OCTOBER NEWSLETTER- Driven Golfer Academy (DGA)
Swing Information- I believe knowledge is power. It is a part of player development to become a student of the game. Just be sure to have criteria. If you hear or read a piece of advice, ask yourself this question: after telling me HOW, did this advice tell me WHY? If it tells me why and it makes sense, then consider it thoroughly. Is it obvious that many great players follow this advice? Also, BE CAREFUL OF ADVICE THAT IS NOT ACCURACY BASED. There is no higher concern than accuracy. There is a great deal of advice, concerning golf swing technique, that holds no component of target recognition. In my 30+ years of teaching, I have witnessed MANY players diminish their ability to improve, by chasing ideas that ignore the target.
Each month our newsletter begins with a passage from the book, in the section titled: My Best Advice For Method Building.
Throughout our book, there is something of a dual theme: be willing to consider both sides of the discussion regarding method building and that accuracy is important above all else.
You’ve heard the quote, “follow the money trail.” In golf, I believe it is: “follow the accuracy trail.” It is human nature, certainly for the driven golfer, to pour thought into our game and search for the pearl that can take us to the next level. It can be described as a necessary evil.
Just be sure that the trail you follow does not lead you down the dangerous path of crazy fad theories, that have not withstood the test of time and tournament victories.
My life at the range has provided me with a unique perspective of golfers who hope to improve and how they go about their business. I have literally watched players ruin their game working on an intricate swing change. Many times, they cannot tell me what they hope to gain. They are just addicted to tinkering with their game. To some, this is what golf is all about. I believe the term “range rat” refers to these types of golfers.
Many times, this can be dangerous. Too much practice might lead to an apprehension for going to the golf course. The range holds no real obligation while the golf course is totally result oriented.
For that reason, we must never venture too far from the playing part of he game.
Tour pros talk about how hard it sometimes is to take their range game to the course. They talk about playing golf swing instead of playing golf.
We must practice with a purpose and introduce pressurized situations that mimic on-course scenarios. Only through the sober view provided by solid practice can we make good decisions relating to ownership of your method.
In terms of your grip, it more than “weak or strong.” Many consider a weak grip as best for accuracy and a strong grip best for power.
A neutral grip, which closely resembles the clubface, certainly brings about a correlation that translates to a day-to-day consistency. But it is also a grip that can produce tremendous power, as it creates a feeling of freedom through impact.
A strong grip creates power by de-lofting the clubface as it closes through impact. The worlds best players, who use a strong grip, don’t allow the clubface to turn closed, but instead hold it square and use their quickly turning body and solid contact to produce distance. Many players who use a very strong grip play a fade (a shot that curves softly from left to right).
So, if you choose to use a strong grip for the sake of power and ignore the pitfalls of allowing the clubface to rotate quickly, you will be the player who lives on the edge of a duck-hook. One day you could be great but the next day might be something very different.
The same could be said about your stance or foot work. I hear the advice to “TURN” as much as any other swing tip. Turn in the backswing can be beneficial, so long as it is done with control.
Turning our body, to the point that our left heel raises far away from the ground, and our nose points to the right of our right foot, where we can no longer see the golf ball, is a complete misuse of the original advice.
Our backswing should NEVER diminish our ability to make a solid, repeatable downswing.
Turn in our downswing delivers the club through the ball. Speed and precision go together to provide power and accuracy. We are trying to strike a ball with a slightly descending blow and control its direction and trajectory.
Thoughts about jumping away from the ground and allowing our left foot to move freely, fly in the face of anything concerning mastery of the golf ball.
I can tell you this, I have asked many players to “swing hard” while being measured by Trackman. I am talking about trying to produce a swing speed in advance of what they consider comfortable. Most of the time, they add LITTLE or NO more speed.
I am careful to tell them what they just learned. They were fortunate to learn that swinging hard is a MYTH. IT HAS NO VALUE.
In terms of effort, 85% of effort produces 98% of clubhead speed and far better strikes. I believe this from watching Trackman produce the truth, over and over.
When talking about ball position, the discussion is to move the ball within a stable width of stance OR maintain a constant ball position (under the natural bottom of the swing arc) and move the right foot to accommodate the changing length of club. Both theories can be used with great results.
Here is an example of a bad decision concerning ball position. Many players just keep moving the ball back in their stance. Sometimes it is in an effort to stop chunking (hitting the ground behind) the ball. It may provide some players with great distance while hitting their short irons. If a student proudly tells me they hit their pitching wedge 155 yards, I know they are playing from a de-lofted position.
I know to ask them, “how do you hit your long irons?” “Oh, I can’t get them in the air” the student replies. If this student plays a short course, they can be fooled into believing they are a much better player than they really are. Then they go to a big course and can’t hit all the shots required to play real golf.
What about your swing, in general? All good players swing with speed. Clubhead speed is NECESSARY. If you are measuring your clubhead speed ask yourself, “where is the speed coming from?”
You can use your hands and wrists to whip a highly rotating clubface through impact and produce some high numbers. But is it functional? If you cannot control the ball, then your pursuit is fruitless and should be dropped like a hot rock.
CLUBHEAD SPEED IS GOOD—CLUBFACE SPEED (ROTATION) IS NOT
Learn how to swing your body while maintaining a feeling like you are HOLDING A SQUARE CLUBFACE IN FRONT OF YOU. Swing sequence, the way our body unleashes the swinging club, is the path you want to spend your time exploring.
When you feel that your weight arrives at the ball slightly before the club does, you are feeling the swing the correct way.
Swing as hard as you can control but never to a point of diminishing returns. And that scale changes from club to club. Ben Hogan said that you NEVER swing hard at a wedge. What is your margin of error? A fairway width or the middle of the green? Never give up your self-control and the golf ball will acknowledge your discipline.
What goes on at impact, the way you release the club, will be the separating point from one golfer to the next. Many things within your method can be negotiable. But what you “put up with” will define you and your chance to improve.
I have read “Five Lessons” by Ben Hogan. I can’t remember many places in the book where he strays too far from his narrative about exacting control of your body and therefore the golf ball.
Byron Nelson was the same way. His swing, athletic and pure, assumed distance resulting from supreme contact.
Distance should be the result of the things that also bring about accuracy. They DO NOT have to be exclusive.
There is wisdom in consideration. Thoughtful self-analysis is one of the greatest talents we can have. Now, more than ever, we must be cautious. The rhetoric is loud and not necessarily fact-based. Anyone who thinks they have figure something out for the first time, that what they have is ground breaking or earth shattering, simply reveals themselves as someone new to the search.
The true student of the game, the DRIVEN GOLFER, weighs advice. We look both ways before we leap.
Michael Wolf, Certified Master Teaching Professional, has been playing golf for 46 years and teaching professionally for over 34 years. He has given over 30,000 golf lessons. Author of The Driven Golfer: Building Your Method For Scratch Golf. Harvey Penick Award Winner- 2016 (Top Instructor U.S./World Golf Teachers Federation)