This week I am checking in from Midland, Texas, at the WNB Golf Classic on the Nationwide Tour. I have several students out on the Nationwide including Matthew Goggin [pictured], Matt Weibring, Matt Every and Danny Lee so I try to get out to at least three or four events every year.
During tournament weeks, the mindset of my Tour pro students falls into one of two camps. I have named these mindsets “preservation” and “improvement.” (For the record, there is a third mindset that I refer to as “Leave me alone, Marius! I am putting great,” but that does not really need to be discussed.)
In “preservation” mode, the player is comfortable with his current putting stroke and is seeking my advice as merely an avenue to boost their current confidence or possibly looking for a small swing thought or putting trigger to help them continue to roll their putts well. In “improvement” mode, the player is willing to make changes because what they are currently doing or feeling with the putter is not correct.
On Tuesday, I spent some time with Will Claxton addressing a putter-path issue that was significant enough for Will to ask my advice. Will was cutting across the ball, which makes it very difficult to be a consistently good putter. We worked to get Will to feel more like he was hooking his putts, which he was able to do in a relatively short period of time.
I understand many of you will read this and think, “Thanks for writing about the obvious, Marius.” OK, but stop and think about your own game. I know that many of you have been struggling with your game as you were about to play in your club championship or maybe a state tournament. So what should you do? Well, most of you will reach out to your local PGA professional, which is what I would recommend 100 out of a 100 times, BUT only if you approach that lesson with the correct mindset.
What do I mean by “correct mindset”? Evaluate the severity of your current level of struggle. This is the time to be honest with yourself. If you are a good player who is maybe missing more fairways to the left than normal, approach your PGA professional with a “preservation” mindset. That means you aren’t making a major change but something simple, such as weakening your grip or maybe changing your alignment. These changes can be made without damaging your confidence.
On the other hand, if you are struggling greatly with your putting before a big event, you need to decide whether you have enough time to feel comfortable playing under pressure after making a major technical change. If you are certain that a change must be made to give yourself the best chance to succeed, then approach your change under an “improvement” mindset.
Thanks for all the emails, folks. Please keep them coming to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you have only a couple more weeks to order the Automatic Putting Package for the promotional rate of $59.95. After Oct. 15, it will return to $99.95. Please visit mariusgolf.com for more details.
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 week for an all-new edition!
Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. We will be back at it next Tuesday. Have a great week!
Dan asks at 1:00:
What are the best 13 clubs for someone with a handicap from 8-10? I'm going to be buying new clubs soon and was curious what the new logic would be. My old set is very old (15 yrs) and is D,3W,5W,3I-9I,PW,SW,LW.
It has more to do with the distances you hit the clubs than your index level. I can tell you that you would be well suited to experiment with hybrids as they have changed the game for the good. The goal is to eliminate large gaps in distances with either the wedges or the long irons/hybrids. The exact loft of the wedges and degrees of the hybrids should be adjusted to fill in the gaps.
Austin asks at 12:45:
I've recently been struggling with the hooks and I've lost all confidence in my swing. Any advice would be great, thanks!
Here are two videos:
The swing looks goods Austin. I would like to see the takeaway less inside. When the club sucks in behind you too much too early your arms can get too deep at the top making it difficult to hit anything but a hook. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see where you should go.
Mark asks at 12:30:
I'd like advice on teaching my 7 year old son. I bought a beginners set for him this summer and brought him to the practice range with me. He really enjoys it. I've started him with some real basic tips, like keeping his eye on the ball, but I've resisted giving him much more than that. I don't want to flood him with instruction or make things a chore. But now I think I'd like to help him progress. Where should I start? What would be a good plan of progression? Eventually, I'll probably take him to a pro, but I don't think either of us is ready for that yet. Thanks!
You are off to a really good start Mark. Job #1 is to make sure he is having a great time and wants to be there. When it comes to the technique the advice is easy. Go on Youtube and find some swings of Tiger around 2000. Play the swings for your son and have him notice how Tiger finishes his swing in balance with his back foot straight up and down posing for the cameras. Have him try to copy Tiger in the house for you so you can see he has it down. When you get to the range, let him hit some balls to mess around and then remind him about how Tiger finished. You may even have the video on your phone to show him. When he holds his finish like Tiger you will see how to help your kid become better.
This is how I taught my daughters to swing, except it was with Annika Sorenstam. It is amazing how much they learn when we shut up.
Luke asks at 12:14:
Thanks for your help! I love watching Rory McIlroy swing. What do you think the average amateur should strive to take away from the future World #1's swing? What are the things we should not try to emulate?
That is a very tough question. Without seeing your swing it is impossible for me to relay specific advice as to what you should or shouldn’t copy. When I give golf lessons I always use video. During most if not all of those lessons I use players as examples of what I want the student to working towards. For some students I might choose the pivot of Anthony Kim or Camilo if I want them to have a little more lateral motion. This is usually reserved for the more flexible, younger, athletic players who rotate too much on their front foot during the backswing. For other players I may select Davis Love III as an example of how they should pivot. This is better for the average person as it is more simple and doesn’t require a great deal of flexibility. It is especially relevant if the player is swaying off the ball during the backswing. I would be doing a disservice to my students if I picked the same player to use as example and/or taught them all to swing the same way.
The stuff to copy about Rory would be for the younger, athletic, more flexible player. He has a massive turn to the top and pops both legs to straight through impact better than almost anyone in the game. While these are things some players can copy, they would be very detrimental to most golfers.
Justin asks at 12:00:
Hey Brady, love the blog. I'm a high handicapper so these questions are a little more simple than what you usually get.
What are some simple drills I can do in or around the house that will improve my accuracy on the course?
And if you got time, what's a general guide I can go by as far as ball positioning on uphill and downhill lies, pitching wedge to driver, etc.?
The best thing you can do to improve at home is to work on your fundamentals. Make sure you are working on your grip, stance, posture, etc. It is highly recommended that you are doing this with the consultation of a professional instructor so you aren't lost. In terms of ball positioning for strange lies your adjustments should be minor. Uphil lies will take the ball left of the target making it crucial you aim slightly right. The ball should be played slightly back in the stance on downhill lies. This will make the ball go slightly right of the target making in necessary to adjust the aim to the left at address. When the ball is on the ground it should be played under the logo on your left chest. As the clubs get longer, the right foot should move slightly wider without changing the ball’s position relative to the left foot. This is true from PW to the 3-wood. The driver should be more forward than the balls on the ground and played under the left armpit. All of these positions are flexible and can be adjusted for a change in trajectory, shape of shot, etc.
The best advice I can give you at this point is to get an instructor who knows what he/she is doing and develop a plan for progress. If you are serious about becoming a good player the plan should include all aspects of your game, your equipment, your practice organization, fitness. Etc.
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 an all-new edition of Ask Brady Live.
Welcome to the Tuesday Blog Ask Brady Live! Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments, I will see you all next week! GO USA!
Tom asks at 1:15:
Brady.... How do I make an overly steep downswing, I can't do this to save my life. The clubhead gets behind the tush on the downswing, tough to hit from that position. I feel that I may be going at this the wrong way. My tush line looks good in video... what are some other things to look for?
If the club is getting too far behind you there are a couple of quick things you can do to help. A great “feel” is the keep the hands up in the air at the top of the downswing while your entire body begins to rotate around towards the target. This will help your hands move out onto the proper path into the ball and the club will follow. Many times when the club is getting too far behind you coming down the hand and arms are dropping straight down before the body moves to the target. When the hands move first and the body is either passive or slides to far laterally the club will get “stuck” behind. Keep the hands in the air and you will fix this quickly.
Jim asks at 12:55:
Is it good to feel the upper left arm for a RH golf to feel as if it's connected to the chest on the backswing and downswing? I get the club really laid off on the downswing and I think it's could be my left arm comes away from my body.
Should the left wrist be flat just before during and after impact?
I would agree that the upper left arm should maintain contact with the chest during the swing. With that said the position of the arm will change during the backswing as the left arm rotates clockwise as it works to the top. The connection between the arm and chest becomes more taught as the downswing begins and is at it’s tightest at impact.
The answer to your second question is a bit more difficult. If the left grip is neutral or weak the left wrist will definitely be flat just before and at impact. If the grip is very strong there can be some cup remaining in the wrist just before and at impact. The important thing is that the hands are leading the clubshaft with the club working forward, down, and out. If the grip is extremely strong in the left hands position then there can be a bit of bend left at impact. However, it is much easier and more consistent if the grip is more neutral and the wrist is in a flat position.
Greg asks at 12:45:
I am finally hitting the iron shots I want to hit, matching what I see in my head to what I want to do on the course. I am still having issues with my Driver. It is a consistant power slice to the right of varying bendiness, and it just doesnt feel right. Any help would be appricated.
When the irons are good and the driver is slicing it usually speaks of a problem between the body/arms relationship at impact. The upper body is most likely spinning open too early on the downswing. This is a normal instinct to protect against the slice. When this happens the arms drag behind too much and the clubface is unable to rotate enough by the time the clubhead hits the ball. The correction is to “feel” like the club is passing your body during impact. This will keep your chest facing the ball when the club makes contact, allowing the toe of the club to close more rapidly and fix the slice. Try to keep in mind that the more the body rotates through impact the slower the face rotates, and vice versa. Slow down the bodies rotation and you will hit it straighter with the driver.
Phil asks at 12:30:
Thanks for your blog everyweek - it helps me alot. My question is the takeaway and your thoughts on keeping the hands inside and clubhead outside?
What does this help accomplish? I seem to hit my shots thin, will this help steepen my swing?
Many players struggle with getting the clubhead too far inside their hands during the takeaway. This mistake leads to numerous issues with the position of the club and the body at the top of the backswing that must be accounted for coming down. However, it must be said that there are numerous professionals who take the club back a little inside and have no problem making the adjustments. The simple fact is that if your swing is inconsistent and your takeaway stinks it makes sense to fix it first as other problems are corrected as a result. I have no idea why you hit it thin without seeing your swing or getting more information from your. The most common culprits are standing too far from the ball, losing your tush line, swinging too far from the inside, hanging back and hitting up on the ball, NOT having the shaft leaning forward at impact, etc. Send me a video of your swing or give me more information about what is going on with your motion and I can narrow it down for you.
Tripp asks at 12:15:
I am struggling with consistency, please help!!!
The DTL view looks like the ball is well below your feet. This may not be the greatest lie to video your swing from but there are a couple of things going on. Your weight is sitting too much in your heels at address. While this is the natural tendency from this lie make sure you avoid it in normal circumstances and keep the weight a bit more in the balls of the feet. The takeaway is a bit inside, top a bit laid off but overall the club tracks down into impact pretty good. The body isn’t moving through as well as I would like but this can be from the difficult lie you are hitting from.
The face on swing from the range is better to look at. The movement of your head is telling. As you finish the backswing your head is moving up and towards the target. I would prefer it to stay level (many good players will even drop at the top) and never back up away from the target as you make contact. When your head is going back your body won’t be working in sync with your arms and you will overwork your hands and the club at impact. This is the source of much of your inconsistency. The head should move slightly off during the backswing, move back towards the target as the downswing begins, it can move slightly in front of the original position with an iron as long as it stabilizes at impact and then release out towards the finish. It should never move past the original position until after impact with the driver.
Here is a picture to help you see the location of the head during the swing.
Lou asks at 12:00:
I tend to " lose " my swing with the driver during a round. I am 64 yrs old and play 2-3 times a week. I have trouble making solid contact after a decent start. What adjustments or checks can I make to get back on track?/
Maintaining your consistency is something we all strive for as players. There are several things you can check that can be causing you to struggle after a good beginning. The first is fatigue. If you lose either your concentration or just feel a bit sluggish during the round you want to maintain a steady supply of fuel (food) to keep you from crashing. Stay away from the sugary snacks and find something healthier to eat every few holes. Some people find an energy bar they like, bananas, nuts, etc. that keeps them on an even keel physically during the round. The second thing you can work on is your routine. This is true from driver to putter and can make a significant difference in your ability to keep a good round going and stop a bad round from starting. It sounds like your swing is working as you begin, if you fuel your body better and stay with your routines you will have more success.
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 week, be sure to check back on Tuesday for an all-new edition!
Thanks to everyone for your questions and videos today. Have a great week on the links and we will pick up again next Tuesday.
Edward asks at 1:30:
Brady, I'm a super-senior who "hits & quits", no finish, no folded left arm, etc. I seem to remember a tip from a long-ago lesson to "pose" at the end of my swing to be sure I was completing my followthrough. Is this the best drill to cure my problem & gain some power, or can you offer a better solution ? Ed
Thanks for the question Ed. If there is one piece of advice I think almost every player can benefit from it is holding your balance in the follow through. This simple thought helps the player swing through to the end of the motion, keeps their weight and club from slowing down at impact, helps the body and arms work in sync to start the downswing, prevents the player from trying to micromanage impact, and relieves the normal tension associated with where the ball may go by replacing it with a positive thought. I think this is an excellent thought for you on the golf course.
Roland asks at 1:15:
Any thoughts? Too flat on backswing?
Thanks for the video Roland. Take a look at the picture I posted earlier in the blog today regarding posture at address. This is your biggest issue. Your weight is sitting back too far in your heels, you are too bent over from the middle of your body and your hands hang too low as a result. The backswing will change considerably when you stand to the ball better. For that reason I wouldn’t change the backswing until you see the affects of fixing the posture at address. Send in some new video when you think you have it cleaned up.
VJS asks at 1:00:
Can you please evaluate my swing - it appears that I am jumping on impact.
I think the swing is very solid. There are a couple of things I would like you to keep your eye on. Your grip is a little strong. This isn’t generally a bad thing for younger players as it helps the ball go a bit farther but it can make the ball go too far left. Make sure your left hand isn’t so far over at address that you can see every knuckle on the top of your hand when you look down. If you can, rotate your left hand to the left until you can see the top knuckle of your ring finger but not your pinky. The second thing I would like to see from you is more aggression when you swing. I want you to attack the ball and hit it hard. To be a great player, you need to hit the ball as far or farther than your playing partners. This doesn’t mean I want you to be out of control and fall down but you need to be more confident and positive with your motion. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes when you play, enjoy your golf and always take chances when on the course to challenge yourself. Not only will this make you a better player, it will bring out the joy in your golf.
Trippst79 asks at 12:40:
Would like any advice you can give me on my putting stroke.
Thanks and love the blog!
Always nice to see some putting videos. From a technical standpoint the stroke looks pretty good. I don’t like to see the left arm move away from your body so much after impact and into the finish but that is a result and not a cause. The real issue is with the rhythm of the stroke. The length of the follow through is twice the length of the backswing. Unlike many teachers, I hate acceleration in the stroke. I want the ball to reach the hole from the swinging of the putter rather than the use of the muscles during impact. In fact, I would rather see the putter swinging and end up slightly shorter after impact than where yours is finished. Here are a couple of pictures to illustrate my point. Look at the length of Tiger’s backstroke and finish compared to yours.
Nathan asks at 12:15:
Good Morning Brady- I asked you last week about how posture at setup affects the arm motion and swing plane. You said you would be able to answer my question better with a video, so here it is.
The first video is from about 2 weeks ago with a 5 iron; the shot was a push draw that ended up about 10 feet right of my target. The second video is with a 6 iron and a more bent over posture which allows me to feel like my arms are hanging with not too much tension and plenty of room to swing and my wrists can hinge properly. Sorry about the camera angles and picture quality not being very good. The first shot was a push-draw that ended a little right of target (I had been hitting a lot of pushes that were either straight or had an aggressive draw flight); the second shot was pretty straight.
Does this more bent over posture look like an improvement? Thanks!
I would like to see a happy medium between the two. The first one definitely looks too upright, the second too bent over. You can see the differences in the takeaway because of the posture (noting that the camera angles are quite different). The more bent over posture makes the club pop up and out more than is neutral creating a more laid off position at the top of the backswing. If you get the posture more vanilla, the takeaway will line up better and the rest of the swing will run more efficiently. I would like to see your left leg post up better through impact as it currently bends considerably more than is ideal. Here is a picture of where you should be at address.
Mark asks at 12:00:
Hello Brady - I just wanted to first give you props for fixing my tush line issue that I've been plagued with for years. I've played some great golf since - although old bad habits creep back. My hips are quite active at the start of the downswing, which I think causes the inconsistency at times. Do you have any drills to sequence the initial hip move coming down?
I do have a followup question - What's your opinion on squatting to start the downswing as a way of maintaining the tush line and getting more leverage. I know Tiger has had trouble lately with this and McIlroy does it to a significant extent initially. They both straighten significantly at impact, but it seems to bring more timing into the equation.
Thanks swing god
Glad to hear the Tush line issue is better. The key to quieting the hips is loading the left quad (right handed player) as long as possible coming down. This helps the hips stay “closed” later in the downswing and allows the right elbow to come down in front of the right hip. Hit some slow swing shots trying to keep the left quad loaded with weight longer and you will begin to feel the proper sequence. The squat to start down creates amazing leverage and prepares the body to push away from the ground at impact. This is a move usually reserved for the very athletic. BTW, this isn’t the source of Tiger’s problems, they have more to do with the position of the club than his squat.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online today at 1 p.m. Eastern to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. Leave your question or video for Brady now!
Welcome to the Tuesday Edition of Ask Brady Live! This is a big week for a couple of my players as 2 Time US Women's Amateur Champion Danielle Kang makes her professional debut on the LPGA Tour at the Walmart in Arkansas. Joining her is Solheim Cup member Ryann O'Toole as she prepares for the biggest tournament in her life. Props to Mark Steinberg for signing Danielle Kang to join Tiger in his stable. You have chosen well Mark.
Keep an eye on LPGA leaderboard this week...
Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. Look forward to seeing you next week on the blog.
Dave asks at 1:45:
Thanks for your blog, it's clear that you're committed to helping us hackers. My problem is with getting the nice feel of compressing an iron shot. I don't believe that I'm casting, but I seem to have trouble consistently getting the good club shaft forward lean necessary to start the divot after the ball (that is when I make a divot at all). Any tips or suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated.
The basic idea is the right forearm needs to get closer to the target at impact if the hands are going to lead the clubhead into the ball. This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, so here is what must happen. You must have some tilt to begin the downswing. This will get the right shoulder closer to the ground and enable the right arm to move down in front of the right hip. For the arm to keep going far enough the left hip must clear out of the way so the right side can move in the direction of the target. When done properly, the right arm will come down in front of the navel and your hands will get out past the ball at impact. As with all swing changes, this should be done carefully, slowly, and in pieces to help you gain the “feel” of the proper mechanics. Here is a before and after to help you see the difference.
Hi Brady, big fan of the blog. What do you think playing the game by feel, as though by Jim Flick ie feeling the weight of the club head as you swing and everything else falls into place. I find this method good, particularly under pressure. The swing is a lot smoother, no over swinging, nice shallow divot and distance seems to be fine. I have tried (and tried hard) to change my swing from a hands and arms type swing to a body type swing, but struggle for any type of consitency, and have no feel for what the clubhead is doing. What are your thoughts?
You have to be who you are. Some people are significantly better taking the hands and arms out of the swing, some are considerably worse. When you try to swing in a manner completely different than is comfortable you will struggle mightily. If you are already a good player, improve upon what you already do well instead of changing everything for a result that might be worse.
Could you explain how proper (and improper) posture affects swing plane and arm motion? I am a somewhat tall golfer and I think I've been standing too upright so that my arms are sort of colliding with my chest in the backswing; my club is somewhat laid off and shut at the top and the arms look a little behind me. Plus, the backswing just feels too strenuous.
Would you agree that a good posture is one in which the arms hang freely from the shoulders without any contact with the ribcage? When I setup that way I feel more bent over, but it seems to encourage a free arm swing. Thanks for your insight!
Without seeing the swing it is very difficult to comment on your specific issue. I can tell you that you should feel comfortable and athletic at address with your legs “bouncy” and your arms hanging down out of your shoulders. The more bent over you begin the more difficult it is to maintain that posture going back and you will tend to stand up. The opposite is true if you stand too upright at address as you will tend to drop during the swing. If the changes you have made during the address are helping you feel more comfortable then stick with it. Please send in your video so I can give you some more specific advice.
Hey Brady, what's a cure for poor body alignment? I hit the ball straight, but often realize after my shot that I'm aimed right (left-handed) of my target. I've been setting my clubface to a spot just in front, which has helped some. I've started to wonder how much eye-dominance may be a factor.
Don’t feel bad I have been aiming too far right for 33 years. I tried many different approaches to get “square”. They included using an intermediate target, right foot placed first, clubface lined-up before feet, looking at the target when I spread my feet, etc. What worked best for me is to aim comfortably at address and before I start the swing I simply pull my left foot back a couple inches away from the target line. This may sound like I have given up, maybe I have, but it has helped me fix this problem that plagued me for decades. Any of the above may work for you, but if they don’t try my approach, you may be surprised at the result.
A big fan of your blog. I have struggled with good tempo and rhythm as many amateurs do and came across some articles that claim many pro golfers have a swing tempo of 3 to 1, meaning three counts back and 1 count from top of back swing to impact. They measure this by frames of film or video. So this player has a tempo of 24/8, another 27/9, etc. And of course, they want to sell all sorts of training aids. Is there anything to this 3/1 tempo, and if yes, is it an appropriate goal to aspire to? What do you recommend for helping to improve swing tempo and rhythm?
Here is an analogy I often use when people ask me about tempo and rhythm. Think of your car’s alignment when it is bad. To compensate, you have to pull on one side of the wheel to keep your car from running off the road. If you are driving 5mph or 50mph and you let go of the wheel bad things will happen. Same is true of your golf swing when your mechanics stink. If you swing slow or fast, with good rhythm or bad rhythm the ball won’t go at the target if the face isn’t square, the path is bad, and your weight isn’t moving properly. The 3 to 1 theory has worked for some, but it comes back to your ability to master the fundamentals of clubface, path, and pivot. When those factors are not in question, tempo and rhythm become more important than when the fundamentals are poor. I like to listen to Reggae music when I practice, not because I am necessarily trying to improve my tempo or rhythm but because I like the music. Fix the fundamentals first, then download some Peter Tosh on iTunes and practice to Downpressor Man.
Hi Brady, thanks for the blog, it's great! what are your thoghts on a "long" left thumb? (for a right handed player)
This is one of those questions I wish you asked while you were standing in front of me. The thumb bends differently from person to person. The important note on the “long” thumb is to get your thumb print on the handle. If you try to extend the thumb too far the underside of your knuckle will sit on the grip instead of the thumb “print”. The amount of natural bend in the thumb while it’s resting will determine how far down the handle you can extend it.
've been reading the blog for a while, it has helped me quite a bit. Thank you!
I'm having problems getting the ball in the air with my Driver, 3 Wood, 3-4 Hybrids. I've been told to tee the ball higher with the driver, but I just come underneath it and pop it up. I know I still have tush line problems and I'm taking it past parallel on the backswing, I'm working on those things. I'm sure those are part of the problem.
I'd also like to know if my left shoulder is moving incorrectly through impact and in the follow through. Looking at the pros swings I always see the hands turn over after impact from a DTL view. My hands always disappear behind my body after impact Should my shoulder turn coming down be more vertical? I'm left handed and I pull hard through the downswing with my left arm and shoulder. Thanks!
Thanks for sending in the video. It always makes a huge difference when I can see what is going on rather than hearing someone’s impression of what the swing “feels” like. Overall the swing looks really good. I agree the Tush line still needs some work but in my opinion the issue is the closed clubface position. This makes perfect sense when aligned with your misses of a lower ball flight and the occasional pop up with the driver. When the clubface is closed you need to look in two specific places. First is the grip. If it is strong and the left wrist is in a neutral position at the top of the swing the face will run parallel to the horizon in a closed position. If the grip is neutral and the face is closed then the fault is in an overly flat or bowed left wrist position at the top of the swing. I would get the grip more neutral, make sure the left wrist is slightly cupped at the top and see what happens. At this point, forget all the other crap going through your head and send me the new videos.
In the October issue of the Golf Magazine, the Top 100 Teachers in America explained the secrets of the World No. 1s -- the 15 players who have reached the No. 1 spot since the rankings debuted 25 years ago in 1986. In this Front9 special, we highlight the No. 1 thing you can learn from each player along with a video of the No. 1 in action. Enjoy!
Greg Norman: Weeks No. 1: 331 (1986-1998)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Norman's "Great White Shark" persona is a lesson for anyone who wants to go low. Like the ocean predator, you pick your targets, then attack with total focus and without reservation. Watch video of young Norman hitting his driver -- he powers through the ball with such force that the shaft rebounds off his back. Full commitment, not an ounce of doubt. —Mike Davis, Walters Golf Academy, Las Vegas, Nev.
Seve Ballesteros: Weeks at No. 1: 61 (1986-1989)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: I watched Seve practice at the Kemper Open at Avenel in the early 1990s. I was inside the ropes and could hear him speak to other players about the short game. He said, "Keep the angle in the back of the right wrist." This is great advice with short, delicate shots because it steadies the little muscles, which can jerk or yip. It's not easy developing Seve's shotmaking ability with long irons, but by following that advice, you can get his legendary touch around the greens. —Steve Bosdosh, the Members Club at Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.
Bernard Langer: Weeks at No. 1: 3 (1986)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Actually, Langer teaches us two things. First, keep it simple. Move your arms, club, and body in a balanced, unhurried manner. If you can copy Langer's approach, you'll improve dramatically. The second is the importance of fitness. At age 54 on the Champions Tour, Langer's body looks as taut and fit as it was in the 1980s. To play your best for life, add physical training to your regimen. —Lou Guzzi, the Lou Guzzi Golf Academy at Talamore C.C., Ambler, Pa.
Nick Faldo: Weeks at No. 1: 97 (1990-1994)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: For all the wonderful mechanics in Faldo's swing -- especially the way he keeps his lower-body quiet, promoting control -- the No. 1 thing he can teach you is to thicken your skin when making changes or improvements to your game. Too often amateurs heed poor swing advice from friends to avoid hurting their feelings, or they worry about what their swing looks like when they're playing with a better golfer. Stay true and committed to your goals and you can be like Nick, who never paid attention to what the so-called experts said about his game. —Brian Mogg, Golden Bear Golf Club at Keene's Point, Windermere, Fla.
Ian Woosnam: Weeks at No. 1: 50 (1991-1992)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Woosnam always said he tried to "slog it with his right side" and power the ball by releasing his right shoulder and hip. This is a great swing thought that'll get you firing through impact and keep you from hanging back. You'll know you're doing it right if your right shoulder is closer to the target than your left in your finish. —Brady Riggs, Woodley Lakes G.C., Van Nuys, Calif.
Fred Couples: Weeks at No. 1: 16 (1992)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Copy Couples's looseness. Check your grip and arms. Are they tight, or are they loose and whippy? Then rotate freely back and through while letting the clubhead swing and, as crazy as this sounds, try not to care where the ball goes. Also, stay in the moment. Once Fred hits a shot, he forgets about it. Rounds are played one shot at a time, and the more you "quiet" your mind after a shot, the more likely your outcomes will add up to a good score. If you feel yourself starting to fret over swings, take a moment and picture Fred in his prime, the boy in the park playing without a care. —Paul Marchand, Shadow Hawk G.C., Richmond, Texas
Nick Price: Weeks at No. 1: 44 (1994-1995)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Copy Price's three-step process: Visualize the shot, set up, and pull the trigger. His routine is stripped of the mental clutter and extraneous thoughts that bedevil most players. Price's "ready-golf" passion will instantly help you play and score better. —Chuck Evans Gold Canyon Golf Resort, Gold Canyon, Ariz.
Tom Lehman: Weeks at No. 1: 1 (1997)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Experiment with the Lehman leg drive. Moving into the ball with your legs limits the damage your upper body can do, ensuring an assertive move through impact, with the ball simply "getting in the way." —Joe Hallett, PGA Center for Learning and Performance, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Ernie Els: Weeks at No. 1: 9 (1997-1998)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Find a swing speed that lets you finish in absolute balance. Doing this is easy if you build a move based on solid fundamentals: grip, posture, acceleration. That's how Els honed one of the sweetest swings in history. —Bill Moretti, Academy of Golf Dynamics, Austin, Texas
Tiger Woods: Weeks at No. 1: 623 (1997-2010)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Don't try to copy his swing. Be like Tiger at his best and find a motion that works for your body and physical capability. And know the importance of a solid short game, reliable putting stroke, and a competitive attitude. Tiger always wants to win and utterly hates to lose. So should you. —Mike Adams, Hamilton Farm G.C., Gladstone, N.J.
David Duval: Weeks at No. 1: 15 (1999)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Duval didn't so much swing as, well, unwind, staying open through impact and leading with his left hip. To add a dash of Duval shotmaking to your game, try this: Take an open stance and hit some shots with half of a backswing. Feel that your belt buckle is facing the target at impact. You'll find it easier to square the clubface. —Brian Manzella, Brian Manzella Golf Academy at English Turn Golf & C.C., New Orleans, La.
Vijay Singh: Weeks at No. 1: 32 (2004-2005)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: To see the essence of freewheeling confidence, watch Vijay. From the way he swung to the way he walked, he was simply…free. The lesson: Fear? What fear? Let it rip. Make it your mantra for golf and for life. —Krista Dunton, Berkeley Hall, Bluffton, S.C.
Lee Westwood: Weeks at No. 1: 22 (2010-2011)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: His swing isn't pretty -- steep shoulder turn, bent left arm at impact -- but Westwood has some dynamic moves you can use. Watch how he pushes off the ground in his downswing while "crunching" his upper body slightly closer to the ball, which sets the clubface on the perfect delivery plane. Also, try this: Hit the ball hard. Like Lee, take a mighty lash! You won't hit every shot perfectly, but this aggressive mind-set simplifies things and, honestly, is a lot more fun. —Jon Tattersall, Terminus Club, Atlanta, Ga.
Martin Kaymer: Weeks at No. 1 18 (2011)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Add Kaymer's rhythm and fluidity to your swing by keeping your upper and lower body more connected -- don't allow one to outpace the other. Overusing your arms or legs produces herky-jerky movements and inconsistent shots. Feel like the weight of your lower body is propelling your upper body and the club through the ball. —Ed Ibarguen, Duke University G.C., Durham, N.C.
Luke Donald: Weeks at No. 1: 15 and counting (2010-2011)
The No. 1 Thing You Can Learn: Luke will tell you that an improved short game is the fastest route to low scores. The trick is how you improve. Luke challenges himself at practice by creating tough, uncomfortable conditions that require patience and thought. He'll hit pitches from sidehill lies or bunker shots to ridiculously tight pins. This kind of variety elevates your learning curve in ways that hitting 50 balls from one spot never could. —Pat Goss, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
I received more emails regarding my last blog post on the belly putter and the long putter than I have for any other topic discussed in this blog. Most of the emails were angry because people thought I was anti-belly/long putter. Allow me to clear the air because I am neither pro- or anti-long/belly putter. I support 100 percent whatever putter helps you make more putts and ultimately shoot better scores. It doesn’t matter if that putter is a 34-inch Scotty Cameron, a 43-inch TaylorMade Ghost or a shovel you found in your garage. If you still don’t believe me, consider the fact that I have been working with tour players for more than 20 years and I have never accepted a club endorsement deal. The reason for that decision has not been lack of opportunity — rather, it is that I pride myself on trying to remain independent from endorsing one particular brand or another.
This week’s question comes from Kai in Tokyo, Japan. Kai asked me to explain proper ball position with your putter and how to make sure that this position is correct if you have no one else to watch you putt. I tell all my students that correct ball position is crucial for the ball to leave the clubface in balance.
What does that mean? When a ball is placed on the green it lies in a gravitational indentation. To get the ball out of the indentation and to get the ball rolling it is best practice to strike the ball just below the equator with an ascending blow.
So how do you get your putter to strike the ball below the equator with an ascending blow? You need to make sure your ball position is just left (for right-handed putters) of the bottom of the putting arc. To determine the bottom of your putting arc simply begin taking practice strokes with the putter hovering over the ground. As you continue to make strokes, slowly lower the putter until the putterhead brushes the grass beneath it. The point just left of where your putter touched the grass is your ideal ball position.
Another option in testing ball position is to take your address position over the ball, and then take another golf ball, place it over your left eye (if you are right-handed — over your right eye if you are left handed) and drop it to the ground. If your ball position is correct, the golf ball dropped from your eye should land on top of the ball you addressed on the ground. If the dropped ball misses the ball on the ground, simply adjust your ball position back or forward in your stance until the ball you are dropping from your eye hits the ball on the ground.
Now before I leave you for another week I thought I would help slow down the number of bandwagon jumpers. You know who you are. The folks who abandoned your trusty conventional-length putter 40 minutes after Keegan Bradley made his putt on the 17th hole for birdie at Atlanta Athletic Club. Before you write off the conventional-length putter like the persimmon wood or the 2-iron, consider that the top five putters in the PGA Tour’s Stroke Gained-Putting statistic all use traditional putters.
Thanks for all the emails folks! Please keep them coming to email@example.com. Also, you have only a couple more weeks to order the Automatic Putting Package for the promotional rate of $59.95. After Sept. 15, it will return to $99.95. Please visit mariusgolf.com for more details.
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