Poor weight transfer (and how we develop swing flaws)
By Dennis Clark
I recall an old joke about a guy who was lost on a country backroad. He spots a local resident and asks for directions to a certain town. The local responds: “You can’t get there from here.”
Whenever I hear that joke, I think about weight transfer in the golf swing. Yeah, a remote connection, I’m sure, but it works for purposes of today’s story. The analogy is this: A student recently swung to the top of the backswing and asked me how to “transfer his weight to the left foot” (he was right handed). I replied, “you can’t get there from here.”
The reason most players do not properly transfer their weight or “turn through,” is simply because they are not in a position to do so. They literally must move away from the target and head for the trail side.
Here are a few examples of why.
Over the top
As the downswing begins, if the arms and club go out, not down, effectively the player is not swinging at the golf ball. If she keeps going from there, she will not hit the ball, or barely top it at best. This player is swinging at something in front of the ball, or outside of it. Shoulders spin open early, arms/hands go out but stay UP, and now the club head will very likely get to the golf ball LATE. But, and here’s the catch, anyone who plays often attempts to correct this swing bottom problem by reversing course! The body senses the poor sequence and tries the right the ship by quickly backing up. Or casting. So, we get an out-to-in swing direction but a shallow attack angle! What I refer to a “left field from the right foot.’
When you see the flaw from this perspective, it becomes perfectly obvious why. Because, if the player kept going without a mid stream correction, they might top every shot, mo in an effort to get the ball airborne, the player lowers the rear side, raises the front side and swings UP from the outside. So you do bottom out nearer the ball, but you’ve introduced a HOST of other issues. I’m not saying this is a conscious effort in the less than two seconds it takes to swing the club, I’m saying that it develops unconsciously over time. And the more one plays, the more they “perfect” this sequence. In my experience, this is how most, if not all, swing faults begin. Correcting a fault with another fault. It is truly ingenious, really!
If the swing gets to the top and does begin down inside, unlike above where it begins down outside the line, or over the plane, but the club starts down on a very steep incline, it is headed for a crash; keep going from there, and you’re likely to stick it straight into the ground or, at the least, hit it straight off the toe. Again, over time, the player senses this, and develops a motion of “backing up; reversing the upper body to flatten the golf club and get it onto a reasonable incline to strike the ball. I see this day in and day out. The inevitable question is: “Why can’t I get through the shot”? Because…you had to reverse the upper body to avoid an even greater disaster..
These are just two examples involving improper weight transfer. But if we see other swing flaws in this light, I think it explains a lot. For example, “raising the handle,” or “standing the club up,” lower body extension (“humping”), holding on through impact, casting, sending hand path far away from the body (disconnection), all these can can almost always be attributed to something that preceded those flaws. That is, they are rarely the root cause, they are the REACTION to another position or motion. They are “save” attempts.
Here’s another way of describing it: Many, in fact most, steep swings result in a shallowattack angle. Many open club faces at the top of the swing actually hook the ball, many closed faces at the top of the swing hit slices or at least high blocks, and so on. How do I know this? I have stood right next to golfers for almost 40 years and observed it up close and personal on the lesson tee.
If you are serious about long term improvement, real effective change in your game, you will need to work on the fundamentals that will put you in a position from which you do not have to recover, or execute a “fit in” move to survive. Get a good high-definition, slow-motion look at your swing, get your Trackman or Flightscope feedback and take a close look, in terms of what I’m referring to here. It will be eye-opening to say the least.
I would agree that one CAN learn to live with some save moves and achieve a certain level of success, albeit less consistent in my opinion. In fact, when most people hit balls, that is what they are practicing. As always, it’s your call. Enjoy the journey.
Why “Keeping Your Head Down” Is Killing Your SwingThe head rotates in a tour-pro follow-through By Nick Clearwater; Illustrations by Todd Dewiler It’s probably a familiar scene in your foursome. Somebody (maybe even you) tops a shot and immediately offers a boilerplate analysis of why it happened: “I lifted my head.” Well, maybe, but that isn’t why most shots are topped. In fact, a lot of times it’s the opposite problem. We measure thousands of swings at GolfTEC studios around the country, and we also have an extensive database of tour-player measurements to compare what they do with what you do. What we’ve found is trying to keep your head down is probably doing more harm than good. If you want to learn a skill that will keep you from topping it—and get you closer to hitting the same kinds of consistently good shots the professionals do—develop a tour-pro follow-through that involves a rotation of the head. Here’s how. Pose like you see here (above, left)— legs straightened, shoulders and hips facing the target, head rotated in that direction, too, and the grip extended as far away from the body as possible—that’s key. You’ll notice this is a significantly different look to the follow-through we see from many amateurs—especially if you’re trying to keep your head down through impact (above, right). When you’re scrunched up like that, you don’t have room to extend your arms, and that lack of extension puts you in poor position to make solid contact. Keep rehearsing the tour-pro follow-through you see me demonstrating. Once you’ve burned the feel of it into your memory, hit some soft, slow shots while getting into that same position after impact. The closer you come to copying it, the easier it will be for your swing to bottom out in a predictable place every time. Then you’ll no longer worry about having to make an excuse for your bad shot before the ball stops rolling. —With Matthew Rudy Nick Clearwater, GolfTEC’s Vice President of Instruction, is based in Englewood, Colo. Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/why-keeping-your-head-down-is-killing-your-swing?utm_medium=social&utm_social-type=owned&mbid=social_facebook&utm_brand=gd&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1qEkljyoAM6TDqWePqhfUUw_j9mmy8rwKqYCX7ewx6fhh9-Ar-MNKe36E
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5 tips to help you keep your golf resolutions in 2019
Written by: T.J. Auclair
The new year has arrived and a lot of you golfers out there might be uttering the words, “new year, new me.”
Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and, unfortunately, most of us fail to see them through for all 365 days.
If your resolution involved improving your golf game in 2019, here’s a list of things you can do every day/week — even if you’re in the bitter cold like a lot of folks right now — to help you achieve those goals.
And, once it warms up in your area, you can take all five of these drills outside.
5. Exercise. Yeah, we know. That’s what we should be doing every day anyway, right? But when it comes to golf, you don’t want to be tight. There are a number of stretches you can do right from your desk while reading emails that will benefit your arms, shoulders, neck, back, hips and legs for golf season.
Even better, place one of those handy, elastic, tension bands in the top drawer of your desk.
4. Take 100 swings per day in your house or garage… without a golf ball. The best players in the world visualize the shot they want to hit before they hit it. With a drill like this one, you’re going to be forced to visualize, because there’s no ball there to hit. If you’re able, place a mirror in front of you and pay attention to the positions of your address, takeaway, the top of your swing and impact position as well as follow through. Do it in slow motion. Become an expert on your swing.
3. Work on your chipping. Can’t do it outside? No worries. You can purchase a chipping net, or even put down a hula-hoop as a target. Get a few foam golf balls and a tiny turf mat to hit the balls off of.
Will it produce the same feel as a real golf ball? Of course not. But what it will do is force you to focus on a target and repeat the same motion over and over. After a long layoff, “touch,” is the first thing that goes for all golfers.
This will help you to work on some semblance of touch all winter long.
2. Practice your putting. Anywhere. All you need is a putter, a golf ball, a flat surface and an object — any object — to putt at. If you’re so inclined, rollout turf can be purchased for around $20 with holes cut out.
Since the greens are where you’re going to take most of your strokes, doesn’t it make sense to dial that in whenever possible? It can be fun too. Does your significant other, roommate, or child play? Have regular putting contests.
The feel you gain during those sessions may not seem like much, but man will they come in handy when your season begins on the real grass.
1. Make a weekly appointment with your PGA Professional. Even in areas of the country that are suffering through the cruelest of winter conditions, you can always find a place to hit golf balls inside. Contact your local PGA Professional to find out where places like this in your area exist. You might be surprised at all the options you have.
With your PGA Professional in tow, you can work on your swing throughout the winter months and keep your game sharp. How nice would it be to be on top of your game as soon as the courses in your area open in the spring?
Written by: T.J. Auclair
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I’m coming off a recent win at the CIMB Classic, and my iron game into the par 5s was a big reason I got it done. For the week, I played the par 5s at TPC Kuala Lumpur in 14 under par. That should get it done any week on tour. Most everyday players, however, loathe their long and middle irons and are reluctant to use them. That’s unfortunate, because these clubs are valuable tools. Whether you’re going for the green in two, trying to hit a green in regulation on a 200-yard par 3, or looking to run one up on a long par 4, let me help you rethink avoiding these clubs. I’ll take you through my strategy and swing thoughts with them and have you playing the longer holes better in no time. — with E. Michael Johnson
DECLARE YOUR INTENTIONS
Because amateurs typically have low expectations with longer irons, I’ve seen a lot of them get careless with these shots. Try to be more thoughtful. First, your goal should be to pick a conservative target so you’ll feel better about making an aggressive swing. Next, check your alignment. Some players set up to something closer than their actual target, but that doesn’t work for me. I focus on where I want the ball to end up, and I set up to make that happen by taking shot shape into consideration. For example, if there is water on the left and the pin is in the middle or the right side of the green, I’ll go at the flag. But if the pin is near the water, I’ll aim away from the trouble and try to work the ball back toward the green. Remember what I said about aggressive swings toward conservative targets. You never want to hit toward trouble and hope it curves away. What if you hit the dreaded straight shot?
TAKE YOUR TIME
Timing is super important. If it’s off, you’re not going to hit the ball very well. You’re better off swinging slower and making sure everything is moving in the right downswing order—body, arms, hands, then club. If you ever watch me swing a long iron, you’ll notice that although I’m about to hit a long shot, the shaft of my club does not reach parallel at the top. Don’t get me wrong; I make a good turn, and my arms are extended away from my body—that’s a good feeling to have—but the point is, I’m not overswinging. The tendency with longer irons is to put more effort into the shot than you would if you were swinging a pitching wedge. But if you swing these clubs just like your short irons, your timing will be a lot better. You’ll also have a better chance of making centerface contact, which matters most when swinging these clubs. This is especially true into the wind, so take your time.
“SWING YOUR 4-IRON WITH THE SAME TEMPO AS YOUR PITCHING WEDGE.”
If you want to hit one flush with a middle or long iron, don’t swing down too steeply. It’s a bad habit of mine, and I see it a lot from everyday players. It’s as if the swing thought is to trap the ball. Instead, you want the club coming in on a shallower approach so it can sweep the ball off the fairway—or even a low tee. This will produce crisp contact, a higher launch angle for better distance, and the height needed to get the shot to stop on the green. Good weight distribution is vital. When I’m too steep, it’s usually because I have too much weight on my left side as I start down. That pitches my body toward the target and prompts a steeper angle. But if some of my weight stays on the right side, I’m in business. Another benefit to being shallow is good extension of the arms, which improves contact and power. Trust me, you’ll hit it a lot better with extension than if you’re swinging with “crocodile arms.”
By: Marc Leishman
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