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Keep Your Eye Line Parallel to the Target Line

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It makes me incredulous that this topic is never talked about. I say never in the context that I have never seen anyone as good looking or smooth with the ladies as myself, but I know this mythical figure probably exists.

Apple fights in the monkey cage at the zoo are conducted with more civility than debates over inconsequential topics like how much forearm rotation Hogan had between P6 and P8, yet an extremely important and fundamental topic like eye line gets no play at all.

I will start with a question. What would you think about basketball players shooting free throws with their eyes tilted 45 degrees from the rim? Now, this might have been the cure for Shaquille O’Neal’s woes, but for most, it would be a complete disaster.

How many bad guys would a CIA sniper take out if his scope was not mounted parallel to the gun barrel?

One could say both of these questions seem rhetorical to the point of being ridiculous. I agree, so why then do hoards of golfers tilt their eye line as much as 45 degrees off the target line with barely a mention anywhere, or by anyone?

It boggles the mind in the same sense as why you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway.

Kenny-600x450

Kenny Perry

  • Bobby Jones, who “over rotated.”
  • Jack Nicklaus who tilted his head away from the target to trigger his back swing.
  • John Daly whose back swing scoffs at convention.
  • The mighty Monte Scheinblum, who won a world long drive title without enough muscle to bench press a sleeve of golf balls.
Monte-600x450

Your author

All of them kept their eye line parallel to the target line.

Even Kenny Perry, who lifts and basically turns his his entire back perpendicular to the target line, barely shifts his eye line a few degrees right and he is the extreme.

I see eye lines all day long that start as much as 45 degrees to the right. I can hear the minions of the morass saying, “So what?”

To put it simply, the arms and the turn of the body will follow where the eyes are looking and swing the club there. Without getting into a dissertation about all of the swing faults a poor eye line causes, let’s just look at two simple, common and easy to understand ones.

  1. The head starts tilted, so the right ear (right-handed golfer) is tilted too far toward the right shoulder. Guess what? The arms follow that line too far to the inside on the back swing. That tilt of the head makes it awkward to properly shift into left side, so the arms reroute over the top. Well folks, your two choices in that pattern are a slice, or your friends are going to make you feel like you are skeet shooting. “PUUUUUUULL!!!!!!!”
  2. The head and eye line start OK, but the head tilts to the right at the top of the swing because the golfer is trying to make a “full turn.” Assuming the body shifts and turns in the transition properly, the arms get trapped inside trying to follow the eye line. They fly out away from the body, the body stalls and the hands flip. Captain Hook.

This issue is extremely easy to fix and always pays immediate dividends. Put an alignment stick just outside the ball as a frame of reference. Get setup and put the club shaft you are holding on the bridge of your nose across your eyes and see where you are. If need be, change your head position until your eyes are parallel to that alignment stick. When you swing, make sure your eyes stay parallel to that stick. Have a friend help you out if need be.

I have yet to see one person who didn’t improve the path of their arm swing (on both the back swing and downswing) the very first time they fixed their head and eye line position.

For all those wanting to tell me sob stories about being old or inflexible: your back swing is too long. Shorten it and fix you eye line.

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Monte Scheinblum is a former World Long Drive Champion and Web.com Tour player. For more insights and details on this article, as well as further instruction from Monte go to rebelliongolf.com

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Milhouse

    May 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I totally disagree!

    Your neck does not have 180 degrees of range of motion. To put it another way, you cannot simply turn your head far enough to get your chin over your shoulder. You’ll be 15-20 degree short of this.

    So if you consider a full shoulder turn is important (which I think is a misnomer in the golf community since your “shoulders” do not move really, it’s your rib cage and torso that needs to turn 90 degrees, but I digress), then your head and eyes won’t be able to stay parallel to the target line. You’ll either turn your chest only 75-80 degrees in trying to keep your eye line parallel to your target line, or your eyeline, using your pencil on bridge of nose idea, will have to aim 20 or so degrees out to the right for your chest to have cleared out of the way and made a full 90 degree turn.

    I completely disagree with your premise and would argue that trying to keep your eyeline as you have defined it as being on a vertical plane parallel to the target line, would be MORE likely to cause a golfer to come over the top. In trying to keep the eyes parallel, a golfer is more likely to end up with his head ahead of the ball or at least on top of it. This will result in a swing path from out to in, across the ball.

    Taking the club back to the inside is an issue of trying to wind up around the body and hit the ball, not of the eyeline. Aim your sight line 45 degrees to right if you want – you can STILL take the club back on plane. But the causality you suggest is just incorrect and the sports analogies you make don’t parallel the point either.

  2. Jay

    May 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I would really like to understand this concept. Do you have any pictures or videos to illustrate this? I know, especially on the driver, I tilt my spine (reverse K), tilting my head and my eye line away from parallel. Do I tilt my spine then tilt my head up straight again to keep my eyeline parallel? Please help. Thanks.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      May 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

      It doesn’t matter if you tilt your spine for a reverse K. The eyeline is still going to be down the target line if you do it correctly. It will just be pointed more toward the sky, but still on the same vertical plane.

      Lets say you had a pencil on the bridge of your nose with the eraser pointed down the target line. If you tilted your head away like Nicklaus, the eraser would point more toward ground and a Reverse K, the eraser would be pointed more toward sky, but still down target line and not well out to the right.

  3. STICKS

    May 10, 2013 at 1:38 am

    i dont understand fully and i realy want to

  4. STEVE ALMO

    May 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Excellent Monte! …AND ALIGNMENT TO TARGET!

  5. Steve Pratt

    May 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Good stuff, Monte!

  6. geoff duncan

    May 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Great advice. I just hit a bucket and it works.

  7. John Kelly

    May 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    great advice. will take it to my next tournament!

  8. John Forster

    May 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Great article. I had never thought about my eyeline.

  9. Pingback: Latest GolfWrx article. | Monte Scheinblum's Blog

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Instruction

Davies: The Trail Elbow In The Downswing

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In this video, I discuss the role of the trail elbow in the downswing. I also share some great drills to help golfers deliver the trail elbow correctly, which will help improve distance and contact.

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Instruction

The 3 different levels of golf practice

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“I would have practiced as hard, but I would have made my practice more meaningful. I would have worked more on my short game and putting. I would’ve done a lot more drills to make the practice more meaningful, and I would’ve added pressure to the practice as much as possible.” — Lee Westwood

Now here’s the rub. Practice is not monolithic! I approach practice as having three different, distinctive and separate curriculum and criteria.

  • Level 1: Basic
  • Level 2: Advanced
  • Level 3: Extreme

Basic Practice (Level 1) by definition is “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.” Basically, it’s doing the same thing over and over again to get better at it. My favorite skill that requires practice is the 76-yard “flighted wedge.” I do it, and I recommend it be done at every range practice session. Additionally, I identify and then practice as many different “skills” that are required to hit different golf shots. I have found that a non-pressurized environment is the best way to practice in a basic model.

It goes without saying that golf is not played in a pressure-free environment, so basic practice doesn’t help us play golf. The prime objective of Level 2 Practice (Advanced Training) is to take what you do in Basic Practice to the golf course.

First, create on-course situations that require you to hit the shots you have practiced. There should be rewards for demonstrations of competence, and there should be consequences for demonstrations of incompetence

“When you practice, try to find a situation to fit the shot you’re trying to practice.” — Ben Hogan

For example, a major problem is the unevenness of the lies you will encounter during play as opposed to the lies you used for your drills. From marginal to extreme, lies are difficult to replicate on the practice tee. So, play a round of golf and move the ball into the most undesirable lie that is very close to where you are.

Another example would be duplicating the creativity that is sometimes required during actual play. The prime example of that would be the sensation of “being in-between clubs.” I would suggest that you play an occasional round of golf using only half of your clubs. Take two wedges instead of four. Take only the “odd” or “even” numbered irons. Look at not taking the driver, or not taking all of your fairway clubs. I have not taken my putter, which forced me putt with my sand wedge!

A third example would be to play a round of golf and deliberately miss every green in regulation. Should your ball accidentally finish on the green in regulation just move it off into the rough, a bunker or whatever else could use the extra attention. You can create games where your opponent moves your ball off the green into something that would be advantageous to him.

Level 2 Practice is conducted on the practice ground as well as on the course. What I do and recommend is to take each of the shots, skills and drills used in Level 1 and add some accountability to the range experience. I have my students and clients use a “Practice Book” to schedule activities and to keep track of improvement.

Author Note: I will send you a sample practice book page that many of my players actually use. Request it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Please be advised that Level 2 Practice can feature games, wagering or other forms of friendly competitions because they should only activate the lesser emotions of irritation, annoyance, anticipation, anxiousness, joy, pleasure and disappointment. Dealing with these feelings in practice will help you recognize and deal with the minor stresses experienced by most recreational golfers.

Stress is the major cause of “CHOKING.”

Stress, by definition “is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can ruin our ability to perform when we experience the major emotions such as fear, anger, shame, humiliation, euphoria, ridicule, betrayal, doubt and/or disbelief.

Level 3 Practice (Extreme Preparation) is on-course training sessions best suited for very serious competitive golfers. The more a player is able to compete in a simulated or controlled environment that accurately replicates the actual “pressures” that produce the kind of stresses that can effect performance, the better the player will perform when stressed in actual tournaments or events. Please be advised that Extreme Practice DOES NOT feature games, gambling or “friendly” competitions. They don’t control the conditions of play sufficiently to replicate the type of pressure that would induce “stress.”

“Simulation, which  is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion.” For many years now, the medical profession has used simulations to train doctors, the military has used simulations to prepare troops for the realities of the battlefield and aviation has used simulators to train pilots. Simulating has the added benefits of being cost and time effective while producing verifiable results.

If it’s possible for airlines to replicate every possible scenario that a pilot could experience in the cockpit by using simulations, then why isn’t it possible to replicate situations, and subsequent emotional responses, that a competitive golfer could experience on the golf course? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

“I got nervous all the time, as nervous as the next guy. It’s just that I caught myself before it became destructive.” Jack Nicklaus

Recent events at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play gives us some evidence of the destructiveness of uncontrolled emotions. Justin Thomas said that he couldn’t get the thought out of his mind of becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world should he defeat Bubba Watson in the semi-finals, which he failed to do.

“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much,” Thomas said. “And that really sucked. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.”

Then there was Ian Poulter being told that with his win over Louis Oosthuizen he had earned a spot in this years’ Masters tournament only to be told 10 minutes before his next match that he had not actually secured the coveted invitation. With elation, joy and satisfaction jerked away and replaced with disappointment, and possibly anger, the Englishman went out and got whipped by Kevin Kisner 8 & 6!

I concede that Justin Thomas’ and Ian Poulter’s situations were so unique that simulation-based practice and preparation techniques may not have been available to them, but now they both must know that their performance was effected negatively by mental stresses. And with that knowledge they may want to get tougher mentally. Level 3 Practice does that!

Not all that long ago, I was approached by a PGA Tour veteran for some on-course, one-on-one training. He was experiencing severe “choking” in pressurized short-game situations. So I took him out on the course and we replicated the exact shots he had problems with in the past. He demonstrated that he could perform each and every shot in a stress-free environment. We went into a “low-stress” training environment and his performance began to suffer. Then, at his urging to get “real,” we went into a “high-stress” practice mode and he melted down. Without going into details, he became so angry that not only couldn’t he hit golf shots, he tried to run me down with the golf cart as he retreated to the safety of his car.

Now, that’s not the end of the story. A few hours later, after some soul searching, he apologized for his lack of self-control and acknowledged that he had recognized the early signs of stress growing internally as we worked. We went back out onto the course and got back to work.

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Winning Ways: Here’s what it takes to become a winner in Junior Girls golf

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Every competitive golfer strives to win, and I want to help them achieve their goals. Recently, I wrote a story highlighting the statistics behind winning in junior boys golf, and how they can do it more often. Now, we set out to examine the data on winning in junior girls golf, and provide ways they can improve. The data is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of ShotByShot.com, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways that juniors can practice building skills and work towards becoming tournament winners.

The Winning Scores

In 2017 the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average girl’s tournament course measured 6145 yards. The average winning score for girls was 146 (36 holes), or 73 per round. Ten of the 22 tournaments where won with scores of 144 or better and the low 36 holes total was a whopping 133! In the data collection we also collected the average 10th place scores girls. The average 10th place score for girls was 159 or 79.5.

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of ShotByShot.com, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of ShotByShot.com in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical female player who averages 73. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted in the infographics below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use ShotbyShot.com

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

The Winning Preparation

Junior girls are encouraged to use these stats as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 73 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve. For example, a junior might notice they have more 3-putts than the model. To improve, they could work put more time into practice, as well as playing games on the golf course like draw-back and 2-putt.

  • Drawback is a game where after your first putt, you draw the second putt one putter length away from the hole. This often changes a shorter putt (> 2 feet) to a putt of between 3.5 – 5 feet. This putts significantly more pressure on your putting.
  • You may also play Two-Putt, a game where when you reach the green, you (or your playing competitor) tosses the ball away from the hole. You must 2-putt from that spot to move to the next hole (even if it takes a couple attempts!).

Others reading this article might find that they don’t hit enough greens. Improving this area will require more consistent strikes, which may require further technical development and block practice, as well as working on the golf course. To start, I would recommend that every junior implement the yardage rule. The yardage rule works like this; figure out the distance to the very back of the green. For example, this number may be 157. Then figure out what club ALWAYS flies 157, which might be 6-iron. Then choose 7-iron for the shot. This way your best shot will not fly the green, your average shot will likely be in the middle of the green and your less-than-perfect shot will hopefully end up on the front of the green.

During practice rounds, play competitive games with yourself to sharpen your ability to hit greens. For example, if you normally hit 7 greens per round, in practice your goal might be 9. You would track your results over a month and then see your progress.

Beyond building individual skills, like hitting greens or working on putting, junior golfers need times to play competitive rounds on their home golf courses. Ideally, these rounds are played against other people with similar skills and done under tournament like conditions with consequences (loser buys winner a coke or cleans their golf clubs). Playing hundreds of rounds at your home golf course under these conditions gives you a unique opportunity to sharpen your game, learn your tendencies and build skills such as endurance and mental toughness. Most importantly, it teaches you to win and shoot under par!

Please also keep in mind building these skills may take months (or even years). In my own personal experience, when I set out to improve my birdies per round, it took nearly 4 months and 75+ rounds and significant practice to begin to see a change. Depending on your schedule and access to resources like a golf course and instructor, some changes might take a year or more. Regardless, don’t ever worry; building a solid foundation in golf will always lead to rewards!

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