Ask the Top 100 LIVE: Brady Riggs is here to fix your game

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos. Thanks to everyone for a great blog this week. I am very sorry I couldn't get to all the questions but I just ran out of time. Please get your questions in early next week so I can help you out. Special thanks to JC Video for their software and support, I couldn't do the blog without them. Please follow the Masters Live Blog this week as Michael Walker takes us though the tournament. I will be sending in some comments along the way. Enjoy the Masters and I will see you next week. Alan asks at 1:57: I,
like so many other people, am constantly trying to fix something with
my swing such as coming over the top, a more lower body oriented
downswing, impact position, etc. Each time I think I've "got it" I have
to move on to fixing something else. After reading as many
instructional books as I can get my hands on and taking consistent
lessons for the last couple years, I feel like I have a really good
understanding of how the swing is supposed to work. The problem is that
despite this, I feel like I'm just on the verge of becoming a good
player. But getting there is eluding me and I don't think that working
on one motion after the other is ever really going to make it happen.
I know there is no magic fix and people are different, but I'm
wondering, with your experience with so many developing players, is there
anything that you've noticed that players come to understand or start
doing at some point that allows them to break through the barrier to
having a stable repeatable swing and becoming a good player? This is in the top 5 of questions I have ever been asked in the blog. Thank you, Alan. Ask yourself this question: If my life depended upon hitting a good shot, what would the shape of the shot be and how would I accomplish it with the least amount of thoughts? The fact is you can't play great golf without playing a great deal of golf. The range is for practice, learning, and improvement and the golf course is for competition. I strongly recommend you establish your desired ball flight and write down what are the most important things for you to focus on while you are hitting that shot. The list should be very small and easy to remember. Once you have this down, stick with it during the entire round without any second guessing. If it doesn't work, adjust your list until it does. The fact is that you can constantly work on improving your swing and actually become successful at it while scoring worse because you aren't working on playing the game. If you are trying to become a really good player you need to understand that you don't have to swing it perfectly or like anyone else, but you must trust your shot shape and be able to repeat it. I mandate that my tournament players have a shot they can count on and then add specific shots to their arsenal that help them is specific situations. Last thing on this question. I will give you my own thoughts and plan when I go play, which is very infrequently unfortunately. I know my life or death shot is going to be a slight draw. I know it when I go to sleep, when I am driving to the course and on the first tee. I will stay in my routine all day, think positively and commit to that shot every time I can hit it. I have other "shots" I can hit when needed. I will "sting" my 2 iron and 3-wood on tight holes and in windy conditions. I will hit a slight cut when absolutely necessary with the driver although I don't prefer it. This is how I will navigate around the course. My warm-up session before is about hitting these specific shots so I am ready when the time is right. BUT, I know my draw will be the one I turn to all day. There are obviously short-game shots that I do the same with, bread-and-butter shots and those that are more challenging. I hit the easy ones as much as possible and the harder ones when necessary. The key is that I know what I am going to do when I get there, stick with it all day, and adjust after the round where needed. This is the only way to play better golf.
Brad asks at 1:55: This
is the first time taping my swing and wanted to see what you think of
my swing and give me some areas of improvement. My misses are pulls or
an occasional low weak slice. From what I can tell, I seem a bit stiff
and close to my body around impact and "flip" through impact. Can you
point out some areas of improvement or areas that look OK?

Mike asks at 1:40: Brady,
Due to my club coming excessively from the inside on the downswing I
tend to bottom out way before the ball, like a foot, with my 3-wood. What
would be a good drill to over correct this issue? Maybe I am looking
for something extreme here. I come from the inside too much with
There are things happening in your swing that are causing the club to come down excessively from the inside. These can include getting your arms and club too deep behind you going back, pointing the club across the line at the top, sliding laterally too much on the downswing, and creating too much right-side tilt as you approach impact. I would rather you figure out the issue and resolve it then give you a trick for the downswing. I will tell you that if you can hit a driver from the turf you chances are you will have improved your issue. The only way to hit the driver from the ground is to create a slightly steeper, more out to in downswing shape. This will produce a left to right shot shape and resolve the excessively inside attack. You can also try to hit the driver from a tee but off your knees as this will give you some excellent feedback about how the club must work from the proper path coming down. The issue with both of these "drills" is that they aren't helping you understand the root cause of your problem and you may not actually learn how to avoid it in the future. That is why I am not a big fan of drills..... Scotty asks at 1:25:

The arms and shoulders always trail the movement of your weight during the downswing. This is often referred to as the proper "sequence" of motion and is the same across most sports involving hitting or throwing. The "passivity" of your arms is great in the transition, but you know from playing other sports that there has to be some amount of "hit" or "snap" if there is going to be speed. I would have you continue to work on the transition my initiating the swing with the weight moving to the target. For some this is with the lower body, for others it is the entire body depending upon how much lateral movement you had going back. Through impact keep in mind that speed is actually how fast you STOP through impact. That is to say that the handle of the club must slow down if the head is to speed up. There are numerous ways to achieve this, but if you visualize a baseball hit you will get the idea of posting up against your lead leg while the barrel of the bat flies past you.

Peyton asks at 1:10: I am a
lefty and I have had a ball flight lately that I DON'T LIKE!! One of
two things will happen: I either push slice or the ball starts at the
target and falls off to the left about 3/4 of the way out. I know it
could be a number of things and a video would help, but do you have any
drills? You look like you are having a tug of war in the address position. The weight is severely in your heels at address, making it impossible for you to maintain the famous "Tush Line" during the swing. This lack of consistent posture makes your body become more upright during impact, leading to the occasional huge block slice, slice, or thin contact. I have written many replies about the Tush Line over the past few months so rather than boring everyone again with it go back and check them out. Here is a couple of pictures to help you see the difference it can make. Keep in mind these pictures are of a very good junior who was able to maintain her upper body lean better than you when she lost her line.  Tushlineloss  Tushlinefix
Merv Dillon asks at 12:45: I know
from previous blog posts that you are not a fan of stack and tilt, but
I am interested to hear your thoughts on Sean Foley's teachings.
He recently had an article in Golf Digest where he advocates
starting with some weight in the left leg, swing to the top without
really shifting to the right, then shift all the weight back into the
left leg on the downswing.
Here is a really good video of his student Sean O'Hair, briefly describing this way of swinging:

What are your thoughts on this? I like it better than stack and tilt! This is a methodology that definitely works. No lateral motion to the body going back with a static head position is an option that works for some people. I think getting stuck into any method as a teacher is counterproductive for your students. Some need a lateral bump to start like Anthony Kim and Tommy Armour III, some are better turning sharper like Davis Love III. I will tell you that many players tell you what they are feeling and it isn't what they are actually doing. This is the case with O'Hair. While the swing may have changed since these were taken, they contradict his clinic. Check out the pictures below to see that there is lateral movement to both O'Hair's head and his hips going back with driver, the fairway metal, and the iron. As the clubs get shorter it is less to be sure, but make sure you look at what the player actually does and not what they think they do. Ohairback  Ohairhead  Ohairhiphead Marc asks at 12:28: In a
neutral backswing, where should the butt end of the club be pointing
halfway back. I know Leadbetter likes it pointing between your toes
and the ball. But Haney likes it more parallel to the address shaft
plane. I see that Tiger has it pointing outside the ball halfway back.
Where do you like to see it halfway back? That is a very good question, Marc. As teachers we have things we really like to see in students that aren't mandatory but, over time, have proven to be highly beneficial. These mechanics of the swing end up shaping what our students look like. That is why Leadbetter's students have the shaft more upright at halfway back and Haney's are more parallel to the target line. This directly relates to their students who had success early in their careers, in these specific cases Faldo and Price and O'Meara. Here is how I look at it. Most recreational players make the mistake of taking the club back excessively to the inside producing an overly flat halfway-back position. This leaves the club no other choice but to come down above plane and steep, leading to all the wonderful misses that go along with it. The best way to fix the problem and prevent it from returning is to get the student to do the opposite. That is why I prefer to get the club more upright and closer to the Price shape than that of O'Meara. The problem with keeping the shaft more parallel to the plane going back is that you are way TOO close to mistake. Here is a look of the two different shapes. Price  O'meara
Stephen asks at 12:13: Thanks for the great work you do on this blog helping us out. I really appreciate the effort and time you put into this.
OK here we go:
You speak a lot about the tush line but I struggle to understand the correct way to swing while maintaining it.
I found this video of yours where you talk about rotating the left
knee towards the target. I tried this but I found that I come over the
top when trying this because my right shoulder never lowers. Instead it
stays high and spins outwards with the knee rotation causing the over
the top. But I do stay on the tush line!!!
Knee rotation: I also found this video of Woody Austin saying that you have to move
your whole left hip toward the target to start the downswing in order
to get the club to come down on plane. So I tried this and it gets my
right shoulder to drop but I then come off the tush line and feel like
I get the club way too inside and my body blocked.
Woody Austin: You always mention to get the weight to the right heel at the top of the backswing, then to the left heel on the through swing.
Please can you explain as simply as possible the correct movements to achieve this.
A confused golfer. Sorry you are so confused, Stephen. In a way both videos you referenced can be good for your issue and bad. You are correct that if your left knee rotates without any weight moving into the left side to begin the downswing, your swing path can be negatively affected. While this is an excellent way to maintain the line, it is only helpful if the path is solidly inside. On the other hand, keeping the left hip going to the target during the downswing can certainly help the path, but if the weight moves in toward the target and the TARGET LINE, you will lose the tush line and become jammed through impact. So what do your do? The key for the downswing is to move your weight to the target in a direction that is PARALLEL to the target line, not diagonal to it. At the top of the swing the weight is in the heel of the right foot and lightly in the ball of the left foot. As you shift to the target the weight moves more into the left foot, but not more into the toe of the left foot. This keeps the hips closed to the target without losing the line.
Doug asks at 12:03: I've just
gotten back into golfing mode now that the weather has improved, and I
was surprised to see that my irons are looking great. However, I'm
slicing very badly with the driver -- something that surprised me, b/c
by the end of the season last year, my miss was a hook. I can
physically tell that I'm coming down too steep (I also am hitting a lot
of pop-ups), and with an out-to-in swing path. How can I groove a good
in-to-out swing with my driver? I've tried to focus on keeping my arms
connected to my body, not letting my right elbow float, etc., but I
still keep coming over the top!
There is obviously a series of issues going on here, Doug. The fact is that the club is taking a path into the ball that it can take, if you don't get your body into a better place going back you can't fix the path coming down. My best advice for you is to create a more efficient pivot going back that you can build upon coming down. I have included a backswing picture of Davis Love III and a downswing picture of Anthony Kim to help you get an idea about what to work on. Turn Roger Olson asks at 12:00: 1. I am wondering if there are any good drills to help keep arms fully extended after impact?
2. If you could recommend any good drills or stretching exercises for better shoulder turn in the backswing? Thanks for the question, Roger. I always want my students to understand why things happen because it makes them able to fix their swing when I am not around. Getting better extension comes from swinging the club on the proper path. If your arms and the club is already away from you on the downswing they will get closer to you through impact, killing your extension. Rather than a drill to help you keep the arms extended you should work on the real issue, your path. When it comes to stretching and creating a better turn going back, you need to work on the overall flexibility of your body. If your hamstrings are tight, it will make it very difficult for you to produce turn without losing your posture. If your shoulders are tight, you can turn and lose your width very easily. I know it is probably not what you want to hear but you need to get more flexible, EVERYWHERE! I have included a couple pictures of Sean O'Hair to help you see how the path directly affects extension. O'hairpath

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