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Get your arm swing and pivot in sync

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One of the largest problems most golfers face is the hands and arms not moving in sync with their pivots. This causes all kinds of issues with both how they will pivot and the ball flight that will result.

I see far more golfers whose arms move too slow than too fast. When this happens, multiple issues arise. I will discuss these first, and then will discuss a drill and some ideas designed to address these issues.

When the arms swing too slowly, two general things will happen: The arms will end up too far behind the pivot (common with better players) or the arms won’t work down or forward fast enough and will be carried too far out by the pivot. These moves create two different results, but the root cause is the same. As a compensation, many golfers will either pull their arms across their bodies in an effort to get their arms back in front (the case of arms being too far behind the pivot), wiping across the ball and steepening the angle of attack. The other common compensation when the arms don’t work down and forward soon enough is to dump all their leverage in an attempt to reach the ball and get their path more in-to-out. If this sounds like you, I have something I want you to try.

This is a drill to train you to keep your arms more in sync with your pivot and working faster, which has the other benefit of helping you hit the ball farther. I want you to make some swings with both arms straight from side-to-side about hip-high to hip-high. The key part of this is I want you to set/cock the club fully, but do it without bending your arms. The majority of golfers over-bend their trailing arm in the backswing and the leading arm in the follow-through. This drill will force the club to stay in front of you and teach you to separate cocking the lead wrist and folding the arms. The sensation while doing the drill will be that it is very army, but if both arms stay straight while doing it, the club will stay in front of you and you will pivot back and through.

You can’t swing the club with your arms straight without turning — it’s not possible. The turn will happen subconsciously. The goal here is to swing the arms while keeping them straight and set the club from hip-high to hip-high as fast as possible. This drill is done without a ball, and meant to be done with speed once you feel comfortable with the motion.

Once you feel comfortable doing it without a ball, I want you to go hit balls while maintaining the same feel while keeping your arms below chest-high. If you were to film these swings, I expect the trailing arm to fold slightly in the backswing and the lead arm to fold slightly on the through swing.

The wrists will cock the club slower and later than it feels (it will be very gradual). I also expect the swing to be longer than you feel like it is and the ball will go farther than you expect it. The body will pivot back and through, but it will be doing so as a reaction to the arms swinging while extended. The faster the arms swing, the faster you will/can pivot and the farther the ball will go. This will create a shorter, more efficient and more in-sync swing allowing for consistency and hopefully lower scores.

Golf Sync 2

Golf Sync 1

Above are examples of a golf swing that has both arms are extended with the club setting in backswing and through the ball. The arm swing is in-sync with the pivoting of the body.

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I currently teach at Hidden Hills Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla. I began teaching golf in 2001 and have had PGA Tour teaching credentials since 2009. I have been lucky enough to work with players on the PGA, Web.com, LPGA and Symetra tours as well as top amateur and collegiate golfers, including multiple NCAA national champions. I've had two students in the last two years graduate from the Web.com Tour to the PGA Tour. I am constantly trying to push myself to learn as much as possible about golf and many other areas of life.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Alex Richardson

    Apr 11, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    This is a big problem of mine the last couple of years. It often takes me many balls at the range to get in “sync” and then I seem to lose/forget the correct feel the next time I go and have to start all over again. It’s been a big problem and I can’t seem to fix it. Hopefully this will help.

  2. Rich Hill

    Aug 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Dear Dan
    I am a 79 yr old lefty “golfer” and have had a slice problem ever since! Local pros did not solve it ; tightening grip, changing grip, etc. but your drill of using straight arm has now given me a little right pull. Great that I can work with! Also longer drive with much less effort (that I can live with too)! Thanks so much!!!!

    Rich

  3. tom stickney

    Feb 15, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Dan–

    If the arms and body are out of sync you do indeed have a problem…check out Homer Kelley’s thoughts on this in The Golfing Machine.

    PS: Just between us instructors: Power Package Loading Action– full sweep for this type of golfer. 🙂

    All the best; keep up the good work!

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Instruction

A Guide (Secret) to Better Putting

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Putting is a part of the game where we can all do small things to get better. You don’t have to practice 40 hours a week or have a stroke that gets a perfect score on a SAM PuttLab. The universal answer is to simplify the approach as much as possible.

While being a world class putter is an art form, being competent at putting is probably the least physically daunting task in golf — aside from maybe driving the cart. Putting generally provides the most stress and frustration, however, as our results are almost never aligned with our exceptions, which drives us to create unnecessary roadblocks to success.

That being the case, let’s narrow this down to as few variables as possible and get ourselves holing more putts. First off, you need to have proper expectations. If you look at the PGA Tour averages for made putts, you will find that the rates of success overall are far lower than what we see on on TV on Sunday afternoon. That’s because we are seeing the best players in the world, who in a moment in time, are holing putts at a clip the average plus-handicap club champion couldn’t dream of during a near death experience on his way to walking into the light.

If you have ever seen golf balls rolled on a stimpmeter ramp (the device used to measure green speed), you have probably seen something shocking. Golf balls rolling perfectly — the perfect speed, on a perfect green, on a perfectly straight putt — sometimes miss on both sides of the hole on consecutive efforts.

This is a very important point. The farther you get from the hole, the less control you have over making the putt. That’s why actually making putts outside a few feet should not be your priority. Hitting the best putt possible is your only priority. Then be resigned that the putt will either go in or it won’t. This might seem defeatist, but it’s not; its just a perception change. If you judge yourself on whether the ball goes in or not, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you judge yourself on whether or not you hit a good putt, you will be more successful… and you’re going to make more putts.

This sounds like something you’d hear at a Tony Robbins positive thinking seminar, but it has proven successful for every one of my clients who has embraced it. So what’s the secret to hitting the best putt possible each time?

Simplify the process.

  1.  Read the green to the best of your ability.
  2.  Pick a line and do your best to set up to it.
  3.  Do your best to hit the putt solid and at the right speed.

Reading the green is something that gets better with experience and practice. Some will be better than others, so this is an intangible thing that countless books are written about. My advice is simple; DON’T OVER THINK IT. Look at the terrain and get a general sense of where low point is in relation to the hole.

The reason why perfect green reading and perfect alignment are overrated is because there is no one line to the hole. The hole is over 4-inches wide and putts break differently with changes in speed and solidness of contact. I saw a video at the Scotty Cameron Putting Studio many years ago of dozens of PGA Tour players. There was a worm’s-eye camera on a 4-5 foot putt that was basically straight on the artificial grass. Few were aimed at the middle of the hole and many weren’t even aimed at the hole at all… but I didn’t see one miss.

So have a look at the terrain and be decent at lining up in the general direction that will give a chance for a well struck putt to go in or finish close enough for a tap in. Simple. After rambling on for several paragraphs, we get to the heart of how you can improve your putting. Narrow it down to doing your best to hit a solid putt at the right speed.

The “Right Speed”

I ask people after they addressed a putt how much attention they pay to line and speed. Any answer but 100 percent speed is wrong. You’ve already read the putt and lined up. Why is line any longer a variable? Plus, have you ever missed the line on a 20-foot putt by 5 feet? Maybe once in your life on a crazy green, but you sure as heck have left it 5-feet short and long on several occasions.

Imagine I handed you a basketball and said shoot it in the basket. Or what if I told you to toss a crumpled piece of paper into the trash? Having the requisite coordination is an acquired skill, but you wouldn’t grind over innocuous details when it came to the feel of making the object go the right distance. You’d react to the object in your hand and the target for the right speed/distance.

Putting is no different, save one variable. There’s the sense and feel of how the the green interacts with the ball, and that’s a direct result of how solidly you hit the putt. If you use X amount of force and it goes 18 feet one effort and 23 feet the next, how are you ever going to acquire speed control? That is the mark of almost every poor lag putter. They don’t hit putts consistently solid, so they never acquire the skill of distance control.

Since speed is a learned reaction to the terrain/target and consistency is a direct result of how consistently solid you strike the ball, that is what we’re left with.

Learn to Hit Putts More Solid

The road to better putting is as simple as hitting your putts more solid. Put most/all of your effort into what it takes to hit more putts solid. Now for each individual, it’s less about doing what’s right. Instead, it’s about avoiding movements and alignments that make it difficult to hit the ball solid. It would take an encyclopedia to cover all of the issues that fall into this category, so I will list the most common that will cover more than 90 percent of golfers.

The most common one I see — and it is nearly universal in people who are plagued by poor lag putting — is excess hip rotation. Sometimes there’s even an actual weight shift. Think of it this way; take a backstroke and stop. Rotate your hips 20 degrees without moving anything else. The putter and the arc is now pointed left of your intended line. You have to shove it with your arms and hands not to pull it. Good luck hitting it solid while doing all of that.

I had a golf school in Baltimore and told this story. Ten of the 15 people there assured me they didn’t do that. After 8 people had putted, we were 8-for-8. No. 9 said, “There is no ******* way I am going to move my hips after watching this.”

The entire group laughed after his putt told him he was wrong. The last 6 did everything they could to avoid the fault. We went 15 for 15. Many people are unaware that this issue is so dire. If you add the people that are unaware they have this issue, we are near 100 percent of golfers. I have gotten emails from 8-10 of them telling me how much their putting improved after all they did was focus on minimizing hip rotation and just hitting the ball solid.

This issue is not just the bane of average golfers; I’ve had several mini-tour players with putting issues improve with this. We are all aware Fred Couples would have won many more majors if not for a career-long battle with his putter. Watch the next time he misses a 6-foot putt to the left. As you will see, it’s not just a problem for a high-handicappers.

The best way to judge and practice avoiding this, it putting with an alignment stick in you belt loops.  If your hips rotate too much, the stick will definitely let you know.

Other issues include the well know chest/sternum coming up too soon in an effort to see the ball go in the hole, as well as:

  • Not aligning the putter shaft properly with the lead arm
  • Grip pressure issues (too much and too little)
  • Too much tension in neck and shoulders
  • Poor rhythm
  • Long back stroke

I could go on and on and on. The main point; find out why you aren’t hitting putts solid and do whatever it takes to do so, even if it’s something crazy like a super wide-open stance (with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek). See the Jack Nicklaus picture at the top of the story.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to Improve Your Golf Club Release

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Many golfers release the club way too early. The low point of the swing moves back and they hit the ground behind the ball or pick the ball clean off the top of the surface. They then dream of “lag” and the “late hit” trying to achieve this by thinking of holding on the the wrist angle too long.

In this video, I share a drill that it will improve the way you release the club.

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Instruction

Alistair Davies: My 3 Best Swing Tips

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In this video, I share with you my three best swing tips. Watch the video to get on the path to lower scores straight away.

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