The PGA Tour has been stuck in a time warp this season as an army
of rejuvenated old fogies--Scott Hoch, Jay Haas, Fred Couples,
Kenny Perry, Tom Watson, Craig Stadler and Peter Jacobsen--have
played some of the best golf of their lives. Watching these
mostly self-taught fortysomethings shine has been uplifting, and
not just because I'm Jacobsen's age, 49, and gearing up for this
fall's Champions tour Q school. The veterans have shown that the
Tour's old-fashioned route to success--patiently digging a game
out of the dirt--is at least as effective as the 21st-century
method, in which a team of swing, mind and fitness gurus are
under pressure to produce immediate stardom. Coming up the hard
way also teaches something no coach can give you: heart and
desire. Jacobsen was fearless during a tense final round at the
Greater Hartford Open. On the 15th hole he flew a pitch over the
green into thick rough, but hit a clutch recovery to three feet
and made par. At 17, Jacobsen held a slim two-shot lead over his
playing partner, Chris Riley, who hit a terrific approach to 10
feet. Jacobsen topped that with the shot of the tournament: a
three-quarter swing sand wedge from 103 yards (above) that landed
15 feet past the flag and spun back to four feet, setting up the
birdie that iced a victory for the ages.
August 3, 2003
OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...
"You didn't hear a single Tour player whine about Suzy Whaley
playing in Hartford because Whaley, unlike Annika Sorenstam at
the Colonial, earned her spot in the field."
"The nickname among Tour players for 19-year-old Ty Tryon,
who missed his 12th cut in 14 starts this year at Hartford, is
Keep, as in Keep on Tryon to make the cut."
"U.S. Women's Open champion Hilary Lunke, who began playing
golf at age seven at my junior camp at the Edina (Minn.) Country
Club, needs to find an extra 30 yards off the tee or she could be
a one-hit wonder on the LPGA tour."
"It's a joke that the Mayo Clinic recently spent $100,000 on
a study to discover the cause of the yips when every good
instructor already knows the root of the affliction: bad putting
technique, not the neurological mumbo jumbo that was studied."
STAYING ON PLANE
The key to great wedge play isn't carrying a bunch of wedges. It
is correct technique that keeps your swing on plane so that you
can hit one wedge different distances by varying the ball
position and the swing's length and speed. To practice getting on
plane, cock both wrists during the takeaway while lifting the
left arm so your left elbow moves out and in front of your body.
Wedge play is the weakest aspect of the game for most amateurs
because they're so off plane. The tendency is to drag the club
too far to the inside by turning, rather than cocking, the
wrists. This makes the left arm swing away from the target and
results in a swing plane that is too flat. From this position
you're likely to chunk it or skull it.