Golfing News & Blog Articles

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Build a Better Backswing

If watch any golf on TV you’ll notice that there certainly doesn’t seem to be one backswing that is universal to all Tour players. Their backswings range from long to short, laid off to across the line and fast to slow. The million dollar question is which one will work best for you and your game. Watch this video to start to understand your options…

Length of Backswing

Don’t be overly anxious to shorten your backswing. If the arms are collapsing or the hands are letting go then by all means work towards making the necessary upgrades.

Longer backswings should almost have an across the line look, while shorter backswings simply must have the clubhead more behind them with a laid off look.

Amount of Time

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Get That Body Moving!

If you want the ball to get going you’ve got to get your body moving. For far too long the golf instruction community has restricted the pivot, but the advent of quality statistics and a deeper understanding of what truly matters in golf has opened our eyes to the value of distance. I get it - we’re all getting older. Me too! We must wage the battle against slower and smaller golf swings on a daily basis. This video in my “3 Keys Series” will help…

If you’re a seasoned veteran or someone that’s new to the game, these keys will help you hit the ball with more authority:

Allow the lead heel to get up off the ground in the backswing and free up the lower body.

Get your belt buckle pointing away from the target as much as you physically can in the backswing.

Feel the lead shoulder stretch away from the target so that you can really feel the tension and torque in your body as you wind up.

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Take Swing Changes to the Course

If I had a dollar for each time a golfer has said, “I’m great on the range, but I just can’t take it to the course” I’d be a wealthy man! I believe there are multiple reasons for this quandary many find themselves in. Firstly, most golfers don’t know how to practice in order to simulate an on-course environment and secondly it’s because when most golfers work on technical changes they don’t know how to go about assimilating the new moves into a full speed swing. Today we are going to address this important topic: How to take ownership of swing upgrades. Watch…

A few key points:

Use a 7 or an 8 iron

Use an alignment aid

Incorporate multiple rehearsals between each shot (get the FEEL!)

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TrackMan: Definitive Answers at Impact and Beyond

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Here is some interesting, albeit older, data mined by TrackMan from the PGA and LPGA Tours….

(Please note that these are all averages)

PGA Tour - Each club in the bag hits the ball the same average height– 30 yards.

LPGA Tour - Each club in the bag hits the ball the same average height – 25 yards.

Tony Finau using Trackman at Ping HQ
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My Thoughts on Arccos

Just so we’re on the same page, I want to make it clear that I am currently an Arccos Ambassador. I signed on at the behest of my friends at Ping and after using it for 11 rounds and learning what it can do for all golfers, I’m very excited! But I want you to decide, so here are the details….

My first experience using the system was in January as we kicked off our excursion to South Africa and then in February when we headed to Australia. During both trips I played 11 rounds of golf and used Arccos Caddie for each adventure out on the links. If you look carefully in the photograph from Royal Melbourne below you’ll see the very tiny sensor embedded into the grip of my club…

I must say the first few rounds took a little getting used to. I had to make sure that I had downloaded the course I was playing and keep the phone in my front left pocket - no problem there, but I noticed that there were some challenges with tracking putts as there were often times where I didn’t hole out (yes, casual holiday golf) or it would register 3 putts where I had only had 2. By the time I got to Australia I realized this could be rectified post round and I eventually got to a point where I wouldn’t even take my phone out of my pocket. Initially it also felt strange knowing that every shot was being tracked, however a few holes into the first round and I was off to the races.

So what did it do for me? And more importantly what can it do for you? Let’s get some background on Arccos first. They currently have 300K users, they’ve captured data on 3.8M rounds (that’s over 200M shots), have been used in 194 countries and the average user lowers their score by 4.2 strokes. It’s amazing how having a better understanding of your games’ strengths and weaknesses can improve your practice and on-course decision making! Here’s some of the data the system makes available to you…

I have a visual representation of every hole I played along with “Tour” style statistics from each round. This is a screenshot from the 8th hole at Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania that shows my scorecard and driving distance on each of the holes. In the image below you’ll see every gory detail from every tee shot I hit on the trips…

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How to Shallow the Club Properly

The first question you should be asking is why on earth would anyone want to shallow the club? The primary reason is to stimulate some body/pivot rotation through impact in order to better manage the face angle. This leads to improved predictability. Watch this…

Watch for shallowing in a false fashion where the CLUBFACE becomes compromised leading to a flip through impact.

Watch for shallowing by tipping the spine away from the target where the PIVOT rotation becomes compromised.

A great take home exercise is to get in front of a mirror with a club (be careful!) and 1. Feel the wrist twist on the way down in order to position the clubface for success and 2. Feel the lead shoulder staying lower for longer in transition.

Create the right look, and it’s okay if it’s exaggerated, in front of the mirror and take the necessary feels with you to the practice ground.

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2019 Wrap Up

It was a fantastic year both on and off the course for me and I hope I was able to help you enjoy your golf a little more. My objective with this wrap up is simply to share a few things that stood out to me regarding 2019!

Player of the Year

For me this simply has to be Brooks Koepka. With the emphasis we place on the big events it can only be him. It’s almost as if he doesn’t care about the smaller Tour events he plays in and seems to use them as ‘practice/trial’ rounds for the ones that really matter - the Majors. I firmly believe we are in the BK era!

Comeback Golfer of 2019

Tiger Woods is back. Wow! I honestly didn’t think he would ever come back, but he is back in a big way and the world of golf is lit up because of it. He truly adds so much to any event he competes in. This is my favorite golf image from the year and it’s by Christian Hafer. To me it perfectly sums up the current day golfer that is Tiger Woods - well-versed and ruthless under the gun.

Golf Course of the Year

I hope you all took the opportunity to watch the President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne. It truly was a joy to watch some of the world’s best compete on this gem of a layout. I had the good fortune to play there with my wife in 2018 and it has the firmest greens I have ever experienced. Trust me when I tell you, these golfers made the course look significantly easier than you or I would. Width, interest, undulation, wind all couples with firm turf. Golf would be a better game if more courses were like Royal Melbourne. What a treat!

Most Exciting Golf Course I Played in 2019

While I don’t play very many 18 hole rounds of golf during the course of a year I often get the opportunity to play some fantastic courses on the luxury golf trips we take. My favorite course of 2019 is Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand. A brilliant blend of interest, challenge, scenery and conditioning. I thought that Tom Doak did a fabulous job of making the course very playable due to the potential for high winds on it’s cliff-top location. Memorable and great fun!

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Understanding Attack Angle

TrackMan defines attack angle as the direction the club head is moving (up or down) at impact. How much the club head is traveling up or down is reported in degrees… 2º up or 6º down. You’re no doubt reading this in an effort to improve your golf and the purpose of this article and video is to share my experience pertaining to attack angle and how you can use this knowledge to upgrade the trajectory, shape and strike of your shots. Watch…

We need to be on the same page with a few important points in order for a better understanding to take place…

Club Delivery

a narrow downswing will typically encourage a steeper, more downward angle of attack

a wider downswing will typically promote a shallower, less downward angle of attack

Wider Downswing
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Improve Your Putting Skills

If you’re fed up with wasting strokes on the greens then this challenge is for you. Try this putting drill the next time you’re out practicing on the putting green. It will challenge and engage you to the fullest…

One tee, three balls, a putter and a plan! While you might never get to a point where you hole all 18 putts, you will start to develop your skill with the putter in hand. Prepare to be engaged! All the research shows that when we are engaged we learn, and when we learn, we improve. I believe that if we wish to become better at completing a task (hit the ball into the hole) then the more ways we can complete the task, the better we become. Have some fun with this one and see if you can beat your personal best score each time you accept the challenge.

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Pixie Dust or a Solid Plan?

Yes, I’m on social media and YouTube as much, if not more than you are. Not so much to look for help with my game, but always looking to see what other coaches and entities are sharing with golf consumers. Of course it feels good as a content provider to put something out there that gets tons of views and likes, but ultimately, getting better at golf is not sexy or miraculous. My thoughts…

I would certainly like a miracle cure for my bad shots and I’m sure you would too, but we know that’s not the way life works. There are no shortcuts and no golfer has ever shaved ten strokes off their handicap overnight. Sorry! Here are a few examples of what you might look to incorporate into your plan:

I’m going to commit to a stats plan and keep track of every round I play

I’m going to find three solid chipping drills and do them twice per week

I’m going to incorporate an alignment rod each time I hit balls on the range

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Downswing Matters...

Most of you have been following me for long enough to know that I believe the location and orientation of the clubhead in the early downswing are vital to an effective golf swing. The appropriate position and orientation of the clubhead will enable you to rotate freely through impact, controlling the face and compressing the golf ball. The following short video will help you understand the value of clubhead position in the early downswing and why it’s so important in building a sound impact position…

Where you position the clubhead in the early downswing is integral to your ability to rotate and manage the club face through the impact interval. Better rotation means less flipping and more accurate shots. This matters - big time.

In the following short video you will learn why, even though you may have been doing a better job with positioning the clubhead (shallowing the shaft), your game has not improved. Improper shallowing can compromise the club face angle in the early downswing and actually promote active hands or flipping through impact. Here’s the remedy…

There you have it. Getting the clubhead deeper (more BEHIND you) in the early downswing without compromising the face will produce incredible results for almost every golfer I teach. I suspect it will help your game too. A good place to start is in front of a mirror - create the proper look, don’t worry about exaggerating things, take the appropriate feel from that look and go out and practice. Keep reinforcing in front of the mirror.

A Young Jack Nicklaus

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Playing and Practicing in the Wind

For most of us, there is seldom a day that involves golf, that doesn’t involve some form of wind interference. When I first started trying to better understand how wind effects both the ball and the golfer. I was shocked at how little quality information was readily available. It didn’t take me long to conclude that most golfers (pros included) will underestimate the effect of a headwind and overestimate the effect of a tailwind. I have come to find the following to be quite accurate for most ‘normal’ ball strikers…

The basic formula for hitting into a headwind is as follows:

5mph = 5% of the total distance + 5 yards

10mph = 10% of the total distance + 5 yards

15mph = 15% of the total distance + 5 yards

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Making Gains

It seems like just the other day that I embarked on my teaching career, yet it was almost 30 years ago. As a young coach it didn’t take me long to get to a point where I thought I pretty much knew everything there was to know about the golf swing. My how things have changed! I remember saying that one day on Tour we would get to a point where there were no more ‘bad’ or unusual looking swings. Ha! Anyone seen Matthew Wolff’s golf swing?

When I first started coaching Phil’s backswing would have been too long, Bubba’s feet would have been too active, Jordan could never be successful with a bent lead arm, DJ’s club face would have been impossibly closed and Jim Furyk - well that just had no chance.

Perhaps it’s my experience speaking, but I believe the golf instruction industry has come a long way in the last two decades. We have made more progress in this time than all the years before. Our eyes have been opened to the uniqueness and intricacy of the golf swing and how there truly are many ways to get the job done. A better understanding of the forces and torques that golfers are exerting on both the ground and the club has opened our eyes to perhaps why the players pictured above are successful.

Another important revelation over the last two decades has been the value of skill. Your technique allows you to hit the ball towards your target, but its skill that enables you to adjust the flight, shape, distance and ultimately, the outcome of each unique shot on the course. So many golfers were falsely led to believe that if they simply upgraded their technique/mechanics/swing they would be world-beaters. Technique, no doubt plays a role, but the value of skill can no longer be over looked. The great Seve Ballesteros is a fabulous example of a golfer that relied more on skill, and heart, than technique…

Seve Ballesteros

Seve Ballesteros
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Watch the What?

Oh you’re going to like this one! This is a little drill I discovered a few weeks ago that will help any golfer who has issues with those small motion chip shots around the greens. Watch…

A few ideas that will help if you tend to struggle from close range:

Mark up the club face with a Sharpie dot to give you something to follow visually

Determine what your range is for watching the clubhead

Practice variety by alternating between smaller chips where you watch the face and bigger ones where you watch the ball

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Let's Get This Straight!

If you, as most golfers do, struggle with consistency then this article is for you. We all do really! The number one culprit for off target shots is the club face being misaligned at impact. We struggle to control the face through the strike. This simple video will give you some insight as to how you can start to do a better job. Keep in mind we’ll never be perfect, but we can be better. Watch…

Far too often I see golfers consciously trying to swing down the line. This forces the hands out and necessitates a flip through impact. You can hit good shots with a flip, just not enough consecutive good ones to play well for all 18 holes.

Here are a few keys:

Work the handle around the lead hip through and post impact. It turns the corner…

The clubhead should arc back inside the flight of the ball very soon after impact whether you’re hitting draws or fades

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Fancy Footwork

At our most recent Coach Camp, I had the opportunity to learn from Kevin Duffy. Kevin is trainer to a number of the world’s best golfers and shared a few of his insightful ideas pertaining to the golf swing. Watch…

Kevin advocates so much more than I’m capable of sharing with you here today, but a few of my take aways were:

We should pressure the ground in the golf swing in a similar fashion to when we walk

When walking we start with heel contact and pressure then transitions to the mid-foot, the pinkie and finally the big toe

In the backswing the trail foot works as if we were walking backwards - big toe, pinkie, mid-foot and then heel

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Some "Different" Chipping Ideas

I’m sure we’ve all at some point or another received the all-time classic chipping advice - get the ball back, weight forward and trap the ball! You won’t hear anything like that in this lesson, but you will perhaps hear and see something you haven’t caught on to before.

Two of the best wedgers in recent memory have been Jose-Maria Olazabal and Brett Rumford. I’m sure you’ve heard of Ryder Cup star and Masters winner Olazabal, but you may not have heard of Rumford. The journeyman pro from Western Australia has won six times on the European Tour and has recently been battling wrist injury. Take it from me when I tell you he is as good, if not better than, anyone you’ve ever seen.

While their form in the video above is not identical (whose is?) there are two important movements they both incorporate. In the backswing they both shift the pressure forward, onto the front foot and in the downswing they both elevate or stand up through the strike.

Notice in the image below how Jose-Maria has moved ahead of the red line as he reaches the end of the backswing. My current opinion is that this stimulates motion (pressure shift) and encourages the chest to rotate through impact.

In the following image you can clearly see how Brett has elevated from the end of his backswing into the strike relative to the red line. This is perhaps the biggest mistake I see golfers make when wedging. They attempt to “stay down” and thus limit rotation and change the radius of their strike. This can have a mortifying effect on strike quality. And we all know that strike is king when it comes to the shortgame!

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Tales from the Trail Side

I’ve found that is can be tremendously helpful for any golfer to fully understand the ins and outs of impact. Today I want to address the trail side and what my preferences are for it as we approach impact. Let’s start with this…

What are we looking for at impact?

Hips and chest rotated open relative to the target line

The trail hip should be lower than the front side counterpart

As a result the trail leg is flexed and the knee has moved towards the ball

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The What, the Why and the How about "Getting Open" at Impact

What does 'get open' at impact mean? Why is it important to be open with your hips and chest as you approach impact? Now for the million dollar question - how can I do it? Start by taking a few minutes to watch and listen as I address all of these questions here...

What is it?

PGA Tour players are on average around 45º open with their hips and around 25º open with their chest at impactSome are more and some are less, but all are open to some degree

Why is it important?

Getting the body rotating through impact allows for the hands to play a more passive role, thus allowing for a quieter clubface through the strikeMost golfers hit shots off line due to an inability to control the clubface through impactAll golfers would like to be more predictable with their ball flight and a quieter clubface through the strike will typically lead to improved control

How can I get open?

Get the clubhead deeper/more behind you as you start the downswingUse your wrist angles to maintain control over the clubface and get it in place for a passive ride through impactObserve your lead arm position going up and most importantly, coming down, while avoiding anything extreme

The great golfers pictured above have an uncanny knack at controlling the clubface through impact. I'm convinced that getting the hips and the chest more than less open as the club strikes the ball will help you to become a more consistent golfer. 

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Shortgame - Land the Plane

Whenever you struggle with chipping and pitching you’re not making solid contact with the ball. The strike is off. This could take the shape of sticking the club in the ground or completely whiffing the ground. Landing the plane is an analogy I came up with many years ago that refers to how we should get the sole of the club to interact with the ground. There should be harmony. Watch….

A checklist to help you improve the quality of strike when wedging:

·      Feet should be narrower rather than wider

·      Weight should favor the front foot – slightly

·      Keep your chest rotating through the strike

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