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Video: Hudson Swafford’s drill to hit more fairways

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This story was selected as one of the 15 best GolfWRX stories of 2015!

The way I teach a golf lesson has changed a lot in the past few years. For 10 or more years, I had the same cameras and computers in my academy. Then, I got my first TrackMan in 2012 and ever since I’ve added more and more technology to help me find whatever small thing will help my clients play a little better.

I’ve got a SwingCatalyst and BodiTrak to check how players use the ground, a K-Vest to see how they transfer energy from one segment to another, SAM PuttLab and a Quintic system to see how the putter moves and the ball rolls. I’m lucky enough to help some really good PGA Tour players with their games. It’s nice to have all these fancy tools to find that “needle in a haystack” that can be the difference between a player missing a cut and contending on Sunday.

That being said, I still use old-school video more than anything. It’s easier for a player to understand their swing by looking at an image of themselves instead of looking at a number from one of my tools. I even like for my players to use video on their own. The cameras on today’s phones are so good that I can give my players check points to use during off weeks so they can check their swings themselves. Of course, it’s easy for them to send me a video for a second opinion, too.

The guy in this video, Hudson Swafford, came to me in the middle of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season. He had a hot start to his year with finishes of 8th, 18th and 12th in his first three events. After that, he began to drive the ball a little erratically and missed the cut in eight of his next 13 events. We started working together at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. We were able to right the ship and Hudson made 10 of his last 14 cuts to finish 81st on the money list.

To straighten out his tee shots, we started with a simple check point of getting the club shaft pointed parallel to the target line at the top of the swing. With the club laid off and pointing to the left of the target at the top, Hudson had to make some complex moves with his arms and body to get the club head traveling in the right direction to hit the “bomb fade” he likes so much.

If I’m not there to check it for him, all he has to do is put his phone in the right place (as described at the end of the video), hit record and look for his club head to appear “in the window” between his forearms at the top of his swing. If he sees that he knows he’s on the right track.

The author, Scott Hamilton has created a four-lesson video course with his keys to achieving consistent, solid contact. The Solid Contact Series is available for free on his website OnTourGolf.com.  

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Currently teaching 14 PGA Tour players, Scott Hamilton is a staple on the PGA Tour range each week. In 2015, a poll of PGA Tour players conducted by Golf Digest ranked him as the No. 2 instructor on the PGA Tour. His players like him for his ability to conduct a complete analysis of their games and return a simple solution to help them play better. “You get the result you want without all the big words.” as Scott often says.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Dr Troy

    Oct 30, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Scott has an awesome stable of pros. Amazing how that many studs come to little ol Cartersville here north of ATL for instruction. Keep up the great work Scott!

  2. Spencer

    Oct 30, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Can this apply to irons as well?

    • Scott Hamilton

      Nov 2, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Yeah Man. This applies to all clubs if it gets to parallel. If it’s a shorter swing the club head can point a little left. Bowdo does this.

  3. Jeff

    Oct 29, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Great article. Where should the club head be with an iron?

  4. Chipshot

    Oct 29, 2015 at 12:22 am

    Being 5’9″, this technique would feel super steep at the top of my backswing. The flatter plain feels more comfortable for me. I favored the Woosnam’s and Hogan’s with the lower center of gravity.

  5. Connor

    Oct 28, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    if the club is laid off at the top shouldn’t it be pointing to the left of the target?

  6. Birdeez

    Oct 28, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    what type of phone holder or tripod is being used? where can i find this online.

    those offered that attach to alignment rods sway or shake in the slightest breeze.

  7. Mike

    Oct 28, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks this was great.

  8. jesse

    Oct 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Great video, even better website. After watching the video I loved in and watched the videos on your site. Golfwrx can we please get more content like this.

    • Scott Hamilton

      Nov 2, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I’m working with a good friend of mine on this OnTourGolf.com site. It’s gonna have a lot of the other coaches on tour on there soon and I think more of these videos are supposed to be posted here too. I’ll check.

  9. Fred

    Oct 28, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Cool video. Thanks for posting.

    • B-man

      Oct 28, 2015 at 11:39 am

      One of the best articles I’ve ever seen here.

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Instruction

How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location

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One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:

Observations

  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

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Instruction

Master your takeaway with force and torques

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Most golf swings last less than 2 seconds, so it’s difficult to recover from any errors in the takeaway. Time is obviously limited. What most golfers fail to realize is that the force and torque they apply to the club in the initial stages of the swing can have major effects on how they are able to leverage the club with their arms and wrists.

Our research has shown that it is best to see the golfer as a series of connected links with the most consistent golfers transferring motion smoothly from one link to another and finally to the club. Approximately 19-25 percent of all the energy created in a golf swing actually makes its way into the motion of the club. That means the remaining 75-80 percent is used up in moving the body segments. This emphasizes the fact that a smooth takeaway is your best chance sequence the body links and become more efficient with your energy transfers.

In the video above, I give a very important lesson on how the forces and torques applied by the golfer in the takeaway shape the rest of the swing. There will be more to come on the subject in future articles.

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Instruction

Learn from the Legends: Introduction

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There is a better way to swing the golf club. I’d prefer to write that there is a correct way to swing the club, but I know that really freaks people out. People love to talk about how everyone’s swing is different. “There are lots of ways to get it done,” they say. “Look at Jim Furyk’s swing – it’s not what you’d teach, but it works for him.”

To some extent, they’re right. Elite swings do have different looks. Some take it back inside (Ray Floyd). Some cross the line (Tom Watson). Some swings are long (Bubba Watson). Some are short (young Tiger). But these differences are superficial and largely irrelevant. When it comes to the engine – the core of the swing – the greatest players throughout the history of the game are all very similar.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you. In this series of articles, I will do my best to show you – with pictures and videos and data – that the legends all move a specific way. Focusing on these elements (while ignoring others) and practicing a certain way is the surest path to improving your golf swing and lowering your scores.

So, let’s get into it. There are a number of important elements that all the legends have, but the biggest and most important of these elements is rotation. Every great player throughout the history of the game has had elite rotation. It’s the most important thing they do, and it’s easy to see. When you’re looking down the line at all the great players at impact, you’ll see hips and torso open.

This is what the legends look like at impact:

1Hips open
2Torso open
3Both butt cheeks visible
4Left leg extended and visible

And here’s what some very good players with less good rotation look like at impact:

These are very successful players (one of them is a major champion!), but they don’t move like the legends of the game.
1Hips and shoulders not open
2Left leg not totally visible
3Can’t see both butt cheeks

Now, there are plenty of nuances to how great players rotate. They do it while keeping spine flexion, for example, and they do it with very little (or no) lateral movement toward the target (lateral movement impedes rotation). I will discuss these things in detail. My hope is that at the end of this series you will have a much better understanding of what separates the legends from the very good… and from the rest of us.

You will understand their “engine,” and hopefully this understanding will help you begin to create your own legendary swing!

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