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“Float Loading”: The secret to hitting the one-hop-and-stop wedge shot

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One of the most impressive and effective shots in professional golf is the 20-30 yard wedge shot that comes off low and hot, skips once or twice, and then comes to a quick halt. Fans love this shot, as it always evokes a cheer from the crowd, and amateurs want to hit this shot.

Below, I’m going to teach you how to hit that low-spinning, one-hop-and-stop shot.

For the sake of this article we’ll assume that the conditions are right for hitting this type of shot: you have a clean and tight lie, your wedge is clean and free of debris, the ball you are playing is one that is designed to spin, and you have a green that is capable of receiving this type of shot. If you have these things you have a much better chance of stopping the ball like the professionals on Tour.

Now let’s examine the photos of how this is done…

1) Address: Weight forward

At address, you can see that my spine is centered, the ball is in the center of my stance, and my hands and weight are forward. These things set me up for a downward angle of attack with a forward leaning clubshaft. These two components will add spin (up to a point) and help the ball stop quicker.

2) No-hinge backswing

On the way back I have not hinged my wrists very much, or even at all, because they will “re-cock” on the way down to increase the bend in my rear wrist leaning the shaft forward during impact.

3) Transitional lag

Here is the secret to the shot: the angle between the lead arm and the shaft is decreased on the way down. This transitional lag of the clubshaft will cause the rear wrist to bend more on the way down.

The secret to this move is a slow and soft change of direction so you can “feel” the clubhead lagging behind you. The wrists must feel relaxed. Homer Kelley in his book, The Golfing Machine, called this “float loading,” and that’s just what the club feels like in transition.

4) Forward-leaning impact

At impact, depending on how much transitional lag you added in the above step, you will see a forward leaning clubshaft here. The amount of lean will determine the dynamic loft you have on your wedge at impact and this will cause the ball to launch lower.

One thing to note here: our goal is to just brush the grass after the ball with a forward leaning clubshaft, not dig a trench. If the angle of attack is too much downward, then you might have some trouble getting the ball to stop as quickly.

Remember, this is something you must practice! It’s not a shot that you will play every time, but it’s a great shot to play when you need some extra spin around the green. Float loading is a great technique, but only if you work at it!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) 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 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Homer Doyle

    Nov 8, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    Funny, I try to feel the shaft leaning BACK to hit a low shot with spin and float loading would not be in my 24

  2. geohogan

    Oct 28, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    COR determines spin. To adjust ball flight, external focus is on which groove to impact the ball.
    The higher the groove, the lower the flight(higher the spin)

    Hands forward is effect of proper external intention.
    Ref. The Hogan Manual of Human Performance: GOLF, 1992.

    • Chuck Daniels

      Nov 8, 2018 at 9:16 pm

      LOWER the groove the LOWER the flight and HIGHER the spin.

      The LOWER the loft the more SOLID it feels and a spinner is not solid. We could cut a balata ball doing it one time.

  3. Obee

    Oct 25, 2018 at 10:03 am

    What club are you playing that with, Tom? In my experience, the low-flying, high-spinning “put on the brakes after a bounce or two” shot is usually hit with a LW or SW. Looks like you are hitting a PW or GW there?

    • Dshafe

      Oct 25, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      dave you dont have the swing speed for this shot

  4. koober

    Oct 24, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    So I guess I’ll be the token commenter for whom this method of chipping works. I had no problem with the term or the explanation. Like the article states, one must practice this, a lot. Probably won’t work as well for higher handicappers, because it does require a higher degree of proficiency to pull off successfully. Props for owning up to the typo, Ben. Mistakes. We all make ’em.

  5. Tom

    Oct 24, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    I executed a “Float Landing” this morning after my second cup of coffee.

  6. d

    Oct 24, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Why did Homer Kelly call this “Float Loading”? According to Websters, Float (verb) is defined as “…rest or move on or near the surface of a liquid without sinking.”

  7. Nick

    Oct 23, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Can you explain what green conditions are necessary to get this type of action?

    • Yep

      Oct 24, 2018 at 2:28 am

      All American courses that have no rough, and that’s all of them, and are mowed so people like Phil can play there.

      • Joe

        Oct 24, 2018 at 6:22 am

        Congratulations on the ignorant, uninformed internet post of the day

  8. Alex

    Oct 23, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    This article is not very helpful. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is the way the club is delivered into the ball. The question you need to answer first is what attack angle, dynamic loft, and face-to-path angle are necessary to produce a high-spinning pitch? If you believe that adding wrist hinge during the downswing will help most players produce these delivery characteristics, then explain why!

  9. Stixman

    Oct 23, 2018 at 11:50 am

    I think your ‘headline’ should be float LOADING not float landing. To me it isn’t just another typo, it’s more fundamental. Do you read and understand this stuff before committing it to print or is it merely clickbait?

    • Ben Alberstadt

      Oct 23, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Chris,

      As you’ll see in the body of the article, Tom uses the appropriate term. As the editor and publisher of the piece, headline writing is my responsibility, and the mistake is mine. It has been corrected. My apologies.

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Instruction

Stop Practicing, Start Training. Part 2: Putting

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This article is co-written with Zach Parker. Zach is the former director of golf at the Gary Gilchrist and Bishop’s Gate golf academies. Zach is a golf coach, an expert in skill acquisition, and he has years of experience setting up effective training scenarios for golfers of varying abilities. 

In Part 1 of this article, we discussed in detail how and why we should shift our focus from practicing to training. Specifically, making training more “game like” by incorporating the following three principles

  • Spacing – adding time between training or learning tasks. Not hitting ball after ball with no break!
  • Variability – mixing up the tasks, combining driving with chipping for example
  • Challenge Point – making sure that you are firstly trying to achieve or complete a task, and secondly that the task is set an appropriate difficulty for you

For more detailed insight to this topic, check out the podcast that Zach recently recorded with Game Like Training Golf

This is with the aim of avoiding the following frustrations that occur when training is performed poorly

  • Grinding on the putting green but not improving
  • Being unable to transfer performance from putting green to course
  • Finding practice boring
  • Plateaus in performance

Practice can be frustrating

In Part 1 we covered long game, and in Part 2 it’s time to address putting. Training this crucial part of the game is often overlooked and almost always performed poorly with very little intent. On course, we never hit putts from the same distance (unless you’re in the habit of missing two footers!), yet when practicing its common to repeatedly hit putts from the same place. Our length of stroke, reaction to speed and slope and time between putts are constantly changing on course, so it would make sense to replicate that in our training right?

In the practice circuit below we have incorporated spacing by leaving large gaps between putts, variability by mixing up the tasks and challenge point by introducing hurdle tasks that must be completed before moving on to the next station.

Station 1

Learning task: Three rehearsals with a specific focus, in this case, using the GravityFit TPro to bring awareness to posture and arm-body connection.

Completion task: Must make putt from 6 feet, downhill,  left to right-to-left break.

Station 2

Learning task: Three rehearsals with specific TPro focus; in this case posture for eye-line and using bands for arm-body connection.

Completion task: Must two-putt from 30-40 feet, uphill. Add drawback to five feet for more difficulty.

Station 3

Learning task: Three rehearsals with specific TPro focus again.

Completion task: Must two-putt from 20-30  ft, right to left break. Add drawback to five feet for more difficulty.

You can either have a go at this circuit or create your own. There are no set rules, just make sure to include a mixture of tasks (variability) that are appropriate to your level of ability (challenge Point) with plenty of time between repetitions (spacing).

For more information on the featured GravityFit equipment, check out the website here

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Instruction

WATCH: What to do when you’re short sided

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Top-100 instructor Tom Stickney shows you how to avoid compounding a mistake when you’ve missed the ball on the wrong side of the green.

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Instruction

Why flaring your left foot out at address could be a big mistake

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In his book “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” published in 1957, Ben Hogan recommended that golfers position their right foot at a 90-degree angle to the target line, and then position their left-foot a quarter of a turn outward at a 15-degree angle (Note: He was writing for right-handed golfers). The purpose of the left-foot foot position was to assist in the “clearing of the left hip,” which Hogan believed started his downswing.

Through this Hogan instruction book and the others he wrote through the years, there four categories that defined his advice;

  1. He accurately described what was occurring in his swing.
  2. He described a phantom move that never occurred.
  3. He described something that occurred but to a lesser degree than indicated.
  4. He inaccurately described what was happening in his swing.

As evidenced by today’s modern video, Hogan did not open up his left hip immediately as he described. This piece of advice would fall into the fourth category listed above — he inaccurately described what was happening in his swing. In reality, the first move in his downswing was a 10-12 inch shift of his left hip forward toward the target before his left hip ever turned open.

SPINNING OUT

Those amateur golfers who strictly adopted his philosophy, opening the left hip immediately, ended up“spinning out” and never getting to their left foot. The spin-out was made even worse by the 15-degree angle of the left foot Hogan offered. That said, based on Hogan’s stature in the golf world, his advice regarding the positioning of the feet was treated as if it were gospel and adopted by both players and teachers. Since that time his hip action has been debated, but the positioning of the left foot has remained unquestioned — until today.

THE FLARED FOOT POSITION

The flared position of his left foot may or may not have been of assistance in helping Hogan achieve the desired outcome in his swing. That really is not the point, but rather that over a half-century there has never been a voice that argued against the flared foot position he advocated.

The rest of the golf world accepted his advice without question. In my opinion, the left foot position advocated by Hogan has harmed countless golfers who slowly saw their swings fall apart and wondered why. His well-meaning advice was a poisoned pill, and once swallowed by golfers it served to eventually erode what was left of their left side.

DEAD WRONG

The subject of this piece is not to debate Hogan’s hip action but the piece that accompanied it, the 15-degree flare of the left foot. I’m of the opinion that it is not only wrong. Because of its toxic nature, it is DEAD WRONG.  The reason has to do with the tailbone, which determines the motion of the hips in the swing. The more the left foot opens up at address, the more the tailbone angles backward. That encourages the hips to “spin out” in the downswing, which means they have turned before the player’s weight has been allowed to move forward to their left foot and left knee.

As a consequence of the hips spinning out, players move their weight backward (toward the right foot), encouraging a swing that works out-to-in across the body. You can see this swing played out on the first tee of any public golf course on a Saturday morning.

FOOT FLARE ISSUES

The problem with the 15-degree foot flare is that it promotes, if not guarantees, the following swing issues:

In the backswing, the flared left foot:

  1. Discourages a full left- hip turn;
  2. Encourages the improper motion of the left-knee outward rather than back
  3. Reduces the degree that the torso can turn because of the restrictions placed on the left hip.

In the downswing, the flared left foot: 

  1. Promotes a “spinning out” of the left hip.
  2. Does not allow for a solid post at impact.

STRAIGHT AHEAD

In working with my students, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most advantageous position for the left foot at address is straight ahead at a 90-degree angle to the target line. The reason is not only because it encourages a positive moment of the player’s weight forward in the downswing, but it also improves the player’s chances of making a sound backswing.

THE POWER OF THE LEFT HEEL

There is an inherent advantage to placing the left-foot at a 90-degree to the target-line. It is the strongest physical position against which to hit the ball, as it provides a powerful post at impact that serves to increase both power and consistency.

JACK NICKLAUS

A number of years ago, Jack Nicklaus appeared on the cover of Golf Digest. The byline suggested that in studying Jack’s footwork, they had discovered something that up to that point was unknown. The “secret” they were describing was that after lifting his left heel in the backswing, he replanted it in the downswing with his heel closer to the target line than his toe. The intimation was that this might be a secret source of power in his swing.  This was hardly a “secret,” and something that Nicklaus was probably unaware of until it was pointed out to him, but it’s a demonstration of the fact that his natural instinct was to turn his foot inward, rather than outward, on the downswing.

THE DISCUS THROWER

The discus thrower whirls around in a circle as he prepares to throw. On the final pass, he plants his left toe slightly inward, relative to his heel, because this is the most powerful position from which to cast the discus. This position allows the thrower to draw energy from the ground while at the same time providing a strong post position from which additional torque can be applied. The point is that as the discus thrower makes the final spin in preparation for the throw, he does not turn the lead foot outward. Why? Because if it were turned outward, the potential draw of energy from the ground would be compromised.

The same is true when it comes to swinging a golf club for power, and you can test the two positions for yourself. After turning the left foot into a position that is 90 degrees to the target line, you will immediately note the ease with which you can now turn away from the target in addition to the strength of your left side post at the point of impact. Conversely, when you turn your left foot out, you will feel how it restricts your backswing and does not allow for a strong post position on the downswing.

REPAIRING YOUR SWING

Do you have trouble cutting across the ball? You might look to the position of your left foot and the action of the left hip. The first step would be to place your left foot at a 90-degree angle to the target line. The second step would be to turn you left hip around in a half circle as if tracing the inside of a barrel. The third step would be to feel that you left your left hip remains in the same position as you scissor your weight towards your left toe, and then your right heel, allowing the club to travel on the same path. The combination of these changes will encourage the club to swing in-to-out, improving the path of your swing.

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