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Published: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0700
A good impact position with an iron is the result of a downward blow into the back of the golf ball. With the hands ahead of the ball, just as they should be at address, you'll have a better compression of the ball against the face. This means longer, higher shots with more spin on the greens.
If you don't rotate, and you simply try to get back to your setup position and hit from there, here's what will happen. The hands will more than likely collapse through the shot. Keep reading this article to see what would happen next. It's not pretty, that's for sure.
Published: Tue, 31 May 2011 00:00:00 -0700
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|Left: Angel Cabrera 2009 Champ; Center: Trevor Immelman 2008 Champ; Right: Zach Johnson 2007 Champ|
Published: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 00:00:00 -0800
|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
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
|QUICK TIP! |
Choose the right width when it comes to your grips. If you have long skinny fingers, thicker grips will help. Short and stubby fingers may benefit from regular or skinny grips.
|The marks on my hand are the proper pressure points. Grip the club with your ungloved hand along the thumb pad and last knuckle of your index finger. ||See how the palm of my hand fits perfectly over my gloved thumb? That’s where you want it. Second, check out how my index finger is being placed just below the grip. This will help me position my hands with ease around the grip for better control. ||Unlike the gloved hand, this hand grips the club more like a clamp. My hand is secure and my thumb isn’t squished up against my hand, nor is it stretched out along the grip. Feel free to overlap or interlock your pinky. It’s a matter of personal preference. |
Published: Tue, 01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0700
In a perfect world, every shot in golf would be the same distance, and we’d only have to use one club the whole round. Instead, we have 14 clubs to choose from, mostly made up of irons of different lengths and lofts. Some instructors say that you should make the same swing with every iron, play the ball in the same spot and, lastly, expect the same results with each club. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily the case. Depending on which iron you use (we’ll simplify things by breaking it down into short, middle and long irons), the golf swing will be a little different each time. This is because no two irons are exactly alike. For instance, the longer the iron, the more you need to stand away from the ball and the flatter your swing will be.
Conversely, the shorter irons have the opposite effect and produce a more upright swing. This phenomenon is why some golfers can hit their short irons well and struggle with their longer irons. They most likely don’t know that they have to swing the long irons a little flatter! The key is to understand how different irons affect your swing, and then make the proper adjustments. The following tips will help clear up any confusion and get you on the right path, right away.
Published: Mon, 28 Jul 2008 17:00:00 -0700
If you’ve been told the key to better ballstriking is to keep your head down, odds are you’re a golfer who puts a slice on the ball. Also, you’re a victim of bad advice, since keeping your head down can cause a variety of swing (and back) problems. Keeping your head down on your backswing actually will cause your head to get in the way and restrict your body turn. This means your arms and upper body will lift upward instead of around, and you’ll swing with an upright, outside-in swing path.
The right way to manage your noggin is to keep it out of the way. This starts with maintaining a straight spine, from your tailbone to the top of your head. By standing tall, your body can rotate under your head more effectively and keep your swing on a flatter plane. This not only leads to better swings, it also helps keep your back and neck from getting injured, a common occurrence among golfers with bad posture or who have been told to keep their head down. Keep that head up for better shots!
Notice how when my head is down, the shaft angle is more upright. This position usually leads to a slice. Keep the head and neck straight to flatten your swing.
Paul Ito, PGA, is the director of golf at the beautiful Puakea GC on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. To learn more, check out puakeagolf.com.
Published: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 17:00:00 -0700
Donald’s left arm hangs nearly perpendicular to the ground. This is the product of quiet hips and serves to minimize the amount of hand action required during impact. If the left arm is allowed to push out away from the body, the clubface opens more and needs manipulation to get back to square.
Hips On Hold
The key to Donald’s control is in his hips. While they begin to open before impact like all great ballstrikers, they do so with a subdued and delayed action that serves two specific purposes. First, the lack of early hip rotation allows the arms to remain close to the body. Second, any excessive upper-body tilt created from overly active hips is eliminated.
Right At It
Donald’s great body position keeps his arms close and allows his right arm to point directly at the ball. This is on plane! As a result, his hands will be lower at impact than most Tour players, helping him to better control the trajectory of his iron shots.
Approaching impact, Donald’s hands are in their proper position, with the left wrist flat and the right wrist bent back. This is different from their alignment at address, with the left wrist bent and the right wrist flat, and is a change all great ballstrikers achieve, further proof that impact and address aren’t the same.
Right Heel Down
That his right heel remains grounded late in the downswing is another benefit of Donald’s quiet hips. It allows his feet, knees and hips to remain directly under his torso, creating a truly “stacked” impact position that maximizes compression and consistency.
Facing The Ball
With the club tracking precisely on plane approaching impact, there’s no need to make adjustments to the clubface. The toe of the club will overtake the heel and need no extra manipulation from the hands to become square. This is a critical element to creating crisp iron shots.
Luke Donald plays Mizuno forged irons for what many would agree is the ultimate in feel and control. The MP-57 is the latest in the line. www.mizunousa.com
Published: Sat, 31 May 2008 17:00:00 -0700
There’s nothing in golf quite like making pure contact. If you’ve never felt an absolutely pure golf shot, then you must keep reading, because I’ve got a method that will allow you to achieve this magical feeling! If you have experienced this sensation, then chances are it’s the main reason that you’re hooked on this great game. And if you love golf, I’m sure you’d like to learn to make that pure contact more consistently.
What do I mean when I say pure contact? I mean contact that’s free from any defects or faults. It’s a solid strike that compresses the ball against the ground and takes a divot after the ball is in the air, not before. Achieving this type of contact tends to be difficult for a lot of recreational golfers, but it’s exactly this perfect, pure contact that the pros make time and time again that allows them to play at such a high level. In other words, pure contact is pro contact. Read carefully, examine the accompanying photos and drills, and get to work, and eventually you too can learn to hit it pure, just like the pros.
Ingredients Of Pro Contact
1. Forward Shaft Lean
Forward shaft lean (at impact, the shaft is leaning with the grip end of the club closer to the target than the head of the club) is an absolutely mandatory ingredient for making solid, pro contact. This is a must if you hope to compress the ball (squeeze it between the clubface and the ground) and make your divot after the ball, not before. This is the true secret to pro-style power and control and the element you absolutely must have if you want to hit “real” golf shots.
So how do you achieve forward shaft lean? There are several movements that are key, and when they happen in the correct sequence, the result is magic. Through contact, your weight must shift onto your lead leg and your trailing shoulder (right shoulder for right handers) has to move toward the ball. A lot of recreational players do the exact opposite by shifting their weight to the back leg and falling away from the ball and the target. This move sabotages any chance of making pro-style contact immediately and promotes weak, glancing blows that often travel on a left-to-right path. Instead, you must make a proper weight shift and create a balanced, leveraged position on your way toward impact. The club must move down first, then outward and forward in the direction of the ball. Your right arm and wrists must maintain their angles and save their power deep into the swing. Think of it in these simple terms: Good players reach maximum swing speed through and beyond impact, while less accomplished players reach maximum swing speed early in the swing, before they come close to impact.
Good Impact. Notice how the shaft is still trailing my left arm just after impact (if you draw a straight line up the shaft it is ahead of my left arm). My weight is on my left leg (right heel is in the air), my right shoulder is lowered, my right wrist is bent, my left wrist is flat and the divot occurred after contact with the ball. The shaft is now vertical, as it should be after a sound, ball-first impact.
Bad Impact. Notice how the shaft has passed my left arm (if you draw a straight line up the shaft, it’s behind my left arm). My weight is still on my right leg (my right heel is on the ground), my right wrist is flat, my left wrist is bent, and the divot has occurred prior to making contact with the ball. The shaft is leaning backward, a sure sign of a scooped-impact position.
Published: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 12:30:01 -0700
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 08:43:09 -0800
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 16:21:16 -0800
PGA professional Brady Riggs teaches at Woodley Lakes Golf Course in Van Nuys, Calif. For more information, visit www.bradyriggs.com.
Published: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 15:55:09 -0800
We admit, blasting a huge drive is a ton of fun. Nothing beats splitting the fairway with every ounce of swing speed you have, watching the ball soar for what seems like miles in the air and basking in the success of the result. But whats a 300-yard drive if you cant hit the green on your second shot? Worthless!
No matter how sexy driving the golf ball can be, your mammoth drives dont mean squat unless you have the skills to follow them up with solid iron play. The same goes for putting—you cant score if you cant putt well, and part of making more putts has to do with how close you can hit your approaches to the hole. Put it this way: Scoring well requires a series of chain reactions. Great drives stage easier approach shots, and better approach shots lead to shorter putts, which likely lead to lower scores. Invariably and frequently, these links are going to weaken most often with the big stick and flatstick, making it all the more critical that you keep your iron game in top form.
Bend from the waist, not from your back, for better posture.
Take the club back with the arms, not wrists, during the takeaway.
Frankly, a poor setup is downright inexcusable—you dont even have to hit a golf ball to get it right.
Begin by understanding the difference between a good setup and a flawed one. Think of a baseball player or basketball player. They flex at the knees, stand firmly on the balls and heels of their feet and do so with solid posture. Think rock and roll to remind you that your feet serve as a rock through your backswing and roll through the downswing. The back retains straightness, but not necessarily rigidity. The spine should tilt toward the ball, and in a correct stance and swing, this tilt remains well through impact. More importantly, the tilt occurs in the hips (solid image at left), not the waist (ghosted image). Your weight should be balanced evenly over both feet. The hands should always be above or in front of the ball and never behind (think of your left arm as an extension of the shaft).
Now, on to ball position, the most overlooked aspect of iron setup. The ball should be played no farther back than your sternum and no farther forward than your left armpit. Most golfers tend to play the ball too far forward, causing a slew of miserable contacts. Try this: Hold a golf ball at your sternum while making a regular stance over a ball. Drop the ball from your sternum and note where it hits the ground. If it lands in front of the addressed ball in relation to the target, then youre playing the ball too far back.
How you take the club back during the onset of the backswing determines what route the rest of your swing will follow, making it crucial you get this step right. Lets look at the 2-8-12 rule. During the first two inches of your takeaway, the club should travel straight back. This necessitates that your arms, hands and shoulders move in unison and as a single unit (hence the term one-piece takeaway). From the second inch to the eighth inch, the club routes its way up, but the wrists have yet to break. This is simply a natural continuation of the one-piece move. From the eighth inch to the 12th inch is when the wrists break, positioning the clubshaft parallel to the ground and your target line. The full cock of the wrists occurs when the hands are shoulder high. Also, notice how I keep my rear shoulder slightly lower than the one closer to the target. This prevents me from hanging on my front side during the takeaway. If your forward shoulder drops, then your weight isnt going to shift properly to your back foot during the backswing.
When you find yourself in the rough, invariably youre going to need a steeper takeaway to get your swing moving on the right arc. As the club begins moving back, the wrists should already begin to hinge and not twist, thus allowing for a steeper and shorter backswing to follow. The wrists should already be fully cocked by the time the hands reach hip high on the backswing. You should retain this wrist cock as long as you can.
Published: Sat, 01 Apr 2006 00:00:00 -0800
Good days and not-so-good days on the course are part of golf, creating the personal challenge avid players crave. For most golfers, good rounds are those defined by solid ballstriking with ideal direction, distance and trajectory. It’s these special red-letter days—the days when golf seems effortless—that every golfer wants more often.
On days when you’re playing your best, it’s likely that you’re successfully achieving some key positions in your setup and swing. These positions create the best opportunity to maximize your potential for distance, direction and proper trajectory with every shot.
An easy way to remember these important setup and swing checkpoints is to visually relate them to the alphabet. What follows is an easy way to assay your setup and swing in a mirror to see that you’re giving yourself the best chance for a red-letter day every time you tee it up.
Address: Why The Letter Y
At address, the letter Y puts you in the best position to produce a powerful golf shot that travels on an ideal trajectory. The Y is created by the left arm and the clubshaft, and your spine, which should be tilted slightly from the target.
The left arm and clubshaft alignment mimic the same in-line condition of impact, which is necessary to produce solid golf shots. Your upper body tilt, complete with your head positioned behind the golf ball, sets up the correct upper body pivot and helps launch the ball on a playable trajectory.
If you set up with your shoulders level and with eyes fixed on top of the ball instead of behind it, you’ll have a difficult time turning your upper body correctly back and through with the proper weight shift.
Halfway Back: L Is For Leverage
Halfway into the backswing, allow your wrists to hinge the club up as you turn your upper torso. In so doing, you’ll create the letter L as your wrists cock and form a 90-degree angle between the club and your left arm. This lever is one of the most important power sources in the golf swing. Combined with a fold of the right elbow, creating the letter L elevates the clubhead to a position higher than your hands. The dynamics of this move produce a club that feels light rather than heavy. Be sure to keep your left arm extended, with your hands in front of your chest to create the proper width for your swing.
Unless you create the proper angles with your arms and the club, you won’t be able to unleash maximum clubhead speed at the golf ball. If you delay the wrist hinge and elbow fold (photo at left), or swing the club too flat or too around your body, the club will feel heavy at the halfway back position. This is a recipe for losing width at the top and hinging at the elbows instead of a hinging at the wrists—a huge power leak.
At The Top: The Power V
At the top of the swing, your spine should be slightly angled away from the target and you should feel loaded on your right side. If your head moves a couple of inches to the right, that’s fine. In fact, this happens with most good golfers. If you’re correct at the top, a vertical line running from the ground through your left hip and one down your back should create the letter V. When you see the V, you know you’ve created the proper coil and weight shift necessary for a powerful downswing. Not only does a good position at the top put you in a powerful striking stance, but it’s also more likely to promote a swing that travels on the correct plane.
If your upper body tilts toward the target with your weight on the left side at the top, you’ve filled the space reserved for the power V. You’ll have a tendency to fall away from the target on the forwardswing—just the reverse of what should happen. This reverse pivot move positions the bottom of the swing arc too much behind the golf ball, causing you to hit the ground behind the ball or the top half of the ball as the clubhead is on its way up. It’s also difficult to swing the club on plane with a reverse pivot, and most often you’ll get a steep angle of attack and a weak, glancing blow that produces either a pull or a slice.
Published: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 14:28:40 -0800
If you’re planning a golf vacation this winter, be prepared to face a course element common to most tracks in Hawaii, Arizona and Florida: Bermuda grass. If you’re not accustomed to playing on this type of turf, you may be surprised at how it can affect your game, both on the fairway and the putting surface.
In the fairway, Bermuda’s inherent structure often will cause your ball to “sit up.” Despite the “fluffiness” of the lie, don’t approach the shot as if the ball is teed up and attempt to scoop the ball off the turf. Due to the nature of the lie and the scoop swing, the ball will fly high, but it also will float more than usual, making it more susceptible to wind. Make sure you play the ball back a few inches in your stance (being careful not to move your hands back as well). This small adjustment will help you achieve a more penetrating ballflight by encouraging the hands to lead the clubface into the hitting zone.
On the putting green, the situation becomes even more dicey. Bermuda grass aggressively seeks out light and, therefore, tends to grow in the direction of the setting sun. This creates a crook in its growing pattern, which establishes the tremendous grain for which Bermuda putting surfaces are known. It’s imperative to have a clear read of the grain before any putt, even a two-footer.
Before reading any putt on a Bermuda green, walk to the hole and give the sides of the cup a good look. One half will look brown and ragged; the other half will be green and cleanly cut. The brown side of the hole indicates the side opposite the grain of the grass. Your putt generally will tend to drift toward that side of the cup and green.
PGA pro Eddie Lee instructs at Wailea Golf Club in Maui, Hawaii.
Published: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 14:00:34 -0800
All good players have one position in the golf swing that’s similar despite their very different-looking swings. This position is impact. Good players retain their wrist-cock through the hitting area so that their left wrist is bowed and the right wrist is flexed (for right-handed golfers), and both hands are slightly in front of the golf ball at the strike. This is often called a late hit or clubhead lag, and good players use both to create a tremendous amount of clubhead speed and power in their swings.
High-handicappers tend to do the opposite at impact. Instead of a late hit, they actually execute what’s called an early release. They scoop the ball at impact because they lose the lag too early in the downswing. Instead of having a bowed left wrist and their hands ahead of the ball at impact, they have a collapsed left wrist and their hands are behind the ball. As such, they suffer a tremendous loss of power and direction and end up with a very weak hit. Golfers with this problem tend to hit the ball better with their woods than their irons because the ball is teed up and they can get away with scooping or hitting up on the ball. In order to hit solid irons shots and better drives more consistently, however, it’s necessary to hit down with a flat left wrist that’s ahead of the ball at impact.
To create a late hit, you must sequence the swing so that your hands, wrists and clubhead arrive at impact in the correct order. This is called sequencing.
First, check your left-hand grip (your right if you’re left-handed) to make sure that the club handle is held primarily in the fingers as opposed to the palm. When you look down at your grip, you should see at least two knuckles on your left hand at address. The V formed by the thumbs and forefingers on both hands should point to the right side of your face.
If you can’t see at least two knuckles, your grip is primarily in the palm, and this will make it difficult for you to create the necessary wrist hinge for a late hit at impact.
Second, as you swing back, allow your wrists to hinge naturally. To help create wrist hinge, imagine that there’s a hole in the butt end of the club and the shaft is full of water. As you swing back, pour the water out of the shaft onto your right leg. The wrists should be fully hinged by the time the left arm becomes parallel to the ground. This backswing wrist hinge must be duplicated in the downswing.
Third, as you start down, feel as if you’re leading with the butt end of the club. Try to maintain your wrist cocked as long as possible on the downswing before allowing the clubhead to whip through impact. Think of impact as a finish line to a race. Your left hand should come in first place, the right hand should come in second, and the clubhead should come in third. If you let the clubhead win the race, you’ll fail to achieve the correct impact position.
To ingrain the feel of this position, practice putting yourself in the correct impact arrangement. Start at your address position, with your weight evenly distributed. Your arms and club should form an uppercase Y. Now, shift your lower body weight and hands toward your target. Your hips should be slightly open, your left wrist should be flat and there should be some angle in the back of your right wrist. The capital Y formed by your arms and club at address should now resemble a lowercase y. Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat. Next, make a full swing, focusing on creating the lowercase y at contact. With a little practice, your shots will become straighter and more powerful.
Class-A LPGA teaching professional Karen Palacios-Jansen is the director of instruction for Swing Blade Golf Enterprises (www.swingbladegolf.com).
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