Bhatia, 17, full of swagger and ready for his tour debut this week

Akshay Bhatia, 17, full of swagger and set for PGA Tour debut at Valspar

At the Walker Cup practice session in December, U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby left junior golfer Akshay Bhatia with one final piece of advice ahead of the Jones Cup Invitational in late January.

“He said, ‘You better be in the final group on Sunday so I don’t have to chase you around,’ ” Bhatia recalled.

Bhatia, 17, did better than that. He defeated Georgia sophomore Davis Thompson on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at Ocean Forest Golf Club on St. Simons Island, Ga., after the final round was canceled due to rain.

“I’m just sorry he ended up driving five hours to watch me play one hole,” Bhatia said of Crosby’s trip.

The victory at one of amateur golf’s most prestigious invitationals should shoot Bhatia, Golfweek’s No. 1-ranked junior and the reigning AJGA player of the year, even higher on Crosby’s “watch list” for the Walker Cup, which will be played Sept. 7-8 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

“Oh my gosh, it would be a dream come true,” Bhatia of Wake Forest, N.C., said of a chance to represent the 10-man U.S. side. “You just don’t get that opportunity too many times. Just to be part of the practice session was unreal.”

But Bhatia was even more overcome by the fact that joining a prestigious list of Jones Cup champions – including Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas and Beau Hossler – also earned him a berth in the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic this fall.

“I’ve worked so hard, and that’s one of my dreams to play a PGA Tour event while still in high school,” Bhatia said.

Bhatia won’t have to wait much longer to fulfill his dream of playing in a PGA Tour event. Bhatia tells Golfweek he has accepted a sponsorship exemption into the Valspar Championship on March 21-24 at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Bhatia has played in Thursday and Monday PGA Tour Qualifiers, further confirmation that he intends to skip college and turn professional in January when he turns 18.

“It’s made me stronger mentally,” Bhatia said of trying to earn one of four available spots at qualifying. “Once I get through one, I think I’ll make a bunch more. I’m just lacking experience.”

He showed he’s more than capable of holding his own against the game’s top amateurs. Beating a field consisting of top collegians at the Jones Cup in his first start back after nursing a back injury suffered in late November during the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions helps validate Bhatia’s decision to forgo college.

As much as Bhatia would like to make the Walker Cup team – and he plans to play the European and British Amateurs this summer in preparation for links golf – he sees it merely as a stop along his journey to making the PGA Tour. He has tunnel vision, his eyes locked in on a pro golf career.

George Gankas, one of his team of instructors, described Bhatia as mature beyond his years and noted a surge in his confidence and self-belief. Gankas recounted a telling conversation he had with Bhatia at the U.S. Amateur in August.

“He said, ‘I guess I have to start acting like ‘The Man’ because I’m pretty much ‘The Man’ among the juniors,’ ” Gankas said. “Since that point, his walk is different, the way he talks is different and the way he carries himself is different. It’s not in a cocky way; he’s just a more confident player.

“He’ll win a tournament and ask, ‘What needs to be better?’ How many kids his age do that? He’s trying to figure a way to get better to win by more.”

Bhatia, who crushed the field at the AJGA’s Polo Golf Junior Classic by 10 strokes in June, has a home putting studio and a TrackMan, and practices at TPC Wakefield playing two-ball, best-ball and from the front tees to ingrain shooting low scores and two-ball, worst ball and dropping a ball behind trouble (such as a patch of trees) from a par-3 distance away and trying to make no worse than par as games to improve his scrambling skills. He is a lanky lefty weighing only 129 pounds, but he has the flexibility of Gumby.

“Every time I put him on my Instagram everyone goes, ‘Eat a cheeseburger, dude!’” Gankas said. “He says he’s trying to get fat, but he can’t do it.”

Bhatia may be thin as a rail, but pound-for-pound he’s maximizing his swing speed, averaging 119 mph, and recently sent Gankas a video where he hit 124.8 mph.

“I couldn’t even believe it,” said Bhatia, who credits the gain in velocity to his workouts and is striving for his swing speed and weight to equal the same figure.

As for his upcoming PGA Tour debut, he already arranged to play a practice round with Spaniard Jon Rahm and has his sights set on meeting Australian Jason Day, another of his heroes. And Bhatia’s not shy about how he might do. When asked if he thought he could win, he said, “I don’t see why not. As long as I can treat it like it’s just another event. It’s all about mindset, really.”

SOURCE:  Golfweek

About to turn a corner?

STRATEGY FOR DOGLEGS

About to turn a corner? First, give that dogleg some thought

You say you can drive it 300 yards, but the last time you did it the hole was downhill, downwind and the ball caromed off the cartpath. You say you shoot in the low 80s, but you haven’t carded an 85 or better without two mulligans and a few generous gimme putts in about four years. When the question about what tees to play is asked, you’re already walking back to the blues or blacks. See where this is going? When it comes to this game, many golfers aren’t exactly honest about their current abilities—especially when assessing their next shot.

A common mental block is how best to play a dogleg hole with real trouble on either side of the fairway, says instructor Sean Foley.

“The ball tails off to the right for most of the golfers I see, so does it make any sense for them to stand on the tee box of a dogleg-left hole and try to curve their drive in that direction? No, but a lot of times they still try,” says Foley, a Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher. “What they should be doing is thinking of how to play the hole to the best of their abilities. In many cases, that means taking a shorter club, one that doesn’t peel off to the right as much, and just getting something out in the fairway.

“The reality is, sometimes the best you can do is give yourself a chance at a one-putt par. You have to accept that your game isn’t designed for certain holes, so your planning should change from How do I get home in regulation? to How do I avoid making double bogey?

That’s good advice, says sport psychologist Bob Rotella. Too often a visually intimidating hole, one that looks like it necessitates a specific type of drive, can cause golfers to divert from their strengths. Bad move.

“Mentally, you’ve got to stick with your game. Don’t let the shape of a hole solely dictate your strategy,” he says. “I wouldn’t try to hit a shot I didn’t know or usually play. If a driver doesn’t fit the hole, hit a 3-wood. If a 3-wood doesn’t fit, hit a hybrid, and so on. Do whatever it takes to put the ball in play. But be clear and commit to whatever shot you decide.”

If you can’t curve the ball to match the hole’s shape, another option is to use driver, but play for the “best miss,” says Hall of Fame golfer Tom Watson. If you analyze a hole carefully, that miss should be evident.

“When curving the ball away from the dogleg, the fairway becomes a smaller target,” Watson says. “The golfer must then think about where it’s best to miss the fairway, and this involves a lot of criteria such as length of the rough, where the flagstick is located, etc. For example, shortening the hole by missing in the interior rough sometimes can be a good option when planning your tee shot, but not on Pine Valley’s par-4 sixth, the hole you see here.”

If you’re skilled enough to be able to shape your tee shot with the dogleg, then consider how much of it you want to take on, Watson says. An accurate distance measurement to the part of the fairway you want to hit is key, but so is that whole thing about being honest with yourself.

“Knowing how far you have to carry the ball to clear a dogleg’s interior rough or interior bunker is not usually thought about by most golfers, but it’s critical,” Watson says. “That being said, most golfers don’t know how far they carry the ball with a driver, which is important in deciding the line to take when cutting the corner on a dogleg.”

That’s why it’s best to be generous with your target line, Foley says.

“If it’s a 200-yard carry and your best drives carry about 210 yards, you probably want to take a less risky route,” Foley says. “Better to be farther back in the fairway than trying to recover from being too aggressive with your line. The penalty for not making it on a dogleg is usually pretty severe.”

SOURCE:  Golfdigest

The rules of golf have been in the spotlight

Golf: PGA Tour drives idea of setting its own rules into rough

(Reuters) – PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan ruled out his organization creating its own rules on Wednesday, saying he is happy to leave that task to golf’s two global governing bodies.

The rules of golf have been in the spotlight after new ones were introduced for 2019, with the biggest update in 50 years leading some players to being openly critical of and in some cases hostile towards certain tournament rulings.

World number four Justin Thomas described the new rules as “terrible”, while journeyman Andrew Landry called them “garbage” and called for the PGA Tour to create its own.

Monahan, who recently reminded players that the tour had been heavily involved in the rewriting of the rules, on Wednesday strongly defended the “fantastic” U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient governing bodies.

“We have always played by their rules and we’ll continue to play by their rules,” he said in Florida on the eve of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

“We were fully supportive of the new rules because we were a participant in creating them.

“(When) you roll out 50 new changes there are going to be some things that work well and some that create debate. Lost in some of the discussion is all the things that are working really well.”

The change that appears to have caused most ire has been one that does not allow caddies to stand behind a player and help line up a shot.

This has led to a couple of two-stroke penalties, and also one situation in which a player had a penalty rescinded after officials acknowledged the new rule was causing confusion.

The wording was then tweaked in an effort to make it clearer.

Another bone of contention is that golfers must now drop the ball from knee height, rather than from shoulder height as previously.

Rickie Fowler was the first to fall foul of this when he took a penalty drop from shoulder height at the WGC-Mexico Championship and was penalized one stroke.

SOURCE:  Reuters

Proper Set-Up And Alignment Leads

Finish Your Swing Left of the Target

Proper Set-Up And Alignment Leads To ‘Full Circle’ Swing

We have all heard it. When getting information about aim and alignment, we often hear to “finish your swing facing your target.” Don’t do it — you will likely hit a shot that will not end up on line. You need to finish your swing facing LEFT of the target.

Look at all the Tour pros out there, they are clearly facing well left of their target at the finish, and that goes all the way back to proper set-up and address. Here’s how to put it all together:

AIM AND ALIGNMENT

First, place your hands on the grip, keeping the clubface square.

Then, aim the square clubface to the target on the line you established from behind the ball. The leading edge of your golf club will be at a right angle to the target line.

Next, align your body (checking feet, thighs, hips, and shoulders) parallel and left of the target line, addressing the golf ball.

If you feel as if you are really left of your target, you will be aligned correctly. Do not align your body to the target…aim your club at the target and align your body left of the target! (For left-handers — right of the target)

Last, with confidence, trust your aim and alignment and make your best effort to create the shot. Even if you do not hit it perfectly, it will likely be on line, heading towards the intended target—a great miss!

COMPLETE YOUR SWING

This is accurate information: Left is “Right” (correct) at address. However, finishing with your belt buckle facing the target line is stopping short of the full completion of the swing circle.

When you finish a good golf swing, your belt buckle will actually be facing LEFT of your target if you have completed the swing circle. The ball will track towards the target on the line you established in your pre-shot routine, but your body will not finish facing the target. If it does, it could result in a shot that leaks to the right of the intended target. Think in terms of the two lines at address that might help you understand this critical piece of information relating to the completion of your golf swing motion. Imagine that the target line is the “ball target” and the parallel line you have lined up your body on is the “body target.” The two lines are parallel at address and remain so during the swing motion, but it is just the golf ball that (hopefully) ends up on the “ball target” line you established. Ideally, you will end up in a balanced finish position, facing the “body target” line you set at address, clearly left of the ball target line. The swing circle motion has been completed, allowing both the operator and the equipment to hit a shot “on line” to the target! Understanding this very thing has been instrumental for improved aim, alignment, and result with my students. See if this perception change alters the directional reality of your golf shots. As my students and I often say about these actions that improve your motion and game, “If you can, you MUST!” LPGA Master Professional/PGA Honorary Director Deb Vangellow  SOURCE:  Golftipsmag

2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds: Surprising picks from proven model that nailed four golf majors

The 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational begins on Thursday from Bay Hill Club & Lounge, and many of golf’s elite will be on-hand. Weather won’t be a factor early, with the latest Orlando forecast calling for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s for the first two rounds. Last year, Rory McIlroy won this tournament by three strokes and, this time out, he won’t have to content with Tiger Woods, who withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational 2019 with a neck strain. Woods hopes to return for the Players Championship next week. In the meantime, McIlroy is the favorite in the latest 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds at 8-1, while Justin Rose, who finished third in this tournament last year, is hot on his heels at 12-1. Before you make any 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational picks or enter any PGA DFS tournaments or cash games on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, make sure to see the latest PGA predictions from the team at SportsLine.

SportsLine’s prediction model, built by DFS pro Mike McClure, has nailed four of the past eight majors entering the weekend and called Tiger Woods’ deep run in the PGA Championship despite being a 25-1 long shot. The model has been spot-on early in the 2018-19 season. It was high on champion Dustin Johnson at the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship, projecting him as one of the top two contenders from the start. It also correctly predicted Brooks Koepka’s (9-1) victory at the CJ Cup earlier this season. Additionally, it correctly called Bryson DeChambeau’s (9-1) seven-shot victory at the 2019 Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Anyone who has followed the model is up huge. 

Now that the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational field is locked, SportsLine simulated the event 10,000 times and the results were surprising. One huge shocker the model is calling for: McIlroy, the defending champion and top Vegas favorite on the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds board, makes a strong run but falls short of winning the title. 

Thus far in the 2018-19 PGA schedule, McIlroy has already racked up four top-10 finishes. And although he has 14 career PGA Tour victories, he’s only finished on top of the leaderboard once since 2016.

Despite his red-hot start to the new season, McIlroy enters the 2019 Arnold Palmer Classic ranked 171st on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy percentage (57.39), which could cause major trouble at Bay Hill. His inability to keep the ball in the fairway off the tee will leave McIlroy scrambling around Palmer’s famed Championship Course. He’s not a strong pick to win it all and there are far better values in this loaded field than the 8-1 premium he’s commanding.

Another surprise: Tommy Fleetwood, a 33-1 long shot, makes a strong run at the title. He’s a target for anyone looking for a big payday.

Fleetwood is an emerging star who divides his time between the European and PGA Tour. He has yet to win a tournament on the PGA Tour, but has five international victories under his belt, including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship a year ago. He also turned in back-to-back top-10 finishes at the Turkish Airlines Open and WGC-HSBC Champions in late 2018.

Despite not winning on the PGA Tour, Fleetwood has proven he can play with the top golfers in the world. In fact, he was the runner-up to Brooks Koepka last year at the U.S. Open despite shooting a 78 in his third round. Plus, he earned a top-10 finish at this event in 2017, which bodes well for Fleetwood’s chances this week at Bay Hill. He has an Official World Golf Ranking of 14 and possesses all the skills needed to shoot up the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational leaderboard in a hurry.

Also, the model says three other golfers with 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds of 18-1 or longer make a strong run at the title. Anyone who backs these underdogs could hit it big. 

So who wins the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational? And which long shots stun the golfing world?

Rory McIlroy 8-1
Justin Rose 12-1 
Brooks Koepka 12-1 
Rickie Fowler 14-1 
Jason Day 16-1 
Bryson DeChambeau 18-1 
Hideki Matsuyama 28-1 
Marc Leishman 
Francesco Molinari 33-1 
Tommy Fleetwood 33-1 
Patrick Reed 40-1 
Phil Mickelson 40-1

SOURCE: CBSsports

Fix your slice in a timely manner

Watch The Face

A timely fix to the dreaded slice

Most players who slice only have a vague idea of why they do so. Some think it’s due to their swing path or their release, and some even blame their equipment. The angle of the clubface is an element they often overlook. However, the simple fact is that if a shot moves left to right, you can be sure the clubface is open at impact. A great way to make sure the clubface isn’t open at the moment of truth is to get your left forearm to rotate through impact.

To see the correct rotation, try this simple drill using your watch. Turn your watch so the face is on the underside of the wrist of your lead arm (the left arm for right-handed golfers, the right arm for left-handed golfers).

Keep your lead elbow a couple of inches from your side and rotate your forearm so you can see the entire face of the watch. The left wrist should be flat. This should help you visualize the proper rotation in your swing and also prevent you from flipping the club with your wrists at impact.

If you don’t rotate the clubface at all, the face of the watch remains pointed at the ground. During your swing, this incorrect movement results in the open clubface that causes a slice. If you try to rotate with your wrist and not your forearm, you won’t see the entire face.

Do this drill with your lead arm alone before practicing with both hands on the club. Continue to work on this movement until you see the watch face consistently, and your slicing woes will disappear for good.

SOURCE:  Golftipsmag

Buy 3 Get ONE FREE – Titleist Golf Ball ProV1, ProV1X and AVX

Take advantage of this great offer just in time for the 2019 Golf Season!

Customize your golf balls with your name, favorite golf phrase or anything you like!*

Makes a Great Gift for your golfing friends!

We’ve made the order process simple and convenient for you.  Just click the link below and complete the order information, then purchase in the online store.

*special personalization details required — see order form

Standard Numbers – $162

Customized Numbers – $166

Junior Golf – Where it all begins!

Junior Golf at Makefield Highlands

If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity that your child will never outgrow, get them interested in GOLF.  It’s a healthy hobby that teaches good lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship.

Registration NOW OPEN

Junior Golf Program – Operation 36 – Spring and Fall Semesters

Program geared toward long-term game improvement through the short game and a ‘hole-out’ mentality.

This program has something for everyone: pricing rates, class days/times, and age ranges (5-13) vary depending on the desired package (explore within the registration link below).

ALL JUNIOR PROGRAMS

NOW AVAILABLE FOR REGISTRATION

• click on program below •

5-Day Camps

5-Day Camps limited to 20 students per camp. Fun, day-camp atmosphere.

$520 ($450 multiple child discount)

8:30am – 1:30pm (Mon-Thurs*)

Ages 8 – 13

*Friday Session is from 1:30 – 4:30

Session 1 – June 24 – 28
Session 2 – July 15 – 19
Session 3 – August 5 – 9

3-Day Tour Camps

3-Day Camps limited to 10 students per camp. Open to juniors that have some golf ability – more time spent on-course!

$260

1:30pm – 4:30pm

Ages 13 – 16

Session 1 – July 8 – 10
Session 2 – July 22 – 24
Session 3 – August 12 – 14

Pee-Wee Clinics

Limited to 10 students per clinic (up to 20 across to class times).

$110 (4 Sessions)

5:15 – 6:00 or 6:00 – 6:45pm

Ages 5 – 7

Session 1 – June 18, 20, 25, 27
Session 2 – July 19, 11, 16, 18
Session 3 – August 6, 8, 13, 15

“Get Golf Ready” Clinics

Ideal for the junior golfer that is new or returning to the game.
$130 (4 Sessions)

4:00pm – 5:15pm

Ages 8 – 15

Session 1 – June 11, 13, 18, 20
Session 2 – July 30, Aug 1, 6, 8
Session 3 – August 20, 22, 27, 29

ADVANCED ACADEMY

Ideal for teenage golfers looking to gain a competitive edge; those looking to make a starting spot on a team or training competitively.

$225 (6 Sessions/4 Matches)

5:00pm – 6:00pm

Ages 12 – 17

Additional Session and Match information (dates, times, and location) can be found within the registration link below:

Junior Golf • Keeps Kids Active

Encourage them to bring a friend.

Kids will instantly be more interested in golf if you encourage them to bring a friend along for the adventure, says Golf Operator Magazine. Plus, a golf course is a safe and healthy place for pairs and groups of kids. Most other parents will be open to the idea of you introducing their child to the sport.

Learn in stages.

Explain to your child that they’ll learn in stages, starting from the basics and working their way up to the type of golf they see on TV. These sessions are usually broken up into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels so your child can progress through golf techniques and build confidence.

Celebrate victories, big and small.

Young children in particular might need extra encouragement and rewards to progress in golf. Be sure to celebrate their achievements on the course!