Make your “Template” … then USE YOUR FEET!

I teach my students to establish a “Template” as they prepare to setup to the ball. What I mean, is there are a few essentials to check just prior to approaching the ball. If you do this, you will eliminate many of the reasons your swing breaks down or is inconsistent.

1. Shaft in line with the front arm (not at your stomach) and keep it that way don’t let it change as you setup to the ball.
2. Elbows towards each other or close together (and keep them that way until you hit).

These (2) items are CRUCIAL TO BE CONSISTENT. This creates your “Radius”. You can not be sloppy with this or let it relax. You want to use this “Template” as a guide during your setup. Anyone that thinks great players have relaxed, loose elbows during the swing, have not looked closely. Some look loose but, just before they take the club back, they squeeze their elbows together to create this radius and tie into the upper body. This also makes the takeaway much easier because, with the elbows close together, the front shoulder pushes this “Template” back as one piece keeping the hands from taking over. If the elbows are relaxed, during the swing they will elongate and your radius will lengthen causing mishits. The elbows must tie in with the upper body to let the large muscles work together to control the swing.

Okay, now that we have our “Template”, maintain it as your use your “FEET” to finish the setup. Like this:

1. I have my template ready.
2. Pick my spot about a foot in front of the ball to align the club face to.
3. Walk up, and turn to face the ball watching that spot (not the target).
4. Now, use you feet to establish the correct distance to the ball with the “Template” as your guide. DO NOT REACH OUT OR BEND TO THE BALL or you will DISCONNECT THE WHOLE THING!
5. SIT DOWN TO THE SHOT while maintaining your “Template”
6. Use your front shoulder to push the “Template” back (takeaway)
7. Use your hips to start and unwind the (downswing) from ground up all the way to the finish. Keep turning!.

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Sit down, don’t bend

You hear me talk about an athletic setup. This position is like any other athlete who is ready (quarterback, guard in basketball, wrestler) balanced, centered with lower body ready. The easiest way to check to see if you are setup athletically is, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO EASILY HOVER THE CLUB SLIGHTLY OFF THE GROUND WITHOUT SHIFTING YOUR WEIGHT. In other words … if you had to shift your weight to get the club off the ground, you were not athletic and were out of balance. The easiest way to get into this natural position is, to SIT DOWN TO EACH SHOT (DO NOT BEND AT THE WAIST AND LET YOUR CHEST DROP). That “lean or reach out to the ball” bad position is Out of Balance and restricts your shoulder turn. Also, if you setup out of balance, during the swing your body will try to center itself and you will be moving all over. So, if you setup in balance, you will swing in balance with no need for correction. Next time you practice, when you are ready to go down to the ball at setup, let everything drop straight down (sit down). If you practice this, you will stay centered and balanced and your golf swing will improve a lot… and stay improved (as long as you don’t forget to check your new athletic setup each time until it becomes muscle memory).

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Back Hip ~ Back Toe – Work together to Drive the Turn to the Finish

I see many new students that are learning how to turn athletically through impact to the finish, keep their BACK HEEL planted as they are trying to turn. This restricts the lower body from turning and then the hands, arms and club pass the body (not good – loss of power and the ball gets pulled or hooks).

What should happen!! The back heel works together with the back hip in that, as you are unwinding your hips, the back heel must leave the ground and rotate with the back foot onto the toe. You will know if you achieved this when you are finished with your stomach facing the target and your knees touching. If your knees are apart, you didn’t release your hips completely. OR … if your knees are apart at the finish, you stopped unwinding your hips too soon and the hands and club took over and passed the body rotation. KEEP TURNING THOSE HIPS NON-STOP TO THE FINISH. The better you get at this move, the more athletic and powerful your ball striking will be.

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Setup Essentials – Shoulders LEVEL

Another essential setup issue is, since the back hand is lower on the grip the golfer feels that it is okay to drop the back shoulder lower than the front shoulder…this is a Big Problem.  This kept me struggling for years.  Another reason golfers drop their back shoulder is, it is easier to look at the target.  This seems like a minor issue but to be consistent, level shoulders must be checked somewhere in the “Routine” and maintained during the setup.

To have an Athletic golf swing, you must setup naturally athletic without any unnatural adjustments.  Dropping the back shoulder is a VERY COMMON FAULT.  It restricts your shoulders from turning and brings the club inside.  THE SHOULDERS MUST STAY LEVEL AS YOU SIT DOWN TO THE BALL.  Sitting down helps keep the shoulders level and also keeps you Athletic, Centered and Ready.  NEVER BEND AT THE WAIST TO GO DOWN TO THE BALL.  Feel like you keep your chest in your knees not hanging out over your feet.

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The Hands are NOT Repeatable in the golf swing… What is?

Most golfers use their hands during the golf swing. They use their hands on the takeaway… or use their hands to hinge the club… or to try to direct the club on plane … or hit at the ball … or release to point the club at the target. Fact is, the hands are unreliable and inconsistent. The hands can move so many directions and then when you add in the wrists hinging in many different directions too, it makes it almost impossible to return exactly how you were at setup. Hence, 8 hrs a day practice to try to groove it. (Will never happen) … they will break down under pressure. So what do I use??

A much more reliable, efficient golf swing will use the shoulders on the takeaway first while you resist with the lower body and then use the hips to start the downswing unwinding and continue unwinding with the body all the way to the finish. THE HANDS ARE PASSIVE DURING THE WHOLE SWING!! If you learn to keep them from taking over on the takeaway or trying to forcibly hinge or hit at the ball, all of a sudden the large muscles take over (because something has to generate power. The result … a much more consistent, powerful, repeatable golf swing. And if fixes automatically, any timing issues you may have had. Using the shoulders and hips and core for the source of power will amaze you. It is very natural… like throwing a ball… the knees, move the hips, move the torso, move the shoulders to sling the arm through. You don’t stop your body half way when you throw a ball and let your hands and arm pass… why would you on the golf swing?

Practice hitting golf shots being totally aware of your grip pressure throughout the entire swing. Keep your grip pressure the same (do not let it change even a little) and you will see a dramatic difference…

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Traditional Golf Instruction – Misconceptions

Here are some of the many “Traditional Misconceptions” that are still being taught today:

1.   Setup with your weight on the balls of your feet.
– This is out of balance and a weak non-athletic position. The body does not like to be out of balance and will try to “Right” itself during the swing. If you setup in balance, square to gravity (Athletically), you will be much more relaxed and consistent.

2.   Waggle the club to relax.
– This is a non-productive, anxious movement getting the hands ready to be used for the takeaway and to hit at the ball. This undermines the large muscle concept that uses the shoulders for the takeaway and the hips and body to turn through to the finish. The ball is trapped during the turn with the whole body, not hit at with the hands.

3.   Shift your weight to the back foot.
– This is not what happens in a powerful takeaway and backswing. In a more efficient swing, the shoulders push back and wind into a restricted lower body for tork and potential. If you slide, or shift your weight back, you will never be consistent in returning back to the ball… For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. Slide on the takeaway, you will slide even more through impact. Lose this variable and you will improve IMMEDIATELY!

4.   Play the ball in the middle of your stance.
The radius of the swing is a line down your front arm in line with the shaft to the end of the club. The longest point on this radius is at your front shoulder down to the ground. Any farther back and the club goes right into the ground, or you have to lift up, or what most do, is flip their wrists at impact and cut the radius in half as to not hurt themselves. When you learn to turn through impact, you will naturally pick up the ball just inside the front foot for all shots! What changes from club to club (Ben Hogan) is the back foot relationship to the inside the front foot ball position. In other words, as the clubs get shorter, the back foot comes in closer to the front foot (not the ball moving back). THE BALL IN THE MIDDLE FORCES YOU TO FLIP AND NOT TURN.

5.   Release the club at the target.
Read “The Body Stops when you use your hands to “HIT” the ball Click Here

6.   Setup with the shaft of the club 90 degrees to your spine.
If you look at impact of the best golfers it is a straight line down the front arm, through the shaft to the ball. The shaft must be leading slightly. This angle is what creates a divot (Not hitting down on it) it happens naturally if you turn. So… if you setup this the shaft pointing at your spine (belly) this is weak and broken and will have to be fixed during the swing to get to the straight line at impact. Also this broken setup of the wrists pre-flipped will force you to flip again at impact thus, cutting the radius in half and the body stops rotating (not good). Answer… setup with the shaft in line with the front arm. The shaft should point at your arm pit.

7.   Club face on plane with the front arm on the backswing.
Coming soon.

8.   Hinge the club  on plane with the front arm.
Coming soon.

9.   The hands and arms release the club.
Coming soon.

10.   Toe up Toe up (hello mishit)
Coming soon.

11.   Keep your head down (LOL).
Coming soon.

more to come…

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How to distribute your “Weight” at Setup in the Golf Swing

The weight at setup is CRITICAL.  The misconception of having the weight on the balls of your feet is a compensation to correct another problem.

The correct weight distribution is just like a quarter back or any other athlete… “ATHLETIC”.  What I mean by this is STRAIGHT DOWN as if you were guarding someone in basketball or a quarter back ready to have the ball hiked to him.  The legs are ready and balanced and you could move in any direction.
If you setup out of balance (balls of your feet) your body will try to “Right” itself during the swing and you will be moving all over trying to center yourself.
If you setup IN BALANCE you will not have to make this adjustment during the swing and will much more consistent with one less compensation to worry about.  Also, gravity will keep you centered and in place.

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What’s “New” about this Golf Instruction?

First, I questioned “Traditional Golf Instruction” with my own game.  I would improve one aspect of my swing and it would affect another part (trade-offs).  This is when I realized there are way too many working parts (levers) with how the golf swing is being taught.  The odds of timing all these parts was very high and the only way to have any chance for consistency was hours & hours of daily practice.  I knew there had to be a more reliable easier way.

I watched very closely (with video frame at a time) how the best golfers in the world moved when they hit really great shots… and when they missed. I noticed (like you did) how effortlessly great golf shots looked. I found that the Golf Swing has this look when it is “Athletic” and controlled by the Large Muscles (not the hands). If the “Hands” take over during the swing, all natural collective movements are disrupted and it turns into chopping wood (so to speak). Once you allow the hands to take over, the club face will point all over the place. If the hands are passive during the swing, the club face will always be square to the target and return square at the ball because it was not manipulated during the swing.

Then the REALLY cool thing was discovered… when you learn to control your Grip Pressure (hands) during the swing, something else has to hit the ball so what happened was the LARGE MUSCLES (Shoulders & Hips) TOOK OVER AND THEY ARE VERY POWERFUL AND REPEATABLE!

Then it got even BETTER. Having read “One Move to Better Golf” by Carl Lohren, who discovered (watching Ben Hogan) that the “Takeaway” started by the front shoulder pushing straight back while restricting the lower body. WOW! This was another big key. There was also mention of this move another way called the X-Factor years ago.  Which was the differential between your shoulders turning while the hips restricted.

 Traditional teaching has you shifting your weight, on the takeaway, and loading up the back side…THIS IS NOT REPEATABLE! This will keep you struggling forever. I discovered, in a powerful, repeatable golf swing, THE LOWER BODY HOLDS AS THE SHOULDERS WIND FROM TOP DOWN! like a spring. The pivot point of a pendulum can not remain a constant if it’s “Base” is moving all over the place.

 What this move does, is setup the potential for the downswing to unwind from ground up! A NATURAL ATHLETIC MOVE.  Like throwing a ball… the lower body unwinds all the way to the finish leading the arm and hand. Or the lower body “Slings” the hand through.  In the golf swing, the hips, torso and shoulders “Sling” the arms and club through.

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The “Hands” … the Real Problem

I always felt the “Hands” were the big problem in golf. The hands can move so many different ways. They also can work against each other. But the real “Key” came when I realized if the hands are active during the swing (like trying to release or hit the ball using the hands), the body always stops rotating (just for a fraction of a second) to support this hit.  Ah Ha! so what happens when the body stops is… the club hands and arms now pass the body and this is a VERY WEAK POSITION.

 First, the radius (which should be a straight line down the front arm in line with the shaft leading the club face) is cut in half (because the wrist is bent at impact).   Also, the “Athletic” aspect is gone which would have ALL THE BODY moving or trapping the golf ball while it turns.  This flipped position also now closes the club face and makes the ball go left (right hander).  As the arms pass the body rotation, they create a new path to the left and pull the ball.  Now instead of the body pulling the arms through, the arms are now pulling the body (not good).

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