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Are These The Two Worst Swings in Golf? Not So Fast…

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A golf swing is like a fingerprint; no two are alike. While some golf swings may look more aesthetically pleasing, there’s no one swing that will be effective for every golfer. Just look to the PGA Tour for proof. You have your Adam Scotts and Jason Days, who have seemingly perfect swings, and then you have your Bubba Watsons and Jim Furyks. Their swings look less pleasing, but they’re not less effective.

The point is, every golfer is different and some golfers can make nearly any swing work. How a swing looks isn’t as important as what happens at impact.

One of the best parts of my job at Combine Performance in Scottsdale is having all the instructional tools at my disposal that help me to NOT change something in a golf swing if I don’t have to change it. Using the latest technology, we can look deep into the mechanics to see what actually needs to change to improve performance.

To demonstrate this point, I want to discuss “the high” and “the low” in the golf swing, and everything in between. The two swings below will help you see that perfection isn’t necessary to play this game… and play it well.

The High

unnamed-1Our GolfWRX Tour photographer snapped this photo recently on the range at a PGA Tour Pro-Am. According to our source, crowds were gathering to watch this man hit 240-yard draws from this backswing position.

The Low

This is swing so rounded that the head must rotate off the ball, and it’s certainly not something you’d teach. I saw this swing with my own eyes, however, and this gentleman also hit the ball 240 or so with a nice draw. In fact, he shot in the low 80’s that day at Bighornn on the Canyon’s Course, which is no slouch!

The Middle Ground

StickneyAtTheTop

After looking at the high and the low in the previous examples, you can now understand that the rest of our swings are somewhere in the middle, including myself (see above).

As a young golfer, I spent years on the range trying to build a swing that looked good. It was my first priority, and figured that playing well would come as a result. Boy was I wrong! As I have said before, golf is all about learning how to score. I’d rather score like Furyk than look like Ernie Els on a day when he’s struggling to find the center of the club face.

Here’s the question you need to answer for yourself: Are you willing to own your mechanics and make the ball talk, or must you try to conform to what everyone says the golf swing should look like and possibly not break 90?

The lesson to be learned here is that sometimes you just CAN’T move in a certain way due to past injury or X number of years doing it the other way. The key is to make your golf swing manageable, and if you do that, you can likely perform to your expectations. You must understand, however, that drastically unorthodox swing will likely only achieve a certain skill level of play.

In the golf instruction world, we have the technology to know exactly what will improve your swing. The question is, how much time to you have to execute the change? If the answer is “not much,” my advice is to learn to OWN your swing. Make peace with it… and make sure your short game is killer

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction at Combine Performance in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 60 people in the world.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Robert Parsons

    Sep 1, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Working or not, I’d still try to fix it and improve.

    • Jeb

      Sep 2, 2017 at 1:26 am

      Would you tell the obese guy to shrink his gut as the first obvious fix? You can’t safely rotate your core carrying all that fat ballast hanging over your belt. Golf can be dangerous for such obese men if they attempt to swing all that fat around their spine.

  2. Ron

    Sep 1, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Completely agree with this article. The issue is finding an instructor who is knowledgeable enough to only fix what he needs to. Most instructors these days seem to have one vision of the swing and try to teach that method to every one of their students.

    • OB

      Sep 1, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      You don’t plug in a swing into a body, you assess the body and then tailor a swing to that body type.
      There is a book called The L.A.W.s of the Golf Swing where they classify the body types and then determine the optimal swing mechanics for that body. I have the book and it is written by a pro teacher and biomechanists. It is the only book that I know of that attempts to type the body and then prescribe a swing style. All other instruction books, articles and videos apply a generic swing into some kind of standard body shape without regard to physical limitations.

    • MacD

      Sep 2, 2017 at 1:32 am

      A smart instructor would first try to sell those weirdos a new set of Single Length golf clubs and convince them that they will only need one swing style for all clubs. Then let them go and muddle about for a while and then have them come back for lessons. They are stuck with the club cost commitment so then they can be milked for lessons to get the kinks out of their new swing. It’s the same as reeling in a big fish.

  3. Steve S

    Sep 1, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Golf is a game of results. I play with a guy who appears to cut across the ball on every swing, including putts. He consistently breaks 80. He somehow squares the clubface at impact and hits baby fades on driver thru wedge and makes a lot of putts. His tempo is also extremely fast. He snatches the club back so fast it appears to be as fast as his downswing(but it’s not). He breaks every rule of the “conventional” golf swing but it works for him. He’s never had a lesson and should never have one!

    • pooch

      Sep 1, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Exactly.
      Is the ball straight? is it in the fairway? Results.

  4. TT

    Aug 31, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Looking at “tubby” he’s got his top of swing in front of him because he can’t rotate all the belly mass whatsoever. Not only does his belly interfere with rotation, it giggles around on it’s own so he simply blocks his hips. Swinging that belly mass would destabilize him and he would topple over.
    He has a pure “arm” swing and gets away with it to his credit. Keep on heavin’ tubby.

  5. Mower

    Aug 31, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Does the “Low” golfer have some kind of condition not enabling him to make a full backswing? It’s kinda weird… or… no – it’s full-blown weird.

  6. Roger McIntosh

    Aug 31, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    If it ain’t broke don’t overanalyze it. Let the jokers have fun no matter how grotesque.

  7. cgasucks

    Aug 31, 2017 at 9:30 am

    You don’t hit the ball with your backswing. It’s impact that really matters. Jim Furyk would agree with me.

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Instruction

Trackman Tuesday (Episode 2): Driver Loft

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Trackman Tuesday. In this weekly series, I will be using Trackman data to help you understand the game of golf in a little more detail and help you hit better shots and play better golf.

In this week’s episode, I look at driver loft. What effect does driver loft have on your shots and how important is it, really?

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How Far Away from the Ball Should You Be at Address?

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How far away from the ball should you be at address? This video is in response to a question from Tom McCord on Facebook.

In this video, I look at the setup position. I offer a simple way to check your distance from the ball at address with your driver, irons and wedges.

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Tour Pros Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up

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You want to be better at golf, more consistent and longer off the tee. I am sure a lot of you would love to stop hurting. You would like these things with minimal work, if possible. You also want them yesterday. That about sum it up?

In the next 5 minutes, you’ll learn about the one thing that solves these problems for good. Before we dive in, though, I want to tee up three stats for you from my research.

  1. PGA Tour players can jump between 18-22 inches off the ground while LPGA Tour players can jump between 16-20 inches off the ground. Long drive competitors can often leap 30+ inches off the ground!
  2. Elite-level golfers who drive the ball 300+ yards can shot put a 6-pound ball more than 30 feet with less than a 5-percent difference in right-handed to left-handed throws.
  3. Elite golfers in the world can hurl a medicine ball with a seated chest pass just as far in feet as they can jump in inches (ie. a 20-inch vertical leap and a 20-foot seated chest pass).

What do these numbers have to do with you and your game? More importantly, what do these stats have to do with solving your problems? Let’s start by telling you what the solution is.   

Objective Assessment and Intelligent Exercise Prescription

Say that three times fast. It’s a mouth full… But seriously, read it two more times and think about what that means.

It means that before you act on anything to improve your health or your game, you need to objectively assess what the problem is and get to the root cause. You should use quality objective data to arrive at intelligent health and golf improvement decisions based on the long-term likelihood that they will be successful. We can’t just select exercises, swing changes or training aids based on what is hot in the market today or what the latest celebrity was paid big bucks to sell to us.

There is a reason why the infomercials you see today on Golf Channel will be different in 2 months. The same gimmicks run out of steam when enough people realize that is what they are… gimmicks. When looking to achieve your goals of playing better golf and/or having less pain, don’t just grab for the quick fix as so many golfers today do. 

We are in the information age. Information from quality data is power. Using this data intelligently, you can fix problems in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Hopefully, I am giving you the power to make a meaningful and lasting change in your game. I’m sorry to say that most amateurs will not be hitting 300+ yard drives despite what the latest marketing ploy will have you believe. But, if you know what tests you can do to measure the areas that affect your distance off the tee, you can at least gain insight into where your biggest return on your time investment will be. 

This is where working with a golf fitness expert can be so valuable to you. Not only can they help you interpret your results from the tests, but they will also be able to prescribe you the most effective means to move closer to 300 yards from where you are right now.  

If you have a problem with your car not accelerating as fast as you would like or not being able to reach top end speed on the highway, I hope you take it to the mechanic and don’t just look up quick fixes on YouTube to see what you can do on your own. The reason you pay the mechanic to fix your car is because that is what they do all day. They will get it done as quickly as possible. More importantly, they’ll get correctly so that the problem doesn’t pop up again in 2 weeks.

A golf fitness expert is no different. Use them for their expertise and knowledge. Once you have a diagnosis of what is holding you back and a plan to correct it, you are on your way and won’t have to waste any more time or money trying silly quick fixes that never stick.

The three statistics mentioned earlier represent numbers measured across the globe by industry leaders and at our facility 3-4 times per year on hundreds of golfers each time. Our facility has thousands of data points. With this much data comes the ability to draw conclusions from objective assessments. These conclusions drive the intelligent implementation of successful solutions directed at the root causes of problems for thousands of golfers around the globe.

The first three statistics have an R-value of over 0.85 in correlation to clubhead speed. Translation: if you perform well in the first three tests with high numbers, you are very likely to have a high club speed. Further, if you improve in any of those three tests relative to where you started, you are almost assured to have a higher club speed than when you began (assuming swing technique and equipment is relatively unchanged).  

Keep in mind that in statistics, correlation is not the same as cause and effect. But when the R-value is that close to 1 and anecdotally you have seen the results and changes we have, you put some weight behind these three tests. So:

  • See how high you can jump
  • See how far you can shot put a 6-pound medicine ball
  • See how far you can chest pass a 6-pound medicine ball from a seated position

Doing so will give you an idea of how much power you have in your lower body, total rotary system and upper body respectively. Train whichever one is the worst, or train them all if you want. Rest assured that if you improve one of them, you will more than likely increase your swing speed.  

By doing these assessments and addressing the one or two weak areas, you will improve with the least work possible. Sounds about what you were looking for, right? If you are able to identify where you need to improve BEFORE you buy whatever is claiming to fix your problems, you will save lots of money and time. You will actually start to improve with the least amount of work possible and in the least amount of time possible.  

What’s next? After completing the assessment tests, start working to improve them.

  • Coming Soon: Lower Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Upper Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Rotary Power for Golf
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