Archive: September 2010

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September 28, 2010

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher will fix your faults

Posted at 11:09 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs stopped by on Tuesday to help fix your swing. Here's what he had to say.

Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. See everyone next week. Enjoy the Ryder Cup. Come visist my site at www.bradyriggs.com

Mark asks at 12:34:

Hey Brady, enjoy the column. I am a 7/8 handicap that is looking for more distance off the tee. My carry average is probably in the 230-240 range with a very high ball flight and little release. My drives seem to balloon right at impact and float in the air. I am looking for a more boring ball flight. Any suggestions on how to flatten out my drives for more distance? Thanks, Mark

The higher ballflight and no roll are most likely related to one of two issues. The first can be equipment. While I am not a big fan of blaming the clubs for your problems the higher ball flight and lack of roll can be the result of a shaft that is too soft and/or light for you. While most people think the loft on the club has the largest effect on the trajectory, it is the shaft that plays the most significant role in your ballflight. If it isn't the shaft in can be the swing. When you hit down on the driver excessively you impart too much backspin on the ball, making it fly too high and not roll. Moving the ball farther up in your stance while creating more tilt away from the target will help you make contact with the ball in the flatest spot in your arc or slightly on an ascending angle. Give these a try and let me know how it works.

Nathan asks at 12:15:

Hi Brady. I'm wondering what can be learned by comparing a golfer's address and impact positions. Should they be fairly identical with regards to the angle of the shaft and the location of one's head? For example, what does it say about my swing that at impact (from the 'down the line' view) my head is a little lower and farther from the ball and my hands are a little higher than at address? Here are some pictures...

http://img529.imageshack.us/img529/7605/address5.jpg

http://img840.imageshack.us/img840/1158/impact3.jpg

By the way, I have a low handicap but I tend to miss right with my irons (left to right ballflight).

Thanks for sending in your swing Nathan. There are definitely things that can be learned by comparing the two. I would prefer to have video of your entire swing as that would help me explain to you when things go wacky but this is better than nothing. Here are a couple of answers to your questions regarding the similarity/difference between set-up and impact. The head should be in a position at impact that is fairly similar in terms of distance from the ball. From the face-on camera view the head can move closer to the target at impact than address with an iron, but stay in its location or be slightly behind with the driver. The shaft is another issue. Depending upon the height of your hands in the address position the shaft can move up to a more upright position and still be ok. Most professionals have the shaft slightly higher at impact than address, some are on the exact same angle. Like so many things with the swing a little isn't a problem, more than a little is a big problem.

When it comes to your swing the position of your head and the lack of stretch or length in your rear leg is indicative of hanging back behind the ball too much at impact. This change in posture generally begins on the downswing and is triggered by sliding the hips excessively towards the target. As a result, your upper body hangs back behind the ball, your spine angle becomes more upright than it was at address which steepens the angle of your clubshaft at impact. You could improve your ball-striking and consistency if you kept minimized the amount of lower body slide to the target while keeping your upper body bent over the ball. This would also help you get the ball started on the line you intended. Here are a couple of pictures to help you visualize.

Foxy

Chris asks at 12:00:

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Look forward to your column every week! I have been working on moving my right elbow towards the ball to lower the shaft and create lag. But I have been struggling with releasing the club and making solid contact with the ball. Lot of thin shots. Any suggestions?

I assume you are a right handed player. Trying to drive the right elbow towards the ball is a common strategy when searching for more lag. The problem with this focus is that it often raises the left shoulder to early in the downswing, forcing the body to tilt away from the target excessively approaching impact. While some tilt is a good thing, excessive tilt drives the club under the plane and causes the bottom of the swing to be further behind the ball than you would like. When the bottom of the swing is behind the ball the results are either fat or thin contact. A better way to increase lag is to keep your arms softer as you begin your downswing and maintain the angle in your shoulders closer to impact. In other words, the left shoulder will stay closer to the ground than the right for a longer period of time. When combined with the softer arms you will increase your lag without disturbing the bottom of your arc.

September 21, 2010

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher will fix your faults

Posted at 9:42 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs stopped by on Tuesday to help fix your swing. Here's what he had to say.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and questions. Great job by everyone involved today. See you guys next Tuesday morning.

Evan said at 5:30:

What is the best methord for starting putts on your intended line? What I typically do is stand behind the ball facing the hole and pick my line based on what I think the break is then I find some kind of mark on the green that is 1 to 2 feet in front of the ball that is directly on my intended line. I then set up alligned to roll the ball directly over that mark. Is there a better method of lining up putts that you would recommend?

Reading greens and getting the ball started on line is equal parts technique and art. There are many methods for getting the ball started on your intended line and they can all work. The issue is finding the one that works best for you. Some people us a line on the ball and point it directly at their starting spot. This allows them to match the line on their putter with the line on their ball and let it go. Many use your method of finding a spot to start the ball at, above, or below either close to the ball or midway through the putt. Another method is to aim even with the hole but off to the side either a certain amount of balls or cups to establish a starting spot. The last method, the one I use, is to visualize the entire length of the putt and find the front door to the hole, from there I work back towards my ball to help me "see" the speed and line of the putt I am hitting.

Jeff asks at 5:10:

Longtime lurker and love reading this column. One thing I've seen you talk about is rotation of your arms in your backswing. I've seen it come up a few times and your description is that you want to turn/rotate your arms from about 12'o clock to 3'o clock.

My question is why is this important? One thing I had been taught from my coach in the past is to not rotate the arms. This allows me to only rotate my body and not think too hard about having to turn the arms back. Looking at the difference, I can see that this rotation allows my left arm to stay straight (rather than a slight bend) and ends with my left arm in a higher position and places my club at the top of the backswing higher up than barely over my shoulder. However, I'm still curious on what this affects as adding this would be a extra complication to the swing.

Great question Jeff. The fact is that many people try to oversimplify the golfswing by omitting important aspects. When this happens the swing isn't more simple, it is incomplete. The left arm must rotate a quarter turn by the time the hands are at shoulder height on the downswing if the club is going to be attacking on the proper angle. The simple fact is many great players achieve this spot naturally and without thinking. Some rotate early going back like Adam Scott, some later like Faldo or Ryan Moore. When this happens is just as irrelevant as if the player knows it happens. What does matter is that it gets lined up. By understanding the critical aspects of the golf swing you will move ever closer to that mystical destination, consistency. Check out my website www.bradyriggs.com to see more about this subject in the videos and galleries section.

Joe asks at 4:59:

What's the best way to improve your golf game over the winter months in terms of indoor drills?

Earlier in the blog today I answered a question regarding working on your game with limited practice time. The answer to that applies to your question as well when it comes to sticking with your core mechanics and not trying to add anything new. Here is one more piece of advice to working on your game over the winter. I have a saying on the range that ," if you can't do it slow you can't do it fast!" This is a critical element of improving your technique on and off the range. Slow practice swings in the house are a great way to get more awareness of where your club is during the swing and how your body is moving it. One last thing, there is no excuse for not practicing your putting indoors so get to work.

Robert asks at 4:50:

Hi Brady, whats the best way to gain more distance off the tee? I average about 230 and would love to get it out there 250-260 on average.

There is so little info to go on here Robert but I will give you some quick ideas. First, make sure that your address position with the driver is conducive to hitting the ball as far as possible. This means your stance is wider than your irons, your grip isn't weak, the ball is forward in your stance, your shoulders are shifted slightly with your right shoulder down and back at address, and your knees are flexed and ready to move. The next step is to insure that you are making a strong turn away from the ball with your hips and shoulders and your weight is getting completely off your back foot and over your front foot at the finish. These are the basic ingredients you see all good players utilize when hitting the driver and can make a huge difference in your ability to hit the ball farther.

Jeff asks at 4:38:

I have a question that has been bugging me for years: I am a scratch golfer who frequently hits shanks on driving ranges with rubber mats. This never , ever happens on grass ranges or on the course. In fact, I can't remember the last time I hit a shank off of grass. From what I have researched on the Internet, this is a unique phenomenon that sometimes happens to low handicap golfers. It seems to have something to do with hitting balls off mats as opposed to grass. Unfortunately, it is rather demoralizing and unnerving to start a round after hitting several shanks on the range (not to mention embarrassing). Have you ever come across this problem and what is the solution?

Thanks in advance for your help.

I have seen it occasionally in really good players but can't recall it being caused from the mat necessarily. As I think about your question the lack of tearing on a mat may have something to do with the problem. If the lie angle on your clubs isn't quite right and you make contact with the grass you will see a divot that is deeper on one side than the other. If the same scenario plays out on a mat there is no tearing involved as it would with grass, making it very likely that the clubhead itself will twist significantly at impact. I am obviously thinking out loud here but it seems logical to me. The next step in the process would be to check the lie angles on your clubs to see if they are correct. If they are then it is strike one for me. Let me know what happens as you have now peeked my curiosity. If you can send in some video I will give you a more definitive answer.

Thomas Tremblay asks at 4:20:

You are an outstanding teacher and I trust (and have applied) your advice. My question concerns what you feel are the best remedies for a hook, particularly in reference to how the hands and arms work versus body action.

Thanks for the kind words, I will try to live up to it. When it comes to any ball flight issue you need to begin at the beginning. Remember to start with the clubface, then the path and finally the pivot. It sounds like your question relates to the pivot rather than the face or path but they must be addressed first. You can hook it with an open face just as easily as you can with a shut face. The shut face is an obvious cause, but an open face can be excessively rotated through the hitting area resulting in a hook. The shut face can come from either an excessively strong grip or a bowed left wrist at the top of the swing just as the open face can be the result of a weak grip and cupped left wrist. If the path is excessively inside coming down the face can over-rotate to compensate which also leads to the hook.

The pivot issue is a bit more complex. Think of the pivot and it's involvement in impact as a scale. On one side of the scale you have the body, on the other side you have the arms and hands. If the body plays a less active role through impact (ie. it is hanging back) than the arms and hands become more heavily weighted on the scale. This tips the balance towards using the hands and arms more leading to a hook. If you have checked the face and path and confirmed they are fairly neutral, this is where you need to look for the cause of the hook. If you need to see some clear pictures of clubface and grip positions check them out on my website under the Redgoat galleries page www.bradyriggs.com.

Sam asks at 4:10:

What do you think of the idea that you must have two swings, one for your irons and one your woods?

Thanks for the good question Sam. The fact is that it is hard enough to make one good swing let alone two. The changes in your address position should be enough to change the mechanics of your swing from iron to driver. The wider stance, increased right side tilt, forward ball position and more upright posture associated with the driver should be enough to help the club attack on a shallower angle with the bottom of the swing happening behind the ball instead of in front of it.

Chris asks at 4:03:

Brady thanks for taking the time to answer questions! Enjoy reading your column every week.

I'm having an issue with impact position. I tend to turn my right hand over the left which causes the occasional pull. Is there a way I can learn to have a bowed left wrist and a cupped right? When I try this I hit a very low shot; usually to the left. Thanks!

I would get your mind off your impact position as soon as possible. If there is one thing you can't focus on in your swing and be successful on the golf course it is micro-managing your impact alignments. Try to keep in mind that if the club attacks on the proper path your clubhead will stay behind your hands approaching impact, giving you the impact position you are looking for. This is much easier to focus on and achieve on the golf course than trying to manipulate and control your hands at impact.

JC said at 4:00:

I really enjoy your column and look forward to it every week. My game has gone south this season due to the lack of practice and play time. What things should I focus on during my limited practice time so I can maximize the effectiveness of my practice sessions and regain some of the game I lost?

Thanks for the kind words about the blog. When your time is limited to practice your focus should be more on maintaining what you have rather than working on something new. Spend your limited time working on your address position which includes alignment, ball position, posture, etc. Work on your go to ball flight so you can count on it when you play and make sure to spend some time every practice session on the intermediate wedges as they are the first thing to go.

September 14, 2010

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher will fix your faults

Posted at 10:58 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online at noon Eastern to help fix your swing. Leave a question in the comments section below.

Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. I am off to the lesson tee. Try to get your videos in next week as they move your question to the top of the list. Have a great week.

Randy asks at 12:40:

I've noticed players like Dustin Johnson have a significant amount of wrist hinge in their backswing (particularly the right wrist for right-handed players). At what point in the backswing should the wrists begin to hinge? Any drills for us amateurs? Thanks.

Hinging the wrists isn't something you should actively try to do. In a normal address position you already have 45 degrees of angle between the clubshaft and your left arm. A standard amount of hinge necessary at the top is around 90 degrees, leaving only 45 more from the start. If the hands and arms are relaxed going back the weight of the club will hinge your wrists enough to achieve at least 90 degrees. I would stop worrying about this part of the swing and focus more on the clubface, swingpath and pivot.

melovegolf@aol.com asks at 12:25:

Brady, Is there a better swing for golfers with lower-back issues. Sean Foley published an article about a swing he promotes that he believes is better for the back. Basically turning the left shoulder more down than around while maintaining the flex in the right knee. What's your suggestion for someone who played single-digit golf but limited now by back issues. Thanks

In my opinion working the upper body harder against the lower body is NOT a good recipe for a healthier back. Keeping the flex in the right knee will restrict the turn of the lower body, putting the burden of turning enough completely on the players ability to torque the shoulders away from the hips. This is a swing and pivot I use for my younger, more flexible, more athletic players, not for someone with a back problem. Go to my website and check out the pivot options section in the gallery. The one to copy with back problems is that of Davis Love III. Allowing your hips to turn more on the backswing will take pressure off your lower back. You can also follow this link to a video I did for Inside Golf Magazine that talks about avoiding back pain. Video to avoid back pain.

Johnny Lamb asks at 12:18:

Mr. Riggs, I enjoy your column greatly. My question is that even though I have good shoulder turn in my backswing, I can't seem to unwind correctly on downswing. Any advice, as my game suffers because of this. My typical miss is a slice, and I have been told that I swing flatfooted?

Thanks for the kind words. The thought of "unwinding" can be an issue all by itself. This implies that you are going to "turn" back to the ball on the downswing the way you "turned" away from it on the backswing. This just isn't the case. The downswing should begin with a shift of the body in the direction of the target. If your body spins to begin the downswing your upper body will "unwind" too quickly and the arms and club will move out toward the target line. This has a unrecoverable effect on the swing path and will lead to your slice. To feel the proper sequence on the downswing, your left quad (upper leg) should take more weight as you begin your downswing than it did when you were at the top of your backswing. This allows your body to shift to the target without spinning open too quickly, making sure that your arms and club will come down and not out. As a result, your club will stay behind you longer coming down, allowing it to attack the ball from a more inside path. This will give you the opportunity to release the club properly through impact, eliminating your slice.

Lefty asks at 12:10:

Why is it I can step up and hit my irons without a long, overdrawn pre-shot routine. But, when I attempt the same thing with my driver, I get worse results. Is there a definite DON'T when setting up with the driver? Thanks in advance.

You are just experiencing the joys of golf. There is no concrete reason why your having difficulties with the driver when you have the exact same routine as the irons other than you lack confidence with that specific club. The problem is that to have confidence you need success, and without confidence it's very difficult to have success. That is why this game is so infuriating. I will tell you that many players have difficulty getting their shoulders and feet lined up properly with the driver. The combination I see often is the feet pointing well right of the target and the shoulders pointing to the left of the feet. This is a combination that is fairly certain to lead to poor driving and can be worked on by setting up clubs/sticks on the ground when you practice. Keep this in mind. Most really good players have their shoulders pointing parallel to or to the right of their toes at address. Most recreational players do the exact opposite.

Chris asks at 12:00:

I'm an OK player (5 handicap), but I saw my swing on video for the first time a couple of weeks ago and discovered that my arms severely break down at the top of the backswing. (I don't have access to the video.)

My left arm has almost has a 90 degree bend in it and it's way below my shoulders. Almost like I'm just wrapping it around my chest. I've been told that you can play with a little bend, but I'm assuming they don't mean 90 degrees. I assume it could be the root of some of my inconsistency issues. I tend to have a two-way miss with all my clubs. Any thoughts of what to work on in order to improve?

Thanks for the question, Chris. A slight amount of bend is fine in the left arm at the top, but a ton of bend can be problematic. The combination of your left arm bent at 90 degrees and the lack of height can be traced to a lack of rotation in your left arm during the backswing. Here is how this works: If you extend your left arm out away from your body with your thumb straight up in the air at 12:00, you are starting with 0 turn. If you rotate your left arm from the shoulder to your hand so your thumb is pointing to 3:00 you have a 1/4 turn. This is the amount of rotation you need by the time you reach the top of the backswing and more importantly, the start of your downswing. If you achieve this rotation, you will see that your hands are higher at the top than they have been before, your left arm will be significantly straighter, and you will achieve more hinge in your wrists and less in your arm. To see this in video check out the galleries at my website www.bradyriggs.com

September 07, 2010

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher will fix your faults

Posted at 3:02 PM by Brady Riggs

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.

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