A Swing is a Swing….

If the arms are swinging…. Then gravity and centrifugal force can keep the club on path.

A swing is a swing.

A muscular movement of the club with the arms is not a swing….

A lifting into the backswing is not a swing…..

Getting quick from the top is not a swing…..

Striking at the ball is not a swing….

Being in anything less than a fully rotated, relaxed balanced finish is an indication that you did not swing.

I recommend an obsession with a swing!

Here’s the recipe:

HEAVE the tension out of the arms
ALLOW your body to fall naturally into the forward pivotal axis.
ALLOW gravity and full rotation around the pivotal axis to sling the club on a predictable path.
NOTICE on every swing how you finished.  Fully turned?  Relaxed arms and shoulders? Solidly balanced on the forward leg? 

Repeat in omne tempus

Hit the Ball Further, part II

You’ll have to check out George’s blog to read part I, but I thought his words (and video) in this article were well worth posting on my blog. 

http://connorgolf.com/golfrx/hititfartherii.html

*I would add one more benefit to getting the tension out of your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders….

George says you’ll move the ball:

Further-Yes.
 
Straighter-Yes. 

He also knows you’ll make:

*More consistent solid contact- Hell Yeah!! 

It only takes a club path disruption of 3/16th of an inch to mis hit a golf shot.  Tension in the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders, AKA, muscular flexion, will ALWAYS move the club off path to some degree.  Read, listen and watch what George has to say here.  It’s great stuff!!!

Get Tension Out of Your Hands to Take Advantage of Your Improved Mechanics
By George Connor

Last month we talked about the proper sequence in the golf swing being a key ingredient to getting maximum power out of your golf swing.  This month, I would like to discuss getting rid of tension as a way to increase clubhead speed and hitting the ball straighter.  The tighter you hold the club, the slower the club will move.  Not only will you be giving away clubhead speed, you will also slow down the rate at which the shaft rotates.  So as I tell my right-handed students, “If you want to hit the ball short and to the right of the target, squeeze that club as tight as you can.” 

To get an image of how increased grip pressure will slow down a club, squeeze a baseball real tight and see how far you can throw it!

Clearly, this is not what we want to do.  On the flip side of this, if you reduce tension in your hands you can add clubhead speed and increase the rate at which the club closes.  This will result in longer and straighter shots.  Since the goal is to hit the both long and straight a fast clubhead coupled with a square face is the key.
As discussed last month, the big body parts are the engine to the golf swing.  By employing the lower body then the core and upper torso we can generate tremendous clubhead speed if we allow the club to swing off of this inner rotary speed.

In order to keep tension out of the swing, there are two things that have to happen.
1.       The backswing must be a swing.  What I mean by this is that the arms need to swing away from the ball and to the top of the swing.  Keep in mind that anything that can be said to be “swinging” has no engine.  If the arms are manually moving the golf club, they are not swinging.  Therefore, the backswing needs to be created by the torso turning fast enough to put some energy and momentum into the golf club.  The backswing must be fast enough to allow the club to literally swing to the top.

2.       Your hands must be on the club in such a way that there is no need to apply more tension during the swing.  This is an area that almost every student I see needs to make some changes.  The more you put the club into the palm of your top hand, the more tension you will have to add during the swing.  If you tend to wear a hole in your glove on the base pad, you are holding the club too much in the palm.  The hole is a function of friction.  Friction of the club sliding up into the fingers as the club is approaching the top of the swing.  While it would be nice not to have to buy a bunch of new gloves every season.  There is a more serious issue.  When the club is sliding in your hands, you will instinctively add tension.  Click on the image above to watch the video to see how we should have our hands on the club.
Less tension allows the club to square up.  Less tension allows the clubhead to move faster.  Less tension lets you feel like you are working less yet the ball will fly straighter and longer than you have ever hit it. 

What If We All Played Faster?

What if every golfers decided right now that they played too slow?  What if we all sped up a little? I’ve posted part II of Clint’s story concerning slow play. 

He has some fantastic suggestions as to how golf should be played in terms of ‘MOVING around a golf course’. 

Something else you should know about Clint.  He has a great time!  He doesn’t just focus on running around a course.  He’s a fantastic story teller, LOVES to talk (and he’s fascinating to listen to!) about golf, golf, golf and anything else you want to bring up…. Considering it takes about 25-50 minutes to hit all your shots in a round of golf (pre shot to completion of swing), that still leaves a fast golfer 1-3 hours to TALK, LAUGH, AND LISTEN! You just need to talk like the cast of ‘The West Wing’…  Always while moving!  Enjoy. 

  Confessions from a Former Slow Golfer, part II

By Clint

 
After the shock of the initial conversation with slow play accusations, and after that first round, I really tried to do something about it, and did. Within just a few rounds, I had not only become quick, but downright speedy.

My primary motivation was simply that I absolutely despised the idea of being slow.  It’s insulting.  It’s embarrassing.

There are a bunch of things that I consciously do that have greatly improved my speed of play.  Maybe some of these suggestions can help others as well:

  • When possible, I start my pre shot routine just before a playing partner has hit his/her shot.

Times when this is possible would be when I’m on the opposite of the fairway from a playing partner, and thus I’m not in his line of play or line of vision.  When I see the partner doing his final waggle, I’m already behind my ball, picking out the line.  When my partner is at impact, I’m stepping into my address position.  Doing this literally helps me hit my shot within a few seconds of my playing partner. 

  • If riding a cart, I don’t generally wait at my playing partner ball while he hits his shot.  I usually leave the cart with him, take my clubs, and hike it to my ball.

  • As I usually leave my playing partner with the golf cart in the fairway, I usually will walk down the fairway after hitting my shot. 

This saves the time of walking laterally across the fairway back to the cart.  My partner can just pick me up en route to the green.

  • I take a lot of clubs with me when I leave the golf cart, if I’m not sure which one I’ll use. 

Sometimes this is 4 or 5 clubs.  Sometimes it’s even the entire bag, if I really don’t have a clue what kind of shot I’m going to need to play.

  • I park the golf cart so it’s ready for a quick getaway, and on the way to the next shot. 

For example, I’ll leave the cart several yards in front of the tee box, facing the hole.  If I’m at the green, I’ll park the cart on the way to the next tee box, or even at the next tee, if the tees are close to the green.

  • I have a strong desire to play as efficiently as possible. I have a strong desire to never be the guy that slows up others, in my group, or in the groups behind me!

And to be honest, most times I play I am challenging myself to see how fast I can get the round done. If I’m going to be out on the course for 4 hours, why not try to play 27 holes, instead of 18?  I like the idea of walking 18 holes in less than 3 hours.  I like the idea of play 18 holes with a cart in less than 2.5 hours.


My fastest time, with a playing partner, with a cart, is 1 hour and 51 minutes on a regulation par 72 course.  I’ve also walked 36 holes in about 5 and 1/2 hours.

Confessions From a Former Slow Golfer

It’s a rare thing to see.  A golfer who discovers he is slow, and instantly does something about it!  I’ve got a friend who did just that.  Clint is now one of the fastest golfers (and most enjoyable playing companions) I’ve ever played with.
 

Most slow golfers make excuses, stay in denial, or lash out at the accusers….. Here’s someone who took responsibility and did something about it!  Here’s his story: 

Confessions from a Former Slow Golfer, part I

by Clint


I used to play really slow.  Casual golf was slow, and competitive golf was even slower.

By “competitive golf” I mean high school golf team, local junior tournaments, and then eventually some local amateur tournaments.  This slowness spanned from when I took up the game at 16 to my late 20’s. So that’s over decade.  I was slower than my playing partners in most cases, in all of these playing scenarios. 

One small problem: I had no idea I was playing slow.  This is strange because I pride myself on having a good sense of awareness.

Why was I slow?  When I took up golf, I immediately fell in love with the PGA tour.  Greg Norman was my idol.  Though a dashing, dazzling personality and player, he takes his time on the course, often reading putts from more than two sides.  His pre shot routine on the full swing is also very deliberate, waggling several times, gradually inching the clubface from inside the ball to behind the ball.  No one, including me, seemed to have an issue with Norman, or his idol Jack Nicklaus, for that matter.  So I guess Norman and other tour pros created a model for me, as to what was “normal speed” for a player who took their game seriously.  In truth, I was probably slightly faster than these guys, but that’s not saying much. 

I also recall reading a lot of golf magazines in my early playing days.  One of the things that really stayed with me was the emphasis on course strategy.  For example, don’t just hit the driver on every tee shot.  Don’t just hit every chip shot with a sand wedge.  In fact, don’t even hit every sand shot with a sand wedge (ie, 8 and 9 irons can come in handy on long bunker shots).

Having an analytical streak in me, I really related to this decision-making aspect of the game. I thought playing the percentages would help my scores.  It did.  But deciding to hit a 2-iron instead of a driver or 3-wood takes more time than simply pulling driver without thinking. Deciding to hit a low, punch 6-iron or a full, high 7 iron takes time. 

Thinking takes time.  Strategy takes time.

So this went on for more than a decade…me playing slow golf…oblivious to the fact that I was playing slow.  Strangely, several years of this slow play was alongside an extremely fast player, who had also become a great friend.  He can be an impatient guy at times, so why it took him several years to finally say something is puzzling.  Perhaps it was not wanting to hurt my feelings. Perhaps it was not wanting to throw me off my game.  I don’t know.  I don’t think I ever asked him.  Perhaps I will after sharing all of this.  One day, back in the late 90’s, he, myself and another friend were on our way to play a course out of town.  During the car ride, about halfway to the course, in the middle of our normal pre-round golf talk conversations, my friend told me I was slow.  I’ve blocked out his exact words, but it was something matter-of-fact, like “You’re really slow.” 

“What?!!!!” I retorted.  “You’re slow”, he repeated.

I asked my other buddy, with a sense of extreme incredulity in my voice, “I am??!!”

He nodded, and managed to squeak out a hesitant “Yeah.” 

Being 6’3″, I have a long stride, and I use it when I walk during my round.  I’m like a gazelle.  How could a gazelle play slow? 

“But I walk really fast”, I offered up. 

They both agreed that I walked fast, but that was more than negated by the painstaking time it took to execute my shots.  Multiple practice swings, club choosing….just taking a long time to actually hit the ball.

Well, after getting the news, I was stunned, and embarrassed.  I absolutely hated being considered slow.  I understood what a terrible stigma that was in golf.  I don’t remember what I shot that day.  I do remember trying to play faster once it was my turn.

To be continued….

Belief in A Method

Find a method.  Believe in that method.  Spend your life training within that method. 

Committing to a teacher, or a golf swing system is powerful and liberating.  Most spend their golfing years searching, fixing, changing, fixing and searching……  in constant search of the magic swing.  These golfers never find ‘it’ specifically because of their training habits…. 

Commit and train within a system and your game will slowly but surely improve over time.  You will be a better, and most cases happier, golfer year after year. 

That’s a sure thing. 

Let’s Keep the Discussion Going….

Charlie Rymer is a retired PGA Touring Professional who is now an commentator/analyst on the Golf Channel.  He recently wrote a lighthearted post about changes in the rules of golf entitled, “Would You Play by These Rules?”, and I got a chuckle as I read them.  His focus was on simplifying the rules.  FIVE. That’s it. 

What got my attention was his thoughts at the beginning about speed of play, and his final words about the game of golf. 

“All golfers shall play 18 holes in 3 hours. No exceptions.  Slow players will be asked to skip holes or leave the course.” -C.R.

He is clearly as frustrated as the rest of us when it comes to speed of play… One of his remedies is to shorten courses and enlarge the golf hole….  (I understand where he is coming from with these suggestions, but would hope it was not necessary.  I do think there might be a market for courses like this!)

He finishes his article with these words:  “Play fast.  Have fun.”*

I could not agree more with that last statement. 

*Did he steal that from my blog?  Oh, nuts.  I just checked and he posted his article about 15 hours before mine.  Maybe he’s played in one of my tournaments and thought my phrase was catchy…. In that case- I give him my blessing…..

P.S.  And once again, even a lighthearted post about speed of play created an out of control discussion in the comment section. It descended into a negative spiral of blame and hate….  Ugly. 
 

Play Fast, Have Fun

Most of my members recognize the title of this post.  I say it before I send off the LGA, MGA, and pretty much every tournament at my golf course. 

Why?  GOLF IS PLAYED TOO SLOWLY! 

This post idea came from reading an article on the PGA Tour web site.  It was a nice article about how Paul Tesori, a tour caddie who once played on tour himself, made such a big difference in Webb Simpson’s career. 

Golf articles, in general (unless discussing Tiger Woods) are almost always positive.  Unlike other sports and in politics, where every article descends into a childish name calling fest in the comment section below, golf pretty much stays above the fray…

that’s why I was inspired to write about slow play today.  I talk about it a lot.  I KNOW it’s a big problem for golf.  A significant percentage of people do not play golf, or limit their golf because of slow play…. A percentage in the high 90’s is unhappy when they get behind slow groups…..

Back to the nice article about Webb and Paul.  The comments were not typical comments you find after a golf article about a PGA tour player… Usually, most comments are from fans agreeing with the article, or wishing their players luck and success through the season… It’s actually pretty refreshing after reading the moronic statements posted after pretty much every Red Sox article on their web site (especially once a Yankee fan logs on….).

These comments were slamming Webb, Paul and the whole tour on SLOW PLAY! 

If even the nicest of fans turn negative, harsh, even vicious in their word, something is very wrong….  More so if the article had next to NOTHING to do with slow play. 

Slow play is such a bad subject in the game today, even an article highlighting the success of a young golfer with his experienced caddie can turn sour.  It’s a sure sign things need to change. 

Play fast.  Have fun.  And make sure YOU, yes YOU, can never be accused of slow play.  It’s the scarlet letter in golf. 

The Timing of THE HEAVE

THE HEAVE:  A.K.A., The takeaway.  The heave is a powerful move from the back that throws the tension out of the arms with sufficient force to sustain a swing. 

By creating a swinging motion early in the swing, you give yourself the opportunity to use the laws of physics to create power and consistency in the golf swing.  The HEAVE is evident in almost every great golfer’s swing……  Slow and muscular movement into the backswing is evident in almost everyone else’s golf swing…. 

The term HEAVE was first used to refer to the takeaway by David Lee, founder of the Gravity Golf Swing.  Over the last 30+ years, David has also developed a system of training that allows the body to feel and develop a swing based on physics, rather than the lift and strike method 99.9% of golfers instinctively develop. 

Learning to NOT use your arms in the backswing is extremely difficult from a normal set up position.  The tendency is to use arm muscle to move or pull the arms back into the backswing….  The beginning of the swing should be from the core (back), and those powerful muscles should ‘throw’ the arms into a swinging motion… 

In the drills, specifically the FRONT ROUTE DRILL, you can rid yourself of the old habit of using the arms to move the arms!!!!  It takes understanding, time and repetition, but it can and will happen. 

I get asked often about the HEAVE and it’s roll in the FRONT ROUTE DRILL.  If you can’t visualize the FRONT ROUTE DRILL, please click on the link and watch. 

Mike sent me a question about the timing of the HEAVE in the FRONT ROUTE DRILL…. The FRONT ROUTE DRILL does many things for a golfer.  It helps rid you of the instinct to strike at the ball, it really helps improve a golfers equilibrium throughout the swing… But most importantly, it develops a core takeaway.  Remember, the HEAVE is not an arm movement… The HEAVE is a powerful move from the core.  In the FRONT ROUTE DRILL, the heave begins from the core, as it turns into the backswing.  Once you have finished the forward movement of the club and are ready to move the arms and club into the backswing, that is when the HEAVE begins.  This drill takes the arms out of the backswing…  It is in it’s essence a core turn drill, or a HEAVE drill.  Once you begin the powerful turn into the backswing in the drill, or in your regular swing, you can simply let momentum carry the arms, shoulders, and back to the finish of the backswing… It will float there on it’s own accord. 

The most important thing to remember is that the HEAVE begins the backswing.  Your core can and should be the driver of the swing.  When done correctly, the arms will swing with gravity and rotation on a more predictable path, time and time again! 

*Final thought:  Great timing on this question, Mike.  All my students should be practicing hundreds of FRONT ROUTES a week in the winter!  It is a top priority to get the core moving in colder weather! 

Brain Basic and Golf

Let’s begin the new year by going over some basics…. 

First, we must understand that the brain, in it’s attempt to help out, tends to destroy a the golf swing in 2 ways:

1.  Through proprioception, we tend to HUNT the golf ball.  This hunting or striking instinct is great for killing a snake.  It’s probably the number one reason why almost all golfers struggle at the game. 

A high priority for every golfer should be to learn how to swing through a ball…. Never at a ball…. 

2.  In the brain’s attempt to get the most power out of a shot, we tend to flex the arms and shoulders on every downswing…..  This flexing of the arms and shoulders always throws the club off path (due to Newton’s 3rd law of physics) which demands another compensation or luck in order for the ball to end up close to it’s intended target.  It’s inefficient at best, massively destructive in most cases…. 

THERE ABSOLUTELY IS a way to tame that inner beast in the downswing!  It’s called THE HEAVE!!!  If the powerful core (your back) throws the heavy arms (yes, the arms of an average sized adult male weight about 30 pounds….) into a swing that has enough force to sustain the entire golf swing, the brain senses that there is enough energy to move the ball powerfully with path integrity!  That means that the arms are left to simply fall, and be carried around consistently by gravity and rotation….. 

Don’t believe me?  It’s easy to see in many of the world’s best athletes….  In golf, we marvel at the ease in which Freddy Couples, Ernie Els, and Rory McIlroy swing.  They are swinging with great power, but also with extreme efficiency!

KNOW that it is not a mystery!  KNOW that you can train the body to avoid the brain’s instincts.  The answer lies in the GRAVITY DRILLS.  A tiny percentage of golfers (I mean .001% tiny) can either stumble into an effortless swing, or hit enough balls everyday to overcome inefficiencies….  Everyone can improve their games with consistent and systematic training in the drills. 

Why are the drills so important?  Because of the 2 brain basics I discussed above.  You will always fight those instincts unless you can basically BEAT THEM out of you with the GRAVITY DRILLS. 

Get to work!  Train in the drills!  Ask me questions!  We can make 2012 the best golfing year yet!