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What is a golf fitness assessment?

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This story is part of our new “GolfWRX Guides,” a how-to series created by our Featured Writers and Contributors — passionate golfers and golf professionals in search of answers to golf’s most-asked questions.

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We’ve all spent countless hours hacking away on the range looking for a quick fix or band-aid. But for some golfers — and maybe most of them — it’s not their swing that’s holding them back, but their physical limitations.

That’s where fitness assessments come in to play. It tells golfers what they can be doing from a fitness perspective to rid their swing of nasty habits, and it can prevent injuries as well.

How an assessment works

A golf fitness assessment — such as those administered by TPI, an institute created by Dr. Greg Rose and Dave Phillips — is a screening that is based on golf biomechanics and fitness.

A compilation of normative data was created by testing a wide group of PGA and LPGA professionals and measuring their physical capabilities as they relate to the golf swing. The assessment will identify asymmetries, limitations and dysfunctional movement patterns — basically how good or bad you are moving in your golf swing.

From the assessment, an efficient fitness program can be created. It also gives you and your swing coach important information about your strength and flexibility that will help you make more informed decisions about your game. Dr. Rose says it best.

“If you don’t test, it’s just a guess.”

To paint a better picture of how an assessment can help, let’s look at a major swing flaw that most of us understand: coming “over the top” with a driver. This move has been responsible for more golf anguish than I care to quantify, but the problem usually stems from an issue with shoulder mobility, which causes a loss of posture.

There’s a lot of ways to try and fix coming over the top from a mechanical standpoint, but they’re often just band-aids. For long term improvement, you’ll need to get to the source of the problem.

One of the TPI assessments used to look at shoulder mobility is called the 90/90. With better shoulder mobility, golfers are generally more efficient with their longer clubs. It allows them to swing from the inside more easily and shallow their angle of attack.

Video of 90/90 Assessment

 

FitnessAssessment

To perform this test correctly, stand tall and hold your right arm out to your side with 90 degrees of flexion. Now, without letting your upper-body bend backward, try to externally rotate your right hand as far as possible (up and back). Only continue rotating as far as the body will allow with no compromises in your posture and never perform this test to the point of pain or discomfort.

Once the arm is fully externally rotated, grade the degrees of rotation. Your range of motion will fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Less than Spine Angle: The forearm does not externally rotate past the spine angle (usually less than 90 degrees). This is not good.
  2. Equal to Spine Angle: The forearm is parallel to the spine angle (usually 90 degrees). This is good, but not great.
  3. More than Spine Angle: The forearm externally rotates past the spine angle (usually greater than 90 degrees). This is great.

Repeat the process with the other arm.

The next portion of this test will be to complete the same process with only one change — perform the test while you are in your golfing set-up posture with a 5 iron. Raise your elbow and arm to the 90/90 position and rotate the hand externally. Observe the forearm, spine-angle relationship in the same fashion as during the standing portion of the exam and repeat it on the opposite side.

This test is designed to highlight any limitations in mobility of the glenohumeral joint and/or stability of the scapulo-thoracic junction.

More specifically, the 90/90 test measures range of external rotation in the shoulder and a golfer’s ability to maintain scapular stability in a golf posture. We look at the amount of external rotation in each shoulder from a standing position and then compare that range to how the shoulder rotates in the golf posture.

Many golfers will lose range of motion in their golf posture due to a lack of scapular stability. This will cause them to lose their posture and stand up in their downswing, which can lead to coming over the top with the driver.

Other times the lack of scapular stability or poor posture causes the shoulder blade to elevate or flare, and this changes the orientation of the shoulder joint. This greatly reduce the amount of external rotation in the shoulder joint and causing a steep position in the downswing instead of the sweeping position that is preferred.

If you understand what your body can do (and not do), you can fix your physical limitations and address your swing mechanics with your teaching professional.

For more information on golf assessments: http://www.mytpi.com/articles/screening

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Dave is the owner of Pro Fitness Golf Performance in Walled Lake, Mich. He's certified Level 2 Titleist Performance Golf Fitness instructor, K-Vest 3D-TPI biomechanics specialist and a certified USA weightlifting Instructor. He's also a Wilson Golf Advisory Staff Member. As a specialist and leading provider of golf-performance conditioning, Davis takes pride in offering golf biomechanics assessments and strength and conditioning training. His philosophy focusing on two things: the uniqueness of each individual and creating a functional training environment that will be conducive and productive to enhance a positive change. He is dedicated to serving the needs of his customers each and every day. Website: www.pgfperformance.com Email: dave@pgfperformance.com

44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. Pingback: Sure, Analyze Your Swing, but If You Don’t Do This, You’re Wasting Your Time | Alberto Washington | Golf

  2. Josh

    Dec 21, 2014 at 6:17 pm

  3. Jeff Goble

    Dec 15, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Dave, great job explaining of the most critical tests in the screen and how it effects the swing. All of my students go through a screen, because I need to know what I’m working with. And as for Pat and Bogus, fitness in golf is here to stay and is only going to be a bigger part of it. People want to get better and for most players if they can improve movement and balance they can get better. You are only as strong as your weakest link. TRIAN, PRACTICE, PLAY AND BELIEVE!

    • Dave

      Dec 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks Jeff. you are so right, “your only as strong as your weakest link”

  4. Wendy

    Dec 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    interesting article. I know I am often more worried about making my shots then developing my body to enhance my performance. Good information.

  5. EJ. McDuffie

    Dec 15, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Wonderful well written article! Great information of improving my golf game.

  6. CB

    Dec 14, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Great article, and really good information. It’s always good to learn correct maintenance to ensure healthier levels of any sport! Leaning correctly is half the battle, implementing the correct techniques is always best with a skilled professional.

    • Dave

      Dec 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      CB, It takes mobility and stability, mental ability and skilled technique to be a great performer on the course. so you are so true in your assessment.
      thanks

  7. Dave

    Dec 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Here is a great post on the TPI Facebook page. Here is a tour pro who is young and just blew out the competition last week by 10 strokes! He is one who takes his golf fitness screenings serious.
    https://www.facebook.com/mytpi
    TPI Certified trainer Damon Goddard takes PGA Tour star Jordan Spieth through a TPI screen. If the best in the world don’t guess what their bodies are capable of, why would you? Know your body, know your swing.
    Learn the Torso Rotation Test here: http://www.mytpi.com/arti…/screening/the_torso_rotation_test

  8. Dave C.

    Dec 13, 2014 at 7:01 am

    The usual let’s find a way to take money from rich golfers. Better to go to a chiropractor for a few visits. Some will give assessments and initial X-rays free to attract new clients. Even if not, at least you have a doctor, instead of some guy who went to a 3 day seminar.

    If I’ve insulted anyone I apologise, but it’s how I see it.

    • Bluefan75

      Dec 16, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      In fairness, I’ve had the assessment done, and it actually shed some light on several things. I suppose I would quibble about the price a little but it wasn’t useless.

      I will say, though, that the “program” that was given was not terribly useful. I would have fixed many of the issues identified much quicker had I been introduced the barbell much sooner.

      Very little that is identified can’t be fixed by a good strength training program.

    • Brent Vanderloop

      Dec 18, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      Hi Dave

      If you have a look around your local area you will likely find that many of the TPI certfied practioners are actually Physical Therapists or Chiropractors as well. Look for a TPI level 2 or 3 Medical Professional.
      I am personally a golf physiotherapist in Perth Australia. See my website http://www.perthgolfphysio.com if you want more info.

      Cheers
      Brent

  9. Dr moretsky

    Dec 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I know it will help me play better golf.

  10. Jim Eathorne

    Dec 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Dave has been an important partner along with my PGA teaching professional in keeping my swing in tune as I have aged into my late 50’s. Dave understands the limitations of a senior golfer yet trains very successfully Division 1 collegiate athletes not only in golf but also skill position football players and track athletes. I have worked with several trainers since I left college in 1977 and Dave is by far the most professional of any. If you are a golfer live or work in Southeastern Michigan do yourself a favor and contact Dave.

  11. Noah

    Dec 12, 2014 at 9:49 am

    My 2 year old is in the best golfing shape of his life;) I wish i was as flexible.
    Check him out on YouTube …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IATJKCOBuE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Let me know what you think – this can’t be normal for a 2 yr old to be able to do this right? 🙂

    • Dave

      Dec 12, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Noah, your son has incredible hand eye coordination. He also has great mobility and stability. It was amazing to watch. The best thing for him is to let him continue to move natural and not provide him with instructions. We as adults tend to disrupt the natural process of movement with our theories instead of allowing the natural growth process to occur. Continue to let him “enjoy” what he is doing instead of “working” at what he is doing.

  12. Dave Davis

    Dec 12, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Pat, you are correct in the basic screenings. But for a low handicap golfer, more advance screens are needed by a professional who is trained and has the proper equipment to facilitate. Here is a link that will help those to understand more about all the screens that are available and how to perform them. http://Www.mytpi.com/improve-my-game
    Thanks

    • Sherm

      Dec 12, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Great article and thanks for the link. Mytpi has a ton of free information to help golfers.

  13. K. Sanford

    Dec 12, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Really good article and perfect timing for us northern golfers who need to get ready for the upcoming season.

  14. Tina

    Dec 11, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Dave, as a novice golfer I found your article to be informative in giving me appropriate, professional direction in how to improve my game. Thank you for writing this article in such as way that non-professionals can benefit as well as seasoned golfers.

    • Dave Davis

      Dec 11, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Tina, now its time for you to pick up a club and give it a try. You will love it. Thanks again

  15. Cara

    Dec 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    I think that people tend to forget about the funtional component needed for golf; this article was very insightful and informative! Great Job Dave!!!

    • Dave Davis

      Dec 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Cara, you hit it right on the nail when you said “functional component needed” people tend to think that you just pick up a club and hit it. Golfers are athletes

  16. Joe

    Dec 11, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    There is a lot more components to fitness for golf just like the the many components to a golf swing. A program should be all encompassing that attack weak areas as well as making strong areas stronger. Golf fitness is a lot more than just hitting th ball further. If you need to hit it farther use a different club. Obviously it can help you hit it off the tee further, hit it out of the rough, and help with club face control to name a couple of things. The main reason golf fitness should be undertaken is to decrease the risk of injury so you can enjoy a lifetime of fun.Look forward to reading more. Great article.

    • Dave Davis

      Dec 11, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Thanks Joe, by decreasing injury we are able to enjoy the game.

  17. Bogus

    Dec 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Although fitness has it’s place in golf, it’s being blown out of proportion lately due to this trend follow society. Without getting into a rant, simply put, for some fitness will help their game to an extent, for some it will do nothing, for some it may even hinder their game (removing focus from the mental aspects and technique of the swing itself). We could name several players, who follow basic fitness routines, are not the most flexible/strong/agile, but they can play lights out. Many of the players before the 2000’s actually had no true fitness regimine, some played other sports. Hell, even Tiger followed unorthodox methods such as running 30 miles a week…but it worked for him! As we get more “science-based” with our training and research when it comes to fitness and even the swing, I won’t even get into launch monitors lol (Faldo played a spinny push cut under the gun in majors that would give horrific launch ratings, but under immense pressure it worked for him). We’re losing the essence that makes golf. I have trained my behind off for tennis and basketball because I had to, but golf fitness to me is a bit of a stretch. The 60 year olds at my golf course kicking the collegiate players a** daily is a testament to how much fitness is worth in golf. Yes you need a functional, pain-free, and somewhat athletic body to perform in golf but let’s not make it bigger than it is.

    • Dave Davis

      Dec 11, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Bogus, you are correct about the players prior to 2000. But golf fitness is about injury prevention in my program. If a muscle is weak, then compensation takes place and eventually injury follows. On the tour, golf was a 6 month game. Now its 10 months and if players are not in shape, the chance of injury is high. Yes, like any other sport fitness can provide stronger muscles. But if you ask any professional strength and conditioning coach that works with high level athletes like i do, they will tell you that the focus is on strengthening for injury prevention. An athlete can not get better performance if their sidelined with injuries

    • Pat

      Dec 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      I don’t think you realize that golf fitness isn’t necessarily going to lower one’s handicap like you are stating. That part of golf is talent and practice based. It’s main purpose is injury prevention and strengthening and activating fast twitch muscle fibers so that everything fires faster hence more distance. My driver swing went from 110mph to 133mph at one point(former Japanese long drive competitor)and now I can still crank it up to 122mph because of my bodybuilding backround and my incorporation of sports fitness in general. What has slowed me down is numerous injuries throughout the years and age.

  18. LaTrelle

    Dec 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Awesome article!

  19. Matt

    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    This was an amazingly informative article, coming from a coaching ha kronur is often hard to figure out why our bodies do certain things even though we’ve put in countless hours of repetition. I’ll be checking back for other articles explaining the origin of the flaws in our swing. I enjoyed the way The author stated his information it was refreshing to have a writer explain a subject with clarity and experience be hind it. Great job! Keep it up!

    • Dave Davis

      Dec 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks Matt, check back later for my next article. You will like it.

  20. Mary

    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Wonderful article Dave, very informative.

  21. stephanie

    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Great article, definitely something for anyone trying to improve their game to consider!

  22. Amber

    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Awesome article! Need more like this. Keep it coming Dave!

  23. Sara Graham

    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Great article !!!!

  24. Andrew

    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Wondered how long it would be before somebody made a negative comment!

    A TPI screening and exercise program is one of the best things I’ve done for my golf game. Over the last 10 months my swing has improved along with scoring and so has my fitness handicap…+3 at my last re screen down from 19 when I started.

    Keep preaching Dave…hopefully people will realise it’ll do more for their games than shiny new 46″ driver ever will!

    • Dave Davis

      Dec 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Thanks Andrew, will keep bringing the knowledge

  25. Ctmason98

    Dec 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I know the answer, its “a way to make money.”

    • Pat

      Dec 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      All these golf “fitness” institutes are great, however only people that have money can afford to go to these places. Acquiring enough knowledge to incorporate at the gym is quite simple, yet I’m shocked at how lazy golfers in general are in regards to golf fitness. I’m in the golf and fitness industry(ACE cert.) and have a bodybuilding backround. Started working out since I was 19 years old. I’m in my mid 30’s. Currently 5’7, 160 pounds, 9% bodyfat, very flexible and I my swing speed is 120+mph. I have been 205, 8% bodyfat before in my bodybuilding days. I have learned more reading books, internet and talking to well respected people in the fitness/bodybuilding industry for sports exercise in general compared to anyone I’ve talked to in the golf fitness industry or these golf fitness institutes and seminars I’ve been to. If you people would take a little time out of your day to look up sport specific exercises on the internet and do a little research, it would save a ton of money compared to going to these golf fitness facilities which charge ridiculous amounts of money for their programs.

      • Dave Davis

        Dec 11, 2014 at 10:51 pm

        Pat, there is some great information on the web with great exercises. Yes, golf fitness is expensive just like golf. Thats why its best to at least invest in an assessment to know what to work on. Like Dr. Rose stated “if you don’t test, its just a guess”

        • Pat

          Dec 12, 2014 at 6:25 am

          Dave, you realize that you can perform these flexibility tests on yourself right? No need to pay a fitness instructor or personal trainer for this. I understand you’re trying to help golfers but at the same time, you are also promoting your business(nothing wrong with that).

          • Dave Davis

            Dec 12, 2014 at 8:12 am

            Pat, you are correct in the basic screenings. But for a low handicap golfer, more advance screens are needed by a professional who is trained and has the proper equipment to facilitate. Here is a link that will help those to understand more about all the screens that are available and how to perform them. http://Www.mytpi.com/improve-my-game
            Thanks

  26. B

    Dec 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    This is the most enlightening piece of information I’ve seen in a long, long time (maybe ever) pertaining to an individual’s physical ‘ability’ to accomplish a first-class golf swing. If an amateur golfer really wants to improve his or her golf swing this should be an area that receives their #1 attention from a physical standpoint.

    • Dave Davis

      Dec 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      B,you are so correct. If a person is only strengthening the areas that are strong, then you don’t get better overall. Just better in the areas that are strong.

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Clement: Best drill for weight shift and clearing hips (bonus on direction too)

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This is, by far, one of the most essential drills for your golf swing development. To throw the club well is a liberating experience! Here we catch Munashe up with how important the exercise is not only in the movement pattern but also in the realization that the side vision is viciously trying to get you to make sure you don’t throw the golf club in the wrong direction. Which, in essence, is the wrong direction to start with!

This drill is also a cure for your weight shift problems and clearing your body issues during the swing which makes this an awesome all-around golf swing drill beauty! Stay with us as we take you through, step by step, how this excellent drill of discovery will set you straight; pardon the pun!

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Confessions of a hacker: Chipping yips and equipment fixes

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There’s a saying in golf that, paraphrasing here, it’s the person holding the weapon, not the weapon. Basically, if you hit a bad shot, it’s almost certain that it was your fault, not the fault of the golf club. It has a better design than your swing. And while that truism is often correct, it ain’t necessarily so.

For example, if I were to try to hit one of those long drive drivers, I’d probably mis-hit it so badly that the ball might not be findable. That stick is way too long, stiff, and heavy for me. Similarly, if I were to use one of those senior flex drivers, I’d probably hit it badly, because it would be too floppy for my swing. It’s clear that there are arrows that this Indian can’t shoot well. Maybe a pro could adapt to whatever club you put in his hand, but there’s no reason he would accept less than a perfect fit. And there’s little reason why any amateur ought to accept less than a good fit.

I was never a competitive athlete, although I’m a competitive person. My path led a different direction, and as my medical career reached its mature years, I was introduced to our wonderful and frustrating game.

Being one who hates playing poorly, I immediately sought instruction. After fifteen years, multiple instructors, a wallet full of videos, and a wall full of clubs, I am finally learning how to do one particularly vexing part of the game reasonable well. I can chip! But as you may have guessed, the largest part of this journey has to do with the arrow, not the Indian.

We may immediately dismiss the golf shaft as a significant issue since chipping generally involves a low-speed movement. And as long as the grip is a reasonable fit for the hands, it’s not a big deal either. The rubber meets the road at the clubhead.

Manufacturers have worked hard to get the best ball spin out of the grooves. Their shape is precisely milled, and then smaller grooves and roughness are added to the exact maximum allowed under the rules. Various weighting schemes have been tried, with some success in tailoring wedges to players. And some manufacturers market the “newest” designs to make it impossible to screw up wedge shots. And yet, nothing seemed to solve my yips.

So I went on a mission. I studied all sorts of chipping techniques. Some advocate placing the ball far back to strike a descending blow. Others place it near the center of the stance. The swing must have no wrist hinge. The swing must have a hinge that is held. It should be a short swing. It should be a long swing. The face should be square. The face should be open. There should be a “pop.” There should be no power added.

If you are confused, join my club. So I went on a different mission. I started looking at sole construction. Ever since Gene Sarazen popularized a sole with bounce for use in the sand, manufacturers have been creating massive numbers of “different” sand wedges. They have one thing in common. They are generally all built to 55 or 56-degrees of loft.

The basic design feature of the sand wedge is that the sole extends down and aft from the leading edge at some angle. This generally ranges from 6 to 18-degrees. Its purpose is to allow the wedge to dig into the sand, but not too far. As the club goes down into the sand, the “bounce” pushes it back up.

 

One problem with having a lot of bounce on the wedge is that it can’t be opened up to allow certain specialty shots or have a higher effective loft. When the player does that, the leading edge lifts, resulting in thin shots. So manufacturers do various things to make the wedge more versatile, typically by removing bounce in the heel area.

At my last count, I have eight 56-degree wedges in my collection. Each one was thought to be a solution to my yips. Yet, until I listened to an interview with Dave Edel, I had almost no real understanding of why I was laying sod over a lot of my chips. Since gardening did not reduce my scores, I had to find another solution.

My first step was to look at the effective loft of a wedge in various ball positions. (Pictures were shot with the butt of the club at the left hip, in a recommended forward lean position. Since the protractor is not exactly lined up with the face, the angles are approximate.)

I had no idea that there was so much forward lean with a simple chip. If I were to use the most extreme rearward position, I would have to have 21-degrees of bounce just to keep the leading edge from digging in at impact. If there were the slightest error in my swing, I would be auditioning for greenskeeper.

My appreciation for the pros who can chip from this position suddenly became immense. For an amateur like me, the complete lack of forgiveness in this technique suddenly removed it from my alleged repertoire.

My next step was to look at bounce. As I commented before, bounce on sand wedges ranges between 6 and 18-degrees. As the drawing above shows, that’s a simple angle measurement. If I were to chip from the forward position, a 6-degree bounce sand wedge would have an effective bounce of 1-degree. That’s only fractionally better than the impossible chip behind my right foot. So I went to my local PGA Superstore to look at wedges with my Maltby Triangle Gauge in hand.

As you can see from the photos, there is a wide variation in wedges. What’s most curious, however, is that this variation is between two designs that are within one degree of the same nominal bounce. Could it be that “bounce is not bounce is not bounce?” Or should I say that “12-degrees is not 12-degrees is not 12-degrees?” If one looks below the name on the gauge, a curious bit of text appears. “Measuring effective bounce on wedges.” Hmmm… What is “effective bounce?”

The Maltby Triangle Gauge allows you to measure three things: leading-edge height, sole tangent point, and leading-edge sharpness. The last is the most obvious. If I’m chipping at the hairy edge of an adequate bounce, a sharp leading edge will dig in more easily than a blunt one. So if I’m using that far back ball position, I’ll need the 1OutPlus for safety, since its leading edge is the bluntest of the blunt. Even in that position, its 11-degree bounce keeps the leading edge an eighth of an inch up.

Wait a minute! How can that be? In the back position, the wedge is at 35-degrees effective loft, and 11-degrees of bounce ought to be 10-degrees less than we need. The difference here is found in combining all three parameters measured by the gauge, and not just the angle of the bounce.

The 1OutPlus is a very wide sole wedge. Its tangent point is a massive 1.7″ back. The leading edge rises .36″ off the ground and is very blunt. In other words, it has every possible design feature to create safety in case the chip from back in the stance isn’t as perfect as it might be. Since a golf ball is 1.68″ in diameter, that’s still less than halfway up to the center of the ball. But if you play the ball forward, this may not be the wedge for you.

Here are the measurements for the eight sand wedges that happen to be in my garage. All are either 56-degrees from the factory or bent to 56-degrees.

A couple of things jump out from this table. The Callaway PM Grind at 13-degrees has a lower leading edge (.26 inches) than the 11-degree Bazooka 1OutPlus (.36 inches). How can a lower bounce have a higher leading edge? Simple geometry suggests that if you want a higher leading edge, you will need a higher bounce angle. But it gets worse. The Wishon WS (wide sole) at 6-degrees (55-degree wedge bent to 56-degrees) has a leading-edge height of .28 inches, higher than the Callaway which has over twice the nominal bounce angle!

One thing is missing from this simple discussion of angles.

If I place one line at 34-degrees above the horizontal (loft is measured from the vertical), and then extend another at some angle below horizontal, the height above ground where the two join depends on how long the lower line is. This means that an 18-degree bounce with a narrow “C” grind will raise the leading edge a little bit. A 6-degree bounce on a wide sole may raise it more because the end of the bounce on the first wedge is so close to the leading edge.

 

Let’s look at this in the picture. If the red line of the bounce is very short, it doesn’t get far below the black ground line. But if it goes further, it gets lower. This is the difference between narrow and wide soles.

This diagram describes the mathematical description of these relationships.

Our first task is to realize that the angle 0 in this diagram is the complement of the 56-degree loft of the wedge, or 90 – 56 = 34-degrees since loft is measured from vertical, not horizontal. But the angle 0 in the bounce equation is just that, the bounce value. These two angles will now allow us to calculate the theoretical values of various parts of the wedge, and then compare them to our real-world examples.

My PM Grind Callaway wedge has its 3rd groove, the supposed “perfect” impact point, 0.54 inches above the leading edge. This should put it 0.8 inches back from the leading edge, roughly matching the measured 0.82 inches. So far, so good. (I’m using the gauge correctly!)

The 13-degree bounce at 1.14″ calculates out to 0.284″ of leading-edge rise. I measured 0.26″, so Callaway seems to be doing the numbers properly, until I realize that the leading edge is already .45″ back, given a real tangent of .69″. Something is out of whack. Re-doing the math suggests that the real bounce is 20-degrees, 40 min. Hmmm…

Maybe that bounce angle measurement isn’t such a good number to look at. Without digging through all the different wedges (which would make you cross-eyed), we should go back to basics. What is it that we really need?

Most instructors will suggest that striking the ball on about the third groove will give the best results. It will put the ball close to the center of mass (sweet spot) of the wedge and give the best spin action. If my wedge is at an effective 45-degree angle (about my right big toe), it will strike the ball about half-way up to its equator. It will also be close to the third groove. But to make that strike with minimal risk of gardening, I have to enough protection to keep the edge out of the turf if I mis-hit the ball by a little bit. That can be determined by the leading edge height! The higher the edge, the more forgiveness there is on a mis-hit.

Now this is an incomplete answer. If the bounce is short, with a sharp back side, it will tend to dig into the turf a bit. It may not do it a lot, but it will have more resistance than a wider, smoother bounce. In the extreme case, the 1OutPlus will simply glide over the ground on anything less than a ridiculous angle.

The amount of leading-edge height you need will depend on your style. If you play the ball forward, you may not need much. But as you move the ball back, you’ll need to increase it. And if you are still inconsistent, a wider sole with a smooth contour will help you avoid episodes of extreme gardening. A blunt leading edge will also help. It may slow your club in the sand, but it will protect your chips.

There is no substitute for practice, but if you’re practicing chips from behind your right foot using a wedge with a sharp, low leading edge, you’re asking for frustration. If you’re chipping from a forward position with a blunt, wide sole wedge, you’ll be blading a lot of balls. So look at your chipping style and find a leading-edge height and profile that match your technique. Forget about the “high bounce” and “low bounce” wedges. That language doesn’t answer the right question.

Get a wedge that presents the club to the ball with the leading edge far enough off the ground to provide you with some forgiveness. Then knock ’em stiff!

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Golf 101: What is a strong grip?

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What is a strong grip? Before we answer that, consider this: How you grip it might be the first thing you learn, and arguably the first foundation you adapt—and it can form the DNA for your whole golf swing.

The proper way to hold a golf club has many variables: hand size, finger size, sports you play, where you feel strength, etc. It’s not an exact science. However, when you begin, you will get introduced to the common terminology for describing a grip—strong, weak, and neutral.

Let’s focus on the strong grip as it is, in my opinion, the best way to hold a club when you are young as it puts the clubface in a stronger position at the top and instinctively encourages a fair bit of rotation to not only hit it solid but straight.

The list of players on tour with strong grips is long: Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Fred Couples, David Duval, and Bernhard Langer all play with a strong grip.

But what is a strong grip? Well like my first teacher Mike Montgomery (Director of Golf at Glendale CC in Seattle) used to say to me, “it looks like you are revving up a Harley with that grip”. Point is the knuckles on my left hand were pointing to the sky and my right palm was facing the same way.

Something like this:

Of course, there are variations to it, but that is your run of the mill, monkey wrench strong grip. Players typically will start there when they are young and tweak as they gain more experience. The right hand might make it’s way more on top, left-hand knuckles might show two instead of three, and the club may move its way out of the palms and further down into the fingers.

Good golf can be played from any position you find comfortable, especially when you find the body matchup to go with it.

Watch this great vid from @JakeHuttGolf

In very simple terms, here are 3 pros and 3 cons of a strong grip.

Pros

  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and helps you hit further
  2. It’s an athletic position which encourages rotation
  3. Players with strong grips tend to strike it solidly

Cons

  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and can cause you to hit it low and left
  2. If you don’t learn to rotate you could be in for a long career of ducks and trees
  3. Players with strong grips tend to fight a hook and getting the ball in the air

 

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