This week’s question comes from Reed B, who asked, “Is it better to suspend the putter instead of resting it on the green? I’m a senior player and my muscles aren’t as steady as they used to be, but I’ve been told it’s a better way to putt. Someone also said Jack Nicklaus never grounded his putter.”
Reed’s question is one that I have received many times previously and the less-than-decisive answer is: It depends. I can’t tell you that my research has ever shown a significant improvement in a player’s putting by choosing to hover versus not hovering. However, hovering the putter falls into a category of items that I refer to as “putting triggers.” Putting triggers are things that players do to help them initiate the putting stroke.
Think back to a time you have been watching golf on Sunday afternoon and an announcer mentions how a player’s tempo has sped up from the first three rounds because of being nervous. The mistake amateurs make is that they believe the change in tempo is affecting only the full swing. In fact, the change in tempo is having a greater impact on the player’s putting stroke. So what does this have to do with a putting trigger? We have heard many different sports psychologists talk about “staying in the moment,” especially coming down the stretch on Sunday. One of the most effective ways to do this is to have a consistent routine to rely upon, which should include a putting trigger.
There are several putting triggers including: 1. Hovering, which is leaving the putter slightly off the ground before stroking the putt like Jack Nicklaus did most of his career, 2. Dancing feet, which is when a player waggles his feet prior to putting to relax like Raymond Floyd; 3. Forward Press, which is moving the handle of the putter toward the hole to initiate the stroke such as Phil Mickelson; 4. Glimpse and go, which is addressing the putt having a quick glimpse at the hole and then making the stroke like Lucas Glover does so well.
There are many ways to get the ball in the hole, and I will help by providing you the evidence that suggests the best way, rather than telling you there is only one way. In this particular situation, I don’t have concrete data that says one putting trigger is more successful than another one. However, using a putting trigger into your routine will significantly improve your putting in the long term over not having one.
Going back to Reed’s original question, there is one additional (and likely unintended) benefit of hovering the putter. Think back to the 2011 Zurich Classic when Webb Simpson was penalized one stroke when his ball moved as a result of wind, after he addressed his putt. Had Webb hovered his putter (never soling it), he wouldn’t have ever addressed the ball, according to the rules of golf, and thus would not have been subject to the one-stroke penalty. Keep in mind, that little rule's loophole is likely to be closed come 2012, according to the USGA.
I want to thank Reed again for his question and I will be sending him a copy of Automatic Putting for using his question in the blog. If you have any putting questions please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, you have only three more days to pick up my Automatic Putting Package for $59.95 (with free shipping). Please visit my website at mariusgolf.com.
Until next time….cheers!
[Photo: Jack Nicklaus putts on the 8th green during round 2 of the 65th Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, May 29, 2004. Brian Tietz/WireImage.com]
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online next Tuesday to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have a question or video for Brady, leave it in the comments section below.
Welcome to the Wednesday edition of Ask Brady Live. Thanks to everyone for your videos, insightful questions, and comments. I look forward to hearing from everyone again next week on our normal day, Tuesday. Have a great week.
Jim K. asks at 1:50:
Brady, I don't have a youtube video but was wondering if you could suggest a drill. I have a sound swing and play well but when I get to the top my right arm (I am a lefty) bends and folds to allow me to get the club to parallel. What drill can I do to stop it from bending at the top? I have tried pushing with my left arm and don't allow it to bend on a practice swing but when I make a real swing, it bends. Any drills or suggestions would be great.
First you have to ask yourself why you want to change it. Changing it for the sake of appearance doesn’t make practical sense if you are already hitting the ball fairly well. Many players will try to tighten the arm to keep it straight. This only adds unnecessary tension to the swing and actually slows down the club considerably. It sounds like you have tried what the Golfing Machine terms Extensor Action to keep the structure in the lead arm by pushing against it with the trail arm. This is a viable adjustment as it doesn’t produce unwanted tension in your right arm, but if it isn’t working I would stop worrying about it. In most cases the lead arm will become taught on the downswing as it gets pulled in two directions (body going to the target and club moving away from the target). If it is still bugging you send in some video and I will tell you what to adjust. However, if I were hitting the ball well I wouldn’t worry about it much.
Scott asks at 1:30:
Just looking on some advice on what I should work on with my swing. I think I may be a bit flat but not sure.
An uphill stance in a fairway bunker is pretty difficult to give a fair assessment of your golf swing. I am assuming the reason you didn’t get your weight off your back foot and finish fully was because of where you were playing from. I can tell you that your posture needs work at address. You should get the weight more into the balls of your feet with your lower spine in a more neutral, supported position. This combination will allow your upper back to become more straight and facilitate a stronger turn going back. This will not only make for a more powerful swing but help your body move through to a bigger finish.
Casey asks at 1:20:
Was hoping you could give me some feedback on my swing. I've been working to try to do your "option 1" backswing and simplify my leg action with "bouncy" legs. I think I'm heading in the right direction but would like to get your thoughts. I'm really trying to eliminate a blocked driver shot that happens occasionally in tournaments that I think happens because I used to get the club rolling back too flat.
I like what you are trying to do Casey. BTW, is there anything better than having the entire range to yourself when practicing? I love that! I am sure you noticed that your rehearsal takeaway is different than the one present when actually hitting a shot. I like the work you are doing when you stop after the takeaway and hit from the spot you are trying to achieve. The next step between that and hitting full shots is to go very slow during the takeaway and eliminate the stop but achieve the spot you were in during the stopped swings. There is a definite progression to working on backswing changes and it starts with stopped swings, progresses to very slow swings without a stop, then moves into full speed. Without this progression you will have very little chance of success. I think this is a viable part of the swing for you to be focusing on. I like the rest of the motion and agree that the miss you are experiencing during tournaments can be eliminated if you improve the takeaway. One last thing, you are doing technical practice during the session shown here. Don’t get so pissy about the results when you are working on technique. Let the ball go where it goes and focus on improving your motion. You are clouding the practice session by getting upset about the results. Just my humble opinion….
J Oberlin asks at 1:10:
I (Hcp 28) have problems with my slice for years now. I think it comes from not rotating enough. Instead I raise my torso, I think. After three holes my slice is not so bad any more. But the main problem is, every shot feels the same, it doesn't matter, if the ball flys straight or go to the right (slice). What can I do, to notice wrong shots better? I can not improve my swing, if I don't notice myself, what's wrong and what's right!
At the veryleast you should be working with video so you can begin to understand how your golf swing works (or doesn’t work). I would highly recommend at your hdcp. level of 28 that you find a good coach in your area who uses video so he/she can explain to you what the issues are in your golf swing that make it inconsistent. Without this type of evaluation and concentrated effort you are basically chasing your tail. There is no reason to be in the dark about your golf swing so go find someone with a camera that can help you get organized about your thinking and how to progress.
John asks at 1:00:
I'm a chronic slicer of the ball. I've tried to correct this by swinging on a flatter, in-to-out swing path, but my ball just ends up starting out right of target and slicing further. Can you think of any drills that would help a push-slicer get the ball to go in the correct direction?
It’s very simple John, fix the clubface. As long as the face is open during impact the ball will curve to the right of the target. Swinging more from the inside hasn’t fixed the clubface, it has only made the ball start more on line making it end up more off line. There are some in the golf instruction community that would have you continue to try to attack more from the inside to eventually get the face closed to the path to produce a push draw. This is an incredibly bad way to get the ball going towards the target as you will hit countless balls off the golf course in your attempt to swing inside enough with no guarantee it will ever work. The simple fix is to just fix the darn clubface and get on with your life. Start with the grip and make sure it is strong enough to be eliminated as a cause of the problem. Once this is ruled out get your lead wrist (left if you are right handed) in a flat position at the top of the swing. The combination of the good grip and flat left wrist will get the clubface at least square and allow that slightly inside path to produce a soft draw. Remember, always start with the clubface when diagnosing and improving your errant shots and you will have more time to enjoy the game and less time getting aggravated on the range.
Nathan asks at 12:50:
Can you address the perils of having a shaft that doesn't have enough flex? I was professionally fitted on a TrackMan, but I have a hunch my shafts are too stiff. The irons are Project X 6.5 and the driver is X-Stiff; my swing speed is that of an average tour pro. What kind of ballflight issues would a golfer have with too-stiff shafts? Would it affect the swing, too? My 3 wood is a Stiff flex steel shaft and I love being able to feel it load in the transition and the ballflight is still pretty penetrating. Thanks a lot!
You bring up a very interesting point Nathan. Looking at the numbers may point to you using stiffer shots as you have mentioned. However, what is more important than the numbers a machine spits out is the FEEL you need when hitting shots. Like many good players it sounds like you need to feel the clubhead during the swing which can require the use of a slightly softer shaft. One of my very accomplished students who has been playing professionally for several years now uses shafts that are significantly softer than what a standard fitting would recommend. He is currently using a 6.0 Project X and a more standard Stiff shafted driver despite his distances being well beyond tour average. He likes the feel of the shaft kicking and needs it for the way he swings the club. The important lesson to learn is to hit the clubs and combine the information coming from the computers to the actual feel when making a swing. This is why a good fitter is more of an artist than a scientist.
Ryan asks at 12:40:
Love the blog. I have one question about getting steep with short irons. I have manufactured my swing so that the clubhead stays outside of the hands for a long period of time in the backswing. Does this help create a steep angle of attack?
Thanks for the kind words about the blog. This option on the backswing can make it more likely that the downswing will be too steep coming down. There are many good players and professionals alike that take the club back as you describe then shallow out or reroute the downswing to the proper angle with no ill effects. However, if you are having difficulty coming in too steep with the short irons allowing the club to work more inside during the takeaway is a very reasonable option. It will encourage a little more rotation out of your body during the backswing making it much easier to get the club shallower coming down.
Fonzi asks at 12:30:
Enjoy reading your insight into the golf swing. My problem is one I think many people share - the practice swing is fluid, effortless and on plane but once a ball is put in front of me I am over the top, more specifically I become so right side dominant (right handed player). My misses are pulls, hooks, slices and the occasional straight ball, a real frustrating way to play the game. Along with my instructor, we've tried many fixes but nothing that lasts. Are there any tips / practice methods you could share to help with this? I appreciate your time.
Good question Fonzi. I agree this is something we see out of both experienced players and recreational golfers alike. What is interesting is that if you draw a ball in to the screen when a practice swing is being made the club is rarely in a position where it would actually make descent contact with the ball. While the practice swing might not have some of the mistakes present when actually hitting the ball it is usually full of other problems that wouldn’t make it effective either. The key is to improve upon the motion you are currently making when actually hitting the ball. This requires you to focus more on the finish of the swing than micro-managing all the pieces along the way. Try to create a pre-shot and post-shot routine that is consistent and easy to monitor that allows you to see the difference between your goal and reality. There is no better way to see immediate improvement in your on-course play than to establish a post-shot routine and stick to it. This can include holding your finish to a count of 3, tapping your trail foot on the ground twice or finishing with a Tigeresque club twirl (a little too flashy for me but it can work). Let me know how this approach works for you.
Bob asks at 12:15:
Enjoy reading the information. I struggle with getting in to the correct posture at set up in an effort to put myself in the best position at impact, even though I know my faults are happening during the swing. In evaluations before and through my own work, I've been told I need to get my weight on my right side, but I feel in order to do so, I take too long of a swing and to get back to the ball I end up sliding my hips left instead of rotating them. This ends up getting my arms behind my body and I push the ball right or over compensate and hit a pull hook. Based on what you see, do you have any recommendations of what I need to work on or if I'm on track in my evaluation? I know I lose the "tush" line I see referred to in your blog, but I'm not sure how to fix. Swinging with my back end against a bag stand feels like a temporary fix and I feel like my tendancy to move forward in the swing is a compensation of me not being in the right balance left or right. To me it feels like I need to get my upper body more over the ball (which has moved to the right in an order to get behind the ball as I've been instructed), but do so without sliding my lower body left as I move from my transition down to the forward swing. Any drills would be appreciated.
Thanks for sending in the video Bob. Whenever someone sends in video I wait to read their comments until after I have watched the swing. It is always interesting to hear a golfer’s ideas about what is going on in their swing to see if it is close to what is actually happening. In most cases the player is pretty far off as to what the issues are, you are the exception Bob. I agree that your lower body is sliding way too far towards the target on the downswing forcing your upper body to hang back and produce the block/hook combo you are describing. However, I don’t see an issue with the amount of lateral motion into your right side during the backswing. In fact, it is my opinion that it wouldn’t hurt you at all to allow your head and weight to move a bit more laterally during the backswing and then work on a much sharper and more positive rotation of your body during the downswing and through impact. When your hips slide less your upper body will get more on top of the ball at impact and work more around to the finish. This is very different compared to your current action with the upper body through impact which would be best described as under and hanging back. The key lies in the action of your left knee coming down. Try to get your knee cap to point at the target ASAP once the downswing has begun. If you wait too long on the rotation of the knee the slide is inevitable. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see the difference.
Dave asks at 12:00:
I am a low handicap that has been struggling with the driver the last month or so. The problem I am having is that I no longer can hit a draw.. In the past I had no issues moving the ball either way just by adjusting ball position and set up. I really dont know what I have changed, but I am having a lot of trouble with hitting the ball from the inside. I have came to rely on the fade off the tee but even this shot has occasionally cut way too much... I can see i have gotten laid off a bit but am have a terrible time correcting this. I have attached a couple of swings, I would appreciate any feed back you can give to get my swing back. Thanks, Dave
Thanks for sending in the video Dave. When looking at the swing it is fairly easy to see where you have gone off the rails with the driver. At the top of the backswing your club is pointing well left of the target in a laid off position. This makes it a near certainty that the club will be attacking the ball on a path that is less inside than you would prefer when hitting the driver. The laid off position usually comes from a lack of hip/shoulder turn forcing the arms to finish the backswing on their own. Once you get your body rotating better going back the club will line up much easier allowing the club to point parallel to the target line at the top. The more inside attack on the downswing is directly related to your ability to line the club up at the top. When the top is fixed you should see the right to left shot come back. Here is a picture of where you are and where you should be at the top.
I have received numerous emails from readers asking for my opinion on cross-handed putting or sometimes referred to as left-hand low (for right-handed people). Jim Furyk [left] is most well-known practictioner of this putting method.
Although I have several professional students who putt cross-handed, it would not be my first choice to teach a new player. I have two main concerns with cross-handed putting: 1.) Its negative influence on the stroke path; and 2.) How it can deloft the putter at impact.
Let’s assume our player is a right-handed man named Patrick. When Patrick addresses a putt using a cross-handed grip, his spine tilts toward the ball and his left shoulder will be lower than his right. This address position will make it more difficult to turn around your spine and thus make it more likely that the putter will move to the outside of the proper stroke path. If the putter moves outside on the way back it is likely going to move to the inside on your forward stroke, which leads to cut putting.
Cross-handed putting also lowers your lead shoulder. When your shoulders are not level, it is likely that the putter will move more upward in the backswing. Well, what goes up must come down, which is exactly what your putter will do onto the back of your ball. The putter will impart a descending blow onto the back of the ball, imparting backspin, the last thing you want on your putts.
Fortunately for Patrick, he can still put with a cross-handed grip if he makes two simple adjustments. Here what he and you need to do:
The first adjustment is at address. Patrick needs to grab his putter and find a mirror. Taking his address position, Patrick should slowly tilt his spine angle away from the target until his shoulders are balanced again. By making this adjustment, his putter will stay lower longer during the backswing. This will help Patrick hit up on his putts.
The second adjustment is to get his upper arms and elbows closer, ideally resting on his torso, instead of away from it. This will help get the stroke path more inside on the backswing rather than outside the target line. I have mentioned many times before that I am a very strong supporter of getting your upper arms and elbows onto your torso. Many of my students believe this position is unobtainable with a cross-handed grip. However, simply take your normal address position and bend more over the ball until both elbows are resting on the torso. Keep in mind that the more you bend over the ball, the less rotation you will have on your stroke path.
Alternatively, if you don’t like to bend too much when putting, simply stand a little closer to the ball and tuck your elbows up against your torso.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com and please visit my website mariusgolf.com for more information on improving your putting.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online today at noon Eastern to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have a question or video for Brady, leave it in the comments section below.
Thanks to everyone for your questions, videos, and comments. I will see everyone on the blog next week.
Jason asks at 1:30:
My question relates to the mental game involved in golf. I will be attempting to qualify for the US Mid-AM in August. I have never tried anything like this before and would like your insight as to how best approach the round. I know there are no absolutes but is it better to approach it as a nothing to lose, go for it type round or to go the conservative route and shoot for a target score? Your insight would be most helpful. Thanks.
If you look at the previous post I suggested an audio book I really like that would be an asset to your preparation. When it comes to a target score or changing the way you approach the game I wouldn’t recommend it. This is your first experience with playing in this type of event so you shouldn’t do anything different than your normal approach. This is an AMAZING opportunity for you to learn about what it takes to play on the next level of competition. Relax, enjoy, keep your thoughts about the result at bay and concentrate on the shot in front of you. The one piece of strategic advice I would give you is to play the simple shot as often as possible. Don’t try to do things that are uncomfortable or foreign to you. Keep your eyes open so you can learn as much as possible. Let me know how it goes…
Cody asks at 1:20:
I've got a question not related to my swing since I'm out on IR (stinks). Anyhow, my husband has been working on winning "his major" for probably 15 years. It's the largest tournament we have in the state at it's at our course. He's the tournament organizer and I've decided that's why he can't win, it's the curse of running the tournament. He plays Championship flight (select drive-2 low ball), ends up in the last pairing every year and ends up 2nd just about every year. I've even won my flight twice, two of our kids have won, so we have trophies sitting around the house and none belong to him. So the question I have is it just hit me today that it would be an amazing 10 year anniversary gift to give him lessons with a pro (Leadbetter, Pelz, etc) to help him prepare for the tournament. Problem is since I just thought of it, it may be too close to the tournament for it to be effective. The tournament is Aug. 5-6, so even if I could fly him somewhere in the next 7-10 days, do you think that is enough time for him to get comfortable with any potential swing changes or tweaks they instructor may make? I certainly don't want to do anything that could hinder his game.
Sorry for lengthy story leading to the question, it just needed some background. I just feel bad for him, he gets a lot of s*it from his buddies that his wife has 2 trophies and he has zero, plus he wants is SOOOO bad!
Thanks so much for your insight! Also any recommendations for a great clinic would be great. He really has a good swing, usually the short game is what gets him in trouble. He's a 4 handicap. We live in New Mexico, so Texas, Arizona, California are good options as far as location, but I'd go anywhere for him.
PS. I wish I had read Dave Pelz article about Winning Your Major sooner. That fits my husband to a TEE!
Don’t send him anywhere at this late date. Any lessons he will take now will only screw him up so close to the event. There is a great audio-book that I would buy for him that would be the best prep for this tournament when factoring in his current playing ability and all the issues involved. Download the Psychology of Winning by Dr. Denis Waitley. This is a great “listen” and will give him the best chance to play at his best without screwing him up with a bunch of technical changes to his swing. I am not a big fan of clinics or schools. Once the tournament is over send him out to So. California and I will work on his game for a couple of days. This isn’t a fancy facility and I won’t be selling him any books, DVD’s, or training aids. Just old-fashioned hard work on the fundamentals…Let me know how he does!
Mark asks at 1:00:
Just following up again from last weeks' blog - hoping that you could suggest another drill regarding maintaining the tush line or maybe there is something else I'm doing wrong (overactive hands???). Last week my dad suggested adding another waggle and relaxing my forearms, which worked. Here is the link again (should be viewable now or view last week blog 1st question):
Thanks for sending in your video. While I like the swing for the most part there is no question your left hip and leg are completely blocking your left arm from getting down in front of your body approaching impact. Yes, this is “tush-line” problem and should be the focus of your practice going forward. Your left leg is significantly closer to the ball when viewed from the target line view approaching impact than it was at address. This gives you left arm no chance to approach the ball properly and can produce the push-fade result that it appears you hit in the video sent it. I would work very hard on getting more weight into your back heel at the top of the backswing (NOT in the address) and allowing your right hip to move back away from the ball as you begin the downswing. This will keep your left hip from moving towards the ball and give your arms the space they need approaching impact. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see where you need to go.
Yong asks at 12:30:
-Just wanted to know what you thought what is the best way to get the club on the proper plane during the transition from BS to DS. -how often do you see people that just can't stay on the tush line & think that it's something physically they can't do? And thus should perhaps follow some TPI type of exercises?
Those are two very good questions, thank you Yong. Let’s start with the second one first. While I think working on your fitness can only help your golf game, prolong your career, allow you to play pain free and improve your life, I don’t think players can blame poor fitness for losing the tush line. I have seen players with awful core strength and an overall lack of flexibility maintain the line and players in excellent physical condition lose the line. This is a technique issue, specifically a set-up issue that can be fixed when you know work on the proper things. The first question is much more complicated. In a perfect world the lower body, specifically the weight more than a great deal of movement, will go in the direction of the target before the arms and club finish the backswing. This sequence can happen earlier in the backswing which will produce a shorter swing or later in the backswing producing a longer swing. What is important is the sequence it works in rather than when it happens. When the club is off plane coming down the transition can be the source of the problem, but it may also be caused by mistakes during the backswing. If the player waits too long for the body to initiate the downswing and the arms and hands start down first the swing will be too long, lack power, generally bottom out behind the ball and be highly inconsistent. If the hips start down and slide too far towards the target the club can get trapped too far to the inside as described in the previous post. If the shoulders start the downswing by spinning the arms and club will move out and above the plane causing too steep of an angle of attack and a path that is generally outside-in. You can see how many variables are in play. The key is to understand exactly what is going on in your swing before you start experimenting. Send in some video and I will give you specific advice on what is wrong and how to progress.
Doug asks at 12:00:
I've been slowly coming along with my swing this year, and I've got one final, but major problem. I absolutely can't stop slicing my driver. It's the only club I do it with, but I do it on every shot. After watching videos of my swing, I can see that my problem is an open clubface at impact more than anything. I've weakened my grip somewhat, tried to focus on releasing the club sooner...everything I can think of. Is there anything else I can do to square the clubface at impact, or anything I can do to release the club better? Thank you!
It sounds like you have the problem diagnosed, fixing it is another issue. Maybe you typed this incorrectly but you mentioned that you weakened your grip, you should have strengthened it. This is the fastest way to get your clubface squared up and is critical to your success. If the grip is descent, make sure your lead wrist is flat at the top as it will help put the clubface in a square position. The last issue is to make sure the toe of the club is trying to beat the heel to the ball at impact. If you have all three of these issues working you will be on your way to fixing the slice.
Dave D. asks at 12:12:
Hello...love the blog! I cant get my video loaded but here is the question: the club is getting too inside on the downswing (clubhead behind address shaft plane). I'm not losing the tush line at all; the takeaway is on plane (one piece) but goes a bit flat from there up. I am changing direction with a pretty good transition but cant keep from being too inside (and hence chasing down the line after impact). Contact is slightly toward the toe-just a fraction out of dead center. Hence shots are slight pushes and slight draws. Any thoughts or suggestions would be great-thanks.
Glad you like the blog. Congratulations, you have the good player’s mistake. Getting below plane is very common among very good players because they have overdone coming from the inside. Based upon the information you have given me I would suggest you limit the amount of lower body slide you use to begin the downswing. If the hips slide too far towards the target your right shoulder (assuming you are a right handed player) will hang down and back behind where it should be at impact. This will keep the club stuck behind you and below plane as it works towards the ball and cause the poor contact and misses you are experiencing. To fix the problem try to focus on rotating your left hip and knee away from the ball as you begin the downswing. This will move your right hip and shoulder out towards the target line and get the club attacking more up and on top of the plane. It is a fairly simple fix that will immediately improve both the contact and direction of your shots. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see the difference.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs stopped by on Tuesday your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady, be sure to check back next Tuesday for an all-new edition.
Welcome to the Ask Brady Live! I want to give a shout out to Ryann O'Toole and Danielle Kang who both made the cut and played well at the US Open in Colorado this week. Way to go girls! Thanks to everyone for your videos, questions, and comments. Enjoy the Open Championship this week, see everyone next Tuesday.
Kevin asks at 1:50:
I have some questions about one of the common characteristics of a typical professional swing that I see when viewing their swings in slow-motion. From the start of the downswing until impact their head appears to drop a slight bit in relation to the level it was at address. What is the benefit of this move and is it absolutely necessary to promote consistently good ball striking? If it is something you recommend, how does one trigger this move at the start of the downswing? Do you consciously think about dropping the head or chest closer to the ground as you start down or is there another trigger which automatically creates the move? The reason I ask is because I am a low handicap golfer that really doesn't have much head movement downward (or upward for that matter) through impact. My head pretty much stays at the same height level from address to impact. I would much appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks,
This is a very good question Kevin. It isn’t critical to good ball striking but I agree that you see many good players with some vertical head drop from the address position to impact. The amount of drop depends upon a couple of factors. The first is the height the player stands at during address. Those that stand taller tend to drop more than those who are bent over. This would be true of Adam Scott who drops quite a bit (although it has improved in recent years) vs. Nick Price who drops very little.
The other factor is the amount of right side bend combined with hip rotation through impact. If the lowers their right shoulder considerably during the downswing you will see a larger drop in the head position from address to impact. The really important factor here is to come to grips with the fact that address and impact aren’t the same, were never meant to be the same, don’t need to be the same, and shouldn’t be compared to eachother as a point of emphasis when it comes to height during the swing. Most good players will drop a little, but if the player is fairly bent over at address and doesn’t clear the hips too violently you may see no drop at all. Stop worrying about it ;).
Jason asks at 1:10:
hey brady, been readin your blog for awhile very helpful, i have a problem letting my rist kind of break at the top, i guess it feels like i can reach back for more power, i have a feeling it contributes to my inconsistancy at times more with my driver than irons, irons actually feel pretty good but if you look at my drive( video below) you can see it becomes an issue, and drills or tips to helping with this, thanks, heres a few videos,
p.s. i dont want to lose my power of course.
The swing looks very powerful. I wouldn’t try to shorten the swing by changing the action of your wrists. The arms will always wait for the body to grab them, this is the sequence the downswing must work in to be successful. If the body waits too long to get moving in the direction of the target then the arms will go too far making the swing too long. This is what happens in your swing. Your body doesn’t engage and move back towards the target until the club is well past parallel. If you started the body when your hand feel as if they are at chest high going back the swing will become considerably shorter and actually increase in power. I would recommend that move the ball more forward in your stance with both the iron and the driver and allow your head to move away from the target going back. The back ball position and a bit of a reverse pivot aren’t helping matters. I love your speed, clean up the little things and you could really do some damage.
Steve asks at 1:08:
My problem is keeping my ball close to the pin on bunker shots where the pin is tight. I have no problems getting the ball out of the sand, just lack the knowledge on how to judge the short ones. Do I use a higher lofted wedge or swing slower or take a shorter swing?
I have always preferred to change the length of my sand shots with the speed of the swing rather than the length of the swing. The fact is the ball is flying out on the sand it sits on. If the sand comes out fast and far so will the ball. If the swing is still long but slow the sand won’t come out as fast or as far and the shot will be shorter. This has always been the approach I have used and have found it to be very successful.
Mike asks at 12:50:
Enjoy your blog every week, Brady. I don't have a video, but wondered whether you could make some suggestions based on the following. Whenever I have an uphill lie (not ball above or below feet), I hit a solid iron shot toward my target. It's uncanny. However, I don't have the same luck on level lies, often picking the ball, with my misses typically short and right - especially with the longer irons. Can you give me any suggestions based on that scant info?
Chances are you stay back and behind the ball better on the uphill lies. This enables the club to work past your body during impact as it should during a normal lie. On the more level lies your body is most likely racing in front of your hands and arms making it difficult for the club to find the bottom of the arc and impossible for the clubface to square up at impact. Hitting the ball with the face open and your body too far out in front will produce short shots that end up right of the target. From the uphill like it is very difficult to move the body as well and you end up staying behind it more that normal. The suggestion would be to practice from the normal lies with a bit more right side tilt (assuming you are right handed). This will simulate the uphill lie and help promote a more back position through impact. I would also like to see you focus on allowing the club to pass your body more through impact. Give this a try and let me know how it goes.
Hi Brady thanks for your help a couple of weeks ago and also for your PDF on breaking 80. I almost did it last week shot an 81 - 9 pars, 7 bogeys and two doubles. The doubles were a result of not getting away off the tee - The rest of my game is in pretty solid shape, but getting away is the key to scoring for me. Have resorted to 3 wood off the tee for more control ( if you remember I used to use a three iron and was struggling with my driver ) Anyway I can hit the 3 wood 200-245 depending on the quality of the strike. The trouble that I'm having is that I think I have too many swing thoughts and as a result I still have a variety of outcomes. I can kind of leave my right shoulder low and cut across teh line if I want a cut shape and to a large extent I can manage that - If I want a neutral or draw shape I can do it but 1 in 4 ends up being a complete duck hook - usually meaning trouble - I sometimes thin it too. In short I have been on the range trying to groove a 'go to' shot but as yet haven't been able to do it. Here are my main features - set open for a cut closed for a draw, hands with a strong baseball grip, swingpath out to in for a cut and in to in for a draw. Ball inside left heel. Low and slow takeaway, I Concenrate on good spine angle and keeping down on shot until well after impact. Hitting at 65% power does seem to limit the damage - the ball flight being straighter and the club face being squarer to target and therefore imparting more power - less power leakage. Bottom line is that I have been searching for quite some time and the inconsistency in this element of my game is driving me nuts ( every other part of my game is sound ) Do you have any simple pointers to help me execute a more consistent shot. By the way I have an offset cobra 3 wood and I think it helps counteract the slice but it really makes the hook shot awful. Perhaps as I am improving I should consider a neutral club? Although that's a bit scary because my natural tendency is to cut the ball.
It sounds like you have tried just about everything to find a shot that will get you into the fairway. The concern from my perspective is that you haven’t been successful as of yet and are swinging at 65%. There comes a time when you need to get the mechanics cleaned up or you can’t get better. I would like to see you set up square with no strange compensations in your grip, alignment, ball position, posture, etc. and swing. From there we would have an idea where things are going wrong and begin chipping away at your compensating moves by eliminating the need for them. This would mean looking at the entire motion from the address position and taking out the elements that aren’t neutral as they occur. It may seem like a daunting task, but it is the only way you can reach your potential. When the swing is good there will always be pieces that aren’t perfect, but you should be able to stand up to a driver, swing hard and hit the fairway. The fact that you are still scoring well is a tribute to your ability to “play the game”. If the swing caught up to your ability to score, it might be scary what you could accomplish. Send in some video so I can get you going.
Ben asks at 12:10:
Thanks so much for your blog every week - I never miss it. This video was taken back in May, and I believe I've since discovered that I desperately need to add the 1/4 turn in the left arm - am I on the right track?
If not, what should I focus on? Thanks for your help!
You are on it! You are too deep and across at the top of the backswing making the clubshaft too steep in the transition. Adding the ¼ turn before you reach the top of the backswing will get the club pointed on plane in the transition and remove the need to “save” it as you approach impact. I think the rest of the motion is solid, but the tendency to hit big blocks and snaps will be there unless you fix this issue. Remember, start the ¼ turn before the top and the picture in the transition will change. Here is a comparison to help you see how different the downswing will look.
Mark McLeod asks at 12:00:
It's been about six months since my last post and I thought I'd ask for another opinion from you. I don't think I've got the tush line completely solved. I'm thinking I'll have to practice hitting almost flatfooted to stop turning my left hip and knee in early. I am fighting misses in both directions (with occasional draw), but I'm also fighting fat and skulled shots with my irons now, which makes me think I'm losing my level. I also wonder if my hands are too active
If I played more I'd improve for sure, but I think there are other issues that are hampering me.
Thanks for sending in the videos. It is saying the videos are private and I need a login. Can you make them available to everyone including myself?
I recently gave a nine-hole playing lesson to an amateur named David. Before we teed off, David mentioned that he considered himself a decent putter but very streaky. During the nine holes we played, David made every putt inside 6 feet and a couple of 10-footers as well. I thought David was a good putter and given his results you would assume he had a nice putting stroke. Unfortunately for David, his putting stroke path better resembled a figure 8. However, at the moment of impact his putterface was square to the target, he was adding loft and he was releasing the putter head through impact.
My point is if David had seen his putting stroke before we went out on the course he would have been very conscious of his disastrous putter path. Instead, David accepts that his path may not be perfect, but his stroke shares the characteristics of some great putting stokes and that improves his chances of making putts.
Don’t fall victim to paralysis through analysis. Evaluate your putting performance while you are playing by the most important indicator -- is the ball going in the hole or not? If you aren’t making putts, then videotape your stroke and begin to make some changes. If you are making putts, go have a beer and watch golf in the clubhouse. Focus less on the appearance of the putting stroke and concentrate on making the putts. Function over form.
In the past several months I have received more than 100 emails asking variations of the same question: How would I describe my putting method? It is an interesting question and one I have dodged for many years for fear of being pigeonholed to the idea that there is only one correct way to putt. There are several ways to make a stroke. For example, when someone says they putt straight-back-straight-through most golfers would think of Dave Pelz. Or maybe you think of Stan Utley when someone talks about arc putting.
My putting method is not a style, but rather an effort to educate my students. Using my research of more 700 tour professionals, I provide my students with scientifically proven data of what the best putters in the game are doing. Using this information, my students apply the research using drills and determine which characteristics apply best to the way they like to putt. The only consistent application I have across all my students is that I like to see the elbows or upper arms more connected to your torso as opposed to having the arms becoming separated throughout the stroke. My research shows the most consistent way to putt is using the core muscles, so for those who must have a name for the method, let’s refer to it as Core Putting.
As a thank you to my readers at Golf.com and in Golf Magazine I am offering my Automatic Putting Package for $59.95 for the month of July at MariusGolf.com. Thanks for all your support and kind words of encouragement. Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wanted to conclude this week by thanking David DeNunzio of Golf Magazine for a wonderful article he put together discussing some of my research as well as my career. Part of the article regarding the myths of putting can be viewed here. To view the complete article please read the August issue Golf Magazine (on newsstands now).
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, be sure to check back next week for an all-new edition.
Thanks to everyone for your questions, comments, and videos. Hope everyone enjoyed the blog. We will see you next week.
Jan asks at 1:50:
Working on getting the club more up and out/straight in the takeaway as opposed to before when I was too low w the hands and too much inside/under the plane. This caused a small over-the top motion. Do you think this looks ok? Hit little baby draws now which I've never been able to do before. Never mind my CEO-belly. :)
You have made some solid progress to be sure. I think the takeaway looks much cleaner and it sounds like the ballflight has changed for the better. I would like to see your upper back remain closer to the ground through impact. You currently are moving up and away as you strike the ball which forces your right arm to extend too early. This slight change will make the shots more penetrating and help you improve the contact with all of your clubs. Here is a picture to help you see the difference. Look at her posture in the same part of the swing. She remains bent over and her body is getting closer to the ground not further away.
James Batchelor asks at 1:25:
My quetion is about missing fairways and greens to the right. I am right handed and find the ball leaves my driver or iron straight but when the ball lands it continues to roll to the right. If i over swing i slice my driver but if i stay in tempo i still have a slight fade.
Without seeing the swing I can’t offer you specifics about what to work on with your swing. I can tell you the longer and harder you swing the more the face is struggling to square up at impact. The best approach is to keep working on hitting the ball right to left in practice to get your path and clubface positions into a more neutral combination.
Eddie asks at 1:15:
Brady.... Can you really ever make your backswing too slow? When I watch the pros at the range they seem almost deliberately slow on the backswing..
There is no absolute rule when it comes to the speed of the backswing. You can see all ends of the spectrum when you look at professionals. Kenny Perry is extremely slow, Tommy Armour III is extremely fast. There are players at both ends and many in the middle. I would rather see the backswing speed be at a comfortable speed that allows the swing to build up in pace as you approach impact. What is consistent across the board is that people have a distorted view of the speed with which they swing the club. When you show a players their swing on video they are always surprised at the speed they actually swing the club. For most amateurs, slowing down the backswing will help more than it will hurt.
Frank asks at 1:00:
Brady..... What kind of problems occur when the shoulders turn too fast in the downswing and is that a problem you see very often?
Generally speaking when the shoulders turn too fast on the downswing the arms and club move out away from the body causing the club to be above plane. Turning the shoulders too quickly will also make it difficult to get the weight moving towards the target properly leaving the weight too far back at impact. The other issue is that the faster the shoulders rotate on the downswing the slower the clubface will turn through impact. The combination of the club working too far out and the face turning too slowly will generally lead to an impressive slice.
Pete asks at 12:48:
Brady.... what is the best way to improve hand and arm rotation in the downswing? I watched my video from face on and my arms never really cross like every pro I see.
The best way to improve your release is to work on your swing path. If you are attacking the ball on too steep a path it is impossible to extend your arms properly and have the correct rotation through impact. Once the path is correct you need to get your weight moving in the direction of the target before your arms and club. This means that the sequence is always body, arms, club on the downswing and insures that your weight will have moved into the front foot by impact. The combination of a correct path and the proper sequence of motion will give you the opportunity to extend and release correctly. Without these fundamentals in place working on release is pointless.
Ted asks at 12:37:
Brady... A long time ago a teacher always told everyone to hit the ball with the butt of the club. I guess that would keep the club on plane on the downswing. Is that bad advice?
I wouldn’t call it bad advice but in my experience there are a couple of problems with it. Whenever you give someone a cue to focus on a specific body part, specifically the hands, you create tension in that area. For this reason focusing on hitting it with the butt end of the club tends to make players tighten up their hands and arms which produces the opposite effect than is desired. The other issue with this particular piece of advice is that it takes the focus off the pivot as the main mover of the club. This makes the swing function as if the “tail is wagging the dog” and isn’t an effective long term strategy. However, if it works for you go for it.
Dan asks at 12:25:
Brady... I thought making a slower and smooth backswing would help my putting, but I am now leaving everything short. Is that a bad idea?
You are better off having a stroke that has balance going back and through. A better goal than a slow backstroke is a stroke that has a balance in the speed and length going back and through. If you focus on making the stroke balanced in both speed and length you will improve your consistency and contact making it much easier to control your distances.
Matt asks at 12:14:
Hi, I recently found your Redgoat Gallery Fundamentals and enjoyed reading and watching them, especially the bits about different takeaway and backswing options. I thought to myself this is the kind of stuff I should know. Without giving you my life story I'm a serious golfer but for a variety of reasons I teach myself, which as you can imagine is a slow process. Unlike perhaps other self taught golfers I'm very interested in technique. I've read a lot of golf books, with the exception of The Golfing Machine, and I watch plenty of video of myself and others. The reason why I'm contacting you is that I'm curious as to how you came about your knowledge? Was it through your own research, working with other pros or attending seminars? Was there one thing that helped you the most? And if you have any pointers on how I could further my knowledge they would be greatly appreciated.
I wouldn’t omit The Golfing Machine if you are trying to expand your knowledge. While it may seem like a daunting task to read the book you can thumb through it and pick up amazing nuggets of information. I spent quite a bit of time with Ben Doyle and Gregg McHatton when learning about the golf swing. They helped me begin to understand how the golf swing really works and how to study it. I learned more about what not to do from most of the teachers I worked with as a young player. Often your knowledge base grows more from dismissing bad ideas as it does accepting good ones.
The vast majority of my knowledge about the golf swing has come from studying video and pictures of the best players in the world. I started to understand how different components of the swing can work together to make a functional stroke pattern and how they can fail. I always use myself as a test subject to prove or disprove an idea and I constantly challenge my ideas to make sure I’m not full of BS.
When it comes to studying books and videos the answer is yes, I have read and watched just about everything. I like to know what other teachers are trying and using and I am not afraid to steal anything that will help my students. Imitation is the best form of flattery after all.
Whatever sources of knowledge you choose to pursue keep an open mind, you never know what is going to turn on the light bulb.
JP asks at 12:00:
Brady.... Help. I don't think the tush line is terrible in these videos, but I hit one of the hosel and one off the toe(I think). I thought standing a little closer to the ball was a good idea to steepen the downswing, maybe not? Right now I don't know what to work on...
Thanks for sending in the video JP. Standing closer to the ball has it's problems as you have discovered. I agree that your doing a better job with your tush line going back. However, through impact you are still losing the line towards the ball. This makes your body become more vertical through impact pushing your left hip towards the ball which blocks your left arm. I would encourage you to stick with the work on the Tush line and focus on maintaining your forward lean through impact. Let me know how it’s going.
I spent some time Wednesday at the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia with a new student, Justin Leonard. Justin and I have crossed paths several times over the years, but we had not worked together until earlier this month when he and his long-time swing instructor Randy Smith got together in Dallas. For several years, I had wanted to get Justin to putt on the SAM Putt Lab, an ultrasound-driven device that measures 28 stroke parameters, because I consider Justin one of the better putters on tour.
Like some players, Justin did not want to get on the machine for fear that the technical results that it provided would disrupt his non-technical thoughts. At this year’s HP Byron Nelson, Justin finally agreed to be hooked up to the SAM Putt Lab as long as I promised not to share his results with him. After our session, Justin changed his mind and said he was interested in the results because he felt he wasn’t putting as well as he had in the past. Long story short, I plan to give you some access to the instruction I am providing to Justin in a future blog.
Question of the Week This week’s putting question was from Nick A. of Melbourne, Australia. Nick asked where is the best place to aim on a long putt with multiple breaks?
Let’s imagine Nick’s “long putt” is a 40-footer that breaks to the left first and then to the right at the hole. I like players to look at this putt as being two separate putts. The first putt starts from the ball to the first break, or apex. In this case the apex is where the ball breaks to the left. The second putt starts from the first break and goes all the way to the hole. The reason I recommend you look at longer putts in two pieces is that the line you select in the first putt ultimately dictates the result of the second putt. To improve your chances of making the putt you need to get the ball rolling on the correct line of the second putt.
My point is that you need to know where the second half of the putts is going as if it were its own putt before you select the line of the first half of the putt. In Nick’s case, after he has read “both putts” I recommend that he picks an intermediate target approximately two feet in front of the ball that is on the line in which he wants the ball to roll over or through on the way to the hole. Putting to an intermediate target is much easier than trying to putt to the hole. Think about it -- is it easier to make a two-foot putt or a 40-foot putt?
After Nick picks his two-foot intermediate target, he should take a couple practice strokes looking at the hole, then address the ball focusing on his two-foot target, make a good stroke and let gravity take it from there.
Please submit any questions you have at all about putting (or short game) to email@example.com. I will be selecting a question each week to discuss for the blog. If I use your question in my blog I will send you a free copy of my newest putting DVD -- Automatic Putting.
You can also visit my website at www.mariusgolf.com and register for the free-member section.
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