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Tiger and Jack never did it, should you?

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Northbound Golf provides a comprehensive way to learn and play the game. Martin Ayers and Michael Powers have uncovered what great players do that makes them great. It’s an approach that you can adopt, irrespective of your current level of play. Martin Ayers is a former Australasia Tour player who has coached Major Champions Steve Elkington and Mike Weir, as well as 3 time PGA Tour winner Cameron Beckman. Michael Powers is a PGA Member from Boston, Massachusetts with over 25 years of coaching experience. At you’ll find over six hours of instructional video content, question and answer podcasts, plus personal online coaching.



  1. TZ

    Dec 26, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Even the players who took a practice takeaway waggled the club before the swing. Very stupid to show a video of a player taking a practice takeaway then hitting a bad shot when we could show hundreds of great shots that follow, especially a tour pro.

  2. smz

    Dec 25, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    The “practice takeaway” is not helpful to the swing takeaway because your muscle memory vanishes completely when you then start your swing takeaway. Doing the practice takeaway is more like the “monkey see, monkey do” juvenile mentality so common in golf.
    Just take a deep breath at address and then swing away… and if you fail miserably that means you haven’t practiced your golf swing often enough. Maybe a New Year resolution will motivate you to practice… and maybe not.

  3. Speedy

    Dec 24, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    For woods, I like a short waggle to loosen muscles. For irons, a very short practice takeaway, not breaking wrists.

  4. Bill

    Dec 24, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    I like to think of a rehearsal takeaway as an “anchor” in sports movement. It raises our attention level for the task ahead and reduces anxiety as we get a feeling for the first movement. Every time Oscar Robinson crossed the midline in the NBA he nodded his head. He was probably not aware of it, but this movement help signal himself to see the floor and set the play going by triggering his attention and helped him gain confidence. I favor a rehearsal takeaway over a a waggle as it replicates the actual movement. I am not a sports psychologist although I have worked with some pro’s on the Symmetra and other tours. I am retired as a clinician and just wanted to add my two cents.

    • lance

      Dec 24, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      I submit that the “rehearsal takeaway” is a fully conscious movement… whereas the full swing takeaway starts with a conscious command and then quickly morphs into the unconscious mode. A fully conscious rehearsal takeaway may alleviate address anxiety but it mucks up the full swing takeaway neuro-muscular pathways. They are two very different psychological worlds.

    • Tom Tucker

      Dec 26, 2018 at 10:47 am

      This comment is right on. The rehearsal takeaway is something that I teach to all of my students, and it’s been very helpful in producing good swings. “Muscle memory” or more correctly stated – your neural pathway for a swing – is actually refreshed by this movement, not negated as mentioned in a previous comment. The rehearsal takeaway also helps focus on getting the clubhead into position for impact, an external focus which has been proven to be successful when teaching the golf swing. This video was way off the mark.

  5. geohogan

    Dec 24, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Though Freudian psychology is mostly discredited, most of our mental activity is indeed subconscious. Think about walking, engaging hundreds of muscles in exquisitely orchestrated coordination without thinking how and when to contract each muscle. The subconscious is playing a major role in everything we do.. Dr David Eagleman

    • geohogan

      Dec 24, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and the New York Times bestselling author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and Sum. He is the writer and host of the Emmy-nominated PBS television series The Brain. Eagleman is an adjunct professor at Stanford University, a Guggenheim fellow, and the director of the Center for Science and Law. He has written for the New York Times, Discover Magazine, The Atlantic, Slate, Wired and many others, and he appears regularly on National Public Radio and BBC.

    • lance

      Dec 24, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      subconscious (noun) — the subconscious part of the mind (not in technical use in psychoanalysis, where unconscious is preferred).

  6. Tom

    Dec 23, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Practice takeaway can help reduce tension prior to actual swing. It’s up to each player if it helps….no big deal.

  7. Potus

    Dec 23, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Articles on this site are fake news!!!!

  8. Tony

    Dec 23, 2018 at 4:38 am

    Settle down guys. It’s not that important.

  9. Dan

    Dec 22, 2018 at 6:47 am

    What a load of baloney!

  10. Southbound golf

    Dec 21, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    These guys are going south

  11. Steve Wozeniak

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Nope….the attention is NOT ON THE BALL!!!!!! Try again, can you think of what else that might have there attention???? I promise it’s simple.

    • ogo

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:12 pm

      External focus on the clubhead? Target focus on where the ball will land? Fantasy focus on that babe in the crowd?

    • geohogan

      Dec 23, 2018 at 12:13 am

      @steve wozeniak, the fulcrum point

      • ogo

        Dec 23, 2018 at 3:05 pm

        Where is this “fulcrum point”? … explain yerself!

        • geohogan

          Dec 24, 2018 at 8:41 am

          @ogo, Ive replied to steve w, not to you.
          For you, a lump of coal. Merry Christmas.

          • ogo

            Dec 24, 2018 at 10:17 am

            I just gave you a chance to respond to your cryptic comments.
            IIRC, you believe the fulcrum point is between the hands, which of course is totally wrong… it’s the “pivot point” of a hand couple. I hope that’s not too technical for your shriveled Hogan Manual mindlet.

  12. 4RiGHT

    Dec 21, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Every player has what works, why don’t you make a video about that! How many majors have you won?

    • the dude

      Dec 24, 2018 at 9:20 am

      I love the “how many have you won??” comment…..dork

  13. IMO

    Dec 21, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    The ball isn’t the focal point either. I visit many PGA and LPGA tournaments around the country. What I do notice is a good percentage of the players while on the range do rehearse among other aspects of their swing, a practice backswing as a part of their swing development.

    • Looper

      Dec 21, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      I agree completely with IMO. What Jordan, Justin, Ricky, and others that do have a practice backswing, it most likely came from a drill done with their instructors…

  14. Eric

    Dec 21, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Doesn’t it depend more on what the player’s thoughts are during this time? Who cares what the movement is.

  15. James

    Dec 21, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Just to be a contrarian I went to the range this morning and employed the “practice takeaway”. I’ve never hit the ball so well! So put me in the Justin Thomas/Mike Weir camp.

  16. Golfist

    Dec 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    The practice takeaway is definitely a distraction! I’ve tried both and for me the waggle is the most reliable method of starting the swing, allowing full concentration on the ball rather than thinking where the club should be going on the backswing.

    • lance

      Dec 21, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      So you waggle before starting the backswing. When you stop waggling do you pause to concentrate on the ball and engage the various brain neural waves… alpha,beta, gamma delta, theta… to enter into an inner peace to let the swing flow?

  17. lance

    Dec 21, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I recall an early video of Tiger when he hooked up with Harmon and Butch made/forced Tiger to alter his BS takeaway for 6 months until his brain was reprogrammed. Tiger said he hated the drill… go figure…

  18. Bill Kroen

    Dec 21, 2018 at 11:41 am

    As a psychologist, I feel that the “practice takeaway” is a great idea. It is more of an immediate rehearsal than practice. It helps a player start the club back in the correct position and reduces anxiety. The waggle gives a feel for the club head only. Showing the tour players rehires a takeaway and then hit a poor shot is meaningless. Thomas, for one, had his best year since incorporating the move.

    • lance

      Dec 21, 2018 at 7:17 pm

      As a psychologist, you must be aware of the many “memory” modes that encode, store and retrieve when needed. How does a “practice takeaway” utilize the memory modes?
      Memory is not a perfect processor, and is affected by many factors, like neuro-muscular capability. We await your professional opinion on memory rehearsal and practice memory. Thanks.

      • lance

        Dec 21, 2018 at 7:21 pm

        So you waggle before starting the BS. When you stop waggling do you pause to concentrate on the ball and engage the various brain neural waves… alpha,beta, gamma delta, theta… to enter into an inner peace to let the swing flow?

    • geohogan

      Dec 24, 2018 at 8:55 am

      The golf swing is a preprogrammed chain action in the subconscious.

      The practice takeaway is a conscious contrived movement, totally separate and unique from the golf swing. The golf swing is too complicated and happens too quickly for it to be a consciously controlled movement.

      As a psychologist you must know, that a portion of our brain resorts to ritual, to reduce anxiety. Golfers go through many preswing rituals. The practice takeaway is a ritual. If it reduces anxiety, it serves that purpose only.

      The waggle can be done as a ritual or it can have a meaningful purpose, as Ben Hogan described in 5L.

      • lance

        Dec 24, 2018 at 10:26 am

        subconscious (noun) — the subconscious part of the mind (not in technical use in psychoanalysis, where unconscious is preferred).
        Properly, “The golf swing is preprogrammed chain action in the unconsious part of the mind.”

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Walters: Avoid these 3 big chipping mistakes!



Chipping causes nightmares for so many amateur golfers. This s mainly due to three core mistakes. In this video, I talk about what those mistakes are, and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

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The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine



I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 1



This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You find more information on Marnus and his work at


Back pain is by far the most common complaint among regular golfers. It is estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries. And in our experience working with tour players, the prevalence is even higher in the professional ranks! 

Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations. 

There is certainly no shortage of information on the topic of back pain, and with myriad back pain products and supplement options available, confusion about the best path to pain-free golf is one of the main reasons we don’t actually do anything effective to alleviate our suffering! 

We aim to present in this article an easy-to-digest explanation of the common causes of back pain, alongside some simple and practical ways to address the underlying issues. 

The recommendations we make in this article are generic in nature but effective in many of the low back pain cases we have worked with. However, pain can be complex and very specific to the individual. You should seek the personalized advice of a medical or exercise professional before undertaking any form of remedial exercise.

Reason 1 – Lack of mobility in 2 key areas

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected. 

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Area 1 – Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercises – Hip Mobility

Foam roll glutes, you can also use a spiky ball

90 90 hip mobility drills, fantastic for taking the hips through that all important internal rotation range

90 90 Glute Stretch – great for tight glutes / hips

Area 2 – Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

Foam rolling mid / upper back


Cat / Camel – working the T-Spine through flexion and extension


Reach backs – working that all important T-Spine rotation

Reason 2 – Alignment and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right and back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and/or below.

For example, if we have short/tight/overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knee to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain. This would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance

Reason 3 – Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).


The 3 major spinal curves – 1-Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures. 

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

Fortunately, re-establishing good posture is really simple and you can combine the information and exercises featured in the videos below with the mobility exercises featured in the Reason 1 section above. The equipment used in the videos is the GravityFit TPro – a favorite of ours for teaching and training posture with both elite and recreational players.


In the next installment of this article, we will cover reasons 4, 5 and 6 why golfers suffer from back pain – 4) Warming Up (or lack thereof!), 5) Core Strength and 6) Swing Faults.


If you would like to see how either Nick or Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais –

Nick Randall –

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