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Golf.com

Five of the most unusual golf course settings in the world

By Evan Rothman
Uummannaq
Greenland
It’s not pronounced “you maniac,” but maybe it should be. Nor is Uummannaq, a small island in Greenland, a traditional golf course; a “greens committee” would be oxymoronic, given there’s no grass, simply ice and snow, and you roll the rock on “whites” (yeah, that’s what they call the greens).
Royal Thimpu Golf Club
Thimpu, Bhutan
Talk about rare air. Overlooking the Tashichho Dzong Buddhist monastery and fortress, Royal Thimpu GC rests more than 7,700 feet above sea level and is believed to be the highest course in the world. Cows and dogs are not uncommon sights on the fairways and greens of this remarkably scenic nine-hole par-35.
Brickyard Crossing
Indianapolis, Ind.
Winning the Indy 500 at the “the Brickyard” (aka the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is straightforward—go fast and make a lot of left turns. Navigating this Pete Dye layout, which features four holes inside the famous racing oval, offers somewhat more complex fare—and many thrills of its own.
Ile Aux Cerfs Golf Club
Mauritius
Island greens? Meh. An island course? That’s rare. Ile Aux Cerfs GC isn’t a course on an island—it essentially is the island. Reached by boat and composed of 18 holes of Bernhard Langer–designed golf, it sits in the largest lagoon off the island-nation of Mauritius.
Merapi Golf Course
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
If golf next to an active volcano brings to mind a pairing with Pat Perez after he three-putts, you haven’t seen Merapi GC throw a fit. The course is nestled in the shadow of Mt. Merapi, and when that last erupted, in 2013, dust and ash rocketed nearly a mile skyward. When these contents returned to terra firma, they blanketed the adjacent countryside, including the course. Lift, clean and place—or, better yet, just run for it.
Originally published by Golf.com
Golf Digest
The Drill You Need When Your Swing Falls Apart
By So Yeon Ryu
With two wins and two second-place finishes—and moving to No. 1 in the world in the Rolex ranking—I’m having the best year of my career. But that doesn’t mean my golf swing is always perfect. There are times when I’m not hitting it nearly as well as I want. That’s when I go back to the range. A drill I use to turn things around can help you get your swing back, too.
My instructor, Cameron McCormick, showed me this Stomping Drill. You might know Cameron because of his work with Jordan Spieth. I love this drill because it can improve your timing, balance, weight shift, footwork and more. I have a bad habit of letting my body rotate toward the target too soon when I hit irons, but this drill helps hold off that rotation. Delaying that rotation also can cure a slice, because it improves swing path. You won’t cut across the ball as much.
Here’s how it works: Grab an iron and get in your address posture with your feet close together. As you start your backswing, take a sidestep away from the target with your back foot. Then, as you reach the top of your backswing, lift your front foot up (above) and sidestep toward the target, planting that foot again before swinging down into the ball. Sidestepping with each foot trains you to shift your weight correctly. It also helps complete the backswing before starting the downswing, great for syncing things up. As a bonus, it helps you feel how to push off the ground to generate more power.
It’s going to takea little practice to do this drill correctly, so go slow at first. But it will help you get your swing back. 
With Keely Levins
So Yeon Ryu has five wins on the LPGA Tour and is the No. 1 player in the world.
Originally published by Golf Digest

Golf Digest

A wounded veteran finds salvation on the golf course

By Alan P. Pittman
June 22, 2018
Learning to play golf with two good hands is hard enough. Imagine trying it for the first time with only one hand. This was former U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ramon Padilla’s introduction, and, amazingly, it took just a handful of swings before he flushed a 5-iron 150 yards and was awestruck. “I thought golf was a sissy sport,” says Padilla, a football and baseball standout in high school whose nickname was Ramon Chingon (Badass Ramon). “But when I hit that shot, the flight of the ball was one of the most gorgeous things I’d ever seen in my life. From that moment on, I was hooked. All I wanted to do was get better.”
Padilla’s journey from Mexico to Los Angeles to Afghanistan to Washington, D.C., where he now works at the Pentagon helping wounded veterans, is a classic American success story. Padilla came to the United States in 1976 as an undocumented immigrant. He was just 2 years old when his parents carried him and his 1-year-old brother across the border in search of a better life. The family settled in El Monte, a residential area of Los Angeles, and eventually became naturalized citizens. Even as a kid, Padilla felt enormous gratitude toward his adopted country. He avoided the gang life so prevalent in his neighborhood by immersing himself in organized sports. Padilla also volunteered at the El Monte police department, where he got to know the chief of police, Ken Weldon. “He took care of me while I was growing up. He mentored me,” Padilla says.
In his early 20s, Padilla began looking for a way to repay his good fortune. “I wanted to do something for this great country that I live in,” he says. “I grew up here; I’m taking, I’m taking, I’m taking. I’m not giving back.” Padilla decided the military was the best way he could serve, so about a year before 9-11, he joined the U.S. Army. It was here that Padilla felt a sense of purpose and belonging. He developed a bond with the other soldiers who came from every corner of the United States and included many first-generation immigrants like himself.
Padilla signed up for the U.S. Army out of a feeling of obligation to the country where he made his home.
It was during Padilla’s second tour of duty, in 2007, that he found himself in a harrowing firefight in Kandahar, Afghanistan. An RPG exploded, severing his left arm and fracturing his skull. It took a dramatic rescue by the soldiers in his unit to save his life. While recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington, D.C., Padilla was filled with self-doubt. What kind of future did he have? Would he even be able to play catch with his son? His therapist introduced him to Jim Estes, the director of instruction at Olney Golf Park in Maryland. Estes wanted Padilla to try golf. He laughed at the idea at first but eventually agreed. “Besides my kids being born, it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Padilla says. In addition to using golf to overcome his physical limitations, Ramon found that the game helped him manage post-traumatic symptoms from his brain injury. It was another important step toward a normal life.
“Besides my kids being born, it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Padilla says of golf.
Early on, Padilla hit way more grounders than solid shots, so he set out to design a prosthesis that attaches to his clubs. This offered relief to his good hand and became a turning point in his development. Soon he was competing in tournaments with other wounded veterans and even winning a few. “I’m traveling, meeting people, hanging out with other veterans, getting my family involved in the game. After losing my arm in battle, dealing with my post-traumatic brain injury, I can honestly say golf saved my life.”
Today Padilla lives in Maryland with his wife and his three youngest children. He’s about a 14-handicap, with a smooth and powerful swing that can launch drives 250 yards. His veteran status, connections and love of golf has presented some unique opportunities, like hitting balls on the range with Tiger Woods and playing rounds with former president George W. Bush, who painted a portrait of Padilla for his 2017 book Portraits of Courage. In the accompanying short documentary, Padilla relives the fateful moment in Afghanistan that changed his life, and how golf helped him heal from the trauma of war.
Originally published on Golf Digest
Golf Digest
Butch Harmom’s two-step slice fix
By Butch Harmon
When I meet golfers who’ve been struggling with a slice since day one, I know I’m going to have some fun. Why? Because I can straighten their ball flight, even teach them to hit a draw, in a matter of minutes. Getting in the correct positions is easy. Beating a slice is ultimately about commitment and good habits.
If you’re like most slicers, the first fix you need is in the setup. Close your feet, hips and shoulders so they’re pointing to the right of your target. This takes some faith because you’re shifting in the direction you want to avoid. But a closed setup does two things: First, it makes it easier to turn back and complete the backswing. Second, it slows down your hip turn on the way through (above), which allows your hands and arms to drop to the inside and swing out to the ball—the first step to hitting a draw.
Easy so far, right? Well, the next step flows from the first. From the top, focus on making a smooth body turn through impact; don’t let your body spin open, as a lot of slicers do. (This is where the closed setup will help.) The key is, you want your arms to swing past your body, because your trail arm will roll over your lead arm, closing the clubface (above). That’s the second step to hitting a draw.
So set your body closed, and let your arms go past you. You’ll love what you see.
WHEN IN DOUBT, BENCH THE DRIVER
There’s nothing impressive about grab-bing your driver on a tight hole if you end up flaring it into the junk. Taking a more lofted club makes good sense because more loft means less curve. So the same impact with a driver versus, say, a 5-wood can be the difference between having a shot to the green and being out of play. Hybrids are good choices, too, because they fly higher and land softer than fairway woods and long irons. Point is, don’t let your ego win.
BUTCH HARMON is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.
Originally published by Golf Digest

Golf.com

The Etiquetteist: When (and where) should you let a group play through?

JOSH SENS
Thursday, January 10, 2019
The progression of golfers around a course is similar to traffic on city streets, replete with slowpokes, speedsters, bottlenecks and breakdowns.
The difference is that traffic on a course is mostly self-policed.
In the absence of strict laws and rigid enforcement, we’re left to follow the unwritten rules of etiquette, which brings us to this week’s comportment dilemma: When should you let another group play through?
The first commandment is as simple as a tap-in: If you’re holding up traffic, let the folks behind you pass, just as you should if you’re puttering along the freeway at 40 miles per hour.
Faster travelers always deserve the right of way. Unless, of course, they’ve got nowhere to go. On jam-packed tracks, there’s no point playing leap frog. Doing so helps no one. It can even make things worse.
Three golfers walk up the fairway at a course. Either keep up your pace or know the rules to let others play through.
But let’s assume congestion isn’t an issue (and if there’s a hole open ahead of you, it’s not), and your group is on the green, with golfers standing, arms-crossed, in the fairway behind you — the golf equivalent of flashing the high beams. If this happens once, it might be an aberration. If it happens a second time, guess what? You’re the problem. Proper etiquette requires you to step aside.
There’s a good chance this will happen on a par-3, where slowdowns are most common. The process here is easy, says Lou Riccio, author of Golf’s Pace of Play Bible: “Wave them up while you are near the green, let them putt while you are planning your putts, then let them go to the next tee first.”
If they catch you on the tee box of a par-4 or par-5, Riccio says, “Let them tee off right after you have hit, then let them move down the hole with you but at some point let them go ahead.”
Riccio’s emphasis is pace of play. But pace and etiquette are interrelated. Most golfers understand this. Sadly, a myopic few do not. They refuse to let folks through, or they piss and moan about it. Why is sometimes hard to say, though it often boils down to ego or entitlement, or, most likely, a little bit of both. It’s never too early in a round to do the right thing (if your foursome’s on the 1st tee, and a single ambles up, let the single go). But is it ever too late? The 16th tee is a reasonable cutoff, unless the group behind you is shattering a land-speed record. Though the rules of etiquette do not require it, you’re wise to let them through whenever they catch you, even as late as the 18th tee.
That’s a rare occurrence. But golf’s a funny game; odd things happen. Good thing is, when it comes to waving through, two fundamental rules should cover all scenarios: apply common courtesy and common sense.
Originally published on Golf.com
Pull yourself out of that rut and hole more putts
By Cameron McCormick
Was your performance in 2016 slightly less than satisfying? I know it’s not enough to hear it happens to everyone from time to time. You want to shake off the year of stubs, lip-outs and three-jacks before golf season rolls back around and you’re racking up missed putts again like a kid catching Pokémon. Well, if you really want to fix this flat-stick fiasco, you’re going to need a bit more than a 30-minute session rolling balls into those tiny golf cups. I recommend a full reboot. Here I’m going to give you four ways to pull yourself out of that putting rut. Sometimes only one of these will do the trick, but be prepared for the reality that you might need all four. Best get started. —With Ron Kaspriske
1.) BENCH YOUR PUTTER
If you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a putter, gives it a good spanking when it isn’t performing, and even threatens to back the pickup truck over it in the parking lot, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” conversation. Bench your putt-er for something different. Use a blade? Switch to a mallet. Always preferred heel-shafted putters? Try a centershaft. Everything from club length to grip circumference is up for consideration. Go get fitted (View: Your Ultimate Guide To Finding A Better Game). The big switch works for two reasons. First, there are no bad memories with a new putter. It’s a new day. Second, assuming the old one isn’t now residing in a scrap-metal yard, you’ll make it just jealous enough that it will perform its best when you rekindle your relationship.
2.) REALLY BENCH YOUR PUTTER
“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t fly as a break-up excuse after the second Tinder date, but it’s probably true of your relationship with the putter. It showed up ready to bury every five-footer—but sometimes you didn’t. You need a refresher on mechanics. So I suggest you practice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is propelled by the shoulders and requires minimal hand or wrist action. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hitting the ball at its equator with the leading edge (above). This type of practice elicits precision and is good for the ol’ ego. You’re more apt to forgive yourself for a miss, which helps reduce those anxious feelings that turn you into a puddle of goo when the putts actually count.
3.) GRAB AND GO
You’ve held your putter the same way for so long the grip is starting to look like one of those training clubs that has grooved channels for your fingers. It’s time to switch it up, because what you’re doing, as they say here in Texas, is as pitiful as a three-legged dog. The easiest switch would be to flip hand positions so the higher one is lower. But I think you should take it a step further. Get crazy with it. Try the saw, the claw, the paintbrush, the non-anchored belly grip. Sometimes all you need is a dramatically different way of holding the club to reset your brain and start rolling the ball the way you used to.
4.) HIT SOME BOMBS
On the putting green you need to be more Picasso than Pythagoras. In other words, knowing the math behind a putt is important (speed, slope, etc.), but don’t let it squelch your right-brain artistry. You probably aren’t crunching numbers when you ball up a piece of paper and try tossing it into the garbage. You just use your feel. My suggestion? Go deep. Find the longest, craziest putts on a green and try to make them. Even putting from well off the green will help you get your feel back. You know you have to hit the ball hard, and you know it’s going to break, but when you try these long-distance putts, you become less concerned with the mechanics and tap back into the hand-eye coordination you thought you lost. Another benefit? It will free up your stroke. No more trying to steer them in. You’ll putt without fear of missing. Reboot complete.
Cameron McCormick is Jordan Spieth’s instructor and teaches at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.