Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some Further Thoughts On 'The Secret Is In The Dirt'

I've been getting some e-mails and PM's around the Web asking for some more of my thoughts on Mike Maves' (aka Sevam1) e-book 'The Secret Is In The Dirt.'

First off, go buy the damn thing. I've found that his stuff works and works really, really well. As seen with some of my other posts, I don't always recommend buying a book or a training aid, so when I recommend it I really mean it.

The big thing I've found about using the methods (and I have yet to use all of them) in the book is that it really makes a proper thru pivot easier to accomplish. And because of that, you won't suddenly be striking the ball like Hogan in '53, but you will see an overall sudden improvement in your ball striking and you will probably hit a few balls right away that will 'wow' you.

For instance, the first day I really grasped the concept of the move and the secret I was hitting a ball with a Trackman device and finally pounded a 3 wood that went 257 yards (246 yard carry). That may not be impressive, but the ball was a beat up range ball, in 50 degree weather with a little bit of the wind in my face. A few days later on a different driving range, I flew the green with ease to a pin that is a legit 228 yards with a 3 iron. Again, with a beat up range ball in about 55 degree weather.

Now, all of that stuff doesn't happen all of the time. In fact, far from it. But it seems like about every time on the range I execute the move and secret correctly once or twice and hit some eye popping power shots. And the last two times I've played, I've hit 4 eye popping shots that were L-O-N-G and accurate. I chalk it up to myself being far away from mastering the move and the pivot, but slowly getting better and better almost as each day goes by.

I think for me it all started with understanding that the pivot if the lifeblood of the golf swing and then understanding how an effective pivot works. I've shown this video roughly a million times, but I think the Brian Manzella YouTube video is THAT GOOD and that important to understanding the pivot. Furthermore, Manzella makes it pretty easy to understand.

And again, I try to use the knowledge from that video and think about more or less keepimg my hands behind where the zipper is pointing in the downswing.

There's also another good video that Manzella has about allowing gravity to do the work that sort of fits into "The Secret Is In the Dirt."

The above video more or less ties into "The Secret Is In The Dirt" book's 'vertical drop.'

I've talked to some TGM'ers and my understanding of 'catching the drop' as Manzella puts it or the 'horizontal tug, vertical drop' move described by Maves is that it's a 'pivot controlled hands' downswing motion. Conversely, there's also a 'hands controlled pivot' downswing motion that a golfer can use to successfully hit the ball.

To simplify those two motions, the first word in each phrase of the downswing motion is what happens FIRST in the downswing.

For instance, PIVOT controlled hands = The pivot happens FIRST and then the hands follow the pivot.

On the flip side, HANDS controlled pivot = the hands drop FIRST and then the pivot follows.

But from what I have found so far is that the overwhelming majority of golfers would be better off learning PIVOT controlled hands motion (pivot happens first). And I'm talking almost 95-98% of the golfers should learn the pivot controlled hands motion first.

Why? Because, IMO, the hands still cannot get in front of where the zipper is pointing on the downswing and when you start the downswing with a hands drop instead of pivoting the pelvis/hips, chances are that you won't be able to get those hips moving fast enough so the zipper stays out in front of the hands.

And that's where "The Secret Is In The Dirt" comes in.

For starters, what I have found is that when you do the secret correctly, the thru pivot almost repels or bounces off or ricochets off the torque created on the inside of the right leg. Essentially what *I* feel is that I've already torqued the inside of the right leg and then I just rotate back the shoulders and hips in the backswing, but I do not lose that torque on the inside of the right leg ONE IOTA. As I'm rotating back, after awhile my hips cannot rotate back anymore and then they "bounce off" the torque on the inside of my right leg and now start rotating forward way before my arms and hands have even moved down. This gets that zipper in front of the hands on the downswing and those hips are likely to be open at impact instead of square at impact.

But again, it's very important that the torque on the inside of the right leg is MAINTAINED and does not move ONE IOTA. Here's an excerpt Hogan wrote on page 75 of '5 Lessons:

As regards the right leg, it should maintain the same position it had at address, the same angle in relation to the ground, throughout the backswing. That is one of the checks the average golfer should make when he's warming up and when he's on the course. When you have a stable right leg and the right knee remains pointed in a bit, it prevents the leg from snagging and sway out to the right and carrying the body along with it.

Essentially, Hogan talks about keeping the right knee in the same position and angle from address to the top of the swing. However, it's very easy to erroneously feel some torque of the inside of the right leg and STILL have too much weight over the top or the middle of the leg and right knee cap.

One of the facets of "The Secret Is In The Dirt" that I really like is, IMO, it really explains Hogan's lower body movement and actions. Many top instructors, including David Leadbetter, erroneously claim that Hogan had a 'reverse pivot.'

However, if you just create that torque like Maves suggests at address and maintain that torque and essentially keep the right knee in the same position it was at address, it will *look* like there's a lot of weight on the left side at the top of the swing. However, if you're doing it like Maves suggests you will not feel a S&T type move or a 'reverse pivot.' You WILL feel weight on the right side, it just *looks* like the Hogan lower body movement AND it may look like a reverse pivot. But it couldn't be further from the truth. That weight is more towards the right leg, not the left. And the weight is ready to start moving towards the left leg.

Whenever you're learning something new, I believe that it's very helpful to understand what you're doing wrong and what's the difference between what you're doing wrong and what you need to do correctly. And with Maves' secret and move, I found this to be very true and also to be facets that were tripping up other golfers as well.

The biggest error I found, and this applied to me as well, was that it's very easy to make the big toe the pressure point instead of the ball of the right foot. When I got too much weight and pressure on the big toe, the torque on the inside of the right leg is not as good AND you're likely to push OFF the ground instead of pushing INTO the ground.

Lastly, I also found it very easy to get too much weight on the right leg. I still had some problems with 'slinging it' with my clubs, particularly with my longer irons which inevitably would cause some sizeable hooks. I then realized that when I would screw my right foot into the ground, I would erroneously get too much weight on my right foot. That against hurts the quality of the torque on the inside of my right leg which made the thru pivot less effective and then the hands get in front of the zipper and the flip goes through causing a hook.

Fortunately, the cure is quite simple. For starters, just keep the weight pretty even between the feet and then lift your toes out of your shoe. That keeps the weight pretty evenly distributed and keeps the pressure point on the ball of the foot instead of on the toe. But remember, do not lose the torque on the inside of the right leg ONE MILLIMETER.

Lastly, I found the rotation of the hips on the thru pivot quite easy to understand using Maves' method. You can just take a stance without a club. Pre-torque your right foot. Take the back pivot with the torque maintained on the inside of the right leg. NOW, just keep on screwing the right foot clockwise. Keep on doing that and that forces the right knee inward and the hips will start rotating.

There's an old teaching tip that on the downswing the right heel should be closer to the target than the right toe and the Maves' pre-torque move gets that right heel towards the target.

In all, I keep finding "The Secret Is In The Dirt" to be more and more fundamentally sound and quite easy to learn the more and more I study the book and other golf swings (including my own golf swing).


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