Pre-shot Waggle and THE HEAVE

Dr. Losek asked a great question:

“In regards to muscular movement of the club with the arms, I am curious to know your thoughts on the pre-shot waggle of Brandt Snedeker. Just before his backswing he will turn his hips without moving his arms. Is he setting the stage to move his arms with his core? He also appears to be one of the few pros who plays fast.”

First of all, we should definitely give 2 thumbs up for Brandt’s good pace of play.  It’s refreshing to see.  It’s also important to note that he is NO DOUBT a champion, so speed of play and ability to win are not mutually exclusive!!

As far as the waggle goes….  Yes, in general, the waggles of the pros are helping them to prepare THE HEAVE.  From Gary Player’s forward push of the right knee before takeaway, to Jack’s tightening of the arms and tilting of the head, to VJ’s tiny hand and and arm bump before HEAVE, to Brandt’s fidgety movements….  They are all in preparation to move powerfully. 

Specifically, Brandt’s move is very personal to him, but clearly helps him to toss the tension out of his arms in his swing. 

Object at rest tend to stay at rest.  Objects in motion tend to stay at motion.   That means that the waggles make it easier to HEAVE the club back smoothly. 

*being static before takeaway, especially if the weight of the club is given up to the ground results in a jerking of the club in the takeaway…. As Babu from Seinfeld would say: “That’s very bad, very very bad…..”

Waggles are very personal, and they should be a response to the powerful move you are about to make out to the real target, rather than an effort to do something ‘right’. 

Got a waggle?  Great.  No waggle?  Well, that might be an indication of some other issues stemming from a BAD TARGET PERCEPTION. 

Prepare to THROW!  Most likely, a waggle will emerge…..

Path or Face?

I came back from a teaching summit this past week where a question was asked to a panel of ‘teaching experts': 

“If the student is frustrated with a consistent shot pattern that is weak and to the right (for a right handed golfer), what should the teacher work on first- changing the club face, or changing the path of the club? “

4 out of the 6 panelists chose to change the clubface first.  about 90% of the 400 pros in the room agreed….. 

Here’s my take.   OF COURSE YOU CHANGE THE CLUB FACE FIRST!  The golfer is hitting the ball weak right….  They hate to hit it weak right!!!!  In almost every instance, the golfer is swinging the path to the left (leaving the face open) to avoid going right….. 

The very last thing that they want to do is change their path to inside out (swinging toward where the ball is going…).  It’s correct long term, but short term it’s terrifying!

Help the student get the clubface closing and closed through impact.  Work tirelessly with them to teach them the experience of turning the ball to the left.  Anyone who hates to go right should be working tirelessly to over train their swing so the ball HOOKS!!!!

Why?  #1 reason is that it FEELS BETTER!  It’s more powerful.  It’s more physics compliant (design of the club).  It’s more compliant with the physiology of the body (design of the forearms, etc…).  IT’S NOT WEAK RIGHT!!!!!

I feel very strongly about this.  Someone frustrated with hitting the ball short and right should hit THOUSANDS of shots with a HOOK!  You’ll love the feeling, and you’ll learn a better swing. 

Once their predominant shot is hooking (turning to the left), they will very often begin swinging to the right automatically….  And that’s a good thing!

Take a Little Off Assertively!

Want to take a little off of a 7 iron?  Feel like a full shot will just carry a bit too far, or roll on a bit too long?  

A major key to success with less than full swings (and this applies to 30-50-70 yard wedge shots as well!) is to stay assertive with your downswing/followthru

Better players can often take a full swing and simply hit a cut shot instead of a draw.  That will usually take a couple yards off the shot, and keep it from running as much. 

Often times, I just feel more comfortable taking an extra club, say a 6 iron, rather than feeling like I have to pure my 7 iron to pull the shot off….

Two big keys to pull this off. 

1.  Minimize or eliminate your weight shift.  Not only is there no need to shift your weight back in the backswing, it can be very harmful on less than full shots (including wedge shots!). 

2.  Stay assertive on your followthru.  You’re taking a bit off the shot by making a slightly smaller “HEAVE” or backswing.  Gravity and rotation will still move the club on a predictable path with acceleration in the ‘thru swing’. 

One of the great mistakes on less than full swings is deceleration! 

**Now, by staying assertive, I DO NOT MEAN SWINGING HARD, especially with the arms and shoulders… I simply mean allowing the accelerating forces of gravity and centrifugal force to work… this will be carried out by a FULLY ROTATED RELAXED BALANCED FINISH around the forward pivotal axis. 

Train it!  You’ll begin to feel when you pull the arms or decelerate, rather than simply slinging the arms and club through the shot. 

BAM!  You’re better.  Have a great day.

History Quiz

Here’s a golf history quiz: 

If you went.  “Oh yeah,  I get it”…. You passed the quiz.  If you’re befuddled by it- it’s time for a little history lesson via YouTube.  Go to 1 min 23 seconds into this video  and I think you’ll understand the comic strip.

Golfers should know the history of the great tour players, Mr. Rodriguez was certainly one of the greats! 

*I remember my buddy Clint (of the ‘confessions of a former slow golfer’ fame) asking me if anyone could get a way with doing something like this today?  Kind of funny if you think about it.  Can you imagine Camilo Villegas doing a dance like this?  Now that I’m typing this…. I guess Camilo has come the closest to something like this in a long time with his “spiderman” routine!

Greatness Chokes Me

*If you are having a hard time reading this on your email browser; simply go to blog.athleticgolf.net today and read.  I messed with the font colors a bit and, well…. 

*Please send along some comments, questions, etc!!!!  How can I make this blog more meaningful to you? 

Since I did a Moe Norman presentation last nite, it seems fitting to use one of his quotes today.  When asked about if he visualizes every shot he hits, he replies,

“See it?  I don’t just see it.  I taste it.  I taste it.  Purity of technique is choking me.  Ooohhhh…. Like this, like this.  I’m tasting this shot.”  He then proceeds to swing and finishes with, “See, perfect every time!”

Make a decision to see and feel great shots, both on the range and on the course.  Golf, because of its difficulty, tends to drag us down into negative thoughts and images…. I understand that all too well.  Fortunately thoughts are a choice.  You can choose to visualize what you want.  You can choose to think as you please.  Really see great impact and perfect outcomes, and your body will begin to comply with those thoughts and images.  BELIEVE!

How Phil’s Win Can Help You Play Better!

Congrats to Phil, what a spectacular win yesterday at Pebble Beach. 

Here are 2 things you can learn from his victory:

1.  He has been practicing great over the last 6 weeks and yet until this week, his results have been less than desirable……  

Phil knew that his training was top level.  He had tremendous confidence in what he was working on and just kept plugging away….. 

We can all trust that results will follow!  Sometimes it seems that the drills will never kick in on the golf course.  Sometimes we have a bad stretch of golf, or the proverbial ‘worst round of our lives….’, even while practicing consistently….  Phil showed us again that the past does not equal the future.   If your training is solid, YOU WILL SEE RESULTS! 

Stick with the drills.  And BELIEVE!

2.  Phil stopped thinking about mechanics with his putter.  It’s hard to believe that a golfer as gifted as Phil continually falls into the bad habit of THINKING MECHANICS while on the course, and even worse in competition….  He made the decision a few weeks back to simply look at the putts and trust.  Commit to that mind set and the strokes will become more fluid and reliable!!!!   Practice, but more importantly,  LOOK AND REACT! Don’t think about your putting stroke!

*Especially in the winter, when every mistake is magnified, it’s easy to think you need to change or fix your swing too much….  What you need is CONSISTENT AND SYSTEMATIC TRAINING!!!!  And then you need to TRUST YOUR SWING. 

Winter Golf is Weakness Exposing

The great news is that the weather has been great this year for winter golf!  Compared to last year, most of us have way more golf in late 2011 and early 2012….  Isn’t that fantastic?

Except for the fact that I’ve heard several people grumbling about giving up the game this past week…. 

Tis the season. 

Let me explain: 

We are now deep into the winter months.  The weather’s been great, but even still most of us aren’t playing and practicing quite like we do in the spring summer months….  That has a small effect on your game….

The winter’s been great, but the temps here in New Bern, NC haven’t been in the mid 70’s. I’m not complaining!  55-65 degree days have been the norm and that’s awesome for the winter!!!!  HURRAY! 

Except for the fact that those temperatures are cool enough (especially if you start in the a.m. when the temps are mid ci….) for the ball to fly shorter distances, and the clothes you are wearing to tighten up your turn.   Even at 60 degrees, golfers are not sweating and really loosey goosey.  This has a larger effect on the game.  One that can’t be dismissed. 

But the above reasons aren’t the primary cause of the winter golf blues…..  

The course conditions really magnify any technical flaws in a swing. Winter course conditions expose any weakness in IMPACT SKILLS.  Very few courses overseed even the fairways these days…..  Almost no courses overseed wall to wall in the winter any more.  That means we are playing on thin, dormant grass.  Hard to get the ball to sit up at all in the fairway, and the rough around the greens…..  Forget about it!!!  In most cases, the ball is simply sitting on dirt.  In our case at Carolina Colours Golf club, the ball is often sitting on wet ground, dear I say m_^? (no, can’t say it!).

If your skills of impact aren’t high, your game may seem like it’s completely gone.  A quarter inch of cushion under your ball can really make that much difference! 

So what can you do? 

1.  Make gosh darn darn sure you are PREFERRING YOUR LIE in the fairway!  Spend time to find the nicest lie you can!  We are playing winter rules…. USE THEM! 

2.  Putt a lot more around the greens.  Impact with a lofted club is just too dicey for most golfers.  You’ll do better putting it through rough, etc…. in many cases. 

3.  If not a putt, use a 5 iron, 7 iron, or 8 iron to bump and run the ball onto the green. 

4.  Use strategy.  Do your best to position yourself so that you do not have to hit delicate shots over bunkers from the rough…..  

5.  Because #4 is way easier said than done,  if you are behind the bunker on a tight lie…. forget about the pin, try to move the ball to the fat of the green, or even just back in play….  Maybe even say a little prayer, cause these shots are just super tough! 

6.  Change your expectations.  It’s winter golf for Bobby Jones sake…..  If you are not going to train enough, if your skills just aren’t high enough….  just enjoy the wonderful winter weather!!!!  Have fun, work on your balance, take plenty of extra club, etc……

Winter golf is weakness exposing.  As you continue to train in the gravity drills…., as you continue to improve your skills of impact…, winter golf will effect you less and less!  Keep the faith!  Keep training! 

Very Impressive

Kyle Stanley’s win this week in Phoenix was very impressive.  It shows great confidence and talent to comeback after last week’s loss (an epic loss).  

The talent on the tour may be at an all time high.  There seems to be dozens of ‘guns’ out there firing at every pin in almost every situation.  
Other than on a few of the most brutal course setups out there, I believe the days of hitting the fat of the green and taking your 2 putt are pretty much gone.  
I’ll be curious to see what shakes out on the PGA tour this year……

Balance Check!

Time for a Balance check.  Is finishing in a FULLY ROTATED, RELAXED BALANCED position a priority in your game? 

-Are you finishing with ALL your weight on your forward pivotal axis? (forward leg)
-Are you finishing fully turned so your belt buckle is facing left of the target? (for right handed golfers….)
-Are you relaxed and balanced?  Able to hang out in this position for as long as it takes to go over this check list? 

If you are NOT in balance, are you fighting after a swing to put yourself into the correct position?  You should be!

If you are NOT in balance are you taking practice swings in between shots in order to improve your balance?  You should be!

Burn the image of Freddy Couples finish in your mind.  He’s basically just chillin’ on his forward pivotal axis as he watches his ball fly towards the target.  He’s clearly FULLY TURNED and relaxed. 

I’m not saying this is easy at first, only that it ESSENTIAL to strive for!!!!

A balanced and relaxed, fully rotated finish is not a cure all, but it is a pre-requisite for a more consistent swing*!

*Swing being a critical word in the above statement.