Category: GOLF

HISTORY OF THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

Of the four ‘majors’ in professional golf, the PGA Tour owns none of them. The US Open belongs to the USGA; The Open Championship to the R&A; the Masters to Augusta National; and the PGA Championship to the PGA (which is a separate entity from the PGA Tour).

That is presumably why the Tour started the Tournament Players Championship in 1974 – and why they have spent so much time and treasure promoting it as the ‘Fifth Major’.

The purse for the Players Championship was $9.5 million in 2010, making it the richest regular event. The tournament also counts for as much as the traditional four Majors in the FedEx Cup points standings. It is worth 40 points in the World Golf Rankings; only 10 less than the big four.

The winner of the tournament receives a five year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three year invitation to the Masters, a three year exemption to the Open Championship, and same year invitations to the US Open and PGA.

Consequently, the Players attracts one of the strongest fields in golf, bringing in all but a handful of the top-ranked players. It arguably has a stronger field than any of the other majors, as there are no amateurs or club professionals invited; every player there is a professional tournament player.

The inaugural Players Championship was held in 1974 at the Atlanta Country Club, and was won by Jack Nicklaus. It moved to the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth in 1975, and then to the Inverrary Country Club in Ft. Lauderdale in 1976.

In 1977, The Players Championship found something of a permanent home in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida. It was held at the Sawgrass Country Club’s Oceanside Course until 1982, when it was moved across the road to the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass.

The TPC at Sawgrass has given the Players an identity because that course boasts what is arguably the most famous hole in golf – the island green par 3 seventeenth.

For the first 33 years of its existence, the Players Championship was held in March. With the PGA Tour’s 2007 restructuring surrounding the FedEx Cup championship, the Players was moved to May. This gives professional golf (and television) a signature event in each month running from April to August.

Nicklaus has won three times: 1974, 1976, and 1978. Other multiple winners have been Tiger Woods (2001 and 2013), Fred Couples (1984 and 1996), Steve Elkington (1991 and 1997), Davis Love III (1992 and 2003) and Hal Sutton (1983 and 2000).

Greg Norman holds the tournament record, with an aggregate score of 264, -24 to par.

Who tuned in to watch the best players in the world doing battle?

TIPS TO HELP YOUR GOLF DRIVING

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

Hitting your driver well is a combination of physical skill, mental concentration and confidence. It is easiest to master this on the driving range, then move it to a non-competitive playing environment. Here are some tips for working on your driving …

1) Start with mini-swings, then proceed to full swings when you begin making solid contact.

2) Hit golf balls with your feet together.

3) Take full swings at 50 per cent power.

4) Concentrate on this counting sequence during your swing: 1-2 going back on the backswing, and 3 on the downswing.

5) Concentrate on extending your clubhead down the target line with a high follow-through position.

6) Keep your grip pressure light and body tension free both at address and during the swing.

7) Hit balls with your driver only to the 100-yard flag or marker, then 125 yards, then 150, then 175, gradually moving to a normal distance for your driver.

8) Swing thought: Tell yourself, “Swing through the ball, NOT at the ball.”

Another swing thought is to have your backswing at a slower speed than your forward swing, with your maximum speed obviously being through the impact area. So many players waste their maximum speed on the backswing. Your overall tempo on the downswing should be between 70-80 per cent of your full power – this speed will increase your chances of better ball striking.

Follow through drill: Hit balls or take practice swings where you concentrate on completing your swing so that your body faces the target on the follow-through. Your hands should finish high – up and around behind your head. Also, have your right foot up on the follow-through so that you may tap it on the ground. This will ensure completion of the follow-through and weight transfer. When you focus on swinging through the hitting area and completing the swing, your golf shots will improve dramatically.

THE BEST ‘MENTAL GAME’ PUTTING DRILLS

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

Putting is a mental game, where scores are made and lost. It’s really important that you find the best putting drills to test yourself whenever you practice putting.

Here are a few putting drills that should improve your golf game.

Pressure putts

Aim: To put your putting under pressure by having a consequence for missing

  1. Start 6ft from the hole and try to hole that putt
  2. If you hole it, you move on to the next hole (9 holes in total)
  3. If you miss it, move the ball back from where it finished by one club length and repeat the process
  4. Consider each hole a par 2 and total your score for the nine holes
  5. Try to beat your best score each time

The sound of success

Aim: To focus on making a solid putting stroke, not where the ball ends up

  1. Pick a spot 3ft from the hole
  2. Aim at holing 10 putts in a row with your eyes closed, after you’ve gone through your pre-shot routine
  3. If you miss a putt or at any time open your eyes, start over 

Make the hole look bigger on the course

Aim: To gain confidence on the golf course by making the hole seem bigger than it is

  1. Put 2 tees in the ground just in front of the hole, so they make the hole about half its actual width
  2. Try to make 5 putts from 4ft
  3. If you miss, start over

 

Sportsmart Golf at Moorabbin has very knowledgeable golf staff. We are experts in customising golf clubs to suit your individual needs. We also offer services of club fitting and repairs. With a fitting net and launch monitor in store, we have you covered for all your individual golf needs.

PAR 18 GAME FOR THE SHORT GAME (Part 4)

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

To improve your short game, try this exercise during your practice:

  1. Pick 9 locations from around the green to play from: 3 easy, 3 medium and 3 difficult.
  2. Each mini hole is a par 2. By playing all 9 holes, the total is ‘Par 18’
  3. Play all 9 holes, and keep your score. Make 18 your target.

Although I don’t ever recommend trying to beat your score during a round, in practice it’s different. You want to create the same pressure as if you were on the golf course, whereas on the golf course it’s ideal to minimise pressure. By thinking about your score while practicing (and trying to beat it), you get closer to the pressure you feel on the course.

Hopefully these tips will help you improve your game!

4 PRACTICE DRILLS FOR YOUR SHORT GAME (Part 3)

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

This is a great golf drill for improving your chipping quickly. It works on using a variety of golf clubs from the same distance, so you can see the benefit of using less lofted clubs from around the green.

  1. From the edge of the green, pick a hole on the practice green that’s about 20-25ft away.
  2. Take your 6-iron and go through your pre-shot routine
  3. Your pre-shot should have 3 main steps: Visualisation, Feel and Trust. When you’re visualising your shot, ask yourself where the golf ball will land and how it will roll out to the hole and where on the hole it will go in. When you’ve seen the shot in your mind’s eye, feel the swing you need to produce that shot. When you’re standing over the ball, say to yourself “trust it” and do exactly that.
  4. When you’ve holed your 6-iron, repeat the process your 7-iron and move all the way through to your PW. That’s a minimum of 5 shots, so see how close you can get to a score of 5 each time.

(Coming up next: Part 4)

4 PRACTICE DRILLS FOR YOUR SHORT GAME (Part 2)

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

One great short game drill is to take 20 golf balls and drop them around the practice green from different lies and positions.

For each shot, go through your routine just as you would on the golf course and imagine you are playing in a competition on whatever golf course you normally play (or perhaps the location of your next competition).

If the ball comes to rest outside of gimme range (2ft), go through your pre-putt routine, just as you would on the course or in a competition and try to hole the putt.

When you’ve made the up and down, move onto the next golf ball until you’ve holed all 20. This exercise might take 40-50 minutes to perform, but it makes practice very meaningful.

This drill allows you to:
•    Practice your routine – getting your process the same, and focusing on it should be consistent no matter what the shot or situation
•    Work on your imagination and visualisation
•    Simulate pressure while you practice
•    Makes practice fun, playing from different lies and trying different shots
•    Give every shot a purpose, instead of being just another practice ball

(Coming up next: Part 3)

4 PRACTICE DRILLS FOR YOUR SHORT GAME (Part 1)

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

Over the next few posts I will be sharing some golf drills (that helped me) for your short game that will help lower your handicap and make your mates jealous!

Try these drills (used by Tour players) to start honing your short game and making more up and downs in 2016.

  1. One club, two distances

In order to become a golf genius from 90 metres and in (the scoring zone), you need to develop your feel.

A great way to practice feel is to hit the same golf club several distances (you can try this with your long game too). With this drill the aim is to make it instinctive how far the pin is away from you (from within 90 metres), something you’ll need to do to get to low single figures.

  1. Start at 110 meters and hit one ball to the target
  2. Move to 100 and use the same club to hit to that same target
  3. Move to 90 and change to whatever club you hit from this distance
  4. Move to 80 and hit the same club as you did from 90
  5. Move to 70 and hit whatever club you would from this distance
  6. Finish by hitting your 70 metre club from the 60 metre position.

So, you’ll have played from 6 distances and used your 3 wedges twice each, to 2 different distances.

Some players choke down on the club and change their ball position for distance control, and others use swing length and tempo. Experiment with both and see what works for you. You can also repeat this golf drill and create more distances by using 3-metre increments.

Coming up next: Part 2 (Real Short Game Practice)

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT GOLF PUTTER

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

Some tips on choosing the right golf putter:

1. Length: Perhaps the most important component to a putter. To test length, firstly get into a correct address position. When tilting from your hips, you want your eyes over the ball and hands under your shoulders. If you grip a “standard” length putter and find you’re gripping down the shaft, you will need a shorter putter. If you grip beyond the end of the putter shaft, you will need a longer putter.

2. Weight: If you find you need a shorter putter, just cutting your putter shaft will do you no good. The putter is built to be a certain swing weight at a certain length. Cutting it down will also make the swing weight go down and it will feel too light in your hands. So you need to buy a golf putter that has the proper weight. A 35″ putter usually has a head weight of 330 grams. If you need a 34″ putter, you need to look at having 350- to 360-gram head weight. If you need a shorter putter of 32″ to 33,” you need to look at having a 370- to 380-gram head weight.

3. Balance Point: There are basically two types of putter head: face-balanced and toe-balanced. If you lay the shaft in your hand with the shaft parallel to the ground and the face is facing the sky, you have a face-balanced putter. If the toe is hanging toward the ground, you have a toe-balanced putter. If you want a square-to-square stroke (which means the putter face is always square to the target and the stroke is straight back and through), you would benefit with a face-balanced putter. If you want to be have an arc stroke (which means the putter face will open and closed relative to the target and the stroke travels on a slight curve), you would benefit from a toe-balanced putter.

4. Head Design: This is where it becomes a little more player preference. Putter heads come in all different shapes and sizes, but it really boils down to whether you prefer a mallet head or more of a blade head. Do you prefer a sight line or none? If you prefer a square putting style with a face-balanced putter, you may benefit from a mallet head with sight line. If you are an arc putter, you may benefit from a blade putter with no sight line.

It is very important to pick a golf putter suited to your style of stroke. Becoming a good putter can lower your score dramatically, or save that round when you’re not hitting well!

We have a great range of putters in stock, so visit us at our Moorabbin store for advice and to get a fitting.

AUSTRALIAN MASTERS STARTS TODAY!

by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager

WHERE

Huntingdale Golf Club, Melbourne — Par 71.

The Australian Masters returns to Huntingdale for the first time since 2008, with a fresh layout and a refurbished clubhouse after $15 million in renovations.

It’s not a very long golf course but the greens will be lightning quick, which will make it tough for players who don’t strategically put their ball in the right spots.

WHEN

Thursday 19 — Sunday 22 November 2015

PRIZE MONEY

A$750,000

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR

Nick Cullen was the surprise victor of the Australian Masters in 2014. He held his nerve and made a sand save par on the last to stay at nine-under and seal the win. Unfortunately due to schedule issues Cullen is unable to defend his title at Huntingdale this weekend. Instead he continues his quest to earn a European Tour card in six qualifying school events.

TOP CONTENDERS THIS YEAR

ADAM SCOTT

Scott won the event in 2012 and 2013 but missed out on back-to-back-to-back yellow jackets by a single stroke last year, as Nick Cullen took the spoils. But this year Scott is the face of the tournament in Cullen’s absence and he’s also the hot favourite to take it out.

No doubt the only thing that will stand in the way of an Adam Scott victory will be how he adapts to the slick Huntingdale Golf Club greens and using the short putter.

STEVEN BOWDITCH

The Queenslander was among the contenders last year, taking the clubhouse lead after day one before falling to 17th place. This year at Huntingdale, Bowditch is flaunting a fitter version of himself. Having lost 16 kilograms, he’s now in the best shape of his professional golfing career and it’s paying dividends.

NICOLAS COLSAERTS

A member of the Ryder Cup European team that beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the thrilling ‘Miracle at Medinah’, Colsaerts is a big-time player, and a major addition to the Australian Masters line-up. He’s finished in the top 10 in majors (US Open, British Open) and won events on the European tour. His experience will serve him well on Australian soil where he is set to stay to contest the Open too.

JOHN SENDEN

A familiar face when the triple-crown rolls around, expect to see Senden in the mix at the Australian Masters on Sunday, as he has in years past. A two-time winner on the PGA Tour and winner of the Australian Open (2006), you can count on Senden thrilling home crowds during the summer of golf. Despite a hectic schedule in the last few months, the Queenslander should be ready to go, alongside new bag-carrier and Karrie Webb’s ex-caddie, Mike Patterson.

CAMERON SMITH

He’s only been a professional for two years, but Smith is an exciting emerging talent worth keeping an eye on. A huge year saw him finish fourth at the US Open and 25th at the PGA Championship, securing him a berth at the US Masters in April, and a chance to play on the tour for the rest of the year. With some good form last year on the Australasian PGA Tour, don’t be surprised if the 22-year-old’s name pops up on the leaderboard at Huntingdale.

SCOTT HEADS BACK FOR AUSTRALIAN MASTERS AT HUNTINGDALE

by Golf Manager, Josh Cassap

Two-time champion Adam Scott is heading to Huntingdale as the headline act at this year’s Australian Masters.

Scott, who fell short of a three-peat at last year’s event at Metropolitan, has been lured back to the sandbelt through his sponsor, Uniqlo, who will be the Masters major event partner.

Two-time winner on the PGA tour John Senden will also play at Huntingdale with South African great Ernie Els and President’s Cup team member Steven Bowditch for this year’s gold jacket.

The Masters is returning to Huntingdale for the first time since 2008, having toured the sandbelt since leaving its home of nearly 30 years.

Scott won back-to-back Masters in 2012-13 at Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne before finishing second, just a single shot back, from winner Nick Cullen last year.

The tournament returns to Huntingdale, which has undergone a major transformation since the last event there, including the construction of a brand new $15 million clubhouse.

The Huntingdale layout has also had work done to restore it to the glory days which saw Aussie legend Greg Norman win six Masters titles.

A host of former champions including Rod Pampling and Stuart Appleby along with defending champ Nick Cullen are all set to play the Masters, which runs 19-22 November.