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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Maintain Body Angles for Consistency

Have you ever struggled with shots that just don't seem to go where they should? The ball always seems to leak right or hook left. Today's post strives to get at the root cause of why your golf swing is so reliant on timing.

One of the more frequent mistakes I see golfers make is to stand up or lose their body angles through impact - the "stand and deliver" move! The loss of body angles or posture causes the body to stop rotating and as a result the hands now assume the responsibility of squaring the clubface. Remember - if the body does not rotate to clubface square, then the hands will help out. This move is very difficult to time, especially under pressure, and often leads to the hands overworking or flipping through impact. If the hands rotate the clubface too early the shot misses left and if they're a touch late, then the shot misses right.

Consistently straight shots are achievable only when the clubface is being squared via the rotation of the body through impact.

An indicator that you are losing your body angles through impact is that your divots (if you are even taking any) are always deeper on the outside than the inside. They are toe deep. (A big reason why an "active" fitting is not always the best way to go!)

A good method to ensure that the body continues it's rotation through the hit is to work on maintaining your posture or spine angle that is established at address. Hit little pitch type shots with an eight iron trying to feel that your torso stays down over the ball while clearing through the strike. A good feel is to try and sense that the hands are low through impact - they should feel like they are actually lower at impact than they were at address. You may even have the sense that the toe of the club is higher at impact than the heel. Try this DRILL

This is something that all of golf's greatest ball strikers have in common - Nick Price, Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan all did a fantastic job of maintaining their posture through impact. This allowed them to take the hands, and timing, out of the equation - a recipe for consistently good golf shots.

Body Angles | Andrew Rice Golf

Clubs Too Upright, Too Light?

Thanks to reader Chuck for this enlightening article posted by Bradley Hughes from www.bradleyhughesgolf.com:

 FLAT LIE ANGLES -            The Reason and Logic Of The Greats

I know from personal experience in a question asked directly to Lee Trevino that he used clubs that were at least 3 degrees flat in lie angle from the old standard. Doug Sanders also informed me in the interview I recently did with him (on page 2) that he had his clubs flattened down so the toe sat down and the heel would never strike the ground first. If we look at Ben Hogan's club that is in USGA Golf House Museum it is close to 6 or 7 degrees flat in lie angle when compared to clubs of the same length and loft of today.

If flat lie angles were the choice of the game's best ball strikers throughout history then WHY do manufacturers insist on putting upright lie angled clubs in the hands of golfer's today?

  • The upright clubs make the player come steeply into the ball on descent.
  • The upright clubs tell the body stall and insist that the hands flip through impact to try and square that upright lie angled club with the ground.
  • The upright club straightens the right arm away from the body and increases clubface roll throughout the shot making timing a huge problem.
  • Upright lie angles deteriorate the swing by not stressing the importance of swinging the golf club behind and around the body and rotating through impact with the correct body effort and sequence.

Too often we now see golfers throwing the club through impact - pushing the club head off to the right of the target or throwing the clubhead left of the target with their hand roll - flipping the club face over by hand action trying to correct the mistake. Today's clubs should all come with a warning label:     "Swing Deterioration And Poor Mechanics Possible By Using This Club"

 Add the fact that the shafts are too long and the swingweights and overall club weights are too light and it is little wonder we don't see ball striking mastery on any level any longer. Remember: Feedback of the club and the swing is necessary for improvement to take place. That's why golfers are not improving. They don't know the difference between a good strike or a bad strike of the ball because the permieter weighting and large sweet spots don't allow such reference. The equipment golfers are using is NOT designed to help them adjust their swing to the correct efficient motion.

Bradley Hughes

Very well said Mr. Hughes. I have an inkling as to why manufactureres insist on making clubs lighter and more upright...... Firstly, the clubs are more upright as it causes the faders, who happen to be the majority of golfers, to reduce the amount of curvature of their shots. Notice I never said anything about improving their swings - the upright lies in fact encourage these golfers to continue swinging the way they always have. And secondly, the light weight leads to more speed which creates a Wow! factor when they first hit the clubs. The lighter the club the faster you can swing it. You also, however, relinquish a measure of control over the clubhead and a feel for the club.

So the slicer who tries his buddies new 7-iron and hits a straight bomb over the green is amazed as he has never hit the ball that straight and that far before - he simply must have a set!

As with most things it comes down to $$$$! Don't get sucked in and allow yourself to be enticed with new gimmicks. Know your numbers (length and lie) and play something you like the look of and can feel.

Shaft Angle at Impact

All I can say after doing the research for this post is WOW! This is something that is really interesting and I've never really delved into it before. In looking at the illustrations above and the photos below you will see what I am referring to - it is very rare for any golfer to return the shaft/club at impact to the same position it occupied at address (when viewed from down the line).
In fact so rare, that I have only found four golfers who do it more often than not. The amazing thing is that this group of golfers is a collection of some of the finest ball strikers that ever played the game. They are Lee Trevino, who Jack Nicklaus claims is the best hitter he ever saw, Ben Hogan, Nick Price and Sergio Garcia.

I have included the picture of Tiger Woods from 2000 below to illustrate where most PGA Tour caliber players return the shaft to at impact. Notice how his handle is above where it started (on the red line) at address.

Out of the four golfers I have found to get the shaft completely back to the line it appears that Sergio might be the least consistent at always returning the shaft back to the line, but as noted above, he does so more often than not.

Another interesting point to note is the golfers who are very close to returning the club to the line: Vijay Singh and Joe Durant (who has led the Tour in GIR stats 4 times and finished in the top 12 for the last dozen years!). In fact looking at the stats Joe Durant is a much better hitter than Tiger Woods - and consistently so!

Two additional golfers who may get the club onto the line but I was not able to find enough quality footage on were Sam Snead and Moe Norman (I found these images on Moe HERE and it looks pretty close). Certainly no slouches in the ball striking department either!

So, the next time you are reviewing your swing, pay particular attention to your impact position, but more specifically where your shaft is at impact relative to where you had it at address. There's a good chance you'll be above the line (and zero chance you'll be below it!) but do what you can to lower the shaft angle at impact in order to dramatically improve your ball striking and accuracy. Plase check back soon as I will be filming a few drills soon to help you get closer to a truly great impact.

Read Part II of this article HERE

Any thoughts? Any other golfers who you think might get the club to the line? Evidence? Please chime in.

To learn more about better ball striking check out THIS

Bunkers: The Buried Lie

 View the HD video lesson HERE

I often talk to golfers I teach about how they play the buried lie out of a sand trap and more often than not they say they used the closed face method to get the club to dig the ball up and out onto the green. This method works fine if you don't have much of a lip or plenty of green to work with, but how do you handle this situation if you have a short sided pin or high lip to clear?

Here is a great method I got from Lee Trevino:

  • At address the weight should be well onto the front foot
  • The ball should be in the center of the stance or slightly back
  • The hands should be forward of the ball and very low
  • The idea is to get the "V" formed between the hosel and the sole of the club to delve down into the sand and lift it up and out of the sand

  •  Notice how the clubface remains open so as to impart some height and softness to the shot
  • The hands need to be very low  at address to get the toe up in the air and the "V" exposed to the entry point
  • The swing is steep with a sharp downward attack into the sand
  • There is no need to overpower this shot as, when executed correctly, the ball should pop out with some height and softness.
  • There should be very little follow through

Notice how low the hands need to be here

View the HD video HERE

Additional information on Buried Lies:

Tom Watson: Buried Lies: Pick The Right Club: Golf Digest

Video Golf Tip | Buried Lies in Greenside Bunkers

Golf Tips for a semi-buried lie - Rod Lidenberg PGA

Free Golf Lesson - How to Play from Various Bunker Lies

Swing Methods and the Fifteen Second Flameout

Butch Harmon

Have you ever noticed how various swing fads seem to come and go?  It seems like just the other day that Bennett and Plummer's "Stack and Tilt" swing was the only way to hit a ball properly.  How about David Leadbetter?  When was the last time you heard from him or one of his players?  Do you remember Jimmy Ballard and "connection"? What about Jim Hardy and his "One Plane Swing"It boggles my mind how these methods pop up, become the hot item and then flare out almost as quickly as they arrived on the scene.  They all have one thing in common that led to their 'success';  a tour golfer who wins an event or two with this 'new and amazing swing' they just learned.  The golfer, feeling indebted to the teacher, proudly proclaims that they could not have achieved their success without this newly discovered way to swing.  Please!
Understand that most of these ideas are thought up by very intelligent and well educated golf teachers.  The problem I have with these methodologies, however,  is that they set their own style of swinging the club.  In other words, the club must be swung in a certain fashion for it to work or function correctly.  I say an emphatic, "Nonsense!" I do not claim to know everything about the golf swing, but I do know that every great player has a different swing that produces fantastic results - or they would not be great!  There cannot possibly be one 'correct' way to swing the club!            

David Leadbetter

 It's a classic case of putting form before function!  "If you swing this new and amazing way you will achieve desired results!"  The best players of all time have always had a knack of getting the club on the ball correctly and the game today is no different.  A feathery needed to be stuck the same way a ProV1X needs to be hit.  Well almost!  If every golfer out there could understand impact and physics that make the ball go in the right place AND the wrong place they would be far better off.  What difference is perfecting the wrist angle at position seven in the moveaway going to make in your game and ability to compress a golf ball!  Form will always follow function.  Just ask Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, Raymond Floyd, Bobby Jones, Nancy Lopez, Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke.......
Function must be King when you work on your game.  Get the ball to sound, feel and fly like you want it to and you are a happy, and very good, golfer!
Things to Ponder:
  • Watching the AT&T on Sunday looked like the King (Tiger) was taking his young Prince (Kim) out for a little schooling.
  • Anyone got an over under on the number of days before Carolyn Bivens is out as the LPGA commissioner?
  • Why when a golfer sets up with their body aiming left it is an 'open' stance and when their clubface is aiming right it is an 'open' face?  Blame the Scots and single malt whiskey for that one.
  • I have a feeling Paddy Harrington will be back in contention at next weeks 'Open' Championship.
  • A claim could be made that Phil has choked away both majors so far this year!?

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