Tag Archives: Golf

By Paul Myers

Any golfer would agree that winning one of the four majors remains the main goal that each every professional is striving for. However, when it comes to the biggest financial prize of all within the game of golf, there is no competition for the FedEx Cup. The winner of the year-end FedEx Cup takes home a prize that is unprecedented in golf, and rarely matched in any other sports – $10 Million. To secure such a prize is to win more money at one time that most people will be fortunate enough to see in their entire lives.

For Billy Horschel, the dream of winning a major championship is yet to be realized – but he does own the 2014 FedEx Cup crown and the impressive paycheck that goes with it. Going into the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2014, Horschel had just one win to his name during his pro career, yet he went on to win two events in back to back weeks and take home the crown. Despite having just one top-five finish in a major during his career to this point, the University of Florida grad was able to rise to the occasion and grab the richest prize in golf.

An Early Start on the Big Stage

For a long period of time, Billy Horschel was well-known in golf circles for one reason – the incredible round of 60 that he shot in the 2006 U.S. Amateur tournament. While he wouldn’t go on to win the event, that single round helped him make a name for himself across golf. Of course, that wasn’t entirely fair to just view him in terms of one round, as he built an impressive career at the University of Florida. He was consistently one of the best college players in the country at Florida, and it is no big surprise to see that he has risen to such heights in the pro game as well.

A Ping Man

Take one look at Billy Horschel during a PGA Tour event and you will have no trouble identifying which equipment company he is affiliated with. Horschel plays Ping equipment throughout the bag, from his driver all the way down to his wedges. One of the interesting things about his set is that he frequently plays without a four iron – opting to use that club spot for an extra wedge instead. This is becoming more and more popular among Tour players, and amateurs as well. The thinking goes like this – how many times during the average round will you face a shot that calls for a four iron and can’t be handled by a three or a five? Most shots fall somewhere between clubs anyway, so hitting the five a little harder or the three a little softer isn’t that big of a challenge for a player of Horschel’s caliber. In your own game, you might want to experiment with exluding one of your long irons in favor of an extra wedge. You just might find that you don’t really need that additional long iron much after all.

He Packs a Punch

Horschel is not the biggest guy you will see on the PGA Tour on a weekly basis. He isn’t small – he’s six feet tall, and in good physical condition to be sure. However, compared to some of the taller players, he is rather average in terms of size. That doesn’t stop him from creating impressive club head speed, though. So far in the 2015 season, Billy Horschel’s swing speed comes in at an average of 112.25 MPH. This speed has generated an average driving distance of 294.2, good for a rank of 67th on Tour currently. So while he isn’t the biggest hitter on the Tour, he has more than enough power to deal with some of the many long golf courses that are played on a week after week.

How does he generate that speed? With a swing that looks just about as technically perfect as a golf swing gets. Many players on the Tour have something in their swing that looks a little ‘homemade’ or unique to them. That really isn’t the case with Horschel. A golf teacher would have a hard time picking apart too much about what he does in the golf swing, because it is just technically beautiful to watch. The swing looks simple, compact, efficient, and powerful, all at the same time. Any golfer would do well to watch the motion that Billy Horschel makes in his golf swing and work on copying it to the best of their ability.

Not a Bad Employer, Either

Working as a caddie on the PGA Tour has its perks, especially when your player wins the FedEx Cup and the $10 Million prize that goes with it. Horschel rewarded his caddy in kind for the help he provided on the way to the title by sending $1 Million his way after the win. There aren’t any kind of specific records for caddy payments, but this has to be one of the largest paydays for a caddie in golf history. In just a short time on Tour, Billy Horschel has come to be one of the more popular players, and it is actions like this that only go to further his good reputation.

Billy Horschel made about as much noise as you can make in golf in 2014 without actuallywinning a major. However, with the game he possesses and the incredibly solid golf swing that he has honed over the years, it won’t be any surprise at all to see him threaten the winner’s circle in the biggest events of 2015 and beyond.

By Paul Myers

There are plenty of statistics in golf, and many of them can do plenty to indicate just how well you are performing on the course. But in the end, there is only one stat that matters for anything – scoring average. It doesn’t matter how pretty some of your other stats might look, if you aren’t happy with your scoring average, you aren’t going to be happy with your game. It is every golfer’s goal to get better over time, and scoring average is the ultimate measure of whether or not you are making progress.

The Best of the Best

Of course, a good scoring average for one golfer might not be so satisfying for another. The leading golfer in terms of scoring average on the PGA Tour so far in 2015 is Jason Day, checking in at 68.19 over 16 rounds. Obviously, Jason Day is one of the very best players in the world, and averaging just a bit over 68 on PGA Tour caliber courses is incredible golf. You aren’t likely to reach those levels anytime soon, but you can still track your scoring average carefully and work to improve it over time.

One of the important things to keep in mind here is that you need to keep score accurately each round, and record each round that you play. If you throw out a few rounds from time to time because you didn’t play all that good, your average won’t be a true representation of your game as a whole. Track every single round that you play, and count every shot that you hit. That is the only way to really know how you stand.

The Little Things Make a Big Difference

Using scoring average in conjunction with other statistics from your rounds is a good way to chart a path toward better golf. Once you know what your average score is, you can compare that to your average number of putts per round to see what percentage of your strokes are used on the greens. Also, keep track of penalty shots per round as well – you just might be surprised at how quickly you could lower your scoring average by simply keeping the ball on the course and out of the hazards.

Keeping a chart of your scoring average – and seeing that chart move in the right direction as time goes by – is one of the most satisfying feelings you can have as a golfer. Sure it would be fun to improve driving distance or hit more greens per round, but only your score matters in the end. Each round is summed up by just one number, so put all of your golf-related effort into making this statistic look as good as possible.

By Paul Myers

When you have one of the most famous last names in golf, there is no flying under the radar when you make it to the PGA Tour. From the moment Kevin Stadler arrived on the scene, he was bound to draw attention thanks to his last name alone. The fact that he swings the club, and looks, much like his dad Craig, only went to further the comparisons. While Craig was a highly successful player in his own right, Kevin would still need to forge his own way and earn his stripes on the Tour.

Unlike his dad, who won 13 times on the PGA Tour, including a Masters title, it would take Kevin a full 12 years as a professional before notching his first win at the highest level of the game, why the expectations started early for Kevin Stadler. That came during the 2014 Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. Prior to that, Stadler had come close to winning when he lost in a playoff to Ryan Moore at the 2009 Wyndham Championship.

A Collection of Clubs

The bag of Kevin Stadler during the 2014 season looked more like a bag of clubs that you would see on the driving range of your average local course on a Saturday morning. Instead of having one single brand name throughout the bag, Stadler has a variety of club makers represented through his set. He was using a driver from TaylorMade, a Callaway three wood, Ping hybrid, Cleveland irons and wedges, and an Odyssey putter. You would have to look long and hard around the rest of the Tour to find another player with so many different manufacturers represented in a single bag.

What lessons can the average amateur player take from the bag of clubs that Stadler has assembled? Well, you should play with what works for you, no matter what name is printed on the back of the club head. Too many players get caught up in playing clubs that they think look good or will give them some kind of status. The only status in golf is getting the ball into the hole as quickly as possible. Obviously Stadler has avoided a traditional club contract in favor of using the gear that he is most comfortable with and gives him the best results. Judging by his recent win in one of the Tour’s most popular events, it seems to be working.

Enough Power to Compete

Much like his dad, Kevin Stadler isn’t exactly what most people would consider the model of physical fitness. Certainly, in this day and age of modern golf with so many well-conditioned athletes taking to the fairways, Stadler stands out for being different than most. However, he can still move the ball out there is the rest of the players on Tour and doesn’t need to apologize for anything related to his power off the tee.

Early in the 2015 season, Stadler has been dealing with a wrist injury and hasn’t been able to play much golf. Looking back at 2014 statistics, Kevin Stadler’s swing speed checked in at 113.67 MPH, which ranked him right in the middle of the pack at 83rd on Tour. That swing speed led to an average driving distance of 291.6 yards, again near the middle of the pack at a 76 rank. Those numbers combined though make him the 24th best overall driver of the golf ball on Tour during 2014.

Hopefully Stadler will be able to get over his wrist injury and be back playing on the Tour in the near future. One thing to watch out for in the coming months and years in the impending rules change which will ban anchored putters on the PGA Tour. Stadler has used a long putter throughout his career and will be forced to modify that style to comply with the new rules. Early rumors are that he intends to switch to putting left handed when that new rule goes into effect. Regardless of how he ends up dealing with the change, it will be one of the interesting stories to follow. If he is able to find a way to putt the ball well enough to compliment his solid ball striking, there could be more wins to come down the line for Kevin Stadler.

By Paul Myers

The ability to save par, or even bogey, after getting off track somewhere during a given hole is a skill that can come in handy during each and every round that you play. No golfer hits all of the greens in regulation, so it is imperative that you are able to get up and down from around the green as frequently as possible. Tracking your performance in this part of the game is a helpful way to see what skills you need to work on in order to lower your scores.

On the PGA Tour, the scrambling statistic simply measures the percentage of missed greens that a player still records a par or better score. So, if the player missed six greens during a round, and saved par three times, they would be scrambling at a 50% rate. For the best players in the world, like Chad Collins who is saving par at a Tour-best 74.85% clip, this system works fine. For you, however, it might be best to tweak the formula to get a better picture of your chipping and short putting skills.

A Slight Twist

Rather than considering your final score on the hole, which could bring into play things like penalty shots or other mistakes, simply keep track of how frequently you get up and down from around the green (other than bunkers – that is a different stat). When you have the chance to chip or pitch from around the green, note that on your scorecard, as well as whether or not you were successful. Keep a log of this data somewhere, and use it to evaluate your performance as time goes by. It will likely take at least a handful of rounds before you have a good impression of how you are doing in this regard. Shooting for 50% up and down rate is a good place to start, and you can hope to improve from there.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your up and down performance actually has nothing to do with your chipping or putting – it deals with your approach shots. By not putting your ball in bad situations around the green, you will quickly improve your percentage without changing anything else about your game. It is okay to miss some greens during a round, but do your best to miss them in the right spots. That means putting the ball below the hole when you can, so that the chip shots you face are uphill instead of downhill. Also, avoiding heavy rough and keeping your ball on the fairway cut will make these shots easier as well. By picking smart target lines and staying away from the real bad spots around the green, you can quickly make your up and down percentage improve.

By Paul Myers

Watching your ball drop into a greenside bunker is never a good feeling, but it isn’t nearly as bad if you are confident in your ability to get up and down the majority of the time. Getting the ball up and in from a bunker combines the skill to hit a good bunker shot, and the nerve to hole out the putt successfully. Tracking sand save percentage is a good way to find out if this is an area of your game that is a strength, or if you need to put in more practice time in the bunker.

One Step at a Time

Instead of setting an arbitrary goal for yourself on this stat –like 50% – try first measuring your current bunker game and then try to improve it by 5% at a time. If you are able to just make small, incremental improvements as you go, you can soon turn your bunker game into a strength. However, if you are able to reach the 50% mark in terms of getting up and down from the sand, you will be doing quite nicely for yourself.

If you would like to look to the PGA Tour for inspiration, you can see that many of the Tour players are fare exceeding the 50% mark. In fact, the current leader for the 2015 season is Brendan Todd, who has gotten up and down from the bunker 27 times in 35 tries. That is good for a 77.14%. That means that Todd is not only hitting quality bunker shots regularly, but he is also sinking clutch putts time and again.

All About the Spin

The key to getting up and down from the bunker is being able to control the amount of spin you put on the ball from the sand. If you hit closer to the ball when playing from the bunker, you should hit a shot that has more spin and stops faster. If you hit farther behind the ball and take more sand, the shot will have very little spin and should roll out on the green. Being able to vary the amount of spin in order to control how far the ball travels in total is a valuable talent to develop. Of course, making your putts helps as well to conquer the sand.

To raise your up and down percentage from the sand, find a practice bunker at a course near you and spend some quality time mastering your technique. Practice is important all over the golf course, but it is especially important from the bunker. It takes time and experience to master the feel for greenside bunker shots, and to be able to execute them when you are feeling the pressure. Put in your time in the practice bunker, and suddenly the bunkers on the course won’t look nearly as intimidating.


By Swing Man Golf Staff

GolfWRX.com has announced their “Best of 2013” golf stories.

We’re honored to say that Jaacob Bowden’s golf articles were #1 in both the “Instruction” and “Opinion & Analysis” categories.

• #1 in Instruction: 3 Keys That Took Me From a 14-Handicap to a Pro
• #11 in Instruction: Carry Distance Vs Swing Speed Chart
• #1 in Opinion & Analysis: How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?
• #2 in Opinion & Analysis: How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?
• #16 in Opinion & Analysis: POLL: Who Has the Best Golf Swing?

You can read Jaacob’s other articles HERE!

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By Swing Man Golf Staff

Recently Jaacob Bowden got back from a 6-day golf trip to Dubai where he was at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Emirates Golf Club, and Jumeirah Golf Estates.

If you’d like to see 39 of the pictures from the trip, click here.

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By Jaacob Bowden

If you haven’t listened already, be sure to visit  Golf Smarter Podcasts.

Golf Smarter Podcasts

Fred invited me back to be on the show again and this time we talked about swing speed training and the Mike Austin swing.

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By Swing Man Golf Staff

Several days ago Jaacob Bowden’s Dad made his first trip outside of North America…and what better place to meet than in Scotland where they got a chance to play the Old Course in St. Andrews and numerous other courses.

It was a true pleasure to play true links golf like at the Old Course. Once Jaacob got a feel for the bump and run type of shots needed, he managed to shoot under par on the back nine.

Here’s a few photos from Scotland.





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