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Close the gap to shallow angle of attack

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closethegap2.0

Average golfers produce several different kinds of ball flights, but the most common one I see is a low-launching, high-spinning shot that fades away from the target. It’s a ball flight that I usually see paired with a deep divot. The goal for these golfers is to reverse those contact characteristics and resultant ball flight — they will usually play better with a ball flight that launches higher and spins less, and they’ll be more consistent with a shallower angle of attack.

There are numerous mechanical reasons why golfers hit low-launching, high-spinning shots, however, and an all too common reason is a takeaway with the club going behind the hands. This type of takeaway will cause the lead arm to quickly separate from the chest and leave a large gap in the forearms that will likely result in a steep downswing with an out-to-in path.

Before discussing the fix, we need to examine the design of the golf club and how it is meant to function. The golf club sits on the ground at an angle because of its lie angle. For that reason, the club should travel with some relation to the angle established at address. I do not mean it needs to stay on that imaginary line, but rather that there is an acceptable range the club should move throughout the swing to produce consistent, functional shots. To achieve YOUR desired backswing and downswing plane, there should be a blend of shallow/horizontal and steep/vertical components. The club needs to go around the body, but also upward on the backswing at a fairly constant rate.

To further clarify, I’ll relate it to a javelin being thrown. The thrower will launch the javelin up into the air, but also downfield at the same time. A javelin thrower will not be effective if he throws his javelin even with the ground or straight up in the air. It’s a blend.

javelingolf


Problem

A gap takeaway means the club goes too much around the body. This will require the golfer to lift the club upward. Not blending the two components (horizontal and vertical) and doing them separate will tend to stall the pivot and make it difficult for the body to interact with the ground correctly. The downswing will then likely be too steep with an out-to-in path.

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Solution

The solution to closing the gap is to reverse the takeaway by moving the club more upward and less around the body. Exaggerating this will likely result in a takeaway somewhere in the middle.

Steps

No. 1: Body — Less Forearm Rotation

  • Try having the lead forearm move underneath the trail forearm on the takeaway. Doing this move with a centered head will likely result in the forearms, shoulders and hips working on a steeper plane.

closethegap3

No. 2: Club — Hinging of the wrists

  •  The club should also work on a steeper plane in the takeaway. Changing the movement of the wrists will accomplish this change. The wrists need to hinge rather than bend so much. The sensation should be that the lead hand presses the handle of the club downwards.

 closethegap4

Result

Incorporating these two exaggerated changes will “close the gap” in the takeaway. It will be easier to continue blending the two components (horizontal and vertical) throughout the backswing. This will help achieve a more desirable backswing and a shallower, more outward path on the downswing.

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Andrew honed his communication and technical skills under the guidance of his first mentor and Top 100 teacher, Brad Redding. He completed three teaching internships including a Nike Golf Camp in Pebble Beach, CA. Andrew also attended numerous certification classes (Flightscope, Purestrike 5 Simple Keys, Lynn Blake Certified, and US Kids Certified) and workshops of top instructors. Now he specializes in helping competitive and serious golfers reach their potential.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. enrique

    Nov 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Now write an article for us that shallow out too much on the way down – coming from the inside – re-routing.

  2. classik

    Nov 7, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Good write up for am’s struggling.

  3. parker

    Nov 7, 2014 at 1:30 am

    I use to perform this exact move in the golf swing creating huge divots, low trajectory, and horrible fades. I fixed it by doing what this article suggest, basically keeping the club head outside of the hands on the way back and worked on shallowing my divots. What a change in my game it has made, I hit higher straighter and more consistently with all my clubs. I wish this article had be published 5 yrs ago.

  4. other paul

    Nov 6, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    So, after hitting balls in my garage for a half hour, I decided to mass with the gap using my 3 iron. Definitely noticed a difference when experimenting with the gap size. Also discovered that I can hit a 3 iron now ???? your article helped someone.

    • Andrew Moore

      Nov 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      I am glad I could make a difference. Thank you!

  5. alex

    Nov 6, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Of course it looks like it’s too much…because it is! It has to be exaggerated because it’s a feel or a drill. Not something you have to copy exactly.

  6. Ryan

    Nov 6, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for the article. These are the exact movements I’m working on right now for my backswing – more so the hinging up feel like I read in a Haney book. Glad to see third-party confirmation that I’m on the right track.

    • Andrew Moore

      Nov 7, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Keep working on it. Your hard work will pay off!

  7. DaveMac

    Nov 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Is it me or does the fix look like Rickie Fowler’s old swing? Yes the one he had Butch fix!
    So I am not keen on this article, the primary fault does not always produce the results suggested (high spin slice).
    Equally the fix applied incorrectly could produce exactly the shot it is supposed to fix.
    Use with caution.

    • Ryan

      Nov 6, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      They are exaggerated to show the two movements….of course it’s use with caution (and with video), but every golf tip is that way.

    • JJ

      Nov 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

      I’m no expert but I think any of us would take Rickys swing (pre Butch) with whatever swing faults he had/has. Plus as mentioned, it was an exaggeration.

      Keep in mind, a lot of times the pros and good players have the opposite problems as we have. Most of us amateurs take it back low and inside and come over it on the way down. Pros often get too shallow on the way down. It’s funny because you’ll see someone like Tiger, Graeme, etc.. on the tee box taking practice swings of what looks like an over the top swipe across the ball. They probably do that as the opposite extreme as us because they know it will help there actual swing end up somewhere in between. I could be wrong but I think you get my point. Heh.

      • Andrew Moore

        Nov 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        JJ, you are spot on with your assessment. It is difficult to change a pattern especially if you have been playing a long time. Exaggerated moves are meant to expedite that process, but like DaveMac said you should “use with caution”. If you perform any exaggerated move for long enough you can certainly go the other way with your swing. I hope you liked the article!

  8. marcel

    Nov 6, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    such a confusing article… getting lesson on the website is like getting a hair cut on the website… surely coach can do better job as the hairdresser would do. my golf coach always told me… these free instructions are keeping me in business as everyone gets worse off confused coming back for more… so yes great article!

    • other paul

      Nov 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Ha! I have heard the same thing. Free online articles and YouTube are ruining us all. Mark crossfield helped me though. Love his videos. I went from a 38 to a 10 thanks to his stuff and have to thank my swing coach Rob for cleaning things up for me as well.

    • dr bloor

      Nov 7, 2014 at 8:08 am

      I’m sure your coach will be pleased that you took the time to read the article.

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Instruction

Stickney: The deadly double-cross

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OK. Here we go. Number 17 at Punta Mita. Water all down the left side. OK. Aim right and hit a slight draw—been hitting the ball wonderfully all day, scoring conditions are perfect—I’m ready to make a birdie!

Over the ball. Check my alignments—good! Last look—where we want the ball to end up—good! No swing thoughts—great! Go!

Ball begins on the line I wanted—so far so good—apex perfect. Oh no! Now it’s not drawing! In fact, it’s fading! Crap! There’s out of bounds right! Don’t hit the path…

BOING! Gone. UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! The dreaded “double-cross.”

Why does this seem to happen to all of us from time to time (only when there is a problem on one side we’re trying to avoid?) The answer is simply one of three things normally

  • Not committed
  • Poor pivot
  • Faulty grip pressure

Not Committed

This one is simple: Anytime you have conflicting thoughts over the ball and you are unsure of what to do next, step back and regroup! Easy sounding right? Not at all! This take a ton of self-discipline and awareness to actually notice the signs and make the choice to stop yourself in the middle of your routine. If you can, you are one of the few.

Not being committed comes in the physical, mental, and emotional forms. Regardless of which you are fighting on the tee in this situation, it’s best to stop and regroup. If you do not, a double-cross and double bogey can be lurking!

Poor Pivot

Whenever you have doubts about your ability to pull off a shot mechanically the first thing to go is your control of the “pivot” which is how you twist and turn and displace weight. The pivot, per “The Golfing Machine,” controls things like rhythm, balance, the head, the club shaft, etc. so if you “stall out or outrace yourself” then your ball can go anywhere. Usually, when you have trouble that you are trying to avoid, you will tend to slow down in efforts to try and guide the ball—when this happens you will hang back and either hold on or flip it through impact, and this will cause you to lose control of the clubhead and clubface. No bueno!

Faulty Grip Pressure

As stated above, you will find non-commitment in one of three forms, and normally when you have emotional or physical issues your grip pressure will spike. Anytime you have a grip on the club that’s in death-mode, you will find that having any type of normal or consistent release is impossible. When your release becomes an issue so will your ball’s flight. Try your best to relax and let things happen without trying to force them; squeezing the grip too hard can only make things worse.

Now that we know what the issues tend to be, what can we do besides step back? Your goal is to swing the club, just like you do every other time, as normally as possible. The fewer “thoughts” you have, the better. Usually, if you try to stay aggressive, you’ll have a better chance of having the ball land on grass. Try it and you’ll surprise yourself!

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TXG: 8 handicap fairway wood & hybrid fitting

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Finishing the full bag fitting for our Mizuno contest winner by dialing in a fairway wood and hybrid!

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Instruction

6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 2

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

Following on from Part 1 of this article, we examine reasons 4, 5 and 6 for why golfers suffer from low back pain.

Reason 4: Weak Core Muscles

Before we make start making exercise recommendations for this complicated area of the body, it’s worth asking—what is the core exactly? There is considerable debate about this often misunderstood region. Back pain expert Professor Stuart McGill, explains it as follows:

‘The core is composed of the lumbar spine, the muscles of the abdominal wall, the back extensors, and quadratus lumborum. Also included are the multijoint muscles, namely, latissimus dorsi and psoas that pass through the core, linking it to the pelvis, legs, shoulders, and arms. Given the anatomic and biomechanical synergy with the pelvis, the gluteal muscles may also be considered to be essential components as primary power generators’

In a golf context, there is a common myth that the core muscles are our main source of power in the swing. In reality, the main role of the core is to provide stiffness and stable support for force/power transfer from our legs to our upper body

If we can create stiffness and stability in our core, we can help protect our spine and surrounding structures from unnecessary strain whilst also improving swing efficiency—pretty sweet combo!

Due to a combination of perpetual sitting, poor posture and other detrimental lifestyle factors, our cores tend to lose this ability to provide stiffness and stability. We can combat and correct this with a solid core conditioning program. Below are examples of some of our favorite exercises.

Dead Bug with Fitball – the combination of squeezing the fitball whilst extending arm and leg delivers all sorts of great stimulus for the core muscles.

Bird Dog – great for glute, core and back strength

Pallof Press – fantastic anti-rotation exercise. Good for strengthening the core whilst using the ground efficiently

Reason 5 – Not Warming up Properly/Not Warming up at All!

As we’ve explained above, mechanical back pain arises from too much stress and strain placed on the back. During the game of golf, we treat our spines terribly—expecting them to twist, turn and contort with the aim of producing decent golf shots!

If we don’t prepare our bodies for an activity like golf and just go out cold, we significantly increase the chances for strain and stress being placed on the lumbar area.

I’m sure many of you have had the experience of throwing a ball or a stick hard without warming up, and received a nasty sharp pain in your shoulder. Now, if you were to warm up before doing that; stretching your shoulder, making a few practice throws etc, you’d likely avoid strain altogether. Same goes for the low back and the golf swing – without a decent warm-up, there’s every possibility of a strain when trying to rip driver down the first!

By incorporating a warm-up into your pre-golf routine, you can significantly reduce the risk for injury AND help avoid that card wrecking double-double start! As a side bonus, warming up regularly can help your general health, fitness, and wellbeing too.

We know that most amateurs don’t warm up; a study done by Fradkin et. al showed that around 70 percent of amateur golfers seldom warm-up, with only 3.8% reporting warming up on every occasion!

A decent warm isn’t hard and doesn’t have to take ages to complete; research shows that a warm-up of 10-20 minutes is sufficient. In the video below, Marnus gives a thorough guide to a solid warm up sequence.

Reason 6 – Swing Faults

Let’s not forget the golf swing. One of the most common reasons I see golfers struggle with low back pain is that they are unable to “get to their lead side” and “get stuck” on the downswing. This causes the aforementioned excessive side bend and rotation from the low back, which we need to avoid! 

“Getting stuck” on the trail side

Now we aren’t golf coaches and therefore don’t deliver swing advice. However, there are some fundamental movement patterns that most golfers could benefit from practicing. In the videos below, one of our favorite body orientated swing coaches, Richard Woodhouse, is using one of our favorite training tools, the GravityFit TPro, to help teach an efficient movement pattern. The aim is to develop a strong connection between arms and body, using the hips and thorax to rotate, thereby helping to avoid “getting stuck.”

Summary

The absolute best practice for a healthy golfing lower back is working with a golf swing instructor and also a health/fitness professional that understands the body and swing connection. As a team, they would be able to identify and improve your individual swing faults, movement pattern dysfunctions, range of motion deficiencies, muscle weakness, imbalances, and alignment issues.

If you don’t have access to such expertise locally, you may want to check out the online services offered by Marnus and Nick here:

Marnus – https://www.marnusmarais.com

Nick – https://www.golffitpro.net/

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