Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What To Look For: The Shell Houston Open

The Tour heads to the Golf Club of Houston for the Shell Houston Open.

 

The Shell Houston Open starts all the way back to 1946. The event was played at several different Houston area which included the famous Champions Golf Club which was founded by the legendary Jackie Burke and Jimmy Demaret.



In 2006 the event moved to Redstone Golf Club and has remained here since. The only difference is that they changed the name from Redstone Golf Club to the Golf Club of Houston. The course plays to 7,457 yards and is a good tune up for the Masters as it has some similar traits to Augusta in that there is virtually no rough and shots from 175-225 yards are at a premium unless a golfer bombs his way past those shots.

Generally, the course is well received. Personally, I think the design is so-so, but when it’s well received it usually means 3 things:

1. It’s in great condition
2. There’s a lack of tricked up holes
3. There’s a lot of good courtesy stuff given to the players and the wives.

Despite the Masters taking place next week, the field is pretty strong. It also helps that they just got done playing the match play in Austin which is only about a 2 ½ hour drive away.

I strongly feel the Tour needs to re-work the schedule in order to get strong fields in both the Texas and Florida swings. They may want to go from Riviera to do the WGC-Mexico the following week. Then hit Houston after that and follow up with the Match Play in Austin. Then make the trip over to Palm Beach, then to Tampa and finally to Bay Hill before the Masters.

Anyway, the course will generally favor long hitters due to the length and the lack of rough. However, shorter hitters have some chance due to the difficulty of the greens. The weather forecast looks pretty good, although some wind may pick up. The winning score here is pretty steady, so I don’t expect anything vastly different.

The 18th hole is a great finishing hole as it is the last Critical Hole on the course, so if it’s a close tournament on Sunday, you can see a dramatic finish.

Projected Winning Score: -16


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Jordan Spieth +650
Jon Rahm +1,000
Rickie Fowler +1,400
Justin Rose +2,000
J.B. Holmes +3,300



3JACK’S DARK HORSES

Jimmy Walker +6,000
Jason Kokrak +10,000
Jim Herman +10,000
Luke List +10,000
Kyle Stanley +10,000



3JACK

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ben Hogan on Trackman? My Thoughts...


Here's a fun article by Guy Yocum on what some instructors think Hogan's data would read if he were on Trackman:

http://www.golfdigest.com/story/if-ben-hogan-met-trackman

The general consensus was a square path with a clubface about 1 degree left of the target.

I thought Sean Foley brings up a good point with of Hogan possibly zeroing out both the face and the path with him hitting the ball slightly off the heel.

The 'Hogan hit if off the heel' theory has been bandied about for years as anybody who has ever seen his personal irons saw a wear mark towards the heel.

The only issue with this is a better understanding of the equipment at the time.


For the longest time an issue that manufacturers had with equipment is that the epoxy was not strong enough to hold shafts installed in hosels by itself.  They needed to use epoxy and then drill a hole on the side of the hosel to stick a pin thru to ensure the shaft would not come loose.  You can see the pin hole on the picture above.

In order to do that, they had to make the hosels longer in length.  You would see hosels vary from 2.5" to 3.5" in length.  In fact, Hogan started to popularize a shorter hosel length with his Hogan irons.  These days companies make their hosels much shorter.  With muscleback blades, many OEM's will make the hosel longer because the blades player generally seeks a lower ball flight.  However, the hosels are still shorter than the irons from yesteryear.

As the hosel length gets longer, the Center of Gravity moves up higher on the clubface and also moves more towards the heel.  Thus, Hogan 'hit it off the heel' is a bit of a fallacy that was where the 'sweetspot' was located with those irons.

However, we should remember that the 'sweetspot' is essentially the size of a needle point and as great as Hogan was, it's not hard to imagine that he may have missed that spot on occasion.

I do tend to agree that Hogan likely hot a fairly low Spin Loft number:

Spin Loft = Dynamic Loft - Angle of Attack

The low Spin Loft has a tendency to produce high launch, low spin numbers with the driver.  But, it's also characterized with better impact sound, smaller divots and less spin.

The issue with the old balata balls is that they used to spin like crazy (they also only lasted well for about 3-5 holes).  Combine that with the grooves on the driver, that meant the golf ball was hard to control the curve for us mere mortals.


***

The only issue here is that Trackman only tells us so much and in the case of Hogan, it doesn't tell us nearly enough.  There have been plenty of golfers that could hit similar numbers on Trackman and are nowhere near the ballstriker that Hogan was.

I tend to think what the article missed out on are other key aspects to Hogan's swing.

3-D Flat Spot

There is a 'flat spot' in the golf swing located near the low point.  In recent years, researchers have discovered that there is a scientific advantage to having a longer Flat Spot.  It can help with the Spin Loft, but also give the golfer more room for error in the process.  I believe we tend to see longer flat spots with golfers like Hogan who had a pronounced lateral move in transition and then started to 'back up' their Center of Pressure as they go into impact.

I feel the video below explains a major difficulty of people trying to emulate Hogan's swing.  Most of the Hogan copycats focus on the address position, having a flat backswing and a flat shaft plane in the downswing and trying to create this massive amount of lag. (along with wearing the white cap which is a must for a Hogan copycat).

But, what they miss out on is how much his Center of Pressure (aka weight) shifts towards his front foot in transition and then 'backs up' as he continues to rotate the pelvis and go into impact.





Vertical Swing Plane

This is one of the key elements that Trackman actually measures but was not mentioned in the article.


The flat shaft plane allowed Hogan to move and rotate his body like he did and that worked into an elongated Flat Spot.

Here at about p6, his left wrist is still in flexion.


And if there was anybody that got their Center of Mass of the club moving 'below' the net force of their hands...Hogan's swing was it.


Rate Of Closure

His pivot action helped ensure a slower rate of closure.


These factors helped Hogan reach those numbers and be able to do it with an amazing level of consistency.

That's usually what I find the problem with the Hogan copycats...they look at the wrong things and then to make matters worse, they try to emulate them to a tee.  If they more carefully examined his hand path, wrist movements, lower body motion and his pivot in general, they could end up finding that golf swing they have always wanted...even if it looks nothing like Hogan's.





3JACK

Air Compressor Shaft Puller by Holtzman Engineering

Here's a neat little product I saw a few years ago.

Shaft pullers are really needed for graphite shafts.  It's too easy to overheat the hosel and cause the graphite shaft to splinter and ruin the tip section.

With steel shafts you don't have to worry about the shaft splintering, but if you're looking for more of a professional job and not singeing the hosel, a shaft puller works.

Most shaft pullers require some manual pulling of the shaft.  But, the Holtzman shaft puller is hooked up to an air compressor and as they demonstrate in the video below, with a minimal amount of heat the shaft can be easily removed like a professional.





The Holtzman shaft puller is available for $119.  You can find it at this link:

http://www.holtzmaneng.com/golf-club-making-products





3JACK

Monday, March 27, 2017

Clue Collection, Correlation, Correction with Cameron McCormick

Here's a video with Jordan Spieth's coach, Cameron McCormick, discussing Clue Collection, Correlation and Correction using the Swing Catalyst system.







3JACK

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Cost for Dying the the Ball in the Hole w/John Graham

Here's a video from John Graham discussing the cost of trying to die the ball at the cup when putting.







3JACK

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Flop Shot is Dead

This has actually been going on for a while, but it stood out on Tuesday when I was at Bay Hill watching the practice round and then watching various golfers on the short game green.

For all intents and purposes...the flop shot is dead.

There's little reason to hit the flop shot as pros have discovered and mastered the high spinning pitch shot instead.  I use Calvin Peete's definition of a 'pitch shot' as any time the wrists bend and start to cock.  A chip shot has little to no bend of the wrists in the backswing.

With Tour players, anytime they get into the pitch shot territory the last thing they want to do these days is to hit a flop.  They would just rather hit a lower trajectory shot that spins a ton and stops on a dime.  My guess is that when you get at lower trajectories, it's easier to control the distance than the high launch flop shot.  One of the players I noticed doing the high spinning, low trajectory pitch shot beautifully was Matt Every.  Every even opens the club face a bit, but still gets a lower trajectory that stops in a hurry.

Here's a video from Martin Chuck discussing this shot and hopefully you can add this shot into your game for better and more predictable results:







3JACK

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What To Look For: Arnold Palmer Invitational

The Tour heads to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Arnold Palmer Invitational was originally The Citrus Open at Rio Pinar Country Club on the east side of Orlando until 1966. In 1978, the event moved to Bay Hill which is on the west side of the city and where Mr. Palmer made his residence. Mr. Palmer preferred the Orlando area due to the close proximity to Orlando International Airport as he owned and flew his own airplane. This set off the influx of Tour players and mini-tour players chosing Orlando as the preferred area to live in the state of Florida from the 1970’s to the 2000’s.

Bay Hill was originally built in 1956 by well known architect, Dick Wilson. Eventually Mr. Palmer made some changes to the course. The big issue they had over recent years was the quality of the greens, but they completely renovated the greens to a TifEagle grass which doesn’t quite roll as fast as some of the modern bermuda grass types, but it is the most durable of the bermuda putting surfaces. This works for Bay Hill because they do have a substantial membership and one can play the course if they pay to stay at the lodge. So, the foot traffic is a little more at Bay Hill than most Tour courses.

Having been at Bay Hill, yesterday…the course was in fantastic condition and I have various Tour players and caddies tell me that they think these are the best greens they have played so far this season.

This is not a strong field with most of the top-20 players in the world deciding to skip the event. The main complaint is the schedule with having come off Mexico two weeks prior and then the match play in Austin the next week which starts early. Bay Hill is also a bit polarizing in that players tend to either strongly like or strongly dislike the layout. Shorter hitters may not like it as much because the course plays soft as holes #3 thru #6 sit in a ‘bowl.’

The 18th hole gets all of the fame, but the 17th hole is incredible in it’s own right (click to enlarge).




What I also like about the 17th hole is while it’s a difficult shot into the hole, the green has a very high make percentage. In essence, the classic use of ‘form follows function.’

While the 16th hole is a fairly easy hole, it does get golfers into a situation where a good drive can mean going for the green in 2 shots with an iron or a hybrid and between 16, 17 and 18 you really have a fine stretch of finishing holes. If there’s one thing I strongly dislike about that stretch is that from a casual fan’s perspective the 17th is not very friendly because almost all of the seating around the green is taken up by corporate sponsors and there’s only seating for about 40 people while the rest of the fans have to stand the entire time to see the hole.

Other than that, Bay Hill is easily one of the best fan experiences on Tour. Easy course to walk, free on-course parking Monday-Wednesday and excellent bleacher seating behind the driving range. A great spot to watch players on Tuesday and Wednesday is between the 3rd green, 4th tee and 6th tee. So you can watch approach shots come in on the 3rd hole, see tee shots of the par-5 4th hole and tee shots on the famous par-5 6th hole all by walking roughly 30 yards.

The course has changed over the years in terms of critical holes. The 18th used to be the featured critical hole, but now the last critical hole is the long par-4, 15th hole. However, if the winds continue to be breezy like they were on Tuesday, you should see a momentum change and the 18th become a more critical hole.

LOCAL EATS: Orlando doesn’t have the selection of local eats like Tampa does. This is commonplace in resort areas.

The good news is most of the quality local eateries are near Bay Hill like The Chatham Place, Kokino’s, Rocco's Tacos and the Pharmacy Restaurant.

If you want some places more off the beaten path, I would suggest Graffiti Junktion in Thornton Park, Cuban Sandwiches to Go of Lee Road (they only take cash) and Il Pescatore in Winter Park.


PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -15 (if it continues to stay breezy and cold, expect winning score to be higher).


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Rory McIlroy +700
Henrik Stenson +800
Rickie Fowler +1,600
Justin Rose +1,800
Tony Finau +4,500


3JACK’S DARK HORSES

Zach Johnson +5,000
Adam Hadwin +6,600
Russell Henley +6,600
Keegan Bradley +8,000
Marc Leishman +10,000





3JACK