The Importance of Wrist Angles

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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.

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

 

The Open Championship 2011 Royal St. Georges

My favorite tournament of the year is finally here.  If I had one event I could win it would be the Open Championship - I just love the effects of the weather and the truly brilliant golf courses on the Open rota.  

Last time at St. Georges Ben Curtis was the grateful recipient of Thomas Bjorn's untimely demise in a greenside bunker.  By the way - has anybody seen or heard from Mr. Bjorn since that fateful day?

This year I really like the chances of the young guns and were I a betting man I would have a hard time going against these five:

Rory McIlroy - Golf's new golden boy.  He simply must be on everybody's shortlist of champion golfer candidates.  After the dominant showing at Congressional and last years showing at St. Andrews and this year at Augusta...you get the picture.

Louis Oosthuizen - Not sure why I like him as he hasn't done much in the year since holding the Claret Jug (top 10 at the US Open), but I just feel he'll be inspired to be playing major championship links golf.

Rickie Fowler - a stellar showing at last years Open Championship after a horrible opening round.  He is due for something good to happen...

Dustin Johnson - he's got to show up at some point this year in a major right?  I believe he'll come from out of nowhere to challenge this week.

Charl Schwartzel - okay I know I have two young South Africans on my list, maybe I'm biased, but who can argue with this pick.  A win and a top 10 in majors thus far this year.....I look for the bantamweight to be there come Sunday!

We can only hope for similar weather to last year - firm, fast and a stiff breeze off the Dover coast.  I love it!

Tee Times and Pairings

What fabulous terrain for a golf course! Just watching the Open Championship inspires me to take a golf break and get out and play some links golf. There is no better style of golf to play.  Enjoy!

If you are interested in playing a few of the Open Championship courses check out - Golf Breaks UK

Read more about the Open Championship....

The 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits

Here are a few of my thoughts after witnessing the PGA Championship:

  • Martin Kaymer played like a champion and he thoroughly deserved the title. Don't forget the up and down on the 72nd hole he had, not to mention the stunning two he made at 17 in the playoff. I love to see talented, hard working youngsters breaking through. Well done Martin, Louis and Graeme!
  • You would think the PGA of America could have one of their 28,000 members to follow the final group so as to avoid what happened on the 72nd hole. I do not blame anybody for the incident and it is certainly Dustin Johnson's responsibility to know where he is playing from, but let's have a little foresight here....

  • Whistling Straits has more bunkers than all the courses in Africa (not a true statement, but it just might!) and it needs to get pushed off the edge of Wisconsin and into the lake! In fact while they're at it they can push another future PGA site, The Ocean Course at Kiawah into the ocean too. The last time I checked golf was meant to be fun and you couldn't pay me enough to play those two courses in particular. They are both horrible!

  • How about this picture posted at PGA.com of some kids building sand castles in a bunker! How many majors will this ever happen at? I guess that's what happens when you have 1000 too many bunkers.

  • Poor Nick Watney - what started as such a promising day turned into a demoralizing experience. I hope he can come back from this.
  • Dustin Johnson is a tough kid and I believe his 72nd hole nightmare will only steel his attitude towards greater heights. I firmly believe he will come back better than ever from this.
  • I like the way Bubba played the playoff, but he simply must opt to miss long on the final hole versus a shot that has the potential to be short - especially since Kaymer had a poor lie in the rough.
  • For all the focus on Tiger I don't believe he seems to be swinging any better YET. Every time I saw him on day 4 he finished with his right shoulder high from the clubhead being trapped behind him and seemed as wild as ever. I do think his change to Sean Foley is an excellent choice and he will get better under his guidance. And no Sean Foley is not a Stack and Tilter, just an instructor who understands that all swings are unique unto the individual and everything in the swing should be directed around impact.

  • A little insider info is that Tiger called up Foley right after he and Hank parted ways and asked Foley to drop all his other students (notably Mahan and O'Hair) and start teaching only him. Foley said, "Thanks, but no thanks!"
  • I'm sure it's just me, but the PGA Championship is really starting to feel like the fifth major - and there are only four! It just does not appeal to me in the unique manner each of the other three majors do. Anybody up for starting a petition for only three majors?

Congrats Graeme!

Graeme McDowell Celebrates (Vuich/SI) Well played Graeme! You played like you actually wanted to win while everybody else around you couldn't wait to get their hands off the trophy.

My thoughts:

  • Pebble Beach is great place, but I believe the course needs work. When 7 out of 84! of the best golfers in the world hit the 17th green (on Sunday) in fairly benign weather conditions there is a problem. When the shortish par 5 14th hole plays as the most difficult hole on any day there is a problem. No major changes required - it just needs to be made a little more playable. That being said I thought the course was beautifully set up for the week.
  • Tiger's stock is down once again after a week of better ball striking. Could somebody please teach him how to give a post round interview? Let's start with congratulating the champion....! Much better swing though.
  • Hank Haney (who was at Mission Hills in China during Open week) - if Tiger's numbers were so much better with you than any other coach, then I would expect hordes of Tour golfers to be waiting on your doorstep now that you can teach golfers other than just His Highness.  How is that going for you? (BTW - don't bother emailing me on this one)
  • Ernie Els let another one slip from his grasp. Of the 17 full swings he made on the back nine, 8 were in the poor category and that's not to mention a handful of makeable putts sliding by the edge.  I really thought he would pull it out.
  • Phil was just plain flat!
  • Dustin Johnson will be doing some soul searching today. He is a tough kid who has the ability to let things slide of his back and I firmly believe he will come back stronger than ever. To those who might blame his swing for the breakdown on Sunday, please be quiet - Graeme McDowell has almost the exact same left wrist in his swing and that held up just fine. It's all about impact!
  • Gregory Havret played the best out of all contenders on the back nine. He actually had a real shot at the trophy on the last two holes. Great looking swing and I found myself wondering why he doesn't do well more often. Strange game we play! Did anybody think Steve Martin in Pink Panther during his post round interview?
  • I loved the way Graeme McDowell chatted with the camera coming up the eighteenth hole. He showed confidence and personality. Not that any Irishman has been short on personality! He seemed friendly and likeable.
  • Out of the last eight events on the PGA Tour there has been one US winner! Can you believe it - 7 out of 8 have been foreign. It is such a global game and in my opinion that only makes it more interesting.

Graeme and his Dad (Vuich/SI)

Graeme McDowell's Equipment

Happy Father's Day - I hope you have been as blessed as I have with my dad, Bill Rice. What a truly great man. I owe everything in my life to you Willy - thanks.

Masters Thoughts: Thursday

Tiger Woods (Vuich/SI) Here are a few impressions from the opening round at Augusta National on Thursday:

  • The day was all about Tiger and judging by the golf he played - rightly so! While he received multiple fortuitous bounces (8, 9, 10, 11) he left his fair share of 8 footers out there. On Thursday he was a modern day Seve Ballesteros playing at full steam. Good to watch for sure.
  • That being said, Tiger still has a long way to go in improving his reaction to less than stellar shots. I saw and heard multiple GD's and what looked like an f-bomb.
  • Shingo - what happened to the hat?
  • Charl Schwartzel is the real deal! He played a fantastic opener and I look for him to still be around come Sunday. He gets my vote as the best swing in golf at the moment.
  • Aaah Freddy - that swing is perhaps even smoother and freer than it has ever looked. And I love the "golf sneakers", with no socks none the less, to go along with no glove. He looked and swung like a friend had pulled him off the couch for a quick evening 5 holes at their local track! Did you know that Fred is -77 for 12 rounds on the Champions Tour this year....! Yesterday was the lowest round he has ever had at Augusta National.

Freddy Couples (Beck/SI)

  • Each time I checked the leaderboard a different Champions Tour golfer was leading - first Langer, then Watson and finally Freddy Couples. What a great day for golf!
  • I can see the emergency meeting Thursday night with the superintendent: How do we get rid of these silly pine stamens? Why is there pine pollen floating on the ponds? And why are the scores so low? I'm sure every stamen you saw yesterday is already off property, but can you picture Augusta with no pine trees next year?
  • What happened to Ernie and Angel on the back nine yesterday? Els played a fine round, but spoiled it with an ugly double at the closer for 71 and Cabrera had it to -3 before dropping four shots in the final four holes for 73.
  • I love what Jack and Arnie did to start the tournament. Call me sentimental, I just think it adds so much to the event and it's tradition. Gary Player where are you?
  • KJ Choi is swinging and putting beautifully and I look for him to be around on Sunday. Playing with Tiger seemed to spur him on.
  • Does Matt Kuchar have the flattest back swing you have ever seen?
  • If you have not used the scoreboard at Masters.com I would highly recommend it. It includes video highlights for multiple shots from each player - take a look!
  • It was good to see Trevor Immelman and Adam Scott have nice openers. Two young stars who have been missing for awhile.
  • In the battle of the long bombers Dustin Johnson (305.50 yds) currently holds a 1 yard advantage over playing partner Alvaro Quiros (304.50 yds)
  • Lookout for Phil.....lookout!

GIR Stats

FIR Stats

Putting Stats

Driving Distance Stats

The Golf Swing

As a golf community we get so caught up in the "correct way" to swing that we lose sight of what is the correct way to hit. All that seems to matter to us is the look of the swing and golf's greatest champions are proof that looks have nothing to do with results. (Just like in life actually!) Function will always trump form and substance always wins out over style! Let's start to focus on what makes the golf ball go and get to work on that. There are many elements in the golf swing that are negotiable, like straightening the back leg, or lifting the left heel - just look at Sam Snead above. The key is being able to know which elements are non-negotiable, which are the key parts to the swing where the laws of physics must be obeyed. They all happen to occur in and around impact. Here are the most important ones: Get the weight onto the front foot (80+%) at impact. Keep the head over or just behind the ball at impact. This means that the weight shift onto the front foot must occur by driving/shifting the hips and mid-section towards the target. This move leads to what I call body curve. If the body is positioned correctly,

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