Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dear TJ, I posted video of my swing on YouTube like you suggested. Can you help me figure out what’s wrong? My usual miss is left.Thanks, Glen Z., Ontario, Canada Hey GZ,
Thanks for sending in your swing video. You do a lot of things correctly, but there is one fatal error and it is tough to see without video because it takes place near impact when a bunch of other things are going on.
Your problem could be called “A Tale of Two Weight Shifts,” and Chuck Dickens would describe it thus: “Glen’s swing was in the best of times when his weight shifted to his front side at the start of his backswing, and it was in the worst of times when he shifted his weight back to the right just before impact.”
Watch the video again and you can see what I mean: You load up on your right side during your backswing, then you shift your weight to your left side to start the downswing -- OK so far -- but then you rebound back onto your right side causing your arms to wrap around your torso, resulting in a pull or a pull hook. Now you won’t hit too many of those before you start holding off your release by cutting back on your forearm rotation, creating the Colonel Sanders Formation, aka the chicken wing. Unfortunately, in response to the forces applied to your arms when you try to stop the flip, your left wrist buckles and sends the ball left not every time but at the "worst of times."
The problem is that your reverse weight shift violates one of the non-negotiables of golf, that is, whatever else you do, you must be on your front side through impact.
But don’t worry, GZ, it’s EZ to fix this. Here’s how. Brad_bryant_3 1. You must allow your right knee/hip to release to the target much earlier than you think. Practice this in front of a mirror in slow motion until you look like Champions Tour standout Brad Bryant [photo, right]. You’re better looking than Brad, of course, but you know what I mean.
When it’s time to hit balls use the Gary Player step-over drill. In this drill, you step over your left foot with the right side through impact. Do it gently but actually end up with your right foot closer to the target than your left. Put the ball on a tee while your practice this.
Compare your position in the video with Brad’s and you'll see the hang-back that ruins your swing. Note how Bryant's swing center [a point about 1/3 of the way down his sternum] is directly over the ball. Note also how his right knee is under his swing center.
Used correctly, video is to the teacher what the MRI is to your physician. Teachers who don't use the technology are stealing.
Work on this for a couple of weeks and then send me another video. We'll take Step No. 2 at that point. (To send TJ your swing, upload a video to YouTube and e-mail us the link)

Dear TJ,When I strike my short and medium irons well, I can't seem to take a strong divot like I see other accomplished and pro players do. (I guess Tiger Woods is one of the extreme divot-carving players!) How can I have a better descending blow and better ball compression upon impact? I can tell that I brush the surface of the turf and sometimes hit 1/4 inch fat or at the bottom of the ball, but I never create a glorious divot from a good ball-compression stroke!Roy H., via email Dear RH, Here's a two-fer on divots: 1. You don't try to get the club under the ball -- but you do hit the back of the ball, and 2. You don't hit down on the ball -- but you do hit "forward" on it.
Remember, your golf swing will never be any better than your concept of what a good golf swing is, and the concept of trying to slide the clubhead under the ball to make a divot produces fat shots. By contrast, the concept of trying to hit "down" on the ball to take the grass can produce just the opposite, that is, a swing so steep you can't brush the grass.
To become a "glorious divoteer” your hands must be leading the clubhead through impact. Begin the training process by thinking about your right hand on a short shot of about 20 yards. In order to hit the ball with the clubhead lagging, your right hand must be bent back just a tad at impact. Hit these short shots until you make crisp contact with the ball first and then the grass. Notice that you can only keep your right hand bent back if you:
1. Power the shot with body rotation rather than just with your hands and arms.2. Keep your spine from flopping around.3. Keep your left wrist flat at impact. (The back of your left wrist and the back of your left forearm should form a straight line.)
The bottom line is that if you work on these short shots you will find your own best way to accomplish the desired result. Working this way you will improve your impact alignments not only for short shots but for longer ones as well.
As my mother use to say: "Son, there are no short cuts to glorious divots. Now, go clean your room."  Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher TJ Tomasi, Ph.D., a Class A PGA
professional, teaches at the Nantucket Golf Club in Massachusetts. You
can learn more about TJ at www.tjtomasi.com

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