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You need to understand your golf swing “signature”



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.


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.

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  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…… 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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Functional Golf vs. Optimal Golf



Optimize this, optimize that. We hear so much about “optimal” golf these days. It’s great that we now have the technology to seemingly optimize every aspect of the golfer, the golf swing, and the golf club, but we have to be realistic in terms of our goals. Ask yourself this question: If I can’t do this optimally, is there a way I can still do it better?

And… how do we define better? That’s easy. More solid impact.

Yes, optimal golf is what we’d all like and perhaps that is the concern of highly skilled players. But for the vast majority of golfers, functional golf might be more realistic. John Jacobs, the best teacher ever, called his approach “practical.” I’m using the term functional in a similar, albeit more specific way. And many of my regular readers know by now that I credit Jacobs for whatever success I’ve had as an instructor.

During a recent lesson, I pointed out a particular swing flaw to a student while we were reviewing his swing on video. He stopped me and said: “See that, what you’re showing me right there? I have done that my whole life. I’ve taken a number of lessons and they all mentioned that very move, and I CANNOT change it. Why is that?”

I thought, man, if I had a few bucks for every time I’ve heard that I’d be, uh,  pretty comfortable.

There are certain habits some golfers simply cannot break no matter how hard they try. For one reason or another, they’re physically incapable of changing. I have observed this for more than 30 years over thousands and thousands of lessons. Does this mean you can’t change the problems these moves may cause? No, absolutely not. There’s a long list of major champions with so called  “flaws” in their swings, from Nicklaus’ flying elbow to Furyk and his quirky move. But what these greats did is find a move that they CAN make, one that’s compatible with their core move.

If you have a move that, for whatever reason, is embedded in the fabric of your golfing DNA, it is probably best you do not beat your head against a wall trying to  change that move, however flawed it may seem. Rather, let’s see if we can find something that blends with that move that you CAN execute.

The golfer I was teaching suffered from fat shots and blocks due to an early release. He simply never learned “lag” or a later hit. So the bottom of the swing arc ended up behind the golf ball more often than not. This golfer has done this for some 20 years, so instead of trying to reinvent the wheel I took a different approach. I asked him to address the golf ball with more weight on his left side. Things got a little better. More weight on the left side, even better, and so on. In other words, we started his motion from a different place, one that was more functional for him.

To help this golfer create a more functional golf swing, I had to move his center of mass forward. It wasn’t optimal perhaps, but his real problem (fat shots) had to be addressed within his current skill set. “If I could just stop drop kicking every shot, I’d be happy,” he said. In other words, we worked out a compromise, a way he could hit the ball more cleanly and enjoy golf more.

As an instructor, that’s pretty much what I do every day. I’m always looking for a compatible motion that balances golf swing equations. “If that is a band aid, you better buy a whole box,” Jacobs would say.

I teach in a community of largely senior golfers. Senior but serious, I call them. They are looking for a way to put the club on the ball more often, which means a better impact position. There is no “in the long run” for seniors. I don’t say, “Let’s make a plan for later” because some are fearful of buying green bananas, let alone working hard on a long-term plan. There is also no “new” when your old move has been around most of your golfing life. Senior golfers, myself included, are on the back nine, much closer to the 18th green than the 1st tee. And most golfers are not going back and starting their round over… believe me. But this doesn’t mean they can’t play better. And they do. Every day.

This lesson likely applies to you even if you are younger and more physically capable. Some things just don’t change, and perhaps the learning psychologists or biomechanists can better tell you why. That’s why I encourage all serious golfers to work with an instructor to identify what moves in their swing simply will not change. Then they should learn to work around them, not try to fix them. That’s the way to better golf.

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A Jedi Mind Trick For Improved Target Awareness



I think all golfers, at some point in their life playing the game of golf, has gotten stuck, or become frozen over the golf ball. Why?  They’re trying to remember which of the 23 different swing thoughts they used for the day performed the best.

The disheartening reality: none of us are going to perform well on a consistent basis with our thoughts being so internally driven. Swing thoughts force our awareness inward. Is the shaft in the correct position? Am I making a proper pressure shift? Was that a reverse pivot? Close that club face! Regardless of the technique you are trying to manage or modify, these kinds of questions make you acquire sensations internally.

To complicate things further, we are taught to look at the golf ball, not the target, while hitting our golf shot. And yet instinctively, in almost all other skills of making a ball or object finish towards a target (throwing a ball or frisbee, kicking a soccer ball, skipping a rock across water, shooting a basket ball) our awareness is not on the ball or the motion itself, but rather the ultimate target.

So, can we develop a skill that allows us to still keep our eye on the ball, like the game of golf encourages, but have awareness of our target, like so many other target sports demand?  Yes, the answer is (third rate Yoda Speak), and the skill can easily be yours.

Here’s where this gets fun. You already have learned this skill set, but under different conditions. Perhaps this example resonates with you. Did you ever play hide-and-seek as a child? Remember how you used to close your eyes and count to 10? During those 10 seconds of having your eyes closed, weren’t you using all of your senses externally, trying to track where your friends were going to hide? Weren’t you, just like a bloodhound, able to go directly to a few of the less skillful hiders’ hiding places and locate them?

Or how about this example. When you are driving down your own local multilane highway, aren’t you aware of all the cars around you while keeping your eyes firmly on the road in front of you? Reconnecting, recognizing and/or developing these skills that all of us already use is the first step in knowing you’re not too far away from doing this with your golf game.

Here’s what I want you to do. Grab a putter and place your golf ball 3 feet away from the hole on a straight putt. Aim your putter, and then look at the hole. As you bring your eyes back to the golf ball, maintain part of your awareness back at the hole. Each successive time your eyes leave your golf ball and head back to the hole, your eyes will be able to confirm your target. It hasn’t moved; it’s still in the same location; your confidence builds.

When you know for certain that your external awareness of the target is locked in while still looking at your golf ball, step up and execute your putt.

The wonderful beauty of this skill set is that you now have the best of both worlds. You are still looking at the golf ball, which gives you a better chance of striking the golf ball solidly… AND you are now target aware just like you are when you are throwing an object at a target.

As always, acquire this skill set from a close target with a slower, smaller motion. If you don’t execute properly, you have a better chance of making the proper corrective assessment from a slower, smaller motion and closer target. As you become more proficient with this skill, allow the target to get farther away and try to add more speed with a larger range of motion.

So give learning this skill set a go. I don’t think there is anything more valuable in playing the game of golf than keeping your “athlete” attached to the target. Become proficient at developing this awareness and you can tell all your friends that the primary reason your scores are getting lower and you’re getting deeper into their wallets is because of Jedi Mind tricks. Good luck!

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6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick



One of the most impactful improvements you can make for your game is to hit more greens; you’ll have more birdie opportunities and will avoid bogeys more often. In fact, hitting more greens is the key to golfing success, in my opinion… more so than anything else.

However, there is a misconception among players when it comes to hitting approach shots. When people think “greens,” they tend to only think about the flagstick, when the pin may be the last thing you should be looking at. Obviously, we’d like to stick it on every shot, but shooting at the pin at the wrong time can cost you more pain than gain.

So I’d like to give you a few rules for hitting greens and aiming at the flagstick.

1) Avoid Sucker Pins

I want you to think about Hole No. 12 at Augusta and when the pin is on the far right side of the green… you know, the Sunday pin. Where do the pros try and aim? The center of the green! That’s because the right pin is by all means a sucker pin. If they miss the shot just a touch, they’re in the water, in the bunker, or left with an impossible up-and-down.

Sucker pins are the ones at the extreme sides of the green complex, and especially the ones that go against your normal shot pattern.

So go back to No. 12 with a far right pin, and say your natural shot shape is right-to-left. Would you really aim out over the water and move it towards the pin? That would be a terrible idea! It’s a center of the green shot all day, even for those who work it left-to-right. Learn to recognize sucker pins, and you won’t short side yourself ever again.

2) Are You a Good Bunker Player?

A “sucker pin,” or just a difficult hole location, is often tucked behind a bunker. Therefore, you should ask yourself, “am I a good bunker player?” Because if you are not, then you should never aim at a pin stuck behind one. If I wanted to shoot at pins all day, I’d make sure I was the best lob wedge player around. If you are not a short-game wizard, then you will have a serious problem attacking pins all round.

For those who lack confidence in their short game, or simply are not skilled on all the shots, it’s a good idea to hit to the fat part of the green most of the time. You must find ways to work around your weaknesses, and hitting “away” from the pin isn’t a bad thing, it’s a smart thing for your game.

3) Hitting the Correct Shelf

I want you to imagine a pin placed on top of a shelf. What things would you consider in order to attack this type of pin? You should answer: shot trajectory, type of golf ball, your landing angle with the club you’re hitting, the green conditions, and the consequences of your miss. This is where people really struggle as they forget to take into account these factors.

If you don’t consider what you can and cannot do with the shot at hand, you will miss greens, especially when aiming at a pin on a shelf. Sometimes, you will simply have to aim at the wrong level of the green in order to not bring the big number into play. Remember, if you aim for a top shelf and miss, you will leave yourself with an even more difficult pitch shot back onto that same shelf you just missed.

4) Know your Carry Distances

In my opinion, there is no excuse these days to not know your carry distances down to the last yard. Back when I was growing up, I had to go to a flat hole and chart these distances as best I could by the ball marks on the green. Now, I just spend an hour on Trackman.

My question to you is if you don’t know how far you carry the ball, how could you possibly shoot at a pin with any type of confidence? If you cannot determine what specific number you carry the ball, and how the ball will react on the green, then you should hit the ball in the center of the green. However, if the conditions are soft and you know your yardages, then the green becomes a dart board. My advice: spend some time this off-season getting to know your distances, and you’ll have more “green lights” come Spring.

5) When do you have the Green Light?

Do you really know when it’s OK to aim at the pin? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help:

  • How are you hitting the ball that day?
  • How is your yardage control?
  • What is the slope of the green doing to help or hinder your ball on the green?
  • Do you have a backstop behind the pin?

It’s thoughts such as these that will help you to determine if you should hit at the pin or not. Remember, hitting at the pin (for amateurs) does not happen too often per nine holes of golf. You must leave your ego in the car and make the best decisions based on what information you have at that time. Simple mistakes on your approach shot can easily lead to bogeys and doubles.

6) When is Any Part of the Green Considered a Success?

There are some times when you have a terrible angle, or you’re in the rough/a fairway bunker. These are times when you must accept “anywhere on the green.”

Left in these situations, some players immediatly think to try and pull off the “miracle” shot, and wonder why they compound mistakes during a round. Learn to recognize if you should be happy with anywhere on the green, or the best place to miss the ball for the easiest up and down.

Think of Ben Hogan at Augusta on No. 11; he said that if you see him on that green in regulation then you know he missed the shot. He decided that short right was better than even trying to hit the green… sometimes you must do this too. But for now analyze your situation and make the best choice possible. When in doubt, eliminate the big numbers!

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19th Hole