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.

3 Key Drills for Great Wedge Play

Far too many golfers struggle with their wedge play. I see it all the time! In this article and video I have dug deep and come up with my three favorite drills for you to practice if you'd like to get better from close range. Take a look...

Impact Drag Drill

  • Using an alignment rod in lieu of a club take your normal pitching address position
  • Place the tip of the rod on the ground about 3 feet behind where the ball would be
  • Keeping the arms extended, rotate and elevate the lead shoulder to get the rod through impact

Pitching Draw Drill

  • Tee the ball up and place an alignment rod between the ball and the target
  • The objective is to get the ball to draw around the rod
  • Have the handle traveling up and in while the clubhead travel down and out for draws

9 Ball Trajectory Drill

  • Using nine balls to develop skill and adaptability
  • Hit the first three balls to three different targets with your stock trajectory
  • The second three balls are hit with a slightly higher trajectory to different targets
  • The final three are hit with a lower trajectory to different targets as well

My hope is that these drills will help to upgrade your technique, develop your skill around the greens and ultimately help you become a more well-rounded golfer.

Thanks for reading/watching and if you enjoyed this article please share it with a friend who you feel might benefit.

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.

The Importance of Wrist Angles

wristangles.jpg

I believe that for years I have misunderstood the importance of wrist angles throughout the golf swing. The most important part of any golf swing is the players ability to manage the face angle relative to the club path and wrists are integral in positioning the clubface properly throughout the swing.

I have come to realize that wrist angles are more important than grip position/angles. I see far too many golfers with very strong grips who slice the golf ball! If you'd like to hit draws (and you should) then you need the clubface closed relative to the path and a bowed lead wrist throughout the swing will do wonders in enabling you to hit those lovely, baby draws.

If you study the above photograph you'll see four very different, and very functional, looks regarding wrist angle at the top of the backswing. Due to the fact that most golfers slice the ball I would encourage all slicers and faders to work towards emulating Dustin Johnson (far right) in their practice. I'm not saying that with a bowed left wrist you are guaranteed to hit draws, but it does allow for functional options regarding shot shape.

Here is a helpful video I filmed on  recent trip with my friend in Ireland, Stephen Ennis from Balcarrick GC.....

I love this from my friend Joe Mayo (@TrackManMaestro):

"When one embraces the idea that a functional face to path relationship is the bottom line of the golf swing, it allows them to let go of positional golf instruction and the veil of confusion of how great swings of the past and present actually work is lifted."

The golf swing really does not have to have a certain appearance in order to function - it simply needs a predictable face to path relationship. And the wrist angles are vital in managing this relationship.

leetrevino.jpg

Thanks for reading! If you're looking to experience a little sunshine in the cold northern hemisphere winters check THIS out.

 

Swing Pattern vs Strike Point

You may have heard me talk about how common it is to see golfers hit a tee shot with a fade (out-to-in club path) swing pattern, yet strike it off the toe for a baby draw or vice versa. The other day I was giving a lesson and a student hit a shot that was too interesting to not share. Here are the TrackMan details of the driver shot:

trackman heel hit

First a few basics:

  • Club path is primarily responsible for the curve of any shot
  • The direction of the club path relative to the target, out-to-in (fade pattern) or in-to-out (draw pattern), is what I refer to as a players swing pattern
  • Players that swing from in-to-out will tend to hit draws and players that swing from out-to-in will tend to hit fades
  • Where the ball is struck on the face of the driver (strike point) can drastically alter the effect of a players swing pattern on ball flight
  • Shots struck off the heel will tend to fade more or draw less and shots struck off the toe will tend to draw more or fade less

The player who hit the above shot has a fairly strong draw bias to his swing pattern and we are always working to neutralize his strong in-to-out club path as he tends to struggle with blocks and hooks. As you can tell from the above shot the club path (first highlighted yellow box) was strongly from in-to-out - 9.2 degrees to the right of the target. Well then why did the ball fly straight (spin axis 0.2)

The particular shot we're looking at was struck well off the heel (yellow circle) and essentially what happened was the draw bias of the swing pattern was cancelled out by the fade bias of the strike point. Notice how in the second yellow box above there's a closed face to path relationship, which should lead to a hook, but the ball flew straight - always a dead give away for a heel strike.

I've come up with a simple formula to help explain this:

A + B = C 

Where A is the swing pattern, B is the strike point and C is the resultant ball flight. You see it's the combination of A and B that gives us the ball flight - not just A. Here's a video I did with TrackMan that might help to explain some of this more clearly:

When you're practicing driver you should always mark the face with some Dr. Scholl's Odor X foot spray. If you do that you will always get B (strike point) and C (ball flight) from any shot. Should you be practicing without a TrackMan you'll at least have a clear idea as to what your swing pattern is and can make well-informed adjustments if necessary.

All the best and thanks for reading.

 

TrackMan Teaches the Teacher

Five years ago I thought I knew just about all there was to know about ball flight and teaching golf. Then I started using TrackMan and my, how very quickly my eyes were opened. I came to realize that I had a long way to go, not only in truly understanding ball flight, but in understanding golfers and what their tendencies might be.

I think it's important to understand that TrackMan will not teach anything - it is purely a measuring device. A tool that better allows the teacher to perform their job. It allows me to diagnose a golfer's problems more quickly and start making improvements without any doubt as to what is causing a golfer's poor shot pattern. Once the technology has helped me diagnose a problem I then start using it to inform me how my recommended changes are working - if at all. If those numbers are not improving I'll change my approach very quickly.

TrackMan has taught me so much about ball flight, but it has also opened my eyes to patterns that exist for almost all golfers. Here are a few nuggets that myself and fellow TrackMan users Martin Chuck, Jason Sutton, Tom Stickney have noticed over the years:

Strike Point:

  • Where you strike the ball on the face plays a far bigger role in determining the flight of the shot than what was previously believed
  • As a result heel and toe misses can lead people down a road of trying to fix something that isn't broken

Advice - Use Dr. Scholl's Odor X footspray to mark the face and get a better understanding of where you are striking the ball on the clubface.

Swing Appearance:

  • The two dimensional appearance of the swing on video is not what determines the flight of the ball (Swing direction vs 3D club path)
  • The look of a golf swing has very little to do with the message the clubhead relays to the golf ball
  • Better players have to swing way more left than they often feel in order to hit predictable fades
  • You do not have to roll your hands to hit draws

Advice - Don't get too caught up in the look. It's all about the physics at impact, so always go for function over form.

Angle of Attack:

  • The angle of attack is hugely important in determining the shape, distance and trajectory of any shot
  • Most golfers hit down too much while many of the best golfers tend to have a shallower strike on the ball
  • A positive or upward angle of attack has a huge effect on tee shot distance for slower speed golfers

Advice - Almost all golfers should be working towards a shallower more "sweep-like" strike on the ball. With the driver you should learn to hit up as the gains are too great to ignore.

Shot Shape:

  • The clubface is primarily responsible for the launch of any shot
  • The loft of the face at impact (dynamic loft) will largely determine the launch angle of any shot
  • On full swings the launch angle is often lower than you might expect it to be
  • The clubpath is primarily responsible for the curvature of any shot

Advice - to hit draws (and most of us should) we need an in to out clubpath. To improve the launch you either need to change the loft of the club or improve the loft delivered at impact.

The Human Element:

  • It is all too rare to meet a man who hits the ball as far as they think they do
  • Or who swings the driver as fast as they think they do
  • Mention clubspeed to any golfer, male or female, and there's a 95% chance the next swing will be faster
  • While there are patterns, anything and everything is possible

Advice - check your ego at the door. You'll start shooting better scores when you plan to hit the ball the distance you're capable of hitting it.

TrackMan is a fanatstic tool - one that guides the teacher to what the problems are and then vets the quality of their solution. As a player I believe you will find it to be a feel machine. If you've had a first rate lesson you should leave with a clear understanding of what the problem was and the feel required to overcome it.

If you happen to be on Twitter please follow Martin Chuck, Jason Sutton and Tom Stickney - great guys, knowledgeable teachers and you won't regret it.

Thank you for reading and as always your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

TMU-partner-white.jpg



Understanding Shot Shape

Please watch....

I have never taught a predominant slicer that did not always have their clubpath travelling from out to in on a very consistent basis. I have never taught a predominant hooker that did not always have their clubpath travelling from in to out on a very consistent basis. In order to upgrade these golfers' ball flight we needed to improve their path first and then work to adjust the face to point somewhere between the path and the target line.

Here is an example of a lesson I might give to a golfer who predominantly fades/slices the golf ball:

I hope these two clips help you to better understand what it is you need to do to improve your ball flight and have more fun out on the golf course.

From Slicer to Bomber

An Average Slicer Tee Ball The above TrackMan screenshot indicates a very typical pattern for the slicer - an overly inward club path (-15.2 degrees out to in) along with a clubface angle that is open/right of where the clubhead is travelling (9.9 degrees). This package results in shots that invariably launch left and curve aggressively right, often shaping across the target line. The end result is a far from optimal tee shot coupled with a healthy fear of any shot that leaks too far into right field!

The video below demonstrates what I did with the "owner" of the slice illustrated above. I have had tremendous success with this technique - primarily, I believe, because it taps into a golfer's instinct that screams - in order for my ball to not leak right I must swing as much to the left as possible. Essentially the drill gives the golfer a reason, something they've never had, to swing to the right. Take a look....

 

  • Tilt the face down 30 degrees (1 hour)
  • Take normal grip
  • Adjust shoulders and arms to square the face at address
  • Swing out to right field

After working on this drill for a while the golfer started to get comfortable and gain a measure of confidence that the ball actually would work back to the left.  This is what happened...

From Slicer to Bomber...

As you can tell from the above numbers the golfer has hit this shot more 55 yards longer. Part of that (15 yards) is due to an increase in speed, but as you can see - this player is now swinging from in to out, is hitting far less down on the ball, has substantially less spin and were it not for a slight heel side strike this would have been even longer.

These screenshots were taken during the course of a standard one hour lesson. They indicate an average shot from the player before the change and after. The golfer hit shots that were worse and better than both examples shown. Unfortunately an increase of 55 yards is not normal, but every little bit helps...!

Collision!

Few golfers are aware of what really happens when a clubhead collides with a golf ball at high speed, not to mention how much an off-center collision can effect the flight of the ball. My hope is that this article and the accompanying video footage will give each of you a much better understanding of the importance of solid contact. I would encourage you to watch the following PGATour.com video a few times...

 

As you can see a strike away from the center of gravity of the clubhead will lead to twisting of the clubhead. While most of the twisting occurs after impact, a portion of it does occur during the impact interval. It is this twisting during impact that leads to gear effect which can greatly alter the flight of a shot.

An off-center collision will twist the clubface in any direction.

A hit high on the face will tilt the face upward and reduce the amount of spin on the ball, while a low strike point will deloft the face and increase spin rate. A strike towards the toe will open the clubface and increase draw or reduce fade and a strike towards the heel will close the face and increase fade or reduce draw. Interestingly, the clubface will tilt vertically (top/bottom) almost as much as it will horizontally (toe/heel).

There are seven shots in the video and if each of them had a neutral club face and club path during impact, the results of each shot due to gear effect would have been as follows:

Shot 1 - A strike above the "equator" of the clubface and slightly towards the toe. Ideal if you would like to hit high launching, low spinning, draws that go a long way.

A High Toe Strike
A High Toe Strike

Shot 2 - A more pronounced high, toe side strike. This strike point is too far from aligning with the center of gravity of the clubhead to be beneficial. This flight due to gear effect would have been fairly high launching, low spinning and would not have faded as much as it might have appeared.

Shot 3 - Another extreme high, toe side strike along with a heavy descending blow - not good. High and right, but a fairly straight flight.

A Low Heel Side Strike
A Low Heel Side Strike

Shot 4 - A severely off-center hit where the collision is with a very low portion of the face and in the heel. Believe it or not this ball gets airborne and will almost always be an unimpressive high spinning,  low fade with very little distance.

Shot 5 - Charley Hoffman: I have seen numerous clips of high speed driver footage like this and I don't think I have ever seen one where I cannot detect any twisting at all. A slight downward attack angle. Appears to be very close to a perfect center of gravity strike - a truly rare event! Very straight.

Shot 6 - Matt Kuchar: A neutral attack angle along with a high, toe side strike. High launch, lower spin and a slight draw - boom!

Shot 7 - Luke Donald: About as solid as Charley Hoffman's shot, but the interesting thing about this clip is the attack angle - quite severely down. Solid and straight, but not optimal for maximum distance.

It is interesting to note that today's larger clubheads will resist twisting due to having a higher moment of inertia. MOI is a measure of a body’s resistance to angular acceleration or twisting. MOI really comes into play when the ball and the clubface meet someplace other than the sweet spot. The MOI of a club is higher for heel/toe mishits than it is for high/low mishits and therefore tends to be more forgiving on heel/toe mishits. However, golfers tend to mishit a shot further towards the heel/toe than they do high/low so the clubheads' resistance to twisting tends to even out.

Please know that physics is not selective and any golfer, pro or amateur, can hit any shot solidly or severely off-center. Also - no golfer can "stabilize" the clubface during or after impact due to an off-center strike.

This article shows you which part of the clubface is best.

I love this video footage and from here on out it will be required viewing for all my long term and golf school students. Would love to hear your thoughts....

TrackMan Exposes Golf Myths

It has been an enlightening experience using TrackMan in almost every lesson for a year now.  There are so many widespread 'philosophies' (see: fallacies) that we, as golfers, have heard so many times we simply accept them to be truth. TrackMan says - hold on a minute!

Here are a few examples that come to mind:

  • You've got to "Release the Club through Impact"
The collision between club and ball lasts less than 1/2000th of a second and it simply is not possible to "release" or consciously alter the face angle during that very narrow time frame.  The face is what it is by the time impact happens.  For example - in 2012, by the time Bubba Watson teed it up in the Masters, his ball had not been on his clubface in competition for even one second! The only element that can alter the face during impact is an off center hit and that's far from conscious.
  • "Draws Must be Hit with a Closed Clubface"
Or vice versa, fades are hit with an open face.  Draws are really good if they start to the right (for righties) - agreed?  TrackMan shows that the clubface is primarily responsible for the launch direction of the ball and thus for a good draw the face should be to the right of the target with the clubpath (which primarily causes curve) being further to the right. When that, along with a centered hit occur, voila - we have a lovely push draw!  This also dispels the myth that the ball launches in the direction of the swing/clubpath.  Clubface (primarily) = launch.
  • "That Drive Had Tons of Sidespin..."
The vast majority of balls that are hit in the air have backspin.  If a golfball has backspin it cannot possibly also have sidespin.  Think about it - two types of spin on one ball at the same time?  So what makes it curve?  TrackMan shows that all shots that curve do so due to backspin on an axis (spin axis) that is tilted either left or right.  Curve is purely caused by backspin that is tilted to one side or another.
  • "My Divots Point Left so I Must Be Over the Top"
Because divots ideally occur after the collision between face and ball, the clubpath has a window of opportunity to start arcing back inside the target line.  I have seen anything from push fades, to hooks, to push draws from leftward pointing divots.  Divots do not tell us as much as we think, because they do not (and should not) occur at the moment of impact.
  • "That Ball Faded - I Must Have Cut Across It"
A very important factor in determining shot shape is not only the clubface relative to the clubpath, but also where the ball is struck on the face relative to the sweetspot.   For regular golfers off center hits occur on the majority of shots hit.  Balls hit off the toe of a club will always have a tendency to draw or fade/slice less and balls hit off the heel will always fade or draw/hook less.  Even one dimple on either side of the sweetspot will make a difference.  This means it is possible to swing for a draw and hit/strike for a fade.
  • "My Instructor Showed Me My Club Path on Video"
Ehhh....no!   Trust me on this one - what you see on video is a  2D version of a 3D event and the only way you can accurately know what your real clubpath is to be aware of your attack angle, which with video this is not possible either.  On video you will see the direction you are swinging in relative to the target, but there is no way to know your clubpath (which is what creates a good portion of ball flight).
  • "Hitting Down Always Leads to More Backspin"
Spin is created by many factors, but a steeply descending blow on its own will not alter spin.  When a golfer hits down aggressively they often also reduce the loft on the clubface, and a lesser lofted face will do nothing to increase backspin.
  • "Draws Are Much Longer and Spin Less Than Fades"
This is a good one!  With everything else kept the same a ball that spins on a left leaning axis has no reason to go further than a ball with a right leaning spin axis.  Now, keep in mind it's very difficult to keep everything the same (thus draws tend to be longer), but in a controlled environment both shots go the same distance.   Just be aware that a properly struck fade will most often go just as far as its draw side counterpart.

And while it's not a myth, even though PGA Tour golfers average out with a downward attack angle on the driver, TrackMan has more than done it's share to prove how maximum efficiency and distance can be achieved by hitting up with the driver.

Feel free to share your thoughts or questions.....

No More Slicing!

 

If you are like the vast majority of golfers and you tend towards slicing or "power fading" the golf ball and I told you that with one simple change you could straighten out your shots and get a fair bit longer at the same time it would sound too good to be true wouldn't it? The great news is that it IS true.

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.

 
Essentially you are making a grip change as you move from a weak position to a stronger one. After a little practice you should start to feel that you can at least keep the ball straight and if all is going well you might even notice a little extra distance.  The biggest challenge you face as you execute this drill is to overcome the sense of discomfort in the hands and arms at address. Relax, hang on and know that discomfort at this point is a good thing - a positive change is occuring.
 

Additional Resources: