Archives for July, 2016

Learn from the Pros but Adapt for YOUR Game

When we watch Dustin Johnson hammer a driver 300 yards up the center of a fairway, we imagine how we can make the same shot. It’s a great feeling when you dream about it but you better get back to reality before your next swing or your ball will be headed into Never Never Land.  Learn to ‘tune your game back and make the easy shots within your ability’.

If you spend most days working at a desk or anywhere but swinging a golf club, you need to be realistic before your next adventure on the golf course. “You are You”, not Dustin Johnson or Jason Day. Their game and your game are in 2 different leagues. Body shape, strength, stamina, training and mindset are all different from yours.

You need to set realistic expectation for the swing of each club. Keep your expectations in check and minimize your check points to make more consistent swings. Try these tests:

Takeaway Test:  Try a takeaway waggle like Rickie Fowler. Watch for 2 things.
1/ Flat wrist: With a straight leading arm and a wide takeaway, keep your wrist flat and in-line with your arm as you break your wrist sideways and point your club head away from the ground. Practice with GOLFSTR+ to ensure that your wrist is flat.
2/ Rotate, Don’t Shift: In your backswing make sure that you are rotating your shoulders and hips to coil your body (as you load pressure on your trailing foot). DO NOT swaying back in your stance for more power like a baseball player (golf is not baseball)

Rory has a perfect flat wrist position as he lets momentum shift his hips slightly up his target line. He lets his club do the work to whip through impact with his ball.

Rory has a perfect flat wrist position as he lets momentum shift his hips slightly up his target line. He lets his club do the work to whip through impact with his ball.  He also finishes in balance on every shot.

Balance Test
In a recent PGA video by PGA Professional Eric Hogge, he offered a tip to help you understand how hard you should swing each club and still hold a balanced finish. He completed a drill called “2 Tees and a Ball”. He placed 2 tees and a ball on a third tee all in a line so that he could hit them in succession. His first swing was at 50% to hit the first tee, then 60% to hit the second tee and finally at 70% to hit the ball. If he was able to hold a balanced finish for 2 seconds, he knew that he was in control. This is great test to understand the speed that is realistic for your swing. DON’T swing as hard as you can.

Body Test
Marin Hall, a trainer on the Golf Channel, reminds us to get our bodies “into the swing”. Don’t just use your arms and fall back when you swing. Don’t rush your swing at the top. As your club reaches the top of your backswing let the momentum of your backswing start the slide of your hips forward as you drop your hands and feel the whip of your club releasing from a wrist lag to impact with your ball.

To clarify: Don’t muscle your club through the swing. Keep your leading arm straight through out the backswing and downswing and feel the whipping action of your club as it releases through impact. Let the weight of your club create the power of your swing.

Adjust your stance and straight arm swing to ensure that you are impacting with your ball in the center of your club face.

Adjust your stance and straight arm swing to ensure that you are impacting with your ball in the center of your club face.

Impact Test
Use a powder marker or Dr. Scholl’s spray powder to mark the face of your driver and your irons and figure out where you impact the ball. Adjust your stance and accept the fact that the head of your club may not line up with your ball at address the same way that it does during the swing. (As an amateur golfer, your body will do bewildering changes during your swing.  Make adjustments or you will suffer with poor shots.)

Summary

You should be swinging with a straight leading arm and a flat leading wrist. If you don’t learn to do this you will never be able to create a consistent distance to the ball for consistent hits. Practice with GOLFSTR+ for straight arm and straight wrist and lag training. Buy one today at www.golfstr.com

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Create Lag for Power with Limited Backswing

Martin Chuck has been releasing blogs with a series of drills to generate lag and whipping action for more power and distance. I love his recommendations as they fit with the exact solution that I developed for my aging body. If your spine rotation limits your backswing, you are not alone. You need a solution to create lag without coming over the top and slicing the ball.

There are only 3 steps that you need to focus on to improve your ability to generate more lag for more power and distance.

Step 1: Light Grip with your Trailing Hand
Martin Chuck showed a drill where he grips his club normally with his leading hand and places his trailing hand with fingers open and flat against the trailing side of the club. He recommends making some light swings where your leading wrist rotates your club shaft to 90 degrees in your back-swing  (and your trailing open hand just rests on the side of the club).

By doing this you will feel a whipping action as you release your leading wrist at the bottom of your swing. Your club head  accelerates at about 4 times the speed of your arm rotation. The whipping action and extra club head speed is generated from your leading wrist release. Your trailing hand is just moving along for the ride.

NOTE: Use a very light grip with your trailing hand to help you create a 90 degree lag with your leading wrist. Generate all of your power and direction control with your leading hand and wrist release.

You don't need this full rotation to generate power. However you need to lag your leading wrist and release it at the bottom of your swing for power.

You don’t need this full rotation to generate power. However you need to lag your leading wrist and release it at the bottom of your swing for power.

Step 2: Chest rotation and Straight Arm Back Swing
Adam Scott has the perfect example swing. He starts his swing with a wide takeaway. He straightens his leading arm as he rotates his hips 45 degrees and then his shoulders by another 45 degrees from the line across his toes. Hold a club across your chest to check your total shoulder rotation. For many of us the rotation is much less than 90 degrees. Stretching and exercise in moderation will help with this rotation but you should accept your limitation to avoid back injury and depend on a 90 degree wrist rotation for lag.

Step 3: Lower Your Swing Plane to Avoid Over the Top Hits
When Sergio Garcia swings, he creates an optical illusion, which looks like his club shaft lag is even greater 90 degrees from his leading arm. In reality, Martin Chuck showed that he is just dipping his club down to a lower plane in his backswing (by tucking his trailing elbow closer to his side). Lydia Ko, the 19 year old who is #1 Ranked in the World does a similar reroute in her swing. Jim Furyk also does a crazy version of a very high backswing and looping down to swing from the inside. Jim McLean, Golf School at Trump Doral GC, also instructs with a swing which loops down in the backswing.

In all of these cases the golfers are just adjusting their swing plane to route from the “inside to out” and up their target line. This creates a wonderful draw and more distance.

Summary
Aging bodies with limited spine rotation need to generate power with a limited back-swing and a straight leading arm for consistent powerful hits. A very light grip with my trailing hand helps you create a 90 degree wrist lag with my leading wrist. You will generate a lot more power and a swooshing noise when the club whips through impact with the ball. If you are not hearing the swoosh, you are gripping too tightly as you whip through the bottom of your swing. Practice with GOLFSTR+ to keep a straight leading arm in your back-swing to avoid fat and thin hits. Buy one today at www.golfstr.com

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Why Are Pros Constantly Changing Putters and Grips?

Have you noticed that the commentators during the US Open, THE OPEN and many of the recent televised tournaments are talking about pros changing their putters and the way they grip their putters? If these great players are looking for the perfect solution to their putting as well as their swing, shouldn’t you be experimenting too?

It seems that Rory, Phil and Jason are changing putters or the style of their grip every other week. Phil Michelson is now using a claw grip with his trailing hand (which seems to guide his putter). Jason Day is very conventional with left hand high. Jordon Spieth always putts with left hand low and Rory McIlroy is flipping hands every other week. Brandt Snedeker slaps at the ball and Brooke Henderson holds her putter with 2 parallel hands as if she is in prayer (which seems to work best on Sundays).

Let’s get back to basics so that you can decide what works best for you.  Almost half of your strokes during every round of golf are putts.  More than 2 putts per hole is a big problem.  What do we know for sure?
1/ Avoid Side Spin:  Your swing must NOT be sliding across the ball or it will spin left or right. (That’s how Brittany Lang missed a 4 foot putt on the 17th to force a playoff in the LPGA Open.)

2/ Avoid Bouncing Your Ball: Hitting down will make the ball underspin, skid and bounce. Phil Michelson was famous for his forward handle lean but he recently dropped it.

3/ Get the Ball Rolling: Set the ball slightly forward of center in your stance to ensure that you hit it slightly on the upswing of your club for a clean start to the roll.

Phil Mickelson dropped his forward shaft lean and now putts by swinging with his leading hand.  His claw grip with his trailing hand is only a guide to steady his grip.  I find it easier to just let the putter go at the point of impact as my leading hand swings directly up the target line.  It’s a great way to eliminate slicing your putts.

4/ Impact Time on the Ball is a Split Second: To increase your odds of a square impact your swing and square of your putter must be moving up your target line at the point of impact.

5/ Eliminate Nervous Shaking Hands during Your Swing: Take the small muscles in your hands and arms out of your putt.  Putt using the rock of your shoulders straight through impact without bending your wrists. (Practice with GOLFSTR+ to prevent any bend in your leading wrist.)

6/ Understand the Breaks on the Green: Stand in the low point of the green in the area where you are putting to decide on the direction of your putt and the amount of break. Move to the LOW POINT of your target line to appreciate the rise or drop or tilt of your putt. (Depth is more difficult to perceive when standing above the hole on a downhill putt so don’t let it change your mind.)

7/ Choose an Aiming Point: Use a line on your ball to line up with a target point about 3 feet in front of your ball.

8/ Duplicate Your Practice Swing: Complete a practice swing with the EXACT SAME SWING tempo and length that you plan to use when you make your putt .

9/ Plan Your Putt to travel 10 to 20 Inches Past the Hole: Plan for less break at the hole as  speed minimizes the break and distortions of the green at the edge of the hole.  PET PEEVE: Pros and many golfers lean on their putter and indent the putting surface as they bend down to retrieve their ball from the hole.  DON’T DO IT AS YOU ARE MESSING UP THE NEXT PERSON’S PUTT.

Final Thoughts:  Exaggerate your swing  up your target line to ensure that you are hitting a straight putt. Even Scotty Cameron is demonstrating his new $400 putters with Fat Grips (to help with soft hands) and a flat front surface (to help you square the club with your thumbs). Practice with GOLFSTR+ to learn to lock your leading wrist during your putting stroke. Buy one today at www.golfstr.com

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On the Road to Golf Excellence

If you really want to break 100 then 90 then 80, you need a plan. Of course it would take many books written by the best golfers of our times to give you all of the insights that should be considered. I just wanted to share a few points that crystallize a meaningful progression to reduce your scores: Minimize Mishits, Manage Your Mind and Track Your Successes.

Golfers at all levels mishit the ball. This is a constant battle but you need to understand that even the pros mishit the ball (but tournament leaders make fewer mistakes). Consistently hitting the ball for every shot will guarantee your success. An 82 year old golfer (a GOLFSTR user in the French Riviera, Raymond Chastel) reminded me that he never tries to shape his shots to maintain a 7 handicap. This is an enviable record and a great lesson for any golfer who wants to shoot in the 70’s.

Imagine being able to enjoy beautiful views and perfect shots landing on greens in regulation every time.

Imagine being able to enjoy beautiful views and perfect shots landing on greens in regulation every time. [Thank you GOLF TIPS MAGAZINE.]

Minimize Mishits:
80% of all golfers often have mishits. A good starting point is to change your approach to the way you select each club. Sort out if you are topping, slicing or hitting fat shots and take corrective action. Take lessons or watch YouTube Swing Videos by Ben Hogan or other great golfers. Buy a GOLFSTR+ to practice and correct every swing in your game.

Use lower lofted clubs and slow your swing speed to 77% (your lucky numbers). Your consistency and direction control will improve significantly. Eliminate the macho long balls into the woods or deep grass. This suggestion came from the same trainer (Hank Haney), who tells us to swing as fast as we can to gain more distance. Distance is useless if you have to waste strokes to get your ball back in play.

Learn to lead your down swing with your hips, impact the ball before you brush the ground and follow through with a balanced finish. Stay calm and relaxed to hit controlled, consistent shots.

Control Your Mind:
This is easier said than done. You are not playing golf for your living, so don’t be so hard on yourself. As Ben Hogan said, “the most important shot is your next one”. You can’t change what has happened so get over it and enjoy your next wonderful shot. Take your key swing thought from the practice range, relax your mind and make it happen on the golf course.

Measure Your Performance:
You should measure the good, the bad and the ugly. Hank Haney came up with a great plan to track your PENALTY strokes on your score card after you play each hole. He called them the 3 P’s:
1/ Penalties: Mishits, strokes off the fairway and strokes to get back on the fairway.
2/ Pitches: 1 pitch or chip is OK. Count 1 penalty for more than 1 pitch.
3/ Putts: 2 putts are OK. Count 1 penalty for each extra putt.

Sort out where your P’s are coming from and focus on corrective action when you practice.

Last Thought
Relaxed muscles and a light grip will let the weight of your club do the work. Be confident that you setup correctly so that you can focus on your critical swing thought to avoid old habits. Practice this approach with GOLFSTR+ FOR EVERY SWING IN YOUR GAME. Make it happen and buy one today: www.golfstr.com

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