Start Line and Curve

Lets talk about start line and curve. The club face accounts for roughly 75% of the balls starting direction and the path curves it. In the featured image above is a great setup station. 10′ of rope starting a foot out in front of the ball with an alignment rod sticking up out the other end. The rope is lined up with the target and standing behind the ball the alignment rod is right in front of the target. Now from here you can get a visual of where the ball is starting and going. Here are the ball flights that could come out with a solid struck ball:

1. Ball starting left and craving left : Face closed to target and path more toward target.
2. Ball starting left and going straight : Face closed to target and path matching face start line.
3. Ball starting left and curving right towards or past the target : Face closed to path and swing direction left of the face.
3. Ball starting at the stick and curving left : Face square and swing more to the right.
4. Ball starting at the stick and curving right : Face square and swing more to the left.
5. Ball starting straight and going straight : Face and path straight. I call this the UNICORN.. Will discuss below.
6. Ball starting right and curving left : Face is open to the target and path is moving more right.
7. Ball starting right and going straight : Face is open to the target and path is going the same direction.
8. Ball starting right and curving right : Face is open to the target and path is moving more left than the face is open.

It is good to understand these ball flights when diagnosing your swing. That way when you are working on corrections you are not doing something that is going to make it move the same direction but worse. An example is a ball that starts left and curves right. You see that so figure lets aim more left. That just moves the path more left making more curve. The larger the difference is where the face was pointing at impact and the direction the club was traveling the bigger the curve.

Best training tool to add to your golf bag is a can of Dr. Scholls “POWDER” foot spray.  Why is this?  Because miss hits can change those above impact perimeters.  A club that is open to the target, swing direction slightly right of that (draw shape), and is hit in the heel of the club will not curve back but if it is hit in the toe the ball with over draw.  Same with the opposite club delivery of a cut.  Club face more left of the target at the strike point starting the ball left with a swing shape slightly more left of that but if you hit it in the heel the ball will over cut and if you catch it more on the toe the ball will fly straighter.  Also lower strikes launch lower and spin more and higher strikes launch higher and spin less.
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Use the above ball flights and strike info to figure out how to change your curve, reduce the curve. or know why your curve does what it does.  Remember I mentioned the UNICORN above which is a dead straight shot.  That is the hardest shot in golf because the face can be straight but the path slightly right or left and you get different curves.  We want some room for error built in the swing and a ball that is moving back towards the target.  Let’s take a draw as an example:  The photo below I am holding my club on the ball line or target line.   The furthest alignment rod to your right (my left) would be the club path at impact.  A good number would be 3-4* to the right.  That would give me room to fit my club face into that area and have a face from 1-3*.  On a swing direction of 3* right having my club face at 1* right would start right and slightly over draw just a little, a 2 would start right and finish close to the target line, a 3 would start right and go straight with the swing direction.  All very manageable shots with not much curve.  If my face was a 1 but swing was an 8 one way or another the ball would start close to the target then curve a lot past the target and work away from it as it landed.

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For more info and to see the YouTube clip on this subject CLICK HERE, select the above image, or go here: https://youtu.be/4JQLOgGJipo

Swing Direction Plus Launch Angle with Driver

Want to cover two topics here.  The first topic is Swing Direction.  Here is the YouTube Video.  In the above video I placed an alignment on the ball line a driver distance behind and in front matching the shaft plane.  The goal is to give you the ability to get the club to travel from under the one behind and over the one in front, over the one behind and under in front, or under and under.  With this you can get feedback where the club is coming from and going to.  Below I am showing a swing direction that could go under and over.

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Now let’s chat about swing direction and attack angle.  As a golfer it is hard to have a swing that is going out to in to and an upward attack angle so as we get the swing more from under to over there is a better chance.  Here is another drill to keep the swing coming from the inside and now get the attack angle under control.  I placed an alignment rod on the target line at an angle that put it a grip above the ball and rolled up a towel and placed that a foot in front off the ball.

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This will set up a path that the club can come from inside low and go above the ball.  See the below images showing this movement.  I hit some balls with this setup and it got the path right 6-8* and attack up 3-5*.  Great way to maximize your driver for the most distance.  With solid strikes it will produce a high launching low spinning ball.  Click Here for the YouTube video.

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Use these videos and drills to help get your swing shape where you want it and get that driver maximized.

Over Under Video Video: https://youtu.be/f5sIiQz5Eiw

Driver Attack Angle Video: https://youtu.be/0v_oHpB_i2c

Elbow Plane Line

Let’s talk about the Elbow Plane Line (Click for YouTube Video).  This line is not the fix all line but is a good reference point.  If you are looking for exact you will need to line up your camera in the correct spot where the camera is hand height and perpendicular to the target line.  I use it as a good enough line because my preference is to film at chest high just in front of the toe line.

Let’s take a look how I add the line.  You can see in the above photo how I take the swing to impact then draw a line up form the hosel and out the back of the shaft.  The reason for impact shaft line is the shaft rises from setup and the dynamic movements of the swing.  When taken back to setup the line roughly goes through the right elbow (7iron pictured).  I tend to have low hands at setup and always working on getting them higher and when focusing on it feel like they are on this line.  Looks like I need to work on some setup pieces.

Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 6.48.27 PM.pngThis is a general reference line that we can use to see if the club from the top is working towards the line or away form the line.  Below photo I added a dot to where the club head was at the top of the swing then where it went to in transition.  The left photo moved towards the line and down where the right moved away and across the ball. screen shot 2019-01-15 at 6.29.22 pm

Here they are at at P6 or shaft parallel.  Left going down the line and right staying above.Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 6.44.30 PM.png

Here is just after impact you can see the club stay on the line on the left and the right where it came from above it went left and under the line.Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 6.46.08 PM.png

A club that is traveling more along the line will usually have a stronger impact than one that is working too much form under or above.  Those clubs will be producing more of a glancing blow.

For the direct link to the YouTube channel click below:

Rotate to Balance

Balance is key in golf.  Turn on the tv and you will not see players moving all over the place, falling forward, back, and around at the finish.  The reason for this is it keeps the swing direction and impact more predictable.  If you are falling back that can move the swing direction more left and land the club too far behind the ball.  Click Here for the YouTube clip on this blog.

Here is a good drill I learned from Martin Chuck at the TourStriker Academy located at the Raven in Phoenix, AZ.  Place your club across your thigh and put some pressure into both legs.  Keep this pressure constant into the finish.  See the above photo for the start and finish.

In the below are to finishes for comparison.  The left photo we see often with the golfer finishing with too much pressure on their trail foot.  This keeps the center over the ball and the low point back too far.  What we want to see if on the right.  The golfer is standing on their left foot, 95% of their pressure is on the target side of the ball line, and there is just enough pressure on the back foot so they don’t fall over.  Can also see that the back of the rear is on the ball line.  This is a good check point to hold and assess where you are, how it feels, and how it looks.

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Start small and grow your swing.  For the YouTube video direct link click below:

Pre-Round Body Warmup

How often do you see players arrive to the course, check in, and head straight to the driving range to begin taking full swings with their mid iron or driver?  Maybe you are one of those individuals.  Players that play for a living warm up their body before warming up their swing for the round.  This could be anywhere form a few minutes in the hotel or at the course all the way to a full hour workout.  In 2018 Brooks Koepka warmed up for his final round at the PGA Championship with a full length 1 hour consisting of cardio and back & triceps and treated it like any other day.  That is not for everyone but a lot of high level golfers will use bands, light weights, and some cardio to get their body ready to preform for the day.

Now let’s get real, we do not have time to spend that long to warm up before we start to hit balls before our round.  Due to life, kids, and obligations some days it is lucky we are at the course at all and have 30-60 minutes to warm up.  For most the week consisted of sitting in a car driving 5-60+ minutes to work, doing the 9-5+ behind a computer at a desk, driving back home, sitting down for dinner, then some tv, and finally call it a day.  That is a lot of siting and stationary positions throughout the day let alone the week.  Now were are asking our bodies to move in different directions, do it quick, and at the expense of not losing our balance so we can find the middle of the club and preform to our high expectations.

What can we do to play better in that limited time without trying to carve out more time in a busy life?  Go to the course with a game plan.  When you get there have a routine you can do to get everything done in the amount of time you have.  Heck, have a few options for when you only have 15 minutes, 30-45 minutes, and a full hour or more.  Now let’s look at the body prep or warmup for the day and the areas that should be targeted.  Starting from the head down the joints that need to be loosened up are the neck, wrists, shoulders, t-spine or upper back, hips, and ankles.  When starting out begin with single plane movements before they become complex.  An example would be warming up the hips and before going into full swing motions start with reaching down towards your toes then up to the sky.  This will get the hips moving, back moving, neck moving, and you’r balance going.

Before coming up with what you need, since everyone is different and have their own limitations, take a look at my latest YouTube video going through some movements CLICK HERE. Come up with a little routine you like, hits all the areas, and can spend a little extra time here or there where you feel the tightest.  Time yourself and see if it is in-between 5-10 minutes so you know how long it will take.  Once you get a little routine that takes a few minutes do it once a day so your body get moving not only on game day but every day.  This way you will not be shocking the system by only doing it just before the round.

As you start to feel better do that 5-10 minute routine in the morning and afternoon.  Not asking you to become a Yoga freak but a little time here and there will add up over time.  10 minutes a day adds up to 70 minutes a week.  If you have the time I would highly recommend doing a Yoga class once or twice a week.  They can walk you through different positions, teach you about breathing, and find stretches to add into your routine.  This is not a fix over night for a body that has been stationary for so long but it is a start to moving better.  Do 5-10 minutes a day or every other day for a few months and see how you feel.  Your body will thank you and don’t stop there… keep going.

YouTube link for the full length video: https://youtu.be/UceXiLO7sHo or  CLICK HERE

YouTube link to the 5 minute follow along clip: https://youtu.be/6UUT4XmcXwM or CLICK HERE

YouTube link to an extended 9 minute follow along video clip: https://youtu.be/-UZskYBa0-U or CLICK HERE

Toss the Club Drill

The golf swing is like a circle that is a little squished and titled on an angle.  In this sport it is one of a few sports where the object ball is sitting on the ground and not moving around.  With it just sitting there waiting for use to tell it what to do through the club face and swing circle there is a lot of time for us to think before the shot.  Also because the ball is sitting on the ground students take it as that is the object to hit instead of making their swing directed out in front of them where the ball is trying to go too.  The ball just gets in the way of the club face as we swing it around us.

Here is a good drill to get you feeling the weight of the club and reacting to the club in transition out towards the target instead of down in to the ground.  Take the club in your trail hand up to shoulder height behind you.  Grip the club with your thumb and index finger with the club head on top of the grip (shown below).  From here the club will feel light and you can balance the club head on top of the grip.  Where some people go through this position and let the club head tip out towards the ball then try and react to something that wants to crash into the ground we want to let the club fall behind us away form the ball at the start.

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From there you will feel the weight of the club head move behind you and with that the body can respond and through the club out to the range.  You don’t need to actually through the club and can hold on a little after you passed the ball.  I did this one at the 0:43 mark of the YouTube video.   The idea is as the club is falling behind without much pressure on the grip you can feel where the club head is at instead of trying to control where it is going.  The club will feel back behind the trail hand, coming in lower under the hand, putting some stress into the back of the trail wrist, get your trail arm more into a side arm action instead of a push position, and get the body rotating.  Below you can see two stills and where the club head is at and going as the body is turning.  The eyes did not stay down, the body got taller, the trail knee turned towards the target, pressure moved into the lead heel, and much more.  All this from a simple drill of stand the club up vertical, hold it with 2 fingers, feel the club head fall behind, respond to that and toss the club out in front of you.IMG_1638.JPG

In the upper left photo you can see the club face is starting to look at the ball, the club is still inside the target/ball line, and lower to the ground.  This is all great stuff for shallow strikes with a path in to out for high launching, draw bias, shots.  From there everything is going out toward the target and the forces will pull you into a finish.  It is near impossible to finish on your back foot and not tall on your lead side rotated to the target like below.

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CLICK HERE for the YouTube video.  Show you the club toss from down the line and face on then hit a ball showing you the similarities in this drill and a full shot.

Ball Speed NOT Just Swing Speed

We are all looking for more distance off the tee and for our irons to travel further.  Without putting in the time in the gym to get stronger and work on movement patterns, doing yoga for flexibility, and training for speed what are some areas that will help maximize our potential?  For the YouTube clip that ties in with this blog CLICK HERE

In a previous article about maximizing the driver, HERE, I discussed spin axis and club delivery. If we are delivering a glancing blow to the ball the club speed is not projecting its full potential onto the ball. Also any balls that are not hit out of or near the center of the club head will deliver less speed.

Let’s take a look at a 7 iron example.  In the below image the club head was traveling 77 miles an hour, the face to path was slightly closed at -1.5* for a slight draw delivery, the spin loft was 27.5 which is good for a 7 iron,  and the ball speed was 107.1 mph.  107.1 ball speed decided by 77 club speed gives us 1.39 which is the Smash Factor.  The golf ball left the face at 1.39 times that of the swing speed.  In this scenario the ball launched at 18*.

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Now let’s take a look at another 7 iron scenario.  Here is the same club speed but the ball was slightly miss hit, face was more closed to the path, and spin loft was higher.  These little variances had a club traveling more across the ball resulting in a ball speed of 94mph.  Even though the ball launched higher at 20* with the potential to carry further the smash factor was down from 1.39 above to 1.23 here resulting in a ball speed of 12.8mph and 28.8 yards of carry.  Could say roughly every MPH of ball speed is 2.25 yards.IMG_10C11E0A2E37-1.jpeg

Here is a LPGA driver example off TrackMan’s data base showing an efficient strike with a smash factor of 1.49 which is right at the 1.50 USGA limit where a ball can leave the club face.  The swing direction and club face difference was minimal at 0.8 open and attack angle to loft small at 12.2 degrees.  This swing speed it a typical male club player swinging their driver 90mph.IMG_8781B9F0B177-1.jpeg

What creates spin? : Spin Loft

Wanted to write a quick article on spin and increasing or decreasing spin.    If you are looking to make a change where should you start?  Let’s start with Spin Loft and what that is.  Below is an image from GolfTec showing what creates Spin Loft is the difference in Attack Angle and Dynamic Loft.

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Let’s take a look at reducing spin on a driver.  The image below was a well struck shot.  As a reminder due to the drivers bulge and roll it will change the spin quite a bit on a miss hit.  You can see that the driver presented 13.3* of loft at impact but because it was traveling up 2.2* that resulted in a spin loft of 11.1* and a low spinning driver. To reduce spin on a driver first is having a solid strike, low face impact spins more, and second is to reduce the Attack Angle and Dynamic Loft in order to narrow the two vectors.

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Now let’s take a look at a wedge shot.  Here the goal is to create the opposite condition in order to create spin.  There is a point that the Spin Loft becomes too great, usually around 55*, where the spin starts to go down.  Also any debris between the ball and wedge will drastically reduce the spin.  This shot launched at 35* and if I if we wanted to launch it lower without crossing the spin thresh hold on Spin Loft we could tilt the vectors down.  Option would be to move the ball slightly back to increase the attack angle and add more rotation in order to get more shaft lean at impact.  That will move both Attack and Dynamic Loft keeping the Spin Loft the same.

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Now lest talk about hitting a flighted shot into the wind.  The goal on this shot is to have a low launching shot that is not spinning too much.  Option one would be to go up a club, say form a 7 iron to a 6 iron, to reduce the Dynamic Loft part of the equation.  Next option would be creating more shaft lean without increasing the attack angle.  This is done by adding more body turn in order to keep the handle moving before the club head passes at the bottom.

For the YouTube video that corresponds to this article CLICK HERE.  This video covers a spinning shot and a flighted 7 iron.

Another video on flighted iron shots: CLICK HERE.

For a great drill to help reduce the spin loft on the drive by moving the attack angle from down to up and help with the moving the swing direction out to the right CLICK HERE. Players who swing under 100mph will benefit from a slightly upward attack. Those swinging over 100mph and higher may choose to give up some carry distance to get the ball on the ground sooner for control.

Pressure Vs Weight

There has been a lot of talk lately about pressure shift vs weight shift in the golf swing. What is the difference? A good way to think about the two is weight being the upper body and pressure is what is happening under the feet.  Here is the YouTube video to go along with this blog: Moving the Pressure Correctly

In the below photo on the left is me moving my weight over my right foot, the center is me keeping my weight centered as I turned, the right is me moving my weight over my left foot.  There is a vertical alignment rod behind my left heal and you can see that in the middle there is some showing, the left none showing, the right a lot showing.  If the centers (torso and hips) are moving around too much in the swing it gets harder to control where the club will interact with the ground over and over.IMG_1033.jpg

The guys at Athletic Motion Golf shared a great video showing what was happening during a golf swing. Here are some stills from their Instagram Post:
Below at address the center of the torso is slightly behind the center of the pelvis but there is 2% more pressure under the left foot.  That way there is something to push off to start the swing.
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Here at left arm parallel the center of the torso and pelvis are turning on top of each other between the feet but notice the pressure has moved to 72% under the trail foot. The reason for this is the golfer is pushing up and back behind them to get the pelvis to turn on a tilted angle. The up and back also keeps the pelvis turning catered without moving over the trail foot.  Just past this point the golfer starts to fall into his lead foot.
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At the top of the swing, with the transition already beginning somewhere between left arm parallel and the top of the swing, the pressure gets back to 50%/50% with the centers of the torso and pelvis still on top of each other.  Also notice that the centers have moved slightly towards the target from left arm parallel.
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At left arm parallel on the downswing the golfer starts to apply the most vertical force in the golf swing. This is the point that the golfer is pushing up and back with the left leg. This will get the hips turning and start to raise the pelvis and torso in order to create room for the arms to come through into impact. Rotational forces will start to increase and the centers are still on top of each other. IMG_1024.jpeg

At impact as the golfer continues to push off the ground and rotate as the pressure moves more forward. The lead shoulder is going up and back behind them as well keeping the head centered while this hips continue to move forward and up. This motion of pushing up and back gets the torso center behind the center of the pelvis. IMG_1025.jpeg

The pressure and centers will continue to move forward as the golfer goes into the finish to stand on the left foot with 95% pressure under the lead foot and they will come out of the spine tilts and the toros and pelvis will move more forward.IMG_1034.jpeg

Thank you for reading. To see the YouTube video on Moving the Pressure Correctly click HERE.

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Link: YouTube Channel