Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs answered your questions Wednesday afternoon.  Thanks again to everyone for your questions, videos, and comments. I hope you enjoyed the blog. I look forward to hearing from you again next week. Philip Nielson asks at 1:35: Hello, I
have just come across this and think it's great. I have always
struggled with the transition? I can't get the correct sequencing. I
know what it is but I seem to be too conscious of it and don't let it
happen. I've heard squash a can under my left heel feeling or squash a
bug but it is very difficult. Any ideas or thoughts? Sorry I
forgot to add this. I am having trouble hitting down on the ball. I am
also not getting my divots in front of the ball. What do you think
about ball position, posture and alignment to get this under control?
Can't seem to be consistent at all.
I often talk about the sequencing of the swing and how to make the motion more athletic. I believe I described the step drill in a previous post on this blog today. The main issue is that you always want your weight to move before your arms and hands on the downsiwng. This can be a subtle movement or a huge obvious one. Either way, if the weight moves at the same time or after the arms you are hosed.

This directly relates to your issue of not hitting down on the ball. You should never try to hit down on the ball. If your weight moves properly the bottom of the swing will be in front of the ball because you are closer to the target at impact than you were in the address. If you haven't moved in the direction of the target, the weight will be behind where it should be and the bottom of the swing will happen too early, causing fat and thin shots. The ball should be played under your left nipple with the iron to encourage you to move on the downswing. Many people put it back in the stance too far figuring they will fix their fat shots by putting the ball where the club bottoms out. This is fixing one huge problem with another and is why people don't get better at this game. I have included a sequence of photos to help you see the amount of forward motion you need in the transition. These pictures are of Jason Gore. Gore Mike Sereda asks at 1:20: Hey Brady, hope Ben plays great. Best of Luck! You wrote an article analyzing Retief Goosen's swing and mentioned
his right eye dominance resulted in his hanging back and being low with
his right shoulder. Do you have any thoughts on how right eye dominant
golfer should set up or swing? I have a funny head movement during the
backswing where I seem to reverse my head and look back at the ball. I
then swing under with a low right side. I think in part this originated
by setting up ala Nicklaus with the cocked head. Of course he is left
eye dominant.Thanks for taking the time to read these!
This is a huge issue Mike that doesn't get the attention it deserves. It has as much an influence over putting as it does the full swing believe it or not. The low right side with right eye dominant players is typical and hard to avoid. I swear my eyes are level to the horizon during impact but the video doesn't lie, my right eye dominance tilts my head every time. The head cock ala Nicklaus is the exact opposite direction you naturally want to go as I am sure you have discovered. This could be the reason your head moves back in the direction you mention.
The how to swing question is interesting.  As a right eye dominant player myself I have had success with a very open stance playing from left to right modeling after Lee Trevino. This was extremely effective with my irons and wedges, less effective with the driver. This works with us right eye folks because it gets our eyes parallel to the target line in the address, something difficult for us with a square stance. I am a better ball striker embracing my right to left tendency and trying to keep my eyes as level as possible. You have to go with is most effective for you. Try them both and see what you think. If you can send me some video of your swing with a description of your ballflight issues that would be the best scenario. TJ asks at 1:00: This
year will be my second year trying to play the game of golf and I
consistently have the same issues... topping, pushing it right, or
slicing it right. I finally got someone to video me on a trip to
Arizona and hope that you can help me out. Please be as harsh as
Also, do you have any suggestions, drills, etc for those of us in
cold weather areas [Colorado] when we can't hit the range because it is
Thanks! TJ, your buddy was right, your follow through is strange.
It looks like someone told you to keep your head still and you have really listened. The improvement in your golf will come when you allow your body to participate more and make the swing more athletic. We use that word "athletic" all the time when talking about the swing. What it basically means is a golf swing should be more like the other sports you have played over the years. Think of throwing a football, hitting a baseball, smashing a forehand in Tennis, or taking a slapshot in hockey. You would never worry about staying still in those athletic motions, and you shouldn't in golf. The best advice I can give you at this point is make a few swings where you actually let your front foot step in the direction of the target as you start your downswing. This will give you the feeling of the sequence of movements you need to accomplish to become consistent. Once you get the movement down try to achieve a balanced, complete finish position on all your shots, especially when you play. I have included some pictures of Tiger in the finish to give you an idea of where you are trying to go. Tiger Gerry asks at 12:43:
My game
is sound but i can never seem to to have a consistant chipping or
pitching game.I know its 90% feel but i need something consistant.
Gerry I think good feel comes from good mechanics, not the other way around. Unless you naturally talented or have been taught chipping and pitching from someone that really gets it I am not surprised you struggle with this part of the game. "Chip yips" is very common with good players and believe it or not, even Tour players. The problem is we were all taught to keep the clubface square and the path straight back and through, blocking the wrists and holding to the finish. This method can be effective for a while, especially while the nerves are young, but as you get older it can be very tough.
I would recommend you try a new style with more arc, natural clubface rotation, and a free release. This is a smaller version of a full swing and is significantly easier to trust under pressure. Check out this video I shot for Inside Golf Magazine on chipping, especially the technique portion halfway through. Jeff asks at 12:40: Brady,
Do you give individual lessons to people visiting your area? Thanks!
Absolutely! Let me know when you are going to be in Los Angeles and I we will figure out a time. You can send me an email at bradyriggs@pga.com. Byron asks at 12:25: I've
followed your articles and videos for some time and have always found
them to be presented in a straight forward, easy to understand manner.
I was wondering, do you have plans to incorporate your teachings into
an instructional book or video?
I'd like to find out if there are one or two books that you would
recommend that you've found best encapsulate your line of teaching that
would help me and others understand your tips.
Thanks for the kind words Byron. There have been a couple of reasons why I have avoided writing a book or making a DVD over the years. The main issue is that teaching golf is a very individualized program for each student. Establishing a method or catchy "selling point" only omits important information and may only help a small percentage of people. In fact, creating a hard and fast methodology will make more people worse than better.
However, I have been working on three ideas for DVD's that will be tailored to a specific audience. The first of these is set to release this summer. Stay tuned for more details.
In terms of books that are in line with my teaching I can't give you any. My teaching is a combination of all the good things I have learned from other teachers and students over the years and avoidance of all the bad things I have heard and tried on myself.
My own website is almost finished it's renovation and will be up in the next week or so. There will a great deal of info on that about my work.
Thanks again for your interest. Execute asks at 12:00:

I am a
2 handicap and just looking for some more consistency with my play. I
have a little trouble with inconsistency's in my grip. I seem to grip
the club a little different depending on how I setup whether I'm a
little more upright or bent over. I have always setup a little bent
over but it has primarily worked. Any advice on this or something else
in the swing that's not quite right would be appreciated.
Sorry about the low quality video in my basement. To much snow and cold in IN.
Thanks for the video Steve.
If you have been reading the blog for any amount of time you know I am not rigid when it comes to a particular swing style. You have some unique characteristics in your golf swing that all seem to work well together. Your grip is stronger than neutral but it works well with the rest of your motion. The lower hand set, more upright backswing and outside-in swing shape are all compatible with your grip. While there are things in your swing that could be made more neutral, it would be a dangerous adjustment without serious supervision and may not pay off at all.
I would offer you this advice, video your swing when you are hitting the ball well so you have a baseline to compare it against when you aren't hitting solid. This can be a great way to keep your results consistent and avoid a prolonged slump. Josh asks: A few
weeks ago you showed a great pic of AK stacked at impact. I can get to
that position right before impact, and then my left shoulder moves back
away from that line going down the left shoulder as I hit the ball. Any
tips on staying on top of the ball all the way through impact?
There are several reasons why your left shoulder and your head move back away from the target at impact. The first reason is because your upper body gets too far past the ball on the downswing and has to retreat through impact to hit the shot effectively. This can be the result of never getting the head and chest back during the backswing. The second is if the lower body slides excessively towards the target creating lean with the upper body away from the target at impact. It is also possible to do come down properly but stop rotating the torso through impact, including the head, which will force the left shoulder to go back.
One of the toughest elements of the golf swing is getting your weight to move the appropriate amount to the target on the downswing without screwing up your posture and swing path. The fact that you mentioned AK's impact alignments shows that you are working on the right stuff. I would want you to keep in mind that the location of the shoulder and head are different with the irons vs that of the driver. Here is a 4 picture sequence of Davis Love III and AK hitting the driver and the irons. I have put a yellow line against their head and shoulder at address with all the swings. You can see the subtle difference between AK's driver and iron and the huge difference with DLIII. I am sure I don't have to tell you how much better AK's pictures are.  Brady-riggs-1 Josh asks: I've had
a mean hook for about 18 months now that won't go away no matter what i
try. Start it off the fairway to the right and lose it OB left. Any
advice to shift to a more controllable fade?
>The first issue is obviously the clubface. If this isn't an issue because you have checked the grip and wrist positions then the next spot to look at is the top of the backswing. In most cases if the clubface is square and you are still hooking it the club is excessively across the line at the top. I would check that position at the top and work on getting the club to point more left of the target at the top in what would be a laid off position. This will keep the club from attacking too much from the inside which, when combined with some flippy wrists at impact, is the cause of the hook you are fighting. Here is a look at the differences at the top of the swing.  Brady-riigs-2 Ben asks: I know you like the top of the left arm on top of the left pec at address. How about the RIGHT arm? You are correct, I do like the left arm on top of the pec. The right arm should be soft. It will be bent slightly because it is reaching further down the club than the left. This will tilt the shoulders slightly away from the target with the left shoulder higher than the right. With the younger and more flexible players I try to get the shoulders a bit more level. The less flexible and less skilled players benefit from this starting position because they need help attacking from the inside. The tilt at the address encourages the more inside swing path. Here is a picture of the difference between the two address positions. The picture on the left is Davis Love and the one on the right is my young 22 year-old student Ben Fox. Brady-riggs-3 Andrew asks:I'm a six
handicap and play Mizuno MP-52 irons with Project X 6.0 shafts. I find
the clubs to be a little on the light side and have put two strips of
lead tape on the back of the irons. My question to you is, can adding
lead tape to my irons lead to an inconsistency in my ball striking in
some how? Also, does the tape have any impact on the flex of my shaft?
I just like how I can really feel the club head with the tape on but am
unsure if I should just really take the time to get used to the clubs
with no tape on instead. Thanks for the help.
I would rest easy. A couple of strips of lead tape aren't going to have much of an effect on your ballstriking. Two strips of lead tape are only going to change the feel of the club in your hands, and even that is minimal. RJ asks: When I
finish my swing, my body always seems to be leaning pretty heavily to
the right of my target. Should my body lean towards where my target it
is once I follow through my swing?
There are several reasons why the body would lean to the right in the finish position. Putting aside the performance issues related with this finish position the main reason to change it is the long-term health of your back. When the body has excessive right side lean in the finish it most likely had the same issue during the downswing and into the release. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on the back during the golf swing as it is, finishing in this position increases those forces and certainly increases the chance of injury. What is really interesting is focusing on the proper finish position is a great way to play the game. It makes you swing "bigger" with less focus on impact and more on balance. The mechanics of the swing can also be positively affected by focusing on the end of the motion. I have included finish pictures in the past, here are a couple more to illustrate where I like to see my students.
BTW, the players in the picture are Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Darren Clarke, and Annika Sorenstam.
Brady-riggs-4 Steve asks: Would you
mind discussing the role of the arms in the swing? I'm confused as to
whether I should be giving the swing anything extra with the power of
my arms or if I should just be extending my arms to make contact and
allowing the pivot to power passive/limp arms. What do you think?
I will discuss anything about the golf swing Steve. This is one of those questions that has a bit to do with personal swing style and individual strengths and weaknesses. In a perfect world the swing is a blend of hands, arms, and pivot working together to produce consistent and powerful results. With that said there are players making obscene amounts of money from both ends of the spectrum. Some use the pivot to drive passive arms and hands through the hitting area, some initiate the motion with their arms and hands using the body in a supporting role, and most have a combination of both. 
I would recommend you use everything you have to create speed. Think of the analogy of throwing a ball. The weight moves into the front foot, the hips are rotating and the arm, wrist, and hand sling the ball to the target. The same sequence and feel should be present in your golf swing. Don't be afraid to get your arms and hands into it, it can make a huge difference.

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