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What you can learn from Tiger’s new coach, Chris Como

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My colleague on GolfWRX, Tom Stickney, wrote an article recently in which he listed five reasons why teaching golf will never be the same. Tom rightly pointed to recent technological advances and how they have and will impact teaching in the 21st century. To put it bluntly, the days of the pro leaning on a club, standing behind the student and occasionally barking out a few comments are over.

Recently, Tiger Woods hired Chris Como as his swing coach. After the announcement, Chris’ website had so many hits it crashed in like five minutes! Though largely unknown to all but avid followers of golf instruction, Chris is a very bright and modest young man — a welcome addition to the often opinion-dominated world of PGA Tour teachers.

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Above is a recent video of Chris working with Dr. Sasho Mackenzie, one of the leading golf research scientists in the world. In the video, Sasho makes a clear case for what he terms “passive squaring of the club face” through the golf club’s relationship to the hand path. In the downswing, the more UNDER the hand path the player can get the golf club, the easier it is to square the face. Conversely, the more OVER the hand path the club gets, the more it tends to open through impact. It is a great piece of science, proving that bio mechanics and a thorough understanding of the body’s influence on the golf club can help a player get to the next level.

A while back I wrote an article offering some thoughts and how to stay down through the shot. The Como/Mackenzie piece offers scientific evidence of the relationship. It is always better to get the shaft to lay down early in the golf swing. The steepening of the shaft, which occurs as part of the torque on the club and the body’s movement through the ball, can and will take effect if we can get the club below the hands early.

Below is my video offering some evidence of what Chris and Sasho are explaining. Notice that the amateurs in the video struggle with getting the shaft under the hand plane.

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I am not saying that this is what Chris and Tiger will work on, but it is evidence of Chris’ dedication to his craft. I guess we will all have to wait and see if the Como/Woods connection is a good one for Tiger. In the meantime, this is a great instructional tip, which will certainly help most golfers.

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

Instruction

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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Instruction

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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Instruction

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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