Jim Suttie: Learn from the pros this week at The ACE Group Classic

JIM SUTTIE

— It's that time of year again. The Champions Tour is in town and some of the best over-50 players in the world are playing at TwinEagles. This tournament provides you the opportunity to learn from the pros.

Most of these players have certain strong points that you should watch. First of all, they all know how to play golf. They can get the ball in the hole almost any day even though, at times, it may be ugly. They don't get too tied up on the "how to" as there are no pictures on the scorecard.

As a spectator, look for some one who is built like you, and has a swing pattern much like yours. Look for the strong points in their game and try to emulate them.

For example, if you are trying to become a better driver of the ball, look at Fred Funk and Nick Price. Both of these guys hit a lot of fairways with their driver because they have simple swings with shallow approaches to the ball. This allows them to hit up on the ball with a slight inside-outside swing path.

If you are trying to improve your iron play, I would look at Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, and Jeff Sluman. Combined, these guys have missed probably three greens in regulation all last year. Great iron players generally trap the ball with a descending blow. All the good ones have their hands ahead of the clubhead at impact. I guess we teachers call this fundamental "shaft lean," and it is a commonality of great iron players.

The amount of greens hit in regulation is the one stat that correlates directly with amount of money won. If you are looking to improve your short irons and wedges, I would watch Tom Kite, Jay Haas and Chip Beck. These guys are deadly accurate because they have such good rhythm and tempo, and their swing planes are low. This helps them put less spin on the ball so they can control their distances.

If you are trying to improve your putting, I would look at Loren Roberts, Brad Faxon, and Ben Crenshaw. The one thing they have in common is the pace of their strokes. Good putter pace translates into great lag putting, and none are better at this than these three guys.

And, if you are looking for two guys who can really create shots, I would look at Corey Pavin and Russ Cochran. Corey can make birdies from the trees because he just knows how to manufacture shots.

If you are looking for rhythm and tempo to put in your swing, I would look at Gary Hallberg, Larry Mize, and Tom Purtzer. It is just fun to watch them make a golf swing.

And, if you think you have the only, fast and short swing on the planet, I would look at three very successful short, fast swingers: Tommy Armour III, Dana Quigley, and Jim Thorpe. These guys are "hitters" and do well with quick, short motions.

If you like to draw the ball, look at Mark O'Meara. Nobody does it better. If you like to fade the ball, look at Mark Calcavecchia. He will show you how to hit all the fairways with a 30-yard left-to-right shot.

The pros impress us with their tee-to-green games, but they win with their short games. Nobody in this field has a poor short game. In particular, watch their 50-yard wedge play. Treat yourself and come to TwinEagles this weekend.

Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, is available for lessons at Suttie Golf at the Club at Twin Eagles North Naples and Cog Hill Golf Club, Lemont, Ill. For lessons and program information call 800-765-3838 or Jmsuttie@aol.com.

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