Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online Tuesday at noon Eastern to answer your swing questions and analyze swing videos. If you have a question or video link for Brady, leave it in the CoverItLive chat below!
By Brian Manzella, Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, with Mike Chwasky
If you watched the U.S. Open this past weekend, you no doubt marveled at eventual champion Martin Kaymer’s opening pair of 65s en route to a dominant eight-stroke victory. You probably also saw clips of Kaymer on the range doing a drill with a tennis ball hanging from a lanyard around his neck and wondered what the heck he was doing. Well, that drill isn’t exactly something new to golf, but I’ll give Kaymer credit for finding a way to do it with a convenient device (a tennis ball and lanyard) that can be used anywhere, anytime.
The basic idea of the drill is to hold the ball between the forearms at address and to keep it there until just before impact. In the video, you will notice that Kaymer allows the ball to fall from his arms as he delivers the club down to impact, and you should do the same if you decide the try it.
Kaymer most likely uses this drill to help him maintain a more consistent swing width as he makes his transition in the downswing. If you watched his swing closely over the weekend, you probably noticed that he has a ton of lag (or downcock) in his transition, which is an advanced move that helps the best players create clubhead speed. But as desirable as this move can be, it also tends to get out of control in the transition, even for some of the world's best players like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. When players with this type of swing pull down too hard in the transition, the butt of the club and their arms can get too close to the body, creating an overly narrow position as the club moves to impact. The result is inconsistent ballstriking and poor distance control. Kaymer avoids this mistake by training with his lanyard and tennis ball, keeping tension on the lanyard in the transition and maintaining a consistent swing width.
If you’re a recreational player, it’s unlikely that you struggle with this same problem, but Kaymer’s drill can do other things to help your swing be more consistent. For one, holding a ball between your forearms in the backswing will effectively prevent you from rolling your arms too much in the backswing, which is a common error that can lead to an open clubface at the top and at impact.
Another thing Kaymer’s simple drill can do for you is prevent your arms from outracing your body in the backswing. This out of sync move is another common mistake that leads to all kinds of inconsistencies in the downswing that contribute to poor ballstriking. Practice this drill and your body and arms will be nicely coordinated in both the backswing and downswing.
A word of caution: If your swing features any lifting of the arms in the backswing, like Fred Couples or Kenny Perry, for example, this drill might do more harm that good. Be careful not to damage a swing that works for you by trying to swing like someone else.
Here's Johnny Manziel, shirt untucked and hat backwards, taking a huge cut at a drive off the deck. What else would you expect from Johnny Football?
The newest member of the Cleveland Browns swings a golf club precisely as we'd expect him to: athletically and with reckless disregard for where the ball might go.
We asked Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers Brady Riggs and Brian Manzella to weigh in on Johnny Football's swing. Both agreed it is a throwback to the 1970s, more Johnny Miller than Johnny Vegas. Here's more from Riggs and Manzella:
It's very dynamic. He changes direction from the backswing to the downswing like a long drive hitter. There is a great explosion through impact. He is going after it really hard. The swing looks a little raw, but with all these great moving parts. I might want to make tiny adjustments. I wouldn't mess with it very much. He has got all the fun stuff.
He generates all the juice in the world and gets himself in a good position at impact. He really uses the right side of his body and the right arm to throw the club through the ball. It looks like he is throwing a ball sidearm as hard as he can. His wrist looks as arched as Vijay Singh's at post impact.
Here's a sequence of Manziel's swing, courtesy of Brady Riggs, where you can see the arched left wrist:
Johnny Football is scheduled to play in Tuesday and Wednesday pro-ams at next week's PGA Tour event, the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas.
Whether or not Manziel's NFL duties keep him away from the course next week remains to be seen. We urge him to get out and play as much as possible. What better way to prepare for the cruel fate that awaits any Cleveland Browns quarterback than slogging your way around a dusty and humid Texas track?
Does the length of your putter really matter? Absolutely! So why then can we only buy putters with a length of around 34 inches at our local pro shops?
The reason is very simple. The average man in United States of America stands at a height of 5 feet 10 inches and the distance between his palms and the floor is 32 inches. The average spine-angle tilt when addressing the ball is around 40 degrees. If this average man takes up a reasonably comfortable and athletic address position, the 34-inch putter will fit him just fine. A good example is Luke Donald, not only is he a great putter with a good stroke but also looks very comfortable with his standard-length putter.
So what is the correct length for you? It depends mostly on 1.) The distance between your palms and the floor; 2.) The angle of your spine when over the ball; and 3.) The bend of your elbows.
If you want to bend over the ball like Michelle Wie [right], thereby reverting back to the days before Lucy, make sure you have a short putter and a good orthopedic surgeon. You will need both.
But there are other ways to compensate for a short putter. Phil Michelson for instance, stretches his arms or -- in other words -- he putts with long arms. This is maybe not such a bad idea for longer putts but it is certainly not advisable for putts where directional control is at a premium.
The interesting point is that both Michelle and Phil are much taller than average but elect to combat the greens with much shorter weapons. That just does not make any sense and we know they have had more than their fair share of short putts not finding the hole. Could those misses be attributed to the length of their putters forcing them to make unnecessary compensations? A wise man once said that the fewer compensations you have to make, the more consistent your outcomes will be. And those consistent outcomes help you build more confidence in your putting.
Long putters have their complications as well. They are heavy and unresponsive, which limits feel and feedback. Now a lot of golfers might think that unresponsiveness or a high moment of inertia in a putter is a good thing -- and right you are! But as we know, there are limits. You need a balance between responsiveness and stability; feel and reliability.
A longer putter is probably a good option for those golfers suffering from the yips. Try a 39-inch putter and clamp the top of the grip against the inside of your left forearm, provided you play the game right-handed.
If you are substantially shorter or taller than average, it might be a good idea to have your putter fitted by a reputable club-fitter. For all of us average-sized people, may you have the right length to have a blast, at least on the greens.
Next Time: How to Find the Correct Loft for Your Putter
[Photo of Michelle Wie at the 2014 HSBC Women's Champions via Getty Images]