85 years ago, a tradition started in Augusta, Georgia at Augusta National.
A Championship tradition won by the likes of Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and last year, Alex Čejka. The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship is the oldest major championship in men’s professional senior golf. This week, the Championship returns to Benton Harbor, Michigan and Harbor Shores.
The Golf Club at Harbor Shores is a unique golf experience. Not many venues take you through 4 very distinct natural landscapes like this golf course. Competitors this week will start playing the first six holes inland or parkland style golf. The final three holes of the front 9 take players out into the dunes as they approach Lake Michigan. Starting the back 9 are four woodland holes and the course closes with five holes along the Paw Paw River.
This unique experience is hosting a strong field of the PGA Tour Champions best players and PGA Club Professionals 50 and over. 23 of the Top 25 Charles Schwab Cup money list are entered, a half dozen who competed last week at Southern Hills in the 104th PGA Championship including defending KithchenAid Senior PGA Champion Alex Čejka and 39 PGA Club Professionals.
Each of the four prior Harbor Shores winners are teeing it up as well: Paul Broadhurst (2018), Rocco Mediate (2016), Colin Montgomerie (2014), and Roger Chapman (2012).
Favorites to win the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy include Miguel Angel Jiménez, who has already won twice this year, and Steven Alker. In his first 18 tournaments, Steven has 3 wins, 3 second place finishes, 15 Top 10’s and has finished Top 25 in each.
As a PGA Coach watching the senior circuit, I’ve notice some different movements that might help you gain some mobility and then power in your own swing. Alker has stormed the PGA Tour Champions stage by driving the ball long, hitting almost 80% of his greens in regulation and making a ton of putts. Watching that video above, you can see how Steven really uses his lower body. So many of us at any age do not utilize our legs in the golf swing. Go back to the video and look at these three keys.
Start with the setup. Soft knees and hips give us the opportunity to move properly. Your joints should not be locked into place. Hip and knee angles should be slightly bent and not straight or too angled.
Look at the top of his backswing. See the gap between his two legs. Make a backswing in front of a mirror. Do you have the same space? The trail leg should straighten and the lead knee flex. This is a killer move for mobility. Make sure you can feel this in your swing.
The third move he makes which matters is keeping his thighs together through impact into his follow through. Most amateurs’ legs spread because they lose their spine angle through the hitting zone. Remain in side-bend and those legs will stay stuck together.
Alker’s performance has been amazing. In reality, he’s moving his body better than most other players he’s competing against. We all have mobility issues, and by asking a PGA Coach to help you move better, you will play better. Follow Steven’s success and look for others this week in Michigan to copy.
The 85th KitchenAid Senior Championship will be televised Thursday and Friday on the Golf Channel, Saturday and Sunday on the Golf Channel and NBC. For the most complete coverage, go to https://www.srpgachampionship.com/