Archive for November, 2011

Hand height at address

This was posted in the comments section about a topic you would like to hear about.

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I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on hand height at address and impact. I’m still not quite sure what my best arm to shaft angle needs to be and was wondering if there were some tips to find it. Also, what are the consequences of having too steep or flat of a shaft angle?

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This is actually a good question because many high handicappers setup with their hands in awful places at address.

Some setup and decide they want to carry their hands very high and make a straight line with their arms and shaft, a la Moe Norman. Now that was great for Moe and the way he swung the club, but for most people, that is a death move.

It makes it extremely easy to whip the club dead inside with the arms, lift with arms, over take the shoulder turn with the arms, snatch it with the arms and then the arms fly away from the body.

Also known as an arm swing…LOL.

Then there is the group that stands right on top of the ball with a completely collapsed posture and the hands inside the shoulders.

This creates an arm lift, a straightening of the spine, a snatch with the arms, a dive and collapsing of the spine and a good old double chicken wing.

Now that I have made fun of everyone, here is where you need to be…or at least close to this.

Without a club (lean one against something within reach), bend over at the waist and at the knees until you are comfortable and balanced and your arms can hang straight down out of your shoulders. While your arms are hanging straight down and relaxed out of your shoulders, bring your hands together and that is where your hands should be at address.

Now as far as where the hands are supposed to be at impact (from a down the line camera view). I would say as close to where they were at address as possible. If they are a little above that is fine, but the “more high” they return, the more you are doing something bad.

Hip thrusting, vertical shoulder turn, holding the lag, etc., are all things that make the club return higher.

Whereas if the left arm is connected, the shoulders are turning around the spine, the hips are clearing properly and the club is being allowed to release with the turn, the hands will return to almost the same place (maybe a hair high for the natural forces sending the club away from your body).

As far as too steep or too shallow of a shaft angle and what problems can they cause. The simple answer is everything bad. Proper shaft angle on the downswing is a diagnostic and not a position to strive for. Steep and shallow shaft angle is telling you something about your swing and it’s not something you fix. You fix the bad move that is creating the poor shaft angle.

Are you frustrated?

I posted this on GolfWrx.

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Those thinking about quitting or just those who are in a rut and want to throw clubs and/or cry when they go to the course.

I have said this in many posts throughout this forum and I have even brought this up before. I am not repeating this to continually pontificate about how great I used to be. I was just pretty good and my own stupidity prevented me from possibly being great.

My sincere intent is to share my horror story in hopes to give you all hope and to learn from my mistakes.

It is not an exaggeration to say I was a borderline PGA Tour player. I had a chance to win on the Nationwide Tour a few times and had a couple of close calls at Q-school. So I nearly reached the pinnacle of the sport.

Then the point I do enjoy bragging about (false modesty in this arena is insincere…LOL), I was the longest hitter in the world for about 3-4 years.

Fast forward and I had trouble breaking 80 in tournaments and on the course, I would hit nothing but 280-290 heels all day. Every once in a while I would make a mistake and catch one, but I lost 30-40 yards or more on my tee shots.

Even in fun rounds with friends I would pickup on multiple holes not being able to hit one in play.

In hindsight, I took it too seriously. Even though it was my job, it is still a game and I worked so hard on perfecting my move (swing, chipping motion and putting stroke), I stopped playing the game and having fun at it. I tried too hard to manipulate myself into so called perfect motions and it ended up being contrived.

I basically took a year off from the game to be a father to my new born son, lost all of the bad habits I forced on myself and am finding my own natural swing again. I am definitely working on things, but I am tweaking my natural movements into better places instead of forcing myself to do “what’s right.”

More importantly, I am focusing more on playing the game and having fun…and I am shooting lower than I ever have in my life, even on courses I used to find unplayable. My only issue now is I am a zero on the “tournament ready” scale.

If you are living in frustration central, I have a good piece of advice for you. Put the clubs away and wait till you want to go so badly it hurts. Then wait a bit longer. When you get back, don’t worry so much how your swing looks. Work on getting a setup that suits your body and free your mind…have some frickin fun and learn to play golf again. When you have accomplished this, then maybe a few minor swing tweaks are in order…or even a plan with a good instructor to put you on one track, instead of the 37 conflicting swing thoughts you have now.

If you enjoy the technical side of them game…fine, we all enjoy the discourse, or we wouldn’t be here.

However, if you are frustrated and worrying about whether you should be a one-plane or two plane, should you go to S&T or start with a Golf Machinist, asking questions about the laser plane finder at Edwin Watts, asking questions about spending $2000 to go to TPI or $2500 to get fitted for a new set of clubs because your last fitting was 18 months ago and that might not fit your new swing…it’s time to take a break and clear your mind.

Buying new clubs should be fun, not a way to solve a swing problem.

PS-I am not judging people doing all of the above things. I am trying to send a message to people who are at their wits end and looking to those things trying to pull themselves out of the abyss.

What club should I chip with?

Should I putt from here?

Should I fly it to the hole or bump and run it? What club shot I bump and run it with?

What is the right shot?

The answer is very simple. Hit the shot you are comfortable with.

No amount of any expert telling you what the “right shot” is, will change the fact that it doesn’t fit your eye or feel…or nerves in that particular situation. Maybe the lie doesn’t make you comfortable to hit that shot. Maybe there is a slope or water near the hole.

The object is not what is the right shot, or which shot can you pull off a miracle every 20 and lay the sod over the other 19, or which shot Tiger would play from there.

You know your game, if you hit 10 balls from that spot, which shot is going to produce the best total distance.

In other words, I would rather putt from a little bit of a thin lie in the fringe and guarantee all 10 within 3 feet, versus hitting the “correct shot” because that shot makes me a little nervy and I might chunk one out of 10…or one out of 5 under pressure.

Play the shot that you are comfortable with even though you saw Dave Pelz tell you the “right way” to hit it was different.

It also doesn’t make your way wrong because Johnny Miller criticized some guy for playing it that way after he didn’t hit it within 6 inches. Because that was the way that guy was comfortable playing it and he probably won the tournament by 5 because he was doing things the way he was comfortable, instead of the “right way.”

A Thanksgiving Joke

As in I am thankful I don’t quite have to deal with this conspiratorial behavior yet.

I have a 3 year old son and an 18 month old daughter so I will give you a joke I just heard that seems applicable…at least in the very near future.

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WHEN TO START CUSSING!

A 6 year old and a 4 year old are upstairs in their bedroom. The 6
year old asks, “You know what? I think it’s about time we started
cussing.” The 4 year old nods his head in approval.
The 6 year old continues, “When we go downstairs for breakfast, I’m gonna say
something with hell and you say something with ass.”

The 4 year old agrees with enthusiasm.

When the mother walks into the kitchen and asks the 6 year old what
he wants for breakfast, he replies, “Aw, hell, Mom, I guess I’ll
have some Cheerios.

WHACK! He flies out of his chair, tumbles across the kitchen floor,
gets up, and runs upstairs crying his eyes out, with his mother in
hot pursuit, slapping his rear with every step. His mom locks him
in his room and shouts, “You can stay there until I let you out!”

She then comes back downstairs, looks at the 4 year old and asks
with a stern voice, “And what do YOU want for breakfast, young man?”

“I don’t know,” he blubbers, “but you can bet your ass it won’t be Cheerios!”

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As a side note, my 3 year old son dropped one of his Thomas the Trains the other day and yelled out, “Aw crap!”

Expletives that start in “S” and “F” aren’t going to be far off.

I am dreading the proverbial, “It’s that Scheinblum kid again,” comments from teachers and other parents. He is gonna be the one that tells the Little Johnny jokes to the other 5-6 year olds.

The kind that have punch lines involving rodents with over sized reproductive equipment. Only the best joke of all time.

“The hands drop in the slot”

Someone made a comment the other day and said I needed to stop ranting about cliches and give other people credit for teaching properly. A jerk I may be, but poor teaching and trading cliches on the range is all I hear. All I can do is write from my experiences…and while getting money for my time and effort is great, my #1 priority is to help people get better at golf. Not win a popularity contest among the people that are not making people better.

I saw a guy obviously working on this and I asked him what he was doing.

A rhetorical question that I really wanted an answer to. He said, “My friend was taking a lesson and his instructor said to shallow the club out properly, you want to purposely drop your hands behind you from the top of the swing. It’s called dropping your hands in the slot.”

I asked if those were the exact words used or an interpretation. He said exact words as he was standing there.

I don’t have to tell you the results were poor and a few shanks resulted, but mostly fat shots. After watching me hit a few balls, he saw I was doing what he wanted to accomplish and asked how I did it.

My evil plan worked. I then explained to him that you don’t drop your hands in the slot, you make a proper sequenced swing and they drop in the slot automatically.

“What’s the difference?” he said.

I said, “The difference between good instruction and bad instruction”…LOL

I showed him how to tilt and how the left hip forward preset it where it would need to go to have a proper weight shift. I then had him take a backswing and stop at the top. I put my hands out and set a table for him to rest the butt of the club on. I then told him to shift his weight to the left by moving the left hip to where it was at address and said, “See how gravity drops the hands, if you drop them purposely, it disconnects everything and makes the shoulders and hips turn poorly,” and I showed him the physical movement he was doing (i.e. dropping the hands in the slot on purpose).

It then dawned on him exactly what the difference was between purposely dropping the hands in the slot and “allowing” the hands to drop in the slot…or creating a situation where the hands will drop in the slot.

He hit a few balls, with mixed results of course, but he hit two balls in a row that were solid and had nice controlled draws. He turned to me amazed and said he had never hit a solid draw like that before.

This is why I am so anti-cliche and don’t dole out much credit to others. I have seen this way too many times to count, I was ruined by it myself, so I will not be a “nice guy” and dole out credit where none is deserved.

You know my mantra, “I am through worrying about offending people who don’t like me anyway.”

There are plenty of competent teachers out there, but the vast majority are cliche mongers and that is what I am trying to change.

“I got quick”

I wrote this on GolfWrx and thought I’d share it here.

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I see so many posts on here complaining about having a fast tempo and other posts criticizing fast tempo in others.

I am here to tell you this is a misnomer.

Nice Price had a faster tempo than anyone on GolfWrx could hope to have and he was one of the finest ball strikers on Tour in his prime.

No amount of slowing of the backswing and/or pausing at the top is going to fix what is blamed on quick tempo or bad rhythm. Actually, doing those things is probably going to make the inherant problem worse.

What all of you are calling “getting quick” is snatching the club in transition. Usually with the arms or hands. When you slow down the backswing too much or pause at the top too long, it would make perfect sense you could make the issue worse. A deathly slow backswing can’t help but be snatched from the top and pausing too long will kill any ability to generate speed from a static position without snatching it.

If you initiate the down swing with your lower body, shifting the weight forward and turning, having soft arms and allowing the hands to drop with gravity, your swing will have a nice result regardless of the tempo speed and it creates the rhythmical motion you all love to see in other players like Fred Couples. Who incidentally has a very fast tempo.

As a matter of fact, I saw a statistic a while back that PGA tour players have tempos that are 50% faster than the average 15-20 handicap.

I know I am not remembering the exact numbers correctly and I know someone will respond with the correct numbers, but the point remains. Amateurs have tempos that are too slow, not too fast.

Now if you want to tell me that smoothing out the initial takeaway and not snatching the club off the ball will help not snatching it in transition, I will definitely buy that, but simply slowing the tempo down does not solve the root problem.

I hope this helps a lot of you work out this issue, because it is a problem at all skill levels, including Tour players who are struggling with their games.

I really don’t like being a jerk to people who ask honest questions…

…but golfers who have been corrupted by modern golf swing thought need tough love. This comment/question was left on one of my youtube videos. It is an honest question from someone trying to get better and I hope he doesn’t think I was mad at him, I was mad for him.

Here is what he asked.

“I noticed in a slomo of Freddy Couples that he lags the club through wonderfully and naturally,yet in watching and stopping the video at impact a bunch of times I noticed he absolutely had his right hand move towards the target,smashing the head into the back of the ball.His right hand was almost in line with his forearm,while his very strong left hand grip was hard to analyze was flat in my opinion.Is there any advantage to using the rear hand to add club head speed in the impact zone?”

This is what modern golf instruction has done to golfers.

…and people wonder why I don’t want to give other people credit and rant so much. This poor golfer just wants to hit the ball a little bit farther and modern golf instruction and high speed video has taught us we must slow down the swing of all time greats, find a position that happens naturally in their swing and try to reproduce one small specific movement that happens in a split second as part of an overall integrated motion.

Is that not the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard?

Do basketball players at gyms all over America slow down videos of Lebron James and see his right wrist angle as he throws down a jam?

Do they find out what the exact right elbow angle is on the NBA’s best jump shooters and try to reproduce that?????

The answer is (expletive deleted) no. That would be stupid. There are general principles that happen in a shooting motion and people try and integrate that into their own motions to get better. Through trial and error of shooting the ball, they find the best way that works for them.

That is what improvement in golf should be.