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Are you properly managing your club face? Try this experiment

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Recently, I performed an experiment on how golfers manage their club faces. I was curious to see how I could instinctively resolve the problem of executing a straight shot with an extremely open-face grip, as well as an extremely closed-face grip. Although both “golfers” are me, we will refer to the golfer with the extreme open-face grip as Owen and the golfer with the extremely closed-face grip as Chuck.

To perform the experiment, I used three different forms of measurement (video, FlightScope and BodiTrak) to capture and analyze data and make observations about how innate athleticism unconsciously solved the problem. My hope is that some of these observations might prove to be missing links to your quest to control the golf ball better — and that you might learn to trust your inner “athlete” on the course more often.

*Remember that these observations are not absolutes. They are simply one man’s way of resolving a problem. I do believe, however, that some of the observations I make will be useful images to help others resolve their stray ball flights.

Let’s start off with the FlightScope data. Note the obvious differences between Owen and Chuck’s use of the face-to-path relationship. Chuck instinctively swung the club head well out to the right to manage his club face that was pointing so drastically to the left. Note the exact opposite tendencies with Owen.

Note The rightward Swing Direction and Closed Club Face.

Note the rightward swing direction and closed club face for Chuck.

Note the leftward swing direction and open face of the OFG Athlete.

Note the leftward swing direction and open club face for Owen.

Now take a closer look at the BodiTrak information. Note how Chuck has less pressure on the backswing leg at the top of the swing and significantly more pressure toward the target leg at impact. Chuck instinctively recognizes that the more lateral his motion is toward the target, the golf club will be delivered into impact sooner than normal, and result in more of an open-faced position.

Note the smaller amount of pressure on the Trail Foot for the CFG Athlete.

Note how 63% of Chuck’s pressure is on the trail foot at the top part of his backswing.

Note the higher degree of pressure on the lead leg at impact of the CFG Athlete.

Note how 73 percent of Chuck’s pressure is on his lead foot at impact.

Note the exact opposite tendencies with Owen, who applies more pressure on the backswing leg at the top of the swing and makes less of a move laterally toward the target at impact. Owen recognizes that the hands and arms need more time to square up a club face that is so open, which can be achieved by making a later, smaller lateral move towards the target.

Note the higher amount of pressure on the Trail Foot for the OFG Athlete.

Note how 66 percent of Owen’s pressure is on the trail foot at the top part of his backswing.

Note the smaller degree of pressure on the lead leg at impact of the OFG Athlete.

Note how 53% of Owen’s pressure is on his lead foot at impact.

Finally, let’s take a look at the Video, starting with the set up. Chuck (right images) has the trail arm lower at the address position compared with Owen’s (left images), simply due to the different grips.

OFG is on the Right. CFG is on the Left.  The different grip changes the arm positioning at set up.

Chuck is on the right. Owen is on the left. The different grips changes their arm positioning at set up.

When the lead arm is parallel to the ground, Chuck has made a bigger turn away from the target and flattened his shoulder plane in an effort to set up his body to deliver the golf club on a more shallow downswing plane. He has started to cup his wrist in an effort to get the club face into more of an open-faced position.

Owen, on the other hand, is doing the exact opposite. He is trying to bow his wrists in an effort to make the club face more closed. He is not making as big of a turn on the backswing and his arm swing is more in front of his chest because he instinctively knows that he must prepare his body to swing left on the down swing to help manage his very open club face.

It is interesting to note how each “athlete” is preparing himself early during the backswing to help manage the drastic club face positions. Most backswings take approximately three times longer than the downswing. They are trying to maximize the additional time of their backswing motion.

The bigger turn of the CFG Athlete results with visually seeing more of the Left Leg and a Deeper Arm Swing.

Chuck’s bigger turn results with visually seeing more of his left leg and a deeper arm swing.

At the top of the backswing, the characteristics of the previous position have continued their evolution. Chuck continues to make a bigger turn and cup his wrists. Owen continues to bow his wrists and make a smaller turn. Both positions are ultimately trying to give each respective golfer a better chance of succeeding by delivering the golf club on a path that will help them match up or manage their club face position.

Top of Backswing

Note the different wrist conditions of each athlete, trying to neutralize their drastic club face positions. Note Owen’s smaller turn, resulting in more upright arm plane.

Now each athlete hopes to reap the rewards of their preparation. The downswing delivery of the golf club is producing a very different path for both Owen and Chuck. Owen is unwinding his body sooner, and delivering the golf club with a more upright shaft position. This should lead to a path that is more left of the club face at impact. Chuck is unwinding his body later and delivering the golf club with a more shallow shaft position. This should lead to a path that is more right of the club face at impact.

Downswing Delivery

Note the different club face and shaft positions of each athlete. Even with bowed wrists, Owen’s club face is still open, and the shaft is on the lead arm. Note the exact opposite characteristics for Chuck. Also note Owen’s earlier unwind of his body.

The athletes have completed their mission, just past impact. Chuck continues to unwind his body later in the downswing sequence. This later unwind was instrumental in helping Chuck swing his golf club more right through impact. Owen has turned his body more towards the target at impact. This earlier unwind helped Owen swing the golf club more left through impact.

Post Impact

Both athletes succeeded! Chuck’s club face is still pointing to the right, past impact, for less of a hook. Owen’s club face is still pointing left, to help produce less of a slice.

In conclusion, because a primary goal of each golfer is to hit straight shots, managing his or her club face is an extremely important component to that execution. My hope is that each measuring device gave you clues to help solve the problem of managing your club face and hitting straighter shots.

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Certified Teaching Professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, CA. Ranked as one of the best teachers in California & Hawaii by Golf Digest Titleist Performance Institute Certified www.youtube.com/uranser

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Joe Carrow

    Jul 23, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    I love these type of DATA driven article 🙂

  2. Tim Schoch

    Feb 28, 2017 at 8:26 am

    I just found this article and read through the comments. I would suggest that no one has to duplicate the science and methodology employed to make the author’s conclusions in order to apply the knowledge to his/her own game. The joy of these articles is that in golf very simple things can make all the difference. For me, I yank the ball left every now and then, and this piece reminded me that turning too early in the followthrough could be the problem, or maybe it is my grip to begin with.

    At any rate, I’d much rather have a well-organized article like this, full of photos and actually visual proof, than to hear some teacher on the radio tell me to strengthen my grip to get rid of my slice. For me, trying this method and “feeling” the swing and results reinforces my subconscious to step in and help me out if I go astray. If my subconscious does not help me out, it isn’t because the article is flawed, it is because I didn’t practice enough, and practice correctly.

  3. Bob Pegram

    May 16, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    This article illustrates why learning to intentionally hit crooked shots helps your golf swing. If you learn how to hit the ball crooked on purpose, you then know how not to swing on the course. You also learn swing path and wrist/grip control. The way you use your wrists can make the ball go in different directions depending on which way you use them. You will have way more control of ball behavior.

  4. Shankmaster

    Dec 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    You guys hurt Tim’s feelings, hope your happy!!!

  5. Bob Jones

    Dec 3, 2015 at 10:07 am

    What I get from this article is that your swing a grip have to fit. You can’t have a strong grip and swing like you have neutral one, and vice versa.

  6. Chris C.

    Dec 1, 2015 at 12:25 am

    First, I would like to thank Mr. Mitchell for sharing his insights. Second, I hope that my own observations are not met with Jack Nicholson like tirades. I respectfully submit that the swing manipulations demonstrated by Mr. Mitchell are far from instinctual. Instead, they are the result of Mr. Mitchell’s skill as a golfer. It is obvious that some have found this article instructive. Alas! I fail to grasp the point of this article and that is probably on me. Some years ago I was lucky enough to attend a demonstration put on by Bob Brue. He would strike balls alternating lay standing only on right leg then his left leg. He would use a ridiculously strong grip and a ridiculously weak grip. It did not matter how he started the swing. Every shot was a tight draw. Instinct had nothing to do with the results. The shots were the end result of a lifetime of honing his skill to insure that the bottom of each and every swing made solid square contact with the balls. Again, the point I am trying to make is that the various accommodations demonstrated by Mr. Mitchell are the polar opposite of instinctual. I much prefer tutorials assisting me in perfecting my grip; improving my swing and making it easier drop into the slot. Sadly, this article is not one to be saved.

  7. Travis Saxton

    Nov 29, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    This is a great article. I’m attempting to make a transition from Owen to chuck and I’m nearly there. This reinforces several of my swing thoughts.

    • Louie

      Jul 15, 2016 at 3:31 am

      I think most amateurs would prefer Chuck over Owen….and even low handicappers turn into Owen from time to time….Tim is a very good player and just has better control over it…lol

  8. Mad-Mex

    Nov 28, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    ATTENTION TIM!!!!!!!
    These are the type of articles which made me stop buying Golf Magazines!!!
    Tim the average player does not have access to the equipment you used!! How can US the general public who does not play in Private and $200+ green fee courses perform the same tasks WITHOUT SAID equipment!!!
    And a little tip, next time you want to publish something to help golfers think of the average muni player and maybe of something which has not been tried.

    • prime21

      Nov 29, 2015 at 7:28 am

      1st of all, do you pay to belong to Golfwrx? 2nd, did ANYONE hold a gun to your dome and make you read the article? I bet SOMEWHERE at a local muni, there is a closed face Average Joe, as well as a open faced Average Joe, and Tim just helped show them how to square up their faces at impact, so that they could play better golf. What was also GREAT about the article was that he included PICTURES which showed the positional differences of how each player is able to find “neutral”. These pictures could be taken on a free app or GASP….one may have to shell out $100 for a high speed camera. This price can certainly be justified by anyone SERIOUS about getting better, especially considering an Instructor who probably receives $200/hr just laid out a detailed “how to” game plan to do it. So instead of making this an unwarranted attack involving socioeconomic undertones and ridiculous commentary, why not just say THANKS FOR THE FREE ARTICLE TIM, IT WAS GREAT! I DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE EQUIPMENT THAT YOU USED, BUT BECAUSE YOU GAVE US A DETAILED PLAN ON HOW TO OVERCOME OUR ISSUES, I NOW HAVE SOMETHING TO WORK ON WHEN I GO TO THE RANGE NEXT. USUALLY FOR CHRISTMAS, MY MOTHER WAVES MY MONTHY RENT FEE, SO I SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET TO THE RANGE AT LEAST TWICE NEXT MONTH. IF SHE LETS ME USE HER SMARTPHONE, I WILL BE ALL SET! THANKS AGAIN & MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

    • ungratefulPOS

      Nov 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Mex, you are a piece of work. Why do you need a bodi trak, or a flightscope to measure this yourself. He provided the results of the differing actions so that the “average muni player” can relate to the positions. Moving weight vs. pressure in the swing, arm position in p5 and how that relates to p7. P1 reference point of grip and the effect that has on the swing.. He broke this article down into such safe terminology that the average person should be able to understand what he is saying. You need to calm yourself, people like you are the types that don’t come and get lessons from a professional, and then you complain that you can’t break 100. Give your head a shake and thank the man for his time. Golf professionals don’t exactly get the luxury of 8 hour work days, so you should be thankful that he put together the extra 2 hours of writing, formatting, and editing. That’s time away from his family and it is to help the average golfer.

      You are selfish, and I am disgusted by your ignorance.

  9. Tom

    Nov 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I’ll work on this as soon as I loose the ten pounds I’ve gained this holiday season

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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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