Monday, May 31, 2010

Pitch Shot Variations

Chuck Evans on pitch shot variations.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Swing Update 5.28.10

I figure I'll go back to showing swing updates on a weekly basis. I plan on getting a Casio camera soon so I can tape my swing in super slow motion.

Here I'm hitting my Apex PC 2-iron which has an ultra stiff shaft in it. The DTL swings I flushed both of them, probably hitting it as well as I can hit the club. One of those shots you hit so well that you barely feel the club making contact with the ball. The Face On shot was a push.

The swing is getting better. I'll probably start working on ABS Module 3 come Saturday if I play pretty decent. I noticed from the Face On view the ball position is a bit back for a 2-iron. My guess is that I probably naturally did that over time to compensate for the excess axis tilt and the head hanging back on the downswing. For now though, I hope to keep the backswing pretty much the same, work on Module 3 and see where that takes my swing over time.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Shaft Spining

I've discussed getting your shafts spined before, but I thought I would expand upon it in this post.

As this video shows, each shaft has a 'spine' and that's where most of the weight is and here they show how to find the spine and then align it.

The reason why you want the shaft to be aligned is so you don't get what's called 'shaft droop'

Problem is, getting your shafts aligned isn't not cheap. It can cost up to $50 a club if you were to go to GolfSmith.

Fortunately, there's a bit of a way around it. This great video by Sevam1 and Steve Elkington shows how to figure out the effects shaft droop have on your impact.


This is also a good way to figure out what lie angle works for you. Get a rough estimate of what lie angle you play at (say, 2* flat) and then get each club bent 2* flat. Then use the dynamic lie fitting that Sevam1 and Elk are using in the video to tweak your clubs.

However, you really cannot bend the lie angles with today's modern drivers, so I would suggest if you are very serious about the game, get your driver shaft aligned.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Hogan Video

Ho hum, just perfection again. Really love the elderly Hogan swings in this one.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's All About Impact Book Review

I finally picked up Andrew Rice's book 'It's All About Impact' and read it today. It only took about an hour to read as it's only 122 pages and I purchased it via the e-book for $15.95.

Rice is a former Leadbetter protege and played golf at University of Central Florida (which is about 2 miles from where I live now, beautiful campus). Rice also credits Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, founders of the Stack and Tilt golf swing, for giving him the idea of creating his book (he admits to have never meeting either Bennett or Plummer).

I was a bit skeptical coming into the book as my dealings with Leadbetter's teaching and teaching of his disciples has usually been disappointing as far as information goes. Plus, I understand D-Plane pretty well and compression pretty well. But I figured I could possibly learn some new things or some insights about impact. Furthermore, if the book is everything I've ever read before but provides information in simple, but a detailed could be a good book for my blog readers to pick up

One of the major problems I have with pop instructors like the ones that tend to come out of the Leadbetter camp is that they usually focus on the backswing and the backswing plane, which can make the swing look pretty, but still result in poor ballstriking.

Unfortunately, my premonitions were accurate as despite talking about 'it's all about impact', he goes quite a bit into the backswing. One of the things Rce talks about is somethng he calls the '84 degree secret' which is a line he draws at the top of the swing from the right foot. Rice claims that almost all of the great ballstrikers are either on the 84* line or within a degree of it. My problem is that it's drawn off a camera angle and camera angles can deceive. Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in getting video camera, but using stringent lines to follow off a camera can cause some major problems.

Rice does believe in a backswing very similar to the Stack & Tilt with a steep shoulder turn on the backswing. He also claims that every good ballstriker at P3 (when the left arm is parallel to the ground in the backswing) has the right arm higher than the left arm when looking from the face on view. I've actually got a swing sequence of Trevino and Corey Pavin showing a different story.

Rice also claims that the golfer should hit down with EVERY club in the bag and points to Trackman's measurement that the average PGA Tour pro hits -1.3* down wit the driver. However, that's the average and somebody like Bubba Watson hits about 9* upward with the driver.

I'm more of a believer that one can hit up with the driver and be very accurate. In fact, the average attack angle with the driver on the LPGA is +3*, and there are many LPGA golfers who do hit it very accurately off the tee. Furthermore, it's really a trade off between distance and accuracy.

And that's kind of the issue I have with the book. Most of his conclusions are not quite true and Rice doesn't even get into the effect that clubface angle, attack angle and clubhead path have on the ball.

The good part is he does talk about compression and hitting the ball first and it's really underrated as to the amount of golfers who have no idea that you hit the ball first and then take a divot. But other than that, I didn't find a lot of use out of this book and I don't think the blog readers will either and they would be better off sticking with Bennett and Plummer's 'The Stack and Tilt Golf Swing' book if they want to understand impact better.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blades vs. Cavity Backs, the Debate Continues

Good debate and posts going over on Brian Manzella's forum about using Cavity Backs vs. Blades and I wanted to share my thoughts.

I'm a believer in the blade style iron. I don't think it's a coincidence that the great ballstrikers all used blades and the best rounds in the history of the game were almost all done with blade style iron.

I'll name off the top of my head, the ten best all time ballstrikers I can think of:

- Ben Hogan
- Moe Norman
- Sam Snead
- George Knudson
- Johnny Miller
- Lee Trevino
- Nick Price
- Tom Watson
- Mac O'Grady
- Jack Nicklaus

I'm pretty sure all of them used blades. Knudson is questionable since I don't know of his endorsement deals.

With the cavity, it's a more forgiving when it comes to the effects that the clubface, clubhead path and low point have on the ball. Now we are seeing more of a 'player's cavity back' iron involved with the game.

Manzella's contention is that he can hit some cavity backs better than any blade iron available and test it out on Trackman's 'combine' application.

My contention is that after reading Michael Lavery's book 'Whole Brain Power' (see Lavery in the pic above), I believe that people who do not test their motor skills usually see them erode.

So, when you have a set of irons like cavity backs which allow golfers to be less precise with their clubface, clubhead path and low point control...they'll eventually become less precise with those facets of impact.

Here's what Manzella mentioned:
That science is called the Moment of Inertia—the measure of an object's resistance to changes to its rotation.

The higher the MOI, the harder it is for the club to be "twisted" by an outside force.

The lower the MOI, the easier on purpose, during the swing, twisting is.

Blade irons, with all of their mass distributed more or less evenly throughout the head, have a far lower MOI than say a hollow-headed 460cc Titanium Driver.

And much less than a cavity back iron.

So, for the highly skilled golfer, the ability to "twist", or manipulate the clubface during the swing, is "scientifically" easier to do with a blade iron.

But what about a higher MOI twisting less on off-center hits?

Well, if the ball is contacted on the sweetspot of a blade iron, not a big problem for the Hogan's, Nelson's, Snead's, Nicklaus', Miller's, and Eldrick's of the world, that resistance to twisting during an off-center impact, is not a big benefit to them.

So, why would anyone play with a cavity backed club?

Why would anyone play with a hybrid?

Because, mere mortals don't hit the sweetspot like a David Toms, and can't control the clubface like a Lee Buck Trevino.
What some point to is that the majority of golfers on the PGA Tour use cavity backs. In fact, I did a look a few months ago at the top 50 ranked players in the world and 17 of them played blades at the time, 30 played CB's and 3 played a very mixed set.

And when I think of great ballstrikers on the PGA Tour, I think of Kenny Perry, Heath Slocum, Hunter Mahan and Joe Durant...all of which use cavity back irons.

So what gives?

Well, the courses (like I've mentioned in the past) have become more 'carry oriented' and you have to hit the ball higher and longer than in the past. Ryan Moore uses Scratch Golf's SB-1 blades, but for the Master he switched over to their cavity back irons because he felt he needed to hit the ball higher for Augusta's greens. Anthony Kim recently said he liked the Nike VR blades over the old Nike blades because he could get them up higher and they would land softer on the greens.

Plus, the course are certainly longer and that's a big thing, particularly on par-3's where one could feel more comfortable hitting a 5-iron into a green instead of a 2-iron.

But, there's also endorsement deals which are far stricter than they were only 15 years ago. Now less and less OEM's are willing to design a set of irons after another OEM's line of clubs and stamp it with their logo and call it a 'prototype.' 15 years ago that happened more often than not. Now, it's pretty rare to see.

Getting back to Trackman. I do believe that many golfers could do the Trackman 'combine' and find themselves performing better with the cavity backs. The problem, IMO, is that OVER TIME with the CB's the golfer can be less precise with their swing because they are not being challenged to be precise with their clubface, clubhead path and low point control.

So *over time* with CB's they could take the Trackman 'combine' test again and find that they still perform better with CB's than blades, but their Trackman combine performance slipped from before. Had they stuck with blade style irons, I think their Trackman performance over time wouldn't slip or wouldn't slip as much (or even get better).

Of course, you need pretty good coaching and dedication to put the time in to building your swing. Like Moe Norman once said, you simply cannot buy a golf swing, one must work for that.

It runs along the same problems I have with irons becoming longer, lighter, lower lofted with more upright lie angles. Over time most golfers develop swings around that. And then when they start hitting shots off the toe, the clubmaker tells them they need more upright clubs.

It's really up to golfer in the end, but I think they need to be fully aware of the risks and rewards of both styles of irons.


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Swing Of A Champion

Who do I think has the best golf swing going today?

There's plenty of really good ones out there, but as of now I'll take Matteo Manassero. And here's the crazy part, he's only 17!

This guy is good!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Attack Angles vs Downswing Plane

One of the things I really hope to enforce here and change golfers' minds and change instructors' minds on is attack angle vs. downswing plane.

I'm sure most of us that have ever taken more than 5 lessons in our lifetime has probably had an instructor say 'you're coming into impact too steep' or 'you're coming into impact too shallow.' The former is more often echoed by instructors. Basically they are saying that the downswing plane is too upright and that's why the golfer catches the ball fat.

But, this never quite made sense to me. For example, Tom Watson's downswing plane was quite upright, yet he almost never takes a noticeable divot.

Or how about Trevino who had a very shallow downswing plane, yet took monster divots.

But then Moe Norman had a very similar downswing plane to Trevino, and almost never took a divot.

I believe that it's simply because each golfer had different attack angles into the ball and attack angle is different from downswing plane and I believe that for the most part, downswing plane doesn't have a thing to do with attack angle and vice versa.

So we've sort explained what he downswing plane's also called the 'vertical swing plane' in Trackman. This is the plane the golfer is on in the downswing. Most golfers are either on the turned shoulder plane or the elbow plane in the downswing.

Attack Angle is measured from the *face on view* and it measures the angle the clubhead comes into the ball at impact.

This is what really correlates to the size of a divot. Trevino with the gargantuan divots had a steep attack angle, but a shallow downswing plane. Moe, who rarely took a divot, had the shallow attack angle and the shallow downswing plane.

A lot of people ask whether or not you should take a big divot and it really depends on what you can do and still hit the ball consistently well. Nobody would tell Trevino to stop taking divots and nobody would tell Moe to start taking divots.

As I've explained in the past, the attack angle also effects the golfers clubhead path thru impact. But we'll save that for another time.

The key here is to understand that attack angle and downswing plane are different and neither really have a lot to do with each other or not as much as most instructors would tell you.

Now, why would somebody like Moe and Trevino have similar downwing planes but vastly different attack angles?

I think (at the moment) it pretty much has to do with the distance of the left shoulder from the ground.


Because we know that the low point is a point in the ground that is approximately the opposite from the left shoulder. For some golfers it may be a little forward of the left shoulder, for others it may be a little behind the left shoulder.

Low point and attack angle correlate well with each other.

When I talk about 'controlling the Big 3', I mean control of:

- Clubface
- Clubhead Path
- Low Point.

I believe that if you were to hook golfers up with Trackman, the golfers who control the low point well and don't have a lot of thin hits or fat hits usually have a very consistent attack angle with each club they use.

This doesn't mean that each club thru the bag will have the same attack angle. It means that if I have a -5* attack angle with a 6-iron, I will hover around -5* each time I hit that 6-iron. But if I have a -1* attack angle with a 3-iron, then I will hover around -1* each time I hit the 3-iron.

With that, I think consistent attack angles probably have to do with consistently keeping your right shoulder the same distance from the ground at impact.

I believe the following determine the attack angles (besides what club you're hitting):

- Weight at impact
- Ball position
- Axis Tilt at impact
- Center of Gravity

We'll explore this more as I learn more about it.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Swing Update 5.21.10

I've been getting request to see updates of my swing (which surprises me), so here are a couple of swings I videoed today.

Still a problem with the secondary axis tilt, but the path and clubface are much better than they were earlier in the year and the footwork is much better. Although my path is probably too far out to the right, causing some of the secondary axis tilt issues.

Also, much more right arm at impact and the club exits in a far better position.

I've been struggling a tad lately, hopefully Module 3 of ABS will get some of the secondary axis tilt issues corrected.


Help A Tiger Out Part Deux

I've received a few e-mails about the latest posts from blog friend NYC Lagster on my thoughts (and others) on Tiger Woods' problems with the golf swing. Here are the Gotham Golf Blog posts:


Here's my POST on what I would suggest to Tiger and his swing issues.

For starters, I think most people don't understand where NYC Lagster and I come from. We are both born and bred New Yorkers and New Yorkers love to argue and debate, but that doesn't mean they don't like each other, they just disagree on that particular subject.

This is something that people not from the surrounding area usually don't understand and having spent the last 15 years in the south, I've seen how people misinterpret this. For instance, if somebody did something meaningless and I say 'you are such an asshole', that doesn't mean I actually think of that person as an asshole. It means that at that moment they were acting like an asshole, but it's more or less a throwaway term.

So don't worry, there's no issues between NYC Lagster and I, and I didn't take those posts as anything but him giving his thoughts and disagreements with me on the subject.

However, I'd like to back up my thoughts a little further.

First off, from the news reports and rumors I have heard, Tiger is already back hitting balls and working on his swing and already seeking out some advice on his swing.

Personally from my background and the health issues I've had, I do believe that one can go to rehab and still work on their golf game and even seek out new instruction to make some changes in their swing. IMO, it's not that impossible to do given that Tiger has already spent an extended period of time in rehab and is now in the stage where he needs to continue therapy while resuming his life.

Perhap I'm wrong, but that's just my take.

Secondly, I do not believe Tiger fully understands D-Plane.

Now, in the past Tiger has stated that the initial ball flight direction is due to where the face is pointing. That's better than the 'old ball flight laws' which say it's the path of the clubhead responsible for initial direction, but not exactly accurate.

Still, I'll give him a passing grade as far as the initial direction goes.

However, I doubt he really knows what exactly the path does and where the path has to be to cause the curvature of the ball flight.

And I don't think he has the foggiest idea of what the difference between attack angle vs. downswing plane is and the effects of attack angle on the ball flight and the *path*.


1. In the past year I've talked to the following golfers and asked them what the laws of ball flight were:

- A 2009 conference champion at a D-1 college
- A former 5-time winner on the PGA Tour
- A former PGA Tour player of the year

And all of them got them dead wrong.

In fact, Justin Rose gets it wrong here as well:

PGA Tour players get stuff on their swing wrong all of the time as far as what exactly they are doing. However, thru talent, hand-eye coordination and tons of practice they usually wind up doing at impact what is needed to hit good shots.

But while the video Justin Rose shows may work for him, what he's doing at impact is a different story.

Yet, we are to expect Tiger to know D-Plane pretty well? I don't think so.

2. Tiger always seems to talk about backswing plane and 'getting on plane' when it comes to his swing. I think it's the reason why he's confused and frustrated with his swing and why he likes to say 'we've still got a lot of work to do.' Plane has it's importance, but I think striving for perfect on plane golf swing time after time is an exercise in futility. Yet not once does he ever mention the clubface and you cannot hit a dead block if the clubface is wide open. And if the path is perfectly dead square, 0.0* to the target and the face is wide open, you'll still hit it dead right.

That doesn't sound to me like a golfer that understands D-Plane to me. It sounds like a golfer who more or less memorizes that the clubface is responsible (actually 70-85%) for the initial direction, but doesn't know how to apply it to their swing.

3. Tiger's path is well out to the right with the driver and a major reason why is that his attack angle is pretty steep with the driver (-3*). My guess is that Tiger has probably heard that attack angle is pretty steep but thinks that keeps the ball low which he likes and doesn't want to give up that lower trajectory for more distance (although he could change his driver specs). But I believe he has no idea that the steeper attack angle actually hurts his path.

That doesn't make him stupid, it makes him like most of the golfing public that had the ball flight laws. And that doesn't make guys like Justin Rose 'liars', it just means that they don't know what exactly is going on at impact.

And yes, I know Haney had a Trackman on his first episode of 'The Haney Project with Ray Romano', but he only used it to measure how far Romano was hitting his clubs. In fact, a friend of mine is planning to purchase a Trackman in 2011 and has talked to Trackman founder Fredrik Tuxen about it and Tuxen told him that most of the top 100 teachers have Trackman, but almost none of them use it for instructional purposes (Martin Hall is one of the few he told my friend) and use it for clubfitting purposes instead. And that's why they market Trackman as an instructional tool because so many professionals only accept it as a fitting tool (I think that will change in the next 5 years).

One of Lagster's points is that Tiger should 'dig it out of the dirt.'

My issues with that are twofold.

A. How can one dig it out of the dirt if they don't know how exactly the ball flies? I think Hogan basically figured out the ball flight laws when you look at his stance diagram in '5 Lessons' and there's another story about Hogan hitting a few pulls on the range and stopping to go into his office and figuing it out and then coming out and flushing it and when he was asked what was the problem he said 'the face was closed.'

B. The beauty of digging it out of the dirt is that once you get it, you really get it and it will stick with you probably forever. The problem is that it can take years to dig it out of the dirt and for many, they can spend a lifetime trying to dig it out of the dirt with no success.

I think if he were to really understand D-Plane, he'd start to grasp why he hits those dead blocks with the driver, why the parallel plane theory is flawed, etc. He could start digging it out of the dirt quicker. And a Trackman would even speed up the process even more.

And people forget that Hogan had help along the way, consulting with golfers and instructors like Henry Picard, MacDonald Smith, Mike Austin, and Sam Byrd. I think understanding the D-Plane gets him on the right track and then from there if he wants to heed advice on the swing, he is better equipped to spit out the garbage and take in the good stuff.

I think that's all I would want any golfer to have with them.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Stinger

Kip Puterbaugh with a nice video on how to hit the stinger.

I like this shot because I think the thing that made Tiger such a great iron player and a winner even when his driving was abysmal at times, was his ability to hit the ball in all different windows. Somebody like Mickelson pretty much hits it on one window...high. I think that's part of the reason why Phil likes to bomb and gouge so much, he doesn't feel comfortable working the different window trajectories, so take it out of play by bombing and gougin.

This is a great shot for golfers to practice IMO because if you can do this, you can likely hit full swings all day. Most PGA Tour pros could hit this shot pretty easily, but watch a good amateur and maybe 40% can do it.

The choking up on the club reduces the clubhead speed which reduces the spin and keeps the trajectory lower. The only other thing I could recommend, besides practicing the shot first, is to go S-L-O-W because the golfer's tendency is to rush and then they get out of sequence in the downswing.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Golf Instruction Marketing

One of the questions asked over at the Brian Manzella forum ( is 'what's the most ridiculous advice you ever heard?'

I replied 'keep your head down.'

I wanted to expand upon that further, but I have been thinking about this lately and how it relates to bad golf scores and how it effects golf instructors, so I decided to post it here instead

First off, I play with double digit handicappers WEEKLY. I think that puts me in a unique position because I'm dealing with golfers who don't know much about the golf swing and rarely get a lesson, unless they are in dire straits like shanking it.

The problem I think most golf instructors face is that most of their students are people that are seeking them out for instruction and no matter what...were likely to get lessons anyway.

However, according to AMF studies, only 10% of the golfing population actually takes golf lessons. There's the old 80/20 rule in business which says 20% of your customer base will make up 80% of your business. I think this applies well for instructors, if not even more extreme like 10% is 90% of your business.

Another statistic?

The average score hasn't gone down in 80 years!

I think this has a lot to do with instruction as well...partly being golfers not getting instruction and to counter...a lot of poor instruction going out there as well.

But the more I play with these double digit handicappers, the more I believe that the reason why the average score hasn't gone down has A LOT to do with the self instruction of 'keeping your head down.' And I mean A LOT, like probably upwards to 80% of the problem.

Here's the main philosophy of the golfer who never takes a lesson or very rarely takes one:

'If I do not get the ball airborn, it's because I moved my head. If I don't move my head, the ball will at least get airborn and will not be hit fat or thin.'

I think most golfers reading this will agree that this statement is pretty close to being accurate as to what these golfers *think*.

However, it's dead wrong about 95% of the time. In fact, here's a sample video of a golfer hitting a ground ball with his head looking down at impact.

I believe that most golfers get frustrated with the game right away and as far as getting a lesson goes, it comes down to their level of faith that if they get a lesson, how much will they improve.

With this belief of 'keeping the head down and you'll get it airborn', I feel that these golfers are somewhat content with that and then judge good golfers as people that have an inordinate amount of talent and/or put in a ton of time in the range.

That can be true, but I think many instructors would agree that you can turn into a pretty good golfer who can break 80 without a ton of natural talent and a ton of time put into the range.

So, if I was an instructor at a club with a membership base I would greatly promote myself debunking the myth of 'keeping your head down.' If anything, I would show that keeping the head down does not mean you will get the ball consistently airborn and that I can show a student how to consistently get the ball airborn.

I think that if promoted aggressively, that will give way to a spike in increased lessons.

Of course, the difficult part is getting the golfer to get the ball consistently airborne. But if that happens, I think many of those golfers will want more, like improved accuracy, more distances and lower scores and they'll do that with more lessons.

While I love getting into the finite aspects of the swing, I think that the scores won't decrease until 'keeping your head down' is thoroughly debunked.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Look at Different Swing Instruction - Part VII

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

In this part of the series I discuss Jimmy Ballard’s instruction.

Jimmy Ballard rose to fame in the early 80’s teaching the likes of Hal Sutton, Sandy Lyle, Curtis Strange and others. Ballard was the protégé of Sam Byrd a former professional baseball player with the New York Yankees and later on became a professional golfer and playing on the PGA Tour alongside greats like Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.

Byrd was a believer in ‘left side connection’, something he learned from his baseball playing days where teammates like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig would stick handkerchiefs under their lead armpit while they would take batting practice.

Byrd later worked with Ben Hogan and gave him his thoughts on the swing.

Ballard was working out of Pell City, Alabama and having great success with many tour pros…particularly Curtis Strange and Hal Sutton. Despite being in a small town in Alabama and at a small driving range, Tour pros sought him out left and right. Eventually he found himself at nicer ranges in Florida and wrote his instruction book ‘How to Perfect Your Golf Swing.’

Ballard had tumultuous relationships with the PGA and its instructors, particularly Jim Flick, Dr. Gary Wiren and David Leadbetter. Ballard’s teaching belief is that you use the big muscles in the body to hit the ball by incorporating and pivot that ‘hits the ball’ whereas Flick and Wiren were in the opposite direction of teaching philosophy. Ballard also doesn’t believe in a straight left arm in the backswing and wants *both* elbows pointing at the ground in the backswing.

Ballard wound up having an issue with David Leadbetter who took much of his teaching for his own work and created the ‘Swing Link’ training aid which was a direct ripoff of Ballard’s left side connection.

The Ballard swing usually features a sizeable move off the ball and the backswing is more or less a folding of the right arm and then thru left side connection the golfer will fire their right side.

PROS OF BALLARD SWING: In a recent chat Brian Manzella was asked if he had to pick a method instruction to teach he would take Jimmy Ballard’s method. I agree with this assessment because the left side connection (#4 Pressure Point) is a proven way to hit the ball well because it helps produce a pivot driven swing.

CONS OF THE BALLARD SWING: It’s not the most complete method of golf instruction and the big move off the ball is difficult to get down and can lead to problems with the low point.

PROS USING BALLARD SWING: Hal Sutton, Curtis Strange, Rocco Mediate, Sandy Lyle, Paul Azinger.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Lie Angles And Ballstriking

Here's a nice video from forum member Steve Bishop (aka Ringer) on the effect of lie angles on our ballstriking.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Help A Tiger Out...

Saw this article in Golf Magazine and flinched a bit:
"Golfers with really fast explosive hip rotation, like Tiger, tend to get flatter on the downswing. So if you start flat, where does that leave you to go? I'm not really sure what he's doing now. Some of the practice swings look like a gymnast's two-minute floor exercise. The golf swing is a second and a half. It shouldn't be that complicated."
I've been asked what I would suggest to Tiger, but I'll get into that a bit later because this is the type of instruction I hate to see.

It's the kind of instruction where somebody else may say that Natalie Gulbis' 'head lunge' in the downswing is due to an extra vertabrae she has in her spine.

Good grief.

The problem with most popular golf instruction and particularly 'method teachers' is that they usually focus entirely way too much on the backswing. No golfer in the history of earth has hit a ball forward with their backswing. Surely, the backswing can cause a lot of things in the downswing to happen which can cause a lot of things at impact to happen, but with pop instruction/method teachers it seems that they always harp on something in the backswing.

If Tiger's backswing is 'too flat' and thus there's 'nowhere else to go on the downswing', then why does somebody like Bruce Leitzke have a very flat backswing that produced a much more upright downswing and very good results.

(click the pic to enlarge)

Or the same with Matt Kuchar, who is flat on the downswing, but not as flat as he is on the backswing.

And does Tiger really have a 'flat backswing?'

I don't think so.

It's just flatter than it used to be (2000 swing on left, 2008 swing on right)

But again, top 100 teachers would tell us that his swing is 'too flat' and that because it's 'flat', it will just get too flat on the downswing.


Anyway, getting back to what I would do with Tiger.

First, I'd listen to what Tiger is thinking in regards to the golf swing. Like it or not, he's got 14 majors and he does know how to swing a golf club and does know a lot about the golf swing. So telling him stuff like 'you need to forget everything you ever learned about the golf swing' is arrogant and not helpful. I figure I would have to understand what he knows and how to use it to his benefit.

One of the things I would first work with him on is understanding D-Plane.

I find one of the big issues with golf and golfers from all levels is that they want to be like Fred Couples. They want to just get up out of the car, not think about much and pure it and hit it 300 yards and if they are off, make a very slight adjustment and get back on track.

The problem is, there's only one Fred Couples and very few golfers truly like him. Most golfers wind up struggling at one point or another and need to understand how to fix the problem. Then they rely on that feel so they can repeat their swing. Just the way it is.

But one of the reasons why I would want to teach Tiger to understand the D-Plane is that I would rather see Tiger get his swing turned around and then heed advice from different instructors, but all the while keeping the knowledge of D-Plane in his mind so he can take in the stuff that is valid and ignore the stuff that is garbage.

To me, being stuck with one instructor has some flaws to it, even if the instructor is great. That's because impact is objective, the rest that helps you repeat good impact conditions is subjective. So you have to find the swing that works best for you and I don't think any teacher has all of the answers. There are some I can recommend that have most of the answers, but nobody has them all. And personally, I am a believer in the saying that 'a true wiseman always has more questions than answers' and that's what I look for in instructors.

Hogan did it this way. He talked to and listened to instructors like Mike Austin, Sam Byrd, Henry Picard and others. I believe Hogan more or less understood D-Plane down pat (well before it was discussed in Theodore Jorgenson's 'Physics of Golf' book coined the term).

From there Tiger could understand about controlling the clubface, the clubhead path and the low point.

Put it this way, Tiger's big bad shot that has cost him a ton of strokes is the dead right block.

What does the D-Plane tell us?

The face is WIIIIIIDE OPEN and the path is going well out to the right. Now he needs to figure out what is causing the clubface to be wide open at impact.

As far as the rest goes, if Tiger wants to know...I'm not hard to find :)


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Focusing on Your Golf Shot

Shawn Clement with a good video on how to focus when you are going to hit a shot.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Tiger and New Instructor Thoughts

It was announced yesterday that Hank Haney quit as Tiger's coach. Yes, Haney stated and he wanted to 'make it clear' that HE quit working with Tiger. It almost reminded me of something George Costanza would do.

Well, nobody just quits teaching the #1 golfer in the world and a player that could perhaps go down as the greatest of all time, unless:

1. The instructor despises the student.
2. The instructor knows he's going to get fired, so he'll beat the student to the punch (the Costanza move)
3. The student wants to part ways, but wants to be nice about it and allows the instructor to quit instead.

If Haney did break up with Tiger, then I think it's still a low move for Haney as a friend should stick with another friend it tough times, not jump out the car when the road starts to get bumpy.

If Tiger worked soemthing out with Haney, then at least Tiger is a decent enough guy to understand how these things work and how they can effect a person's career.

Personally, I'm in the relief stage of this because now Tiger can at least start to get back to his old swing and more importantly, his old great ballstriking. He still needs to find somebody to get rid of the bad stuff and bring back the good stuff, but the first step IMO was getting away from the Haney teaching methodology.

The early leaders in the 'So You Think You Can Teach Tiger?' are Mike Abbott and Sean Foley. Abbott works with Pat Perez, Tommy Armour III and Mark O'Meara...all good friends of Tiger. Both O'Meara and Armour III worked with Haney for awhile, so Tiger might be averse to going to Abbott feeling that Armour III and O'Meara may not be the best judge of instruction after his issues with Haney.

Foley teaches Sean O'Hair and Hunter Mahan among others. O'Hair is a good friend of Tiger's and both he and Mahan are quality ballstrikers, plus Foley is located in Orlando.

Personally, I don't think it's *that* hard to get Tiger turned around. I think even somebody like myself could spend an hour or two with him and get him back on track, and I'm not even a professional instructor.

I think what Tiger needs is somebody who can get him out of the Haney vortex and just as importantly, explain WHY the Haney stuff didn't work for him and WHY the Butch Harmon stuff did work for him. And he doesn't even need to bring back his old swing, he just needs to get away from what he's doing now.

Remember, Tiger is a Stanford guy and is not stupid. He's always been a guy that loves technology and an instructor not afraid to use things like Trackman, 6-degree 3D motion systems, force plates, etc would be something that probably appeals to him.

Ted Fort would be a great teacher for Tiger. He hasn't been around as long as Haney or Butch, but hasn't had natural superstars show up on his range either. In the meantime, he made Jean Reynolds into a #2 on the Futures Duramed Tour last season.

John Dochety has studied MORAD, S&T, 1PS, etc and is a great developer of student's golf swings.

Brian Manzella works occasionally with David Toms, a guy that finished 3rd in my 2009 Ballstriking Statistical Rankings and teaches with Trackman.

David Orr is an expert in golf swing and putting instruction, probably one of the most respected putting instructors around.

Dan Carraher is a young, upcoming instructor who currently teaches Nationwide upcomer Brian Smock.

I don't know much about Mike Abbott or Sean Foley and they may meet every expectation I could have about a golf instructor. But I think Tiger would be better off taking some serious time to seek out the right instructor. And more importantly, ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS..and see what other instructors say and see what makes sense to you.

And if that fails, I'm only 30 minutes away in East Orlando :)


Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Look at Different Golf Instruction - Part VI

In this part of the series I discuss the One Plane Golf Swing instruction.

The one plane golf swing instruction was brought to the forefront by Jim Hardy and his 'The Plane Truth' DVD's and books. Hardy brought the golf swing down to 2 different types of swings, the one plane swing and the two plane swing. It would look something like this in the beginning of the video.

The One Plane Swing tends to teach either an upright or a flat swing depending on the golfer and their setup position. Somebody like Tiger Woods winds up being more upright while Matt Kuchar is more flat.

Homer Kelley discussed much of this type of swing in his book 'The Golfing Machine' calling the one plane swing a 'zero shift' and a typical 2 plane swing a 'single shift' or a 'double shift.'

There's also instruction on the 'parallel plane lines' where they want the golfer to have the shaft at all times in the swing on a certain plane line or parallel to that plane line. For somebody like Tiger Woods, he goes up the turned shoulder plane and then tries to come in flat on the elbow plane in the downswing. For somebody like Matt Kuchar, he keeps it very flat in the backswing and it stays flat in the downswing.

One of my biggest problems with the 'parallel plane lines' is that they really don't exist.

The other part I don't like is that the 'single plane' swing really does not exist as everybody shifts planes to some degree, especially Moe Norman.

PROS OF 1PS: All of the golfers I've come across using the 1PS usually wind up improving their irons quite a bit. It also does a decent job of introducing the golfer staying on plane after impact as the top pic shows a golfer 'swinging left' quite well.

CONS OF 1PS: All of the golfers I've come across using the 1PS usually wind up struggling heavily with the driver. Also, the swing can get golfers to 'tip out' which can cause a shank.

I really don't like the left hand 'palm grip.' I think ABS' Module 1 exercise introduces impact in a good fashion for the golfer and you really cannot execute module 1 with a palm grip. You can execute it with a weak grip, a neutral grip and a strong grip, but not a palm grip and I think that's what caused Tiger's big problems with the dead block with the driver. 1PS preaches the laws of ball flight, but from watching Tiger and the Haney Project, I get the feeling that those are not the correct laws of ball flight.

PROS USING 1PS: Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods, Scott McCarron


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Further Analysis on Titanium vs. Persimmon

I wanted to say that I send out my thoughts and condolences to Erica Blasberg's family and friends.

Today I wanted to talk about persimmon drivers vs. modern day oversized titanium drivers.

Over at the ABS forum (, John Erickson tends to be of the thought that the modern drivers ruin golfer's games. I think the general line of logic is that because they are so easy to hit, the golfer starts to become less precise with their swing and thus their ballstriking becomes less precise.

The problem with that line of thought IMO is that the results are far better with the modern day driver than they are with persimmon.

The greater results are just too difficult to ignore with titanium drivers. However, one of the things I always noticed with the change to titanium is that many golfers really didn't adapt that well to it. I had a few friends that were considered long ball hitters in the persimmon age and just a few years into the titanium age (with them changing over to titanium) they more or less became middle of the pack golfers in length.

This baffled me for years because the clubhead speed was staying the same, if not improving and they were longer off the tee, but the mystery as to why shorter golfers started to keep up with or even surpass them was still there. But it wasn't until I bought a persimmon driver recently and with my knowledge of D-Plane that I started to put a few things together towards this mystery.

So, let's think here for a second. What are factors to distance?

Okay...the obvious ones:

- Ball Speed
- Clubhead Speed
- Centerness of hit
- Spin Rate

I believed the persimmon drivers had higher spin rates, but again they were higher spin rates for everybody so it doesn't explain why some people went from being long hitters to middle of the pack hitters.

Of course, there's the launch angle and the landing angle. Basically finding the 'optimal driver' is one where you hit it high with a low spin rate and a landing angle (the ball's landing angle) that is between 40-45* so you don't hit a ball too high. Here's a sample driver fitting on Trackman trying to find the optimal driver fit for a golfer.

One of the things that Trackman prescribes is to have an upward attack angle with the driver. Now, I don't necessarily prescribe that. I believe a golfer should find the attack angle that they can be most consistent with. However, I do believe golfers can have a very upward attack angle or shallow out their attack angle and hit it longer and just as accurate and as consistent.

However, one of the things you'll find with the persimmon driver is that it's very difficult to hit up on the driver and hit the ball with any consistency. In fact, the misses when trying to hit up on the ball are disastrous. The sky ball certainly comes into effect and what I noticed was the toe ball that turns into a nose dive hook is really problematic.

To me, that's why many of the long hitters in the persimmon era were not so long in the titanium era, it became easier for the shorter hitters to gain length by shallowing out their attack angle because the fear of the mis-hit just isn't there anymore.

I still recommend practicing with a persimmon driver from time to time. I do believe there were some great drivers of the golf ball in the persimmon era who hit slightly up on the ball with the driver. And that's pretty amazing when you think of the precision it took to do that. And if you can replicate that as well, you'll be much more precise with the modern day driver.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Moe's List

I've thought this was a great thing to read and other readers would like it too. I'll be coming up with my very own, soon.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Swing We've Seen Before

Nope, that's not Ben Hogan. It's Jerry Barber. Thought you would enjoy.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Fort Project

Here's a fantastic video from Ted Fort showing outstanding improvement in a golfer after one lesson. Somebody call Ray Romano.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Look At The 'Head Dip'

One of the things I've focused on is the head dip in the golf swing. It's often talked about in golf instruction circles, so I wanted to examine why it happens.

First, I believe the head should get lower at impact than it was at address because any good golfer would lower their center of gravity on the downswing. Golf instructor Wayne DeFrancesco beautifully debunks the myth of the 'no head dip' in this video:

When I think of today's golfer with the 'head dip', I think of LPGA golfers Paula Creamer and more noticeably Natalie Gulbis:

In the last year, I've seen both have a golf instructor hold a club up at where the top of their head is at address, then swing the club and try to force themselves to not dip that head at all. I think this is another example of popular golf instruction failing to understand the golf swing and only working for a select few players, usually those with great athleticism and hand-eye coordination.

For starters, I believe that trying to not dip the head just doesn't exist in the swings of ANY good ballstriker in golf history. I think it's incredibly unnatural and destructive an generally, a waste of good range time (and perhaps a US Open for Creamer, who was doing this before each shot in last year's Women's US Open).

As the DeFrancesco video shows, the head is going to dip. It's always dipped for Tiger, who around 2000 may have been striking the ball as well as anybody who had ever lived. It certainly dipped for Hogan, and it greatly dipped for Miller, one of the greatest ballstrikers of all time as well.

Why do these great ballstrikers ALL dip their heads in the downswing? Because their knees flex more in the downswing than they were flexed at address:

The picture collage above shows these golfers basically using the ground to their advantage, something all good ballstrikers do.

On the LPGA Tour, I'd consider Creamer a good ballstriker, but not Gulbis by judging by their stats. So what's their problem with dipping the head?

Well, I don't think their head really dips quite in the manner that the great ballstrikers dip their head. With the great ones, I see the head dipping because their center of gravity has lowered. With Creamer and more noticeably Gulbis, the head sort of lunges forward.

I think that this head movement is the function of two different things:

1) Shoulder turn
2) Flawed foot and knee action

First, the shoulder turn. I think a lot of this stems from my understanding of some of the main Stack and Tilt concepts.

First, the S&T wants to keep the head very close to still (as far horizontal direction) as possible throughout the swing. One of the main concepts of S&T is that on the backswing, the left shoulder should turn straight downward

My feeling is from understanding this concept and talking to other instructors like John Dochety (aka Lake 1926) is this:

1) A flat shoulder turn in the backswing will likely move the cranium away from the target.

2) A flat shoulder turn on the downswing will likely move the cranium toward the target.

What happens with a flat shoulder turn, is the shoulders help move the neck which helps move the cranium and unless you are very good at resisting that, the head will move horizontally. Thus:

3) An upright shoulder turn on the backswing will likely move the head down and slightly toward the target.

4) An upright shoulder turn on the downswing will likely move the head down and slightly away from the target.

The S&T teaches more of an upright backswing shoulder turn and a flatter downswing shoulder turn. Thus, the head can stay more relatively still.

The difference with Gulbis in particular, is her downswing shoulder turn is more upright. That lowers her right shoulder and that gives her room to dip/lunge her cranium.

As I mentioned earlier, the other part to the head dip is the footwork and knee action. For my money, George Knudson had probably the best foot and knee action the game has ever seen.

Now spot the differences in Gulbis' foot and knee action.

Gulbis' right knee has little flex to it and thus she really doesn't lower her center of gravity like Knudson did. She's got to get that clubhead to the ball somehow, so she winds up thrusting the right arm, which lowers the right shoulder and creates a very upright shoulder turn at impact and the head follows the right shoulder and goes downward as well.

My suggestion for Creamer and Gulbis is to mostly stick with what brought them to the broadway and if you want to make some changes, address the foot action first. That way they can better power their pivot and reduce the 'head lunge' which will help their pivot even more.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

3Jack's Interview With Gotham Golf Blog

Here's an interview I did with NYC Lagster over at his Gotham Golf Blog

A few things:

1. I'm not a good interview. Too slow to talk because I usually have about a million different ways I want to answer a question. Lot's of 'uhhh's and ummm's' and re-listening to it again put me to sleep after awhile. Ralph is great, I'm just mediocre.

2. One of the things I wanted to discuss about Tom Tomasello was I really had no clue who he was until about a year ago when I started reading about TGM and Lynn Blake's forum. I just thought he was a teacher who knew TGM and that's why my buddy was more gung ho about him than your regular pop instructor.

3. Unfortuntely there were a lot of people I wanted to thank that I just couldn't think of (I currently have a sinus infection and I'm not my usual self). Jeff Mann, Kevin Carter, Dana Dahlquist, Dan Carraher, Kevin Shields, Jim Kobylinski, Geoff Mangum and many others. I'd also like to thank the readers as they've helped me learn a lot about the game...I truly mean that.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Body and Arm Coordination with Shawn Clement

Here's another video from Shawn Clement discussing his thoughts on coordinating the body with the arms.


Monday, May 3, 2010

A Look At Different Swing Instruction - Part V

In this part of the series I discuss Advanced Ballstriking teaching theory.

Advanced Ballstriking is an online instructional program created by John Erickson. Erickson is a Californian who used to be a Canadian and Australian Tour player and a former All-American at Fresno State.

Erickson started studying The Golfing Machine at the age of 14 as Ben Doyle was his instructor. Eventually he started working with Greg McHatton when he became a touring pro. Erickson describes his swing back then as a 'Bobby Clampett clone' with very high hands at the top of the swing, lots of pulling with the left arm and a lot of trigger delay. When he was on, he felt he could strike as well as anybody. But when he was off or when he was in a clutch situation, he felt his ballstriking went south.

Eventually frustrated with that and trying to make a living as a touring professional, he decided to revamp his swing and use his TGM knowledge to do so. One of the very unique things he did was videotape a lot of the golfers who had unusual swings but were good ballstrikers and see what they had in common. Eventually he did change his swing around and won two tournaments, but a back ailment and wanting to pursue other avenues in life had him quit the game.

I usually get a lot of questions about why he never played on the PGA Tour and what many people don't realize is back then they didn't have a Nationwide Tour. So most of the golfers were stuck playing on the Canadian Tour and back then you really needed to have very strong financial backing to make the PGA Tour or be a very rare talent.

My hometown in NY had a golfer who played at U. of South Carolina and turned pro about the same time as Erickson and wound up only affording to play on the Canadian Tour. Eventually he got his amateur status back and his first year as an amateur he made the quarterfinals of the US Am, beating then phenom Manny Zerman before losing to eventual champion Justin Leonard. And he did it while working 3 different jobs and playing about once a week. That's how much talent was on the Canadian and mini-tours back then. Now that talent goes on the Nationwide Tour and makes a comfortable living if they are pretty good and usually winds up with a year or two on the PGA Tour at the very least.

Anyway, Erickson quit the game for 15 years and eventually got persuaded by Paul Smith into discussing his version of 'The Golfing Machine' on the Australian golf site The thread blew up to epic proportions and after many readers sought out his instruction, he created the ABS modules.

There are 10 ABS Modules:

1. Releasing the club into impact (hand and body protocols)

2. Lower body integration, footwork and ground pressures

3. Post impact pivot thrust and acceleration, 5th accumulator and finish (PV5)

4. Creating dynamic "true" swing plane through opposing forces (hand and body protocols)

5. Developing proper hand attitudes and ratchet removal

6. Backswing, transition. Understanding and working with centrifugal and centripetal forces

7. Developing connection and cohesive body tension

8. How to aim and draw and fade the ball using pressure and forces, the easy way

9. Understanding how to play off "true lowpoint", advanced ball positioning protocols

10. Embracing the five step process of hitting proper golf shots.

11. How to Master the art of playing golf

Each module has drills/exercises to help train the golfer's muscles for components in their swing as well as provide the proper visuals for the swings as well.

Contrary to popular belief, there's really not many mandatory parts to the ABS swing. In ABS, the main part of the swing is to have a very flat DOWNSWING. Thus the golfer will come down on the elbow plane or even flatter and then 'swing left' (aka CP release). Most golfers wind up with a strong grip because it's difficult to do Module 1 with a neutral or weak grip, but there are students who wind up using a neutral or weak grip because that's what works best for them. The students can have flat backswings or even upright backswings, just as long as the downswing is flat. The footwork is usually pretty similar, with Greg Norman (pre-Butch Harmon) having the model footwork.

Other than that, the only other thing most of the students have in common is the use of pitch elbow.

In more of TGM/MORAD terms, ABS is usually a double shift plane variation, with pitch elbow, a CP release and 'plenty of right arm' past impact.

ABS also breaks down 'hitters' and 'swingers' differently than it's done in TGM. Where as TGM defines a hitter as a golfer who uses drive loading and a swinger as a golfer who uses drag loading, ABS defines a hitter as somebody who 'swings left' and a swinger as somebody who 'swings out to the right.' ABS teaches a 'hitters' swing by its own definition.

What's probably as fascinating as anything to me about ABS is that thru Erickson's extensive research and trial and error, he discovered a lot of the same things as Mac O'Grady, Brian Manzella and SliceFixer discovered in their own research and trial and error. How they apply it is a different story.

PROS OF ABS: I think the module exercises are sound if anything because they allow the golfer to easily feel their way thru certain components as well as get the proper visual from their perspective as well.

I believe what we know about D-Plane that it's easy to see why the modules, if executed correctly, produce straight shots and it's a pivot driven swing which I think controls the clubface and low point better. I think Module 2 of ABS teaches footwork as good as any instruction out there and more importantly, teaches it early on so the golfer will focus on it properly. It's really opened my eyes on how much better a golfer can strike the ball by incorporating good footwork in their swing.

Before getting into ABS I had read Michael Lavery's book 'Whole Brain Power' which discussed the importance of people always testing their fine motor skills and the equipment suggestions (vintage blade irons, practicing with persimmon woods) fit right in line with students testing those motor skills and you start to see why swings often get worse when students go to more forgiving cavity back irons.

I also whole heartedly agree with the irons being heavy to allow the golfer to get into sequence on the downswing which allows for better and more consistent ballstriking.

Lastly, I do like the idea behind flat irons and the flat downswing. Not only does this force the golfer to use the ground to power their pivot and incorporate good foot and knee action, but it takes the over the top move out of equation and the golfer develops a 1-way miss instead of a 2-way miss. Not only does that allow for better scoring, but it's a gigantic confidence booster when I know I can aim right at a flag positioned well left of the green and feel confident that chances are I will not miss the flag left and if I miss, the ball will be out to the right, but still on the green.

CONS OF ABS: It really requires golfers using forged irons so they can bend them flat. The problem with a standard lie angle is that you'll hook the ball if you swing flat and hit the ball towards the heel. Plus, since many of us are learning the flat downswing, there's a learning curve and using standard lie angles will allow the golfer to fall back into their old, more upright downswing plane.

Another con of ABS is that hitting hybrids and modern 3-woods can be difficult since you are usually swing too flat for those lie angles. You can still use a modern driver since you are not really coming into contact with the ground.

Some people are also leery of not getting live instruction and there are certainly golfers who swing better with a more upright downswing plane.

Lastly, ABS doesn't get too into D-Plane which I found to be extremely helpful in my progess in the swing and it just carried over to helping me out with learning ABS. But, D-Plane has not been warmly greeted over at the ABS forum and that could be dearly missed by some students.

PROS USING ABS: 2-time Australian Masters winner and 4-time PGA Tour winner Bradley Hughes.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Look At Different Swing Instruction - Part IV

In this part, I will discuss Brian Manzella's swing instruction. Manzella is a former disciple of Ben Doyle, the first ever authorized instructor of The Golfing Machine. I was not involved with the internet golf world at the time he got his Web site up and going, but it appears that his Web site was very TGM-centric just a few years ago. Over the years though, he started to dismiss much of TGM and denouncing it. He probably went a little too harsh with dismissing TGM to many people's liking, but it seems that now his thoughts are that many of the main concepts of TGM are very good, but too much of the science has been proven wrong.

Brian believes in customizing swings and using the scientific findings from people like Dr. Aaron Zick and Fredrik Tuxen in his teachings. His 'Never Slice Again' video teaches a swing where the golfer will not open the clubface making it almost impossible to ever slice the ball again. The 'Never Hook Again' video has a swing where the face doesn't get as closed and the golfer avoids getting underplane. The 'Soft Draw' video teaches a pattern that looks much like a Nicklaus style swing, but produces a soft draw result.

I'd say his teaching today is very Trackman oriented.

An attempt to get golfers with clubface angles at impact that are close to dead square to the target along with paths that are close to dead square to the target and hitting upward with the driver. Although from what I've been told, he's pretty flexible with students who ask for certain things to be done with their game and swings.

His students tend to utilize a lagging clubhead takeaway and some attempts to used float loading and usually a somewhat upright golf swing and a 'swinging left' release.

I cannot deny that I've learned an insurmountable wealth of information from reading his Web site.

PROS OF BM TEACHING: I don't think anybody really can disagree with his science of his teachings, but the practical application of that science may differ. I now see Manzella's swing theory really not being that much different from what little I've learned from MORAD. Manzella teaches a 'swinging left' whereas MORAD teaches a 'CP release', but they are pretty much the same exact thing. Both sides also do not teach a 'frozen right wrist', something that is part of the TGM teaching of the 'hitter pattern.'

But aside from that, I really think Manzella is getting to be on the forefront of science and technology with golf instruction...something I believe very advantageous to students.

Furthermore, a few weeks ago a student of his posted an angry post about his teaching and Brian kept the post up, offered a free lesson and the two eventually worked it out and the student is now greatly improved. Not many instructors would do that.

CONS OF BM INSTRUCTION: While Manzella can teach flatter golf swings, to me it's obvious that he prefers a more upright downswing and a student may get in the cross of being better off with a flatter downswing while trying to incorporate a more incompatible upright downswing. I personally prefer the flatter downswing because I can better use the ground to push of with my feet and eliminate the OTT move and have 1-way misses instead of 2-way misses.

Brian is also a person who is very steadfast in his beliefs and that sometimes can work against him. For instance, he was a very devout believer in TGM despite people arguing against the science and if he was more open minded he may have gotten into his current instruction philosophies more quickly.

PROS USING BM: Manzella works part-time with David Toms, who finished 3rd in my 2009 ballstriking statistical rankings. He also has greatly improved Kevin Shields, a person who went from being a very ordinary club pro to one of the best playing club pros in the nation.

INSTRUCTORS: Kevin Shields, Damon Lucas, Michael Finney


Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Look At Different Swing Instruction - Part III

In this part of the series we look at the Stack and Tilt swing instruction.

The Stack and Tilt was created by Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, former mini-tour pros and students of Mac O'Grady and his MORAD teaching. The S&T first came to recognition with PGA Tour pro Tom Scherrer using the swing that he learned from Bennett, who were childhood friends.

Eventually the S&T started to gain more popularity on the PGA Tour and the infamous Golf Digest article was born and the Stack and Tilt name was coined.

From what I've heard, the S&T swing is more or less MORAD's swing for the low trajectory wedge and tweaked a bit so it can be used with each club throughout the bag.

The Stack and Tilt revolves around 6 principles and the belief that every good ballstriker has at least one of those principles. It's actually very focused on the position of the cranium and what needs to happen to keep that cranium from moving around a lot during the swing. That's where things like the 'spine/axis', downward left shoulder turn, inside hand path, weight leaning leftward, etc. come into play.

As the Stack and Tilt gained in popularity, it also drew the ire from many instructors as well. Eventually it lost Aaron Baddeley and Mike Weir, but has also seen great strides in the play of Charlie Wi and Troy Matteson.

PROS OF S&T: S&T preaches D-Plane and controlling the low point much more than any other instruction that is consistently in golf instruction magazines that I've ever seen. I'm a big believer that D-Plane should be as well understood as anything in golf and the S&T brings that to the forefront. I think that the 6 principles of S&T are valid and strong, but learning them all at once is a big task. I also think that the footwork it teaches is very strong, although I think that should be introduced earlier to students.

CONS OF S&T: The S&T usually sets up for the golfer to hit a push-draw to the target. I'm more into trying to hit the ball dead straight as I can because I find that if I'm a little off, the shots can still find the fairway or the green. With a stock shot of a push-draw, overhook one or even worse hit a push fade, you can tally up strokes very quickly.

I'm not sure that some of the principles are for everybody. The inside hand path works for most, but somebody like Jim Furyk may have an issue with it.

Same with the downward left shoulder turn in the backswing or the centered pivot. So the question for me is can it be deciphered quickly when one of the principles do not work for a student and can something else be taught or can there be a compromise?

Because the name of the game to me is improvement of players, not sticking by a set of principles...regardless of who you are.

I've heard a few golfers tell me that they lost distance with the S&T. My guess is that they are hitting down too steep, particularly with the driver.

Of course, a lot of this stems from golfers who just bought the book or the DVD. One of the biggest issues with S&T is that there are not a lot of qualified S&T instructors out there so many prospective S&T golfers get it wrong by trying to do it themself.

That being said, from watching enough swings, I think S&T is a great swing for lesser athletic or inexperienced golfers and female golfers because of the tendency to not pivot well enough and get enough lag into impact.

If one were to draw a 'family tree' of the golf swing instruction, it would go TGM-MORAD-Stack and Tilt.

PGA TOUR PROS USING S&T: Charlie Wi, Troy Matteson, Anna Rawson, Alex Cejka, JJ Henry, Grant Waite

INSTRUCTORS: Dana Dahlquist, Dave Wedzik, Nick Clearwater, David Orr, Dan Carraher, Steve Sieracki