A Clubface Primer

A Square Face at the Top
A Square Face at the Top

It is important to understand that the angle of the clubface will influence a golfers' ability to get into a proper impact position. Athletic instinct will always compensate in order to position the face squarely (or as squarely as possible!) at contact. Thus, a square clubface will allow any golfer to naturally more repeatable impact position.

There are three good check points that occur prior to impact to observe the position of the clubface. As these check points get closer to impact they tend to have a greater effect, not only on the impact position, but also the outcome of the shot. Here they are:

Going up:

An Open Face
An Open Face

- Invariably if the clubface fans open early in the swing the clubhead will assume a position inside the hands at this point.

- Here the face is looking more towards the sky than is optimal

- Also notice how there is more daylight between my left hand and right thigh than the picture below

A Square Face
A Square Face

Ideally the clubface should be vertical to slightly tilted down here with the clubhead covering the hands.

A Closed Face
A Closed Face

- In this situation the clubhead has lagged a little behind the hands and arms with a slight draggy start to the swing

-The arms are moving in and close to the body as the handle stays inside the clubhead

- The clubface is looking at the ground too much here

At the top of the backswing:

An Open Face at the Top
An Open Face at the Top

- Notice how the clubface hangs down vertically (almost perpendicular to the ground) and is visible under the shaft

- Also notice the cupping in the back of the left wrist

- This position requires active hands through impact and will generally lead to an over the top approach into the ball

A Square Face at the Top
A Square Face at the Top

Ideally here the clubface should parallel the shaft and the angle of the left arm.

Here you can see the clubface angled up toward the sky (almost parallel to the ground) and it is clearly visible above the shaft

- The left wrist position is quite flat and may even become bowed

- This face position will often cause a golfer to get under plane coming into the hit and force the body to raise up through the hit in an attempt to hold the face square

Coming down:

Open Face Approaching Impact
Open Face Approaching Impact

- This position invariably causes a wiping motion across the ball through impact

- The weight will invariably stay back as the golfer tries to position the body to aid in squaring the face

- Shots struck from this open faced position will be weak and generally not have any "sting" on them

Ideally here the clubface should be in a position where it is perpendicular to the ground.

Closed Face Approaching Impact
Closed Face Approaching Impact

- This clubface position will lead to a raising of the hands through impact

-There must be a loss of body angles through the hit in an attempt to deter the face from flipping closed

-Practice hitting high, cut up 8-iron shots that travel 50 yards to overcome this fault

Additional articles regarding the clubface:

What is a Square Clubface? by Dave Wesley

Secret to Squaring Your Clubface by Kelvin Miyahira

Keep a Square Clubface by Karen Palacios-Jansen

See open, closed, and square club faces by Ty Daniels

Golf Impact Errors

The Moment of Truth

Impact is the most important part of the golf swing! The ball spends an average of 1/2000 of second on the face of the club, yet it is during this time that it receives it's all-important travel itinerary.  How high; how far; what curvature; spin rate; and ultimately what destination is all determined in that fraction of a second.

The above picture is an ideal impact position.

  • The weight is comforably on the front foot
  • The handle is leading the clubhead into the ball and  the clubhead is travelling slightly down for a ball-first, divot-second strike
  • The head is over the ball with the weight in front of the ball leading to body curve

There are only three errors a golfer can make at impact and here they are:

Head and Weight Back

In this example the head has worked back behind the ball too much and the weight remains on the back foot.  This  golfer scoops the ball off the turf and tends to hit weak, high fades and slices with the occasional pulled shot.  Should a divot occur it is most often before the ball is impacted.  This is a typical what I would call "weekend warrior" swing.

Head and Weight Forward

In this example the golfer has found a way t0 "squeeze" the ball and actually strike it fairly well, however, due to the upper body being positioned in front of the ball, direction is a major challenge.  Divots are quite deep and this golfers' tendencies will be to hit pull draws with the occasional push or flare.  There is not enough body curve in this mid-level impact position.

Head Too Far Back with Weight Forward

This impact position is invariably the demise of the better golfer.  Here the golfer has found a way to attack the ball from the inside while still delivering a downward blow to the ball, yet there is too much of a good thing.  The head hangs back while the hips drive to the target, dropping the clubhead too far to the inside and encouraging the hands to flip through impact.  This golfer will tend to play well with good timing, but should things get nervy they will hit blocks and quick, sweeping hooks.

Analyze your shot pattern on the golf course and start to get an idea as to which of the above categories you fall into.  Get in front of a mirror and work towards improving or tempering certain elements of your impact position.  As you do this remember feel is very seldom real when it comes to golf.  Create the correct look in the mirror and then absorb what that 'look' feels like and take that out to your next practice session.

Additional Resources:

Impact - I Suck At Golf

Golf Swing Impact Position

Golf's Contact Zone

The Impact-Driven Golf Swing

There are many ways to swing a golf club, but only one way to hit a golf ball correctly. The whole idea behind my philosophy is the above statement. When looking at the top players of all time, there are no two golfers that swing the club the same way, however they all manage to impact and strike the ball in a similar fashion. How is it possible that Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd and Nancy Lopez can make the ball get to the target the same way that Ben Hogan, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods do? The only answer can be impact. A position where the weight is well on the front foot, the handle leads the clubhead into the ball (with irons) while the head remains over or slightly behind the ball.

Read More

Hands Forward at Impact

One of the most important parts of a great impact is getting the hands in front of the clubhead or ball. This position encourages a delofted clubface and increased ball compression. Additionally, I have found that the hands appear to line up up with the lead thigh at impact for the vast majority of the top players in the game. There are a few factors that play a big role in your ability to get the hands forward at impact and compress the golf ball.

If you are tired of scooping at impact or a weak inconsistent strike then read on..... The primary factor is the quality of your grip.  The weaker the grip the further back the hands tend to start at address and the further back they are required to be at impact. I don't ever recall seeing a golfer with a weak grip (other than Ben Hogan) getting the hands far enough in front of the ball at impact. Think about it: if the grip is weak and the more forward the hands are, then the more open the face will be at impact.  Take a look how many Tour golfers have grips that appear to be stronger vs. weaker and they all have forward shaft lean at impact. Essentially a weak grip necessitates that the hands be further back than they should at impact (they must be back in order to square the clubface), and the more back the hands are, the poorer the strike and the weaker the trajectory will tend to be.

If you are currently the owner of a weak, or even neutral, grip try this:

  • As you prepare to take your grip, rotate the face 20-30 degrees closed
  • Now take your regular grip
  • At address make sure the face is square (this will rotate your hands and arms into a stronger position)

For some reason this method of strengthening your grip does not seem to be as uncomfortable as merely just rotating your hands on the club. Move the club instead. Give it a try.

A proper strong grip will enable you to lead the clubhead with the handle while maintaining a square clubface at impact and compress the ball - isn't that what we're after?

Here is a gallery containing almost 30 PGA Tour golfers from past and present. Take a look at where their hands are at impact:

[nggallery id=16]

Impact Drill: How to Stop Scooping

The Impact "Drag" Drill

An Athletic Impact Drill

Drive the Hips into Impact

Chicken Wing at Impact?

Lee Westwood is an exceptional ball striker and a contender in almost every major championship.

The interesting part about Lee's swing, which I regard as somewhat unique, is his impact position. Is that a chicken wing? Surely that cannot be good? Remember that the only factor that matters is the physics (forces and angles) that the golf club imparts on the ball.

Retief Goosen is the another premier golfer who gets into this impact position, although to a much lesser degree. In looking at the top picture notice that the handle of the club is positioned in line with the lead thigh.  This is the key element. With the driver, the shaft should be vertical or leaning slightly forward, as in the Westwood image, but with irons there should be a few degrees of shaft lean. As a result the hands should once again be aligned with the lead thigh.

The moral of the story - get the club in a great position, relative to the ball, at impact and good things will happen - chicken wing and all.

Should your chicken wing not be quite as functional as the two players above here is a little help:

Shaft Angle at Impact II

Read the original post HERE After more research and some great input from several excellent instructors I have quite a bit to add to the previous post. There are even a few additional golfers I have found to add to the "zero" club (no change in handle position from address to impact) - there has been so much fantastic input that I just had to share it.

Jonathan Yarwood makes a great point in identifying the difference between irons and the driver:

I think that there has to be a raise of the shaft with a driver due to the nature of the sweeping hit off a tee. However, if you look at players like Pricey, the driver became their nemesis, as they got the plane too low to get it flying with the new equipment. Sergio struggles to flight the driver too. Trevino too at times. With a driver, some ’swing and freewheeling’ is required through the hit allowing the club to raise somewhat.

Mark Costaregni, my fellow teacher at Atlantic Golf Club in NY, and senior teacher with Jim McLean at Doral says:

I think you are spot on with this, we have studied shaft plane at address vs. impact and only a few return the handle on plane!!! Fulton Allem also returns it on plane. I remember some footage of Sergio actually UNDER with the handle!!! I believe this is a benchmark for pure greatness in striking. Also it seems the real power hitters tend to get the handle up at impact because of the leverage factor.

Thanks for the addition of Fulton Allem to the list Mark. Fulty has always been a fantastic ball striker and was a prolific winner in South Africa. At Doral they have a fantastic resource in that the best players in the world come to them every year and that leads to a superb bank of swings to analyze and evaluate. I would have to agree with you when you say "pure greatness in striking".

There were multiple questions regarding shaft droop or bowing and even some skepticism about whether any golfer could achieve the "zero" impact position - however the pictures don't lie. Here is what I have noticed:

  • The average shaft angle with a 7 iron at address is around 54 degrees; the average lie angle of a 7 iron is 63 degrees. That allows for 9 degrees of droop/bow in the shaft at impact even with the handle returning to the exact same position at impact - as a result golfers DO NOT need to lift/raise the handle in order to account for the curvature of the shaft.

  • I have found that the golfers who get the handle in the "zero" position (zero degrees of change from address to impact) through the hit tend to have what appears to be less droop/bow in their shaft. This is due to the fact that their hands/arms swing into the ball on a lower (more shallow) plane that more closely matches the plane the clubhead travels on. The lower the arm plane coming into impact, the less difference there is between the arm and clubhead plane and thus less droop/bow in the shaft.
  • Thus, the higher the hands are positioned through impact the more the shaft tends to curve downward.
  • That being said, if you can return the handle to its address position, you should not need to flatten your irons (unless they are too upright already!) due to the fact that the shaft will droop less.

The next time you are playing a "well worn" golf course take a look at the divot patterns on the range or a shortish par three.  Keeping in mind that most golfers are right handers, you'll see most of the divots are in the shape of a trapezoid. This is due to high hands and excessive droop in the shaft getting the toe further into the ground than the heel.

Here is an excellent drill to illustrate how any golfer can work towards achieving this ultimate impact position. If there ever was a drill that would make you hit it like Hogan, this is it.

Reed Howard, an fine young golfer illustrates how to perfectly execute this drill. Does this look like Ben Hogan or what?

A point to note: the line drawn on the photos of Moe Norman is not the original shaft plane line. The shaft plane line is drawn along the shaft at address. I am not sure what the yellow line in the photos represents, but it does act as a good reference point.

The select list of golfers who belong to the zero club are:

  • Moe Norman
  • Ben Hogan
  • Nick Price
  • Lee Trevino
  • Vijay Singh
  • Joe Durant
  • Carl Pettersson
  • Sergio Garcia

The golfers who are very close (within two degrees), but not quite there:

  • Trevor Immelman
  • Lucas Glover
  • DJ Trahan
  • Boo Weekley
  • Paula Creamer
  • Sean O'Hair

All very good ball strikers in their own right!

I have only ever personally witnessed two golfers "naturally" return the handle to its original position. They are - Lindsay Renolds and Michael Koulianos. Both superb ball strikers!

Try the drill - strive for zero - and know that if you get close to it you can only get better!

I really believe that if any golfer can work towards getting into a better position (zero!) at impact they can only improve their ball striking and increase the enjoyment they get from the game.

Keep working!

Impact Drill

CIMG1866

Here is another great drill to help any golfer gain a better perspective of what impact should feel like.

  • Drape a towel (large or small) around the hosel of any iron.
  • With the clubhead resting on the ground as pictured above drag the towel along the ground toward the target.

This drill can be done with or without a towel (pictured below) and will give you the sense of leading with the handle into the impact zone.

CIMG1867

Notice the flex and pressure in the shaft as I am pressing down while dragging the handle into the hit.  Give it a try - I did, and I think it can help you too.

Thanks to my fellow instructor Mark Costaregni at Atlantic Golf Club for turning me onto this drill and Joe Connery for his camera expertise.

View the HD video of this drill HERE

Free "It's All About Impact" Golf Seminar

Impact Book Cover

On Monday, April 19th I will be offering a free Golf Seminar to anybody who has purchased or purchases "It's All About Impact" - my recent golf instruction book.  The seminar will take place at the Learning Center at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton, SC from 10AM-12PM.

For the cost of a book you get a two hour seminar included? That is correct!

Topics that will be covered include:

  • The 84 degree secret and why it matters
  • The correct shoulder pivot
  • Fundamentals for the Impact Driven golf swing
  • Impact Position basics
  • Take home exercises and drills for long game and short game

Phil Mickelson and the 84 Degree Secret

As an added incentive to attend, and of course purchase the book, all attendees who purchase additional books will receive a voucher for a $75 golf lesson (one hour) with Andrew Rice - that is 50% off the regular rate of $150!

In order to purchase your copy to ensure your place in this insightful golf seminar please go to www.itsallaboutimpact.com and make your purchase today. If you have already purchased the book and plan on attending please let me know by emailing me at andrew@andrewricegolf.com.

Please be sure to bring your copy of "It's All About Impact" to the seminar so I can personalize it for you. I hope to see you all next Monday and "GET YOUR PLAID ON" this week!

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,

Read More

The Golf Swing and Foot Work

Let's take a look at each slide and the corresponding position of Lee Westwood. Address: I like the way the weight is evenly spread here. The head should be centered between the feet and if this is the case the foot pressure will be matching and thus correct. Takeaway: It is interesting to note that there is not a tremendous amount of shift here - notice how the right shoe only has one segment that is absorbing more pressure than the left foot. Top Position: While the right foot is clearly under more pressure than the left this is due to the coiling and wind up of the body vs. a huge weight shift or slide. Remember there should be no (or very little) lateral motion as you pivot to the top of the backswing. In fact, if you looked at Ben Hogan's feet when his club reached the 'top' he would clearly have more pressure on the left foot due to his very dynamic swing. Impact: What I love about this illustration is how impact only has two more pressure points than the follow through! The weight is clearly on the front foot - just as it should be. Follow Through: The weight is all the way up on the front foot, but not significantly more than where it was at address.

Tom Watson at Turnberry Sam Snead at WentworthThe moral of the story is that in order to shift the weight correctly, the lower body and particularly the feet, need to work. Just like Watson and Snead - the lower body must make its contribution to the motion and energy generated in the golf swing.

Read More

The Shoulder Pivot

An important factor in getting the body into position for a great impact is the manner in which the shoulders pivot. Far too many golfers are trying to turn too much and get their lead shoulder behind the ball.

Read More

Evidence of the 84 Degree Secret

Perhaps two of the sweetest swings in all of golf - Mickey Wright (who gets my vote as the best swing of all time!) and a young Ernie Els. Both these golfers are at or approaching the top of the backswing. Notice how their right side is flush up against the 84 degree line.

Read More

Golf Impact Drills

In order for a golfer to improve their ball striking they must get into a better impact position.  Here are a few tried and trusted impact drills to help you get to where you need to be: (Use a seven or eight iron when a club is required in all of the drills below)

  • The first drill is the down slope drill.  Simple enough!  Just watch for allowing your upper body to sneak down the hill as well - try to ensure your head remains over the ball.  At address, make sure you maintain a regular ball position.

Downslope Drill

  • The impact bag drill.  Another fairly straightforward exercise here, but the benefit lies in the details.  When the club impacts the bag be sure to get the shaft to contact the upper part of the bag before the club head gets there.  This will ensure that the handle leads the clubhead.  Also, save your joints, club and impact bag by not whaling away at the bag too hard.  You just want a feel to carry over to the real deal.

Impact Bag Drill done Correctly

  • The 'hip press' drill.  This is a great drill that will give you a very good sense of body position at impact and also provide you with an amazing stretch.  If you slice or fade the ball this is for you! Set up to a ball without a club and your hands on your hips.  While maintaining your head position over the ball drive your hips as far toward the target as your body will allow.  Your back heel should come off the ground slightly as you feel the back leg straighten.  It will feel like you are pointing at the ground with the big toe on your back foot!  Hold for five seconds and release.  Afterwards try this with a club in your hands.

Hip Press Drill

  • The towel/line drill works wonders for compressing the ball and taking those ideal 'bacon strip' divots.  It ensures that the golfer shifts the weight onto the front foot at impact.  Practice as pictured, making sure the towel provides a slight amount of elevation and all the ensuing divots occur forward of the line of golf balls. 

The Towel/Line Drill in Action

To get a little more sizzle on your shots, irons or woods, try the above drills!

I look forward to the Open Championship tomorrow.  Golfweek has a great slideshow that captures the vibe.  The weather looks good and the rough looks brutal.

It seems that the two Scottish greats, Monty and Sandy Lyle are feuding over who should be Ryder Cup captain first and who cheated! Shame on ya wee laddies!

I look for Padraig and Rory to perform nicely! Here are the latest odds. 

Enjoy!

The 84 Degree Secret Explained

The most interesting discovery I made when studying the top golfers of all-time for Its All About Impact was the 84 degree secret. It is uncanny how different all their swings are yet the vast majority of them find a way to obey this important element in the swing.

Please keep in mind that the 84 degree line is only important as it pertains to impact. It serves to position the weight correctly throughout the swing so that the body can easily glide into the proper impact position.

As you view the picture above picture a line running up this golfers right side (left as you view it).  The line forms an 84 degree angle off of vertical (90 degrees).  The line should run up the outside of the right leg, cut through a portion of the shoulder and just barely graze the side of the head. When studying swings I started to use this line to isolate body movement and quickly found it to be a good guide for the address position and as a player approached the top of the backswing.

Wright 84At address the head should not break the line. I noticed with golfers who had too much tilt at address this was quite prevalent and they all had a difficult time assuming the proper impact position once they had started poorly.  Notice the picture below.

Too Wide and Tilted

Another common fault was breaking the 84 degree line in the backswing with too much lateral motion. This fault very often originates with too much tilt at address. Try to feel centered over the ball throughout the backswing. Keep in mind that this can be done while still maintaining a sense of loading into the back side or leg.   Notice the picture below....

Too Much Lateral Motion

I have found that an excellent drill that conveys the appropriate feel is the ball drill pictured below.  Position your back foot up against a wall and place a basketball or soccerball between your head and the wall.  Crossing your arms across your chest, pivot into your back side feeling the wind and torque in your core muscles.  Hold the position at the top to absorb the sense or feel you have. This is what the body should feel like when it is correctly positioned to compress the ball at impact!

84 Degree Drill

Equipment Factoids

Basic Blades So often golfers are tempted into believing their equipment is the reason for the poor results they have been experiencing.  Sometimes they may be correct, yet most times, this leads to the decision to make a change.

Here are a few simple things to keep in mind when considering making a change to your set:

  • The latest and greatest is not necessarily all it is hyped to be.  It is more than likely the same old thing with a new and exciting paint job.  Decide what you like and stick with that!  I am currently using a set of irons with the same type of heads (blades), shafts (Dynamic Gold s-400) and grips (rubber with reminders) that I used when I first started to play the game.  (Titleist 690.MB)
  • When it comes to irons there are three options: blades; the oversized helper set; and something in between the two.  Get something you know you will be comfortable with.
  • As far as fitting for irons we all need to know two numbers: the length and lie angle that we prefer!  Not 2 degrees over standard or plus a half inch on length!  This is because all companies have different standards (don't we all?) and if you know the length and lie of your clubs you are immune to any problems that might arise.  My 6 iron is 37.50 inches long and has a lie angle of 60.50 degrees.  I will use those numbers for as long as I can swing.
  • Get clubs that fit your body and not strictly your impact position on the day of fitting!  Lose the lie boards and tape on the bottom of irons please.
  • Find a  shaft that fits your swing and feels good to you and then stay with it for as long as they make it!  Make sure it is not too strong.
  • When it comes to putters keep in mind that there are essentially two genres: face-balanced and toe weighted. If you are considering making a putter change try to stay in your genre unless things have just been horrific on the greens.
  • There have been very few to no improvements made in the field of fairway woods.  Titanium is very light and thus the heads tends get too big, so find a simple and small stainless steel head that you like the look of and set about developing a long lasting relationship with it.
  • When selecting a fairway wood decide whether you would like to use it predominantly off the fairway or more as a tee club.  Select the loft of the club accordingly.
  • Limit the number of wedges in your bag to a maximum of three - that means a PW, SW and an LW at most!  If you struggle with the wedges stick to a PW and SW so as to not cloud any decision-making around the greens.  Tour players practice enough, are skilled enough and play the kind of courses that require precise enough shots to justify four wedges being in the bag.
  • There should be an even number of degrees between each of your wedges.  Most PW's are 48 degrees and I have a 54 and a 60.  Other viable options are a PW and a 52 and 56 or a PW and a 53 and 58.
  • When selecting your wedges be sure to incorporate enough bounce in each club.  Unless your name is Eldrick, Phil or Vijay you need more than 6 degrees of bounce on any wedge you own.  That's why manufacterers build clubs with 14 degrees of bounce!
  • There are two shapes of grips folks - rounds and reminders!  Find out what shape you like and ask for it by name the next time you refresh your grips. 
  • When it comes to grips forget the latest cool colors or which ones your favorite player is using - they are more than likely getting paid to use the ones on their clubs.  Decide which grips are for you and your preference and now you don't have to worry about the latest fad.
  • The driver is the one club in the bag where it pays to stay current.  Find a reputable club fitter in your area that uses a launch monitor and go and get fitted.  Whenever you get the urge to replace your current big stick get back on that launch monitor to compare the latest offering with your trusty old steed!
  •  The current fitting carts that most companies have make it very easy to try multiple different heads with various shafts.  Be patient, try them all and then find a club that gives you good numbers and looks great to you!

Chipping Clubs

Enjoy watching the world's best wade through the quagmire that appears to be the 2009 US open this weekend.....

A Great Impact Position = Compression

                                                                 

Tiger makes an Impact
Tiger makes an Impact

We have all heard the sound of a properly struck golf shot: the ball squeezing off the face and fizzing toward the target with the divot flying and the ball penetrating the air with a seemingly single-minded purpose.  This is the sound of compression!   This is golf acoustics at it's finest.

The compression of a golf ball only comes from a well executed, subtle, downward blow on the golf ball.  A strike where the face is square and the path is straight.  The easiest way to achieve compression is by getting into a great impact position.  Here is how:

  • Set up with the stance width fairly narrow and the lead eye over the ball.  The ball position should favor a little more back than forward.
  • Remain fairly centered over the ball in the back swing.  Obey the 84 degree secret!
  • Drive the weight (hips and thighs) onto the front foot without getting the head forward of where it started.  This is what I refer to as body curve!
  • Trap the ball by leading with the handle into the hit.  The hands must beat the club head to impact.  With the weight comfortably favoring the front foot this creates the descending strike on the ball which in turn leads to compression!

   Singh

                                     Watson

 

 

 Notice the uncanny similarity between Vijay and Tom in the illustrations.  While they have each already impacted the ball it does appear that the handle of the club got beyond the ball prior to impact as they both achieve the appropriate amount of body curve.  

A recipe for compression!

 

 

                                                                                                                         open-logo1

 A great strike on the ball is a necessity when you play a course like the players will face in the 2009 U.S Open at Bethpage Black.  The long and punishing test is designed to expose any ball striking flaws that may exist.

Here are a few U.S.Open notes:

  • Newsday.com has some great up-to-the-minute news and photos - Long Island style!
  • What does Hank Haney do while watching Tiger hit every single shot of the last two weeks?  I think he was in every picture I saw of Tiger.
  • I find it interesting that there have already been four withdrawals.  If my game or body was not in top shape I think I'd stay home too!
  • I predict a winning score of -5 and I predict someone in a red shirt will win!

The Shoulder Pivot (Part 3 of a Four Part Series)

The ProperShoulder Pivot
The Proper Shoulder Pivot

I often hear golfers speaking about 'turn' and getting their lead shoulder 'behind' the ball.  In my opinion these thoughts very often cause a golfer to pivot the body incorrectly; thus making it difficult to get into a sound impact position.

In my research conducted on the top golfers of all time one of the few factors that was consistent to each of them was the manner in which they wound/pivoted their shoulders.
As the picture illustrates, at halfway through the backswing the right forearm is always above the left forearm (speaking as a right hander).  This forearm position indicates that the lead shoulder is traveling down and the back shoulder is, conversely, working up.  When executed correctly this move will give the golfer a sense of torque building up in the body, without a great deal of length to the swing.  A correct shoulder pivot also deters the upper body from any unnecessary lateral movement.
As an exercise, place a club across the front of your shoulders with the grip pointing toward the target.  Positon a ball where it would normally be and assume your normal posture.  As you pivot into the backswing try to get the grip of the club to point at the ball.  While this gets the shoulders a little too steep it will serve you well in conveying the sense required to get the shoulders to work correctly.
This is one of the very few elements that top golfers have in common.
Shouldn't you have it in your swing?
Things to ponder:
  • Is Charles Howell really that bad with the putter?
  • Boo Weekley will win the Players Championship!
  • Jerry Kelly pulled an Angel - he vanished for most of the final round and then slipped back in the back door. Well done!
  • How does Sabbatini play the way he does with that move of his?
  • I played Callawassie Island for the first time yesterday and  would highly recommend it to anybody in the area!

The Grip and How it Pertains to Impact (Part 1 of a Four Part Series)

A strong grip This is the first in a four part series looking at the three primary factors that pertain to a solid impact position.  They are:

  1. A strong grip
  2. A balanced set-up
  3. Centered body motion (two parts)

In studying the top golfers of all time it has become increasingly apparent to me that the grip plays a big role in a golfer's ability to achieve a proper impact position.  The vast majority of major winners has a grip that favors the strong end of the spectrum vs. the weaker end.  In fact the only two golfers I can think of that have had a noticeably weak grip and managed to win a major are Ben Hogan and Jose-Maria Olazabal - all the rest have been neutral to strong! Patty Berg, the winner of more majors than any other woman, had a grip that would rival that of Paul Azinger, David Duval and Boo Weekley- all notoriously strong grippers.  I don't think this is by accident.

The primary reason why a strong grip is apt to be more consistent, and thus more successful than a weaker grip is because it allows the golfer to lead with the handle into impact without concern for squaring the clubface.  Try this: take an iron and set up.  Now push your hands forward, paying attention to what happens to the clubface.  Two things should have occured; firstly, the face should have been delofted.  Check... we want that!  Secondly, the face should have rotated slightly open... we don't want that!  This is where a strong grip serves to keep the face square while the handle leads the clubhead into impact.  A player who utilizes a weak grip is prone to active hands and that decreases the player's ability to lead with the handle and ultimately compress the golf ball.

A secondary reason why a strong grip proves to be more successful is due to the fact that now in order to hit a straight shot, the hands must remain quiet through the hit.  We all know that quiet hands are ultimately more consistent than active hands.  It is certainly easier to keep the hands passive than to attempt to time a flip through the impact zone.

Try a stronger grip - it should ultimately allow you to hit crisp and penetrating golf shots!

Notes from Heritage Week:

  • Aaron Baddeley is no longer a Stack-n-Tilter! "Too low!" he said when asked why. The few tee balls I saw were definitely higher than I'd seen from him in the past.
  • Trevor Immelman was kind enough to give my son his glove and I was amazed to see he wears a men's cadet small!
  • Zach Johnson has only had two hole-in-ones!
  • Boo Weekley is exactly what the PGA Tour needs.
  • The players love Heritage week - the whole atmosphere is just so relaxed and enjoyable. Couple that with a great golf course and you've got a recipe for success.
  • Brian Gay is an example of how the PGA Tour is an 'equal opportunity' employer. You don't have to be 6'5 and hit it 320 to win out there.
  • The top five finishers at the Masters were a combined -55 and the top five finishers at Harbourtown were -58. Sure the field is not as strong as at Augusta, but Brian Gay did put up a record performance. The Pete Dye lowcountry gem is as good as any course in the world!
  • Did anybody notice how steady Brian Gay was over the ball. No lateral move whatsoever!
  • Ernie Els is a great supporter of the Heritage event. The tournament vibe just seems to fit with his own - he's not the "Big Easy" for nothing!
  • Ian Baker-Finch is a class act and I am pleased to see his increased role with the CBS broadcast team.