Published: Tue, 10 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Rick Sessinghaus, PGA, teaches at Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale, Calif., and is the author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game. For more information, visit ricksessinghaus.com.
Published: Tue, 12 Jun 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 29 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700
|WEAK GRIP/WEAK SHOTS
One of the most common mistakes golfers make resides in the palms of their hands. The more you grip in the palm, the slower the hands will work through the release. This leads to a lot of sliced shots that also don't travel very far. It also creates a lot of consistency problems.
|STEADY GRIP/MORE POWER
With a grip more in the fingers, and both Vs formed by the thumbs and index fingers, the hands can move faster through the release, resulting in greater clubhead speed and more power. Notice the difference in thumb positions here. A short thumb is what you want.
|NO SHOULDER TILT/NARROW BACKSWING
Many golfers wrongfully set up over a driver with their head directly above the driver head and the ball. This reduces the needed shoulder tilt away from the target to promote a wide arc and weight shift to the back foot on the backswing.
|GOOD TILT/BETTER BACKSWING
With a grip more in the fingers, and both Vs formed by the thumbs and index fingers, the hands can move faster through the release, resulting in greater clubhead speed and more power. Notice the difference in thumb positions here. A short thumb is what you want.
Published: Tue, 20 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 25 Oct 2011 00:00:00 -0700
|My rear wrist is bent, and my forward wrist is flat.|
Published: Tue, 21 Jun 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 31 May 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 17 May 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 29 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 26 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Wed, 06 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700
RIGHT ARM TOO HIGH
Published: Tue, 05 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 05 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 04 May 2010 00:00:00 -0700
|Just Right!||My Club’s On Plane|
|Too Tall!||My Arms And Shoulders Don’t Match|
Published: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:00:00 -0800
This is what Sadlowski tries to avoid. Any collapse at the top of the swing will cause the swing arc to shrink, resulting in a big loss of power. It also makes holding the right spine angle more difficult.
By extending his left arm, Sadlowski ensures a long, wide backswing. Now, it may not look wide because of the ample wrist cock, but don’t be fooled. Sadlowski has taken a huge backswing—as wide as he can, actually.
Practice using two tees placed behind the ball to encourage more width (as Sadlowski does). It will help you take a longer and lower backswing. But, don’t forget the followthrough. As Sadlowski demonstrates, a full extension after contact is equally important.
Published: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:00:00 -0800
|The key here is to hit on the lower portion of the face. As shown by the top photo, hitting lower on the face will generate more backspin, helping the ball to lift higher and quicker. If you catch the ball more in the middle (lower photo), the ball is likely to travel on a lower trajectory out of the bunker.|
Published: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 00:00:00 -0800
|The only thing that the
“mechanical putter” sees when he putts is his stroke:whether it arcs or moves straight back and through, and if it accelerates or decelerates. Because he’s a purely technical putter, he’s unaware of his target and loses all sense of distance, direction and speed. For these reasons, he’s the least successful putter of the group.
WHAT HE SEES
WHAT HE SEES
HOW TO PRACTICE IT
Published: Wed, 11 Nov 2009 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0700
|1. Place your right hand on the club and your left hand on the outside of your back knee. Swing your right arm back and stop at the top. Feel the resistance of the left hand on the flexed back knee. ||1. Release that tension and fire the right knee toward the target with the hand and club sweeping the tee through the finish. |
|2. Start by making |
slow-motion backswings to feel how your weight stays in the middle of your feet, then slowly move to impact position and hold it. Feel the weight moving to the middle of your forward foot.
|2. Once you’ve stayed balanced at a slow speed, increase the speed until you stay balanced throughout the swing. Don’t fall off! |
|3. Place two tees where you believe the putt will enter the cup, then stroke the putt along the imagined path. Repeat this until you trust your read. With trust, your stroke will be smooth and confident. |
Rick’s Equip Tips
Improve Your Game With Equipment!
Wilson Smooth Driver
I play the new Wilson Staff Smooth driver. It was built with an 8° head and a fairly stiff Matrix shaft to control my high fade. The Smooth is a beautiful, traditional-looking club that has helped me to gain distance; I also love the way it sounds and feels.
Wilson Pi7 Irons
I play the Wilson Pi7 irons. They have a great traditional look and are very forgiving on off-center hits. These are the same irons Padraig Harrington plays.
Wilson STAFF ZIP
I play the new Wilson Staff Zip golf ball. This is the softest, multilayer performance ball on the market at 56 compression. I get great distance off the tee, and it has unmatched feel on and around the greens.
For more information, visit www.wilsonstaff.com.
Published: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 00:00:00 -0700
|Width = More Power |
|You probably can tell just by looking at the photo that something is wrong here. |
A collapsed backswing will inevitably lead to a weak and inconsistent downswing, not to mention a reverse pivot. With a wide arc, the body is more prone to shift weight properly when compared to that of a collapsed position.
| What not to do |
Make solid contact
|What not to do: |
A straight leg at the top of your backswing not only messes up your swing plane, but also robs you of power and likely leads you into the dreaded reverse-pivot position. It also means you’ll be more prone to swaying away from the ball, greatly reducing your consistency and power.
|Hands ahead of body: Hook |
If your hands are too active during the swing and outrace the body, you’re likely to release too soon, either causing a wicked hook or pulled shot
|Hands behind body: Slice|
If your hands are too far behind your body, you won’t be able to release in time, meaning the club face will be open at impact. This leads to big, ballooning slices that not only veer way right, but also do so with pithy power.
| Distance || Distance |
|With the ball forward |
in my stance and my hands in a high grip position, I can sweep the ball with hands that have already begun to release. This will launch the ball higher into the air. I might lose spin, but I’ll make up for it with a high launch.
|With a centered ball position and neutral grip, I’ll hit a lower pitch, but with more spin than I had on the farther shot. If I want to hit it higher or lower with moderate spin from here, all I need to do is open or close the clubface ever so slightly.||From close to the green, I’m choking down on the grip and have the ball in the back of my stance. This will produce a lower shot, but with a good amount of spin to help the ball check up a |
Chip the “y”
What not to do
|Stick with the lowercase “y,” not the capital “Y”! By keeping your left arm in line with the shaft, you’re effectively reducing any opportunities for error, meaning you’re more likely to hit consistent shots. Also, a hands-ahead approach means you’ll prevent dips and chunks into the ball and instead will help you hit cleaner, crisper shots. |
Published: Fri, 29 May 2009 07:00:00 -0700
|Make practice swings on a sidehill lie with the ball above your feet. This flattens your swing and takes away your slice.|
Published: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 17:00:00 -0700
The words “weight shift” can cause a lot of confusion. For starters, a weight shift isn’t something that you should forcibly do; rather, during the swing, your body weight should shift naturally as you make a proper turn. Any manipulation of weight from side to side is a mistake.
Here, we have three scenarios. In the pair of photos below, I’ve forcibly shifted (slid, actually) my weight away during my backswing. Not only does this move inhibit a good turn, but my body needs to slide back to the ball in order to make contact, which means I’ll likely start to slide too far forward and end up missing the ball. This excessive sliding back and forth will rob my swing of consistency.
Published: Tue, 01 Jul 2008 00:00:00 -0700
John Stahlschmidt, PGA, is the head instructor at the TOUR Academy at the TPC of Scottsdale, Ariz. For information, visit www.touracademy.com.
Published: Sat, 31 May 2008 17:00:00 -0700
Myth #1: When addressing the ball, bend from your waist or hips.
Fault: First of all, bones don’t bend, which is exactly what the hips consist of. Bending from the waist produces a curve or slouch in the lower back, severely restricting rotation.
Fix: A proper setup must yield two things: balance and range of motion. A setup that doesn’t allow for both to be maintained throughout the swing is flawed from the start. Range of motion is unrestricted when you bend from the hip joints. This puts the spine in a neutral position, which allows for maximum stability and mobility. If you sit on the edge of a chair with your back straight, you’re bent at your hips.
Drill: Begin by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart. Take one hand and put it in the small of your back with your palm open and facing out. Now place a golf club in your hand, holding the shaft near the clubhead so that the shaft runs straight up your spine with the grip end against the back of your head. Maintaining these contact points with the club, bend forward from the hip joints. If the grip end of the club is still in contact with the back of your head while holding the end of the club in the small of your back, then you’re bending properly. If not, it means you’re either rounding your shoulders or bending from the waist, not the hip joints.
|Above, Left: Taking the club away with the left shoulder tends to create poor rotation and a disconnection of the arms. Notice how my arms and club don’t make it to the top here. Above, Right: Using the right shoulder to initiate the takeaway creates a much fuller and more connected turn. Here, you’ll notice that my shoulders have rotated freely.|
Published: Sat, 31 May 2008 17:00:00 -0700
There are countless possible flaws in the golf swing that can lead to an endless variety of bad shots. However, in my 14 years of teaching golf, there are a few recurring swing flaws that afflict both amateurs and touring professionals alike. These flaws lead to a series of negative chain reactions during the swing and eventually wreak havoc on one’s ability to make a repetitive and powerful golf swing. Let’s take a look at some of the more common (but frequently overlooked) flaws that may have already crept into your golf swing, using my simple spot-and-fix techniques. With a few minor adjustments here and there, these flaws can be eliminated from your swing for good.
Club taken back too far inside results in a blocked shot
Wow, have I seen this one a few times! Anytime the club is taken back too inside the target line, it’s darn near certain the golf ball isn’t going to fly straight. Not only will you likely block the ball to the right, but the upper body will rotate too much, and the lower body will never catch up. Therefore, when it’s time to unwind on the forwardswing, the lower body will be so far ahead of the upper body that it becomes virtually impossible to swing along the target line. Some golfers get away with pulling the club inside the target line and hitting blocked shots by simply aiming farther left. Though that sometimes works, a blocked shot is far less powerful than one hit down the line.
Take the club back along target line for as long as possible
In this photo, I’ve taken the club back along the target line for as long as possible while still staying on plane. If I continue lifting the club straight up, I’ll lose my spine angle and my weight shift will suffer. Instead, once the club starts lifting off the ground, I’ll allow my body to rotate away from the ball. In this photo, as the club reaches waist high, you can see my shoulders have already begun turning, my lower body is stable, my knees remain flexed and the clubhead bisects both my forearms. Truth is, since the swing is both round and at an angle, it’s impossible to take the club straight back and through. But, in the first few inches, it’s a must-do to eliminate blocked shots.
Published: Fri, 18 May 2007 10:22:04 -0700
It’s no secret that you can learn a lot from watching the world’s best golfers. They hit some amazing shots, make incredible putts and hit the ball extraordinary lengths. And while there’s a lot of swing cues we should try and copy from the pros, there are four things I think most amateurs have no business trying to duplicate. (That is, unless you don’t have a day job and can practice 8 hours a day!) I’m going to show you these four moves and then explain what you should be doing instead. Now don’t be discouraged! These alternative methods are just as effective and are sure to help you shoot lower scores! Let’s get started...
1. Lag Time
Jack Nicklaus once said that you can never release the club too soon if you’re on plane. However, it seems many amateurs are wrongly fixated on retaining a wrist hinge for as long as possible and end up with serious control problems. Check out the photo of Ernie Els (below). The key to his lag isn’t his wrist cock, it’s his ability to turn his lower body wide open before impact while keeping his shoulders square to the ball. That’s his real source of power! For better shot control and distance, release the hands sooner and concentrate more on emulating Ernie’s body position, not that of his wrists.
Still fishing for more distance? Consider a shaft upgrade first before you dive into a total swing overhaul. A softer shaft will help you produce more lag naturally, thanks to improved loading and bending properties. With a proper fitting, you can find a shaft designed to release in an optimum location for maximum clubhead speed right where you need it. And if it’s more control you want, try a shaft with a softer tip section. A softer tip will do two things: it’ll add backspin (more backspin equals straighter shots) and more torque, which lends more forgiveness on off-center hits. Just make sure you get the right flex, length and weight for all the clubs in your bag, from driver to wedge. It’ll make a huge difference in your game!
2. Left Foot Up, Left Arm Bent
Unless you’re as lean and flexible as Adam Scott (left), maintaining a straight left arm and holding both feet on the ground atop the backswing is darn near impossible. If you try, you run the risk of dipping the left shoulder, or worse, developing a reverse pivot. Instead, do as I’m doing here. By allowing my forward foot to lift and by maintaining just a little flex in my left arm, I’m able to make a bigger turn than if I tried to hit it like Adam Scott. My stance is also narrower than his, allowing me to strengthen my coil away from the ball.
Flexibility Is Key
Being flexible is more than just being able to get the body into more powerful positions. It’s also a preventative measure that can make the game enjoyable for years to come. Take a few minutes before your next round or practice session to get loose. Pay attention to the critical areas of your back, shoulders, legs and abs. You’ll not only reduce your risk of injury, but after time, you’ll find yourself more relaxed and able to make a better and more fluid golf swing.
Published: Thu, 17 May 2007 16:04:34 -0700
The golf swing’s a funny thing. Sometimes it’s racked with errors, yet somehow, at impact, everything is where it needs to be and the ball shoots off powerfully in the direction you intended. Other times, every shift, angle and hinge is perfect, yet a small misstep on the way to the ball results in shots that can only be described as horrific. In the first instance, Lady Luck is certainly on your side, but as we all know, she rarely hangs around for too long. And the fact that a single hiccup can bring your whole technique crashing down is, to put it bluntly, just the way golf is.
I’ve been teaching golf for over 50 years, and one of the most damaging errors I’ve seen consistently throughout this period of time is knee movement, specifically, a straightening of the right knee on the backswing. This seemingly innocent mistake gives the golfer almost zero chance of making a quality pass at the ball and fuels both flawed backswings and downswings. As you’ll soon learn, however, correctly managing right knee movement makes producing a fundamentally sound motion a fairly easy task. Truly, it’s a key ingredient to any good swing.
Published: Wed, 16 May 2007 09:06:40 -0700
No matter where you are, where you go, or more appropriately, whom you end up playing golf with, it seems there’s always someone nearby who I like to call “the resident E.O.E. (Expert on Everything).” You know the type. It’s the fellow who knows how to help you increase your net worth and can explain how to install new copper pipes in your house without having to cut drywall. This same guy also watches a lot of golf on TV, and because he hears one or two commentators analyzing someone’s swing, he assumes their advice is well suited for you, too.
Let it be known, when it comes to golf instruction, the truth isn’t necessarily the truth until you hear it come from an actual teaching pro. There are a lot of clichÃ©s in golf instruction, and it’s about time to clarify some myths. You have to know that what works for certain touring pros might not work for you or for other touring pros, for that matter.
Fiction: Keep Your Head Still
If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say “keep your head still!” during the swing, I’d be a very wealthy man. Truth is, holding the head steady can create a lot of problems. On the backswing, a stationary head can impede the necessary weight shift back and through, often leading to a reverse pivot. On the downswing, a steady head (especially if you’ve been told the other myth, which is to keep your head down) can get in the way of the necessary upper-body rotation through the impact zone. A steady or down head can limit turn, thus causing the body to rise up, lose the necessary spine tilt, and cause you to hit all sorts of inconsistent and errant shots!
Fact: Let Your Head Slide Side-To-Side
First, remember that the head and neck should act as a straight extension of your spine, which should always have a slight lean toward the ball at address and throughout the swing. With the head in the correct position and the backswing underway, allow the head to shift to the side a few inches if necessary—more if you’re less flexible—to encourage the proper weight shift. Atop the backswing, it’s perfectly acceptable to move your head slightly back of where it was at address. (Sometimes a mirror and tape can help you see this.) Through the downswing, allow the head to slide forward toward the target. This will do the same for your downswing what moving your head back did for the backswing.
Fiction: Go With Comfort
If golf were meant to be easy, it wouldn’t be a four-letter word. The same goes with the comfort principle. Just because your grip is comfortable on the handle, doesn’t mean it’s correct. Often, E.O.Es say the best grip is the one that comes most natural to you. Well, that may be the case for Adam Scott, but for most of my students, the grip is the first flaw that begins a series of bad chain reactions. When a player says his or her grip is “comfortable,” he or she usually has a grip that’s too much in the palm and too little in the fingers. Or, another player might have a decent grip that doesn’t match his or her swing.
Fact: Go With What Works
Brace yourself! This may require some trial and error. Begin with a neutral grip, where the “V” formed by the crease in the index finger and thumb of your gloved hand point toward your right pectoral and your ungloved “V” points toward your right shoulder (left shoulder for southpaws). This is a good grip for golfers who struggle with a hook from time to time. If you try the neutral grip and you’re still slicing the ball, adjust to a strong grip. This means pointing the “V” of your gloved hand farther away from the target so that your gloved hand shows three knuckles. As for your ungloved hand, keep it the same.
Finally, if you’re still slicing, try a very strong grip. This means adjusting your gloved hand the same as you would for a strong grip, but this time, strengthen your ungloved hand by moving the “V” so it points off your right shoulder.
Published: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 13:38:26 -0700
Published: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 09:51:17 -0700
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 09:42:03 -0800
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Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 12:53:33 -0800
After watching thousands of swings over the past 30 years, I’ve pinpointed three mistakes that the majority of amateurs commit, each of which can diminish power and accuracy.
The first is overswinging. Most amateurs overswing because they have a poor understanding of how power is created. More than 70 percent of your power comes from the ability to maintain the fully loaded wrist set established at the top deep into the downswing. Maintaining this position as long as you can then releasing the clubhead through impact accelerates the speed at which your clubhead moves through the hitting zone to four times faster than the speed of your hands.
The second mistake I see the majority of amateurs make is overusing the legs. While it’s certainly advantageous to use your legs, wildly moving them through the ball will actually slow your clubhead speed and force you to make power-robbing compensations. Remember, the legs serve to support the swing and, as a result, instinctively control the clubface.
The third amateur mistake is losing their leveraged triangle at the top. Many players allow their arms to get behind them at the top of the backswing or allow their right arm to fold or collapse. When you fold your right elbow excessively (greater than 90 degrees), you’ll force your arms behind your back. And once they’re behind your back, it’s nearly impossible to return them to a strong position at impact. You’ll not only lose distance, but also accuracy.
Senior instruction editor and PGA Master professional Joe Thiel is the director of World Wide Golf Schools, located in Olympia, Wash.
Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 12:45:50 -0800
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Published: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 15:14:41 -0800
Sometimes golf just isn’t fair. Professional baseball has Spring Training. The NFL and NBA have training camps and a handful of preseason scrimmages. But golf? Well, it’s up to each and every professional to get their game on track on their own and show up ready to compete at the highest level. There’s no organized stretching sessions (Can you see Tim Herron or Phil Mickelson showing up?), no group mental conditioning, no preseason practice tournaments. Professionals are left to prepare by themselves.
What’s this have to do with you? Like professionals, we’re on our own when it comes to getting ready to play our best, only we have to pay for it. There are no free practice nines, no free range balls. You get what you pay for, making it important that you play your best to get your money’s worth. So, let’s look at few quick ways to help you get your game back on track.
#1 Get Mentally and Physically Ready
Too often, I see students come rearing to play golf by bashing golf balls on the range, expecting to “find” their swing and work their way back to top form. Truth is, it doesn’t work that way. After a layoff, you want to stretch, strengthen and take care of your body. Start by stretching key areas, such as your back, arms, shoulders and upper legs. Make an effort to stretch every other day.
Second, one of the best ways to develop a smooth tempo, rhythm and feel is to start taking practice swings without a ball. Go outside, put a tee in the ground and make a few swings just as you would with a ball. By removing the ball, the body will swing freer and the mind won’t be so fixated on immediate results.
#2 Remember: P.G.A.
Think: Posture, Grip and Aim
It can help to think of your favorite PGA pro, but that’s not what’s meant by “Remember: P.G.A.” I mean, “Think: Posture, Grip and Aim”—the three most important factors to the golf swing. First, check to see if your spine is straight and your shoulders are directly over your feet (see left photo). Then, check your grip using a mirror. Your hands should look exactly like mine, with the back of the glove showing and the fold of your lower thumb and index finger pointing at your back shoulder. Finally, the body should aim parallel to the target, which then allows the clubface to aim at the target. To sharpen your aim, try using an intermediate target to get your clubface on track. It makes alignment a lot easier.
#3 Fast Fixers
Hitting good shots requires a lot of things to go right. Poor shots on the other hand, can be due to one fault.
If you head onto the golf course and the ball is going any which way but straight, odds are the clubface isn’t square at impact. No matter what swing path you have, if the clubface is open at impact, the ball will veer right. If it’s closed, the ball will hook. But fixing the clubface isn’t always a matter of simply adjusting the clubface at address or swinging in a new direction. Often, it’s a matter of poor posture, grip and aim that causes the clubface to be too open or closed at impact. Finally, if you’re hitting shots that fly straight left or straight right, you might have a square clubface but an incorrect path.
Published: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 00:00:00 -0800
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Published: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 11:37:04 -0700
The precision required to hit an absolutely straight golf shot is so great that, for all intents and purposes, such shots don’t exist. For that very reason, every golfer is either a hooker or a slicer. You may only hook or slice a little at times, but your shots do have a pattern. Even the game’s best players favor a fade or draw. To elevate your improvement, it’s crucial that you determine if you’re a slicer or a hooker. It’s also important that you erase any thoughts of producing a perfectly straight ballflight shot after shot and, rather, earmark the left-to-right or right-to-left shot shape as the one that best fits your game. If you can make this leap and work on controlling spin instead of fearing it, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better golfer.
Can a hockey stick and a basketball cure your slice or hook? I find these larger items—compared to a golf club and golf ball—help golfers more easily realize the true causes of hooks and slices. If all slicers could imagine the toe of the hockey stick wrapping around the outside half of the basketball, they’d properly close the face and keep left-to-right sidespin at bay. And if hookers could imagine leading the heel of the hockey stick into impact, they’d slow down the excess face rotation that invariably sends their ball to the left.
Finding your shot shape: are you a slicer or a hooker?
Hit 10 balls with a 5-iron and 10 balls with a driver (20 balls total) and count the shots that curve from right to left (hooks) and the ones that curve from left to right (slices). (Straight pushes count in the hook or curving left category and pulls count in the slice or curving right category.) If need be, chart your shapes—your drives and approaches—on the golf course. After 20 balls, add them up and see which side of the golf course you see the most often.
For all of you who charted a slice shot pattern, don’t dismay—you’re in the majority! Most amateurs fight a slice or, more technically, a clubface that’s aligned or is “looking” to the right of the direction the clubhead travels as it approaches impact. The key to eradicating the slice is to simply close the clubface. If you don’t close the clubface, you’ll always slice! For you hookers out there, you need to slow down the rotation of the clubface.
He Shoots, He Scores
The first step to eradicate a slice or hook is to change your grip. Slicers need to adopt a stronger grip. Hookers need a weaker hand position. “Stronger” implies that you rotate your hands to the right, or clockwise, on your grip. In the photos at the bottom right, I’ve placed a red and a green dot on my glove. To close the clubface sooner and eliminate your slice/open clubface, set your hands on the grip so you see the green dot, or more of the back of your left hand at address. For hookers, rotate you hands so that you see more of the red dot.
Published: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 16:16:29 -0700
If you’re serious about your game, you need to realize that just about every bad shot you hit is created by faulty technique.
Even golfers with technically sound swings make mistakes due to poor execution or bad decision-making. But on the whole, golfers with solid mechanics are able to consistently play solid shots because their technique allows them to do so.
In contrast, most high-handicap golfers suffer from a great deal of inconsistency because they have fundamental flaws in their technique that need to be corrected.
If you want to hit better shots more consistently and feel you have a reliable way to approach every swing, then pay close attention to the following flaws and fixes, and be honest with yourself regarding the weaknesses in your game. In the long run, you’ll find making fundamental changes in your technique pays much greater dividends than simply applying a new Band-Aid every time you take a lesson.
Fault: Falling Back After Every Swing
Fix: Develop A Proper Weight Shift
This is a very common flaw, and occurs in varying degrees, but beware: even a slight fall back in the followthrough can spell disaster. The main cause of falling backward is a reverse pivot, which has the majority of weight placed on the front leg at the top of the swing. This move causes the club to move toward the target on the downswing while the body moves away from the target. The most common result of a reverse pivot is a variety of mis-hits, including fat, topped and thin impact. In addition, because the weight is moving away from the target through impact, most golfers who fall back after the swing tend to slice quite a bit and lack power.
In a sound golf swing, the upper body, not the legs, moves away from the target in the takeaway, while the right knee (for right-handers) remains flexed. This places more weight on the back foot at the top of the swing, and allows for a proper transition of weight to the front foot in the downswing.
The best approach for fixing this mistake is to learn to properly pivot the body in the backswing. As the upper body begins to rotate away from the ball with the club, the lower body (specifically, the hips) should actually get a little closer to the target. On the downswing, both the hips and the upper body should move with the club toward the target, creating a downward strike at impact and a full, balanced finish.
Published: Tue, 01 Jun 2004 16:53:18 -0700
Just how important are the feet, legs and hips? Well, some argue that they are the heart and soul of the golf swing. In fact, it was Byron Nelson who brought us the idea of “flexing the shaft with the lower body.” Jack Nicklaus also has repeatedly said that the swing begins from the ground up. Then why, despite advice from two of the best golfers who ever played, does the average golfer try to “muscle” the ball with his or her upper body?
Call it human nature or call it ego, we typically try to throw balls faster, lift things higher and push things farther by using our upper body. We haven’t trained our minds to use the lower body, which is where real strength comes from. Your legs are much stronger and more powerful than your arms and, if used properly, can produce the distance you never knew you had, accuracy like you’ve never seen and a much more consistent ballflight.
The importance of proper footwork and use of the legs is critical to a repeatable, powerful and consistent golf swing. Your lower body serves as the engine of the golf swing by pushing against the ground and creating the necessary torque, tension and momentum to make the club go faster. And more speed always equals more distance.
How The Lower Body Works
Whether it’s Ernie Els, whose feet appear to move very little during his entire swing, or Jack Nicklaus, who nearly lifts his entire left foot off the ground during his backswing, there’s a key similarity to both players: Both use the lower body as a tremendous source of power and consistency.
Takeaway As you take the club back, your torso begins to turn. Because your feet are planted on the ground, your legs can resist this rotation, thus creating what’s called torque between your lower and upper body. Ernie is much more flexible than Jack and doesn’t need to lift his left foot as high as Jack does, but nevertheless, both players are applying a huge amount of torque to their backswing. Lifting the left heel is a natural movement and should never be forced. It’ll happen all by itself, depending on your level of flexibility.
Mid-Backswing As your body continues to turn, 75 percent of your body weight is transferred to the back foot, thus “charging” the right leg with the desired muscle tension. Remember, torque is a good thing and results in a stronger release through the golf ball.
At The Top At the top of a proper backswing, the shoulders have turned somewhere around 90 degrees while the hips have turned only 45 degrees. The greater the difference in these two angles, the more torque the body develops between the upper and lower half of the body. This, in turn, means more power transferred to the ball. Your lower body is loaded with energy, torque and tension—just waiting to release. This is where real power comes from, and it starts from the ground up.
Published: Sun, 09 May 2004 11:39:36 -0700
In order to deliver the golf club powerfully into the back of the golf ball, you must maintain a firm base with your lower body and create a powerful backswing coil. This coil results by turning the upper body against the resistance of the lower body. Good players facilitate the creation of coil by maintaining the gap between the knees on the backswing (right). They unleash the energy stored in the coil by closing the gap on the downswing.
A typical high-handicap player tends to do the opposite. He or she rotates the upper and lower body together, so that the left knee swings toward the right (for a right-handed golfer). In some instances, the left foot may even come off the ground. This creates a reverse weight shift and provides no stability for the lower body. From this position, the golfer is unable to execute a proper weight shift and will end up finishing the swing with most of his or her weight on the back foot, so the knees never touch on the followthrough. These errors result in the clubhead approaching the ball on an outside path.
Are you guilty of these errors? Make a practice swing in front of a mirror. If the gap between your knees closes on the backspin but widens on the downswing, you’re doing the exact opposite of what needs to occur.
Knee Action Drill
If you lack power or can never achieve balance when you finish your swing, try this drill.
Place a soccer or beach ball between your knees and simply squeeze it and keep it there as you coil your upper body on the backswing. This will help to remind you of the sensation of keeping the distance between your knees constant all the way up to the top of your swing, and encourage strong leg action and a powerful backswing coil. Once you complete the backswing, initiate the downswing with your lower body by moving your forward knee toward the target. Your legs should take on a squat or sit-down look, and the ball should fall from your knees.
As your arms drop, simply push off of your right foot and swing to the finish. If you perform the drill correctly, you can’t help but finish in balance. Use this drill to help remind you to create a gap between the knees on the backswing and to close the gap on the downswing. That’s what the pros do.
Class-A LPGA professional Karen Palacios-Jansen is the director of instruction for Swing Blade Golf (swingbladegolf.com).
Published: Sat, 01 May 2004 13:27:39 -0700
Published: Sat, 01 May 2004 10:09:54 -0700
The golf swing in its most simple form is a circle. The radius of this circle, back and through to the finish, is defined by the length of your left arm (for a right-handed golfer). Obviously, the wider the circle, the better.
When a wide arc is established during the backswing, a golfer becomes more able to drop the arms in the correct position on the downswing, which allows the left arm to release through impact and fold correctly in the followthrough. The left-arm fold on the followthrough is key, as it keeps the club on the correct plane and the ball on the target line.
A good ballstriker creates a wide, powerful arc on the backswing by allowing the wrists to hinge naturally, which places the club on the proper plane. More importantly, they use their flexibility and upper body turn to move the club to the top without the left arm having to fold. High-handicappers tend to do the opposite. First, because of what’s likely a faulty grip, they fail to properly hinge the wrists, impeding their ability to get the club on the correct plane. Furthermore, since these golfers don’t turn as much as they should, they move the club to the top by folding the left elbow. In this position, the high-handicapper loses the swing radius established at setup and, typically, ends up coming over the top, a move that exacerbates the problem by limiting correct rotation and release of the left arm post-impact.
You don’t need to swing exactly like a Tour player to strike the ball well, but don’t do the exact opposite. Keep the left arm extended on the backswing and let it fold on the followthrough. If you’ve been struggling with a left-to-right ballflight or fat and thin shots, focus on your left arm.
Correct use of the left arm begins with the grip. Check to see that the handle lies diagonally across the fingers of your left hand, as opposed to the palm. When the grip lies correctly in your left hand, hinging the club on the backswing becomes natural. If your wrists can hinge on their own, you’ll be tricked into hinging your elbows.
Correct use of the left arm is also dictated by your shoulder turn. Good ballstrikers synchronize their arm swing with their shoulder turn. This synchronization facilitates both a solid turn and a straight left arm. High-handicappers usually stop turning their shoulders too early, but continue to let their arms swing back. The result is a shortened swing arc and a collapsed left arm.
Published: Sun, 01 Feb 2004 11:00:21 -0800
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Published: Sun, 01 Jun 2003 16:34:11 -0700
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Published: Thu, 01 Aug 2002 16:36:30 -0700
Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of golfers, and if I had to find a common trait among them all, it would be that each and every one has his or her own unique swing. A second—albeit unfortunate—universal characteristic is that all of these swings are plagued by at least one major flaw.
This is not to say that all of my students can’t play the game of golf. Some are intimately aware of the position of their golf club throughout the swing and understand the adjustments that must be made in order to get the clubface squared up in the impact zone.
Most have become better golfers by eradicating their flaws, however. For these players, the path to lower scores wasn’t easy—it takes a great deal of time and practice to beat a swing fault. But the process is much simpler if you discover which flaw or flaws are doing the most damage to your swing and, more importantly, the drills you need to eliminate them.
That being said, ask yourself if you’re guilty of committing any of the faults listed on the next several pages. If you’re unsure if your swing is hindered by any of these flaws, look at the clues we present for each. Often, a golfer may not know he or she is laid off, for example, but will know the ballflight errors this flaw typically creates. Once you uncover a flaw, or flaws, get to work on the drills. You’ll soon find yourself fault-free and ready for a season full of low scores.
Are You Laid Off?
Here are the clues:
1 You seldom take a divot, your ballstriking is inconsistent and you feel the need to make adjustments on the way back down to the golf ball.
2 Your playing partners tell you that your shaft points left of the target at the top, and that you take the club away too far to the inside.
3 Your backswing initially is flat, so you adjust it on the way up and down. Your hands are very active in the golf swing.
Typically, the club gets laid off in the beginning of the backswing. If you can start the club back on the correct path, chances are good that it will stay on path, eliminating the need to make costly adjustments. First, check your setup. Specifically, make sure your right arm isn’t tucked in too much (above). A tucked right arm leads to an inside takeaway and a laid-off position at the top.
If your setup is solid, then the problem may be an overactive right hand or right arm in the backswing. When the right side dominates, it usually pulls the club too far to the inside.
Also, if you prefer to roll the clubface open as you take the club away, you may be susceptible to the lay off—don’t overdo it.
Fixing The Lay Off
Shaft At Ball Drill
Assume your setup and make a 1/3-backswing (left arm at waist height) and hinge the club up. Check the following to see if you’re on the right path: 1) your hips have rotated so your belt buckle has turned toward your back toe; 2) your left arm is parallel to the target line and your left elbow points down; and 3) the shaft points at the ball and is on-plane (use a tee for reference). These are all elements of a fundamentally correct takeaway.
Push Ball Drill
Take your normal setup, but with a second golf ball placed on your target line six inches behind the ball you’re going to hit. Now, make your backswing. Did your club “push back” the second golf ball? If your club traveled back on path, it would have pushed the second ball straight back. If you rolled the club to the inside, the ball would have moved inside the target line. Practice this drill until you get both the club and the second ball traveling straight back. Progress to hitting the real ball and check your ballflight against the direction in which you pushed the second ball back.
Published: Sat, 01 Jun 2002 15:40:51 -0700
Just round the corner from my house in northeastern Oklahoma lies Miami CC, a course on which I grew up and learned the game. It’s a track steeped in history, having at one time Ky Laffoon as its head professional. I taught each one of my five children to play golf on Miami CC—a course where each hole seems to demand a different golfing skill.
Of course, being in the fairway helps throughout, but on no hole is accuracy off the tee more important than on the par-4 11th. With water right and OB left, you absolutely need to be in the fairway with your tee shot to score well on ’ol Number 11.
I’m sure you know of a hole like No. 11 on your home course—a hole where if you’re off the fairway, you’re in serious trouble. Indeed, there are times when accuracy off the tee is priority number one. When you approach these situations, use the following advice to ensure you’re safe and long.
Make An Impact
At the point of contact, everything should come together evenly, with your hands leading your body into the ball. From here, allow your right shoulder to turn through along with your head.
Set yourself up to swing on the desired inside-out path by dropping your right shoulder and resting your arms against your chest. If you don’t swing in-to-out, you’re in trouble.
Legs And Hands
Play the ball off your shirt logo and with a solid, shoulder-width stance. Lead with your hands, but don’t forget about your body turn—focus on rotating around your right leg.
Setup and Swing
The accurate driver swing is all about balance, control and togetherness. In no part of the swing should any part of your body dominate, whether it be the hips, legs, shoulders or arms. Balance starts at address, where your stance should be shoulder-width and with your feet flared to facilitate your turn. Your right shoulder should hang slightly lower than the left. When the right shoulder sits lower, it makes it much easier to swing from in to out.
Also, fight the urge to play the ball too far forward or too far back in your stance. Typically, if you play the ball too far forward, you’ll encourage a pull; playing it too far back will encourage a push. Favor a neutral ball position.
As far as the swing is concerned, there are only a few musts on which to focus. As you move your hands to the top and back through the ball, your upper and lower body should turn, but lag behind the hands. A critical point is your approach to the ball. At this point, I like to think of my right arm brushing against my right pocket. This lets me know I’m approaching the ball from the inside. As I make contact, I should feel my right shoulder hit my chin. Here, many golfers raise their heads. This destroys the inside path you worked so hard to create. Instead, let your head rotate toward the target with that right shoulder.
Now that you know what to do, it’s a good idea to discuss what not to do. If you can keep from making the following mistakes, you’ll have a better chance of hitting your target.
For starters, don’t try to over-control your swing by making it too compact. With your short irons, this works well. But the driver is too long for such an approach. In other words, don’t pin your right arm to your right side like you would for a delicate approach. Let the right arm float out a bit to create the wider swing arc the longer-length driver demands. All that I ask is that you keep the right elbow pointing toward the ground. Again, this makes it easier to maintain the desired inside path.
Published: Sat, 01 Jun 2002 14:48:03 -0700
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Published: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 11:39:34 -0800
In a recent poll on the Golf Tips® Website, we asked you what swing flaw you’d most like to correct. More than 5,000 readers responded, with the majority citing slicing (27%) as fault number one, with a lack of distance and poor putting following close behind. To the question of why golfers can’t beat that one flaw that keeps them from their scoring potential, we asked teaching professional Brady Riggs to develop simple answers and provide key drills to eradicate your most common flaws once and for all. Whether your golfing Waterloo is bunker play, chipping or navigating obstacles, our “Why Factors” have the answers you need.
Why Can't I Hit Longer? You dont achieve full extension.
The surprisingly simple answer: lack of extension. That’s right, you don’t have to be built like Tiger to hit the ball long, but you do need to avoid the dreaded chicken wing.
This bent front-arm position can sap power from even the strongest golfers.
Believe it or not, lack of extension is without a doubt the biggest power-related mistake in golf. To remedy this problem, try my headcover drill. Simply place a headcover under your left arm (for right-handed golfers) and begin taking full swings. The goal is to hold the headcover in place until the weight of the swinging club pulls your arms off your body through impact. If you shorten your front arm (chicken wing), the headcover will fall out prematurely. By practicing this drill, you’ll learn to achieve full extension and create maximum power.
Though I don’t believe there are a lot of shortcuts to a solid golf swing, a good quick fix for the chicken wing is the “palm to the sky” drill. By ingraining the feeling of getting the palm of your left hand to the sky past impact, you’ll learn to properly rotate your forearms and quickly improve your extension and distance.
Why Can't I Cure My Slice? Your body is too open at impact.
To eradicate the banana ball, try my “parallel foot” drill. Assume your address position, then turn your front toe back, so it’s pointing away from the target. Place the ball in line with the middle of your front foot and begin swinging slowly. Your body will feel closed, and it will be almost impossible to open it too quickly. You’ll most likely begin hooking the ball, due to your closed shoulder position. With regular practice, your slice should disappear for good.
For a quick slice fix, try strengthening your grip by rotating your hands clockwise, or to your right. Most golfers have a tough time squaring the clubface through the hitting zone, and a strong grip can help achieve a square or even slightly closed clubface at impact. This will both fight the slice and promote crisper contact.
Why Can't I Be More Accurate? Your clubface isn't square at the top of the swing.
1. A square clubface angle at the top of the swing is a key for straight shots. Notice how the toe of the club points toward the target—this promotes the desired square clubface angle at impact.
2. Closing the clubface at the top of the swing is a common cause of smother hooks and fat shots. This position can also cause a lack of rotation in the arms and hands.
3. This laid-off or open clubface position at the top of the swing will, for the majority of recreational golfers, be a surefire way to create severe slices and thin shots.
Published: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 00:00:00 -0800