ANALYSIS

Lydia Ko, David Leadbetter and the blame game

Last week, Brandel Chamblee created a stir with critical comments about golf instruction that appeared in a two-part interview by Golfweek's Adam Schupak on March 24 and 26.1 In response, instructor David Leadbetter penned a scathing "open letter" to Brandel that was published in Golf Digest on March 27.That same day, Golfweek's Eamon Lynch chimed in on Twitter with the following Tweet, and David fired right back:

For those unfamiliar with the Lydia Ko-David Leadbetter saga, here is a recap:

By the fall of 2013, 16 year old Lydia Ko was a rapidly rising star in women's golf. In October, she announced her intention to turn professional. At that time she had accomplished the following: youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event, the youngest person ever to win an LPGA event, and, in August 2013, the only amateur to win two LPGA Tour events. In all, Lydia had won five professional events while an amateur and, at the end of 2013,...

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Alexa Pano's Outstanding Golf Swing

 
What an awesome swing!
 
15 year old Alexa Pano's swing vividly illustrates some of the traits of golf's greatest swings. Let's break it down:


At the top of her backswing, Alexa has made a very full turn of the shoulders, beyond 90 degrees. The shaft has been allowed to go past parallel and "cross the line," pointing to the right of the target, violating two of the "rules" imposed by "well-intentioned but wrong" modern instruction. Her flexibility allows her to do this without full internal rotation of the right hip, which I would prefer to see, because I see her moving her head and body towards the ball during the backswing, which I believe that type of restriction promotes.
 
Above you can see undesired body and head movement towards the ball that might lead to inconsistent balance and "crowding" in the downswing. Perhaps something to think about addressing.

As a result of her limited hip turn, the left heel stays planted, an almost inevitable concession to modern...
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Average Driving Distance and the Vardon Trophy

 How much does driving distance help the golfer? The obvious, and correct, answer is "a lot", although you'll still find those willing to vigorously dispute it. Perhaps that's because instructors broadly have done a dismal job teaching distance, so they both downplay its importance and claim that it's a "god-given" talent. Much more on the latter will be covered elsewhere.

But, the correlation between driving distance and lower scores is indisputable. Here is an illuminating chart prepared by Trackman, that shows a very strong statistical correlation between club head speed and handicap:

At the professional level, Mark Broadie in his book Every Shot Counts uses his strokes gained methodology to derive an estimated value for an additional 20 yards of driving distance. He is quick to note that his estimate demands a judgment on how much accuracy will be lost as a result of the distance gain, so his is a "guess", not a statistically derived truth. However, before we delve into the...

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