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How to fix the chronic low pull shot

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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!

The People

  • 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.

The Place

The Problem

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.

 

TrackMan Data – Before

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.

The Solution

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.

The Outcome

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.

TrackMan Data – Comparison

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.

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter, Rehab Expert and Massage Therapist contracted by PGA Tour Players. Nick is also a GravityFit Brand Ambassador. He is working with them to help spread their innovative message throughout the golf world and into other sports.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Frankie

    Jul 14, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Anterior posture is so detrimental to the golf swing, literally every tour pro have their lower back straight between anterior and posterior and some a little posterior, never anterior. Adam Scott in the early 2000s before he really improved had an anterior posture and that negatively affected his ball striking, now in the 2010s, his lower back has 0 anterior posture.

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Instruction

3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand

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One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.

The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.

1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce

Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.

2) Control your Angle of Attack 

As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.

So what do I mean by this?

The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.

The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.

3) Keep your pivot moving

It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.

You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.

So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to stop “flipping” through impact

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Are you flipping through impact? In this video, I share a great drill that will help you put better pressure on the golf ball at impact. By delivering the sweet spot correctly, you’ll create a better flight and get more distance from your shots immediately.

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Instruction

The Wagon Wheel Drill

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For many golfers, the ability to hit shots golf ball to the target is a difficult task, especially when you take into account the rough, trees or hazards lining the hole. In this video, I share “The Wagon Wheel Drill,” a simple idea of how to practice intentionally hitting the ball left, right and on target.

Practice this and you will soon be hitting the target more often.

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