Ask the Top 100 Live: Brady Riggs is here to fix your faults

Brady-riggs-78x73 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. If you missed Brady, he'll be back next Tuesday for another installment of "Ask the Top 100 Live." Thanks to everyone for your questions, comments, and videos. I want to give special thanks to Mark and Fred at JC Video for all of their help and support. The reason this blog comes to life with pictures is because of their fantastic teaching software, the best in the business. We will see everyone next week.... Let's get to those questions and comments. Ethan asks at 1:10: I tend to
get to quick at the top and come over the top on my downswing, especially
with the longer clubs. Even though I know I should be moving my weight
forward before the backswing ends, putting this in practice is often
difficult. Do you have any tips on how to get the rhythm consistent in
moving the weight forward before the club stops going back?
It sounds like you have the right idea when it comes to how the sequence should work, Ethan. I agree that making changes is difficult, but you must practice effectively to have a chance at making it happen on the golf course. I always tell my students that if you can't do it slow, you have no chance doing it fast. Your work on the range should be slower and more deliberate than you think it could be. This will help you organize your thoughts and give you the best chance to feel the changes you are trying to make. Great practice swings on the golf course before and after your shot will also help you get on track with the "when" of moving your weight. This can be a challenging part of the swing to work on as you are going in two directions at once. I know this sounds a bit simplistic, but you need to keep grinding away on this to make it part of your no-brain swing. Stay after it.... Tom asks at 12:58: Many
articles say that ideally your spine angle should stay the same at least
through impact. However, I notice that many pros actually increase the
spine angle on the downswing. Which is the ideal position and why?
Who do you think has the most ideal swing in the PGA Tour? Maintaining the same height during the swing isn't nearly as important as keeping the same distance away from the ball. If you have read the blog at all you will have noticed that I have created and been on my soap box about the "tush line." This represents the starting position of the back of your backside at address and its position relative to that at impact. While the head and body drops and rises with most great players, their distance from the ball doesn't. For this reason I never mention the words "spine angle" to my students as it gives the impression to them they must stay in a fixed bend during the swing. I would rather them focus on what is most important, maintaining the "tush line." When it comes to the best swing on Tour right now I would have to say Charl Schwartzel. I have always loved Jonathan Byrd's swing but I give the South African the nod right now. Please remember, however, that I think there are numerous great swings for people to copy depending on their own strengths and weaknesses.
Keenan asks at 12:48: Hey Brady,
I'm a junior golfer beginning my junior golf tournament season and I have a
horrid fault. I take the club too far to the inside on the
backswing, then I come over the top. This leads to slices, pulls, and low
shots. Please I need drills I can do at home and on the range to fix
this fault for good. I know if fix this I'll be on the way to consistent
contact. Thank you.
Thanks for the question, Keenan. I agree that a poor shape to your backswing will lead to problems on the downswing. It sounds like you have a very typical problem we see on the range where the club does the exact opposite move coming down into impact that it did going back on the takeaway. You need to reverse this by keeping the club up and in front of you on the backswing and letting it get more in and behind you coming down. The best way to help you is for you to see some pictures. Here are a few of a young Anthony Kim to help you get the idea. AKback Jeff asks at 12:37: If my
hands hang at about a 45 degree angle, would I need a stronger grip? With a stronger grip, should the ball be played farther back in my stance? Love the blog.
I assume you mean that your clubshaft is angled 45 degrees at the address position from the target view. I would really need to see your grip to give you an idea about how strong it is and know more about your ball flight, misses under pressure, physical condition and level of play to tell you if it is TOO STRONG. There have been so many great players with a grip that is stronger than neutral that it would be irresponsible of me to tell you to change without more info. In terms of the ball position, from a logical standpoint if the grip is stronger and the face is closed during the swing (not necessarily true just because the grip is strong) than the ball will have more of a tendency to go left. Adjusting the ball to a position farther back in the stance will delay the rotation of the clubface, but if it's done to excess a host of other problems arise that include a breakdown of the hands to square the face, a lack of forward motion of the body for fear of getting ahead of the ball, and a hanging back during the release and finish. This is always the problem with compensating moves, they are hard to manage and juggle during the swing. Evan asks at 12:20: I have
been having trouble getting into a good position at the top of my
backswing. I keep going way across the line. I am not certain what
approach I should be taking to fix this. I have tried a few things but
they have made little difference. My misses tend to be hooks and pushes
with irons and high slices with the driver.

Thanks for the videos, Evan. You have a few things going on here that make you inconsistent. The issues begin with your grip. The club left hand is extremely strong, leading to a clubface position that is closed during the swing. This must be adjusted for through impact or you are going to hit a great many shots left. It sounds like the left miss is there with the irons and you are overcompensating with the driver leading to the high slice. It isn't a very fun combination. While I agree with you that the club is across at the top of the backswing, this isn't the place to begin. You need to get the clubface into a square position so you can begin to release the club properly. When the face is more square, you will eliminate the hook and make yourself have to let go better through impact or the ball will go WAY RIGHT. This is to be expected in the beginning, but will get better quickly, as you see the ball sail off line. To play good golf you have to eliminate one side of the course. At this point, you are missing in both directions because of your clubface position, making it very hard to manage your game. Check out the picture of the grip I posted earlier in the blog of Charles Howell III and look at the other pictures I have included to help you get a better visual.

Topels Elsrelease

Henny asks at 12:06: I have a
question regarding the right index finger (aka the trigger finger).
I've read that there should be a constant pressure of the meaty part of
that finger to the side of the grip, and seen a few videos of the late
GREAT Ben Hogan talking about its importance. Can you elaborate on
this, maybe explain if this pressure should be light, hard, or either
but just consistent?
I have never been a big fan of paying much attention to grip pressure. I am more inclined to ask my student to think of how tight they would hold onto a ball when throwing it to give them a sense of how hard to hold the club. Too light and the ball would fly out of their hand behind them, too hard and their would be little snap or power. This usually gets their brain out of their hands and more into the motion. The right index finger you speak of should be resting against the side of the club. This is essentially where the sweet spot of the club is and will greatly improve your chances of making solid contact with the face square. Here is a picture of the proper position of the index finger.  Grip Gary asks at 12:00: I really
enjoy your weekly swing thoughts and advice. How do golfers like Dustin
Johnson and Robert Garrigus (both shut at the top of the backswing)
keep from hitting vicious hooks? Do they release the club or are they
holding it open the whole way past impact? I am very shut at the top and
must fight the hooks all the time. Thanks.
It is all about compensations when you play from positions that aren't neutral. Yes, to keep the ball from hooking excessively with the face shut, the release must be delayed excessively. To do this the hips can spin open, the left shoulder can tilt up with the right elbow driving past the ball, or the shot shape can turn into a fade. If the player has made it to the highest levels with unusual mechanics, there is no reason to reinvent their swing but instead mellow out the rough spots to improve their consistency. The one major problem that you must consider is that players who fight closed clubface positions generally have bad backs as they must create harsh angles with their body through impact. If you aren't hitting the ball as well as you think you can and are already experiencing some back pain, I highly recommend you get that clubface squared up.

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