In professional golf, there is one group of card-carrying Tour players who stand out above the rest. These are the competitors on the LPGA Tour.
After watching more of that Tour’s coverage on TV this year than ever before, I have taken some notes for my own game and discovered some interesting facts to share with you, which hopefully help yours!
What stood out for me the most at first was how the tracer graphic following the player’s tee shots hardly ever seemed to leave the intended target line. There are a couple of contributing factors, with clubhead speed being the most relevant. The faster you swing the club, the more speed and spin you transfer to the ball itself. Images displaying some key stats generated by TrackMan show why you can learn more for your own game by watching the LPGA Tour players than say a Bryson, Scottie or DJ as they load up to give it a good old klap!
The trajectory and flight of the ball should be more important than its speed. This data is based on playing hundreds of pro-ams with most of my amateur partners looking to hit the skin off the ball, as opposed to swinging the club at a speed they can control. Think about it like this: more speed equals more spin, which often leads to more lost balls. So next time you feel ‘the need for speed’, rather take a deep breath and save yourself the three-minute search for the ball.
I once heard the best way to describe the storyline of any great movie is: either a hero goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town.
Just like you I was transfixed watching our own Ashleigh Buhai as she won the Women’s Open at Muirfield. I have always been a big fan of her, but having spent some time with Ash and her enigmatic husband Dave over the years, the joy I felt watching their celebration on that 18th green was a tear-filled moment. One which was on par with the final scenes of Top Gun: Maverick and especially after battling through more highs and lows throughout her career (let alone those last five holes) than most players would ever be able to handle.
With Dave in the cockpit throughout and the troubled waters of a Major blowout looming below, that closing stretch at Muirfield must have felt like an all-or-nothing moment for Ash. Being the runner-up was not an option and it showed in her determination that afternoon.
Moments like that can only ever be achieved by a steady hand and a calm mind. Without one or the other, a player will simply not live to tell the tale. Now an Open champion, with her wingman in tow, the story has been written and it’s clear on that Sunday at Muirfield, a hero came to town.
– This column first appeared in the October 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine.