Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday afternoon to answer your questions and analyze your swing videos.  Thanks to everyone for the great questions and videos. I look forward to hearing and seeing the improvements in the weeks to come. Thanks again to the staff at JC Video for providing me with the software that brings the lessons to life. See everyone next week! Sam asks at 1:25: How do you teach your students to fade the ball? Stance, release, clubface alignment or grip? That is a very good question, Sam. The fact is there are a number of different ways to fade the ball. It is really the player and his or her personal mechanics that will determine which is the best method. There is the traditional way of weaker grip, slightly open stance and swing away. There are those that like to take the same grip, aim slightly left and hold on a bit through impact. Lee Trevino said he liked to STRENGTHEN his grip -- that's right make it stronger -- and then try to hit a big slice, figuring he couldn't overdo it that way. Then there is Tiger's method of standing slightly closer, moving the ball forward in his stance and aiming slightly left. The fact is there are many ways to do it. If you weaken the grip and open the face you will lose distance. For this reason I prefer to stay away from that with the longer clubs. The better players tend to change the address position slightly and make subtle changes to the swing. This is probably the preferred method to eliminate the loss of distance. I would mess around on the range with all of the above and figure out what works best for you. Mike asks at 1:00: I’ve
been following your column for a while. It’s very helpful to my game by
applying concepts such as tush line and hitting the ball inside back. I
have tendency to move down my head and hit the ball on the heel. Any
advice on how to fix this? Thanks so much. Thanks for the video and kind words, Mike. There are several things you could do to improve your motion. First, your right thumb appears to be on the top of the handle. This needs to change or the clubface will remain in the closed position it is currently in, making it impossible to improve your release through impact. I will include a picture of the proper grip at the bottom of this answer. Next, your posture is too upright in the set-up making it impossible to maintain during the swing. The funny thing about the swing is that if you start too tall, you will shrink; too far away, you will get closer; too straight in the legs, they will bend; and on and on it goes. Once the clubface position has been fixed with your grip and your posture has improved, you need to keep the arms from becoming too separated from each other at the top of the backswing. This will give your swing more structure, less moving parts and more consistency. Here are a few pictures to help you along...

I have trouble getting it into the "slot" on the downswing. When I FEEL
like I am dropping it down, I am actually slightly over the top or my
swing plane become too upright. Any drills to help with this? One thing
that I like to work on is to feel like I'm sticking my right elbow into
my side. Thanks for the help!
I am not a big fan of trying to manage body parts on the downswing. If you have made a good pivot to the top of the backswing and started down with a slight lateral bump of the body toward the target without spinning, your right arm should move down in front of the hip without trying to tuck it in to the side. The fact that it isn't where you "feel" like it is doesn't surprise anyone who has played this dumb game for any period of time. Where you "feel" like you are and where you actually are is a problem players on all levels work on. I would go back and make sure your hips are turning sharply going back and then moving in the direction of the target, while still turned, as you start the downswing. This will help get the club on the proper path without manipulating the right arm.
Jan asks at 12:35: Jan
here again. Continued to work on my swing and now I think it looks
really good. One thing you hardly can see in the video below is that the
clubface is shut in the beginning of my takeaway (when the shaft is
parallell to the target line the first time so to say). I fix this on
the top and coming down but it bugs me. Should it be that way? To fix
that I would either have to weaken my grip or rotate my arms clockwise
which I think would lead to real inconsistencies in my
ballstriking/timing. What do you say, is it even a problem?
General comments on the swing much appreciated as well! Here's some footage from the range and the course: Jan, those were some very entertaining videos. I did see the face a bit closed in the takeaway but it isn't a big issue. I am curious about your bad shots. If they are a combination of pushes and hooks then I would want you to weaken your left hand. Your grip is strong to be sure, but it should only be adjusted to a more neutral position if you are losing control of the ball. There have been many professionals making millions with grips as strong as yours. I will tell you that your arms and hands get a bit too far behind you as you are halfway back during the backswing. This is caused partially from the closed clubface in the takeaway and does lead to the club getting across the line slightly at the top. When combined with a fairly high exit of the club after impact it wouldn't surprise me if the shots you miss weren't blocked and hooked.
I really like your ability to get around to a full finish. It looks very similar to that of Annika Sorenstam, whose swing I really like. Overall, I want to know a bit more about your bad shots so I can help steer you in the right direction. I have attached a picture of the halfway back position so you can see where neutral is compared to your deeper spot.  Stensontop Andrew asks at 12:20: I am a
relatively low handicapper who has been hitting sky shots or straight
blocking the ball with an excessive amount of loft. Some of my
colleagues joke that the ball goes higher than distance. Do I need to
get more active with my right hand? Or any tips on helping me turn on
the ball. Thanks for the help
From your description of your shots it sounds like you are both ahead of the ball and steep. The simple solution is to create more tilt away from the target at the address with the feeling that the back shoulder is both down and closed to the target from its current position. This will make it easier for the head to remain behind the ball on the downswing and encourage a more shallow angle of attack into impact. It is always easier to change the address position first and see if you can create the desired effect without changing the swing. Doug asks at 12:10: I
finally got some video of my swing. Could you please take a look at it
and tell me what I can work on? I have included an iron and driver
swing. With my irons, my main miss is either a straight push or a thin
hit. With the driver, I've gotten much better, but my main miss is a
hook. Thanks for the help!
Iron: Driver: Thanks for the videos, Doug. I think the swing looks pretty good. There is nothing awful going on and you should be hitting some good shots. There are two areas I think you should focus on. First, your pivot is a bit off in the "when" of things. Here's what I mean: Your left leg and specifically your left foot is losing weight as you approach the top of the backswing. Instead of beginning the downswing with an aggressive move into your front foot before the club reaches the top, you are moving more away from the target as your backswing is completed. You need to feel as if your stepping into a throw as you would in baseball or stepping into a forehand in tennis. Your weight should always move toward the target before your arms and club. While the timing of your pivot will increase your power and help you hit the ball more solidly, the second issue will remove the hook, block and thin shots. You need to get the club aligned more properly at the top of the backswing. With the club pointing "across the line" or to the right of your hands at the top, your tendency will be to get the club coming down on an excessively inside path. This is the cause of the blocks, hooks and thin shots. Here are a couple of pictures to help:
JP asks at 12:00:
Brady, I posted last week and you recommended standing closer to the
ball and taller to try to maintain my posture/tush line. Here are a
couple of new swings. I tried to stand closer and more upright. It
looks like I drift backwards on the backswing now and still get the
club way flat on the downswing. Did I make any improvements? What
thoughts do you have now? Thanks for the new videos. The address position looks much better and you have made progress with your posture on the backswing. The reason the club gets stuck inside on the downswing is because your hips are working diagonal as you approach impact. Stick with me for a second as this is going to get a bit technical. When you start the downswing your weight should be moving parallel to the target line, not diagonally between the ball and the target line. If the weight moves diagonally, the right hip (left handed player) fails to rotate properly and buries the club inside. If the right hip rotates back towards the tush line, the chest can begin to face the target and the club works more "out" to the proper path. The basic idea here is that you need to maintain contact with the "Tush Line" going back and coming down. When you lose the line on the backswing, your address position is faulty. You have fixed that problem so the next step is the proper rotation coming down. I have included some images to help you. 

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