There is a big disconnect for many golfers when it comes to their short game. Too frequently, golfers are trying to implement characteristics of their power game for their short shots. I am a firm believer that all golfers need to perfect four different golfing movements to help them maximize their games. They are…
- Rolling the golf ball on the ground, or putting.
- Maximizing distance when hitting the golf ball off of a tee.
- Maximizing distance when hitting the golf ball off of the ground.
- Minimizing distance when hitting the golf ball off of the ground.
What this article hopes to address is some different concepts to help our GolfWRX readers excel at movement No. 4, or minimizing distance when witting the golf ball off of the ground.
To keep things simple, I want my GolfWRX readers to start asking themselves, “Will this concept help me hit the golf ball farther, or shorter?” If you’re not sure, go on out and experiment yourself! Or, let’s take a look at a few variables to help you get a head start.
1) Ball position
Which ball position will hit the golf ball farther; toward the target foot or the back foot? Many golfers are taught to place their ball position towards their back foot for short shots, especially chipping. While this does encourage ball first contact, it also de-lofts the golf club, which typically produces golf shots that launch lower and travel farther. The more you have your ball position starting at the middle of your stance and moving more towards the target, the higher your golf ball wants to launch and the less it wants to travel.
2) Lower body positioning
Which lower body positioning will hit the golf ball farther; a lower body that is open and facing the target, or facing the golf ball? Many golfers are taught to open their lower body at address, or have their facing the target more than they are facing the golf ball. This is frequently taught because it helps golfers get a head start on returning to a similar impact position that is achieved with your full swing. If we want our hips to be facing the target to maximize distance, starting with our stance in that position seems to be defeating the purpose of hitting a golf ball a shorter distance. Rather, I want you to consider keeping your body facing the golf ball and limit your lower body’s rotation, especially on your down swing. Your lower body should be used more as a resource for stability, not power.
3) Width of stance
Which width of stance will hit the golf farther; a wider stance, or a narrower stance? Many golfers are taught to widen their base to maintain balance and supports lateral motion for full swing shots, or golf shots we want to travel the farthest. Unfortunately, this wider stance really affects the consistency to the bottom of our swing arc for short shots. To add fuel to the fire, a wider stance can encourage lateral motion, which can be an unnecessary source of power for short shots. Therefore, for most short shots, I want to encourage a narrower stance.
4) Club face positioning
Which club face will hit the golf ball farther; a club face that is closed, or a club face that is open? When the club face is open (or pointed to the right of the target for a right handed golfer), there is more loft and less mass behind the golf ball, which produces shots that launch higher but travel shorter distances. When the club face is closed (or pointed to the left of the target for a right handed golfer), there is less loft and more mass behind the golf ball, which produces shots that launch lower but travels greater distances.
Many of us are taught to grab the golf club in a closed face position to help us square up the club face for our full swing shots. This is a characteristic that matches up well for skill sets No. 2 and 3, hitting the golf ball as far as possible. However, to have a better chance of hitting shots a shorter distance, you can choose the grab the golf club with a more open faced grip to help you keep your club face open and hit higher launching, shorter traveling golf shots.
6) Wrist positioning
Which wrist position will hit the golf ball farther; a wrist position in flexion (bowed) or a wrist position in extension (cupped)? When you look at Dustin Johnson’s swing, you see wrists that are in flexion, which is a big component that helps Dustin keep his club face closed throughout his golf swing. Wrists in flexion are a wonderful component to hit the golf ball a long way, but may not be the greatest position to hit the golf ball a short distance. Consider placing your wrists in extension, which helps open the face through out the strike.
7) Forearm rotation
Will you hit the golf ball farther if you pronate your forearms, or supinate your forearms? If you rotate your forearms counter clockwise, or pronate them (as a right handed golfer), you’re closing the club face. If you rotate your forearms in a clockwise manner, or supinate them (as a right handed golfer), you are opening your club face.
Which path will help you hit the golf ball farther; a path that is a draw oriented path, or a path that is a fade oriented path? Assuming you are trying to hit golf shots straight, a draw oriented path matches up more efficiently to a closed club face. Likewise, a fade oriented path always matches up to an open club face position. Per our conversation above regarding club face properties, we want to encourage a fade oriented path to help hit the golf ball a shorter distance.
The big key for all of you GolfWRX golfers reading this article is to now go out and experiment with all of these variables, and see which components work for you! You might find that the extended wrist positioning works well for you with thick rough conditions, but poorly from tight lies. You might find that a square body helps you from tight lies, but maximizes your ability to hit the golf ball with your sand wedge at 30 yards. You might find that playing from more of an open faced grip helps you for all shots inside of 40 yards. Experiment with the variables and find the right components that work for you. Good luck!
The value of video
In the age of radar and 3-D measuring systems, video analysis has somewhat taken a backseat. I think that’s unfortunate for a few reasons. First of all, video is still a great assist to learning, and secondly, it is readily available and it can be accessed continually.
Of course, it has limitations, that is a given. It is ultimately a 2-D image of a three-dimensional motion. The camera cannot detect true path, see plane, and can be misleading if not positioned properly. That said, I still use it on every lesson, because, in my experience, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Things like posture, ball position, and aim can all be seen clearly when the camera is positioned exactly as it should be. In swing observations such as maintenance of posture, club angles, arms in relation to body, over the top, under, early release can all be a great help to any student.
But the real value is in the “feel versus real” area! None of us, from professional to beginner, can know what we are actually doing. The very first reaction I get upon viewing, is “wow, I’m doing that?” Yes, you are. You did NOT pick up your head as you thought you were doing, you ARE lifting well out of your posture, you are NOT coming “over the top”, your aim is well left of where you think you’re aiming, your club is pointing well right of your aim point at the top of the swing, your transition is excessively steep, your lead arm is very bent at impact, the clubhead is past your hands, your wrists are cupped or bowed and on and on!
Some of these positions may be a problem; some may be irrelevant. It’s all about impact, and how you’re getting there that matters. The chicken wing that is causing you to top the ball may very well be the result of a very early release, or a steep transition, or too much waist bend etc. The weight hanging back on the rear leg may be the result of the club so far across the line at the top, and so on.
I never evaluate video without knowledge of ball flight or impact. If one were to observe a less-than-conventional swing, perhaps a Jim Furyk, with knowing how he put matching components together, it might seem like a problem area. Great players have matching components, lesser players do not! IMPACT is king!
I have a video analysis program, as I’m sure your instructor, or someone in your area, does as well. It can only help to take a good, close slow motion look at what is actually happening in your swing. It takes very little time, and the results can be massively beneficial to your golf swing.
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Happy Father’s Day weekend and U.S. Open weekend at none other than Pebble Beach weekend! Whoa, cannot wait to see the golf action today!
In this video, we talk about how to deal with hip, knee and ankle injuries to your lead side as this one is PIVOTAL (pardon the pun) to the success of any kinetic chain in a human. This kinetic chain is a golf swing. Now, what most of you don’t get is that you were born with action; like a dolphin was born to swim. Just watch 2-year-olds swinging a club! You wish you had that swing and guess what, it is in there. But you keep hiding it trying to hit the ball and being careful to manipulate the club into positions that are absolutely, positively sure to snuff out this action.
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