Several tour pros opt for lighter carry bags for the Phoenix Open

Why do Jon Rahm, Jimmy Walker and others have stand bags at the Waste Management Phoenix Open?

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.

Farmers Insurance Open - Round Two
Stan Badz


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.


A few tips for better golf in the coming year


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



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It’s Fun Fact Friday!

Who knew??

Augusta National Golf Club, which is one of the most famous courses in the world, closed for three years at the height of World War II. Golf was replaced by cattle and turkey on its grounds to help support the war effort.

The grass was literally greener!

The countdown is on for THE MASTERS — Who do you think will win the green jacket?

Time to tee it up!

Can Tiger tame Torrey Pines this week?

It’s official: Tiger Woods has new TaylorMade irons, driver in his bag for 2019

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.”

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

The irons aren’t Woods’s only new clubs this year. Based on the photo, he has also swapped in a new TaylorMade M5 driver, along with a 3-wood. It appears he will keep the TaylorMade M3 5-wood in his bag for now. He previously used a M3 driver and 3-wood last season.

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.




The importance of a pre-game routine to improve your golf game

10 Pro Tips for Playing the Best Golf of Your Life

IF YOU WANT TO GET A few extra yards and take a few strokes off your golf game, you’re probably tempted to splurge on a fancy new driver or revolutionary new golf ball. But the fact is, you can get even better results from proper preparation. Armed with nothing but a pro warm-up routine and a little know-how, you could add a dozen yards to your drive and take several strokes off your score card. Here’s how.

1. Warm up.

I wish two draft beers and half a cigar was a warm-up, but it is not. Full-body movements that include trunk flexing, extending and rotating are a great start. Other dynamic warm-up moves should target hip rotation in all directions. Lastly, making sure that your shoulders are prepared for all parts of your back swing and follow through will ensure a good first shot from the tee box.

2. Hydrate.

Being only 10 percent dehydrated can lead to a loss of up to 5 percent of your ability to produce power. That means that if you’re used to hitting your 9-iron 130 yards, now you’ve lost 7 yards. You like hitting that 5-iron 180? Not anymore: If you’re dehydrated, you’re now only hitting it 170. Any good golfer knows how important being on your distances can be when trying to beat the course. It’s pretty hard to know how far you will hit your clubs if you are not properly hydrated.

3. Get fueled up.

If you think hydration is important for athletic output, then you’d better understand how vital proper pre-golf nutrition is to your success, too. Golf is a marathon with bouts of some pretty explosive movements. And, it all happens over the course of a lot of walking and strategizing. If you don’t have a good base of calories and blood sugar to start with, it’s like trying to drive from Virginia to Maine on a half tank of gas.

4. Keep fueling.

It’s so easy to get lost in the competition of the game of golf. The excitement of good shots. The frustration of duffs and slices. It’s all any of us can do to keep our heads together. Now, try limiting your brain’s energy source during a round and the mental game gets a lot harder. Something as simple as some trail mix, an energy drink or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will keep your mind sharp and your muscles purring.

5. Be strong.

This isn’t necessarily something you can do before each round of golf, but it should be in the forefront of your mind if getting better at golf is the goal. Any strength-building activity you enjoy and can do consistently will work. The important thing is knowing that strength is built in the off-season, sped up in the preseason and hopefully maintained in some manner during the season.

6. Be flexible.

You’re not going to see a lot of true flexibility gains from a few stretches before a round of golf. What you will feel is a much more prepared nervous system and improved joint mobility, which will translate to your golf game as more pure and efficient mobility. This is key for anyone trying to beat a course, break a distance mark or just get through a round without nagging aches and pains.

7. Seek coaching.

Lots of folks are good athletes or have played sports their entire lives, but things seem to change when they pick up a golf club; their athletic experience just doesn’t transfer. As a lifelong baseball athlete, I can speak to this frustration firsthand. There are few things more aggravating than having difficulty hitting that little white ball on the ground.

But put me, or any other experienced athlete, back into their familiar setting like holding a baseball bat, tennis racket or a basketball, and things feel right again. Once you get a pro to look at you swing a club and help you refine some of your technique, your game – and outlook – will improve.

8. Know good pain from bad pain.

Knowing the difference between “good” pain that’s part of progress and “bad” pain that leads to injury starts in off-season golf-strengthening programs and continues through life. Those of us who know what “good” pain is also spend less time sitting out practices or rounds of golf because we know how useful movement is for healing and furthering our own athletic progress.

9. Periodize.

This term might not be familiar to even serious golfers, but to a strength coach or a physical therapist, this is one of the most important pieces of the golf strength, injury prevention and performance puzzle. This is the term we use to describe how training programs change depending on a golfer’s current fitness level and the time of the year we’re working.

For example, how important is it for a golfer who lives in the mid-Atlantic or northeast to be the most explosive and most ready to play golf in December? Not very. So, seek golf-specific programming for all of the different phases of the year, as well as competition and play. In this way, you can get the most out of each phase and maximize your physical abilities during the golf season.

10. Rest and recover.

This shouldn’t be the first time any good golfer has heard that taking proper care of your body after some time at the range or after a round of golf is a good idea. This might, however, be the first time that you realize that it could be the single most important – and easiest – thing you can do to ensure a pain-free and rewarding golf season.

SOURCE:  USNews&WorldReport

Give these tips a try next time you tee it up at Lakeshore!

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It’s Fun Fact Friday!

Who Knew??

The chances of making two holes-in-one in a round of golf are one in 67 million.

How many hole-in-one’s have you had???  Tell us when & where!

Why not try for yourself?  Book a tee time today!

Kuchar comes out on top in Hawaii

Matt Kuchar earns Sony Open win for second PGA Tour title in 3 months

Here’s a recap of the final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club.

WINNER: Winning can be so fickle on the PGA Tour. Matt Kuchar can certainly attest.

The 40-year-old used a stellar back-nine 5-under 30 on Sunday to fire a closing 4-under 66 and seal a four-shot victory at 22 under. The triumph is his ninth PGA Tour win and second in three months. Prior to this recent surge, though, Kuchar had a PGA Tour win drought of more than four-and-a-half years.

Hey, it’s a crazy game.

Kuchar led after the second and third rounds before closing out on Sunday, but this win absolutely did not come easy. Kuchar, who began the day with a two-shot lead, sandwiched a birdie at No. 3 with bogeys at Nos. 2, 4 and 5, and even a birdie at No. 9 wasn’t enough to keep him on top.

His opening-nine 1-over 36 relegated him to a one-shot deficit to Andrew Putnam, who made two birdies and no bogeys on the front. The final nine was a different story.

Kuchar birdied the par-4 10th to move to 18 under and tie the lead. Putnam kept up the fight, draining a 19-footer for par from off the green at the par-3 11th to remain a co-leader. Kuchar would birdie the par-4 12th to take back the solo lead at 19 under, but Putnam drained a 21-footer for birdie at the par-4 13th to move back into a share.

The separation would occur over the next few holes.

Putnam bogeyed the par-4 14th to give Kuchar back the solo lead. Kuchar then pounced on that opening, draining 13- and 11-foot putts for birdie at Nos. 15 and 16 to reach 21 under and open up a three-shot lead.

At that point, the tournament was in hand. He would close with a birdie at 18 for good measure.

This is Kuchar’s second win of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season, as he previously captured the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November. Good golf often comes in spells, but it doesn’t make those inevitable highs any less special.

Kuchar is certainly experiencing the rewards of that at the moment. We’ll see how far he can take it.

JUST MISSED: Putnam birdied three of his first 13 holes and was flawless on the day to that point. That allowed him to erase his two-shot overnight deficit. But a 1-over finish over his final five holes doomed his chances. He settled for solo second at 18 under after a 2-under 68. He was pretty much the sole challenger on the back nine.

SHOT OF THE DAY: It’s tough to top a pitch-in eagle to end your tournament, so we’re not going to try.

J.T. Poston with the shot…

UP NEXT: The PGA Tour heads to La Quinta, Calif., for the Desert Classic.


Who do you think will WIN the Desert Classic???



A six-footer is by no means a gimme, but it’s still short enough that it stings when it doesn’t go in. To make more of these, start by locking in your speed. It’s the most important part of every putt. And when you assess speed, don’t just factor how fast the ball needs to roll to get to the front of the cup. Think about it: You’re not trying to be so precise with your putting that the ball falls in on its last rotation. So forget the front of the cup. You should be looking at a spot 1½ feet beyond the hole. You’ll still be in tap-in range if you miss, but now you know the ball is going to get there every time.

Once you’ve determined that spot, then you can read the break. Start by walking to the hole, and try to picture the line in your head, keeping in mind that it continues 18 inches past the cup. Typically a putt of this length isn’t going to break that much—unless your course is Augusta National.

To get my speed down, I often practice with a small silicone cover over the top of the hole. The ball rolls right over it. If you don’t have one, you can just putt over the location of an old cup like I’m doing here (see bottom photo). The point is to get the ball to stop at a consistent distance beyond the hole. After I hit a putt that rolls over the cup and stops where I want it to stop, I’ll put a dime down to mark that end point. Then I’ll stroke putts over the hole trying to get every one to stop on a dime, so to speak.

Having a pre-shot routine is important, but that doesn’t mean only doing the same things before every putt. Just as important is the amount of time you take to do those things. It will make a big difference if there’s a consistent duration from setup to stroke—it gives you good rhythm and confidence. Another thing you should do before you hit a putt is to take one last look at your line of putt all the way to the hole and then back to your ball—but do it quickly. The longer you stand over the ball, the more likely you’ll start to psych yourself out that you might miss. Good putting is a lot more mental than physical. Not a lot can go wrong with your stroke on a six-footer—it’s a fairly short and quiet motion. If you can relax and trust in what you’ve done prior to the putt, your chance of rolling one in will go way up.

If you struggle with these makable putts, it’s probably because you’re too focused on using perfect mechanics. I’ve got news for you, guys like me on the PGA Tour rarely set up and make a textbook stroke, yet the tour average for putts made from six feet last season was 70 percent. What I’m saying is, there are a lot of ways to get the ball to go in the hole.

Putting is extremely personal, but everyone should feel comfortable over the ball. I like when my arms hang freely, and I have a slight roundness to my back. As for the stroke, I don’t think about the length the putter moves back and through. Instead, I try to be as athletic as possible, meaning my process is to look at what I have to do—then react. If you’re shooting a basketball, you don’t think about how hard your arm has to move for the ball to reach the basket, you just look at the rim and let it fly. Try putting with that same mind-set.

SOURCE:  golfdigest


It’s Fun Fact Friday!

Who Knew??

The first ever golf balls were made of thin leather, stuffed with goose feathers. ‘Feather balls’ were used up until 1848, when they were replaced with the ‘Guttie’ ball, named for the rubber-like sap of the Gutta tree, found in the tropics.

What is your favorite golf ball to play with?

Come on out a tee it up!