Archive: April 2010

« March 2010 | Main | May 2010 »

April 27, 2010

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs is here to fix your game

Posted at 10:06 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online today to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos. 

Thanks to everyone for your questions. We will see you again next week on the Tuesday Instruction Blog. Have a great week!

Ed asks at 12:55:

I'm a single-digit handicap, but my swing path is too much inside-out. I tend to hang back on my right side and swing my arms, causing thin shots, blocks, or snap hooks. As such I can't get a long iron into the air (no compression). I'm trying to get my weight shifted onto my left side on the downswing to straighten everything out, but it's difficult. Any suggestions/drills I could try?

Ed, you have what I call the "good players' miss." This issue of coming excessively from the inside, hanging back, hitting thin shots, blocks, and hooks is the domain of the good player. You have learned how to attack from the proper angle where most recreational players are coming in too steep, but you have overdone it.

If you were on my lesson tee I would get you the proper feeling quickly by taking a stick and holding it low just above your hands pointing outside your left foot in the address position. I would have you hit one while I held the stick there, moving it out of the way just before impact. Because you would be fearful of your hands hitting the stick you would get more over your left foot at impact and swing your arms and club more left as you move to the finish. This works really well on the first swing and loses its effectiveness as you do it more because you know I won't let your hands hit the stick. 

The point is that because you are a good player once you get the feeling of where you need to go as you strike the ball it is easier to do on your own. If I can get a player to make a profound change in their motion without giving you advice about specific body parts but instead give you a general idea and new feel we are on our way.

If I were in your shoes right now, I would try to hit some low, left-to-right shots with a 7-iron for a few dozen balls on the range. This will help reshape your lines coming down to a more neutral attack and help you get your full swing back on track without thinking about too many details. Once you can hit the low cut, go back to hitting normal shots and you should be able to feel a change and see a difference in your misses.

If you get a chance send me your swing on video so I can give you some more individual advice.

JP asks at 12:45:

Brady.... Continued thanks for the help!! Look for some clarification... in simpler terms...lol..

What is a diagonal weight shift? (See your comment below)

What should be the position of the hips at impact? (somewhat open, definitely not parallel to the target line??)

"When you start the downswing your weight should be moving parallel to the target line, not diagonally between the ball and the target line. If the weight moves diagonally, the right hip (left handed player) fails to rotate properly and buries the club inside."

Check out the answer I just gave to the question below and you will get a better understanding, I hope, of how the diagonal happens. To answer the question about the hips at impact they should be somewhat open. How much depends upon your flexibility and the type of shot shape you are trying to create. I would tell you many golfers worry way too much about getting their hips open more than they should. A little bit can go a long way...

Matt asks at 12:30:

What is the best way to maintain the Tush Line, and spine angle through impact? I know I see photos of pro golfers and their legs are different at impact because of the hips rotating more than the shoulders through impact, but they are able to maintain that spine angle. I have issues with this because I am plagued with a few topped shots per round, telling me that I am coming up out of my swing early and my tush is getting closer to the ball.

Also, do you recommend a flared left foot at address like Ben Hogan emphasized, or square to the target. I play with pretty square to the target line, both feet. I am curious if it would be easier to maintain a tush line with a flared left foot or not.

Let's deal with your feet first. The important thing at address is that your feet are in a position that enables you to move athletically and create enough rotation in the body both going back and coming through. The problem with putting one foot square and flaring the other is that it helps one half of the swing and hurts the other. Here is an example taking the Hogan illustration you mentioned. If your left foot is flared and your right is straight you've have made it more difficult to rotate on the backswing than on the forward swing. This is generally not a good idea for the recreational golfer who lacks rotation going back and spins the upper body to start the downswing. When it comes to both flared or both straight it depends upon your flexibility. If you are like most players a little flare with both feet will help you achieve enough rotation on the backswing and the downswing. If you look at the pictures I just put up of Anthony Kim in the address position with an iron and a driver you will see his feet are pointing very straight. This works well for him because he is in extremely good physical condition, strong and flexible, and doesn't need any help rotating.

I have discussed the Tush Line many times in blog and posted numerous pictures. If you go back and look at past blogs you can read my descriptions of how the specifics work and check out the illustrations I provided. I will give you these general ideas about how it works. Always keep in mind that your weight will go where it ISN'T during the swing. In other words, if you start in your heels you will attempt to find balance as you swing and move to your toes. Many people try to fix the Tush line by starting and staying in the heels. This is a sure fire way to fail because your weight will move more to the front of your shoes as you swing taking you off the line. To make sure you keep the line going back the weight should start more towards the front of your shoes and move into the back heel as you make the backswing. This will insure that you keep the line to the top of the swing.

If you lose the line coming down you have a different issue. The hips are pointed to the right of the target if you have turned properly at the top of the swing. If they start the downswing and move in the direction they are pointed, you will come away from the line. Here is the trick, they can stay turned, shift or bump to the target, and still move PARALLEL to the target line. This means they aren't getting closer to the target line even though they are maintaining some turn as they shift. Once you understand WHEN you are losing the line, you will be able to start improving it.

Sam asks at 12:15:

I am a high school golfer, who has been struggling with my driver. I normally miss right with my driver, and left with my irons. My normal driver shot goes 250 yards, but normal nine iron goes 150. How can i get more distance with my driver? i don't mind long and crooked, i only mind short and crooked.

I need a bit more information from you, Sam, to really be able to help you out, preferably a video, but I will give you a couple of ideas. The 9-iron distance you mention is very long when compared to your driver distance. This combined with your lack of control off the tee leads me to believe the clubface has become very closed. This would explain your combination of long short-irons and wild, short drives. When the short irons are going a long way in many cases you are hitting them with less loft then they were designed with. This makes them fly farther. Unfortunately, when you hit a driver with less loft it goes shorter and reduces the amount of backspin, replacing it with sidespin. This is why the driver goes both shorter and more wild.

I would suggest you take a good look at your grip and make sure your hands are on the club properly. If they are, take a hard look at the position of your left wrist at the top of the backswing, if it is bowed excessively it can be the source of your clubface problems. You can go to my site at www.redgoat.smugmug.com and check out the "fundamentals" section with the title "grip types" to see a bunch of pictures. Send in some video if you can so I can be more specific...

Ben asks at 12:05:

Sorry for no video, swing is going through adjustments. Just had a set-up question, which is most of the battle anyway. Do you agree with the Reverse K set up for the driver and playing the ball inside the left heel/just below the shirt logo? Was watching the Golf Channel last night and Michael Breed recommended a 60/40 weight distribution but opposite on the halves. So 60 front/40 back on the lower body and (theoretically) 60 back/40 front for the upper body. I know you like a swing that covers the ball a la Lee Westwood, so I was wondering if you think this set-up could accomplish that goal? My thought was that it would accomplish two things with a driver which is, helping the tilt on the back swing and helping the shift on the downswing if done correctly.

Good questions, Ben. Let me take these in order. The ball should be played under the left armpit for the driver. This helps to ensure that the club has reached the bottom of the arc before making contact with the ball, a must for making good contact and reducing backspin. The width of your stance may or may not get the ball inside the left heel, which is why I don't like to use that as a reference.

I don't agree with the 60/40 weight thing. With the ball more forward in the stance, the feet farther apart and the shoulders remaining square to the target line, there will be some tilt away from the target. This tilt is advantageous and will be helpful with the driver. I don't see a need to feel more weight in one foot to achieve the proper address position. Here are a couple of pics to help visualize. 

Tilt2

Doug asks at 12:00:

Last week I sent in some videos, and you told me that my main flaw was losing power from my left foot as I started my downswing. In other words, I shift my weight back off my left foot somewhat as I take the club back, but it doesn't all come back to the left foot by the time I'm swinging down. You showed me some pics of Anthony Kim and how his hands don't even drop down until his weight is back on his left foot. After re-watching my videos, I see exactly what you're talking about, but it's really hard to get a feeling for. Any drills or thoughts on what I can work on to fix this? Thanks!

I am glad you understand what you need to work on, Doug. Sometimes when you are working with a player, you need to first teach them WHAT to do differently with their swing, then teach them WHEN to do it. This is the difficult part of learning to change elements of your technique that occur during the transition from backswing to downswing. Now that you understand that your weight must get more into your right foot before it can work to the left, the WHEN of this move becomes critical. The fact is that regardless of the length of your backswing or the speed of your motion you must start your weight back to the target before your arms and club. This is the proper sequence and is a must if you are to be successful.

As you may or may not know, I am not a big fan of drills. However, I am a big fan of doing things very slowly and in different sections when you are learning. I am a big believer that if you can't do it slow, you will never do it fast. Take all the speed out of your swing and learn by trial and error when it feels most athletic to get the weight going to the target. This will take many swings and plenty of time so be patient with yourself.

April 20, 2010

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs is here to fix your game

Posted at 10:54 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday afternoon to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos. 

Thanks to everyone for the great questions and videos. I look forward to hearing and seeing the improvements in the weeks to come. Thanks again to the staff at JC Video for providing me with the software that brings the lessons to life. See everyone next week!

Sam asks at 1:25:

How do you teach your students to fade the ball? Stance, release, clubface alignment or grip?

That is a very good question, Sam. The fact is there are a number of different ways to fade the ball. It is really the player and his or her personal mechanics that will determine which is the best method. There is the traditional way of weaker grip, slightly open stance and swing away. There are those that like to take the same grip, aim slightly left and hold on a bit through impact. Lee Trevino said he liked to STRENGTHEN his grip -- that's right make it stronger -- and then try to hit a big slice, figuring he couldn't overdo it that way. Then there is Tiger's method of standing slightly closer, moving the ball forward in his stance and aiming slightly left.

The fact is there are many ways to do it. If you weaken the grip and open the face you will lose distance. For this reason I prefer to stay away from that with the longer clubs. The better players tend to change the address position slightly and make subtle changes to the swing. This is probably the preferred method to eliminate the loss of distance. I would mess around on the range with all of the above and figure out what works best for you.

Mike asks at 1:00:

I’ve been following your column for a while. It’s very helpful to my game by applying concepts such as tush line and hitting the ball inside back. I have tendency to move down my head and hit the ball on the heel. Any advice on how to fix this? Thanks so much.

Thanks for the video and kind words, Mike. There are several things you could do to improve your motion. First, your right thumb appears to be on the top of the handle. This needs to change or the clubface will remain in the closed position it is currently in, making it impossible to improve your release through impact. I will include a picture of the proper grip at the bottom of this answer. Next, your posture is too upright in the set-up making it impossible to maintain during the swing. The funny thing about the swing is that if you start too tall, you will shrink; too far away, you will get closer; too straight in the legs, they will bend; and on and on it goes.

Once the clubface position has been fixed with your grip and your posture has improved, you need to keep the arms from becoming too separated from each other at the top of the backswing. This will give your swing more structure, less moving parts and more consistency. Here are a few pictures to help you along...

Sometimes I have trouble getting it into the "slot" on the downswing. When I FEEL like I am dropping it down, I am actually slightly over the top or my swing plane become too upright. Any drills to help with this? One thing that I like to work on is to feel like I'm sticking my right elbow into my side. Thanks for the help!

I am not a big fan of trying to manage body parts on the downswing. If you have made a good pivot to the top of the backswing and started down with a slight lateral bump of the body toward the target without spinning, your right arm should move down in front of the hip without trying to tuck it in to the side. The fact that it isn't where you "feel" like it is doesn't surprise anyone who has played this dumb game for any period of time. Where you "feel" like you are and where you actually are is a problem players on all levels work on. I would go back and make sure your hips are turning sharply going back and then moving in the direction of the target, while still turned, as you start the downswing. This will help get the club on the proper path without manipulating the right arm.

Jan asks at 12:35:

Jan here again. Continued to work on my swing and now I think it looks really good. One thing you hardly can see in the video below is that the clubface is shut in the beginning of my takeaway (when the shaft is parallell to the target line the first time so to say). I fix this on the top and coming down but it bugs me. Should it be that way? To fix that I would either have to weaken my grip or rotate my arms clockwise which I think would lead to real inconsistencies in my ballstriking/timing. What do you say, is it even a problem?

General comments on the swing much appreciated as well!

Here's some footage from the range and the course:

Jan, those were some very entertaining videos. I did see the face a bit closed in the takeaway but it isn't a big issue. I am curious about your bad shots. If they are a combination of pushes and hooks then I would want you to weaken your left hand. Your grip is strong to be sure, but it should only be adjusted to a more neutral position if you are losing control of the ball. There have been many professionals making millions with grips as strong as yours. I will tell you that your arms and hands get a bit too far behind you as you are halfway back during the backswing. This is caused partially from the closed clubface in the takeaway and does lead to the club getting across the line slightly at the top. When combined with a fairly high exit of the club after impact it wouldn't surprise me if the shots you miss weren't blocked and hooked.

I really like your ability to get around to a full finish. It looks very similar to that of Annika Sorenstam, whose swing I really like. Overall, I want to know a bit more about your bad shots so I can help steer you in the right direction. I have attached a picture of the halfway back position so you can see where neutral is compared to your deeper spot. 

Stensontop

Andrew asks at 12:20:

I am a relatively low handicapper who has been hitting sky shots or straight blocking the ball with an excessive amount of loft. Some of my colleagues joke that the ball goes higher than distance. Do I need to get more active with my right hand? Or any tips on helping me turn on the ball. Thanks for the help

From your description of your shots it sounds like you are both ahead of the ball and steep. The simple solution is to create more tilt away from the target at the address with the feeling that the back shoulder is both down and closed to the target from its current position. This will make it easier for the head to remain behind the ball on the downswing and encourage a more shallow angle of attack into impact. It is always easier to change the address position first and see if you can create the desired effect without changing the swing.

Doug asks at 12:10:


I finally got some video of my swing. Could you please take a look at it and tell me what I can work on? I have included an iron and driver swing. With my irons, my main miss is either a straight push or a thin hit. With the driver, I've gotten much better, but my main miss is a hook. Thanks for the help!

Iron:

Driver:

Thanks for the videos, Doug. I think the swing looks pretty good. There is nothing awful going on and you should be hitting some good shots. There are two areas I think you should focus on. First, your pivot is a bit off in the "when" of things. Here's what I mean: Your left leg and specifically your left foot is losing weight as you approach the top of the backswing. Instead of beginning the downswing with an aggressive move into your front foot before the club reaches the top, you are moving more away from the target as your backswing is completed. You need to feel as if your stepping into a throw as you would in baseball or stepping into a forehand in tennis. Your weight should always move toward the target before your arms and club.

While the timing of your pivot will increase your power and help you hit the ball more solidly, the second issue will remove the hook, block and thin shots. You need to get the club aligned more properly at the top of the backswing. With the club pointing "across the line" or to the right of your hands at the top, your tendency will be to get the club coming down on an excessively inside path. This is the cause of the blocks, hooks and thin shots. Here are a couple of pictures to help:

JP asks at 12:00:

Hi Brady, I posted last week and you recommended standing closer to the ball and taller to try to maintain my posture/tush line. Here are a couple of new swings. I tried to stand closer and more upright. It looks like I drift backwards on the backswing now and still get the club way flat on the downswing. Did I make any improvements? What thoughts do you have now?


Thanks for the new videos. The address position looks much better and you have made progress with your posture on the backswing. The reason the club gets stuck inside on the downswing is because your hips are working diagonal as you approach impact. Stick with me for a second as this is going to get a bit technical. When you start the downswing your weight should be moving parallel to the target line, not diagonally between the ball and the target line. If the weight moves diagonally, the right hip (left handed player) fails to rotate properly and buries the club inside. If the right hip rotates back towards the tush line, the chest can begin to face the target and the club works more "out" to the proper path.

The basic idea here is that you need to maintain contact with the "Tush Line" going back and coming down. When you lose the line on the backswing, your address position is faulty. You have fixed that problem so the next step is the proper rotation coming down. I have included some images to help you. 

April 15, 2010

Live chat with Dave Pelz: Thanks for all the questions!

Posted at 8:33 PM by Dave Pelz

Short-game guru Dave Pelz was online Friday to answer your questions. Scroll down to the comments field below to see what he had to say. Thanks for the great turnout!

Contest: What's Your Major? Win an in-person lesson!

April 13, 2010

Anger is the impediment Tiger needs to remove

Posted at 3:36 PM by Carol Preisinger

Springtime at the Masters, and the wind wasn't the only thing bringing impediments to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. Like all of us, pro golfers have to jump hurdles every day in life, the kind that are not so loose and easily brushed aside.

Freddie has his back issues, Phil carries concerns about his wife's health, and Tiger brings his history of, well, all of that. These issues can't be tossed aside so easily like a piece of pine tree in the line of a putt. As Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf, the wonder of the Masters became clouded by doubt for some, and sprinkled with hope for others. But the skies quickly gave way to warmth and sunshine as golf fans welcomed him back with few penalties.

The question that began this Masters was, "Will humiliation impede Tiger's mental game?" It didn't, but his temper did. Anger creates stress, stress creates tension, and tension impedes motion. Phil didn't appear too upset when a pollen stamen, out of nowhere, landed in his line and deflected his birdie putt on No. 3. If that happened to Tiger, we might have heard, "G-----it, pollen, you s---!"

Many players compete every week while dealing with challenges. It's tough to empty your  head and make the gremlins go away, but if Tiger truly has a clear conscience now, free of all impediments, he should be able to  leave behind the outbursts we've come to know him for.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said it best: "His future will never again be measured only by his performance against par but by the sincerity of his efforts to change." Please, Tiger, as part of your transformation, learn to accept the bad shots and show some control on the golf course. It will help the fans believe in you again, and it will help your game, too.

Come on, Tiger, learn from your behavior, and stay away from the hazards -- after all, you can't remove loose impediments in there.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Carol Preisinger is director of instruction at the Kiawah Golf Club in Kiawah Island, S.C.

The Big Play: How to Hit Legendary Shots Like Phil Mickelson

Posted at 10:58 AM by Brad Redding

Phil-mickelson-theshot_660x
Who:
Phil Mickelson
What: 205-yard 6-iron to four feet
When: Final round of the Masters
Where: 510-yard par-5 13th hole at Augusta National

Mickelson is not as all-out aggressive as he used to be. You could see that in the final round of the Masters when he just tried to finish the front nine around par so he would be in contention on the back nine, where he knew he could go low. Also, his second shot at 13 was not as crazy as it looked on TV. He had a perfect lie in the pine straw, with his ball sitting up, and the gap between the trees was bigger than it appeared. In fact, the gap was so big, at least in Mickelson's eyes, that he nonchalantly approached the shot and never debated whether he'd go for the green.

Add in the fact that he hit a 6-iron, and there wasn't too much risk. The key to hitting off pine straw is judging the lie. If the lie is good and the ball is sitting up, you need to catch the shot a bit thin to ensure a solid shot. That's because with the ball sitting up, you have to make sure that you don't hit down in the straw and below the ball. To catch it a bit thin, the swing should be a bit shallower and more rounded than normal. Groove that motion by making practice swings like you're swinging a baseball bat, so the club swings around your body. Then hit the shot.

If the ball is in a bad lie and nestled down in the straw, you need an extra-steep angle of attack. For this, take extra steep practice motions. Also, don't attempt a full shot. Hit a layup. It's common to catch these shots heavy, and the ball won't go as far as normal.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brad Redding is the director of instruction at the Resort Club at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Photo: Robert Beck/SI

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs is here to fix your game

Posted at 10:40 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady, he'll be back next Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. for a new Ask The Top 100 Live.

Thanks to everyone for submitting your questions and especially your videos. I would love to keep going but I have to get to the lesson tee. Special thanks to the guys at JC Video for all their support with the software, it brings teaching to life. If I didn't get to your question please ask again next week and get them in early!

Nick asks at 12:50:

Mr. Riggs,
I have trouble going past parallel at the top of the swing. My arms feel out of sync with my body on the backswing and my arms continue to move even when my shoulder turn stops. Do you have any tips to build more resistance in my backswing? I have tried limiting my hip turn/rotation by having knees pointed more toward the target line and flaring my left foot, however, I tend to come over the top too much with this and still go past parallel. I will try to upload a video for next week's blog.
Sorry, wanted to add something. What muscles, body parts should I be engaging/feeling on the backswing? I feel that my swing is more left sided and that I am pushing and turning my left shoulder on the backswing.

This is a good question, Nick, with an answer that will seem like I am being sarcastic, but hear me out. To stop the backswing sooner and kill the run on with your arms you just need to start the downswing sooner. I know this seems silly but it's true. Think of your arms as mindless, wandering fools going back. They are incapable of stopping until something stops them. Your body is the only thing that can do it. If your body moves back toward the target before your arms and the club have reached the top they will come down because the body is DRAGGING them down. Starting the club back away from the ball with your upper left arm, shoulder and chest as you have asked is a very good way to get things going. I would stick with that and add the missing piece of moving the body back toward the target earlier. This begins in the feet, works up through the legs and hips, transfers into the trunk and shoulders and eventually brings down the arms and club.

The transition should begin with the body just after the left arm is parallel to the ground going back. It will take a few frames on video for the arms to be "caught" by the body, so that is why you need to start early. Here is a couple pictures to help you see it.

Ta3

Travis asks at 12:48:

I'm having some trouble with my driving accuracy late in a round. I start out driving the ball nicely (although with less distance than I would like) but I then start slicing the ball most of the time, while occasionally hitting a straight pull to the left. I know without video it is hard to diagnose what is going on, but any possible tips on how to straighten that out would be great.

As the round progresses you may be getting fatigued making it difficult to turn your body as you were doing when the round began. Make sure you get the right shoulder to feel closed in the address position to give you a head start on the turn. Initiate the swing with your upper left arm and chest moving back and around together to help ensure your turn stays consistent. This will make it easier for the club to get to the inside coming down and help you get in a position where you can release properly through impact. A slice and a dead pull are twin sisters from the same ugly parent, an outside-in attack.

Tony asks at 12:35:

I have heard plenty of Tiger getting stuck now, and on the Golf Channel last night Faldo talked about the shoulder movement, how would you get Tiger unstuck?

Tiger isn't stuck! He is just the opposite. When he tries to hit a cut he hits either a dead pull (hole number 1) or a push slice (hole 11). When he tries to hook it he either snaps it (hole 5) or chunks it (hole 13). His has issues with his address, backswing, and his pivot that are preventing him from releasing the club correctly.

How is it that the best athlete ever to play the game who is without a doubt the smartest golfer who ever lived unable to fix a problem he said has been bothering him for years and years? He is working on the wrong things in the wrong way.

Stay tuned to golf.com tomorrow as I explain what is up with his swing and his chipping from a technical standpoint.

Hi Brady.... Thanks for all your helpful advice. Here are some new swings. This is a SW, 7-iroon and 3-wood. This longer the club the more I get the club behind me on the downswing, how do I avoid this? The 3-wood actually bottoms out behind the ball many times. I am also thinking my hands get to high on the backswing.



My pleasure, JP. We could deal with the swing, the bottoming out and the the club getting behind you. but we would be putting the cart before the horse as they say. ( I always wonder who "they" are.) You are the poster boy right now for needing to maintain your "tush line." Losing the line is why you stand up going back, it's why your arms are too high at the top, and it's why you are bottoming out on the downswing before you get to the ball. We need to get your address position in order before we proceed.

What is interesting is that your weight does appear to be toward the front of your shoes, which is correct. However, you are WAY TOO FAR from the ball and WAY TOO BENT OVER. We need to get you in the right spot before we do anything else. I want you to feel that you are TOO CLOSE to the ball at address with your weight toward the front of your shoes. If we get you in the right spot you will feel like you have to get further from the ball as you swing the club. In addition, if you feel like you are standing TOO TALL, you will increase the amount of squat during your swing, making you more powerful while giving your arms more room to get down in front of your hips. Here are some pictures of the proper address position and squat to give you the idea.

I am a avid reader of your blog and love your approach to the game. Your explanation of maintaining the "tush line" has resurrected my swing from near oblivion. I had been trying Jim Hardy's one-plane swing and was bending way too far. It was also stressing my back. As a middle-aged golfer with occasional lower-back issues, I am interested in your opinion of the limited-turn swing taught by Don Trahan, which takes swinging vertically to the extreme. His son D.J. seems to be doing well this year in a number of statistical categories and supposedly uses Don's swing, although D.J. appears to be closer to other golfers on tour than to Don in his swing mechanics. I look forward to reading your opinion. 

Thanks for the kind words, Tony, I really appreciate it. It is funny that you have mentioned two polar opposites in terms of styles between Hardy's "one plane" and Trahan's more vertical action. As you mentioned, his son is much more in the statistical middle when it comes to his swing. Since you have been reading the blog you know I am not a big fan of any "methodology" that says everyone can do it one way. Many people selling a product will try to convince the customer that they have the secret, the key, the answer to all their issues with a simple DVD and 3 easy payments of $39.99. This is why you don't see any products for sale by your blogger. When I find a product that makes sense and actually does what it says, I will endorse it. Until that time comes I will be teaching people the three most important issues when it comes to hitting a golf ball, getting the clubface to match their path while using the pivot to power the motion.

Tony, please send me a video so I can give you some specific advice for your golf swing. I promise I won't try to sell you a DVD or make you buy some amazing gadget.

Matt W. asks at 12:00:

Brady, Years ago you were very helpful with my son’s swing and you posted some suggestions on your website under Student Swings for M.W. He doesn’t get to play golf as much but he is starting to get back into the game and I was hoping you could take a look at his swing. I know he is steep in his transition but I’m not sure where to start first. His misses are usually on the toe and he has been blocking them to the right. I have had him look at some of your videos on youtube but any suggestions you would have on what he needs to do would be much appreciated. Here are his swings.

The first thing I would do is to get those knees spread out in the address. He is restricting any athletic motion starting with his legs pinched together. The steepness in his transition is related to the lack of lateral motion in his transition. He needs to get his hips going in the direction of the target as he starts down so the club can stay back and attack more from the inside. The toe contact and blocks come because the club can't go out anymore once it has reached the ball. It has done all of the out it will do in the start of the downswing. If you get the lateral to start down, the club will go out more at impact, allowing the contact to find the sweet spot and the clubhead to release properly. Please look at the pictures I just put up of Anthony Kim in the downswing and you will see where he is going wrong. I have also included a set-up picture to show you how the knees should look.

Kneeswide



Hope you enjoyed the Masters, although I don't see how you could not. As a fellow lefty, I am a huge fan of Phil's win.

One of the things that I struggle with in my swing is a steep, sometimes over-the-top attack, that is led by an excessive movement of my shoulders at the beginning of the downswing. As a result, my arms get too close to my body and cannot extend.

Therefore one of the things that I have been working on is trying to hold the upper-body back and swing from the inside. When I do it correctly I produce more of a draw flight and can really feel my arms extending. Any tips or swing-thoughts I can use to facilitate more of an inside to out attack on the ball?

The genesis of too steep is always in the address. If you look at the response I just gave to the previous question you will see I covered the need for the proper tilt away from the target and the subsequent good pivot that goes with it. The trick to attacking more from the inside coming down is always in the direction the hips move in the transition. The lead hip, in your case as a lefty your right hip, must move laterally to the target before it begins to rotate. If this is done properly the arms and club will stay back away from the target line as long as possible, allowing the attack to come more from the inside. A great way to feel this is to try to get the quad muscle (top of your leg) of your lead leg engaged for a while as you begin the downswing. This will keep the hips closed and prevent you from spinning too quickly. Here is a great sequence of Anthony Kim showing the proper loading of the front leg. (I made him left handed just for you!)

Kimdown

My problem is head drift toward the target on the downswing. I have tried to start the downswing with my lower body but still get my head moving forward first anyway. It actually starts just as I get to the top. When I try to hold my head back I end up staying back too long and my lead leg sags. I have also tried the shadow drill where I put a ball on the ground and try to keep the ball within the left 2 or 3 inches of my head shadow (I'm a lefty). That works well, but when I actually hit a ball it drifts anyway. This is a persistent problem and I would appreciate any drills that you can suggest. Thanks.

Dave, you are trying all the right things. One of the problems with trying to keep your head and upper body from moving too far toward the target line is that you will have the tendency to hang behind it too much. It is the happy medium you need to find. Keep in mind that the head can be in different positions based upon the club you are hitting. When the ball is played on the ground the bottom of the swing needs to be in front of the ball. This makes it OK for the head to move closer to the target at impact than it was at address. The driver requires impact to be on a flat spot, with no descending blow. This makes it necessary to move the ball farther up in the stance and keep the head more behind at impact. Here is a picture of Davis Love III and Anthony Kim showing the proper head position from start to finish using an iron and a driver.

Akdlimpact

The key to fix your issue begins in the address position with your tilt away from the target. Once you have established the proper tilt, you can pivot correctly going back. Your head should move slightly away from the target while your back hip turns sharply. This will maintain your tilt from address and put you in a position at the top where you can move aggressively to the target. Here is a picture of the proper pivot going back. 

Khuenepivot 

Give this a shot and let me know how it is going. I would love to see the swing so get it taped and upload it to Youtube asap.




April 06, 2010

Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs is here to fix your game

Posted at 7:54 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos.

Thanks to everyone for a great blog this week. I am very sorry I couldn't get to all the questions but I just ran out of time. Please get your questions in early next week so I can help you out. Special thanks to JC Video for their software and support, I couldn't do the blog without them. Please follow the Masters Live Blog this week as Michael Walker takes us though the tournament. I will be sending in some comments along the way. Enjoy the Masters and I will see you next week.

Alan asks at 1:57:

I, like so many other people, am constantly trying to fix something with my swing such as coming over the top, a more lower body oriented downswing, impact position, etc. Each time I think I've "got it" I have to move on to fixing something else. After reading as many instructional books as I can get my hands on and taking consistent lessons for the last couple years, I feel like I have a really good understanding of how the swing is supposed to work. The problem is that despite this, I feel like I'm just on the verge of becoming a good player. But getting there is eluding me and I don't think that working on one motion after the other is ever really going to make it happen.

I know there is no magic fix and people are different, but I'm wondering, with your experience with so many developing players, is there anything that you've noticed that players come to understand or start doing at some point that allows them to break through the barrier to having a stable repeatable swing and becoming a good player?

This is in the top 5 of questions I have ever been asked in the blog. Thank you, Alan. Ask yourself this question: If my life depended upon hitting a good shot, what would the shape of the shot be and how would I accomplish it with the least amount of thoughts? The fact is you can't play great golf without playing a great deal of golf. The range is for practice, learning, and improvement and the golf course is for competition. I strongly recommend you establish your desired ball flight and write down what are the most important things for you to focus on while you are hitting that shot. The list should be very small and easy to remember. Once you have this down, stick with it during the entire round without any second guessing. If it doesn't work, adjust your list until it does.

The fact is that you can constantly work on improving your swing and actually become successful at it while scoring worse because you aren't working on playing the game. If you are trying to become a really good player you need to understand that you don't have to swing it perfectly or like anyone else, but you must trust your shot shape and be able to repeat it. I mandate that my tournament players have a shot they can count on and then add specific shots to their arsenal that help them is specific situations.

Last thing on this question. I will give you my own thoughts and plan when I go play, which is very infrequently unfortunately. I know my life or death shot is going to be a slight draw. I know it when I go to sleep, when I am driving to the course and on the first tee. I will stay in my routine all day, think positively and commit to that shot every time I can hit it. I have other "shots" I can hit when needed. I will "sting" my 2 iron and 3-wood on tight holes and in windy conditions. I will hit a slight cut when absolutely necessary with the driver although I don't prefer it. This is how I will navigate around the course. My warm-up session before is about hitting these specific shots so I am ready when the time is right. BUT, I know my draw will be the one I turn to all day.

There are obviously short-game shots that I do the same with, bread-and-butter shots and those that are more challenging. I hit the easy ones as much as possible and the harder ones when necessary. The key is that I know what I am going to do when I get there, stick with it all day, and adjust after the round where needed. This is the only way to play better golf.

Brad asks at 1:55:

This is the first time taping my swing and wanted to see what you think of my swing and give me some areas of improvement. My misses are pulls or an occasional low weak slice. From what I can tell, I seem a bit stiff and close to my body around impact and "flip" through impact. Can you point out some areas of improvement or areas that look OK?

http://www.swingacad...er.aspx?id=5943

Mike asks at 1:40:

Brady,
Due to my club coming excessively from the inside on the downswing I tend to bottom out way before the ball, like a foot, with my 3-wood. What would be a good drill to over correct this issue? Maybe I am looking for something extreme here. I come from the inside too much with everything.

There are things happening in your swing that are causing the club to come down excessively from the inside. These can include getting your arms and club too deep behind you going back, pointing the club across the line at the top, sliding laterally too much on the downswing, and creating too much right-side tilt as you approach impact. I would rather you figure out the issue and resolve it then give you a trick for the downswing. I will tell you that if you can hit a driver from the turf you chances are you will have improved your issue. The only way to hit the driver from the ground is to create a slightly steeper, more out to in downswing shape. This will produce a left to right shot shape and resolve the excessively inside attack. You can also try to hit the driver from a tee but off your knees as this will give you some excellent feedback about how the club must work from the proper path coming down.

The issue with both of these "drills" is that they aren't helping you understand the root cause of your problem and you may not actually learn how to avoid it in the future. That is why I am not a big fan of drills.....

Scotty asks at 1:25:

Would you mind discussing the role of the arms and shoulders in the downswing? I've been having a lot of trouble coming over the top and have had some success combating this by keeping my arms and shoulders totally passive on the downswing and just allow them to move in response to the hip movement. The only problem is that my shots lack a lot of power, but I'm hoping that with a better weight shift/lower body movement this will improve.

Is this the correct method or should I be using my arms and shoulders to actively give the club more speed after initiating the downswing with my lower body?

The arms and shoulders always trail the movement of your weight during the downswing. This is often referred to as the proper "sequence" of motion and is the same across most sports involving hitting or throwing. The "passivity" of your arms is great in the transition, but you know from playing other sports that there has to be some amount of "hit" or "snap" if there is going to be speed. I would have you continue to work on the transition my initiating the swing with the weight moving to the target. For some this is with the lower body, for others it is the entire body depending upon how much lateral movement you had going back. Through impact keep in mind that speed is actually how fast you STOP through impact. That is to say that the handle of the club must slow down if the head is to speed up. There are numerous ways to achieve this, but if you visualize a baseball hit you will get the idea of posting up against your lead leg while the barrel of the bat flies past you.

Peyton asks at 1:10:

I am a lefty and I have had a ball flight lately that I DON'T LIKE!! One of two things will happen: I either push slice or the ball starts at the target and falls off to the left about 3/4 of the way out. I know it could be a number of things and a video would help, but do you have any drills?

You look like you are having a tug of war in the address position. The weight is severely in your heels at address, making it impossible for you to maintain the famous "Tush Line" during the swing. This lack of consistent posture makes your body become more upright during impact, leading to the occasional huge block slice, slice, or thin contact. I have written many replies about the Tush Line over the past few months so rather than boring everyone again with it go back and check them out. Here is a couple of pictures to help you see the difference it can make. Keep in mind these pictures are of a very good junior who was able to maintain her upper body lean better than you when she lost her line. 

Tushlineloss 

Tushlinefix

Merv Dillon asks at 12:45:

I know from previous blog posts that you are not a fan of stack and tilt, but I am interested to hear your thoughts on Sean Foley's teachings.

He recently had an article in Golf Digest where he advocates starting with some weight in the left leg, swing to the top without really shifting to the right, then shift all the weight back into the left leg on the downswing.

Here is a really good video of his student Sean O'Hair, briefly describing this way of swinging:

What are your thoughts on this?

I like it better than stack and tilt! This is a methodology that definitely works. No lateral motion to the body going back with a static head position is an option that works for some people. I think getting stuck into any method as a teacher is counterproductive for your students. Some need a lateral bump to start like Anthony Kim and Tommy Armour III, some are better turning sharper like Davis Love III. I will tell you that many players tell you what they are feeling and it isn't what they are actually doing. This is the case with O'Hair. While the swing may have changed since these were taken, they contradict his clinic. Check out the pictures below to see that there is lateral movement to both O'Hair's head and his hips going back with driver, the fairway metal, and the iron. As the clubs get shorter it is less to be sure, but make sure you look at what the player actually does and not what they think they do. Ohairback 

Ohairhead 

Ohairhiphead

Marc asks at 12:28:

In a neutral backswing, where should the butt end of the club be pointing halfway back. I know Leadbetter likes it pointing between your toes and the ball. But Haney likes it more parallel to the address shaft plane. I see that Tiger has it pointing outside the ball halfway back.

Where do you like to see it halfway back?

That is a very good question, Marc. As teachers we have things we really like to see in students that aren't mandatory but, over time, have proven to be highly beneficial. These mechanics of the swing end up shaping what our students look like. That is why Leadbetter's students have the shaft more upright at halfway back and Haney's are more parallel to the target line. This directly relates to their students who had success early in their careers, in these specific cases Faldo and Price and O'Meara.

Here is how I look at it. Most recreational players make the mistake of taking the club back excessively to the inside producing an overly flat halfway-back position. This leaves the club no other choice but to come down above plane and steep, leading to all the wonderful misses that go along with it. The best way to fix the problem and prevent it from returning is to get the student to do the opposite. That is why I prefer to get the club more upright and closer to the Price shape than that of O'Meara. The problem with keeping the shaft more parallel to the plane going back is that you are way TOO close to mistake.

Here is a look of the two different shapes.

Price 

O'meara

Stephen asks at 12:13:

Thanks for the great work you do on this blog helping us out. I really appreciate the effort and time you put into this.

OK here we go:

You speak a lot about the tush line but I struggle to understand the correct way to swing while maintaining it.

I found this video of yours where you talk about rotating the left knee towards the target. I tried this but I found that I come over the top when trying this because my right shoulder never lowers. Instead it stays high and spins outwards with the knee rotation causing the over the top. But I do stay on the tush line!!!

Knee rotation:

I also found this video of Woody Austin saying that you have to move your whole left hip toward the target to start the downswing in order to get the club to come down on plane. So I tried this and it gets my right shoulder to drop but I then come off the tush line and feel like I get the club way too inside and my body blocked.

Woody Austin:

You always mention to get the weight to the right heel at the top of the backswing, then to the left heel on the through swing.

Please can you explain as simply as possible the correct movements to achieve this.

Thanks

A confused golfer.

Sorry you are so confused, Stephen. In a way both videos you referenced can be good for your issue and bad. You are correct that if your left knee rotates without any weight moving into the left side to begin the downswing, your swing path can be negatively affected. While this is an excellent way to maintain the line, it is only helpful if the path is solidly inside. On the other hand, keeping the left hip going to the target during the downswing can certainly help the path, but if the weight moves in toward the target and the TARGET LINE, you will lose the tush line and become jammed through impact.

So what do your do? The key for the downswing is to move your weight to the target in a direction that is PARALLEL to the target line, not diagonal to it. At the top of the swing the weight is in the heel of the right foot and lightly in the ball of the left foot. As you shift to the target the weight moves more into the left foot, but not more into the toe of the left foot. This keeps the hips closed to the target without losing the line.

Doug asks at 12:03:

I've just gotten back into golfing mode now that the weather has improved, and I was surprised to see that my irons are looking great. However, I'm slicing very badly with the driver -- something that surprised me, b/c by the end of the season last year, my miss was a hook. I can physically tell that I'm coming down too steep (I also am hitting a lot of pop-ups), and with an out-to-in swing path. How can I groove a good in-to-out swing with my driver? I've tried to focus on keeping my arms connected to my body, not letting my right elbow float, etc., but I still keep coming over the top!

There is obviously a series of issues going on here, Doug. The fact is that the club is taking a path into the ball that it can take, if you don't get your body into a better place going back you can't fix the path coming down. My best advice for you is to create a more efficient pivot going back that you can build upon coming down. I have included a backswing picture of Davis Love III and a downswing picture of Anthony Kim to help you get an idea about what to work on.

Turn

Roger Olson asks at 12:00:

1. I am wondering if there are any good drills to help keep arms fully extended after impact?

2. If you could recommend any good drills or stretching exercises for better shoulder turn in the backswing?

Thanks for the question, Roger. I always want my students to understand why things happen because it makes them able to fix their swing when I am not around. Getting better extension comes from swinging the club on the proper path. If your arms and the club is already away from you on the downswing they will get closer to you through impact, killing your extension. Rather than a drill to help you keep the arms extended you should work on the real issue, your path.

When it comes to stretching and creating a better turn going back, you need to work on the overall flexibility of your body. If your hamstrings are tight, it will make it very difficult for you to produce turn without losing your posture. If your shoulders are tight, you can turn and lose your width very easily. I know it is probably not what you want to hear but you need to get more flexible, EVERYWHERE!

I have included a couple pictures of Sean O'Hair to help you see how the path directly affects extension.

O'hairpath


Top 100 Teachers Blog

There are more than 28,000 PGA of America members, and GOLF Magazine uses only the 100 most elite among them to help you lower your scores, improve your swing, hammer the ball longer and putt the lights out.
More tips from the Top 100 Teachers

Subscribe To Blog Headlines

Related Links

Top 100 Teacher Archives

To view posts from a particular day,
simply select the date below.

July 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

<< Previous Months