How to Practice: 1. SWING

This is the first in a series on how to get the most out of the limited available time you have to work on your game. I'm a big proponent of allocating a portion or your practice time to taking ownership of mechanics and SWING, another portion to SKILL development and finally executing SHOTS to carry the upgrades to an "on-course" styled environment. Each session should be filtered through the swing, skill and shot mantra.

Let's get started with understanding what should be going into the swing segment of your practice. This is block practice and that is a good thing! We need it. Block practice is a necessity as it allows us to get enough technical reps in to start taking full ownership of the upgrades. Block practice only becomes a problem when that's the ONLY way you practice. If you can find a way to incorporate swing, skill and shot into all of your practice sessions I have a sneaky feeling things will start to get better. Check this out...

When in swing mode this is what I'm looking for:

  • I use a 7 or 8 iron and practice off preferred lies or even tees
  • I'll most often use an alignment aid and hit all shots to one target
  • I don't pay much attention to the shot. My focus is primarily on the motion
  • I make a number of practice swings and feels between each shot
  • This is the only time I'll devote to doing swing drills
  • A nice addition to this segment of your practice would be a mirror as it allows you to 'feel' the look you're after

Make sure that to avoid the trap of trying to hit result based shots while you're attending to mechanics - that will come later. Check back next week where I will share my take on how to develop your skills as a golfer.

Trip Update: I have an opening for one more couple to New Zealand in February 2017 and space for a few more couples to South Africa in January 2017. Should you be interested check out www.syncexcursions.com or shoot terri(at)andrewricegolf.com an email. Would love to have you join me!

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! 

Weight Shift vs Pressure Shift in the Golf Swing

The SwingCatalyst Pressure Plate and 3D Force Plate has been invaluable tool, not only to my students, but also to my understanding of how the golf swing works. Here's a video explaining something that took me quite a while to comprehend. There can be a significant difference between where a golfer's weight is at a point in the swing and where they are exerting pressure on the ground. This should clarify....

Of course it's also important to keep in mind that how a golfer pressures the ground will ultimately determine how they eventually shift their weight. 

Thanks for checking in and I hope this stuff helps your game!

A Drill for Skill

As anyone who follows me here or on social media is aware I am a huge fan of skill development for my students. I believe the ability to precisely control the clubhead, clubface and strike point though impact is what makes the difference between a great golfer and someone who is merely, a golfer.

I recorded the following TrackMan screencast following a lesson I recently did with a strong collegiate golfer named Seth Gandy. My objective was to not only give Seth the feel necessary to be able to hit draws, but also to improve his ability at controlling the amount of draw. Watch...

I created what I called the Clubpath Ladder Drill for any golfer to become skillful at controlling the shape of their golf shots. I am a big proponent of what I call practicing "outside the lines" and this drill forces the golfer to hit a sequence of shots where not two are alike. Keep in mind I wanted Seth to be able to hit his go to baby fade, but by making him practice shots that are outside his comfort zone he is improving his skill at making the club communicate his intent to the ball - a necessity for great golf.

If you are a coach who uses radar technology or even a golfer looking to improve your skills I would encourage to add this type of practice into your improvement plan. You can apply this ladder type drill to a variety of elements including club speed, dynamic loft and even face angle.

Have some fun with this and if you can fit more than ten shots into the clubpath ladder drill please let me know. That's very good!

Remember this - technique will get you into the arena, but it's skill that gets you onto the podium!.

Top 100 Most Popular Golf Instructors

A list with a twist! The crew at swingmangolf.com recently came up with a novel way to rank golf instructors by using advanced Google analytics to analyze over 600 coaches to see which of them were most sought after by the golfing public. Which teachers are being watched and read online more than any other?

Mark Crossfield

Mark Crossfield

Here are the Top 50 from the list:

43rd Josh Zander, James Sieckmann, Jeff Ritter, Maggie Noel, Pia Nilsson, Mike Malaska, Bill Harmon, Gary Gilchrist

38th Suzy Whaley, Grant Waite, Claude Harmon III, Ben Doyle, Mark Blackburn

35th Mac O'Grady, Darrell Klassen, Mike Adams

30th Stan Utley, Brian Manzella, Pete Cowen, Chuck Cook, Zach Allen, 

25th Bob Toski, Kelvin Miyahira, Meredith Kirk, Jim Hardy, Bobby Clampett

21st Andrew Rice, Peter Kostis, Wayne Defrancesco, Manuel De La Torre

18th Doug Tewell, Dave Stockton, Martin Chuck

16th Monte Scheinblum, Todd Graves

12th Dave Pelz, Michael Breed, Mike Bender, Jimmy Ballard

9th Jim McLean, Martin Hall, Shawn Clement

8th Todd Anderson

7th David Leadbetter

6th Paul Wilson

5th Chris Como

3rd Hank Haney, Sean Foley

2nd Butch Harmon

1st Mark Crossfield

(Article and full list HERE)

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

An interesting list that is bound to raise a few eyebrows. A few points to note:

  • All the teachers in the Top 5, except Mark Crossfield, have at some point coached Tiger Woods.
  • Faculty from  Revolution Golf are nicely represented with Sean Foley (3rd), Jim McLean (9th), Martin Chuck (18th) and yours truly (21st).
  • Both Berkeley Hall teachers were in the Top 100 with Krista Dunton coming in 82nd.

I was honored to be recognized by you, the golfing public, and I am fully committed to upgrade the quality of the information I share with you on a daily basis. My philosophy is this - I want to communicate the most accurate information available in a manner that is easily understood by all golfers.

Thanks for reading and for your support!

To Mill or Not to Mill?

My three test subjects...

I must be honest and write that I did this test in the hopes of proving a few people wrong. Instead, I have proven myself wrong. With my research for the Wedge Project I put my "stake in the ground" on what I believed regarding milling on the clubface. All the tests I performed using TrackMan and various wedges always showed that a wedge without a milled face generated less spin (albeit slightly) than wedges with the fine "corduroy" look of milling between the grooves.

I looked up a person I believe to be very knowledgeable when it comes to equipment, Tom Wishon. I read all that he had to say on the matter of grooves and surface roughness and his findings aligned with the results I was seeing in my tests.

Based on what I had available to me I had done my homework and had placed my "stake in the sand" in favor of milling on the clubface. It just made sense to me. Until this....

David Neville and the crew from Vokey Wedges have been kind enough to let me have access to a few test wedges. They sent me six wedges of which I chose to use three for this test.

No grooves and no milling

No grooves and milling

All three wedges have the same grip, shaft (DG S200), length, grind (M) and a stated loft of 56 degrees. I did not check their weight, actual loft, lie angle or bounce measurements. I hit 60 shots off a mat (to eliminate ground interference) with the no groove, no milling club and 60 shots off a mat with the no groove, milled club. I then eliminated the 15 lowest spinning shots to leave the remaining 45 highest spinning shots with each club. I used slightly used ProV1X balls and attempted to carry each shot 50 yards. I wiped or cleaned the clubface between every 3rd or 4th shot. Here are the results:

Titleist SM4 TVD M 56 degree Chrome Fly Cut without Grooves or Milling

Titleist SM5 56.10 M 56 degree Raw Surface without Grooves/Milling Only

As you can see the club that had surface milling or roughness actually generated less spin - 6009 RPM to 6229 RPM. While the difference between the two is negligible and most golfers would have a hard time telling the difference between the ball flight of one versus the other (myself included), the result is significant to me in that I firmly believed the outcome would be reversed.

Keep in mind this is a test involving one golfer hitting a limited number of shots to one distance. The results might be a slightly different with multiple golfers at different distances, but I don't believe different enough to sway the outcome of this test.

I recently posted this quote by Martin Palmer on Twitter: "The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student." Today my "stake in the sand" moved - I was a student and I learned something. I think it is vital as a coach, or even as a golfer, to place your "stake in the sand" and firmly believe in a method, approach or theory. Stand by it and argue in its favor. That is, until you uncover sound evidence or reasoning against your viewpoint - then you pick up your stake, admit you were wrong and adjust your approach.

As a point of interest I wanted to see how a standard clubface might interact with the ball. I hit 25 shots (keeping the best 20) with the Titleist SM4 TVD M grind that has 17 standard grooves and a milled face. Here are those results:

Titleist SM4 TVD M 56 degree Black Oxide 17 Grooves with Surface Milling

As you can see this clubface with both grooves and surface roughness generated the highest spin rates of all three clubs. This leads me to believe that grooves play a larger, more important role on cleanly struck shots than I originally thought.

As I continue to learn and work towards providing my students with what I believe to be the best current information and knowledge available I know that I will continue to be wrong. The blessing is that each time I am wrong I will learn, adjust and be less wrong than I was before.

The Wedge Project and a New Look!

I am very excited to announce the release of The Wedge Project. It has been a long time in the making and I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would when I departed on a simple research project almost four years ago. That idea, to learn more about that low launching, high spin pitch or chip shots that golfers would sometimes hit, has opened my eyes to what I now view as the "missing link" to short game instruction.

wedgeproject

Thank you all so much for your patience as you have waited for me to get this "project" out to you. I am pleased with the product and know that everyone will benefit from the information presented. If you like/enjoy/appreciate what you see could I ask that you please share with your friends how they too might be able to purchase the video - unless of course you don't want them pitching/chipping any better. 

Thank you for your support and readership and I am grateful for anything you could do to help get the word out. Please share your thoughts here and on Twitter using #wedgeproject

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Also, I hope you enjoy the new look of Andrew Rice Golf. We would love to hear your comments, both positive and constructive. If there is anything wrong or missing please shoot me a note and I'll work to get it taken care of ASAP.

Thanks again for everything - without you this site would not be possible.






The Hot Drivers and Shafts for 2013

It's always nice to get an unbiased opinion from an expert. As a result I recently spent some time with friend and clubfitting guru Ian Fraser from Modern Golf in Toronto Canada, discussing what he deemed to be the top driver and shaft options available for 2013. Ian has no affiliation with any one club or shaft manufacturer so I really value his opinions. Here are his selections for the top shafts available this year:

UST Mamiya Attas 4U

  • higher launch and low spin
  • stronger mid-section helps to increase ball speed

Graphite Design Tour AD BB

  • BB - blue bullet
  • designed to produce less spin with a lower launch

Fujikura Fuel

  • designed with feedback from ENSO technology
  • lower launching and lower spinning shaft
  • excellent price point

I also wanted to hear Ian's take on the new crop of drivers that have been on the market for a few months now and he had some interesting things to say. Here are his choices:

Titleist 913 D2/D3

  • improved design and ball speed over the 910 series
  • D2 and D3 different in size, yet similar in spin rates

TaylorMade R1

  • massive adjustability with very high ball speed
  • slightly heavier than the R11S

Ping G25

  • highest MOI of any driver available and best paint job!
  • slightly less spin and higher ball speed than the G20

I suppose my optimal driver would one that had the looks of the Titleist 913 D3, the stability and matte black finish of the Ping G25 along with the adjustability and ball speed of the TaylorMade R1....one can dream!

Please be aware that going out and simply purchasing and combining one of the above options might not be the best thing for you. I would recommend getting with a professional clubfitter who uses TrackMan technology to find the appropriate head and shaft match for your particular swing. You should be looking for the optimal launch and spin characteristics that match your swing speed.

Read THIS to know where you should be launching and spinning the ball based on your current club speed.

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.

An Invitation to Africa

If you havealways dreamt about a first-class safari in Africa then this is not an opportunity to be missed.

The upcoming adventure will take you to the Madikwe Game Reserve, where you will spend five luxurious nights at the renowned Makanyane Safari Lodge.

Past travellers have experienced up close and personal encounters with lions on the doorstep of their suite and elephants grazing in the camp! Don't worry though, you are completely safe. Our guests have even had the rare honor of seeing the complete "Big Five" - lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo and rhino.

The setting, local cuisine and attention to detail from the staff are as epic as the game viewing.

Following these five memorable days we travel to what is arguably the world's most beautiful city - Cape Town! Here we stay at the five-star Table Bay Hotel located on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

During your Cape Town stay you have the option to play three rounds of golf interspersed with shopping, sightseeing and a majestic trip up Table Mountain. Your travels will also include dining and wine-tasting at Ernie Els Winery and Boekenhoutskloof Winery - two of South Africa's premier wine estates.

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