Tuesday Tip – Grain

TNGCEver hit a putt which broke one direction but the slope of the green read to break in the other direction? Ever hit a putt which you thought should be fast but was much slower, even though it was downhill? Ever hit a putt which should have been slow, but for some unknown reason is was considerably faster?

If you’ve run into the above scenarios, or similar, you may need to learn a bit about “grain.” Some grass types on greens have a “grain” to them. Grain occurs when the blads of grass lay down in a certain direction. The ball rolls faster “with the grain,” meaning rolling in the direction the blades are laying down. The ball rolls slower “against the grain,” or “into the grain.”

Grain can affect the break of putts as well. If you read a putt to break from left-to-right, but the grain is laying right-to-left, the putt may roll straight. This can be quite puzzling to see.

Conversely, if the grain and the break were in the same direction, the putt will break more than the read would indicate.

Seeing Grain

How does one see the grain to read it? The color of the grain will be lighter or darker depending on which direction the grain is laying. “Down grain” views will be shiny and brighter as the sun is reflecting off the tops of the grass blades. “Up grain” views will be darker as the sun is not reflecting as much in the tips of the blades.

A putt may have several different grains to it, depending on the drainage of the green and the angle of the sun. Looking at a 50 foot putt one may see several light and dark areas, indicating different grain directions.

Conclusion

Now that you know a little more about grain you can hopefully make a few more putts. If a putt puzzles you as to why it broke or didn’t break, or perhaps is off on the speed, look back and try to find light and dark areas. More than likely, the miscalculation was due to the direction of the grain.

A Bad Eagle in Golf?

An eagle in golf is generally considered a good thing. Many higher handicap amateur golfers hope to make an eagle once in their lifetimes and if they do, it is a memorable occasion.

In the video below a golfer experiences a bad eagle. As he approaches the green he notices an eagle who is there, messing around with his golf ball. After batting the ball around a bit, the eagle grabs the ball and flys away.

Ruling

The rules of golf provide a ruling for this scenario.  The eagle is an “outside agency.”  The player does not have to chase the eagle down and play the ball where it lies, in the eagle’s nest!

18-1. By Outside Agency
If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

Note: It is a question of fact whether a ball has been moved by an outside agency. In order to apply this Rule, it must be known or virtually certain that an outside agency has moved the ball. In the absence of such knowledge or certainty, the player must play the ball as it lies or, if the ball is not found, proceed under Rule 27-1.

Tuesday Tip – Cleaning Golf Shoes and Spikes for a Solid Base

2-in-1 Golf Shoe Cleaning Tool

The complexities of the golf swing are far beyond brain surgery or rocket science. There are so many working parts in the golf swing and so many different opinions and ways of approaching swing mechanics and techniques. Opinions and golf swing tips differ widely across the the golf spectrum.

Today’s tip isn’t about those things. Today’s discussion is one which applies to every golfer, no matter what swing techniques or mechanics they use. Having a solid base and traction in the swing is extremely important and it is a subject which is not debatable or differing. Traction is important no matter what.

BrushPro 2-in-1 Shoe Cleaner

One of our oldest and most useful products is the Frogger BrushPro. The BrushPro has been the industry standard in club cleaning brushes, helping golfers optimize their club performance and get the best feel and spin possible.

The BrushPro head can be removed and replaced with the 2-in-1 shoe cleaning tool, available for only $6.95. The 2-in-1 tool has two different brushes. The first brush/rake gets out the big debris and the second smaller one finishes off the job on the smaller debris.

With cleaner spikes and shoes the golfer has a better connection to the ground and more stability. More stability means better accuracy, longer distance, and better form.

Tuesday Tip – Uphill Chip

Frogger’s resident PGA professional Kris Moe shows us some basics which help with chipping on an uphill slope in this golf instructional video below.  Some key points to focus on during an uphill chip:

  • Align spine perpendicular to the slope
  • Shoulders should be parallel to the slope
  • Swing with the slope and do not chop down into the slope at a steep angle
  • Swing from outside in as if hitting a draw
  • Consider that the slope adds loft to the shot

Great on Full Shots Too

The principles behind chipping on an uphill slope also apply to a full shot on an uphill slope.  The shot will come off higher and more lofted, so it may require taking 1-2 extra clubs in distance.  For instance, if you normally hit an 8-iron from that yardage, a 7-iron may be necessary due to the slope.

Tuesday Tip – Gravity

Kris MoeFrogger resident pro Kris Moe has some great videos on YouTube, both part of the Frogger Golf offerings and his own golf schools/instruction.

In the video below Kris shows us how we can use gravity to our advantage to help with the golf swing.

First, gravity can help us “drop” the club and hands down properly through the impact zone.  This motion is crucial and helps us generate club-head speed, power, and thus distance.

Second, by using a weight we get the feel for our natural instinct to clear the body and hips.  If a weight is coming down toward us we are naturally inclined to “get out of the way.”  Getting the hips to release and getting the body out of the way for the swing is important.  Doing so can help us release the club on the proper line.  Improper lines produce slices and hooks.  Getting the hips and body out of the way also helps us generate even more speed and thus more distance.

The gravity drill is simple and very effective.  It can be done with or without a weight and can help get the proper feel for the downswing, even moments before you hit your first tee shot.

 

Tuesday Tip – Loft Down in the Short Game

Image courtesy Cleveland Golf

Image courtesy Cleveland Golf

We can learn some great techniques from links golf. Golf in Scotland is played on the ground for the most part, especially with regards to the short game. The ground is so hard and smooth that putting from even 50 yards from the green is not unusual. Unlike golf on the typically soft courses in the USA, links golf seldom involves high lofted wedges. 60 degree lob wedges may only be used in very limited situations like getting out of pot bunkers.

Amateur golfers almost always grab the lob wedge when around the greens chipping or pitching. The extra loft can be more of a detriment than an advantage though. More loft means less control of distance and less margin for error. Amateurs need a bigger error margin! We are not Phil Mickelson and trying to be is like punching a ticket to bogey-land.

Loft Down

Whenever possible we should choose a lower lofted club around the greens. Sure there will be times where a high lofted club is the only option, like having to carry a bunker and stop the ball on a short-sided pin. But in most other situations it is a better choice to pick a lower lofted club and try to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. It is not uncommon to use mid-irons or even long irons with a putting stroke to get the ball airborne for a very short distance and then rolling after that.

Rule of Thirds

A great rule to use when deciding what club to hit and what distance to carry the ball is the rule of thirds. The best chips will be airborne for 1/3 of the distance, and roll the other 2/3 of the way. The intention is for the ball to be rolling like a putt when it gets to the hole.

Conclusion

We always want to hit the hero shot, but typically hero shots do not work out very well. The safest and most accurate way to get the ball closer to the hole in the short game is to loft down and get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

The $40,000 Golf Training Aid

We feel that our training aids are very useful, help players improve their games, and are very reasonably priced.

Our $19.95 Swing Hero aid helps golfers eliminate the “death grip” and actually increase distance by helping the player grip the club in a more relaxed fashion.  The unit can also be used to help golfers manipulate their grips to promote draws, fades, or eliminate that pesky slice.

Swing Hero

Swing Hero

Our $29.95 Arc Angel putting training aid is easy to setup, and provides great feedback and help for golfers who would like to get their putter traveling on a better swing path.

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Arc Angel

If you have a little bigger budget, around $39,970 more, you could check out the Gears system.  At around $40,000 you can have a “golf MRI” which shows in 3D every aspect of your golf swing, club positions, ball flight, and body positions like spine angle and much more.

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You decide: Shave strokes off of your game for $19-30, or $40,000!

For more check out the Gears website, or this article on Gears at Golf Digest.

Tuesday Tip – Fowler Flop

Did you know that CNN has a whole area full of golf video tips and instruction.  Yes, CNN.  Not sure how I stumbled upon that, but it is there and there is some great material which can be helpful for your game.

On great video there features a younger Rickie Fowler.  Fowler had a great 2014 in the majors, with the lowest aggregate score of any player in the world.  He has shined lately in the majors and most think it is only a matter of time before he claims one.

At some point in a round, or a tournament, a tough situation will present itself.    You have nearly no green to work with and/or may have to carry a hazard like a bunker and stop the shot on a dime.  There’s only one shot which can work in that situation, and it can be very difficult.  We are talking about the “flop” shot.  In the flop shot, the highest lofted club is used (preferably a lob wedge).  The blade is opened up and a steep, full swing is used to pop the ball straight up in the air.  Rickie Folwer is very good at this tough shot and talks us through it in this piece dating back to 2012.

Mickelson’s Golf Advice to Obama Good for All Golfers

TorreyPines_12It must be nice to have Phil Mickelson giving you advice on your golf game.  Case in point was a discussion Phil had with President Obama.  Obama had been struggling with his sand play.  Mickelson gave him some tips to help him improve and apparently they worked well.

The tips?  Phil’s bunker play tip came with two focus points.

First, when in the sand keep the body weight forward.  If the body weight is level, the ball will not drive into and through the sand properly.

Second, put the ball forward in the stance.  By doing so, this allows the shot to come out high and soft.  The club hits behind the ball, taking out sand along with the ball.  If the ball is not far enough forward, bad shots like blades or simply hitting the shot way too far can happen.

Did the advice work?  Obama was thrilled to tell Phil that his advice made a big difference in his bunker play.

The big question then is, does Phil have any advice on foreign policy?

Tuesday Tip – Penny Putting

coin-puttGolfers often struggle with moving their heads or “looking up too soon” when putting.  If the head is moving there are all sorts of “bad” things which can happen to the putt.  The contact on the club face is likely to be off-center.  The swing path is likely to be outside-in (club traveling across the ball from outside the target line to inside), and distance control is likely to be compromised.

One great drill to help keep the head down and eyes on the ball through the stroke is the penny drill.  Put a penny (or other coin) on the practice green heads up and put the ball on top of it.  When putting you cannot move your head or eyes away from the ball spot until you’ve actually read the date on the penny.

Another side benefit to this drill is making sure that the penny stays in place and that the putter does not hit it.  If the penny stays that means the putter is not bottoming out on the ground, which would result in many other problems.

In the video below from the 1999 U.S. Open, watch how long Payne Stewart kept his head down on the winning putt.