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!

Understanding Heel and Toe Klankers...

As the size of the clubhead has increased over the last two decades so has the role that gear effect plays on off-center strikes. As the volume of the head increases so does the importance of a quality strike. I think the following video will go a long way towards explaining how this works and what it can mean for your game...

Now keep in mind that gear effect can be a help or a hindrance - it can cause your ball to curve to the target or away from it. Here's an example of how an understanding of the importance of strike point, particularly with the driver, can help any golfer avoid trying to fix something that isn't broken.

A Neutral Swing with a Heel Strike

A Neutral Swing with a Heel Strike

The Same Neutral Swing with a Toe Strike

The Same Neutral Swing with a Toe Strike

Notice how the delivery numbers (attack angle & clubpath) from the above two shots are eerily similar, yet the resultant ball flight could not be more different. The difference in the outcome of the examples above is purely due to the location of the strike for each shot. While the two shots are very different I see no need for this player to address their swing. They simply need to develop their skill at striking the ball in a consistent location on the face.

  • Toe sided strikes will lead to more draw or less fade.
  • Heel sided strikes will lead to more fade or less draw.
  • High strikes on the face elevate launch and decrease spin.
  • Low strikes on the face lower launch and increase spin.
  • Gear effect works in 3D - the head will twist away from the strike location.
  • If the CoG is closer to the strike point, then there will be less curvature from gear effect on off-center hits. 
  • If the CoG is further from the strike point, then there will be more curvature from gear effect on off-center hits. 
  • Controlling the strike location is a skill - practice accordingly.

If you're looking to gain a better understanding of how you're striking the ball with your  "headcover" clubs, buy yourself a few cans of Dr. Scholl's Odor X. Spray the face of your driver the next time you're warming up or practicing to get some all important feedback.

Your next question might be - "How do I upgrade where I'm striking the ball?" Valid. I am of the opinion that controlling the strike point is a skill. A fun drill is to practicing striking the ball in a variety of unusual, yet intentional, locations on the clubface. Here are additional resources to help you understand and manage the strike point:

Collision! — Andrew Rice Golf

Strike Point Drill — Andrew Rice Golf

Optimal Strike Point for Longer Drives — Andrew Rice Golf

Spin Rate and the Driver — Andrew Rice Golf

Swing Pattern vs Strike Point — Andrew Rice Golf

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!