Archive: February 2010

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February 23, 2010

Top 100 Teacher Survey: Tiger Woods

Posted at 2:08 PM by Anne Szeker

Following Tiger Woods’s apology last Friday, SI surveyed Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers for their take on the situation. The four following questions were asked and a sample of their best responses is below.

1. In the wake of Tiger Woods’s apology, has your opinion of him gone up, down or remained the same?

SAME: 58%
UP: 12%
DOWN: 30%

Be a man, step up to the mike and take your well deserved lumps at a real press conference. — Mike Lopuszynski, Crystal Springs C.C. in Hamburg, N.J.

Big time down. It was a farce. — Tom Patri, Friar's Head Golf Club in Riverhead, N.Y.

2. When he rejoins the Tour, will Woods’s game be better, worse or the same?

BETTER: 25%
WORSE: 42%
SAME: 33%

I hope worse. If he is really working at his problems, he shouldn't have as much time and energy to be on the course. — Todd Sones, White Deer GC in Vernon Hills, Ill.

I'm not sure we have ever seen Tiger play mad, but I have a feeling it is going to be scary good. — Jim Murphy Golf at Sugar Creek C.C. in Sugar Land, Texas

Better. How could 18 girlfriends and a wife not be a distraction? Deep down, Tiger is probably feeling a sense of relief. — Mike Lopuszynski, Crystal Springs C.C. in Hamburg, N.J.

He will return with a bigger chip on his shoulder then before. He will kick some serious ass. — Tom Patri, Friar's Head Golf Club in Riverhead, N.Y.

3. Will Woods, who has won 14 majors, break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18?

YES: 96%
NO: 4%

He is still young and has the balls of a brass monkey. — Gerald McCullagh, University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.

Time is on his side. — Steve Bosdosh, Members Club at Four Streams in Beallsville, Md.

4. Has the game taken a hit because of L’Affaire Tigre?

YES: 74%
NO: 26%

Tiger Woods does not control the economy, nor does he control golf. — Shawn Humphries, Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, Texas

Tangibly in dollars, intangibly in all the people - especially kids - who looked up to him. — Todd Sones, White Deer GC in Vernon Hills, Ill.

The truth is almost every sector of the American economy, including golf, has been in a serious downturn. — Jim Mclean, Jim McLean Golf Schoo in Miami, Fla.

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs answers your questions

Posted at 11:54 AM by Brady Riggs

Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs answered your questions Wednesday afternoon. 

Thanks again to everyone for your questions, videos, and comments. I hope you enjoyed the blog. I look forward to hearing from you again next week.

Philip Nielson asks at 1:35:

Hello, I have just come across this and think it's great. I have always struggled with the transition? I can't get the correct sequencing. I know what it is but I seem to be too conscious of it and don't let it happen. I've heard squash a can under my left heel feeling or squash a bug but it is very difficult. Any ideas or thoughts? Sorry I forgot to add this. I am having trouble hitting down on the ball. I am also not getting my divots in front of the ball. What do you think about ball position, posture and alignment to get this under control? Can't seem to be consistent at all.

I often talk about the sequencing of the swing and how to make the motion more athletic. I believe I described the step drill in a previous post on this blog today. The main issue is that you always want your weight to move before your arms and hands on the downsiwng. This can be a subtle movement or a huge obvious one. Either way, if the weight moves at the same time or after the arms you are hosed.

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

February 22, 2010

The Big Play: How to Hit Poulter's Soft Pitch Shot

Posted at 2:12 PM by Tom Patri

Who: Ian Poulter
What: 95-foot flop shot to six inches for a birdie
When: 33rd hole of the final at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Where: 343-yard par-4 15th hole at Ritx Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, Ariz.

Ian-poulter-big-play I don’t like the term “flop shot.” It makes people get too handsy because they think they need to make radical, flippy hand motions to get the ball airborne. That makes amateurs tend to dig the leading edge of the club either into the turf and hit it fat, or they smack the leading edge into the ball and hit a skull.

Instead, I call the shot an “elevated pitch.” The key is to understand that the bounce, or flange, on the bottom of the wedge is your best friend. The bounce makes the club skid or slide along the turf and under the ball, propelling it up with a high and soft trajectory.

In the mid-90s, I spent time with Seve Ballesteros around a practice green and he taught me about the elevated pitch. Seve pointed out how it’s essential to do two things with the shot at address: weaken the left hand grip and open the clubface a lot. Then take a normal stance and a regular swing, but be sure to make an offensive action by accelerating the club through impact. With a solid strike, the ball will slide up the face, rather than being compressed, and it’ll come off soft, like Poulter’s ball did at 15.

There’s no secret drill to learn the elevated pitch. You’ve just got hit tons of practice shots to get used to having the weak left hand grip and the club wide open at address.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Tom Patri runs the TP Golf Schools in Naples, Fla.

(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

February 16, 2010

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs straightens out your swing

Posted at 10:32 AM by Brady Riggs

Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online LIVE at noon Eastern to answer your questions, review your swing videos and help you improve your game. (Remember: He'll answer questions with videos first!) Leave a question in the comments area now to be first in line!

Thanks to everyone for your questions and videos. I am very sorry I couldn't get to everyone today. Please resubmit your question next week and I promise to get to it. Thanks again for checking in this morning and I look forward to seeing some new vids next week.

As we move on this morning I want to give special thanks to Marc and Fred at JC Video for all their help with my digital video motion analysis software. They have some amazing products for both professionals and amateurs who want to improve through fact and not feel.

Tim M. asks at 1:35:

My misses tend to be fat and a fade, slice shot. I feel like I have a good back swing, but then I lift and come over the top at the start of the downswing. Any suggestions on improving my swing are greatly appreciated.

Tim, that is the coolest video we have received here on the blog, congrats on the creativity and missing the car and telephone poll.

Here is the problem with your motion. Your grip and set-up position isn't bad. You are what we call a classic front foot pivoter. In other words, you have absolutely no weight moving away from the target on the backswing as all of your motion occurs over your foot. There are several problems with this type of pivot. The most glaring issue is that because you never moved anything away from the target going back you cant move anything to the target coming down, it is already there! This forces you to begin the downswing with a spin instead of a slight shift or bump to the target. The bump not only produces more power, it helps the arms and club come down instead of out and over producing a more inside attack to impact. I have included a picture of Davis Love III to help you see the lateral motion that must occur to the target if you are to improve your swing. The yellow line near his left ear was against his ear at the address showing you the lateral motion present in the backswing. I have put a green line against his hip to illustrate the bump necessary to create a better path to the ball on the downswing.

Brady-top

Continue reading "Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs straightens out your swing" »

February 15, 2010

Big Play: Sink putts with confidence like David Duval

Posted at 3:45 PM by John Elliott Jr.

Who:David Duval
What: 12-foot birdie putt for share of the lead
Where: 178-yard par 3 17th hole at Pebble Beach
When: Final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

David-duval-big-play_300 David Duval has long been golf’s biggest enigma. He used to be a superstar with fully exempt Tour status, but now he’s a former star with no exempt status so he needs sponsor exemptions to get in tournaments. Recently, Duval has shown signs that he might end his decade-long slump. He tied for second at last year’s U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, and last week at the 2010 U.S. Open venue Duval had another runner-up finish. Were those near victories flukes? I don’t think so. My money says that Duval is back.

Top golfers are among the most competitive athletes in sports, and they never lose that competitiveness. Some players, including Duval, fade away from golf for reasons including burnout, boredom, a change in personal priorities or trying too hard. Duval experienced all of those things and more. Now, though, Duval seems to have his life and mind in order, so his mind has refocused itself on the challenge of competing at golf.

Duval’s advantage with his latest comeback is confidence, especially on the greens. Duval has always been a premier ballstriker, but his he was often not sharp on the greens because he didn’t believe in himself. He had a sour attitude and he beat himself up.

At Pebble Beach, Duval, who finished just one shot behind the winner, appeared to exude assurance and calm on the greens and he putted like a star. (He ranked fifth in putts per GIR and 18th in putts per round.) I think Duval will contend again when the U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach in June.

The Drill:

My favorite drill to build confidence on the greens is a game called Four-Six-Ten. To play, find a hole in a flat part of a green. Make a mark with chalk or a tee four feet away from the hole. Then make two more marks six and 10 feet away. The three distance marks can be on the same line, but they don’t have to be. The goal is to make 10 four-footers, six six-footers and four 10-footers with just 20 putts. When you can do that, you’re a hell of a putter. To up the difficulty choose lines with more break.

Over time, look for patterns in which length putts you make the most and the least. The results will tell you what type of putts need the most work.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher John Elliott is the director of instruction at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club in Ocala, Fla.

(Photo: Todd Bigelow/SI)

February 08, 2010

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs answers your questions

Posted at 1:32 PM by Brady Riggs

Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online LIVE at noon Eastern to answer your questions, review your swing videos and help you improve your game. (Remember: He'll answer questions with videos first!) Leave a question in the comments area now to be first in line!

Thanks to everyone for your great questions and videos. This was a really good blog this week and I feel like it keeps getting better. I look forward to next week...

Charl asks at 1:20:

Brady, why does someone like Phil, with all his talent, consistently struggle with losing the ball right? After the U.S. Open that he threw away, you would think that he would have fixed it immediately. Yet even Butch doesn't seem to be helping him with his driving accuracy. One tournament he is straight, the next two he is wild.

What is up with his swing that causes this? If you had the chance to coach Phil, how would you go about solving his driving problems?

Let me start by saying that I respect Butch a great deal and think he does an excellent job working with each player's individual strengths and weaknesses without imposing any "methodology" of his own on their golf swing. If more teachers adopted this philosophy when dealing with students, more people would play better golf.

Phil has three things going against him when it comes to accuracy. First, he has a great deal of clubhead speed, which magnifies small mistakes with the driver. Players who hit it shorter can be just as off technically and still hit the fairway because they lack his power. Second, Phil has been this way forever so making changes can be very challenging. Finally, and this is the root cause, he was the victim of some very bad golf instruction early in his career. I will not name the teacher but let's just say that the amount of respect I have for Butch is equal to the amount of disdain I have for this teacher. The problems in Phil's technique should have been addressed long ago and weren't.

When it comes to what I would work on, it isn't far from what Butch seems to be doing. I would tighten up the length of the swing a bit by getting his legs underneath him better throughout the swing. I would like to see him more vertical with his body at impact with less hanging back and a more stable front leg. These aren't new ideas but would most certainly improve his ability to hit fairways more consistently.

Marc asks at 1:10:

Johnny Miller was saying how he thinks that Steve Stricker's swing is the swing of the future. Do you agree?

The thing I noticed that I don't like is that it seems like Stricker disconnects his upper right arm from his body very early on his backswing. I don't know if this is serious or not or would lead to compensations later in his swing.

Always interested to hear your thoughts?

I refuse to give my completely honest opinion about Johnny Miller so let me hold back a little and say he isn't my favorite. Steve Stricker's strength is in his overall game and even more specifically his putting. His ball striking has improved dramatically and last year he moved up to seventh on tour in that category. I think his golf swing is solid, effective, and would be a fine model for most people to emulate and steal from.

His upper left arm does rotate off his body early creating a flatter shaft alignment going back than many players. This makes the shape of his swing a "uni-plane" which is very effective. Is it revolutionary? NO! Is it unique and groundbreaking? NO! Is Johnny Miller a complete novice when it comes to swing theory and where the game is going? No comment!

Hwang-jae asks at 1:00:

After flooding rains and heaps of snow I developed a hook problem, and when I checked my setup and swing path into the ball everything was all wrong. Also I had excessive secondary tilt on the downswing. I think it's due to my ball position creeping back in my stance. (maybe parallax's fault?) To keep it short my questions are...
1. Should I have the butt end of my club pointing at my left zipper seam, or could you have the butt end in the middle?
2. Left arm during setup: I noticed mine is bent slightly and was wondering if it should make a straight line? (I can also hyper-extend my arms past straight so should I do that or keep it straight, or is a slight bent OK?
3. I slide on the downswing causing horrendous tilt (worse than Brad Faxon's). My left leg is noticeably bent at impact out toward the target, possibly due to the tilt. If I rotate--and not slide--I feel like I'm not transferring weight, and am swinging out-to-in, but I dont think I am. Does the weight transfer during the real swing because the swing is in motion?


I know it's a lot and I don't have a video and I am working on it......maybe next week!

Let's see what I can do here. You can have the handle pointed at either the seam or in the middle at address. The effect is that the more the handle leans forward the more the clubhead will go inside in the takeaway. The left arm should be relaxed in the address position so I would always prefer it to be slightly bent vs stiff. I will tell you that the upper left arm should be on top of the left pec and not to the side of it. When it comes to the secondary axis tilt becoming excessive there are several causes. The most common is the excessive slide of the left hip while the upper body leans back away from the target. I would like to see your left shoulder, hip, knee, hands and club over the left foot at impact. Here is a picture of Anthony Kim in that alignment at impact. Notice the difference between the set-up position on the left and the impact on the right. The yellow line is on the outside of the left shoulder at address and running through the arm at impact. Just pose these two positions and you will feel the difference.

Ak
Send me some video when you get a chance so I can give you some specific advice.


Noah asks at 12:40:

I've participated in a couple previous blogs looking for help regarding a narrow, across-the-line backswing and a loss of "tush line" as you call it on the downswing. You've given me some great advice, but I still struggle with those faults. I suffer from all kinds of misses, mostly high hooks and high pushes. Lots of shots on the toe and some thin, distance is not a problem.

I finally got around to getting my swing on camera. Attached are two links with a driver and a 5 iron.


Any insight on a path to success would be appreciated.

Noah, it's all about the tush line for you. Your lack of space through impact makes the shaft get very upright, restricts the proper release of your hands and arms, and kills any chance of proper hip rotation. The club looks OK going to the top in terms of width and alignment but the major issue is your inability to keep your space away from the ball.

If I had you on my lesson tee I would make you go the opposite direction. In other words, I would get you too close to the ball with your weight completely in your toes at address and teach you to go into your right heel going back and your left heel going through.

If you don't exaggerate the fix you are going to struggle with this issue for a long time. Forget about the other small things in your swing you don't like and get on top of this right away. Check out this really good-looking guy at set-up and impact and you will see I maintain the line because my setup is effective. Check out the angle of my lower legs at address and then look at yours. Send me the new stuff from the Target line view ASAP.

Tush line

Steve asks at 12:25:

Hi Brady,
Love your blog. I have been working on a few things since the advice you gave me earlier on 1/1/10.
I have weakened my right hand, attempting to get the right index first knuckle more on the side, trying to get the clubface more open and parallel to the left forearm at the top. I have also tried getting more into the balls of my feet at address (posted links below). The good news is the hooks are gone, but I am still frequently blocking with occasional shanks. I am really struggling to get the shaft at transition pointing outside the ball on the target view. Are there more things I can fix in my setup or is this more of a dynamic problem in need of drills? Thanks!
Steve




Ben from the 80's asks at 12:10:

Brady,
Thank you so much for the feedback. I'm amazed at your diligence in taking the time to respond to these inquiries. I'm the guy from last week who swings like an 80s golfer. Unfortunately I was born in 1982 and I'm only 27. Needless to say I taught myself on old Golf Digest issues and the Nicklaus book. Anyway, here is an updated swing that feels so much better with a more centered turn and starting position. Basically I try to feel like Rickie Fowler with a bowed-out leg starting position and try to feel like I'm hitting a fade and it seems to work. Let me know what else I could work on.


The fact that you learned from old magazines and Nicklaus' book makes perfect sense, Ben. BTW, the Tiger-esque club twirl at the finish is a bit flashy for me. I prefer the old Hogan drop and step back. I think your swing looks really good and matches your desired left-to-right ball flight. If a fade is what you desire I would keep things where they are. My only concern is for your lower back over the long run because of your low right shoulder and side bend at the finish. The problem is that if you change your finish and become more upright the ball flight would be more likely to move from right-to-left. The key at this point is to monitor the health of your back and weigh that with the shape of your shots. I have included a couple of pictures at the finish of Darren Clarke and Chad Campbell to help you see the differences. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing the swing with a real ball outside (and without the twirl of course).

Eric asks at 12:00:

Back with video for next week! It still lacks a little bit of speed -- I go from parallel behind the ball on the downswing to parallel in front of the ball on the release -- but it has a lot more than the camera I tried to use last week. The first swing down-the-line with the iron was a complete shank, the rest were fades/pushes/slices. I noticed I fell back into swaying my hips laterally on the backswing too much again -- does anything else jump out at you?


Thanks for the new video Eric. You are correct that your hips are moving laterally too much on the backswing. This makes it very difficult to get the club to attack the ball on the proper path coming down. I think I have sent you to my swing site to show you the backswing pivot of Davis Love III. If you haven't, please check that out at www.redgoat.smugmug.com. Here is a picture of the proper location of the right hip in the address position and then at the top of the backswing. Look at the space his right hip has created away from the line from where it began.

Lovepivot
When it comes to the rest of your swing, you are sitting back in your heels too much in the address and I would like to see you more up on top of the balls of your feet. Your right hand is placed too far under the handle with your grip in an excessively strong position making the clubface closed at the top. The problem with the closed clubface is that it causes you to hold on too much through impact to keep the ball from going left. The slice is caused by the poor path related to your hip turn and the lack of release caused by the strong grip. The shank comes from your weight moving toward your toes during the swing, making you too close to the ball with your body at impact.

Start with the changes at address, work on your hip turn and you will see better results quickly.


The Big Play: How to split the fairway like Steve Sticker

Posted at 10:33 AM by T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D.

Steve-stricker-big-play Who: Steve Stricker
What: 268-yard drive into the fairway
Where: 475-yard par 4 18th hole at Riviera
When: Final round of the Northern Trust Open

Johnny Miller is the best TV analyst in the game, but he’s not always correct. One of Miller’s biggest mistakes has been his analysis during the last few years of Steve Stricker’s rejuvenated driving game. Miller has said on multiple occasions that Stricker went from being one of the Tour’s worst drivers (190th in accuracy in 2003) to one of the best (22nd in 2010) because Stricker reduced his wrist cock in his backswing to less than 90 degrees.

According to Miller, this reduced wrist-cock gives Stricker less movement of the club and his body, which makes it easier for him to control his swing.  Miller’s reasoning is accurate, but the problem is that Stricker cocks his wrists to at least 90 degrees on full-power swings with the driver.

Sticker learned to control his driver and hit more fairways by quieting down his body, especially in the backswing. He learned to keep his upper body still and rotate back and through around his spine, instead of the excess body motions that used to throw him off balance. Stricker actually sets the club beautifully, and his full wrist-cock gives him the angle a player needs to generate not only power but also accuracy.

Stricker demonstrated his driving prowess with the Northern Trust title on the line. Holding to a two-shot lead at 18, Stricker piped a drive down the left side of the fairway that set up a ho-hum par to clinch the victory.

How You Can Do It:
Here’s a drill that will teach you to cock your wrists at least 90 degrees in the backswing. Stick an extra-long tee in the butt end of your driver grip and address a ball. Then start your backswing. When your front arm is parallel to the turf in your backswing, the tee should point directly down at the target line. If it does, then your wrists are correctly cocked at 90-degrees.

Take a closer look at Steve Stricker's swing

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher T.J. Tomasi teaches at the PGA Learning Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

(Photo: Chris Condon/Getty Images)

February 02, 2010

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs helps you reach the next level

Posted at 9:50 AM by Brady Riggs

Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online LIVE at noon Eastern to answer your questions, review your swing videos and help you improve your game.

Sorry about those I couldn't get to today, I am off to Riviera to help with an article about Ricky Fowler's golf swing. Should be fun. Will see you guys next week. Have a good one!

James Blake asks at 12:55:

What's your views on the grip pressure of the right index finger (of a right-handed golf). Should it be wrapped under the club like the other fingers or like Ben Hogan (in Five Lessons) be short of off on the side of the grip? Thanks.

I am not a fan of thinking about grip pressure during the swing. I use the analogy of throwing a ball. To tight a grip and you can't produce speed, too loose and the ball flies out of your hand. The alignment of the index finger is critical. The middle knuckle should be on the side of the handle and not under it. Here is a picture of Charles Howell III's grip and an arrow showing the proper location of the index finger.

Continue reading "Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs helps you reach the next level" »

February 01, 2010

The Big Play: How to drive it like Phil (Not!)

Posted at 5:26 PM by Steve Bosdosh

Phil-mick-farm-ship-2_299 Who: Phil Mickelson
What: Lost ball in a eucalyptus tree after a badly sliced drive
When: Third round of the Farmers Insurance Open
Where: 462-yard par-4 seventh hole at Torrey Pines

Phil Mickelson has always been a poor driver. His swing is built to generate speed and he hits it a mile, but his very loose, long and handsy swing makes him wild. In fact, he’s never ranked higher than 160th in driving accuracy. Last week at the Farmers, Mickelson could have won if he didn't have so much trouble with his driver. (His 41.1 percent driving accuracy ranked 75th of 78 players). Perhaps the worst of Mickelson’s wild drives came on the seventh hole Saturday, when he blocked it dead left (just like he did on 18 at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot) and the ball got lost in a tree. Working with Butch Harmon, Mickelson has tightened up his swing a bit. But as he demonstrated last week, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. I don’t think Mickelson will ever make substantial gains, however, unless he changes his go-for-broke gambler’s style of play. Doing that might help Mickelson’s driving, but it could ruin his overall approach to the game, so I don’t think he’ll make this adjustment.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR DRIVING
Most players swing too hard with a driver, causing them to lose their balance and hit stray shots. Here’s a good drill to tone down your driver action: Try to swing with the same speed on the downswing as you use in the backswing. Doing that isn’t realistic, because you’ll never swing as slowly as you think. But attempting to slow down will throttle you back to where you want to be with the driver, which is about 75 percent of your capacity.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Steve Bosdosh is the director of instruction at the Members Club at Four Streams in Beallsville, Md.

(Photo: Robert Beck/SI)


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