30 Day No Swing Video Challenge

30 Day challengeToday was a very interesting day.  I spent the afternoon with the Head Professional for Sterling Farms Golf Course, Rob LaRosa.  I went there because I had just won a Project X driver shaft and I wanted to be fit so that I would know which shaft to get from them.  The afternoon though evolved into much more than that.

The conversation turned to different teaching philosophies and the impact of technology on the way that golf is taught.  Rob knows that I am a big fan of video analysis.  I record and anlyze almost every day.  And I have learned a lot of from it.  Through the analysis I have learned a lot about the golf swing.

However, I think it has robbed me of feeling the swing.  When you look at the PGA tour there are a number of players who achieved their early success and rise to the top as feel players, and who later lost that as they worked with much more technical and position oriented teachers.

We talked about the way the game has been taught recently, with the proliferation of video analysis and the impact that has had on the game.  I think there are other players like me, who may have become too reliant on video analysis and reaching certain positions rather than playing the game by feel and understanding at the kinesthetic(mind body feeling) level what their body is doing.

Toward the end of the conversation he challenged me to not use Video Analysis for 30 days.  He challenged me to put the camera away and learn to feel the swing, and promised that the things I would learn would change the game for me.

So I have accepted the challenge and I’m extending it.  I will not use any tips from magazines, the internet or the golf channel for these 30 days.

I have also recently had some fantastic and enlightening conversations with a teacher from Dallas Eben Dennis.  He is fascinating teacher who learned the game from the likes of Jimmy Demaret, Ben Hogan and Jackie Burke.  He was a PGA tour player until back problems forced him out of the game and has taught the likes Nick Faldo, Bob Estes, Billy Mayfair among others.

When I told Eben about the 30 day challenge he said it’s a great idea and provided some guidance for me on this challenge.  The best players in the world play like this.  They see the shot, they feel the shot, and they make it happen.  But this is not only available to them, it’s available to everyone.  It simplifies the game.

If this sounds exciting to you, I challenge you to join me.  Sign up on the form below.  You will be mailed instructions for the challenge, how to participate, and more.  We may even have a contest for those who successfully complete the challenge and show the most improvement.  My 30 days kicks off today.  Kick off your 30 days too.

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.

Was Hogan a swinger or a hitter?

The Gotham Golf Blog has a very interesting post about Ben Hogan.

…Despite what most believe were early struggles in Ben Hogan’s career, here are some interesting stats:
In 292 career PGA Tour events, Ben Hogan finished in the Top 3 in 47.6-percent of them. He finished in the Top 10 in 241 of those 292 events.

In this post we are going to try to put to rest the notion that Ben Hogan was a hitter. It seems that the proponents of “Handsy” golf swings would like to use Mr. Hogan as the model for their agenda. Unfortunately, they are wrong and are misinterpreting the statement he made in 5 lessons “wishing he had 3 right hands”…

The Magic Golf Swing of Ben Hogan

I love this video.  Ben Hogan’s swing is so classic and there is so much to learn from it.  Even on his short swings watch how he generates lag and delivers the club to the ball.  Just beautiful.   Hogan’s swing is the best example of what I talk about in my book.  He is efficient and was known for amazing accuracy and shot making.

He never looks like he swings hard but he always hits it solid.  Very inspirational.

Ben Hogan helping with the OTT issue

Today I had a very good ball striking and ended up hitting a lot of greens.  Here’s what I did that I believe made a huge difference.

In “5 Lessons” Ben Hogan writes about keeping the left arm tight to the chest on the downswing.

So I started playing around with this.  How tight do I keep it there?  What’s the best way to do that?

One of the reasons I thought to do this was that I noticed on my OTT actual swings that the arms begin racing towards the ball.  And I thought, hmm, if I keep my left arm tight to the chest as long as possible, then the arms can’t race ahead.

So I videotaped some swings then I went to bed last night.

This morning I got up to play around.  The course I went to had no driving range, so I couldn’t warm up the swing that way, but I knew the one swing thought that I would keep in mind througout the round.  Keep the left arm tight to the chest.  I used a little visualization on my swings, almost feeling as if the left arm got superglued to my body at the top of the backswing.

I felt super-connected throughout the swing, and even though I had my share of errant shots, I was striking the ball more solid than usual, especially with the driver where I hit a few enourmous drives on a cold day into the wind a lot of the time.  My irons were really crisp and I felt the way I did on my practice swings.  I meant to do the post swing analysis where I rated the shots on how close they were to my practice swing, but I forgot to do that.

Tomorrow I will go to the range with the camera and hit some balls like this, but I have a feeling that it will be good news.

Hitting the ball with your entire body

After a few days away from the game (10 actually) I went to the driving range today.  Amazingly the swing thought of throwing the club down the range was still firmly ingrained and I was hitting some really good shots.  I began to play around with a new swing thought to see what would happen.

1. The no shoulders swing.

As I’ve been documenting a battle with an OTT move I realized that the first thing that usually happens with an OTT move is that the shoulders turn before the hips do, sending the club over the top.  So this thought went like this: don’t rotate the shoulders on the downswing.  Now obviously you can’t not turn and still hit the golf ball.  This thought does really force the hips and lower body to turn first.  I had one swing with this thought that felt like the perfect swing.  It was with the driver, the club I fight OTT with the most.

I hit one drive with this no shoulder swing, and the swing felt slow.  At impact it felt like I hit the ball with my entire body, and even though the swing felt slow, the contact was completely solid.  The ball sailed over the back fence at 240 yds.  It seemed that it hit the apex just above the fence, and I have no idea how much further it carried but it was the best drive I had hit in some time.  It was dead straight and it had an awesome trajectory.  In Five lessons, Ben Hogan talks about hitting the ball with your entire body.  I don’t think I had ever truly experienced that until this swing.  It was pretty amazing and something I want to feel on every shot.