Golf Buzz

July 1, 2014 - 8:28am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia -- along with a crew from TaylorMade -- recently surprised unsuspecting golfers at Bethpage Black with a gift of new SLDR S drivers.

You've seen commercials over the years with star golfers surprising unsuspecting weekend warriors at the local muni over the years -- whether it was the old Tiger Woods/Buick commercials, Phil Mickelson/Ford, or the newer Tom Watson/MasterCard commercials.

Well, the folks at TaylorMade stepped it up a bit. They visited the mother of all munis -- Bethpage Black in New York, site of two past U.S. Opens, as well as a future Ryder Cup and PGA Championship.

RELATED: Star golfers accept the "Ice Bucket Challenge"

TaylorMade also brought along one of its star endorsers -- Sergio Garcia.

During the stunt, Garcia shows up on a crowded Bethpage driving range and then announces he and TaylorMade have a gift for all the golfers there -- a fitting for a free SLDR S driver.

It didn't stop there. As golfers made their way to the first tee just below the famous Bethpage Black sign that reads: "WARNING -- The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers" -- they were met by a gallery, standard bearers, Golf Channel's Tripp Isenhour on the mic to announce each player for the full on PGA Tour Experience.

As you'll see below, the fans were blown away.

It also looks like Garcia built up some good will with the fans at Bethpage. In 2002, he was heckled relentlessly for excessive waggles before he hit each shot. Fans were literally counting the number of waggles before Garcia pulled the trigger. 

Stacy Lewis Ice Bucket Challenge
LPGA Tour via Twitter
World No. 1 Stacy Lewis accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge from new U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie.

Summer is officially here, and everybody's looking for ways to keep cool both on and off the course. One of the craziest ways is the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I'm not exactly sure where or when this started, but over the past several days a multitude of pro tour players have begun challenging each other to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads. The protocol seems to be that someone challenges you, and you have 24 hours to accept or make a donation to charity.

If you agree, you must drench yourself and capture it on social media. Then you get to call out someone else, and the chain just keeps rolling.

PGA INSTRUCTION: Putt like Michelle Wie, but don't try to mimic her stance

Both male and female players have embraced the Ice Bucket Challenge, but I have to give the LPGA contingent the most credit for their enthusiasm and the fact that many of their top players – including Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko and Suzann Pettersen – have done it.

I was especially impressed with Wie. I mean, her week began with her first major title at the U.S. Women's Open and ended with a bucket of ice water over the head on the practice range in Arkansas.

You can catch up with this ridiculous, hilarious fad by searching #IceBucketChallenge on Twitter. In the meantime, here are some of the LPGA's best drenchings:









Seung-Yul Noh
Seung-Yul Noh hits a perfect flop shot Sunday for a clutch up-and-down.

In most instances from the fringe, golfers are taught to land the ball on the green quickly and let it roll to the hole.

But Seung-Yul Noh faced a situation Sunday that required him to go up and over a ridge that bisected the green at Congressional Country Club's No. 5. So he pulled a page from Phil Mickelson's bag of tricks and went for the flop shot. Here's the result:

With that putt for par, Noh escaped danger and kept from putting a big number on his scorecard early in the round. He played the shot with the clubface open, just as if he was hitting out of a bunker. It's exactly how PGA professional Quinn Griffing describes hitting that kind of shot in this instructional video:



Michelle Wie
USA Today Images
Michelle Wie's unique putting stance works because it feels comfortable to her and she can repeat a smooth putting stroke every time.

With the advent of super slow-motion replays and instant analysis, amateur golfers love to copy what they see professionals doing on the course. But what works for one golfer isn't necessarily the best option for another.

Take Michelle Wie's unique putting stance, for instance. Wie's spine is nearly parallel to the ground, a chiropractor's dream. But the reason it works for her is because she feels comfortable with her eyes over the ball, and more importantly, she's able to consistently repeat a smooth, accurate putting motion.

TABLETOP STANCE: Michelle Wie's putting accuracy improves dramatically 

Nicole Weller, PGA head teaching professional at The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga., sees this trend first-hand.

"Tapping into someone else’s creative idea has become more popular with widespread media on television and through digital means," Weller said. "Mondays after tournaments usually bring on many imitators at the practice facilities and courses as they attempt the ideas they saw work for someone else."

There's an obvious reason why everyone has a unique golf swing, Weller said.  

"The club moves based on how a person can or can’t move, which creates their unique motions," she said. "When learning the correct putting stance for that person, the combination of comfort with correctness is the obvious goal."

U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN: Michelle Wie wins first major at Pinehurst No. 2

So what if you feel comfortable with your current putting stance, but there's a flaw somewhere that's causing you to miss more putts than you make? Weller said don't try to reinvent your stance. Instead, use the practice green to experiment inside your comfort zone so you can develop a repeatable stroke that works for you. 

"Find the place where you 'see' the line the best -- that can be a little different for everyone based on how they stand -- and then allow that to be comfortable," Weller said. "Forcing, grinding or working the putting stroke will most likely result in less feel and touch for speed. Being in a good place emotionally, mentally and physically will make it a lot easier, so I believe comfort trumps all, if the ideas that need to be in place are."

First and foremost, Weller said don't worry so much about the result as getting the process down pat. That's a major issue with amateurs, who have a tendency to obsess over what went wrong rather than what they did right. You don't have to have a perfect pendulum swing as long as you have the putter square at impact -- and more importantly, can repeat that motion every time.

With practice and a positive attitude, the results will come. 

"Instead of focusing on mistakes, focus on the key ingredients that lead to success," Weller said. "Many golfers want to know what they did wrong. The more one thinks of what went wrong, the more the wrongness is still in one’s mind, something to avoid.

MORE INSTRUCTION: Tips on improving your putting

"Why focus on what went wrong? Do you want to do that again or get excited about seeing if you can do what it is you want to do and if you didn’t, do it again until you get what you want?"

Weller said to understand what's happening during your putting stroke, there are tools which can provide instant feedback. In addition, an instructor can provide guidance to help you feel more comfortable when standing over your ball on the green.

"Amateurs can definitely work to be more comfortable, properly aimed and aligned and use feedback tools to learn where the ideal areas are," Weller said. "For example, using an Eyeline Golf Putting Rail and Mirror or a Star Putter will help one know they’re properly lined, have their eyes in the most optimal position for them and have a square putter face at both address and impact." 

In any case, her key tip is to stay task-oriented. Don't try to change everything at once, but take a logical, measured approach to improving your putting game.

"The instructor is your guide, the ball is the ultimate teacher showing a golfer what variables are working," Weller said. "Adjusting to many variables at one time will also create questions on what is working. So work through set-up slowly with an instructor and learn what seems to work best.

"In a nutshell, use training tools for feedback and measurement for consistency, work on a single idea at a time and give it a chance before adjusting and moving on and allow yourself to be in a relaxed, calm and enjoyable state."

You may never be able to replicate Michelle Wie's putting stance, but with practice, there's no reason you can't duplicate her results.



Peter Hanson
PGA Tour/YouTube
Peter Hanson makes an ace Saturday at Congressional's No. 2 with a four-iron from 222 yards out.

Peter Hanson three-putted for a bogey on his first hole of the day Saturday at the Quicken Loans National.

So Hanson stepped up to the 222-yard, par-3 No. 2 hole and decided he'd rather leave the putter in the bag. Watch this four-iron find the bottom of the cup:


Unfortunately for Hanson, making a hole-in-one didn't do anything for his putting problems. He promptly made another bogey on the following hole.

Beautiful Lengths
LPGA professionals donated locks of their hair Friday night to cancer survivors.

"Making the cut" is always a good thing in professional golf, especially when it benefits cancer survivors.

Earlier this week, five LPGA players -- Tiffany Joh, Stacey Keating, Megan McChrystal, Jacqui Concolino and Cindy LaCrosse -- and LPGA senior media coordinator Meghan Flanagan participated in the "Pantene Beautiful Lengths" event at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, donating locks of their hair to be used to make wigs for women battling cancer.

Hundreds of people turned out to help the cause, and as you'll see by the video, the emotions ranged from nervousness to relief:



Having your long hair chopped off isn't always an easy decision, but these golfers decided to do it for a great reason -- and should feel proud for doing their part.