It’s all about pressure, not weight in the golf swing

Reminder – the swing thought that has delivered the best results to date for me with my iron swing is: ‘As the club passes my right thigh in the takeaway, my body starts moving left (towards the target)’.

When I get this right, I hit flush, straight iron shots. Not had the same success with it with my irons yet.

I have had the occassional round where it just hasn’t clicked though, or sessions at the range when ball striking has been inconsistent, even with this swing thought. Which got me thinking that I need to be more specific about WHAT actually moves toward the target as the club is still moving to the right in the downswing. HOW do I actually initiate the transition.

What I learned through trial and error was:

  • Any upper body thought e.g. thinking about my head or left shoulder moving towards the target produced poor results
  • Focusing on my hip was better but still a bit inconsistent and difficult to actually feel
  • The best results by far was when I thought about increasing the pressure in my left foot – basically pushing down into my left foot as the club was still moving to my right side.

I have to be careful of the following though:

  • Moving pressure into my left foot too early – this creates an imbalance. It’s all about maintaining the balance of weight/ pressure in my body whilst I swing the club.
  • What part of the foot I put the pressure into – too much in my toes and the ball can push to the right, too much in my heel and it can pull to the left.

So, in summary, the key points are:

  1. Weight/ pressure is balanced 50/50 at address.
  2. As the club moves past my right leg/ thigh the weight of the club and arms needs to be counter-balanced by applying pressure into my left foot. So the pressure shift is actually starting not long after the takeaway has finished and much earlier than most amateurs think it should. Don’t shift it too early though – I will lose balance, get too steep, poor swing.
  3. Think of the pressure being applied right in the middle of the foot.

Some useful articles I found online that validate my self-discovery:

The difference between professionals and amateurs is in the ground

Golf and COP – What is it?

Let you feet lead the way to better golf

Hit it long by using the ground

 

Today’s Learnings…

Driver – can’t for the life of me hit it well at the range, but on the course yesterday it felt pretty good and I hit some nice drives (even though it was very windy). I think a big key is being relaxed and loose (but not too loose!) and feeling like you are only swinging at 75% effort. I feel like I need to keep my lower body quiet, if my legs get too active I spray it all over the place.

2 Hybrid – still inconsistent, which is so frustrating because a few weeks ago I felt like I couldn’t hit a bad shot with it. A couple of thoughts that seem to help are: (1) focus on my shoulders in the takeaway, the ‘triangle’ very much moving as a one-piece unit and (2) starting the downswing by rotating my hips quite aggressively.

Mid-Irons – the shortened swing is still generally producing better results but I’ve lost the feel I had a few weeks ago that was really nailing it. It’s not just about shortening my swing, I’ve also got to feel in transition that my mass or momentum is shifting left. When I hit my really solid shots, I feel like my left leg is sinking into the ground a bit. I’ve noticed my left knee moving towards the target too. I’m sitting into my left side.

http://www.golftipsmag.com/instruction/iron-play/automatic-transition/

 

Wedges – better. I’ve dialled in my 7-8-9 distances with each wedge and accuracy is improving as a result. My shallow, ‘use the bounce’ swing works well with wedges.

Chipping – much better. I basically use my 56d for all standard chips, with my landing zone about 50% of total distance as a foundation, adjusted for lie, slopes, wind etc. I just adjust the landing zone %. I use my 60d for all ‘speciality’ chips i.e. short-sided, hazards, need a soft landing. Up to 75% landing zone depending on firmness of greens. And my 8 iron is my bump and run club, I normally need to land this at about 25%.

Putting – still rubbish, but a couple of things that have helped a bit (1) don’t hit at the ball, think of it as a smooth stroke and make sure you follow through and (2) quiet eye – couple of looks at target, one long look and then go for it.

 

More golf practice notes

I’ve made a commitment to myself that I will focus the vast majority of my practice time this year to the short game – chipping and putting.

Chipping 

Set up with fairly narrow stance, ball positioned in the middle. Turn both feet towards the target (will give the impression ball is back in stance, but it is actually on my COG). Weight on left side, sternum in front of ball. A bit like you are leaning into a wall on the left hand side of your body.

The swing itself feels a bit like a putting stroke – no hinging of the arms or wrists. Arms are totally connected to the torso. Two very important points (1) you must accelerate into the golf ball, so don’t make the backswing too long because that automatically causes you to decelerate and (2) you have to keep turning through the shot, if you stall the arms will take over and you will get inconsistent results. Keeping the arms connected to the body should in effect force you to keep your body moving to move the club.

Distance Control 

I’m reasonably comfortable with the technique, I just need to keep practising it. The thing I really need to nail down is distance control. I need a short game plan. I need to know how far each club carries and rolls with the same swing so I can take the guess work out (within reason) around the greens. Still need to work this out on the chipping green.

Strategy A – use the same length swing for every club in the bag e.g. 7 to 5 swing and log the carry and roll distances. Work out the ratios e.g. 6 iron might be 1:3 e.g. for every 1 yard it carries in the air, it rolls 3. I feel like this is possibly over-complicating it, surely I will only ever use two or three clubs for chipping?

Strategy B – pick two or three clubs as my chipping clubs. All short chips with my 60 degree for example. Bump and runs, my 8 iron. Calibrate with say 3 distances each, such as:

60 degree – 10 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards.

6 iron – 30 yards, 40 yards.

Get an understand of each of what the landing zone needs to be.

HUGELY IMPORTANT IN CHIPPING – YOU TARGET IS NOT THE FLAG, IT IS A LANDING ZONE OR SPOT. 

So if I am just off the green, chipping to a flag that is 20 yards away, I will actually pick a spot about 10 yards on and focus on landing the ball there.

Putting 

I still haven’t spent anything like enough time on it, but have picked something up off Phil Mickelson that is already helping a bit.

My backswing is a lot shorter and I chase the ball towards the hole with the putter. So more energy is going into my through-swing, rather than my backswing. I still need to do a lot of work on distance control.

Wedges

Much happier with my wedge game.

Technique is very similar to chipping. No conscious hinge of the arms or club, I retain as much width as possible in the swing and let the bounce do it’s job. I achieve some angle into the ball by putting more weight into my left side. Ball is positioned middle of stance to slightly back.

It is really just a longer version of my chipping stroke.

Rough guide to carry distances with a ‘full’ swing – feels like I go to about 9pm:

60 – 65 yards 

56 – 75 yards 

52 – 85 yards 

PW – 110 yards 

Using these distances as foundation, I can dial back e.g. 8pm swing to hit certain distances depending on conditions. Remember, these are carry distances, need to account for a bit of roll too.

Mid-Irons

I’m not spending half as much time agonising over my full swing.

What seems to really help is the thought that I am shortening my swing. As my hands pass my right thigh, I immediately think ‘start my downswing’.

I hit the ball best when I also think about my left side starting the downswing. I have to be careful not to overdo it, but it feels like the momentum of the swing is moving into my left side. Like my left is pulling. Sometimes it feels like my left leg is sinking into the ground as the club starts down, and that is when I know I am going to strike the ball best. I guess it’s because all my weight has shifted into my left side.

Long Game 

2 Hybrid

Not so long ago, I was absolutely puring this club but now I’m struggling with it.

I worked a bit out at the range yesterday, realising that I was so focused on my takeaway I was forgetting about the rest of my swing, stalling my body, and my arms were taking over. The funny thing is, when I was hitting the ball lovely a few weeks ago I thought it was because I was focusing on a nice controlled takeaway (and it no doubt helped) but reality is I was probably moving really well through the ball too. I can remember one or two good swings where I held the finish and I had really rotated well through the ball. But in my attempts to replicate these swings, I had focused on one thing – the takeaway – and actually restricted other parts of my swing, producing some horrible results.

Note to self – don’t think you can latch on to a swing thought or feeling on a good ball striking day and replicate it forever. What is working is actually a combination of things, and there will be things you are doing unconsciously that are just falling into place on the day. Focus on one thing and it will be to the detriment of another – I guess this is what they call ‘getting in your own way’.

Driver

Honestly, this has gone to pieces. I had it down a few months ago and felt like it was one of the most reliable clubs in my bag. Now I can’t hit it for toffee.

Will gradually address the issues but it is not top of my to do list currently.