When you are trying to slow the ball down around the green we do not need massive swings. The goal is to get the club head swinging while controlling the speed, landing spot, and depth. If the grip end is traveling too far back and through it can make this harder. Lets take a look below:
In the above photo you can see my hands and the grip are further away form my right hip in the right photo. The right arm stayed long and pushed outward. Compared with the left image where the right elbow folded up keeping the grip closer to the trail hip. This might not look like much but there is a lot more room you have to make up in a short time.
Now looking at the finish the left image I had the body turn to support the club with comfortable arms. In the right photo I tried to swing “down the line”, ‘speed up the club’ or “swing to the target”. Notice how far away the grip traveled on the right photo compared to the left.
Above is what happens when you have to move the handle too much from the longer backswing or trying to speed up the club too fast in the downswing. The second could come from having too short of backswing for the intended length your trying to go. If you take the grip and move the handle forward notice what happens to the club head. The club head raised up a good 6-8″ and the face opened. How are you going to make up the height change and where the club is pointed? Some things would be: throw the right arm to help square the face, dip the knees to lower the body in order to lower the club head, push the hands more down through the strike, or a combination of all/some/more. All of this is hard to make up.
Click Here for a YouTube video on this topic with a good drill you can do with just a string.
There are different options in the sand. Bunkers require club speed, loft, and entry point control. The main 2 shots are either from a fairway bunker where you are looking to get out and go a distance or from the green side bunker where you are looking for higher, softer, and shorter distance. For the fairway bunker you are looking to have the club collide with the ball first just like off the fairway. That way the energy is transmitted to the ball without any interference. As for the green side bunker the club enters the sand first and the sand transmits the energy to the ball so there is a loss of energy. This is similar to the rough where the ball comes out slower. Lets take a look at a few scenarios:
Scenario 1: Taking out the PINK box. If you are trying to help the ball out of the bunker your club could be landing too far behind the ball. With this the club is going through the sand then coming out before it even reaches the ball. The club head will probably hit the top or the middle of the ball and the ball will not come out.
Scenario 2: Taking out the blue box. In this situation you have to remove a lot of sand before getting to the ball. This will need to have a lot of speed to remove that amount of sand. Then by the time the club gets to the ball there will not be much energy or if you catch it towards the end the box the blade can come in contact with the blade. This usually results in the ball staying in the bunker.
Scenario 3: Taking out the green box. This is ideal for a green side bunker shot. The goal is to remove a sliver of sand and have the ball be in the middle of that splash. Think of it as a piece of toast in size and would be the same depth and length. This would result in more predictable shots for your golfing career. Again remember the more sand you take the more speed you need. Also the less energy is transferred to the ball. That means if one shot you take is 1/2″ deep and the next is 2″ deep the difference of energy transfer varies.
Scenario 4: Taking out the red box. This is ideal if you are trying to advance the ball a good distance just like from the fairway. The club will interact with the ball and the energy transfer is not slowed down by sand or grass. If that red box was too far forward then the club head has a high potential of colliding with the middle of the ball and would result in a bladed shot or if it is higher up a topped shot. The goal is to have the club touch the ball then the sand so the loft will get it out.
For green side bunker shots I like the 2nd from top ball. The white line is your target line, the grey line is your entry point, and the ball if just ahead of that. when training draw these lines so your body does not get too open and you can have feedback from where the club entered the sand.
Quick Greenside Bunker Blog for today. I drew the below image for a student today in the bunker. The main line is where the club is entering (target is to the right of the photo). The goal is to take a piece of toast length and depth out of the sand. The top box was to show that portion of sand would not be there after the strike. Then with the ball I drew a little rectangle around the ball with the ball placed in the middle of the slice of bread (rectangle). We are not looking to dig holes and take loafs of bread out. Moving too much sand takes too much energy and is hard to control the outcomes consistent. So when you’re in there splash the sand out and let the ball go for the ride. Trust the loft and your entry spot to get the job done.
Just released a new video on YouTube which my mentor Martin Chuck calls the Fly Catcher. The goal of this drill is to learn how to pace the club and not use the arms to fling the club.
Arriving to the finish you have a position in mind you are moving towards. When starting you can go from a setup position and with no backswing learn how to turn the body, stand on the left leg, face the target, and arrive at the below image. The arms were moved into this position and not independently moving. Once you can find this spot move the club back to hip high and turn to the finish. Finally once you can make the motion put a ball in the way of the motion. Let the body motion move the club, the club will collide with the ball, and the ball will respond.
From down the line you can see that the club has not smashed through the noodle. The hips and chest are facing the target, the knees are closer to gather, pressure on the left heel, chest and eyes are up to the sky (or top of the hill in this photo). Nothing stayed down trying to hit the ball.
Let’s take a look at putting starting from the hole and going backwards. What is the average distance on the PGA tour for them to have a 50/50 chance to 1 putt? If you said 8′ you are correct. We will use Mark Broadie’s stats for a lot of this from his book Every Shot Counts. Take a look at the below insert I pulled from online. There are 3 keys to putting: Green Reading, Speed Control, and Start Line.
Short Putts: These are more on picking the right read and start line. A tour pro has a 50% chance from 8′ but that same percentage is found at 5′ for 90’s golfer. From those distances and moving out the percentages drop dramatically. Inside 20′ for the season a tour player must average a conversion rate of about 60% to keep their card. That means for every putt from 1″-20′ for the season they holed out 6 of 10. The average golfer expects to make a lot more than that and set their expectations too high and try to force the makes. Keep track of how many putts you miss inside 6′. When you work on the putting green work on making these putts.
Mid Range Putts: Will make some and miss some so expect to 2 putt often. Goal is to not 3 putt from 6′-20′. I do not recommend working on this area for the average golfer. For competitive golfers they need to work on their conversion rates from in side 20′.
Long Putts: The main key for these are picking the right read and then getting the speed to match. For the average golfer this is outside 20′ and for the pro’s 40′. The goal from 20′ and out is to stop the ball at the hole. Other than green reading and short putting practice I recommend players to spend most of their time in this zone from 20-50′. A good putt is 10% of the distance so for a 50′ putt within 5′ is good. Now when you are training, train harder so you can play easier. A great game/challenge is to set up 2 tees or coins 3′ apart as the goal and drop a ball starting at 20′ and another one ever 5′ going out to 40″+. Start at 20′ and if you roll it in the 3′ zone move back 5′ and putt from there until you stop it in and repeat the process out to your stopping distance or for 5 minutes of game time. Do this up and down hill where down hill will be harder to control the speed. Lastly play 9 holes from 30′-50′ with different starting spots to different holes with the goal to finish with 18 strokes. Not trying to make them from that distance but stop it at the hole and knock in the next putt.
For green reading I would recommend seeing your nearest AimPoint Certified coach and go through an Express Level 1&2 class. If you are picking the wrong spots then speed control gets difficult. Under reading the putt tends to get a ball traveling too fast towards the hole to keep the ball from dropping below the hole which results in a ball that finishes well past the hole.
The 3rd area of putting is start line. Best practice here is to putt down a 1″ wide yard stick. Set the yard stick so the end is going right into the middle of a hole on a straight uphill putt. Roll in 5-10 balls in a row depending on your skill level then move on. If you are a competitive golfer you will have more time to spend in all areas of putting. Most golfers need to use their time wisely and spending 15-20 minutes during each practice session on their putting. This is an area they can improve quickly and anyone can do it.
Let’s take a look at a 165 shot to a left pin. This could be any approach shot into the green but for this example it is a par 3. What would you hit and where would you aim?
Now let’s take a look at a Scratch Golfer 7iron and 15 HDCP 8iron dispersion patterns. They were asked to hit 20 balls towards a target and we used TrackMan recored the landing spots for all. The Scratch Golfer’s circle was 18 yards deep by 26 yards wide while the 15 HDCP circle was 43 yards wide by 46 yards deep. Also if you take a look the center of the balls is not exactly on the 0 line so I added a red dot for the middle of the dispersion pattern. Golfers are firing shotguns not sniper rifles. The better the ball striker and shorter the club the tighter the circle. Higher the HDCP and longer the clubs get the bigger the circles get.
Now that you are armed with this info would you still aim where you picked at the beginning? A lot of golfers see the flag and think that is the target. Let’s look at what would happen if these golfers were to aim for the pin and say their yardages were exactly the yardage as the shots above. You can see the scratch golfer has 1/3 or more of their circle off the green and the 15 HDCP golfer has 1/2 or more of their circle off the green. That is a lot of the circle in tough positions to chip from for an up and down attempt.
That might be interesting to see for the first time. Only issue with that example is a lot of golfers that visit with me do not know their average carry number. They like to use the solid struck shots and think that that is the number to use (represented below with the green dot). Below I moved the dispersion pattern down to where golfers think their ball will carry all the time. They do not take into account a miss hit which results in shorter shots. Most golfers will not hit it much further than their normal clean strike unless they catch a flyer (usually form the rough or landing the club slightly behind and getting a little debris between ball and club) but they will miss hit their clubs resulting in shorter carries. With this now more of the circle is off the green for both golfers.
Now let’s take a look at a good aim spot for these same dispersion patterns. Below I moved the Scratch Golfers aim spot to the center of the green and 5 yards deeper where the 15 HDCP pattern was moved more dead center of the green or slightly away from the trouble. Now if you look at the circles and not just the dots there is going to be the same amount covering the green around the pin but now 85% of the circle is on the green. With this concept when the scratch golfer misses the green now they have an easier chip to save their par vs the short sided bunker shot probability. The 15 HDCP golfer might flush it to the back of the green or miss hit it to the middle but the dreaded ones they don’t think about will be ok.
This takes patience and discipline to play golf like this and waiting out the odds for the ball to land where a flag happens to be close by. The higher the handicapper the more variance they have. Best bet for them is to hit the middle of the green yardage if they know their average carry or even back edge club if they play for their best balls in order for their scatter pattern lands over the green. Then putt to wherever the pin happens to be.
As the ball striking improves the back to front distance dispersion shrinks dramatically but the side to side reduces at a different rate. For that player they could have more options of pulling a club that would land in the first 1/3, middle 1/3, or back 1/3 of the green depending on if the flag is front, middle, or back. The back one they do need to be careful of not hitting it over the green and having a tough shot.
In summary if there is a hazard aim away form it by either shifting your target left/right or distance short/long to avoid it. You are waiting out the variances for that ball that happens to land where a pin happens to be. Take a look at the image below where your ball could be any one of those dots inside your dispersion pattern and putting to any one of those pins depending where it was at. This is how you lower your HDCP over time.
With a larger pattern (longer the club) imagine that the pin is not there and get your ball on the green. It is easier to putt than chip and easier to chip than pitch. Who knows maybe where one of the dots lands there happens to be a hole close by.
With a tighter pattern you have options but remember the flag is not your target. Here is the same pattern for the front, middle, and back and you will notice the black aim line moves around on this green for the most green coverage and trouble avoidance.
IF YOU WATCH GOLF REMEMBER THAT IS USUALLY THE HIGHLIGHT REALS OF GOOD SHOTS OUT OF THE FIELD OR SOMEONE THAT IS FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS FOR A SHORT TIME AND THEIR DISPERSION PATTERNS HAVE GOTTEN SMALLER. Also remember these players are the best in the world! This might happen for a few holes, day, or more but if you pay attention closely their scores have swings in them as well. For more of an in-depth look at this there is a great system created by Scott Fawcett called Decade. It covers expectations, approach shots, trouble shots, and driving decisions.
Arc height is an important skill to develop in the full swing and wedge game. The reason is you can have good or poor technique but if you can control the Arc Height variable you can have a functional result. This skill combined with the low point is also valuable in the full swing.
First let’s address what arc height is. Arc Height is where the swing changes from going down on the circle to up. That point is shown below at the black line. I want to thank Adam Young Golf for the great graphics I got off his YouTube Channel. Also Click Here to go to his site and find out more info on The Strike Plan and NGL programs he offers.
In the above image the correct height will collect the ball, brush the dirt in front, and start to change direction after the ball. If that arc is lower like the lower arc above you will see that the impact where the star is moves back and the arc goes more into the ground. Below is an iron strike off the grass. The club first touches the blades of the grass at the furthest left arrow, continues down to the middle arrow, then comes above the blades of grass at the last arrow on the right. In this scenario if the circle stayed consistent and the arc was moved 2″ lower the contact would enter further back and be traveling too far under the ball resulting in a heavy shot.
Here is a visual of a club traveling too low. Put the ball on a tee to see what would happen if there was no ground under the ball. Imagine the ball is sitting on the ground and the ground is the black alignment rod. In this scenario the club has came into first contact where the red arrow is then continues down to the bottom of the tee. If there was actual ground here the club would crash into it and stop or bounce out.
Below is an image of an arc height that is too high. You can see that the leading edge of the club collided with the middle of the ball. The causes the ball to go straight forward instead of letting the loft project the ball into the air. Higher up than the equator then it will project the ball down into the ground.
Here is a good arc height and low point control added together.you can see the club clipped the tee and was at the lowest point where the red arrow is at. The club collided into the ball and was a center strike which projected the ball upwards.
Now let’s look at a wedge. If you can control how deep under the ball the club travels your low point can be at or around the ball as long as the club is not traveling down too steep and for too long. A good drill for arc height control is to place the ball on a tee and have the tee 2-5mm above the turf. The goal is to clip the tee and avoid the turf. When you can do that move the ball onto the turf and have the same depth under the ball.
Here are 3 scenarios showing how depth control works in the short game area and having a wide margin of error is beneficial. You can land the club a few inches behind the ball, at the ball, or slightly infront and have functional shots for all. The launch, contact, and spin will all be different but results acceptable.
Scenario 1 Low point at the ball and good height control. With this if you have the leading edge below the arc (too much shaft lean) the sharp edge will catch the ground and dig. Also if you have too much bounce the back of the club can hit the ground and cause the leading edge to be turned into the ground and catch the leading edge. Bounce effects how the club interacts with the turf so get fit!!
Scenario 2 Low point behind the ball and good height control. Club will slide across the ground and project the ball up.
Scenario 3 Low point is in front of the ball and good height control.
Can see the leading edge will travel below the equator in each scenario and project the ball upwards.
Would like to share with you a good drill for the backswing. This uses a medicine ball or weighted object to give you the feeling of what the body should be doing to move the weight or club back and through in a golf swing. For the YouTube video link Click Here.
Step 1: Put the weighted object in front of you with bent arms. 4-8 pounds is all you need. The weight is there to give you a sensation not a workout.
Step 2: Turn the weight into your backswing. As you can see I kept the weight in front of the chest and kept the arms in very similar positions as they were at setup. It was moved back with the body.
We do not want to see the hips sliding over the rail foot like below. As you can see that just moves the weight side to side instead of in a circle. Could do this with the body and pull my right elbow back but remember arms are trying to stay in the same position as setup.
Step 3: From the backswing position rotate onto the lead foot and support the weight out in front of the body. You will learn how to push the hips forward and keep the chest back to counter balance the weight as it is out in front of the lead foot. Also notice the trail toe is in the ground and you can see the bottom of the shoe from down the line.
This can also be done with a club out in front of you but will not give the weighted feel but can give you the rotation feel. Also notice that I kept my right and left hands the same distance away from my shoulders. In the backswing the shaft is tilted with the shoulders and the grip is pointing down to the ground.
In this blog I wanted to cover shoes and their effect on your balance and pressure trace. Pressure is what the ground is feeling under your body and everyone has a trace unique to them. The reason for this post is I have been wearing some shoes that are comfortable to wear all day and teach in but was having issues on the course with balance and feels when playing with students. Normal go to playing shoes for myself is a flat shoe with soft spikes. If you are not a reader Click here for the YouTube video. Here are the findings hitting a few shots using BodiTrak with the shoes on and barefoot:
On the left photo you will see me with my shoes off and the right where they are on. The shoes have a larger heel piece which creates a wedge under the feet and pushes the pressure more towards the toes. Ball in the same spot and take a look at the difference. Same amount of pressure form left to right but to to heel stands out. The shoes pushed more of myself onto the toes which is felt in setup.
These photos are taken when the pressure reached the maximum distance traveled to the right. Notice without shoes more pressure went right and in to the heel with the trace being more linear instead of from the toes arcing to the trail heel.
With the pressure moving more direct, without shoes and having to rebalance from too much getting on the lead toe, the pressure started to move sooner towards the target. Notice how soon the pressure started to move around left arm parallel. We see a lot of higher handicap golfers keep their pressure and even their weight moving away form the target for too long. Stills at P3 or Lead Arm Parallel to the Ground.
Here we are at P6 or shaft parallel to the ground without the shoes on it is easier to get the trace to arc towards the lead heel. I play a cut and that keeps the body turning in order to get the swing direction more left. On the right with the shoes notice how the pressure is more mid foot. This could have more of a neutral path and throughout the ground as the body gets tired if that becomes more toe bias the path can move in to out. Not a good thing for curving the ball to the right.
Here in the finish I noticed not only more pressure into the lead heel but with the shoes on it went into the heel then back to mid foot with the shoe design. Also notice that in both scenarios more pressure finished towards the target (90% and 83%) with more towards the lead heel.
You may be asking what can be learned form this little test? I would say pick your shoes carefully and this will be all player dependent. If you are a golfer that gets too much on their heels at setup a higher back of the shoe will help you stay more centered or towards the toes. Also if you’re a slicer that gets too much on the lead heel at impact they could again help you get the pressure trace going more linear or towards your toes.
If you are a player that likes to fade the ball a more neutral shoe will help get the pressure moving more into the lead heel. If your path is moving too much left a little heel lift might help.
Also what is on the bottom will change your foot work. From a spiked shoe to a soft spike will change the amount of grip the feet have. Some players, especially those with limited mobility, might benefit form shoes that will break traction through the shot and let their lead foot move.
To summarize all of this try a few shoes on. When making a selection make a few golf swings between different styles. See what one you are more balanced in form setup to backswing and into the finish. If your local club has a BodiTrak, Swing Catalyst, or another pressure mat then take a few swings on it. That will give you the feedback on if a lifted heel or flat heel is best for you, what the shoe is made out of from stiffer outer to softer, and what traction the shoe has. Finding the right shoe could also increase your club speed where the poorly fit shoe can reduce the speed.
Here is an unclose view of the traces. Shoes off on top and with heel lifted shoes on the bottom.
Here is a YouTube video with a good drill to get you the feeling of a balanced setup and where your pressure is going during the swing.
This article is mostly going to cover attack angle on a stock mid range wedge. For the YouTube clip Click Here. In the wedge game you can get away with a low point in front of the ball, at the ball, or slightly behind which would be a club landing slightly behind the ball. That is as long as the club is coming down like an airplane that is going to do a touch and go instead of one that is too steep and would crash. For a stock shot it is good to have an attack angle from 4-10*. The reason for this is to reduce the amount of interference between ball and club. Also when you are in the rough the steeper attack angle will not have to go through as much grass as a shallower club. Less interference will help create more friction, launch the ball lower, and increase the spin on a stock shot.
Now let’s take a look at a drill that will give you instant feedback. Place a golf ball 1 grip behind the ball you are going to strike. The goal is to land the club in a manner that the club will miss the back ball and not dig into the ground. Sounds easier than it is if you are someone that has a tendency to want to try to help the ball in the air.
Below on the left is a successful attempt and the one on the right was not. At shaft parallel to the ground you will notice that the butt of the club is closer to being over the ball on the left. That is setting up the steepness needed. When doing this drill or hitting my stock shot I feel as if I am going to miss the ball 2-3″ in front of the ball.
As the club starts to release to be shallow through the turf strike the handle is now in front of the ball.
Drawing a circle around that point you will see that the low point, where the yellow line is, varies. On the left it is in front of the ball and on the right it is slightly behind. If the back ball was not there I might have gotten away with the right shot. The more grass behind the ball would have shown the club down more and more as well as reducing the amount of speed transferred to the ball.
On the left the club is slightly pass the yellow line, or low point, and starting to travel slightly up. The orange arrow is from where the ball started and where it is going. You can see that on the left side of the circle the club was still traveling down and through. A lot of golfers do not understand this and they want to try and help the ball in the air not trusting the club to do the work.
Outside of shorter wedge shots we are looking for the left image more consistently. The reason is that on the right the ball will be deflected too high and not out enough. The right photo with the club arriving more vertical at the ball gets into high technique where the club actually lands behind the ball, projects it more upwards, and uses the landing angle to stop the ball instead of spin.
Also remember to change your wedges when needed, play a premium ball, and keep the grooves clean, and club face dry in order to create as much friction as possible. I tell a lot of students that play Vokey wedges to replace their main wedge when each new model comes out which is roughly 2 years. Their other wedges could be done every 2 cycles or 4 years or sooner if needed.