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Stickney: Plane shifts used by the pros

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One of the most perplexing aspects of golf for the average player is how the club should transition. In fact, the “over the top” motion is what keeps all of the teaching professionals in business! On Tour, you see many different ways to move the club on the way down and Homer Kelley, in his book, The Golfing Machine, identified seven different ways to transition the club. In this article, we’ll only discuss a few of them.

The first two shifts we’ll examine are the extremes of up and around.

Up and Under

This swing model is made famous by Jim Furyk and obviously there are many levels of up and under but the basic idea is to lift the club to the top which gives you more room to “drop it under” on the way down. Some people love this feeling and it is quite simple when practiced a time or two.

You will notice a takeaway that is slightly lifted and outside moving the arms into a more upright position at the top. From there the arms fall down and behind the player allowing the club to be delivered from the inside.

Around and Under

The opposite player of the Up and Under player takes the club more around the body into a short, flat, and tight position like Matt Kucher. It is here that some players feel that it is much simpler to come from the inside when the club is in a lower and more rounded position at the top.

This swing model is exemplified with a takeaway that works around the body off the start and continues all the way to the top placing the club in a “flatter” condition. From there the club basically returns from the inside as a slight shift is made to the inside. Some players feel this is the easiest way to move the club to the inside.

Now that we have covered the two extreme positions of Up and Around, the rest of the world is somewhere in the middle of these two positions. Personally, it does not matter where you play from as long as the club moves into a solid position on the way down.

Let’s discuss the middle positions and how to transition the club from there…

Reverse Shift

The Reverse Shift is shown best by Nick Faldo back in his hey-day. The club is taken to the top and the entire triangle formed by the arms is shifted rearward to begin the downswing thus moving the club into an inside delivery position.

When the entire triangle falls rearward it allows the club to flatten and the club to move from the inside. Transitional tempo is the key to this move because it won’t work if you get too fast.

Flatten the Shaft

Most of the players today on Tour are subscribing to this type of plane shift as the club shaft flattens out behind the player allowing the hands to move down the correct path. If the hands get too far behind the player then the path can easily shift too rightward in the above swing pattern but not with this swing model.

Here you can see that the club shaft flattened and the clubhead fell behind my hands lowering the center of mass and this places the club in an inside delivery position with the hands in the correct position at belt-high. This is a great way to transition the club for people who tend to get “stuck” on the way down.

So now that we’ve seen the most common plane shift models that move the club back to the inside which one is the best or the easiest? Basically, the one that makes the most sense to you as a player. One of these styles will feel “easier” than the other ones and allow you to shift your swing path more rightward during impact so you can move the ball right to left easier (for the right-handed player).

Enjoy trying these shifts and remember that all four can work for you at any given time!

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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

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Jul 17, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    Hitting with the hands is much too timing dependent
    …however it is only by controlling our dominant hand
    can we consistently control the plan shifts.

    it has been said, wisely; that the hands are our external brain.
    Our entire physiology supports the intention we have of our hands
    and dominant hand in particular.

  2. geohogan

    Jul 7, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Only from P6 achieved by Sergio Garcia or Ben Hogan, with clubhead far behind not only the hands but behind our body.
    is it possible, to square the clubface by rotation of the torso…. with no release.of the hands.

    Then and only then impact becomes: SIDE ON

    • geohogan

      Jul 8, 2019 at 1:57 pm

      Another P6 trait shared by Ben Hogan and Sergio Garcia
      is to have butt of club pointing at the ball, at P6. ie when club shaft is parallel to the ground in DS.

      Cant get stuck if we wait “delayed the hit”, for body turn to square
      the club head.

      Hitting with hands is much too timing dependent.

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Instruction

Kyle Berkshire’s long drive wisdom wins!

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This one is a doozie! So many awesome elements to take away from Kyle Berkshire and implement them immediately in your golf swing for effortless power in the swing. From the set up with strong grip to the timing mechanism to start the action and give it a heavy flow, to the huge backswing and massive load in the ground in the transition to the deepest delivery towards the target there is in the sport! Watch and learn long ball wisdom right here.

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Stickney: Correctly auditing your ballflight without technology

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One of the biggest advances in golf instruction, in my opinion, was the adoption (by the masses) of the “new ball-flight laws.” While this information was first identified in “The Search for the Perfect Swing” as well as “The Golfing Machine” books it was not truly taught in the mainstream by teachers until the last decade. In fact, there are still millions of golfers who are still in the dark as it pertains to how curvature is created.

Thankfully, launch monitors have become more popular and now most people have some type of ability to hit balls using Trackman, etc., and this has helped inform the masses as to what is really happening during the impact interval. In today’s article, I want to show you how to audit your ball-flight if you DO NOT have access to a launch monitor. And if you’ll ask yourself these few simple questions you will have a much better idea as to what is happening and why your ball is doing what it’s doing!

“The New Ball-Flight Rules”

  • The ball begins mostly in the direction of the face angle direction at impact (Face Angle)
  • The ball will curve away from the path with a centered hit on the face (Path)
  • The amount of curvature at the apex is mostly determined by the difference in direction between where the face points at impact and the direction of the path at impact (Face to Path)
  • The impact point on the clubface can render the above obsolete or exaggerate it depending on where it’s impacted on the face (Impact Point)

Now that you know and understand the rules, here’s how you audit your ball’s flight without a launch monitor present…

Find your Impact Point Before Making Any Other Judgements

Before we begin delving deeply into your ball’s flight, let’s first stop for a second and figure out what our impact bias is currently. Yes, everyone has an impact bias—some are more toe-based while others are more heel-sided. It’s just the way it works and it’s mega-important. If you don’t have control of your impact point then all else is moot.
In order to do so, first hit a few balls on a flat lie and spray the face with Dr. Scholl’s spray, then take a look at what you see on the face, where are the marks? I’m not asking you for perfection here, because if you hit it slightly on the toe or slightly on the heel then you’re ok.

However, if your average clustering of shots is extremely biased on the toe or the heel then stop and figure out WHY you are hitting the ball off-center. Until you can contact the ball in the center of the face (within reason) then you will not be able to control your ball’s curvature due to gear effect.

If your impact point clustering is manageable, then ask yourself these three questions to truly understand your ball’s flight…

Number 1: Where did the ball begin?

I want you to draw a straight line from your ball through your target as you see in the left photo in your mind so you now have a “zero” reference. If you need to create this visual on the practice tee then you can put a rope or some string on the ground between the ball and the target creating a straight line from the ball through the rope and onward to the target itself.

Now back to the shot above, as you can see at impact, this player’s ball started slightly LEFT of his target-line—as shown by the arrow in the left frame which depicts the face angle at impact. In the right frame, you can easily see the ball beginning a touch left right from the beginning.

The numbers prove what we discussed earlier

  • The face direction at impact was -2.8 degrees left of the target
  • The ball’s launching direction is -1.7 degrees left of the target

As we know the ball begins mostly in the direction of the face and since the face was left of the target the ball also began slightly leftward as well.

So by paying attention to your ball’s starting direction as it pertains to the “zero line” (or where you’re trying to go) you can guess where the face is pointing at impact.

Number 2: Which direction did the ball curve?

Now, take a second and look at the right frame: We see that the ball curved leftward which means the path had to be more rightward than where the face was pointing at impact. If the ball begins where you want it to start and curves the way you want then you have the face and path in the correct place!

If we want to audit the numbers just to be sure, then let’s take a deeper look:

Trackman shows that the club path was 1.9 degrees right of the target and we just saw that the face was -2.8 degress left of the target on this shot. With centered impact anytime the face direction at impact is left of the path the ball will curve leftward. The negative spin-axis of this shot of -7.9 tells us that the ball is moving to the left as well.

If you want the ball to curve to the left then the path must be further right than that and vice-versa for a fade…pretty simple, right?

Number 3: How Much Did the Ball Curve at The Apex?

Question three is an important one because it helps us to understand what our face to path relationship is doing.

Curvature is created when the face and path point in different directions (with a centered hit) and the bigger the difference between the face and path direction the more the ball will curve…especially as you hit clubs with lower lofts.

Every player wants to see a certain amount of curvature. Some players want very little curve, thus their face to path numbers are very close together while others want more curve and the face to path numbers are larger. It does not matter what amount of curvature you like to “see” as the player…all flights will work. Think Moe Norman on one extreme to Bubba Watson on the other.

To close…

First, you must hit the ball in the center of the face to have a predictable curvature if you hit it all over the face then you invoke gear effect which can exaggerate or negate your face to path relationship.

Second, where did the ball begin? Most players whom draw the ball fear the miss that starts at their target and moves leftward (as depicted in the photo above) this is a FACE issue. The face is left of the TARGET at impact and thus the ball does not begin right enough to begin at the correct portion of the target.

If you hit the ball and it starts correctly but curves too much from right to left then your path is to blame.

Third, if your ball is curving the correct direction then your path is fine, but if it’s doing something other than what you want and you are starting the ball where you want then your path is either too far left or right depending on which way the ball is curving.

Fourth, if your ball curvature at the apex is moving too much and your ball is starting where you want then your path is too far left or right of your face angle at impact exaggerating your face to path ratio. The bigger the difference between these two the more the ball curves (with a centered hit) with all things being equal.

Samples to view

This is a path issue…the ball began correctly but curved too much rightward. Don’t swing so much leftward and the face-to-path will be reduced and the ball will curve less.

This is a great push draw…the ball began correctly and curved the correct amount back to the target

This is a face issue at impact…the ball did not begin far enough to the right before curving back leftward and the target was missed too far to the left

Take your time when auditing your ball’s flight, and I believe you’ll find your way!

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Clement: Should you hinge your wrists early or late in the backswing?

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Today’s video is a big one too! So many are wondering when to let the wrists hinge in the backswing; too early and you cut off too much arc and loose width; too late and you throw your center off-kilter and ruin your contact and direction! This video gets you dialed!

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