Review: Powerchute

Powerchute
Powerchute

For the past month I’ve worked with a swing trainer called the Powerchute. I’ve given it an extensive test and the results are in.

What is the Powerchute?

It’s a swing training aid that aims to increase clubhead speed and lag, and improve timing and lag. In addition it strengthens the fast twitch muscles.

You attach the powerchute to your club and it becomes a small sail, that uses the wind created by your swing as the resistance you swing against. I was skeptical at first. I watched the videos on the website and Jack Nicklaus using it and I was still skeptical. It wasn’t until I took my first few swings with the powerchute, and then without it, that the wow factor hit me.

The first swing after you take the powerchute off your club is an amazing. The club feels lighter. The backswing feels normal, and then you start your downswing. My first swing without the Powerchute was so fast that it threw me almost off balance.

After using the Powerchute for a few months now, my old weakness: driving, has turned into a strength. Working with the powerchute daily has really helped with that trouble spot for me. I find that I’ve developed much better sequencing, even better lag, but more importantly I am able to use that lag properly. The resitance from the Powerchute has forced me to use my body and my hands properly to finish the swing correctly.

Over the last few months, the Powerchute has become my favorite swing trainer. I really enjoy heading down to the basement, where I have my golf practice area setup, to make some Powerchute swings. I feel that not only am I practicing solid fundamentals, but I am developing good golf fitness, and in the right muscles.

I can honestly say that the more I use the Powerchute, the more I want to use it. I’ve found new uses for it to help my game overall. It really is the only swing trainer I use now.

Golf Fitness

Now, to the fitness part of the powerchute. I’ve been told that the Powerchute, strengthens the fast twitch muscles that you use in the golf swing. These are the muscles needed to generate speed and power. The Powerchute achieves this by providing a plyometric workout. What are plyometrics? The following is from Wikipedia.

“Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric exercises may also be referred to as explosive exercises.”

The golf swing is all about controlled explosive power. It requires finesse, touch, feel, and power. Plyometric training is a perfect fit for golf. A friend of mine trains using Kettle Bells to achieve this, and he happens to be a director of golf so I know that those are great exercies for golf.

I do find that the Powerchute provides a plyometric workout and a very good one at that. The faster you can swing with the powerchute, the more resistance you create, and the more you work out those fast twitch muscles.

Zen Chili Rating for Powerchute

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves power, lag. sequencing and fitness virtually automatically
•No need to think about it, swing it, feel it

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well made product that can take a beating. Ingeniously designed.

At first I found I struggled when I switched from Powerchute swings, to iron swings. They felt too fast. Over the past few months everything that’s gone into the driver has also gone in to improve my iron play.

Conclusion

The Powerchute has been amazing to work with. I was so skeptical at first, but it has improved my power with all clubs, my balance, and my fitness. I have zero hesitations about recommending it. It is worth every penny.  Check it out at: http://www.powerchutegolf.com/

New DVD available with the Taly Mindset

There’s a new video that now comes with the Taly Mindset.  The opening credits, certainly set the stage.

The Taly Mindset is a device that challenges conventional thinking in golf.  It was invented by an engineer who loved the game of golf and wanted to play better. You can read my full review here. The device is now used by many touring pros and teaching pros across the country.  One of the most famous teachers who routinely uses the Mindset to teach is Lynn Blake.

The DVD is a big improvement over what used to come with the Mindset.  Although the pamphlet the came with it before gave some indication as to how it should be used, it really was not detailed enough and left questions unanswered.  It left it up to the golfer through trial and error to figure out what to actually do and how to do it.

The new DVD answers the questions that every golfer needs answered when using the Taly Mindset.   If you can understand the thought that went into the development of the Taly Mindset then you can learn to use it effectively.  And it will change the way you approach golf.

I found the DVD gave me new insights to really understand how to use the mindset.  There is a lot more to it than the pamphlet covers the DVD is an excellent complement to the device.

The new DVD comes with purchases of the Taly Mindset for $89.99 or can be ordered from the Taly Store for $49.99. If you have a a Taly Mindset, I highly recommend the video.  Taly Williams is offering a discount to Taly Mindset owners.  They can use the coupon code “MYDVD” when checking out at the Taly Store.

How to make swing changes stick

Recent experience has taught me that you need two things to make swing changes stick.  Practice and time.  Now while these may seem self evident there is more going on behind the scenes in the subconscious mind than meets the eye.

We’ve all heard the phrases “Practice makes perfect” and “Perfect practice makes perfect”.  We all know that tour players have practiced all their lives to get the level they are at.  The thing is that they are not always practicing the same things in the same way.  They have built up enough skill level, that as they dial one thing in, they can work and address another part of the game.

What am I getting at?

As amateur golfers we don’t have the luxury to practice to practice like a tour player.  In fact, for most of us, we rarely get to practice.  I’ve tried to combat this by investing in some things that bring the practice home, and while that does address much of the problem, there is another part of practicing that has to be thought through as well.

That is, practicing the right things in the right way.

If you’ve had a lesson with a golf pro, they probably got you to do so some things that felt a little strange.  And if you’re like most golfers, you probably forgot about that feeling very shortly after and didn’t really practice it.  The end result is a wasted lesson, and no step forward in your progress.

I think part of the reason we forget to practice those things is because they feel so strange.  And when that happens, we are less likely to use it.  Combine that with very few practice sessions and it is virtually inevitable that you will forget what you learned.

How I’ve been practicing differently

I’ve been focusing on the things I have learned, and how strange they feel.  The thing I’ve realized is that I don’t necessarily need to be doing full swing. Initially what I start out doing is conditioning my body to get used to how that feels.  That position, swing thought etc, that feels strange, is often a big key to getting to the next level.  However, it’s hard to practice because it feels so strange.

Every day, I focus on something like that, that feels a bit strange.  It could be the forward press in putting, it could be the feeling of holding on to your angles and your lag, it could be a feeling that you don’t sway when you turn, or not laying off the club too much etc.

These things feel weird because they are not a part of your swing.  You need to get used to them, you need to get comfortable with them.

Making amazing progress

It’s amazing the things that happen once you start to integrate these things into your swing.  Not only do they become a part of your swing, but as you really integrate them, they take on their own strength.  They become a part of your swing that you can count on, that you can trust.  And when that happens, your swing changes and your results change.

So when your instructor gives you a piece that feels a bit strange, hold on to it, work with it, make it a part of you and you will be rewarded with a more solid game.

Twelve Days at the Academy (Golf Channel)

Since this blog is focused on getting better, let’s take a look at the Golf Channel’s 12 Days at the Academy.  What I have been doing is recording the shows onto my DVR and then watching them for the most solid information.  Since we all are all working on different parts of the game and we have different strengths and weaknesses you may not agree entirely with me on my assessment.

The episodes I have so far are: Michael Breed, Brandel and Frank, Martin Hall, Greg Normal, Mediate and Ballard, Annika Sorenstam, and Sean Foley.

Strong Episodes

For me, the two most impactful episodes have been Brandel and Frank and Sean Foley.

I was surprised at how good and useful Brandel and Frank’s content was for players of any level. The they did a terrific job showing impact and providing drills.  My favorite drill was dragging the club from a foot and half behind the ball.

The other episode that made an impact was Sean Foley’s.  I am a big fan of the swings of Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair.  They both have awesome rotational swings, and hit the ball a long way and accurately.  What I like that Sean Foley did was emphasize hitting it solid by hitting the ball first and minizing sway away from the ball.  He said you there is lateral movement in the golf swing but you want to it to be toward the target.  This episode works really well with the Brandel and Frank’s episode on Impact Position.

Unfortunately I was less than enthusiastic about the other episodes.  I felt that Annika’s, Rocco’s were for the most part aimed at higher handicap golfers.  There’s nothing wrong with that but I personally got very little out of them.

Weak Episodes

Michael Breed’s episode was middle of the road for me.  Not fantastic but not bad.  He had some very good things to say about spin, and his demonstration of how left to right spin cuts distance was solid. I also like the tip his dad gave him about feeling like he’s swinging in a shampoo bottle to improve tempo.

Martin Hall

Although I liked a lot of what he has to say about the golf swing, he is a bit quirky for me.  Understandably he seemed a little bit nervous as this is a huge moment and opportunity for him.  However I found him to be very gadget focused.  Not many people will go out and build a swing plane, attach lasers to their clubs, or build the bungee cord contraption.  That being said he made a lot of valid points aimed, in my opinion at the mid and high handicapper.

Overall I’ve enjoyed the series so far and I’m looking forward to see what Player, Palmer and Nicklaus have to say, along with Dave Stockton.

What are your thoughts? Do you like the show?  What is the most important thing you have learned from it?

Review: Vharness

The Vharness is a swing trainer with the goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro.  The Vharness is endorsed by Rocco Mediate, who I think is a brilliant spokesperson for this product because of how well heconnects with average golfers.  He looks like a guy in your foursome.  But of course he has tremendous game.  His performance at Torrey Pines in the US Open made him a household name.  He plays what seems to be off the shelf game improvement clubs.  He doesn’t have the fluid easy motion of a Fred Couples, or the power of JB Holmes or Bubba Watson.  These reasons though make him ideal as a representative of this product because he, of all tour players, looks the most like an average Joe, and almost everybody can relate to him.

So does the Vharness achieve it’s lofty goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro?  No, but it is an excellent swing trainer, and if used effectively especially with some guidance from an instructor it can really help the average golfer to feel their swing better.  Frankly I don’t think there is a single device that can teach anyone to swing like a pro.  Swinging like a pro requires coordination, talent, strength and flexibility.  Provided you have those things, with a good instructor and dedication you can learn to swing like a pro.  What I did find is that the Vharness can enable you to not only create a better swing, but really feel what it feels to swing better.

I have a number of swing trainers in my collection, and they all fulfill different purposes.  I’ve been using the Vharness for about a month.  I wanted to give it a full test before I wrote about it.  The Vharness is definitely different from my other swing trainers.  It gives me feedback that I never got from anywhere else and really helped me to understand and feel my swing better.  It almost acts as a sensation amplifier and you really feel what the club head, path and hands are doing.

One of the main objectives of the Vharness is to help you feel more connected. There are a number of ways to feel more connected that I’ve seen routinely taught. Most commonly is tucking a golf glove under one or both armpits depending on how you are trying to feel the connection. Recently we have been watching players like Sean O’Hair and Justin Rose tuck their sleeves into their armpits. Both are effective ways of feeling the connection.

The Vharness approaches this concept from a different point of view.  Instead of feeling the connection through your armpits as in the other techniques you keep it by by focusing on keeping the “vcords” taut.  As you do your body naturally becomes more connected.  It feels like it is a less tense way of feeling it.

Zen Chili Rating for The VHarness

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves several aspects of the golf swing almost automatically
• Provides great feedback and sense of connection
• Delivers results

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well constructed, should last for years
• Easy to use and works with all of your golf clubs
• Comes with a stylish carrying case

But the Vharness takes it a few steps further. It naturally creates more width in the swing and keeps your hands more in front of you preventing you from getting stuck.  One of my major flaws in my swing is getting stuck.  Working with the vharness, this is dramatically improved, and with it so has my distance and accuracy.  The great thing about it for me, is that it really worked with the things I’ve been learning and working on, and it provides excellent feedback.

When ordering the Vharness you’ll be asked some questions to have it properly sized for your your height and your clubs.  I find that it fits well on all clubs.  It is very easy to transfer from one club to the next and allows you to use it with all your clubs.  The more I use the Vharness the more I enjoy using it.  Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it too.

Learn more about it on their website.

New strategy for effortless golf has surprising results

Zen GolfToday was one of the great practice sessions.  Even though I set out to do something I was practicing on the simulator, I ended up going in a completely different direction with my driving range session.

At home I had been practicing with the driving range portion of my golf simulator.  I noticed that I had difficulty squaring the face, but once I concentrated on having an inside path and getting the face slightly closed at impact I hit beautiful draws.

I wanted to see how that would translate on the driving range I go to, to hit actual golf balls.  So I started out doing that, and quickly got bored of it.  I followed an intuition I had and instead practiced in a different way.

I started with the pitching wedge and picked out a target about 75 yards away.  And the thought I had in preparing for the swing was this “What is the smoothest slowest full swing I can do to hit it to that target 75 yards away.”  So I felt the smooth swing in my body, and then did the same thing with a golf ball.  That smooth swing created a gorgeous pitching wedge shot.  It arced high, and went right at the my aim point but effortlessly carried to 130 yards.

I felt no effort in the swing.  In fact, it almost felt as if there was anti-effort.  That was interesting so I wondered if I could do that consistently.  I hit about 10 more shots, to the exact spot give or take a couple of feet.  The ball just exploded off the face and the sound was completely different from the way it sounded at the beginning of the session.

Earlier in the session I had been trying the ideas from the simulator session and I was hitting my 7 iron about 165.  I wondered if it would work the 7 iron.  I grabbed my 7 iron and picked out a spot 125 yards from me on the line I wanted to hit the shot to.  Again I thought, what is the easiest smoothest and slowest swing that will take it to 125.  Once I felt that I had it, I stepped up to the ball.  The swing felt slow and smooth, and the ball sailed to 175 yards, bouncing off the back of the green at the range.  Again it felt effortless.  I was trying to do less and ended with a better result.

Have you ever experienced this?  Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it.

Control distance with trajectory

http://www.protee-united.com/images/stories/golfsimulator/screenshot-17.jpgThere are many excellent reasons to learn to control your distance with trajectory.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Not every shot is a full shot.  The more you can learn to master partial shots, the more control you’ll have approaching greens.
  2. Dealing with the wind.  Lower trajectory shots fly better in the wind and are less likely to be taken off line.  Have a short shot and it’s a windy day? Take more club and use a partial shot to take the wind out of play.
  3. Helps your short game.  Partial shots are all about feel, control and imagination, learn to do this and it will make your wedge game and short irons so much more effectively.  It will also open up more of the green enabling you to play safer shots to tucked pins and still get the ball close.
  4. Learn solid contact.  Partial shots require you to stay within yourself.  The more you practice these the more you’ll learn to feel how a solid shot feels.  Trust me, it transfers to your long game and full shots and makes you a better ball striker with every club.

Take the 30 day challenge: wedges and learn how to control your irons and wedges with more imagination and creativity.  You’ll learn valuable things that will help your entire game and make you a better player.

30 Day Challenge – Day 6: Can I hit more greens in regulation?

The past few days I have talked quite a bit about things I have been doing with the driver. Things that astounded me. Today I really wanted to focus on how I can hit more greens in regulation, which means improving my iron play and approach shots.

One of the most frustrating things in golf for me is to hit a great drive and follow it up with a lousy iron approach. It really bugs me to have placed the ball in perfect position and not get home.  I don’t know if it’s happened to you but I always feel like I wasted a good opportunity when that happens.

I can only imagine how many more greens I would have hit if I could have just improved on that shot and how much more it would have changed my scores and my handicap.

So how can I hit more greens in regulation?

There are a number of things you can do to hit more greens in regulation. I’ll talk about the things I’m doing now, as well as cover other effective techniques.

During the 30 Day Challenge I’ve been working on improving my feel. This has paid a lot dividends including improving my consistency with the driver. It has also really helped to improve my iron game. I feel very confident now that not only will the irons go in the intended direction, but that I can bring them in from the right or the left. I think this alone will have a tremendous effect on my approach shots to the green.  My ball striking has become so much more solid by simply feeling what my hands need to feel during the swing.  It’s not the same as using my hands, it’s more like feeling their role throughout the swing.  It’s very interesting to work on it really simplifies the game.

On the technical side of things there are things you can do as well. The first is to shorten your back swing. Irons should be hit with a 3/4 swing with a descending blow. Hit the ball before you hit the ground and you should see your ball striking improve. One way to ingrain this faster and save yourself some time on the range is to use a hinged iron to improve your mechanics and hit more greens in regulation. The hinged club will break when you’re swing is off and as you correct those problems, you should be able to hit it more solid.

I think a lot of it has to do with confidence as well. I think if you’re not used hitting a great drive, and I wasn’t used to it as driving was the weakest part of my game last year, is that when you do hit it well, you get a bit excited, or very excited. This in turn creates pressure to execute. If your not comfortable with the pressure, you won’t hit a good shot.

This 30 day challenge has changed my confidence greatly. I feel differently approaching the ball. I am better able to plan a shot and actually execute it without thinking about the mechanics of the shot. That is probably the most helpful result of the challenge so far. It simplifies the game, takes mechanics out, and makes it simply more fun to be a shot maker. Sign up for the 30 Day Challenge here if you’re interested in taking complicated mechanics out of your game and gaining confidence over the ball.

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.

Pulling with the left side to eliminate the weak slice

In the same way that someone is right handed or left handed, a golf swing can be dominated by either side.  Most amateur swings are right side/arm dominated.  You can see this in the over the top moves and the flipping action of the club face.  This is typically considered pushing and results in a weak slice.

Conversely a golf swing can be more left side/arm dominated.  This is typically called pulling and results in more consistent ball striking, and improved golf ball launch conditions.

Both ways can be effective provided the player plays to their tendencies or has practiced enough to know what the swing is going to do. However, I think left side/arm dominated can be more consistent based on the work I have done with my swing, and from what I see from the average golfer.

I’ll refer to left side dominated swings as pulling, and right side dominated swings as pushing.

A swing with the left side of the body pulling can be more consistent for a number of reasons.

  1. Flipping is less likely.  The left arm/hand alone is not strong enough to overcome the huge forces created in the golf swing in order to flip the club.  If you try to flip the club with the left hand only, it is very awkward and unnatural.
  2. A swing with the left side pulling will more easily clear the hips allowing the club head to more consistently come into the ball square.
  3. Pulling low and left creates an impact condition with the shaft leaning forward and allows a golfer to compress the ball more easily because the long lever of the left arm and golf club remains stable.
  4. This type of swing leads to a more consistent and fuller release, thus adding distance while maintain accuracy.

If you have a pushing type of swing, where the right side of the body dominates, the 4 points above will be more difficult to achieve consistently because the right hand has to make those things happen and the body is fighting with itself.

If you are unfamiliar with the pulling sensation, do the left wrist supination drill for a while and try to feel which side is more dominant.  Once you can identify which side of your body is dominant, try to do the drill consciously forcing the left side to be dominant.  It’s not easy to do, but I think it is well worth doing.