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Feel the Force! How to Use the Ground to Hit Longer Drives

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There are so many buzzwords in golf nowadays, a new one seems to come each week. Science has gradually crept into golf as people look to unlock the mysteries and myths of this great game, and biomechanics has come to the fore. We are able to use 3-D analysis machines now to look inside the body to see how our components are harmonizing to create and transfer energy. So if video analysis is an X-ray of your swing, 3D is the MRI.

Ground Force Reaction is based on Newton’s Laws: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” So basically, if a player coils up on the way back and then pushes down into the ground in transition, the ground is pushing back with equal force. This stored energy can then be transferred to the ball with the action of the body through impact. As you will see, an athletic and springing action from the ground is needed to transfer the latent energy. This can be seen in all long drivers of the golf ball.

A word of warning to all teachers, however. Golf is not just about how far you hit it; it’s how straight you hit it, too! So be careful in spending so much time trying to rip it that you end up losing some of the key geometry and subsequent control of the ball. I do not agree with the doctrine of “smash it and find it.” Golf is an accuracy and finesse game most times, but it has a component of explosive hitting with the tee shot.

Watch the video, try the move and the ball will go much further. Science says so!

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Jonathan Yarwood is a proven tour and elite development golf coach with more than 24 years experience coaching winners at the highest level. He has had great success at both ends of the spectrum, ranging from taking students of 11 years old to the tour through many years of work to coaching Michael Campbell to his major championship victory at the 2005 U.S. Open. He has also coached two U.S. Amateur winners, two U.S. Girls Junior winners, three AJGA Players of the Year, and winners on the PGA, LPGA, European, Challenge, Asian and Australasian tours. His players have also recorded a slew of amateur victories. Jonathan was voted a UK PGA Master Professional in 2011, and he has also been recognized for his work by Golf Digest Magazine. In 2006, he was voted a Top-20 Teacher Under 40 and was voted a top teacher in the state of Florida for a decade. "Your swing needs to be good enough to control the ball, that's all," Jonathan says. "Your short game does the scoring; your mind glues it all together." Jonathan is currently a senior instructor at Bishopsgate Golf Academy in Orlando.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. martin

    Mar 30, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    if you accelerate the club head down then the equal and opposite force on your body will be upward and your weight (ie the downward force your feet exert on the earth) will decrease.

  2. Mr Poopoo

    Mar 20, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Hmm.. all this time I thought “ground force reaction” was the involuntary need to launch helicopters following me burying the bottom 4 grooves in the turf behind the ball from the middle of the fairway.

  3. Steve S

    Mar 20, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Interesting but basically not much use. “Hitting it miles” is a function of swing speed. Which is a function mostly of hands, wrists and forearms. Years ago Harvey Penick used to demonstrate this point by sitting in a ratty old lawn chair and hitting 230 yard drives..when he was in his 70’s.

  4. Philip

    Mar 19, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    So a golfer increases their effective weight by up to 100 pounds … can you explain how you proved this? Cause all of my attempts have not increased my effective weight one bit. Then again why would one’s weight change? If every action creates an opposite and equal reaction (assuming the object being pressed against does not move), then wouldn’t one’s weight remain constant as the forces are neutralizing each other. You wanna know my theory … how about the body is just reacting to a motion in such a way so that it keeps it’s balance and doesn’t fall over?

    • ROY

      Mar 20, 2017 at 10:01 am

      How did you prove that you did not increase your effective weight??

    • joey

      Mar 21, 2017 at 11:26 am

      It’s easy to measure with a swing catalyst force plate!

  5. Isaac Newton

    Mar 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Great video. From a physics perspective some of your terminology made the engineer in me cringe though.

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Instruction

A Guide (Secret) to Better Putting

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Putting is a part of the game where we can all do small things to get better. You don’t have to practice 40 hours a week or have a stroke that gets a perfect score on a SAM PuttLab. The universal answer is to simplify the approach as much as possible.

While being a world class putter is an art form, being competent at putting is probably the least physically daunting task in golf — aside from maybe driving the cart. Putting generally provides the most stress and frustration, however, as our results are almost never aligned with our exceptions, which drives us to create unnecessary roadblocks to success.

That being the case, let’s narrow this down to as few variables as possible and get ourselves holing more putts. First off, you need to have proper expectations. If you look at the PGA Tour averages for made putts, you will find that the rates of success overall are far lower than what we see on on TV on Sunday afternoon. That’s because we are seeing the best players in the world, who in a moment in time, are holing putts at a clip the average plus-handicap club champion couldn’t dream of during a near death experience on his way to walking into the light.

If you have ever seen golf balls rolled on a stimpmeter ramp (the device used to measure green speed), you have probably seen something shocking. Golf balls rolling perfectly — the perfect speed, on a perfect green, on a perfectly straight putt — sometimes miss on both sides of the hole on consecutive efforts.

This is a very important point. The farther you get from the hole, the less control you have over making the putt. That’s why actually making putts outside a few feet should not be your priority. Hitting the best putt possible is your only priority. Then be resigned that the putt will either go in or it won’t. This might seem defeatist, but it’s not; its just a perception change. If you judge yourself on whether the ball goes in or not, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you judge yourself on whether or not you hit a good putt, you will be more successful… and you’re going to make more putts.

This sounds like something you’d hear at a Tony Robbins positive thinking seminar, but it has proven successful for every one of my clients who has embraced it. So what’s the secret to hitting the best putt possible each time?

Simplify the process.

  1.  Read the green to the best of your ability.
  2.  Pick a line and do your best to set up to it.
  3.  Do your best to hit the putt solid and at the right speed.

Reading the green is something that gets better with experience and practice. Some will be better than others, so this is an intangible thing that countless books are written about. My advice is simple; DON’T OVER THINK IT. Look at the terrain and get a general sense of where low point is in relation to the hole.

The reason why perfect green reading and perfect alignment are overrated is because there is no one line to the hole. The hole is over 4-inches wide and putts break differently with changes in speed and solidness of contact. I saw a video at the Scotty Cameron Putting Studio many years ago of dozens of PGA Tour players. There was a worm’s-eye camera on a 4-5 foot putt that was basically straight on the artificial grass. Few were aimed at the middle of the hole and many weren’t even aimed at the hole at all… but I didn’t see one miss.

So have a look at the terrain and be decent at lining up in the general direction that will give a chance for a well struck putt to go in or finish close enough for a tap in. Simple. After rambling on for several paragraphs, we get to the heart of how you can improve your putting. Narrow it down to doing your best to hit a solid putt at the right speed.

The “Right Speed”

I ask people after they addressed a putt how much attention they pay to line and speed. Any answer but 100 percent speed is wrong. You’ve already read the putt and lined up. Why is line any longer a variable? Plus, have you ever missed the line on a 20-foot putt by 5 feet? Maybe once in your life on a crazy green, but you sure as heck have left it 5-feet short and long on several occasions.

Imagine I handed you a basketball and said shoot it in the basket. Or what if I told you to toss a crumpled piece of paper into the trash? Having the requisite coordination is an acquired skill, but you wouldn’t grind over innocuous details when it came to the feel of making the object go the right distance. You’d react to the object in your hand and the target for the right speed/distance.

Putting is no different, save one variable. There’s the sense and feel of how the the green interacts with the ball, and that’s a direct result of how solidly you hit the putt. If you use X amount of force and it goes 18 feet one effort and 23 feet the next, how are you ever going to acquire speed control? That is the mark of almost every poor lag putter. They don’t hit putts consistently solid, so they never acquire the skill of distance control.

Since speed is a learned reaction to the terrain/target and consistency is a direct result of how consistently solid you strike the ball, that is what we’re left with.

Learn to Hit Putts More Solid

The road to better putting is as simple as hitting your putts more solid. Put most/all of your effort into what it takes to hit more putts solid. Now for each individual, it’s less about doing what’s right. Instead, it’s about avoiding movements and alignments that make it difficult to hit the ball solid. It would take an encyclopedia to cover all of the issues that fall into this category, so I will list the most common that will cover more than 90 percent of golfers.

The most common one I see — and it is nearly universal in people who are plagued by poor lag putting — is excess hip rotation. Sometimes there’s even an actual weight shift. Think of it this way; take a backstroke and stop. Rotate your hips 20 degrees without moving anything else. The putter and the arc is now pointed left of your intended line. You have to shove it with your arms and hands not to pull it. Good luck hitting it solid while doing all of that.

I had a golf school in Baltimore and told this story. Ten of the 15 people there assured me they didn’t do that. After 8 people had putted, we were 8-for-8. No. 9 said, “There is no ******* way I am going to move my hips after watching this.”

The entire group laughed after his putt told him he was wrong. The last 6 did everything they could to avoid the fault. We went 15 for 15. Many people are unaware that this issue is so dire. If you add the people that are unaware they have this issue, we are near 100 percent of golfers. I have gotten emails from 8-10 of them telling me how much their putting improved after all they did was focus on minimizing hip rotation and just hitting the ball solid.

This issue is not just the bane of average golfers; I’ve had several mini-tour players with putting issues improve with this. We are all aware Fred Couples would have won many more majors if not for a career-long battle with his putter. Watch the next time he misses a 6-foot putt to the left. As you will see, it’s not just a problem for a high-handicappers.

The best way to judge and practice avoiding this, it putting with an alignment stick in you belt loops.  If your hips rotate too much, the stick will definitely let you know.

Other issues include the well know chest/sternum coming up too soon in an effort to see the ball go in the hole, as well as:

  • Not aligning the putter shaft properly with the lead arm
  • Grip pressure issues (too much and too little)
  • Too much tension in neck and shoulders
  • Poor rhythm
  • Long back stroke

I could go on and on and on. The main point; find out why you aren’t hitting putts solid and do whatever it takes to do so, even if it’s something crazy like a super wide-open stance (with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek). See the Jack Nicklaus picture at the top of the story.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to Improve Your Golf Club Release

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Many golfers release the club way too early. The low point of the swing moves back and they hit the ground behind the ball or pick the ball clean off the top of the surface. They then dream of “lag” and the “late hit” trying to achieve this by thinking of holding on the the wrist angle too long.

In this video, I share a drill that it will improve the way you release the club.

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Instruction

Alistair Davies: My 3 Best Swing Tips

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In this video, I share with you my three best swing tips. Watch the video to get on the path to lower scores straight away.

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