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You need to understand your golf swing “signature”

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The golf swing is one of the most complex movements in all of sports. The search for the perfect swing started hundreds of years ago, and we have seen it develop at a rapid pace in the past 20 years. Equipment companies, universities, the USGA, and NGF are just some of the agencies that have attempted to solve the riddle of golfer performance.

So what have we learned to date?

That was one of my biggest questions when I set out on a voyage to sort through all that was available in the world of published golf research, and it led me to where I am today. I decided that I would need to own and develop my own golf swing analysis software, a project that became a fusion of my years of teaching experience with a man I think is the most influential researcher in the history of the game, Dr. Steven Nesbit.

People often ask me what we’ve learned so far, and I tell them that we have uncovered a lot about how the golfer influences and puts their load on a golf club. Through the use of optical 3D-motion capture (I use a system called GEARS), we collect a swing’s data points and then process that data in a mathematical logarithm that we have designed to report on how the golfer pulled, pushed, and twisted on the grip to create the movement that you see.

The way in which the golfer influences the club is extremely complex, and the explanation of exactly what is happening in a golf swing explains why the game is so difficult. There are so many variations in style with so many factors intertwined that it makes the explanation fascinating, but often not all that satisfying. Many golfers are looking for that one idea that will transform their swing and game. What we have found is that it’s never just one thing; it’s many things wrapped together, and sometimes the solution can turn up to be something completely unexpected.

My Jacobs 3D’s proprietary golf research software takes the recorded data and processes the actions of the golfer to show how the golfer created their movements. It runs as deep as analyzing the movement of each major joint in the body and how every separate joint can affect the whole. Using it, we have begun to isolate the traits of superior golfers. There are a set of parameters that we can say are characteristics of a high-performing swing, and as time goes on we will share all of these with the GolfWRX Community.

There is, however, one thing that is unique to every single golfer: a swing “signature,” so to speak. A swing signature is the path that the movement of the center of the golfer’s hands take during the swing, which we call the “hub path.” The images below are from my book Elements of the Swing, which explain the hub in detail.

The-Hub

What does a golfer’s hub path tell us? We have found that the unique movement of this Hub Path can give an overall picture of the internal and external movements of the golfer. It can describe how a golfer is taking advantage of motion of the body, but it can also show how a golfer is compensating for their weaknesses in body movement.

In the video at the top of the story, I explain how you can figure out your own Hub Path and how you can use it to analyze your swing. I hope you enjoy it!

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Michael Jacobs is the Director of Instruction at X Golf School and the owner of Jacobs 3D. He's was recently named on the of the 50 Best Golf Teachers in America by Golf Digest (2017-2018). He's also a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher in America, a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher in America, and the 2012 Metropolitan Section PGA Teacher of the Year. Jacobs is also the author of two books and the only golf professional to ever design his own golf research software program.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. doubou2014

    Jul 16, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    One can only wonder how Jones, Nelson, Snead, Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer and Player coped with the golf swing.

  2. Steve Wozeniak

    Jul 15, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    The golf swing is not a complex movement at all……..you can sure make it that way if you want!!!

  3. ooffa

    Jul 13, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Another inane question. Please stop. Why don’t you know this answer? You present yourself as an expert on everything else!

    • ooffa

      Jul 14, 2017 at 6:42 am

      Calling out your know it all attitude, your rude combative tone and your blatant clueless posts are a public service. I am proud to offer this service to this forum. It’s what you wrongfully call trolling but what others call a great help in ridding this site of your garbage spewing posts. Oh, and BTW as you would say..soooooo obvious…..

      • ooffa

        Jul 15, 2017 at 6:28 am

        Suspicions confirmed. Now please stop with your rudeness and know it all attitude. When your tone changes so will these comments.

  4. Matt

    Jul 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Pretty interesting. However I think shaft deflection is sorely lacking in the models. Without knowledge of exactly where the shaft is bending and in what orientations knowing where the hands (hub in your lexicon) and clubhead are are somewhat meaningless. In other words. In large part the way a tour player releases the hands thru impact is a direct result of how they use forces to load the shaft. Club face angle is really key as well in determining what signature a golfer employs.

    • ooffa

      Jul 14, 2017 at 6:44 am

      your point?

    • Matt

      Jul 15, 2017 at 12:53 am

      I am familiar with shaflab. I don’t think they reached the conclusions you describe. Even if they did, its ancient technology – Fujikura’s Enso lab is a much better tool and they certainly don’t reach those conclusions. The Laws of the Golf Swing sounds more like the maybe there’s a propensity for this thing that we are going to claim is a law regarding the golf swing. I’m not buying loading patters and body type are any more than ever so slightly positively correlated. Why? Because I see so much evidence against it.

  5. Deadeye

    Jul 12, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I have Zepp. Not really of any help to me. I think things like it are only band aids that cause you to manipulate the club to obtain a picture perfect result. It’s just to support the concept of a positional golf swing as opposed to a directed energy (my term)) swing such as taught by Shawn Clement.
    Of course, golf being what it is, use whatever works for you.

  6. Shawn Clement

    Jul 12, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Michael!
    What methods do you use to get the higher handicap player to close in on the tour player characteristics? What was the focus at the time of the swing in each of the players graphs that you displayed here?
    Thank you! Shawn

    • ooffa

      Jul 12, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      No it’s not!

      • ooffa

        Jul 16, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        Please control your negativity. It is not necessary on this forum

    • CD

      Jul 14, 2017 at 3:41 am

      Must be something like apply force along the shaft, away from the target initially, tuck that right elbow and start extending the arm, twist around the shaft to close the face, get your hands wide and low, then yank it up through impact. I would say the hub path describes an athletic motion like throwing a ball far; you load the right arm, flex the elbow, then the elbow leads as you extend the arm. The intent – I don’t think there is an intent. I think top players watched others when they were young and allowed a human being’s own innate ability to throw (or do anything athletic) develop without conscious thought. When I’m throwing at a target I’m thinking of nothing, all someone once told me was ‘if your ball hits the target before the runner they are out’.

      In this instance, I would say to a high handicapper with a poor ‘hub path’ either intend to throw later, or at a different target. I might pose them an impact with body open and shaft leaning, get them to release the club forward five times and then let them ‘just swing’. All are generally surprised at the amount of lag they have without thinking about how they got to and through such a ‘position’. Or with a really top player I might work on them getting tier hands wider initially in transition whilst holding on the right leg.

  7. Meiko

    Jul 12, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Zepp shows your hand path. SkyPro will show you more data e.g. face angle at p6. But is on the shaft. SkyPro is also good for putting e.g. face angle at impact. Both $150. I recommend them both.

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Instruction

How to fix the root cause of hitting your golf shots fat

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Of all the shots golfers fear, hitting the ball FAT has to be right up at the top of the list. At least it heads the list of commonly hit poor shots (let’s leave the shank and the whiff out for now). After fat, I’d list topping, followed by slicing and then hooking. They are all round-killers, although the order of the list is an individual thing based on ability. Professionals despise a hook, but club golfers by and large fear FAT. Why?

First of all, it’s embarrassing. Secondly, it goes nowhere — at least compared to thin — and it can be physically painful! So to avoid this dreaded miss, golfers do any number of things (consciously or subconsciously) to avoid it. The pattern develops very early in one’s golf life. It does not take very many fat shots for golfers to realize that they need to do something differently. But rather than correct the problem with the correct move(s), golfers often correct a fault with a fault.

Shortening the radius (chicken-winging), raising the swing center, early lower-body extension, holding on through impact (saving it), running the upper body ahead of the golf ball and even coming over the top are all ways of avoiding fat shots. No matter how many drills I may offer for correcting any of those mistakes, none will work if the root cause of fat is not addressed.

So what causes fat? We have to start with posture. Some players simply do not have enough room to deliver the golf club on a good plane from inside to inside. Next on the list of causes is a wide, early cast of the club head. This move is invariably followed by a break down in the lead arm, holding on for dear life into impact, or any of the others…

“Swaying” (getting the swing center too far off the golf ball) is another cause of fat, as well as falling to the rear foot or “reversing the weight.” Both of these moves can cause one to bottom out well behind the ball. Finally, an excessive inside-out swing path (usually the fault of those who hook the ball) also causes an early bottom or fat shot, particularly if the release is even remotely early. 

Here are 4 things to try if you’re hitting fat shots

  1. Better Posture: Bend forward from the hips so that arms hang from the shoulders and directly over the tips of the toes, knees slightly flexed over the shoelaces, seat out for balance and chin off the chest!
  2. Maintaining the Angles: Casting, the natural urge to throw the clubhead at the golf ball, is a very difficult habit to break if one is not trained from the start. The real correction is maintaining the angle of the trail wrist (lag) a little longer so that the downswing is considerably more narrow than the backswing. But as I said, if you have been playing for some time, this is risky business. Talk to your instructor before working on this!
  3. Maintaining the Swing Center Over the Golf Ball: In your backswing, focus on keeping your sternum more directly over the golf ball (turning in a barrel, as Ernest Jones recommended). For many, this may feel like a “reverse pivot,” but if you are actually swaying off the ball it’s not likely you will suddenly get stuck with too much weight on your lead foot.
  4. Setting Up a Little More Open: If your swing direction is too much in-to-out, you may need to align your body more open (or feel that way). You could also work with a teaching aid that helps you feel the golf club is being swung more out in front of you and more left (for right-handers) coming through — something as simple as a head cover inside the golf ball. You’ll hit the headcover if you are stuck too far inside coming down.

The point is that most players do what they have to do to avoid their disastrous result. Slicers swing way left, players who fight a hook swing inside out and anybody who has ever laid sod over the golf ball will find a way to avoid doing it again. This, in my opinion, is the evolution of most swing faults, and trying to correct a fault with a fault almost never ends up well.

Get with an instructor, get some good videos (and perhaps even some radar numbers) to see what you are actually doing. Then work on the real corrections, not ones that will cause more trouble.

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Right Knee Bend: The Difference Between PGA Tour Players and Amateurs

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The knees play an especially important role in the golf swing, helping to transfer the forces golfers generate through our connection with the ground. When we look closer at the right knee bend in the golf swing, we’re able to get a better sense of how PGA Tour players generate power compared to most amateur golfers.

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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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