Archive: January 2011

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January 25, 2011

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Will Fix Your Faults

Posted at 11:50 AM by Kevin Cunningham

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online today answering readers' swing questions and analyzing their swing videos. Check out the questions and Brady's answers below. 

Thanks to everyone for your questions, comments, and videos. This was a great blog today. Look forward to seeing everyone next week. GO PACK GO!

Phil Hutchins asks at 1:13:

I have a tendency to top the ball when using a fairway wood from ground and I looking for a new 3-wood. What would you recommend. I play quite a bit, I am 64 years old, about a 12 handicap, and have a 220 yard average drive.

Before you run out and buy a new 3-wood, I would like to see you stand a little bit closer to the ball and narrow your stance a bit. When it comes to the fairway woods, it is very common to top the ball because the address position isn’t correct. I can tell you a professional would never top a 3-wood, even if it were a ladies' club because the swing would be working properly. If you are topping the 3-wood there is no club you could purchase that would fix it, you need to fix the swing first.

Ethan asks at 12:55:

I was at the range yesterday and I was having a good old time with my whole bag. I was shaping shots with my 7, I was smacking my hybrid over 200 yards and flying some good sand wedges. In the interest of ruining a perfectly good range session I picked up my driver. Oh boy. I wish I had video taped it for your amusement.

My problem is this: I go under the ball. Sometimes I get a snap hook, but typically the ball shoots straight up in the air and lands about 120 yards away.

Since I don't have a video I can only ask: do you know of any common reasons people end up going way under the ball? I tried teeing the ball in front of my foot and setting up about a foot back but that didn't help at all.

If you couldn't guess, I'm a pretty high handicapper. Assuming I don't want to put away my driver and simply hit my hybrid off the tee, even though it would shave ten strokes off my game, do you have any advice?

Don’t sweat it too much, Ethan, it is very common. There are several reasons why you would sky or pop-up your driver. Let’s run through them. The most common is putting the ball too far back in the stance and hitting down on the ball. This will force the top of the clubhead into the ball, making it go straight up in the air. You could also be teeing the ball up too high, standing too close to the ball, stance too narrow, swinging excessively steep or from the outside-in. I would recommend you do this. Put the ball up toward the front of your stance so it is aligned on the inside of your left foot (assuming you are right-handed). Make sure you are a distance from the ball that allows your arms to hang down and relax in the address position. Your feet should be wider with this club than any other and you should feel a noticeable tilt with your right side away from the target at address. This will help you attack the ball on a shallower angle and more from the inside. As you swing, make sure you are trying to extend your arms and the club out and away from you through impact as this will help the club stay on the proper track.

Let me know how it goes.

Eduardo asks at 12:45:

Wondering what I can do to get more accurate. I have enough distance, my stats according to the Bridgestone ball fitting I did this weekend are: H/S 115-118mph , B/V 160-163mph, L/A 11.3, B/S 1410 rpm, Dist. 288

That is a golf swing with a great deal of potential, Eduardo. It is obvious you have speed to burn, but lack some of the geometry necessary to play your best golf. I have two specific things for you to work on with your golf swing. First, your club takes a difficult route to the top of the swing, making your downswing too steep in the transition and eventually too far from the inside in the frames before impact. If this is the case with the irons, it is going to get worse as the clubs get longer. The club gets too far inside immediately during the takeaway and from there the dominoes begin to fall. Once the takeaway is bad, the club and your hands get too far behind at halfway back, forcing the momentum of the club to get across the line at the top. The takeaway should be your focus for a while until you get it working back in a more neutral direction. I have included some pictures to help you see the right spot.

The second area you should focus on is the “when” of your downswing. Here’s what I mean: If you watch your swing from the face-on view and look at your hip, you will see that your hips stop turning and freeze for at least the last 60 percent of your backswing. The fact that they turn too much too soon contributes to the club getting too inside on the takeaway. The “when” of your downswing is simply at what point your hips begin to move in the direction of the target. In your swing, the club gets past parallel to the ground before your hips engage and work back to the target. Once the backswing is improved, I would like to see your hips initiate the downswing MUCH earlier. This will help you gain control over the club at the top of the swing, shorten your backswing dramatically, and may have the benefit of adding even more clubhead speed to what is already a very powerful motion. Here are some pictures to help you…. Clarkeup


John asks at 12:34:

What are some of the best exercises to get rid of an outside-in swing. My ball is always going left...

I am assuming you are a right-handed player with the ball going left. It seems a strange thing to say, but many players who are over-the-top have the ball going right because the clubface is open to the path. Keep in mind that when it comes to ball flight and the direction of the shot, the clubface is far more influential than the swing path. With that said, I have seen many students come to the lesson tee thinking they are outside-in when, in fact, a closed clubface is the real cause of the ball going left. If you are certain the path is your issue, try to hit the inside-back quadrant of the ball with the clubface slightly open and you will see the ball start much more to the right of where you are currently hitting it. This keeps the clubhead inside the target line until impact, something all players who are over-the-top need to do better. If at all possible, send me some videos of your swing so I can give you more specific advice.

Joe asks at 12:20:

Brady... 3 questions.

1. Putting - I tend to try to hit the ball on the upswing a little so the ball gets rolling quicker, but a friend last year told me to use a bit of a forward press. I can hear the ball skidding after I hit a putt, not sure what to do?

2. When someone switches to a mallet-type putter is alignment on longer putts typically difficult to get used to?

3. Last week you mentioned keeping the back knee flex is not critical, doesn't that tend to throw your weight forward and shouldn't you be using the back leg to push off of a little when transferring the weight on the downswing?

The best-case scenario is for the ball to get rolling as fast as possible. This can be achieved by hitting up on the ball, but more often than not you won’t catch it solidly. There are many putters available on the market that use “face technology” to help impart roll immediately. This would be a better option than trying to hit up on the ball as you are more likely to make contact with the center of the putter face.

I haven’t seen alignment become more challenging when using a mallet-type putter. If there is an adjustment that has to occur, it is more in the distance control when lag putting. The mallet is a bit more awkward to wield than a traditional-style putter, making the longer stroke needed to hit the ball a greater distance tougher for some. The benefits on the short putts can outweigh the trouble from distance.

The weight can still be loaded on the back foot properly without having the knee AS FLEXED as it was in the address. The trick here is that the leg can lose some of its bend and still be loaded up and ready to pop. The mistake many people make is trying to keep the amount of bend created in the address position a constant during the backswing. It is ok if you lose some of the flex.

Mark asks at 12:05:

I tried to get my post in last week - I've recorded some recent indoor video and here are the links:



To reiterate, I've made some small progress I think (mostly with the 9 iron swing), however my left knee and hip movement are still out of control. Watching Gary Woodland this weekend helped me visually about keeping the tush line maintained. I think this why my swing is based on timing.

I've practiced with the wall tip you mentioned before and lately even tried hitting balls with a chair near my backside. Other ideas I've read about are rolling the ankles toward each other and/or consciously keeping my left-foot heel down (until the ball is hit). I don't know what else to try other than more repetitions? My head still raises in the backswing as before, but it's not my main progress area right now.

Thanks for the videos. I am not a big fan of rolling the ankles. It isn’t the best use of the ground as a source of power and stability. I think the backswing lines and positions are extremely clean. I agree that the tush line is the issue, in addition to the lack of correct function with the legs. Both legs need to do a better job of straightening through impact. It is just like jumping off the ground to grab a rebound in basketball. The legs flex first, then you push off the ground with both legs becoming straight. The differences with impact are that your hips have rotated around to the target roughly 30-45 degrees and you don’t leave the ground. Here are a couple of pics to help you visualize this.



January 18, 2011

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Will Fix Your Faults

Posted at 9:49 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online today at noon EST to answer readers' swing questions and analyze their swing videos. Submit your question or video link for Brady in the comments section below, and check back and noon to hear what Brady has to say.

Thanks to everyone for your questions and videos. I am sorry I didn't get to everyone, please ask again next week. I am off to the lesson tee.....

Steve asks at 1:00:

My question relates to initiating the downswing. I am 56 years old and a 12 handicap. Occasionally, I will not get a good weight transfer on the downswing, especially with the driver. I hang back and have a faulty release which, in my case, means a push fade. I have been working on using my left foot (I am right handed golfer) to push against the ground to initiate the weight transfer to begin the downswing. But I find that swing thought tough for me. Maybe I am just not that coordinated. I feel like I am pushing myself out of posture or spine angle. Any suggestions?

This is a very common problem I see daily on the lesson tee. Without seeing the swing I would encourage you to draw on all the past athletic motions you have made. When throwing a ball, hitting a pitch, punching, etc. your weight will always move before your arm(s). This is the proper sequence to use when hitting a golf ball. It sounds like you are on the right track thinking about your left foot, but if it isn’t working you should move on. I would rather you think of stepping into the throw, hit, etc. as you would when playing other sports. People generally have more success when thinking of a whole body motion rather than specific body parts.

Read more:


Jeff asks at 12:50:

how important is it to keep right knee flex on the backswing? It's tough to do with my age and flexibility. Thanks for the blog.

It isn’t a critical aspect of the golf swing. It gets far too much credit for being the key to making a powerful, coiled turn to the top but it isn’t a must. Great players have been straightening the right leg in different amounts forever so don’t overdo it. A more important key is to maintain the bend you created in the address position and keep in contact with the Tush line, both of which can be achieved with the right leg flexed or straight.

Read more:


Rgreenw445 asks at 12:40:

consistently hit about 1/2" off center toe shots, especially with my irons. Shot shape is a slight draw. What's causing this? I'm a 5 handicap, 68 year old. It's driving me nuts.

The typical cause of your issue is that your clubshaft is getting significantly more upright at impact than it was in the address position. While there are numerous causes of this, the most common associated with a right to left shot shape is that you are standing up during the downswing. This isn’t to be mistaken for lifting your head or looking up, but the forward bend over the ball you create in the address position isn’t being maintained on the downswing. This raises your hands up further from the ground, forcing the angle of the shaft to become steeper and the sweet spot of the clubhead to come back away from the ball, thus the contact off the toe. There are several things you can do that will help significantly. The first is to start with less weight in your heels and your body in a more upright position at address. This combination at address will help you maintain your forward bend during the swing, making it much easier to hit the sweetspot of the club.

Read more:


Richard Skripek asks at 12:32:

I want to ask from you how can I increase my distance? At the moment I have in average 115 mph, and I want to increase it to about 125 mph. What do think on what should I work on?

You have plenty of room to increase your clubhead speed. The issue in your swing is with your posture. Look at your backside during the swing and you will see something interesting happen. As you swing the 50 yard marker that was blocked by your tush at address is completely uncovered at impact. This change in posture or loss of the “Tush line” is a huge power leak in your swing. You should be maintaining contact with the line from set-up to several frames past impact. There are several issues that develop as a result from losing the line, the most significant being there is no room for your right arm to track down in front of your right hip without your arms getting too far away from your body. This happens because your right hip has moved significantly closer to the ball at impact than it was at address. I have done several videos online concerning this subject that would help you. Here are a couple of pics to give you the idea.

The lane

Read more:


Daniel asks at 12:13:

Hi Brady, really thank you for your help! I sent my swing once and you told me to shorten it for the angle of attack not to be so vertical. the quality of the video was less than acceptable and nighttime, I send now vids in better quality for you to take a look. I would like you to check my leg work in the downswing, although I hit it enough long to compete, it looks to me as promoting an over-the-top move which leads to me hitting 80% of my shots left of the intended target.

Thanks for the videos. You obviously have plenty of clubhead speed. I don’t think your legs are the issue at this point. The problem is with the shape of your swing.  The takeaway gets too far inside, making the backswing too deep behind you. As with most swing issues what you do going back has the opposite effect on the downswing. Your arms and club swing too far out in front of you forcing the club to attack on an overly steep and outside path. While most left issue players have are caused by a closed clubface, yours is definitely effected by the improper shape of your swing.

Read more:


Steven Oh asks at 12:05:

I know I am supposed to hit down on the ball with my irons - does the same apply to hybrids? Thanks.

Any time the ball is on the ground the club must be going down as it makes contact. This should happen as a result of swinging the club properly rather than a conscious effort to hit down. One thing I can tell you is that many players who struggle with the hybrids stand too far away from them. Take your address position more as you would with an iron and you will have more success.

Read more:

January 11, 2011

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Will Fix Your Faults

Posted at 9:54 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs is online every Tuesday at noon EST to answer readers' swing questions and analyze their swing videos. Check back next week and leave your question of video for Brady.  

Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. I am sorry I couldn't get to everyone, I am off to the lesson tee. I will see everyone next week on the blog.

Torrensv asks at 12:52:

Thanks for doing this and sharing your knowledge. My question is this: in watching JByrd this weekend he seemed to me to let the clubface "face" the ball for a long time in the backswing, then delivered it pretty much the same way. Didn't seem to square it at impact, but with a face that looked already square going into the ball. Is this an illusion or can that be achieved? Seems like it would take a lot of timing out of the golf swing. I think Ben Hogan had a similar ability, i.e. squaring up the face well before it got to the ball, then just turning through?

There are some professionals who play with the face slightly open on the downswing, more with the face slightly closed and most with it very square. Each clubface position requires a different release, all can work very effectively. I will try to find some new swings of Byrd to check but the pictures I have show the face perfectly square. There have been many a good swing ruined by trying to keep the face “square” to the target line. This is true from the putter, chipping, pitching and the full swing. Here is a picture of Byrd from a while back.


Craig asks at 12:35:

Just a general question about hitting the more lofted wedges. I have a set of Cobra irons which run from 3 to gap wedge. I'm a good iron player and have no issues hitting my GW and PW -- along with my 7- and 8-irons they're probably my best clubs, with good distance control. I also have a 56-degree SW and a 60-degree LW, both Taylor Made in my bag. I have an awful time getting any sort of consistent contact on these clubs -- for example, it's not uncommon for me to hit three full SWs in a round, and hit them 95 yards, 70 yards and 50 yards.

I'm wondering if this is a common problem with mid-handicaps -- this disparity between the lofted wedges. Or is it a questions of these types of clubs being more difficult to hit (less forgiving), or could it be a question of greater comfort level with the weight and feel of my Cobras? Any ideas?

It can be an issue with the type of clubs you are using, but most likely it is you. I would try some other clubs to see if there is a measurable improvement. At the very least you could eliminate it as an issue. One of the biggest mistakes non-professionals make with their wedges is they try to hit them too far. You should very rarely be hitting shots full with the wedges. If you go to any professional event you will see Tour players controlling the trajectory of the shot to control the distance. This is done by hitting wedges far shorter than possible to keep the height of the shot down. Not only will this help you hit the ball at a different height, it will make it significantly easier to hit the wedges solid because the swing will be shorter and the easier.

Nash asks at 12:17:

Hi Brady I posted my swing two weeks ago and you told me to work on a steeper shoulder turn. I had the crazy overly flat shoulder turn that made my head move up away from the target line. You said that once I worked on the steeper turn I should post another video so that we could take the next steps. I also noticed that my hands/shaft get steep on my downswing. I am aware that many things cause people to get steep so I was curious about what exactly causes me to do that.

Here is a video for down the line:

and for the front view:

Thanks again. I really appreciate you giving your time to help us.

You have made some positive changes, good job. The overall shape of your swing needs work. Your hands are too far forward at address and your grip looks too strong. This leads to a takeaway that gets inside quickly, causing the backswing to become too flat going back. This almost always leads to the opposite problem on the downswing, getting too steep. This isn’t an easy problem to fix as it requires you to work on multiple parts of your golf swing at the same time. I will tell you that if you work in the order they occur, set-up, takeaway, etc., you will notice each previous fix helps the next. The last issue you have is directly related to your takeaway and that is your pivot. You tend to keep the majority of your weight on your front foot as you take the club back this keeps your head a little too centered for my taste and forces your left leg into an awkward angle during most of the swing. I have included some pictures that should help.


Tom asks at 12:10:

Will grip change (strong, weak, neutral) affect swing path?

Yes, the grip will most certainly effect the swing path in two specific ways.

First, the position of the hands on the club will change the alignment of the shoulders at address making it very influential on the path of the swing. For example, if the grip is weak the right shoulder tends to be higher and closer to the target line at address, making it more difficult to get the club attacking from the inside. The opposite is true with a strong grip. The lower shoulder at address tends to close the shoulders at address and can make it too easy to come from under the plane.

The second effect of the grip on the path is the position of the clubface during the swing. If the grip is weak then the face will tend to be open, making it very likely the swing path will come from the outside to compensate. This is the exact opposite for the strong grip as it makes the face tend to be closed. If you understand the issues each grip presents, it can shed light on many of the flaws you may have in your golf swing.  

Henrique asks at 12:00:

Thanks for taking time every week to help us!

My question is if there's any drill to help with the transition from the backswing and with the weight transfer. Unfortunately I have no video but I'm feeling I leaving the weight on my back foot.

Thanks for the question, Henrique. There is a simple way to get the feeling of moving the weight in the direction of the target before the arms and club on the downswing. This should be done first without a ball to get used to the sequence and then with a ball at a slower speed than normal. Take your standard address position then move your forward foot so it is positioned next to your back foot. Take the club away from the ball in your normal backswing, but just before you reach the top, step with your front foot back to its original position. This should help you get the confidence to move your body before your arms and hands as you start the downswing.  

January 04, 2011

Ask Brady Riggs Live! Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Will Fix Your Faults

Posted at 10:37 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesdaday noon EST to answer readers' swing questions and analyze their swing videos. He'll be back the same time next week to answer all your questions, so get those videos ready!

David asks at 12:50:

I posted my swing a couple of weeks ago and you mentioned that I needed to get the club more open during the swing in order to release fully. My grip, however, is already on the weak side of neutral. What drills/feels would be best to get the clubface in a more open position?

If the grip isn't the source of the closed clubface, then your left wrist is the problem area. The best way to feel the club in a more open position is to get your left thumb to feel like it is directly under the handle and supporting the club at the top of the backswing. With your thumb in this position, your left wrist will have a bend or slight cup in it at the top. This will solve the problem of the closed face at the top and make it easier to release the club fully through impact.

Thanks for your questions and comments this week. I look forward to hearing from all of you next week.

Joe asks at 12:34:

I recently read Stan Utley's book "The Art of Putting" and wondered what some of your thoughts about the short game are? Are you someone who prefers the straight back-straight through method or the inside-to-square-to-inside method? What are some of your putting fundamentals? Thanks!

Thanks for the putting question, Joe, we don't get enough of them on the blog. I am a big fan of whatever works on the green. I have seen great putters put straight back and through, arc, left hand low, saw, claw, croquet, side-sadle, putt with a belly, putt with a long putter, not to mention Aoki...

Like so many things in golf trying to teach any ONE WAY does a disservice to a large population of players. When things aren't working conventionally, it is the teacher's responsibility to change course and put the player into a technique that will work for them. This can require some outside-the-box thinking, but that is what makes teaching so rewarding.

In my opinion the set-up position is the most important fundamental of putting consistently. This doesn't mean all players must set-up the same, but their set-up must match their stroke. For example, if the player is going to putt straight back and straight through with the face remaining square they will be more successful with their stance narrower and slightly open because it allows their arms and hands to track further toward the hole after impact without clubface rotation. These players are often right-eye dominant and feel more comfortable with a short putter.

If the player is going to arc, their address should be very neutral with the elbows bent close to the same amount, their feet, knees,hips, shoulders, and EYE LINE parallel to the putting line. This gives them the best chance to release the putter properly during impact. The basic idea is there are many ways to be successful on the greens, but you need to understand your mechanics and how they are complementing your philosophy.

Brady, Thanks for giving us your time. My question is regarding my backswing. When I take the club back I have a nice takeaway from ball-to-waist high position with club pointing to target. However, once I get the club past waist high I bring the club inside and get real flat with my swing. Instead of hinging my wrist up I am laying the club over and turing it behind me with a closed club face at top. While this works well for driving the ball, I often struggle on short shots (125 yards and in). Therefore I was wondering if you had any tips or drills that I might try to get the club in the proper position from waist-high to the top of backswing? Thanks for the help and again thanks for donating your time to us Weekend Warriors!

Thanks for the kind words about the blog, I love doing it.There is an old, simple drill for helping you get the club more UP after the takeaway that will give you a good feel for where the backswing should be going. Stand about 2-4 inches away from a vertical wall (garage door works well) with your tush facing the wall. When you get to the club parallel to the ground position during the backswing, your next move would normally have the club clattering into the wall. The wall provides the motivation to get the club working more vertically and less around. When done properlly, the club should miss the wall entirely and travel up and over your shoulder into a solid top of backswing position. Not only will this help your plane, but the proper angle of the club working up will enable your wrists to function correctly helping you achieve a more square clubface position.

Brandon asks at 12:00:

Brady, Love the blog and have found it very helpful as I have dropped my handicap from an 16 down to a 7 (can't give you all the credit, but you have helped for sure). My question is this. When I read articles or watch video about how to improve your game, it seems that some tips will only help you if they are geared towards your specific swing or swing plane. I have a two-swing-plane swing, any advice as to how i can tell if the "fix" will fix my fault, i.e geared to a two-plane golfer?

Thanks for the credit, I'll take it where I can get it. Any advice you get either from a magazine or elsewhere should be taken with a grain of salt. In many cases, the advice given may be the exact opposite of what you need. Tha author of the article is also important to take note of. If it is written by a teacher who is known for teaching a different style than you are using it might be a good idea to skip that article. In any case, you always have the blog to answer your questions.

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