Archive: February 2011

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February 22, 2011

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

Posted at 11:43 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online today at 5 p.m. EST to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. Leave your question or video for Brady in the comments section below.

Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. Next week will be exciting here on the blog as we have a couple of exciting announcements to make. Look forward to hearing from all of you then. Tim and Travis submit your questions again then and I will do them first. Have a great week. 

Welcome to another addition of the Tuesday Instruction Blog. As always I will do my best to get to everyone's questions. Along the way I am sure to annoy those who believe there is only one way to swing a golf club. If I haven't done that, I consider the blog a failure. Let's get going....

Jim asks at 6:45:

Hi Brady - I appreciate your frankness around different swing methods. Dean Wilson and Badds have both now moved on from stack and tilt. Is anyone still using it, or it has completely run its course? Are there any advantages that outweight the potential for back injury?

OK, I’ll bite. If I don’t give the Stack and Tilt guys something to blog about they won’t know what to do with themselves. Yes, people are still using it. No, it hasn’t completely run its course, yet. No, there are no advantages to it. It is a “honeymoon” method. This means there is a period of time you are working on it where it is more effective than what you were using IF you were hanging too far back and below plane. The swing becomes more effective during the “honeymoon” because the swing has found a more neutral base and is functioning more as it should. What we have seen with stack and tilt is that once players eventually get where they were told to go it isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Weir, Badds, etc. are examples of this. Let the bashing in the stack and tilt forums begin.

 

Eric asks at 6:30:

great blog. more of a theoretical question for you. Aside from "casting," what are the most common power leaks in amateur golf swings? I know I'm losing power somewhere, and would like to check where...

There is generally a lack of solid contact with players losing distance. This begins with poor control over the combination of clubface and path leading to a glancing blow instead of a head-on collision. Once the clubface and path are cleaned up, people can improve their power by working on the proper sequence to begin the downswing. Moving weight before the arms and club is a fundamental that doesn’t go away regardless of what some theories may say. If you are losing power and have the clubface and path matching well this is the area to focus on.

 

Jermaine asks at 6:10:

Here is my question from last week which you didn't have time to get round too.

Hi Brady,
Addicted to the blog!

Here is a link to my swing, 4 iron down the line:

I'd be really grateful for your comments on my swing. I tend to take the club back on the inside and then make an over the top move.

I'd also like your thoughts on the role of the right elbow in the golf swing. Should it be allowed to stray slightly away from the body at the top or be kept tight? I notice that Tiger's position at the top is somewhat different to say Rory McIlroy's.

I have been turning my elbows out and skywards (after reading Hogan's 5 fundamentals) and find that while my right elbow folds easier and stays more 'connected' I take the club back too much on the inside. Is there a hard and fast rule for the address position of the elbows?

Thanks

Jermaine

I have since spent a bit of time on this and would like your thoghts on my swing generally. Here's the link:

I recently posted this is a forum and a lot of people mentioned that I shouldn't worry too much about my long game, rather, focus on getting the ball in the hole. Do you have any general putting advice in terms of posture, ball position, grip pressure etc.

Thanks very much. Love what you do!

The action of your lower body, specifically your legs, is fantastic. I agree that the club is too far inside in the takeaway leading to your steep position during the transition. I would love to see you maintain the cup in your left wrist during the takeaway and allow your right arm to fold naturally during the backswing. Your arms should be softer in the address position and during the takeaway to allow your club to work more up more quickly. This isn’t to suggest you artificially “hinge” your wrists in the start of the backswing, rather you maintain both the “cup” and vertical hinge already present in your left wrist in the address position as you move the club away from the ball. The word “connection” is fine when referring to the upper left arm and chest during the takeaway, but isn’t always a great strategy for the right arm at the top of the backswing. If the arm folds properly with the club working more “up” the plane your right arm will be soft and fairly close to your body at the top without “trying” so hard. When it comes to putting I would encourage you to have a philosophy and stick to it. There are great putters that have are SBST, ARC, and SBDTL. The mechanics for each are different and require knowledge of the entire stroke from set-up to finish for success. Don’t mix the techniques and you will begin to improve. Check out the swing of AK and these pictures to help you understand the backswing changes you need.

Foxytop

Dave asks at 5:55:

Brady - Thanks for the blog, I've found it very helpful. Please help me understand the pivot a little more. I know that everybody's swing is different, but if I understand it correctly, you've advised some players that they are too rotational and need more lateral shift in both in the backswing and the downswing and with others you've advised them to shift (sway) less laterally and become more rotational. Am I correct that both elements (lateral and rotational) are necessary? If so, what's the optimal mix? Are there any ball flights (high, low, hooks, draws) or types of contact (e.g. fat, thin) that suggest too much/not enough lateral/rotational movement? Thanks, Dave.

Love your question Dave, thank you. This is the reason I don’t believe in teaching a method, I believe in teaching players. I have some players I teach to pivot like DLIII with the right hip moving immediately back towards the target. This sharper hip rotation is critical to helping a player achieve a deeper position with the arms and hands at the top of the swing. This type of pivot will get the club attacking on a shallower angle the fastest and is great when working with players who struggle with steeper angles of attack, chunks, and a lack of consistency in their contact with the ground. These players are often but not always less flexible, over the age of 21, and in need of some immediate improvement. The more lateral hip motion in the backswing and steeper shoulder turn that is associated with it are usually but not always reserved for the more flexible, younger, athletic players who are capable of making this type of pivot work. This is a similar action to that of Villegas, AK, and my student US Women’s Amateur Champion Danielle Kang. These players generally have no problem attacking on a shallower angle and can, in fact, have problems coming into impact too flat. They require different approaches at address and in the transition but are both very effective in creating better players.

 

Thanks again for the question.

Julia asks at 12:40:

Hi Brady,
Do you have any drills that will improve my putting?
Thanks, Julia

Here is a simple thing that will really help you understand how important the proper speed is when putting. Hit some putts from 3-4 feet from the hole with the purpose of having them enter the hole at different speeds. Some will crawl over the front of the hole, some will bounce off the dirt at the back of the hole, some will fall into the hole hitting the back plastic near the bottom of the cup. What you will notice is that when the speed is too slow, the ball will break away from the cup at the end and struggle to hold its line. When the ball is hit too hard the ball will tend to lip out of the hole unless it makes perfect contact with the center back of the dirt. When the speed is right, it will hold its line and go in even if it doesn’t enter the middle of the hole. This should always be your goal on the course and on the practice green. Work on your speed more than anything else and you will become a great putter.

Trevor asks at 5:30

Hey Brady,
I'm trying to adopt a neutral grip after struggling with consistecy with a strong grip. The backswing motion feels completely different to me with the change. Would you mind providing some guidance on how to perform a proper backswing? I'm wondering if I should focus on mimicing the club angle at address or focusing on my left wrist hinging up some other similar guidpoint.

There are many different directions you can go in regarding the shape, width, hinge, and length of your backswing. Perhaps the most important thing you need to decide is the position of your lead wrist at the top. I have some students who swing the club best and feel most comfortable with the wrist flat, as it would be in the impact position. I have just as many students who like the feel of a bit of “cup” in the wrist, as it was in the address. Each position has its’ plusses and minuses. My recommendation on which to use would be determined by the ballflight problems you are currently experiencing and several other factors. If you could send in some video I will be more specific.

Stephen asks at 5:15:

What is the proper position of the upper right arm at the top of the backswing? I always thought to stay connected it should be tight to your right side, but that makes it impossible to have a full backswing. Thoughts?

There are several positions the upper right arm can be in and be effective at the top of the backswing. Great golf can be played with the upper right arm well away from the body ala Nicklaus, Sutton, Couples, Daly, etc., and closer to the body like Hogan, AK, Byrd, and Trevino. I agree with you that keeping the arm tight to the side limits the length of the backswing and is a weaker, less-effective position for most amateurs. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see the differences.

Armclose
Armfar

Eric asks at 5:05:

Hey there! If there is any chance you could critique the swing I would greatly appreciate it. I shoot usually in the mid to upper 80's. Driving distance is typically my strength but not accurate enough. Irons are up and down. Great shows and then very poor. Help!!! Thanks very much!!

I can’t get access to the video. Can you resend it again in You Tube or another format?

Andrea asks at 5:00:

Hi Brady,
thanks for the golf blog. I love reading your analysis of our swings!
I got your feedback on my swing a few months ago and was wondering if you have any more suggestions on what I should work on at the moment. I’ve tried to weaken my grip, have a more athletic set –up position with weight on the front of my foot. Here are some videos from my most recent range session.

Is there anything in particular that you feel I need to work on?
Thanks for the help,
Andrea

Glad to see the swing again. Your shoulders look open to your toe line which could be in part from the weaker top hand grip position. I would like to see you square them up. The club is tracking a bit too far inside during the takeaway. This takes the club behind you too quickly going up, forcing the arms and club to shift and come over as you begin the downswing. You compensate for what would be a steep angle of attack by driving your tush towards the ball to help the club drop back into a more inside track. Once you have fixed the address position, I would like to see two things get much better in the beginning of your swing. First, I want to see the clubhead stay outside your hands at the first parallel to the ground position and get your tush to work “behind” its original position in the set-up. If you watch the video of the 5 iron again you will see your head working towards the ball during the backswing. If you fix the takeaway and the direction your tush is working in during the backswing your head will go the opposite direction. Here are a couple of pictures to help you get going.

Clarkeback

February 15, 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 stopped by on Tuesday to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady this time, be sure to check back next Tuesday for another episode of Ask Brady Riggs Live!

Sorry I didn't get to everyone, I tried! Send in your videos and questions next week and I will do my best to get to everyone. Have a great week.

Tim asks at 6:35:

Brady, I love what you're doing here on the blog. Every week I check this out because I love the pics you put up of AK!!!

Can you check out my two swings I have posted and give me some advice on how to clean up some stuff. Biggest issue is in my downswing.My arms get away from my body and I lose some lag because of this I think. I'd also like to clean up the backswing a little bit. I want to get it shorter and compact like AK. It amazes me how he can keep every club in his bag, including his driver, short of parallel but still smash it! I really would like to ingrain this into my swing, maybe with your help I can! thanks so much for taking the time to help me out.

Thank you for the kind words. AK is an amazing talent and easily one of the toughest competitors I have ever seen. I am one of the all-time great trash talkers and love to mess with my students to challenge their mental toughness. AK is one of only 3 players I have ever seen who got better the more I talked. I only wish he respected his talent more, a topic for a discussion another day. Let’s talk about your golf swing. While I like a great deal about it, I don’t like that your head stays in place during the backswing. This means you are rotating too much around yourself going back, taking your arms and the club too deep at the top. This will force an inevitable shift to a steeper plane with your arms further away from you coming down. If you moved more laterally going back, you could use the last few frames of the backswing and the beginning of the downswing to go in the direction of the target without spinning your upper body open. This would allow your arms to stay closer to your body without getting trapped because you could keep your upper body closed to the target longer coming down. In your current swing, your head moves well beyond it’s original position from address during the downswing forcing you to dive behind the ball at and beyond impact. If you study the swing of AK on my website you will see this never happens in his golf swing. He is able to move laterally coming down and even though he moves a bit beyond his address location at impact he NEVER goes back with his head through the ball. If you added some more lateral motion in both directions during your swing the club would track better on the plane and your swing would become shorter. One last thing, your shoulders are open at address, get squared up! Here are a couple of pics to help you.

Akmove
Akhead

Steve asks at 6:20:

As a teacher, how much do you adapt your instruction based on the swing a pupil currently utilizes? A Jim Furyk swing and a Matt Kuchar swing are quite different but they both get the club on plane at impact with excellent results. About a year ago, I saw the Jim Hardy DVD set on the one plane swing and it absolutely fascinated and made sense to me. I self taught myself this swing and it has worked quite well. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out and now hit the ball farther, am much more consistent, and I have dropped my handicap from 16 to 9 in a short amount of time. I wouldn’t mind taking a few lessons from a good teaching professional to help me tweak the swing I have. However, my experience has been that many have specific notions on how the golf swing should be. My question is should a good teaching professional be proficient in teaching multiple types of swings or do I need to find one that focuses on a one plane type of swing?

Sounds like you have had success on your own Steve, I would proceed with caution when it comes to golf lessons. While every great teacher should be able to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of their students, it is difficult to imagine any instructor who would be proficient at teaching multiple types of methods to their students. If you are looking to base your golf swing on a specific swing methodology you should go directly to the source. In other words, I would find a “one-plane” teacher if I wanted to learn a “one-plane” golf swing. As an instructor, I am going to tell you what I think you need to do to improve taking all the factors into consideration. This may or may not work within the method you have chosen. I know I would never teach anything I didn’t completely understand and believe in so if a student asked me teach them a methodology I was opposed to I would let them know I wasn’t interested.

 

Nick asks at 6:00:

I have a question about the transition move and the takeaway. I have read about a couple things about this matter in forums/websites and was curious about your opinion on them as well as what you prescribe to your students.
The first method, which i think is the more commonly used takeaway, is rotating around a stable lower body while still allowing the hips to turn a few degrees and then initiating the downswing via the legs compressing into the ground with the arms following or trailing.
The second method is using a somewhat early wrist hinge in the takeaway and try to maintain this flat wrist throughout the entire swing. The downswing is initiated by a diagonal drop from the arms with the lower body just serving as stable base.
The third method I have read about involves getting one's lower body in the impact position during the backswing. In other words, the lower body is rotating towards the intended target while the upper body is rotating in the opposite direction with a wide takeaway. There is no real pause at the top of the backswing. Rather the arms/hands/club keep moving and move closer towards the body on the downswing. Maybe float loading is the correct term?
I'm not sure if calling these "methods" is correct, but I would like to hear your opinions on these and a comparison of what you like to see in your students. Thank you.

While the descriptions aren’t necessarily how I would describe the sequence the first and third are ok, the second is awful. There is no movement pattern in any sport that starts with the arms and not the body. I don’t care if it’s hitting a ball or puck with a stick, racquet, or bat, or throwing an object. While some sports require more or less movement, the arms never lead. The third sequence is potentially the most powerful and athletic, but the lower body doesn’t need to be rotating away from the upper during the backswing. Instead, it can move in the direction of the target first to initiate the downswing and then rotate more through impact. The problem being if the lower body rotates too much too soon the right arm gets stuck behind the right hip in a less than advantageous position. Hope this has answered some of your questions.

 

davedmail@hotmail.com asks at 5:47:

Hello Brady, I sent in a question last week regarding the backswing, transition and release. My camera is not working right now so wondered if you could describe the sequence from takeaway through transition through impact as you believe it to happen...especially the transition and release of the club. The best players on tour (ball strikers) seem to return the clubshaft on plane from address better than most-how do they accomplish this (good amatuers w single digit hdcp seem to always have the shaft more upright). I'll try to get a vidoe in soon. thanks...

Thanks for the question Dave. I think returning the shaft on the original shaft plane at impact is a common misconception. There is little doubt that most amateurs are too upright when compared to their original starting position. This is due mostly to a change in their posture from set-up to impact most often in an attempt to compensate for a downswing that is overly steep. When it comes to Tour players there is less of a jump vertically from address, but some shift more than others. This can be explained fairly easily when you look at the height of the hands in the address position. If two players arrive at the exact same height at impact but start at different heights in address you can see where one “seems to have” stayed more on their original angle than the other. It is less important to start on a specific spot than it is to end there. To answer your question about the sequence I would need to know a great deal more about the player, the problems, and the goal. For example, I would encourage a recreational player who is not in the greatest shape struggling with a slice to rotate his hips much earlier and more aggressively than the younger, more flexible tour player. To give you the entire sequence for all possible combinations would take all day, but I am more than happy to discuss a specific player or problem that you have in mind.

 

 

Scottandros asks at 5:30:

Im wondering if you can help.... I feel like I have a pretty good golf swing but don't get as much out of it as I should in terms of distance.

I feel like I struggle with my weight transfer and also making and maintaining a good wristcock.

Any suggestions you have would be great!
Thanks,
Andy

Thanks for the video Andy. If you always evaluate your golf swing with the priorities being clubface, path, and finally pivot it is hard to go wrong. Let’s deal with the clubface first. It is difficult to determine based upon the video you shot if the grip is to blame for a portion of your closed clubface, but it is a good place to look. There is no question that your lead wrist (right) is bowed making the clubface significantly more closed than I would like to see it. I would also check your grip to make sure it isn’t too strong as this will contribute to the problem. Once the grip is more neutral, I would focus on getting the right thumb, your glove hand’s thumb, under the handle at the top of the backswing. Not only will this make the face square if the grip is good but it will also had some much needed hinge (wristcock) to your backswing. The next step would be to improve your posture in the address position. You currently stand too far from the ball with the weigth back in your heels. This makes you shift your body in the direction of the ball through impact making it impossible to keep your tush in contact with the line it began against at set-up. This may seem insignificant at first but you will discover it is much easier to hit the ball solidly if you don’t crash into it with your body during the downswing. Here is a picture of the proper posture at address and impact.

Rosw

 

 

 

Jan Lernfelt asks at 5:15:

Hi Brady, it’s always great fun to read the blog on Tuesdays. Trying to improve my technique during the winter break here in Sweden. I’ve attached two videos, one down the line and one from the front view. First down the line:

I’ve had a problem of coming a little bit from the outside for a couple of years now. I play off a 1 hcp and I can handle the out-to-in swing but I am having real difficulties of hitting a draw when I need to. I guess I have been playing with a pull-fade for some time now and want to get rid of it. Want to start the ball on line and I really want to be neutral in my swing in all positions (setup, grip, back swing, transition, down swing, finish etc..). From what I can see, I change swing plane at the top and while that sometimes can be a good thing, this time it's the wrong shift. From a decent on plane backswing to "coming over the top" and hitting it slightly from the outside starting with the transition on the downswing. I've tried dipping my right shoulder under me, and “forcing” my arms to drop down in a flatter plane but still I get this forward tilt of my body towards the ball in the transition making it impossible to come from the inside. Is this the cause of the outside swingpath? Also it looks as if I start the downswing with my upper body instead of starting the downswing with the lower body in the transition. How can I overcome this? What do you think about the motion other than that? Sometimes when I look at it I feel as if I rotate my entire body around my spine more than I should and that I should rotate my shoulders on a more upright plane instead… comparing to some pros my right arm is really tight against my body in the start of the backswing where theirs is going more away from the body in the Jtakeaway…getting really confused, here, pls help.

Regarding the front view (filmed in a different training facility, naturally lots of them in Sweden)…

I don't know, there's something that looks really wrong at the top, either it's the pivot or the turn, or the transition... my head is tilted almost as if I’ve turned my entire body against the target… I just can't put my finger on it! Any ideas?

Thanks for the videos and questions Jan. I think your analysis of your swing is pretty good. Overall, the motion is very functional and should produce consistent if not spectacular results. Your statement about your right arm and it’s proximity to the body during the swing was insightful. Your right arm is close to your body going back, too far away from it coming down. Just like your loop is a bit backwards from on plane to over it in the transition, your arm moves from narrow to wider and should do the opposite. With a couple of subtle changes you could really improve your ability to move the ball in both directions and improve your consistency and power as well. I would encourage you to get the club working more up during the takeaway, with your right arm further from your body. This wider, more upright backswing will give you the opportunity to get shallower and narrower on the downswing. It seems like a daunting task but in all honesty you could make the changes with little negative impact on your ability to score. It is difficult to walk you through this with a short answer in a blog but if you understand the concept I am sure you can make progress on your own. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see the idea.

Sergio

 

Grant asks at 5:00:

Hi Brady, great forum and blog. I hope you can help me as I’m lost. As you can see, the club is moving in too quickly, my shoulder turn is too level and I drop my right shoulder severally on the downswing and get stuck on my back foot. My shaft plane also exits way too high. I’ve tried some stack & tilt moves, but it feels very unnatural to me. I almost feel like I need to get my arms moving up quicker on the backswing and delay the shoulder and hip turn to keep the arms from getting inside too quickly. Please help or I might need to move to the tennis courts.
Grant



Your assessment of your golf swing is very accurate. I agree that the shoulder turn is way too flat, the arms and club are in too quickly, the weight is buried on the back foot through impact and the club’s exit is too high. I also think you are looking in the right place when it comes to fixing the issue, it’s in the early rotation of your body, specifically your hips that you must make a change. I would love to see you move laterally with your entire body to initiate the backswing, replacing the early rotation of your hips with a lateral shift away from the target. This will automatically make your arms and club travel down the target line and more up than the in and around move you currently have. With the right hip further back your left shoulder will rotate more under and allow the arms and club to work up as they finish the backswing rather than back. With your weight in the right thigh going back you can make a positive shift in the direction of the target as you start the downswing greatly improving your chances of hitting the ball more solidly. I will include a couple of pictures to help you get the idea. When you are watching golf on TV look at the swings of Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas, their pivot should be your model.

Slide

February 08, 2011

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

Posted at 9:26 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online today from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. Check back next Tuesday at noon for another episode of Ask Brady Riggs Live!

Thanks to everyone for your questions, comments, and videos. Sorry I couldn't get to everyone, please repost your question next week so I help you out. Get them in early. The Lombardi Trophy is going back to its rightful home!

Nick asks at 1:25:

What is the proper release angle of the shaft compared to the shoulder line during the follow through? Should it be similar to the shoulder line or more vertical compared to the shoulder line? Are there any advantages or disadvantages? Or does it just indicate what type of shot the player has hit or does it relate to the flaws the player has in their control of the club after impact?

Great question, Nick. There are several elements that go into the “exit” of the club and its relative position to the ground and left shoulder. Generally speaking, right-to-left players tend to exit higher and closer to the left shoulder than left-to-right players, players with higher ball-flights have higher exits than those with lower ball-flights, and longer clubs tend to exit higher than shorter clubs.  The other issue is with the amount of hip rotation and forward body-tilt. If a player rotates their hips aggressively through the ball and stays bent over, the club will exit lower than a player who has more lateral hip slide and stands more upright during impact. The basic idea is that it needs to match what you are trying to do with your shape of shot, trajectory, and pivot. Good players will exit anywhere between just above the left shoulder and just above the left hip. Here are a couple of pictures to help.

Exits

Daniel asks at 1:15:

Hey Brady! Simple question, are professional players born or made and how much can hard work replace a lack of talent? Sometimes the technical work looks to me like a loss of time since it looks like Tour players seem to be good since they were born and they can do pretty much what they want with their swings because they were gifted. Like an instinct of playing great golf naturally. Although they need a lot of work to raise their potential. To put it in other words, do you need to be gifted with the natural talent to get to play on tour, for example? And how far can you get as a 100% worker? Thanks

Great players come from every direction, Daniel. Calvin Peete and Larry Nelson picked up golf in their twenties and won money titles, PGA Tour events, and Major Championships. Tiger was swinging the club well and playing good golf before most of us could tie our shoes. Bruce Lietzke never practiced and went fishing for months at a time and won millions. Tom Kite worked day and night on his technique, so did Faldo, Hogan, Vijay, etc. There is no formula, no equation of talent and hard work that gets someone on Tour regardless of what the book Outliers may say. I played with guys when I was a junior who were so good they were can’t-miss prospects, they missed. Scott McCarron couldn’t make the UCLA starting line-up but has been on Tour for over a decade. I know this doesn’t answer your question, but in a way that’s how it works, it is different for everyone. Talent only gets your foot in the door.

Clairatt asks at 1:00:

I have a couple of bizarre anomalies in my game. 1. I consistently slice with the driver (though placing tees outside and behind the ball indicate that I do not swing out-to-in), yet with my irons I tend to pull left, not really a draw, just straight left about 10 o' clock relative to the target. 2. I hit my 7 iron about 155 and my 8 iron about 160. All other clubs have normal distance spacing.

Why do you have to be so special? The distance difference between the 7 iron and 8 irons has to be an equipment issue. Check the lofts with those clubs because something is jacked up. When it comes to the slice with the driver, read the beginning of the blog where I discuss the importance of clubface over path. The dead pull with the irons you are hitting can be a number of things. I have seen players have the clubface open with the driver and closed with the irons, I have seen the grip weak with one and strong with the other. Without seeing the swing I can’t give you specifics other than to tell you work on things in the proper order, clubface, path, pivot.

Peyton asks at 12:55:

I have attached a video of my driver swing. Months earlier I asked you for advice on my swing and you told me to work on my tush line and that my swing plane was too far inside on the backswing. I still tend to leave it a little left with my driver (block / push)... Based on the video, should I still be working on those 2 areas or is there something else you see? Thanks for all your help!!!!!

The tush line still needs work. You are doing a better job on the backswing but still crashing into the ball with your lower body on the downswing. The clubshaft is still too flat going back as your right arm works away from your body during the takeaway. I would continue to work on both of those issues until they are cleaned up. The swing is very good in many places, but these issues will haunt you if you don’t get them fixed.

Stephen asks at 12:30:

When your back is to the target, should the shoulder line point at the ball?

Sometimes I hear on TV that a player has great footwork, what does that mean? I thought we were to remain relatively stable.

The answer to your first question is no, the shoulder line shouldn’t point at the ball. The shoulder line will get closer as the club is shorter and if the player’s shoulder turn on a more vertical plane, but pointing at the ball isn’t necessary. I hear the comment about great footwork on TV also, usually with a player who I think has terrible footwork. Some commentators love when the front foot has buckled to the outside of the shoe at impact, I hate it. Here are a couple of pictures of the “shoulder line” and footwork that should help.

  Footwork

Shoulderplane2

Tom asks at 12:15:

 I recently found an article about "new ball flight laws." It says that the clubface influences the start of ball flight and the path affects the draw or fade. Is this true?

The discussion about "what affects the ball and when" has been going on since the first golf lesson was given. Let me give you a couple practical examples of the interaction between the two. For years on the range I have been showing students that no matter how much I swing the club from the inside into impact I can still get the ball to start left if I close the face enough. This works for the opposite direction as well when it comes to an open clubface and outside path. The point being that clubface position has a significantly more influential effect of the initial direction of the shot than path.

Here is a scenario that happens every day on the lesson tee. A student shows up hitting your basic everyday slice. The grip is weak, clubface is wide open and the path is well outside-in to compensate for the ball that always goes to the right. As a teacher I have a choice to make, do I fix the clubface first or the path? If I fix the path and get the club attacking on-plane and don’t fix the face where is the ball going? More in the direction they have been trying to avoid (right), not very motivational for the student. If I fix the face and do nothing to the path where is that ball going? With the face square and the path still outside the ball will go well left. This is good for several reasons; the ball goes significantly farther because the face is square, the ball is going in the opposite direction it was going when we started, the student will naturally want to swing more from the inside to get the ball going more to the right. This is in addition to the fact that the stronger grip will put the shoulders in a position less open to the target line than before. The face is always the place to start with students because it has the greatest influence on the ball. If you have read this blog for any amount of time you have probably seen my mantra of face, path, and then pivot. It has been this way for a long time….

 

davedmail@hotmail.com asks at 12:00

Good day...always enjoy reading your input. My question regards the the position of the club/shaft in the backswing and the amount and timing of the transition and release...My club shaft tends to get flat in the backswing (although the 1st 2 ft looks good). It seems this has the clubhead too far behind my hands at the top, requiring a lot of correction/timing...? 2nd: watching Tour swings there is an amazing amount of fwd transition...do the forearms release/rotate the whole way down to keep the clubhead from getting to left behind? What is the easiest way to get this amt of transition happening at the correct time (and not too soon)? Thank you.

The questions you are asking are typical when a student gets to the lesson tee. More often than not students are confused, misinformed, frustrated, and looking in the wrong place. Dave, the fact is that your address position will dictate more about the takeaway than any other fundamental. The takeaway will determine the position of the clubshaft as it approaches the top of the backswing, the position at the top will have a huge influence on how well the club will track on the plane during the downswing, and so on. The “forward transition” I think you are referring to doesn’t happen all the way down. The rotation of the body has a much larger role in getting the club back to the ball than the hands and arms, but they still play their part. The idea is that if you get the club in a sound position at the top of the swing and understand the sequence of motion coming down (body leading the arms and club) it is significantly more simple than you might think. If you have the chance to send in some video I would be happy to tell you where to start.

February 01, 2011

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

Posted at 10:21 AM by Brady Riggs

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online today from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady, he'll will be back next Tuesday at noon for the next episode of Ask Brady Riggs Live!

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

Julia asks at 1:00:

This is the first time noticing your blog so I thought I might as well send in a question. I am a 13-year-old girl with a 14 handicap and hit my driver about 220 yards. Every year I lose about 2 strokes per round since I am getting stronger/older, but I would like to maybe shed off 5 strokes this year. Do you have any tips for my short game/putting that will help my scores.

Thanks for the question, Julia, I hope you become a regular. It sounds like you are making steady progress with your game. The key to the short game is to work on the basic, easy shots first and become excellent at those before spending too much time on the fancy stuff. The basic chip from off the edge of the green should be a very good opportunity for you to get the ball up and down. This seems like a fairly easy shot but many young players struggle with it because they choose the wrong club. You should practice from the same spot off the edge of the green with multiple clubs, from your most lofted wedge to a 7-iron. This will help you understand the difference in roll from club to club. You can use the exact same technique and get completely different results using different clubs. Many young players grab only their lofted wedges from the edge of the green, making it very challenging to get consistent results. The longer swing needed for the wedges makes a very bad shot a possibility. Using a less-lofted club when you have the chance is a much better way to become consistent from the edge of the green, a huge key to scoring better.

Heather asks at 12:53:

I'm going to get to play more this year (high 20s handicap), and have been researching ways to get better. From this list, are any of them unimportant or wrong?

-Keep clubhead low at takeaway and after impact.
-Keep back straight at address.
-On backswing, keep left arm straight, and at top, right forearm vertical and right upper arm horizontal.
-Visualize the proper shot while lining it up standing behind ball.
-Shoulders and right hand relaxed, NOT tense.
-Chin up so shoulders can turn under it.
-Release the club by rotating forearms (NOT wrists) so at back horizontal the clubhead faces up, and at follow-through horizontal it faces up again.

One other while you're there, I top the ball a lot off the fairway, what causes that most often?

That’s quite a list, Heather. I like the “visualize the shot” and “stay relaxed” lines, but everything else scares me. Even the best players can only handle one or at most two thoughts during a swing. Those thoughts should be simple, positive, and NOT position-oriented. The list you have will only make you more confused, more tense, and worse. Here’s what I recommend to you: Work on your golf swing in this order, clubface, swingpath, and then body. If your focus is on these areas and in this order you will always make progress. When it comes to topping shots, look at the pictures of Davis Love III I posted in the reply below. You will see the difference between set-up and impact that must occur if you are going to hit the ball solid from the ground. If you get the chance to send in some video of your swing I will help you organize your thoughts and put a plan together for you to follow.  

Kris asks at 12:36:

Hi Brady, it’s great that you do this every week!

Last year I went from a 25 factor to a 16 just by starting to turn my shoulders and keeping my left arm straight (mostly got rid of my slice), and am hoping to do better this year. My big changes for this year are going to be my grip and focus, but I have one you might be able to help with: my irons now scoop the ball off the grass and get no spin; I never take a divot.

I see the pros’ backswings on attack irons go much higher than their long irons, does this cause more spin on its own? My ball placement with attack irons is in the middle of my stance. Any likely simple changes to the swing to hit down on the ball?

The bottom of the swing will always be under the left shoulder. This means that if the left shoulder hasn’t moved closer to the target at impact than it was at address you won’t be able to take a divot in front of the ball. The ball should be positioned at address slightly in front of the center of your stance. This shouldn’t change based on which iron you are playing. Here is a picture of set-up and impact that will help you get a visual.

Lovesetimpact
 

Dave asks at 12:30:

Hey Brady, love the blog. Good tips just from reading through other emails. I was wondering if you have any release drills or anything to promote a proper clubhead lag with the driver. thanks!

Lag and release are all about your sequence. The word "lag" means that the club is behind something, in the swing it should always be behind the body. The body should always move BEFORE the arms and club during the downswing. When the proper sequence occurs there is lag, and when there is lag the release becomes nearly automatic. Think of all the athletic motions you have made in your life from throwing a ball, hitting a pitch, kicking, etc. The movement of the body before the arm, bat, leg, etc. is mandatory. The golf swing is no different.

Thomas asks at 12:15:

Just want to say this is a great resource. I've shaved three-four shots off my handicap in the last year and there's no question some of the things I've taken from this blog have played a part!

My question pertains to fairway woods, which continue to be a weak spot for me. A lot of low line drives and pop-ups. I think my problem derives from the fact that my muscle memory is still not clear on what angle into the ball my swing should be taking--I'm stuck in between my iron swing (descending to contact) and my driver swing (ascending at contact). Too descending and I pop it up, too ascending and I catch to top half of the ball and hit a screaming liner.

I understand I am supposed to be "brushing" the ball off the turf on a moderate upswing, but in my mind this seems like a rather limited margin for error. Incidentally, I do much better out of the rough, where I have some air under the ball.

Any tips on better contact for fairway woods that may help? Avoiding use of my fairway woods is usually pretty easy, but I'd love to be able to load up on the second shot of a par five, occasionally, instead of laying up.

Thanks for the kind words about the blog, Thomas, I appreciate it. This is a very common problem area for many players. The issue here is that you are trying to manipulate the action of the club at impact, a very difficult thing to do. You are correct that the irons are hit with a descending blow and the driver isn’t, but your ball position, width of stance, tilt, and posture should be creating the difference in impact. With that said, any time the ball is on the ground it must be struck with a descending blow or the sweet spot of the club won’t find the ball. If you are hitting shots too low and popping them up with the fairway woods, I recommend you try a couple of things. First, make sure at address your shoulders aren’t open to your target line. This is a very common mistake people make that causes the club to attack on too steep an angle which would produce the misses you mentioned above. You can get the “feeling” that your trailing shoulder is closed and slightly lower than your lead shoulder. Once you have made the adjustment at address, allow the club to find the bottom of the arc as you swing rather than trying to hit down into the ground. If you are relaxed and the club is swinging on the proper path you will take the proper amount of turf.

Rich asks at 12:00:

Thanks for this weekly blog, I love it. Thought I'd give it a shot.

I just got back from a 3-day, 90-hole golf trip to Phoenix. I captured some video of my swing and I can see I need some help.

I'm a scratch golfer but I need to improve my ball striking to a more consistent level. From the videos of my swing I definitely notice a few problems. I can tweak my alignment and get the club behind me more at the top from my view, but would definitely like your feedback and tips of things I can do to prepare for the upcoming season. Thanks so much!!

Driver down the line

Driver face on

5 iron down the line

Overall I think the swing is pretty good. You mentioned the “C” word (consistency) and I agree that you can make some subtle changes that would help you achieve your goal. Watching your pre-shot routine and address position reminds me of a player and golf swing I really like, Darren Clarke. I will attach some pictures here at the end so you get a visual of what I think you should do, but it begins with your weight in the address position. The weight is sitting too far back toward your heels. This forces you to move in the direction of the ball on the downswing, causing your backside to lose contact with the tush line. Get the weight more toward the balls of your feet and you will keep in contact with your starting position much better. Your backswing is initiated with your hands forcing the club to come back excessively inside. As a result the club gets out of position at the top of the backswing in what is usually referred to as "across the line." More often than not this can produce the occasional block and hook combination. If you can improve the address position and takeaway, I think you will see a significant improvement in your misses.

Clarkeaddress
Clarketake

 


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