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Impact: Training with isometrics

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Golf’s vitally important “Impact Position” is one of the most difficult areas to isolate and work on. This is due to the dynamics of the motion and the fact that golfers are passing through this area of the swing at great speed. I would like to introduce you to some isometric exercises that will help improve your impact position, as well as increase your speed and flexibility.

TOOLS

I am using a swing trainer that is equipped with a golf club grip, but a simple exercise resistance band and piece of nylon rope work great as well. Make a loop and double up the knot so that it can be inserted above the door hinge between the door and the door frame. Once the door is closed, the resistance band will be secured between the door and door frame.

ROUTINE

Perform 10 reps of each exercise, 2-to-3 sets. Hold each position for 8-to-10 seconds. Holding static positions under the stress of the resistance band will allow your mind and body to process much more information and attain better alignments once you put your swing into motion. Isometrics are also a cornerstone for improving speed and flexibility in all types of sports.

trans 1 txt 600.

Exercise 1

Insert your resistance band above the door hinge at its highest point. From here, we will work on properly sequencing our pivot from the top of swing position into the downstroke.

Photo A illustrates areas that you should be aware of when moving through your transition.

  • Lower body supporting the upper body and a strong sense of pressure in your feet as you use the ground for leverage.
  • The trail arm stays in front of the hip.
  • Higher-handicap golfers should feel like they are moving laterally, as well as diagonally.

Photo B illustrates a common fault of lower-handicap golfers.

  • Pushing off of the right side too early, causing the arms to get caught behind the trail hip.
  • The club flattens too much.
  • Sustaining the line of compression becomes difficult.

impact 600

Exercise 2

Insert  your resistance band above the middle door hinge. From here we will work on delivering the club from waist high into our impact position.

Photo C illustrates areas that you should be aware of when moving into your impact position.

  • Hips open, head behind the ball.
  • The weight is predominantly forward, with the lead leg straightening.
  • The club swings left (for a right-handed golfer), as the hands get pulled past the ball location. The lead shoulder moves up and back.

Photo D illustrates a common breakdown of the impact position for higher-handicap golfers.

  • The trail shoulder gets too high, and the weight is stuck on the back foot.
  • The lead wrist cups and the trail wrist flattens too early, as hands are directed at the ball location instead of beyond it.
  • The club shaft leans backwards.

Speed 600

Adding Speed

Begin introducing the golf ball and speed to your stroke by starting at the proper impact position as described in above Photo C.

  • Hit 10 shots taking the club back to waist high, then contacting the ball (Photo E).
  • Hit 10 more starting at impact and taking the club back to shoulder high.
  • Hit shots from your standard address position and swing to a full finish, passing through your improved impact position (Photo F).

Band 600

Above: An example of a resistance band and simple door hinge attachment.

Training

Isometric exercises are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion. The “Hold” and “Form” portion of each rep is very important, so perform your routine in front of a mirror or camera/video camera the first few times to insure precision. Isometrics are low-impact, quick-recovery exercises that can open up a whole new world of impact sensations and improvement for you.

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Michael Howes is a G.S.E.B. authorized instructor of "The Golfing Machine" - Director of Instruction "Carter Plantation Golf Course" Springfield, La. - Director of Instruction "Rob Noel Golf Academy at Carter Plantation. - Golf Channel Academy Instructor - SPi Instructor of the SeeMore Putter Institute - Featured Writer GolfWRX Teaching philosophy: "We will work together on adding the all-important elements of power and consistency to your game while maintaining the individualism and art of your swing." Work on your swing from anywhere in the world - NO software needed. www.howesgolf.com www.youtube.com/cedarstreetgolf

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jeff Kerr

    Feb 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Good stuff Mike!

  2. Jonathan

    Feb 2, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for the exercises, Michael. Going the resistance band route, it seems like it would be beneficial to tie it to a a cut off grip to make it similar to your G4, right? I have plenty of old irons that i could cut off a few inches below the grip. Thanks, again.

    • Michael Howes

      Feb 2, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Just PLEASE make sure your device is safe & secure. These exercise create a ton of resistance & pressure, so you do not want to be doing anything unsafe. Always check your bands before training. Look for weak spots and never use old, dry bands or tubing.

      • Jonathan

        Feb 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm

        I’ll be safe, but if I don’t attach a cut off grip, how would you go about holding the resistance band? Just grip the actual band like you would a club? Also, out of heavy, medium, and low resistance bands, which do you recommend using? How much resistance should we feel? Thanks for the reply.

        • Michael Howes

          Feb 3, 2014 at 12:17 am

          Yes Jonathan, use your golfing grip & place the band so that pressure is being applied to the trail hand index finger. Start with a flex that you are able to reach the positions & hold. Move to higher tension bands as your training progresses. Keys are Form & Hold.

  3. Kammer

    Jan 31, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Wonder if I could get forearmtats that would help with grip alignment. Huh hmmmm

  4. Keith

    Jan 31, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Good stuff! What’s the name of the trainer you’re using?

    • Michael Howes

      Feb 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks Keith.
      The trainer is the G4, which Tom Lehman used to endorse. I do not think they make it anymore. Try the resistance bands, they work great too.

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Instruction

Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)

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In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?

I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:

“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below.  I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time.  I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135.  My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards.  No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances.  It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away.  What am I doing wrong?

Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:

Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.

Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.

Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.

Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?

Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.

So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.

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Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill

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When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!

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Wedge Guy: The top 7 short game mistakes

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I’ve written hundreds of articles as “The Wedge Guy” and I’ve made it my life’s work to closely observe golfers and their short games. So, I thought I’d compile what I see into a list of what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevents them from optimizing their scoring. So here goes, not in any particular order:

  1. Tempo. Maybe the most common error I see is a tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. That probably comes from the misunderstood and overdone advice “accelerate through the ball.” I like to compare playing a golf hole to painting a room, and your short shots are your “trim brushes”. They determine how the finished work turns out, and a slower and more deliberate stroke delivers more precision as you get closer to the green and hole.
  2. Set Up/Posture. To hit good chips and pitches, you need to “get down”. Bend your knees a bit more and grip down on the club – it puts you closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand up too tall and grip the club to the end.
  3. Grip Pressure. A very light grip on the club is essential to good touch and a proper release through the impact zone. Trust me, you cannot hold a golf club too lightly – your body won’t let you. Concentrate on your forearms; if you can feel any tenseness in the muscles in your forearms, you are holding on too tightly.
  4. Hand position. Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV. Their arms are hanging naturally so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address and through impact, but the club is not tilted up on its toe. Copy that and your short game will improve dramatically.
  5. Lack of Body/Core Rotation. When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have stay in front of the torso throughout the swing. If you don’t rotate your chest and shoulders back and through, you won’t develop good consistency in distance or contact.
  6. Club selection. Every pitch or chip is different, so don’t try to hit them all with the same club. I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW, 9-iron or even less will give you much better results. The other error is seen in those golfers who are “afraid” of their wedge and are trying to hit tough recoveries with 8- and 9-irons. That doesn’t work either. Go to your practice green and see what happens with different clubs, then take that knowledge to the course.
  7. Clubhead/grip relationship. This error falls into two categories. One is those golfers who forward press so much that they dramatically change the loft of the club. At address and impact the grip should be slightly ahead of the clubhead. I like to focus on the hands, rather than the club, and just think of my left hand leading my right through impact. Which brings me to the other error – allowing the clubhead to pass the hands through impact. If you let the clubhead do that, good shots just cannot happen. And that is caused by you trying to “hit” up on the ball, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.

So, there are my top 7. Obviously, there are others, but if you eliminate those, your short game will get better in a hurry.

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