Archive: June 2010

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June 29, 2010

The Big Play: How to generate swing speed like Bubba Watson

Posted at 8:48 AM by Mark Wood

Bubba Who: Bubba Watson

What: 396-yard drive to the fairway that set up a birdie which put him in the playoff

When: Final round of the Travelers Championship

Where: 444-yard par 4 18th hole at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

Bubba Watson’s earth-shattering drive might have gotten an assist from the cart path (the ball flew 335 yards, landed on a cart path and carried another 61 yards), but keep in mind it was a path that crossed the fairway. Watson didn't hit a wild one onto a path in the rough or the trees. The architects who built TPC River Highlands put the path across the middle of the fairway because they never anticipated anyone would have chance of reaching it. And Bubba reached the path on the fly!

How does Watson generate such massive swing speed and distance? The Tour’s longest driver (his average drive is 305.5 yards) has an extremely long swing that goes way past parallel. He also has a lot of wrist cock, a ton of shoulder turn and an incredible pair of hands which somehow square up the clubface at impact. The way Watson comes off balance after impact, you’d think he’d be more crooked, but he hits it fairly straight. That’s why he’s a freak show, like John Daly was in his prime.

How to Maximize Your Distance: I have students cultivate a big, fast swing away from the course. Nobody hits it far without a lot of swing speed. At home, you should swing for a few minutes and make the fastest swings possible while maintaining most of your balance. Swinging as fast as possible without a ball will train your body to swing fast and hard with a ball. Ideally, make the practice swings with a weighted club or put something on the clubhead to make it a bit heavier.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mark Wood teaches at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Far Hills, N.J.

(Photo by Sports Illustrated Photographer David Walberg)

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs is Here to Help Your Game

Posted at 8:44 AM by Brady Riggs

Brady-riggs-78x73 Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos.

Welcome to the Tuesday Instruction Blog! Lets get this thing rolling.... asks at 1:15:
I've always had a cup wrist. Now I see people with flat wrists. Any drills for feel on that?
Thank You, Mike

There is nothing wrong with a slightly cupped left wrist at the top of the swing. There is no reason the left wrist must be flat at the top, regardless of what is said in print or on TV. Here are a few pictures of a slightly cupped left wrist. Here is a picture of Faldo and O'Hair that prove my point.


Harry asks at 1:10:
I used to be a 3 handicap but had to give up golf for several years because of a back injury. My back is much better, but now I have developed a shank with any and all irons. If I place a board outside the ball I hit the ball dead center. Remove the board and I start to make contact towards the heel of the club and then finally shank. I've also found that if I focus 1/2" inside the ball I will make solid contact. If I look directly at the ball I start to shank again. Any ideas?

Glad to hear that your back is allowing you to play again. Without seeing the swing I can't give you specific advice but I can tell you to keep looking at the inside of the ball. I know this seems like a bit of a band-aid to you right now but it is fixing the problem. I had a professional come to me once with this same issue in the sand. He was literally shanking every shot until I told him to try to miss the ball off the toe of the club. When he approached it this way he was flawless. As soon as he went back to trying to hit the sweet spot he would shank it again. He stuck with trying to hit the ball off the toe for a few weeks and then it wasn't a problem for him going forward. I would stick with what works and send me some video so I can give you more specific advice.

Brendan asks at 12:55:
Now that I have lowered my scores to the mid 80s through better ball striking and putting, I have realized that I can gain a bunch of shots through better chipping around the green.

Do you have any technique or club selection for these around the green shots? Do you subscribe to a no-wrist hinge motion, hinge and hold a la Phil, or something completely different?

Thanks as always!

The most critical aspect to chipping in pitching is to be organized. The first element is you need to have a plan. This means you need to have an exact spot on the green you are going to land the ball with a specific height, spin and roll taken into consideration. I am old school when it comes to getting the ball on the green asap. I think young players use the lob wedge far too often. The second part of the equation is the execution. This is actually hitting the shot the way you intended. When you put the two parts together you will have a method of hitting short shots around the green. When you miss, you will know if your plan was faulty or your execution was off. When it comes to style of shot, you need them all. Start with the easy stuff first, the short shot with no wrist action that controls the ball and then move onto the Mickelson lob. You will have the basic shot far more than any other so work on that the most.

JP asks at 12:42:
Trying to rotate the club on the downswing better... What do you think?

The rotation looks better. The video is a bit tough to make out but I would like to see the shaft exit a bit higher out of your body so you can get around to a more complete finish position. I don't expect to see Annika or Tiger from you but I think you can get to where Clarke and Armour III are in this picture.


Jeremey asks at 12:30:
I am trying to model my pitching action on Steve Stricker's, keeping the wrists out of my swing as much as possible.

Do you have any face-on footage of Steve's short iron swing? Or any advice on how to model a swing like his?

The clips I have of Stricker are with a driver and long iron unfortunately. Keep in mind that Stricker is a big, strong player who doesn't need to create a great deal of wrist hinge to produce power. If you don't match this description then you should reconsider your choice. While I think taking elements of players swings to copy is a great idea, I am always weary of copying another player 100%. When you take out hinge you decrease clubhead speed and power but can increase control and consistency. If this is your goal here are a couple of things to keep in mind. When your left arm is parallel to the ground on the backswing the club should be perpendicular to the ground. This is 90 degrees of hinge and is enough for the rest of the swing. There is no need to increase the amount of hinge from this spot which makes the shoulders and back the driving force for the rest of the backswing.

Roger asks at 12:20:
I have a big problem in my backswing with rolling the arms/wrists in the start of the swing. The result is a bad takeaway going in to a flat backswing often resulting in a shank.

Do you have any good drills that can fix this problem? Both drills that work on the range and drills that I can do at home when practicing my takeaway.

I also wonder how far ahead of the clubhead (leading the clubhead) the hands should be on iron play at address?

This is a very typical problem I see on the range every day. The overactive hands and arms in the takeaway leads to a flat clubshaft angle going back that usually causes an over the top move coming down. The change in the takeaway is uncomfortable but can make all the difference. Instead of the shaft going from flat going back to steep going down, in makes the opposite loop and attacks on the proper path. Check out this sequence of Hal Sutton, a fantastic ballstriker in his day, to see the difference going back.


Travis asks at 12:04:
I've been having problems with inconsistent contact, and my playing partners have noticed my legs stop helping in the swing later in rounds. Obviously this is due to fatigue, but I'm wondering what the correct leg/lower body action is during a swing, I notice I hit the ball better and farther when my legs are involved and I'm wondering if getting my lower body more active could help me become more consistent and hit it farther.

There is no question that using your lower body effectively will improve your distance, consistency, and help you sustain your ballstriking through your entire round. Easier said than done of course. The fact is that your swing should be triggered from and controlled by your feet. The weight should be moving into the right foot to start the backswing and into the left foot to start the downswing. This is the trigger to your entire motion and should be reinforced on the golf course with each and every practice swing you make. Many golfers make the mistake of thinking that active legs are moving around significantly, this just isn't the case. If you think of a basketball player going up for a rebound you can visualize that side to side, sloppy leg action with the knees going laterally isn't very productive. Instead, the legs should act as pistons going up and down with a minimum of movement laterally while both feet stay on the ground for much of the swing. I have included a couple of pictures to help you get the idea. This is of a very young AK.


Justin Mateer asks at 12:00:
Have a question regarding backspin. On full shots with my short irons and wedges I've been getting far too much backspin. At times, spinning the ball back 20-25 feet. What is the cause of this and how can I reduce some of the spin?

Tom Kite said it best regarding backspin, he said he never wanted the ball coming back towards him. The reason backspin is an issue is you never can control how much it spins, making it very unpredictable and unreliable as you seem to have discovered. The first adjustment you make is with your golf ball. There are so many options out on the market now that offer different spin rates you should be able to find a ball that will help at least a little. When it comes to the technique you need to understand that the harder you hit a short iron the higher it will go and the more spin it will have. For these reasons it is much better for your consistency and control to hit the short irons less than full whenever possible. If you watch Tour players hit wedges and short irons you will see the ball fly at a very low trajectory because they aren't hitting them full, and want to control the first bounce the ball takes on the green. It seems like simple advice but change your ball and take more club so you can hit the ball easier and you will rid yourself of this issue.

June 22, 2010

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs is here to fix your faults

Posted at 11:37 AM by Brady Riggs

Brady-riggs-78x73 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 for another installment of "Ask the Top 100 Live."

Thanks to everyone for your questions, comments, and videos. I want to give special thanks to Mark and Fred at JC Video for all of their help and support. The reason this blog comes to life with pictures is because of their fantastic teaching software, the best in the business. We will see everyone next week....

Let's get to those questions and comments.

Ethan asks at 1:10:

I tend to get to quick at the top and come over the top on my downswing, especially with the longer clubs. Even though I know I should be moving my weight forward before the backswing ends, putting this in practice is often difficult. Do you have any tips on how to get the rhythm consistent in moving the weight forward before the club stops going back?

It sounds like you have the right idea when it comes to how the sequence should work, Ethan. I agree that making changes is difficult, but you must practice effectively to have a chance at making it happen on the golf course. I always tell my students that if you can't do it slow, you have no chance doing it fast. Your work on the range should be slower and more deliberate than you think it could be. This will help you organize your thoughts and give you the best chance to feel the changes you are trying to make. Great practice swings on the golf course before and after your shot will also help you get on track with the "when" of moving your weight. This can be a challenging part of the swing to work on as you are going in two directions at once. I know this sounds a bit simplistic, but you need to keep grinding away on this to make it part of your no-brain swing. Stay after it....

Tom asks at 12:58:

Many articles say that ideally your spine angle should stay the same at least through impact. However, I notice that many pros actually increase the spine angle on the downswing. Which is the ideal position and why?

Who do you think has the most ideal swing in the PGA Tour?

Maintaining the same height during the swing isn't nearly as important as keeping the same distance away from the ball. If you have read the blog at all you will have noticed that I have created and been on my soap box about the "tush line." This represents the starting position of the back of your backside at address and its position relative to that at impact. While the head and body drops and rises with most great players, their distance from the ball doesn't. For this reason I never mention the words "spine angle" to my students as it gives the impression to them they must stay in a fixed bend during the swing. I would rather them focus on what is most important, maintaining the "tush line."

When it comes to the best swing on Tour right now I would have to say Charl Schwartzel. I have always loved Jonathan Byrd's swing but I give the South African the nod right now. Please remember, however, that I think there are numerous great swings for people to copy depending on their own strengths and weaknesses.

Keenan asks at 12:48:

Hey Brady, I'm a junior golfer beginning my junior golf tournament season and I have a horrid fault. I take the club too far to the inside on the backswing, then I come over the top. This leads to slices, pulls, and low shots. Please I need drills I can do at home and on the range to fix this fault for good. I know if fix this I'll be on the way to consistent contact. Thank you.

Thanks for the question, Keenan. I agree that a poor shape to your backswing will lead to problems on the downswing. It sounds like you have a very typical problem we see on the range where the club does the exact opposite move coming down into impact that it did going back on the takeaway. You need to reverse this by keeping the club up and in front of you on the backswing and letting it get more in and behind you coming down. The best way to help you is for you to see some pictures. Here are a few of a young Anthony Kim to help you get the idea.


Jeff asks at 12:37:

If my hands hang at about a 45 degree angle, would I need a stronger grip? With a stronger grip, should the ball be played farther back in my stance? Love the blog.

I assume you mean that your clubshaft is angled 45 degrees at the address position from the target view. I would really need to see your grip to give you an idea about how strong it is and know more about your ball flight, misses under pressure, physical condition and level of play to tell you if it is TOO STRONG. There have been so many great players with a grip that is stronger than neutral that it would be irresponsible of me to tell you to change without more info. In terms of the ball position, from a logical standpoint if the grip is stronger and the face is closed during the swing (not necessarily true just because the grip is strong) than the ball will have more of a tendency to go left. Adjusting the ball to a position farther back in the stance will delay the rotation of the clubface, but if it's done to excess a host of other problems arise that include a breakdown of the hands to square the face, a lack of forward motion of the body for fear of getting ahead of the ball, and a hanging back during the release and finish. This is always the problem with compensating moves, they are hard to manage and juggle during the swing.

Evan asks at 12:20:

I have been having trouble getting into a good position at the top of my backswing. I keep going way across the line. I am not certain what approach I should be taking to fix this. I have tried a few things but they have made little difference. My misses tend to be hooks and pushes with irons and high slices with the driver.

Thanks for the videos, Evan. You have a few things going on here that make you inconsistent. The issues begin with your grip. The club left hand is extremely strong, leading to a clubface position that is closed during the swing. This must be adjusted for through impact or you are going to hit a great many shots left. It sounds like the left miss is there with the irons and you are overcompensating with the driver leading to the high slice. It isn't a very fun combination. While I agree with you that the club is across at the top of the backswing, this isn't the place to begin. You need to get the clubface into a square position so you can begin to release the club properly. When the face is more square, you will eliminate the hook and make yourself have to let go better through impact or the ball will go WAY RIGHT. This is to be expected in the beginning, but will get better quickly, as you see the ball sail off line. To play good golf you have to eliminate one side of the course. At this point, you are missing in both directions because of your clubface position, making it very hard to manage your game. Check out the picture of the grip I posted earlier in the blog of Charles Howell III and look at the other pictures I have included to help you get a better visual.


Henny asks at 12:06:

I have a question regarding the right index finger (aka the trigger finger). I've read that there should be a constant pressure of the meaty part of that finger to the side of the grip, and seen a few videos of the late GREAT Ben Hogan talking about its importance. Can you elaborate on this, maybe explain if this pressure should be light, hard, or either but just consistent?

I have never been a big fan of paying much attention to grip pressure. I am more inclined to ask my student to think of how tight they would hold onto a ball when throwing it to give them a sense of how hard to hold the club. Too light and the ball would fly out of their hand behind them, too hard and their would be little snap or power. This usually gets their brain out of their hands and more into the motion.

The right index finger you speak of should be resting against the side of the club. This is essentially where the sweet spot of the club is and will greatly improve your chances of making solid contact with the face square. Here is a picture of the proper position of the index finger. 


Gary asks at 12:00:

I really enjoy your weekly swing thoughts and advice. How do golfers like Dustin Johnson and Robert Garrigus (both shut at the top of the backswing) keep from hitting vicious hooks? Do they release the club or are they holding it open the whole way past impact? I am very shut at the top and must fight the hooks all the time. Thanks.

It is all about compensations when you play from positions that aren't neutral. Yes, to keep the ball from hooking excessively with the face shut, the release must be delayed excessively. To do this the hips can spin open, the left shoulder can tilt up with the right elbow driving past the ball, or the shot shape can turn into a fade. If the player has made it to the highest levels with unusual mechanics, there is no reason to reinvent their swing but instead mellow out the rough spots to improve their consistency. The one major problem that you must consider is that players who fight closed clubface positions generally have bad backs as they must create harsh angles with their body through impact. If you aren't hitting the ball as well as you think you can and are already experiencing some back pain, I highly recommend you get that clubface squared up.

June 15, 2010

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs is here to help your game

Posted at 10:47 AM by Brady Riggs

Brady-riggs-78x73 Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos. Leave your questions in the comments section below.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and questions. I wish I had more time but I am off to the lesson tee. Get your videos in early next week so we can put you on the right track. Enjoy the US OPEN and go USA Soccer!

Ron Haubert asks at 1:00:

What do you think about during your swing.

Interesting question Ron. In my practice swing I try to "feel" the trajectory and shape of the shot I am going to hit. During my swing I try to copy that "feel" and stay committed to the shot. This should carry me through to the same finish position I had during the practice swing. I know it sounds a bit simple, but my mechanics haven't changed for a long time so I don't worry about the parts, just the whole.

Tim asks at 12:50:

Hi Brady, I've been struggling with compression with my irons. I tend to hit the ball thin. I know my lower body isn't quite firing the way it should. I also see that I don't hold my tush line we well either. I was hoping u could give me some advice on this and anything else u might see.


The swing is pretty solid Tim. I always watch these videos first without reading your issues so I have a fresh look at your swing. I was going to tell you that your lower body wasn't working properly and you were losing you tush line. I was then going to guess that your shots were thin with the irons and slightly right and/or hooking too much. You can see that your diagnosis was on the money. When you lose the tush line with the irons your upper body has to lean back away from the ball making it very difficult to contact the irons solidly. Your arm swing is also very low at the top of the backswing. While this isn't always a cause of thin shots, when you combine it with losing the tush line it becomes a bigger issue than it should be. I think the thing you need to begin with is working your weight in the correct directions during your swing. Make sure that you are starting more towards the front of your shoes, working into the right heel going back, parallel to the target line in the transition, and then into the left heel coming through impact. When it comes to your arm swing, I think you can get your right arm a bit more up and away from your body at the top. I wouldn't mind seeing the upper arm parallel to the horizon instead of jammed into the side. This will free up your swing considerably and make it much easier to find the turf.

Do me a favor and send in your swing from face on so I can check a couple things. I will be able to put up some pictures in next weeks blog to give you some more help.

Kevin asks at 12:40:

I'm consistently hitting my drives to the right, usually fairly low. It feels like I'm hitting down on the ball like I would when I hit an iron. What's a good drill to help me stay behind the ball?

I certainly wouldn't want you to hit down on the driver. You can usually fix this problem in the address position. Make sure your stance is wide enough to begin with as this will help you create the necessary tilt away from the target with your upper body that you are lacking. To continue the theme of tilt, make sure your back shoulder is feeling lower and back away from the target line as this really helps change the angle your club is attacking. The last little adjustment is to allow your head to move or slide away from the target on the backswing. If you try to keep your head still going back you are not only making your swing less athletic and powerless, you are making it more likely you will be in front of your original position at impact.

Jack Tors asks at 12:30:

Could you give some drills for increasing lag? I tend to cast the club. I bought an impact bag and was told this would help, but it is not. Thanks.

Casting is a problem with your sequence. You move the club to the ball from the top of the swing in the wrong order, beginning with your hands and arms instead of your feet and legs. The best way to change this is to remember that the thing that stops your backswing is your downswing. In other words, you need to get your weight going in the direction of the target before your arms and club are done going back. This is the proper sequence of motion and should be practiced with the use of a camera, a mirror, and the sun on your back. You need to take your mind out of your arms and club and put it into your feet.

As far as the impact bag goes, it makes a nice been bag chair for watching TV.

Mike asks at 12:20:

I love the tips each week, and have helped a ton. I'm a eight handicap who is fairly short off the tee for a 22 yr old. I only hit it about 230-240 tops. But my big problem is my irons, since I keep it in play off the tee. I have extremely quick hips during my down swing which often cause me to spin out and hit balls thin off the toe. Any advice for getting more distance off the tee, and any tips on slowing down my hips in order to stop hitting balls weak and off the toe. My goal is to break 80 almost every time out this yr, and I need help.

Thanks for the kind words Mike. Quick hips aren't necessarily a bad thing if they are quick at the right time. As you have mentioned, quick hips to start the downswing aren't a good thing and can be the source of your lack of power and poor contact. Instead of spinning the hips to start the downswing, your weight should move purposefully into the quad or thigh of the front leg. This will prevent your hips from spinning and allow you to "step into" your downswing like a pitcher in baseball. This takes slow, tedious practice to make a positive change but sounds like missing piece in your downswing. If you can send in some video of your swing from the face on view I can help you with the specifics.

Khuram Fancy asks at 12:10:

Hey Brady. Lately when I use my pitching wedge my shots tend to go off to the right, it's just been happening in the last month or so. What am I doing wrong? Please help!

How far right is the question. If you are hitting the dreaded shank then you need to look at your distance from the ball at address, maintaining a good distance away during the swing, and swinging the club down on a neutral path. These are the checkpoints for fixing the shank. If you are hitting a slight push I would check your alignment, make sure the ball isn't too far back in your stance, and work on a combination of better hip and clubface rotation through impact. With so little information I can't give you specific help. If you can let me know some more details I will be able to get more precise.

JP asks at 12:03:

Hi Brady... Here is a couple of new videos with a SW. A thing I am struggling with is a small push with the irons that goes high, it feels like I am sliding the face right under the ball. It must be the inside to out swing with an open face? In the video you will see that I have a shaft just outside of the ball for alignment, but I hit the shaft about 80% of the time. How do I get the club to come thru straighter.. am I not releasing correctly or rotating thru enough?

Thanks!!! JP

I think you are on top of the problem JP. The club is a bit too far inside on the downswing causing the slight push. This will also increase the height of the shot and decrease the distance, especially with the shorter clubs. I would still like to see your legs become more clean and quiet through impact. There is a great deal of bending and shifting in your knees during the downswing making it difficult for your hips to rotate properly through impact. This is the cause of your path issues and should be the focus of your practice. 

Read more:

June 08, 2010

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs is here to fix your faults

Posted at 9:55 AM by Brady Riggs

Brady-riggs-78x73 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 for another episode of Ask the Top 100 Live.

Thanks to everyone for the questions and comments. I wish I could answer all the questions but I am off to the practice tee. Please submit your questions early next week and remember that videos always go to the front of the line. Special thanks to the guys at JC Video for their great software that enables me to post pictures on the blog.

Robin asks at 1:00:

I'm an 11.9 handicap, trying to get to single digits. I can keep up with my single-digit friends in driving, but I always seem to need 1-2 more clubs than them on par 3s or approach shots. I'm not short, 7-iron is 150-155, but I don't think I'm getting all I could out of my irons. I also hit them very high. Are their drills or exercises I can do to work on hitting down/trapping the ball more? Should I play the ball back in my stance more for irons (I currently play it below the logo on my left chest for mid-long irons, a ball or two back for short irons/wedges)? Many thanks.

It sounds like the ball position is correct so I wouldn't be inclined to move it farther back. I rarely look at equipment as a source of a problem but if your driving the ball as far as your friends and not hitting the irons with them I would check the clubs, specifically the shafts. If you go to a Project X shaft, for example, they are made to flight the shorter irons lower and the longer irons a bit higher. They seem to accomplish this quite well and might be a good place for you to start tinkering. The other possibility from a technical standpoint is that your upper body is hanging back behind the ball excessively with your irons. While staying back behind the ball with the driver is a good thing, it is counterproductive to hitting solid, penetrating iron shots. This wouldn't affect the driver distance negatively because you don't need the club to go DOWN after impact with a driver from the tee. However, when the ball is played from the turf, the bottom of the swing needs to be in front of the ball. This can't be achieved by hanging behind it, making it possible to make the same swing with the driver and irons and have one of them effective and the other poor. I would check out the shafts and see if changing them helps. Then I would get out the camera and see the location of your head at impact with the iron compared to address. If you are behind your original position at address you need to fix it. BTW, I am not telling you to go purchase new irons or shafts, just go out and hit a few with a Project X and see if there is a difference.

Noah asks at 12:45:

I recently took a lesson and discovered I swing narrow-wide-narrow going back and thru instead of the desired wide-narrow-wide. Any swing thoughts I can work on to obtain this more desired motion? I also tend to “quit” on the follow-through and my body/head gets too far in front of the ball into impact. Hooks often are a result. My follow-through is a reverse-C causing lower back pain. I want to get more extension while keeping my head back, but have a hard time avoiding the reverse-C position when attempting the move. Any help there would also be appreciated.

There is quite a bit going on there, Noah. The best approach to any series of issues with your golf swing is to begin at the beginning, in your address position. Without a video of your swing, I wouldn't want to get too far into details, but I can tell you that everything you are doing will be affected by how you start. For example, if you are bent over a great deal at set-up than you will naturally have more hinge in the takeaway, contributing to your narrow/wide/narrow problem. The bent-over start will also make you become more upright with your posture during impact, contributing to your reverse C. These issues can be resolved in the address rather than working them out during your swing, so I really need to see it before moving forward. If you can get the swing up next week linked to YouTube I will give you some specific advice.

Justin asks at 12:34:

I am a low -andicap golfer and am trying to make my swing more neutral. The first place I am starting with is the clubface in the backswing and at the top.

At the halfway back point in the swing, when the club is parallel to the ground, should the toe be pointing straight up at 12 'o clock, or should it be pointing more at 1'o clock (when viewed down the line)?

I found this swing anaylsis and I am trying to get into the position that Adam Scott is in at 0:55 into the video. There his clubface looks like it is at 1'o clock.

The position of the clubface at the first parallel is affected by the strength of your grip, the amount of "in" your left arm has during the takeaway, and the flatness of your left wrist relative to the set-up position. For all of these reasons, you will see different positions to the leading edge during the takeaway, all of which are very playable and neutral depending upon the elements I described. Here is a picture of Anthony Kim and Sean O'Hair, both with neutral clubface positions in different takeaway locations.

Neutral face

Ben K asks at 12:30:

Love your blog every week.

My last round I was chunking a lot of my shots from 100 yards and in. My normal swing has an inside-out draw tendency. This great for my long game but seems to hurt my short game.

Mid-round I was desperate for a band-aid fix to help me stop chunking my pitches and I found one.

I tried purposefully coming from out-to-in (not with my shoulders in an OTT--over the top--move but more with my clubhead) so that the club was cutting cross the ball hitting the outside right first. This immediately stopped me from chunking it, as I would always catch the ball first. I hit some solid shots like this and it worked really well.

So do I carry on doing this or is it a band-aid approach that could get my game into trouble?

You have made an adjustment back to a more neutral path for the time being, but it could get ugly. I love the fact that you tried to do the opposite of your mistake to change things up. That is a great instinct and a highly effective way to get into the clubhouse during a round. The problem is that eventually you will be OTT and then that will need to be adjusted. During your honeymoon period with the change you just made, you will have success but know that this won't last. The long-term solution is to work on attacking on a more neutral plane all the time. This will prevent you from hitting such deep valleys between the peaks in your game. This can be done by finding a good teacher, using video, or paying attention to your divots, contact, and ball-flight to keep things from getting away from you.

abc states at 12:27:

This is awesome!


Marc asks at 12:20:

Could you please describe the changes that Justin Rose has made to his swing with his new coach Sean Foley? To me, his old Leadbetter swing looked a lot steeper at the top and now his arms look a bit flatter at the top. But I am no golf coach and would love to hear what you think.

I think your eye is right on, Marc. The takeaway is less inside than it was before with the club now going through his hands at the first parallel position in the backswing. The club went in before, making the next move for the shaft up into a more vertical spot. The club is now flatter at the halfway-back spot that before, allowing his arms to be less deep at the top and the club more aligned parallel to the target line. This makes it easier for the club to be shallower in the transition, requiring less fall to the inside on the downswing. The overall result is a club that is on plane earlier and longer on the downswing, making Rose's misses more effective and his ball-striking more consistent.

Sam asks at 12:13:

Thanks for doing the blog. I have trouble controlling distances consistently on pitches from 30 yards and in. I am trying to break from the low 80s to the high 70s, and this the most obvious weak spot in my game. Do you have any drill to get this distances right?

There is a simple yet highly effective practice routine you can use to really help. Hit a pitch around 10 yards away and then try to hit that ball with the next shot. Continue to alternate the ball you are trying to hit with the ball you just hit until you reach 40 yards and then do it again. There are multiple reasons this drill is effective: from focusing on a small target, adjusting to a different target on every shot, and using your eyes and not a laser to determine how far you need to go. This drill will help you practice your feel for distance, something that only gets better with time spent.

Del asks at 12:03:

Thanks for all the help on the blog. I am having trouble chunking or chili-dipping my pitches and chips. I am playing the ball back with my hands ahead and still can't seem to hit the ball crisply consistently, hitting the ground first. Any thoughts? Thanks for your help

The reason you are chunking your short shots is because the wrong part of the club is hitting the ground. When you push your hands forward and get the ball back in your stance, the "leading edge" of the club will be the first part of the clubhead to make contact with the turf. This makes the club DIG into the ground causing the chunk or chili-dip. You need to learn how to hit the ground with the entire width of the sole of the club in order to fix this problem. It begins with your set-up position. Push the ball more forward in the stance so the shaft is leaning only a bit forward. Allow the clubface to lay back or open slightly so the leading edge of the club is off the ground and get the shaft more upright so the toe of the club is sitting more on the ground than the heel. These adjustments will really help eliminate the chunk and get the back of the flange of the club to contact the ground. The final adjustment is to allow the club to track on plane and let the clubface rotate "open" and "closed" during the motion. This will enable you to release the club like you would during a full shot, a completely different strategy than what you have been doing.

June 01, 2010

Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs is here to fix your faults

Posted at 11:17 AM by Brady Riggs

Brady-riggs-78x73 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 for another episode of Ask the Top 100 Live.

Submit a question or video link to Brady in the Comments section below.

Thanks to everyone for your questions this week. Next week is big here on the blog as we announce a very interesting article in the June issue of Golf Magazine. Make sure you drop by and check it out. Have a great week.....

Mike Richardson asks at 1:15:

Hi Brady, Great blog, you've really helped my game. One thing though, you have never really mentioned much about post impact. You talk about hitting the inside back of the ball with a closing face, but do you have any post impact positions rather like your "tush line"? Thanks.

Thanks for the kind words, Mike. I have very specific ideas about what should be happening post-impact. They vary a bit based upon the desired ball-flight of my player, their flexibility and where they are in their development as a technician. I will tell you that I don't want my players with their head down and their body back behind the ball for very long. I want to see the eyes chase the ball out very quickly after impact, the right side of the trunk working toward a vertical position that takes the pressure off the back and the right shoulder at least to the right foot asap working towards the finish. There are some specific pictures and alignments I can show you when the new computer is up and running next week.

Randy asks at 1:08:

I emailed you a few months back about my 13-year-old son and your thoughts on me continuing to teach him or needing to go to some pro. Well, I have another question that you can give me insight to, I hope. That same son recently fell and broke his wrist (it wasn't a severe break, but a break nonetheless). He will get his cast off this week and we are taking a trip back east to my Dad's in North Carolina next week. We planned on playing golf back there. I wonder if you have any idea on if there is any chance of that in a typical recovery mode that he would be able to play on that trip.

I wouldn't know, Randy. This sounds like a question for his orthopedist and physical therapist. I would tell you that wrist issues can be persistent if not dealt with properly, having had an issue myself in college. Make sure when he does start back to take it slow with some putts and short chips first, then iron shots off a tee to minimize the amount of interaction with the ground in the beginning. There will be some fear about hitting the ground and swinging full speed in the beginning that are very normal so have that expectation. At the very least, maybe he can hit some chips around the green and putt on your trip.

Ben asks at 12:55:

It seems my biggest issue as I have been looking at my game recently is lag putting and simple chipping and pitching. I typically shoot in the high 70s/low 80s and hit 9-11 GIR a round. I usually have 2 or 3 three-putts and hardly ever get up-and-down and that's usually because I make a 7-10 footer. I can't seem to get a feel for distance on lag putts and standard chips. Any advice on how to approach lag putting or what I can do in my stroke to get more consistent speed. Also with chips. It seems like an area where I lose 5 to 7 shots a round and it's holding my game back.

Let's start with your chipping. There are two parts to hitting good pitch and chip shots. The first is your plan. Your plan evaluates the type of lie you have, where on the green you want your ball to land, which club will get the ball to land in that spot and roll the correct amount to the hole, and which side of the cup you want to putt from. It should always work exactly in that order. Most people who struggle with chips and pitches grab the club first, usually one with way too much loft, and go up the shot with no clue where they are going to land the ball, how much it will roll or what side of the hole to putt from. If this sounds like your process, it must be fixed. Once the plan is good you are left with execution. If you hit the shot like you intended and it doesn't come off close to the hole, your plan wasn't very good. If you hit the shot poorly and it doesn't land where you wanted, your execution was bad. Once the shot has been hit you will know if your plan and execution were on target. If you miss it, you know where you need to focus your attention. From a technical standpoint the execution is easiest if you use a club with enough loft to fly one big step onto the putting surface and roll the rest of the way to the hole. For this reason you may chip with any club from 7-iron to your most lofted wedge and pitch with all of your wedges from 48 to 60 degrees.

The lag putting relates to the chipping in terms of plan when you think about where you want to leave the ball for your next putt. Just like chipping, most people are most comfortable hitting short putts that are slightly uphill and breaking towards them, ie. right to left for a right-handed player. For this reason you should be trying to leave the ball on the side of the hole that makes the short putt the most comfortable. Make sure you have this part of the plan in mind when you are reading your putt and you will knock off many of the three-putts that are currently hurting your score.

Matt W. asks at 12:45:

Brady, I hope your computer is fixed! I asked you last week about what you think about the early head rotation in the downswing of players like Duval and Sorenstam. You said that you do this as well and I would like to know the "how to's" of doing it. When I try it is seems that I hit the ball lower, thinner, and to the right more. Do you turn your head so far that you don't see the ball in your line of sight? Thanks for you advice.

I will have it up next week, Matt. I will tell you that how early your eyes rotate out is completely up to you. There are varying amounts of head rotation that work, from extremely early like Annika and Joe Durant to during impact like Robert Allenby and Darren Clarke. The idea is that rotating the head allows the upper body to keep going during and past impact, reducing the amount of hang back at impact. This helps the hands stay under control, eliminates the flip and can make your ball-striking significantly more consistent. I will put up those pictures next week, remind me again....

John asks at 12:35:

I was fitted for irons this past weekend. During the process I noticed my shaft angle at impact was higher than at my address position. The fitter said I should be 2 to 3 degrees upright with my irons. Can this be corrected with a little hard work or with the custom fit?

P.S. When I miss usually it is to the left with 6-iron and under.

This is one of those issues that drives me crazy. First, the shaft angle moving higher during impact from address is completely normal. This is usually between 2 and 5 degrees on video and doesn't need to be adjusted. If you are like most people the toe of the golf club is airborne at address. As a result of impact conditions your hands rise slightly at impact making the sole of the golf club flat on the ground.

The problem with club fitters is that they want to try to improve your ball-flight by changing the golf club rather than having you make improvements in your golf swing. Unless you have an unusual body type, excessively tall, short, long arms, short arms, etc., you should be playing with clubs that are fairly close to standard. A change in lie angle of 2-3 degrees is substantial unless your body fits into one of the above categories. Considering the fact that your miss is already left, I would be very skeptical that you need to change your lie angle more upright by several degrees. This will make the heel of the club dig more into the ground, causing the clubface to close and the ball to go more LEFT.

I think the vast majority of club fittings are poor, and the results and recommendations are useless at best. I am not saying this is the case with yours but I have my doubts. Unless you meet the strange body type category, get a standard lie angle and go work on improving your golf swing. I think your skepticism was right on.

Tim asks at 12:26:

Recently I have developed an unpredictable or occasional tendency to slice my irons, especially wedges: the ball comes off the face sharply, going almost 90 degrees right of my intended target-line. I have focused on keeping the face closed at address with a neutral or slightly weak grip, to no avail.
Any help would be greatly appreciated,

This sounds more like a shank than a slice, Tim. If you are hitting the hosel of the golf club with your wedges, there are several things to check to get you back on track. Make sure you have your hands on the golf club correctly and don't exaggerate the clubface position at address. A weak grip and closed clubface at address is not going to get things cleaned up, chances are this is making the problem worse. Once you have your hands on the club properly and the clubface square, you have three specific issues to get under control. First, make sure you aren't standing too close to the ball as this will make contact with the hosel more likely. Second, keep the distance from the ball you started with a constant during the swing. If you get closer to the ball with your body during the swing, you make hitting the hosel more likely. Finally, you need to check the path the club is swinging on during the swing. If the club is attacking on either an excessively inside or outside path you are likely to hit the hosel. The most common is the outside attack, so check that first. If you get the chance to send in some video of you hitting the wedge I can give you more specific advice.

Tom asks at 12:14:

Hi Brady, I've always read that at impact, the weight should be toward the left heel, but is it on the instep or outside?

You see the left foot in many different positions among Tour players during impact. Tiger's left foot has been airborne with the driver for years, Johnny Miller's was rolled to the outside and many great young players are on the toes of their front foot. What this means is that there isn't an exact spot the weight must be in during impact to hit great golf shots.

With that said, there is a best spot, and that is working the weight into the left heel during impact. That doesn't necessarily mean it must already be in the heel with the toes of the foot airborne, but the weight should be going in that direction with the foot remaining fairly flat on the ground and not rolled to the outside. As the rotation of the hips continues into the finish, it isn't unusual to see the foot roll a bit more to the outside than it was at address. This is particularly true if the player isn't very flexible and starts with the front foot perpendicular to the target line at address. For this reason it is beneficial for the vast majority of players to start with both feet flared out slightly at address as it makes rotation much easier during the golf swing. I would focus on keeping the foot flat with the weight working into the heel. A bit of weight toward the outside is better than the inside, but don't let that foot roll to the outside of the shoe. If it is, flare the foot and focus on getting the weight straight back toward the heel during impact to fix the problem.

John asks at 12:06:

Brady, A couple weeks ago I asked about the bottom hand coming off the club for Phil and Vijay, you said to ask again when you can post photos?

Also, I am right handed and many times after impact I let go of the club with my right hand, what is this usually a result of? (I assume it's something different than what Phil and Vijay experience with the hand nearly coming of.)

Thanks for asking this again. I am still unable to post photos, but my new computer will be here this week. HOORAY! The right hand letting go after impact isn't a big deal if the right index finger and thumb maintain contact with the handle. The right index finger is critical to consistent contact as it drives the sweet spot of the club down the proper path into the inside back portion of the golf ball. There are several reasons why the right hand will let go during impact. The most obvious is if the grip is faulty and unable to maintain its alignments with the handle and left hand as the torque and collision of impact occurs. The second is poor contact. If you don't hit the center of the clubface, the vibration of impact can knock your club out of your right hand, causing you to lose control of the golf club. If you are seeing the right hand come off on your bad shots I would check your grip first and then work on improving your swing path and clubface alignment to improve your consistency of contact at impact.

If you are hitting the ball well and this is happening, I wouldn't worry much about it.

Travis asks at 12:00:

I was wondering what your take on the amount of practice time vs. playing golf, and what to focus on during practice is. I can currently get to the driving range about twice a week and play 18 once. However I could take those driving range sessions and go to a local nine-hole par-3 course instead. For a person trying to improve his golf game, what would you recommend? Also, I currently have some trouble slicing the ball later in my rounds and feel that while practicing eliminating my slice tendency should be the focus of my full swing. How much short game vs. long game time is ideal? I generally have about 1 – 1 ½ hours to practice at the range.

This is a very good question, Travis. The fact is that how much time you give to each part of your game and exactly how you practice those specific areas is critical to your improvement. There has to be a good mix or balance of time spent in the practice area and on the golf course. If you are going to improve you need to know the areas of your game that need the most work. This is best done on the golf course during tournament conditions, or at the very least playing under some degree of pressure to test your game. Once you are aware of the problems, you need to tailor your practice sessions around improving your weaknesses and maintaining your strengths. Unfortunately, most people don't like to practice the things they aren't good at, so don't make that mistake.

Keep this in mind. If you are having technical issues with your golf swing then you MUST resolve those problems before you take a balanced approach to your practice sessions. This doesn't mean you should ignore your short game, if you are struggling with your golf swing, but it does mean you should spend the majority of your time fixing the technical issues so you can get back to working on the game as a whole. If you are slicing the ball in the junk several times a round and making big mistakes with your swing, no amount of putting practice will get you where you want to be.

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