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What We Learned: Danny Willett at the 2016 Masters

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I always try to look at the positive side of things, and I’m going to say Danny Willett won The Masters as opposed to Jordan Spieth losing it. In this article, I will be discussing what you can learn from both men in one of the most enthralling and unpredictable Masters Sundays since Faldo/Norman in ’96 and Jack Nicklaus in ’86.

Willett’s Tempo

Danny has what I would classify as a fast tempo swing. It’s fast back and fast through, similar to three-time major champion Nick Price. Now, whenever I teach, I usually hear a lot of players’ reasons as to why they might have hit a poor shot. Numerous reasons tend to surface, but one of the most popular excuses for a bad shot is, “My swing got too quick.” Unfortunately, this results in a lot of golfers slowing down their swing, which can make things worse.

When we swing at a tempo that’s different from what’s instinctive, we lose the sequencing in our swing. Our kinesthetic movement is obstructed, leading to the club feeling out of balance at various points in the swing. Let’s say you’re a fast walker and I asked you to walk at an older person’s pace. It would be pretty difficult to not be consciously moving your muscles as fast as you did before. It would feel unnatural.

My point? If you’re hitting bad shots, don’t blame your swing tempo. I would bet good money that your bad shot is not caused by a tempo that’s too fast, and that there’s another underlying cause. Go see a quality instructor to help guide you to what the issue is.

Shoulders Create Path

For all you eagle-eyed viewers of the Masters Tournament, and Willett in particular, you might have noticed something a little different in his setup; his shoulders are closed to his foot line (feet pointing left, shoulder line pointing at target). The majority of elite players tend to have feet and shoulders running parallel with where they want the ball to start its flight. So why should this matter to you?

The shoulders are what I call one of the two “engines” of the golf swing (the pelvis being the other), and they play a big role in determining where the path of the club travels, whether it be in-to-out or out-to-in.

Here’s something to remember: Shoulders pointing right of target, in-to-out path. Shoulders pointing left of target, out-to-in path.

We all know by now that an out-to-in path causes the ball to curve to the right, a very common miss for golfers. If you suffer from this shot and have for years, make sure you can see your left shoulder at address (if you’re a right-handed golfer). You should barely be able to see the right shoulder, as well. This will help close your shoulders, enabling the club to approach more from the inside. Assuming centered contact and face that’s closed to your path at impact, your shots should curve to the left.

It’s a superbly simple drill that will help encourage the club path of your dreams!

Jordan Spieth’s Card Wrecker

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At The Masters, Spieth’s long game was decidedly mediocre (for him), and needed the help of long-time coach Cameron McCormick after Round 3 to help put it right. And yet he was leading comfortably until his capitulation at No. 12. Truth is, we’ve all done what Spieth did — made a few good shots, holed a few putts, got excited that we could be winning… and then made a card wrecker with no way back.

So why does it happen and how can you prevent it?

Spieth wasn’t going for the hero shot; he wasn’t trying to purposely go for the flag in a tough position. He said, however, that he lost sight of his target. His focus turned to what the consequences of a bad swing would be, rather than what he actually wanted to do, which was hit the ball to the middle of the green.

Don’t let your mind wander over the ball in your next round. It sounds simple, but it’s harder than you might think. Focus on what you want to do with the golf shot at hand and forget the possible consequences of a bad shot. Why think about something that will actually harm your chances of shooting your best round possible?

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Richard is the Head Golf Instructor at Whittlebury Park Golf and Country Club in Northamptonshire, UK. He's on a journey to discover why he couldn’t achieve success as a Tour Pro at a young age, and is helping golfers understand what they can do to reach their potential. He uses using Trackman and GASP LAB video analysis, and well as his own experience, to help his students discover the "why" in their games.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: What We Learned: Danny Willett at the 2016 Masters - Sports Digger

  2. John Lancaster

    Apr 16, 2016 at 6:31 am

    Willet got lucky, just as Nicklaus got lucky in 86, when Seve “lost it”! Thanks, end of pointless discussion!

  3. Mike

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    I’m not a pro, not even close. At the same time like many single digit handicappers you gain a wealth of knowledge from daily practice. That being said, Mr. Cartwright’s is sending mixed messages with this article that is confusing to players needing help. For example, at one point he says “If you’re hitting bad shots, don’t blame your swing tempo”. In the next paragraph he says, “When we swing at a tempo that’s different from what’s instinctive, we lose the sequencing in our swing”. Tempo is critical to a golf swing and bad shots are directly related to tempo because as Mr. Cartwright indicates you WILL in fact loose your sequencing, which leads to inconsistent strikes.

    My advice to golfers is if you suffer from inconsistent contact more often than not, grab a PW and spend an hour or two hitting balls off grass using half swings s.l.o.w.l.y. Make sure you “feel” the weight of the club head from start to finish in the swing…especially through impact. Remember, when you swing fast the first thing you loose is the feel of the club head, which leads to inconsistent contact. Swinging slowly will also expose technique errors. Lee Trevino said, your game is in the dirt. And LEE is RIGHT. Good luck and hit em straight and long.

  4. Ned C

    Apr 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Willett won and Speith lost. End of discussion. It’s a Major. You can’t push the ball all day and expect to win!

  5. slider

    Apr 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    What We Learned: Danny Willett luckiest guy in the world; didnt even want to play in the tournament, last player to sign up, trails the leader for most of the tournament and if spieth pars 12 willet does not win

  6. Sad Smizzle

    Apr 12, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    He’s half-Swedish. Why do all these Swedes have weird swings that use the hands a lot? Is it in the genes? :-p

    • Jay

      Apr 12, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Can’t take it back low and slow thru the snow- got to get the club up quick???

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Trackman Tuesday (Episode 2): Driver Loft

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Trackman Tuesday. In this weekly series, I will be using Trackman data to help you understand the game of golf in a little more detail and help you hit better shots and play better golf.

In this week’s episode, I look at driver loft. What effect does driver loft have on your shots and how important is it, really?

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How Far Away from the Ball Should You Be at Address?

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How far away from the ball should you be at address? This video is in response to a question from Tom McCord on Facebook.

In this video, I look at the setup position. I offer a simple way to check your distance from the ball at address with your driver, irons and wedges.

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Tour Pros Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up

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You want to be better at golf, more consistent and longer off the tee. I am sure a lot of you would love to stop hurting. You would like these things with minimal work, if possible. You also want them yesterday. That about sum it up?

In the next 5 minutes, you’ll learn about the one thing that solves these problems for good. Before we dive in, though, I want to tee up three stats for you from my research.

  1. PGA Tour players can jump between 18-22 inches off the ground while LPGA Tour players can jump between 16-20 inches off the ground. Long drive competitors can often leap 30+ inches off the ground!
  2. Elite-level golfers who drive the ball 300+ yards can shot put a 6-pound ball more than 30 feet with less than a 5-percent difference in right-handed to left-handed throws.
  3. Elite golfers in the world can hurl a medicine ball with a seated chest pass just as far in feet as they can jump in inches (ie. a 20-inch vertical leap and a 20-foot seated chest pass).

What do these numbers have to do with you and your game? More importantly, what do these stats have to do with solving your problems? Let’s start by telling you what the solution is.   

Objective Assessment and Intelligent Exercise Prescription

Say that three times fast. It’s a mouth full… But seriously, read it two more times and think about what that means.

It means that before you act on anything to improve your health or your game, you need to objectively assess what the problem is and get to the root cause. You should use quality objective data to arrive at intelligent health and golf improvement decisions based on the long-term likelihood that they will be successful. We can’t just select exercises, swing changes or training aids based on what is hot in the market today or what the latest celebrity was paid big bucks to sell to us.

There is a reason why the infomercials you see today on Golf Channel will be different in 2 months. The same gimmicks run out of steam when enough people realize that is what they are… gimmicks. When looking to achieve your goals of playing better golf and/or having less pain, don’t just grab for the quick fix as so many golfers today do. 

We are in the information age. Information from quality data is power. Using this data intelligently, you can fix problems in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Hopefully, I am giving you the power to make a meaningful and lasting change in your game. I’m sorry to say that most amateurs will not be hitting 300+ yard drives despite what the latest marketing ploy will have you believe. But, if you know what tests you can do to measure the areas that affect your distance off the tee, you can at least gain insight into where your biggest return on your time investment will be. 

This is where working with a golf fitness expert can be so valuable to you. Not only can they help you interpret your results from the tests, but they will also be able to prescribe you the most effective means to move closer to 300 yards from where you are right now.  

If you have a problem with your car not accelerating as fast as you would like or not being able to reach top end speed on the highway, I hope you take it to the mechanic and don’t just look up quick fixes on YouTube to see what you can do on your own. The reason you pay the mechanic to fix your car is because that is what they do all day. They will get it done as quickly as possible. More importantly, they’ll get correctly so that the problem doesn’t pop up again in 2 weeks.

A golf fitness expert is no different. Use them for their expertise and knowledge. Once you have a diagnosis of what is holding you back and a plan to correct it, you are on your way and won’t have to waste any more time or money trying silly quick fixes that never stick.

The three statistics mentioned earlier represent numbers measured across the globe by industry leaders and at our facility 3-4 times per year on hundreds of golfers each time. Our facility has thousands of data points. With this much data comes the ability to draw conclusions from objective assessments. These conclusions drive the intelligent implementation of successful solutions directed at the root causes of problems for thousands of golfers around the globe.

The first three statistics have an R-value of over 0.85 in correlation to clubhead speed. Translation: if you perform well in the first three tests with high numbers, you are very likely to have a high club speed. Further, if you improve in any of those three tests relative to where you started, you are almost assured to have a higher club speed than when you began (assuming swing technique and equipment is relatively unchanged).  

Keep in mind that in statistics, correlation is not the same as cause and effect. But when the R-value is that close to 1 and anecdotally you have seen the results and changes we have, you put some weight behind these three tests. So:

  • See how high you can jump
  • See how far you can shot put a 6-pound medicine ball
  • See how far you can chest pass a 6-pound medicine ball from a seated position

Doing so will give you an idea of how much power you have in your lower body, total rotary system and upper body respectively. Train whichever one is the worst, or train them all if you want. Rest assured that if you improve one of them, you will more than likely increase your swing speed.  

By doing these assessments and addressing the one or two weak areas, you will improve with the least work possible. Sounds about what you were looking for, right? If you are able to identify where you need to improve BEFORE you buy whatever is claiming to fix your problems, you will save lots of money and time. You will actually start to improve with the least amount of work possible and in the least amount of time possible.  

What’s next? After completing the assessment tests, start working to improve them.

  • Coming Soon: Lower Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Upper Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Rotary Power for Golf
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