Wyndham Clark Needs to Tee Up His Ball

Wyndham Clark Needs to Tee Up His Ball March 16, 2024

Wyndham Clark. CREDIT: Wikipedia Commons

The Worst Mistakes in Golf

The two worst mistakes pro golfers can make in golf tournaments is to be more than five minutes late to their tee times or sign their scorecards having a lower score than they actually made. The penalty for both mistakes is severe: disqualification. There are other mistakes golfers can make that don’t have such a severe penalty, but they still can add strokes to their score.

If you watched the PGA Tour’s marquee event today on television–The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida–you probably saw one such mistake. The TV commentators mentioned what was done.

Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion, started his third round today at 14-under par with a four stroke lead over Xander Schauffele and Nick Taylor. Clark and Schauffele were paired together in the last twosome. They were tied for the lead at 17-under par when they arrived at the short but treacherous par three 17th hole. It is only about 120-140 yards in length, and many of the pros his a wedge to the green. But the island green is elevated several feet, banked with railroad ties, and surrounded by water.

Yesterday, the hole on this short par three had been cut close to the back of the green. Several players had hit their shots barely too far so that their golf balls slipped over the back of the green and fell straight down alongside the railroad ties, splashing into the H2O. Today, the hole was placed on the front of the green so that the same misery could happen, with balls being hit too short and therefore coming to rest in the bottom of the lake in front of the green.

Always Tee Up Your Ball When Allowed

Today, Clark hit first in his group on the 17th hole. And he did what he always does with iron shots on par three holes–he did not tee up his ball, but merely placed it on the grass. That, in my opinion, is one of the worst mistakes any golfer, including the best of pros, can make. Yet, what do I know? Wyndham Clark won the U.S. Open last year, and I never did that though I once had a good chance to do it. Nevertheless, I’m still sticking to my story here.

Two of the greatest pro golfers of all time (and they were still competing on the PGA Tour when I started) used to say, “always put a peg under the ball whenever they allow you to,” or words to that effect. Those two pros were contemporaries and fellow competitors–Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. I guess Wyndham Clark has never heard that or doesn’t believe in it or both. And today showed me that he needs to rethink this.

Clark struck his wedge shot on the 17th hole today and hit the turf inches behind his ball. So, the ball splashed in the watery grave about twenty yards short of the green. It was downright embarrassing for a pro golfer, especially of Clark’s stature, but way more so being tied for the lead of the so-called “fifth major” in golf and millions of people watching him on national television. Fortunately, Wyndham hit a second ball from the teeing ground, again, without teeing it up, to six feet from the hole and made the putt for a bogey. Schauffele’s shot made the green and he two-putted for a par, taking a one stroke lead. Both players missed the par four 18th green in regulation, but still got their pars.

So, Xander Schauffele is now leading Wyndham Clark in The Players Championship by one stroke because Clark would not do like just about all of the rest of us do: TEE THE BALL UP ON PAR THREES. But now I’m going to say something that even more shows that Mr. Clark should put a peg under the ball whenever he can.

Analyzing Wyndham Clark’s Golf Swing

I think Wyndham Clark has a great golf swing. He creates torque with his body on his downswing, and thus at impact, which aids both accuracy and distance in golf. The greatest shot maker of all time, Ben Hogan, was well known for this in his swing. But in doing that, Clark squats a lot on his downswing and thereby lowers the fulcrum of his swing, which is the base of the neck (it is easier just to think of the head). It lowers almost a foot when he hits his longest clubs, such as his driver. That’s a lot. To do so, Clark squats as he comes go the end of his backswing and into his downswing. He does it by bending his knees more and perhaps creating more angle between his spine and legs.

Squating and increasing the angle between the spine and legs on the downswing may increase power for some golfers, but it can make it more difficult to make solid contact with the ball at impact. When a golfer does that, he or she cannot allow the left arm to be straight at impact or the club head will hit the ground behind the ball, what is called in golf “hitting the shot fat.” Clark thus compensates with quite a bend in his left arm on his downswing and when he makes contact with the ball. There are a bare few great Tour pros who bend the left arm like that, such Brooks Koepka.

Stand Tall at the Ball

I believe it is better to try to stand tall at impact, like Hogan did, thereby not lowering the head much, and keep the left arm straight at impact. I say this is better because it should help with accuracy. (And bending over a lot at impact can lead to back pain.) Therefore, when a golfer lowers the head and bends the left arm at impact, I think that is two errors that cancel each other out and therefore makes the golfer more dependent on timing to make solid contact. And if the golfer lowers the head and straightens the left arm at impact more than usual, he or she is more likely to hit the ball fat, which is what I suspect Wyndham Clark did today on the 17th hole.

As for defending champion Scottie Scheffler, in his bid to repeat this week he birdied his last three holes today to finish five strokes behind the leader Exander Schaufelle.

Visit here at this website for a list of PGA Tour pro golfers who attend the PGA Tour Bible Study and like to share their Christian faith publicly. The list starts with the best players on Tour in this order: Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, and Sam Burns.

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