Downhill lies can be tricky, but Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs has some tips to help you beat them.
Downhill lies can be tricky, but Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs has some tips to help you beat them.
Michelle Wie shot 69 on Sunday at the LPGA’s season-ending CME Championship to finish T62 at 10 over. Some would say it was another disappointing result in a disappointing season. Personally, I’m surprised she’s doing so well with all the junk she’s had to deal with throughout her career.
I know it’s not a popular opinion, but I never thought Wie would be the superstar that everyone else did. The expectations have always been way too high. She’s never won a lot and she has never done anything at any level to make me think she would be a world-beater on the LPGA Tour.
The stats bear this out. Wie notched just one top 10 finish in 2012 -- her first full season on the LPGA Tour since graduating from Stanford in June. Her putting stats are poor (128th in putting average) and her greens in regulation are just so-so (65th). She still hits it far -- third in driving distance -- but she’s not getting anything out of it.
The truth is, at 23, Wie is just another young woman trying to make a living at professional golf. She’s won, she’ll win again and she’ll probably have a nice career. But the expectations that she would win lots of majors were totally unfair.
You can point to a lot of factors: her parents’ intense involvement in her career (including the insane idea that she should play against men), and the media’s push to bill her as the Tiger Woods of women’s golf. There’s a lot of blame to go around, but it shouldn’t fall on Wie. I have a 13-year-old daughter, and I couldn’t imagine her having to face the kind of pressure that’s been on Wie since her early teens.
That pressure hasn’t gone away, either. In her first full season, Wie actually played worse than when she was a college student and part-time player. The feeling that she should “turn the corner” now that she’s playing full-time ended up putting more pressure on her. She’ll play a lot better once she doesn’t feel the weight of the world on her shoulders.
From the start, Wie said she couldn’t play golf full-time. I don’t think golf is as important to her as it is to many of the girls out there. A lot of them haven’t finished four-year degrees. They don’t have as many interests. Wie is a well-rounded young woman who enjoys other things. Good for her.
What Wie needs to succeed in golf is to play in more events like the Solheim Cup. She’s played pretty well in her two appearances. These events are great for Wie because the focus is on the team and not on her. It seemed like the other players really opened up to her in that environment.
But what would really be best for Wie is for all of us to judge her game on its merits, and not on what people thought she’d be when she was 13. She has the potential to be a pretty good LPGA pro if we’d all just give her a break.
[Photo: Michelle Wie at the 2012 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November. Getty Images]
Horse racing may be the sport of kings, but golf is clearly the sport of presidents. Every president we’ve had since George H.W. Bush has been an avid player, and even those presidents who didn’t play regularly -- like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan -- knew their way around the course. (Related: Top 10 presidential golfers) In fact, other than Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman, who preferred a game of poker, every modern president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was as comfortable on the first tee as on the stump.
We had Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs analyze these videos to find out which president had the best swing, which president was the most overrated golfer, and to see what you can learn from our Golfers in Chief. Fore!
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
Swing at 0:32
One of the nice things about golf is that people reveal their personalities during a round. There’s no place to hide your true self on the course, and that’s certainly the case with President Obama. First, check out his setup. It looks like a well-trained address position, one amateurs could copy. Obama is square to the target, with good posture and alignment. This is a well-prepared setup, the kind you’d expect from a Harvard Law School graduate. He looks ready to hit a good shot. His backswing move is very compact and cautious. Obama’s backswing is the opposite of wild: it’s controlled and focused on avoiding mistakes. Coming down he’s pretty good. He’s got his weight moving in the right direction and makes good contact. The funny thing is that even though he aims down the middle, his shots fly to the left. Hmmmmm.
George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
Swing at 0:12
George W. Bush has the best presidential swing I’ve seen. It looks like the swing of an athlete, and it really has some speed in it. Obviously, he’s had time to work on his game; his family has been around golf forever. The best thing about this swing is that Bush never stops moving. That’s something amateurs should keep in mind in their own swings. My favorite part of this swing is the twirl at the very end. It’s like a cowboy spinning his six-shooter before returning it to the holster. Completely unnecessary, but it looks cool.
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
Swing at 0:12
How would I describe former President Bill Clinton’s golf swing? Entertaining and dangerous. Let’s start with the good stuff. In his mid-60s, Clinton still has a lot of flexibility, and he creates some decent speed with his swing. He’s a big guy who still has some athleticism; he doesn’t look like an old man out there. See the way he gets off his back foot? He’s really swinging at it and not leaving anything in the bag. It’s an aggressive move. Unfortunately, it’s not a good move from a technical standpoint. His grip is too weak and his left shoulder is open, so he is set up to hit the ball right. He also doesn’t keep his balance through the swing. At the end, he staggers around a little, so the swing feels a little incomplete. Clinton and Obama played in 2011 and Clinton said Obama beat him by “a couple shots.” That sounds right to me. Everything about Obama’s swing looks more solid than Clinton's. That said, Obama doesn’t swing the club as aggressively as Clinton. Clinton has a bigger swing with a wider range of motion, but that weak grip doesn’t give him much of a chance. Obama won’t hit it as far as Clinton, but Clinton is more likely to find trouble. Clinton also looks like he’d probably be the most fun to play with of the presidential golfers.
George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States
Swing at 1:22
This swing is all about speed. If everyone played as fast as President Bush, we’d never see a round longer than 3 hours and 30 minutes. Forget about John Daly: Bush 41 was the original grip-it-and-rip-it. (He also was a long-putter pioneer, but that’s a different story.) Bush just walks up and hits it. That’s a good way for amateurs to play because it keeps you out of your head, which is where most amateurs don’t want to be. He swings the club in a very similar way to his son, Bush 43. Blast it and don’t overanalyze.
Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States
Swing at 0:08
Now that’s a hot mess. I remember watching President Ford at the Bob Hope as a kid, and if he wasn’t hitting a spectator every nine holes, you were surprised. The funny thing is that the swing itself isn’t bad, but the result is. Talk about a great “Hank Haney Project” candidate. We all know that Ford was a great athlete -- he played on two national championship football teams at Michigan -- so what was the problem? It could be hand-eye coordination. It could be stress. He has one of those swings that looks like it would work on the range pretty good, but something happens when you take it to the course. That’s a good lesson for amateurs. You can have a swing that looks pretty good, but if the clubface isn’t square at impact, you have no chance. And the less we say about Ford’s short game, the better. All I can say about Ford’s chip at 0:30 is that I’d never seen a ball do that before.
Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States
Practice swing at 0:30
There’s a lot of missing tape here. It’s ironic that when watching our most secretive president’s swing, you can’t actually see what you want to see. Still, it doesn’t look bad. He's got some movement in it. Of course, I’ve seen a lot of good practice swings. Who knows what’s going to happen when he hits the ball? I’ll say one thing, though: President Nixon has the look down. He reminds me of Ken Venturi in that tam o' shanter, and those pants are at about sternum height.
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Swing at 0:20
I’d heard that JFK was a decent player, but he looks like a rank amateur in this video. His backswing is super-flat and his leg action is terrible, his right leg peels off the ground way too early. Not a lot of pivot either. One thing you could take away from JFK’s swing is that he looks pretty relaxed. That’s a good approach to the game. He’s clearly athletic, but it looks like someone who hasn’t done very much with his game. I don’t see anything here to lead me to believe that JFK was a good golfer, unless he was the best putter of all time. (RELATED ARTICLE AND VIDEO: Arnold Palmer analzyes JFK's swing)
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
Swing at 0:04
This is the same video as the Nixon swing. President Eisenhower belongs in the World Golf Hall of Fame for his love of the golf, but this swing is awful. He completely loses his posture. His body stays where it was at the top of his swing and never moves through the swing. As a teacher, I don’t know where I’d begin to fix a swing like that. We’d probably start from scratch. Obviously, Ike was a passionate golfer and he played hundreds of rounds as president, many of them at Augusta National. So why wasn’t he a better golfer? It’s something we teachers call the L.O.F.T principle: lack of friggin talent. Some guys are just never going to play golf well. It speaks highly of President Eisenhower that he loved golf so much despite not being very good at it.
In the end, that’s the reason golf is such a great game. None of our golfing presidents were serious players, but they embraced golf because the pursuit of excellence in golf is so challenging. It’s not surprising that these talented, ambitious and driven men were so drawn to golf. It’s a game that requires a strong sense of self-belief, and no matter what side of the aisle they sat on, all our presidents have had that in spades.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs is online every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have a question or a video link for Brady, leave it in the comments section below!
Welcome to the Tuesday Instruction Blog Ask Brady Live! Thanks to everyone for the videos and questions. I am off to the US Women's Open today in Wisconsin. I will be posting pics and trying to answer a few more questions over the next couple of days. Check back in as the week progresses...
Ryan asks at 1:00:
0-40 yard shots that require loft are either shut face pulls that go forever or little flares out to the right that are 3 or 4 yards right of the target. I typically use a 60 degree wedge with the face slightly open with an open set up. Without seeing the swing can you give some pitching advice?
Great question Ryan. This is a fairly common issue among good players when they are struggling with the intermediate wedges or long pitch shots. The problem is the club is attacking on too steep an angle requiring you to hold off the release of the club or the ball will go left. Try to hit what feels like an intentional hook with the face still open at address. This will shallow out the angle of attack and allow you to release the club freely during impact. The ball may actually turn a yard or so in the air but the contact will be much more consistent and the misses you are currently seeing will be eliminated. Let me know how it works for you…
Bill asks at 12:40:
Thanks again for all of your great swing instruction! I have been working on my "caddie dip" move where my legs dip and my upper body raises up from the shot. I have been trying to move laterally and up from what you sent me but the length of my backswing is bugging me. It seems to short and too flat. I am trying to get more distance out of my swing and have been trying to keep my hands going left through the strike to stop flipping the clubhead. Any help is much appreicated !! Happy 4th!
Thanks for sending in the video Bill. I couldn’t agree more about the issues through impact. The hips are sliding too much making it impossible for your right arm to stay bent at impact. When the hips open properly the upper body will actually open to the target as well putting the right shoulder closer to the ball than it was at address. This keeps the right arm bent, a key to great ballstriking that you are currently lacking as your upper body stands up to make room during impact. You need to work hard on the rotation of your body during the downswing and through the ball to improve your impact conditions. When it comes to the backswing I wouldn’t give it much thought. Your pivot is strong and the length of the swing is fairly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. You will see far greater improvement in you distance and contact if your better through the ball than you will by increasing the length of your swing.Check out the pictures below to help you see where you should be.
Benjamin asks at 12:20:
Last time I sent you a swing video you told me my grip was too strong so my shoulders have too much tilt. Grip looking any better now? Also, I have a severe case of the shanks. Not sure why. But its very bad right now. I think on 9 holes I hit 7 shanks yesterday. Any idea about this? Or you could just tell me what I should work on first. Both would be greatly appreciated.
Down the line:
Thanks for sending in the video Ben, sorry to hear about the laterals, no fun. The clubface looks square and the grip, from what I can see, looks to be in a good spot so I would move on from that issue. Your swing is very typical of someone who can hit some very good shots but can also be terribly inconsistent from time to time. The reason for this is the shape of your swing. Here is how it breaks down: When the club works inside immediately during the takeaway it will get too flat during the backswing forcing it to lift up and work across the line at the top of the backswing. This makes the club too steep in the transition from backswing to downswing forcing you to make a major save approaching impact. This save requires you to stand up and lean back to drop the club into a lane approaching impact that will work. As you make the change in posture you expose the hosel of the club to the ball making a shank a very real possibility. To change the pattern of misses you have to change the entire shape of the swing, beginning with the takeaway. Once the club begins to work up the plane better it will stop crossing the line at the top and get on plane in the transition. This is obviously a bit more complicated than just fixing the takeaway but hopefully you get the idea that an early mistake or wobble in the swing must be compensated for later. If it is a small compensation that is fixed before the transition it usually isn’t a big deal, if it hasn’t been adjusted for until after the transition you will have issues. Here are a couple of pictures of the takeaway that should help get you started.
Chris asks at 12:00:
Hi Brady, a few weeks ago I posted a couple of videos and you had me work on reducing my lateral shift to help get my weight shifting more properly and free up my right foot on the downswing. In the new video my right foot is more free than previously (here the previous video showing my extremely stuck foot: http://youtu.be/WH3OW9x1ww8). My most common misses right now are well hit pulls and weakly hit push fades. While continuing to work on getting my weight shifted properly, what is the next area I should begin to focus on? Thanks!
Thanks for sending in the updated video. The posture is a bit too upright at impact which will require a drop at some point during the swing. In the video you can see this drop through impact and into the release. Having a drop during the transition from backswing to downswing is a positive move that can produce a great deal of power (like Tiger) as long as the body is stretching up lengthwise during impact. Your drop is later and working in the opposite direction. If you improve the address position and create a little more forward bend you won’t need to drop down at impact. Once this is corrected I would like to see you work on both legs pushing away from the ground as if you were jumping through the strike of the ball. This can be subtle at first to remove the drop or what is often called a “caddie dip” and then eventually move into a noticeable pop of the legs. Here are a couple of pictures that should help.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs is online every Tuesday to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have a question or a video link for Brady, leave it in the comments section below!
Thanks to all for the questions, videos and comments. Hope everyone has a great week and we will see you again next Tuesday.
Chris asks at 1:30:
My normal shot is slight fade but lately it has become more like a slice, especially off the tee. I feel like my body is pulling my arms through but my hands are late. Is there a drill to help with getting my hands rotated through impact? Thanks.
There is a balance between the hands and the body during impact that can be weighted too heavily on one end and consequently too lightly on the other. If the body is overactive and spinning open during impact the arms will be pulled along slowing down the face rotation. This is an excellent way to hit a block slice. If the body is too slow the arms and hands become overactive the face will close excessively prior to impact and the ball will go left. The balance between the pivot and the body is where good players are always focusing their attention. Some refer to it as rhythm and tempo, others call it getting the swing in sync. To work on this you can swing slower and shorter to get a sense of how much rotation is too much as the downswing begins. Hit some shots where your trying to wait too long to begin your rotation and others when you are starting too early. Find the too much or not enough and it will be significantly easier to be in the middle ground.
Jordan asks at 1:25:
I'm a low single digit handicap player (been as low as a plus 1), but I'm not really sure what to do to take my swing to the next level. I do struggle a bit with my driver, but I hit a lot of greens and get it up and down well. Any general thoughts about what to improve with my golf swing?
Thanks for sending in the video Jordan. I think the swing is pretty solid. The takeaway has limited left arm rotation which keeps the face from rolling open and the clubshaft more vertical. You reroute to a shallower plane in the transition and attack from a very good angle coming down. I am a fan of all of the above. I think the real issue is what constitutes a struggle with the driver and are you hitting the ball well enough to score better but your shortgame is holding you back. I would love to see a face on and down the line swing with your driver and a description of what the problem shots are before I get more in depth. I hate guessing. Get those in next Tuesday and I will give you some thoughts.
Read more: http://blogs.golf.com/top100/2012/06/ask-brady-riggs-live-golf-magazine-top-100-teacher-will-fix-your-faults-1.html#ixzz1z14Pv4ym
Joe asks at 1:00:
Thanks for any feedback. I am a 20 handicap looking for more consistency. I miss left and right, but my best shots have a slight draw. After seeing my video I think I am swinging on too flat a plane and need to have my hands higher at the top of backswing. Any thoughts?
Thanks for sending in the videos Joe. I would begin working on your swing more from the face on camera view rather than down the line as the issues are mostly related to the pivot. As a starter, the left hand is too weak at address causing the shoulders to begin too level. There is a reason this type of grip is called too weak as it hurts your power and consistency. When it comes to the pivot there is way too much slide away from the target during the backswing. The problems this causes are numerous from an inability to attack the ball from the proper path, a breakdown in the left wrist well before impact, an inability to hit the ball with the shaft leaning forward, poor contact, lack of distance and power, etc. Your right hip shouldn’t move outside the line it starts against at address. It should turn well inside the line and be significantly closer to the target by the time your club gets to impact. This isn’t the case with your swing. Check out the pictures of the grip and pivot I have included below to help give you a place to start.
Jan asks at 12:20:
Hi Brady, it's time for my favorite blog of the week again!
Please have a look at the video linked below, the camera angle is maybe a bit to much from the right but I think you still can see the big picture.
In this video I manage to come down to the ball from the inside and hit a great shot (slight draw), but only because I took a slower than average swing and really tried to not come over the top. The key to solving my (not overly big) over the top move is to stop taking the club so much inside and low in the takeaway, do you agree? My right arm almost instantly goes close into my body in the takeaway and also I think there's too much wrist action too early. Should I work on a one piece takeaway kind of drill so that I get everything on plane and not under the plane like it is now? Also, sometimes I feel that I do the wristcock incorrect and the face gets open at the top (very cupped left wrist). A good way to get rid of this is to feel like the right hand is holding a tray at the top, do you agree?
What do you think of the swing besides the takaway? I've been working on not coming out of the shot, staying level with my head and also keeping the tush line.
Glad you enjoy the blog. I think your analysis of the swing is right on. The clubface will get open when you roll the club inside during the takeaway. I would like to see your upper left arm and chest stay together as you move the club back away from the ball. When you lose that attachment the club will get sucked in immediately and likely cause the over the top move you mentioned. The action of the wrists is being affected by the takeaway as well. I am not a big fan of the “holding the tray” feel at the top of the swing. There is nothing wrong with a little cup at the top as long as the left wrist hasn’t become more bent then it was at address. I have attached a couple of pictures for you to check out to help you visualize where the takeaway should be going to resolve the other issues with the swing. Thanks again for sending in the video.
Casey asks at 12:00:
Been a while! My thumb feels a lot better, I've change from an inner-locking to overlap grip and I think that helped. I also cleaned up a few other things that were getting sloppy.
Anyway, I wanted to post an update video and ask a question. I was hoping to be more dialed in at this point but I've realized I have some issues I still need to work through. One of the things I'm trying to do now is get the club more on plane on the downswing, so the club runs through my right forearm like you talk about instead of being above it (in the delivery position). Do you have any advice to help me get there? On my good swings I can get it, but it is inconsistent to say the least. And when the club is above the right forearm in delivery, I've noticed my release gets much more flippy, instead of more stable like old AK or your girl Danielle Kang (I love her swing, I wish more video of it was on youtube).
Sorry for the long post. Thank you very much for your help. Oh, what's your opinion on spikeless shoes? I love the feel, but do they hurt good footwork or encourage it? I remember watch AK hit balls in running shoes and it didn't seem to matter.
Ps: I got rid of the ugly white belt and replaced it with an ugly hat for sun protection.
Good to see the swing again Casey.
I think you have done an excellent job with the changes. The alignments on the backswing are very clean. The top has improved dramatically with the club landing directly above the hands and the clubface square to the left arm. In the past you have struggled with getting the club more behind you coming down and it looks like this is a focus of your work watching the videos. To make it a little easier make sure you get the weight working into the left quad as the downswing begins. If you spin too quickly with the body the arms and club will work out away from the proper path and the club will end up above the right forearm coming down. I think you are headed in the right direction and appear to be rehearsing the proper feel before you swing.
Danielle has a very solid swing that stands up under pressure. She hit 18 GIR last Sunday in Canada on the LPGA Tour. We just have to get the putter to heat up a bit. I think the spikeless shoes are ok for the most part. I am not a big fan of the very soft and flexible sole of the shot as it makes it a bit harder to get to the point of the right shoe at the finish. The old-school Footjoy Classics had a sole that would kill your foot at the end of the round. You could feel the metal spikes coming up into the bottom of your foot but they were so stiff it was much easier to finish properly.
Btw, I approve of both the change in belt and headwear. Send in some new stuff soon…
Here is a picture of Danielle where I want you to be.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online Tuesday at noon EST to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have question or video link for Brady, leave it in the comments section below!
Welcome to the Tuesday blog Ask Brady Live! Thanks to BR and the entire staff at Bandon Dunes for an amazing couple of days on the beautiful Oregon coast. If you ever have the chance to head to Bandon don't pass it up!!! Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. Look forward to hearing from you again next week. GO KINGS GO!!
Jeff asks at 1:45:
Do you have a drill to improve the take away? I bring the club too far on the inside.
Thanks for your feedback.
If the address position isn’t the cause of the problem the fixes are fairly simple. You need to maintain the bend(s) in your left wrist present before you moved the club. In other words the left wrist has both a vertical bend and a horizontal bend at address. If you lose one or both of them during the takeaway the clubhead will go inside during the takeaway. If you focus on keeping the hands closer to the right leg while keeping the bends in the left wrist you are good to go. Here are some pics to help you visualize.
Stewart asks at 1:20:
I think i have the same problem as Tiger. On the downswing I come too much from the inside and the club sometimes gets stuck behind me and I block it. It seems that the longer the club I hit the bigger the problem I have drawing it. Can you help me with any drills for this etc.
I hope that’s the only problem you share with Tiger…
There are multiple reasons why the club gets stuck behind on the downswing ranging from losing the tush line, taking the club back too far to the inside, across the line at the top, sliding the hips too far to the target on the downswing, hanging back, too much tilt at address, etc. Without knowing what the issues are it is hard to give you specific advice as to the cause of the problem. In the interim there are a couple of things you can do to help you get the feel of staying up on top of the plane on the downswing. You can start by hitting some drivers off the ground as it teaches you very quickly how to keep the clubhead higher as it approaches impact. Hitting shots that start left of the target and move right in the air with the irons is another excellent way to change the shape of your swing without dealing with technical information like shaft angle and elbow positions. The basic idea here is to get the facts as to the cause of the problem and then work on the specifics on the range and leave them there. On the golf course I would much rather see my students work on a general feel or direction than an isolated body part.
Casey asks at 12:50:
I think my game is coming around but I have a couple questions I was hoping you can help me with. My left thumb has been feeling a little sore lately on the joint closest to my palm. To you happen to know possible causes for this? I think maybe my grip started getting too weak again.
Also, could you checkout my chipping and putting in this video? On putting I've been trying to keep thinks simple and make sure my setup is solid. On chipping I've been working to shallow the club out and use the bounce better:
If you haven’t hurt the thumb with a specific shot then it is likely you have some inflammation from repetitive use. I would treat it with ice, rest, some anit-inflammatory medication and keep an eye on it. If the grip has gotten to weak it can put some undue stress on that joint. Send me a quick video with a close up of your grip next week so I can see where it is.
The putting stroke looks pretty good with one exception. I would like to see the inside of your left biceps (upper arm) stay closer to the body during impact and into the follow through. It is currently separating too much which can prevent the clubface from releasing properly and cause the ball to be pushed right of the intended line. The amount of contact between the upper arm and side of the upper body at address should remain a constant through the stroke.
The chipping is another matter. I would like to see your body become more stable during the entire chipping motion. This is best achieved by having a bit more weight on your front foot in the address position. Unlike the putting, the arms and body are too connected to you during and after impact. Don’t be afraid to allow the arms and club to work a bit more independently from the body during impact and into the finish. The motion looks too contrived and manipulated. I would also like to see the length of the backswing matching the length of the follow through. Your follow through is much longer than the backswing, if anything I wouldn’t mind seeing it exactly the opposite. Get to work on it and send me the changes!!!
Steve asks at 12:30:
Several readers of your blog have commented on their back issues and adjusting their swing to compensate. I have back issues, muscle related, not disk related. I am in my mid fifties, single digit handicap and my fitness level is very good. But I am making swing changes to lessen the stress on my back and glute area. You had a great reply to a similar question from Cliff on your December 13 blog. I, too, am standing taller to the ball at setup, and focusing less on turning my core and more on just getting from my right side to my left side as Jimmy Ballard advocates. My back swing is a bit steeper than it was before. My goal is to keep my right hip as level as possible throughout the swing. I have been using the walk through drill when on the range, stepping forward with my right leg as I complete the swing. I know that Gary Player used this drill and even swung this way, occasionally, while playing. This is a great drill and has helped me tremendously to get to my left side. But practicing with this drill has added a quirk to my regular swing. My right foot (toe) actually comes off the ground now after impact and resets about 6 inches closer to the target as I have moved forward onto my left side. Is this something I should be concerned about? My ball striking is getting pretty good with this swing adjustment and I have much less back pain.
Great question Steve! Very happy to hear you have found a way for you to swing that is easier on your back. The step through drill is very effective for dealing with hanging back during impact. I have seen the right foot move like this in the past and it often is the result of having the stance a bit too wide at address. Try narrowing the stance to prevent the foot from stepping during the regular swing.
I would also recommend allowing your eyes to rotate out with the ball during impact. This has been done by many players over the years including Annika, Duval, Joe Durant, Charles Warren, and recently Carl Pettersson with great success. It allows your right side to move up and around sooner into the follow through taking more stress off the lower back without having to move the back foot off the ground. Here are a couple of pictures to help you see the difference. Keep up the great work.
Mark asks at 12:00:
Thanks for this great blog.
My backswing used to be way under plane and way across the line at the top. I'm working very hard to fix that to be on plane.
Here, i was trying hard to get my club to strike from an inside path. that gets me under plane and across the line, like my old swing (though not as bad as it used to be), but I can draw the ball. I get snap hooks sometimes though.
Here's the new backswing plane (a little short), but then I think I come over the top a little:
I think my biggest problem now is that my transition to my downswing puts me a bit over the top, causing some slices.
So I'm trying to figure out how to work on a better transition. I can't seem to stop coming over the top.
Of course, I'm no pro, so I could be way off here. take a look and please share your thoughts and any tips/drills.
Thanks for sending in the videos Mark. I think your description of the swings is accurate. The first swing is quite sloppy with the club inside during the takeaway and bouncing across the line at the top of the backswing. This leads to the club working under plane on the downswing producing the hook. The takeaway looks much better on the new swing, the top is under control and the length is a big short. I agree that the downswing is a bit over plane but overall it is a much more playable motion.
In the new swing you are struggling to maintain the tush line. You begin losing the line during the backswing which is indicative of two things. First, you need to make sure the weight is starting in the balls of the feet and not the heels. When you are pivoting during the backswing the weight needs to work towards the left heel and not the toes. One of the problems with losing the tush line is it pushes the left hip closer to the ball before the transition making it impossible to keep the arms and club attacking on the proper angle. I would like to see you keep the improvements in the swing but work on the tush line to fix the over the top issue you are currently struggling with. Here is a picture of your swing during the transition and a couple images of the change to help you see the difference.
I received my education in match play when I was 18. I was an American Junior Golf Association All-American, and I was playing against Alton Duhon in a 36-hole match-play final. Duhon, who won the U.S. Senior Amateur in 1982, was 52 at the time and I was out-driving him on every hole by 30 yards, easy. But he was tough, and he wore me out. He was so consistent, hitting every fairway. He gave me nothing and he made me pay for everything I got. I didn't play badly. I made more birdies than he did, but I made more bogeys, too. Duhon was 1 up after 18 and beat me, 3 and 2. Here's what I learned:
1. Never Give a Hole Away
No matter how bad you're behind, never surrender a hole. Even when it looks like you have no chance to win the hole, hang in there as long as you can. Make your opponent beat you. Make him putt that three-footer. It's harder to win a hole than people think, and if you make your opponent fight for everything he gets, you'll have the advantage in the long run. Plus, you never know what can happen. You can win holes you never thought you could win as surely as you can lose ones that looked like certain wins.
2. Play the Course, Not the Person
Don't let your opponent take you off your game. You can't change the way you play and still play well. Instead, focus on executing your regular game. The best match-play players are consistent, guys like Colin Montgomerie and Geoff Ogilvy who are in every fairway and on every green in regulation. When you're driving it in the fairway and hitting greens, you put a tremendous amount of pressure on your opponent.
3. Expect Your Opponent to Make Every Shot
This is another rule to help you stay focused on your own game. Whenever you're opponent is getting ready to shoot, just assume he is going to hole that bunker shot, or sink that 30-foot putt. When he does make that long putt on a crucial hole, you'll be prepared for it, and it won't take you off your game.
4. Don't Take Unnecessary Risks
You don't have to be super-conservative, but if you have a borderline play, err on the side of caution. You want to avoid risky shots because you don't want to hand over a hole. You're trying to make winning a hole as costly as you can for your opponent, and if you misfire going for a par 5 in two, you're giving away a freebie, something you can't afford.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you have a question or video link for Brady, come back next week for another editor of Ask Brady Live!
Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. We will be back at it next week so get those videos in early so I can be sure to get to them. Should be another great week here is Southern California. Thanks again to Mark and JC Video for all their help and support.
David asks at 2:30:
I am a plus handicap but am getting the club behind my hands halfway into the downswing, thus coming too inside out. It also seems that my right shoulder moves toward the ball just a bit early in the downswing compared to most tour players. Without a video to send, any thoughts/feedback?
Thanks so much!
The scenario you are describing is a bit strange. Usually when the right shoulder moves out toward the ball too early in the downswing, the hands are thrown out in the same direction and the club ends up too far outside the proper path. I would love to see a video of your swing so I don’t lead you down the wrong path. Let me know if you can make that happen…
Jerry asks at 2:05:
Hello Brady. Someone told me to stick my butt out for a better turn. Can you get into it better and any drills to make it work? Thank you for the time you take to help the weekend warriors.
Thank you for following the blog, Jerry. I have absolutely no idea why someone told you that. Were they trying to help your hips turn? Shoulders? Core? Not sure. Most “weekend warriors” would be well served to allow their hips to turn freely during the backswing. Trying to restrict your lower body’s rotation and crank your upper body against it should be left for those very flexible and/or playing on television. If your weight is fairly balanced in both feet at address and your knees feel flexed and relatively bouncy, you are most likely in a decent starting position. Sticking your butt out will only help the amusement level of your playing partners in addition to their wallets. Once the set-up is better, the most simple advice I can give you is to try to “moon” the target with your tush during the backswing. This will help your hip turn freely and encourage the club to attack the ball on a more inside track. When you do this properly, your weight will move back into your right heel at the top of the swing. There are many swing methodologies out there that would have you start with the weight more on your front foot and leave it there during the backswing while you allow your head to remain centered or move slightly to the target. Don’t do that. Turn your tush, stay bent over which will allow your head to move slightly off the ball (I will be tarred and feathered, for sure) and you will hit it better. Here are a couple of pictures of great players committing the two “fatal flaws” of turning their hips and moving their head. Let me know how it goes….
Matt asks at 1:45:
Here's my swing, please let me know what you think. I know of two problems personally, my clubhead is too behind my hands in the backswing, and my head drops down and a bit back in the downswing. Sorry for the video seeming patchy, I had to edit it because it's from a video lesson I do with my local pro, and he comments on the videos. So I had to cut and paste the swing together at some points, I do not have those hitches in my swing. Of course the swings are in slower speed than normal. I am just looking for guidance on my stance, posture, grip, ball position, swing path, things like that. Thanks.
Thanks for sending in the videos, Matt. It looks like the professional doing the lesson gave you some indication of where you could begin. While there are things to improve upon in your golf swing, it does appear the club is attacking the ball from a fairly good place in the video you submitted. The ball appears to be well back in your stance and your weight is sitting well back in your heels. When the ball is too far back and your weight sits in the heels, it is almost inevitable that you will take the club too far to the inside during the takeaway. This usually forces the club across the line at the top of the swing, triggering a transition that is too steep. Steep in this case basically means an extension of the club is pointing well inside the target line when your hands are just below your right shoulder on the downswing. The save for this is to slide your lower body to the target as it buys more time for the club to drop onto a more playable path. As a result, your upper body will get stuck through impact and hang back behind the ball excessively making it difficult to rotate properly through impact. This is the cause of your lack of extension and inability to finish the swing in a more traditionally balanced position.
Hey, you asked!!!!
So, here is the deal. It may seem like a daunting task, but you may read into my critique the fact that it all starts with the set-up. When you improve the starting position, your takeaway will improve as will the top and so on. Get the ball more forward in your stance and move your heels back away from the ball so your knees can bend over your toes. Once this is adjusted you will be on your way to making a better and more productive golf swing. The takeaway will need a bit more work to get on track but if you focus on maintaining the bends present in your left wrist from address to the top of your swing you will be well on your way. Get some video to me in the next couple of weeks so I can check on your progress. Here are a couple of pictures to help you visualize the changes.
Nate asks at 1:20:
Hello Brady. I'll keep it short and simple; how does my swing look to you?
I know it is hard to tell much with a single camera angle and without high quality video or slow motion, but any thoughts would be appreciated. My miss is pretty consistent: a straight push to the right (w/ a slight right-to-left bias). I am thinking perhaps I have the ball too far back in the stance and am not getting around to square at impact.
Here is a "caddy view" to complement the down the line angle:
Thanks for sending in the video. There are many that would love to have not only your golf swing but your consistent miss. Overall I think the swing is quite good. There are a few things that could be changed to make the swing more dynamic and consistent. Your grip is a bit on the strong side and the clubface appears closed at the top of the swing as a result. While many great players have played with this combination, it can be problematic for some and is often the source of the “right-to-left bias” you mentioned. The other issue has to do with the (lack) of participation of your lower body during the swing. Your stance is too wide, making a dynamic lower body move nearly impossible. I would also like to see your weight get more up onto the balls of your feet at address. Your weight is sitting back too much in your heel, making it very difficult to move properly during the swing. This will give you the “feel” of more bounce in your legs and encourage you to use the body more actively during the swing. The combination of a more neutral grip and livelier lower body will be uncomfortable and challenging to be sure. How much you should change things should be determined by your comfort level and the changes in ball flight that occur. Let me know how it goes….
Jack Stein asks at 1:00:
Morning, I am a low single-digit index. However, at the top I cross the line, my left wrist cups too much and my right elbow gets behind me -- ouch -- I then come from the inside too much and too shallow. I have learned to hit the ball from this position; however, I would love to cure it. When I put the club to the top in a good position, I am able to swing with no re-route and my right elbow comes in front and I hit the ball better. Help? Please. Thanks, Jack Stein
It sounds like you have a good idea about what you need to do with your golf swing. As a low single-digit player you face a unique challenge when changing the shape of your backswing. While the across the line position at the top creates its own set of issues you are able to deal with it and play well. When you make the changes to the backswing the results immediately become inconsistent, especially on the golf course. If you are certain you want to make the change, you need to adjust the way you practice and the expectations you have when playing. Take some time away from the course under competitive settings so you can remove the “result” component of the game from the equation. Work with the feedback of either your coach or a camera so you can continue to ingrain the changes you are making. Like any swing change you will have some ups and downs along the way but if you stay away from “results” based practice and play you will have a better chance of making it stick.