Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #31

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What a difference a week makes. PGA Champion one week and miss the cut the next week. That was the story of Phil Mickelson at the Colonial Invitational at Ft. Worth this past weekend, but Jordan Spieth was in the hunt again and the Texas native had the gallery on his side but fell just short firing a final round 73 to lose to Jason Kokrak by two shots.

If you’ve never heard of Kokrak, he’s a 36 year old Candadian who had an impressive amateur career, winning the Ohio Amateur twice. His only win on the PGA Tour prior to Colonial was at the CJ Cup in October of 2020 when he beat Xander Schauffele by two strokes. He also won twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2011. Kokrak is a strong player. If he has a weakness, it would be his putting. In this tournament however, only fifteen professionals out of 75 had fewer putts than Kokrak.

That brings us to our golf tip of the week. It’s the defensive drive. The pros often go to this shot when they have a lead coming down the stretch and only have to keep the ball in play to win. One of the hardest shots to hit in golf is the absolutely straight drive. It’s so difficult most of the pros don’t even try. The majority of professionals have a tendency to either fade or draw their tee shots. Jack Nicklaus’ normal tee shot was a high fade. He and Lee Trevino found out they could control their flight a lot better and find more fairways. Trevino often joked, “you could talk to a fade, but a draw wouldn’t listen.” There are players that have had success with a draw, namely Arnold Palmer, Lanny Wadkins, and Kenny Perry.

The best players can work the ball either way depending on the situation. Bubba Watson is an exception to the rule. He plays an exaggerated big hook or fade to find the fairway. I learned to hook the ball when I was young. The hook has overspin and will roll out giving a player more distance on hard fairways. Growing up on a public course, with the hook I could keep up with the older guys. I still play a draw today. Most courses today have watered fairways and the hook doesn’t roll as far as it used to. That brings us to this week’s tip. If you are prone to hook the ball but can’t afford to turn the ball over, weaken your grip. There is almost no way to draw the ball if you move your right hand on top. You might lose fifteen yards but you won’t hook the ball OB left.

There’s a hole on my home course in Rolla. It’s a 550 yard par five. Not only is there OB left the entire length of the hole, the fairway slopes right to left. Since I can’t reach the green in two anyway, I’ll weaken my grip and aim down the left-center. The ball usually fades against the terrain and ends up in the middle of the fairway. Practice that shot on the driving range and you’ll feel confident to hit it on a tight hole. And as always. practice your putting!

Hit ’em straight!