Connect with us

Instruction

How do LPGA Tour players hit their drives so straight?

Published

on

As a teacher, I have had the privilege of coaching both men and women golfers through the decades, and I’ve found that there are both similarities and significant differences in the approach to teaching golf to each gender.

When coaching male golfers, I often need to keep tabs on the amount of strain used in the swing, especially with the driver. On a scale of 1-10, the strain level used should be around 3-4 to get a velocity and compression of 7-8. Think about it as your second serve in tennis. Tom Watson was an expert at this. 

When I ask my new male students to rate their level of strain, they often answer 8-10… and that is after I describe 10 as a separated rib (which, by the way, you see more often than you would think on the professional tours). Using this level of strain is the equivalent of flooring a race car on a wet track; there is a red line there for a reason! It’s the same with your body; you need to be aware of your limits.  

Because men generally have more muscular density than women, they can take a golf club and yank it around like a big dog with a rag doll. This is generally not the case for women. They respond to the weight of the golf club and flow with it, rather than against it. As a result they develop better timing and rhythm in their swings, which leads to them hitting more fairways.

Like a lumber jack with a heavy axe, all golfers should learn to use the weight of the golf club to deliver the blow. Watch the video above to learn more.

Your Reaction?
  • 121
  • LEGIT11
  • WOW0
  • LOL3
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP3
  • OB5
  • SHANK31

Shawn Clement is the Director of the Richmond Hill Golf Learning Centre and a class A PGA teaching professional. Shawn Clement was a 2011 and 2015 Ontario PGA Teacher of the Year nominee and was also voted in the top 10 (tied with Martin Hall at No. 9) as most sought after teacher on the internet with 65 K subscribers on YouTube and 29 millions hits.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. OW

    Mar 18, 2017 at 3:41 am

    Shawn, thank you very much for the Driver lesson. I’m looking forward to the long iron/fwy lesson. I’m a ~10 hp golfer and hit my mid and long irons decent, but struggle with fairway woods from the turf. I’d really like to see a lesson on fwy’s from the turf. Thank you.

  2. Wrong

    Mar 16, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    With no disrespect at ALL to the women on the LPGA tour, they are sharp and incredibly talented and could beat most everyone from any tee box…but the reason the women hit it straighter is because they swing way slower. Its simple math. Who has the potential to hit it more crooked, the 22 year old who carries it 330, or the 75 year old who nukes his driver 200? Clearly the latter. Also, next time you go to a tough golf course play it from three tees up from the tips. 99% of courses lose their intimidation factor off the tee box when your tees are so forward. You are closer to the fairway, don’t have gorse or valleys to carry, and it’s just a more comfortable shot to hit. So yeah….when you’re swinging your driver at 95 MPH it’s pretty hard to put too much gnarly side spin or block / pull it off the planet. Plus the tee boxes are relatively stress free from a mental stand point. Again, the women on the LPGA tour are incredibly talented, and once off the tee box it squares up with with the guys. But it goes without saying that they play an easier game off the tee box.

    • Ian Muir

      Mar 17, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      The LPGA tournaments are not played from three tees up as you say – they typically play 6,800 yard tracks which will be akin to longer courses than you play in the monthly medal. This week in China at Mission Hills it’s 7,300 yards and they’re still shooting 65s.

      The rationale about women’s golf at the elite level is misunderstood (my daughter is 16 years old and plays off +3 and carries her drives 255 on the fly…270 with run-out most typically yet averages 67 around a 6,100 ladies course /6,990 men’s course). Like all elite ladies/girls she thinks her way around and uses the right clubs to yardages which she knows like a pro. She can beat me (and I’m off +1 handicap) playing off level from the men’s tips more often than I beat her.

      Amateur men (that’s not the elite variety but you and your mates) typically try to emulate Dustin or Rory as it’s all about swagger. You’ll think you hit your irons farther than you actually do and you don’t course-manage very well at all. It’s quite simple really, it’s not all about distance. My nephew is 20 years younger than me and averages 320 yards off the tee with driver (with a 3 handicap) but despite being 40 yards past me most times never wins even when in receipt of 5 shots. Why? Because he tries to power his irons and rarely hits better than 40% GIR…I manage 70% GIR and therein lies the difference. Wake up and realise it’s not all about distance off the tee or hitting your 56* wedge 140 yards.

      • Andrew Cooper

        Mar 18, 2017 at 12:16 pm

        Trackman tour data: LPGA average driver carry distance 218 yards v PGA Tour average 275 yards. Swing speed averages LPGA 94mph and PGA Tour 113mph.
        LPGA courses set up on average between 6200 and 6600 yards.

      • Dale Doback

        Mar 18, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        The ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills had several tee boxes forward of where I had to play a golf channel am tour event at 6400 yards. It was a phenomenal event but the course was setup around 6500 yards for a MAJOR. If you are correct Ian Muir, which I know for a fact you are not and if the LPGA played a course at 7300 yards Inbee Park would need 3 shots to reach every par 4 since she carries the ball around 210 yards. Thats awesome your Daughter can drive it 260 yards that will put her near top in distance on the LPGA and still dead last on the PGA Tour and Senior PGA tour. LPGA players are more accurate because they are about 60 yards shorter on average. You can hit the ball much further offline and still hit fairway the shorter you hit it.
        http://blog.trackmangolf.com/trackman-average-tour-stats/

      • setter02

        Mar 20, 2017 at 9:17 am

        Stopped reading after you talked about the yardages they play from, not even close. Please don’t think that what the card says is what they play, even more so in wet weather where the Ladies get no roll. Then you’ll see some events played at or below 6300 yards. Typically sub 6500, and even when they announce 6500, its usually below that.

  3. Guia

    Mar 16, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Want to hit it straight???? Straight back, straight through.

  4. Jerry

    Mar 16, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Rubbish. PGA tour clubhead speed stats show average and max clubhead speed within a few mph of each other. Gotta go after it to generate speed. Swinging easy is a bandaid for other swing flaws. Additionally with less distance you’ll pick up phony accuracy due to the geometry of a shot. The same percentage offline miss at 250 in the first cut is in the trees at 310.

    • Patricknorm

      Mar 16, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      I don’t think you understood what the writer said. There is a point of diminishing return when swinging a golf club, specifically a driver. Most pros will tell you they swing at about 80% because they want to be under control. Occasionally they swing harder but nothing near 100%. That’s reckless , especially if this is the way you earn income. Besides, if pros swung at or near 100% all the time their careers would be very short because of injuries or….too many missed cuts.
      Watching the Arnold Palmer Invitation today, Frank Nobilo pointed out that Brandt Snedeker was hooking the ball too much because he was swinging too hard. Like I said before, there is a point of diminishing return. That was what the author was trying to say.

      • Shawn Clement

        Mar 18, 2017 at 2:02 am

        Awesome Patrick! Exactly what I meant!! Thank you!

      • Bobby Bigshlawng

        Mar 20, 2017 at 5:14 am

        Whenever I have a driver in my hand I am going after it…when I do connect and hit a bomb..it makes me feel like I have a big Johnson

  5. Alex

    Mar 16, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    This method of creating speed works for you because you’re about 7 feet tall with a 10-foot wingspan. How about for those of us with short limbs and height?

  6. Golfwhiler

    Mar 16, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    The point matches up to experience. Speed and accuracy are at a nexus. Try hammering a nail. If you want to hit the nail dead center on the head with the middle of the hammer, the slower you swing the hammer the more accurate.

    Next, try hitting the nail with as fast as swing as possible. The chance of controlling swing path and therefore accuracy will diminish. For one thing, you’ll have to grip the hammer more firmly the faster you swing to compensate for centrifugal force pulling the club out of your hand.

    Tighter grip means tighter forearms and bigger muscle groups taking over. These are strength muscles and not fine motor skill muscles. This all translates into less control of swing path and face to path which factor into where the club face meets the ball. The latter are what determines accuracy to target.

    Course management involves knowing what your maximum driver distance off the tee is with enough accuracy to have a decent line into the layup or the green. My bet is that most casual golfers would do better on par 5s hitting 3w, 6i, 7i, W and two putting for bogey than Driver, two shots out of the trees, 3w, 7i, W and two putt for a triple.

  7. larrybud

    Mar 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    I’m not sold on the assumption. You need to measure “straightness” by degrees off line with similar swing speeds. If I hit it 230 off the tee and am 5 degrees offline, (which is 20 yards from center), and I “straighter” than if I hit it 330 off the tee and 4 degrees offline, which is 23 yards from center?

    Obviously if you hit it farther, it will go more offline with the same degrees of inaccuracy.

  8. Dj

    Mar 16, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    It seems that the women with higher swing speeds have the same issue of being a bit more inaccurate. Might be something to be said about new equipment and slower swing speeds to go along with their tempo and rhythm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instruction

Davies: The Trail Elbow In The Downswing

Published

on

In this video, I discuss the role of the trail elbow in the downswing. I also share some great drills to help golfers deliver the trail elbow correctly, which will help improve distance and contact.

Your Reaction?
  • 10
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK6

Continue Reading

Instruction

The 3 different levels of golf practice

Published

on

“I would have practiced as hard, but I would have made my practice more meaningful. I would have worked more on my short game and putting. I would’ve done a lot more drills to make the practice more meaningful, and I would’ve added pressure to the practice as much as possible.” — Lee Westwood

Now here’s the rub. Practice is not monolithic! I approach practice as having three different, distinctive and separate curriculum and criteria.

  • Level 1: Basic
  • Level 2: Advanced
  • Level 3: Extreme

Basic Practice (Level 1) by definition is “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.” Basically, it’s doing the same thing over and over again to get better at it. My favorite skill that requires practice is the 76-yard “flighted wedge.” I do it, and I recommend it be done at every range practice session. Additionally, I identify and then practice as many different “skills” that are required to hit different golf shots. I have found that a non-pressurized environment is the best way to practice in a basic model.

It goes without saying that golf is not played in a pressure-free environment, so basic practice doesn’t help us play golf. The prime objective of Level 2 Practice (Advanced Training) is to take what you do in Basic Practice to the golf course.

First, create on-course situations that require you to hit the shots you have practiced. There should be rewards for demonstrations of competence, and there should be consequences for demonstrations of incompetence

“When you practice, try to find a situation to fit the shot you’re trying to practice.” — Ben Hogan

For example, a major problem is the unevenness of the lies you will encounter during play as opposed to the lies you used for your drills. From marginal to extreme, lies are difficult to replicate on the practice tee. So, play a round of golf and move the ball into the most undesirable lie that is very close to where you are.

Another example would be duplicating the creativity that is sometimes required during actual play. The prime example of that would be the sensation of “being in-between clubs.” I would suggest that you play an occasional round of golf using only half of your clubs. Take two wedges instead of four. Take only the “odd” or “even” numbered irons. Look at not taking the driver, or not taking all of your fairway clubs. I have not taken my putter, which forced me putt with my sand wedge!

A third example would be to play a round of golf and deliberately miss every green in regulation. Should your ball accidentally finish on the green in regulation just move it off into the rough, a bunker or whatever else could use the extra attention. You can create games where your opponent moves your ball off the green into something that would be advantageous to him.

Level 2 Practice is conducted on the practice ground as well as on the course. What I do and recommend is to take each of the shots, skills and drills used in Level 1 and add some accountability to the range experience. I have my students and clients use a “Practice Book” to schedule activities and to keep track of improvement.

Author Note: I will send you a sample practice book page that many of my players actually use. Request it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Please be advised that Level 2 Practice can feature games, wagering or other forms of friendly competitions because they should only activate the lesser emotions of irritation, annoyance, anticipation, anxiousness, joy, pleasure and disappointment. Dealing with these feelings in practice will help you recognize and deal with the minor stresses experienced by most recreational golfers.

Stress is the major cause of “CHOKING.”

Stress, by definition “is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can ruin our ability to perform when we experience the major emotions such as fear, anger, shame, humiliation, euphoria, ridicule, betrayal, doubt and/or disbelief.

Level 3 Practice (Extreme Preparation) is on-course training sessions best suited for very serious competitive golfers. The more a player is able to compete in a simulated or controlled environment that accurately replicates the actual “pressures” that produce the kind of stresses that can effect performance, the better the player will perform when stressed in actual tournaments or events. Please be advised that Extreme Practice DOES NOT feature games, gambling or “friendly” competitions. They don’t control the conditions of play sufficiently to replicate the type of pressure that would induce “stress.”

“Simulation, which  is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion.” For many years now, the medical profession has used simulations to train doctors, the military has used simulations to prepare troops for the realities of the battlefield and aviation has used simulators to train pilots. Simulating has the added benefits of being cost and time effective while producing verifiable results.

If it’s possible for airlines to replicate every possible scenario that a pilot could experience in the cockpit by using simulations, then why isn’t it possible to replicate situations, and subsequent emotional responses, that a competitive golfer could experience on the golf course? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

“I got nervous all the time, as nervous as the next guy. It’s just that I caught myself before it became destructive.” Jack Nicklaus

Recent events at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play gives us some evidence of the destructiveness of uncontrolled emotions. Justin Thomas said that he couldn’t get the thought out of his mind of becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world should he defeat Bubba Watson in the semi-finals, which he failed to do.

“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much,” Thomas said. “And that really sucked. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.”

Then there was Ian Poulter being told that with his win over Louis Oosthuizen he had earned a spot in this years’ Masters tournament only to be told 10 minutes before his next match that he had not actually secured the coveted invitation. With elation, joy and satisfaction jerked away and replaced with disappointment, and possibly anger, the Englishman went out and got whipped by Kevin Kisner 8 & 6!

I concede that Justin Thomas’ and Ian Poulter’s situations were so unique that simulation-based practice and preparation techniques may not have been available to them, but now they both must know that their performance was effected negatively by mental stresses. And with that knowledge they may want to get tougher mentally. Level 3 Practice does that!

Not all that long ago, I was approached by a PGA Tour veteran for some on-course, one-on-one training. He was experiencing severe “choking” in pressurized short-game situations. So I took him out on the course and we replicated the exact shots he had problems with in the past. He demonstrated that he could perform each and every shot in a stress-free environment. We went into a “low-stress” training environment and his performance began to suffer. Then, at his urging to get “real,” we went into a “high-stress” practice mode and he melted down. Without going into details, he became so angry that not only couldn’t he hit golf shots, he tried to run me down with the golf cart as he retreated to the safety of his car.

Now, that’s not the end of the story. A few hours later, after some soul searching, he apologized for his lack of self-control and acknowledged that he had recognized the early signs of stress growing internally as we worked. We went back out onto the course and got back to work.

Your Reaction?
  • 99
  • LEGIT11
  • WOW6
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP3
  • OB2
  • SHANK14

Continue Reading

Instruction

Winning Ways: Here’s what it takes to become a winner in Junior Girls golf

Published

on

Every competitive golfer strives to win, and I want to help them achieve their goals. Recently, I wrote a story highlighting the statistics behind winning in junior boys golf, and how they can do it more often. Now, we set out to examine the data on winning in junior girls golf, and provide ways they can improve. The data is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of ShotByShot.com, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways that juniors can practice building skills and work towards becoming tournament winners.

The Winning Scores

In 2017 the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average girl’s tournament course measured 6145 yards. The average winning score for girls was 146 (36 holes), or 73 per round. Ten of the 22 tournaments where won with scores of 144 or better and the low 36 holes total was a whopping 133! In the data collection we also collected the average 10th place scores girls. The average 10th place score for girls was 159 or 79.5.

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of ShotByShot.com, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of ShotByShot.com in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical female player who averages 73. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted in the infographics below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use ShotbyShot.com

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

The Winning Preparation

Junior girls are encouraged to use these stats as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 73 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve. For example, a junior might notice they have more 3-putts than the model. To improve, they could work put more time into practice, as well as playing games on the golf course like draw-back and 2-putt.

  • Drawback is a game where after your first putt, you draw the second putt one putter length away from the hole. This often changes a shorter putt (> 2 feet) to a putt of between 3.5 – 5 feet. This putts significantly more pressure on your putting.
  • You may also play Two-Putt, a game where when you reach the green, you (or your playing competitor) tosses the ball away from the hole. You must 2-putt from that spot to move to the next hole (even if it takes a couple attempts!).

Others reading this article might find that they don’t hit enough greens. Improving this area will require more consistent strikes, which may require further technical development and block practice, as well as working on the golf course. To start, I would recommend that every junior implement the yardage rule. The yardage rule works like this; figure out the distance to the very back of the green. For example, this number may be 157. Then figure out what club ALWAYS flies 157, which might be 6-iron. Then choose 7-iron for the shot. This way your best shot will not fly the green, your average shot will likely be in the middle of the green and your less-than-perfect shot will hopefully end up on the front of the green.

During practice rounds, play competitive games with yourself to sharpen your ability to hit greens. For example, if you normally hit 7 greens per round, in practice your goal might be 9. You would track your results over a month and then see your progress.

Beyond building individual skills, like hitting greens or working on putting, junior golfers need times to play competitive rounds on their home golf courses. Ideally, these rounds are played against other people with similar skills and done under tournament like conditions with consequences (loser buys winner a coke or cleans their golf clubs). Playing hundreds of rounds at your home golf course under these conditions gives you a unique opportunity to sharpen your game, learn your tendencies and build skills such as endurance and mental toughness. Most importantly, it teaches you to win and shoot under par!

Please also keep in mind building these skills may take months (or even years). In my own personal experience, when I set out to improve my birdies per round, it took nearly 4 months and 75+ rounds and significant practice to begin to see a change. Depending on your schedule and access to resources like a golf course and instructor, some changes might take a year or more. Regardless, don’t ever worry; building a solid foundation in golf will always lead to rewards!

Your Reaction?
  • 47
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending