Every wonder why one golfer is so proficient with his driver, but cringes when has has a wedge in his hands? Another golfer may be an excellent short iron player, but he is scared stiff of his long irons. Is it all just skill level and practice?
For years, I’ve been obsessed with finding ways to build the tools I need so that I could validate the notion that “one optimal swing type for a complete range of golfers’ needs” just doesn’t make sense.
It seems to me that teaching just one swing type without showing a golfer how to adjust for each particular shot is very much like trying to select one car to suit all the family’s needs. Basically, it’s just a series of comprised decisions that invariably never meets the total needs.
Since 2010. I’ve been building digital tools that will finally inspire us to validate that “there is an optimal swing pattern for each and every type of golf shot and all golfers will need to acquire several of them to have a complete game.“
Working with a medical company called Patientech Vista in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, our team developed a golf pressure mat called BodiTrak that measures center of pressure.
By measuring the average position of a golfer’s vertical forces while in either in a “static” (set up in the address positions for various shots) and or “dynamic” position to capture complete swing data using sound as the trigger for determining impact and the web cam off your laptop for integrated video, we now can now bring center of pressure, or C.O.P. golf pressure mapping to the masses.
What you will see below are actual screen shots of the BodiTrak user interface.
A bit about BodiTrak: BodiTrak is a highly portable golf pressure mat that can be rolled up into a trim carrying case, weighs approximately 8 pounds and can be used both indoors and outdoors on any type of lie, putting, chipping, downhill and even side hill lies and sells for under $2,000.
Dr. Sasho MacKenzie, a well-known golf biomechanist from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada and I did the initial validation of the BodiTrak Golf Pressure Mat as compared to an AMTI Force Plates that many of the top researchers in golf use. The results were positive and the trace patterns near match up in near identical fashions.
Much of the information we all can now capture has never been seen before, in particular the C.O.P. traces from the unusual lies, downhill lies, sidehill lies and so forth.
Pressure mapping itself is not a new topic. All successful golfers innately understand the significance of proper weight and balance issues. But until now, the lack of portability and high costs of force plates have restricted validating weight and balance issues. Most of the data collected to date has been restricted to but an elite group of researchers, biomechanists and advanced golf academies.
Recently, an article was written comparing the brake effect of a baseball player to golf, and this was just the encouragement that I needed to reach out and submit this article. It turns out that this brake effect is exactly what we refer to in our pressure mapping system as the power trace.
While conducting an early spring symposium at Holland Golf College in Prince Edward Island earlier this year, I ran through all 43 golf students on the golf pressure mapping device. The results were obvious and very interesting, and I’d like to share them here with you.
Hockey is Canada’s national sport, and it’s easy to understand that so many of the Holland College group I was testing were well versed in slapshots. I was very curious to see if many of these young golfers that had the power trace actually knew what they were doing to create the power. Amazingly, most did!
It turns out that in hockey (just it as in baseball), the most powerful slapshots are produced when the front foot is used as a brake, slowing down the forward momentum providing resistance to hit against. This is a well-established fact among hockey players and makes total sense. Otherwise, you would be sliding forward and very little power would be generated in a slap shot if this technique wasn’t used.
The power trace illustrated below indicates that the C.O.P. DOT (white dot) moves hard to the front foot even before the golfer completes his backswing. I refer to this as the “resting” position. Next, the vertical forces in the C.O.P. trace reverse toward the back foot just prior to impact, allowing the golfer to create the resistance that generates his impressive power.
When polling the students, I asked this distinguished group of power hitters to describe their short iron and wedge play. Most indicated that their irons was not their strong suit. This made perfect sense. For if you use this C.O.P. power trace for all your shots, you are effectively pulling up prior to impact, which may not be ideal for short iron play.
Below is a great example of the C.O.P. power trace collected at my Holland College symposium. By the way, if you slow down the new D.N.A. golf shoe add by FootJoy, you’ll see the same C.O.P. Trace they are showing on their pressure map.
A Holland College player selected by his peers as the best iron player. The same player as above C.O.P. iron trace.
C.O.P. Linear Trace: Irons
When these power trace hitters were questioned about their personal iron play, I also asked all of their power trace peers who was the best iron player in their group.
The same golfer, Ben, who used the power trace with his driver, demonstrated a completely different C.O.P. trace with his irons!
Through thousands of hours testing with the BodiTrak Golf Pressure Mapping device, I’ve come to call this C.O.P. trace “linear,” as it illustrates the a golfer’s transfer of a weight in very simplistic manner: straight back and straight through.
In actual field testing, I’ve found that this linear C.O.P. trace is used by very accurate golfers and a very reliable C.O.P. trace of a golfer with strong short iron performance, where power generation is not a crucial part of the optimal overall result.
Of all the various C.O.P. traces, the linear trace is not the most powerful, but it does seem to represent the most accurate C.O.P. trace for short iron play.
I’ve posted the power trace at on Youtube for your greater scrutiny.
[youtube id=”kdOYrn9ckgo” width=”620″ height=”360″]
While C.O.P. analysis is purely research at its infancy, it’s very clear that the ideal C.O.P. trace for optimal distance is not the one that is to be used for optimal control. Each set of clubs, be that driver, fairway woods, irons and the likes, all will have their own optimal C.O.P. trace patterns. That is not likely a revelation to most.
Finally, a solution to understanding that one swing for all shots is not an optimal solution. This science shows that predictable traces serve each particular shot required and help golfers quantify feel. Unfortunately, as I learn more and more about C.O.P. golf pressure mapping, my lifetime obsession to prove my notion has not subsided, rather it has grown.
The Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training
If you’re an #AverageJoeGolfer, work a day job, and don’t spend countless hours practicing, you might be interested in knowing that sports you played growing up, and even beer league softball skills, can be used to help you play better golf. We’re sure you’ve heard hockey players tend to hit the ball a mile, make the “best golfers”, while pitchers and quarterbacks have solid games, but baseball/softball hitters struggle with consistency. Did you know that a killer tennis backhand might help your golf game if you play from the opposite side? Dancers are way ahead of other athletes making a switch to golf because they understand that centeredness creates power and consistency much more efficiently than shifting all around, unnecessary swaying, or “happy feet.”
Lurking beneath fat shots, worm burners, and occasional shanks, are skillsets and motions you can pull from the old memory bank to apply on the golf course. Yes, you heard us right; your high school letterman jacket can finally be put to good use and help you improve your move. You just need to understand some simple adjustments different sports athletes need to make to be successful golfers.
In golf, shifting from your trailside into your lead side is what we’ll call the TRANSITION. Old School teachers refer to this motion, or shift, as “Foot Work”, New-Fangled-Techno-Jargon-Packed-Instruction uses “Ground Pressure/Force” to refer to the same concept. Don’t worry about the nomenclature; just know, as many GolfWRXers already do, that you must get your weight to your lead side if you want any chance at making solid and consistent contact. TRANSITION might be THE toughest motion in golf to master.
The good news for you is that TRANSITION happens in all other sports but in slightly different ways, depending on the sport. Golfers can more quickly learn TRANSITION, and speed up their swing learning process by understanding how prior sport experience can be applied to the golf swing.
[The basics of a solid golf move are; 1) you should have a SETUP that is centered and balanced, 2) you move your weight/pressure into your trail side during the TAKEAWAY and BACKSWING, 3) TRANSITION moves your weight/pressure back into your lead side, and 4) you FINISH with the club smashing the ball down the fairway. Okay, it’s not quite as easy as I make it sound, but hopefully our discussion today can relieve some stress when it comes time for you to start training your game.]
Hitting coaches don’t like their hitters playing golf during the season, that’s a fact. The TRANSITIONS are too different, and if they play too much golf, they can lose the ability to hit off-speed pitches because their swing can become too upright. Golf requires an orbital hand path (around an angled plane) with an upright-stacked finish, while hitting requires batters to have a straight-line (more horizontal) hand path and to “stay back or on top of” the ball.
Now we apologize for the lack of intricate knowledge and terminology around hitting a baseball, we only played up through high school. What we know for sure is that guys/gals who have played a lot of ball growing up, and who aren’t pitchers struggle with golf’s TRANSITION. Hitters tend to hang back and do a poor job of transferring weight properly. When they get the timing right, they can make contact, but consistency is a struggle with fat shots and scooping being the biggest issues that come to mind.
So how can you use your star baseball/softball hitting skills with some adjustments for golf? Load, Stride, Swing is what all-good hitters do, in that order. Hitters’ issues revolve around the Stride, when it comes to golf. They just don’t get into their lead sides fast enough. As a golfer, hitters can still take the same approach, with one big adjustment; move more pressure to your lead side during your stride, AND move it sooner. We’ve had plenty of ‘a ha’ moments when we put Hitters on balance boards or have them repeat step drills hundreds of times; “oh, that’s what I need to do”…BINGO…Pound Town, Baby!
Softball/Baseball Pitchers, Quarterbacks, & Kickers
There’s a reason that kickers, pitchers, and quarterbacks are constantly ranked as the top athlete golfers and it’s not because they have a ton of downtime between starts and play a lot of golf. Their ‘day jobs’ throwing/kicking motions have a much greater impact on how they approach sending a golf ball down the fairway. It’s apparent that each of these sports TRAINS and INGRAINS golf’s TRANSITION motion very well. They tend to load properly into their trailside while staying centered (TAKEAWAY/BACKSWING), and they transfer pressure into their lead side, thus creating effortless speed and power. Now there are nuances for how to make adjustments for golf, but the feeling of a pitching or kicking motion is a great training move for golf.
If this was your sport growing up, how can you improve your consistency? Work on staying centered and minimizing “happy feet” because golf is not a sport where you want to move too much or get past your lead side.
My wife was captain of her high school dance team, has practiced ballet since she was in junior high, and is our resident expert on Ground Pressure forces relating to dance. She has such a firm grasp on these forces that she is able to transfer her prior sports skill to play golf once or twice a year and still hit the ball past me and shoot in the low 100s; what can I say, she has a good coach. More importantly, she understands that staying centered and a proper TRANSITION, just like in Dance, are requirements that create stability, speed, and consistent motions for golf. Christo Garcia is a great example of a Ballerina turned scratch golfer who uses the movement of a plié (below left) to power his Hogan-esque golf move. There is no possible way Misty Copeland would be able to powerfully propel herself into the air without a proper TRANSITION (right).
Being centered is critical to consistently hitting the golf ball. So, in the same way that dancers stay centered and shift their weight/pressure to propel themselves through the air, they can stay on the ground and instead create a golf swing. Dancers tend to struggle with the timing of the hands and arms in the golf swing. We train them a little differently by training their timing just like a dance routine; 1 and 2 and 3 and…. Dancers learn small motions independently and stack each micro-movement on top of one another, with proper timing, to create a dance move (golf swing) more like musicians learn, but that article is for another time.
Hockey is a great example of the golf TRANSITION because it mimics golf’s motions almost perfectly. Even a subtlety like the direction in which the feet apply pressure is the same in Hockey as in Golf, but that’s getting in the weeds a bit. Hockey players load up on their trailside, and then perform the TRANSITION well; they shift into their lead sides and then rotate into the puck with the puck getting in the way of the stick…this is the golf swing, just on skates and ice…my ankles hurt just writing that.
If you played hockey growing up, you have the skillsets for a proper golf TRANSITION, and you’ll improve much faster if you spend your time training a full FINISH which involves staying centered and balanced.
Now we didn’t get into nuances of each and every sport, but we tried to cover most popular athletic motions we thought you might have experience in in the following table. The key for your Big Shift, is using what you’ve already learned in other sports and understanding how you might need to change existing and known motions to adapt them to golf. If you played another sport, and are struggling, it doesn’t mean you need to give up golf because your motion is flawed…you just need to know how to train aspects of your golf move a little differently than someone who comes from a different sport might.
Clement: Effortless power for senior golfers
Are you struggling with range of motion? Want more EFFORTLESS POWER? We are truly the experts at this having taught these methods for 25 plus years, while others were teaching resistance, breaking everyone’s backs and screwing up their minds with endless positions to hit and defects to fix. Welcome home to Wisdom in Golf!
Clement: How to turbo charge your swing
The shift in golf instruction continues and Wisdom in Golf and GolfWRX are right out there blazing a trail of fantastic content and techniques to get you to feel the most blissful, rhythmic golf shots you can strike! This here is the humdinger that keeps on giving and is now used by a plethora of tour players who are benefitting greatly and moving up the world rankings because of it.
The new trend (ours is about 25 years young) is the antithesis of the “be careful, don’t move too much, don’t make a mistake” approach we have endured for the last 30 years plus. Time to break free of the shackles that hold you back and experience the greatness that is already right there inside that gorgeous human machine you have that is so far from being defective! Enjoy!
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