Golf Buzz

May 12, 2016 - 10:17am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rob Labritz
USA Today Sports Images
Trying to beat those milestone scores like 100, 90, 80 and 70? In the final piece of this four-part series, PGA Professional Rob Labritz offers up some great advice that's sure to make you a better player. For this week, Labritz focuses on those trying to break 70.

Now that you’ve mastered all the prerequisites for breaking 100, 90 and 80 – working from the green backwards – you might be wondering: what is it that I have to do to break 70?

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. PGA Professional Rob Labritz is a guy who breaks 70 often. The key, he says, is putting in an immense amount of time at your game, honing all those skills it took to break those other milestone scores.

“It might not be as simple as it sounds, but you have to eliminate every mistake you might typically make,” Labritz said. “A perfect round – in golf terms – would mean you hit every fairway, hit every green and take two putts. Eighteen pars. On most courses, that’s a 72. With that mindset, now you have to figure out where you can attack the course to break 70.”

RELATED: Advice for breaking 100 | Advice for breaking 90 | Advice for breaking 80

It’s not as simple as walking to the first tee and sticking the peg in the ground. Just like anything else you desire to be great at, it requires some homework. For Labritz, that means studying the golf course and examining the scorecard.

“Here’s what you do to break 70,” Labritz said, “it starts with birdieing all of the par 5s. The par 5s are giving you an extra shot. If you’re an above average driver, birdieing all the par 5s is a must. See how long the par 5s are and ask yourself: can I reach the green in two? If the answer is ‘no’ then ask yourself: where do I have to positon myself to have the most comfortable wedge shot possible to get close in three?”

With the birdie mindset on the par 5s, Labritz said you have to shift to a par mindset for the par 3s. With ball in hand (on the tee), Labritz said, you should be able to do that.

Now, here comes the wildcard: The par 4s.

“The par 4s are funky,” Labritz said. “You birdie the par 5s, par the par 3s and then you pick your spots on the par 4s. Some you can attack. You have to approach it like this – if you have a wedge in your hand on a par 4, it’s a birdie club. You should get it close. When you break down the par 4s, see where you can attack with the driver. Then there are holes you won’t hit driver on. In those spots, put yourself in the most comfortable positon off the tee for your scoring shots. Pick a number you feel most comfortable with and make sure you’re setting yourself up with those clubs.”

If you’re breaking 70, Labritz explained, it’s because you’re managing your game around the course.

“It’s about breaking down the course to suit your game to where you feel comfortable,” he said. “You also have to know where not to hit shots. There are no-zones where you definitely don’t want to be in those areas because making par is a hard ask. Stay away from OB and the hazards. If you’re hitting in those spots you need to make a lot of birdies. And, it probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – you’re going to need to make a lot of putts.”

If you’re like most people, chances are you freak out a little bit when you’re on the cusp of breaking a “milestone score.” You know the feeling. You’re standing on the 18th tee, sniffing the round of your life. Suddenly, your palms get sweaty, you start thinking ahead, you leave “the moment” and 10 minutes later you’re bummed out because of a disaster finish when you were oh-so-close.

Labritz has a sure-fire plan to get you comfortable with shooting low scores.

“When you’re practicing, play a bunch of rounds from the forward tees, and for women, play from where the fairway starts,” he said. “Instead of playing from your normal 7,000 yards for men, get in the 5,800-yard range. And less than that for women. Two things will happen here. One, you won’t be hoping to shoot a low score – you’ll expect to shoot a low score. And two, you’re going to get a lot of work on your scoring clubs. You get a sense of playing pretty far under par and how to score. See how low you can shoot. Several rounds under par later following this advice, you’re going to build a confidence when it’s time to move back.”

That, Labritz said, is how he got comfortable shooting low scores – something he had to get comfortable with if he was to have any success on the mini-tours he was playing, where guys were shooting 7- or 8-under par every day.

“Doing that helped me a bunch,” he said. “People can freak out. We get diluted and think about the future too much. When you’re a better player, your score correlates with your preparation, of course, but also your mindset and attitude.”

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 and 2013, 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.  

May 11, 2016 - 2:43pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
@goldyeller on Instagram
Here's Tiger Woods -- the Legos version -- recreating arguably the most famous shot of his career on his way to winning the 2005 Masters.

Last Thursday, we brought you the hilarious stop-action video of PGA Tour player Graham DeLaet made entirely out of Legos posted by Instagram user Jared Jacobs (@goldyeller).

Well, this week, Jacobs went all-in on one of the greatest shots in the game's history -- the ridiculous chip-in Tiger Woods had at Augusta National's par-3 16th hole on his way to winning the 2005 Masters, complete with the Verne Lundquist "in your life" commentary.

Check it out (h/t Bleacher Report):

 

In your life have you seen anything like that? #TigerWoods #VerneLundquist #PGA

A video posted by Jared Jacobs (@goldyeller) on

 

That is just fantastic. A+.

May 11, 2016 - 8:51am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones Twitter
Former Atlanta Braves all-star Chipper Jones collected his first career hole-in-one on Tuesday while playing at TPC Sugarloaf.

In a career loaded with night games, it's not surprising that many of the most avid golfers in the world are baseball players.

I mean, come on, what else are they going to do while they wait for a 7 p.m. first pitch?

Not surprisingly, that love of golf carries over into retirement from the big leagues as well.

That's where former Atlanta Braves eight-time all-star Chipper Jones enters the equation.

Playing a round of golf at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga. (former home of a PGA Tour event), on Tuesday, Jones scored his first hole-in-one with a 52-degree gap-wedge on a 134-yard par 3.

While there wasn't video of the actual shot, Jones was sure to have his buddies film him as he collected the ball from the hole and gave details of his ace:

 

May 10, 2016 - 1:03pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
GolfTEC
GolfTEC
Thanks to what’s being dubbed, “the most fact-based analysis of the golf swing ever conducted” – the SwingTRU Motion Study – there’s a sophisticated new way to quickly identify and diagnose the flaws in your swing, while also putting in a quick, long-term fix.

CRANSTON, R.I. -- It’s a pretty safe bet that you can’t fix what you can’t see. That’s especially true when it comes to the golf swing.

Thanks to what’s being dubbed, “the most fact-based analysis of the golf swing ever conducted” – the SwingTRU Motion Study – there’s a sophisticated new way to quickly identify and diagnose the flaws in your swing, while also putting in a quick, long-term fix.

The study identifies specific body positions within the swing, such as shoulder and hip rotation, that directly correlate to handicap level and play a key role in improving distance, accuracy and consistent contact.

And the best part of it all? You need only visit your local GolfTEC for a visit with one of its knowledgeable PGA Professionals to go through the evaluation.

I recently took a trip to GolfTEC’s Cranston, R.I., location to meet with facility’s PGA Director of Instruction, Nick Siudela.

After spending roughly 20 minutes talking about the strengths and weaknesses of my game and reviewing a questionnaire I filled in prior to the visit, Siudela placed me in a hitting bay and put a motion harness over my shoulders and around my waist (think something similar to a hiker’s backpack).

Following roughly 10 shots, Siudela put up a split screen video. The left side featured my swing. The right side featured the swing of PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan. Using super-slow motion video analysis, Siudela was able to pinpoint my flaws – something you can’t always see with the naked eye.

As Siudela broke down the video, he was also able to add video instruction drills to a “virtual locker” for me to access on the GolfTEC website. It’s particularly helpful with a smartphone to be able to few the drills while you practice them on a driving range.

“Technology has come super far even in just the last eight years,” Siudela said. “As an experienced instructor teaching outside without video – I can tell you this: The naked eye sees very little. All these philosophies that we were built on – open the toe on the backswing and shut the toe on the downswing – that was taught because we thought that was right. Now we have video proof that that’s not what the best players in the world actually do.”

And if you think you’re not a good enough player to go through this type of evaluation, you may want to reconsider. If you truly want to become a better player, it’s more likely you’re not a good enough player to not try something like this.

“Visually, you just learn so much faster,” Siudela said. “That’s why I think you see so many first-time winners on Tour these days. They grew up with all these tools – video, sensors, ball flight measuring equipment. It makes learning and improving so much easier and these tools are now at the disposal of anyone who plays the game, no just the pros. I’ve had guys who pick up a club for the first time two weeks before they come here. They want to learn how to play. Within a year, they’re breaking 80. It’s not because I’m some fantastic instructor. I know my stuff, but it’s the visual – everything makes more sense when you can see it.”

So what does the SwingTRU Motion Study prove?

“Until now, there really hadn’t been a correlation between handicap/someone’s ability level in relationship to how their golf swing is, or how it performs,” Siudela said. “You can see guys with scrappy golf swings and they can still shoot good scores. Those are the outliers. But, with the data we have access to – such as shoulder bend, or hip sway at impact – and how those correlate with the level of play is kind of how we got to all this data in the SwingTRU Motion Study.”

Siudela said for the study, video of over 13,000 clients was used along with more than 645,000 motion measurements.

“That’s significant data that we were able to correlate with handicap level to what their [motion] numbers were showing,” he said. “When you’re working in the bay and we can show you these numbers, you just experienced for yourself how quickly and easily it is to make a change.”

For the lay person, don’t be scared by the numbers that come with the measurements. That’s for instructors like Siudela to worry about. Those numbers are broken down and easily explained to the student.

“We all teach differently,” Siudela said. “These numbers are a guideline for us. The numbers we see are ranged. There are Tour players who have been able to make it work with funky golf swings. There’s no cookie-cutter golf swing by any means. We’re not here to teach people to do that. All these numbers are a guideline to help students improve certain body movement function. It’s to get everything to feel more connected, which, in turn, will help you to better performance on the course.”

Utilizing the swing evaluation, GolfTEC says it has seen a 96 percent success rate among students, who drop an average of seven strokes from their scores. Imagine subtracting seven strokes from your scorecard?

For more information, visit www.golftec.com to find a facility near you, or call 877-446-5383.  

 

May 10, 2016 - 9:16am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Greg Owen
Facebook
Greg Owen took time from his Players Championship preparation on Monday to save a baby blue jay in distress after it fell out of a tree and into the pond on the 16th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

If Greg Owen -- a journeyman still in search of his maiden PGA Tour victory -- wins this week's Players Championship, you can chalk it up to great play and great karma.

Owen, one of the all-time "good guys" on Tour, took time away from his Players Championship preparation at TPC Sawgrass on Monday to make a rescue.

Walking off the 16th tee with Brandt Snedeker, Owen noticed a baby blue jay fell out of a tree and into the pond. The bird was struggling to get across the pond. Without hesitation, Owen stripped down to his skivvies and walked into the pond to save the bird.

Lucky for us, this act of kindness was captured on video by Tony Ziegler of the Ziegler Golf School, Owen's instructor.

Check it out:

 

That should be worth a bunch of "birdies" for Owen this week.

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