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Everybody’s talking about ground reaction forces and using the ground properly to gain speed and power in the golf swing, but it’s far more important to understand the key core movements of the great players. Focus on those and forget about “pushing off the ground” or “using the ground” to generate power. You’ll love the results.


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Lucas Wald is a former touring professional turned instructor. Lucas has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of the Best Young Teachers in America (2016-2017) and the Best Teacher in Arkansas (2017). His notable students include Brad Faxon, Brandel Chamblee, Jeff Flagg (2014 World Long Drive Champion), and Victoria Lovelady (Ladies European Tour). Lucas has been sought out by some of the biggest names in the game for his groundbreaking research on the golf swing, and he’s known for his student case studies – with juniors, adult amateurs, and tour pros – that show that significant improvement in power and ball striking is possible in golfers of all levels. Check out his website - - and be sure to follow Lucas on social media.



  1. RBImGuy

    Mar 20, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Dead wrong

  2. Ed

    Jan 30, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Ground Reaction Forces, GRFs, are exactly that; the reaction forces that are applied in the ground from the forces and torques that the golfer generates in their golf swing.
    If you understand and are able to measure the forces that are applied to the ground through the feet you will better understand what is happening within your golf swing.
    If your golf swing is good then you should forget about “Using the Ground” because the ground forces are reaction forces. You can’t get extra power from GRFs because they ARE the forces that you generate in your golfswing, nothing more.

  3. Tumba

    Jan 30, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Activate the glutes

    • Ed

      Jan 31, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      To activate the glutes requires a neuro-muscular signal from your brainlet. It’s all programmed in the brainlet.
      The golfswing involves big muscles. There is no ‘muscle memory’ because big muscles have an IQ of about 4. Big muscles are stupid muscles and inherently clumsy.

      • Joe

        Feb 1, 2018 at 8:48 am

        you guys have come up with a bunch of BS like band-aid fixes in the golf magazines. You do leverage the ground for more power. Just like the bad instruction that teachers say “be in a athletic stance” be ready to move. Hog wash!! You use you glutes when you load into your left side and then back to the right side.

        • OB

          Feb 1, 2018 at 11:24 am

          But you also use your leg quads to stabilize your legs, perhaps moreso than the glutes. Many golfers have big glutes but their legs are weak and useless because they can’t lunge laterally from the left to the right side (for RH golfers).
          Tour pros have solid muscular legs in addition to strong glutes while most rec golfers are leg deficient because of their sedentary lifestyle. Office workers do not make good golfers.

  4. Andrew Cooper

    Jan 30, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Good stuff Lucas. “Using the ground” confuses what happens in a good swing with what you should be thinking of doing.

    • tony

      Jan 31, 2018 at 2:15 am

      … and what should you be thinking of doing…. answer that… 😛

  5. Marc

    Jan 30, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    He’s not wrong that the golf instruction world tries to find some buzz word (i.e. ground forces) to latch on and run with. For a time it’s “stack & tilt” and then it’s “one-plane”, then it’s “X-Factor”. But he shouldn’t discount the presence of it either. For me, the proper use of the ground is a result of an effective sequence and motion. So, it happens anyways. You don’t need to do it on purpose.

    • tony

      Jan 31, 2018 at 2:18 am

      IOW, GRFs only happen if you generate GF&Ts in your body… 😎

    • Andrew Cooper

      Jan 31, 2018 at 2:57 am

      Think of whatever works for you. But you should never have to think of “using the ground”-anyone with any athletic sense will do that naturally, as they would do in any throwing or hitting athletic motion. The kinetic chain is hard-wired into us.

      • Ed

        Jan 31, 2018 at 12:46 pm

        Suggest you do a Wiki search on “open” and “closed” kinetic chains …. and then apply it to the golf swing and GRFs. Wald should also learn about the kinetic chains and GRFs to better understand the science because his interpretations are erroneous.

        • Andrew Cooper

          Jan 31, 2018 at 3:32 pm

          Ed, understanding the kinetic sequence is a starting point, but the bigger question is what should a golfer be thinking of doing to make that good sequence show up? “Using the ground” obviously and measurably happens, but it’s questionable whether a golfer could or should consciously try to do it, keeping in mind the fraction of a second that it takes to move the club from the top of the backswing to impact.

          • Ed

            Jan 31, 2018 at 7:09 pm

            Of course golfers shouldn’t try to consciously sense the forces their feet/shoes apply to the ground when playing. However, it should be part of their practice routine and quantified on force plates to ensure their force patterns are consistent and appropriate. Force plate GRFs reveal how and when you generate forces within your body; forces that are ALL resolved into the ground as GRFs. Force diagrams and numbers reveal everything. “Feel” only reveals “feeelings” and feeelings are emotions. Are you an emoticon golfer? 😉

            • Regis

              Feb 1, 2018 at 5:39 am

              But realistically probably less than 1% of avid golfers have access to force plate training and probably less than 10% even know what’s involved. The problem (which I think is the authors point) is that when modern teaching sets focus on using the ground it results in a practise range of golfers jumping around like mexican jumping beans. Thats true of overemphasis of any one swing ckmpknent

              • OB

                Feb 1, 2018 at 11:19 am

                But if avid golfers don’t synchronize their golf swing to their GRFs that means they have a faulty swing. Instead of seeking more distance and control from their clubs they should seek out a teacher using force plates to optimize their swing dynamics. Knowledge is power.

  6. 4right

    Jan 30, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Exactly HL… If you didn’t use ground force, it would feel like being suspended under water, or floating in air, slow and less energetic. I’m sure Mr. Ward’s points are valid, but the sequence is more important. The vast majority of us regular golfers get tossed in with the world’s best and that is not a far comparison… Top players have far more talent and god given abilities to play at that level.

  7. HeineyLite

    Jan 30, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Question? Where do they get the energy to rotate then? The ground!!!

    • tony

      Jan 31, 2018 at 2:20 am

      No… you get the energy to rotate from your brand new club head which is loaded with power… according to the advertising. I mean just look how powerful the clubs are in the hands of the tour pros. You can buy that power and feel what the pros feeel.

      • 4right

        Jan 31, 2018 at 9:48 am


        • Nac

          Jan 31, 2018 at 12:42 pm

          So true! When you hand someone an ax to chop a tree down you do not need to tell them how to use the ground to swing the ax harder. It’s a natural move.

          • Ed

            Jan 31, 2018 at 12:50 pm

            Yes it’s natural for chopping wood but you had better synchronize your golfswing mechanics so your GRFs are proper. Somebody with a reverse pivot has faulty GRF results.
            Golf instructors are learning about GRFs from force plate technology because everything that happens dynamically in your body appears as GRFs. GRF or GTH.

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Davies: The Trail Elbow In The Downswing



In this video, I discuss the role of the trail elbow in the downswing. I also share some great drills to help golfers deliver the trail elbow correctly, which will help improve distance and contact.

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The 3 different levels of golf practice



“I would have practiced as hard, but I would have made my practice more meaningful. I would have worked more on my short game and putting. I would’ve done a lot more drills to make the practice more meaningful, and I would’ve added pressure to the practice as much as possible.” — Lee Westwood

Now here’s the rub. Practice is not monolithic! I approach practice as having three different, distinctive and separate curriculum and criteria.

  • Level 1: Basic
  • Level 2: Advanced
  • Level 3: Extreme

Basic Practice (Level 1) by definition is “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.” Basically, it’s doing the same thing over and over again to get better at it. My favorite skill that requires practice is the 76-yard “flighted wedge.” I do it, and I recommend it be done at every range practice session. Additionally, I identify and then practice as many different “skills” that are required to hit different golf shots. I have found that a non-pressurized environment is the best way to practice in a basic model.

It goes without saying that golf is not played in a pressure-free environment, so basic practice doesn’t help us play golf. The prime objective of Level 2 Practice (Advanced Training) is to take what you do in Basic Practice to the golf course.

First, create on-course situations that require you to hit the shots you have practiced. There should be rewards for demonstrations of competence, and there should be consequences for demonstrations of incompetence

“When you practice, try to find a situation to fit the shot you’re trying to practice.” — Ben Hogan

For example, a major problem is the unevenness of the lies you will encounter during play as opposed to the lies you used for your drills. From marginal to extreme, lies are difficult to replicate on the practice tee. So, play a round of golf and move the ball into the most undesirable lie that is very close to where you are.

Another example would be duplicating the creativity that is sometimes required during actual play. The prime example of that would be the sensation of “being in-between clubs.” I would suggest that you play an occasional round of golf using only half of your clubs. Take two wedges instead of four. Take only the “odd” or “even” numbered irons. Look at not taking the driver, or not taking all of your fairway clubs. I have not taken my putter, which forced me putt with my sand wedge!

A third example would be to play a round of golf and deliberately miss every green in regulation. Should your ball accidentally finish on the green in regulation just move it off into the rough, a bunker or whatever else could use the extra attention. You can create games where your opponent moves your ball off the green into something that would be advantageous to him.

Level 2 Practice is conducted on the practice ground as well as on the course. What I do and recommend is to take each of the shots, skills and drills used in Level 1 and add some accountability to the range experience. I have my students and clients use a “Practice Book” to schedule activities and to keep track of improvement.

Author Note: I will send you a sample practice book page that many of my players actually use. Request it at

Please be advised that Level 2 Practice can feature games, wagering or other forms of friendly competitions because they should only activate the lesser emotions of irritation, annoyance, anticipation, anxiousness, joy, pleasure and disappointment. Dealing with these feelings in practice will help you recognize and deal with the minor stresses experienced by most recreational golfers.

Stress is the major cause of “CHOKING.”

Stress, by definition “is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can ruin our ability to perform when we experience the major emotions such as fear, anger, shame, humiliation, euphoria, ridicule, betrayal, doubt and/or disbelief.

Level 3 Practice (Extreme Preparation) is on-course training sessions best suited for very serious competitive golfers. The more a player is able to compete in a simulated or controlled environment that accurately replicates the actual “pressures” that produce the kind of stresses that can effect performance, the better the player will perform when stressed in actual tournaments or events. Please be advised that Extreme Practice DOES NOT feature games, gambling or “friendly” competitions. They don’t control the conditions of play sufficiently to replicate the type of pressure that would induce “stress.”

“Simulation, which  is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion.” For many years now, the medical profession has used simulations to train doctors, the military has used simulations to prepare troops for the realities of the battlefield and aviation has used simulators to train pilots. Simulating has the added benefits of being cost and time effective while producing verifiable results.

If it’s possible for airlines to replicate every possible scenario that a pilot could experience in the cockpit by using simulations, then why isn’t it possible to replicate situations, and subsequent emotional responses, that a competitive golfer could experience on the golf course? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

“I got nervous all the time, as nervous as the next guy. It’s just that I caught myself before it became destructive.” Jack Nicklaus

Recent events at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play gives us some evidence of the destructiveness of uncontrolled emotions. Justin Thomas said that he couldn’t get the thought out of his mind of becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world should he defeat Bubba Watson in the semi-finals, which he failed to do.

“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much,” Thomas said. “And that really sucked. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.”

Then there was Ian Poulter being told that with his win over Louis Oosthuizen he had earned a spot in this years’ Masters tournament only to be told 10 minutes before his next match that he had not actually secured the coveted invitation. With elation, joy and satisfaction jerked away and replaced with disappointment, and possibly anger, the Englishman went out and got whipped by Kevin Kisner 8 & 6!

I concede that Justin Thomas’ and Ian Poulter’s situations were so unique that simulation-based practice and preparation techniques may not have been available to them, but now they both must know that their performance was effected negatively by mental stresses. And with that knowledge they may want to get tougher mentally. Level 3 Practice does that!

Not all that long ago, I was approached by a PGA Tour veteran for some on-course, one-on-one training. He was experiencing severe “choking” in pressurized short-game situations. So I took him out on the course and we replicated the exact shots he had problems with in the past. He demonstrated that he could perform each and every shot in a stress-free environment. We went into a “low-stress” training environment and his performance began to suffer. Then, at his urging to get “real,” we went into a “high-stress” practice mode and he melted down. Without going into details, he became so angry that not only couldn’t he hit golf shots, he tried to run me down with the golf cart as he retreated to the safety of his car.

Now, that’s not the end of the story. A few hours later, after some soul searching, he apologized for his lack of self-control and acknowledged that he had recognized the early signs of stress growing internally as we worked. We went back out onto the course and got back to work.

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Winning Ways: Here’s what it takes to become a winner in Junior Girls golf



Every competitive golfer strives to win, and I want to help them achieve their goals. Recently, I wrote a story highlighting the statistics behind winning in junior boys golf, and how they can do it more often. Now, we set out to examine the data on winning in junior girls golf, and provide ways they can improve. The data is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways that juniors can practice building skills and work towards becoming tournament winners.

The Winning Scores

In 2017 the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average girl’s tournament course measured 6145 yards. The average winning score for girls was 146 (36 holes), or 73 per round. Ten of the 22 tournaments where won with scores of 144 or better and the low 36 holes total was a whopping 133! In the data collection we also collected the average 10th place scores girls. The average 10th place score for girls was 159 or 79.5.

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical female player who averages 73. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted in the infographics below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

The Winning Preparation

Junior girls are encouraged to use these stats as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 73 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve. For example, a junior might notice they have more 3-putts than the model. To improve, they could work put more time into practice, as well as playing games on the golf course like draw-back and 2-putt.

  • Drawback is a game where after your first putt, you draw the second putt one putter length away from the hole. This often changes a shorter putt (> 2 feet) to a putt of between 3.5 – 5 feet. This putts significantly more pressure on your putting.
  • You may also play Two-Putt, a game where when you reach the green, you (or your playing competitor) tosses the ball away from the hole. You must 2-putt from that spot to move to the next hole (even if it takes a couple attempts!).

Others reading this article might find that they don’t hit enough greens. Improving this area will require more consistent strikes, which may require further technical development and block practice, as well as working on the golf course. To start, I would recommend that every junior implement the yardage rule. The yardage rule works like this; figure out the distance to the very back of the green. For example, this number may be 157. Then figure out what club ALWAYS flies 157, which might be 6-iron. Then choose 7-iron for the shot. This way your best shot will not fly the green, your average shot will likely be in the middle of the green and your less-than-perfect shot will hopefully end up on the front of the green.

During practice rounds, play competitive games with yourself to sharpen your ability to hit greens. For example, if you normally hit 7 greens per round, in practice your goal might be 9. You would track your results over a month and then see your progress.

Beyond building individual skills, like hitting greens or working on putting, junior golfers need times to play competitive rounds on their home golf courses. Ideally, these rounds are played against other people with similar skills and done under tournament like conditions with consequences (loser buys winner a coke or cleans their golf clubs). Playing hundreds of rounds at your home golf course under these conditions gives you a unique opportunity to sharpen your game, learn your tendencies and build skills such as endurance and mental toughness. Most importantly, it teaches you to win and shoot under par!

Please also keep in mind building these skills may take months (or even years). In my own personal experience, when I set out to improve my birdies per round, it took nearly 4 months and 75+ rounds and significant practice to begin to see a change. Depending on your schedule and access to resources like a golf course and instructor, some changes might take a year or more. Regardless, don’t ever worry; building a solid foundation in golf will always lead to rewards!

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