Friday, April 30, 2010

Vertical Swing Plane Video w/Brian Manzella

Brian Manzella talking about vertical swing plane (the downswing plane you swing on) and getting 'under plane.'


Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Look At Different Swing Instruction - Part II

In Part II of this series I discuss the MORAD swing instructional theory.

MORAD was created by former 2-time PGA Tour winner Mac O'Grady and is an acronym that stands for either Mac O'Grady Research And Design or Mankind's Objective Research And Design.

Mac O'Grady first started with learning The Golfing Machine by Homer Kelley and eventually worked with Kelley personally on The Golfing Machine. Eventually O'Grady went beyond TGM and discovered other scientifc facts and nuances of the swing.

Whereas TGM defines golf swings as 'hitters' or 'swingers', MORAD teaches the swing as being a combination of the two and that nobody is a 'pure swinger' or a 'pure hitter.' MORAD also does not believe in the 'frozen right wrist', something prevalent in the TGM teachings for the 'hitter swing.'

O'Grady has described MORAD's swing as 80% Snead and 20% Hogan and has varying swings for varying trajectories and varying clubs. For instance, there's a swing for a low trajectory driver, then a mid trajectory driver and a high trajectory driver. The same with a wedge, such as a low, mid and high trajectory swings just for the short irons.

That's where a lot of the 'CP release' and 'CF release' come into play. O'Grady is also a big proponent of 'saving the right arm' well past impact.

When MORAD first came out it had a lot of devote followers as golfers like Grant Waite became students and became great ballstrikers with MORAD. However, it soon drew the ire of most of the golfing populaton that knew about it mainly because of the downfall of Chip Beck, who later became a MORAD student and went from a top money winner to a golfer who lost his Tour card. The MORAD teaching is very specific and detailed, going into things like degrees of bend, exactly how the left shoulder moves in terms of inches in the backswing, etc.

Lately it's gaining in popularity although ironically when Mac O'Grady has reportedly refused to work with Tour players anymore. I think it's because there are now qualified instructors who have finally grasped the MORAD teaching and are able to instruct students.

: I think one of the great things O'Grady has accomplished is much of his scientific discoveries have been either valid or close to being right on point in the end. O'Grady was going into the 'new ball flight laws' well before most any other teacher out there. His discovery of the 'CP release' and the 'CF release' was brilliant as well as many other discoveries. It also appears that if a person is willing to put the man hours in to fully grasp MORAD, their swing and ballstriking usually seems to improve greatly.

CONS OF MORAD: Fully grasping MORAD probably means taking at least 5 different schools, each costing $2,500. Plus, many students have complained that O'Grady isn't really available when they have questions.

TEACHING PROS OF MORAD: George Hunt (Orlando, FL), John Dochety (Tullahoma, TN), David Orr (Buies Creek, NC), John Dal Corobbo (Indianapolis, IN)

FAMOUS GOLFERS USING/USED MORAD: Grant Waite, Chip Beck, Vijay Singh, Seve Ballesteros, Steve Elkington.

Again, here's O'Grady's swing (click the pics to enlarge):


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Look at Different Swing Instruction - Part I

One of the things I get asked about frequently is about the different teaching philosophies there are like ABS, TGM, Stack and Tilt, SliceFixer, etc. So I figured would give my thoughts on some of them.

First up I will go with The Golfing Machine.

The Golfing Machine was written by Homer Kelley, an engineering aide and new to the game of golf, back in 1941 and was published in 1969.

The Golfing Machine, in its purest sense, is a system to create a unique golf swing that best suits the golfer. It believes that the swing has 24 parts to it, with each part having 3-15 variations and 3 imperatives which are:

1) Flat Left Wrist (FLW) at impact
2) Straight Plane Lines
3) Clubhead Lag Pressure Point

Basically meaning, there's almost countless ways to swing the club and there's only 3 things you MUST do in the swing to hit the ball effectively. The key is to find what swing works best for you and TGM provides a system of using basic motion (chip shot swing), acquired motion (1/2 backwing, 1/2 follow thru) and total motion (full swing) to discover the mechanics that work best for each particular golfer. Once the mechanics are discovered, the golfer uses feel to repeat those mechanics. TGM also divides golf swings into 'hitters' or 'swingers' based upon how the golfer powers their downswing in order to allow the golfer to discover their swing and its components a little easier.

TGM uses a lot of complicated language and an unorthodox writing style that tends to scare off many golfers.

PROS: TGM is excellent conceptually and as far as instructional books go, it's the most complete instructional book out there. What's funny about TGM is in its purest form, it is exactly the opposite of what many of it critics claim it is.

You'll often hear about golfer being 'feel players' and there is no 'one swing' and TGM is exactly about those philosophies and reiterates that quite often in the book. In fact, many popular golf instructors have taken bits and pieces of TGM and claimed it for themselves. The *concepts* of all the variations of components along with 'learning feel from mechanics', there being 'no one way' to swing the club and other things like the FLW at impact, and creating a system to 'build your stroke' are the real strong points of TGM.

CONS: There are some TGM Authorized Instructors who heavily lean on one type of swing pattern from TGM and use that to instruct their students instead of sticking with the TGM credo of there 'not being one way to swing the club.' The actual science has been shredded by scientists and since Mr. Kelley passed away in 1983, there have been other discoveries in biomechanics and physics in the game that Mr. Kelley could not address.

There is also the belief that nobody is truly a 'pure swinger' or a 'pure hitter' and really a combination of the two. The hitter motion calls for a 'frozen right wrist' and that can cause some issues with the head movement in the downswing.

FAMOUS TGM INSTRUCTORS: Most of the instructors that originally started learning under Homer Kelley have either passed away or retired. But some well known ones include Greg McHatton, Ben Doyle and Lynn Blake. IMO, Mr. Blake teaches the exact word of Homer Kelley as well and as true as anybody out there.

FAMOUS GOLFING TGM'ers: Steve Elkington, Brian Gay, Bobby Clampett, Boo Weekley. Heath Slocum finished 2nd last year in my ballstriking statistical rankings and is taught by TGM AI Mark Blackburn.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mac O'Grady from Both Sides of the Plate

Here's some great pics I scanned of Mac O'Grady's swing....his right handed and left handed swing. Beautiful action here.

(Click the picture to enlarge)


Monday, April 26, 2010

Balanced and Unbalanced Golf Balls

Here's a good video from Ralph Maltby on balancing golf balls and the effect an unbalanced golf ball can have on your game.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

D-Plane and Sidehill and Downhill/Uphill Lies

Recently I have been thinking about different lies and their D-Plane and seeing what we can figure out from them.


What do we know about shots where the ball is above our feet?

The ball usually goes left and it's usually a hook.

My feeling is that the face will turn left on the golfer at impact (usually). I also believe that the path almost naturally goes out to the right. I'd also guess that the attack angle is usually a tad steeper which helps that path go out to the right even more.

While living in North Georgia, an area with very hilly terrain, I started to understand how to hit shots better off of different lies.

I think there are two things that need to happen to straighten out those ball above your feet lies. For one, the clubface either has to stop closing on the golfer OR the golfer has to play for the closing clubface. The other is the golfer has to figure out a way to prevent the path from going so far out to the right.

Either that or the golfer has to learn how to play for the draw.

IF you want to hit it STRAIGHT, my suggestion would be to do something I started to do. I would aim the clubface well right of the target at ADDRESS. Then I would open my STANCE at address and swing along the lines of my body. In other words, if I wanted to hit this lie straight I would almost play for a slice. But what would happen is that the face would return close to square to the target at impact and the path would be more square since I was swinging the club left in order to counter its naturally tendency to go out to the right from this type of lie.

Now, if you just want to play the draw/hook from this lie, I would suggest aiming the clubface well out to the right and aim your BODY more like you normally would to the target. This would create an impact where the face would either be square or slightly open and a path out to the right. Most golfers aim everything out to the right and I think that creates a square/slightly open face and a path well, well out to the right...creating a hook that is too tough to control.


The ball here will do the opposite of the above will go to the right, usually with fade/slice spin and usually goes low. I'd be curious to see what the attack angle on this lie would be since I've never hit either the above the feet or below the feet lies that high of a trajectory. With the ball below the feet lie, my big problem being 6'4" tall is that it's hard for me to not catch the irons off the bottom grooves.

So I think it's safe to say the face naturally opens up at impact and the path naturally goes out to the left.

Thus, if you want to hit it STRAIGHT, I would suggest a clubface pointing to the left at address and aiming out to the right with the body so the path can go out there.

Personally, I play this shot for a fade/slice because I'm more concerned with getting good contact as if I try to get that path more out to the right, I usually don't make very good contact.


From this lie, the ball usually goes high and push hooks on the golfer.

The general rule of thumb here is to move the ball position. They say 'move the ball more towards the higher foot.' On the uphill lie, the lead foot is the 'higher foot', so you want to move it more towards the higher foot.

I find this works quite well. A couple of weeks ago I had an uphill lie with a 3-hybrid and thought about stopping myself before I hit the ball because I had the ball position in my normal, flat lie position. I decided to hit it anyway, hit it well, but it hooked left on me. Why? Because playing it from my normal ball position from an uphill lie made the attack angle steeper, which moves the path slightly out to the right.

Now, one could keep their normal position and 'swing left', but the ball will likely go lower than normal because of the steeper attack angle. This may be a good way to play this shot from a steeper uphill lie if you don't want the ball to go too high and lose distance.

But for normal uphill lies, the golfer may want to have a clubface pointing slightly left and aim their body left in order to move the path out to the left.

I like this picture because it shows the golfer aligning their shoulders parallel to the ground. For me, I don't worry too much about this on uphill lies because my shoulders are pretty much in that position to begin with.


The downhill lie usually goes really low and often a flare out to the right.

The attack angle here is steep. I believe that because the ball goes so low. The other day I hit a shot from an extremely steep downhill lie with a 3-iron and caught it flush, yet the ball probably went about 5 feet off the ground.

I think the flare out to the right means the clubface is open and the steeper attack angle shifts the path out to the right, so the push happens.

I do agree with moving your shoulders parallel with the ground. That will help with your contact and low point. Also, move the ball towards the 'higher foot' which would be the rear foot in this case.

Of course, the best way to learn to play these shots is lots of practice. If you can, create these shots on your driving range and you'll learn a lot from it.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mr. Hogan, The CP Release and D-Plane

Lately, I’ve been talking about the ‘new ball flight laws’ and ‘D-Plane’ as well as the ‘CP Release’ vs. the ‘CF Release.’ Over at John Erickson’s forum, a student there asked me what should he do with his ball position with his driver. He believes he’s using a ‘CP Release’ and he hits his mid-to-short irons well and straight. But with his longer clubs, particularly the driver, the ball starts really moving left-to-right (he’s a right handed golfer).

First, let’s go over the ‘CP Release’ vs. the ‘CF Release.’ Here’s a good picture by Erickson displaying the two types of ‘releases.’

The pic on the left shows the ‘CP Release’ and the pic on the right shows the ‘CF release.’ The CP release has the upper arms pinned to the chest after impact. You’ll also see the clubhead is ‘swinging left’ as well.

The CF release has the upper arms off of the chest after impact and the clubhead goes out to the right a bit.

Hogan was a great example of a ‘CP Release.’

Moe Norman was a great example of a ‘CF Release.’

Next, let’s go over some Trackman terms.

Attack Angle = The downward or upward angle that the clubhead hits the ball. This would be viewed from a FACE ON vantage point.

Vertical Swing Plane = The ‘downswing plane.’ Trackman actually measures where the sweetspot is going, not the shaft, but it’s basically into weather the golfer swings on the Turned Shoulder Plane, Elbow Plane, etc.

Horizontal Swing Plane = Where the clubhead is going AFTER impact.

Clubhead Path = The direction the clubhead is going INTO impact (aka ‘inside-to-out’, ‘outside-to-in’, etc).

It’s very important to note that Vertical Swing Plane (downswing plane) is NOT THE SAME THING as attack angle. Meaning, both Moe Norman and Lee Trevino came down on the ‘elbow plane’ on the downswing. But Moe had a very shallow attack angle (small divots, rarely broke a tee) while Trevino had a very steep attack angle (massive divots).

The reason why teachers and Trackman preach the Horizontal Swing Plane and ‘swinging left’ is that if the golfer can change their ‘release’ (post impact) they can change their clubhead path (pre-impact).

But one of the other factors that effects the clubhead path (pre-impact direction of the clubhead into the ball), is the attack angle.

So, there’s a bit of math to do here.

With the irons, the golfer needs to ‘swing left’ (the ‘release’, the ‘horizontal swing plane’) approximately ½ of the attack angle in order to create a clubhead path that is about 0.0* to the target.

So for instance, it would look like this:

-5* Attack Angle & -2.5* HSP (swinging left) = 0.0* path

However, if we were not to ‘swing left’ and release the club ‘down the line’, the ‘formula’ may look something like this:

-5* Attack Angle & 0.0* HSP (swinging down the line) = +2.5* path (inside-to-out)

Now with woods, the ‘formula’ is a tad different because the spin axis that woods put on the ball is different from the spin axis put on the ball with irons.

With woods, the HSP (swinging left or swinging right) should be approximately the same as the attack angle.

So for instance, it would look like this:

-5* attack angle & -5* HSP (swinging left) = 0.0* path

But if we were not to release the club that ‘matches’ the attack angle, the ‘formula’ would look something like this:

-5* attack angle & 0.0* HSP (swinging down the line) = +5.0* path (inside-to-out)

Again, the release of the clubhead, be it rightward or leftward or down the line, effects the clubhead path into the ball.

Very much like Lynn Blake says about hinge action and why it matters even though the ball is already gone…you have to PREPARE BEFORE IMPACT to reach those post impact conditions/alignments/motions/etc.

So, swinging left or swinging out to the right means you are preparing to do that BEFORE impact.

Now, onto the driver with a CP Release question.

What we know about D-Plane is that *if* you make the attack angle STEEPER, the PATH will naturally move more out to the right. For example, let’s say your normal swing ‘formula’ looks like this with a 7-iron:

-6* attack angle & -3* HSP (swinging left) = 0.0* clubhead path

Now, let’s say you make your attack angle steeper, but with the same club (7-iron) and the same ‘swinging left’ release. The formula could look like this:

-8* attack angle & -3* HSP (swinging left) = 1.0* path (swinging inside-to-out)

Conversely, if the attack angle is shallower or upward, the path will *naturally* move more to the left.

What do we know about driver swings?

The attack angle is usually shallowest with the driver. The PGA Tour average attack angle with a 6-iron is -4.1*. The PGA Tour average attack angle with a driver is -1.2*. Longer the club, shallower the attack angle.

So, let’s create a list of sample ‘formulas’ and what would approximately needed to be done to create a path of 0.0*:

PW……….-6* Attack Angle & -3.0* HSP = 0.0* Path
6-iron…….-5* Attack Angle & -2.5* HSP = 0.0* Path
3-iron…….-3* Attack Angle & -1.5* HSP = 0.0* Path
3-wood…..-1* Attack Angle & -1.0* HSP = 0.0* Path
Driver…...+3* Attack Angle & +3.0* HSP = 0.0* Path

So, let’s say this golfer had a square stance alignment and had a CP release and was swinging left very consistently at -3*. Here’s an approximate look at his ‘values’ with various clubs throughout the golf bag.

PW……..-6* Attack Angle & -3* HSP = 0.0* Path
6-iron…..-3* Attack Angle & -3* HSP = -1.5* Path
3-iron…..-1* Attack Angle & -3* HSP = -4.5* Path
Driver….+3* Attack Angle & -3* HSP = -6.0* Path

So, what does a golfer do?

IMO, just change their stance alignments at address. The Hogan stance diagram in ‘5 Lessons’ shows this perfectly:

Like I mentioned earlier, Hogan was a quintessential CP release swing. What Hogan did was basically figured out ‘D-Plane’ with the CP release for him well ahead of anybody else. By having a closed stance with the driver which has a shallower attack angle, he was able to still use that CP release, but still release the clubhead out to the right. And with a 5-iron, he could aim his feet square to the target, use the CP release, and get that clubhead swing left more. And then with an 8-iron and an open stance, he would get the clubhead swinging even more to the left.

Let’s say Hogan hit it relatively straight or a smidge of a fade, his ‘formulas’ may look like this, ALL THE WHILE USING A CP RELEASE:

PW……….-6* Attack Angle & -3.0* HSP = 0.0* Path
6-iron……..-4* Attack Angle & -2.5* HSP = -0.5* Path
3-iron……..-2* Attack Angle & -1.3* HSP = -0.3* Path
Driver…….-1* Attack Angle & -1.3* HSP = -0.3* Path

Again, he swung the club the same…he just changed where he aimed his body a tad. IMO, it’s perhaps the most brilliant part of his book.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Look At The Unorthodox Swings - Part 11

In this part we look at the swing of Moe Norman.

Many consider Moe the greatest ballstriker of all time. I've seen Moe hit balls with a camera closely showing the results and it's spectacular. He could hit it dead straight on command, but also could hit draws, hooks, slices and fades on command.

He also had what many considered a 'weird' swing. He put his clubhead about a 2 feet behind the ball at address. He had his feet extremely wide apart and stood well away from the ball.

What we know about Moe's swing at impact was he took very shallow divots or no divot at all. He often referred to your divots being 'bacon strips not pork chops.'

He also 'swung (out to the) right' or used a CF Release.

What we know about 'D-Plane' can tell us a lot about Moe's impact. D-Plane will tell us that the greater the attack angle of the clubhead, the more the path will move out to the right.

Let's say your clubhead path with a 7-iron is 0.0* to the target. And let's say you do this with an attack angle of -4*. Now, let's say that you take the same type of swing with the same type of release, but you just increase your attack angle to say -6* with that 7-iron. That will now move your clubhead path out to the right (in this instance, we'll say the new clubhead path is +2*).

Since Moe hit it dead straight on command and had a shallow attack angle, he needed to swing out to the right (CF Release) in order to zero out his clubhead path. Now somebody like Ben Hogan who had a steeper attack angle and took noticeably bigger divots, he needed to release that club much more to the left in order to get a path that was 'zeroed out.'

This can work for golfers who want to learn how to work the ball. Let's say you hit it pretty straight and need to play a draw. An efficient way to do so, without making big changes to your swing is to find a way to increase the steepness of your attack angle. If you can get a steeper attack angle with the same swing, the path will go out to the right.

Stealing a page from the S&T guys, if I move the ball slightly back and the handle slightly forward, this allows the golfer to hit a push-draw. Why? Well the handle forward opens the clubface slightly. And moving the ball position back increases the attack angle slightly. Thus you get a clubface that will get slightly open at impact and a path that is slightly out to the right of the clubface.

The reverse with a fade. Move the ball forward slightly and the handle back more.

The other part needed to hit the ball dead straight like Moe did is to have a clubface that is very square to the target.

As you can see here, the clubface for Moe is dead square at the top of the swing. I see plenty of golfers looking at their PLANE on the backswing, but ignoring the clubface. A 'square' clubface at the top of the swing is when the clubface is on the same angle as the left forearm. As you can see, Moe's clubface and left forearm are dead in line with each other.

So, you can learn from Moe the importance of the square clubface...particularly at the top of the swing...and learn how to match your attack angle with your 'release' after impact.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Questions to Ask When Choosing An Instructor

Blog reader and forum member iacas sent me this link from his forum about what questions to ask a golf instructor.

10 Questions to Ask An Instructor

This was done with forum member and Stack and Tilt instructor Dave Wedzik ( Here's my thoughts:
Question One: What gives the ball its initial direction: clubface angle or path?
Excellent question. The one thing with instructors is that I think you want to come off as somebody who doesn’t understand and you want them to understand the laws of ball flight (correctly) and then use that to teach them.

We’ve gone over Michael Breed understanding the correct ball flight laws, but then he gives a lesson like this.

As we know, you can hit a big time hook with an open clubface, so Breed’s remedy of closing the face over more or less shows me that he knows the correct answer and has memorized it, but when it comes to putting it into practice, he really doesn’t understand the correct ball flight laws well enough. It sort of reminds me of when I took German classes in school and I could memorize the lines well enough to pass the course, but when it came to using German in a real life situation, I was mediocre at best.
Question Two: If a golfer wants to hit the biggest draw - would he move the weight the furthest forward or the furthest back?
Another good question. Again, ask the question in a way that it sounds like you generally do not know and see if the golfer gets it right. A lot of golfers talk about ‘getting around it’ or ‘getting behind it’ to hit a draw, but if the weight is more forward, golfers usually see their attack angle get steeper. And when the attack angle gets steeper, the path tends to move out to the right (more inside-to-out). Many instructors live by the ‘getting behind it’ theory, so you need to figure out if that’s something they subscribe to.
Question Three: Does the spine's actual angle taken at address (flexion from the hips) stay that way throughout the backswing? Or does the spine extend/straighten as the hips come out of their anterior tilt?
This comes off as a loaded question. The problem here is a pro would either look it up, may not understand the language (aka anterior tilt).
Question Nine: Do you make use of video? Yes or No?
Most of the other questions were ‘loaded’ questions that a swing instructor may not want to answer or may ‘cheat’ on. This one I agree with.

Obviously, there’s problems with using a camera in that camera angles can be deceiving. But I believe that golfers generally learn well from seeing their swing on camera and knowing what to look for when they go back home and then videotape their swing in the future.

I would ask for their general teaching philosophy.

For me, I want an instructor that believes there is no one way to swing the club and what really matters is a golfer’s impact conditions and actually understands the ins and outs of impact. But most of all, I’m looking for teachers who improve golfers and a wide range of golfers. There are some teachers who are great with hackers, but not so great with the rest. Some are great with just excellent golfers. Some are experts at developing junior golfers. Some are good with giving the weekend golfers some tips to take a couple of strokes off their game. And some are good at improving accuracy, some are good with improving distance, etc.

IMO, you really want the instructor that improves as many different types of golfers in many different ways as they can. Sooner or later you will fit into that category.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

New 2009 PGA Tour Make Percentages

Thanks to John Graham for posting up the results of the 2009 PGA Tour putts made percentage.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Putting D-Plane

For awhile I've said 'D-Plane is alive and well in putting' and here's a video I made showing that.

It's one of the things that putting guru's like David Orr and Geoff Mangum harp on...there's too much focus on the stroke and not enough focus on where the putterface is at impact.

Don't get me wrong, stroke has its importance, particularly if you are missing the sweetspot a lot. But if the ball is struck pretty well, that face needs to be at the correct target with the right amount of speed for putting success.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Video Every Golfer Should Watch

Presented by our friends at The Golf Evolution

One of the questions I often hear is Jack Nicklaus describing how he hits a draw or a fade by either closing the clubface or opening the clubface at address and then making his normal swing.

Or you hear about the golfer who was taught that you aim the clubface where you want the ball to wind up and then aim your body to where you want the ball to start and why that works for them.

Regardless if those methods work for you, the FACT is that the initial direction will be pretty much where the clubface is pointing at impact/seperation. So with Nicklaus' technique, if it did indeed work for him (Jack didn't work the ball much) at impact his clubface wasn't closed for a hook that winds up at the was OPEN.

If it works for you consistently, then I would keep doing what you are doing. But chances are it really doesn't work as consistently as you claim and understanding the ball flight laws will allow you to better work the ball (and actually understand all of your golf shots).


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When Instruction Goes Wrong - Part I

(Sample Lesson from Dan Carraher (iteachgolf) who can be found at

One of the things I hope this blog can accomplish is to get golfers involved with better instructors. Personally, most of the teachers on these top 100 lists I wouldn't go to if they paid me for the lesson. I should know, I've seen quite a few of them or their disciples.

Yesterday, I came across a post on the GolfWRX forum that stated the following:
I ended last season at a 4.7 handicap, which was up slightly over the previous year. The last few rounds I played were awful, but I attributed that to the quick onset of winter in the got too cold too fast and I just didn't play enough to be consistent.

I've started this season even worse off, however. I hit balls at least once a week at a local indoor range and felt great as the weather broke. I have been completely inconsistent - I have no idea what the ball will do when I hit it. My most common miss is a total shank or hosel rocket, though...about 4 of 10 shots.

I've taken a lesson - which made things significantly worse...that is when inconsistency turned into hosel rockets. The woman tried to fix about 200 things (left foot flared, stomach in, stronger right hand grip, hold the club butt higher, thumbs to the target after release, stand farther away form the ball. etc) and gave me nothing to work with other than a list (needless to say, I will not be going back to her). I've focused on the fundamentals at the driving range (grip, alignment, stance, ball position) and have had some productive sessions, but it has not translated to the course. Lately, though, the sessions have been extremely discouraging and unproductive.

At this point, I cannot break 100.
One of the first things I would ask an instructor before going to them is something along the lines of this question.

I think it's important that the instructor give you the correct answer, preferably as detailed as possible. But I also think you need to ask it in a way where you don't give away the answer or allow the instructor to look it up online.

Remember, the golf swing is really about controlling the Big 3 in the end:

- Clubface control
- Club path control
- Low Point control

And it's also about using your pivot to make the swing and those controls dynamic. If the teacher doesn't understand the actual laws of ball flight, then they really cannot correctly diagnose problems you have with your swing.

But, let's look at that original post again.
I have no idea what the ball will do when I hit it. My most common miss is a total shank or hosel rocket, though...about 4 of 10 shots.
Helps if the golfer knows exactly what happens at impact to cause the ball to fly the way it does. Also helps if the golfer can understand what usually happens when they don't control any of those 'Big 3' factors in the golf swing.

We all know the shank is a shot off the heel. But what many of us don't now is that mis-hits tend to be a club path control problem. My guess is the golfer is 'tipping out' at P6. Now why he's tipping out is another issue. But to keep it at it's base...he has a club path control issue.
I've taken a lesson - which made things significantly worse...that is when inconsistency turned into hosel rockets. The woman tried to fix about 200 things
The golfer's clubpath control has just gotten worse.
(left foot flared
The question to ask is, how will this help me control my path better?
stomach in
How does this help the golfer control his path better?
stronger right hand grip
How does this help the golfer control his path better?
hold the club butt higher
How does this help the golfer control his path better?
thumbs to the target after release
How does this help the golfer control his path better?
stand farther away form the ball
How does this help the golfer control his path better?
I've focused on the fundamentals at the driving range (grip, alignment, stance, ball position)

Control the clubface. Control the path. Control the low point. Improve your pivot.

Those are all of the fundamentals you need to work on.

How does grip, alignment, stance and ball position necessarily help control the golfer's path?

This golfer doesn't understand the concepts of controlling the path, face, low point and improving the pivot. Thus he goes to instructors who don't understand that and never succeeds. Ask questions. Understand the ball flight laws. Make sure your instructor understands them as well. Make sure your instructor understands the 'Big 3' as well.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Ball Flight Laws Video with John Dunigan

Here's a nice video on the 'new ball flight laws' by PGA pro John Dunigan.

I try to reiterate the ball flight laws in my blog because I agree with's one of the very first things golfers should understand.

To me, understanding what's going on at impact after every shot is HUGE. If I can correctly diagnose what the path, face and attack angle are doing at impact then I can start to get myself on the right track to fixing the issues I have.

How big is that? Well for one when an instructor comes along to help with the swing, I can pretty much ask myself if what they are telling me will help my impact conditions.

There are a few things I like to go over though.

- According to Brian Manzella, the face angle is about 70-85% responsible for the initial direction. Some of this goes into the attack angle and how the clubhead moves thru impact. It's still important to understand that the initial direction is mostly due to where the clubface is pointing, but Dunigan saying it's 'at least 85%' is not quite accurate IMO.

- At one point Dunigan shows the face angle pointing at the target, but the path going well right of the target and he says this will result in a shot that starts out at the target and hooks let of the target. Again, not quite accurate. Remember, that 15-30% of the initial direction is due to the path. That shot would likely start out slightly right of the target and then hook well left of the target.

- Remember, attack angle is important as well. Steeper attack angles move the PATH out to the right more. As I like to say, if you have ever hit a low punch under some trees, the ball usually has hook spin to it because you are really increasing the steepness of the downward attack angle which moves the path well out to the right.


Monday, April 12, 2010

More Trackman Screen Views

I saw this video of Trackman showing some screen views of a driver going thru impact and I thought this could further help some readers understand Trackman:

Let's take a look at some of the numbers and then what the animation is trying to show us.

Attack Angle - +3.6*
Dynamic Loft Angle - 16.6*
Vertical Launch Angle - 15.3*

This shows the golfer with an upward attack angle. The dynamic loft is the loft of the club at impact. The vertical launch angle is angle that the ball launches initially. Because this golfer has a very upward attack angle with the driver, the dynamic loft and vertical launch angle increases. I believe they prescribe something in the 10-14* range for vertical launch angle. So this golfer may want a lower lofted driver. The animation on the upper left corner of the screen shows what an upward attack angle of 3.6* looks like.

Now let's take a look at the bottom left corner of the screen.

Club Path - +3.6*
Face Angle - +1.6*
Horizontal Launch Angle - +1.8

Remember, positive numbers mean the ball or the clubhead is going rightward and negative numbers mean leftward.

Now, let's remember some things.

This golfer has a +3.6* attack angle. In order to hit it DEAD STRAIGHT AT THE TARGET, this golfer pretty much needs to have a horizontal swing plane of about +3.6* as well.

However, this screen does not show what the horizontal swing plane is for this shot.

It shows a club path of +3.6*, but that's not the same thing as the horizontal swing plane.

If the horizontal swing plane was +3.6*, the club path would be near 0.0*.

Instead the club path winds up being +3.6*, so we can conclude that the horizontal swing plane is quite a bit out to the right.

NOW, look at the animation in the upper right hand corner. As you will see, they show the club swinging along an imaginary incline plane board. If you look at it, you can see that the incline plane board (which is really the horizontal swing plane) is out to the right of the target.

Still, that doesn't mean that it was a 'bad' shot. What we know from 'the new ball flight laws', the face is out to the right, but the path is further out to the right than the face at impact. This should result in a push draw back at the target. And if the golfer made good contact, they will likely have optimized their distance off the tee with that upward attack angle.

Ball Spin - 1,985
Spin Axis - (-3.4)

Ball spin is just the backspin rate of the driver. At 1,985 rpm's, that's an excellent low spinning driver shot. This ball will roll forever.

Now remember, this golfer had a 'horizontal angle' of +1.8*. We stated that with looking at his clubface angle and clubhead path he should hit a push draw.

The horizontal angle means that the ball started to the RIGHT of the target by 1.8*. The spin axis is -3.4*. Meaning that it had hook spin of 3.4* (a positive number would have slice spin). So it does appear that this golfer hit a push draw. And as you play the video, you will see the animation show the ball starting out to the right with hook spin.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Heath Slocum Swing

Heath Slocum finished 2nd in my 2009 Ballstriking Statistical Rankings . Here is his swing in slow motion.


A Look At The Unorthodox Swings - Part 10

In part 10 of this series, I look at Nancy Lopez’s swing.

Lopez has won 3 LPGA majors as well as 48 LPGA tournaments. She is a member of the Golf Hall of Fame.

Most people notice her unusual takeaway where the hands raised and then the wrists roll inwards. What’s amazing to me is how flat her swing was ½ way back.

She does have an ‘across the line move.’ The ‘across the line’ move is when a golfer, at the top of the swing, has the clubshaft right of parallel. Conversely, a clubshaft that is left of parallel at the top of the swing is known as ‘laid off.’

The ‘across the line move’ really isn’t all that bad because typically the golfer who is across the line will have a problem with getting underplane. The ‘laid off’ golfer tends to get ‘above the plane.’

This to me is a glaring flaw of Hank Haney’s teaching of Ray Romano on ‘The Haney Project.’ Romano does have an ‘across the line’ move, yet does get above the plane. But his clubface is so wide open in the downswing that I believe Romano eventually started getting above the plane in order to get the ball moving left, but we know from the ‘new ball flight laws’ that move really doesn’t help much (if not makes things worse).

Anyway, as flat as Lopez’s backswing gets, she does get on a nice inclined plane in the downswing. She then ‘swings left’ in order to hit the ball straight.

I think the thing we can learn here is that the backswing is not as important as most people make it. Don’t get me wrong, backswing compensations can force flaws at impact, but it’s more important to focus on the downswing and impact first and then decide if the backswing is causing problems second.


Friday, April 9, 2010

A Look At The Unorthodox Swings - Part 9

In Part 9 we look at Doug Sanders

Sanders is unfortunately known for his missed 2-footer on the 72nd hole to win the 1970 Open title. But he was actually an excellent ballstriker who had 13 top-10 finishes in majors.

Sanders had a very short and flat backswing.

But what he did was really drive the legs by using the ground to push off from. Just take a look at the difference in knee flex from address to about the 1/2 way point of the downswing.

Much like Allen Doyle the only thing that is really unorthodox about Sanders golf swing is just how short it is. But also like Doyle, he used his legs brilliant to power that swing.

I often hear about golfers wanting to shorten their backswing in order to hit it more consistently but I don't find that to always be the case. However, if you do plan on shortening your swing I would highly suggest you learn to use your lower body to help better power the club.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How Understanding D-Plane Helped My Game

First, I would like to show a post that Tom Wishon made over at his forum talking about the new groove rule:
The GW equipment editor, Mike Johnson, has been keeping track of the statistics related to the performance and effect of the new scorelines. Through 13 PGA Tour events in 2010 vs 2009 this compares data on the same exact courses.

1. Driving Distance - 279.4 yds (2010) vs 283.7 yds (2009)

2. Driving Accuracy (% of fwys hit) - 61.54% (2010) vs 60.88% (2009)

3. Proximity to the Hole for shots hit from ROUGH from 50-125 yds -
25' 9" (2010) vs 26' 8" (2009)

4. Proximity to the Hole for shots hit from ROUGH from 125-150 yds -
32' 8" (2010) vs 35' 5" (2009)

5. Scrambling (% of up and down) - 30.30% (2010) vs 27.88% (2009)

6. Scoring Average - 71.26 (2010) vs 71.26 (2009)
As you can see, the new groove rule has not had any effect on the game as expected. The driving distance has gone down a bit and the accuracy has stayed the same. However, the weather this winter in the country has been noticeably colder than last year so I think pretty much the new groove rule has not made an impact so far.

Like I stated in a previous post about the new groove rule (, if the USGA and PGA Tour really wanted to make an impact they would stop the golf balls and drivers from going any further, make the rough heavier and place 'local rules' O.B. stakes on holes so golfers could not miss so badly that they wind up in good position because they actually missed all of the trouble.

I received an e-mail from a blog reader asking specifically how D-Plane/'the new ball flight laws' helped me and how they can help you.

Here's a few examples.

1. A friend I play golf with about once a week usually hits the following shots:

- push draw at the target
- push right of the target
- push fade far right of the target
- pull hook left of the target

This golfer usually hits shots pretty solid and doesn't have an issue with hitting it thin or fat.

If we understand the D-Plane we have a basic idea of what is going on with the clubhead path and clubface at impact.

I think it's safe to say that he doesn't have low point issues. I think his problem is controlling the clubface. The push draw, the straight push, the push fade and the pull hook are good indications that the golfer's path is inside-to-out because you can hit ALL of those shots with an inside-to-out path. But this is an indication that the golfers clubFACE is an issue.

Push draw shows a slightly open face. Straight push is a well open clubface and the push fade is a wide open face. Then the pull draw is a very closed face. One thing you will notice if you talk to enough PGA Tour players is how important it is for them to only have a 1-way miss. If this golfer can figure out how to stop closing the face, they would probably be better off. Then from there they need to 'tighten' how open the clubface gets so they won't hit that push fade.

2. My dad hits a low pull-cut. He hits it pretty consistently, but doesn't have much power partly because the ball goes low and partly because he doesn't generate much clubhead speed.

If my dad wanted to get better, IMO I think he needs to work on his PATH first.


Because his consistent low, pull-cut shows that his clubface is very consistent and closed at impact. The closed face gets the ball starting off left and going low. However, IMO I believe he has almost subconsiously closed the clubface in response to a very outside-to-in path. That's also a big reason why he's not generating enough clubhead speed because his downswing plane is so upright, he doesn't create angular momentum.

What we know about D-Plane, my dad would start seeing progress with his path once he starts hitting pull hooks. Then from there he could start working on the clubface.

3. Lowpoint is pretty easy to understand if it's a problem. It's such an important concept to understand because most golfers see topped and fat shots as 'looking up.' This golfer would probably be accused of 'looking up' by his buddies.

But this pic of him with this swing at impact shows a different story.

The tough part with lowpoint issues is it can be a number of things. This golfer's glaring problem is his clubhead PATH which starts off with his takeaway and backswing, particularly how he disconnects the #4 Pressure Point, which is an extremely important pressure point in the golf swing.

So what about the golfer who misses the sweetspot a lot?

I believe that is usually a PATH problem. You can still hit the sweetspot with a severely closed or opened clubface. Or a better way to put it, if you have ever tried to hit a shot when the ball moves during mid-swing it's extremely hard to hit it on the sweetspot because your are effectively changing your clubpath.

Understanding D-Plane gives the golfer a better chance of making an initial correct prognosis. Something like Trackman is like using an MRI to give an exact diagnosis.


Monday, April 5, 2010

'New' Old Hogan Videos

great Hogan swing videos from Carl Welty (

This one is believed to be from 1946, after Hogan discovered 'the secret.'

And these are from 1948, a year before his near fatal car accident.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Hogan Lag Illusion

Here's a great video from Sevam1 talking about the 'illusion' of Hogan's lag. (sorry, can't embed the video for some reason)


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Steps to Break 80

I get a lot of blog readers who ask me for help on their game. Of course, since the game is individualized, I cannot give one diagnosis for everybody involved.

However, in this post I will go into what I think is the easiest route to go from say a 15 handicap to a 7 and breaking 80 on occasion.

I do believe I have some good experience in this because I have 2 friends that I play golf with and both of them improved in a similar fashion. One friend, a 44-year old father of three, went from a 12 handicap to an 8 handicap last year.

The other a 40-year old father of two, went from a 10-handicap to a 4-handicap last year. I didn’t really provide them with any real instruction and neither golfer actually took a lesson from a professional last year. However, thru hard work and more importantly SMART work (which I helped guide them on), they were able to lower their handicaps and have more fun playing golfer than they ever had.

Now, ‘hard work’ didn’t entail them becoming like Moe Norman on the range. But it did entail them playing at least once a week and seeing some time on the range at least twice a week.

And now I actually believe there’s some things that I could have tweaked or advised them that would’ve made the process even easier.


The one thing that really helped these guys was explaining them D-Plane…aka, the ‘new ball flight laws.’

It’s funny that I hear so many golfers talk about how much they love Ricky Fowler’s natural and holistic approach to working on his swing by just judging the ball flight and making adjustments off of that. But once you mention ‘D-Plane’ they start eschewing it.

The importance of understanding the ‘new ball flight laws’ is very simple. You can’t fix what you incorrectly diagnose.

It reminds me of 2-time Masters Champion Jose Maria Olazabal. Back in the late 90’s his feet were hurting him so bad that he was confined to a bed and literally couldn’t move due to the pain. Doctors prescribed him all sorts of treatment for the feet and the pain just kept getting worse and worse. Eventually as a last ditch effort, Olazabal sought out a German doctor who was known as sort of an oddball. The German doctor then diagnosed the problem correctly and said it had nothing to do with Olazabal’s feet. Instead, his back was the culprit and almost instantly, Olazabal was cured and a year later he won the Masters for the 2nd time, which IMO is one of the greatest comeback stories in sport that NOBODY ever talks about!

That’s the problem with ignoring the ‘new ball flight laws’ (D-Plane), you’re essentially the doctor who says Olazabal’s feet are the problem instead of the doctor who says his back is the culprit. And then you just get more confused and you start making adjustments you don’t need to make and that leads to more confusion.

We see this every Monday Night on the ‘Haney Project with Ray Romano’, the ball keeps flying a certain way and Romano gets more confused and frustrated.

I won’t post the ‘new ball flight laws’ here again, since a search on the blog can find them for you. However, a good way to start learning them is to think about what happened with the clubhead path and the face on every shot.

If you hit a straight push, we know the clubface was open and the club path was inside-to-out and was ‘matching’ the face. If you hit a duck hook, we know the clubface was dead shut.

Eventually, you’ll start to realize a pattern of your misses and then start to figure out the base of your problem. One of the friends of mine did this and realized that his miss shots are due to a wide open clubface. The other friend found that he had to change the face and the path as he had a very closed face and a very outside-to-in path. That would result in a low, pull cut shot…which he knew wouldn’t cut it if he wanted to take it to the next level. But I told him he would know he was on the right track when he started hitting pull hooks because that meant his clubhead path was getting more square and his face was still closed and then he would just have to work on the clubface.


I call them the ‘Big 3’ because they are what I believe a golfer needs to control in order to hit the ball consistently well. And understanding the ‘Big 3’ gets the golfer focusing on what’s really wrong instead of focusing on things like ‘keeping your head down.’

- Clubface Control
- Clubhead Path Control
- Low Point Control

I would say that the toughest to control consistently is the clubface. Then I actually believe the low point is the second toughest to control, then the clubhead path. That doesn’t mean that they have to be ‘zeroed out’, because if you have a clubpath that is time and time again 2* inside-to-out, that is very good control of the clubhead path.

This is another reason why doing a quick analysis after each shot can help diagnose your problems. If you are getting a lot of 2 way misses where the ball starts off in very different directions, then you know you have a clubface issue. If your ball is starting in the same direction, but curving in different ways, then you have a clubhead path issue. And if you are hitting shots thin or fat or both, then you have a lowpoint issue. If you are doing 2 or more then you have multiple issues.


Yes, go get a camcorder and record your swing from time to time. These two friends of mine found this helpful because since they didn’t play every day, there were old habits and new bad habits that they would fall into and when they would go on the range and struggle, they could then look to the camera and figure out why.


One of the things that I found helpful from the Lag Erickson Advanced Ballstriking Modules ( is that Lag recommends that not only do you get a set of vintage blades, but you get a vintage blade 2-iron as well. His reasoning is that ‘if you can hit a vintage blade 2-iron, you can hit anything.’

I agree.

Reading Michael Lavery’s book ‘Whole Brain Power’ he talks about the importance of testing our motors skills with activities that require precision or those motors skills will erode.

If you want a GREAT training aid, go on e-bay and look up a vintage forged blade 2-iron, which you can probably get for less than $20 with shipping. It certainly is a ‘truth serum’ as Lag likes to say. I probably hit more balls on the range with my 2-iron than any other club in the bag.


The great Brian Manzella video explaining the ‘Rule of 12.’

Developing a great short game won’t drop you from a 15 to a 2 handicap if your ballstriking stinks. But it can cut off some strokes. Both of these friends of mine swear by the ‘Rule of 12’ and as they say it ‘takes the guesswork right out of it.’


Understanding that you should not aim at the apex of the break on a putt and should aim well above that apex.

Again, this take out a lot of the confusion from the game. Those putts where you think you didn’t play enough break become putts where you realized you aimed at the wrong spot.

Again, it takes a lot of hard work, but I do not believe in Jim McLean’s theory in his old ‘The Eight Step Swing’ book that ‘confusion is a pathway to success.’


Hey, it’s understandable that you will get confused and you need to ask the right people the right questions to get rid of that confusion. But confusion by itself is a bad thing IMO and needs to be taken care of.


Friday, April 2, 2010

The Laid Off Move

Many people ask about the 'laid off' move...what is it? Why is it 'bad?' How do I avoid it?

Before I get into those questions, something I've learned from watching the 'Haney Project w/Ray Romano' is that Hank Haney is not only a 'method' teacher, but he doesn't seem to be able to explain why Romano (and even Barkley) should use his methodology in any detail. I've seen this with other method teachers as well and the reasoning becomes more like 'you do it because you're on plane' or 'that's the way Tiger does it.' But, it doesn't really go into WHY getting on plane is important or WHY Tiger does it and it helps him.

Anyway getting back to the 'laid off move', what most instructors look for at the top of the swing is something like this.

As you can see here, Arnold Palmer has the clubshaft pointing just about parallel to the target line at the top of the swing.

Being 'laid off', looks more like this:

Here, this golfer has the clubshaft pointing left of parallel at the top of the swing.

The reason why the laid off move is usually a flawed moved that needs to be avoided is that from that position, it makes it almost natural for the golfer to come over the top and makes it very difficult to control the clubface. But that over the top move is probably more problematic when a golfer is 'laid off' and if they get too over the top, they'll have difficulty hitting the shot on the sweetspot.

That being said, there are golfers that do get 'laid off' and still play great golf. Tiger Woods gets laid off, more noticeably with his irons than his woods. Ian Poulter gets even more laid off with his swing.

However, there's a notion that some golfers get 'laid off' when they really do not. Sergio Garcia is a great example. Take a look at this video from Motion Golf.

As you can see, Sergio is NOT laid off at the top of the swing.

However, in the transition is where he makes a 'laid off' type of move. That being said, I find that 'laid off' transition to be very beneficial for a golfer because they are basically 'dropping the club into the slot' on their downswing and practically making the over the top move impossible.

Jim Furyk is a great example of a golfer who also gets 'laid off' in transition.

Now, the opposite of being laid off is 'getting across the line.' This is when the clubshaft is pointing right of parallel at the top of the swing.

This is perhaps my biggest grip against Haney in the show. Romano is very much across the line, but across the line almost always causes the OPPOSITE REACTION of being laid off. Whereas the 'laid off golfer' is put in a position to come over the top, the 'across the line golfer' is put in a position to get well underplane.

Yet, Romano has an across the line position and comes over the top. My reasoning is that RR's problem is his clubface is wide open at the top of the swing and over time of hitting shots dead right, his brain has told him to start swinging the club left so the ball will start off more to the left.

But the problem is that the clubface is responsible for about 85% of the initial direction of the ball flight, so swinging the club to the left more only very slightly helps the ball go more to the left. If they would fix the clubface first he'd probably start off hitting pulls quite a bit, but hitting more good shots and making a lot better contact. THEN, they could work on the pivot, lower body action (which is a big problem for RR) and the path.

There have been far more great players that have had an across the line move than a laid off move. Fred Couples, Kenny Perry and Nancy Lopez just to name a few.

So how does one go about stopping the 'laid off' move. It's actually something that is an easy fix.

The #1 culprit I find is that the golfer loses their left side 'connection' or their '#4 pressure point' loosens.

At address, the golfer will feel their upper left arm, right near the arm pit, touching their left side of their body. This will be up near the side of the left breast or the upper left rib cage area.

In the backswing, particularly the takeaway, golfers who get laid off start to lose that connection from the upper left arm and the left side of the body.

Here's a pic of Ian Poulter, a golfer who gets laid off at the top of the swing.

You can see a slight gap of where his #4 Pressure Point is. It's really that slight of a gap that can cause a 'laid off' move at the top.

Now take a look at Hogan. It's not a gigantic difference, but just noticeable enough to see that his #4 Pressure Point is still in tact while Poulter is losing his #4 Pressure Point a bit.

The other move that can cause this often times works in conjunction with the loosening of the #4 Pressure Point. It's what Brian Manzella calls 'pop out.'

To avoid the 'laid off move', the hands should be about the same distances away from the body in the takeaway as they were at address.

So let's say the hands are 10" away from the body at address, then in the takeaway they should still be 10" away from the body at address. With 'pop out', the hands get a further distance away from the body in the takeaway than where they were at address.

This usually coincides with loosening the #4 PP, but that's not always the case. Many golfers can keep the #4 PP in tact, but because they are trying to take the club away straight back instead of taking it away to the inside, they get that 'pop out' action.

That's a big reason why Tiger gets a bit laid off. With Haney's 'parallel plane' theory Tiger winds up trying to take the club too much straight back and up and it causes the 'pop out' move and then he gets laid off.

My suggestion for somebody who is laid off at the top would be to take a scorecard or an empty golf ball sleeve and flatten it out. Something sturdy but thin. Then stick that under their left arm pit, and take some backswings without letting it fall out or allowing the pressure to loosen. It's alright if the left arm slides up the scorecard as you take your backswing, I just don't want to lose the amount of pressure I have.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Low Point Drill w/Martin Chuck

Martin Chuck, founder of the excellent training aid The Tour Striker with a great drill to help out with one of 'Big 3', low point control.