Posts Tagged ‘compress the ball’
There are many ways to swing a golf club, but only one way to hit a golf ball correctly.
The whole idea behind my philosophy is the above statement. When looking at the top players of all time, there are no two golfers that swing the club the same way, however they all manage to impact and strike the ball in a similar fashion. How is it possible that Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd and Nancy Lopez can make the ball get to the target the same way that Ben Hogan, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods do? The only answer can be impact. A position where the weight is well on the front foot, the handle leads the clubhead into the ball while the head remains over or slightly behind the ball.
Today I will identify a few key factors that facilitate a sound impact position. Swing the club any way you want, but obey these few simple points, because the vast majority of the greatest golfers follow them.
Almost every champion golfer has a grip that favors the strong end of the spectrum vs. the weaker side. I can only find one legendary golfer that utilized a weak grip and that would be Ben Hogan – all the others were strong, with a few being neutral. A strong grip encourages the hands to lead the clubhead into the strike – an integral part of a proper strike on the ball.
At address it is important for the head to be centered between the feet. This will leave the spine relatively verticle and the shoulders fairly level. Stance width should favor narrow over wide and the ball should never be too far forward. Keep in mind this set-up is in place to allow the golfer to get into a proper impact position as simply as possible.
There are two important points to note in the pivot motion: the plane upon which the shoulders pivot and whether or not the body stays within the 84 degree line. The plus here is that the better the shoulder pivot, the less likely the body is to move laterally (sway) and get across the 84 degree line.
In the shoulder pivot, the lead shoulder must move down and then across vs. simply turning across and behind the ball.
As the body winds to the top and just before transition begins, the back side of the body should be flush up against the 84 degree line. This loads the energy in the swing efficiently and prepares the body to glide effortlessly into a sound impact position. If you do happen to break the line with your hips or upper body here, you will be challenged to get to the proper impact position.
Notice how all of the above factors are in place to facilitate the body being able to get to impact in an efficient manner. This is the secret to all of golf’s greatest players’ swings: they all had different swings, but everything they did allowed them to get into the proper position to deliver the club onto the ball correctly. You would do well to incorporate a few of these elements into your swing.
If your shots are constantly fading or slicing then your clubface must be aiding in getting the ball to curve this way. The most important factor in determining the clubface angle is the grip and if you’re a slicer/fader then there is a very good chance your grip is weak – no matter how it “feels”! A weak grip leads to active/flippy hands through the hit and this takes away from a golfers ability to trap or compress the golf ball. You know the feel and sound when you hit one just right….that’s what we’re after!
As you grip the club in your normal fashion rotate the face down/closed from vertical 30 degrees and then set up to the ball. Keep in mind that 30 degrees is equivalent to one hour on a clock so don’t over do this. Be sure that all you have changed is the club position. Now the face will feel very closed at address, and you need to work towards getting (and keeping) the face square at address without altering your grip.
Just as in the full swing a solid strike is paramount to good putting.
I have always believed there should be a measure of “hit” in every putting stroke. In studying the top putters, it is uncanny how they seem to pop the ball off the center of the putter face; it’s almost as though they manage to compress the ball with the putter face. True, there is no divot involved (call me if there is – soon!), but there is definitely a louder and crisper impact sound when an expert putts the ball. Throughout the stroke, the putter seems to load in the backswing, lag in the transition, pop through the hit, and release into the follow through — a similar motion to the one required to crack a whip, yet on a substantially smaller scale.
The “Pop” Drill:
This is an excellent drill to help you acquire the feel of a solid strike: Gather a dozen balls in the center of a green and quickly and casually “hit” them back to a point off the side of the green — just like when you are clearing a putting green by hitting all the balls off the green with your putter. Do not emphasize a target; don’t take time to set up; just pop the balls off the face of the putter. When done correctly, you should be able to feel how efficient the stroke is. There should be a minimal amount of follow through, the strike should feel crisp, and the sound should be louder than what you are accustomed to. When I see a golfer struggling with the putter, they are almost always overemphasizing the “stroke” element and have lost the concept that there needs to be some impact or “hit.” The problem most often is that their motion is long, slow and overly mechanical. I have watched Vijay Singh and Ernie Els struggle with this problem for most of the year. Watch the video below of one of the finest putters on Tour, Brandt Snedeker, and check out his “hit”….
Pop the ball into the hole!
In order for a golfer to improve their ball striking they must get into a better impact position. Here are a few tried and trusted impact drills to help you get to where you need to be: (Use a seven or eight iron when a club is required in all of the drills below)
The first drill is the down slope drill. Simple enough! Just watch for allowing your upper body to sneak down the hill as well – try to ensure your head remains over the ball. At address, make sure you maintain a regular ball position.
- The impact bag drill. Another fairly straightforward exercise here, but the benefit lies in the details. When the club impacts the bag be sure to get the shaft to contact the upper part of the bag before the club head gets there. This will ensure that the handle leads the clubhead. Also, save your joints, club and impact bag by not whaling away at the bag too hard. You just want a feel to carry over to the real deal.
- The ‘hip press’ drill. This is a great drill that will give you a very good sense of body position at impact and also provide you with an amazing stretch. If you slice or fade the ball this is for you! Set up to a ball without a club and your hands on your hips. While maintaining your head position over the ball drive your hips as far toward the target as your body will allow. Your back heel should come off the ground slightly as you feel the back leg straighten. It will feel like you are pointing at the ground with the big toe on your back foot! Hold for five seconds and release. Afterwards try this with a club in your hands.
- The towel/line drill works wonders for compressing the ball and taking those ideal ‘bacon strip’ divots. It ensures that the golfer shifts the weight onto the front foot at impact. Practice as pictured, making sure the towel provides a slight amount of elevation and all the ensuing divots occur forward of the line of golf balls.
To get a little more sizzle on your shots, irons or woods, try the above drills!
It seems that the two Scottish greats, Monty and Sandy Lyle are feuding over who should be Ryder Cup captain first and who cheated! Shame on ya wee laddies!
I look for Padraig and Rory to perform nicely! Here are the latest odds.
The most interesting discovery I made when studying the top golfers of all-time for Its All About Impact was the 84 degree secret. It is uncanny how different all their swings are yet the vast majority of them find a way to obey this important element in the swing.
Please keep in mind that the 84 degree line is only important as it pertains to impact. It serves to position the weight correctly throughout the swing so that the body can easily glide into the proper impact position.
As you view the picture above picture a line running up this golfers right side (left as you view it). The line forms an 84 degree angle off of vertical (90 degrees). The line should run up the outside of the right leg, cut through a portion of the shoulder and just barely graze the side of the head. When studying swings I started to use this line to isolate body movement and quickly found it to be a good guide for the address position and as a player approached the top of the backswing.
At address the head should not break the line. I noticed with golfers who had too much tilt at address this was quite prevalent and they all had a difficult time assuming the proper impact position once they had started poorly. Notice the picture below.
Another common fault was breaking the 84 degree line in the backswing with too much lateral motion. This fault very often originates with too much tilt at address. Try to feel centered over the ball throughout the backswing. Keep in mind that this can be done while still maintaining a sense of loading into the back side or leg. Notice the picture below….
I have found that an excellent drill that conveys the appropriate feel is the ball drill pictured below. Position your back foot up against a wall and place a basketball or soccerball between your head and the wall. Crossing your arms across your chest, pivot into your back side feeling the wind and torque in your core muscles. Hold the position at the top to absorb the sense or feel you have. This is what the body should feel like when it is correctly positioned to compress the ball at impact!