Archive for October, 2011

It’s Halloween

…and the scary subject of hitting the golf ball comes up. There was a quote in the comments section last week.

“When my fellow hacks clip dandelions they are free and easy and fluid but when they clip Mr. PROV1 they are locked up tight from the armpits down. Why? And what is a real way to cure the rigidity? Without regard to golf-itiical correctness.”

Simple answer, difficult solution.

When you clip dandelions and make practice swings there is no thought of precision. You allow your body to move the way it wants to.

When you hit the ball, you try and aim the club at the ball, instead of making the same simple swing and allowing the ball to get in the way.

There is a point where tension and grip pressure get too low, but the key to a good golf swing is to be devoid of excess tension and by default, excess thoughts.

I will watch students put decent looking moves on the ball and hit a dead shank. Why? I can nitpick several of their movements, but the simple fact is they have excess arm tension and/or grip pressure and they are aiming the club at the ball.

I called it snatching the club, it gets steep or too far from the insde, the hips thrust and…EL HOSEL!!!!!

You are better off with an incorrect move devoid of excess tension, than a “perfect” move filled with tension and snatching.

As I wrote in an earlier article, clipping dandelions and good practice swings versus a terrible swing that ends in a bad shot…the difference is almost always excess arm tension and/or excess grip pressure.

If you work on those two things, your swing and contact will get better.

Another way of looking at it…it you shift your weight and allow gravity and the rotation of your body to control the club…guess what?

NO SNATCHING.

Working on this myself right now, especially in chipping. That is why I wrote that article about chipping feel is coming back.

When you try too hard for correct positions and UGH, things like creating lag, it’s a snatching motion. You are trying to put the club somewhere it doesn’t want to go.

A story about lag

This is why I can create a whole mess of lag and still square the club, why some others can…and why it’s a joke to attempt create more for more distance…because it is meaningless anyway.

This information was from 15 years ago, but I believe it makes the case that a lot of lag can only be squared while continuing to accelerate the club through impact…if you have a tremendous amount of hand strength to control it.

Whereas those without the requisite hand strength, who create it artificially, actually have to slow the club down in someway in order to square it.

There are obviously more factors than hand and forearm strength and me as a case study is an extremely small sample, but I am injecting common sense and saying this makes perfect sense and from my observations of the last 25 years of long hitters and those with lag that could control it…and those who created it artificially and couldn’t control it.

The first anecdotal evidence of my hand strength was at a bar in Miami. I had just beaten many the top long drivers in a contest and drummed the two who most fancied themselves as players in a match.

We were at a bar and they had one of those strength meters where you grip a handle and squeeze as hard as you can. The two largest in both physical size/strength and ego, decided this one the only thing they could beat me at. I agreed they probably could and humored them by playing along. I was 6-2 and about 195 pounds at the time and these two fellows were 6-4 and 6-6 and both in the 250-260 pounds of ripped muscle. Not all natural either, I suspect.

The gauge on the machine read something like…

Under 60-Weakling
60-70…Average
71-80…Above Average
81-90…Strong Man
91-99…He-man
100…Hercules

It didn’t say anything over 100.

The first egoman put in his quarter and while nearly popping a blood vessel in his head, pulled a 97. The other weight pumper nearly passed out pulling so hard and got 99.

“Almost Hercules baby!” and he flexed and yelled out in triumph.

One said, “Let’s see if Monte can get over 50,” and everyone laughed, including me…there were about 10-12 of us.

I walked up, put in my quarter and pulled, hoping to get at least 70 or 80. To everone’s astonishment, including my own, the gauge read 109…NOT a typo. So being the smartass I was, I put in another quarter, used my left hand, pulled 108 and said, “Anything else you guys want me to kick your ass at? How about ending sentences in prepositions?”

A few years later a team of bio-mechanical engineers came out to a Nationwide event and they were studying golfers and why they hit the ball far. Of course, they were interested in measuring me.

The 3 interesting measurements were as follows.

They had what can be described as a blood pressure bulb connected to a pressure gauge. The units of measure went up to 30. The second highest score besides mine was 23. My score was estimated at 37 as I went off the scale.

The other two measurements were taken on a shoebox sized device where your lower arm was immobilized and you pulled on a handle with palm up and palm down. Obviously you would have more leverage to pull with palm up. The handle was attached to a wire and the wire was attached to a gauge.

With palm up, I pulled 30% higher than the next best score, which did not surprise any of them after what I did on the first test. What was surprising was I pulled a higher score palm down than 50% of the guys pulled palm up.

Seeing as I was not a muscular guy, that made them all look at each other. Their preliminary theory was many people could generate lots of club speed, but only a select few could control the rotation of the face at those speeds…and being the world champion and not being as massive as many of the other long hitters, I was at the top of the food chain in this category.

Now it’s possible everything I have just said is speculative BS of extremely small sample sizes, but I find it an interesting theory and entertaining anecdotal evidence of an idea that makes some sense to me.

Your body is smarter than you and will only create the amount of lag you can control…and it will create that lag and forward shaft lean automatically with a good swing.

I still say lag is meaningless. You need some, but it has at best, an indirect affect on distance and probably a direct affect on lack of consistency.

I have been trying to get rid of someone of mine for over a year now. I don’t lose any distance, actually I gain some when I do it right as my contact is better more often with less spin…and I hit the ball straighter.

I don’t hit that one sick 360 yard bomb out of nowhere, but I also don’t hit as many of those low on the face heels that have too much spin and end up short and in the right rough.

What does that tell you about the all mighty lag? In my opinion, the more lag you have, the worse your misses are going to be…and isn’t that the opposite of the name of the game…making your misses better.

Now I wait for the same group of goobers who will say that I am promoting a cast. These lag crazies were the ones who railed on me when I first started my campaign for the gradual release from the top. Now science is proving me right. Brian Manzella and his group proved scientifically that lag is bad and are now teaching people to throw it away.

As soon as a golfer learns that the opposite of a cast is proper body rotation and not lag, they are well on their way to becoming a better golfer without even working on their swing.

Benefits of feeling your right shoulder at the ball

…in the downswing.

It gets you turning your shoulders around your spine, it keeps you from hanging back, coming too far from the inside, it gets your hips to open up, helps prevent hip thrust, keeps you from snatching it with your arms and hands, keeps you in posture, helps maintain tilt behind the ball, will keep you from casting much, will probably help avoid a flip at the bottom…I bet you can think of more.

It is an excellent feel to work on as a drill if nothing else.

If you want to say to me, “Monte, that is an over the top move for me.”

It is one of two things. You don’t have enough tilt behind the ball at address, or your shoulder turn is so vertical, a proper shoulder turn feels over the top.

If case #2 is true for you, you are in desperate need of this drill.

My first experience with a big headed driver

I was at Titleist in 2000 getting fitted for a new driver at their testing facility. I picked out the one I wanted, they fit me for a shaft and then brought out the new large sized 975J for me to try out for fun.

As you know, that driver is not nearly as big as what we have have available now, but compared to what I had played for 15 years, it was huge.

I didn’t know what to make of it. After hitting about 20 of them, I tried to hit a 3 wood and topped 4 in a row. I then shanked a wedge.

What the heck happened? Well, this enormous head visually made me want to hit way up on it. This made my shoulder turn too vertical and completely threw my swing off.

Why is this important? When you combine 3 things, golfers out there in the thousands and even 10’s of thousands have the following issue.

1. People have an innate desire to help the ball in the air.

2. The big headed drivers visually make you want to help it up in the air.

3. People are told that Trackman says the ideal angle of attack for maximum distance is to hit up on it slightly. As in most things in golf, you don’t aspire to individual split second “correct positions,” you make a well synced golf swing and those positions happen. Forcing them to happen in this case, extenuates #1 and #2.

People end up with a massively vertical shoulder turn and are dead. Add to that having not enough tilt at address and you make this issue even worse. Additionally everyone is so deathly afraid of coming over the top, they rotate their shoulders even more vertically.

Do you see where I am going with this?

Guess why so many people can’t hit their drivers?

guess why with all of this technology in equipment and video, that people aren’t getting better and quitting the game?

Convention for the village idiots…LOL.

I went to play golf the other day and saw/heard the funniest/saddest thing.

Two foursomes of golfers/friends (I am making wonderful use of slashes) were on the range warming up to play. I am so happy I was not playing behind them. They were all about 8-15 handicappers and I would say the average golf magazine subscriptions they each had at home was about 6.

Each one of them had a pre-shot routine on the range that could be measured with a sundial. Imagine what it would be like on the course?

They were telling each other to (and these were the only ones I heard):

Swing more inside/out
Hold the lag
Complete the back swing
Coil more
Restrict the hip turn to gain more X-factor
Straighten up that left arm
Swing like you are inside a barrel
Widen that arc and get your hands higher at the top
Less pronation of the left forearm
(I had my iphone out and was taking notes after I heard the 2nd cliche as I knew this would be gold)
Keep that right arm glued to your side to stay connected
More forward shaft lean
Keep your head down
…and keep yourself stacked on that left side until your feel your head tilting toward the target.

I teed off at 9:30 and saw them on the first tee when I was on the first green. My threesome finished at 12:45, so that was 3 hours and 15 minutes to play 18…we play fast.

The FIRST of the two foursomes were just getting out of their carts on the 9th green. 3 hours and 5 minutes to not even be done with 9. I have no problem with people enjoying the day, especially when the course is empty like it was, but there is no question in my mind this octo-scratch-a-thon play at a similar pace regardless of how many groups are behind them.

I hope I am making a small effort to rectify this situation on all fronts.

Footwork

This is the first of several posts where I give my thoughts on subjects you requested.

Footwork is mostly a diagnostic tool that can tell you something bad you are doing. It is not something you can force to be good…it is a result, not a cause.

For instance, if you rotate too far to the inside, that will make you roll on the outside of your back foot, because of the extra twisting of the body. If you upper body moves too much laterally in the back swing, you will also roll on the outside of your back foot.

If your right foot is too flat for too long after impact, you aren’t rotating properly.

I could go on for an entire book. What is important is if you start balanced in the setup, good footwork and bad footwork will tell you something is going on in your swing.

Feel free to ask any questions about some footwork issues you may have and I can suggest a couple of issues that would cause that.

Medicine ball workout