Let's Get This Straight!

If you, as most golfers do, struggle with consistency then this article is for you. We all do really! The number one culprit for off target shots is the club face being misaligned at impact. We struggle to control the face through the strike. This simple video will give you some insight as to how you can start to do a better job. Keep in mind we’ll never be perfect, but we can be better. Watch…

Far too often I see golfers consciously trying to swing down the line. This forces the hands out and necessitates a flip through impact. You can hit good shots with a flip, just not enough consecutive good ones to play well for all 18 holes.

Here are a few keys:

  • Work the handle around the lead hip through and post impact. It turns the corner

  • The clubhead should arc back inside the flight of the ball very soon after impact whether you’re hitting draws or fades

  • Don’t be afraid to keep the club face relatively quiet, particularly if you struggle with blocks and hooks

Here is a simple half swing I made with a seven iron using a ClubHub sensor that clearly shows how the handle (light blue line) tracks inwards (and upwards) during the impact interval.

ClubHub 3D Track

Get to the range, start with the small shots I demonstrated and I believe you’ll very quickly gain a sense of how this works to quiet the club face through that all important strike zone.

Thanks for reading.

Should you be interested in getting together for some work on your golf game click HERE.

The What, the Why and the How about "Getting Open" at Impact

What does 'get open' at impact mean? Why is it important to be open with your hips and chest as you approach impact? Now for the million dollar question - how can I do it? Start by taking a few minutes to watch and listen as I address all of these questions here...

What is it?

  • PGA Tour players are on average around 45º open with their hips and around 25º open with their chest at impact
  • Some are more and some are less, but all are open to some degree

Why is it important?

  • Getting the body rotating through impact allows for the hands to play a more passive role, thus allowing for a quieter clubface through the strike
  • Most golfers hit shots off line due to an inability to control the clubface through impact
  • All golfers would like to be more predictable with their ball flight and a quieter clubface through the strike will typically lead to improved control

How can I get open?

  • Get the clubhead deeper/more behind you as you start the downswing
  • Use your wrist angles to maintain control over the clubface and get it in place for a passive ride through impact
  • Observe your lead arm position going up and most importantly, coming down, while avoiding anything extreme
Impacto.jpg

The great golfers pictured above have an uncanny knack at controlling the clubface through impact. I'm convinced that getting the hips and the chest more than less open as the club strikes the ball will help you to become a more consistent golfer

Get to it!

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! 

Understanding Heel and Toe Klankers...

As the size of the clubhead has increased over the last two decades so has the role that gear effect plays on off-center strikes. As the volume of the head increases so does the importance of a quality strike. I think the following video will go a long way towards explaining how this works and what it can mean for your game...

Now keep in mind that gear effect can be a help or a hindrance - it can cause your ball to curve to the target or away from it. Here's an example of how an understanding of the importance of strike point, particularly with the driver, can help any golfer avoid trying to fix something that isn't broken.

A Neutral Swing with a Heel Strike

A Neutral Swing with a Heel Strike

The Same Neutral Swing with a Toe Strike

The Same Neutral Swing with a Toe Strike

Notice how the delivery numbers (attack angle & clubpath) from the above two shots are eerily similar, yet the resultant ball flight could not be more different. The difference in the outcome of the examples above is purely due to the location of the strike for each shot. While the two shots are very different I see no need for this player to address their swing. They simply need to develop their skill at striking the ball in a consistent location on the face.

  • Toe sided strikes will lead to more draw or less fade.
  • Heel sided strikes will lead to more fade or less draw.
  • High strikes on the face elevate launch and decrease spin.
  • Low strikes on the face lower launch and increase spin.
  • Gear effect works in 3D - the head will twist away from the strike location.
  • If the CoG is closer to the strike point, then there will be less curvature from gear effect on off-center hits. 
  • If the CoG is further from the strike point, then there will be more curvature from gear effect on off-center hits. 
  • Controlling the strike location is a skill - practice accordingly.

If you're looking to gain a better understanding of how you're striking the ball with your  "headcover" clubs, buy yourself a few cans of Dr. Scholl's Odor X. Spray the face of your driver the next time you're warming up or practicing to get some all important feedback.

Your next question might be - "How do I upgrade where I'm striking the ball?" Valid. I am of the opinion that controlling the strike point is a skill. A fun drill is to practicing striking the ball in a variety of unusual, yet intentional, locations on the clubface. Here are additional resources to help you understand and manage the strike point:

Collision! — Andrew Rice Golf

Strike Point Drill — Andrew Rice Golf

Optimal Strike Point for Longer Drives — Andrew Rice Golf

Spin Rate and the Driver — Andrew Rice Golf

Swing Pattern vs Strike Point — Andrew Rice Golf

Why Do I Hit Offline Shots?

Fore! We are all capable of hitting amazing golf shots, yet it is those mind-numbingly bad shots that ruin our day and erode any measure of confidence that we may have been hanging on to.  The question we all would like to know the answer to is - why? Why was that shot so far offline when I've been hitting the ball straight just about all day? What is the primary cause of my inaccuracy?

My experience is that most golfers tend to look in the same place to find answers to their problems.  Just like husbands tell their wives on every bad shot she might hit - "You lifted up!" Well, so to do we tend look towards the same area as a cause for our bad shots.  Talking with my students it appears that far too many golfers are of the belief that bad shots are caused by a swing that was suddenly over the top or under plane - in other words the clubpath was different and that's what led to the offline shot.  This is even a favorite for the golf commentators on Sunday afternoons - if a golfer hits a shot left coming down the stretch you are very likely to hear Nick or Johnny chime in with, "Well, he came over that one..."

Teaching with TrackMan has taught me that most golfers' inaccurate shots are caused by one of two factors:

Golfers tend to be fairly consistent with their clubpath.  Keep in mind that this is a general statement and not all golfers are consistent, but my experience has shown that golfers that work at their game tend to have a good measure of consistency when it comes to the direction their clubhead is travelling at impact - clubpath. It may not be an ideal path or what they are looking for, but consistent it is!

Consistency to your shot pattern comes from passive hands through impact and a predictable point of contact on the face (even if it's not in the center!)

Please note that there is a mistake in my video! The face does not determine where the ball finishes, but rather where it starts! Sorry about that....

If you would like to find out what's causing your shots to veer offline contact me at andrew(at)andrewricegolf.com to set up a TrackMan lesson or to discuss an online lesson.

Compress the Golf Ball

One of the most important aspects of great ball striking is compressing the golf ball. Now, we've all heard that statement and we know the feel of a purely struck shot, but what really is compression and how can we do a better job with it? Let's start by understanding the photograph below. This is a simulated shot where the clubface is just about to reach the back of the golf ball. The red line indicates where the loft or upward face angle is at impact and the blue line indicates the direction the clubhead is travelling during impact. The white line connecting the two represents the amount of compression "experienced" by the golf ball.

The narrower the gap or closer the two lines are the more compression will be exerted onto the golf ball and assuming a decent strike and appropriate launch, the ball will travel further. TrackMan refers to this gap as spin loft and without being too detailed it is the difference between where the face points at impact and where the clubhead travels at impact.

Fredrik Tuxen - one of the founders of TrackMan refers to spin loft as compression itself. To get a better understanding of how the numbers work let me give you a few examples: Jack hits a 5 iron with the face pointing at 16 degrees and the clubhead moving 2 degrees down. Bob swings at the same speed as Jack with his 5 iron and he gets the face pointing 15 degrees up and the clubhead moving 6 degrees down. Jack has a spin loft of 18 and Bob has a spin loft of 21. Both shots are hit well, so which goes further? Jack's does because he has a narrower spin loft gap and thus compresses the ball more than Bob. What spin loft would create the maximum compression? Zero! However, as we will learn spin loft is in large part responsible for the amount of spin imparted on any shot and a golf ball needs some spin to keep it flying in the air. I have found that a spin loft of 11 is very good for a driver.

Some interesting points about compression or spin loft:

  • Hitting down will not increase your compression of the golf ball or the spin on the shot. Invariably this only leads to a shot where the face angle and the clubhead direction both move downward - there is no change in spin or increase in distance.
  • A higher spin loft increases spin and generally slows down ball speed.
  • If you have similar swing speed, but hit your shots far shorter than your playing partners - this is due to a lack of compression on your shots.
  • Shots with a lower spin loft will curve in the air more easily than shots with less compression. That's why it's easier to keep a 7 iron straighter than a driver.
  • Custom club fitting can help to improve your spin loft simply by delofting either your irons or driver.

Now that we really understand what true compression is we can start to look at methods to help us improve our own ball striking. There are two ways we can compress the ball better - deloft the face angle more at impact without hitting down any more or hit down less without increasing the the loft of the face during impact. Ideally we need to deloft the face without hitting down any more. Notice how in the Jack and Bob example I used above - Bob's face was delofted more than Jack's, yet he hit down more and this limited his ability to compress the ball.

To get a good sense of what is required:

  • Get in front of a mirror with a 7 iron.
  • Grip the club and facing the mirror get the clubhead about 3" off the ground two feet back from where the ball would be.
  • Now slowly glide the clubhead through impact while maintaining the 3" space between the clubhead and the ground noticing that as you go beyond impact how much your hands need to stay in front.
  • When you start hitting balls - start small and hit soft shots off of a tee.
  • There should be no ground contact, try to leave the tee in the ground and see how low you can hit these little 7 iron shots.

This is the feel you want! Delofting the face without slamming the club into the ground. And believe it or not this applies to the driver as well. I know it may sound strange and it took me a while to wrap my brain around this, but it is entirely possible to hit up on the ball with the handle/hands in front of the clubhead.

If you have gained something from this article please share it with a friend. Let's be honest, they could most probably do with the help....

Form vs. Function

Long ago I came to realize that much of modern day golf instruction is based primarily around instructor style preference. Way too much of the information being peddled is form based instead of being function based. Tommy 'Two Gloves' Gainey's win this weekend on the PGATour illustrates that there is more to a golf swing than simply what meets the eye.

In studying the top golfers of all time - no two swings are alike. Who is to say that Ben Hogan's flat plane is better than Jack Nicklaus' vertical arm move? Who is to say that Sam Snead's slight over the top move was better than Nick Price's drop down transition?

Ultimately it all comes down impact and physics - the forces and angles you are causing the club to impart on the golf ball. Impact is the one position in which all of the great players are decidedly similar. From Patty Berg to Annika and Tom Watson to Phil Mickelson - all these players assume a very similar position at impact. If this is the case, which, trust me, it is, then the appearance of the swing should play far less of a role in a golfer's path to improvement.

Here are the elements of a great impact position with irons:

  • the weight is noticeably on the front foot; 80% or more
  • the handle always leads the clubhead
  • the head remains over the ball, while the hips have shifted to the target; this creates what I refer to as body 'curve'
  • the clubhead travels down (downswing) into the ball; this includes fairway woods and hybrids

Here are two short videos to help:

The next time you take a lesson make sure your teacher works towards getting you into a better position at impact. It is the only way you are going to start hitting better, more compressed golf shots.