Women’s PGA Championship offers fans chance to watch and learn

The women’s golf major tournament comes to Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish beginning Thursday.

  • Scott Hanson, The Seattle Times
  • Monday, June 17, 2024 3:00pm
  • Sports

SAMMAMISH — Thousands of fans will be at Sahalee Country Club this week, watching the greatest women golfers in the world compete for four days at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which starts Thursday.

What can the average golfer learn from watching them?

A lot, say golf instructors Rick Fehr and Bryan Nicholson.

“The swing speeds from the ladies are much more relatable to the average golfer than the PGA Tour, so when you watch the technique of the ladies, what you’re going to notice is the balance in their swing, you’re going to notice tremendous rhythm and tempo to their swing,” said Nicholson, director of golf at Sahalee.

“That is something that I think every single golfer, regardless of their handicap, can definitely take a page out of their book, and learn from it,” Nicholson, added.

Said Fehr, a two-time winner on the PGA tour and an instructor at The Golf Club at Newcastle: “When you watch them play, look how most of them are still in rhythm after swinging, even though they are creating speed. There’s quite a few golfers in the women’s game and the men’s game where a lot of speed is generated, but it doesn’t look like they’re swinging aggressively.”

Nicholson said “the average golfer that comes out to watch will be so impressed with how well they control and flight their golf ball.”

Nicholson also said “the ladies’ game is much more relatable from the standpoint of course management.

“Watch the way that they plot their way around the golf course in terms of playing to their strengths, and putting the golf ball in positions where they have their scoring clubs in their hands.

“The men’s tour has turned into hit it as far as you can, no matter where the ball goes. The ladies, on the other hand, play much more of a finesse game. They rely on strategy to be able to execute, and there’s a lot to be learned from watching this.”

Fehr and Nicholson said golfers can also pick up useful things by watching how the women professionals prepare for their round, including the amount of time they spend on their short game.

“I know the short-game areas at Newcastle don’t seem to get the same sort of usage as the driving range,” said Fehr, who will be volunteering at the driving range this week.

Nicholson said he would instruct the average fan watching the short-game areas “to take a look at what they’re doing in terms of the variety of shots.

“They’re not only hitting shots on a higher trajectory, but they’re also hitting shots with a lower trajectory,” he said, “Notice their ability to be able to control the flight of the golf ball, and then how the ball is going to react once it gets onto the green. They’re using a couple of different clubs to be able to execute that technique and it’s worthwhile observing that they’re not out there just using the same club for every single shot.”

Nicholson said the average golfer can learn from watching the routine the LPGA players go through on the range, from visualizing where they want each shot to go to “making sure their body is in the correct position, but also the clubface is aligned toward where they want the ball to start.

“The average player typically goes to the range and doesn’t do those kinds of things,” Nicholson said. “That’s something that I think every golfer can get better at. It’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time and it doesn’t take a lot of skill to do that. But it helps immensely with respect to making sure that the setup is correct.”

Whether on the range or the course, Fehr has one key piece of advice for fans: Pay the most attention to the areas that are weaknesses in your game.

“There isn’t much that probably applies to everyone,” he said. “Somebody might be a great driver of a golf ball, and it might be, ‘Hey, leave that part of your game alone. Don’t mess with it.’”

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