Ask the Top 100 Teachers Live: T.J. Tomasi answers your questions
Can't stop three-putting? Hook won't go away? Top 100 Teacher T.J. Tomasi will be online at noon EST to answer your questions. No matter your skill level, you'll have your swing straightened out in time for the weekend. Join the discussion by leaving a question in the comments section below.
Update: That's all, folks. If you didn't get a chance to ask T.J. a question, "Ask the Top 100 Teachers Live!" will return next Tuesday at noon EST with more swing tips and advice for you. Thanks for reading!
Chris asks at 12:56 p.m.
I'm a 6 handicap and in my backswing, I feel as though I come to 9 o'clock and then go straight up causing an upright swing. Is there a drill I could practice to get my swing flatter up top so that I stop pull hooking? Divots are going left.
During your backswing you should practice allowing your left hand and arm to rotate the clubshaft away from the target line. When you reach 9 o'clock in your backswing the butt end of your club should be pointing at the target line. This will tell you that you have rotated your front forearm correctly.
Nick asks at 12:37 p.m.
For the past years I have been hitting the ball straight. I was a 14 HC. Last December, I shattered the radius bone in my left elbow and had to have a partial replacement. This season I keep hitting the ball to the right (straight) with what I feel is the same swing path. At the moment, I am only able to rotate my left hand 45 deg (palm up). What I am doing wrong or what I should check?
I would do one of two things:
No. 1: I would switch to a fade. Have your local PGA golf professional help you with that. It might be good for you since the fade shot shape requires an open face and you have trouble closing the face.
No. 2: If you want to stick with the straight shot I would use clubs that are closed a degree or two to promote the draw.
Joe asks at 12:36 p.m.:
I am a 13 handicap. I have started to occassionally duck-hook drives and sometimes have a banana-ball flight (right to left) with my shorter irons. Can you help out? Thanks much.
You have the classic symptoms of arms-body imbalance. With the driver your arms are too fast and they wrap around your body causing a shut faced hook. With your irons your arms are too slow leaving the face open. You need to synch up your arms and body as you swing. Take some half swings in a mirror so that you can see where your arms are in relationship to your body. Then lengthen out your swing until you are perfectly timed.
Bob at 12:29 p.m. asks:
TJ, I'm having trouble getting stuck in my downswing. It's frustrating because it's causing misses right and left and making it hard gain any kind of consistency. Is there a drill, or a swing-thought to help keep my arms in front of my upper body a little better?
Here is a drill that should help. Place a headcover under both arms, then make a bunch of swings in which your triceps, the muscle in the back of your arms stays connected to your chest. It will feel constricted at first, but you will get the hang of it.
Dave asks at 12:28 p.m.
Oftentimes, with my irons, I find myself clunking out ugly topped shots. At impact, I can actually SEE the ball hitting the hosel every time this happens. What am I doing wrong, and how can it be fixed so I get more consistent iron shots? Thank you.
There are a number of reasons for the topped shot, but it is most likely that you are changing your spine angle, i.e. your spine is getting too vertical and this makes the club effectively shorter causing the top. Your goal should be to take some grass with every swing and you can do this when you keep your spine angle set.
Matt asks at 12:24 p.m.:
Can you provide a drill or swing thought that will help me to start the swing with my lower body. When I do this I hit the ball great, but without a good idea of what is happening I can also start swaying through impact rather than turning.
I don't advocate starting the swing with the lower body. I think a soft rotation of your core to start the backswing is the way to go.
Dean asks at 12:23 p.m.
I have trouble with a pull-hook but when I look at the divot it's square and at the target.
Divots can fool you sometimes. You can have a perfectly square divot and hook it because you hit it on the toe of the club. Use some facetape or sunscreen on the clubface to see where you are making contact then make adjustments until you are back to the center of the face.
Tom asks at 12:22 p.m.
Hi, I have a question about the role of the right thumb and right forefinger in chipping and putting. Should pressure be applied to the thumb and right forefinger on these shots?
I don't believe so. The pressure should be uniform throughout the grip. The goal is to minimize any focus on the hands. I recommend that my students chip with their shoulders not their hands.
Emile asks at 12:22 p.m.:
I had cervical spine surgery 4 years ago that severely limits my neck rotation--only about 30 degrees in each direction so it is very hard to "keep my eye on the ball" during my backswing. My body rotation is fine. Any tips to get some yardage back?
The modern head-management protocol is to keep your head in the middle of your shoulders while you swing. If you are right-handed I would cock your head at address toward the target so it is easier to see the ball and keep your chin up to allow your front shoulder to turn under it.
Doug asks at 12:21 p.m.
I've gotten to the point where I can look down at impact and tell when I'm doing things right -- for me, that's making a slightly inside-to-out swing and hitting the inside back portion of the ball. However, no matter what I do, I can only get this to happen about 50% of the time, and the rest of the time, I am hitting some brutal slices with my driver. Are there any drills that will help me groove a good swing path? Thanks!
There are two concerns here: No. 1 is your path, which sounds good, and No. 2 is your clubface, which is only good about 50% of the time--the other 50% it is open. Here is a drill for you that will help. Take your normal address position, and drop your rear foot back about two feet so your stance is ultra closed, then flair your back foot about 45 degrees. Make sure to straighten your front leg and hit over it through impact. You will hook the hell out of it for awhile because your forearms will roll over, but it will teach you to release the face. Then go back to your normal address and fire away.
p.s. If you have back troubles, don't do this. As a matter of fact please consult your doctor before you do this drill.
Brett asks at 12:20 p.m.
I'm a 20 handicapper who can't chip. If I could figure that out, it would cut 5 strokes from my game. For some reason I have a really hard time getting my proper distance on chips. It seems like I do a couple practice swings and they go well, then I step up to the ball and either hit it fat and leave my chip short or skull it and send it long. Is this mental or is there a drill or two that can
You should chip like you putt (assuming that you putt well) you want to swing the club through the same distance you take it back and don't use your hands. Your description sounds like the typical handsy chipper. You don't overuse your hands on the practice swing because there is nothing to hit. As soon as the hit object (the ball) is in play, you move the club with your hands. Try instead moving the club with a teeter-totter motion of your shoulders with no wrist break at all.
Henrique asks at 12:20 p.m.:
In the last couple of rounds I've had a bad case of a push, but when I try to solve it I'll end up with a pulled drive! How can I solve this bad case of pushed drives?
Your club is approaching the ball too much from the inside. To train yourself to swing down the target line, put a box (preferable an empty one) about an inch from your golf ball parallel to your target line and hit enough balls without hitting the box to train yourself to swing on the proper path.
Jake asks at 12:14 p.m.:
I'm a 5 handicap and want to know how do I adjust to my new hybrid club?
Practice. When a pattern emerges, query me again and we can talk about it.
Anthony W. asks at 12:12 p.m.:
I am having two problems that have become consistent in my swing. First I am hitting behind the ball by a few inches on every swing and pretty much with every club, when I don't hit behind the ball I usually hit the ball very high. The second problem is that I have developed a really bad hook also with every club. The ball starts down my target line but takes a hard turn to the left with the driver, hybrid and fairway woods, and with the irons it is usually a higher hook that finishes 15 to 20 yards left of my target. Any ideas or drills?
It sounds to me like you are hanging on your trailing side as you approach the golf ball. When you hit behind the ball that closes the face causing that nasty hook. Since there are not a lot of great players that hit 2 inches behind the ball and hook it, so we better do something -- and fast! My guess is that you have a weight-transfer problem and here is a drill that will help you get to your target side at the start of your downswing. Take your normal address position, then bring your front foot back to your rear foot, pause, and then as you start your backswing take a step and plant your foot so that your weight is on your front foot as the club comes to the ball. You are stepping into it like the hitter does in baseball. It will take you awhile to get the timing of when to step, but in my own swing I have found that if I start my step when my front arm is across the middle of my chest, it works out perfectly.
Jeff asks at 12:08 p.m.:
Hello T.J. I'm a 14 handicap. I have been having trouble hitting my 3-wood from the fairway. It's the only club in my bag that I don't feel comfortable hitting. I tend to hit it fat. On occasion, I will top it creating a low flying hook. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
The 3 wood is the hardest club in the bag to hit correctly. It has a big head, a long shaft and the ball sits on the ground. The tendency is to swing the 3 wood too much around you and try to hit it on the upswing in order to get the ball in the air. It's just the opposite of what you should do. Since you need a more descending blow to get the ball in the air, position the golf ball off the logo on your shirt and choke down on the grip like Anthony Kim does, at least 2 inches. If that doesn't work bag the 3-wood and get yourself a 16-degree rescue club -- this is definitely the best way to go.
Ian asks at 12:06 p.m.:
I am having a hard time releasing the club. Added into the problem, since I've been concentrating on it more, I've begun to flip my left wrist, causing more pop-ups and less distance. Any tips on getting a good release while maintaining a good left-wrist angle?
Forcing the release often puts so much pressure on your target wrist that it collapses. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most common is that while you are so focused on your hands trying to release the club that you forget to keep the target arm moving through impact. When the left arm stops all the forces are directed to the weakest link, i.e. your left wrist and it can no long maintain its position---and when it flips there is a dramatic increase in loft causing your pop-ups. So keep that left arm moving and let me know what the result is. If that doesn't work we have the wrong cause and I'll give you another remedy.
Matt R. asks at 12:04 p.m.:
When I am in between clubs I use the L to L swing with great accuracy and consistency. In that, after I take my swing back to 9 o'clock I then throw my chest down to the ball and finish at 9 o'clock on my left side. Is it possible to use this swing with all my clubs?
Well first of all let's do a little work on your timeclock. Your backswing L is at 9 o'clock, your finish is at 3. And in between the two 90 degree angles, set at 9 and 3, is your core rotation. So your approach sounds pretty good to me. The only problem is that when you get to a long golf hole that requires a full powered swing with the driver, you aren't going to be able to make it happen with the 9 to 3 approach. When you need to "let the big dog hunt," just extend your time on the clock and swing your L from 11 to 1.