Precision Pitching

We would all like to get the ball up and down from inside 100 yards, but the reality is that for majority of us we are more likely to take four to get down than we are to take two. Most of the top players and coaches I’ve discussed pitching with over the years have shared that they utilize some form of a template to encourage feel and familiarity with all the different shots we encounter from inside 100 yards. Here are a few ideas that I’ve found to work best for the everyday golfer. Watch….

I have three primary wedges that I might use for playing pitch type shots. There’s a strong chance that you have a slightly different wedge make up to the one I have. The idea here is to limit the two most lofted clubs to a comfortable distance less than a full swing. Here are my thoughts with each of my clubs:

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A full swing will carry 85 yards with this club but I never will attempt to hit it that far

I will use this club outside of the chipping zone all the way up to 60 yards and no further

A sensible “core distance” to practice with this club is 50 yards

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Two Minutes to Better Golf

You have got to try this simple, yet highly effective, exercise! Whilst it’s not as easy as it might appear it can be done fairly quickly and at home. This valuable little nugget was shared by my friend and Golf Fanatics expert contributor, Mike Carroll. It will help with mobility, strength and mechanics. Watch….

Mobility

As you work through each swing strive to go back a touch further than you did on the previous swing. I’ve done this for a week now and can feel the difference already.

Strength

As much as we might not be willing to admit it, strength makes a substantial difference in the distance that we hit the golf ball. If you start doing this with a light weight try to move up in weight as the weeks progress. I’m currently using an 8 pound medicine ball.

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Make a BIGGER Backswing!

I struggle with this one too! Making a bigger backswing. So many ‘seasoned’ golfers that I have the privilege of working with struggle to make a big enough backswing and it really hinders their ability to hit the ball both far enough and well enough. Watch…

A few keys to help you to start getting more out of your body and your backswing:

Work towards turning your hips as far back as you can

Free up your feet by allowing the lead heel to lift off the ground

Allow the trail leg to straighten significantly

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Get the Face in Place!

The ability to control both the face angle and loft at impact is paramount to playing better golf! This element in the golf swing really plays a major role in my teaching philosophy. Here’s a simple, yet illustrative, video that shows what can go wrong and how it needs to work…

So much of what we do in our golf swings is dictated by the face angle in the early part of the downswing. An open face means a stalled pivot and handle to go along with too much loft and an inconsistent strike. On the other hand an overly closed face will encourage too much lateral drive in the downswing and cause the hands to ultimately be too far forward and de-loft the face too much. This image illustrates the two extremes…

If you can make, even subtle, upgrades during this all important part of the golf swing you’re going to see a marked improvement in both your ball-striking and flight. Give it a go!

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Improve One Thing

My experience as a coach has been that when a golfer sets out to improve one part of their game and they fully commit to making the upgrade over time, they almost always reach their objective. Watch…

This is the perfect opportunity to sit down and evaluate what went well for you as a golfer in 2020 and where you’d like to make gains. Write it down, come up with a plan and then commit fully to the process.

My goal this year is to increase my ability to move as an athlete. That incorporates flexibility, strength and agility. My goal is to be able to get to 170mph ball speed while playing a round of golf and I’m currently at 166.8mph when on the range. There’s a long road to go yet, but I have a plan that involves both the physical elements and the practical side.

What are you going to achieve on the golf course in 2021?

Let’s do it together!

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Top Tier Tempo!

In this article I’m going to share three helpful exercises to help you smooth out the tempo of your golf swing. Let’s get the oil of the golf swing flowing through your engine! Watch….

I work with golfers on an almost everyday basis to help them complete the backswing and ultimately improve the rhythm and flow in their golf swings. These three drills will help:

Three Ball Drill

Tee up three golf balls and do this drill with a 9 or 8 iron

Keep in mind that the rhythm does not have to be slow here

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Stop the Scoop

Are you tired of putting everything you have into your game, only to see the ball literally limp off the club face after each swing? There’s just no return on the energy you’re putting in. Today I’m going to show you how to get the sizzle back into your ball striking. Watch this video first…

I often ask my students which club imparts the most energy into the ball relative to club speed. The answer? Putter. Why? It has the least loft at impact and delivers the least oblique strike to the ball. Learn to reduce the loft coming into impact in order to start compressing the ball off the club face.

Get the club face in place early in the downswing. This is done by bowing/flexing the lead wrist which in turn will de-loft and strengthen the club face by the time impact occurs.

Try the Preset Club Face Drill. Using a 7 iron, take the club back so that the shaft is parallel to the ground making sure the lead wrist and leading edge are tilted down towards the ground slightly. Wind the arms back 1 foot and rotate through, working to maintain the face and wrist angles. The ball flight should be low and penetrating with a slight draw.

Make sure that the low point of the swing arc is forward of where impact occurs. This can be rehearsed by making two practice swings between each shot you hit on the range where the sole of the club bottoms out well in front of where it was resting on the ground. The handle and weight must be forward at impact in order for this to occur.

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A Strict No Tipping Policy!

We’ve all been there - a constant battle between fats and thins, blocks and sweeping hooks! This malady is something I experience all too often on my lesson tee and I have an idea that I know will help many of you. Once you work your way through this article your approach to ball striking, your concept of how it should work, will never be the same again. Take a look…

I have come to believe that the primary culprit in tipping the upper body back is the quest to work the clubhead back to the inside or shallow the club on the downswing. I’ve written that “It’s All About Impact”, but you can only arrive at an appropriate impact when certain elements are in place going back and on the way down. The better the clubhead is positioned in the early downswing the less likely golfers are to tip their shoulders and spine away from the target too early.

Here’s a face on shot of Tiger Woods from the PGA Championship in San Francisco. I like this example as the bottom of his sleeves seem to correlate to shoulder tilt in these frames.

Tiger Woods

Frame 1: Far too many golfers have significantly more shoulder tilt than this at address. The lead shoulder should always be higher, but only marginally.

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A Look into a Lesson

Thank you to all of you who have reached out to let me know how much you’ve gained from the insights I’ve been sharing with my students lately. It truly does make me happy to know how many people can benefit from someone else’s golf lesson. With that in mind, here’s another!

I recently got together with Scott who I started teaching 18 months ago. As a relative beginner when we first met, Scott has really worked hard and made tremendous strides - firing an all time best score of 82 recently. At the onset of our most recent lesson I could see that he had continued to make progress.

In an effort to keep my information simple, accurate and actionable I summarized the talking points for our time together into:

Alignment was too far right which led to misses that finished well right of target

2. Driver was crashing into the ground which led to pop-ups off the tee

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A Lesson to Learn From...

I recently gave an old friend a lesson. Having not taught him for a few years I had an inkling as to what to expect, but things came together so well I thought the information might be beneficial to more than just one student.

This is why looking at still frames of an athletic motion can be deceiving. There are six different images/videos here that we will go through in a specific order. To get the most out of this post please make sure you go through this it slowly. Be sure you comprehend each image before moving to the next…

(The original/before is always on the right in all of the images/videos)

Image 1:

Notice how these two images appear to be somewhat similar. I think many of us would give them both a thumbs up! They might be somewhat similar, but the outcomes are very different due to the unseen forces being applied to the club. Do not be deceived!

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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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