Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online today answering readers' swing questions and analyzing their swing videos. Check out the questions and Brady's answers below.  Thanks to everyone for your questions, comments, and videos. This was a great blog today. Look forward to seeing everyone next week. GO PACK GO! Phil Hutchins asks at 1:13: I have a tendency to top the ball when using a fairway wood from ground and I looking for a new 3-wood. What would you recommend. I play quite a bit, I am 64 years old, about a 12 handicap, and have a 220 yard average drive. Before you run out and buy a new 3-wood, I would like to see you stand a little bit closer to the ball and narrow your stance a bit. When it comes to the fairway woods, it is very common to top the ball because the address position isn’t correct. I can tell you a professional would never top a 3-wood, even if it were a ladies' club because the swing would be working properly. If you are topping the 3-wood there is no club you could purchase that would fix it, you need to fix the swing first. Ethan asks at 12:55: I was at the range yesterday and I was having a good old time with my whole bag. I was shaping shots with my 7, I was smacking my hybrid over 200 yards and flying some good sand wedges. In the interest of ruining a perfectly good range session I picked up my driver. Oh boy. I wish I had video taped it for your amusement.
My problem is this: I go under the ball. Sometimes I get a snap hook, but typically the ball shoots straight up in the air and lands about 120 yards away.
Since I don't have a video I can only ask: do you know of any common reasons people end up going way under the ball? I tried teeing the ball in front of my foot and setting up about a foot back but that didn't help at all.
If you couldn't guess, I'm a pretty high handicapper. Assuming I don't want to put away my driver and simply hit my hybrid off the tee, even though it would shave ten strokes off my game, do you have any advice? Don’t sweat it too much, Ethan, it is very common. There are several reasons why you would sky or pop-up your driver. Let’s run through them. The most common is putting the ball too far back in the stance and hitting down on the ball. This will force the top of the clubhead into the ball, making it go straight up in the air. You could also be teeing the ball up too high, standing too close to the ball, stance too narrow, swinging excessively steep or from the outside-in. I would recommend you do this. Put the ball up toward the front of your stance so it is aligned on the inside of your left foot (assuming you are right-handed). Make sure you are a distance from the ball that allows your arms to hang down and relax in the address position. Your feet should be wider with this club than any other and you should feel a noticeable tilt with your right side away from the target at address. This will help you attack the ball on a shallower angle and more from the inside. As you swing, make sure you are trying to extend your arms and the club out and away from you through impact as this will help the club stay on the proper track. Let me know how it goes. Eduardo asks at 12:45: Wondering what I can do to get more accurate. I have enough distance, my stats according to the Bridgestone ball fitting I did this weekend are: H/S 115-118mph , B/V 160-163mph, L/A 11.3, B/S 1410 rpm, Dist. 288

That is a golf swing with a great deal of potential, Eduardo. It is obvious you have speed to burn, but lack some of the geometry necessary to play your best golf. I have two specific things for you to work on with your golf swing. First, your club takes a difficult route to the top of the swing, making your downswing too steep in the transition and eventually too far from the inside in the frames before impact. If this is the case with the irons, it is going to get worse as the clubs get longer. The club gets too far inside immediately during the takeaway and from there the dominoes begin to fall. Once the takeaway is bad, the club and your hands get too far behind at halfway back, forcing the momentum of the club to get across the line at the top. The takeaway should be your focus for a while until you get it working back in a more neutral direction. I have included some pictures to help you see the right spot. The second area you should focus on is the “when” of your downswing. Here’s what I mean: If you watch your swing from the face-on view and look at your hip, you will see that your hips stop turning and freeze for at least the last 60 percent of your backswing. The fact that they turn too much too soon contributes to the club getting too inside on the takeaway. The “when” of your downswing is simply at what point your hips begin to move in the direction of the target. In your swing, the club gets past parallel to the ground before your hips engage and work back to the target. Once the backswing is improved, I would like to see your hips initiate the downswing MUCH earlier. This will help you gain control over the club at the top of the swing, shorten your backswing dramatically, and may have the benefit of adding even more clubhead speed to what is already a very powerful motion. Here are some pictures to help you…. Clarkeup AKback Taiii John asks at 12:34: What are some of the best exercises to get rid of an outside-in swing. My ball is always going left... I am assuming you are a right-handed player with the ball going left. It seems a strange thing to say, but many players who are over-the-top have the ball going right because the clubface is open to the path. Keep in mind that when it comes to ball flight and the direction of the shot, the clubface is far more influential than the swing path. With that said, I have seen many students come to the lesson tee thinking they are outside-in when, in fact, a closed clubface is the real cause of the ball going left. If you are certain the path is your issue, try to hit the inside-back quadrant of the ball with the clubface slightly open and you will see the ball start much more to the right of where you are currently hitting it. This keeps the clubhead inside the target line until impact, something all players who are over-the-top need to do better. If at all possible, send me some videos of your swing so I can give you more specific advice. Joe asks at 12:20: Brady... 3 questions.
1. Putting - I tend to try to hit the ball on the upswing a little so the ball gets rolling quicker, but a friend last year told me to use a bit of a forward press. I can hear the ball skidding after I hit a putt, not sure what to do?
2. When someone switches to a mallet-type putter is alignment on longer putts typically difficult to get used to?
3. Last week you mentioned keeping the back knee flex is not critical, doesn't that tend to throw your weight forward and shouldn't you be using the back leg to push off of a little when transferring the weight on the downswing? The best-case scenario is for the ball to get rolling as fast as possible. This can be achieved by hitting up on the ball, but more often than not you won’t catch it solidly. There are many putters available on the market that use “face technology” to help impart roll immediately. This would be a better option than trying to hit up on the ball as you are more likely to make contact with the center of the putter face. I haven’t seen alignment become more challenging when using a mallet-type putter. If there is an adjustment that has to occur, it is more in the distance control when lag putting. The mallet is a bit more awkward to wield than a traditional-style putter, making the longer stroke needed to hit the ball a greater distance tougher for some. The benefits on the short putts can outweigh the trouble from distance. The weight can still be loaded on the back foot properly without having the knee AS FLEXED as it was in the address. The trick here is that the leg can lose some of its bend and still be loaded up and ready to pop. The mistake many people make is trying to keep the amount of bend created in the address position a constant during the backswing. It is ok if you lose some of the flex. Mark asks at 12:05: I tried to get my post in last week - I've recorded some recent indoor video and here are the links:


To reiterate, I've made some small progress I think (mostly with the 9 iron swing), however my left knee and hip movement are still out of control. Watching Gary Woodland this weekend helped me visually about keeping the tush line maintained. I think this why my swing is based on timing.
I've practiced with the wall tip you mentioned before and lately even tried hitting balls with a chair near my backside. Other ideas I've read about are rolling the ankles toward each other and/or consciously keeping my left-foot heel down (until the ball is hit). I don't know what else to try other than more repetitions? My head still raises in the backswing as before, but it's not my main progress area right now. Thanks for the videos. I am not a big fan of rolling the ankles. It isn’t the best use of the ground as a source of power and stability. I think the backswing lines and positions are extremely clean. I agree that the tush line is the issue, in addition to the lack of correct function with the legs. Both legs need to do a better job of straightening through impact. It is just like jumping off the ground to grab a rebound in basketball. The legs flex first, then you push off the ground with both legs becoming straight. The differences with impact are that your hips have rotated around to the target roughly 30-45 degrees and you don’t leave the ground. Here are a couple of pics to help you visualize this. Mickandfox  

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