Archive: January 2010

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January 26, 2010

Big Play: Pure a 3-iron like Bill Haas

Posted at 4:18 PM by Jim Murphy

Bill-haas-iron WHO: Bill Haas
WHAT: 214-yard three iron to 27 feet
WHEN: Final round of the Bob Hope Classic
WHERE: 543-yard par 5 18th hole at PGA West (Palmer course)

Haas is somewhat unusual because he carries a three iron. Lots of Tour players start their iron sets with a four or five and carry a couple of hybrids. The reason players at all levels are ditching long irons is simple: they’re much harder to get up in the air and to hit solidly than long irons.

With his second shot approach at 18, Haas said he took one extra club “in case I mishit it.” Good decision. Haas had 206 to carry the water, a slight downhill lie and he said he was as nervous as he’s ever been on a golf course. Haas made a terrific swing by staying down and over the ball from start to finish, and the stellar shot set up his two-putt birdie that gave him a one-shot victory. Haas was actually lucky to have contacted the ball a bit on the toe of the clubhead, because that helped him from flying over the green.

The tendency on long irons is to raise your body up and out of the shot while attempting to create loft and get the ball airborne. But lifting up doesn’t help. Instead, it hurts the shot because it throws off balance and usually leads to a thin or skulled shot.

To practice long irons, I have people pick a spot on the turf a couple of inches ahead of the ball. Then focus on trying to contact the ground at that spot, instead of hitting the ball. Doing that will help keep your body down and steady as you drive through the ball, especially at impact.

(Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs answers your golf questions

Posted at 10:59 AM by Brady Riggs

Want to finally lose that slice? Lower your handicap? Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs is online LIVE every Tuesday at noon EST to answer your questions, review your swing videos and offer up tips to help you reach more fairways and sink more putts in 2010. Leave a question now to be first in line for next week's chat!

Thanks to everyone for your questions this week. I want to see some more videos so get them in next week. Remember, I will put you to the top of the order if you send in your video.

Joey T asks at 1:20:

About 15 years ago I tore the tendons in my ring finger on my left hand. Stupidly, I did not have my finger surgically repaired. Now, that finger is permanently locked in a 90 degree position at the middle knuckle. In other words, I cannot extend my ring finger beyond the middle knuckle.

This does not really impact me in everyday life, other than being able to do some cool pub tricks. It does, however, impact my grip of the golf club. I am 6'1, right handed and prefer a slightly strong grip. Due to my bunk finger and in order to keep enough pressure with my left hand, I am forced to hold it a bit more in my left palm than otherwise might be recommended. The result is that when I grip the club with my left hand, there is a significant space between the thumb and pointer finger so that I can wrap my fingers around the grip. Which, as I am told, that space between the pointer finger and thumb is not what you necessarily want when you have a fairly strong grip. Ultimately, I believe this makes any of my misses to be pulls.
On the contrary, if I use a strong grip and put it a bit more into my fingers so that the space between the pointer finger and thumb is closed, I cannot square the face at impact and ultimately hit high, weak fades or worse (hosel rockets). Moreover, I simply feel like I cannot get enough pressure on the club when I do this. Thus, I prefer to keep to club in more of the palm of my left hand with a significant gap between the pointer finger and thumb. 

My question is: Should I keep that style grip and what can I do to help prevent the pull from this grip?

How did you know I like a challenge, Joey? Nice move with the finger by the way. Note to self, if I tear the tendons in my finger go to the doctor and get it fixed.

I am going to help you put this issue to bed. Stop worrying about the space between your index finger and the thumb. That space is far less harmful to your swing than trying to close the gap and subsequently feeling weak. Many players who play professionally have that gap in differing amounts, including yours truly. I feel the same way you do if I try to close that gap completely: less power and poor contact.

When it comes to the pull we have to figure out where that is coming from. Is it purely a path issue with the club attacking from outside the desired line? If that is the case we have to get your shoulders more rotated at the top and keep then more closed coming down. If it isn't the path and it is the clubface position that is slightly closed as a result of the stronger grip then we need to get the face more open without changing the grip. You can achieve this with a slight cup in the left wrist at the top of the backswing.

I really need to see it if I am going to pinpoint the issue. If you can, send me a swing from the target line view, a face-on view and a close-up of your grip. Put them up on Youtube and give us the link. I promise to get you on the right track...

I am curious about the pub trick as well...

Have a good one.

Continue reading "Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs answers your golf questions" »

January 18, 2010

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs answers your golf questions

Posted at 5:47 PM by Brady Riggs

Want to finally lose that slice? Lower your handicap? Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs is online LIVE every Tuesday at noon EST to answer your questions, review your swing videos and offer up tips to help you reach more fairways and sink more putts in 2010. Leave a question now to be first in line for this week's chat!

Thanks to everyone for your questions and videos. I look forward to hearing from you next week. If you can get those videos in go for it. There is no better way for me to help you. Have a great week!

Peter asks at 1:20:

A basic question. Some top teachers say swing easily, especially as a higher handicap, use no power and do not try to hit it strong. Some top teachers say, that you should never ever hit it easy, the shot must be firm and determinated, otherwise you never learn to hit properly. What is your opinion? Might the advice change, for example based on the body type? I am 6'1'', very very flexible and a relaxed very long sweeping swing serves me the best, hardly leaving any divots. My friend is more bulky and plays much better with short crispy swing and deep divots. Who should change?

You have answered your own question. It has to make sense for the player. For example, I am an aggressive player. I like to hit driver on holes I shouldn't, go for flags that I should aim away from and always take the opportunity for glory when it presents itself. I like to play that way and find conservative golf a yawn. If I am between clubs I am usually going to hit the shorter club harder. I have found this approach works best for me because it allows me to swing harder, which has always produced better shots than hitting it easier.

On the other hand I have many professionals I teach that take the longer club and hit it easier. They prefer to smooth a 6-iron rather that bombing a 7-iron. They lay up on par 5s and never aim at sucker pins. They feel more comfortable playing that way and it works for them. That is what makes the game so great, there is no one way to play.

I think that personality is more important when determining how hard a player should swing rather than body type. It has to make sense for the person. Another example of this is in the speed of play. Fast talkers, drivers and walkers generally play quickly and swing quickly. Slow talkers, drivers, and walkers usually play at a leisurely pace and don't swing that fast. The players personality will shape everything they do on the course.

When it comes to high handicappers swinging easy to keep it in play, I think that is bunk. If the fundamentals are strong then the player should be able to swing with some authority, regardless of their skill level. I don't want any of my students to powder-puff it around the golf course because they are afraid it may not go where they want. I encourage all my students to let it go. I want them to play fearlessly and with joy so guiding it around isn't an option.

Continue reading "Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs answers your golf questions" »

The Big Play: Take a Divot to Chip It Close Like Ryan Palmer

Posted at 2:58 PM by Michael Breed

Ryan-palmer_300 Who: Ryan Palmer
What: 51-foot chip to six inches
When: Final round of the Sony Open
Where: 551-yard par 5 18th Hole at Waialae Country Club

The key to this chip shot, which clanged off the flagstick and set up his winning birdie, was Ryan's practice swings: they were very loose and wristy and he aimed the club to hit the ground at a specific contact point.

When people get nervous, they tend to get tight and lose their freedom. So Ryan purposely took several loose and free practice swings to prepare himself to make a relaxed swing with the real shot

Here are two tips to follow when preparing to hit a chip like Ryan’s.

Tip No. 1: Stay relaxed and loose in your mind and with the swing.

Tip No. 2: Always have a specific aiming point for where the club will bottom out. Don’t just make thoughtless practice swings and sweep the club through impact so it doesn’t touch the ground. In practice swings, aim to contact the turf at a specific point and take little divots, like Palmer did.

The Drill: Put a penny or a tee on the ground at the contact point and take practice swings without a ball. You should clip the tee or penny. Then put down a ball and hit the chip.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Michael Breed is the head professional at Sunningdale Country Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.

(Photo: Chris Condon/Getty Images)

January 11, 2010

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs answers your golf questions

Posted at 4:55 PM by Brady Riggs

It's a new year and with that comes a new chance to reach your golf goals. Want to finally lose that slice? Lower your handicap? Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs is online LIVE every Tuesday at noon EST  to answer your questions, review your swing videos and offer up tips to help you reach more fairways and sink more putts in 2010. Here are Brady's responses from Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Thanks to everyone for your questions and videos. I think this was a great blog today and hope to see you guys in the weeks to come. Don' t be afraid to send in your golf swing via Youtube, it is the single best way for me to help you improve.

Ben asks at 3:52:

You are a great teacher—thanks for taking the time to manage this blog! My question is, would you advise a player to have a strait left leg at impact or keep the knee bent and straiten it after impact? Thanks!

Thanks for the kind words, Ben. I will tell you that your left leg should be straightenING through impact. That is to say it should be on its way to straight or just becoming straight at impact, not before. I strongly encourage players to work on this part of the swing because it greatly improves the release of the golf club through impact.

Jason asks at 3:35:

Hey Brady,
I've been trying to make some consistent contact with my driver. And I have. Only it's with the upper part of the heel. I've tried moving back a little but just can't seem to stop coming over the top. I don't think I've ever made contact with the sweet spot. I have a couple of videos but they are not of my driver, probably a 6 iron. I am 6'6" and have had my clubs lengthened by 1 3/4". I'm also trying to get some more lag in my swing. Thanks.

Thanks for the videos. Jason you have a very interesting golf swing. It looks like you are about 5'8" when you swing the club because you are SOOOO flat. When I have a student with your height I encourage them to get their arms up much higher than yours at the top of the swing. You are blessed with a huge arc that you aren't utilizing by swinging the club around yourself so much. I would encourage you to look at the backswings of Davis Love, Ernie Els, and even Nick Faldo to see what the shape of your swing should look like.

It appears that you hit the ball quite well and move your body very efficiently during the swing. Hitting the ball solid means swinging the club on a more consistent path. To accomplish this, we have to reshape your swing. Your excessively flat and inside backswing leads to the inevitable up-and-over move at the top and forces the club to come down above plane. This loop should be reversed as you practice to give you the feeling of attacking the ball of a flatter and more inside path than you took the club up on.

Do me a favor and go visit my website and look at Nick Faldo's swing in pictures. You will begin to get an idea of what you need to do to get your swing on track.

You have a great deal of potential with your athleticism and size, we just need to add some better mechanics to the mix and you will be on your way.

Continue reading "Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs answers your golf questions" »

With Woods, things are seldom as they appear

Posted at 1:34 PM by T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D.

One of the things we’re learning about Tiger Woods is that things are seldom as they appear. Using that logic, I wonder if his indefinite leave to “repair his broken relationships” is also about repairing his injured left knee.

According to The New York Times, a Canadian doctor flew to Orlando at least four times to give Woods platelet therapy at his home in 2009. The last treatment, according to the doctor, happened in August. Woods wouldn’t have sought those treatments if he wasn’t still feeling the effects of the knee surgery.

It is possible that the time away from the game will also be good for Woods’s knee. And, if his knee is an issue, he would have good reason to keep it a secret. A scientific study found that playing against Woods was so intimidating that it affected his opponents’ performance. If the Tour’s young guns knew Tiger was hurting, it might damage his aura of invincibility.

Of course the knee could be fine, and I could be way off base. But to solve the puzzle of when Tiger will return, maybe we should ask his doctors instead of his marriage counselor.

The Big Play: Pure your fairway woods like Geoff Ogilvy

Posted at 11:49 AM by Mark Wood

Each week, one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers will show you how to hit the shot of the week from the PGA Tour.

Geoff-ogilvy-sbs-100 WHO: Geoff Ogilvy
WHAT: A 246-yard five-wood to 20 feet
WHEN: Final round of the SBS Championship
WHERE: 555-yard, par-5 15th hole on the Plantation Course at Kapalua 

Standing in the 15th fairway, Ogilvy was 21 under-par and tied with Rory Sabbatini, who had finished his round. After a 290-yard drive, Ogilvy was 246 yards from the hole. The 15th fairway tilts a bit from left to right, so the ball was slightly below Ogilvy’s feet. Ogilvy had pured his 5-wood all week, and he said that he had  “a perfect yardage” for that club on 15. Ogilvy hit another gem, high and hard, and the ball stopped 20 feet from the flagstick. After two putts, Ogilvy was 22-under, and he went on to win by one stroke.

Focus on two keys to hit solid fairway woods: ball position and balance. 

Ball position: It should be the same as every other club you hit off the ground: two balls inside your lead heel. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that you must contact the ball on the upswing and thus move the ball too far forward at address. For all shots off the ground, including fairway woods, you must contact the ball on the downswing.

Balance: A fairway wood requires a long, powerful swing and the shaft on a fairway wood is a little longer than your irons and wedges. This means you need to work a little harder to maintain balance throughout your fairway-wood swings. To do that, use a stance that’s slightly wider than what you use with mid-irons. The wider stance will promote good balance.

Mark Wood is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher from Califon, N.J.

(Photo: Kohjiro Kinno/SI)

January 01, 2010

Ask the Top 100 Live: Kick the new year off right!

Posted at 1:37 PM by Brady Riggs

Happy 2010! It's a new year and with that comes a new chance to reach your golf goals. Want to finally lose that slice? Lower your handicap? Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online Tuesday at noon Eastern LIVE to answer your questions, review your swing videos and offer up tips to help you reach more fairways and sink more putts. Leave a question now to be first in line and check back Tuesday.

My most sincere apologies to those I didn't get to. Heading out to the lesson tee as we speak. Get those questions in early next week so we can make sure to answer them. Thanks to everyone for starting out 2010 with a bang. See everyone on the blog next week! GO PACKERS!

Christian asks at 1:30:


I've posted my swing twice before and you told me both times to get my weight off my heels at address so I don't lose my tushline. I think I finally listened this time :-). Other than that I see that my hips are stalling and I am flipping through impact. Any advice for that? Do you see anything else that I should be working on?



Hey Christian, good to see the swing again. BTW, I have no idea how you can swing in that weather, it is 78 today in Southern California and I am wearing a windbreaker! The tush line looks 100% better, nice job. The next piece of the puzzle is your swing path. The club is attacking on a path less inside than I would like to see. As a result, your club is exiting too far left after impact hurting your clubhead speed, slowing down the clubface rotation and creating a bit of a chicken wing with your left arm.

The club needs to come more from behind you on the downswing so it can go more away from you after impact. This will help your extension for sure, and allow the clubface to rotate properly through impact producing a slight draw for your ball flight. Basically, your swing needs to be more around and less up and down.

As you think of swinging more out through impact, your club will get more inside coming down and it will probably be a bit across the line at the top. That is all fine and can be adjusted if you over do it.

Send in the new stuff as soon as you can and get some handwarmers in your pockets. BURRRRR!

Continue reading "Ask the Top 100 Live: Kick the new year off right!" »

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