Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs will be online Tuesday at noon EST to help fix your swing. Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. I look forward to hearing from everyone next week. Don't forget to visit my website at www.bradyriggs.com Casey asks at 1:17: I have a quick question on the proper action in the left wrist. Is it ideal if your left wrist is cupped slightly at the top of the swing though right before you enter the hip height zone on downswing, and then goes bowed through impact? I am just trying to understand the mechanics of that move and why it was so important to Hogan's swing, and if it's something I should work on. Unfortunately, Casey, there is no one answer to your question. There are too many variables involved to give you direction as to whether you should cup your wrist at the top, keep it cupped during the transition, or attempt to bow the wrist at impact. The strength/weakness of your grip, your desired ball-flight, your tendencies when you miss, your overall physical strength and flexibility should be considered when giving advice. Keep in mind that many great players have tried to copy Hogan's ideas in the past and been worse than unsuccessful. I would proceed with extreme caution when it comes to this particular part of the swing. John asks at 1:00: Brady, firstly let me say that you're not just an excellent teacher, but an excellent thinker about the swing. I always enjoy your analysis. Here's something I'm struggling with. I'm a decent low-handicap player but there are two competing motions that I've never been able to really grasp. How to "fire the right side" while staying behind the ball? I tend to lurch in front of the ball when I think of turning into impact, or when I concentrate on staying behind, I am forced to rely on "educated hands" at impact. I'm also a "push" release kind of player (or maybe even a slap-hinger, to use Jim Hardy's parlance), not forearms crossing over. What are your thoughts on that release? Thanks for the kind words, John, I really appreciate the feedback. I agree that your swing thoughts are competing with each other. I can't imagine a swing where you can "fire" the right side, stay behind the ball, and push the release. Here is some tough love for you: Run from all of these little swing thoughts as fast as possible. You have way too many little "tips" in your head to play your best golf. A large percentage of my clients are exactly like you. They are good players, have had more than a few teachers, have read way too many books/magazines, and know just enough to screw themselves up. I am going to act responsibly here and not comment on your release becasue I haven't seen it. I WANT TO SEE IT! Please post a video next week on the blog so I can give get a look at what you are actually doing. You have me curious now... Sam asks at 12:48: Brady, Love the blog. It's always a treat to tune in on Tuesdays and see you work your magic. What are the primary factors in hitting the ball higher with irons? Generally players shorter in height hit the ball lower (Justin Leonard, Zach Johnson). But how are shorter players like Ryo Ishikawa and Anthony Kim able to hit their irons sky high? What changes can we make in setting up and otherwise to hit irons higher and softer for firmer greens? Great question, Sam. One of my players, Ben Fox, is a perfect case study on this issue. He isn't a huge guy, about 5'8" and 140 soaking wet. He has played a few events on the PGA Tour and is currently on the Asian Tour. He generally hits the ball with a very penetrating trajectory that serves him well in windy and difficult conditions. He qualified for the WM Phoenix Open this year and struggled in the third round with firm, fast conditions. To adjust his trajectory, we worked on him making a longer, slower backswing to keep him from getting out on top of the ball too early on the downswing. This little change in technique helped him hit the ball higher and softer in the final round, and has continued to be effective the rest of the year. He has also made a change in equipment to a softer shaft and introduced a hybrid into his bag. The reason I use Ben as an example is that he has made as minor a change to his technique as possible to change his ball flight. You can lower your right shoulder at address, widen your stance, attack on a flatter plane, and stay behind the ball more to get the ball in the air, but it is risky. Start by making smaller, less invasive changes to your technique and equipment before you go crazy changing the swing. Jeff asks at 12:40: Great blog. My question is: Can a grip that is too weak lead to coming over the top? My grip seems to have the "v's" [formed by my thumb and forefingers] pointing at my chin. Normally I hook the ball, so I'm concerned about getting it too strong. Absolutely! It is the most common cause of coming over the top. If the face is too open the ball is going to go right. To compensate for this most players will try to start the ball to the left, leading to the classic over-the-top move. By your description of your hands it sounds like you are in a weak position. I have a couple of posts about the grip in today's blog. Check out the link and let me know what you think. Jim asks at 12:30: On the range I've noticed that at impact my hands severely close the clubface. After repeated effort even at a super-slow speed, my tendency is for my right hand to overpower my left hand (I play right-handed). As a result shots often are low hooks with little distance. The tendency is more severe with a driver. Playing with a strong, overlap grip, should I instead move to an interlocking grip and/or make major readjustments to my takeaway and downswing? The way your hands join together on the back of the handle isn't nearly as important as how they are placed on the top. Interlocking, overlapping, and 10-finger can all be equally effective as long as the grip is producing a square clubface at impact. By your description it appears the problem is with the strong grip, not the overlap. I posted a link earlier in the blog today for my website that has pictures of many different grip types. The first thing you should do is check your current grip and see where you fall in the grand scheme. If the face is closed because your grip is too strong, weaken it appropriately so you can get control of the clubface. This is always your first priority as a player. If the grip is neutral and you are still hooking it, the left wrist may be excessively bowed at the top of the backswing. There are pictures of that on the site as well. Let me know what you discover. Steven asks at 12:12: I enjoy your blog each week. My question to you is: Can you please define the "One Plane Swing"? I think that term is tossed around a lot and is a bit confusing. I thought a one plane swing would be a swing where you really turn your core around your spine on the downswing and have more passive arms. I watch Matt Kuchar swing and Steve Stricker swing and their swings look different to me, but both swings are considered "One Plane" by some of the commentators on television. Thanks for asking a very intelligent question. It is unfortunate that commentators on television don't know more about the world of golf instruction and its terminology. Throwing out terms like "one-plane", hip turn, passive arms, etc. only confuses people watching and does absolutely nothing for helping the average player. The term "one-plane" in its most common understanding by the average player is a swing where the club tracks up on the backswing and down toward impact on the same angle. To most golf professionals and swing junkies it refers to Jim Hardy's theory of his preferred method of swinging the golf club. To be painfully brief, Hardy's "one-plane" has nothing to do with the club, but the relationship between the angle the shoulders are rotating on and the left arm at the top of the backswing. To a commentator on television, "one-plane" refers to the swing of any player who just hit a solid iron shot into the green because they have no idea what they are talking about. I think most terminology in the swing can be very confusing. This is why I think using video during golf lessons is so critical. I don't want the student to be confused for any reason, especially terminology. The fact is there are so many different ways to swing the golf club effectively so any "one" swing methodology that is billed to be the "only" way is seriously flawed. I will also tell you that because most amateurs' impression of a "one-plane" swing concerns the shaft, I prefer to call a swing where the club tracks up and down on the same angle a "uni-plane" for clarity. Here are a couple of pictures of Hardy's differences between a "one-plane" and a "two-plane" swing and my idea of a "uni-plane" swing. Hope it helps.

Hardy Akuniplane
John asks at 12:00: I need more info to help you, John. I don't know which thumb you put over but I am assuming you are speaking of your right (also assuming you are right-handed). While many amateurs think moving the right hand (thumb) more to the left on the grip will make the ball go more left, they are actually making the problem worse. This isn't to say the reason the ball is going right is due to your grip, but it isn't a bad place to start. Check out my website under the Redgoat Galleries tab, then the fundamentals section where you can find information on grip types. www.bradyriggs.com

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