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3 keys to improve your ball striking

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There are many different viewpoints in the golf instruction world on how to swing the golf club most efficiently. I’m personally under the belief that there are many different ways to swing efficiently based on the player.

With that being said, however, I’ve taught more than 10,000 lessons and continue to see three keys that help 99 percent of club golfers. If a golfer can master these three keys, they can almost always improve their ball striking and ball flight — and of course, shoot lower scores.

FPST (Forward Pressure with Spine Tilt)

FPST

This key begins at the address position. The player should begin by feeling 60-65 percent of pressure in their front foot with their spine/upper body tilting slightly away from the target. This address position will promote limited lateral motion in the backswing while providing an efficient turn in the backswing, improving the player’s transition into the downswing.

With FPST, golfers often gain better balance and can move more efficiently through the swing, leading to an improved energy transfer for more speed and distance.

Pinnage

Pinnage

OK, I know “pinnage” isn’t a word! It does, however, convey the next key that I believe is crucial in the golf swing and how the golf club moves in space.

How the hands and arms work with the body in the golf swing is very important, because it has a huge affect on the plane of the golf club in both the backswing and downswing. I’ve found that golfers improve their chances of delivering the golf club on plane into the impact position if they:

  1. Get the lead arm pinned across their chest at the top of the backswing.
  2. Have a right elbow (for a right-handed player) that matches their spine angle.

Golfers who get their lead arm on the same plane as their shoulder plane and 90 degrees to the spine almost always like the results.

Stretch

Stretch

The final key that I see in all good ball strikers is the fashion in which the body and arms move from just after the moment of impact until the shaft is past parallel in the through swing. In this key, the arms appear to be stretched out and extended. This movement is set up well before the impact position, but it’s a telling tale of all of the good things the player did throughout their golf swing leading up to impact.

I’ve found that if one can master my first two keys, the “stretch” position can become obtainable for anyone. It’s set up by proper body movements and swing direction, which will have a massive effect on the player’s ball striking and ball flight.

If you’d like to learn more about this subject and what the players on the PGA and LPGA Tours are doing, I welcome you to read my book The 5 Tour Fundamentals of Golf. I’ve spent time working with many of the top men and women professional in the game, and I’ve been able to come up with the true fundamentals of golf displayed I by the best players in the world!

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Bill Schmedes III is an award-winning PGA Class A member and Director of Instruction at Fiddler's Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, the largest golf facility in New Jersey. He has been named a "Top-25 Golf Instructor," and has been nominated for PGA Teacher of the Year and Golf Professional of the Year at both the PGA chapter and section levels. Bill was most recently nominated for Golf Digest's "Best Young Teachers in America" list, and has been privileged to work and study under several of the top golf coaches in the world. These coaches can all be found on the Top 100 & Top 50 lists. Bill has also worked with a handful of Top-20 Teachers under 40. He spent the last 2+ years working directly under Gary Gilchrist at his academy in Orlando, Fla. Bill was a Head Instructor/Coach and assisted Gary will his tour players on the PGA, LPGA, and European tours. Bill's eBook, The 5 Tour Fundamentals of Golf, can now be purchased on Amazon. It's unlike any golf instruction book you have ever read, and uncovers the TRUE fundamentals of golf using the tour player as the model.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. SLS

    Jun 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    I found this one “gentleman’s” comments to be quite amusing although useless so……………….
    My 1st question to STEVE would be, how old are you as you are coming across as a 2 year old….
    My 2nd question to STEVE would be how many drinks did you consume while “commenting?”….
    My 3rd Question to STEVE would be when do you start your therapy as it’s quite obvious it should be SOON !

  2. Bill Schmedes III

    Jun 4, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Billy, Good to hear. Hit ’em straight!

  3. Jafar

    Jun 1, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Hey I just read your book on Amazon Kindle and I really enjoyed using the techniques to help find a consistent swing. Look forward to more articles from you on this site.

  4. tom

    May 31, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    hi Bill,

    the stretch term is a helpful term for me to not collapse and finish the swing. in my 50s now i have some trouble turning and finishing swing. this is one swing thought that is an easy key for me.

    thanks

  5. MattSihv

    May 31, 2015 at 1:45 am

    Wow! This Steve kid is a piece of work. Grow up, little guy. Just relax and enjoy your summer vacation.

    I like this article, Bill. I hope you ignore the childish know-it-alls on this site and keep writing. They annoy me as well.

    I have been struggling with my ball striking the past two years and have noticed a significant loss of distance. My biggest problem is sway and not catching the ball first. What would you suggest as a visual or aim point?

    • Steve

      May 31, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Really, start bowling. This sport isnt for you. Worrying about visual? Have to be able to hit the shot you paint, i dont think chunks and sculls.

      • MattSihv

        May 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm

        Honestly kid. Give up. I was a division I college athlete. I don’t take lessons, can break 80, and have only been playing for three years. This game is for anyone who wants to put in the work. I may not know the proper thought processes or have flawless technique honed by years of lessons, but I will keep asking questions to try to continue getting better.

      • Cliff

        Jun 1, 2015 at 8:51 am

        Sounds like someone watched ‘Seven Days in Utopia’!

  6. Bill Schmedes III

    May 30, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Steve, If you ask any of my students they would tell you I’m far from “cookie cutter”. This is an article that is meant to help many of the amateur golfers that struggle with the common theme’s of body sway, posture issues during swing, path issues, and low point issues. You may want to get to know someone a bit better or at least ask more questions before you blast them.

    There will always be a .1 percent of players that do it differently and that still do it well. Unfortunately that doesn’t help the masses. I’ve worked with 14+ tour players and have had great success helping a large amount of golfers get better and improve. I’ve seen a lot and have studied both the body and the golf swing. I feel confident that this article can help the majority of players out there. Enjoy your weekend!

    • Steve

      May 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      You sure sound like you are. Of the top golfers how many swing like you describe? Your theory has been beaten to death Hogan, rotary, Haney and 100’s more have all walked this beaten road before you. Maybe you “worked” with 14 tour players. That is the past, how come 14 tour players no longer work with you is the question? I agree that what you describe is good for some. You say that .1 percent of players do it differently well. So you must be cookie cutter if only .1 percent can play well differently, 99.9 percent get the cookie cutter. Enjoy your weekend

      • TR1PTIK

        Jun 1, 2015 at 12:47 pm

        You are the reason I hate golfers… And, I say that as a fellow golfer. Have a nice day.

  7. Steve

    May 30, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Another one size fits all golf instructor. Jack had a right elbow that was parallel to the ground, he did pretty good. Dustin, Bubba to name a few dont subscribe to your theory. 95% of golf instruction is destructive using this guy as a example. He will take every student and use a cookie cutter instruction mentality, which is more destruction mentality. 5% of instructors will analyze your swing and work from there. Using what is more natural and easier to repeat. Find the 5% or forever try to find a swing

    • devilsadvocate

      May 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Wow really? I know 95% of the instructors working today? Get real buddy

      • Steve

        May 31, 2015 at 1:23 pm

        When they have a election poll do they ask every voter? Have to think sometimes, before you churp in.

    • JHM

      May 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      so I gues you would say Five Lessons and Golf My Way we’re both cookie cutter approaches as well??

      • Steve

        May 30, 2015 at 7:11 pm

        I will explain the difference to you. Jack’s book was about the way he approaches golf. Hogans was a bit more instructional, but still his way of playing. They are top 5 golfers, maybe top 3 golfers of all time. So interest is natural. Hogan’s book was ground breaking at the time, to break a swing down like that. What is printed here is just a rehash of Hogan, been there done that a million times. Is what is written here new to you? Also Jack and Ben were two different ends of the spectrum. Proving there is not one way to play. But this teaching pro thinks 99.9% should be taught the same swing

        • Bill Schmedes III

          May 30, 2015 at 7:27 pm

          Steve, it’s extremely immature of you to keep saying that I believe that everyone should be taught the same swing. You don’t know me or how I coach and it’s obvious you don’t care to get to know me or my thoughts on golf instruction.

          I was just about to comment on your previous message but at this point it’s not worth my time as it’s obvious you have an agenda. We get asked to write for these forums, sites, or magazines to help the majority of golfers out there and thats what we try to do. Many great coaches/instructors stop writing for forums like this because of people like you. You have no interest in having a constructive conversation you’re only here to attempt to damage one’s character

          • Steve

            May 30, 2015 at 7:42 pm

            You were going to comment, but it’s not worth your time. But you comment anyway?
            Your words not mine that only .1 percent can play well doing different then your article.

    • Craig

      May 30, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Way to show some class Steve. Angry little fella you are

    • WOW

      May 31, 2015 at 1:40 am

      Well…I can say, without a doubt, that Steve doesn’t read well.

      The first paragraph says

      “I’m personally under the belief that there are many different ways to swing efficiently based on the player.”

      And he also goes on to say CLUB GOLFERS. Not pros…and isn’t saying it’s all cookie cutter. 3 tips he sees constantly help the normal person who he gives lessons to.

      Maybe learn to read before you start dishing it out there, Steve-o.

      • Steve

        May 31, 2015 at 8:20 am

        I can say without a doubt that you didnt read everything. In his comments he states that only .1 percent can play well without this advice in the article. So you do the math. Tell mom to pour another bowl of captain crunch and think about it

  8. Dave N.

    May 29, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Bill- I’m having trouble understanding your point # 2 in the pinnage section: right elbow matches spine angle. Is that illustrated in either of the pictures you posted in that section? Could you elaborate or maybe explain this concept another way? Thanks!

    • Bill Schmedes III

      May 30, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Dave, thanks for your comment. The angle that’s created when looking at the inside of my right arm (wrist down to elbow) should come close to matching the position of the spine (angle of the upper body at top of backswing when in sidebend). The reason for this would be to allow for the golf club to move somewhere close to the shoulder plane in the beginning of the downswing, keeping the golf club “light”, and working infront of the body as it rotates. This helps avoid the hands getting deep (under shoulder plane and flat or “laid off”) or the opposite (above shoulder plane and steep). This helps a player have fewer manipulations which can improve consistency. Hope that answered your question. Thanks!

      • Dave N.

        May 31, 2015 at 9:19 pm

        Perfect, thanks!

      • Billy

        Jun 4, 2015 at 10:47 am

        Good article, I had this problem and got a bit laid off, but sorted it out by using the elbow matching the spine angle theory/thought. Steve might not agree….

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Instruction

Stickney: Sit on it (for a better backswing)

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As we know golf, is a very tough sport and one that involves many moving pieces. Whenever something overreacts or moves too much on the way back, you end up playing catch-up on the way down. One of my favorite things to watch is how the head moves or doesn’t move on the backswing. Sure, you can have some movement, but you can’t have too much or you put yourself behind the eight ball.

I have charted the head position of a tour player at address and we can see that this is a very normal set up position. It is one that looks positioned to do great things.

However, en route to the top, you can see that this player has put himself into a position where his rear knee straightened too rapidly off the start of his backswing. When this occurs the pelvis “runs out from under” the upper body on the backswing the hips will react and begin to slant downward. (You can see a -10 degree tilt versus 3 degrees the opposite way at address for you number people.)

This causes the head to move out in front of where it was at address. This is not a bad position for the irons but for a driver we have a pending issue. If you don’t make a compensation from here then the player will have an angle of attack that is too much downward through impact with their driver.

As the player moves into his transition, the hips have leveled as the rear shoulder lowers the club into delivery but the head and pelvis are still too far out in front of the ball. The only thing you can do from here is fire the lead side upwards and hope that your head falls back into the correct position. If so, you will have the correct angle of attack, if not, you will chop down on the ball causing your launch conditions to be faulty.

And as we see here that this is precisely what this player did at the very last minute…not the easiest way to swing the club but it is functional IF you make the right correction. So, now that you understand how simple things like the action of the lower body can cause your head to move and your angle of attack to become faulty, what is the secret to controlling your lower body?


Just “sit” on the rear knee flex slightly longer during the backswing as you see here. This will slow down the tilting of the pelvis on backswing and thus your head will stay more in position en route to the top.

Personally, I teach both flexion and extension of the rear knee to the top, depending on what the player is wanting to do, so it really does not matter. However, what does matter is the rate at which it begins to straighten for those of you who do allow it to lengthen. I try to make most of my students hold the most of their address flex until the club moves between belt and chest high, any sooner and you risk the faulty pivot we saw above.

Therefore, take it from me and “sit on it” slightly longer for more quiet head motions as well as a more balanced backswing—your angle of attack will thank you!

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Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

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The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

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He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

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