range work to hitting good shots down the stretch. Extensive testing has shown that practicing in pressurized situations is the most effective way of inoculating yourself against the negative effects of pressure. Use your pre-shot routine just as you would on the course and have a specific practice drill that creates competition

This one-third concept relates to all aspects of the game: a putting session, short-game practice, wedge training, etc. What I have found in applying the concept for more than 15 years is that it assists players in building what I call competitive confidence, or confidence under pressure. Because they’ve been tested and challenged during practice, they are better prepared to perform when they face challenge and pressure during competition. Practice this way, and you will be able to build confidence that you can hit the key shot under pressure. That’s what tournament golf is about, being able to execute the key shot at the critical time.

This summer, Jordan Spieth won the biggest tournament in golf, the Open Championship. He had the best four days of his already star-studded career. His game was far from machine-like, but he possessed competitive confidence and skill. That enabled him to get the ball in the hole over 72 holes in fewer strokes than any of the other 155 competitors, which is the essence of tournament golf and the skill we need to build in our practice time.

The video below highlights some competitive practice drills you can try in your next practice session.

R.I.P Armchair Rules Officials

Perhaps Lexi Thompson can take some solace from the announcement made on Monday by the USGA and R&A, in conjunction with the major men’s and women’s professional tours around the world and the PGA of America. Starting Jan. 1, these associations collectively will no longer field rules inquires from viewers watching golf-tournament broadcasts on TV or streaming online as part of a new set of video review protocols.

The decision doesn’t turn back time or alter the outcome of Thompson’s disappointing playoff loss at the ANA Inspiration in April, but her harrowing experience served as a tipping point to change what many believe had become a blight on the game.

Had the new policy been in place earlier this year, chances are Thompson would not have received the four-stroke penalty for incorrectly marking her ball on the putting green and instead would have likely cruised to victory over So Yeon Ryu at Mission Hills. LPGA officials would not have accepted the email that came to them during Sunday’s final round asking about Thompson’s mark on the 17th green the previous day.

In the aftermath of the ANA ruling, the USGA and R&A formed a working group made up of representatives from the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America to develop guidelines for video review. The foundation of the working group’s new protocol is that each of these entities has committed to assigning one or more rules officials to monitor video broadcasts of their events to help identify and review potential rules issues as they arise. In turn, the tours will discontinue consideration of call-ins as part of the rules review process.

“The committee [at each tournament] will take on the responsibility of monitoring in real time,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA senior director of Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. “Essentially everything you’re seeing at home we’ve already seen it. We’re going to apply the rules accordingly.”

Should players, caddies, officials or spectators at tournaments raise questions about potential rules issues, the video review staff at each tournament can return to the broadcast footage to help with rulings.

In addition, the USGA and R&A have approved the creation of a Local Rule that will eliminate the additional two-stroke penalty players can receive for failing to include a penalty on the scorecard when a player is unaware of the penalty. This Local Rule will be available starting Jan. 1, and all associations that are part of the video working group will implement it. Meanwhile, the scorecard penalty will be removed entirely in 2019 when the modernized Rules of Golf go into effect.

Pagel said that the working group’s first point of conversation upon gathering in April was whether to allow video reviews of any kind. Their conclusion was that obvious benefit of seeing footage to determine facts and help apply the Rules—as well as exonerate players—was too big to do away with video review altogether.

However, there was agreement that the type of video that would be reviewed needed to be limited to broadcast footage. Videos taken onsite by phones or other digital technology will not be used as part of the review process.

“We see this today in social media and otherwise, and not just limited to golf, you see video that’s clipped and manipulated,” Pagel said. “And rather that put yourself in a position of having to trust that, we’re just saying we’re going to rely on those credible sources.”

No other major sport allows spectators to potentially change the outcome of a competition based on what they saw, viewers getting to act as de facto arm-chair officials. Beside the Thompson affair, the 2013 Masters was memorably impacted when a viewer called to say that Tiger Woods had taken an improper drop on the 15th hole during the second round after hitting a shot off the flag stick and into the water. (That viewer happened to be a former PGA Tour and USGA rules official, David Eger.)

More often than not, however, when call-ins occur they don’t amount to actual Rules infractions and become distractions to tournament officials, according to Pagel.

“When a call or email would come over to our desk where we were reviewing video, 90 percent of them, maybe 95 percent, we had already seen and determined there were no issues,” Pagel said. “And maybe somebody calls about something and it was from four hours ago, and all of a sudden you go to the source video and realize there’s nothing there. So it’s a labor-intensive process, and really it’s taking us away from focusing on conducting the event.”

That said, Pagel acknowledges that under the new video protocol there is potential for rules issues to be overlooked. Take Thompson at the ANA. If not for the email from the viewer, it would have been incumbent upon LPGA video rules officials to have caught Thompson’s improper mark in real time.

“There may be things that the committee after the scorecard is returned, will come back and say, ‘You know what? We missed that. We didn’t catch that as it happened. We’re human.’ The committee will accept that responsibility.”

Pagel characterizes these changes as the next step in golf’s ongoing conversation regarding video review. Shortly after the ANA incident, the USGA and R&A announced a new decision (34-3/10) to the Rules of Golf that allowed for a “player’s reasonable judgment” to be acceptable in cases where they video evidence later shows they might not have taken precisely the nearest point of relief.

The governing bodies also put in that Decision a “naked eye” standard so that if a player’s action could not reasonable have been seen as it happened—think Anna Nordqvist at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open—and the player was not otherwise aware of a potential breach, he or she would not be considered to have broken the Rules if video technology shows otherwise.

Everyone realizes that video can play a helpful role for players and officials. This latest announcement is in an attempt to make sure it doesn’t play a hurtful role, too.

It’s about freaking time. – The Liberator

Paige Spiranec Opens Up About Sexual Harassment

“Spiranac, a former golfer at San Diego State who has put her playing career on hold, has leveraged her online persona into an impressive portfolio that includes an endorsement deal with PXG and the 18 Birdies app. But she’s also become vocal in decrying the mistreatment of women online, serving as a spokeswoman for the anti-cyber bullying foundation, Cybersmile. As someone who has been criticized by men and women for using her looks to advance her career, Spiranac says women can be just as complicit in “victim shaming.”

Click HERE for the whole story…

Here’s my two cents…Paige Spiranec does not have thousands of followers because of her golf swing. If she wants to sell her sexuality for fame she should accept the reality that she is pushing men’s testosterone buttons. If you want the so-called sexual harassment to stop, Paige, stop selling your sexuality. The world of decent people cannot be your police force. YOU control the reaction to (mostly) young, over-sexed males who ogle the very pics you post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and your image in the commercials for which you are paid thousands of dollars. You can’t have it both ways, girl. Stop posting your half-naked pics or stop whining. – The Head Fanatic