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!

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! 

The Golf Swing and Time

A common complaint I hear from golfers is that their swings are too fast or aggressive.  They just have a sense that they are quick either in the transition or the downswing. Rhythm and pace are very important elements in the golf swing. When a golfer feels quick the first thing they do is try to 'slow down'...and in an attempt to get some rhythm in the swing they often go overboard and end up slowing everything down a little too much. This can lead to an overly slow start to the swing, which in turn leads to a rapid change in pace during the transition and on into impact.  It is this drastic change in speed that conveys the sense of quickness and aggression in the swing.

The PGATour average time for the backswing is right around 0.75 seconds, with an additional 0.25 seconds for the downswing. Notice that ideally there should be something close to a 3:1 ratio of backswing time vs. downswing time. That means that on average a Tour golfer will strike the ball in about a second from when the swing starts.  Ernie Els, one of the smoothest swings out there, takes just over a second to strike the ball while Nick Price, who has one of the faster swings, takes  around 0.8 seconds.  Far too many of golfers I teach take well over a second to complete just the backswing.  In watching Els or even Price, most golfers believe they swing a whole lot faster than either of those two top players - that is not the case.

Each of the above golfers are able to maintain a good rhythm in their swing because they maintain something close to a 3:1 ratio in their swings.  When a backswing takes over a second to complete the golfer is now faced with a 4:1 or even 5:1 ratio which feels way out of rhythm.

Here are a few pointers when trying to get better rhythm and pace back into your swing:

  • Don't try to speed up your backswing up too quickly - take one pill a day and not the whole bottle...
  • The body should not feel hurried; the wrists and arms will create much of the necessary increase in speed.
  • Try a few shots with the clubhead starting 2-3 feet ahead of the ball and then flow into the backswing in one motion. This gives the club a moving start and gradually increases the pace.
  • Remember that rhythm does not have to be slow...
  • Stay patient and gradually build up to it; try to build the speed in your downswing from the transition.

There are not many ways to track your timing ratio, but SwingCatalyst software does it for you.

Another factor to consider is that the less time your swing takes the less opportunity you have to get your body out of position. This is a very important factor and cannot be overlooked - keep the motion concise and it is more likely to be consistent. Give it a try....

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.