The Ageless Fred Couples

Fred Couples is a fan favourite! His calm demeanor and unflappable disposition are traits that all golfers envy. Turning pro in 1980, “Boom Boom” has thrilled the golfing world with 15 PGA Tour Wins, 11 Champions Tour wins and a plethora of other wins outside of the PGA. During the 1990s, he was considered one of the players to beat. His silky smooth swing and long drives never appeared to falter.

After winning the Shell Houston Open in 2003, Couples fell off the radar. Fading into the sunset, this Major Champion’s career seemed to be over. However, once he joined the Champions Tour something strange happened. He started winning again. Adding two more Majors on the Champions Tour for good measure, he became a fan favorite all over again.

In 2013, Couples was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Long overdue, in my opinion, it was not until his career was revitalized on the Champions Tour did Couples regain enough notoriety to be nominated for the induction.  He was very proud of that moment and said:

“Thanks for taking a kid from Seattle and putting him into the Hall of Fame. This is the coolest night of my life.” – Fred Couples, on his 2013 Induction

Interestingly, even during his darkest times as a player, Couples always played well at the Masters. Not any other Major. only the Masters. Finishing 6th in 2010, he is always in the mix. Is it possible he could win his second Masters? It would be great to see.

Throughout Fred Couples’ career, he has been plagued with a back injury. There is little doubt, that his long powerful swing attributes to his medical woes, but he always seems to recover long enough to compete. His current challenge is to keep healthy long enough to continue playing on the Champions Tour. Beating Billy Andrea in a playoff at the The Shaw Charity Classic  this weekend is strong evidence that “Boom Boom” is continuing his winning ways.

Fred Couples has a very interesting swing. The most important aspect of how he generates power is how long he holds the club on his down swing before he releases his hands towards the intended target. It really is amazing. The following video really demonstrates the power he generates in a very short distance.

He also releases his club head “down the line”. He explains the importance of not following your hips during the golf swing, but clearing the hips and releasing the club head on its swing path.

Fred Couples has provided many memorable moments from the golf course such as: his only PGA Tour Major win at the Masters in 1992, his play during five Ryder Cup teams, four Presidents Cup teams, and, of course, his crazy long drives. For me (actually saw this shot live on TV), his most memorable golf shot is his hole-in-three on the 17th hole, TPC Sawgrass, at the 1999 Players Championship.

“I don’t really know how hard I was trying on my third shot,” Couples, a two-time Players Champion, admitted years later (he shot a 77 in that opening round, by the way). “If I don’t make that shot, I think I shoot 80, 81 and probably miss the cut. Three days later, I was in fourth place.” (PGA.com)

Fred “Boom Boom” Couples is one of my all time favourite professional golfers. I enjoy watching his silky smooth swing and his patient approach to playing golf. He may not be the best-ever, however he is definitely one of the more entertaining players.

Who is one of your all-time favorite golfers? I would like to know!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

How Wide Should Your Golf Stance Be?

How wide is your stance in golf? This is a great question for all golfers regardless of their skill level. This important question has rattled around in my head for about a month.

After analyzing my swing (for the first time on video), it was very clear that I had absolutely no lower body movement; I mean none. Additionally, this year I struggled with consistency off the tee, this dramatically increased my frustration while playing my favorite sport . When I mentioned this to my friend Kirk, he said that I have always swung the club this way! Needless to say, I was completely surprised! I maintained a 4 handicap for 10 years and this year it dropped to 2.8! I cannot seem to lower my handicap any further, mostly because of my limited distance and inconsistent play off the tee. Well, now I have my next project as I continue to strive towards being a scratch golfer.

While at the PGA Tour Canada Golf Clinic at Wildfire Invitational this past Wednesday, a young pro noticed my stance woes immediately. He recommended that I widen my stance about two inches with each foot! As I moved my feet out, it felt like I was doing the splits. However, after hitting about 20 balls on the range that day, my new stance started to feel more comfortable.

Curious about my new found knowledge, I started to research the proper distance and location of my feet in my stance. To my surprise, I found that everyone had an opinion and very few were exactly the same. So here is what I found that was consistent among most articles:

  • Everyone’s stance will adjust according to their physical stature. Being short, tall, stout, thin, or average will have a direct impact on the width of your stance.
  • The shoulder width rule (your feet shoulder width apart) is an okay guideline, but flexibility will definitely impact your foot position. The more flexible, the wider your stance.
  • “Basically, what you need to do is find neutral joint alignment.  In other words, find where the center of your ankles, center of your knees, and center of your hips stack up over each other.”
  • “Consequently, the most efficient width of stance should be no wider than shoulder width for most full swing shots, including your driver.  With this width you will more likely maintain a dominant rotary force.  This will lead to greater club head speed and better dynamic stability.”

Here are a couple of videos  that help explain the advantage of a proper stance and how to figure out what is best for you.

After widening my stance, I have suddenly found 10-20 yards off the tee. I am more consistent when hitting my driver just by moving my feet a couple of inches farther apart. Not to suggest this is an easy fix, I still have to hit the range to determine the exact position of my feet, where the ball should be placed in my stance for all my clubs, and build confidence to swing through the ball! I am excited about my new project and will keep you posted as things progress!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

PGA Tour Canada Golf Clinic for the Canadian Armed Forces

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Earlier this week, I had the honor of attending a golf clinic hosted by the PGA Tour Canada for the Canadian Military. Only a day before they were to compete, eight young golfing phenoms spent 1.5 hours sharing their considerable knowledge with Canadian soldiers. For the fifth time this year, the PGA Tour Canada hosted serving members to teach them how to putt, chip and drive a golf ball. It was a day to remember for most of us golfing enthusiasts!

PGA of Canada Military Golf Clinic

The Wildfire Golf Club is currently hosting a PGA Tour Canada event. Prior to the start on Thursday, Devin Daniels, Wills Smith, Drew Evans, Steve Carney, Adam Cornelson, Greg Machtaler, Peter Campbell and Daniel McCarthy stopped preparing for their professional event to help golfing wannabees improve their game!

Our 1.5 hours was broken into three 30 minute segments. Each segment consisted of putting, iron play and driving. Two of the pros, Drew Evans and Peter Campbell shared their expertise on the putting green. The rest was spread throughout the driving range. The most exciting aspect of the entire event was the close and personal attention each pro gave the player.

I was fortunate to have Drew Evans provide some putting tips. As he watched me putt, he indicated that I had a very good putting stroke. He emphasized the importance of keeping my triangle while putting. When I asked about my view of following through twice as far as the back swing, he indicated that it was a good drill for mid to high handicap players, but for lower handicappers, a smoother even putting stroke is preferred. Lastly, he suggested that I move my hands out from my body about 2 inches to keep my shoulders, wrists and putter head in a straight line…man did that make a positive difference! Thanks Drew I appreciate the help. Here are some other tips by Drew and Peter.

My next station was the driving range. I started with my 7 iron and both Adam Cornelson and Steve Carney liked what I was doing. My follow through was excellent and my contact consistent. The only thing they suggested was that I slow my back swing down to produce a smoother tempo throughout the entire swing. This will have to happen at the range as changing my tempo with my 7 iron will be difficult. I was encouraged to hear that my 7 iron was in pretty good shape.

Moving on to my driver was a slightly different story. I hit my driver 240 yards straight, 7 times out of 10. Of course, being a golfing freak, I asked how to gain 20 more yards. Drew Evans looked at my swing and told me what I already knew…no power was generated from the lower part of my body. To date I have been unable to correct this problem. Drew suggested I widen my stance. At first it felt very uncomfortable, but the results were unmistakable. I immediately gained some distance on my driver with the same consistency.

After hitting about 20 drives, Devin Daniels approached me and suggested I should slow my back swing down. He noticed that when I was trying to hit the ball hard, everything sped up and became out of sync. Additionally, he reminded me that less is more. Something I have said over and over. Swinging at 80% strength is the key to have the ball go farther! Of course it worked and now I have two things to work on at the range.

The entire day was incredible. Everyone who attended the golf clinic was very impressed by the Wildfire Golf Club, the pros knowledge and infinite patience while answering questions and the PGA Tour Canada for continuing to host the Canadian Military! After talking to the PGA Tour Canada staff, I found out that there are opportunities to caddy next year and I think I am going to give it a go!

Thank you PGA Tour Canada for continuing to support the Canadian Armed Forces!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!