Golf Buzz

January 19, 2017 - 11:58am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rob Labritz
Pritchard/PGA of America
This is the first of a six-week, six-part series with PGA Professional Rob Labritz, offering up tips on how you can become a complete golfer.

Editor's note: This is the first of a six-week, six-part series with PGA Professional Rob Labritz, offering up tips on how you can become a complete golfer. Each feature will focus on one of six topics: Body, Game, Game maintenance, Mind, Nutrition and Equipment in an effort to help you become the best golfer you can be.

As you see in the professional ranks, many of the best golfers in the world treat their bodies like a temple.

Along with a practice regimen for time on the range and around the practice green, most top level players dedicate a significant amount of their time to fitness.

So why don't avid amateur golfers do the same? If "time" is the issue -- and understandably -- there are a number of things you can do in the limited time you have that will work wonders to improve your movement and range of motion in the golf swing.

Our resident expert Rob Labritz isn't just a fine player (he was low club pro at the 2010 PGA Championship) and teacher, but he's also a Level 2 Certified TPI Instructor. "TPI" is the "Titleist Performance Institute" and a program dedicated to helping golfer of all ages and abilities get the most out of their respective bodies.

There's a good chance that if you're reading this now, you're someone who has a desk job. Labritz says people in this situation -- for the most part -- have all sorts of limitations.

"Generally, if you're not on a workout regimen and you're stuck sitting at a desk all day, your hips and core are almost unusable in the golf swing. There's no diassociation between the upper and lower body, which is crucial in the golf swing. This results in a lack of power and a lack of proper sequence and transition in the swing."

So how do you fix it? First, Labritz said, you want to learn how to isolate your hip movement from the movement of your upper body.

"You want control over your upper and lower body both independently to be good at golf," he said. "One of the best things I do to get people to test their hips is to tell them to get in front of a mirror and into a golf posture. From there, place a club across your shoulders. From that position, attempt to rotate only your hips, meaning the shoulders and golf club you placed across them shouldn't move. That's a test to see if you can disassociate. If you can do this, you're already ahead of the curve. If you can't, it's also the exercise you'll want to use to work on it."

For a right-handed golfer, the golf swing is all about your mobility from right to left. This requires a strong core, which makes the disassociation of your lower body from your upper body so important. Your lower body stabilizes and supports the swinging motion of your torso, arms and hands.

"Another great exercise is to work on your pelvic strength," Labritz told us. "Similar to the last exercise, you want to get in front of a mirror, get in a golf posture, club across the shoulders. From there, try to focus on moving just your pelvic bone up and down. If you're feeling a shaking sensation in that area, you'll have instant feedback that it's weak and needs to be strengthened."

The two exercises we've already covered can be done in less then 10 minutes with three sets of 5-10 reps. Labritz encourages trying to do these twice a day -- and they're easy enough to do right at your desk.

As you start to see improvement and strength building, there are loads of great exercises you can find online that are more advanced.

If you find yourself on the range, Labritz also has a great drill you can try out to work on that all important disassociation.

"If you're a righty (opposite for a lefty) start your swing with more pressure on the left leg," he said. "That's one way of teaching around having slow hips. With 5-10 percent more pressure on that left leg at set up, you can work on getting the ball first and ground second. Make sure the spine is tilted ever so slightly away from the target so you don't stick club in the ground."

Next week, we'll take a closer look at your game and what you can do to improve in every facet.

Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008, 2013 and 2016, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at www.RobLabritz.com and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz.  

January 19, 2017 - 11:50am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
YouTube
Phil Mickelson, master of the flop shot, makes his 2017 PGA Tour calendar year debut today. Here's a look at seven of our favorite flop shots from the 42-time PGA Tour winner.

In celebration of Phil Mickelson's 2017 calendar year debut on the PGA Tour at the CareerBuilder Challenge, we decided to put together a list of our favorites from the shot he's most well-known for: the flop shot.

Hitting a flop shot isn't nearly as easy as the 5-time major champion and 42-time PGA Tour winner makes it look.

The common golfer knows how difficult it can be to execute the shot around a practice green. Imagine what it's like under the pressure of tournament conditions -- where you can't fix the lie -- and in front of thousands of people.

If you pull it off, you're a hero. If you don't, you're an idiot.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Phil Mickelson demonstrates how to hit backwards flop shot

Mickelson brings that wow factor every time his 64-degree wedge comes out of the bag. In no particular order, here are seven times Phil dazzled us with a flop shot.

7. The backwards flop he didn't actually pull off. This one happened in the third round of the 2015 Barclays. Inside a bunker, with the hole to his back, Mickelson attempted to hit a backwards flop shot to escape. As you'll see, he didn't pull it off -- though it looked awesome -- and he eventually makes par. Come on. Who else would even try to hit that shot in a tournament?

 

 

6. Riviera is one of the classic courses on the PGA Tour and is the annual host of the LA Open. Its famous sixth features a bunker in the middle of the green. Mickelson found himself in a tough spot on the green with the bunker obstructing his line to the hole. Rather than putt around it, Mickelson made superintendents around the world cringe. He pulled a lob wedge out of the bag and hit this mind-blowing shot:

 

 

5. A man of the people, Mickelson found himself practically in a concession stand at the Safeway Open in October. As you'll see, the conditions weren't ideal. That was no problem for Phil.

 

 

4. In 2014 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Mickelson got an awful break when -- playing a par 3 -- his tee shot took a terrible bounce and his ball settled into some deep rough. No problem. From 62 feet away, Mickelson delivered a buttery flop shot to within 4 feet of the hole, saving par.

 

 

3. The time Phil hit a flop shot over the head of short-game guru Dave Pelz. I remember when I saw this for the first time years ago and thought the same thing I think today: "What in the hell was Pelz thinking?!" Luckily for Pelz, Mickelson expertly pulled off his signature shot with Pelz just inches away from his fully extended club. Catch that ball just a little thin and we're probably talking about a trip to the ER for Pelz.

 

 

2. At the 2014 Barclays, Lefty was stuck in some wispy fescue behind a bunker. As usual, no problem when a killer flop is part of your arsenal.

 

 

1. For my money, this is the best flop shot I've ever seen Mickelson hit. It didn't settle closest to the hole, but it all but closed out the 2013 Scottish Open in just absolute stunning fashion. It's not often you see players take it high on links courses over on the other side of the pond.

 

 

Here's how you can hit flop shots, hopefully, like Phil Mickelson:

 

 

January 19, 2017 - 7:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
Skratch
Phil Mickelson makes his first start of the season on the PGA Tour today. Here's a look back to when he demonstrated how to hit a backwards flop shot.

Phil Mickelson is scheduled to make his 2017 debut today when he tees off in the CareerBuilder Challenge out in Palm Desert, Calif.

It will be Mickelson's first appearance since the Safeway Open in October and also since undergoing two procedures to treat a sports hernia.

The five-time major champion has long been known for his wizardry with the wedges. In anticipation of his return today, our friends at Skratch went through the archives and found this awesome video of Mickelson explaining how to hit and then executing a ridiculous backwards flop shot over a bunker and to within a few feet of the hole.

 

 

Does it get any better than that?

rickie fowler, persimmon driver
Twitter / CH3golf
Rickie Fowler had a persimmon driver and a TrackMan on hand for a range session this week, giving golf fans insight into how far professional now might have hit it with older technology.

Comparing golfers of different generations is a fruitless task. The way courses are prepared, the technology of clubs used, and the athletic training for Tour players today is vastly different than it was several decades ago.

That hasn't stopped the constant discussion of how players now would fair against the greats of the past. While I can't answer that question, I would like to present an interesting bit of evidence.

Rickie Fowler busted out an old-fashioned persimmon driver during a range session this week with Claude Harmon III. Harmon was nice enough not only to take a video of one of Fowler's drives, but also post a screenshot of his TrackMan statistics using the persimmon wood.

Even with a generous 20 yard roll out, Fowler's drive with the persimmon came in at 292.1 yards. For context, Fowler ranked a very respectable 23rd on the PGA Tour last season with a 301.6 yard average. 

Add in the rougher cut fairways of old, which didn't allow for hardly any roll out, and you can see why driving statistics aren't what they used to be.

diamonds resort invitational, john daly, john daly singing
USA Today Sports Images
At a concert held as part of the Diamonds Resort Invitational charity event, John Daly joined Jake Owens on stage for an amazing duet performance.

You don't need me to tell you this, but John Daly is truly one of a kind.

When he's not busy banging out 300-yard drives, Daly has shown that music is a passion of his off the course through the years. And he's certainly not afraid to perform, whether it's releasing albums of his own or impromptu singing on the golf course.

But he may well have reached the peak of his music career on Saturday night, joining country music star Jake Owen on stage during a concert as part of the Diamonds Resort Invitational, a joint event between the PGA Tour Champions and LPGA for charity.

His song of choice? A very appropriate, spirited rendendition of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan.

Never change, John.