Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Secret Is In The Dirt - The Match

Here's a video from blog follower and friend Sevam1 with match between Sevam and Steve Elkington, using hickory shafted clubs.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How Those Guys Did It

A new blog reader e-mailed me yesterday and asked me a very general question. 'How did those guys do it despite having vastly different golf swings?'

I thought about it for a second and wanted to break it down and then analyze it from there.

For starters, we know that impact is objective. For example, if the clubface is open 2* and the path is inside-to-out by 2* and you hit it square with 90 mph clubhead speed and a certain dynamic loft at impact, the ball will go the same way regardless if Tiger Woods is swinging the club or Richie3Jack is swinging the club.

But while impact is objective, that doesn't mean great players had the same exact impact as can be seen by their ball flight.

However, IMO the key is their consistency and control of 'the big 3':

- Clubface Control
- Clubpath Control
- Low Point Control

Looking at Trackman reports, you will see that better golfers are very consistent with the 'Big 3.' Their clubface control will not only be close to square to the target, but it won't deviate much. For instance, if a sub-scratch golfer has his clubface on average 1* open at impact, chances are that almost every shot they will hit will have a very slightly open clubface at impact. Same with path, if it's slightly outside-to-in on average, they will almost never have a swing where the path is inside-to-out. And if their average attack angle is at -4* with a 7-iron, it probably will not deviate more than +1 or -1* degrees.

So IMO, the great golfers were supremely consistent with the 'Big 3' and had great pivots to make them impact conditions very dynamic. But, they also may have had very different impact conditions (but still good impact conditions) and went about getting those impact conditions in different ways.

Let's take a look at some of them.


What do we know about Trevino?

- he took gigantic divots
- he tend to hit the ball low
- he favored a fade (although he could hit any shot he wanted)
- He lived by the mantra 'aim left, swing right, walk straight'

I believe that while Trevino claimed he swung the club out to the right, he actually aimed so far left at address that his club still wound up swinging to the left.

Trevino used to have problems with a snap hook before he became a touring professional and my guess is the aiming left came about from him trying to prevent the hook. Trevino also talked about 'hanging on for dear life' with his left hand after seeing Ben Hogan do a clinic and that got rid of his hook. I believe like Hogan, Trevino had problems with the snap hook because his clubface would get occasionally too closed.

But because of that, my guess is that Trevino's clubface in his prime was probably slightly closed.

I also believe he had very steep attack angles, so his plane line was quite a bit out to the left than Trevino ever imagined. I also bet that his greatest consistency came with the attack angle because he never seemed to catch anything fat or thin. And once he learned how to stop getting that clubface too shut, he became one of the greatest ballstrikers of all time.


What do we know about Moe?

- He hit the ball probably straighter on command than anybody in history.
- He took very shallow divots if any at all.

My guess with Moe is that his attack angle was probably shallower than -2* even with the steepest of irons. Because of that, his horizontal swing plane was probably very close to square to the target and even more amazingly, his path was square.

Moe's greatest attribute had to be his square clubface. If there's one thing I would preach to learn from Moe's swing is to look at how square his clubface is, particularly at the top of the swing. From there, it's easy to keep it dead square throughout the downswing.


What do we know about Hogan?

- Released the club very much to the left.
- Fought a hook early on in his career.
- Leaned towards hitting a fade after 'The Secret.'
- Moderate sized divots.

I think Hogan's Attack Angle was *slightly* shallower than the PGA Tour averages of today. I don't think it was anywhere near as shallow as Moe Norman's. He probably had a path that wound up being outside-to-in by 0.5 to 1.5*, but probably very close to 1.0*. I think his clubface was very square, almost uncanny square. And depending on the path, that would create the size of the fade or the straight shot.

We also know Hogan's stance diagram from '5 Lessons.'

While Hogan was known for a power fade, he probably hit a lot of straight shots and I believe the stance diagram is a secret as to why. I believe Hogan figured out that a square stance with a driver would lead to a large fade which he didn't want. And a square stance with a 9-iron would lead to a ball flight he didn't want.

Many of today's golfers would use a 'CF Release' with the woods and a 'CP Release' with the irons so they wouldn't have to fool around with their stance. But I believe Hogan would never consider fooling around with the release actions (had he known about the different ones) because of his fear of hooking the ball.


I used Perry because he's a known for his hook spin on the golf ball and the others were all straight/faders of the golf ball. Nonetheless, he's an excellent ball striker.

What do we know about Perry?

- He hits a big draw, rarely tries to hit a fade on command
- He hits the ball high
- He hits it very long

This indicates that Perry's path is inside-to-out and probably quite a bit.

His plane line is probably a bit inside to out as well.

Attack angles and paths are not mutually exclusive, but golfers who do swing out to the right usually see a shallower attack angle as well. I wouldn't be surprised, given Perry's length off the tee and his ball flight, if he had an upward attack angle with the driver.

Now, the dynamics of those swings, like clubhead speed, will be different. But all of these players controlled and were consistent with the 'Big 3', had great pivots to power those swings and knew how to play the shots that they hit.


Monday, March 29, 2010

A Look At The Unorthodox Swings - Part 8

In this edition of the unorthodox swings, I look at Chi Chi Rodriguez.

Chi Chi was an 8-time PGA Tour winner and a 22-time Champions Tour winner. He was considered to be a very good ballstriker and shotmaker, who won in spite of his putting.

One thing I would like to go over is the terminology of 'tipping out' in the golf swing.

To begin with, 'tipping out' occurs at the P6 position of the golf swing. P6 is in the downswing, when the clubshaft is parallel to the ground.

Of course, this is what P6 looks like from the DTL view.

In the photo above, Mac O'Grady is in about as good of a P6 position as a golfer can get. The clubshaft from this view is parallel to the target line. The toe of the club is pointing straight up at the sky, which is a square clubface.

Now look at Chi Chi from the DTL view at P6 (last picture on the right of the middle row). As you can see, his clubshaft is pointing a little bit left of parallel to the target line.

When the clubshaft is left of parallel at P6, that's called 'tipping out.'

Chi Chi is tipping out very slightly here, but his clubface is dead square and it's something he's done for so long that he can repeat good impact conditions over and over again.

The problem most golfers have with 'tipping out' is the clubface is actually closed for them when they do it, and that combined with the tipping out action causes them to suddenly open the clubface wide open and hit a shank. I should know because last year I suffered with bouts of 'tipping out.'

The unorthodox parts for Chi Chi's swing to me start off with the address position. He stands very far away and almost address the ball like Moe Norman from the DTL perspective.

Other than that, his backswing looks pretty normal. He then 'swings left' quite noticeably with a very flat shoulder turn past impact and then has a bit of a funky finish. But other than that, his swing looks very orthodox.

I think Chi had excellent footwork and kept his clubface very square throughout the golf swing. He also mastered the 'CP release' (aka swinging left), so if he was measure on Trackman, he probably had a lot of 0* path and 0* clubface readings.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fooling Around with More Statistics

In a previous post I talked about the PGA Tour's new 'Putts Gained' statistic. I started fooling around with other statistical ideas.

The first was combining the Putts Gained and the Putts per GIR rankings. I think this gives a good indication of how good of a putter somebody is and probably a good indication of their ability to score (hitting approach shots in the right spots and/or just being able to make putts). Here's what I got:

1. Luke Donald
2. Greg Chalmers
3. Brian Gay
4. Aaron Baddeley
5. Joe Ogilvie
6. Tiger Woods
7. Jim Furyk
8. Charlie Wi
9. Bob Heintz
10. Kevin Na
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Brandt Snedeker
13. Jason Day
14. Webb Simpson
15. Geoff Ogilvy
16. Brad Faxon
17. Corey Pavin
18. Vaughn Taylor
19. Zach Johnson
20. Pat Perez
21. Harrison Frazar
22. Stephen Ames
23. Anthony Kim
24. Tim Clark
25. Parker McLachlin
26. Mike Weir
27. Daniel Chopra
28. Bryce Molder
29. Steve Stricker
30. Fredrik Jacobson
31. Ben Crane
32. Dean Wilson
33. Ryuji Imada
34. Jerry Kelly
35. Bo Van Pelt
36. Hunter Mahan
37. Chris Riley
38. George McNeill
39. Retief Goosen
40. Bob Estes
41. Scott McCarron
42. Jeff Quinney
43. Justin Leonard
44. Mark Wilson
45. James Nitties
46. Ryan Moore
47. Paul Goydos
48. Stewart Cink
49. Ben Curtis
50. Dustin Johnson
51. Lucas Glover
52. David Toms
53. Scott Verplank
54. Charley Hoffman
55. Jeff Klauk
56. Padraig Harrington
57. Tim Petrovic
58. Lee Janzen
59. Michael Letzig
60. James Driscoll
61. Steve Marino
62. Bubba Watson
63. Eric Axley
64. Jeff Overton
65. Ryan Palmer
66. Kenny Perry
67. John Mallinger
68. Kevin Sutherland
69. Brian Davis
70. Richard S. Johnson
71. David Mathis
72. David Duval
73. Ian Poulter
74. Spencer Levin
75. Jeev M. Singh
76. Scott Piercy
77. Matt Jones
78. Angel Cabrera
79. Nick Watney
80. Nathan Green
81. Marc Leishman
82. Carl Pettersson
83. Bill Haas
84. Woody Austin
85. Rod Pampling
86. Justin Rose
87. Michael Allen
88. Colt Knost
89. John Merrick
90. Phil Mickelson
91. Chad Campbell
92. Steve Lowery
93. Jason Dufner
94. Ted Purdy
95. Martin Laird
96. Matt Weibring
97. Kevin Streelman
98. Kris Blanks
99. Cliff Kresge
100. John Rollins
101. Fred Couples
102. Matt Bettencourt
103. D.A. Points
104. Tim Herron
105. John Senden
106. Charles Howell III
107. Johnson Wagner
108. Nick O'Hern
109. Cameron Beckman
110. Brett Quigley
111. Todd Hamilton
112. Andres Romero
113. Brian Bateman
114. Rory Sabbatini
115. Troy Matteson
116. Tommy Armour III
117. Aron Price
118. Tag Ridings
119. Jonathan Byrd
120. Y.E. Yang
121. Sean O'Hair
122. Sergio Garcia
123. J.J. Henry
124. Chris Stroud
125. Jimmy Walker
126. Brendon de Jonge
127. Jason Bohn
128. Brad Adamonis
129. Tom Pernice, Jr.
130. Chris DiMarco
131. Steve Elkington
132. Scott Sterling
133. Alex Cejka
134. Rich Beem
135. Bart Bryant
136. Bill Lunde
137. Mark Brooks
138. Camilo Villegas
139. K.J. Choi
140. Marc Turnesa
141. Derek Fathauer
142. Chez Reavie
143. Patrick Sheehan
144. Mark Calcavecchia
145. Leif Olson
146. Davis Love III
147. Mathew Goggin
148. Briny Baird
149. Robert Garrigus
150. Kent Jones
151. Steve Flesch
152. Ernie Els
153. Kevin Stadler
154. Heath Slocum
155. Brendon Todd
156. Charles Warren
157. Jarrod Lyle
158. Shaun Micheel
159. D.J. Trahan
160. Ken Duke
161. Tommy Gainey
162. Jonathan Kaye
163. Jeff Maggert
164. Joe Durant
165. Nicholas Thompson
166. Casey Wittenberg
167. Glen Day
168. Peter Lonard
169. Greg Owen
170. Darron Stiles
171. Rick Price
172. Greg Kraft
173. Gary Woodland
174. Boo Weekley
175. Rocco Mediate
176. Vijay Singh
177. Tom Lehman
178. Jason Gore
179. J.B. Holmes
180. Stuart Appleby
181. Matthew Borchert
182. Robert Allenby
183. Peter Tomasulo
184. Kirk Triplett
185. Adam Scott
186. Billy Mayfair
187. Will MacKenzie
188. Jay Williamson
189. Ricky Barnes

Again, that top 10 of players sounds right with guys like Luke Donald, Baddeley, Gay, Tiger and Wi all in that top. Congrats to friend of the 3Jack blog, David Orr, for his pupil Charlie Wi making the top 10.

Anyway, I then wanted to see what the DIFFERENCE in Putts Gained and Putts per GIR was and how golfers stacked up. I think these rankings help give an indication of a golfer's SCORING capability versus their putting skills. If a golfer does really well in putts per GIR versus Putts Gained, it shows to me that they at least have an ability to score well, be it by placing their approach shots in a good position or their mentality to get the birdie when they need it.

1. Jonathan Byrd
2. David Duval
3. Kris Blanks
4. Fred Couples
5. Phil Mickelson
6. Rory Sabbatini
7. Alex Cejka
8. Jason Bohn
9. Scott Verplank
10. Brian Davis
11. Matt Weibring
12. Tag Ridings
13. Joe Durant
14. Derek Fathauer
15. Dustin Johnson
16. Justin Leonard
17. Brendon de Jonge
18. Steve Stricker
19. Michael Allen
20. Heath Slocum
21. Darron Stiles
22. Rick Price
23. Anthony Kim
24. Tommy Armour III
25. Tommy Gainey
26. Brett Quigley
27. David Toms
28. Tim Herron
29. Daniel Chopra
30. J.B. Holmes
31. Jason Dufner
32. Ken Duke
33. Harrison Frazar
34. Robert Garrigus
35. Nicholas Thompson
36. Peter Lonard
37. Bill Haas
38. Charley Hoffman
39. Kirk Triplett
40. Bo Van Pelt
41. D.J. Trahan
42. Dean Wilson
43. John Mallinger
44. John Merrick
45. Vijay Singh
46. Will MacKenzie
47. Paul Goydos
48. Bubba Watson
49. Camilo Villegas
50. Adam Scott
51. Colt Knost
52. Briny Baird
53. Ernie Els
54. Billy Mayfair
55. Martin Laird
56. Shaun Micheel
57. Vaughn Taylor
58. Jeff Quinney
59. Mark Calcavecchia
60. Leif Olson
61. Ricky Barnes
62. Jimmy Walker
63. Stuart Appleby
64. Woody Austin
65. Jason Gore
66. Rocco Mediate
67. Jay Williamson
68. Charles Howell III
69. Chris DiMarco
70. Jarrod Lyle
71. Scott Piercy
72. Mathew Goggin
73. John Rollins
74. Ian Poulter
75. Michael Letzig
76. Sean O'Hair
77. Chris Stroud
78. Casey Wittenberg
79. Boo Weekley
80. Corey Pavin
81. Lucas Glover
82. Tim Clark
83. D.A. Points
84. Peter Tomasulo
85. Jerry Kelly
86. Steve Marino
87. Y.E. Yang
88. Bart Bryant
89. Charlie Wi
90. Andres Romero

Note, I didn't put in golfers whose difference in putts gained ranking and putts per GIR were somewhat miniscule. I considered 'miniscule' as any difference between -20 and +20 in ranking points.

148. Tiger Woods
149. Tim Petrovic
150. Eric Axley
151. Steve Lowery
152. Rod Pampling
153. Patrick Sheehan
154. John Senden
155. Brandt Snedeker
156. George McNeill
157. Angel Cabrera
158. Marc Leishman
159. Ryan Moore
160. Kenny Perry
161. Brian Bateman
162. Ted Purdy
163. Fredrik Jacobson
164. Brad Faxon
165. Brendon Todd
166. Nick Watney
167. Kevin Streelman
168. Parker McLachlin
169. Troy Matteson
170. David Mathis
171. Stewart Cink
172. Scott McCarron
173. Scott Sterling
174. Mark Brooks
175. Brad Adamonis
176. Bill Lunde
177. Richard S. Johnson
178. Aron Price
179. Bryce Molder
180. Padraig Harrington
181. Todd Hamilton
182. Carl Pettersson
183. Jeff Klauk
184. J.J. Henry
185. Nathan Green
186. Marc Turnesa
187. Spencer Levin
188. Ben Curtis
189. Matt Jones

Problem with this stat is there really is no trend here. If you finish high, you're probably doing a little better stroke average wise than if you finish poorly, but nothing that really stands out.

Next, I put together the following rankings:

Total Ballstriking Ranking
Putts Gained Ranking
Putts Per GIR Ranking

I think I would call this 'Total Game' statistic. Here this measures the golfer's ballstriking skills, their putting skills and their 'scoring' skills.

Not bad for a guy coming off a serious knee injury last year.

1. Tiger Woods
2. Zach Johnson
3. Jim Furyk
4. Tim Clark
5. Steve Stricker
6. Hunter Mahan
7. Stephen Ames
8. Bob Heintz
9. Brian Gay
10. Bo Van Pelt
11. Bryce Molder
12. Charlie Wi
13. Justin Leonard
14. Brandt Snedeker
15. David Toms
16. Ben Crane
17. Harrison Frazar
18. Matt Kuchar
19. Luke Donald
20. Vaughn Taylor
21. Kenny Perry
22. Kevin Na
23. Lucas Glover
24. Scott Verplank
25. Mark Wilson
26. Jason Day
27. Steve Marino
28. Greg Chalmers
29. Jerry Kelly
30. Chris Riley
31. Dean Wilson
32. Bob Estes
33. Corey Pavin
34. Ryan Moore
35. Joe Ogilvie
36. Scott McCarron
37. Dustin Johnson
38. Charley Hoffman
39. Michael Allen
40. Aaron Baddeley
41. Webb Simpson
42. Geoff Ogilvy
43. Mike Weir
44. Pat Perez
45. Jeff Klauk
46. Chad Campbell
47. Marc Leishman
48. Jason Dufner
49. Daniel Chopra
50. Kris Blanks
51. Jeff Quinney
52. Anthony Kim
53. Brad Faxon
54. Retief Goosen
55. Bill Haas
56. Fredrik Jacobson
57. John Senden
58. George McNeill
59. Ted Purdy
60. Paul Goydos
61. Stewart Cink
62. Ryan Palmer
63. Kevin Sutherland
64. Michael Letzig
65. Colt Knost
66. Matt Weibring
67. Parker McLachlin
68. Nick Watney
69. John Mallinger
70. Ryuji Imada
71. Justin Rose
72. Rod Pampling
73. John Merrick
74. Tommy Armour III
75. Jason Bohn
76. Lee Janzen
77. Brian Davis
78. Fred Couples
79. Tim Petrovic
80. James Nitties
81. Matt Jones
82. Kevin Streelman
83. Bubba Watson
84. Troy Matteson
85. Chris Stroud
86. Scott Piercy
87. Woody Austin
88. Spencer Levin
89. Martin Laird
90. Sean O'Hair
91. Angel Cabrera
92. Jonathan Byrd
93. Richard S. Johnson
94. Sergio Garcia
95. Ben Curtis
96. Nick O'Hern
97. Steve Elkington
98. Alex Cejka
99. Padraig Harrington
100. Scott Sterling
101. D.A. Points
102. J.J. Henry
103. Patrick Sheehan
104. Ian Poulter
105. Steve Lowery
106. Jeff Overton
107. Eric Axley
108. Heath Slocum
109. John Rollins
110. David Mathis
111. Y.E. Yang
112. David Duval
113. Tag Ridings
114. Bill Lunde
115. Cameron Beckman
116. Robert Garrigus
117. Charles Howell III
118. Rich Beem
119. Phil Mickelson
120. Briny Baird
121. Nathan Green
122. Carl Pettersson
123. Johnson Wagner
124. D.J. Trahan
125. Chez Reavie
126. Camilo Villegas
127. Cliff Kresge
128. Joe Durant
129. Todd Hamilton
130. Bart Bryant
131. Charles Warren
132. Ernie Els
133. Chris DiMarco
134. Davis Love III
135. Greg Owen
136. Brett Quigley
137. Kevin Stadler
138. K.J. Choi
139. Jeff Maggert
140. Brendon de Jonge
141. Rory Sabbatini
142. Aron Price
143. Matt Bettencourt
144. Tim Herron
145. Mathew Goggin
146. Andres Romero
147. Robert Allenby
148. Kent Jones
149. Boo Weekley
150. Mark Brooks
151. Darron Stiles
152. Brian Bateman
153. Nicholas Thompson
154. Tom Pernice, Jr.
155. Tom Lehman
156. Steve Flesch
157. Jimmy Walker
158. Kirk Triplett
159. Jay Williamson
160. Glen Day
161. Brad Adamonis
162. Casey Wittenberg
163. Mark Calcavecchia
164. Vijay Singh
165. Will MacKenzie
166. Marc Turnesa
167. Jason Gore
168. Billy Mayfair
169. Leif Olson
170. Derek Fathauer
171. Jarrod Lyle
172. Rocco Mediate
173. Ken Duke
174. Rick Price
175. Ricky Barnes
176. Peter Tomasulo
177. Peter Lonard
178. Brendon Todd
179. Gary Woodland
180. Greg Kraft
181. Adam Scott
182. Stuart Appleby
183. J.B. Holmes


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thinking About Scoring

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the term ‘scoring’ and what it is and how to go about it.

I think the general feeling I have on scoring is that it’s not really one particular part of the game, it’s more or less shooting a better score than your actual ballstriking (and even putting and short game) deserve.

It seems to me that ‘scoring’ CAN be good putting or a good short game and usually consists of that, but is not mandatory. And a lot of it seems to be ‘hitting the right shot at the right time.’

For instance, my lowest rounds ever have been two rounds of 64. On the first 64 I shot, I can honestly say that I didn’t strike the ball great and didn’t hit it great. I probably hit about 12-13 greens that day. But even more amazing about that 64 was it came with a FOUR PUTT.

For instance, on the first hole I hit a so-so driver in the left hole, then hit a 7-iron to about 12 feet and made the putt. But on the 8th hole I pull hooked a 3-iron into the opposite fairway, then hit a flop shot that was basically a prayer that went THRU a big pine tree, missed the entire tree and lipped out for birdie (and kicked in for par). And in between there I had some times where I hit a good driver, a nice approach and 2-putted from 10-15 feet. So, it wasn’t like I struck the ball exceptionally well or I putted great, I just scored well.

I’ve been starting to think a bit more about scoring lately, particularly from taking the Lag Erickson Advanced Ballstriking modules. One of the protocols is to flatten out your downswing plane quite a bit and to flatten your lie angles on some old, forged irons. I currently have 2 sets of old Hogan irons (’63 IPT’s and ’83 Apex PC’s) that are bent 5* flat from standard. Lag Erickson brought up the point that because you really won’t miss shots left and long of the green with this flatter downswing plane and flatter iron lie angles. And because of that, you won’t put yourself in a tough position to get up and down because missing a green left and long usually puts the golfer in jail.

If you think about it for a second, it does make a lot of sense since most greens are sloped uphill for the golfer. So if they miss long (and left), they’ll have a downhill chip instead of an uphill putt if they missed right (and short or pin-high). And I think it’s little things like this that usually typify ‘scoring’ and what makes a good ‘scorer’ versus a poor ‘scorer.’

Of course, there’s some other things that I think make a good ‘scorer’ and here are some of my thoughts on that.


I think this is extremely important and a big advantage that the ABS modules provide for their students. With that flat downswing plane and flat lie angles, you’re simply not going to come over the top or hook shots well left. Your misses will be pushes out to the right.

Whether or not you miss right or left, I think it’s an ENORMOUS advantage to miss shots one way. Even Tiger Woods and Anthony Kim talked about this in their clinic.

The one way miss is a CONFIDENCE builder. If you know where your misses are going (and they are going in one direction), you can play for that and fire at flags and break down your swing thoughts in a simpler fashion.

That’s a big reason why I’m not interested in hitting a ‘soft draw’ or a ‘power fade’ as my stock shot. My experience hitting both of those is that when you ‘double cross’ the shot (hitting a fade when you play for a draw or vice versa), the misses are too big. However, if your stock shot is a dead straight shot, the double cross is really taken out of the equation. You may hit a fade or a draw when playing for a straight shot and still wind up in decent shape.


The title is quite simple. If you drive the ball well and you putt well, you normally score well. IMO, this is because the iron shots are much easier with the good drives putting you in good position and if you miss an iron shot, your putting saves you. Also, you can chew up those par-5’s as most of them are designed where a good driver and a decent second shot gets you near the green on the approach.


The PGA Tour golfers usually avoid O.B and hazards and just as importantly, spots where you cannot get up and down from.

If there were signs on the golf course that told golfers the percentage of getting up and down, we would certainly treat the 5% or 10% ‘signs’ almost like a hazard. Not only is your chance of getting up and down is anemic, but you’re likely to take 4 or 5 shots instead of 3.

The PGA Tour golfers pretty much map out where they want to avoid missing shots, even in non-hazard or non-O.B. areas. They find the places where if they miss they can get the best chance of getting up and down. The problem with amateurs is that they often don’t take any of this into consideration.


One of the things that caught my eye and got me thinking was the ‘Putts Gained’ statistical article that I wrote a post about earlier this month.

The key point I thought was made here:
The best putter in 2009 by this measure was Luke Donald, who gained an average of 0.905 strokes on the field by virtue of his putting skill alone. Mr. Stricker, who finished No. 1 in putting average last year largely because of his proficiency with approach shots, ranked a surprising 69th in putts gained per round. (Deeper analysis by MIT showed that Mr. Stricker's ranking was also negatively affected because he happened to play on the "easiest" greens of all 166 players sampled.)
While Stricker was the #1 putter on Tour last year in the Putts per GIR stat, he was ranked 69th in the Putts Gained statistic. That doesn’t mean Stricker is a bad putter, in reality he’s still a very above average putter.

However, his ballstriking was phenomenal and he was probably very good at getting his approach shots into makeable positions.

Somebody like Luke Donald who was #1 in putts gained, didn’t fare as well in putts per GIR because Stricker was leaving himself in a much better position to make putts.

But, I also do not believe it’s all about hitting shots closer, but also leaving yourself with makeable putts.

David Orr did a study of nearly 700 golfers, from the 50 PGA Tour pros to the extremely high handicapper, and found that the putt made the most was at the 5 o’clock position of the fall line (an uphill putt that breaks slightly right to left).

I sort of put this information on hold for awhile. But recently the course I play has aerated the greens and the one thing I noticed is that once you get outside of 10 feet, you simply won’t make a downhill put on aerated greens unless you are plain lucky.

The downhill putts are hit softer and thus the ball rolls at a slower velocity. Because of this, the ball tends to ‘grab’ the green more and the aeration holes knock the ball off line. However, with uphill putts the ball has to be hit harder and has more velocity and is not effected by the aeration hole as much.

Even when you are not playing on aerated greens, the same can apply with soft spike indentations, ball marks, etc.

So, golfers can really start making more putts if they can find a way to leave themselves with more makeable putts. If you have a 30 foot putt that bends sidehill, you may want to make sure that you don’t miss it on the high side. Or if you are using the Rule of 12 and you are in between clubs, you may want to use the club that will leave you with an uphill putt.

The same applies with approach shots. Knocking a shot in from 150 yards is almost impossible. Hitting one so close that you have a kick in putt is pretty slim. However, if you can start thinking about leaving yourself with an uphill putt, your chance of making a 20 foot uphill putt should be greater than making a 20 foot downhill putt.

A lot of this reminds me a bit of football strategy. Many times coaches see their defense is struggling and giving up points and blame it on a lack of talent on defense. However, the problem may be more along the lines of the offense throwing the ball too much and not chewing up the clock and the time of possession and putting the defense in a better position to succeed.

I think it’s important to recognize that somebody like Steve Stricker isn’t the best ‘pure’ putter on Tour last year, but he may have been the best ‘scorer’ on Tour last year and did it a lot with his ballstriking.


Friday, March 26, 2010

A Look At the Unorthodox Swings - Part 7

Here I look at Paul Azingers swing.

Azinger was one of the world's best players back in the late 80's and early 90's. He was known for having a very well rounded game of ballstriking and short game.

As you will see in the sequences below, he has a very strong grip and mostly hit a punch type of shot with every swing.

In the Advanced Ballstriking curriculum, there are some things that would be looked upon favorably. Azinger's downswing is on the "4:30 line' or the 'elbow plane.' He also had very good footwork as he was considered one of the more athletic golfers on the PGA Tour in his prime.

The big key to me is looking at the DTL sequence. Particularly looking at his swing at the top and then at the 1/2 way point of the downswing. His clubface is dead shut at the top of the swing, but at the 1/2 down point his swing is dead square.

One of the things we see from these good ballstrikers with unorthodox swings is that most of them have very orthodox downswings and do those important things like keeping the face square.

That being said, I think it's rare for a golfer with a very shut face at the top of the swing to get it square at the 1/2 down point. Usually I find that even good golfers with that shut of a face don't get the face square until right before impact. Then it becomes a question of whether or not they can square it up on time.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Knudson Swing from 'Swing Motion' Tape

Here's a good video of George Knudson's swing in his latter days. Knudson is a guy I like to find things about and study his swing because he was one of the all-time great ballstrikers and was pretty tall. He may have had the best footwork of any golfer to have ever played the game.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mac O'Grady In His Prime Swing

Here's something many of us have been interested in, a slo-mo video of Mac O'Grady's swing when he was in his prime (1990).



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Plane Arm Motion w/Shawn Clement

One of the blog's faves, Shawn Clement (, gives his thoughts on the arm motion in the golf swing.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Understanding the Unorthodox Swings - Part 6

Here I look at Allen Doyle’s swing.

Allen Doyle was an amateur golfer from LaGrange, Georgia and was a consistent winner and contender of top amateur tournaments like the Sunnehanna Invitational. He was also consistently appearing in US Amateur match play. Despite his excellent success as an amateur, he never turned professional until he was 48 years old and wound up winning 3 tournaments on the then Nike Tour (now the Nationwide Tour) and a year later he went onto the Champions Tour where he has 11 victories including 4 Champions Tour Major Championships.

Doyle was mostly known for his fantastic putting, but was also a very good ballstriker. His only weakness was his lack of length off the tee.

It’s easy to see why Doyle hit the ball short off the tee. He had a very short swing and teed the ball up towards the middle of his stance.

The picture above is of Doyle at the top of his swing which would probably be about ½ way back for many golfers. The ball position with the driver was more towards the middle of his stance, so he was likely hitting down on the ball with the driver which makes it very difficult to hit it far. However, he may have been more comfortable with the trajectory window of playing the ball further back in his stance with the driver.

Doyle was a good sized golfer, standing at about 6’3” tall. What really stands out to me about his swing was his excellent foot action and lower body action.

He certainly starts the downswing from the ground up, flexes the knees quite a bit, lowers his center of gravity and uses the ground to push off from to power his pivot.

He also utilizes pitch elbow to help maximize his trigger delay.

Like the other golfers examined in this unorthodox swings series, there is a ton of ‘good’ going on in this swing. In fact, I believe that if Doyle’s swing was not so short, his swing would be much more appealing to the rest of the golfing population.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Improve Your Bunker Play w/Chuck Evans

Here's a good video by Chuck Evans in order to help golfers out with their bunker play.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Michael Breed and the New Ball Flight Laws

Many golfers that read the blog already understand this, but I quite often get questions as to why I think D-Plane and the 'new ball flight laws' are important. Here, Michael Breed gets it correct (although I would've just said that initial ball flight is about 85% face and 15% path)

IMO, understanding this is SOOOOO important. It takes out a lot of mystery and thus confusion and frustration out of your game. One of the things I used to struggle with is the old ball flight laws had me drawing erroneous conclusions. And because I thought I had such a problem with the PATH, I would then constantly work on my address alignments when really I needed to work on the clubface first.

Now, it's not that address alignments are unimportant, but you can still hit very good shots and have your address alignments off.

For example, if I hit a pull hook, my assumption would be that I made an outside to in path with a closed clubface. The 'new ball flight laws' tell us that my path MAY have been dead square or even inside-to-out, but my clubface was closed and that was the culprit of the hook.

Because I now understand the CORRECT laws of ball flight, I am on the right track to figuring out the issue.

This has mad golf a lot more enjoyable for me because it's no longer a mystery.

Today I was on the range with a friend who is a 12 handicap whose typical miss is a low, pull hook. He decided to switch from an overlapping grip to an interlocking grip and said he couldn't understand why, but it made a big difference. I then explained to him that for whatever reason, the clubface was no longer getting closed at impact.

Who knows if the interlocking grip will make the difference for him, but now that he understands that his path is pretty good, but his closed clubface causes him problems, the game has become simplified for him and I think he'll start enjoying it more.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chamblee Misses The Target, Again...

There was a small article over at Golf Magazine by Brandel Chamblee that drew a lot of praise from golfers. You can find it HERE
Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Seve Ballesteros all won majors in their 20s. You could argue that they were golf geniuses, and that's true, but what's more important is that their genius was nurtured, not squelched. All five had unique swings, the first three overseen by teachers who allowed them to retain their individuality, while the latter two were self-taught, letting the flight of the ball instruct them.

Imagine if these great champs had been told to swing on a prescribed plane and grew up looking for evidence of their success or failure in that regard by watching video. Imagine if they had jumped from instructor to instructor looking for a system that would give them complete control of the golf ball and how never finding that secret would kill their confidence.

Not one current player under 30 has won a major. Why? Some of the blame goes to Tiger Woods, a genius himself who has taken a large portion of recent majors and intimidated many contenders. But mostly I think it is the teachers who rely on video in an effort to bring order out of the chaos of golf.

There are a lot of great teachers out there, but too many have their players caught up in a never-ending quest to perfect what can't be perfected, and in the process those players lose their instincts and confidence. Throw the camera away! Stick to fundamentals.
The writing of this article didn't really surprise me. Chamblee and the Stack and Tilt teachers have a grudge against each other. But the biggest reason this doesn't surprise me is with the recent success of Ricky Fowler.

Fowler has a bit of an unorthodox golf swing and has done well so far in his young pro career. He mentioned that he doesn't work with a video camera and basically tries to work off what the ball flight is telling him.

In my experience stuff like this happens all of the time. A new Tour golfer with an unorthodox swing comes out and starts playing well and then everybody starts claiming that the golf swing should just happen 'naturally' and thru hitting a ton of golf balls and working on the 'fundamentals.'

Happens all of the time. Happened when Furyk came out. Happened when Azinger was playing well. Same with Kenny Perry.

Of course, the 'fundamentals' for most people mean the grip, tempo and address position. And believe me, this is what Brandel Chamblee thinks are the fundamentals as well.

Furyk used a double overlap grip. Azinger may have had the strongest grip in PGA Tour history. So, I'm not really sure if they meet critics and analyst's 'fundamentals.' Yet, they keep preaching these fundamentals even though these 'natural' golfers are at different extremes.

I contend that the problem is not the video camera or even Trackman (or the 6-degree 3D motion analysis machines), but the actual teacher.

Studies and research have shown the power that the video camera can provide to people trying to learn something. I should know, I was part of a research project in college that studied this exact subject. The results were quite impressive and clearly show the overwhelming majority of people learn better and faster thru visual learning methods like using a camcorder.

I believe the same can apply for learning thru Trackman as well. Here's a great video by Brian Manzella showing how one can learn while using Trackman.

That doesn't seem too hard to me. I think people get a bit intimidated by the Trackman technology and the numbers being spit out, but the reality is that Trackman is about helping a golfer find the right FEEL for THEM and then ingraining that feel. And doing it very quickly.

So all that 'natural' golf instruction can be done much more efficiently by using a camcorder and/or Trackman. It just depends on having the teaching to do it.

The big problem is that if you're being taught the wrong things or things that are flawed, you'll just learn that flawed instruction more quickly thru a camcorder or Trackman.

The other great claim is to 'teach yourself by looking at the ball flight.' While it's a nice concept, as Manzella points out there are many problems with that.

In the July 2009 Trackman Newsletter, page 3 shows the effect that even the slightest off center hit can have on the golf ball.

Shots missed by ONE DIMPLE from the sweetspot can cause a ball to go offline by about 3 yards for a 170 yard shot with a 6-iron and 10 yards with a 250 yard driver.

The important part to note is that missing by one dimple can still feel like a good strike to the golfer. Trackman helps eliminate this. But just by judging the ball flight without any help can present problems.

In the end, the golf swing is a very complex motion and trying to make it so simple usually doesn't work for everybody. Doctor's use MRI all of the time to diagnose problems. But if they don't know what they are doing, then they can hurt the patient. The MRI isn't the problem the doctor is. The same holds true with the golf swing and camcorders/Trackman.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Look Into Steel Iron Shafts

I am a believer that anybody serious about the game should have steel shafts in their irons. I personally like my irons very heavy, at the suggestion of Lag Erickson, because it slows things down for me and allows me to get into pitch elbow and use ground forces in my swing. Lighter shafts cause me to start firing the hands too early and not getting enough time to push off the ground with my feet.

One thing I'm noticing with Module 2 of the Advanced Ballstriking program is that it allows me to better control the low point, which has been an issue with me in the past.

So, not only do graphite shafts cause that problem, but I also think they are very tough to work the ball with and to control your trajectory height. And I think the don't force you to strengthen your wrists and hands enough which can lead to issues down the road.

So, I want to look at steel shafts in irons for this post. I'll try to avoid the 'lightweight' steel shafts is pretty much every shaft manufacturer these days makes a shaft that is as light as 95 grams or so. We'll concentrate on the heavier shafts instead.


What you will find with most steel shafts is that the stiffer the flex, the heavier the shaft is. That was a problem in the 90's because often times manufacturers would just weigh the shaft for QC purposes and assign a flex according to that weight. So you may wind up with a shaft that is heavy like an X100, but the actual flex would be a R300.

However, it appears that they've eliminated that method from their QC processes.

Dynamic Gold's weight differences are not too bad as the top 3 shaft flexes use are the R300 (regular), S300 (stiff), and the X100 (x-stiff).

The S300 and X100 are supposed to weigh the SAME (130 grams), but the R300 weighs in at 127 grams. Then if you go with a different flex like a R400 or a X200, the weight changes.

The standard Dynamic Gold Shafts have a LOW launch to them. However, there is also the Dynamic Gold HL shafts which launch higher. But this high launch shaft is much lighter as well.

There's also the Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shaft which I've never hit before, but it's supposed to provide a lower launch than the standard DG shafts.


Rifle makes primarily two different shafts...the Rifle Flighted and the Project X.

They have different shaft labels with a '5.5' flex being about a S300 for True Temper. The 6.0 is about a X100 and the 5.0 is about a R300.

The Project X is much lighter than the Dynamic Gold Shafts. The 5.5 shafts (S300) weigh 115 grams, 15 grams lighter than their Dynamic Gold counterpart. The 6.0 flex weighs 120 grams, 10 grams lighter than their DG counter part (X100).

The FCM Rifles are 'frequency matched.' Meaning that if we were to take the 3-iron and the 8-iron of a set and put them on a shaft frequency analyzer machine, the shaft frequency would measure the SAME. Project X shafts are not frequency matched.

The FCM Rifles add weight as the club gets shorter. So a 3-iron shaft may weight 105 grams whereas the PW shaft may weigh 125 grams.

Both the Project X and the FCM Rifles are high launch shafts.


The standard KBS shafts are a bit lighter than the Dynamic Gold. The general concept of these shafts, from what I've heard, is to make a cross between the Rifle and Dynamic Gold shafts. The stiff flex shafts weigh 120 grams whereas the X-Stiff weighs in at 130 grams.

These shafts are frequency matched and have a higher launch. But they are also a bit stiffer at the tip and have that Dynamic Gold feel as well.


I haven't hit Apollo shafts in awhile. When I did I thought they were okay, but I seemed to lose some distance with them. The Ballistik model weighs 136 grams, so it's a pretty heavy shaft.

The launch on the Ballistik shafts are mid-high.

I would stay away from the Nippon shafts since they are generally extremely light outside of some of the Super Peening shafts and they are not cheap.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hammer Drill w/Bryan Hepler

Here's the 'Hammer Drill' from Bryan Hepler, a MORAD and TGM instructor who also made my first annual top 50 teachers in the world list last year. This comes from Golf Tips Magazine.

Please click the article to enlarge it.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Cut Shot Therapy

Here, Chuck Evans explains TGM's 'cut shot therapy drill.'


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Putts Gained Statistical Rankings

Here's an interesting article by the Wall Street Journal discussing a new statistical study set forth by some MIT mathematicians in order to better rank putters on the PGA Tour. WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE

Here's the key premise to the article:
With this baseline established, the model compares the results of each putt a pro takes to the expected putts-to-go average on that particular green by a hypothetical average field. If a player holes a 15- footer whose value is 1.82, he gains .82 strokes on the field. If he needs two putts, he loses .18 strokes on the field. At the end of the round, the model adds up all the pluses and minuses to produce the net putts-gained statistic.

The best putter in 2009 by this measure was Luke Donald, who gained an average of 0.905 strokes on the field by virtue of his putting skill alone. Mr. Stricker, who finished No. 1 in putting average last year largely because of his proficiency with approach shots, ranked a surprising 69th in putts gained per round. (Deeper analysis by MIT showed that Mr. Stricker's ranking was also negatively affected because he happened to play on the "easiest" greens of all 166 players sampled.)
I applaud the PGA Tour for trying to put this together. This is very much along the lines of baseball's 'Sabermetrics' methodology which is widely used today. For instance, Sabermetrics can measure pitchers performances by looking at how they do given strength of competition and the ballpark they pitch in. So, if Pitcher A has a 3.00 ERA at a 'hitters park' and Pitcher B has a 2.80 ERA at a 'pitcher's park', Sabermetrics can go into detail and show who was truly the better pitcher.

So, here are the rankings from 2009 of 'putts gained.'

1. Luke Donald
2. Tiger Woods
3. Ben Curtis
4. Bryce Molder
5. Brad Faxon
6. Jim Furyk
7. Brandt Snedeker
8. Brian Gay
9. Matt Kuchar
10. Aaron Baddeley
11. Greg Chalmers
12. Parker McLachlin
13. Bob Heintz
14. Chris Couch
15. Joe Ogilvie
16. Matt Jones
17. Fredrik Jacob
18. Jason Day
19. Geoff Ogilvy
20. Webb Simpson
21. Kevin Na
22. Pat Perez
23. Charlie Wi
24. Scott McCarron
25. Jeff Klauk
26. Mike Weir
27. Stephen Leaney
28. Zach Johnson
29. Stephen Ames
30. Jesper Parnevik
31. Ben Crane
32. Spencer Levin
33. Padraig Harrington
34. George McNeil
35. Hunter Mahan
36. Stewart Cink
37. Ryuji Imada
38. Brandt Jobe
39. Nathan Green
40. Paul Casey
41. Corey Pavin
42. Mark Wilson
43. Retief Goosen
44. Ryan Moore
45. Tim Clark
46. Richard Johnson
47. Vaughn Taylor
48. Jerry Kelly
49. Carl Pettersson
50. Chris Riley
51. Bob Estes
52. David Mathis
53. Dicky Pride
54. Harrison Frazar
55. Tim Petrovic
56. Kenny Perry
57. Dean Wilson
58. Eric Axley
59. James Driscol
60. Bo Van Pelt
61. Daniel Chopra
62. Nick Watney
63. Anthony Kim
64. Kevin Sutherland
65. James Nitties
66. Lee Janzen
67. Angel Cabrera
68. Jeff Quinney
69. Steve Stricker
70. Marc Leishman
71. Henrik Stenson
72. Jeff Overton
73. Ryan Palmer
74. Jeev Singh
75. Lucas Glover
76. Mathias Gronberg
77. Rod Pampling
78. Ted Purdy
79. Steve Marino
80. Paul Goydos
81. Kevin Streelman
82. Michael Letzig
83. JJ Henry
84. Todd Hamilton
85. Steve Lowery
86. Charley Hoffman
87. Justin Leonard
88. Justin Rose
89. Bubba Watson
90. David Toms
91. Ian Poulter
92. Aron Price
93. John Mallinger
94. Arjun Atwal
95. Scott Piercy
96. Marc Turnesa
97. Chad Campbell
98. Troy Matteson
99. Dustin Johnson
100. Matt Bettenco
101. Graeme McDowell
102. John Senden
103. Brad Adamonis
104. Brian Bateman
105. Woody Austin
106. Scott Sterlin
107. Bill Lunde
108. Scott Verplank
109. Bill Haas
110. Mark Brooks
111. Colt Knost
112. Cliff Kresge
113. Cameron Beckman
114. Johnson Wagner
115. John Merrick
116. Martin Laird
117. Troy Kelly
118. Nick O'Hern
119. Brian Davis
120. John Rollins
121. Jason Dufner
122. David Bergani
123. Michael Allen
124. Bob Tway
125. DA Points
126. Tom Pernice,
127. Martin Kaymer
128. Rich Beem
129. Andres Romero
130. KJ Choi
131. Charles Howel
132. YE Yang
133. Sergio Garcia
134. Patrick Sheehan
135. Wil Collins
136. Sean O'Hair
137. Steve Elkington
138. Chris Stroud
139. David Duval
140. Tim Herron
141. Brendon Todd
142. Jimmy Walker
143. Matt Weibring
144. Bart Bryant
145. Chris DiMarco
146. Brian Vranesh
147. Brett Quigley
148. Kent Jones
149. Phil Mickelson
150. Tim Wilkinson
151. Tommy Armour
152. Aaron Watkins
153. Frank Licklit
154. Chez Reavie
155. Dudley Hart
156. John Huston
157. Camilo Villegas
158. Steve Flesch
159. Kevin Stadler
160. Davis Love II
161. Brendon de Jonge
162. Steve Allan
163. Tag Ridings
164. Kris Blanks
165. Charles Warre
166. Mark Calcavecchia
167. Leif Olson
168. Mathew Goggin
169. Fred Couples
170. Rory Sabbatini
171. Rory McIlroy
172. Jeff Maggert
173. Briny Baird
174. Jason Bohn
175. Jonathan Kaye
176. Roland Thatch
177. Tyler Aldridge
178. Ernie Els
179. Alex Cejka
180. Derek Fathaue
181. Robert Garrigus
182. Jarrod Lyle
183. Glen Day
184. Michael Bradley
185. Shaun Micheel
186. Greg Owen
187. Billy Andrade
188. DJ Trahan
189. Casey Wittenberg
190. Tom Lehman
191. Kyle Stanley
192. Heath Slocum
193. Jonathan Byrd
194. Ken Duke
195. Greg Kraft
196. Trevor Immelman
197. Gary Woodland
198. Nicholas Thompson
199. Peter Lonard
200. Tommy Gainey
201. Boo Weekley
202. Scott Gutsche
203. Carlos Franco
204. Rocco Mediate
205. Matthew Borch
206. Robert Allenby
207. Jason Gore
208. Peter Tomasulo
209. Vijay Singh
210. Stuart Applebly
211. JP Hayes
212. Darron Stiles
213. Notah Begay
214. Danny Lee
215. Joe Durant
216. JB Holmes
217. Rick Price
218. James Oh
219. Kirk Triplett
220. Adam Scott
221. Billy Mayfair
222. Jay Williamson
223. Will MacKenzie
224. Ricky Barnes
225. Robert Gamez

Let's take a look at this in conjunction with my '2009 Total Ballstriking Stats'

First, let's take a look at the top 10 PUTTS GAINED and see where they ranked in my total ballstriking stats. The ballstriking rankings will be in parentheses:

1. Luke Donald (141)
2. Tiger Woods (13)
3. Ben Curtis (169)
4. Bryce Molder (47)
5. Brad Faxon (184)
6. Jim Furyk (52)
7. Brandt Snedeker (86)
8. Brian Gay (93)
9. Matt Kuchar (97)
10. Aaron Baddeley (179)

Now, let's take a look at the top 10 BALLSTRIKERS and their putts gained rankings:

1. Jason Bohn (174)
2. Heath Slocum (192)
3. David Toms (90)
4. Jay Williamson (222)
5. Robert Allenby (206)
6. Greg Owen (186)
7. Joe Durant (215)
8. John Senden (102)
9. Kenny Perry (56)
10. D.J. Trahan (188)

I'll probably be referring to this in my 'scouting reports' and Major Championship overviews on the forum.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Analyzing David Duval's Swing

One thing I’ve always been curious about is what caused David Duval’s swing to go awry.

Obviously, injuries and vertigo played a factor. I had a friend who had vertigo and it really knocked him for a loop for almost 2 years. I don’t think that can go understated.

But still, it’s been years since that has happened and like Lag Erickson likes to say ‘impact is objective.’

Many golfers don’t realize just how great Duval once was. He was the guy that could’ve given Tiger a real run for his money because he basically did everything just as well as Tiger. He could hit it long, he could hit it accurately, he was a good iron player and at the time…many thought he was a better putter than Tiger was. Duval’s putting was really good at the time.

Here’s a look at Duval’s swing back in 1999.

When I look at this swing and have become a bit better versed in Lag Erickson’s Advanced Ball Striking swing philosophy, Duval’s swing fits very well with what ABS is about. It pretty much hits all of the major characteristics…probably better than any other PGA Tour pro today.

Now, let’s take a look at his current swing.

There’s not a lot of difference going on here. I think Clampett brings up a good point, but probably not the point you are thinking.

Before I get into that, let’s look at Duval’s ballstriking stats over the years:


1997 – 11th
1998 – 2nd
1999 – 1st
2000 – 2nd
2001 – 46th
2002 – 85th
2006 – 145th
2008 – 191st
2009 – 163

What’s interesting here is that his power dipped a bit in this time. But the total driving stats are mostly due to his very inaccurate driving of the golf ball. I would imagine that has played a bit of a role in his driving distance as he may take some off his swing in order to keep the ball in play.

Here’s a look at his GIR stats:


1997 – 24
1998 – 5
1999 – 1
2000 – 9
2001 – 41
2002 – 100
2006 – 187
2008 – 197
2009 – 184

One thing Clampett said that really struck a chord with me was that Duval used to never miss left after he hit that first shot out of bounds left.

However, his swing looks pretty much the same as it did back in 1999. So what is the big difference that I see?

The clubface.

Duval has always had a closed face at the top of the swing, but the face is now more shut…particularly in the takeaway and in the downswing.

1999 SWING

2009 SWING

In the 2009 swing, the bottom pic where he is at P5 we can see a lot more clubface than we could in 1999.

This is something I went over in my very first lesson with Ted Fort ( Like Duval, I had a very shut clubface in the backswing. To get that clubface back to square at impact, I would need to open it up to square. But the issue was that it would almost make a vertical hinge motion in order to do so, a hinge action not prescribed for full swings.

And if I didn’t open the clubface enough on the downswing, I would have a closed face and miss left. If I overdid it, then I would have an open face and could miss right. All in all, I had to rely too much on my hands and not enough on my pivot.

Duval still has a world class pivot action IMO, but since he has that clubface so closed, he still needs to use his hands and coordination to square up the face. I think the big problem is Duval knew too little about the golf swing when he started to struggle and then went to instructors that didn’t help him any. Then he tried to go back to his ‘old way’ of swinging and went back to his old strong grip, but didn’t realize that his shut clubface is now much more shut than it was in the past and has yet to fully correct it.

I think the swing is pretty much there to return Duval back to his former glory. But his clubface is the key monkey wrench in his machine. Get that straightened out and it will still probably take some time to regain his confidence, but eventually he’ll get it.


Friday, March 12, 2010

SliceFixer Students Video

Here's a video compilation somebody made of SliceFixer's (Geoff Jones) students swings. I thought some would really enjoy.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Understanding the Unorthodox Swings - Part 5

Here we look at Jeev Milkha Singh.

From the Face On view the swing looks somewhat orthodox.

From the DTL view is where we see some oddities in his swing.

He has a pretty upright address position with little flex in his knees. He then takes the club a little outside and laid off at P4, but the really lowers his Center of Gravity (COG) and gets the club on the elbow plane beautifully.

Then at impact he has 'plenty of right arm' and saves that right arm past impact.

I think that a key to Singh's swing is he keeps the right heel pretty flat on the ground at impact. While it's hardly mandatory, it helps Singh lower his COG which is needed given how high his COG at the top of the swing.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

D-Plane and Ray Romano

On our forum we've been talking about the 'Haney Project' starring Ray Romano. And in the past we've discussed things like D-Plane, the 'new ball flight laws' and what constitutes 'thinking too much' in the golf swing.

It never ceases to amaze me how all sorts of golfers, even instructors, are insistent on believing that the golf swing and instruction HAS TO BE simple.


Because they are afraid of 'thinking too much.'

The problem is that whether we like it or not, the golf swing is a very complex subject. And even worse, trying to make it simple often times just leads to confusion which leads 'thinking too much.'

As I stated once, 'too much thinking, not enough understanding.'

THAT to me is the key. Understanding the info. If you really understand the subject, then you will not be as confused and you will cease 'over-thinking' things.

Some golfers are lucky enough to be very sharply in tune with their swing and how to adjust...almost order to properly strike the golf ball. But, there are not many Fred Couples types in the world.

There also were not many Beethoven's or Mozart's in this lifetime either, but for some reason golfer's tend to believe that it doesn't apply to golf.

Go figure.

When watching 'The Haney Project' it's very obvious that Romano's big issue is his lack of clubface control. It's also very obvious that Romano is very confused as to why his missed shots are so bad.

This is where a simple 'new ball flight laws' explanation helps.

Believe me, I've been there. Right now I'm hitting a pretty nice push draw (that I would like to straighten out, but I'll live with it for now).

What does the 'new ball flight laws tell us?'

My clubface is OPEN at impact and my path is a little further right of the clubface at impact.

That's a big difference from the 'old ball flight laws' which would tell me that my face is CLOSED at impact and my path is out to the right.

But let's say the initial direction is at the target and then hooks hard left of the target. The old ball flight laws would tell us that the path was at the target, but the face was closed. The 'new ball flight laws' would tell us that the face is SQUARE and the path is too far out to the right.

That's a big thing to know. And that takes some thinking. But if you UNDERSTAND the facts, you can start to put yourself on the right path to correcting the problem.

Here's a golfer who hit a bad shot, a ground ball to the left.

I'm sure his playing partners would tell him 'hey, you looked up on that one.' Y'know...'keeping it simple.'

But let's take a look at him at impact.

So what's happening is that his buddies are not helping him and he just gets more confused.

What's worse is his buddies will tell him other simple things like 'try a smoother takeaway' or 'swing slower' in order to get him to 'keep his head down' when he's ignoring things like swing plane, clubface, low point, pivot and footwork.

That's a big reason why golfers haven't improved their average score in the past 80 years...too many of them want a quick fix and a simple solution when the swing takes work and is a complex endeavor. The key is to understand the swing by understanding certain parts at a time.

Some golfers are able to pick up many parts of the swing and understand them quite quickly. Some need more time. But being in fear of working to understand the complexities of the swing will just make things more confusing from my experience.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Understanding the Unorthodox Swings - Part 4

Here I look at Mr. X, Miller Barber.

I don't have this swing sequence available for a full image, but here's a .pdf file of Barber in his early days. In fact, this swing seems even more unorthodox and extreme than the swing sequence above.


While most people marvel at Barber's 'flying right elbow', I'm more amazed at just how closed his clubface is on the backswing. Then on the downswing, his downswing plane is extremely upright. I heard one poster who referred to it as the 'guillotine plane' when looking at the .pdf swing sequence.

I think Barber had a few things going for him.

1. Incredible hand-eye coordination.

Yes, there are so many ways to hit a golf ball effectively, but I dare anybody to try this and see if they can even come close to hitting the ball well. My guess is that they would fail miserably. That downswing is so upright, that at the last second he winds up dramitically flattening out the plane so he can hit the ball.

2. He had a great work ethic.

As the .pdf file says, he worked extremely hard on the range to keep his swing going.

3. He has a very good pivot.

A must for PGA Tour level ballstriking.

4. He uses pitch elbow.

I think this saves his swing as it allows him to flatten out that extremely steep downswing plane.

I'm guessing in TGM terms he would be known as a 'triple shift' swing plane golfer.

And from looking at the swing, it's no surprise that the author of the .pdf file states that Barber is known for taking extremely steep divots.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Putting Launch Drill

Here's a nice putting drill by PGA Pro Paul Gorman.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Look Into Clubmaking Tools

I would like to mention that there's a new MyGolfSpy forum that I think many members would enjoy and they are having a big contest giveaway for joining and participating in their forum. For more info, check it out HERE.

MyGolfSpy is great if you are an equipment buff.

Over on that forum, there was a thread about what core tools should a clubmaker have to get started.

I think this can also help the very serious golfer as well.

For starters, I would suggest getting a vice. You need one for grips and shaft pulling and other procedures and you can get one for about $20.

From there I would look into a lie and loft bending machine gauge.

It's important to note, especially with forged clubs, that after awhile of hitting off of hard ground and mats that lofts and lies can change. Clubfitters need to toy around with these all of the time, the serious golfer can constantly check up on their equipment specs. You can get one for about $300.

Next, a swingweight scale is important as well. Particularly if there's a change in shafts, grips, etc. While one can estimate the swingweight difference, it's better to be exact. Also, get the swingweight scale that measures static weight of the club as well.

While swingweight is important, you'll find static weight plays a factor as well. I have D5-D6 swingweights in my Hogan IPT irons. But with my Apex PC's I have D6-D7 swingweights. Why? Because the static weight of the PC's is less and I can't get the right feeling so I put some more lead tape on them

You'll also need either a blow torch or a heat gun if you're going to be doing re-shafting. The blow torch is cheaper ($10 or so), but the heat gun is better for those less confident in using a blow torch, but is more expensive ($50).

Lastly, and this is more for the serious golfer, but I would also consider a shaft frequency analyzer.

This measures the flex of a shaft. Believe me, I've had it as bad as an X-stiff shaft actually measuring a Ladies Stiff before. A clubmaker may have little use for this because shafts have no guarantee when it comes to their flex and a clubmaker can't afford to junk a shaft because it's out of whack. However, if you're a super serious golfer and can afford it, I think the frequency analyzer would allow you to junk those shafts that are way off. You can get one for $300 - $500.

Either way, I think all golfers who want to get better should know the ins and outs of their equipment and toy around with them to see what feels best and what they don't like. A forgotten art in today's world of custom fitting.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Understanding the Unorthodox Swings - Part 3

Here I'll look at Kenny Perry's swing.

I would like to mention that Perry is indeed a great ballstriker and one of the very best over the last decade. In my PGA Tour total ballstriking stats, he usually finishes in the top 10 year after year. He's not even a great putter, but he hits it so well and is very long off the tee that he has a better chance of playing a par-72 as a par-68 than most golfers because not only does he have the distance to do it, but he's got the accuracy and consistency to keep him in play as well.

How long is he?

I paced him off at East Lake this year on a nice day and no wind and saw him drill a 4-iron on a pretty steep downward lie and drill it on the green with ease from 226 yards out.

Perry's swing IMO, reminds me a bit of Moe Norman's in that if you look at it in slow motion, you'll see that it's pretty orthodox and filled with a lot of quality mechanics. Check out these pics.

These positions really don't look all that unorthodox and I think most instructors would say that these are good positions here. He does straighten out his knees quite a bit here from where they were flexed at address. But from here he just makes a small peculiar move of reflexing his knees and turning the shoulders even more and making the 'across the line move.'

However, I believe that if I had to choose between having an across the line move or a laid off move, I would take the across the line move any day of the week because usually the across the line golfers have struggles with getting underplane. The laid off golfers tend to fight the dreaded over the top move.

That's one thing I didn't like about Hank Haney's analysis in the first episode of the 'Haney Project' with Ray Romano. An across the line move usually doesn't cause a golfer to come over the top. Thus I think Romano's issue is his wide open clubface at the top of the swing and because he has missed shots to the right, the subconscious tells him to come over the top so he can get the ball going more left. IMO, what he really needs to do is fix the clubface first and then get him out of habit of coming over the top.

But getting back to Perry...his swing isn't that unusual for the most part, just that one peculiar move. He also does keep his right foot down on the ground forever, an astute point made by Peter Kostis. Moe Norman did the same thing as well and I think when you keep it down for so long, while it's not flawed, it makes the swing look ugly, when it can be rather effective and dynamic.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Ricky Fowler Golf Swing

Here's some views of Ricky Fowler's swing.

Currently, I'm not a big fan of Fowler's swing. I think he does a lot of things well, but his CF release has me worried. One thing you discover about the CP release when you get into it, is you have to have a lot of pivot thru and past impact or the arms will fly off your chest.

This is something focused on by Lag Erickson, but also something that MORAD teachers talk about as well.

There's actually a lot of CF releases out on Tour, but they are usually ungodly long and/or great putters.

One of the things that sticks out to me is how he gets up on the toes of both feet at impact and spins on the left foot. Off the top of my head, Laura Davies did this and had success, but she was ungodly long for an LPGA player at the time and a pretty good putter as well.

I will say that I like his swing philosophy of paying close attention to the clubface and focusing on getting the initial ball flight where he wants it.

But we'll have to wait and see what the future holds.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Teddy Rhodes Golf Swing

Here's the swing of Teddy Rhodes as shown on The Golf Channel's special 'Uneven Fairways.' This was clipped by NYC Lagster


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sample Trackman Fitting

I think one of the issues with Trackman is the misunderstanding that Trackman is supposed to be a complex tool. It's really not once you get to know the numbers, but the fitting process is very easy. I also think that as far as fitting goes, Trackman's strengths are its yardage gapping and driver fitting.

Here's a sample driver fitting from the Miles of Golf crew in Michigan.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Looking into Golf Grips

I used to be a big fan of the Neumann leather grips. Many won't remember those, but they were leather wrap grips like the ones pictured above (those are not Neumann grips, but GripMaster Grips).

They were excellent to play with as they felt about as good as a grip could feel and were 'all weather' grips because they moisture from sweat or from the rain. Problem was they were not cheap. But if you could afford them, you could use them without wearing a glove. While I like cord grips, they are too rough on my left hand unless I'm wearing a glove.

My personal preference is something durable but not too harsh on the hands and something I can use in all weather conditions. If I had my choice, I would probably go with a standard grip, but durability is a bigger issue since I don't want to keep buying I go with a cord grip.

As far as the grip manufacturer I go use, I typically use Lamkin grips mainly because their durability is the best IMO. In fact, I have some 10 year old wrap cords from Lamkin that are still in very good condition on some old irons of mine. However, they don't make those grips anymore. So I usually use a crossline cord grip.

I don't care for the Winn grips because I don't like the spongy feeling. I haven't tried the Iomic grips yet, but I've heard they also have a spongy they are expensive (about $18 a grip)

I recently put some of Lamkin's new 3 Gen grips on a set of Hogan irons I have.

Here's a video by Lamkin explaining the technology behind the 3 Gen.

I actually only bought the 3 Gen grips because they were relatively cheap ($4 a grip). I haven't really noticed a difference in vibration, but they have a nice feeling in the hands.

However, what's VERY important to note about grips is that grips can greatly effect your swingweight.

The standard adult grip weighs about 50 grams.

The LESS weight you put in the grip, the HEAVIER the swingweight will be.

The MORE weight you put in the grip, the LIGHTER the swingweight will be.


You can add weight in the grip and make the STATIC weight of the club heavier, but it will have a lighter SWING WEIGHT.

On the flip side, you can take weight off the grip which will make the STATIC weight of the club lighter, but it will have a heavier SWING WEIGHT.

I was surprised a bit by this because when I had standard Lamkin 3 Gen grips installed, my Hogan's went from about a D-1 swingweight to a C-9 swingweight.

Why? Because the 3 Gen *standard grips* weight about 59 grams which is almost 10 grams heavier than your standard grip.

Golf Pride makes a Dual Durometer Lite Grip.

This weighs about 39 grams and they say will add about 2-3 Swingweight Points from a standard grip.

Winn has a Winn Lite grip that only weighs about 26 grams. Therefore it will make the overall weight of the club lighter, but the swingweight heavier. Like I mentioned, I don't use Winn I don't know how much heavier it would make the swing weight, but I would imagine it would add about FIVE swingweight points to the club.

Now, I personally like a heavier swingweight. Working with John Erickson ( he mentioned that he prefers a heavier OVERALL club AND a heavier SWINGWEIGHT.

I would keep that in mind when looking at grips.

Some people wonder about hand size and whether they should go with a midsize grip or use extra tape to 'build up' the grip.

I think it depends. Midsize grips add about 10 grams of weight which can REDUCE your swingweight by 1-3 points. Tape weighs less than going with a bigger grip, so you may want to go with a standard grip and extra tape so you don't reduce your swingweight so much.

What I plan on doing, and something I think that is a smart idea is to buy a swingweight scale for use at home. Most clubmakers have a swingweight scale that looks something like this:

You can get one of these scales for about $150.

However, there are also some 'economy' swingweight scales which are good for personal use that cost about $50-$60.

I think it's very important to be in-tune with your own equipment. But to understand some basics about the grip outside of what feels good and provides you the tackiness you are looking for. Hopefully this has given you a good idea as to what to look out for.