Notes from the range

A couple of things I am working on at the moment…

  • Getting rid of my nasty tendency to go over the top – I’m only working on it with wedges at the moment, but basically it’s about letting my arms drop down first from the top of the backswing, rather than out.
  • Accelerating at the right point in the swing – obviously very closely related to going over the top. I tend to throw the club away at the top, accelerate too early and run out of steam by the time I reach impact. I am focusing on letting the arms drop and then accelerating in the impact area; I do need to realise that the ‘acceleration point’ will vary from club to club – with wedges, you can leave it very late and with driver you have to start accelerating a bit earlier.

Other observations from today:

  • The longer the club, the smoother (slower) my takeaway needs to be – really got my 2 hybrid under control when I started doing this today. Also helped with the driver.
  • Wedges: let the arms fall down and then accelerate (release) as late as possible.
  • Chipping: take the club away slowly and accelerate into back of ball.

Hands ahead of the ball at impact

Stand behind the ball and pick your target.

Get into a good address position, everything square to target line with good balance – have perhaps one more look at the target but that’s it; once in position it’s all about what the club is going to do for me.

Lots of people talk about visualisation and they usually mean visualising the shot but I focus on visualising what the club is going to do. I see just the amount of forward shaft lean that I need, I ‘see’ where the handle is going to be at impact. I’m programming in my brain what I want the club to do, and then let my body do it.

I’m not preoccupied with the target and I’m not preoccupied with swing positions, I’m only preoccupied with what position the handle of the club is going to be in at impact.

By the way, this applies to all clubs, even putting.

2-lg

 

Balance is key to good golf

“So…learn to hit a golf ball without moving your knees. In fact, don’t move your knees at all. Hey, if you can only hit the ball fifty yards, without moving your knees, that’s great. And as you increase your distance, then begin to move your knees slightly.

Always remember that your knees only move as much as your shoulders move. They can never move farther. Most people move their knees considerably farther than they move their shoulders. They’ll move their right knee to the right on their backswing, their left knee will come in, and both knees will get out from under the shoulders-and they lose the support in their golf swing.

The thing that has helped my game, and I’m probably one of the most improved swingers on the Tour right now, is that I learned to keep my knees underneath my shoulders throughout my swing. My shoulders and my upper body are always supported by my legs, and my balance remains good. As soon as you get off balance, you can’t hit good golf shots.

Strangely enough, on one teaches much about balance.

The way to achieve balance is to stand with your spine fairly erect and straight-not curved-and then you get your knees under your shoulders. Don’t get too bent over. If you get so bent over that your shoulders are closer to the ball than your knees, you’ll be out of balance. The way your body is make, to hit a golf ball you need to stand where your knees are almost directly under your shoulders in a vertical position with your spine fully erect and straight. If you’ll do that, you’ll have good balance.”

Shoulders key to good balance in golf swing

Posting up on the left leg

Latest thinking – I need to focus on ‘posting up’ on my left side more. Basically, by hitting into a firm left side, my lateral motion stops and the left hip rotates out of the way so the arms can get through. Also adds power because it engages ground forces more as the left leg straightens, as well as ensuring weight is shifted to front side.

Feeling is ‘snapping’ into left side at impact, left leg straightens and left hip is higher than right.

Will be trying it at the range this week, I’m sure it will take some time to get the timing right but practice swings feel good.

Post up for precision

Great tip from a pro today – the left leg

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Hovering the club at address

I first heard of hovering the club at address when reading ”Lesson Tee” by Jack Nicklaus. He liked how it freed up his takeaway and alleviated the likelihood of being called for causing the ball to move at address. He even did it with the putter. The late Jim Flick advocated “un-weighting” the club prior to commencing the swing. Brian Manzella told me that he noticed a trend on tour of mini-hovering all clubs at address.

I have hovered the club at address since my formative years but never gave it any serious thought until I began teaching. Aside from the long accepted benefits of relieving tension, smoothing out the takeaway and avoiding penalty strokes, hovering has generally been considered a player preference. I further believe a player’s balance can be greatly influenced by either grounding or hovering the club.

A very common swing error is shifting weight toward the toes during the backswing. This creates multiple complications for the player. A much steeper plane is likely along with the associated shanks, skys, chunks, anti-chunks (tops), etc. There are a number of factors which can contribute to this problem like poor range of motion, posture and balance, but consider this: The arms, hands and club (the “Power Package” as Homer Kelley called it) resting comfortably on the ground have a certain amount of weight that must be disengaged from the ground during the takeaway. That lifting of the club and arms can disturb balance enough to make a golfer shift positions. I have noticed this especially with junior golfers who don’t weigh much.

Supporting the weight of the club at address allows the player to establish a balanced system of body, arms and club prior to the take away and have a much easier time keeping balance and swing shape. I generally suggest lifting the club at address and then steadying the clubhead by very lightly touching the blades of grass behind the ball. This allows the player to find proper balance and distance to the ball with fine adjustments of the feet. I recommend this as part of the address routine with all clubs to players of all levels.

 

JIM FLICK: I’m reminded of what the legendary player and teacher Paul Runyan described as “measuring out” or “underreaching” at address. Paul contended that if you didn’t sole the club but held it just above the ground, and then kept your grip tension and spine angle constant throughout your swing, you would always hit the ball cleanly.

This principle is especially true for pitch shots, but it also holds for irons, fairway woods and, yes, the driver. And with today’s fairways mowed so tightly, it really helps you make perfect contact. You want the club to return to the ball in a precise manner every time.

Jim Flick And Jack Nicklaus: Hover The Club At Address: Golf Digest

 

The biggest problem amateur golfers like me and you have when it comes to the short game is chunked shots. To help prevent fat chips, try the under-reach technique. Begin by assuming your address position, with your arms hanging to their natural length. Choke down on the club about an inch (I go even shorter, about two inches), and hover the club just off the ground as you get ready to execute the shot. The combination of choking the grip and hovering the club will help you guard against hitting the shot fat. When you finally make a swing, simply concentrate on contacting the bottom half of the ball.

Golf Short Game Swing Tips at GolfGist.com

Some more notes and things to try

  • Keep the club in front – should always be able to put the ‘sword’ into the ‘sabre’ at the end of swing
  • Club needs to be dead square
  • Ball position just in front of left arm pit
  • Choke down on the grip a bit – more control
  • Hover the club head, don’t sole it – you can create a tripod effect by soling the club and then leaning weight into it
  • No weight in toes, major cause of fat shots. Should be able to curl toes, weight should be between heels and balls of feet 
  • And weight should be more on insides of feet
  • Left eye should be closer to the ball than right
  • Weight favouring left side
  • In-line impact is key – left arm pit and club should be in line with ball at impact

Golf swing: Spine tilt at impact

Yet another ‘fundamental’ of the golf swing that I have been completely oblivious to; spine tilt.

You naturally have spine tilt at address because your right hand is lower than the left. Your right shoulder should be lower than your left.

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You need to maintain this tilt in the backswing i.e. Your back should be sloping away from the target at the top of the swing.

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I’m usually pretty good up to this point. But where it all goes wrong for most amateurs is in the downswing – the head moves forward (towards the ball), the shoulders spin out and we swing over the top resulting in any number of inconsistent, crap shots.

What you need to do

Maintain or even increase that spine tilt at impact.

It’s not the easiest move, but absolutely critical to pure ball striking. Maintaining the tilt keeps your spine in the right position and creates room for your arms to swing freely. If you let your upper body dominate and the head get on or ahead of the ball you run out of room and end up flipping to try and save the shot. Golf gets very difficult with fat and thin shots aplenty.

How do you do it

I don’t know, yet.

But keeping your head behind the ball is a good start. And just being aware that the correct position through impact is to feel like your upper body is moving away from the ball is enlightening. Your upper body moves away from the target, your lower body moves towards it and that is how you get forward shaft lean and compress the ball.

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Did you realise you were supposed to look like that at impact?

Here are some really good blog posts on the topic too:

Tilt behind the ball at impact

Secondary spine tilt

And I like how in this video by Terry Bradley, he demonstrates how keeping your head behind the ball into impact enables to maintain tilt, clear the hips and shift weight to the lead side. No more getting stuck.

Finally, another really good article…

Spine Angle: Maintain or Increase Through Impact