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!

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.

Spinning the Wedges - Smash Factor

Smash factor is a measurement of the ball speed relative to the club speed. I have learned that with wedges, when smash factor is 1.0 spin rates have the potential to be maximized. This video discusses the value in having the ball and the clubhead travel at the same speed and gives you a few ideas on how to make that happen...

Things to remember:

  • Avoid too much shaft lean and feel the hands and the shaft lining up at impact
  • This should give you a sense of using the bounce or sole of the club more through impact
  • Don't be afraid to allow the lead wrist to unhinge/extend as soon as possible through impact

Keep in mind that while very high spin rates are sexy, your final objective should be control. Better control and predictability means better results. Don't allow a quest for more spin erode your ability to get the ball close to the hole!

Thanks for watching and check in soon for my next in the Spinning the Wedges series on Spin Loft.

Wedge Project Color.jpg

A Push for Power

The more I use the SwingCatalyst pressure plate system the better I have begun to understand how a player generates power effectively. There seems to be a clear difference between "power" swings and "control" swings. Quite similar to the difference between a player hitting a controlled short iron and a player smashing a driver. The difference is all in how the player uses the ground. What does that mean or look like?

Jamie Sadlowski (Golf Digest)

Jamie Sadlowski (Golf Digest)

In the above swing sequence notice how much lower long drive champion, Jamie Sadlowski's belt is in frame 4 than it is in frame 3. This is due to the fact that he is lowering  his body - essentially lightening himself - in order to jump/explode off the ground coming into impact. Think about if you were to jump - the first thing you do is to go down towards the ground in order to push upward. With faster clubhead speeds I often see a more pronounced jump. Sometimes to the point of the player leaving the ground through impact.

Below you will see the pressure trace from two proven Tour power hitters at impact while smashing the driver. This SwingCatalyst technology tracks where the golfer's center of pressure is located throughout the swing.

These are classic power traces! You will notice that both of these power hitters have more pressure (not necessarily weight) on their back foot at impact. I would expect to see this due to the player pushing so aggressively off the front foot that they have not only pushed their bodies up and just about off the ground, but slightly backwards as well. The interesting thing is that when each of these golfers hits a controlled 8 iron shot their pressure traces don't work onto the back foot at impact - a clear difference.

Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson

The golf swing is made up of three primary elements: movement, the forces that lead to the movement and the timing of those forces. Clubhead speed can be greatly enhanced by increasing the magnitude of the force and improving the timing of the force. Note: This article is not so much to encourage you to get off the ground through impact with a driver as it is to put your mind at ease should you be doing so. It's okay! I always encourage junior golfers to smash it first and then work towards finding it later. As they learn to smash it I see them:

  • lowering down into the front foot early in the downswing 
  • exploding/jumping/pushing off the ground as they approach, but prior to, impact
  • release the wrists freely through the hit

There is a direct correlation between how far or high a person can jump and how far they can hit a golf ball. No wonder Dustin Johnson can dunk a basketball....

A bigger push means bigger power!

Controlling the Clubface

Here's a great drill that will help to create awareness of where the clubface is angled at impact...

Keep in mind that the clubface is PRIMARILY responsible for where the ball launches, while the clubpath is PRIMARILY responsible for the curvature of the shot. If you know the predominant shape of your shots, the key is to launch the ball in the proper direction - this drill will help! Give it a try and please let me know if you've made any progress.