Golf is supposed to be a gentleman’s game. In fact, we golfers brag that it is the last bastion of gentlemanliness in all of sport. But the USGA  put that to rest on Sunday at the US Open, when they tried to choose their champion regardless of what happened on the golf course.

For those of you who didn’t see the final round of the US Open, here’s what happened. On the 5th green, as Dustin Johnson addressed his ball, the ball moved. Dustin said he did not move the ball. Closeup slow motion replays showed that he did not move the ball. In fact, although Johnson’s putter did not touch the ground or the ball, the ball moved TOWARD his putter, not away from it , which would be the result of his hitting and moving the ball. Obviously, a blade of grass beneath the ball gave way, and the ball moved.

Johnson called an official, discussed the incident with him, and the situation was resolved…until the 12TH TEE!!! Where USGA officials told Johnson and every other golfer in contention that they would not make a ruling until after play was concluded, when they could see who had finished where, then they would choose a champion, if possible, by charging a one stroke penalty or not, whomever it would benefit.

That is, If Johnson finished in a tie with another competitor, the USGA might charge the penalty and award the championship to the other competitor. Or if Johnson had a one stroke lead, they might not charge the penalty stroke, awarding the championship to Johnson, or they might charge the penalty, thus causing a playoff, which would, of course, mean another day of TV revenue and lots more ad income to the USGA.

Gentlemen would have made the decision in a timely manner and not influenced the last third of the final round by putting additional pressure on Johnson and the rest of the leaderboard…and would not have left themselves open to accusations of trying to manipulate the outcome of the tournament. Or maybe they’re just stupid.

But Johnson saved their reputation by winning by 4 strokes. Attaboy Dustin!

PAR 90

For most amateur golfers, par should be 90. 90 is 18 strokes over par 72, in other words, bogey golf.

If your scores are not usually in the low 70s or below, playing for bogey will make the game easier and more enjoyable, and will reduce your scores. You can break 100 with 9 bogeys and 9 double bogeys. 17 bogeys and one lucky par will bring your score down to 89. 7 bogeys and 11 pars score 79 on most golf courses.

One of my favorite pieces of golf advice is, “Take your brain to the golf course. Don’t leave it in the trunk of your car with your street shoes.” Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, three of the greatest golfers of all time said, one way or another, golf is more about thinking than about hitting the ball.

Billy Casper, when asked how he won 51 tournaments on the PGA Tour (7th on the all-time list) said that it was because he knew how to win tournaments. Most pros don’t. They all hit the ball exceptionally well, but they don’t know how to think on the golf course, so most of them win two or three tournaments in a career, while the thinkers win 2 or 3 a year.

Here are some tips for high handicappers…

  • Play the easy, safe shot. Don’t try a shot that requires you to hit the ball perfectly.
  • Practice pitching, chipping, and putting. These easiest shots are the ones that will lower your scores.
  • If you can’t hit your drives straight at your target, do not try to cut the dogleg. Remember that short in the fairway is better than long in the woods.
  • Try to figure a way to reach that par 4 green with three easy shots. Learn to two-putt every green. 2 putts is par for every green. It is better to hit the first putt close to the hole for a tap-in than to try to sink the first putt, hit it badly, and cause a 3-putt green.
  • Learn to hit the ball straight. You can learn how with my free pamphlet, CURE YOUR SLICE IN 10 MINUTES…FOREVER. Free. No shipping charges. I email it to you, so it costs me nothing and it costs you nothing.


For those of you who are familiar with my writing, books and blogs, you may know that, besides my two books, the one I think is the best ever written on golf is Tommy Armour’s A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour. That’s the book that taught me that hitting the ball is important, but knowing how to play the game is more important. My personal scores dropped permanently into the 80s after reading Tommy’s book, and without changing my swing one iota.

Well, I just found another great book. This week, looking for something in my library to read, I came across Sam Snead’s Pigeons, Marks, Hustlers and Other Golf Bettors You Can Beat.

One thing that Pappy always told me was that, “Anything you want to learn is written in a book somewhere.” Of course, Pappy died in 1975, long before Google. But there are still good books out there worth reading. If you can get your hands on this one, you’ll learn a lot about winning bets, both on the golf course and off.

Sam teaches how to choose a partner, how to spot a hustler, how to know when to press your bet, how to deal with cheaters, and lots of other good stuff.

Read this and learn.

And by the way, here’s a short lesson from my personal experience.

About 40 years ago, I went back to Phoenix for a visit, and played my old course there. On the first tee, a young man walked up and asked if he could join me and my friend. I have never claimed to be a good golfer or to have an impressive swing. In fact, my first book was titled, How Short Hitting, Bad Golfers Break 90 All the Time. I have an ugly swing, hit the ball low and short, but very straight, and at that time, I carried a 6 handicap.

This hustler thought he had a sucker and offered to play a $2 Nassau with automatic presses. I beat him out of $24.00. He said he was going to put his clubs in his car and he’d meet us in the dining room for lunch and to settle up. I was foolish enough to believe him. He didn’t show for lunch and he never settled.

I hope you learn from this lesson as I did. Never let a loser out of your sight until you’ve got your money.





Have you ever heard the term 1000 Year Flood? I had heard of fifty-year floods, even 500-year floods. I guess I should have reasoned that there should be a 1000 year flood. It is defined as water rising to a flood level which, statistically would only happen once in 1000 years.

Last week, in Columbia, SC, my home, we had a 1000 year flood. We have over 100 streets and bridges damaged destroyed , or weakened in our town with the resulting detours and other traffic problems. We were without drinking water for 10 days, and were having bottled water distributed all over town. For which, by-the-way, I thank helpmates from as far away as Dallas and Nashville.

As a result of the flood, I still have water in my garage…bottled, of course.

Luckily, my home is on high ground, and the floods did not come anywhere near us. Our only suffering, other than the bottled water, was that we were without TV for 48 hours. Talk about suffering!

Anyway, here’s my advice for this week. If there is any chance of your property flooding…if there is higher ground around you…if you live at waterside (lake pond, stream, river)…if you are downstream from a dammed lake or pond, get flood insurance! Homes and businesses who never dreamed that they would ever be flooded had no insurance, and they have lost hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars of value and business, and damage.

Remember. The first thing a plumber must learn…Water (and other effluvia) don’t run uphill!!!


At just over 7300 yards, you’d think that The Old Course at St. Andrews gives the advantage to the long hitting golfer. On the other hand, Zach Johnson has never been known for his long driving. Zach Johnson, the new Open Champion, is also a former Masters Champion, winner of another championship that is supposed to favor the big hitter.

How is Zach Johnson, short hitter, able to defeat Dustin Johnson, and Bubba Watson, and all those big blasters? Even on courses which favor long hitters? Zach understands that his game is not the same as those long hitters’.  So he uses his head to take advantage of his talents, which are the short shots…pitches, chips, and putts. Zach knows that he can’t compete for long driving success, so he uses his assets by driving shorter, and keeping his ball in the fairway.

Many of the par 5s are reached in two by the long hitters, while Johnson can’t do that at some of those holes and must lay up short and play his third shot onto the green. But he practices his pitches and chips, learning how to hit them close to the hole for one-putt birdies.

Some dogleg holes you see Tiger Woods or Bubba Watson blast drives high over the trees and cut the dogleg, while Zach, because of his lack of distance, has to play the fairway dogleg. But, for his second shots, he knows he’ll be hitting from fairway, while the long hitters are creating a blind shot for themselves.

What I’m saying is that Zach Johnson is a good example that there is more than one way to play the game. It’s nice if you can be a blaster, able to clear big hazards with a single bound. But if you’re not, you can still be a great champion, like Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Zach Johnson. There’s more than one way to play the game.


Of all the comments about my advice, the one that raises the most furor is the suggestion about keeping your back elbow (right elbow for right-handers) at your side throughout your swing.

Before I defend my position, let me suggest that you go to Youtube, watch the pro golfers’ swings (except for Jack Nicklaus, Freddie Couples, and one or two others) and check out their back elbows. All keep their elbows close to their sides throughout the swing. All of them…including Nicklaus and Couples…start with their elbow attached to their side, and bring their elbow back to that position as they come into the moment of impact with the ball. Almost all of them keep that elbow tucked near their side all the way through the swing. (Check out Tiger, Rory, Ben Hogan, Moe Norman…I rest my case)

My original thought was that, if you start there, and if you finish there, why wander around in-between? I realize that to play on the professional golf tours, you must hit the long ball. And to hit the long ball, you need to extend your swing to a wider arc. But those guys are looking to score 18 under par…not 25 over par!

Weekend golfers need more consistency, more control of direction, more knowledge of how to start shooting bogeys and pars and get away from double and triple bogeys. The right elbow is an important key to that improvement.

Keep it at your side, and you’ll find that it simplifies your timing, that it coordinates your body and your arms, that it improves proper shoulder and body rotation, and although your drives may only go 240 or so yards, your scores will drop 5 or 10 strokes because you’re hitting the ball more consistently and solidly, and are hitting into the fairways, and not into the woods, into the water, and into other trouble spots.

Learn to putt and chip and pitch, and you’ll drop another 5 to 10 strokes, and you’ll be consistently scoring in the 80s, and if you try, even, now-and-then, in the 70s.





One flaw in many golfers’ swings is not taking enough time with addressing the ball and moving the backswing into position to hit the ball.

Watch the pros on Sunday, and you’ll see that almost all of them are very deliberate in how they prepare to hit the ball.

They ALWAYS stand behind their ball first and decide on the exact line of flight they want to hit.

They ALWAYS carefully set themselves to hit the ball along the pre-determined line, and check to make sure that they are aimed where they think they are aimed.

At the top of their backswing, they deliberately set themselves in the correct position to start a perfect hitting stroke. This is not a movement that should be rushed or left to chance.

They smoothly transition into the hitting stroke and accelerate into and through the ball, and on a full swing, end up with a full follow through. On a partial swing, a punch or pitch or chip, or even a putt, they accelerate into the ball and follow through.

On short shots, they reduce their backswing so that they can accelerate into the ball…especially on putts. (If you are missing a lot of makeable short putts, it’s probably because you’re decelerating into the ball.)


Any older person will tell you, “Experience is the best teacher.”

We’ve all said, “I’ll never do that again.” Or “Next time I’ll…”. That’s experience talking.

History is the study of the world’s experiences. My favorite historical figure is Simon deMontfort. In the 13th Century, he inherited an earldom with vast estates in England. His great grandfather had been one of William the Conquerer’s most trusted generals.

Simon’s problem was that he didn’t have enough money to pay the taxes on all that land, and he was about to lose it.

Do you know how he solved his problem?

He married a rich woman.

If you ever need a lot of money in a hurry, knowing Simon’s experience tells you right away, one possible solution to your problem.

See how helpful history can be?

Santanna said: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

I  have profited many times from my experience. And I have lost a lot by not knowing enough history about situations I got into where my experience was lacking. Learn from your experiences…and from others’. It’s smart to listen to good advice.

Want to learn how to score better on the golf course? Read what I’ve learned in my experiences with 63 years of playing the game, and going from scoring in the 120′s to scoring in the 70′s. Read How Short Hitting, Bad Golfers Break 90 All the Time. Available on $8.99 for the book, and $2.99 for the Kindle (About the price of one golf ball.)