Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday at noon Eastern time to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady, he'll be back next Tuesday at the same time, so get your swing videos on YouTube for Brady to review! Thanks to everyone for your questions and videos. I hope the blog was informative and entertaining. If you haven't checked out the Golf Magazine Front 9 App in iTunes,  please give it a look, I am sure you will dig it. See you next week....... Pablo asks at 1:20: Hey Brady, All I really think I need is more time on the range. Who doesn't? The thing is, I hate the range. I don't really know how to practice, I just go and hit shot after shot until I run out of balls. I would really appreciate it if you could help with finding out a purpose for me on the range that would be effective on the course. This is a really good question, Pablo, that deserves several thousand words to do it justice. The issue is that there are many different types of range sessions and the one you need to focus on will change depending upon the situation. Here are a few examples that I will keep brief for the sake of time. Pre-round practice should be used to warm up the body, the mind and the swing. Usually this begins with short pitches, moves into hitting the odd numbered or even numbered irons, and eventually the driver. The goal is to prepare for the upcoming round and not work on the technical aspects of your golf swing. Targets should be selected and changed often to allow for you to use your pre-shot routine. Post-round practice should be short and very specific to the issues that were present during the round. Work on the one or two things that were most obviously off when you played so you can leave the course with a sense of improvement. For example, if the distance control with the wedges was poor, try to hit specific yardages until the issue has improved. Technical practice is completely different. This should be done with one or two clubs with the goal being to improve the technique. This means you don’t care WHERE the ball goes because you are trying to make a technical change. This practice is slower, and more detail-oriented with many practice swings in between. It is the most productive when you have a set of goals you are trying to achieve with your golf swing you have planned before the practice begins. This is ALWAYS better with the use of video. I could go on forever, but make sure you define your practice session so you know why you are going, what you are working on, and how you are going to achieve your goals for the day. If you don’t do this, you might as well go exercise instead of going to the range. Ben asks at 1:10: How can I find a position to trust at the top? How important is it to maintain the "connection" between the top of the right arm and the right lat?
Also, do you believe in two different swings, one for driver and one for irons? If you look at the picture I just posted of Ernie Els, it should answer the question about the right arm. Several years ago, Jim Hardy released a book about the “one-plane” swing. This book, combined with the Stack and Tilt crowd, have lead many golfers to believe they must have the left arm lower at the top of the backswing with the upper right arm pinned against the chest. While this has been great for my business as it creates a lot of weak, slicing golfers, it has confused a large number of people. Look at the pictures of Els, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Weiskopf, and Tiger in his prime and you will see the arms up in the air. I know, I know, Ben Hogan didn’t get his arms up in the air. But, he is Ben Hogan and you (not you, Ben) aren’t. Just allow your arms to get up in the air and you will find more freedom and comfort at the top of your golf swing. It’s hard enough to make one good swing, don’t try to have a different one from your irons to the driver. Send in some video and I will give you a more specific set of things to focus on. Chuck asks at 1:05: Hello Brady, Despite the fact that I make a divot with my fairway woods, it seems as if all I can do is hit low fades. I was properly fit on a launch monitor with the club and earlier in the year I was hitting shots with plenty of height. I'm a scratch player with a high swing speed and tend to hit all of my other shots extremely high. What can I do in order to hit my fairway woods higher? Thanks for the help! Taking a divot with the fairway wood is a pretty good indication that you are hitting down on it too much. I would prefer to see the club scrape across the grass with the fairway woods instead of taking earth, as it allows you to get the true loft of the club at impact. When you hit down on the fairway wood excessively, you lose the loft of the clubface and are most likely attacking on too steep of an angle. Try to shallow out your path into impact so the club works across the grass instead of crashing into the ground and you will see the loft of the shot come back. Dave asks at 1:00: I'm lost with the driver at the moment. In as few words as possible, give me something that you think will help me find some rhythm or consistency. Get to the finish in balance. How’s that? Scott asks at 12:30: Hi Brady, I have some problems hitting the driver. I consistently hit the ball near the heel of the club even if I set up with the ball on the toe. Here is a video of my swing. Any help would be great.

Thanks for sending the video, Scott. The swing needs more up and down and less around. The basic idea is that you let your arms and the club get too flat at the top of the backswing. This forces the club to swing too far out away from you as it approaches impact, making it impossible to hit any other portion of the club but the heel. If your arms and club are more up and on top of your right shoulder at the top of the backswing instead of behind it, the club will work more down instead of out and you will find the sweet spot. Standing farther from the ball or teeing it on the toe of the club won’t fix this problem, as you have probably discovered. Here is a picture to give you an idea where you should be trying to go. Elstop Steve asks at 12:15; I was reading Ben Hogan's book on fundamentals and he discussed having a waggle as part of a routine. It was also talked about during last week's PGA. Everyone is different, but have you found with your students it is helpful? Also, Hogan mentioned the wrist on the forward hand should bend slightly at impact, similar to painting with a brush. Does that make for a better ballstriker or is it simply a fundamental of having the hands ahead at impact? Thanks! The waggle and the entire pre-shot routine are designed to help you relax before you take the club away. Most professionals have some form of waggle built into their routine. The style and complexity of it can be as elaborate as making a takeaway where the position of the club is checked or as simple as lifting the head of the club slightly off the ground just before the swing begins. The key is to find some simple trigger that helps you relax and is easy to repeat. The "bend" you refer to in the lead wrist Hogan was describing is better thought of as "bow." In other words, the wrist can "bend" backwards and "bow" forwards. This is a very difficult thing to work on, as it can lead to tension in the hands and arms at impact. If the club tracks on the proper path with the clubhead attacking the inside-back portion of the ball with the hands leading the shaft you will achieve the correct impact alignments. Trying to micro-manage the position of your hands at impact is a great way to screw up your swing. Doug asks at 12:00 Still struggling with that push-slice. I've been able to narrow it down to the fact that I have an excessively in-to-out swing path and an open clubface at impact, but from there, I'm not sure what to do. Seems like I've tried everything! Any thoughts on getting the clubface to close more at impact, or on getting rid of this push-slice in general? My other shots are fine, so this really kills my rounds single-handedly! The push slice is probably the most unpleasant shot in golf. Some would argue the shank or chunked shot is more embarrassing, but the push slice is almost always OB, has no chance of coming back or hitting something to stay out of trouble, and is actually dangerous to others on the golf course. I get it. As you correctly mentioned, the clubface is the issue. Make sure you have hit all the important elements to fix it, the flat lead wrist at the top, a solid grip that isn't too weak, and a more conscious effort to square the face with your hands at impact. Once these have been checked and adjusted, the push slice is far less likely. If is still persists, the body needs to be slowed considerably in its rotation through impact. This will allow the club to move more out in front of the body and speed up the rotation of the clubface through impact. If you haven't already, download the Golf Magazine Front 9 App from iTunes and check out the fix your slice piece that came out today. There are some really good videos from four Top 100 Teachers (including myself) that will give you a nice visual to help you through this mess.

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