PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS
Oakmont’s 9th green 
Oh, boy...here comes Oakmont
Thursday, June 16, 2016
By Ron Romanik

 

Thank you, Mother Nature! The rain on Wednesday night and Thursday just may have salvaged this year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont on the "watchability" scale. I care about the fans more than the players, truth be told. After all, the pros have a job to do, and they signed up for the torture voluntarily. The viewers are (mostly) innocent bystanders.

 

The rain-softened greens were nice to watch on Thursday, and the players did not all look like they would rather be somewhere else. But we’re not out of the woods yet, because the USGA will be tempted to take action when none is needed.

 

If left to nature, the greens should firm up and speed up gradually into the weekend. I think all the fans would enjoy that. Let’s hope the USGA looks forward to that as well, and leaves well enough alone.

 

There’s no debating the mystique of Oakmont, as it ranks up there with Merion, Shinnecock Hills, Augusta, and Pebble Beach in the combination of epic golf courses that have also had epically historic moments.

 

Of course, there’s Jack’s first U.S. Open win fighting both the demanding golf course and the hostile army rooting for hometown hero Palmer, who was still in his prime. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out "Jack's First Major" hour-long special on Vimeo.

 

And then there’s possibly the most perfect ball-striking round in the history of the game. When Johnny Miller shot his historic 63 in the last round of the ’73 U.S. Open at Oakmont CC to win, he hit every green in regulation. The average length of the birdie putts that he was left with was only 12 feet. Johnny made nine birdies while also missing shortish birdie putts of six, ten and twelve feet.

 

Cricket Club Notes

 

The Senior Players Championship last weekend was also contested on a course pushing the brink of fairness. The Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, PA, proved to be a stern test for the Champions Tour players.

 

The greens were unreceptive and fast, and the wind whipped around the grounds with persistent harassment. The trophy went to the player who could control the distance and spin of his ball in wind that seemed to come from every direction on the compass. Whether it was drawing a utility iron hard into a left-to-right gale or gauging the distance to hit a mid-ion out of the rough on a down hill, down wind approach, Bernhard Langer navigated the hazards at Cricket Club with cold calculation.

 

One thing I hadn’t noticed about Langer before was his peculiar pre-shot routine. I can’t say his method is universal, but many of the shots I saw followed a precise prescription for success. The most interesting aspect to me is that, once at address, Langer did not seem to look back at the target before he hit his shot. He only looked at his alignment spot (almost always a rhythmic three glances), which was about six feet in front of the ball.

 

Upon closer inspection on the DVR and on Youtube, I believe it’s possible that he peaks out of the left corner of his eye, but does not turn his head all the way up. Here’s two swings from the front that show him looking twice. In my humble opinion, it doesn’t look like his head comes up to see the target. It’s certainly not the only secret to his success, but who knows? (If anyone knows definitively what he is looking at, let us know.)

 

And of course, Big John Daly was impressive as always even if his scores were a bit bloated. Not only is he still monstrously long, he can shape his driver in Bubba Watson-like fashion. Two shots stood out on the windy Friday afternoon second round. On No. 10 he lifted a high cut that rode the left-to-right wind over a 50-foot-high tree, bending about 40 yards and splitting the fairway on the toughest fairway to hit. Coming back into a heavy wind on No. 15, Daly smoked a low fade that cheated the wind, allowing him to get pin-high in two on the 553-yard hole that was playing more like 600 yards.

 

And I predict great things for one Brandt Jobe, who was out of golf for a few years nursing himself back to form after shoulder surgeries. Jobe was the medalist at the Champions Q School in December, and is not wasting this opportunity.

 

If you want to get a feel for how difficult it is to get on the Champions Tour, realize that only five spots at the Q School get full Champions Tour membership. Spots 6-11 get "conditional" status, and the rest of the top 30 get the "privilege" of competing in each tour stop’s open qualifiers. Good luck with that.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 

 


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Nothing to see here 
The ’Champions’ are here!
Thursday, June 9, 2016
By Ron Romanik

While at the time the rebranding of the Senior PGA Tour to Champions Tour was met with some snarky skepticism, it seems the Tour has now hit its stride and found its comfort zone. 2003 was simultaneously a more innocent and a more tumultuous time.

 

Ask no other than the grossly misunderstood curmudgeon Colin Montgomerie, who said earlier this week: "It's by far the best tour that I've played on and therefore the best tour, best tour really in the world out here."

 

In comparing Philadelphia Cricket Club with Oakmont, Colin also predicted a punishing week ahead for the over-50 crowd. It will be a thorough test of golf, and only the fittest will survive. In the end, the winner will probably be the golf course.

 

And what a golf course. I recommend heading out to the Senior Players Championship just to bask in the beauty and grandeur of one of the best of the best in the Philadelphia region. The Cricket Club is an A.W. Tillinghast gem that has only matured to near perfection like a rare Rothshild vintage.

 

But the other best reason to the tournament is to watch some of the great swingers of the game. The "Champions" are not as athletic as the PGA Tour pros, no doubt, but they make up for it in effortless power. Which reminds me of one of the most elegant and in-balance swings of all time, Tom Purtzer. Sadly, he didn’t make the Players field, but over the last forty years, he has topped the survey results seemingly every time that his peers have responded to: "Whose swing do you most admire?"

 

When instructors talk about effortless power, look no further than Tom Purtzer’s rhythmic, perfectly balanced motion, seemingly building power in every ligament from his toes to his fingertips. Which brings to mind another timeless swing, Mickey Wright. Her swing has a lot more leg action, but many point to her transition at the top as the most ideal in the game.

 

USGA Study

 

What isn’t effortless power is the way the USGA has addressed the way the ball is traveling ridiculously far on today’s pro tours. They finally broke their silence on the matter in a way that might rub some folks the wrong way. Here’s the report in full, but I can some it up for you as such: "Nothing to see here. Move along."

 

The tone of the report borders on condescending, claiming statistical rigor while comparing apples to slightly unripe apples. The best they can admit to is monitoring, since 2002, "a slow creep" of distance gains on the PGA Tour.

 

Two of its "findings" are (emphasis added): "The average launch conditions on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007." And "...the amount by which players are "long" or "short" is virtually the same – for instance, the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6% shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7% longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward added distance."

 

There are many ways you could pick apart the USGA’s overall argument that there’s no problem here, some of which they admit themselves in dismissive sleights of hand. The first problem is it is "driving distance" only. It’s obvious to anyone watching the PGA Tour on TV that over the last 15 years, the course setups have dramatically reduced roll in the fairways. Add to that the fact that the longest hitters more and more don’t use drivers—and sometimes irons—off many par-four and par-five tees and you get a sense of how much this thorough "study" leaves out.

 

And what about the 170-yard nine-irons and the 220-yard six-irons? The most cynical way one might look at the USGA’s lack of action on distance control is that they let the ball and the driver head technology max our the limits of physics long enough to arrive at a baseline point that they could safely then pretend to "take action."

 

The 2003 "Position" paper from the powers that be stated: "The R&A and the USGA will consider all of these factors contributing to distance on a regular basis. Should such a situation of meaningful increases in distances arise, the R&A and the USGA would feel it immediately necessary to seek ways of protecting the game."

 

Now they take credit for reining in distance growth during this last era of "Stability through Regulation" by breaking down the fast distance growth before 2003 and after as such.

 

-- 1992 to 2000 – Advancements from Club Innovations

-- 2000 to 2003 – Advancements from Ball Innovations

-- 2003 to 2015 – Stability through Regulation

 

The first page of the current report promises: "We intend to produce a distance report on an annual basis." Looking forward to similar conclusions in the next one.

 

Bonus long ball: How do you hit a ball two yards and have it travel 50? Dustin Johnson illustrates.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 

 

 


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A slimmer John Daly 
Yes, I root for John Daly
Thursday, May 12, 2016
By Ron Romanik

Yes, I root for him. And I’m not ashamed of it.

 

But somewhere along the line my attitude toward Big John changed, or shall I say, became repressed. You see, I became more fascinated at the eternal fascination of his loyal fans than admitting I was still fascinated by the icon, even through the darkest of times.

 

Of course I was amazed when he won the British Open, and I thought at that moment that he could complete the Career Grand Slam. Like everyone else over the years, I was willing to forgive some, or many, indiscretions. For instance, the number of ex-wives one man accumulates does not necessarily reflect poorly on his character, especially when he can joke about it on a song called "All of My Exes Wear Rolexes."

 

The endurance of John Daly’s fame and likeability may come down to his role in our media-driven society as a Modern Everyman. Any other man with so many faults and scandals may have been long shamed and forgotten if it weren’t for his "aw shucks" openness and, one must emphasize, humility. He struggles with life like we all struggle at times, and he doesn’t mind telling you about it. People identify with him because they see in John that a person can both be responsible for his own actions and still be a victim of them at the same time.

 

I don’t mean to gloss over his periods of public infamy, when many wrote him off as hopeless. There were years where he dropped almost completely out of favor. But that’s just the point. Whenever he showed his face again, there were sympathetic fans and empathetic media ready to forgive and forget.

 

And you only have to look at ticket sales and crowd sizes following him around any tournament he managed to get into to prove his enduring appeal. So now he’s on the Champions Tour and expected to draw huge crowds there, and lead the driving distance stats as well.

 

And if you don’t see John as humble, I’d like to quote from an interview early in his PGA Tour career talking about his prodigious length: "Basically, it’s just something that happened. I think it’s more natural ability than anything. It’s a God-given talent, and I just worked at it a lot. And, you can’t really explain it... It’s something that just happens."

 

So I fell under that Everyman spell as well, and I never downplayed his talent. If your memory has revised down the impact he had when he burst onto the scene, and the mystique that followed, I can only say that he was revered like Paul Bunyan, John Henry, or Buffalo Bill—or a combination of all three. His driver had to be made of bulletproof material, for Chrissake.

 

His unpredictability also added to his edge. Because cell phone cameras were not ubiquitous back in the day, one incident was less scandalous than it might have been in today’s social media piranha-like feeding frenzy. A little bored at an exhibition on a driving range, John spun around and launched a full driver over the gallery behind the range. Dangerous, maybe, but let’s be honest, he wasn’t going to miss. He never has.

 

So this past week was Big John’s debut on the Champions Tour, and he led the field with 298-yard driving average. That would also lead for the season stats, if he were to keep it up through the rest of his Champions schedule. He also plans to play the PGA Championship and the British Open. And his all-around game showed some promise, as he made 14 birdies over the 54-hole tournament.

 

He’s a natural talent, for sure, and a feel player. One thing that always drove me nuts is that he takes very little time evaluating the break of putts. Though he makes many, he also misses more than his share of short ones. There’s one moment in golf history that encapsulated both extremes of John’s temperament—and maddening allure.

 

It was the World Golf Championship in October 2005 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Daly and Tiger were tied at the end of 72 holes, and a sudden death playoff ensued. Tiger drove first, and Nick Faldo called it at almost 350 yards. (And don’t think Tiger wasn’t trying to go toe-to-toe with the longest hitter on tour.) So Daly steps up and outdrives Tiger by almost 15 yards.

 

While both had long-but-makeable birdie putts, Tiger lagged his to two inches short before Daly blasted his by two feet. Daly lipped out the comebacker and the tournament was over just like that. Daly shrugged and ambled off the green, disappointed but not dismayed, perhaps. (Just a side note, Daly was 39 at the time and Tiger was 29. Here’s the drives, and here’s the missed putt.)

 

Yes, I also watched the short-lived "Being John Daly" reality show, as well as the Feherty episode that was oddly uncomfortable as two supposedly clean alcoholics danced around some of the realities of being clean. Two highlights were the opening with an "Animal House" homage and the destruction of Daly’s ugly wall mural (at 37:33) and the unveiling of a much better mural (at 42:14).

 

And then there’s the music. A sampling can be found here on MySpace, and his two albums are available on Amazon.com, but only "I Only Know One Way" is on iTunes. Though the opening track "Hit It Hard" is very popular and a strong country song, my favorite is his rendition of "Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door" with additional lyrics only John could write:

 

Mama, I can’t hit my wedge no more
It’s getting really hard to score
I haven’t made a cut in weeks
My career looks so bleak.

 

Many are excited about an ESPN "30 for 30" episode entitled "Hit It Hard," rumored to be broadcast-debuting July 14th, the week of the British Open. And if you heard about the bobblehead John Daly released last week but missed it somehow, it’s worth a look, sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He even looks good in the image shown here, a head shot generously used by the GolfChannel only two years ago, which was certainly not "accurate" at that time.

 

In the end, I believe most fans give John a break because they can see has a good—even generous—heart, has endured some tough times (whether self-imposed or not), and has never taken himself too seriously. An eternal Everyman, if you will, with childlike appetites caught in the webs of adult responsibility.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.


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Fluff Cowan and Peter Jacobssen 
The ageless caddie Fluff Cowan
Monday, April 4, 2016
By Ron Romanik

Just in case you missed it last month, veteran looper Fluff Cowan turned a journeyman into a star in a few short weeks—almost immediately, actually. As his regular bag, Jim Furyk, is still recovering from injury, the tireless 68-year-old was off-duty but glad to take a call from one Sung Kang, a Web.com tour grad.

 

You see, Kang had missed three cuts in a row in his first Big Tour run since 2012. With Fluff on the bag, Kang almost shoots 59 on his second round with the legendary caddie (at the Monterey Peninsula course). He finishes 17th at Pebble Beach, 8th at Riviera, and 10th at PGA National for the Honda Classic.

 

So much for the overrated caddie argument. Three cuts missed to three top-20 finishes. Not too shabby.

 

Just to review, Fluff’s resume is primarily filled with long stints with Peter Jacobsen, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, and Jim Furyk. All marquee players in their prime, proving the best caddies are teammates, no matter what the astute zeitgeist observer Stephen Anthony Smith opines.

 

Just a reminder, when Fluff got on Tiger’s bag, after stumbling out of the gate with a low finish at the Greater Milwaukee Open, then went 11, 5, 3, 1, 3, 1, 21, 3, 2, 1... and on to the Masters win in 1997.

 

The best PGA Tour caddies bring a number of skills to the table. They have experience on the course, they know their yardages and wind, and they stay out of the way. Many say they also play psychologist on the golf course, delicately managing their players’ emotional ups and downs during a round.

 

That may be true, but I think the most salient talent is instilling confidence in the player at the moment of truth, right before the swing. Fluff is one of the best at this. Others that come immediately to mind are Bones McKay, Squeaky Medlin, and Joe LaCava. I hate to include LaCava—not because he’s another Tiger hanger-on—but because he doesn’t have a good nickname.

 

There’s many things to love about Fluff, though. He’s an International Man of Mystery: Wikipedia editors can’t confirm a birthdate. He’s a certified Deadhead. He has fine taste in golf courses (a member at Congressional). He made two memorable "This is SportsCenter" commercials (This one is the better one, short and sweet). And he tweets at @CaddyFluff, but nearly enough.

 

A shout out to Rick Arnett (@ArnettRick) of www.avidgolfer.com for the tweet of Fluff pictured here.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 

 


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From Ben Hogan’s Modern Fundamentals of Golf 
Back in the grove
Saturday, March 19, 2016
By Ron Romanik

But is there just one groove? Is there one ideal swing? Well, if you’re a fan of Adam Scott, you might be nodding your head in the affirmative manner, emphatically.

 

As technically sound as Mr. Scott’s swing is, us mortals will never come close to that level of perfection—and repeatability. And there have been so many other odd, unteachable swings that have been quite successful as well. It is for this reason that I believe it’s better to make the most of what you have, and find a way to make the instinctive work with you, not against you. As we’re rebuilding our swings for a new season, I think this is a timely discussion.

 

Or, to put it another way, maybe we should start with looking at your strengths and weaknesses, and admit where we are. And, maybe even start with our unique anatomies, and build from there. Instead of trying to achieve—and ultimately failing—to achieve an unattainable ideal, let’s build a repeatable swing from the ground up, as it were, based on our natural abilities.

 

I was in this vein of deliberation when I came across a tip in Golf Magazine by Jessica Korda. And I was struck by its common sense approach and the fact that I had never heard of this tip before in all my readings and video watchings. The tip posits that everyone has his or her own natural left hand position, and that’s the one you should be using. It’s so easy to try, and it seems to work!

 

Korda instructs: "Stand behind the ball and grip the club with your left hand only. It's simple: Just grab the handle without looking. This sets your left hand in its natural power position." Natural power position? Could it be that easy?

 

Korda goes on: "Depending on your anatomy, your left wrist will be either flat or flexed. What's important is that you maintain your left wrist position as you swing. Changing it disrupts your hitting instinct. Take note of the flex and accept it."

 

Yes! Accept what’s natural because it encourages and supports your hitting instinct. This idea made so much sense to me, I ripped the page out of the magazine and have kept it out on my desk ever since.

 

But now turning to the other extreme, Mr. Hogan, I have long had some rhetorical—and not-so-rhetorical—questions about his alleged "secrets" bouncing around in the back of my head. In the image here are two perplexing parts of his elaborate ruse on the golfing public.

 

First, if Hogan was the greatest ball striker ever, why doesn’t anyone today follow his advice for adjusting the stance for the length of the club? (See image.) Every pro or accomplished player around these days is pretty much square to the target line on every shot. In the image on this page, the top half illustrates Hogan’s strategy on stance. His argument is that the hips need a little more space to get out of the way of an ideal swing plane for the longer clubs. Why no one follows this advice today is probably a conundrum that has no answer, redundancies aside.

 

Another perplexingly revealed element in Mr. Hogan’s quiverful of secrets is when he tries to describe how the wrist (ideally) rotates and bows simultaneously near impact. The dictionary says "supinate" means: "to turn (or hold) a hand so that the palm or sole is facing upward or outward." But it’s always been my assertion that Mr. Hogan had a unique definition of "supinate" in his head that he never shared. One person brave enough to try to parse out anatomically everything that’s going in in Hogan’s wrist at the millisecond before impact—and succeeds as well as anyone—is Kelvin Miyahira, on the Around Hawaii website.

 

Of course, Kelvin says in the title of the piece that you have absolutely no chance of replicating what Hogan does, so you might stop trying before you start. Or maybe try strengthening your left wrist like one Hogan legend claims he did—by banging his left fist down repeatedly on a bedpost. Or maybe we should all just start with what comes natural, like Ms. Korda suggests. That sounds like more fun.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.


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A Tiger eulogy, with Youtube
Friday, January 1, 2016
By Ron Romanik

Well, it was a good run. A full 40 years of the carousel carnival ride that was Eldrick, in various but cyclical and somewhat predictable left turns of anticipation, drama, tragedy, redemption, expectation—and fun!

 

There are so many somber and clever ways to sum up the greatness of the golfer separate from the man, but one always rang the most true for me. It was an offhand comment by a longtime PGA Tour color-commentator. The conditional sentence he posited crystallized how many felt about Tiger’s obvious supremacy. If the goal of golf is to hit it far and straight and get it into the hole the fastest, Tiger’s particular combination of talents accomplished this with startling efficiency.

 

The commentator in question was Ken Venturi, and I think he hit the nail on the head when he said conclusively (paraphrasing): "If PGA Tour events were played on courses that consisted of 18 580-yard par-fives, Tiger would win every tournament." Hard to argue with that assessment.

 

In February 1997, two months before his dominant first Masters victory, I wrote only semi-tongue-in-cheek:

 

"We are on the brink of a new era, an era of truth, beauty and joy unbounded. A time of feats unequalled in any past time of human endeavor. And I must pay witness to this new age in recorded history. The time before 1975 will be known as B.T., and the current era, now in the year 21 A.T., will be the boldest and strongest in the brief history of mankind...

 

"In addition, the look in Tiger’s eyes has an intensity that I've seen only a couple of times before. To me, it appears that winning isn't enough—he wants to drive his opponents into submission, to bury any doubts of his supremacy, to lap fields of mortals, and to reveal the weaknesses of his opponents so that they'll limp home broken men."

 

Bold predictions of the past now seem a good deal less hyperbolic now.

 

And so we must bid adieu to an era of unprecedented dominance. Indulge me to refer back to some highlights that you might have forgotten, from a number of different perspectives.

 

First, let’s hear from the man himself, with Tiger’s favorite shot of all time. Then there’s Tiger-worshipper Feherty, with his own favorite Tiger shot, and an added bonus of an Ernie Els unbelieving reaction.

 

Two of my own personal jaw-droppers are a shot from Medinah Country Club, at the 1999 PGA Championship, I believe, and at the Memorial on an otherwise routine day.

 

And let’s review the most exciting nine holes I’ve ever witnessed, at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, the back nine on Saturday. The iron shot out of the right rough on 13 to set up an eagle is at 15:52 is just phenomenal, and the slow motion replay at 17:11 is worth studying for its perfection. In that same back nine, the chip-in birdie at 17 starts at 26:40, and the painful 18 tee shot starts at 28:30 (slow-mo at 29:23). Not to mention the hobbled five-wood approach shot that set up the eagle at 18 (at 30:00).

 

(A side note: I had forgotten this was the era of the Tiger pre-shot right-toe-tap-pre-address-stance dance. Fun, yes... but the importance of a consistent pre-shot routine is cannot be underestimated! A small lesson for you kids out there.)

 

And for Tiger haters... Yes, he had fun himself some times, this one time joining fellow pros skipping balls off Augusta National’s 16th pond. And yes, he loved saying "GOD-d***-it!" (Here’s a collection.) And if schadenfreude is your thing, watch a Top Five moments compilation of Tiger in pain.

 

Now if you ever wonder why Tiger has had so many back surgeries, take time to watch this Top Five miraculous shot compilation. The first two crazy swings in the video, #5 and #4, would give a circus contortionist pause, but I recommend freezing the frame at 0:59 and wincing in empathy.

 

And to conclude, I leave you with two over-the-top struts from the Best Ever: I’ve named them "The Hold That Pose I’m the Baddest Badass Walk" (to seal a President’s Cup victory) and "The Twirl with the Foregone Conclusion Walk" (to set up a short eagle putt on 15 at Augusta).

 

Thanks for the memories, Tiger, and thank you YouTube channel compilers for your tireless, thankless work. Revered or smeared, lionized or oft chastised, a man of esteem or the Perennial Mr. 14, indubitably, Eldrick the Great will be greatly missed.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


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15th at Doylestown CC (USGA photo) 
DO NOT keep your head still
Monday, November 9, 2015
By Ron Romanik

I take my responsibility to you, the readers, to scour the YouTube for the most useful/entertaining content. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly.

 

If you’re bent on finding some swing theory ideas and mechanical recommendations for your own game, there is no better place than YouTube to disappear down the rabbit hole of high hopes and dashed dreams. Many topnotch instructors have great ideas but less-than-great methods for communicating those concepts.

 

If you scour YouTube long enough, you’ll actually be disappointed in the amount of instruction from the Master himself, Ben Hogan. Little snippets appear here and there and, of course, there’s an endless supply of secondary theory building on Hogan’s precepts outlined in the beloved "Five Lessons" tome. There is one man, under the username "myswingevolution," who has attempted to model his swing as absolutely close to Hogan’s as he can get. He did a decent job, actually.

 

But my favorite YouTube swing analyst has to be Wayne DeFrancesco. If you’ve lived in the Mid-Atlantic region for the last couple of decades, you’ve likely come across his writings in Washington Golf Monthly or GolfStyles magazines. His articles were rather wordy, but he always had interesting things to say, and he’s an undeniably accomplished teacher.

 

At Wayne’s YouTube homepage, you can find detailed analyses of many of the greatest golf swings of all time—and with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. But my favorite Wayne videos are when he takes TV analysts to task on their sloppy surmizations (yes, I made up that word) on some of the swings they are observing on Tour. Two of his favorite targets are Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller.

 

When Tiger was having some control issues a few years back, one common diagnosis among commentators was that he was "dipping" his head excessively on the downswing. After watching a few of Wayne’s video analyses, it has become clear to this misguided golfer that "Keep your head still" is the worst advice possible.

 

In one video analyzing Tiger’s swing, Wayne demolishes Johnny Miller’s comments about the "dipping." Tiger has always done this, as have many greats. Wayne also goes on to show how Tiger’s torso is at an angle to the ground that few golfers have ever consistently been before or since—about 25 degrees from the plane made by the ground. (You can go right to that segment of that video here.) Along with head movement, obviously, is posture.

 

In his analysis, Wayne also calls out Johnny because Johnny himself had quite a "dip" in head position in his prime. (That comes at the 3:00 mark.) Wayne points out that Tom Watson, standing behind, doesn’t even want to watch all the movement that goes on in Johnny’s swing, lest he be infected by it.

 

Indeed, in his prime, Johnny moved just about everything in his swing in a violent fashion, including his feet. Where his left foot started and where it ended are amazing to watch today, as this short video and this short video show. The only golfer I can think of that moves their feet this much is—you probably guessed it—Bubba Watson.

 

Wayne also takes dead aim at "Maintaining Posture" in a swing, and the silliness of that concept in modern golf instruction. All this talk, I believe, amounts to what Mac O’Grady used to call "conservation of momentum."

 

Think of it this way. The closer the club is to the axis of rotation, the faster it can go. Try this experiment. Sit in swivel office chair. Start spinning the chair as fast as you can. Then alternately stick your arms and legs out laterally and pull them in. You’ll find you go much faster with your limbs closer to the axis of rotation. Food for thought, I suppose.

 

The most head movement I could think of is Lorena Ochoa, who takes it to another level. It seems many women pros are okay with "leaving" their head back, or tilted, to promote a consistent plane and a proper release. But that’s just my personal "surmization."

 

But many of the greatest male pros of the last century had a related head movement that is subtle but meaningful. As these players come into the impact zone, their heads, still behind the ball, would move further behind the ball. Sam Snead is a good example, and you can even see it in Tiger’s swing near his prime. This move seems to transfer an extra amount of power from the weight transfer into the ball. More YouTube research is obviously needed.

 

And for one last perspective on head movement, here’s Tiger’s swing from a camera in his hat. Happy YouTube surfing!

 

Holes of the Week:

 

The two holes of the week are similar in style, but mirror images of each other. Great straightaway, or "freeway," holes are not as easy to make interesting, so when they do, it’s an achievement. Both of these holes have length from the tips, which gets your attention right away. In addition, with only minimal elevation change, the fairway hides your view of the green.

 

The Public Hole of the Week is Wyncote’s straightaway par 4 #11, which has no fairway bunkers but begs you to shoot down the left side, closer to rough on a steep slope and closer to OB. The mirror of that is the Private Hole of the Week, straightaway #15 at Doylestown. This hole has fairway bunkers that might come into play with some weaker shots, and OB down the right.

 

Both are better played as slight doglegs. Playing the less aggressive line will give you a bit longer shot, but the landing area away from trouble is actually more forgiving and flatter for your approach.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 

 

 

 


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