This post is the start of a series of discussions where I tackle a lot of common swing issues. However, instead of providing common fixes that you've probably seen elsewhere, I will be providing a more accurate way to think about how to obtain the correct feels of the swing. This series is catered to help more of an intermediate to advanced player who has somewhat of a functioning swing. These articles will assume you know some swing vocabulary.
Today we will be discussing some Grip Tips:
How it's different: This grip tip is different, because it not only helps with how to hold the club in your hands, but also how your hands and arms should feel in connection with the body at address as well. Having the correct grip-arms-body relationship helps from over-swinging, tempo, loss of consistency, distance, and balance.
Before you take your grip I want you to grab the club like you would do for handlebars on a bike with one hand holding the grip end and another holding the shaft end. Notice how secure your grip on both hands feel. Then take only your trail arm off and see if you can put it back on top of your lead arm to hold the club in it's regular position. If you feel that your lead grip is different, then you've been holding your grip wrong this whole time. A couple things to note, make sure the last three fingers of your lead hand are securing the grip and your thumb is longer rather than shorter. Also, when looking down at your club you should see at least 2 to 2.5 knuckles. of your lead hand.
Now, while holding your grip, bring your arms and elbows into your body really close and hinge your wrists and bend your elbows so that the club falls over your trail shoulder. Now slowly start unhinging your wrists toward the ground keeping your arms to your sides. You should start feeling that the grip will start bracing itself agains the pad part of your lead hand which will in turn start opening up your elbows, then your elbows will start unfolding and start bracing up against the side of your body like a chain reaction. After you have completely unfolded your writs and arms, your club should be laying down on the ground with your arms feeling snug up against your body. Another note if you've done it correctly is that you'll feel a slight pressure into your lead side and leg. Doing this drill you will have obtained not only the right feel in you hands, but also how your writs arms, elbows and body feels in complete connection with itself.
You would be surprised at how many people I can get making better contact simply by getting their arms and wrists connected better at address. Try it and you will start feeling what it means to have a connected swing.
I just wanted to take the time to thank all my readers and golf students who continue to motivate me to provide highly quality instruction. I pride myself in bringing a research based approach to golf instruction that is often insightful and less talked about. My teachings debunk a lot of myths and faulty traditional teachings that have thus plagued golfers in the trying to get better. So after reading some of my articles, you find yourself swing better, please share my blog and tell others in return for this free service :) In this article, I discuss the motion in the pelvis that contribute to a faulty swing, what I call "Twisting." A deadly move that most people do.
In an earlier article, I talk about how the discerning difference between pros and amateur swings is their ability to create more separation int their bodies (Arms, torso and hips) and how this creates in effect a sort of "Gear" effect. The correct motion gives an appearance that the hips and body are more open and impact and the spine angle is in tact. This motion is in contrast to high handicap players who try to "Clear" their hips simply by trying to fire their hips! Does this sound like you? If this is you be very careful because you may cause more injury and you'll in fact get the opposite effect which is early extension and getting on your lead toe on the finish. I cannot count the amount of people who come to me with this problem, it's nearly everybody.
In order to solve this problem, one of the first things I look for is the pelvis orientation at setup. Most people are under the impression that their backs need to be perfectly straight and do so by excessively sticking out their butt. If you do this, it will engage too much of the lower back muscles in your swing. When you do this, your pelvis will begin to twist in more of a level fashion sending your upper body too much away from the target. The fancy term for this is having too much anterior tilt at address. When you setup to more of a neutral position in regard to front to back tilting of the pelvis, you will engage your core and work your swing pressures between you feet more. This will help you feel more centered in you swing and help enormously with balance. I was inspired to write this piece because the recent winner of the Open Championship a model for this subtly but crucial pelvis condition in action, Francesco Molinari.
So now it's you're turn, grab a club and try swinging the club feeling like you're standing up. You'll be surprised because you'll still be able to get the club on the ground. Also remember this drill will only work if your pressure is also shifting correctly. If you haven't already please read my articles on ground reaction forces in the swing and get that down before trying this drill. If you're doing it right, you'll start gaining consistency, power and your golf swing will start looking better.
#1 Lead Leg Only Drill - Put your feet together, stand on your lead lead get with your heel down and move your trail leg behind you with your only your toe touching the ground, try to swing back and through in balance first at half speed and then progressively harder.
What it's for and why it works: It's for people who cannot find the bottom of the club arc. It is also for people who are too "Trail sided when swinging" It keeps the player from having too much negative or positive spine tilt on the backswing and downswing and forces you to have a neutral spine angle (that's if you're keeping your balance). It also prevents you from spinning out in your swing and also helps you steepen your shoulder plane on the backswing. You'll find that you'll hit shots surprisingly more consistently swinging on your lead leg because you're consistently reaching the same low-point in your downswing.
#2 Ball Forward Drill - Place your golf ball more forward of stance (toward the target) outside your lead leg. You should feel like you may miss the ball through impact. Can you hit the ball pure and straight? You should be able to, if not, you're early extending.
What it's for and why it Works: This drill is for casters of the golf club, early extenders and people who hit it off the toe. It forces the golfer not to swing from the top. It also helps golfer to create more vertical ground force through impact. Try this drill and videotape yourself down the line. If you're doing it right you will see yourself keeping your spine angle and tush line more better and not early extending. It helps with the toe shot.
#3 Split hand drill/Hockey drill - Simply split your hands on the golf club about a few inches apart. Can you hit the ball in this manner? You should be able to.
Who it's for and why it works - This drill if for people who flip at the golf club and are too handsy in the swing. It focuses your attention more on what the writsts-arms-torso relationship should be. It works because you won't be able to hit the ball if you are simple flipping your wrists at the ball.
#4 Club Pump drill - This is one of my favorites btw. Take your address position, swing the club back with your arms and shoulders to about waist high making sure you're looking at the ball, and your clubhead is pointed more at the ground, pause for a second, swing the club up in the air by raising your arms in the air and turning your shoulders more and then make your swing. Actually hit balls like this.
Who it's for and why it works - This drill is for players who are looking to get the right feels of shallowing the club correctly. Remember, shallowing the club happens because of the steepening of the hands on the downswing. I repeat, the shallowing of the club happens because the steepening of the hands in the downswing. Too many players swing the club out toward the ball thinking that will create a shallow path, but this is incorrect!!
#5 The Step Drill - Start with your feet together. Make your swing simultaneously as you step with your lead leg. Try to feel like you're falling toward your lead leg. Try to feel your lead side fall as you swing the club in the air. It should almost feel like a baseball swing except you start wit your feet together and and the club on the ground. Can you hit shots like this? You should be able to.
Who it's for and why it works - It's for people who need more distance. It's for people who over-swing and and obsessed with their backswing when in reality they need to work on their transition. It's for people who have too much of a level hip condition on the backswing when in fact there needs to be and downward tilting of the lead hip. This drill is also really great for people who struggle with rhythm in their swing.
Misinterpretation of golf training technology and aids still prevents golfers from gaining long term changes.
With the number of technology and training aids for improving our golf game, many people make the mistake in thinking it will solve their swing issues but in reality may be more deeply rooted issues. There are many training tools and technology out there that can do what it is intended for i.e., getting your wrists set, making the club pass through a slot, keeping your butt stuck to a chair, building swing speed etc... but remember this game is plagued with instruction that offer fixes that only seem to last temporarily. Please do not misunderstand me, I believe each technology and use it in my own practice, but it is important to understand that these tools give us insight and data into what's happening the golf swing, not necessarily provide the correct fix.
Let's take for example one the most popular pieces of technology, a club face and golf ball launch monitoring tool such as Trackman. This type of technology gives you data on what the golf ball and club face is doing at impact. Such technology is more beneficial for top level golfers because the adjustments they have to make are usually more minimal than the average player. For example, a top level golfer who sees that he has a high club face closure rate may simply need to adjust his setup and grip whilst an amateur might just be forcefully trying to hold his club-face open through impact not realizing that the problem is more deeply rooted core body mechanics. Another example could be that a golfer finds that his golf ball is spinning too much on his drives, so his instructor advises the player to "Supinate the wrists more and swing through more from the inside," not realizing that the problem is actually that the shoulders need to go back steeper to allow for the golfer a less reason to cast out at the ball on the downswing. See, I'm not saying that the fixes that you try will not create the results you're trying to achieve, but again watch out to see if this fix is temporary and feels hard to repeat. My view is that if the changes aren't lasting and it's also taking a toll on your body to get into, then you're just manipulating and those changes won't hold up under pressure.
This incorrect diagnosis vs. prescription relationship is described above is also true in 3d motion monitoring software as well. You will find this type of technology in what is called "Gears" or "Golftec." This is my favorite type of technology because it provides accurate body motion and measurements so you can compare them to professionals. However, question the way in which you or your swing coach go about interpreting that data to provide a fix. Here's an example and many of you reading may have experienced something like this... let's say that the 3d motion software is showing that your hips are too level and over rotating in the backswing, so as what you think is a simple fix what you do is start holding your hips steadier and pointing your hips down. Yes, the monitoring software shows that you hips are in a better condition and you might even start hitting it better for awhile, but was that the right fix? How do you know that the problem is not actually coming from improper lead arm adduction angle caused by that fanning of the club-face creating a tendency to chase the club with your hips creating a too level and over rotated backswing?
Again, my point is that it is important to understand that a measurement tool just provides you data into how you're moving compared to a professional in a quantitative way. However, one should be careful on how best to use that information because there can be several ways you can attempt to fix a particular problem and in my experience, most problems arise from a more deeply rooted issues regarding the entire golf motion as a whole.
So how does one know what course of action to take when attempting to fix certain flaws in their swing? To answer this question it's important to differentiate between a body motion itself and the feelings associated with that motion. Here is a common example, when given the instructions such as "Turn you shoulders" many people will twist their waist or overly tilt their spine angle because of an overly active trail side. They have no idea that the golf swing should always start from a move off the lead side, and that it is a chain of sequencing starting with their lead leg that yields a proper backswing. But, many people get this wrong because they are interpreting their idea of "Turn your shoulders" ambiguously. You will never get the shoulder turn right if your aren't engaging the correct body motions in sequence! Therefore you will never have a correct backswing.
The example described of above is on of many of the misinterpretations that can happen when golfers are finding a solution to their incorrect body motions. So in short make sure that the motions you are attempting to do align with what the proper feels in the golf swing should be. I've had many players come to me to what looks like a more correct swing yet they are not using the muscle sequencing what they are feeling internally is way different than that of a world class ball striker.
Through technology, research and empirical evidence for over 17 years of my own instruction, I can prove that some of the best ball strikers swing with the mechanics that I have been describing. (In the near future, I plan on starting a youtube video to further explain what I'm teaching, however in the meantime please refer to my instagram to find the correlating videos. I have 3 world class players i.e., Mcilroy, Stenson, and Woods who I refer to for this post)
This article is a continuation of an earlier post entitled "Golf is a System of Gears." In the previous article, I talk about how the correct swing is achieved by the rolling of feet and the hips in the golf swing and how it creates a gear and lever type of feeling as if you're pedaling a bike rather than a spinning type of feeling in the golf swing such as a merry go round. See, my assumption is that the explanation of the golf swing has been misinterpreted in many ways throughout the history of golf instruction.
This article will attempt to explain the nuances in common golf instruction as well as common misinterpretations of the golf swing that has kept people from getting better at this game and sometimes even have gotten better players to get worse! Over the years, people have misinterpreted the common language used to describe the swing with words such as rotation, turn, pivot, lag, etc. It is imperative that one understands that these descriptions are not a means to an end, but the end itself! To further clarify, rotation, turn, lag, torque, staying in your spine angle, getting into "The slot," "Shallowing out the club path," "Squaring the clubface," I mean you name it.. Whatever term you have heard to describe how you should swing is something that happens as a result, not something you purposely do.
To further clarify, let me try to explain some of the most common mistakes golfers make in their swings.
Swing Misinterpretation #1. "Turn your shoulders." This misinterpretation is probably responsible for 90% of all incorrect golf swings. it most often leads to a a too flat of a shoulder turn.
Correction: "In your backswing, let your lead arm swing underneath your trail shoulder so that your lead shoulder will create leverage against your shoulder and chest early on in the swing, further your shoulder will create leverage against your trail hip creating a slight tilt down of your lead hip accordingly." Get this move right and it will appear as if your shoulders are turning and here's the difference, you'll look like Pga Tour Player. this move is not to be confused with the reverse pivot which is just way too much left side bend on the backswing in combination with too much weight into the toes of your trail leg.
Swing Misinterpretation #2. "On the downswing, swing the club to the inside to purposely shallow out the golf swing, get it into the slot!" This one most often goes hand in hand with, "Clear you hips!" as well as, "Lay Down the Club!" This one is killing golfers, you think PGA Tour players are purposely doing this? You think Tiger was intently doing this when he was toddler striping it everytime? No, but I'll tell you what he was doing..
Correction: On the downswing, feel your lead leg, hips and arm working downward. Feel an enormous amount of pressure toward your lead side on the downswing, planting your lead leg into the ground with a tremendous amount of force. The thought here is downward pressure, not an outward motion at the ball. If you do this correctly the club look as though it's coming into the inside like a PGA Tour player.
Misinterpretation #3. The very famous, "Stay in your spine angle." "Do not early extend in your golf swing." Otherwise known as "Goat Humping." You'll probably find hundreds of videos out there trying to show you how to correct this swing flaw, usually by sticking some apparatus behind your lead butt cheek and trying to turn around there. In fact, it will probably cause more injury and will feel forced. The more and more you try to keep you spine angle, the worse it will get!
Correction description: Your backswing and downswing has to feel more linear. The backswing and downswing is a combination of a pressure shift to the trail leg toward the heel followed by a pressure shift toward the lead leg toward the heel. This, to most golfers who are not will feel like a sight sway in the hips. However, if this motion is extended the the arms and shoulders correctly, the arms and body feel more like a lever and when the lever drops, the body appears to be rotating and creating the look that all the professionals have i.e., "Clearing of the hips," "Open body and impact," "Maintaining spine angle," "Shallowing club path," etc. This one is definitely a littler harder to describe, but the feeling is more that that the left side slips away through impact.
I tried to do my best to describe a just a few of the misinterpretations in the golf swing that I've been finding online. I highly recommend that you follow my instagram for more updates on my students progress as well as some interesting clips I've put up that challenge the common teaching methods that are still prevalent today. Hopefully it will be eye opening and lead you to a more fun filled type with this sport!!
Take a minute to look at the gif image to the right. Notice how it takes you awhile to grasp how this gear would actually work.
One of the most important findings in the kinematic sequence of the golf swing between amateurs and professionals is that professionals have a greater degree of separation in the parts of the body mainly between their upper and lower body. However, there is so much misinformation out there and many people are trying to achieve this the wrong way ie. getting more separation by simple trying to clear your hips more LOL! It's not going to work. You're just going to get more stuck!
There is an article I wrote earlier about how the proper footwork creates a type of gliding effect in the golf swing. This article is a sort of extension to that. See, the proper rolling of the feet is also and indication that the rest of the body is working in direct proportion to each other. I tell my students to imagine themselves as a system of gears. The reason for this is that when you think gears, you don't think twisting, instead you think rolling. Also when you think of a gear, you can imagine every single body part working as a part of a whole, one section does not move unless the other does and vice versa. This is very important to understand because most amateur golfers have too much excess motion going on with a particular body part. Your hands, arms, chest, hips, legs, and literally every body part must have a direct relationship in movement with each other.
How is this movement achieved? This motion is achieved by creating the same type of motion that is in the rolling of the feet but with the rolling of the lower and upper body.
Stop forcing yourself into golf positions! Get your setup right and it may just happen naturally.
Have you ever found yourself forcing yourself into certain golf positions during a lesson or from a tip you read about in a book, magazine video? And you just wonder how you're going to be able to repeat those motions? It just doesn't feel natural does it?
I have to admit, during my first years as a swing coach, there have been countless times when I struggled to get my students into certain positions without them feeling like they're exaggerating and over-forcing it. This is a problem that every golfer has gone through. When this happens, the swing becomes overly manufactured and the athleticism in the swing is almost always lost. If this was ever your experience, you probably got more frustrated because it felt like you were an acrobat contorting your body only to hit it worse than when you started.
Before you dismiss this article thinking it's another gripe on having the correct grip, stance and posture, think again. The ideas expressed in this blog post are going to go a little beyond what you're probably thinking.
What I really want to share with you is the fact that the setup in the golf swing doesn't just involve having the correct grip, stance and posture, but more so how these fundamentals contribute to what I call "Directional Setup" or as some people call it "Dynamic Setup." What do I mean? Well, I define directional setup as the way in which our bodies are positioned to hit the target. Often, people try to set up to the ball too symmetrically. When you set up correctly to the ball, you should almost feel as if you're opened up toward the target. If you look to the image here, you will see that the golfer on the left looks like he's ready to move toward the target and the golfer on the right looks like he's ready to move away from it. You must be positioned to swing toward the target at setup. If you're not, you will never develop consistency in your swing! In fact I can cure a lot of swing flaws by simply having my golfers set up more directionally. This is not as easy as you think as the only way to know for sure is to use a vector plate to make sure your foot pressure distribution is within the right parameters.
But, for starters, try this!
Address the club with you right hand on the club first and aim it at the target. Slide in your trail foot to get in a preliminary stance, then bring in your lead foot to complete the stance (preferable with more weight onto your lead heel) and finally place your left hand grip on the club and finalize your setup. You must do this in the right sequence! If you do this correctly you should feel like you are open to the target, even though you are not. After your done, take a couple waggles and take a swing. Don't be surprised if you hit some great shots!!!!
Why the use of Boditrak or other Vector Plates are a definite must in Learning Golf!
That's Justin Thomas on the right.
The squiggly lines you see there is his center of pressure trace or COP.
The Center of Pressure trace in a golf swing can be defined as the sum of vertical ground forces at a particular point in the golf swing. This is not to be confused by weight shift. You can look it up here www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJfeahPKaa0 for a general description.
Why is the use of this tool important for golfers trying to get better? Well, because It is almost impossible for a coach to see exactly how your are using ground reaction forces in your swing with the naked eye. This tool measures exactly what type of COP trace you have. Every single Professional golfer shows a pattern of measurement that is ideal for solid ball striking and the chances that you are creating these same measurements is close to ZERO. Other than video analysis, I have found my use with Boditrak to be the single most important determining factor in how I approach my lessons. I have by far seen the most dramatic results with the use of this machine in over 16 years of my swing coaching experience. Do not go to any swing coach who does not use this machine or a similar one such as "Swing Catalyst" in diagnosing your swing problems... I don't care how cheap you're paying for your lessons, you're wasting your time and money. Technological advances in golf instruction is here to make this game a much more enjoyable experience, please use it to your advantage.
Almost every golf lesson golf begins with a lesson on the "GRIP." However, the fact of the matter is, none of these lessons will teach you how the grip should feel in relationship to the whole left arm; from the wrists, elbows and through the shoulders. The secret to feeling a connected trunk rotation and light grip pressure is not only in how your hands hold the club, but also how your arms hold your hand. If your arms are not holding your hands correctly, you will never ever be able to play consistent golf. I repeat, If your arms are not holding you hands correctly, you will never ever be able to play consistent golf!
That's right, your hands hold the club yes, but what holds your hands? Your arms do! I know what you're thinking, that it can't be so hard to learn how to hold the club correctly. But, what if I told you that less than 5% of all the lessons who come to me are not holding the club correctly because of the way their wrists, elbows and shoulders are positioned? You would be surprised at how many swing flaws will self-correct just by getting your club held properly, not only by your hands, but your arms as well. For example, one of the most common backswing flaws of swinging the club back inside the line is fixed with having the proper grip, wrist and arm orientation and address. Also, as stated above, you will be inclined to have a lighter grip pressure as a result of your larger muscles being engaged in your golf swing.
I offer a satisfaction guarantee on your very first lesson.
For those of you know how hard this sport is, you can bet this is a very bold statement. In my 16 years of teaching experience I have yet to find anyone who was not satisfied with my instruction. Stop trying to figure this game out on your own. The longer you wait on it, the more and more your bad habits are going to be ingrained. You're going to waste years of your golfing career to find that you're still the same golfer if not worse after 5, 10 and 20 years later! The golf swing is highly dependent on technique, not only practice.
Think of golf as an investment. If I were to ask you to sacrifice 1 year of your golf career in learning it the right way in order to enjoy the game for decades to come, wouldn't it be worth it? The question I get asked the most is, "But, coach, how long will it take for me to get better at this game?" If you want my statistical average, most people will get results on their first series of lessons... However, changes only begin to permanently settle in after about 7-10 months if you're doing lessons consistently and are willing to practice at least once a week.
Think of the golf swing as a complicated magic trick! Do you really think that your hand eye coordination is so great that you can time the face of a driver going over 100 mph to hit a golf golf consistently straight every single time in the sweet spot? NOPE! These professional golfers simply know something you don't. The feel they have in the swing is distinct and unless you can feel that swing enough times, you will not be able to hit high flying shots as consistently... almost as if it were magic. Here's the thing, you will never figure it out on your own! How do I know this? take a video of your swing and compare it to a professionals, get on a vector plate and compare it to a professional's. If the resemblance is not strikingly similar, you're just wasting your time. It's real simple.. Are you hitting the ball straight and far on a consistent basis with every single club? When you are at address, are you almost certain it's going to be a relatively good shot every single time? If not, you're just using your old hand eye coordination and not letting the magic happen!