Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher will fix your faults
Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. I will see everyone again next Tuesday.
Mike asks at 12:50:
Say you're facing a 50-60 yard shot...So, you decide to take out your 9-iron and pitch the ball onto the green...However, in your set-up, you notice that the ball is above your feet...and that in your practice swing, you take too deep of a divot. Is it OK to just stand taller or not ground the club to counter this? Or, should you always choke up on the club? I ask because every time I choke up on a club, I seem to pull it or hook it...It really feels uncomfortable in my hands.
Here is a quick answer for you, Mike: Do what is comfortable and works. There are no rules for hitting shots around the green from awkward lies. If you feel that standing more upright works than by all means you should do that.
Rob asks at 12:35:
My takeaway is too much out and around which puts me in a laid-off position at the top. This is causing me to come into the ball shallow and too far from the inside and I'm swinging too far out to the right through impact. I've always been a solid ball-striker so I'm not spraying the ball all over, I've figured out how to hit a push or a low, rolling, hooded pull instead of a huge hook. To do this I have to hold off on my release almost entirely, which has lead to a significant loss in distance and accuracy. I can still hit my irons OK but as I progress into the hybrid and fairway woods it gets increasingly difficult to square up the club through impact, and even if I do get it square I hit a slight push. Do you have any tips or drills on how to groove an up-and-in takeaway (Tiger, circa 2000) instead of an out-and-around takeaway (Tiger, circa 2010). I enjoy shaping my ball flight and hitting it long and not being able to do either is very frustrating. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for the question, Rob. If you look at the pictures I just posted below you will see where the takeaway should be to create the type of backswing shape you are looking for. I agree with you that the backswing Tiger was working with under Butch Harmon served him better than the out, laid-off, and bowed wrist move he had with Haney. I also agree that the vast majority of players are better served keeping the club tracking more up than out and around going back. Go to my website and check out the videos on backswing fundamentals, specifically the one with Nick Faldo. This should help you get the club on track.
Nate asks at 12:18:
Hi Brady. What do you think of this swing? I'm a pretty good ball-striker, but looking to take it to a higher level and not quite sure what to work on next. One idiosyncrasy of my swing that I can't seem to get rid of is that the shaft seems to get somewhat flat going back and a little laid off at the top. Also, how much tension should you feel in your arms at address? Should they just be hanging loosely from the shoulders or somewhat taut? I ask because I think I have a tendency to reach for the ball. Thanks! Nate
Thanks for sending in your swing, Nate. Your swing is solid and has a great deal of potential to be outstanding. There are two areas of interest I would have you work on. When you combine them, I think you will see an improvement in both your consistency and power.
I would agree with you that your club is a bit flat going back and laid off at the top. The reason for this is that you have lost the connection between your upper left arm and chest as you take the club away. The contact between your upper left arm and chest you feel in the address should be maintained as you begin the backswing. In your case, you allow your left arm to move out and off your chest, leading to an over-rotation of your left arm and a flat position for the club at halfway back. As a result, the club has very little chance to line up parallel to the target line at the top and ends up laid off. The second issue is your hip rotation. Your hips are turning excessively almost immediately going back, taking your body away from your arms. This contributes to your loss of connection, and makes it difficult for your lower body to function properly through impact. Here are a couple of pictures to help you understand the differences.
David asks at 12:00:
I am having trouble with topping my fairway woods and hybrids when hitting them off the deck. If the ball is on the tee or sitting up in the rough, I hit them solidly, but if they are in a standard fairway lie, I top them every time. Suggestions? Thanks!
The first thing you should check is your distance from the ball. A common mistake when hitting fairway woods and hybrids is to stand too far from the ball. This happens with both recreational and experienced players and usually results in a topped shot from a tighter lie. If changing the ball position doesn't do the trick, make sure you are allowing the club to find the bottom of the arc through impact. In other words, don't try to get "under" in an attempt to lift it as this leads to hitting the top of the ball with the bottom of the club. Instead, allow the club to travel down into the ball and ground through impact, allowing the loft of the club and not your effort to get the ball airborne.
Jason asks at 12:10:
Thanks for all the great help each week. What books (or training aids, videos, etc.) would you recommend for someone looking to improve their game but not in a position to take formal lessons? I've been working through Ben Hogan's Five Fundamentals and it's helped a bit. Thanks!
That is a very difficult question. There are many books and videos that you can take bits and pieces from that would be beneficial to you. The problem is any book or video that is selling a method of swinging the club will probably do you more harm than good. I would recommend you look across the internet to find sources of information that show you different options for swinging the club and pictures/videos to back it up. My site www.bradyriggs.com has a huge library of professional swings you can look at to help you understand the swing better. Go to the Redgoat Galleries section and check it out.
Brady Riggs is director of instruction at Woodley Lakes Golf Club in Van Nuys, Calif. He is the host of Ask Brady Riggs Live! on Golf.com every Tuesday at noon EST.