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A Simple Drill to Help Strike the Ball Solid

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The hip-height-to-hip-height swing drill has helped many golfers achieve solid contact in a very short amount of time. In this article, I’m going to explain why you should practice this simple motion and how to do it to see your ball striking improve.

Doing this simple hip-height-to-hip-height swing motion can help you learn the tempo of your swing while improving many other aspects of your swing simultaneously.

Gaining control and developing confidence in your short swing is an excellent way to improve and imperative if you want to decrease your score. My instructional preference is to encourage the beginner or struggling golfer to practice brushing the ground in the same place every time, which develops control and fluency.

Set upMPA TOP fundamental in golf is being able to brush the ground in the same place every time. Gaining control over this shorter motion will build a huge amount of confidence into your golf game. It is also just as important as the more often practiced full swing.

The hip-height-to-hip-height golf swing helps golfers attack different aspects of their game with more assurance. Better balance, weight distribution, setup, grip and just getting comfortable over the golf ball are just a few of the benefits in making this motion correctly (stay tuned for tips and videos on those aspects of the game). It’s a necessary part of your game to focus on.

BSMPFT1What’s awesome about mastering this type of motion is that it lends itself to making a good full swing for longer shots. In fact, beginning golfers progress swiftly in this drill because they are typically relaxed. They often begin with little grip pressure and tension, so their swing automatically becomes longer after practicing the hip-to-hip swing.

BSFTThe hip-height-to-hip-height motion also allows you to effectively move the bottom of your golf swing forward and sweep the ball off the ground. Doing the drill, you will feel the weight of the golf club and get used to controlling the face and path on your shorter shots.

WingThe picture above is usually the “before picture” with many of my students, and the picture below is the “after.” This simple drill will get you hitting the ball solid every time!

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Jess Frank is a PGA Teaching Professional at Deer Creek Golf Club in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He's owner of the Jess Frank Golf Academy, and his passion is to help golfers play better and have more fun on the course. Students have described his instruction style as non-intimidating, friendly and easy to understand. Jess works with every level of golfer, and his lesson tee includes complete beginners and high-level golfers. Playing lessons are also a very important part of his lesson program. His greatest joy is seeing his students smile and get excited about playing golf! Please feel free to email him at pgapro@jessfrankgolf.com or contact him directly at 561-213-8579.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Bert

    Sep 3, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Nice well-written article, I used to practice this way and have become lazy in my old age. I intend to restart this routine slowly and make it a habit again.

  2. Doug Ferreri

    Sep 2, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Nice rendition of what Paul Bertholy, PGA taught me in 1980

  3. HeineyLite

    Sep 1, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Wow, a bunch of arm chair golf instructors!!!! Mr. Frank is only giving his opinion on what he thinks is a great drill. Leave it at that, try it, and if you don’t like it stop. Modern golf is here and we should all learn from it… Plus Mr. Frank is a professional… WELL DONE JF…

  4. Andrew Cooper

    Aug 31, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Good article and a great drill for all golfers. Its really effective because of its simplicity. Its amazing that some can’t take this drill without throwing in talk of power levers, zero spine bend, P3, P4, stacked etc.
    Just swing the club back and through and aim to brush the ground in a consistent spot. Your body will figure it out. Don’t try to throw your weight around or keep it rooted in one spot, don’t try to hinge your wrists or keep them stiff. Just swing the weight of the club back and through and let your body support and coordinate itself with the swinging motion. As the author says, get a feel for the weight of the club and develop control over the face and path and you can’t go wrong with this.

    • 4right

      Sep 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      When you go thru a session with an instructor that uses technology especially “Gears” you have those terms. That is modern golf and that is what most tour pros are doing. Try it sometime.

    • Dan

      Sep 22, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Very well said, Andrew – I can’t agree enough. I have been fortunate enough to play golf since I was 5. I’m an engineer in life, but I’ve always enjoyed myself more on the golf course, and been more successful, when I don’t get too technical. Maybe it has it’s place for those trying to tour for a living, but not for the rest of us.
      Jess, thanks so much for a well written explanation of a simple, but important drill. One that I have forgotten by middle age, but will definitely benefit myself and my kids, whom I’m trying to get into the game.

  5. Skip

    Aug 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    That “before” pic though LOL. C’mon, nobody swings like that. Even a rank beginner wouldn’t be swinging with the hands connected to the chest.

  6. Mike

    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you will try it tomorrow 🙂

  7. Billy

    Aug 30, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Great drill, Jess, but should you practice it with all the clubs from wedge to driver but only clipping the rubber range tee with the driver? Or should you stick to the shorter irons?
    Which club do you start with for beginners; the heavy wedge or the lighter 7-iron?
    Also, how often should beginners practice this drill each day and how many repetitions for muscle memory and confidence to take hold? Thanks.

    • Jess Frank

      Aug 31, 2017 at 7:32 am

      Hey Billy! Thanks for your note! I like to use a pitching wedge with beginner golfers off of a tee to produce solid contact and confidence. Yes, you can use any club but I recommend 7 iron to wedge to see the flight of the golf ball. You can practice this drill every day for the rest of your golfing life:)

      • AV

        Aug 31, 2017 at 11:19 am

        In my observations, ‘golfer’ and ‘practice’ is an oxymoron. Attempting to ‘practice’ with an inadequate body is not only frustrating it’s self-defeating. So the ‘golfer’ just hits a bucket of balls on the range and is ‘ready’ to conquer the golf course.
        Only serious and committed golfer train and practice because they know their game needs constant maintenance. Very few take an athletic approach to golf and are just satisfied having ‘fun’.

        • chipin

          Aug 31, 2017 at 5:43 pm

          sooooo obvious, You are being a fool!

        • Boss

          Sep 1, 2017 at 3:33 am

          Must be fun to lose so many balls every round, eh AV? Is it really that fun to lose that many balls?

  8. Bill

    Aug 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Great drill explained well. The other name for this drill is the 9 to 3 drill. Great for warming up after a bit of a layoff. And the drill as mentioned always progresses to a longer swing perfect for all irons.

  9. Oppai

    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Yeah but you’re stacked. Try doing that without stacking your left side and then tell us how the striking is for your students. I bet they don’t have enough coordination for this drill without keeping both their feet down, so how is that going to help with the whole swing? It’s only going to hurt their bodies

    • Rors

      Aug 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Being stacked is the best way in not hurting your body. The more the spine extends in the backswing, the power levers remain constant… Thus the spine has less rotational drag moving back and forth. Read the “golfing machine” by Homer Kelley…

      • SportsMed

        Aug 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm

        Very well put Rors’… Your spine at address in forward bend shouldn’t stay there at P3 or P4. The spine should go to zero at the point. Extension… This drill is very simple and should be very easy even for a novice player… Great drill Mr. Frank

        • Jess Frank

          Aug 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm

          Thank you very much SportsMed and Rors! Is this the real Rory McIlroy:)) Sports med I have always loved this drill for almost 20 years of teaching golf:)) Happy to share it with the Golfwrx world:) All levels of players get great results:)

      • LoBlo

        Aug 31, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Yeah until their ribs hurt, the back hurts, the ankle hurts, and can’t hit their driver, and they all end up quitting stack like the entire Tour. Brilliant.

        • HiRoad

          Sep 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm

          I guess you’ve never seen a video from athletic motion golf. A vast majority of touring professionals are stacked… Even back in Hogans day…

          • LoBlo

            Sep 2, 2017 at 3:40 am

            But we don’t recall them as legends. Name some, if you would, please

        • Frankie

          Sep 2, 2017 at 4:52 pm

          I wish I could provide you with 3D evidence to prove you so wrong, the average PGA Tour player at the top has their pelvis tilt 10 degrees TOWARDS the target (meaning right hip is higher than left hip) at the top of the backswing along with their thorax side tilt 35-40 degrees toward the target as well. These actions can’t happen without extension, the thorax bend at address actually goes to nearly 0, meaning almost vertical and the pelvis bend goes from 20 to 10-15 at the top of the backswing. I have a K-Vest 3D and the numbers are there, it is impossible to maintain thorax and pelvis bend and have 0 side tilt in the backswing, the head goes so far back and down, literally behind the back foot and chest level from address at the top. But as always, you will just refute clear evidence and stick to your own completely made-up beliefs with no evidence

    • RonaldRump

      Aug 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Hence the point of the drill!!! If you set your weight into the right side you’re not making a functional swing…

    • Jess Frank

      Aug 30, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks for your comments Oppai! I really appreciate the feedback! Students get better and gain confidence quickly in my experience on the lesson tee. In fact, just had a student struggling big time and used this drill and they started to hit a high draw. May not apply to everyone but I know it works!:) Thanks again!

      • stephenf

        Aug 31, 2017 at 11:04 am

        I have yet to see a student who wasn’t helped by this drill, and most are helped a _lot_. As for being “stacked,” we need to quit being locked into modern-era jargon. If you’re making a part swing like this, there’s not a lot of body movement anyway. And drills don’t necessarily mimic, and aren’t obligated to mimic, every movement in a full-effort swing.

        Bottom line, it’s a helluva good drill, no question.

      • AV

        Aug 31, 2017 at 11:22 am

        You gotta crawl before you can walk, and talk, like a true golfer. Every good golfer has suffered immensely to achieve his game. True?!

      • chipin

        Aug 31, 2017 at 5:42 pm

        Soooo Obvious you have no idea what you are talking about!

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Instruction

6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick

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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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Is There An Ideal Backswing?

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In this video, I talk about the backswing and look into optimal positions. I also discuss the positives and negatives of different backswing positions.

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Instruction

Build A More Consistent Short Game Through Better Body Movement

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So far in my collection of articles on GolfWRX, I’ve talked at length about the importance of posture, stability and movement patterns in the full swing, particularly utilizing the GravityFit equipment for feedback and training load. Many coaches use the same equipment to teach better movement in the putting, chipping, and pitching actions.

To help give some more insight into exactly how they do this, I have recruited Matt Ballard to co-author this article. Matt is an Australian-based coach and short game specialist who has been working with Adam Scott for the past year.

Matt Ballard (right) with Adam Scott.

According to Matt, the short game issue that the club players he coaches struggle with is contact and delivering consistent loft with their wedges.

“Most people tend to get steep, the handle comes in first and not enough loft is delivered,” he says. “This means that the bounce of the wedge isn’t being used properly, which makes control of contact, trajectory, and distance very difficult. ”

As Matt explains in the video below, this problem tends to manifest itself in chips and pitches that are either fat or thin, fly to short or not far enough, and either check up too soon or go rolling on past the pin.

The really frustrating part is the inconsistency. Not knowing how the ball is going to react makes committing to a shot extremely difficult. This has the unnerving effect of turning a simple task into something difficult… and pars into bogeys or worse. For the past few months, Matt has been using the GravityFit TPro to teach correct set up posture and body movement for chipping and pitching.

“I use the TPro to first of all establish spine and shoulder position,” Matt says. “I like my students to have the feel of their shoulders and forearms being externally rotated (turned out). From this position, it’s much easier to control the clubface (i.e. not getting it too shut or too open). The second benefit of using the TPro is controlling the golf club radius during the swing, with the radius being the distance the club head is from the center of the body. Controlling the radius is paramount to becoming an excellent wedge player. The third reason I use it is to help teach that pure rotation from the thoracic spine (mid/upper back), minimizing the excessive right side bend (for a right handed player) that gets so many people into trouble.”

20170712-_MG_5867

Nick demonstrating how TPro drills can be performed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essentially, Matt uses the GravityFit TPro to train a simple movement pattern that, once mastered, all but eliminate the typical problems normally associated with chipping and pitching.

“When (golfers) learn to turn using their thoracic spine and keep their arms in front of their body, it has a dramatic effect on how they deliver the club to the ball,” Matt says. “They are now able to maintain width or radius on either side of the ball, shallow out the club, and engage the bounce (sole) of the wedge to interact with the turf effectively, which is a key trait of all excellent wedge players. Doing this greatly increases their margin for error from a strike perspective and produces a far more consistent outcome in terms of loft, trajectory and distance control.”

Here is Matt’s 5-step process that you can follow with the TPro:

  1. Push handles out in front of your body, keeping slight bend in elbow.
  2. Stretch tall. Feel the green spikes in your middle/upper back and your shoulder blades on the paddles.
  3. Hinge forward into posture for pitching or chipping (the shorter the shot, narrower the stance.).
  4. Slowly turn chest into backswing, keep arms out in front of body, and maintain pressure on the spikes and paddles.
  5. Turn through to finish position using normal tempo, maintaining same pressure on the TPro and keeping arms in front of your body.

In summary, using the TPro and Matt’s drill can help you train a simple movement pattern that can give you far more control over the strike, trajectory and distance of your chips and pitches.

Click here to learn more about the TPro. To discover more pearls of wisdom from Matt, take a look at his website here and his social media activity here.

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