Having grown up in the Midwest, I less than fondly remember this time of the year, when the post-Thanksgiving weather would force me into the practice net in my basement until March. We might catch the odd day or two that would let us get outside to hit balls (or even play a few holes), but most of that stretch was spent doing whatever practice we could do indoors. This was coupled with the pain of watching early-season PGA Tour events from warm-weather locales in Honolulu, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Pebble Back and San Diego, leaving us chomping at the bit.
Here in Florida we can work year round, but I still have players who I coach that are successful in other parts of their lives and have limited time to work on their golf swings or short game. They might find only one day a week to hit balls because of business and family requirements, and being married for 25 years and raising two college age kids… trust me, I get it! This is where I give my players homework away from the course to help them improve. I call it “microwave work,” which are drills I give my players to practice when weather, life or a job keeps them from getting to the course, specifically, when they are in the kitchen heating something up.
So let’s get started. What is something that you would normally put in the microwave?
I am guessing that most answers are coffee and/or leftovers. How do you spend your time while your item warms up? If it is coffee, you probably stand there with your eyes half open in full zombie mode. What if you used that time to work on your golf game? If you use your time wisely, you will see a faster change in your game for the better.
Below are four of the basic drills I give my players.
Get in the Lineup
This is a good one for players with an overly active left hand that is passive and drags the club through.
To perform the drill, setup with your lead foot against the cabinets like you are going to hit a mid-iron into the microwave. Take a three-quarter backswing and turn through slowly until the back of your left hand hits the edge of the counter flush and flat (it helps to drape a hand towel over the edge of the counter so your hand makes contact with the towel instead of the hard cabinet). Hold and press there firmly for a count of 10.
Keep doing sets of these until the timer goes off. It is also a kinematic feedback drill and you will feel “after effect” when you finish, such that if you took a swing you would feel like you are still pressing against the counter when you reach impact.
Put a Bounty on Bad Putting
Full disclosure: I didn’t make this one up.
This is from one of my tour players who had his head moving all over creation when he came to me for help. We fixed all the other things in his stroke and went after the simple task of keeping his head still. One day, due to bad weather over the summer, he was stuck inside and wanted to hit putts and work on keeping his head static throughout the stroke.
He came up with the paper towel drill.
This one is easy! Get a paper towel roll and put one end on the refrigerator and the other on your forehead at setup. Then take practice strokes with your hands together focusing on how it feels to keep your head in place as you take a stroke. This is a huge error I see in about 7 out of 10 tour players. It is amazing how many golfers retreat their head at impact. Practice this and you will find your stroke produces many more solidly hit putts in the new season.
One of the things that drive instructors crazy is keeping their students’ rear ends from thrusting forward at impact and losing pelvis and spine angle. This is called early extension. Among other things, it is one of the natural results of the shoulders trying to seek the same orbit as the hips and turn at the same level.
To perform this drill, turn your back to the counter-top and put both cheeks against it. Now cross your arms and turn back and through to a balanced finish and hold. While you are turning, fight to keep the right hip on the counter as you go back. More importantly, keep the left hip on the counter when going to the full finish and hold. Do as many reps as you can before the timer dings! You will find, when done correctly, that you finish with your right shoulder slightly lower than the left.
How to Get Cleaner Floors While Fixing a Bad Takeaway
A huge backswing issue that I often see is active hands that rotate the clubface way too much early in the start of the backswing. This throws the clubhead behind the hands when the shaft reaches parallel to the ground creating all kinds of bad things.
Here is a fun drill that is also a huge challenge because it is fraught with disaster if you fail.
Grab a coffee cup from the cabinet before you start microwaving, and fill it a third of the way full of water. Take your setup and grip the handle on the mug so that the cup is hanging downward. Use as close to a real grip as you can. The water should be very near the lip of the cup at this point. Now, from this setup position, take a backswing to about 8 o’clock with your hands and stop. If you do it correctly in one piece, you won’t spill any water! If you spin the mug — look out, water everywhere! If you really want danger, use milk or orange juice!
This drill will encourage a solid one piece takeaway without any fast moving parts and the club face and hands will be positioned correctly early in the backswing. Here is what it looks like from face on (above) and down the line (below) when it is done correctly.
And done incorrectly.
These are just a few of the Microwave Drills that I give my players to do when they are in the kitchen. Pick one, or do them all during the winter and watch your game come alive in the spring!
The value of video
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.
Davies: How control the right hand at impact
Alistair Davies shows you how to work the right hand correctly through the hitting zone with a great drill and concept.
Shawn Clement: Dealing with injuries in your golf swing, lead side.
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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