Spotlight Swing: Hunter Mahan

Hunter Mahan has a wonderful swing that we can learn from.

Hunter’s swing is uncomplicated and allows him to be very consistent.  Watch how he gets on plane, and stays on the same plane coming down.  There is no wasted movement, no extra effort added.  It is a swing that conserves as much energy as possible to be transferred into the ball instead of into compensations.

Doesn’t it just look like a simple, repeatable motion?

One the downswing watch how everything comes down and through the ball together, very nicely synchronized.

Through the ball watch the hip rotation.  He does not overly rotate the hips, everything just remains together and through the ball.  The follow through happens naturally as a result of the swing.

This is an excellent example of a rotary swing.  A simple and effective swing that can serve as a great model for anyone who wants to learn a great rotary swing.

Spotlight Swing: Rickie Fowler

Take a look at what Rickie Fowler does.  His plane is astonishing. Click here to see Rickie Fowler’s swing video.

Rickie at address:

Fowler1

Halfway through backswing

Fowler2

Top of Backswing

Fowler3Transition to downswing

Fowler4Halfway down

Fowler5

Impact

Fowler6

Rickie Fowler starts with a pretty flat backswing, but comes into impact even flatter.  The difference between the backswing is just amazing especially when you consider that most amateurs come into the ball even steeper than they started.  I’m not sure how he is able to accomplish this, and although I don’t recommend mimicking the positions I think there is a lot that can be learned from them.

Amazing driving range session – Swing Update

Today I had an amazing driving range session.  Let me set the stage.  It’s 39 degrees here in CT and a bit windy.  I wanted to see how my ball striking had become based on the practice I’ve been doing from my book, “8 Keys to Effortless Distance”.

I started out hitting it well, but right.  I realized I wasn’t allowing the finish to happen, I was kind of tightening up through impact.  So I did some half swings focusing only letting the finish happen.  When I felt that I had it, I started hitting balls again.

What a difference that made.  I hit my seven iron and I couldn’t even see it land.  It was landing on the downslope behind and to the right of 173 yd practice green.  I thought this can’t be right…

So I took out my 8 iron thinking I could land it short of the green and at least see the landing spot.

I to hit solid baby draws to the middle of the 173 pin and beyond.  Some shots were landing at the back of that green, some just over it.  8 Iron.  Wow.  The contact was so solid.  And the ball flight was beautiful.  These high baby draws that carried forever and landed softly.

My 9 iron was going about 165 and my pw 150. With the driver I hit some line drives to the fence at 250 that hit about halfway up the fence.

The amazing thing about it was that even with these distances, my accuracy was dead on. The ball pierced through the wind. It was amazing.

I wish I had my camera on the range, but I didn’t bring it with me.  However when I got home, I decided to record these swings.  So here they are, you can see how my swing looks now based on the thoughts from my ebook. If you want to see how my swing looked a couple of months ago take a look at this link.

Review: Dancin’ Dogg Optishot Simulator

Optishot bethpage

Winter practice in the northeast is difficult.  The weather is cold, the range balls like ice cubes, the chipping and putting greens frozen solid and you’re wearing 12 layers of clothing.

There used to be a great indoor practice place near me called “The Golf Training Center” that had a great putting green, video bays, launch monitor bays, a chipping area and a sand trap.  Membership for the winter was reasonable.  Last winter I spent an ungodly amount of time there, usually went for 2 or 3 hours after work and on the weekends.

It closed down last May and with winter coming I knew I needed to do something to practice indoors.

After a substantial amount of research, and careful consideration I opted for the Optishot simulator.

My research showed me that there many different kinds of simulators ranging in price from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.  Optishot is priced at the lower end of the range.

The optishot is a simple unit, it has a sensor mat that’s roughly the dimensions of a legal size sheet of paper and is about an inch high.  The 16 infra red sensors on the unit capture the club through the impact zone and measure club head speed, face angle, path angle, toe/center/heel contact.

I also ordered the  two piece stance mat so that I am at the same height as the unit.


Sensor Unit

OptiShot – Two Piece Stance Mat

Setup:

The optishot is very simple to use.  Install the software, connect the USB cable to the mat and to your computer and you’re off and running.  I then setup the two piece stance mat and away I go.  I did not have a single setup issue, it’s plug and play as long your computer meets the minimum requirements.

Using the Optishot

The Optishot has 3 different modes in which it can be used.

  1. Practice Zone
  2. 3DD Golf Simulator Mode
  3. Tiger Woods Mode

Practice Zone

The practice zone has a simple screen the simply shows you all of the information you need to know when practicing:  Club head speed, face angle, path angle, toe/center/heel contact.  The practice zone will show you on an image of a hole where your shots ended up, the flight path of each shot and it keeps track of your statistics like distance and whether the shot ended up left or right of the target, as well as an average of how far left and right of target they were.  The screen for the Practice Zone could be spruced up.  It’s very utilitarian, it gets the job done but is not inviting.

At first I was skeptical of the results I was getting because I kept seeing an open club face.  I didn’t want to believe it but when I went to the driving range to compare, I was hitting them right too.  When I improve on the Optishot and I go verify at the range, I end up with the same results. The optishot is a very accurate unit.

3DD Golf Simulator Mode

This is my favorite mode to practice with because you can see the ball flight in a very cool way.  The camera follows the ball closely as if you’re flying with it.  It really is pretty spectacular.  I can aim at specific targets and really get a sense for how I’m doing.  If you want you can turn off the following camera and just see the ball fly off into the distance, but I like following it so I keep that feature turned on.  I do wish that the practice mode in 3DD golf would allow you to save your statistics so that you can review them later.

I prefer to practice in this mode because the way you practice is that you select a hole, then put the ball anywhere on the hole you want.  So you can work on shots of any distance, up hill, down hill, etc.  I can work from specific short game distances and even partial wedges.

If it’s too cold outside I can play some rounds pretty quickly.  The simulator does allow you to putt but that part is not as realistic.  I have it set up to auto putt.  In auto putt mode if you’re more than a few feet away it is likely to two-putt, but sometimes it one putts, and if you have a gimme, it usually makes it.

Whenever you switch clubs you need to tell it which club you’re using so that it can make the appropriate changes in calculations.  See you don’t actually have to hit a ball, you can hit no ball, you can hit a foam ball, or you can hit an actual ball, and by telling the system what you’re doing it makes changes to the calculations to reflect your true results.

The courses look gorgeous.  They don’t look like the courses on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 on the Xbox 360 or PS3 but they have their own look and I do enjoy how they look.  The courses look better than some commercial simulators I have seen.

The unit came with 4 courses, Torrey Pines North and South, a desert course and a mountain course.  Bethpage Black was released just before the US open this year.  I spend most of my time playing Torrey Pines South and Bethpage Black.

Tiger Woods Mode

Allows you to play Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 for the PC using the Optishot.  I haven’t used it so I can’t really comment on it.  For me the simulator does not need the Tiger Woods mode.

Improvements

There really is only one major improvement that I would like to see in the system. Even though it has a grass top the turf area is quite hard, a little bit harder than hitting off the mats at my local course. If somehow they could incorporate some of the features of newer mats that allow you to hit down and through that would be great. My other improvement would be in the practice area of 3DD. If they would allow you to save your practice sessions so that you could see your results over time that I think would be a very useful tool for game improvement.

Overall it is an excellent unit and for the price you can’t go wrong with it. It’s accurate, easy to setup, and a lot of fun. The surface grass area is a little hard (but again better than other commercial simulators and launch monitors I’ve used).

Dancin’ Dogg Website

Inside the Box

* Infrared Optical Swing Pad
* OptiShot 3DD Golf Software
* USB cable (10 ft.)
* Foam practice balls
* Adjustable rubber tees
* Quick-start guide

System Requirements

* Windows 7, XP or Vista Windows®
* Memory: 1 GB
* Disk Space: 3 GB
* Optional: For best display results, a high-end graphics card is required.

Update 12-19-09

When I first wrote this review I had an old pc and Optishot ran well on it.  We just upgraded to a new machine with a fast processor and a nice video card and OptiShot now looks amazing.  Last night Dancin’ Dogg released an update to Optishot 2010.  They added a few new courses and overall improved functionality.  The new courses look gorgeous.  The courses are:

The Masters Course at Barseback, home of the 2009 Scandinavian Masters.

The other new course is the Black Mountain Course from a luxury resort in Thailand.

The new courses are stunning and a joy to play.

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Today’s round with stats

What a beautiful day today.  It’s early November and I got to play a round with with a temperature in the mid 60s.

Still working on the stuff from my lesson and my ball striking was definitely off today.  It is difficult not to be mechanical when trying to apply what I’ve been working on since the lesson last week.

I hit a few really good shots, and I had an ok score, but it was difficult trusting my swing.  I’m sure that things will get better, and I have the whole winter to get my swing improved so having a mediocre round is not a big deal.  It was nice to be out there though.

Stats for the round:

7/14 Fairways (50%), 8/18 GIR (44%), 29 Putts (2.0 putts per green in regulation, 1.61 putts per green overall, 1.5 putts per green not in regulation), 29 Putts for an 80.  Did not hit into a single bunker.

Every green missed cost me .8 strokes.  That is a lot.  I should keep working on my ballstriking, but the short game will really help save strokes.  I need to dramatically reduce how many strokes a missed green costs me.  I also need to putt better when I get on the green in regulation.

Par 5 scoring:   +1

Par 3 scoring: E

Par 4 scoring: +7

Par 5s are my best opportunities for birdies.  Par 4s are where I really need to score.  Each par 3 cost me about .7 shots today.  That really needs work.

Lesson 11-5

Lesson 11/5/2009

I’ve decided that over the winter I’m going to get some lessons and refine my swing.  My goal is more consistency and accuracy.  I think I’m already long enough that I don’t need to worry about distance as much as accuracy.

We worked on a few different things today:

Backswing

On the backswing I need to get my swing a little flatter.  The swing thought is to get my hands over my right heel.  This puts me on a better plane.  At first it felt strange.  It felt really flat, but what it did was it gave me a more compact backswing.

Downswing

On the downswing I need to keep my right heel down on the ground longer.  It was kind of weird at first.  I need to do this because I have a tendency to almost stand up on my right toes and it throws my weight toward the ball.  When that happens, the only way for me to save the swing is to make an over the top move.  By keeping my right heel on the ground longer, it keeps my weight down, and back, and allows me to come from the inside more easily.  It also allows me to keep my spine angle intact.

The next thing is that starting the downswing I need to feel as if I’m bringing the handle straight down toward my right heel again.  This will also prevent an OTT move and allow me to come from the inside.

The Target

It seems that my target was the ball, or just behind the ball.  This is a bit problematic because it also encourages a steep movc into the ball.  The best target for me is approximately 3 or 4 inches in front of the ball and slightly on the arc outside of the ball.  Max gave me an drill to do where I have a ball in my normal position and a ball at the target, I set up to the normal ball, then just before I start my swing, I knock it out of the way and try to hit the other ball.  During the lesson it resulted in very solid contact.  I will work on this on the range before my next lesson.

Overall it was an excellent lesson.  I think I’ll be able to get a solid work done this winter. I have six months until the new season officially starts.  That’s a lot of time to make some strides.

You don’t need to reshaft to lower your spin rate

So an interesting thing happened the other day.  I popped into my local club builder because I had been thinking of switching out a shaft in a driver and I needed to a pick up a three wood that was going to go into Adams for repair.

We started talking about why I wanted to change the shaft in the driver and before I knew it I was on the launch monitor hitting some balls.

He looks at my swing and starts making some suggestions about releasing the club.  Lo and behold my spin rate drops from a high of 5000 (the average was closer to mid 3k), down to an all time low for me of 1758.  Same club and same shaft.   Wow!

On the launch monitor that equated to a baby draw (from a fade) and about 60 yards more distance.

I’ve started to practice this and I’ve finally figured out how to release the club.  The results from my home simulator are that my club head is coming into the ball much more square or even a degree or two closed, path from the inside, and club head speed is going up.  And it all results in some nice draws or pretty much dead straight shots.  Pretty good results so far.  I can’t wait to see how they translate on the course.

I was having trouble releasing because my left elbow wasn’t folding easily after impact.  Once I isolated that and concentrating on having that happen the release happened naturally.  It seems to really be giving me some nice pop.

Simulator up and running

So I finally setup the simulator.  This will be my practice “facility” for the winter.  I will get actual rounds on course when the weather cooperates.

The nice thing about the simulator is that it tells me a few keys stats about my swing.  It tells me the swing path (inside out, straight or outside in and by how many degrees).  It also tells me whether the club face is square at impact or how many degrees closed or open it is, and it tells me my club head speed at impact.

In my practice session today I have confirmed through hard numbers that indeeed the over the top move is basically history.  9 out of 10 swings where either coming in straight or from the inside.  10 percent were coming in from the outside but only by 3 degrees, which is not too bad at all.

The one thing I did notice consistently which bugged me is that on 8 out of 10 swings my club face was open.  Most of the time it was open less than 8 degrees (which is still too much), but every once in a while I’d get one open 12 degrees or more.  Really annoyed me.  On a 160 yard shot, 12 degrees open face will send the ball 12 yards right of target.  This is something I will definitely work on.  I want the club head coming in square, or maybe even a degree or two closed through impact, with an inside out swing.

Full Release

With the over-the-top issue a thing of the past it is time to improve other parts of my swing.

Today I tried something while practicing that led to an eye opening experience.  I decided to try to create a fuller release.

I recorded  two swings with the first one being my normal swing and second being a full release swing.  The full release swing looked much better.  It encouraged me to get wider in back and in trying to create a fuller release it ended up creating effortless power.  It didn’t take any more effort to create a fuller release, but when I played back the videos I was startled by how much more club head speed the full release swing seemed to be generating.  I didn’t have a launch monitor handy so I took an old fashioned approach and counted up the frames for the downswing.

The regular down swing took 7 frames.  The full release took 5.  And yet I wasn’t trying to swing faster.  All I was focusing on was making a full release and the speed generated was effortless.  I need to see what this does on the range but I was definitely surprised.