Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online today from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady, he'll will be back next Tuesday at noon for the next episode of Ask Brady Riggs Live! Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. I look forward to hearing from all of you next week. Julia asks at 1:00: This is the first time noticing your blog so I thought I might as well send in a question. I am a 13-year-old girl with a 14 handicap and hit my driver about 220 yards. Every year I lose about 2 strokes per round since I am getting stronger/older, but I would like to maybe shed off 5 strokes this year. Do you have any tips for my short game/putting that will help my scores. Thanks for the question, Julia, I hope you become a regular. It sounds like you are making steady progress with your game. The key to the short game is to work on the basic, easy shots first and become excellent at those before spending too much time on the fancy stuff. The basic chip from off the edge of the green should be a very good opportunity for you to get the ball up and down. This seems like a fairly easy shot but many young players struggle with it because they choose the wrong club. You should practice from the same spot off the edge of the green with multiple clubs, from your most lofted wedge to a 7-iron. This will help you understand the difference in roll from club to club. You can use the exact same technique and get completely different results using different clubs. Many young players grab only their lofted wedges from the edge of the green, making it very challenging to get consistent results. The longer swing needed for the wedges makes a very bad shot a possibility. Using a less-lofted club when you have the chance is a much better way to become consistent from the edge of the green, a huge key to scoring better. Heather asks at 12:53: I'm going to get to play more this year (high 20s handicap), and have been researching ways to get better. From this list, are any of them unimportant or wrong?
-Keep clubhead low at takeaway and after impact. -Keep back straight at address. -On backswing, keep left arm straight, and at top, right forearm vertical and right upper arm horizontal. -Visualize the proper shot while lining it up standing behind ball. -Shoulders and right hand relaxed, NOT tense. -Chin up so shoulders can turn under it. -Release the club by rotating forearms (NOT wrists) so at back horizontal the clubhead faces up, and at follow-through horizontal it faces up again.
One other while you're there, I top the ball a lot off the fairway, what causes that most often? That’s quite a list, Heather. I like the “visualize the shot” and “stay relaxed” lines, but everything else scares me. Even the best players can only handle one or at most two thoughts during a swing. Those thoughts should be simple, positive, and NOT position-oriented. The list you have will only make you more confused, more tense, and worse. Here’s what I recommend to you: Work on your golf swing in this order, clubface, swingpath, and then body. If your focus is on these areas and in this order you will always make progress. When it comes to topping shots, look at the pictures of Davis Love III I posted in the reply below. You will see the difference between set-up and impact that must occur if you are going to hit the ball solid from the ground. If you get the chance to send in some video of your swing I will help you organize your thoughts and put a plan together for you to follow.   Kris asks at 12:36: Hi Brady, it’s great that you do this every week!
Last year I went from a 25 factor to a 16 just by starting to turn my shoulders and keeping my left arm straight (mostly got rid of my slice), and am hoping to do better this year. My big changes for this year are going to be my grip and focus, but I have one you might be able to help with: my irons now scoop the ball off the grass and get no spin; I never take a divot.
I see the pros’ backswings on attack irons go much higher than their long irons, does this cause more spin on its own? My ball placement with attack irons is in the middle of my stance. Any likely simple changes to the swing to hit down on the ball? The bottom of the swing will always be under the left shoulder. This means that if the left shoulder hasn’t moved closer to the target at impact than it was at address you won’t be able to take a divot in front of the ball. The ball should be positioned at address slightly in front of the center of your stance. This shouldn’t change based on which iron you are playing. Here is a picture of set-up and impact that will help you get a visual. Lovesetimpact   Dave asks at 12:30: Hey Brady, love the blog. Good tips just from reading through other emails. I was wondering if you have any release drills or anything to promote a proper clubhead lag with the driver. thanks! Lag and release are all about your sequence. The word "lag" means that the club is behind something, in the swing it should always be behind the body. The body should always move BEFORE the arms and club during the downswing. When the proper sequence occurs there is lag, and when there is lag the release becomes nearly automatic. Think of all the athletic motions you have made in your life from throwing a ball, hitting a pitch, kicking, etc. The movement of the body before the arm, bat, leg, etc. is mandatory. The golf swing is no different. Thomas asks at 12:15: Just want to say this is a great resource. I've shaved three-four shots off my handicap in the last year and there's no question some of the things I've taken from this blog have played a part!
My question pertains to fairway woods, which continue to be a weak spot for me. A lot of low line drives and pop-ups. I think my problem derives from the fact that my muscle memory is still not clear on what angle into the ball my swing should be taking--I'm stuck in between my iron swing (descending to contact) and my driver swing (ascending at contact). Too descending and I pop it up, too ascending and I catch to top half of the ball and hit a screaming liner.
I understand I am supposed to be "brushing" the ball off the turf on a moderate upswing, but in my mind this seems like a rather limited margin for error. Incidentally, I do much better out of the rough, where I have some air under the ball.
Any tips on better contact for fairway woods that may help? Avoiding use of my fairway woods is usually pretty easy, but I'd love to be able to load up on the second shot of a par five, occasionally, instead of laying up. Thanks for the kind words about the blog, Thomas, I appreciate it. This is a very common problem area for many players. The issue here is that you are trying to manipulate the action of the club at impact, a very difficult thing to do. You are correct that the irons are hit with a descending blow and the driver isn’t, but your ball position, width of stance, tilt, and posture should be creating the difference in impact. With that said, any time the ball is on the ground it must be struck with a descending blow or the sweet spot of the club won’t find the ball. If you are hitting shots too low and popping them up with the fairway woods, I recommend you try a couple of things. First, make sure at address your shoulders aren’t open to your target line. This is a very common mistake people make that causes the club to attack on too steep an angle which would produce the misses you mentioned above. You can get the “feeling” that your trailing shoulder is closed and slightly lower than your lead shoulder. Once you have made the adjustment at address, allow the club to find the bottom of the arc as you swing rather than trying to hit down into the ground. If you are relaxed and the club is swinging on the proper path you will take the proper amount of turf. Rich asks at 12:00: Thanks for this weekly blog, I love it. Thought I'd give it a shot.
I just got back from a 3-day, 90-hole golf trip to Phoenix. I captured some video of my swing and I can see I need some help.
I'm a scratch golfer but I need to improve my ball striking to a more consistent level. From the videos of my swing I definitely notice a few problems. I can tweak my alignment and get the club behind me more at the top from my view, but would definitely like your feedback and tips of things I can do to prepare for the upcoming season. Thanks so much!!
Driver down the line

Driver face on

5 iron down the line

Overall I think the swing is pretty good. You mentioned the “C” word (consistency) and I agree that you can make some subtle changes that would help you achieve your goal. Watching your pre-shot routine and address position reminds me of a player and golf swing I really like, Darren Clarke. I will attach some pictures here at the end so you get a visual of what I think you should do, but it begins with your weight in the address position. The weight is sitting too far back toward your heels. This forces you to move in the direction of the ball on the downswing, causing your backside to lose contact with the tush line. Get the weight more toward the balls of your feet and you will keep in contact with your starting position much better. Your backswing is initiated with your hands forcing the club to come back excessively inside. As a result the club gets out of position at the top of the backswing in what is usually referred to as "across the line." More often than not this can produce the occasional block and hook combination. If you can improve the address position and takeaway, I think you will see a significant improvement in your misses. Clarkeaddress Clarketake  

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