Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tips For Those Looking For a Swing Makeover

A question was asked over at Brian Manzella’s forum ‘how would you go about rebuilding your golf swing?’

This is a good question that I think deserves some focus upon as golfer’s are always ‘rebuilding their golf swing.’ In fact, I ‘rebuilt’ my golf swing in the past 12 months as well, working with my swing instructor…George Hunt (

And over those past 12 months, I was able to increase my swing speed by about 5-8 mph with the driver and probably more like 6-9 mph with my irons, while increasing my accuracy and consistency and I qualified for the Florida State Mid-Amateur, shooting 74 in the qualifier while hitting 13 greens in regulation.

Obviously, I believe I still have plenty of work to do to reach my final goal (making match play of the US Amateur), but I think I’m at the point where I’m not all that far off from having a decent chance of reaching my goals either. After the Florida State Mid-Am, I plan on posting my goals for the upcoming year and some of the ways I plan on achieving them.


In my opinion, I try to get out of the idea of making a ‘swing change’ or a ‘swing overhaul.’ I actually think this is where the M.O.R.A.D. investigation gets a bad rap. A lot of people believe that teachers who use the information from the M.O.R.A.D. investigation are trying to get every student to swing according to 1 pattern. Instead, the teachers I’ve worked with, John Dochety (once) and my current instructor…George Hunt…are from ‘1 swing pattern teachers.’

I’ve seen some of the swings of George’s and Dochety’s students and I don’t think any of them have the same exact swing or two eerily similar swings. In fact, if you look at some of the golfers that Mac.O.Grady taught himself like Steve Elkington, Grant Waite, Seve Ballesteros, Chip Beck, Jodie Mudd, Vijay Singh, etc….even at their peak they all had noticeably different golf swings.

The point being is that I believe it’s best to not think so much about making wide sweeping changes or an overhaul…but, to fix the issues at hand. I don’t think George or Mac would take away Jim Furyk’s looping motion and make it look like their backswing. But, I do believe that they would fix the issues that they believe is causing a golfer like Furyk the most problems.


Months ago, I had a father and his son…a promising junior golfer…ask me about getting lessons. I then asked them ‘well, do you want a golf coach or a golf instructor?’

They didn’t understand what I meant. I then replied to them that a golf coach tells the golfer what to do with the swing and they do it. A golf instructor teaches the golfer the swing so they can actually understand what they are being taught and can apply it themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen both work well. But, I do believe that’s an important difference to understand.

Personally, I think if you are thinking about making a serious swing change…first you should understand that you are trying to fix the stuff that is not working for you instead of making a swing change or an ‘overhaul.’ Then, you need to find a swing instructor in order to figure out the best instructor for you.

Typically, the ‘swing coach’ works well for talented players, particularly junior golfers. But, if you are thinking about ‘overhauling’ your swing, it becomes clear to me that your lack of understanding the swing is playing a role in not playing to your expectations.

The problem people have is that it’s easier to just get a swing coach. But, it’s not always ‘better.’ And more often than not, people like to choose the easy way than to go the extra mile and do things the better way. Plus, there’s the fear of picking up an instructor and then realizing that they are not the right instructor for them which means admitting to making a mistake.

I would recommend checking out my Top 50 Instructor List and my Certified D-Plane Instructor list to help with finding the right instructor for you.


I understand the point, to a degree, made by the teachers who do not like a camera. I’m not a fan of drawing all of these lines on the camera either, although from time to time they can be helpful to illustrate a point.

But the reason we need a camera is to measure what we are actually doing versus what pieces of the swing we are trying to fix. For instance, if we are trying to shorten our swing, it can often feel like we are shortening the backswing, but the reality is that the backswing is still too long. If we do not have a camera, our feel can paint us the wrong picture.

The goal for me when I work on the swing is to improve the pieces that we went over with in our last lesson. If I can do that, then we can work on new pieces. If not, then we need to figure out why we couldn’t improve those pieces. But, if I don’t have a camera it risks not improving those pieces and we could show up for another lesson where we basically go over the same thing.

As golfers who truly want to fix the parts of the swing that are giving us problems, we need to stop being so afraid of having a camera and using it constantly. In part because children are great at mimicking things…but as adults we lose that ability and it’s easy to fall into old, bad habits or create new, bad habits.

It’s like Sonny from ‘A Bronx Tale’ once said

‘Trouble's like a cancer you got to get it early. You don't get it early it gets too big and then it kills you.’

I personally recommend the new line of Casio cameras, so you can get the swing captured in slow-motion.

However, I warn against only filming in slow motion because sometimes that can fool you with regards to the overall rhythm and tempo of the swing. The Casio cameras along for slow-motion and regular speed filming, so don’t be afraid to use both.


Yes, I do recommend getting on a Trackman if you can. With Trackman, we can measure 5 key components to our swing thru the impact zone.

- Face Angle
- Path
- Horizontal Swing Plane
- Vertical Swing Plane
- Attack Angle

If we can get a base reading of those aspects, we can then understand what needs to be improved. And when we understand what needs to be improved, we can more easily understand the merit of what the instructor is teaching us. If the instructor is teaching us something that does not affect those 5 aspects, then we might need to look for a different instructor.

For example, let’s say we have a terrible problem with being ‘underplane’ and that causes our path to go too far inside-to-out and causes our attack angle to be too shallow. We can use the vertical swing plane (aka, downswing plane) to measure if we are too underplane or not. We can also use what we have been taught to change our VSP, HSP and hopefully get the path more square to the target and make the attack angle with the irons more consistent (and slightly steeper). Trackman can be very helpful in understanding what is going on, what you are being instructed to do, and being able to fix the problems quicker.

Lastly, I find that TGM’s curriculum of the acquired, adjusted and total motion to be helpful as well. Simply put, if you cannot execute something consistently using adjusted motion, your chances of consistently executing with Total Motion are less.

I think where people get screwed up is that they *can* execute Total Motion from time to time better than Adjusted Motion.

But, in order to consistently execute Total Motion, you’re likely to need to consistently execute Adjusted Motion first. It takes a lot of patience and diligence, but it will pay off if you are determined to stick with it.



Jeff from East L.A. said...

when you say adjusted motion, are you talking acquired motion?

Rich H. said...

Yes, that's what I meant. Slip up on my part.