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Use proper camera alignment when filming your swing



Have you ever taken a camera to the golf course or practice range, recorded your swing, and thought “Hmm, I thought I was better than that?” On the other hand, have you been afraid to take your camera to your nearest golf facility because you did not know how to set it up correctly?

Camera position is extremely important, and it is often neglected by average golfers and some golf professionals. The point of this article is to teach golfers how to properly set up a camera to video their swing from different positions. The position of the camera can change the appearance of your golf swing in many respects, and it is equally important to set up the camera properly as it is to recognize when it is done improperly.

The first step is getting the right camera. I use two cameras in my swing instruction. I work for GolfTEC, and we use a camera equivalent to a Sony GigE, which is a very expensive high-resolution, high-speed camera used for slow-motion analysis. In addition, I own two other cameras for my instruction business that I started before I took the job teaching for GolfTEC-Philadelphia, the Michael Wheeler Learning Center, LLC.

I own both a Casio EX-FH100 high-speed camera and a Sony GigE camera. I use the Casio on the golf course, while I use the Sony GigE in coordination with my JC Video software, which was set up by Mark Connell, the owner of JC Video. I also own a tripod that I can adjust the leg length and height depending on the situation to ensure a level camera position. Now, I don’t expect golfers to go purchase a $1,000 camera to videotape their swings, as most digital cameras are good now for these purposes. I recommend a camera with at least 30 frames per second recording capability, and something with at least 640 x 480 recording pixels so you can see your video clearly. Now to the second step, which is to understanding how to properly set up the camera.

There are two primary camera positions when you will videotape your golf swing: down-the-line and face-on.

How to setup the down the line camera

Down-the-line essentially means that the camera is pointing down the target line. There are three positions that Golf Magazine Top-100 instructors and other great instructors use when setting up a down-the-line swing video. The first is on the hands, keeping the HANDS between the camera and the target (photo 1). The second is set up on the target line, keeping the BALL between the camera and the target (photo 2). The third, final, and probably least used, camera position is set up on a golfer’s foot line, keeping the FEET between the camera and the target (photo 3).

Photo 1

Proper Hand Line Camera

 Photo 2

Proper Target Line Camera

 Photo 3

Proper Feet Line Camera

My mentor in the business is Ted Sheftic, a Golf Magazine Top-100 instructor, and Pennsylvania’s No. 1 teacher as ranked by Golf Digest. I have been working with Ted for more than 15 years, and he taught me using the camera position set up on the hands. So, for purposes of this article (and any of my future articles), we will talk about setting up the camera in that position. Follow these steps to set up a down-the-line swing video in the proper position:

  • Place the camera on a tripod and set the height to EXACTLY hand height and level.
  • Set up a ball from where the golfer will be hitting and set up to that ball.
  • Place a club on the ground PARALLEL to the target line directly underneath your hands.
  • This should be approximately 3-to-4 inches in front of the feet at address, between a golfer’s toes and the ball.
  • Line up the camera directly in line with the hand line (the shaft used to represent the hand line should be perfectly straight in the camera’s viewfinder — see photo)
  • Hit record!

After a while, golfers will be able to set up down-the-line swing videos very quickly and efficiently, and golfers can quicken the process with the help of a friend or family member. If you decide to use the other camera positions, remember that those will change the LOOK of your swing when you review the swing, which will be discussed in the next article.

How to setup the face on camera

Lastly, let’s discuss how to set up a face-on swing video. If you have only one camera, make sure you mark the position of the down the line  tripod position before moving to avoid having to repeat the steps mentioned above again. You can use duct tape, tees, etc., to do this. Most of the steps for a face-on video will be the same as the down-the-line, but they are modified to be appropriate for the different position.

  • Assure the camera is still at hand height and level.
  • Set up a ball from where the golfer will be hitting.
  • Place a club on the ground PERPENDICULAR to the target line (form a “T” with the target line club and the ball position club) in line with the golf ball. This will represent the ball position between a golfer’s feet and in relation to his or her body.
  • Line up the camera so that the golfer is directly in the middle of the camera’s viewfinder.
  • Hit record!

Follow these steps and set up the camera in the same place every time to ensure consistency and help track swing process. In the next article, I will explain golfers you will be able to see from each position, and also what golfers would see if you set up the camera in the wrong position.

Remember, it is best to consult a PGA professional before making swing changes. You wouldn’t prescribe yourself medicine without seeing a doctor, so don’t try to fix your golf swing without professional advice. Best of luck and keep practicing!

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Michael Wheeler is a Golf Digest "Best Young Teacher in America." He's the PGA Teaching Professional at Whitford Country Club in Exton, Pennsylvania, a private club roughly 35 minutes west of Philadelphia in beautiful Chester County. Michael is PGA certified in teaching and coaching. He's mentored by Ted Sheftic, a GOLF Magazine Top-100 Teacher who is Pennsylvania's No. 1-ranked Teacher and a four-time winner of the Philadelphia PGA Section Teacher of the Year Award. Michael has also been mentored by Mike Adams, the 2016 National PGA Teacher of the Year, a Golf Magazine Top-100 Teacher, and a Golf Digest Top-50 Instructor (he's No. 2). Michael has been a speaker at several Philadelphia PGA education events for Section PGA Professionals, as well as a speaker at the 2016 and 2017 Philly Golf & Expo Show in Oaks, PA. His certifications to include: -- BioSwing Dynamics Level 1 Instructor -- Trackman Level 1 and 2 Certified Instructor -- Trackman Operator -- PGA Certified Professional: Teaching and Coaching -- K-Vest Level 1 and 2 Certified Instructor -- Certified Level 1 Golf Biomechanist: Dr. Young-Hoo Kwon Michael played NCAA Division I golf for Stetson University for three years, competing against the likes of current PGA Tour stars Russell Knox and Jonas Blixt. After his amateur career, Michael turned professional and became a member of the former NGA Hooters Tour in 2007 playing with other PGA Tour players such as Billy Hurley III, Scott Brown, and Matt Every to name a few. To learn more about Michael or contact him directly, please visit his website.



  1. Tom McCarthy

    Feb 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I like to have another view of the golfer’s swing, from directly behind them in order to look at the action of the hips, legs, and shoulders from this angle. Its a great feedback view on how much the hips move laterally on the backswing and downswing.

    • Michael Wheeler

      Feb 17, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      That is true… I just covered the two most popular views of face on and down the line. However, the camera position for the behind camera will be set up in the same manner of the face on camera. The behind camera is an excellent resource when working on weight shift, seeing the hips, etc, like you said.

  2. Shawn Smith

    Jan 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    This article came out at the right time. I just got a sony action cam for christmas to go along with my V1 premium mobile app. I will be filming my swing for the first time this year. I used to get instruction from Goltec in Berwyn PA and buy my gear at the willow grove golfsmith. I’ll look you up if I ever decide to get Golftec lessons again. Great information here!

  3. Pat C

    Jan 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Forgot to ask a question. What about setup for recording your putting?

    • Michael Wheeler

      Feb 17, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Pat, the same rules will apply, and it goes a little deeper in the next article, which is being published this week. With putting the only two spots I personally use for putting is the hands (set up the same way) to see the entire stroke (body and club). I will also sometimes put the camera on the target line on the ground (explained in the next article), with a close up view of the putter head and maybe about a foot of the shaft. This will show you the arc of the stroke and whether it is inside and down the line, straight back to straight through, etc.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Pat C

    Jan 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Enjoyed the tips for setting up video camera. Will be looking for next article.

  5. jl

    Jan 17, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Sorry, quite confusing. Saying “keeping the hands between the camera and the target” literally could mean the camera being placed anywhere, as long as it was behind the golfer. If you really meant “keeping the hands on a Line between the camera and the target, that’s not what your photo shows. A line from the camera to the hands does not extend to the target. In your next example, “keeping the ball between the camera and the target”, I believe you meant “keeping the ball on a Line between the camera and the target”, this is in fact what you did. A line from the camera goes straight to the ball and then to the target.

    • Michael Wheeler

      Jan 27, 2014 at 9:59 am

      jl sorry it took so long to get back to you. When I was writing this I had to debate how to word it to make it as easy to understand as possible. The reason why it appears that the target is not on the hands in the pictures is due to the fact that the net in front of me is only about 10 feet away. If the target were to be further away it would appear as if the hands are closely in line with the target (ideally the hands should be in the center of your screen, but you need to make sure it is lined up). If you use the simple steps with the clubs it will help you set it up directly in line with the hands. The next article will be more in depth with where in height the camera should be when it is on the target line versus the hands, and what you will see if you do it incorrectly. So stay tuned!

  6. WRG

    Jan 16, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    I like your last comment, but my job doesn’t offer golf insurance, also known as Sh*nk insurance.

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The Wedge Guy: My top 5 practice tips



While there are many golfers who barely know where the practice (I don’t like calling it a “driving”) range is located, there are many who find it a place of adventure, discovery and fun. I’m in the latter group, which could be accented by the fact that I make my living in this industry. But then, I’ve always been a “ball beater,” since I was a kid, but now I approach my practice sessions with more purpose and excitement. There’s no question that practice is the key to improvement in anything, so today’s topic is on making practice as much fun as playing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the range, and always embrace the challenge of learning new ways to make a golf ball do what I would like it to do. So, today I’m sharing my “top 5” tips for making practice fun and productive.

  1. Have a mission/goal/objective. Whether it is a practice range session or practice time on the course, make sure you have a clearly defined objective…how else will you know how you’re doing? It might be to work on iron trajectory, or finding out why you’ve developed a push with your driver. Could be to learn how to hit a little softer lob shot or a knockdown pitch. But practice with a purpose …always.
  2. Don’t just “do”…observe.  There are two elements of learning something new.  The first is to figure out what it is you need to change. Then you work toward that solution. If your practice session is to address that push with the driver, hit a few shots to start out, and rather than try to fix it, make those first few your “lab rats”. Focus on what your swing is doing. Do you feel anything different? Check your alignment carefully, and your ball position. After each shot, step away and process what you think you felt during the swing.
  3. Make it real. To just rake ball after ball in front of you and pound away is marginally valuable at best. To make practice productive, step away from your hitting station after each shot, rake another ball to the hitting area, then approach the shot as if it was a real one on the course. Pick a target line from behind the ball, meticulously step into your set-up position, take your grip, process your one swing thought and hit it. Then evaluate how you did, based on the shot result and how it felt.
  4. Challenge yourself. One of my favorite on-course practice games is to spend a few minutes around each green after I’ve played the hole, tossing three balls into various positions in an area off the green. I don’t let myself go to the next tee until I put all three within three feet of the hole. If I don’t, I toss them to another area and do it again. You can do the same thing on the range. Define a challenge and a limited number of shots to achieve it.
  5. Don’t get in a groove. I was privileged enough to watch Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a golf lesson one day, and was struck by the fact that he would not let Tom hit more than five to six shots in a row with the same club. Tom would hit a few 5-irons, and Mr. Penick would say, “hit the 8”, then “hit the driver.” He changed it up so that Tom would not just find a groove. That paved the way for real learning, Mr. Penick told me.

My “bonus” tip addresses the difference between practicing on the course and keeping a real score. Don’t do both. A practice session is just that. On-course practice is hugely beneficial, and it’s best done by yourself, and at a casual pace. Playing three or four holes in an hour or so, taking time to hit real shots into and around the greens, will do more for your scoring skills than the same amount of range time.

So there you have my five practice tips. I’m sure I could come up with more, but then we always have more time, right?

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The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better wedge player by doing these simple things



As someone who has observed rank-and-file recreational golfers for most of my life – over 50 years of it, anyway – I have always been baffled by why so many mid- to high-handicap golfers throw away so many strokes in prime scoring range.

For this purpose, let’s define “prime scoring range” as the distance when you have something less than a full-swing wedge shot ahead of you. Depending on your strength profile, that could be as far as 70 to 80 yards or as close as 30 to 40 yards. But regardless of whether you are trying to break par or 100, your ability to get the ball on the green and close enough to the hole for a one-putt at least some of the time will likely be one of the biggest factors in determining your score for the day.

All too often, I observe golfers hit two or even three wedge shots from prime scoring range before they are on the green — and all too often I see short-range pitch shots leave the golfer with little to no chance of making the putt.

This makes no sense, as attaining a level of reasonable proficiency from short range is not a matter of strength profile at all. But it does take a commitment to learning how to make a repeating and reliable half-swing and doing that repeatedly and consistently absolutely requires you to learn the basic fundamentals of how the body has to move the club back and through the impact zone.

So, let’s get down to the basics to see if I can shed some light on these ultra-important scoring shots.

  • Your grip has to be correct. For the club to move back and through correctly, your grip on the club simply must be fundamentally sound. The club is held primarily in the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. Period. The lower hand has to be “passive” to the upper hand, or the mini-swing will become a quick jab at the ball. For any shot, but particularly these short ones, that sound grip is essential for the club to move through impact properly and repeatedly.
  • Your posture has to be correct. This means your body is open to the target, feet closer together than even a three-quarter swing, and the ball positioned slightly back of center.
  • Your weight should be distributed about 70 percent on your lead foot and stay there through the mini-swing.
  • Your hands should be “low” in that your lead arm is hanging naturally from your shoulder, not extended out toward the ball and not too close to the body to allow a smooth turn away and through. Gripping down on the club is helpful, as it gets you “closer to your work.
  • This shot is hit with a good rotation of the body, not a “flip” or “jab” with the hands. Controlling these shots with your body core rotation and leading the swing with your body core and lead side will almost ensure proper contact. To hit crisp pitch shots, the hands have to lead the clubhead through impact.
  • A great drill for this is to grip your wedge with an alignment rod next to the grip and extending up past your torso. With this in place, you simply have to rotate your body core through the shot, as the rod will hit your lead side and prevent you from flipping the clubhead at the ball. It doesn’t take but a few practice swings with this drill to give you an “ah ha” moment about how wedge shots are played.
  • And finally, understand that YOU CANNOT HIT UP ON A GOLF BALL. The ball is sitting on the ground so the clubhead has to be moving down and through impact. I think one of the best ways to think of this is to remember this club is “a wedge.” So, your simple objective is to wedge the club between the ball and the ground. The loft of the wedge WILL make the ball go up, and the bounce of the sole of the wedge will prevent the club from digging.

So, why is mastering the simple pitch shot so important? Because my bet is that if you count up the strokes in your last round of golf, you’ll likely see that you left several shots out there by…

  • Either hitting another wedge shot or chip after having one of these mid-range pitch shots, or
  • You did not get the mid-range shot close enough to even have a chance at a makeable putt.

If you will spend even an hour on the range or course with that alignment rod and follow these tips, your scoring average will improve a ton, and getting better with these pitch shots will improve your overall ball striking as well.

More from the Wedge Guy

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Clement: Don’t overlook this if you want to find the center of the face




It is just crazy how golfers are literally beside themselves when they are placed in a properly aligned set up! They feel they can’t swing or function! We take a dive into why this is and it has to do with how the eyes are set up in the human skull!

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