The largest bunker in the world is Hell’s Half Acre on the 585-yard 7th hole of the Pine Valley Course in New Jersey.
The largest bunker in the world is Hell’s Half Acre on the 585-yard 7th hole of the Pine Valley Course in New Jersey.
With plenty of sunlight and no drama, Phil Mickelson finished off a 7-under 65 to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Monday and match the tournament record with his fifth victory.
Mickelson had a three-shot lead over Paul Casey with two holes to play when it was too dark to finish Sunday night — no matter how hard Mickelson lobbied to keep going — because of delays from rain and a hailstorm.
Casey’s only hope was for Mickelson to make a mistake on the closing holes, and there was little chance of that.
Mickelson was at his best on a course he loves. He drilled a 7-iron into 8 feet on the par-3 17th and made par, and then played conservatively up the par-5 18th and finished with a 6-foot birdie for a three-shot victory.
He matched the low score of the final round while playing in the last group, turning a three-shot deficit into a three-shot victory. Mickelson never came close to making bogey and won for the 44th time on the PGA Tour.
He finished at 19-under 268 and joined Tiger Woods as the only players to surpass $90 million in earnings.
Casey finished with a birdie that was worth $152,000 because he wound up alone in second place. He also won the pro-am with Don Colleran, the chief sales officer for FedEx.
Even so, it was the fourth time Casey took a 54-hole lead of at least two shots into the final round on the PGA Tour and failed to win. There wasn’t much he could do to stop Mickelson, who at age 48 looks just as tough as when he won his first PGA Tour event in 1991 when he was still at Arizona State.
Mickelson tied Mark O’Meara’s record with his fifth victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach, the first one also a Monday finish in 1998 because of bad weather, with one big difference — that Monday finish was more than six months later in August.
Mickelson argued that he could “see just fine” on Sunday evening, moments after sunset with two holes remaining. Casey said there was no way to finish and they had to return Monday morning.
Mickelson, seen shaking his head when the horn sounded Sunday night, said he thanked Casey on Monday morning for holding his ground because it was fair to both of them.
“Sometimes I get in my own bubble,” Mickelson said.
Scott Stallings finished Sunday night with a 66 to finish alone in third.
Mickelson won on American soil for the first time since the Phoenix Open in 2013. He won that summer’s British Open at Muirfield and last year’s Mexico Championship.
He will return to Pebble Beach in June for the U.S. Open, where he made his pro debut in 1992. The U.S. Open remains the final piece missing for him to complete the career Grand Slam, though Lefty was quick to caution that this week had no bearing on this summer.
Pebble Beach was so soft that balls were plugging in the fairway when they landed. And while the fairway lines already have been brought in to be much narrower than usual, the rough was light.
“It’s nothing like the course we’ll see,” Mickelson said. “I’ll deal with that in six months.”
For now, he was glowing over another victory that keeps him as relevant as ever. Along with five titles at Pebble Beach, he ties Woods and Billy Casper — all three native Californians — with his 14th career victory in the Golden State.
We have all heard the phrase, “Keep Your Head Down!” Some people might say, “Keep your eye on the ball.” They say this so we do not top the golf ball. It is one of the five old wives’ tales of golf. In fact, it is the NUMBER ONE Old Wives’ Tale. It won’t help you stop topping the ball.
What is the challenge? If you look at the top of the golf ball, you will most likely hit the top of the golf ball.
Look at the photo above. I have placed some golf tees behind the ball. If I look at the top of the golf ball, I will hit the top of the golf ball when I swing down. The tees on the ground will not move and the ball will not go get airborne. Basically, I will top the ball.
How do you fix this? Place a group of tees on the ground about 3-5 inches behind the ball, as I’ve done in the photo below. Place your club head behind the pile of tees. It will seem strange starting the club head way behind the ball.
Swing the club head and be sure to BRUSH the grass behind the ball, sweeping up all the tees behind the ball. I guarantee if you do this, you will never top a shot again.
Cindy Miller is 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year, three-time LPGA Northeast Teacher of the Year, 2001, 2005, 2010 and a former LPGA Tour Player.
The earliest golf tees rested flat on the ground and had a raised portion to prop up the ball. The first patent for this kind of tee is dated 1889, and was issued to Scotsmen William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. The first known tee to pierce the ground was a rubber-topped peg sold commercially as the “Perfectum.”
Six weeks into the new year, the new set of golf rules have their first adjustment on caddies standing behind their players.
Golf’s two governing bodies released a clarification on the rule aimed at caddies no longer being able to help players line up a shot. The rule now says a player can avoid the penalty if he backs away from his stance and starts over anywhere on the golf course, and not just the putting green.
It also says caddies will not be in violation if they are standing behind their player without being aware the players are stepping into their stances.
The clarification was in response to a two-shot penalty on Denny McCarthy at the Phoenix Open that later was rescinded so the rule could be studied.
I’ve had a successful PGA Tour career, including a pair of wins, by keeping things as simple as possible. Yet, in the numerous pro-ams I play, I notice everyday golfers tend to make things more complicated than they need to be, and their games suffer. One area to simplify is off the tee. For amateurs, it’s the most critical part of the game to avoid big numbers. Keeping it uncomplicated will result in better consistency, which allows you to pay more attention on your approach shots and short game. Here’s your first tip: Swing with the thought of putting the clubface on the back of the ball. This will help keep your body from lunging ahead of it, which causes those toey slices no matter what club you’re using.
GET READY FOR TAKEOFF
If we’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s high launch with low spin is key to maxing driver distance. Most everyday players, however, have a negative angle of attack, with some hitting downward several degrees. That causes a low, spinny tee shot—not great for producing distance. Here’s a simple fix: Adjust your tee height. The people I play with in pro-ams tee the ball too low. You can’t possibly hit up on the ball if it’s only an inch off the ground. Tee it so two-thirds of the ball is higher than the crown of the driver (above), and adjust the ball’s position so it’s in line with the big toe on your front foot. Now drop your right shoulder slightly at address. You can see (below) how this helps get it in the proper position at impact. These simple adjustments at address will automatically improve your tee shots, and they’re so easy to make.
GROOVE THE RIGHT PATH
Swinging on an in-to-out path in relation to the target line is something most amateurs really struggle to do in the downswing, but it’s vital to making solid contact. I’m a big fan of the Orange Whip training aid to help with this. With its weighted end and flexible shaft, the Orange Whip keeps the arms and body moving in the proper sequence for that desired in-to-out path. For me, it’s not about where the club is at any given moment. It’s about feeling the proper motion. Another key is getting your chest behind the ball during the backswing. If your chest hovers over the ball, you’ll likely pitch forward on the backswing, eliminating any chance of being in the proper sequence on the way down. To help, set your lead shoulder so it’s pointing a little right (closed) of your target line at address. It gives you a head start for an in-to-out downswing.
GO SLOW TO FIND SOLID
The biggest problem I see amateurs have off the tee is, they don’t make solid contact very often. In trying to squeeze as many yards as they can out of their tee shots, they lose control of the swing. Their hands and legs are moving all over the place, and there are too many motions going on to find the center of the face. You need to back it down. A great drill is to swing a 7-iron at 30 percent of your max speed, and keep doing that until you’re hitting solid shots most of the time. Then increase to 50 percent, 70 percent and eventually full speed. This builds the feeling of controlling your swing. If you can’t find the center of the face at less than half speed, you have no chance full throttle. You can do this drill with any club, and I think you’ll be surprised to find how far you hit it without swinging out of your shoes. Better tee shots are as simple as that.
Golf has actually been played on the moon! It is only 1 of 2 sports to literally have been played out-of-this-world, along with the javelin throw. Back in 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut, Alan Shepard, swung a one-handed shot with a six-iron, which was all his pressure suit would allow.
Tell us the most unusual place you have played golf!
Rickie Fowler is a trend setter, but Fowler’s use of a Puma stand bag to house his clubs last week at the Farmers Insurance Open isn’t the reason Jon Rahm, Jimmy Walker and other TaylorMade and Titleist players are allowing their caddies to lighten the load at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Rahm and Walker will be using stand bags from their respective companies as part of a product launch for the bags. Titleist is introducing its Players 4 Plus bag and as part of its introduction made bags for each player, putting their names and sponsors logos on the carry bags and allowing players the option to use them. Similarly, TaylorMade rolled out its FlexTech and FlexTech Lifestyle stand bags with Rahm, Beau Hossler and Chez Reavie expected to lighten their caddies’ load by employing the bag in Scottsdale. The FlexTech and FlexTech Lifestyle bags utilize a design where each main side pocket is built into the center of the bag to create a single piece construction that allows for more storage without adding weight.
As for why the Waste Management Phoenix Open, it’s likely not a coincidence. The event has a decidedly relaxed vibe, making it easier to get players to agree to do something outside the norm. Additionally, the heavier staff bags that tour caddies routinely lug often are stocked with plenty of rain gear. Scottsdale is perhaps the most likely tour venue on the schedule to avoid wet weather, making the use of the smaller bags more viable as the likelihood of inclement weather is minimal.
Regardless, the caddies who get to carry the lighter bags will rejoice, but don’t expect the bags to stay in play for longer than this week. Sponsors like to see their logos on television—and they like to see them in big, bold letters.
When we discuss getting better at golf, our minds usually race to the big stuff—joining a club, working more with a pro, switching out your irons and woods with clubs that match your specs. Of course, all of these can be factors in shaving strokes off your score (and while we’re at it, so will one one medium-sized investment of joining Golf Digest Schools, which provides video instruction in a curriculum format from some of the leading instructors in the game). But it’s important to note there are incremental improvements you can make to your game without spending much money, or time. Here are nine to consider right now.
You might think your eyes won’t go bad for decades to come, but according to the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, one out of every 10 people 18 or older in the United States reported some decline in vision in 2016—even people who wear glasses. You might joke that you play better when the ball and the fairway are a blur, but the reality is that routine eye checkups will help your game. You need clear vision for aiming, improved coordination between your hands and club, and perhaps most importantly—eye teaming. This term refers to how well your eyes work together (often one has clearer vision than the other) and it’s a big part of having good depth perception.—Ron Kaspriske
You take 30-plus whacks with the damn thing every round. It might as well be fit to you. And it might be the least fit club in your bag. A study of 100 golfers by clubfitting experts Club Champion for Golf Digest revealed that two-thirds of golfers do not fit into the standard length of 35 inches. And 28 percent of golfers either need more than 35 inches or less than 34 inches meaning there are some pretty bad fits out there. Which is not exactly what you want when you’re trying to roll the rock into a hole only 4.25 inches in diameter—even if you can now leave the pin in.—E. Michael Johnson
Whether it’s a putt, a chip, a bunker shot or a drive, your goal should be to complete the swing in a great finish position. Why? It means your swing was probably properly synced, had good rhythm, and the speed was in the right place—through impact. If you focus on getting into a nice finish position, you’ll be amazed how much better your ball-striking will become.—R.K.
Want to develop the all-around game and mental toughness needed to play consistently good golf? Try the Worse Ball drill. Scott Gregory, a rookie on the European Tour, credits it with helping him become a complete player. “There’s no better way to get good at playing golf ugly,” he says. The concept is simple: Starting on the tee, hit two balls from every position, playing only your worse ball, until you’ve holed out. The key is maintaining your pre-shot routine and concentrating on every shot. Let’s say, for example, you’re playing a par 4, and you hit two drives, one in the fairway and one in the rough. Play your next two shots from the rough. If one ball lands on the green and the other in a bunker, play your next two shots from the bunker. If you can make par playing your worse ball, you’ve accomplished something. The lasting benefit, however, is conditioning yourself to handle adversity and improving your ability to play trouble shots. —Alan Pittman
Most amateurs struggle to swing the club in the correct sequence. This happens for a number of reasons, but all of them can be corrected if you pretend you’re a sidearm pitcher. Grab a tennis ball and throw it sidearm forcefully against a wall. Note how, without thinking, you automatically load into the leg farther from the wall, and your arm rears back for the throw. Then you feel a noticeable lower-body weight shift toward the wall while your arm still hasn’t quite completed the windup. Finally, when all your weight has shifted into your front leg, you rotate your chest toward the wall and then let your arm hurl the ball powerfully forward. This type of sequencing is very similar to what happens to your body, arms and club when you swing. So the more you practice throwing sidearm, the more you’re training the synchronization needed to drive the ball like you always wanted.—R.K.
Forget the fact that it’s just better for you. There’s just no denying that you’re more in tune with the game when you walk. You have time to calm down after the bad shot (or even great shot); you have an opportunity to actually look at where the pin is as you’re walking to your ball and decide what side of the green you want to play to. You have time to sum up the risk and reward of that shot over a water hazard. None of that happens if you’re at your golf ball in a blink in a cart with music blaring to further distract you from the task at hand. Plus, how can you soak in the beauty of the surroundings?—E.M.J.
Your poor hamstrings. Two things are working against them in terms of good function—our mostly seated lifestyles and anterior-muscle (front side of the body) dominance. And when the hamstrings become chronically short and tight, it can wreak havoc on your golf swing and lead to injuries that will keep you off the course. A great way to start every day is by stretching your hamstrings, says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson. Here are two easy ways to do it: 1) Lie on your back in an open doorway and extend one leg up the door’s frame while the other lies flat on the ground, toes up. Hold for a few seconds and then switch leg positions. 2) Balancing on one leg, lean your torso forward and extend the opposite leg behind you until your chest is roughly parallel to the ground. Return to a standing position and repeat for a number of reps before switching legs. You can hold onto something for better balance.—R.K.
It’s easy to say the best way to improve is to practice more, but what’s not always easy is getting yourself to a golf course, or even a range. A workaround long advocated by leading instructor Hank Haney requires only a fraction of the space, and whatever club you have lying around the house. By simply taking a 100 practice swings a day, Haney says you can increase strength and flexibility and gain awareness of where the club is in various positions. “You start building a repeatable motion—which is great, even if the motion isn’t perfect just yet,” Haney says. —Sam Weinman
It’s fun to swing with reckless abandon at the range, no water or OB to ruin your rip at the ball. Unfortunately, it’s also a detriment to your game, forming bad habits and improper muscle memory. The next time you’re working through a bucket, come with a plan. Pick a target in the distance. Not only are you replicating on-course demands, it gives your session purpose and prevents aimless hacking. And randomize your club selection for every ball. Rather than barreling through 15 consecutive drivers, favor a sequence of driver, 7-iron, fairway wood, wedge. You’ll still hit a bunch of balls for one particular club, just not in a row—which is how golf is played.— Joel Beall
Tiger Woods begins his 2019 season this week at Torrey Pines, and he will carry some new TaylorMade irons and woods in his bag when he steps to the tee.
Woods posted a photo of his new bag to Twitter on Tuesday, along with the message, “Always fun to put new toys in the bag. Excited and ready to get 2019 started. #TeamTaylorMade #FIO19.”
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) January 22, 2019
Always fun to put new toys in the bag. Excited and ready to get 2019 started. #TeamTaylorMade #FIO19 pic.twitter.com/M6CXU4CZSg
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) January 22, 2019
This year Woods is swapping out his old TaylorMade TW Phase1 irons for a new prototype set called TaylorMade P7-TW irons. GOLF’s Jonathan Wall reported that Woods was carrying the new irons this weekend at an exhibition event at Bluejack National, a new course outside Houston that Woods designed
His putter is obscured in the photo, but Woods is expected to stick with his faithful Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter, which he used during 13 of his major championship victories.
No word yet on the wedges and ball the 14-time major champion will put in play this year. Last season, he used TaylorMade Milled Grind wedges in 56° and 60° with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts, and Bridgestone Tour B XS golf balls. He had that gear in his bag during his 80th PGA Tour victory at the Tour Championship in September.
Tiger chose to make his 2019 Tour debut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, a tournament he has won seven times. (Woods also captured the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey.) It’s Woods’s first chance to back up his successful comeback campaign in 2018.