2013 Masters - Anybody Excited Yet?

Every golfer you know has thought about the Masters and Augusta National this week - more than once! What a great week to be a golfer. The excitement and thrill of 2013's first major is here and I cannot wait for Thursday.

Masters talk invariably circles around to who you like this week. Who is your man? If I had to pick three golfers, one a favorite, another as a contender and another as an underdog - I would go with Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and KJ Choi. I love the way Rory and KJ competed last week and I believe that with their history here this could be their week.

Here is the television guide for the week from geoffshackelford.com

Here is a list of all the Masters gear you cannot live without from Devil Ball Golf

Here is an article detailing Augusta National's new hospitality venue Berckmans Place where apparently Condoleeza Rice, as a new member, was greeting patrons on Monday.

Here are the complete odds for every player in the field from golfodds.com.  How about Rory vs. Tiger? Will Phil finish in the top 10? Will Tim Clark beat Freddie Couples?

If there was one player that I wish was competing this week it would be Seve Ballesteros. My favorite golfer growing up, I remember crying when he three putted the 10th green in a playoff with Mize and Norman and had to make the lonely haul up the hill to the clubhouse while the other two golfers continued on.

That's really what the Masters is all about - the memories! Who can forget Bubba's escape from the Magnolia's, Phil's jump on 18, Jack chasing the ball in on 17 - even the honorary starters on Thursday morning. What will remember from the 2013 edition? Whatever it is I know it's going to be very, very good. Enjoy.

2012 'Shocking' Ryder Cup Review

Wow! What a great a great Ryder Cup and an amazing Sunday of golf. A truly stunning result and certainly one of my top five most memorable golf broadcasts. I wanted to share of few of my impressions from the week. Here goes:

  • Ian Poulter: I have always enjoyed Ian's 'confidence' - some might call it arrogance, but I've never seen it that way and I have also thought him to be a top player and competitor. Everything I believed about Ian James Poulter has now been tripled! He, (virtually) single-handedly, won the cup for Europe with his five closing birdies on Saturday. Those five holes and that win for Europe allowed them to hang on to a glimmer of hope for Sunday and without that glimmer they don't get the job done. He now owns the best all time Ryder Cup record for players who have played in at least 15 matches - that says something about IJP.
  • Phil Mickelson: While I have never been a fan of Phil, this weekend I finally packed up my things and climbed on his bandwagon. One of the coolest things I witnessed all week was Phil clapping for Justin Rose when he hit a good shot or holed a long putt. He played with fire, he played beautifully, and above all else he was a true gentleman.
  • Keegan Bradley: This guy is for real. He has tremendous heart and just like Poulter, has the make up to be a fantastic competitor for many years to come in the Ryder Cup. I did not get the benefit to the sideways look at putts and the twitchy, start stop pre-shot routine has got to go. I was glad I had the golf recorded so I could fast forward while he got ready to hit a shot....
  • Jose Maria Olazabal: It was great for Ollie to get the win and it was obvious on his face how often he thought of his friend and mentor Seve Ballesteros. Seve truly was the 13th amn and I believe his influence played a laregr than appreciated role in the European victory. I enjoyed JMO's post victory quote: "All men die, but not all men live. Today you made me feel alive again!"
  • Should Davis Love III get the blame? Completely ridiculous! If one putt or chip goes in for the US squad on Sunday the result is completely flipped and he's a hero.
  • Bubba on the 1st tee: Perhaps one of my favorite moments of the event! I got chills the first time I saw it and I hope (believe) he has started a trend in the matches that will continue for a long time. You saw him do it first! Great stuff.

  • Giving putts and conceding matches: Francesco Molinari was instructed in the 18th fairway to win the hole by Ollie. In my view there is a difference in retaining the Cup and winning the Cup. Same celebration and 'same' outcome, but winning is always better. I honestly don't think I would have given TW his putt either....
  • Spirit of the matches: This Ryder Cup was contended by two excellent teams where many of the players seemed to be in form. The matches were great theater and the players conducted themselves in a classy fashion. I did not see anything that I thought to be underhanded.
  • Sour grapes: The European team is sour when they lose and their fans claim gamesmanship and unsporting conduct when they lose (see Brookline '99). The US team and their fans are no different (see Medinah '12). Nobody enjoys losing - it's human nature and I'm okay with that.
  • Top players on each team: For the Euro squad it must be Poulter who also gets Man of the Ryder Cup in my books. On Saturday afternoon he loaded up the whole event on his back and said watch this...A nod must also go to Rory McIlroy who played some incredible golf and carried the 'World No. 1' flag beautifully. For the Americans there were a few superstars: Jason Dufner, who just continues to get better; Keegan Bradley who fired up Phil and played liked a man possessed; and Phil, who not only played with passion again, but owned the 'classy moment' of the week. Dustin Johnson also quietly went 3-0.
  • Duds: For the Euro team G-Mac and Westwood performed below expectations and for the US it can only be TW and Stricker who earned a measly half point out of 8 opportunities.
  • Was this a 'miracle' comeback? No, not really. If you run the odds on a team coming back from a 10-6 deficit going in to Sunday you come out with a 19% chance. Even though it's only happened once before, not a miracle at all.
  • Don't count your chickens: Here's an interesting piece written by ESPN's Gene Wojchiechowski on Saturday evening. Gene has been taking a beating for this one.....

In total I absolutely loved the event and it once again proves that the game of golf is in good shape. There are more than enough great players and characters to carry the game without Tiger being what he once was.

It's All About Impact - The Book

This book has been written to show all golfers' what style elements they can do without and what functional elements are integral to soundly struck golf shots. What is pretty and what works? Forget about form and focus all your attention on two simple keys that make all the difference in the world.

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Release the Putter

Tiger Woods A pendulum swings around a fixed point and in order to release the face of the putter correctly, so should your putting stroke.

Jim Hardy, the noted 'One-Plane' teacher, has gone on record as stating that the majority of great putters are invariably 'hookers' of the golf ball in their full swing.  They all release the putter face the same way they release their club face - aggresively! And when looking at a sampling of the greatest of all time; Faxon, Crenshaw, Locke (as in Bobby!), George Archer and Ballesteros;  I certainly can concur with his reasoning.  Of course Jack and Tiger aren't too bad but let's just stick with the formula for now!

In order for the face to release the stroke needs to work like a pendulum.  Notice in the pictures of Tiger Woods above how the butt end of the putter in each frame points at the same spot on his torso.  So often I see golfers, in an attempt to not use their wrists, push the hands through the stroke, thus discouraging the wrists, hands and face to release freely.  This leads not only to poor direction and ball striking, but most importantly decreased distance control.

An excellent little teaching aid to overcome this common flaw is the Perfect PendulumThis device attaches to your own putter and telescopes up into your belly. (Unless your belly happens to telescope into it!)  Once it's anchored make a few strokes to get a sense of the putter head swinging beyond the hands into the follow through.  It ensures a correct release.

I love simple teaching aids that convey the correct feel while using your own club and this one takes care of everything for you!

Here are a few keys to remember:

  • Assume your normal address position and note where the butt end of the putter points.
  • As you stroke try to sense the butt end pointing at the same spot on your upper body.  This should be maintainted from address to the back of the stroke and on into the follow through.
  • Feel the putter head SWING to either side of your center.
  • A light, soft grip will aid in the putter face releasing freely.
  • Roll a few putts with your dominant hand only to feel the correct rhythm of the stroke.

For better distance and direction (is there anything else?) with your putting try these ideas.  They will help!

Things to Ponder:

  • John Daly's career can be marked by either upward or downward trends.  Over the past few years the lows are lower and the highs are not quite where they once were.  He is clearly on an upward trend at the moment, I just hope he has the sense to survive the next low.
  • I have had a few responses to my All-time Heart List.  After reconsideration, I must add Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods to the list.  Tom Watson is waiting in the wings.
  • Why do Davis Love and Ben Crane have to qualify for the British Open?  They are both in the top 60 players in the world and are both having relatively good seasons.
  • It's about time Vijay Singh has showed up again on a leaderboard!  Where has he been?

Thanks for reading and please feel free to make abusive comments about the author.