Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to Hit Pitch Shots from Tight Lies w/Dan Carraher

Here's another video from Dan Carraher (www.dancarrahergolf.com) on how to hit pitch shots from tight lies.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Dangers of Looking For Feels

Here’s a great video, from Christo Garcia of the My Swing Evolution YouTube channel, showing an incredible transformation of one of his subscriber’s golf swings:

A lot of what goes on in this video deals with things that I have been contemplating over the last year or so…swing thoughts/feels/visuals and how they affect golf performance.

In the beginning, Christo discusses how he is looking for that one swing thought/feel/visual that clicks and gets his swing to look more like Hogan’s swing. And I think that is the main problem, he is ‘chasing feels.’

I believe his subscriber with the swing transformation, Lee Namba, is using visuals (which is a cousin to a ‘feel’) and it is working wonderfully for him now, but I think I see where the disconnect is between what Christo is doing and what Lee has done.

First, let’s get to what Christo is essentially trying to work on and in effect, what Lee has been working on.

Christo is trying to get more pelvis rotation in the downswing into impact. It appears he understands that part of the issue is he ‘goat humps’ (aka early extension) and that prevents him from getting more pelvis rotation.

Christo has also been trying to get more lateral side bend of the torso in order to help with that pelvic rotation.


Here is what lateral side bend looks like in an animation:

(credit www.philcheetham.com)

The idea behind the lateral side bend is that when done correctly and the hips are level (or the rear hip is higher than the front hip)…this creates an action where the pelvis will automatically rotate more. Dr. Bob Olivieri and Andy Plummer discuss this in this video. Note that they are discussing this with the backswing, but the same applies with the downswing movements:

Dustin Johnson is a great example of a player utilizing a lot of lateral side bend and having a pelvis that rotates well open into impact.

Brian Gay is an example of a player with little to no lateral bend that does not have nearly as much pelvis rotation:

And in the end, we see this from Lee Namba whose transformation includes more lateral side bend, far less ‘goat humping’ and more pelvis rotation into impact. Lee states this has dramatically improved his ballstriking and I completely trust him.


Lee Namba gave the issues he used to have and how thru a series of visuals and some feels by studying Keegan Bradley how he was able to transform his swing. Lee said his big issue was essentially his inability to drive the right elbow forward in what The Golfing Machine calls ‘pitch elbow.’

Lee eventually corrected that issue by visualizing his arms ‘swinging underneath the torso.’ Eventually he added some more visualizations and feels to produce the transformed swing he has today.

In Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine, he states that it is better to learn mechanics thru feel instead of feel thru mechanics. What this means is that Kelley believes that if you incorporate the right mechanics in your swing, you can eventually develop how that feels to YOU and then use those feels to replicate those mechanics.

But as Kelley said, most golf instruction at that time (he published the book in 1969) revolved around learning mechanics from feels which means the golfer would be taught to feel something in particular and then hope to incorporate those mechanics through that feel. The main issue that Kelley astutely pointed out is that what one golfer may feel doesn’t mean that another golfer will feel the same thing.

Kelley’s solution was simple…use what Kelley called ‘basic, acquired and total motion’ in order to use the correct mechanics time and time again and then develop a feel for those mechanics.

Basic Motion = A small swing where the shaft of the club only goes from about thigh high in the backswing to thigh high in the follow thru.

Acquired Motion = A larger swing, but it only goes to about where the lead arm is parallel to the ground in the backswing to the trail arm is parallel to the ground in the follow thru.

This is often referred to as (9 o’clock to 3 o’clock swing) popularized by golf instructor Geoff Jones (aka SliceFixer).

Total Motion = A full golf swing.

Kelley advised that the golfer should start with ‘basic motion’ and work on that until they incorporate all of the mechanics properly on a consistent basis. Then Kelley advised to move onto ‘acquired motion’ and finally to ‘total motion.’

The difference we are seeing today between Kelley’s recommendation and what neurologist and skill acquisition experts is that they modern day neurologists and skill acquisition experts prefer that the golfer utilize swings at very slow speed and make sure they are utilizing the correct mechanics as the golfer swings the club slowly. When the golfer does use the right mechanics, then they make the swing a little faster and keep ramping up the speed as they get the mechanics correctly. In fact, this is something that Lee Namba says he did in his practice. Oh, and some guy name Hogan used to practice using self-imposed slow motion swings as well:

I tend to believe that both methods (Kelley’s acquired to total motion swings and the speed changes methods) are a good way to go. Three of the very best ballstrikers of all time in Hogan, Moe Norman and Mac O’Grady utilized these methods in their training to become the great ballstrikers they were.


While I praise Lee Namba’s transformation and he has used the ‘speed method’ of acquiring his mechanics, I do feel that he has chased the visuals and feels and I think there was a bit of luck on his side to make it work. And I feel that for other golfers, this may not work in such a permanent fashion like it did for Lee.

I do not feel that Lee fully understands the mechanics, but he did spot something that allowed him to back his way into getting the mechanics needed to get the swing he wanted.

As Lee said, he could never quite get enough room to drive his right elbow forward enough in the downswing. Eventually, he changed his visual to ‘swinging the arms under the torso.’ I personally feel that what Lee did was he not only swung the arms under the torso, but his brain figured out that he needed to make room for himself in order to all those arms to swing under the torso. And he made that room by creating what is called ‘anterior pelvic tilt.’

We can see in the image above both anterior and posterior pelvic tilt. The ‘posterior pelvic tilt’ is also know as ‘early extension’ or ‘goat humping.’ When we get into anterior pelvic tilt, it creates more room. For instance, look at Lee’s before and after video and look at the right thigh and its distance to the ball. With the anterior pelvic tilt (after) his thigh and pelvis is further from the ball and he has more ‘room’ to swing the arms.

But, by the same token, he is now able to rotate that pelvis because of the anterior pelvic tilt. With the ‘goat humping’ move, the pelvis cannot rotate as much and will now slide.

I also believe that Lee had been working hard on trying to externally rotate the right shoulder in order to drive the elbow forward, much like Keegan Bradley does and Ben Hogan used to do.

But with the ‘goat hump’ move, that helped stall the pelvis rotation and therefore the right shoulder would go from external to internal rotation. Now with the anterior pelvic tilt which he used to ‘make room for his arms to swing under his torso’ he can now rotate the pelvis instead of sliding it and he can now sustain that right shoulder external rotation and drive the right elbow more forward into impact. I also believe that the right shoulder external rotation aids in the lateral side bend which is why we see much more lateral side bend in the after photo of Lee’s swing.

The issue with getting somebody like Christo (or anybody else) to translate this is that their brain may not make sense of ‘make room for your arms to swing under his torso’ that Lee used. And he could very well end up trying to make the arms swing under the torso and not get the anterior pelvic tilt in order to do so. Nor may another golfer have the right shoulder external rotation to go along with it. So, in the end another golfer may just be chasing those feels/visuals and because they don’t quite understand all of the mechanics they never quite get to where they want to be.

I tend to believe this is more where modern day golf instruction is moving to…understanding the science of motor skill and skill acquisition learning and applying that to golf. Unfortunately, the golf magazines and TV shows will still give away ‘swing tips’ which usually consist of feels and visuals which only enable golfers to continue to chase feels/visuals even more without any permanent improvement and still having to go to the range all of the time.


Friday, March 20, 2015

New GolfWRX Column: A Simple Scoring System to Record Your Stats

I frequently get asked the question ‘what statistics can I use to measure my entire game?’ The issue is that while there are many advanced methods of statistics to use, they are often very cumbersome and golfers tend to forget to record their score, take too long to record the metrics or end up inaccurately recording their metrics, leading to a skewed analysis of their game.

I’ve done countless hours of research on the game, and usually have a pretty good idea on how I performed in each area after a round, but I still use certain metrics to assist with that analysis so I can schedule my practice accordingly.

One of the main scores I like to keep is a metric I created in the 2013 Pro Golf Synopsis called the 15/5 Score. The scoring system goes like this:

• Give yourself +1 point if your par save is within 5-feet of the hole.
• Give yourself +2 points if you have a birdie opportunity inside 15-feet of the hole.
• Give yourself +3 points if you have an eagle opportunity inside 15-feet of the hole.
•Take away -3 points if your par save is not within 5-feet of the hole.

For bogey shooters, you can alter this score by giving yourself +1 point if your bogey putt is within 5-feet of the hole and use that as the baseline. I also only give one set of points for each hole. If I have a 12-foot birdie putt and hit the putt 6-feet past the cup, I only give myself +2 points for the birdie putt inside 15-feet. This is important to note because we can better decipher our putting skill using this methodology. I will go into that later in this article.

Another thing I like to keep track of is what I call ‘Impedes.’ These are any of the following:

Read More: http://www.golfwrx.com/290177/a-simple-scoring-system-to-record-statistics/

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bunker Lesson with Dan Carraher

Here's a video from Dan Carraher (aka iteachgolf) on bunker play:


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Brett Rumford Short Game Lessons

Here's a few videos of Brett Rumford, considered by many Tour players as having the best short game on Tour showing how he hits these shots:

I worked on some similar things that Rumford discusses with Kelvin Miyahira at a recent clinic that Kelvin had. Rumford works with James Ridyard (www.jamesridyardgolf.com) who has compiled some massive research on the short game and putting and recently presented his findings for the PGA at the PGA Merchandise show.

For me, short game play the strongest part of my game despite it being the area of the game that I practice the least. My method is/was more of opening the stance, sliding the body forward and trying to get the shaft vertical at impact instead of leaning forward by un-cocking the right wrist. I could control the trajectory well and make good contact and just had a natural feel for distance control.

However, I started to see how my method would cause a lower spin rate. I would take more of a divot instead of 'bruising the grass.' That causes the grass and dirt to get on the club face and reduces the amount of friction that can be used to generate spin. So, those slightly short sided shots could be a problem because I couldn't get enough spin to get the ball to stop. Here's a perfect example of Rumford hitting that shot that I would tend to have some issues with:

Kelvin and I also noticed that my misses with short game shots were usually pulls; likely caused by using too much arms and wrists and shutting the face a bit prematurely due to relying more on timing. Lastly, I could have some issues with tight lies.

I've been practicing Rumford's technique and so far I've been pleasantly surprised. The issue I struggle with is I tend to want to push off the ground and straighten the left knee instead of sustaining the left knee flex at rotating the lower body.

The other issue is that this method does not hit the ball as far as my old method. So, I have to take a longer backswing.

But, I 've found that the contact, trajectory and spin are much better. If I want to spin the ball, I'm no longer cut-spinning and it is more of a straight spin.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BJ Hathaway's Hogan Golf Irons Test

Here's a video from BJ Hathaway (www.augustagolfinstruction.com) performing a test comparing 15 different models of Hogan irons against the latest TaylorMade irons.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Thoughts on Adam Scott Switching to the Standard Putter

With the anchored putting stroke ban coming up next season, we are starting to see anchored putters on Tour switching to ‘standard’ putters. Former Masters champion, Adam Scott, is in the midst of trying to transition to the standard putter at Doral. The rumor is that Scott will try and use the standard putter for a little bit in competition at Doral where there is no cut line, but will likely use the long putter at the majors.

I’ve mentioned this going back to 2011 Pro Golf Synopsis; the trend for Tour players using the long putter and anchoring typically showed substantial improvement in Putts Gained in the 4th year of using that long putter *as long as* their use of the long putter has been continuous. I never found any trends between the belly putter and putts gained performance mainly because the length of time using the belly putter wasn’t very long. The belly putter was popular from about 2001-2003, then became almost extinct and then rose to prominence around 2010. And the players using the belly putter were either players that had little or no putting history on Tour (they either came right off the Web.com Tour or from college) or they were not very committed to using the belly putter; often switching between the belly putter and a standard putter.

What we did see was Scott, right on cue, substantially improved his Putts Gained in his 4th year of using the long putter (2011):

One of the things I often hear about Scott is that ‘he’s not a good putter with the long putter anyway.’ While that has some merit as he ranked worse than the average in Putts Gained in his first 3 seasons of using the long putter, the trend is pointing upward to the point where he was a pretty good putter in 2014. Put it this way, here’s a graph looking at his rankings with the short putter and the long putter so where we can more easily see the trends.

The black dots represent when Scott was using the long putter and the yellow dots are when he was using the standard length putter.

That is why I could see the argument for banning the long putters (but NOT all anchored strokes). Others users of the broomstick like Chris Couch, Carl Pettersson, Scott McCarron, etc. all saw that substantial improvement in their putting in the 4th year. So at the very least, the USGA and the Tour could say that there was some signs of using the long putter being beneficial to Tour players. Instead, they gave a cockamamie reason of it not looking like a real stroke despite it going on for the past 25 years. Furthermore, there has not been a clearly identifiable trend with using the belly putter and putts gained, so it may have been a slippery stroke to ban the long putter and not the belly putter.


So, how much do I think going to the short putter will affect Scott’s putting?

I think it will impact his putting quite a bit. But, I will get to that a little later.

After taking a putting lesson from John Graham (johngrahamgolf.com) using the SAM Puttlab, John explained in detail a lot of the questions I had with the putting stroke and why my putting has gone south over the years, particularly compared to my college golf days when I used to putt quite well.

The big thing for me was that I would accelerate the putter head thru impact; making a noticeable ‘hitting’ motion into the ball. Erik Barzeski wrote a great article about why you do NOT want to accelerate the putter head thru the ball at: thesandtrap.com/t/74295/putting-do-not-accelerate-through-the-ball

Before my lesson I felt that this was a problem I was having with my putting stroke. I had watched a putting lesson on The Golf Channel with Brad Faxon and he had talked about how you DO NOT want to have long follow thru with your putting stroke.

This makes sense in accordance to Barzeski’s article; a longer follow thru would indicate that you are accelerating the putter head instead of decelerating the putter. Otherwise, how do you achieve a long follow thru?

The issue was I did not think that abruptly stopping the follow thru (Faxon did *not* recommend that either) was the answer either.

John explained to me in the lesson that if you simply allow ‘gravity to do the work’ and ‘drop the putter head on the ball’ that the putter head will automatically reach the peak velocity at the bottom of the arc and then as the putter head rises upward it will automatically decelerate at impact.

I think Ben Crenshaw is a really great example of a player allowing the putter head to fall into the ball, allowing gravity to do the work.

The video also shows Loren Roberts’ putting stroke and he does not appear to decelerate into impact, but if you look at his SAM Puttlab report he actually does:

Here’s a video from Loren Roberts discussing some of his putting stroke philosophy:

In my lesson with John Graham, he had me hit strokes and try to allow gravity to do the work and get the putter head to fall on the ball. I would then look at the thru-stroke acceleration profile after every putt on the SAM Puttlab and see if I could get that deceleration.

Eventually, I asked John to putt some so I could see what the stroke looks like. John had no issue with getting the putter head to decelerate into impact, but what I was amazed by was how unnoticeable it appeared in the stroke.

I think with Loren Roberts’ putting stroke he is allowing the putter head to fall onto the ball, but because he has the philosophy of having the same length stroke back and the same length follow thru he is able to have that long follow thru. But, I think for the typical person being able to have the same length stroke back as they have the same length follow thru and being able to decelerate the putter head into impact is a tall order because they are likely to end up accelerating the putter head in order to get the length of the follow thru.


So, why do I think the movement to the shorter putter can negatively affect Scott’s putting?

I think part of the issues Scott had with the putter was that his putter was either accelerating into impact or the speed had plateaued into impact.

Now that I’ve been made aware and better understand the deceleration of the putter head into impact, I have a better idea of what to look for and how to see it. And I see a lot of Tour players that accelerate the putter head and most of the time they are struggling in Putts Gained.

About a month ago I saw a Facebook video called ‘Muni Madness’ from my friend, Victor Rodriguez. It’s basically a group of guys playing a muni course under the lights and they will play in an 8-some. The video showed the guys putting on the green and all of them looked like good players. And it was funny how I could now spot the players that properly decelerated the putter head into impact and those that accelerated into impact. The players that decelerated used a standard putter with a standard putting grip and either made their putt or just missed. The players that accelerated their putter heads were using all sorts of grips (left hand low, claw grip, saw grip, etc) with wacky putter designs and almost all missed the putt.

For myself, I did not have real issues with speed by accelerating the putter head. However, I think it is perfectly logical to have speed control issues if you are not decelerating the putter head into impact. By accelerating it, I think you are more apt to have issues with altering the acceleration because you’re using muscular force and that can be a tricky thing compared to letting gravity do the work where I think it will result in more of an automatic and consistent amount of acceleration. So with Scott, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had speed control issues with the putter.

But, where I had major issues with my putting was that I would miss left. This despite that I had a RIGHTWARD aim bias at address.

What was happening?

The putter face rotates on the downswing and by accelerating the putter head into impact, it would often cause for the rotation to occur too quickly and it would leave the putter face shut at impact. It would also explain why I usually putted left-to-right putts better than right-to-left putts despite being right handed. I was able to get the putter face left on those left-to-right putts and would not miss those putts low.

To me, I think the long putter that Scott was using works better than short putters for players that accelerate the putter head into impact.

Most users of the broom stick tend to use a ‘saw grip’

The idea of the saw grip is to incorporate a stroke where the player is using almost like a ‘piston firing’ motion with their right forearm, much like The Golf Machine calls for in a ‘hitting procedure’ type of swing. There is no ‘letting the putter head drop’ as it is an active and conscious muscular force motion. And for whatever reason, the long putter seems to allow for those accelerators and hitters of the putter to putt better after a while than the short putter. And Scott was seen at Doral using a saw grip with a standard putter because that grip is the same grip he uses with the long putter. Considering he ranked 55th in Putts Gained last season, I think the transition to the short putter is going to be a tall order for him to putt that well anytime soon. Thankfully for Scott, he’s a great enough ballstriker and hits it long so he can putt poorly and still win out on Tour.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Golf Evolution on Ground Reaction Forces

Here's a video from the Golf Evolution guys, Dave Wedzik and Erik Barzeski, on Ground Reaction Forces and how it does not provide all of the power in the swing:


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Support MyGolfSpy Campaign

Please support MyGolfSpy's campaign to create a legitimate independent equipment testing center at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mygolfspy-com-power-to-the-player