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This thing called “Low Point” and how it can help your golf game

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What is Low Point?

Anyone who has been on a Trackman device may have noticed a new number that calculates something called “Low Point,” which is very important to playing consistent golf. So what is it?

The low point number describes where the lowest point of the swing arc is (in inches) relative to the ball. On Trackman, you might see a low point number like 3.1A from a short iron shot, which indicates that a golfer’s club reached its low point 3.1 inches after impact. You also might see a number like 1.2B from a driver swing, which indicates that the club reached its low point 1.2 inches before impact.

Low point can occur either before or after impact due the circular/elliptical nature of the golf swing. It’s a little complex at first, but you’ll pick it up quickly. To better understand the concept, think of the golf swing as the big hula hoop. Zooming in on the bottom of this “hula hoop” (see the picture below), we can see the club is traveling downward during the red part of the swing arc. It then bottoms out in the white area (low point), before ascending in the blue area.

Low_Point_Image_2

Where Should My Low Point Be?

Relative to the golf ball, for crisp shots from the turf, our low point should be in front of the ball, or after impact, as shown below.

Low_Point_Image_3

The club would be traveling on the downward part of the swing arc as it contacts the ball. The lowest point of the swing would be in front of the ball (typically 3-5 inches with a 7 iron for a tour pro). This can change depending on the type of shot you have.

  • A driver can benefit from having the low point behind the ball, potentially maximizing distance through higher launch and lower spin. My low point with a driver is as much as 9 inches behind the ball.
  • Your low point can be more level with the golf ball if you have a nice, fluffy lie and are trying to pick your fairway wood off the turf.
  • For shots where you may need a steeper angle of attack (e.g. out of deep rough), a more forward low point may be desirable.

Having your low point behind the ball with a shot from the ground will not work out well (especially on tight turf). You will either strike the ground very early, or even the smallest of raises in height will create a severely thin/bladed shot.

Low_Point_Image_4

With the low point position behind the ball, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Contacting the turf will produce a drop-kick or a fat shot, but missing the turf will produce a thin shot.

How do I know what I am doing?

Getting your swing measured on a device like Trackman will tell you where your low point position is. However, for those of you without that option, there are enough clues in the turf to make a good assumption. If the middle of your divot is after (target side) of where the ball was before you hit it, that indicates that your low-point was in front of the ball.

Here is a great drill to check your low-point position.

Make swings taking a sliver of sand from the top. Because of the consistency of the sand, the middle of the divot will be a good representation of your low point position. With this drill, you can also check where your club first contacted the ground. This then gives you opportunity to experiment with different setups, swings, etc., in order to manipulate the low-point position to what you desire. Have fun and experiment.

Of course, this drill can be done from the turf, too, although your green keeper may not be too pleased with the divots everywhere. In a bunker, you can just rake the sand and start again.

Summary

There are a myriad of set-up positions and swing dynamics that create a functional low point position and I will go through them in future articles. However, getting a good grasp of the concept first is a big step forward in helping you achieve this task.

If you want to learn more about concepts, drills and techniques to improve your strike quality, check out The Strike Plan by visiting my website: www.adamyounggolf.com/the-strike-plan

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Adam is a golf coach and author of the bestselling book, "The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers." He currently teaches at Twin Lakes in Santa Barbara, California. Adam has spent many years researching motor learning theory, technique, psychology and skill acquisition. He aims to combine this knowledge he has acquired in order to improve the way golf is learned and potential is achieved. Adam's website is www.adamyounggolf.com Visit his website www.adamyounggolf.com for more information on how to take your game to the next level with the latest research.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. 8thehardway

    Apr 17, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    I have to add that you article was an eye-opener. I had never thought of low-point location as a tool for shallowing trajectory but I took it to the course and it was easier than taking partial shots when between clubs, and concentrating at a low point 3 or 4 inches ahead of the ball seems to improve my ball striking as well. Thanks again.

  2. 8thehardway

    Apr 16, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for a very useful article.

  3. johnny

    Apr 16, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Reminds me of Bobby Clampett’s book, The Impact Zone.

  4. Dave R

    Apr 14, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Interesting bit of information

  5. Braeindy

    Apr 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Ball buster can you post a picture of your homemade training aid

  6. Jeff Black

    Apr 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    This does not apply on longer than average fairway grass. My home course is 1 1/2 common bermuda. Hit down on it here and see what happens. No compression here you better be a “picker”

  7. BallBuster

    Apr 14, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Nothing new here except the way to now measure the low point down to the fractional inch. I always spread a little sand on a driving range mat and left a tee next to the back edge of the ball. It helped me to see where I impacted the mat in a “decent” way. Spread the sand out again and swing away. I also took a 12x12x3/8″ piece of plywood with a 6×6″ cut out on one edge in the center of it, laid it down on the mat too with the ball on the “missing” leading edge that was facing down range, and when I struck the ball without hitting the plywood, BINGO! The low point was inevitably after the ball. A lot cheaper than a Trackman, couldn’t tell you the exact measurement of the low point, but still very effective to learn to hit down and pinch the ball properly. Instant feedback!!

    • peter collins

      Apr 15, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Braeindy Apr 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm
      Ball buster can you post a picture of your homemade training aid

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Instruction

Jumping for Distance (Part 2): The One-Foot Jump

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In Part 1, I wrote about how I think this concept of jumping up with both feet for more power may have come about in part due to misinterpretation of still photography and force plate data, self-propagation, and a possible case of correlation vs causation. I also covered reasoning why these players are often airborne, and that can be from flawed setups that include overly wide stances and/or lead foot positions that are too closed at setup or a re-planted lead foot that ends up too closed during the downswing.

In Part 2, let’s look at what I feel is a better alternative, the one foot jump. To me, it’s safer, it doesn’t complicate ball striking as much, and it can still generate huge amounts of vertical ground force.

First, set up with an appropriate stance width. I like to determine how wide to stand based on the length of your lower legs. If you go to your finish position and stand on your lead leg and let your trail leg dangle down so your knees are parallel, your lower trail leg should extend only as far back as it will go while being up on the tip of your trail toe. If you roll that trail foot back down to the ground, viola, you’ll have a stance width that’s wide enough to be “athletic” and stable but not so wide you lose balance when swinging. You can go a little wider than this, but not much.

To contrast, the stance below would be too wide.

Jumping off the ground can be caused by too wide of a stance and lead foot position that is too closed at setup

Second, make sure your lead foot is open sufficiently at address. I’ve previously outlined how to do both these first two points in this article.

Third, whether you shift your weight to your trail foot or keep a more centered weight type feeling in the backswing, when you shift your weight to your lead foot, be careful of the Bubba replant, and then push up with that lead leg to push your lead shoulder up. This is the one-foot “jump” and it will take advantage of parametric acceleration (read more about that here).

But also at the same time, shift your lower spine towards the target.

From a face-on viewpoint, this can look like back bend, but in 3D space it’s side bend. It kind of feels like you are crunching the trail side of your mid-section, or maybe just bending over to the side to pick up a suitcase, for example. This move helps lower your trail shoulder, which brings down the club (whereas this is more difficult to do if you try to two-foot jump with your trail leg). It also helps you to keep from getting airborne off your lead foot. Further it doesn’t change your low point (by not changing the relative position of the C7 vertebrae in its general orb in space) and complicate ball striking like a two-foot jump does.

At this point, the club releases and you can stand up out of the shot (you don’t need to transition in to any sort of dangerous back bend) in balance on your lead foot having generates tons of vertical ground force without having jumped off the ground or putting yourself at risk for injury.

“Movember” mustache… not required!

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Move Your Legs Like the Legends: The Key to the Snead Squat

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It’s important not to overdo the “Sam Snead squat.” Understanding the subtle leg movements of the game’s greats is key to making your practice purposeful and making real improvement.

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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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