Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs answers your questions
and analyze your swing videos. Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. Sorry I couldn't get to everyone but I am off to the lesson tee. Please get your questions in early next week so I have time to answer them. Ryan asks at 1:00:My
question is about the short bunker shot that you have to get up in the
air. I get the part about opening the clubface, but the rest of this
shot perplexes me. I've tried long and slow swing where I can't seem to
hit the ball short enough, or just take too much sand and leave it in
the bunker. Then i try shorter backswing and accelerate through and i
skull it, then overcorrect and leave it in the bunker. This shot drives
me nuts (i'm sure many others). What is the best method for me stick
with and practice to develop consistency?There are two viable ways to change the distance of your sand shots. The first is to restrict the length of your backswing and/or follow through. Shorter swings will obviously go a shorter distance than longer swings. The second method is to forget about the length of your swing and focus on your speed. The faster the sand comes out of the bunker the farther the ball will go. In this philosophy a slower swing will make the ball go a shorter distance. This is a bit more athletic than changing the length of your swing and is my personal choice as a player. The simple fact is you have to have good mechanics regardless of the style you choose. Here are some checkpoints to follow that should help.
Make sure the face is open so the back of the flange of the club can hit the sand. Start with your feet wider than normal, dig them into the sand a bit, and get a significant amount of weight onto your front foot at address. Your tush should feel closer to the ground with the wider stance and your hands will be a bit lower. Regardless of the style you choose to change distance the weight should remain on the front foot during the entire motion. Remember that the ball flies out of bunker on the sand it sits on. If the sand comes out of the bunker so should the ball. One last note about the specific shot you are describing. If you have that short shot that needs to get in the air quickly make sure the finish is high. While the swing may be slower because of the length of the shot the follow through must be up over the shoulder to get the ball in the air quickly.
you talk a little about your thoughts on putting? There seems to be
three schools of thought- straight back straight through, the
inside-square-inside arch or the inside-square-straight through. which
do you prefer and what do you tell your students to focus on when
working on their putting? Thanks for the putting question Dave. You have correctly described the three most common styles of putting being taught today. There are several others that are less common that I won't go into but it is important for people to know they have many options for putting if they are struggling on the greens. When it comes to teaching putting I work with my students in the inside-square-inside arch and the inside-square-straight through strokes. I don't teach or believe in square, straight back and straight through. If you are at all familiar with the perfect putting machine and Dean Thompson he conveyed some eye-opening information to me about tour players putting styles. I asked him how many tour players he has seen that actually putt SBST with a square face and he answered zero. That confirmed what I always thought and verified to me that even if people think they are putting with that methodology they don't. When it comes to the different styles of arching with a release vs inside going back and brushing through it really needs to be based upon the student. I have used the inside, straight through stroke with no release of the putter at impact for 30 years and have always putted extremely well. I taught myself the inside/arch stroke with a release five or six years ago and find it very easy to use as well. Both styles can be equally effective. If a student comes to me as a good to very good putter I will try to keep the style they are using and improve upon it. If they aren't a good putter coming in then I am not afraid to change their philosophy if they have been using one style with little success for a long period of time. One last thing, eye dominance is critical when determining how the student is going to set up. For example, if a right handed player is right eye dominant they are going to have a very hard time seeing the line if they set up square to the target line. In cases where the player's eye dominance is having a huge effect on their ability to see a square line, I always open up their toe line to give them a better view.
pivot/footwork? As my clubs get longer, i get up on my left toe at
impact with my heel off the ground and I struggle with consistent
contact.The swing is very good Ian. I would like to see you with less bend in both the knees and hips in the address position. Moving slightly closer to the ball would easily correct this and make it easier for you to quiet down the action of your lower body during the swing. You do lose your tush line during the swing, a direct result of your address position, which will cause you to struggle with your left foot during impact. It is subtle but I would like to see your real backswing look more like your practice swing from the face on view. With good, young player like yourself I would like to see your right hip stay in contact with the line it begins against later into the backswing. You achieve this in the practice swing but during the real move your right hip and thigh work back in the direction of the target too early. This has two consequences. First, the extra turn with the hips flattens the shoulder turn slightly at the top of the backswing. This can be seen with the slight raising of the chin to make room for your left shoulder as your backswing is completed. The second consequence is that your hips get out too far to the target at impact, leaving your hands and arms chasing at the bottom of the swing. This may seem a bit complex but if you look at the many pictures I have posted of Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas over the past few blogs you will see the difference in their pivot vs where you are. Start with the address and work on your pivot during the backswing and you will see improvement in what is already a very good move.
it mean to "cover the ball" and how do you do it with a proper release?
I always hear people talking about this but no one has ever fully
explained it. Thanks for the insight. Blog is great. "Covering" the ball refers to the "feel" of the upper body on top of the ball at impact. This is the opposite of hanging back behind it at impact where the upper body leans away from the target and the hands and arms become overactive causing various misses that include thin shots, pushes and hooks. This is a popular term in today's instruction and can be a helpful in conveying the idea to a student that they need to be both on the front foot an impact and bent over in their original posture. Your question about "covering" the ball and the release is very intuitive. When the body "covers" the ball through impact the arms and club will go more left than if the body doesn't cover the ball. This reduces the action of the hands and arms which keeps the clubface from flipping. Here is a picture to help you visualize.
Great job and thanks for helping so many of us every week. I recently
read a golf book that talked about different swings for different body
types called the LAW's of the Golf Swing. When talking about big chest,
stocky guys (width players) they recommend dropping the right foot back
from the target line in order to create room to turn, effectively
creating a closed stance. Do you agree with this approach and do you
have any swing thoughts specific for big guys to follow? Thanks. I have read the book as well and think very highly of Mike Adams, TJ Tomasi and Dr. Suttie. There is no question that different body types effect the golf swing in different ways and should be taken into consideration when building a player's golf swing. I am not a huge fan of closing the stance at address because it puts the shoulders in a position that is open to the feet. If the player is having difficulty attacking the ball from the inside I would rather get the players shoulders CLOSED to the toe line as it makes it much easier to get the club on the proper path. This can be achieved with a "pre-turn" of the hips and shoulders at address rather than closing the stance. When it comes to making adjustments for big guys I like to look at the swings of Jason Gore, Darren Clarke, and Hal Sutton as examples of effective motions. If you look at the top of the backswing of those players you will see the arms are more vertical and above the shoulders than many players with a narrower upper body. This is just one of the possible adjustments that work for players with bigger upper bodies. Here are a couple of pictures...