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.



Erik J. Barzeski said...

Agree for the most part, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, people who come over the top also leave their weight back and "release" their hands quite a bit, so they square the clubface up. It's easier to close up the clubface coming over the top than it is from under the plane, just as it's easier to flip at the ball coming over the top (even slightly) than from under the plane.

Would you agree, in general, with those statements?

I'm speaking specifically to the part where "swinging left won't have a big effect." No, it won't - but I think by coming over the top he's affecting the clubface angle too.

Rich H. said...

I really don't think the clubface and path go as hand in hand as you think.

That's the problem with Haney teaching Romano. The face is wide open. So if he squares up the path, he'll still have an open clubface and still slice it right.

RR is a good example of an over the top path with an open face. What really happens there is his face was open and then eventually he started to swing left in order to get the ball going left. But as we know, path is only about 15% responsible for initial direction.

Other over the toppers can be a function of very poor lower body action. That's why those upright lie angles and soft spikes don't help. It's tough to tell yourself to lower your CoG with soft spikes on and then when you are hitting shots off the toe, the clubfitters and pros tell you to go to more upright lie angles, which only make you come over the top more.

Erik J. Barzeski said...

I think we may have to agree to disagree, because from what I've seen club path and clubface go hand in hand fairly commonly, not just out of "learned necessity" (i.e. "I swing left, so I'd better start the ball left so it will slice back to the center" but also because if the club is under the plane it's pretty awkward to get it closed to the plane (less so being over/open).

Ray can't "swing left" enough to compensate for an open clubface, and his clubface isn't open to the target - it's closed or square. That's why he hits straight slices or pull slices.

Enjoy the site.