Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday to answer your swing questions. If you have a question for Brady, take a video of your swing, upload it to YouTube and send him a link to it next Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time at Golf.com. Thanks to everyone for your participation today. See you next week!! Isaac asks at 1:30: Hey Brady, I've been following the blog for a while and am a big fan. I have been struggling with blocks out to the right and hooks if I try to save the shot with my hands. I believe this is happening because my downswing is too far underplane/shallow. Do you have any drills or tips to help make a more on-plane downswing? Thanks so much for your help. Glad you enjoy the blog. It is very possible that you are below plane and that is contributing to the blocks. The other thing you need to check is if you have slid too far toward the target at impact. If your hips and/or your head get out too far past their original position at impact you will really struggle with the blocks. While this is a major issue in and of itself, it will also prevent the club from getting up onto the proper plane coming into impact and keep it pinned under the plane. The key here is to get your hips rotating open instead of sliding toward the target. This should help your head stay back behind its original position until after the ball has been hit. The earlier rotation of your hips will encourage your upper body to rotate around to the target as well, forcing the club more out in front of you and more up onto the proper angle coming down. Vince asks at 1:05: What are some drills I can do to improve my impact position? First read the response I gave earlier in the blog about hitting from wet turf and the specifics of impact. The way to make this better is through a series of small swings. You should begin by taking your normal address position and then pose your impact position without making a backswing. When you are there you should notice that your left wrist is flat, right wrist bent backwards, the handle should be ahead of the clubhead, weight on your front foot, right heel lifted slightly. From this “impact position” make a short backswing and try to hit the ball about 20 yards getting back to your posed position. When you are effective at this, you can modify it by starting at normal address, posing impact, then going back to normal address and hitting another very short shot about 20 yards getting back to your posed impact position. The swing will continue a bit past impact, usually about as far as you took it back. The swing should continue to grow in both length and speed until you are achieving a similar impact position to your original posed start. When things get sloppy as you get bigger, which is inevitable, go back down a notch in speed and length to where you are successful. This is the ONLY way to make the impact alignments better. Start slow and short, work on the specifics, and get bigger slowly. Barrett asks at 12:45: I am looking to get more hip turn in my swing, a la Snead. Any suggestions? I think that more hip turn is generally a very good idea for all but the most flexible players. It is amazing how many people, instructors included, still believe it is more powerful to prevent the hips from turning back and crank the shoulders against them. This is completely ineffective for the vast majority of players as they are unable to get enough rotation with the shoulders without some help from the hips. I remember Nick Faldo talking about why he was playing so well at the U.S. Open when it was held at Bethpage Black. The course was the longest in the history of the Open, which made his performance all the more unexpected. He said he was allowing his hips to rotate much more freely going back, as he was unable to create enough power when he restricted their turn. This was an adjustment he made as he got older, but was he was still in significantly better shape the most of us are. You can flare both of your feet slightly open at address. This is an excellent way of encouraging more hip rotation. The in-swing adjustment is to try to show the target your tush at the top of the backswing. When combined with the flare of your back foot you will get the turn you need. Dave asks at 12:30: Hi Brady. I live in the great northeast and the golf season is (sadly) winding down rapidly. What exercises, stretches, drills do you recommend to improve my game during the winter and so that I'm ready to go when the spring rolls around? Hopefully you have the opportunity to practice indoors during the winter months. If this is the case, you should view this time of year as the best chance for you to improve the technical aspects of your game. With little or no concern for where the ball is going, it is much easier to focus on the specific elements of your swing that need improvement. This should always be done with a professional instructor either in person or by sending video to him/her of your swing and asking for direction. In terms of exercises and stretches, there are several places you can turn for direction. I send my players to a golf specific biomechanical expert at Fit2Peak Golf. Check out his website or find him via facebook. He is fantastic. Dan asks at 12:00: What adjustments do you make for wet conditions? I tend to hit fat when the ground is wet. I think that reveals that I'm not hitting the ball first, so I'm working on that. Do you have any tips or drills to help with that? Also, when the ground is pretty wet, do you adjust to intentionally hit a bit thin? Or any other adjustments? Is there a difference in adjustments between the long clubs and short clubs? I would agree with you that you aren’t hitting the ball first. When the ground is wet ,you shouldn’t be making any specific adjustments to your swing. If you are swinging properly the wet conditions shouldn’t have too significant of an effect on the shots. However, wet rough can make it very difficult for the club to get through the grass, taking some distance off the shots. There are some that would say the small amount of water between the ball and club can make the ball jump from the fairway, but I’m not a believer because the purpose of the grooves on the clubface takes care of that. To get the ball hit before the ground there must be 2 specific elements. First, the shaft must be leaning forward at impact, as it creates the proper amount of down to the strike. If the clubhead passes your hands before impact, there is no way for you to go ball then turf. The second element isn’t critical to hitting the ball first, but it must be combined with it to avoid coming in too steep at impact. The club must be attacking the inside/back portion of the ball. Without this critical element, the club will be off the proper track and the contact will be dreadful. The reason my mortgage is paid from teaching every month is because many people don’t understand that the club can’t come into the ball from directly behind it with the face square. It must come into the inside/back portion of the ball with the face closing.    

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