Achieving left wrist supination in the golf swing (Drill)

Hogan - left wrist actionBen Hogan was right that the best swings in the game have this supination action at impact.  It allows the club to come into the ball square.

But many players do not fully understand how to achieve this supination.  Here is how you can begin to get this feeling in your swing.

One of the most important things I have discovered about this supination is that it is NOT achieved by the wrists or the small muscles in the hands.  The wrists are too weak to force this position and too weak to overcome the huge forces that the swing is generating.  The way to achieve this supination is to use the large muscles of the body properly in the golf swing.

That sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it?  Here is an image of the left wrist supinating, but you can’t force it to happen.  You allow it to happen by doing the right things in the swing.

Drills for supination

1. Left hand only half swings (do not hit the ground or a golf ball with this drill)

Start with you normal stance, but only your left hand on the club.  Take the club back only until the shaft is parallel to the ground with the toe pointing straight up.  On the way back you should feel your left forearm rotating.  If you are wearing a watch, the watch should almost face the sky or ceiling when the toe of the club is pointing up.  Your shoulders should rotate too and their rotation should stop when the shaft reaches parallel.

Initiate the downswing by rotating your hips to the left.  You should feel a small delay in the arms.  Take the club through until it is also parallel with the ground.  The toe should be up and have rotated somewhat to the left.  While you are doing these short swings, take a look at the position of your left hand, it should match the drawing.  If it is not matching, don’t force it match by using your wrists.  That doesn’t work.  You need to feel large muscles actually driving the rotation of the club face.

It will take some practice but this drill will help you to feel the club releasing and rotating through impact.  As you do this drill, you will improve your left hand arm action and it will help you hit the ball longer and straighter.

What you can learn from the groove change

As we know the USGA has adopted a new groove rule that went into effect this month for the PGA Tour.  These new “v” grooves are not as sharp and have 40% less volume than box grooves.  While this change does not affect the vast majority of amateur golfers we can all learn by how PGA Tour players are adapting to the change.

Amateur players should watch how the pros approach shots from the rough especially close to the green.  Because these new grooves don’t have the same kind of bite, tour players have adapted by playing the shots differently.

How this helps amateurs

Amateur golfer typically do not have the swing speed or technique to generate the kind of spin the pros do.  The example the pros have set the past few years typically does not translate well to amateurs.  Although those shots (high spinning, stop on a dime shots) are beautiful to look at, most amateurs just aren’t going to pull them off very often.  But now we have an opportunity to watch shot making return to the game.

The new grooves are forcing the professionals to hit higher softer shots and rely less on spin.  What I saw at the Sony Open in Hawaii was a lot of shots landing short of the green and rolling on the green.  You also saw pros punished a bit more when they short sided themselves.  So what you are also seeing is that the pros are being encouraged to have their misses leave plenty of green to work with.  This is something amateur players should really pay attention to.

How the pros are adjusting:

  1. Hitting higher softer shots to stop the ball.
  2. Playing for fliers and the lower spin out of the rough by bouncing balls onto the green.
  3. Making sure their misses leave plenty of green to work with

Do these things and you should see your scores drop as you eliminate big numbers.

Stop Casting the Club: Keep the upper body together

One of the common swing faults is casting the club.  When that happens a golfer loses all of the leverage they they have developed, and the throw away their power.

The left arm begins to separate from the chest and then the club gets on a steep and out to in path causing the golf ball to slice.  What is a golfer to do?

Many training aids encourage a stronger connection between the arms and the upper core.  What does that mean exactly?

Build a stronger connection between arms and chest

A stronger connection simply means that the arms don’t move separately from the chest.  The chest and arms work together as one unit.  Sure, the clubs momentum may cause it to move after the shoulders have stopped turning, but if you can minimize that movement, you can begin the downswing with the arms and chest working together, rather then letting the arms race down to the ball.

A perfect example of the feeling you want to get is Steve Stricker.  When you watch his swing, it looks a bit tight.  It’s not super fluid, he doesn’t hinge the wrists very much.  The most important thing he does is to bring everything down together.  This allows him very solid contact, which sends the ball a long way.  He is not the longest hitter on tour but he is long enough to be the number 3 golfer in the world and you can’t argue with his results.

So how do you keep the arms and chest together.  Take some practice swings and swing slowly.  Keep the thought in mind that the arms and chest are working as one unit and focus on keeping them together.  At first it will probably seem stiff.  You’ll feel as if your movement has become a bit limited which it has, and that’s a good thing.

Feel them working as one unit

As you begin to feel this sensation and really integrate it, you’ll start to hit the ball more solidly.  You’ll see a straighter ball flight, and your accuracy and distance will increase.  It’s a strange thing to feel at first because your body will be telling you that you can’t hit the ball as far swinging like this.  But you need to trust that keeping the upper body together will improve your swing and your ball striking.  It is even more important that you keep your focus on this as the club gets longer.

The longer the club is, the more the club head will want to keep moving after the shoulders have stopped turning.  You need to be aware of this so that you catch it early.  Stop the club head moving as soon as your shoulders have stopped rotating.  Then on the downswing move everything together making sure that your arms don’t outrace your chest.

Benefits to keeping the upper body together

It will be tricky at first, but the benefits are tremendous.  You’ll be able to retain the angle in your wrists on the downswing, you’ll be less likely to flip the club, and in general you’ll hit more solid and straighter.  Give this a try and let me know how it works for you.

How to have a more consistent golf swing: Stay Synchronized

ClockGolfer

Keeping the arms and core in sync

One of the most important factors in executing a successful golf swing is ensuring that the arms and the core remain synchronized. What does that mean?

It means that the top of the backswing happens when the shoulders stop turning and the arms stop moving at the fraction later. Watch Steve Stricker, the number threee golfer in the world and you’ll see his arms stop moving when his shoulder turn stops.

This action, allows everything to come down and through together. This improves consistency, and influences accuracy and how solid you can strike the ball. Moving everything together really allows a golfer to have a consistent motion.

What happens when the arms and the core get out sync?

When the arms keep moving at the top of the swing after the shoulders have stopped turning then they are out of sync with the body. In order to get them back into sync, they need to start down first, and then at the right moment, the core needs to start turning. This is a formula for disaster because a good golfer initiates the swing by turning the hips, not by moving the arms.

This is also extremely difficult to time properly. Starting the swing this way makes the player highly dependent on timing. When you’re timing is on you can hit the ball well, but when your timing is off you won’t hit it well. You’ll wonder where your swing went.

Why do golfers get out of sync?

So why do golfers let the arms run off? They do this because they are trying to get more distance and swing speed. The think that if they increase the length of their swing, they can get the club head moving faster. This is only partly true.

Although they can potentially get some speed gain, the gain is offset by the loss of accuracy, and the lowered likelihood of hitting the sweet spot. So in fact, you are getting a net loss of distance and accuracy. It doesn’t sound like a good trade to me.

If you can stay in sync you can actually generate more club head speed and hit the sweet spot more often because you’re whole body is working in harmony in the swing. You can, in essence, hit the ball with your entire body. You’ll hit it more solidly, and you’ll be more consistent.

Think of a clock

Think of the inside of a mechanical clock. Certain gears move really fast, others move very slowly. But none of the parts move faster than they need to. The clock would break if some parts were forced to move faster. The same really is true for the golf swing. Keep everything together and moving only as fast as it needs to and you’ll be a much more consistent player.

Review: Tour Striker Pro

According to the website for the Tour Striker:

Finally! A simple training club that intuitively promotes the essentials of Tour quality club head to ball impact!

One percent of golfers strike golf balls correctly. The Tour Striker and Tour Striker Pro training clubs will intuitively help you understand leverage and how to apply the club head to the golf ball in the same manner as the best players in the world. You will gain command of the elusive skills required to compress a golf ball. Best of all, this is not a temporary solution!

Allow the creative golfer inside you to enjoy the game once and for all. You can learn how to have world-class impact conditions and strike golf balls purely, accurately and with great control.

Tour Striker Models

The Tour Striker Pro is the pro version of the Tour Striker, a training aid designed to teach a player to hit the ball with a forward shaft lean and the hands ahead.

Pro Vs Regular Tour Striker
Pro Vs Regular Tour Striker

Here’s the tour striker compared to a regular iron.

Tour Striker vs an iron
Tour Striker vs an iron

Side view of the tour strikers:

Tour Striker Side View
Tour Striker Side View

Photo source: www.tourstriker.com

The only way to get the ball up in the air hitting this club is to have a forward leaning shaft at impact.  If the shaft is straight up and down or leaning away from the target at impact, the ball will fly very low or simply roll on the ground.

Using it on the Right Surface

It is very important that when practicing with the tour striker you are on either very firm closely mown turf or a hard mat.  In fact the best test for your ball striking abilities with the tour striker come when using a lie board.

If you attempt to use the tour striker on fluffy grass or a very soft mat like the Country Club Elite (CCE) mats that allow you to hit down and through the ball you will negate the benefits of the tour striker as the soft grass or mat will allow you dig in to ground and hit a decent shot without the forward lean of the shaft.

I can use Range Mats again (but only for this)

One of the interesting results for me of using the Tour Striker Pro is that using this club actually gives me an incentive to use the hard mats at the range near me.  If you read this blog you know that I am not a fan of range mats.

For normal iron practice I intend to continue to use my CCE mat as that simulates a lush fairway and gives me great feedback on the quality of the strike, but for working on the shaft lean and hands forward at impact I can use the range mats, but only with the Tour Striker.

Once you are on the correct surface the Tour Striker shows its true value.  I consider myself a pretty good ball striker.  Over the past few months as it has gotten colder in the northeast I have not only kept my distances the same in the colder temperatures but have actually increased them as my technique has improved.

Still, the tour striker showed me that I had some work to do with the shaft lean as I hit a number of low worm burners with it.  However, the majority of shots I hit with it were fairly acceptable with a few exceptional ones.

During my practice sessions I alternated using the Tour Striker Pro and my irons and the feedback was great.  My iron playhas improved over the past few months, and I think continued and regular use of the Tour Striker will take it to new levels.

The quality is product is excellent.  It appears to be manufactured to pretty high standards.

I consider the Tour Striker Pro to be a valuable addition to my practice toolset.

Which Tour Striker to Get

“The Regular Tour Striker is targeted for mid-to-high handicap golfers and slower swing speeds (under 90 mph with driver), while the Tour Striker Pro is geared for dedicated practicers with higher swing speeds. We also offer a Tour Striker for women and younger players who wish to improve their game.”

I agree with this description.  If you are mid to high handicapper you will struggle with the Tour Striker Pro.  For the lower handicap players the Pro model adds the right amount of challenge.  The leading edge of the club does look pretty high.  It is a pretty cool and rewarding sensation to see this high leading edge hit a nice high soft shot that carries forever.

On the range I introduced a friend of mine to the Tour Striker and watched him hit a few balls.  It very quickly forced him to make a few adjustments but then he started hitting some great shots.  When he went back to hitting his own irons I could see that the adjustments had carried over and he hit the ball on a better trajectory with a slightly more penetrating ball flight.

If you have a flippy swing where you try and scoop the ball to get it in the air, the Tour Striker will definitely help you to change that.  Be prepared for a bit of frustration as you make the adjustment but the end result will be worth it.

Take a look at the slow motion shot below.  You will see a very nice iron strike.  The shaft is leaning a bit forward, the clubhead hits the ball first, then the ground.  A phrase I was told to remember this was “Hit the little ball (the golf ball), before the big ball (the earth)”.

Website: www.tourstriker.com

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Review: The Floppy – Indoor Practice Golf Ball

Master the short game and you can score well even when your long game is off.

The Floppy is a soft indoor practice golf ball.  It has  a woven cover, a liner and a proprietary filling.

http://www.thefloppy.com/images/smaller/whatsinside.jpg

The Floppy Close Up
The Floppy Close Up

The videos on the homepage do a good job of showing what the floppy does and how it reacts when it bounces of windows.  When I first saw the floppy on-line I thought it was going to be a bit like a hacky sack in the shape of a golf ball.  But when you squeeze it, it instantly bounces back into shape.   The quality of the woven cover is very good.  I would imagine that a single ball could easily take thousands of hits.  The sticker on the ball won’t last that long though.  It pretty quickly got worn down so that the text was difficult to read.    That does not affect it’s performance.

How it behaves

It is best to have it land on something as close to turf as possible.  I found that on carpet it does react very much like a golf ball.  It checks up pretty well, and can even spin back a little bit.  You can hit it high or low and it will behave predictably.

For us North Easterners, and anyone else stuck in the cold, it does provide a nice way to practice your short game.    Depending on how hard you hit them I think they could still knock some things over as they do have a little bit of weight to them.  However they do absorb impacts well and lightly bounce of harder objects like walls or plate glass.  I think these would be a blast to use in an indoor AstroTurf field.

Overall I think The Floppy is a very cool indoor practice ball.  When I combine it with my golf mat (Country Club Elite) and use the stance mat as a grassy target it really does allow me to practice short chips and pitches very well.   I was easily able to practice chip shots inside up to 25 ft, limited by my living space and not the ball it self.  I could hit high little floaters or low running chips well with it.

The Floppy certainly takes a bit of the sting out of being in a cold part of the country with a few months until the golf season officially starts here.  In the meantime I can become a deadly chipper and pitcher and hopefully a short game wizard.  My preference with the floppy is to land it on the “short grass” of the stance mat, and see how it rolls out or responds rather than bouncing it off the walls as it is show in the videos on the home page for the product.

On a side note, I am a fan of Phil Mickelson’s “Secrets of the Short Game”, and find that the Floppy with the mats allows me to groove a consistent hinge and hold.

Although it can be used for the long game, I do not have a net and I would not take full swings with the floppy, at least not until I had a good practice net in place.  But for short game practice, I have not hit another practice golf ball that gives me the kind of feedback that the floppy does.

The Floppy Home Page

Spine Angle: Maintain or increase through impact

Maintaining or increasing your spine angle is a good fundamental that promotes solid ball striking for a number of reasons.

The role of the spine in the swing

Your spine is the axis around which the swing happens.  If you change your spine angle, say toward the target during the swing, you are changing the axis around which the swing happens and introducing compensations.  Your body will need to compensate in order to try to square the club head at impact.  Tilting your spine angle towards the target forces the club to come from an outside-to-inside path, also known as the slicer’s swing path.  Maintaining or increasing your spine tilt away from the target promotes an inside-to-outside swing path that leads to solid ball striking.

In the following two images you can see where my spine angle started, and how I’ve increased my spine angle away from the target at impact.

Start with a tilt away from the target

Spine1Increase it through impact

Spine2Increasing my spine angle helps to keep my head behind the golf ball and allows me to really compress it.

Bad things that happen when you don’t maintain spine angle away from the target:

  • You become prone to reverse pivot
  • Transitioning to on plane or underplane swing more difficult
  • Compensations take away from generating power and accuracy
  • Causes Out to in swing path leading to slices

Good things that happen when you can maintain it or even increase it:

  • Simple to coil
  • Simple to transition to downswing
  • Easier to maintain plane
  • Less compensation
  • Puts you in ideal position to start downswing
  • Puts you in ideal position at impact

When you find swing videos on youtube of your favorite pros, notice their spine angle.  Find a swing of someone who slices the bell and take a look at their spine throughout the swing.  I think you’ll find some pretty dramatic differences.

I read a statistic that the average tour professional increases their spine angle by 13 degrees.

This does not mean that you need to increase it by 13 degrees.  Start with learning to maintain it on the backswing and without worrying about the downswing.  Once you can do that routinely then you can begin working on maintaining it on the downswing, and finally increasing it if you want to.

One other thing to take away from this post.  Look at the address position.  Make sure that you start with your spine tilting away from the target.  Then just try to maintain it.  They say that 90% of swing errors are caused by a fault in the setup.  Get the setup correct and you are on your way to greatly improving your swing.

The effect of using a light grip

On Monday I played another round at my local course.  Ended up with a good score in cold windy conditions.  I attribute my scoring to solid iron play.

I was hitting my irons particularly solid that day and I think a lot of that had to do with a light grip on the club.

With a light grip the club seemed to swing more freely and with less effort.  On a day when my shots should have been 1 club or more shorter than in the summer, I was getting my full distance and then some.  With a light grip I could really feel the acceleration of the club down through the impact zone.  I could really feel the ball compress and even though I was playing a non-tour ball (Nike One Vapor), I was still getting a lot of spin, much more than I anticipated.

The other interesting effect that the light grip had was on the flight path of the golf ball.  I had a number of shots during the round when I know I had a tighter grip on the club.  On those shots, I tended to lose the ball to the right with a weak fade.  My shots with the lighter grip were controlled draws.

So there were several benefits from using a light grip:

1) More solid contact

2) More clubhead speed

3) Controlled draw vs a weak fade

4) Optimal spin

5) Improved Distance and accuracy