Tales from the Trail Side

I’ve found that is can be tremendously helpful for any golfer to fully understand the ins and outs of impact. Today I want to address the trail side and what my preferences are for it as we approach impact. Let’s start with this…

What are we looking for at impact?

  • Hips and chest rotated open relative to the target line

  • The trail hip should be lower than the front side counterpart

  • As a result the trail leg is flexed and the knee has moved towards the ball

  • The trail arm is flexed

  • As a result the trail shoulder is lower than it started at address

  • The spine has tilted away from the target (side bend)

While generating speed can be genetic to a certain degree, our ability to control the club face at impact and thus the direction and shape of our shots is largely a product of both technique and skill. Merely posing impact, as I have demonstrated in the video above, might shed some light on what you need to work on in order to better control the strike and accuracy of your shots.

 Brandon Stone

Brandon Stone

You might be shocked at your results when you can start to master the trail side through the impact zone. Now let’s get to work.

Clear as Mud...Balls!

mudballs

It's never a good feeling when you've striped one down the middle and you get to your golf ball only to see a large chunk of mud attached to one side of your golf ball. For years I had heard that mud on the right would cause the ball to go left, but I never was sure. The best way to build some clarity - do a test! Here's a sampling of what we found...

For the "Facts of Golf" series I filmed recently with Revolution Golf in conjunction with PING this was one of the first ideas we were interested in testing. Thanks to some guidance from Erik Henrikson, Director of Innovation for PING, these were our findings:

  • Mud on the left with a 'neutral' swing will almost always cause the ball to move strongly right in the air
  • Mud on the right with a 'neutral' swing will almost always cause the ball to move strongly left in the air
  • The large clumps of mud will be 'ejected' off the ball very quickly after impact, but it's the remaining small particles that alter the ball flight
  • Mud that's located on the top, front or back will cause for quite a significantly shorter shot without much directional change
  • It's hard to find good quality mud to do a test like this

Shot data for mud on the right (a fairly neutral swing) from TrackMan:

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Shot data for mud on the left (a fairly neutral swing) from TrackMan:

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As I hit each of these shots I was floored at how much the ball moved in the air relative to the feel of the shot. The feel was neutral, yet the ball seemed to take off with a mind of it's own. I hope this information helps you save a stroke or two the next time you encounter the dreaded mud ball!

Hitting Up on the Driver

I often conduct this demonstration for my Three Day Golf students where I hit back to back shots and attempt to illustrate the value of hitting up on the driver and what it could mean to their tee shots. For good measure I also throw in a little fade versus draw at the same time. 

My intent is to maintain a similar club speed from one swing to the next and if possible strike the ball in a similar location on the club face. As you'll see this was an occasion where I managed to get pretty close...

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This TrackMan screenshot illustrates the first shot where the idea was to hit down and across the target line, imparting a low launching and fading ball flight...

 The First Shot

The First Shot

This TrackMan screenshot illustrates the follow-up shot where the plan was to deliver the club head to the ball with it traveling up and outward, imparting a higher launch and gentle draw to the ball flight...

 The Second Shot

The Second Shot

Let's take a deeper look to see what some of the important differences are between these two interesting shots:

  1. Attack Angle - The 9.1º difference is the primary reason why the second shot traveled significantly further than the initial attempt. This was achieved with a change in tee height, address position and intent.
  2. Club Path - The almost 14º difference here will generally lead to a huge change in ball flight curvature. My findings have shown that when it comes to shot shape the club path plays a primary role.
  3. Launch Angle - The old adage of 'hit down to make the ball go up' takes a beating here as the shot hit with an ascending strike launches significantly higher.
  4. Club Speed - Nothing much to see here other than to verify that the club head for each shot is traveling at virtually identical speeds.
  5. Ball Speed - Another interesting nugget here is that while the carry and total distances are significantly different there is very little difference in the ball speed from shot to shot.
  6. Carry - Wow! That's amazing isn't it? While impact location for the second shot was slightly higher on the face (and a hint more toward the toe) which might lend to slightly longer carry distance the direction the club head was traveling (up and out) is the primary difference maker here.
  7. Total - As you might imagine the increase in total distance follows suit along with the increase in carry distance.

I know we could all benefit from a gain in almost 30 yards off the tee. And keep in mind that's at the same speed and with the same club! No need to hit the gym or shop for a new driver. This video gives some insight into what's required to affect the changes you've seen in this demonstration...

Thanks for reading/watching. If you need hands-on help with your game I'd love to host you in Savannah at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort for either a lesson or a Three Day Golf School. Email terri(at)andrewricegolf.com for details.

You Need More Power

Yes! Don't we all? As with all things in life some things are easier said than done and this is no different, but it IS possible. Have you heard about using the ground to generate more power? This is what I'll be addressing in this article - pushing off the ground in order to generate greater club speeds and longer shots. Take a look...

So here's what we're looking for just prior to starting the downswing:

  • The trail knee maintains its position as the golfer starts the downswing. Just for a little while...
  • The lead side separates as the player glides into their front side. This creates some leg separation.
  • There should be a definite lowering or unweighting in the early downswing.
  • The late downswing should be characterized by an upward thrust away from the ground.

Notice in the image below how in the early downswing my belt buckle is significantly lower than it is half way through the follow through...

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This is something that all long drivers take full advantage of - that ability to really thrust up from the ground and in most cases actually push both feet off the ground. It's that push that will help to really get the clubhead moving. 

Thanks for reading/watching and if you have a friend who would really benefit from this information please share it.

Trajectory Tricks

The loft on the clubface at impact is largely responsible for the launch of the ball. When it comes to wedge play friction also plays a significant role in determining the launch angle, but the purpose of this article is to share an idea to help you improve the loft you deliver to the ball at impact.

Most of us will either hit the ball overly high or too low. This video illustrates a simple drill to get you to feel what you need to feel in order to grasp what is required to deliver either more, or less, loft.

For the high ball hitters:

  • Using a pitching wedge get set up with a narrow stance
  • Position the ball off the tip of your front foot
  • Feel the handle or butt of the club travel a long way forward into impact
  • It’s not easy but do all you can to hit low launchers

For the low ball hitters like me:

  • Stick with the PW and a narrow stance
  • The ball should be in line with the tip of your back foot
  • In the downswing you’ll feel the clubhead swinging a ton. The clubhead should feel like it outraces the hands
  • This will feel scoopy and that’s a good thing

Notice where my hands are just post impact in the image below - the low ball hitters need the hands less forward while the high ball hitters need to sense how much more forward they need to be…

It’s never easy making changes as they always feel so uncomfortable. Let’s get away from associating discomfort with ‘wrong’ as you work towards improvement. I know this exercise seems like it’s the opposite of what it should be, but as the task becomes more challenging (which this one is) we have no choice but to adapt.

The good news is that this drill applies directly to your long game too, so don’t be afraid to incorporate a few of these drills with those full swings too.

Thanks for checking in and I hope this helps you to enjoy your golf a little more.

How to Deal with a Headwind

Controlling your golf ball in the wind is one of golf's greatest challenges. For quite a while now I have been asking my junior players to hit a 140 yard approach shot directly into whatever wind might be blowing that day and none of them have ever reached the flag! Now, part of this is ego and another part inexperience, but being a curious coach I wanted to do what I could to help them play these headwind shots effectively. At Savannah Harbor we have a double sided range and in the spring we can experience some strong winds. The double sided range means that I can hit shots into and down the same wind. Having TrackMan is a huge help here as it tracks the ball accurately throughout it's flight. Watch...

After quite a bit of testing on and off the golf course I have found that this formula produces positive results. Please keep in mind that hitting any shot in the wind is not exact science and there will always be a subjective side to selecting the appropriate club and shot.

  1. Determine how many MPH of wind are blowing in your face
  2. If its 12 MPH then add 12 yards per 100 yards of distance required
  3. Determine what club you would need to hit the ball that distance
  4. Take one additional club and play a knockdown type shot

Example scenario: For a 140 yard shot into a 20 MPH headwind. I would add 28 yards (20 yards per 100) to 140 to get to 168 which is a full 7 iron for me. I would thus take a 6 iron and hit a knockdown for this scenario.

You might wonder how you'd come to recognize the wind speed...? Experience certainly helps, but there's nothing against checking a weather app on your phone prior to going out to play to help you gauge wind speed. And remember - there is no such thing as a one club wind!

Thanks for reading and I hope this information helps you better control your ball in challenging windy conditions.

Develop Your Skills

Getting better at golf should be fun! As I become a more experienced coach I'm finally grasping the role that skill plays in lowering any golfer's score. I think of skill as what you can do with your technique. What shots can you hit? How well can you control your golf ball? That's achieved with skill. Check out this drill that I came up with to not only help you become a better golfer, but also to help you have more fun while you practice...

We all need skills. Hopefully wicked skills! By giving yourself ONE opportunity to hit each of the shots required to complete this drill you are continuously challenging your ability to adapt to the requirements of each unique situation. Something real golf requires on every shot! The seven required shots are a big slice, a medium fade, a baby fade, a straight one, a baby draw, a medium draw and a big hook. Don't hit them in order, but mix it up. Real golf doesn't work in a neat and smooth progression - neither should your practice. Keep a score too. It will help you strive to achieve full marks! 

 Add golf skills to your resume...

Add golf skills to your resume...

Give this drill a try the next time you go out to practice. In fact, any skill based challenge or drill you can come up with will help you to develop wicked golf skills that you can take out on the course with you to start shooting lower scores.

Thanks for reading.

A Long Swing or a Short Swing?

The good news is that either one can get the job done, but we cannot view these two very different golf swings through the same lens. There are certain fundamental differences that we must keep in mind. Watch...

For the shorter backswing:

  • Get the wrists, arms and shaft organized early in the backswing
  • The club should favor being laid off at the top
  • The lead wrist should be flat or bowed at the top

For the longer backswing:

  • There is more freedom in the backswing as player has more time available to organize in transition and on the way down
  • The club should favor being across the line
  • The lead wrist can be either cupped or bowed

I do typically prefer slightly longer swings over shorter swings, but above all else I prefer swings that work. If you look at the greatest players of all time you'll see significantly more long swings than noticeably short swings. I have also found that longer swings will typically produce faster club speeds. Never a bad thing!

Keep in mind that these are generalized ideas that have been found to work on the students I have been fortunate to coach over the years. They have also been verified by other coaches and a scientist or two, but they are not set in stone. The objective is always improved performance.

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How to Stop Hooking

There are literally thousands of articles pertaining to getting rid of slicing or fading the golf ball, yet not much sound information to help golfers overcome hooking (and blocking)!

The video clearly illustrates what the primary causes are...

The dispersion drill will not only get you to improve the club path, but also encourage you to get the clubface pointing to the right of the target. Exactly the opposite of what you have been struggling with! With the feel from the dispersion drill you will no longer have the:

  • club path traveling too far from in to out
  • clubface closed to the path
  • have to rely on perfect timing to quality golf shots

Give this simple drill a try if you tend to struggle with blocks and hooks. If you enjoyed this video and article please share it with a friend who you feel might benefit from it.

Thanks for tuning in!

 

How to Practice: 3. SHOT

In this series on practice I have mapped out a plan to help each golfer take ownership of their technical upgrades (SWING), dedicate a portion of the valuable practice time developing skills by hitting unusual and ‘outside the lines’ type shots (SKILL) and now the time has come to bridge the gap between the practice ground and the course by turning our attention purely towards results (SHOT).

With this mode of practice there should be a constant changing of clubs, targets, lies and intent. Here the golfer should incorporate their pre-shot routine as they hit specific and on-course styled shots.

I’m a big fan of hitting irons to a specific side of a flag or target. Create scenarios in your head as you execute each unique shot.  There’s a deep pot bunker just in front and slightly right of this pin. I’ve got to keep this eight iron about twenty feet left… Drivers should be played down imaginary fairways from Augusta, Pebble Beach and Royal Troon, with trouble invariably looming on one side or both. Get into each shot just like you would on the golf course. Be sure to:

·      Change clubs after no more than two shots

·      Switch targets for every shot

·      Use your pre-shot routine just as you would on the course

·      Be specific with your intent for each shot

Don’t attempt crazy or unusual shots; we’ve already done that in our skill session. It’s time to step back inside the lines and play your go-to ball flight. For an added challenge you could even keep yourself accountable and see how many consecutive shots you can hit to the appropriate side of a target. Everything about this practice mode should simulate real, on-course golf. Play golf!

One final swing and the Open Championship is yours…

Be sure to read my two previous segments on practice:

How to Practice: 1. Swing

How to Practice: 2. Skill

 

How to Practice: 2. SKILL

Boys are typically much better chippers than girls! And it's not because they're more creative or the fact that they're stronger physically which allows them to hit a broader variety of shots. It's because they love to practice 'dumb' and crazy shots! Boys continually strive to outdo one another and I believe it's via this innate behavior that they learn to hit those amazing and skillful shots around the green. Ever seen a female trick shot artist? Hmmm...

My approach to developing skill is that we take this 'outside the lines' approach to practicing the shortgame and apply it to every element of golf. From driving to putting we can develop our skill and our ability to control the golf ball by spending time purposefully hitting 'abnormal' golf shots. Watch...

When practicing to develop your skill challenge yourself to become better at intentionally controlling the following elements of a golf shots:

  • Distance
  • Launch direction
  • Peak height
  • Curvature of the ball flight
  • Where you strike the ball on the face

When practicing 'outside the lines' change your intent after every second shot. Use a variety of clubs, targets and lies. Keep in mind it's really easy and fun to practice these elements when you have a TrackMan, but they are entirely doable without any technology. Here are a few ideas:

 The 3 Ball Strike Point Challenge

The 3 Ball Strike Point Challenge

This drill is great fun for golfers of all abilities and ages. All you need is a can of Dr. Scholl's Odor X foot spray. I firmly believe we become better at completing any task when we learn to complete it a variety of different ways. Shot 1 is outside the vertical line, shot 2 inside it and shot 3 is on the line.

 The Spin Axis Challenge

The Spin Axis Challenge

When taking on this challenge you want to use a 6 iron and try to hit the biggest hook or slice possible for your opening shot. From there the objective is to progressively reduce the amount of curvature until you get to a straight shot. If you can get 9 shots, as in the example above, you're doing very well.

When practicing to develop skill I cannot encourage you enough be creative, have fun and think outside the box. You can even hit one-handed or one-legged shots! Close your eyes, change your grip, hit it out of divots - anything goes. Come up with your very own, out of the ordinary practice session. Now get out there and start spending some time practicing like a teenage boy...

Here is the first article in my series on how to practice:

How to Practice: 1. SWING — Andrew Rice Golf

Predictable Draws

Predictability! A word I use every day on my lesson tee. We don't need perfection, although that would be nice, we simply need to predictably launch and shape the ball and we can play the golf of our dreams.

I have found that when a golfer can get the handle of the club traveling inward through the strike managing the club face becomes less of a challenge. Thankfully this doesn't mean that the clubhead is also traveling inward. Watch....

Obstacles to watch for when working towards getting the handle to travel in while the clubhead travels out:

  • The arms drop straight down and in from the top creating a scenario where they are trapped and can only 'exit' outward through impact
  • The handle AND the clubhead both move outward at the start of the downswing. Now they must both travel inward though impact
  • The hips drive forward too much and the handle has no access to work inward through impact

The following sequence of Graeme McDowell illustrates beautifully how to set up the transition and ensuing downswing for exactly what we are looking for through impact

 Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

To get started with predictable, controllable draws you simply must work the hands in while the clubhead travels out through the strike.

While this is certainly not the only way to get the job done, for slower swing speed golfers (which is most of us out there!) this is the go to game plan. Start in front of a mirror and go from there....

Thanks for reading and if you have a friend who might be struggling with this please share.

If you're interested in join me on a Golf Safari to South Africa this January with your loved one please contact terri (at) andrewricegolf.com or visit www.syncexcursions.com for more details.

A Better Downswing to Reduce Blocks and Hooks

As we all know most golfers tend to struggle with fading and slicing the ball, but there is a large portion of the golf population, typically lower handicap players, that struggle with hooks and the occasional block. This article is for you!

There's a huge correlation between between a golfer's club speed and their handicap. The higher the speed, typically, the lower the handicap. The key is being able to manage the golf club while generating higher club speeds and that can only happen with a proper pivot and more specifically, a proper downswing pivot. Here's how...

As you begin your downswing you want to feel the following:

  • The weight remaining on the trail foot for longer
  • Cast your net! More rotational and less lateral
  • The legs separating slightly
  • The handle of the club working out or in front of you while the clubhead stays behind you

The objective here is to get the clubhead traveling less outward and along a more neutral path through impact. Getting your body to rotate on the way down in more of a 'merry-go-round' fashion and less of a 'ferris wheel' fashion will deter the clubhead from getting too far to the inside.  

Try this feel slowly and with soft shots before working up to full swings. You'll be amazed at how challenging it is to actually stay back and rotate versus driving forward. Stick with it and realize that in order to improve the quality of your shots you're going to have to improve how the clubhead communicates with your golf ball.

Thanks for reading and if you have a friend who you feel might benefit from this information please share! 

Is Your Swing Built on Timing?

We've all played those rounds where we have 14 solid holes and 4 holes where it seems as if we've never held a club before. This is a classic indication that your golf swing is reliant on timing. A situation where the face angle at impact is determined by the golfer "manually" inputing clubface closure through the impact zone

 Here's Sam Snead taking the handle "around the corner"....

Here's Sam Snead taking the handle "around the corner"....

While there is no one method or technique that allows us to position the face correctly through impact on a consistent basis there are certain elements in the golf swing that will allow us to do a better job of managing the clubface. Watch...

If you can work towards making the "motorboat" curve around the corner you'll become much better at getting the "tube" to fling around - this way positioning the clubface appropriately through the strike will start to become more automatic and your swing will be less reliant on timing.

Here's a clip to illustrate what the hands should be doing as they pass through the strike...

Ideally the handpath should be traveling inward and upward. Get to work on the proposed drills and you'll start to see a decreased reliance on timing and improved consistency out on the golf course. Thanks for reading...and watching!

How to Shallow the Attack Angle

I teach far more golfers that hit down on the ball too much more than those that don't hit down enough. If you are one of those golfers that typically takes big divots and hits a low ball flight then stay with me....

I have found this sequence to work nicely with all golfers looking to shallow their attack angle and improve the crispness of the strike. Try the following (with either irons or driver):

  • PHASE 1 - 5 drags over the top of the ball
  • PHASE 2 - 5 low to high pitch style shots, keeping clubhead low in the backswing
  • PHASE 3 - 5 half speed and half size swings sensing an ascending strike (even with irons)

(all shots are struck with the ball on a tee)

Another drill I like to use to help golfers learn to deliver an ascending strike with the driver is what I call the Box Drill pictured below...

Place an empty sleeve box between a teed golf ball and the target as indicated. The box should be approximately a grip length ahead of the ball. On a windy day it might be necessary to use tees to anchor the box in place. This is a costly addition to this drill!

If you can hit shots without running the clubhead into the box then chances are that you're no longer hitting down on the ball and you should see an increase in both distance and the altitude of your tee shots. Keep in mind that as you "upgrade" your attack angle, should you have an adjustable driver, you might need to alter the loft.

Thanks for reading and I hope these ideas are going to help your game. Cheers!

No More Weak Iron Shots

We've all heard the sound. And we've all felt it too. That sense when you literally melt a ball off the clubface and you know instantaneously that you've hit the shot you've been waiting for all day. That feeling is compression! To learn more watch this....

Here is an example lesson where I felt it appropriate to use this drill with a student who was struggling with the quality of his strike and high, weak ball flight in particular. Here is his initial TrackMan data for a typical 7 iron shot...

It's important to be aware that the height of this particular shot was 103 feet! This player's club speed is only a few mph short of PGATour average, yet he is only carrying a 7 iron 145 yards. After working on his compression (spin loft) via the drill illustrated in the video this is what a typical shot looked like in drill mode (note the slower club speed)...

The exact same ball speed with more than 7 mph less club speed! The spin loft, which is not an easy change to make, has gone from 31.1º to a slightly low 24.8º and the height has come down to a more manageable 76 feet. I anticipate that as this golfer works to get comfortable with their new feel they would increase their compression to a more appropriate 26º or 27º.

 Before on the left and while doing the Compression Drill on the right

Before on the left and while doing the Compression Drill on the right

Thanks for reading and for greater understanding on what compression really is please read:

 Compress the Golf Ball — Andrew Rice Golf

A Drill to Shallow the Shaft

Here is a simple drill that will help any golfer sense what the trail arm needs to be doing in the backswing. I call it the Tray Drill and it will not only improve the backswing, but should also eliminate the need for well-timed compensations on the way down into impact. Take a look...

Here's an image from a recent lesson with a golf professional that has always had a tough time getting his right arm to rotate properly in the backswing and as a result he's had to do so much in order to shallow the shaft. The before is on the left and the tray drill example is on the right. 

It's amazing what this simple drill can convey to any golfer who struggles to get their trail arm in a good spot leading into the downswing. Thanks for reading!

A Drill For Better Compression

There is so much information out there regarding the golf swing that it's nearly impossible for anybody to sift through it all and decide what could be a game-changer for their game. In this article I've done the heavy lifting for you and trust me, improved wrist angles (particularly in the downswing) can make a massive difference in your ball striking.

In the wrist-centric Laser Beam drill I'd like to see the following:

  • a tee in your glove pointing away from your the back of your hand
  • curl the wrists under, bowing the lead wrist slightly, as you start the swing
  • sense a flat or slightly bowed wrist throughout the back and downswing
  • save your eyes! Point the tee away from your face all the way through impact

If you do this correctly you will sense an improved ability to hit draws and the additional compression will have the ball jumping off the clubface. Give this one a go!

An explanation of Compression 

24 Hours to Better Golf this Winter

I am very excited to share the Off-Season Project with you! With the help of my good friend and golf fitness expert Derek Lemire we have created a fantastic challenge for you this off-season. Are you prepared to dedicate 24 hours over the next twelve weeks to better golf? Derek and I have built a program for you that will improve your technique, increase your club speed and better your body and all we ask for 2 hours per week. Take a look...

We are challenging you to invest 24 hours towards better golf this winter. I can assure you this video will change the way you view the off-season. Do you accept the challenge?

Check it out HERE


A Sample Golf Lesson

I wanted to share a recent lesson I did. Keep in mind that that this lesson went completely as intended - it doesn't always work that way. My objective for Halle, who is a promising young high school golfer, is to improve the quality of her ball striking. Watch...

She improved her posture by not extending her lower back as much and her swing notes were:

  • Feel the hips working more up and down vs level - Sam Snead image. This would serve to improve body motion and discourage the arms from working behind her too much.
  • Consciously keep her arms more in front of her. A drill was to make back swings while backed up against a wall. This would keep her arms from getting deep and allow them to work in front of her on the way down.
  • Sense the hands tracking left of the target through impact. She has worked on the dispersion drill in the past and has had good success with it.

Hand path is often over looked and is an important part of what I teach on a daily basis. Thanks for watching!

This free website's biggest source of support is when you decide to book a lesson or golf school. You can contact me HERE. If you live in another state or country please consider making a purchase HERE or  HERE. It will help your game in addition to helping me to keep adding to this free website. Thanks again for your support! Andrew.