This article was co-written with Ji McBryde, Senior Coach at KDV Sport, Gold Coast, Australia. I regularly work with Ji and the rest of the excellent coaching and fitness team at his high-tech facility. From time to time, I help them build out their coaching success stories into articles that will benefit the wider golfing population.
The low pull is one of the most damaging shots in golf. If you have been plagued by these, you’ll be well aware of the kind of issues it can create. The low ball flight offers little chance of carrying any hazards down the left (trees, water, bunkers). Even if you do miss the hazards on the fly, there is a greater chance of rolling into the trouble! Perhaps even more frustrating is that a pull actually feels pretty good due to the compression from a shut club-face. So your disappointment is even more magnified when you look up to see your ball ricochet around the trees. This is in stark contrast to the more benign high push. While these shots feel pretty terrible off the open club-face, they generally fly farther and land softer, thereby often avoiding the trouble.
The case study below provides a nice example of a student who was suffering from the dreaded low pull but managed to turn things around in just one session. Usually, changes this dramatic occur over the course of weeks or months once the student has had time to practice and adapt to the new feels and movements we have introduced. In this case, the changes demonstrated happened over the course of about 45 minutes!
- Golfer: Jayme, 16 years old, student, 9 handicap.
- The Golf Coach: Ji McBryde, former Australasian Tour player, qualifications in Trackman, Balance Lab, Putt Lab, GASP, and TPI.
Jayme booked in because he was hitting his irons low and left. He was also struggling to control direction with the driver.
To start the session, we used video capture and Trackman as diagnostic tools to help tell us why Jayme was struggling with the low-lefts. The screenshot below from Trackman tells us that Jayme had a swing path going left with a shut clubface, as well as a dramatically steep angle of attack. This combination of factors is a perfect storm for low pulls.
We turned to video for clues as to how and why he was moving the club in that way. What we see below is a very strong grip, a very low right shoulder at address, a bowed left wrist, and arms moving away from the body — again, a combination that will most likely lead to a shut clubface and struggles with the lefts. What this also means is that during the rest of the swing, Jayme is simply doing the best he can to mitigate the shut face and get a decent result at impact.
Our philosophy is to always focus on what is easy to control and likely to make a significant difference. In this case, Jayme’s setup posture, alignment, right-hand grip, and takeaway were the low-hanging fruit, so we decided to work on those first. As with most of our students, the first step was to introduce Jayme to the GravityFit TPro. This piece of equipment firstly gave Jayme awareness of his shoulder posture, specifically how far back and up he needed to orientate his right shoulder blade. This had the effect of automatically weakening that strong right-hand grip, which also needed a small amount of input to get it sitting more on top of the shaft.
Once a better setup posture and grip was established, we moved on to drilling a takeaway in which his arms were more connected to his body and club face in a more neutral position. See the video below for a snippet of this process.
As Jayme started to grow accustomed to the new feels, we moved on to hitting short shots while still using the TPro. He was starting to make some really solid contact with half swings, and we were beginning to see drastic changes in contact and ball flight. This encouraged us to move on to hitting full shots. As I have already alluded to, Jayme’s progress through these stages was extremely quick. It’s a credit to his level of talent and athleticism that we were able to progress to this stage in one session.
As you can see from the videos below, Jayme’s movement quality is really starting to clean up and the club face is in a more neutral position.
One of the best features of this tool is how it can accompany the student from the early stage of improving posture right through to hitting full shots, providing feedback on postural control and movement pattern quality as they progress. Jayme continued to hit shots with the TPro while we provided him with video evidence of the improvement to accompany the great feedback he was getting from the better strike, direction, and flight.
To finish off the lesson, we removed all of the feedback to see if Jayme could still move in the newly improved manner with reduced input from both myself and the technology. As you can see from the video below, Jayme continued to set up and swing it really nicely, demonstrating dramatic improvements compared to the start of the session.
As I’ve mentioned throughout the article, we saw a really nice change in the strike, ball direction, and flight during the course of the session. The image below serves as a strong demonstration of how far Jayme managed to progress in one session. In the “after” swing on the right side, Jayme’s path is now moving to the right, his clubface is neutral and attack angle is shallower. You can plainly see the effect this has had on direction and flight; a drastic improvement.
By way of a summary, it’s tempting to address the “Low Pulls” by first addressing the main causal factor: a shut club face. Trying to simply manipulate the face can be very tricky to teach and train. As you’ve seen in this example, we would rather work on factors that are easier to control. With Jayme, we really only worked on setup, grip, alignment, and takeaway. With the help of Trackman, video, the GravityFit TPro and Jayme’s talent, we were able to focus on simple interventions and provide the guidance he needed to make the changes outlined above.
Lesson of the Day: Understand cause and effect to make permanent swing changes
In our “Lesson of the Day” video series with V1 Sports, we match a different GolfWRX member with a different V1 Sports instructor. It’s extremely important to both V1 Sports and GolfWRX to help golfers improve their games and shoot lower scores, and there’s no better way to do that than getting lessons. While we not only want to provide free lessons to select GolfWRX members, we want to encourage and inspire golfers to seek professional instruction. For instructions on how to submit your own video for a chance at getting a free lesson from a V1 Sports instructor as part of our Lesson of the Day series, CLICK HERE.
This week, V1 Pro Dan Marvosh looks at WRX Member Matt Chappellie’s swing.
About the pro
Dan Marvosh is a PGA Professional as well as TPI Certified instructor based at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, CA. In addition to providing a TPI physical screen to understand your body’s movement patterns he also uses the advancement of technology to accurately measure all of the key components that go into making you a better player. These tools include V1 Pro software for analyzing your golf swing, Flightscope launch monitors as well as a brand new wrist sensor called Hackmotion. In addition to in person coaching and programming, Dan offers his students the ability to learn from anywhere in the world via his golf academy.
My first impression of Matt was that he has an athletic setup and likely plays regularly, but like many of you, definitely will benefit from understanding the core cause and effect of why his inconsistencies in ball striking occur. Matt has a very weak grip, evidenced by the “v” of the trail hand pointing in front of his sternum. Players with weak grips generally get the club face fairly open in the back swing and thus have to react accordingly on the down swing to match up the open club face. While most high-handicap players usually react to an open face by swinging left or “over-the-top” to square that open face, Matt has a better players match up where he combines his weak grip with pressure towards his toes at address which cause him to stand up (to maintain balance) in the back swing.
As Matt makes his transition, you’ll notice he continues to early extend (note the loss of tush line) which for him does get his swing direction to the right, however in doing so he will have a significant loss of forward shaft lean and most importantly, face control. In short, standing up in the downswing reduces your ability to create ground force which encourages torso and hip rotation. If you watch Matt’s video, you will be able to understand the connection more clearly. Notice that when the shaft is parallel to the ground in the downswing (Golf Machine aficionados call this p6) the club face is still fairly open (hence why just working on rotation will not work), however just past impact the face has rolled significantly closed, further showing the effect on not utilizing the ground properly to stabilize the face.
In conclusion, like many swings it is often easy to notice the symptoms of Matt’s flawed pattern, however understanding the core cause and thus effect allows permanent change to be more possible and for a lot of my players that starts with the club face. Here are the key steps for Matt to take in order to allow permanent change to show up on the course — where it matters most!
Steps to improvement
- Create a stronger grip at setup- the checkpoint for Matt is to have the “v” of the trail hand to line up more with his trail forearm. Most of you will also benefit from being able to see two knuckles of the top hand from address given its effect on controlling the tendency of an open club face.
- Feel like pressure at address in the feet is more in the mid foot as opposed to towards the toes.
- Work an early extension drill (in the video) to create body awareness and new rotational feels with more ideal pressure shifts (Whenever doing a drill, start off slow and work your way up to speed and take advantage of your smart phone to measure your progress – feel and real are often two extremely different things. Finally, dedicate a portion of your practice to practice swings at 90% speed that incorporate portions of the change you are making and try to match those swings on a ball, this is ultimately the swing you want to take to the course because it has athleticism and incorporates your new pattern)
How-to Series: How to move your hips on the backswing
This is the first installment in our How To Series — follow this plan to master the movements of the hips on the backswing!
This new series is all about helping you improve your golf swing quickly. We’re going to break the swing down into its component parts and give you specific practice direction — master these key elements of the swing and you’ll see improvement fast!
How “long arms” at the top of the backswing can help you hit the ball farther
One of the hardest things to do as we get older is to make a big shoulder turn with extended arms at the top. It’s the swing of a younger golfer! However, every one of us can add width at the top so we can hit it farther, but few know how to actually do so. In this article, I will use MySwing 3D Motion Analysis to help you understand how beneficial long arms are at the top.
As you examine the swing of this particular player, you will notice that the lead arm is “soft” and the hands are close to this player’s head at the top. This is the classic narrow armswing to the top that most older players employ. And as we all know this position leaves yardage in the bag!
Now let’s look at the data so we can see what is actually happening…
At the top you can see that the shoulders have turned 100 degrees which is more than enough, but the arms look jammed and narrow at the top. Why?
The answer lies within the actions of the rear arm, the lead arm is only REACTING to the over-bending of the rear elbow. As you can see at the top the rear elbow is bent 60 degrees. In a perfect world, when the rear elbow is at 90 degrees (a right angle) or more, the lead arm will be mostly straight — depending on how you’re built.
Something to note…in this position the hands are just past the chest and the shoulders have turned almost 90 degrees. However, when this player finished his backswing, he added 30 more degrees of rear elbow bend and only 11 more degrees of shoulder turn! What this means is that for the last quarter of the backswing, all this player did is allow the hands to basically collapse to the top of the backswing. This move is less than efficient and will cause major issues in your downswing sequencing, as well as, your transitional action.
As stated when your trail elbow stays at 90 degrees or wider in route to the top, you will have a much straighter lead arm.
One last thing to note when comparing these two players is that this player two had a shorter backswing length but a BIGGER shoulder turn with WIDER arms at the top, giving this player a short compact motion that resembles Adam Scott — which seems to work for he and Butch!
Therefore, the thing to remember is that if your lead arm is soft at the top and your arms look crowded at the top, then you must fix the over-bending of the rear elbow on the backswing. And if you have wider arms you will have a more solid “package” to become a ballstriking machine!
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