Thursday, November 19, 2009

Off Season Golf Improvement

I've gotten a few e-mails ( asking about improving and being prepared in the offseason. I don't have to worry about that as much living in Atlanta, but having grown up in Upstate NY, I know a thing or two about trying to stay in the groove during the winter.

First off, if you have a garage, I would suggest getting a mat and a net along with a camcorder to tape your swing. For the hitting net, I suggest Izzo's Giant Jr. Hitting net ($139).

There are a lot of decent, rather inexpensive mats out there. But the mat that I like best is the Fairway Pro Mat.

However, it's not cheap ($199). But they do have a deal for $364 where you get the FairwayPro Mat, the stance mat and a hitting net.

I strongly feel that the camcorder is a powerful tool for the golfer. At a bare minimum, I would suggest a Mini-DV that MUST have a shutter speed of at least 1/2,000th. Often times this may be referred to as 'sports mode.' I use a Samsung SC-D382 that has a shutter speed that can go up to 1/10,000th. Having a camcorder to record your swing that leaves everything blurry doesn't do the golfer any good. If you want to go high end, then I recommend the Casio EX-FC100 if you want that 'Swing Vision' type of recording.

Also, if you are located near a Trackman and/or SAM Puttlab owner, I would check them out to see what your clubhead dyamics and putting stroke looks like.

Hopefully, you have been keeping statistics on your play throughout the season. This allows you to better understand what your weaknesses and strengths are an hopefully attack them in the offseason and set yourself some new statistical goal for next season.

For example, here's a few of mine:

Average 13/18 GIR
1.760 Putts/GIR
55% Scramble Success
75% Fairways Hit

I also want to hit the Tour Average of Putts made from each distance:

Now, some of the statistics seem unreasonable because of what the PGA Tour averages are. However, I'm playing courses that are much less difficult than your average PGA Tour course. Last Summer I actually hit 78% of my fairways which would make me the #1 Accurate Drive on Tour. The reality is that I'm not nearly as long as most Tour players and hitting fairways on PGA Tour courses is more difficult. I *believe* I would have been a fairly accurate driver of the ball on any Tour with how I struck the driver this past Summer, but my accuracy rate was so good this year mainly due to the courses being a bit more wide open (and the fairways not being cut as low).

A lot of this depends on what you and your teacher are working on, but with the swing I find there are 3 critical spots where if you can have pretty good alignments with, you're likely going to hit a good shot.


Let it be noted that these are hardly mandatory alignments, but more or less some suggestions.

'P6' is known as 'Parallel 6' and it's the point that the clubshaft is parallel to the ground on the downswing, before impact. P6 is a MORAD term.

I'm a believer that golfers should get the downswing plane 'fixed' first and then start worrying more about the Flat Left Wrist at impact. You can play pretty good golf with a big flip, but if you're well over plane or under plane on the downswing you could have some serious problems. As you will notice at P6, the clubshaft is parallel to the target line. Also, the toe is pointig straight up. Get into this position on the downswing and you are on plane and ready to return the clubface square tot he ball at impact.


Obviously the flat left wrist is what golfers want. I highly recommend the Taly to help with the FLW at impact. I developed a 'curriculum' for working with the Taly that I posted HERE. Here's a video on using the Taly as well.

From the DTL view, one good alignment, but certainly not mandatory is having the 'right forearm on plane.' This is when the clubshaft and the right forearm are in line with each other. Mr. Snead executed it perfectly.

Again, it's certainly not mandatory, but if you can get into that alignment you're likely going to hit very good golf shots.


'P4' is the Top of the Swing position. And again, these are some general 'guidelines.' This photo of Moe Norman shows an excellent P4 alignments.

As you can see, Moe's clubshaft is also parallel to the target line. That's an 'on plane' shaft. If it was left of parallel, that would be called 'laid off.' If it was right of parallel that would be called 'across the line.' Again, hardly mandatory. Ian Poulter, Tiger and Vijay Singh get a bit 'laid off.' Kenny Perry is 'across the line.' I would rather see golfers be across the line than laid off, but if you're struggling I think this is an alignment to check out.

More importantly, IMO, is to notice how the clubface is at the same angle as the left forearm. This is a 'square' clubface.

This does change depending on the club and the type and amount of shoulder turn. The S&T guys use an upright shoulder turn on the backswing which makes it very difficult to get the club to parallel at P4.

Because the club can't get to parallel, the shaft does point left of parallel here, but in this case it is NOT 'laid off.' Often times poor alignments at P4 cause poor alignments at P6 which cause poor alignments at P7.


I'm not too big of a fan of most putting stroke training aids, if anything because often times the putting stroke isn't that big of an issue. Dave Pelz has some good training aids in the Truth Board (highly recommended), the Putting Tutor and the Putting Clips.

The main thing I would suggest working on is aim an getting the putterface square to the target at impact. I would highly recommend some type of laser aid to clip onto your putterface and measure your aim at address.

From there, I would study up on AimPoint Golf's Web site so you can better understand green reading and where to aim. I am supposed to be getting my set of AimCharts in the next few days. Once I get them, I'll give a review.

You may also want to get a putter fitting if you haven't already.


Titleist Performance Institute has certified instructors around the nation that can analyze your current body and flexibility and give a program geared towards improving your weak points. I've heard rave reviews about it, but it's not cheap ($250 for the analysis).

Roger Fredericks has a good stretching program for golf that is easy to pickup.

I basically believe that the key for golf exercise is total body flexibility, strength in the lower arm area (forearms, wrists, hands) and lower body strength (glutes, hamstrings, calfs, feet). I plan on getting into an exercise program that is a little different, but gets into those areas.



DanL. said...

Great post!! Gives me plenty to work on this winer.

Curro said...

Hi Rich, have you try the Fairway Pro mat? I am interested in purchase one but I think that may be this sistem fake the feel when hit fat, because the "tablecloth effect". I mean when you move quick the base of an object, the object stay at the same position, so if you hit fat whith this sistem, the clubhead go easy forward, and impact the ball(the ball do not go forward because the tablecloh effect), and feel like a good shot, ball first second the ground. Is only a supposition about this sistem, I have not try it.

Rich H. said...

I have tried it and really liked it. I haven't hit off it enough to see if it has the feel problems you are looking for, but it's not harsh on the hands and wrists and won't cause injury. The Vijay hitting mat is good as well. Again, not sure if that will give the feel you're looking for, but it makes it so the shock won't be so harsh on the hands and wrists.