Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs answered readers' swing questions in a live forum Tuesday.Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. I look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks. Thomas asks at 12:58:I find I
have two most frequent faults. Fist is a shot with 5 or 6 iron that is
like a block (goes right) and second is with the driver that is starts
straight but goes hard right after about 180 200 yards. Thanks for your
In both cases the clubface is having trouble getting square through impact. The least lofted club, the driver, will have the most negative result when this is your problem while the shortest clubs will be less affected. When you are dealing with an open clubface the fix begins with the grip. Make sure your grip is aligned properly and isn't in a weak position that will produce an open clubface. If the clubface is square, it comes down to your ability to get the club tracking on the proper path into the inside back of the golf ball with the face rotating through impact. This sounds simple enough but of course it is golf so it can be difficult and frustrating. If you can understand that impact shouldn't be a straight line to the target with the face remaining square but should be on an arc with the face "closing" you can play great golf. If this is understood and practiced, the sky is the limit for your golf. Sean asks at 12:54:I was
wondering how frequently you should be using your wrist action during a
chip shot -- is it like darts where you snap your wrist?
You should avoid using your wrists when hitting chip shots. Good chipping is about distance control. When you involve your wrists in the stroke you add quite a bit of power, making it difficult to control how far the ball will fly and roll. Instead, your hands and wrists should be fairly passive making the stroke a more arms dominated motion. This will take out some of the poor contact you can suffer from if the wrists are too active and give you control over the distance.Katherine asks at 12:45:Is there a way to practice better distance control with my putting? Yes. Here is what you should do. Start with three balls about 2 feet from the hole. The goal is to try to make the putt with the ball entering the hole at the proper speed. If you hit the putt properly, the ball shouldn't hit the dirt above the plastic on the other side of the hole, but should hit between the bottom of the cup and the back wall. This sounds specific and strange but it will really give you the feel of proper speed. Once you are consistent from 2 feet, back up a couple of feet at a time and work on the same drill of entering the hole with the proper speed. As you work further away you will really begin to feel the correct speed from greater distances. Remember that the hole is much bigger if the ball is going slower, so I would rather you die the ball into the hole than ram it into the back.Gary asks at 12:35:What is the correct position for the left wrist and righ hand at the top of the backswing? Thanks. This may not be the answer you are looking for but there isn't one. There are great ballstrikers that have a bent left wrist and flatter right wrist at the top like Fred Couples, Nick Faldo and Sean O'Hair.and there are great ballstrikers that have a flat left and bent right wrist like Tiger, Parnevik, and Trevino. What does matter is the left wrist position is contributing to hitting quality shots. For example, if you are having trouble with a hook and your grip is neutral or strong, a flat left wrist at the top will make the hook more difficult to control. In this instance, a more cupped or bent left wrist at the top can make a huge difference. Conversely, if you are fighting a slice and your left wrist is bent at the top, flattening the wrist position can square the face and eliminate the weak shot to the right. There is no perfect position for the wrists at the top. If someone tells you there is, the aren't giving you the whole picture.Drew asks at 12:28:I'm
having lots of trouble making consistent contact with my irons. It
doesn't even matter what the lie is -- I either blade the ball, or hit
an ugly topper off the hosel. What am I doing wrong, and how can I fix
it? Thanks!
With so little info I can't make a very educated guess. I would tell you to begin with your address position and go through your fundamentals. Start with your grip, make sure you are standing in an athletic position with your weight in the balls of your feet and your arms hanging down naturally. Then focus on staying bent over while you turn back and bent over while you turn through. Topping and hitting the hosel can come from many things but staying bent over is a good place to start.Doug asks at 12:20:As of my
last driving range session, I'm crushing my drives, but also
consistently doing one of two things: A bad hook, or a straight push to
the right. Are these related, and what can I do to fix them? Thanks!
This is what I call the "good players" miss. You have discovered that if you attack on an inside path you can hit some great drives. You have also discovered that if you get too much of a good thing and the path is excessively from the inside you can hit some blocks and flip hooks. This is a very common problem to low, single digit players and professionals. The best way to work back from this issue is to hit some slight fades, trying to start the ball slightly left of the target and with a little fall to the right. This will help you get back to a more controlled draw and fix the path problem you have created.Ian asks at 12:14:No matter
what I try, I can't seem to groove an inside/out swing path. I feel
like I make a move outside when the club comes below shoulder level on
the downswing. Do you have any tips, drills, or advice on trying to
groove the proper swing path?
This is the single most common problem I see as an instructor. You need to attack the problem in several ways. First, in the address make sure your grip isn't weak. A weak grip will produce an open clubface position that must be compensated for with an outside-in path. It also has the effect of aligning your shoulders open, a major contributing factor to the poor path. Next, make sure your hips are turning during the backswing with NO sway. If the hips move laterally going back, it makes it more likely your path will be from the outside. Finally, you need to attack the INSIDE-BACK quadrant of the ball with the face closing during impact. This is the proper path and action the clubhead must take if you are to fix the problem. Anton asks at 12:03:Where
should the arms/hands be at the top of the backswing? I have heard alot
of conflicting advice from different coaches. Some say your arms should
be level with your shoulder line, others say your arms should be higher
than your shoulders parallel to your original shaft angle at address. I
am totally confused????
This is one of my problems with many golf instructors. Check out the top 10 players in the world and you will see 10 different top of backswing positions. The critical location is on the downswing when the hands are just slightly lower than the shoulders. In that frame the clubshaft should be pointing at or slightly outside the ball. Regardless of the height of your arms at the top, this is where you should be coming down and what you should be working on. One other thing to consider, if you are bigger in the chest it is almost impossible to keep your arms lower at the top of the swing. Forcing your swing into a specific "position" at the top just to look a certain way is a complete waste of your time if it doesn't get you in the proper place coming down.Good morning! I will be answering your questions over the next hour. Keep them coming and I will try to get to all of them.Marc asks at 12:00:I am
having trouble with maintaining my body angles in the downswing. My
behind moves out towards the ball and I occasionally hit shots out the
heel. I am trying to squat (increase my knee flex) a little at the
start of the downswing to fix this. Is this the right approach? If not,
how can I start the downswing to make sure I stay in posture and keep
my behind back?
This is a very common problem, always misunderstood and fairly easy to fix if you understand the sequence. Unfortunately, squatting won't help. The fix here begins in the set-up. When the tush is coming in towards the ball during the swing, the weight is moving from the heels to the toes. The natural instinct is to try to move even more weight in the heels to keep your tush back but this only makes the problem worse. Start with the weight more in the toes in the set-up and try to turn your weight into your right heel going back and then your left heel going through.

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