Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stroke of the Future Video Review

Recently, I purchased Secret In The Dirt’s video ‘The Stroke of the Future’ with Craig Foster and Steve Elkington. The video is a computer download costing $35 with a run-time of 54 minutes. You can download the video to your iphone and other mobile devices.

Craig Foster created ‘Dynalign Golf’, an approach to help align the golfer in a dynamic, biomechanical position. Foster states that this can be done with any type of swing, but in this video it is being utilized for the putting stroke.

The idea here is for the golfer to biomechanically torque some of their body parts so it can create a very repeatable golf stroke. This way golfer’s don’t have to worry about the yips or leaving the putter blade open (my tendency) or closed right before impact. Once the certain body parts are torqued, Foster’s system has the golfer simply use their body to align the putter face wherever they want to.

Since I’m hardly a biomechanical expert, it’s hard for me to criticize a video too much. I actually enjoyed the video, which I will get to in a bit. However, it appeared to me from how Foster talked that he was an average, everyday golfer who stumbled across this by accident and is not an expert in the field of biomechanics. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong and cannot research the subject and become extremely knowledgeable. Michael Lavery of ‘Whole Brain Power’ was not an expert in the field of understanding ambidexterity, but he did enough diligent research involving some very heavy scientific studies like neurobiology, that I found his information credible and extremely interesting.

Still, since we don’t know Foster’s background we really don’t quite know how credible the information is. He may be dead on or dead wrong or somewhere in between. From my experience with biomechanics, I really didn’t like how he discussed mostly the bones in the hands and arms versus getting into the muscles and the joints. I also think that with putting, neurobiology (scientific study of the nervous system) is very important to understand and that the biomechanics should be interleaved with the ‘optimal’ neurobiological motions. Perhaps Foster has studied that and is just trying to simplify it for the sake of the video, but we really don’t know.

That being said, I thought the good from this video far outweighed the bad.

For starters, if you have purchased a Secret In The Dirt video before, you are getting the same quality of production. It’s very easy to hear and see everything. But, where the SITD crew really does well in their videos is that they have the ability to create a conversational format with this time, Elkington conversing with Foster at Elkington’s home, on the drive in the car and then on the putting green.

Elkington has a real knack for these type of video. He does have some charisma (it seems like everytime somebody introduces Elkington, they mention he’s famous for being a guest on the Jim Rome show), but he’s got a certain timing that he knows when the instructor needs to explain their instruction further. Elkington also understands a lot of instruction whether it be the highly detailed M.O.R.A.D. or TGM since he has worked with both. He can then relate that to the more mechanically knowledgeable golfer or relate the information to the lesser knowledgeable golfer so they can understand it.

If there’s one thing I’ve harped on in my blog and in the forum is that ‘teaching things in simple terms’ is NOT the best way to teach everything. The teacher’s job is to teach the subject to the golfer so they fully understand it. Teaching something in simple terms only often means that the golfer really doesn’t fully understand the subject and instead learns a little. Put it this way, if I was talking to a heart surgeon who raved that his professors taught everything in simple terms and didn’t bother to go into detail, I would not want that surgeon operating on me or my loved ones.

I think that is the ‘hook’ of pop-golf instruction. They draw golfers by saying things in simple terms, but in reality what they are trying to get the golfer to do is actually more difficult or even impossible to do or very flawed or relatively unimportant. But because they talk in simple terms, golfers make the mistake of thinking that it is simple and that when they fail, it’s because they didn’t follow that simple instruction properly. In reality, the instruction was poor and the simple terminology reeled them in.

This is where Elkington continually shines because he’s good at helping the instructor out with getting the viewer to truly understand the subject at hand. Sometimes he explains it in simple terms because that’s all that needs to be done. But on the more complex subject matter, Elkington has a great way of ‘thinking it out’ and eventually drawing enough correct conclusions that eventually he starts to fully understand it and the viewer can fully understand it as well.

The other positive is the stroke does not look all that unorthodox. In fact, it looks a lot like how many players from the 60’s and 70’s used to putt and a bit like how Nicklaus putted.

It’s a little less wristy than say a Nicklaus or Palmer. But, in my work on the golf swing with George Hunt (www.moradgolfgeorgehunt.com), I have really become to prefer the swing mechanics of the great ballstrikers of yesteryear versus the modern great ballstrikers. So, if there’s a more ‘old school’ putting stroke style, it definitely has piqued my interest.

I tried the Dynalign system myself after the video. The perspective of the putter is very different and I think it takes practice getting used to it. I also think it takes practice to do it correctly because you want to torque the hands, wrist and hips properly with the right amount of spine tilt so the stroke becomes ‘automatic.’ Sometimes I could get it down, sometimes I struggled with it.

I think that this system may help, but I need to practice much more with it to find the strengths and flaws (if any) of the system. However, from the onset I do think it would probably help a lot of golfers with the yips. I think some golfers may have such violent muscle twitching yips that their only recourse is a long or belly putter. But, I think this could help the other yippers.

In the end, my final judgment on Dynalign is unclear because I don’t have enough experience with trying it out. But, it’s certainly something different that appears to have more positives than negatives and seems well thought out enough to give it serious consideration to adding to your putting stroke.


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