Interesting discussion on Golf WRX

I’ve been discussing the psychological effect of the ball on the swing over at GolfWRX and some very interesting things have come up.  I want to synthesize the best nuggets of information from it, but I recommend reading it.

The Psychological Effect of the Ball on GolfWRX

Are practice swings unnecessary?

It’s amazing how I keep learning so much at the practice range.  Today I had another mind blowing experience.

I always thought that the reason I came over the top was because I was trying to hit the ball hard.  Which, intellectually, makes sense.  Practice swings feel loose and easy, the goal being to feel what you want to do.  Put the ball in front of me and I want to hit it as hard as I can.  Right?  So an OTT move is caused by overswinging.

I don’t believe that is the cause for me.  I believe the cause is somewhat more elusive.

I did an experiment and recorded three practice swings with the driver, a slow one, a medium speed one, and a 100%, pedal to the metal swing.  The results shocked me.

Before watching the video I  imagined that the first swing would have none to maybe a slight over the top move, the middle one might have a noticable move, and the fast one, with the highest clubhead speed would have a very visible over the top move.

May I have the envelop please?…

There was no noticeable over the top move in those swings at all.  No matter how hard I swung, if I wasn’t hitting a ball, I had no over the top move.

Let this sink in for a second.  No matter how hard I swung my practice swing (i.e. trying to get the club moving as fast as possible) there was no over the top move.

I did another little experiment.  This time I would take a very short and slow practice swing, and then tried to do the exact same slow practice swing but actually hit a ball.  Time after time, the practice swing was beautiful, but as soon as the ball was there, there would be an over the top move.

It’s the ball.

Well, actually, it is my reaction to the ball.  When I’m hitting an actual ball, the feeling in my body is different (although it shouldn’t be), and the swing is different (although it shouldn’t be).  I think the change happens even before I hit the ball.  As I steup up to the ball, and set my club behind it, there’s a different sensation.  I’m not sure how to describe it, but I’m not feeling as loose.  I’m a little more deliberate in my movements.  I’m not trying to do that but it happens, and I noticed it.

I know that I shouldn’t be hitting at the ball, but that the ball should just get in the way of my swing.  But it doesn’t feel that way.  Whenever I see my swing on video hitting a ball, I am just shocked and amazed that I can hit as well as I can, because the swing on video looks so flawed to me.

So, I have discovered I have two completely different swings.  A practice swing, and a hit the ball swing.  They feel different, they have different goals, and this could be part of the problem.  My practice swing does not end up being a rehearsal of my actual swing, it just ends up being a repetition of my practice swing.  Are practice swings unnecessary?

Dr. Joseph parent in Zen Golf talks about getting ready for a shot.  He says that you should do a programming swing.  This is not a full  swing, it is done slowly, and allows you to program in a specific movement that you want to have happen.  He says it should be done slowly so that you feel your muscles do the movement that you want to happen in your full swing.  Then you trust that you’re programming move will be incorporated in you swing, and you swing.  I think this is worth practicing with.

The Practice Swing/Actual Swing Dillema

I have been talking about this issue now for a while.  I wanted to show exactly what is going on so that you see the extent of the problem.  I also want you to keep in mind that with the actual swing, I still manage to hit the ball reasonable long and straight.

I would love to hear opinions on what you think is causing this, and of course I am very open to suggestions on how to fix it.

Practice Swing

Actual Swing

The hardest thing to do in golf

The hardest thing for me to do in the entire game of golf is to have my actual swing look like my practice swing.  This is the one thing that I believe will completely transform the game for me when I achieve it.

I had an awesome practice session today.  Recorded a lot of 9-iron swings and driver swings.  The same thing that I’ve written about kept happening over and over.  I would have a beautiful practice swing, and I would follow it with an over the top swing.  There were several times when I could have sworn that my actual swing matched the practice swing, until I looked at the video.  On those shots were I thought I nailed it, I hit some really solid iron shots.  But when I checked the video, still an over the top swing.  Ugh!

When it came time to hit driver, I knew I was going to be over the top, the only question was how much over the top.  I still managed to hit some bombs.  Long, straight and with the right trajectory, from an “ugly” OTT move.

Tim said that it takes 10,000 swings to ingrain a golf move.  I’ve heard other theories.  60 reps a day for 21 days.  Don’t know which is true.  What I do know is that a practice swing is easy and a thing of beauty, and then you put a ball in front of me and I have this urge to HIT IT.

What shocks me is that even with an OTT move I hit the ball as solidly as I do.  I wonder if it is going to take me months or years to change this.  I know this is a key to great golf.

A friend on Golf Channel’s “The Golf Fix”

One of my friends, Tim Richman sent his swing to the Golf Fix and it actually aired.  You can see the swing below:

He wrote the following message to Michael Breed:


Here’s a video of my golf swing in slow-motion. I am very consistent with my driver…and I hit a nice draw – but my iron shots are mediocre at times. My consistent flaw is that I either pull or top my irons. PLEASE HELP!

Thanks, love the show,

Tim from Irvington, NY

During the show, Michale viewed the video from the top of the back swing and said that the shaft was too steep on the way down.  He suggested that Tim hit balls off a tee with the driver taking slow, half-swings, to get the feeling of a shallower plane.

I think Michael Breed was right on.  It is important to get on a shallower plane.  Most amateurs (myself included come into the ball way too steep).  If you watch the pros, many of them have a steep back backswing and transition into a flat downswing.  Below is the swing of Rickie Fowler.  What you’ll notice is how flat both his backswing and his downswing are.  Now, this is an extreme example.  I have never seen anyone with a swing this flat.  But it works for Rickie and allows him to really power through the ball.