Understanding the “feel” of a proper backswing or a proper downswing normally takes many hours and days on the practice range to train your body in the right sequence of motion. Here, David Leadbetter for Golf Digest, explains a simple drill using your golf towel to attain the feel in a fairly short period of time. Have your golf club handy, so as you acquire this elusive feel, you can pick up your club and put that same motion into practice as you make a full swing!
If I tossed you a golf ball and asked you to toss it right back to me, without even thinking, I bet you’d throw it with your dominant arm. What this should tell you is that even though you’ve got two arms, you feel more comfortable using one over the other.
Remember that when you swing the golf club. A good golf swing is a blend of coordinated movement from both sides of the body, but it’s really your dominant side that wants, and should, dictate the action. For most of you, that means taking a right-side approach to your swing. Grab a bath towel and I’ll show you how. – With Ron KaspriskeBACKSWING: LOAD AND SEPARATE
Wrap a towel around your right arm at the elbow joint and hold it taut like I am here (above). Now mimic a backswing all the way to the top trying to resist the movement—just a little—with your left hand. You should feel like your upper body is coiling with the latissimus dorsi “lat” muscle really flexed on the right side of the back.
You’ll also notice that to swing to the top, you have to let your right arm separate from your upper body. I know you might have heard to keep that elbow tucked when you swing back, but letting the right arm “float” a little away from your trunk provides a nice, wide swing arc and puts you in position for the proper shallowing of the club on the way down. Essentially, you’re creating more room to swing from inside the target line. Couple that with the coiling the resistance of the towel promotes, and you’re poised for a powerful, right-side-fueled downswing.
Eric Hogge shows a drill that I learned over 40 years ago from my friend and mentor Phil Ritson. This drill is definitely one of the best to cure casting from the top and because you are holding the angle between the wrist and lead forearm for as long as possible, you will generate more clubhead speed! Thanks Eric and PGA.com for sharing!
Making the transition from your backswing to downswing is key to hitting a good shot. PGA Professional Eric Hogge shows how his “pump drill” can help you successfully make that transition.
This great segment by Piers Ward and Andy Proudman of Meandmygolf explains the key role that the upper body and the lower body play in the transition between the backswing and the downswing. Understanding that there is a disassociation between the two will help you hit longer and straighter drives. Check it out!
In today’s Impact Show we discuss how to separate your hips from your upper body in the downswing and what can happen if you can’t disassociate your lower body from your upper body. We also show how other sports use disassociation so well. All this with the brand new TaylorMade M1 driver.
Who do you think has the best golf swing on Tour? I would be interested in your comments below. Here are the Top 10 as chosen by Swing by Swing.
A smooth, consistent, and powerful golf swing is poetry in motion. While most pros are world-class athletes born with near flawless swings, the majority have spent years grinding to make them as perfect as possible. Here are 10 of the prettiest swings currently on tour.
10. Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, has honed his swing to near perfect. With flawless tempo and effortless power, his swing is one of the nicest in the game today. On plane and smooth as silk – good luck trying to copy this one!
9. Tiger Woods (2016)
Tiger’s been through it all with his golf swing, but nothing will top his form in 2000. Unfortunately, father time hasn’t been too kind and plagued the 14-time major winner with well-documented injuries over the last decade. Obviously, another overhaul was necessary. Still, in our humble opinion, it’s one of the prettiest out there. (We’ll blame the club drop on rust.)
8. Sergio Garcia
The current number 13 ranked golfer in the world has exceptional posture at address. His takeaway is smooth and he really fires his hips through the ball at impact. Check out that angle of attack! Hopefully, El Niño can put it all together to bring home a major championship before his career comes to a close.
7. Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth employs a rather compact, simple swing that has allowed him continued success off the tee and finding the greens. What we’d like to focus on are the shoulders and hips which are in perfect synchronization for the entire swing. Add in the slightly bent left arm and hopefully, we’ll be watching this beauty for the next 20-30 years.
6. Jason Day
The current world number one spot belongs to Australian Jason Day, and this swing probably has something to do with that. Day had a decent 2016 campaign rattling off three wins including the Players Championship but had to fight through some injuries towards the end. If he can stay healthy, you can bet he’ll be right there in 2017.
The forward press has been around for many years and Gary Player even uses it in his full swing. He kicks his right knee into the left knee to get his backswing started. Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth both use the forward press and everyone knows how well those two putt! But what is important in the forward press is the amount of forward shaft angle you need to have to create optimum roll off the putter face. Tom Stickney II for GolfWRX gives us his take on the illusion of the forward stroke. Enjoy!
If you watch the vast majority of Tour players putt, you’ll notice that their hands start in front of the putter head at address, and this condition doesn’t vary throughout their stroke.
Most golfers don’t putt this way, though. Their hands start behind the putter head at address and tend to break down even more. They “slap” at the ball through impact and beyond, which is detrimental for both speed and direction control.
Golf instructors can agree that in order to be effective on the greens, golfers must have the putter shaft returning to neutral or even leaning forward at impact, allowing the hands to lead the blade throughout the stroke. Fundamentally, we know that the left hand controls the putter face and its direction, while the right hand controls the putter head and its effective loft (for right-handed golfers). These two factors together allow golfers to roll their putts more consistently.
The bottom line: if you do not lead the putter head with your hands on today’s fast green, you’ll struggle to be an effective putter.
So isn’t the solution as simple as forward pressing your hands during the address. Why is that so hard? Well, when most amateurs forward press it’s almost never enough. That’s because they’re fighting an illusion.
That’s right, there’s an optical illusion that occurs when golfers look down from address at their hands and their putter shaft angle. It influences the breakdown of their impact alignments, and promotes a “slapping” action of the wrists and hands. It also encourages the putter head to swing past the hands, leaning the shaft away from the target at impact adding loft to the putter — not something we want.
Try It Yourself
To understand how putters are designed, place your putter flat on the ground, and up against the wall as pictured below. You will notice that the shaft leans away from the target.
If you still don’t buy it, take your setup in front of a full-length mirror and look down at the shaft of the putter. From your address position, you will swear that your putter shaft is even or slightly ahead of the golf ball. But when you look in the mirror you will see an entirely different picture. The putter shaft will actually be behind the putter head.
Jordan Spieth is one of the best putters on the planet. So when his coach, Cameron McCormick, talks about putting, everyone listens. These are some really useful ideas to retool your putting stroke if your flat stick behaved less than stellar in 2016. Cameron gives you 4 ways to reboot your putting game. I really like #2. Thanks to Golf Digest for this informative article!
Has your performance in 2016 slightly less than satisfying? I know it’s not enough to hear it happens to everyone from time to time. You want to shake off the year of stubs, lip-outs and three-jacks before golf season rolls back around and you’re racking up missed putts again like a kid catching Pokémon. Well, if you really want to fix this flat-stick fiasco, you’re going to need a bit more than a 30-minute session rolling balls into those tiny golf cups. I recommend a full reboot. Here I’m going to give you four ways to pull yourself out of that putting rut. Sometimes only one of these will do the trick, but be prepared for the reality that you might need all four. Best get started. —With Ron Kaspriske
1.) BENCH YOUR PUTTER
If you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a putter, gives it a good spanking when it isn’t performing, and even threatens to back the pickup truck over it in the parking lot, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” conversation. Bench your putt-er for something different. Use a blade? Switch to a mallet. Always preferred heel-shafted putters? Try a centershaft. Everything from club length to grip circumference is up for consideration. Go get fitted (View: Your Ultimate Guide To Finding A Better Game). The big switch works for two reasons. First, there are no bad memories with a new putter. It’s a new day. Second, assuming the old one isn’t now residing in a scrap-metal yard, you’ll make it just jealous enough that it will perform its best when you rekindle your relationship.
2.) REALLY BENCH YOUR PUTTER
“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t fly as a break-up excuse after the second Tinder date, but it’s probably true of your relationship with the putter. It showed up ready to bury every five-footer—but sometimes you didn’t. You need a refresher on mechanics. So I suggest you practice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is propelled by the shoulders and requires minimal hand or wrist action. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hitting the ball at its equator with the leading edge (above). This type of practice elicits precision and is good for the ol’ ego. You’re more apt to forgive yourself for a miss, which helps reduce those anxious feelings that turn you into a puddle of goo when the putts actually count.
As each year passes we mourn the loss of loved ones, people we knew or people we did not know personally but knew through the magic of television. Many became heros, some became legends! To all of those who touched our lives in more ways than they will ever know, thank you so much! RIP, 2016! Thanks also go to Cliff Schrock of Golf Digest who reminds us that all things must pass.
A King, a General, and a Bull died in 2016, but he was one and the same with a distinctly singular name, Arnie. Known by those titles (yes, Bull was early and lesser known), when golf immortal Arnold Palmer passed away on Sept. 25 at age 87 from heart issues, it was more than just the death of the year. It was the end of the game’s focal point for the last 60. If golf history ages well from this point on, Arnie will certainly remain as vibrant and as much of a measuring stick of how a pro golfer interacts with the public as he ever did. Yet it is a real dilemma we are just now starting to comprehend: How will golf go forward without the Golfer of the People and what his presence meant to the game?
A seven-time major champion, Palmer was the reason golf exploded out of the elitist realm it lived in to be a populist sport. He did it by a combination of a bold, spirited performance on the course with a touchy-feely hold on the fans. He made the game feel fun because you could sense he felt it permeate his spirit right down to the blood rush he’d get on both great and poor shots.
Palmer was iconic in so many ways: his connection with the Masters, his place among the Big Three and his 1960 U.S. Open charge. He was Ike’s pal, an expert pilot and an advertising giant, a matinee idol, a course designer and a charity leader. He helped revive the Open Championship and made hitching your pants a thing. He knew from epic losses, proudly called Latrobe his home and Winnie his wife, had a drink named for him and an Army that stood at attention wherever he played.
All of it is familiar because he let it be so, his openness to the world a result of traits he learned from his mother but the toughness and determination from his Pap. Palmer enjoyed it all and wouldn’t have changed his life path to gain a few more majors if it meant losing fans. He will endure in the minds of all golfers present and future as the most beloved golfer in history. A king whose realm wasn’t walked but felt in the heart.
Other deaths of notable golf personalities in 2016 include:
Jules Alexander, 90, Aug. 19: The notable golf photographer whose best known images were of Ben Hogan, beginning with the 1959 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, but whose career also lasted through Tiger Woods.
Phil Cannon, 63, Oct. 27: Volunteered at the Memphis PGA Tour stop at age 14 and stayed involved with the event for much of his life, working as tournament director from 1999-2015.
Dawn Coe-Jones, 56, Nov. 12: An LPGA player from 1984 to 2008, Coe-Jones won three times on tour, had 44 career top-10 finishes and is a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
Steve Cohen, 76, Aug. 12: Founder of the Shivas Irons Society nearly 25 years ago, created based on the book Golf in the Kingdom.
Bob Cupp, 76, Aug. 19: A former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the 1992 Golf World magazine Golf Architect of the Year, he designed courses for 40 years, including Liberty National, Pumpkin Ridge and Old Waverly.
Jack Davis, 91, July 29: A prolific illustrator who worked for decades at Mad magazine and who did work for magazines such as Time and Golf Digest, where his style was used to illustrate unusual feats.
Manuel de la Torre, 94, April 24: The Spanish-born teaching legend and son of Spain’s first golf professional, Angel de la Torre, Manuel was a constant presence on the Golf Digest list of 50 Best Teachers since the inaugural group in 1999. De la Torre attended Northwestern and settled in as a longtime fixture at Milwaukee Country Club, becoming well known for teaching amateurs and stars alike, notably Carol Mann and Loren Roberts. He is a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame.
Dwight Gahm, 96, March 7: The founder of Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, who hired Jack Nicklaus to design the course and has a statue of himself and the Golden Bear at the club.
Rudolph (Hubby) Habjan, 84, July 5: A PGA member since 1955, he was the noted golf pro at the Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Ill., and the creator of highly sought custom-made golf clubs.
Thomas Hartman, 69, Feb. 16: The monsignor, who with Rabbi Marc Gellman was part of “The God Squad,” often appeared at golf events, he would be the straight man in their religious dialogue.
Peggy Kirk Bell, 95, Nov. 23: One of the greatest women’s figures in golf history, she starred as an amateur standout before becoming a renowned teacher, owner of the Pine Needles resort and an advocate for women in the game. Among her honors was the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 1990.
Bill Kratzert Jr., 87, Aug. 21: A PGA member since 1960, he was the father of tour players Bill Kratzert III and Cathy Kratzert Gerring and was the longtime head pro at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Country Club.
John Margolies, 76, May 26: A legendary photographer of vernacular architecture, his 1987 book Miniature Golf is a treasure of golf nostalgia.
Hubert Mizell, 76, March 3: Writer and columnist who worked for the St. Petersburg Times for 27 years, and in 1973-1974 was an Associate Editor at Golf Digest; he wrote 23 pieces in all for the magazine.
I have always felt that putting is a game within a game. In the full swing, as long as I have the correct club selection, all that counts is clubface path and clubface angle. PLUS, if I hit the ball a little offline, I still have the opportunity to hit a good chip or bunker shot to save my par. Not so with a putt! Once I miss a putt, the shot is gone forever, and I add another stroke to my score. So it is vital that my putting stroke is reliable in order to hit my putts time and time again on the EXACT line I choose. Once I have that ability, I can become the golfer I always wanted to be! Tom Stickney II of golfwrx.com, and a Top 100 teacherexplains the 4 principals you need to become that golfer!
One of the most important aspects of putting is the repeatability of your stroke. That’s because reading putts perfectly isn’t very helpful unless you can consistently control your speed and direction on the greens.
The average amateur has little control over how the putter moves back and forth, thus they have little consistency in how the ball comes off the blade. The mechanical side of putting is all about getting the ball to leave the putter face exactly where you want it to.
The question is, how can golfers accomplish greater consistency on the green? Below are 4 keys to help you hone the repeatable putting stroke you’ve always wanted.
The Four Keys
Address Alignment of the Putter Face
Impact Alignment of the Putter Face
The Path of the Putter Head
The Rotation of the Putter Head
Note: Before I begin, I want to make clear that I’m only focusing on the horizontal (side-to-side) launch of the ball, which governs the starting direction of your putt based on your intended line. We’ll assume you have perfect vertical (up-and-down) launch characteristics, which will be the topic of another story.
1) Address Alignment of the Putter Face
It’s nearly impossible to be consistent on the greens if your putter face is aimed away from your target line.
In your practice sessions (on a real putting green or your carpet at home), use visual keys in practice such as putting mirrors, T-squares, chalk lines and lines on the golf ball so you can understand the difference between open, closed and square.
Don’t forget about putter designs! Different players respond differently to certain designs, and finding the right match for you could drastically improve your alignment. Take the time to read what David Edel says about how your alignment changes with different putters.
Also, I highly encourage you to use some kind of putting analysis technology at your closest fitter or instructor that has the technology. It can help you diagnose a problem that you may not even have known existed. I personally recommend SAM Puttlab, an ultrasound machine that measures more than 20 different factors of a putting stroke.
Below is an example of the feedback that SAM Puttlab offers. I have used it in my academies for more than 10 years to give my students a better understanding of their putting motion.
First, note the alignment of the blade at address. You can see that this player has a propensity to line up the face about 2.5-degrees open (to the right) of his intended target. It’s true that many players have issues aiming the putter perfectly at address, which they have to make up for during the stroke by altering their club face or club path into the ball. The more manipulation you have in your stroke, the more you have to rely on your hand/eye coordination to take over for your faulty alignments.
If you’re new to SAM, consult a professional instructor to ensure you’re reading the results properly. Diagnosing your issues is key to developing a plan to improve.
2) Impact Alignment of the Putter Face
The second factor in putting consistency is the ability to return the blade to square at impact. As we saw above, the sample player’s putter was 2.5-degrees open at address, meaning an adjustment had to be made during the stroke to avoid pushing the ball to the right.
Thankfully, this player closed the putter face during the stroke and had a path that was right down the line. Ultimately, his horizontal launch conditions were not skewed, but it’s a move that’s very difficult to repeat consistently. It’s best to start with a square face, and return the face to square at impact.
NOTE: The face angle of the putter at impact accounts for more than 80 percent of a balls starting direction.
In order to hit a consistently good chip shot on the golf course, you have to do two things. Select the correct club and aim the clubface correctly. Easier said than done! Here, Piers Ward and Andy Proudman of Meandmygolf help you understand both things. Now all you have to do is go to the chipping green and work on this!
Golf tip – Chipping it close. In this week’s Go Low PGA Professionals Piers Ward and Andy Proudman talk about set up and grip to help you improve your accuracy when chipping.
There are literally hundreds of immaculate golf courses throughout the world that would make your heart race when you stood on the first tee. But Geoff Shackelford of Golf Digest has come up with the creme de la creme of golf courses that have attained architectural absoluteness! I have had the esteemed privilege to have played four of these top 10, but I can always hope that there is a round on one of the others sometime in my future! My heart will once again beat in anticipation of an exquisite round!
Given golfers and their propensity to disagree on the merits of even the most revered masterpieces, proclaiming design perfection can be dangerous. However, these ten golf courses in their current form come as close to achieving architectural absoluteness thanks to a melding of strategic complexity, walk-in-the-park beauty, experiential purity and an overall sense of design permanence.
Pine Valley, George Crump & H.S. Colt (1918) 7,057 yards, Par 70
As with so many masterpieces, Pine Valley was not perfect when it opened. The course struggled with maintenance issues and some of Crump and Colt’s more outlandish ideas were massaged after his passing. The overall vision was always supreme, but it took a decade to refine Pine Valley into what is widely considered the planet’s most complete, varied and dramatic set of 18 holes. Recent restoration work suggests that more tree removal and the exposure of even more pine barrens could actually further refine the already impeccable Pine Valley.
Cypress Point Club, Alister Mackenzie and Robert Hunter (1928) 6,524 yards, Par 72
The evolution of this long-heralded design has been less straightforward than most would expect. There were changes during planning and construction suggested by developers Marion Hollins and Samuel Morse, then more tweaks and even a few compromises by MacKenzie’s on-site partner, Robert Hunter. In the decades following its 1928 unveiling, weather and maintenance decisions led to many original elements disappearing. But with the recent restoration of nearly all MacKenzie elements, combined with epic scenery and gently graced by George Washington Smith’s clubhouse, Cypress Point comes as close to the most idyllic combination of a strategic golf course melding into eighteen artfully composed series of landscapes.
Oakmont CC, Henry & William Fownes (1903) 7,255 yards, Par 71
Even before the much-ballyhooed restoration of this historic property, Fownes’ course is considered the Penal School of Design’s most complete examination of skill. However, Oakmont’s permanence as a textbook piece of architecture in spite of its relentless difficulty stems from its many strategic design elements. With an unmatched tournament legacy that pervades the senses from the moment you spot the iconic clubhouse and change your shoes in the unchanged locker room, the golfer is transported into a time warp unlike any other in America, Yet you never sense this masterpiece is anything but the most relevant test of skill on the planet.
Shinnecock Hills GC, William Flynn (1931) 7,041 yards, Par 70
The Hamptons’ sandy soil and fescue grasses provide the setting, but its Flynn’s ingenious use of leftover elements from early versions of the course and his bold re-routing that leads to an operatic experience transporting the golfer through highs, lows and genuine thrills unlike any links-like course. Shinnecock Hills starts and ends at Mead, McKim and White’s epic clubhouse, which serves as a locating beacon while Flynn designs takes you up, over and through a rolling, rocking setting. Never does a hole feel forced or fake, and never is Shinnecock Hills anything but thrilling to play or study.