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Winning Swings: Tim Clark, don’t sweat the small stuff

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[youtube id=”hiyJDmmt6NI” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Tim Clark is a world-class player who has built his swing around a physical condition that doesn’t allow him to rotate his palms upward. In the video above, I take a look at his mechanics and swing plane, but the real lesson here is to not let size or physical challenges stop you from being all you want to be.

I grew up in the inner city and spent many summer days waiting until 4 p.m. so I could play golf for the discount rate of $2.50, so I always admired athletes who achieved more than others in their position may have. The professional tours are full of physically gifted golfers who have had a world of opportunity, but I’m a fan of the guys who achieve more with less.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. paul

    Jul 28, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I started playing golf with a very strong grip and thanks to swinging a hammer for 12 years (similar motion in my right wrist, I am a lefty in golf) I could pound it into the 280-300 yard range pretty good. I have since sprained both wrists and can’t gain my distance back. Any suggestions for gaining back the 30-40 yards I lost would be appreciated. My accuracy is excellent, distance sucks. Drive 240, 7 iron 155 carry. I just suffer on longer courses. Par 4s at 420+ are silly hard but I used to play em fine. 10 handicap… Ish.

    • Dennis Clark

      Jul 28, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      Paul, if it’s mechanical it’s correctable; id need to see a video of it. But if it’s physical…another story. What doers your doctor or trainer say? I lost 20 yards after heart surgery and cant find it? It’s a strange thing…

      • paul

        Jul 28, 2014 at 10:57 pm

        Not mechanical. I tried a strong grip a few days ago hitting into a net and my wrists hurt for two days after. Its all physical now. I play a neutral grip now. I am debating trying strengthening my grip a tiny bit at a time and seeing if I can gain a little distance back. But I am struggling with if its worth the trade off. I enjoy my swing, its just my ego that wants the big numbers back. I used to be quite inaccurate and had a big hook sometimes. Now I play a straight shot or straight fade. I have had rounds where I hit 80-90% of fairways. I used to be 30%. Also dropped 10 strokes with new neutral grip.

        • paul

          Jul 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

          Physiotherapist said she would need xrays to know for sure what is going on in my wrists. My wrists were hurt when I tried a used club and the tip let go and the head flew off as I released the club.

  2. spinout

    Jul 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    How does Tim flatten out his driver swing then? I’ve read on here that he’s one of the most efficient drivers of the ball based on his club head speed. I think I saw some something where his angle of attack was like +5 degrees. I cheer for the guy whenever he’s in contention and I think they should allow him to keep the belly putter after the rules change

    • Dennis Clark

      Jul 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      It looks to me like he moves more behind the ball and swings flatter with his driver. And “backing up” from a steep downswing can create a hitting up motion with the driver. Some things cant be explained, look at a Jim Furyk or Raymond Floyd…talent is a word that comes to mind.

      • spinout

        Jul 29, 2014 at 12:47 am

        Just so I can learn something. Does backing up mean not shifting your weight on the down swing? I’m guessing by your response and your talent comparisons that this swing has some crazy compensation move that you have to have some amazing talent to time.

        • Dennis Clark

          Jul 29, 2014 at 9:12 am

          It means your upper body tilts away from the target to get the club back on plane or in a position from where you can avoid a crash because of a steep downswing. The analysis suggest that great players have a series of motions that are compatible. Lesser players go through a series of motions that are incompatible, that is don’t match. In Clark’s case, his strong grip and physical limitation are the base lines of his motions. Strong grip, extended (cupped) wrists create steep downswing plane but that is compatible with a strong grip and so on…get it?

  3. Andrew

    Jul 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Agree with the sentiments above about coaches not coaching to the individual and helping the student becoming the best they can with what they have got (that could be limited physical, mental ability and with the how much time to be able to practice).

    • Dennis Clark

      Jul 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Andrew, it’s the ONLY way to teach and coach. What a player does as result of their body type is not gonna change….a teacher has to work with that.

  4. Lord Helmet

    Jul 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Just goes to show you – many ways to skin the cat. Just get to a good impact position and you will be just fine.

  5. Bryan

    Jul 28, 2014 at 10:29 am

    That was an excellent review. Being that my swing has always been very vertical, and little forearm rotation, it’s nice to see it pay off for a tour level player. I’m a 3.6, and I’ve wondered if my swing that is much more comparable to Tims than that of a Sergio, has held me back from a scratch. I don’t have his hip rotation though impact.

    I wish more PGA teaching pros would teach to the individual student vs. teaching positions that only 1% of the world are able to attain.

    anyways; great review

    • ZC

      Jul 28, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Very much agree with this comment – physical limitations do influence the golf swing (maybe not always as much as Tim Clark’s) but they inevitably do to some extent.

      The more teaching that takes them into account the better…

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The value of video

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In the age of radar and 3-D measuring systems, video analysis has somewhat taken a backseat. I think that’s unfortunate for a few reasons. First of all, video is still a great assist to learning, and secondly, it is readily available and it can be accessed continually.

Of course, it has limitations, that is a given. It is ultimately a 2-D image of a three-dimensional motion. The camera cannot detect true path, see plane, and can be misleading if not positioned properly. That said, I still use it on every lesson, because, in my experience, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Things like posture, ball position, and aim can all be seen clearly when the camera is positioned exactly as it should be. In swing observations such as maintenance of posture, club angles, arms in relation to body, over the top, under, early release can all be a great help to any student.

But the real value is in the “feel versus real” area! None of us, from professional to beginner, can know what we are actually doing. The very first reaction I get upon viewing, is “wow, I’m doing that?” Yes, you are. You did NOT pick up your head as you thought you were doing, you ARE lifting well out of your posture, you are NOT coming “over the top”, your aim is well left of where you think you’re aiming, your club is pointing well right of your aim point at the top of the swing, your transition is excessively steep, your lead arm is very bent at impact, the clubhead is past your hands, your wrists are cupped or bowed and on and on!

Some of these positions may be a problem; some may be irrelevant. It’s all about impact, and how you’re getting there that matters. The chicken wing that is causing you to top the ball may very well be the result of a very early release, or a steep transition, or too much waist bend etc. The weight hanging back on the rear leg may be the result of the club so far across the line at the top, and so on.

I never evaluate video without knowledge of ball flight or impact. If one were to observe a less-than-conventional swing, perhaps a Jim Furyk, with knowing how he put matching components together, it might seem like a problem area. Great players have matching components, lesser players do not! IMPACT is king!

I have a video analysis program, as I’m sure your instructor, or someone in your area, does as well. It can only help to take a good, close slow motion look at what is actually happening in your swing.  It takes very little time, and the results can be massively beneficial to your golf swing.

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Davies: How control the right hand at impact

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Alistair Davies shows you how to work the right hand correctly through the hitting zone with a great drill and concept.

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Shawn Clement: Dealing with injuries in your golf swing, lead side.

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Happy Father’s Day weekend and U.S. Open weekend at none other than Pebble Beach weekend! Whoa, cannot wait to see the golf action today!

In this video, we talk about how to deal with hip, knee and ankle injuries to your lead side as this one is PIVOTAL (pardon the pun) to the success of any kinetic chain in a human. This kinetic chain is a golf swing. Now, what most of you don’t get is that you were born with action; like a dolphin was born to swim. Just watch 2-year-olds swinging a club! You wish you had that swing and guess what, it is in there. But you keep hiding it trying to hit the ball and being careful to manipulate the club into positions that are absolutely, positively sure to snuff out this action.

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