Editor's note: Each week, Megan Padua, a teaching professional at Maidstone Club (East Hampton, N.Y.) and Belfair Plantation (Bluffton, S.C.), and one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers, offers tips and advice for women golfers.
By Megan Padua
On the putting green, speed is more important than aim, and it's a vital part of being an excellent putter.
The speed of a putt dictates how much it'll break. The diameter of a golf hole is 4.25 inches, and the speed of the putt can effectively narrow or widen the circumference of the hole. Too much speed will limit your break, which can cause your putt to lip out because your target is smaller. Do you ever hit putts that track directly towards the hole only to lip around the edge and miss? Even if your aim is slightly offline, a ball that travels at the correct speed can curl over the edge and into the hole. Optimizing this zone by using effective speed control can, in essence, help you putt to a larger cup. If you can putt your ball at the correct speed, you will get "lucky" more often!
How to Practice: When honing your speed control, take the hole out of the equation. Remember, your objective is to control your speed, not to make a long putt. You're far better off putting to an old cup (as shown, to the left) to see if you would've made it, while also learning how far your ball would've rolled past the hole if you had missed it.
Towel Drill: Lay out towels at different distances (as shown, below). Don't be concerned about landing your ball on the towel, however try to make your golf ball stop within the zone that you've established.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Here's a look at what Tiger Woods played en route to winning his second Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass:
Driver: Nike VR Tour (Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 63x), 8.5 degrees
3-Wood: Nike VR_S Covert, 15 degrees
5-wood: Nike VR_S Covert, 19 degrees
Irons (3-PW): Nike VR Pro Blade
Wedges: Nike VR Pro (56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 001
Ball: Nike One Tour D
Equipment Note: The shaft he just went back to this week. He used it from 2007 through 2009 and went back to it this week.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Saturday, May 4, 2013
As a 5-handicapper in his 60s, Stan Ludwick didn't expect to shave four strokes off his game in just six months. But that's just what happened after he went for his first custom-fitting in 40 years of playing golf.
Ludwick was one of nine golfers to get their first clubfitting and undergo a comprehensive bag analysis by Club Champion Golf, one of the country's premier clubfitters, with locations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston. The players then charted each round they played using the GolfLogix smartphone app. Eight of our nine participants improved with their new clubs by an average of 1.7 strokes in barely half a season of play. Most of the golfers in our test showed dramatic, almost freakish improvements in distance. The average gain with the driver was 21 yards, and the average gain with the irons was 13 yards—or essentially a full club. The highlights:
*Andrew Burdick, a 6-handicapper, gained 29 yards with his new driver.
*Joe Zachmann, a 90s-shooter, picked up 31 yards with his driver.
*Gene McGarry, a 13-handicapper, gained significant yards with his new irons, including 29 yards with the 6-iron.
"What's most important is helping a golfer's weakness," says Nick Sherburne, co-founder of Club Champion Golf. "If we can help a golfer solve a weakness, it's going to increase the enjoyment factor that much more."
McGarry's incredible gains with his new irons caused more problems than they solved at first. It took more than a few airmailed greens before he started trusting his new yardages on his home course.
Zachmann said the changes to his iron set (he reduced his dispersion by 10 yards) transformed his enthusiasm for the game. And why not? It also improved his average score from 95 to 89. "To see how many changes they made to my clubs, I have such an appreciation for the science of clubfitting," says Zachmann, who had been playing a set he bought off the rack 10 years ago.
There weren't only distance gains. Darryl Wiggins never played golf on a serious level as a college soccer player, but he picked up the game through business connections. The 9-handicapper underwent an "eye-opening fitting experience," changing to a medium-size grip on his putter to quiet his hands before impact. He immediately saved two strokes a round on the greens. "It was like a light switch came on," he says. "For someone who struggled with feeling solid on the greens, that was the biggest thing."
Just as important was how players in our study began to see that problems in their games could be solved through the right fit. When Ludwick struggled hitting the ball in the air with a new fairway wood, instead of not using it or buying a new one, he returned to Club Champion Golf to diagnose the problem. Afterward, his results improved dramatically.
"I'm still the shortest hitter among the guys in our group because I'm a little older," Ludwick says, "but that's fine with me because I'm beating the crap out of them."
Monday, April 29, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Last year was my first complete season exclusively playing a casual fixed-spike golf shoe. In play were a new pair of the original 2010 TRUE Linkswear Tour shoes, which, by the way, are still my favorite shoes in golf for a variety of reasons. There is just something about being able to drive to the course and step out of the car ready to go in your golf shoes that makes the game more enjoyable.
+ convenience factor
+ more comfortable
+ little to no break in period
+ lower priced
+ almost every brand has a casual model now
- Once they lose their tread, it’s game over for use on the course
- might wear quicker because most people wear them more than just for the course
- often times only carry a 1-year waterproof warranty
- and some are only water-resistant
In this casual shoe feature, I present some casual shoe options for your consideration for the 2013 season. The article is designed as an overview of the shoes, and their features rather than an in-depth breakdown of their on course function and longevity over time. The purpose is to educate you about some of your options for this season, in some cases, options you may have never considered before today.
Asics GEL Matchplay 33
I’ve been a consumer of the Asics brand for several years now wearing their running shoes specializing in motion control for severe over-pronation. One of the aspects I find most appealing in their running shoe selections is the availability of extra wide shoes up to 4E. Since their introduction into the golf market, I’ve been wanting to give their lineup a look and felt it would be an easy transition from their running shoes. Unfortunately, none of the Asics golf shoes are available in wider widths (only M). This was an unpleasant surprise given the variety of width Asics offers in their other lines.
The “33” in the name of this model is inspired by the 33 joints that allow your foot to move efficiently. The Matchplay 33s incorporate the GEL cushioning system, and are remarkably comfortable, which you would expect from a golf shoe with running shoe roots. In fact, the comfort is virtually unmatched in the golf market which is the essential selling point for those who prioritize comfort over any other feature.
Aesthetically, the Matchplay 33 looks cool in gray with the lime green contrast. The fixed-spike pattern is somewhat aggressive, and reminiscent of a trail running shoe. The fit is relatively true to size for an M width and feels like it could accommodate a wider foot because of the flexibility of the front of the shoe. The Matchplay 33’s require no break-in period whatsoever, and are ready for 36 holes right out of the box.
Asics uses a “water resistant coated mesh upper” however, it’s best to wear the 33s when there is little or no chance of rain or turf moisture. The interior of the shoe is soft, and comfortable, and the insole is removable. The sole remains very flexible again, as you would expect from this style of shoe. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a running shoe first, albeit with an adapted sole to improve performance on the course. For those that need the comfort an athletic shoe provides, this is your shoe. The fit of this shoe is true to size in a 10 and can accommodate a wide foot given the slight expansion effect of an athletic style mesh upper.
Asics Matchplay Classics
When I first took a look at the Asics Matchplay Classics, I immediately liked the look this golf shoe. Its casual look would work perfectly both on and off the golf course. In fact, I found that I wanted to wear them more away from the course, as they look great with jeans. The Matchplay Classics are designed from a synthetic leather upper that is waterproof coated. The feature a fixed-spike outsole with a well-designed, aggressive traction pattern is both comfortable and flexible.
In a size ten, these fit true to size from back to front; however, the style and fit of this shoe is fairly narrow, and will likely feel snug for those requiring anything wider that a M. Additionally, with a wider foot, the first eyehole closest to the toe, on the big toe side of the shoe, digs into the top of my foot. I believe this is a result of my wider foot wedged into a narrow fit shoe, and due to any design flaw. I mention this because this shoe cannot accommodate a foot wider than M, so keep the width in mind if considering purchasing these online.
One of the aspects I enjoy most is calling your attention to brands you’ve probably never heard of before. A-Game is one of them. Their corresponding acronym is Always Going Above My Expectations, and is on point in my assessment of this shoe. This particular shoe is called the Prime, and one of my favorite shoes of the bunch. One of the first things I noticed about the Prime is the high quality construction and materials – and I don’t mention that lightly.
All of the contrast stitching is evenly applied and imbedded into the shoe as designed. There is not a hint of adhesive at the seams between the rubber sole and leather upper. The attention to detail is remarkably evident, as well as their pride in manufacturing. The interior appears durable and well designed for the shoe including extra padding in the heel area. They look and feel like a well-made, high-end shoe. The wing-tipped, two-toned suede leather upper boasts a sophisticated modern look.
The Prime has a waterproof upper and fixed-spike outsole. These shoes are an extremely comfortable offering. As good as they look, they feel even better on the foot and is their most significant quality. A-Game includes a separate pair of insoles to accommodate up to a EEE width if necessary. A-Game recommends going up one half size in Prime, and they were spot on with their recommendation. This is one of a couple of shoes in this feature that I plan to continue wearing off the course.
No break-in period necessary for the Prime, they’re ready to go right out of the box. Well made, well styled, and nicely priced at $79.
Vivobarefoot describes themselves as the original barefoot shoe company and has been around now for a decade. If you have read any of my past articles, you know that I have been wearing a barefoot platform or minimalist shoe now for the last two seasons. It’s been about 11 years since receiving my Masters of Arts degree, and that’s about how long it’s been since I opened a professional journal. So stand back, I am about to get scholarly.
In July 2012, an article was published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The study looked at the foot strikes of 52 runners and found almost 70% of them used a rear foot strike as opposed to a forefoot strike. Furthermore, runners who habitually rearfoot strike have significantly higher rates of repetitive stress injury.
According to Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, “Many people today think that they need stiff-soled shoes with lots of cushioning and arch support, yet we humans evolved to walk and run barefoot. In fact, until recently, everyone was either unshod or wore minimal footwear with flexible soles, and little arch support or cushioning. So try taking off your shoes! Adopting a barefoot style of running and having strong feet is not only more natural, but also may be very good for one’s health.”
Barefoot shoe platforms are here to stay, and there seems to be a great deal of science behind them.
I had a chance to examine the Vivobarefoot Hybrid golf shoe. This shoe is built on the foundation of Proprioception, which is the sensory feedback from the nerves of the feet. The sole is 2.5mm thick and is puncture resistant. It features a “zero-drop” heel and no pitch providing a natural gait. The toe box is wider than most allowing the toes to expand and function individually. The outsole is extremely flexible and can be folded in half with ease. The tread pattern or “spikes” are 2mm thick for incredible turf interaction. The asymmetrical upper is a combination of mesh and full-grain leather making them water-resistant. The insole is removable and Vivobarefoot recommends its removal after your initial adaptation. In a Euro size 43 (10 US) these fit perfectly and true to size. With the insole, they can easily accommodate up to a 3E width and even wider if the insole is removed.
Out of the box, these are ready to go and very comfortable for a minimalist shoe requiring little to no break in period. I found that the shape felt a little different once the foot was inserted, but was a sensation that was easily tolerated and diminished over time. At $170 retail, I strongly suggest taking a look at the Breatho Trail Mens shoe as well from Vivobarefoot. The outsole tread pattern on this shoe is identical to the outsole on their Hybrid golf shoe and at half the price.
The Puma Golf Clyde shoe was designed after the timeless classic of the same name in the Puma line. The Clyde was the first signature basketball shoe named after the man himself, Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The Clyde was was originally custom designed in suede for Frazier in 1973, and had a significant following off the court and on the street. It’s been 40 years since the original design and Puma seems to be releasing this shoe in a variety of options to fit any venue, including golf.
The golf adaptation is said to be a bit lighter and wider than the original but includes the stamped Clyde moniker on the side of the shoe. The upper is made of soft, full grain leather and carries a one year waterproof warranty. The outsole is made of Puma’s abrasion resistant EverTrack rubber outsole. The Clyde’s have a fixed spike “S2QuillTec” spikes that are moderately aggressive.
Although these fit true to size from front to back, I felt as though they were fairly narrow feeling. The leather on these are not as flexible, so they do require some break-in period. However, for the price at $89, and the one year waterproof warranty, these are tough to beat. Add in the timeless Clyde styling, and versatility off the course, and on the street, Puma transitioned this 40 year classic well on to the golf scene.
PUMA FAAS Grip
Since I’ve been playing this game over the past twenty five years, there are a select number of shoes that I have tried on and thought, they nailed it. A shoe that feels comfortable right out of the box, almost as if it were custom made just for you. The FJ Contour, and TRUE Linkswear, True Tour come to mind that fit this description, but that is about as long as my list was until now.
The FAAS Grip (FG) by Puma has been added to that list and is easily one of the top golf shoes I have worn to date.
Right out of the box, they had “that” feel to them. It combines the comfort of a spikeless street shoe with the stability of a tour performance shoe. They are easily my favorite shoe of the ones previewed in this article.
One of the factors contributing to the FG comfort is that they are built on an athletic shoe platform, much like the FJ Contours I previously mentioned. They also incorporate Puma’s EverFoam technology in the heel is designed to recover slowly and adjusts to the contours of your foot. The outsole is made from Puma’s EverTrack designed to resist wear and breakdown over time with continued durability in high-wear areas. The fixed spike pattern is nicely done and provides remarkable traction and grip. These fit true to size in a 10 Wide. The FG come with a one year waterproof guarantee. My lone complaint with the FG is that they are constructed with synthetic leather. However, at $99, the PUMA FAAS Grip are well worth their value and are among the most comfortable, as well as best performing golf shoes I’ve worn.
adidas adicross II
For 2013, Adidas is offering an improved version of the original Adicross golf shoe. Retailing at $90, there is a lot of punch delivered in the second coming of this fixed-spike, casual street golf shoe.
The first thing that caught my attention was the overall attractiveness of the shoe. Often, in street style golf shoes, although designed with casual in mind, they just look goofy worn off the golf course and when not paired with a golf specific outfit. I found these appealing because they could easily be worn to work on a Friday when your plan is to get out of the office and on the course by noon. The full-grain leather upper contributes to this appeal. A synthetic toe cap has been added this year for improved durability and abrasion resistance. The subtle and understated three stripe logo is incorporated into the design of the upper.
Inside this show Adidas incorporates the CloudFoam sockliner which enhanced the feel and comfort of the Adicross. The Adicross II fit true to size in a 10 wide. They are comfortable right out of the box and require little to no break-in period. The outsole features a fix-spike pattern of 100 spikes varying in size for excellent grip and turf interaction. The sole is also made from Adiwear abrasion resistant rubber. The sole as well as the spike system is both durable and flexible.
Like the FAAS Grip, the spike system on the Adicross II is well done offering remarkable traction and enhanced longevity. I appreciated the fact that Adidas included a pair of brown and white shoe laces to further personalize the shoe to fit your individual taste. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any details or information on the box or other marketing material that spoke with the waterproof/water resistance of these shoes. This lead me to conclude they are water resistant only, which is unfortunate in any golf shoe in my opinion.
What’s Your Favorite?
Do you have a favorite fixed-spike casual golf shoe? Tell us about it in the comments below.