Since he started teaching golf 28 years ago, Brian Manzella has been driven to find innovative ways to help students improve. That desire is producing a remarkable career for this GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Former PGA Champion David Toms has often sought Manzella's swing advice since 1988. After receiving the highest certification from The Golfing Machine, a teaching organization based on one of the sport's cult-classic instruction books, Manzella left to start Project 1.68, an explanation of the synergy of the sciences as they apply to the golf swing. This iconoclast's growing influence also can be seen in the 11 certified Brian Manzella Academy instructors in six states and Australia, as well as the annual education conference Manzella founded in 2009, the GTE, for "Golf Teacher Excellence."
"Conventional wisdom in golf instruction says to fix the golfer - more shoulder turn, less weight shift, and all that stuff," says Manzella, who works out New Orleans' English Turn Golf and Country Club. "But the ball only does what the club tells it to do, so I want golfers to focus on things that directly affect the golf club, not 'faults' that are only compensations."
Here, Manzella offers uncommon solutions to common problems.
LACK OF POWER
"A lot of modern golf instruction emphasizes setting the wrists early in the takeaway. Among other problems, this move can lead to un-cocking the wrists too early in the downswing, draining away power. The solution may lie in the swings of Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen.
"Try what I call 'the lagging clubhead takeaway.' Start the takeaway by shifting weight onto your back leg and turning your lower body and midsection as you drag the hands back, too. Move the clubhead last, not first. This is what Jones and Hagen did, and exactly what all good modern players do on the downswing - their body leads their hands, and their hands lead the clubhead. That produces a professional's explosive impact. Practice this new takeaway and make little mini-swings with it back and forth for a few minutes a day. You'll soon find your swing has a smoother change of direction and produces much more power."
"A player who hooks the ball swings too much from the inside out - even though odds are someone's telling him he's swinging 'over-the-top,' just because the ball is going left. What's almost definitely happening is that at the top of the swing the hands then drop toward the back foot, causing a swing that's severely 'under plane.'
"Here's a good fix that I call 'the carry.' At the top of the swing, keep your hands in the same relation to your body as you unwind the upper body. This carries your hands out toward the ball and your target line. The downswing path that follows will be much straighter, and your ball flight will be, too. Before hitting shots this new way, do the 'hurdle drill,' which exaggerates 'the carry' move so that your practice swing bottoms out well past and left of the ball."
"Modern wisdom on pitching emphasizes a flat left wrist and a bent right wrist throughout the shot. Players who listen to this end up with the butt of the grip really far away from the belt buckle at the finish. It's stiff, it's unnatural, and it's ineffective.
"Instead, think about keeping the butt of the grip close to your beltline throughout the shot. The best players in the world keep the distance between the club and their belt constant. This move gives you a slightly flatter angle of descent into the ball, lessening the chances of chunking the shot and also forcing the right wrist to release a bit - that adds loft and produces both more spin and more consistent contact. Practicing right-hand only pitch shots will help ingrain the proper motion, too."
To see videos of Brian Manzella demonstrating these tips, plus a bonus anti-slice tip, go to www.golf.com/manzellatips.