Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs stopped by on Tuesday at noon EST 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 and comments. Sorry I couldn't get to all the questions. Please check back in next week.....
Nate asks at 1:15:
Without using video or a mirror, how can I be sure that I am standing the proper distance away from the ball at address? Should my arms feel loose and heavy like they are hanging from my shoulders?
I've been working on getting somewhat closer to the ball, which seems to get me in a better position at the top (clubface neutral instead of shut and arms a little more vertical and "on plane"), but I feel a little crowded in the downswing, like my arms don't have quite enough room to swing freely due to my hips being in the way.
Some of pros whose swings I most admire (Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel) look like they set-up pretty close to the ball and it seems to be working out pretty well for them :) Any insight you could offer into this facet of the address position and how it affects the swing would be greatly appreciated.
This is a very good question, Nate. Yes, your arms should hang down and not out away too far from the body at address. You lose leverage, power, and consistency if your arms are too far from your body. Unfortunately, you can also get too close to the point where you have no room for your arms through impact. You should be able to draw a vertical line straight down from the butt end of the grip to the front of your toes at address. This is the standard distance most good players use, but it can vary a little from player to player. To get there without a mirror or video is more difficult but not impossible. Your eyes can give you a good idea where you are. The other issue you need to consider is that you are the proper distance from the ball at address but are closing in on the target line during the downswing. Getting closer to the ball as you swing will give you the feeling of being jammed. Make sure wherever you start, your weight is toward the balls of your feet at address and works toward your right heel going back and left heel going through. This will give you more room at impact. Send in the swing if you get a chance…
Benjamin asks at 1:05:
Hey Brady: Is there anyway you can get a video of Tiger's tee shot on 18 in the final round of the Chevron from behind? It was a mammoth, 3-iron stinger that appeared to get no more than 20 feet off the ground, but it's tough to appreciate the shot from the camera angle that NBC used. We know there was a camera directly behind Tiger (that's what NBC showed as Tiger was addressing the ball), but NBC then switched to the in-the-air/high-above camera.
If you could get that video, it would be great to hear you walk us through how he hit that shot (farther than Zach Johnson hit his driver, incidentally).
Let me work on that for you, Benjamin. I agree about the shot, love to see him hitting the stinger again. As I have said for years he had a weapon that was lethal and set him apart from the field. It should have never been taken away from him. It would be like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar not using his patented “Sky-hook."
Steve asks at 12:45:
I'd like to get your opinion on "connection" between the arms and the body during the golf swing. I have read some stuff by Jimmy Ballard and Rocco Mediate talking about left arm (for right-handed player) connection throughout the golf swing helping to keep an "in" to "in" swing. I do practice keeping a towel under my left armpit throughout the entire swing. But what about the right arm? How connected should that be in a more rotational modern golf swing?
When I first started researching the golf swing, my opinion of Jimmy Ballard’s swing theory wasn’t nearly as high as it is today. I think his description of the similarity between the golf swing and a baseball swing being identical is fairly true. While I think the upper left arm should remain “connected” to the chest during the takeaway and backswing and increase in “squeeze” through impact, I also believe the arm should “blow off” the chest as both arms become straight after impact. In other words, the towel under the armpit can fall after release and into the finish. The right arm is another matter entirely. The left arm can drift up the chest at the top of the swing; the right arm can completely disconnect and “fly” off the body at the top. There are Major Champions with the right arm all over the place: from pinned to the side of the body to flying up in the air. There is no “have to” with the right arm going back, but it should be in front of the right hip approaching impact regardless of where it was at the top. My advice to all my players is to spend less time worrying about where the club and arms are going up and focus instead on how the club is working down through impact.
David asks at 12:30:
good day brady...if you feel like doing so and have a current video of tiger, would you analyze what you like/dislike about the swing changes that you see now. thanks!!
I have been watching. There are two things I really like about what he’s doing. The length of the swing with the driver is significantly shorter than it used to be. It hasn’t gotten quite as compact as it was with Butch, but it is much better. As a result, his hips aren’t running away from his arms on the downswing like they do when his swing is longer. This makes Tiger's swing more in sync and much more consistent. The second positive is that he seems to be hitting shots and playing golf again instead of obsessing about the backswing. I see more of a focus on the forward portion of the swing rather than the swing from set-up to the top. This is a great sign that he is moving in the right direction.
Jonathan Schauer asks at 12:18:
Brady, please help me! I want to know how you bump wedge and stop it on a dime like we see the Tour pros doing. I can put spin on the ball with a full swing, but on 10-30 yard chip shots I just can't spin it at all. I dont want to change the ball I play because my swing speed is 118 mph and I play titleist ProV1x's, so a softer ball would only cause me to lose distance, right?
Hitting the one-bounce-and-check shot with a wedge requires several factors coming together. The grooves on the wedge and the type of ball you are playing are factors in the equation. Make sure the grooves are cleaned out and that your wedges are relatively new. An old, beat-up wedge won’t get the job done. If your equipment is good, this shot requires a slightly open clubface and slight acceleration through impact. “Striking of a match” is a good feel for how the impact works to impart spin on the ball. Keep in mind that this shot is very difficult to hit and you can control the roll out on your pitches easier with trajectory control instead of spin.
Michael asks at 12:00:
I am having trouble pulling my short irons (8-wedges). I am making solid contact but the ball flight is starting left of my target and draws most of the time.
This is most likely a clubface issue. When the face is closed and the path is fairly neutral, the ball will start left and curve further left. The cause of the closed face can be anything from a grip that is too strong, a left wrist that is bowed at the top, or an over-rotation of the clubface through impact. The fact that you are hitting it solid suggests it is most likely the grip or the wrist at the top. I would suggest you check your hands at address and make sure the grip is neutral. At the top, try to “feel” like your left thumb is sitting under the handle and supporting the weight of the club. This will maintain the small amount of bend present in your left wrist at address and keep the clubface from becoming hooded at the top. Let me know how it works and send in some video so I can be more specific to your swing.