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The technique you need to hit a proper draw

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It seems that just about every right-handed golfer wants to hit shots that move right to left, otherwise known as a “draw.” Mastering it will make you the envy of your playing partners, as it is the most elusive ball flight pattern for most golfers to achieve.

In this article, I want to break down a few simple photos that will help you to understand how this right-to-left pattern is created through the actions of the clubface and club path at impact.

Launch monitors such as Trackman and FlightScope have shown us that clubface alignment at impact controls the golf ball’s starting direction, and the path of the club at impact influences the ball’s curvature. Therefore, in order to move the ball from right to left, the face angle of the club at impact must be left of the club’s swing path if you impact the ball in the center of the face.

A Proper Draw

Inside-to-out path

As you can see above, the path is moving from inside to outside, and the face is between the target and the path. Since the face controls the ball’s initial starting direction, it would have to be right of the target or the ball wouldn’t begin to the right. This shot starts out to the right and curves back to the target. In a true draw, you impact the ball with an open clubface (not closed) as I will explain below.

One common mistake I see with amateurs who try to hit draws is that they “over-close” the face at impact, which increases the face-to-path difference and causes the ball to curve too much. In the example below, you will see that the in-to-out path has not changed, but the clubface is pointing at the target at impact. This shot starts at the target and curves away from it to the left, which is not a proper draw.

Image 02

This “straight” draw is misunderstood by many golfers, as they think they can get the ball to start more to the right of the target by swinging with more of an in-to-out path. Doing so with the same clubface alignment, however, will only cause the ball to start at the target and hook even farther to the left due to the increased face-to-path difference.

The Pull-Hook

The final swing pattern I see on the lesson tee with students who are trying to hit a draw is that they have the clubface pointed to the left of the target at impact. This is what causes the dreaded “pull-hook.”

Image 03

In a pull-hook, the ball starts in the direction of the red arrow in the photo above and curves away from the path. If the path was the same amount from in-to-out as in the first two examples, you would see a pull-hook. It’s important for golfers to realize that this is a clubface issue, not a club path issue!

Remember, in order to hit a push draw, golfers need an in-to-out path and a face angle at impact that is pointing left of the path at impact, yet still to the right of the target. That allows the ball to fly correctly before curving.

The best drill to work on your ball’s curvature is to stick an alignment stick into the ground in-line with your target and hit balls that curve around it from right to left. This will help you to move your path to the right with a clubface that is closed to the path, yet open to the target.

Experiment with that drill and you’ll see what I mean.

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Tom F. Stickney II, is a specialist in Biomechanics for Golf, Physiology, and 3d Motion Analysis. He has a degree in Exercise and Fitness and has been a Director of Instruction for almost 30 years at resorts and clubs such as- The Four Seasons Punta Mita, BIGHORN Golf Club, The Club at Cordillera, The Promontory Club, and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. His past and present instructional awards include the following: Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, Golf Digest Top 50 International Instructor, Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor, Best in State (Florida, Colorado, and California,) Top 20 Teachers Under 40, Best Young Teachers and many more. Tom is a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 25 people in the world. Tom is TPI Certified- Level 1, Golf Level 2, Level 2- Power, and Level 2- Fitness and believes that you cannot reach your maximum potential as a player with out some focus on your physiology. You can reach him at [email protected] and he welcomes any questions you may have.

58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to Hit a Draw: By the Numbers | Golf Gear Select

  2. Uncle Bob

    Jun 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    good information. I have always had the big hook as an escape shot from the deep,dark places my tee shot lands. Of late, it has started out left too soon, often hitting the tree I was trying to avoid. I realize that I was not setting the clubface open enough , relative to a far right body and foot alignment. I will test this at the practice area tomorrow.
    Thanks.
    It is always a matters of degrees, isn’t it? There is a huge difference between a draw and a Hook. The hook is much easier to hit. Back before the world began, Bobby Locke hit a big hook with every club. He even hooked his putts. Sam Snead Hit a gentle draw or fade(on command) As Sam Snead said, ” a draw (and a fade)curves on the way down. a hook (or a slice) starts curving on the way up.” Of course, we mere mortals will take whatever we can can get on a consistent basis.

  3. Uncle Bob

    Jun 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    good information. I have always had the big hook as an escape shot from the deep,dark places my tee shot lands. Of late, it has started out left too soon, often hitting the tree I was trying to avoid. I realize that I was not setting the clubface open enough , relative to a far right body and foot alignment. I will test this at the practice area tomorrow.
    Thanks.
    It is always a matters of degrees, isn’t it? There is a huge difference between a draw and a Hook. The hook is much easier to hit. Back before the world began, Bobby Locke hit a big hook with every club. He even hooked his putts. Sam Snead Hit a gentle draw or fade(on command) As Sam Snead said, ” a draw (and a fade)curves on the way down. a hook (or a fade) starts curving on the way up.” Of course, we mere mortals will take whatever we can can get on a consistent basis.

  4. paul

    Jun 5, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    I was experimenting at the range the other day after reading one of your other articles. And it finally clicked. I hit 15/20 draws, 17/20 fades and all of them landed on target. The misses landed where I was aligned. I left the face aimed in line with my feet and only slightly changed my swing path to alter the spin axis. Worked better then I imagined. Can’t wait to try this on course.

  5. Ronald Gailun

    May 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Also, please comment on grip and ball position

  6. Ronald Gailun

    May 23, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Tom, I am a little confused with regard to some of your answers to the above questions.

    Would you please describe how a person learning to hit a push draw: 1. sets up to the ball 2.where the body lines are in relation to the target line 3. face alignment in relation to the target line at address and 4. do you swing normally along your shoulder lines as Jack Nicklaus always advocated?

    Thanks

    • tom stickney

      May 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Ronald– there is no simple answer to your question that works for everyone…I’d find a teaching pro in your area to help you sort this all out or email me a video via the V1 app on your phone.

      However, I would suggest the following:
      1) Aim a touch right with everything (helps to shift path to the right)
      2) Face at target (a touch closed to your body line)
      3) Swing along your body lines
      4) Grip should be neutral to a touch strong…ball position relative to the club you are using

      If ball is hooking too much set face more square to body line not aiming at target

  7. Rich

    May 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Well, turns out I’d been looking at this all wrong!! I previously fell into the category of golfer who would set up with the clubface really quite closed, under the misapprehension that this would ‘force’ a draw, when in actual fact all that resulted was a straight shot (at best) and a duck hook (at worst!).

    At the range the other night, armed with the information laid out in Tom’s article, I proceeded to set up with the (driver) face slightly open to target line and focused on hitting the ball with my usual in-to-out swing and guess what? Nice, high, arcing draw. Set up again, repeat, same result! Didn’t matter what club I used, I got the same result with woods and irons.

    Tom, I think you may have just helped me to achieve the shot shape I was looking for with one (very) simple adjustment!!

    • Tom Stickney

      May 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Rich– awesome!!! Love it. Sometimes a photo makes things click.

  8. Naru

    May 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Another great article, Tom!
    As a natural fade hitter, hitting a push draw has been always a swing of my dream.
    I recently started to observe Rory McIlroy’s swing on YouTube. He hits a big push draw, just like your technique you mentioned, to maximize the distance off the tee.
    The whole concepts of opening club face and the swing path moving from inside-to-outside make sense. But when I try this, a straight push is the result; no ball moving right-to-left.
    Does this mean that my swing path isn’t coming from “inside enough”, or not swing “outside enough”?

    • Tom Stickney

      May 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks. The ball starts in the direction of the face and curves away from the path with a centered hit. If I had to guess your path isn’t far enough to the right

      • CD

        May 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm

        How do you set the alignments? For example, do you prefer any of the following methods?
        A) set your stance right of starting line, and close the face in your grip (but still right of the target, and regrip it;
        B) do you set the face down to the starting line right of target, and stance to the right of that;
        C) ‘feel’ the path goes right of your starting line, feeling the face ‘wide right’ but ‘closed’
        D) aim the face at the target and aim your swing right

        I see A as potentially being more precise (no timing closure through the ball), but a lower trajectory pull draw, because of the regrip, but how do you know how much to close the face?; B seems good for a push draw from a square stance, with a more reliable starting direction, but I think the hands will want to over rotate/need timing because you haven’t re gripped it, and liable for a push – how far right do you set the stance?; C seems like a genuine push draw but a more precise, matter of feel, and easy to over/undercook it, especially under pressure, seems less margin for error; or D I feel like although this used to be the ‘old ball flight laws’ explanation for the pull hook away from the target, perhaps explains why the old ball flight laws worked 90% of the time, eg the face maybe tending to square itself to the more in to out path than staying square to the target?

        I have a hard time trial and error to see what works, and I’m asking what you prefer (or do differently as I’m sure your swing is more reliable.

        Thanks

  9. Ho Kim

    May 20, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Great article Tom!!! I used to play a big push hook for years and never completely understood why or how I was doing it but lost it over the last year bc of a swing change focused on accuracy and learning how to cut the ball. As I have gotten comfortable with the new swing I’ve been trying to get the draw back but have consistently been hitting a straight draw/pull hook but didn’t understand why this was happening. After reading this article the proverbial light bulb went off and it all made sense!!! Played 9 holes today and was consistently hitting a beautiful “proper draw” with ease and was able to apply the concepts to control a fade as well. Keep up the great work Tom!!!

    • Tom Stickney

      May 21, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Ho- thanks for the note sir! Golf is more fun when you can move the ball both ways at will. 🙂

  10. Chris

    May 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Hi Tom. That’s a great article and visual. The one thing that has always confused me is how your grip affects the impact direction. It seems most players that can really play a consistent draw have a pretty strong grip. I’ve always had a pretty weak left hand grip. It seems like if you want to hit the inside quadrant of the ball, you would want a weaker grip, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. If your grip is stronger, wouldn’t that tend to close the face too much at impact and cause a pull-hook?

    • Tom Stickney

      May 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      The stronger grip (in most average players) tends to move the blade into a more closed condition at impact. Couple that with a rightward path and you have a left miss potential.

  11. Rod

    May 20, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for explaining this in such a simple way. I was drawing the ball but suffering from a lot of straight draws and missing left of target. Then would get in even more trouble by closing the face more at impact and going waaaay left.
    It seemed strange to be focusing on an open face at impact but it works so effectively and every shot felt more controlled. I’ll look forward to getting the hang of it.

    • Tom Stickney

      May 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      It is a paradox in golfer’s minds for sure. Glad it’s working sir.

  12. Jeff

    May 20, 2014 at 1:52 am

    Great article Tom. Does the swing need be shallower? I feel like when I hit a nice stinging draw it is a shallower swing plane. Also are you firing the hands quicker or is the draw just a product of the same seeing path with the altered face angle? Thank you

    • tom stickney

      May 20, 2014 at 2:29 am

      Jeff– usually when you swing from the inside it tends to shallow out the AoA…shifting the path right of the face will allow the ball to move rt to left without you thinking too much about your release (for most players)

  13. Joseph Jones

    May 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

    As Tiger Woods states in his group tutorials at the range he has a very simple explanation as how to hit a consistent fade. He explained as follows: 1. Slightly open the club face at address. 2. Move the ball up in your stance from a ball and a half to two balls. 3. Move your back right foot forward and front foot back. 4. Swing along the path of your feet. I’m about an 6-8 handicap but couldn’t fade the ball to save my life. I watched that, went to the range the next day and I could hit from a 5-15 yard fade on command as well as a draw which is just the reverse of what he explained. Lowered my handicap to a 4 within a month. Great tip from the greatest ever.

    • cb

      May 20, 2014 at 2:07 am

      another great way to think about it for sure. it really depends on how a golfer feels comfortable achieving the proper setup. for example what you described is lining up square to a path that points left (assuming RH) of your target and open the face a tad. this creates an out to in path in relation to the target and the open face in relation to the path creates a pull fade. by moving the ball forward and then your back foot forward/front back, you have just lined up square to the left of your target with a slightly open face. opening your stance moves the ball back but since you move it forward you are keeping the ball in the same position in relation to your body. so by starting square than making those adjustments your perception is probably different than if you had lined up left initially but biomechanically it is the same. there are probably some run on sentences in there, sorry about that

    • tom stickney

      May 20, 2014 at 2:31 am

      Joseph– there are multiple ways players encourage a leftward swing path in efforts to fade the ball…this method is one of them. If it works for you then you’ve found your key. 🙂

  14. cb

    May 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    first off, love your articles Tom. second, i like how distinguish a “push” draw from a “true/straight” draw. like you said, too many golfers get confused when teachers don’t specify which one they are talking about. third, i think a lot of the setup/ description comes down to perception and what object a golfer uses for an identifier. for example, i can’t line up square to the target and have an in to out swing in reference with the target without moving ball position. but i could line up square to my path but have a closed face and have an in to in swing in relation to my path, and that would translate into an in to out swing with an open face in relation to my target. just a thought,again love your articles

    • Tom Stickney

      May 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Thx cb…push draw starts rt of the pin and falls to the pin.

  15. RI_Redneck

    May 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Your path in relation to your body alignment should not change. This is where people screw up. They try to change their path and it doesn’t feel right. The only things that should change are your body alignment in relation to the target and the clubface alignment to the target.

    BT

  16. West

    May 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I don’t think it’s the physics/geometry that people have problems understanding when it comes to how to hit a draw…It’s the actual biomechanics needs to pull the shot off that makes it so difficult. The “in-to-out” path is just hard and “unnatural” for a lot of people, and fights many of our natural swing mechanics…

    • Tom Stickney

      May 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      West–

      Couldn’t agree more; however sometimes having a clear visual of impact dynamics can help break down the wall.

  17. bootscrilla

    May 19, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    This is the best article I’ve read in my two years on this site. My path is pretty inside out and I couldn’t figure out why I was missing left so much even when I felt as if the face was square at impact. I played after reading this and tried to keep the face a bit open, instant results! Can’t thank you enough.

  18. TwoWolvez

    May 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    With the proper push draw setup, where should your feet, hips and shoulders face? Along the path of the target (causing open club face, so I assume this is correct) or the swing path (closing club face and assuming this is wrong)?

    I ask because its hard to make that in to out swing path. I have seen setups that say to aim to right of target so you are making a straight swing, but I know this means the club face is closed in this set up. Does that basically cause a pull draw? Or is it a hook?

    Is there anything additional to do with your setup to help promote an inside to outside swing path while maintaining body facing target line and club face open to target?

    Thanks!

    TwoWolvez

    • Tom Stickney

      May 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Aiming rt is the easiest way from what you’ve said. Don’t close the face as much at address as well.

  19. Lars

    May 19, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Tom! I always enjoy reading your articles.

    By open clubface, you mean open relative to the target, rigth? Open to the target and closed to the path?

    Also, in order to achieve an inside to outside path you are just aiming to the right of the target?

    • Steff

      May 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Both are relative to the target or where you are aiming.

      The inside-out plane is relative to the target or where you are aiming. I tip for hitting a draw is to take your stance to the target. Make sure the clubface is pointed to the target, then swing the club to a point that is right of the target. If you do this correctly you will have a square clubface at impact and an inside-out swing path. Start there and learn to controll the draw.

      • Tom Stickney

        May 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

        Steff–

        Be careful. You don’t want a square face at impact- it must be rt of the target or you’ll tend to miss your target left

        • Steff

          May 19, 2014 at 5:15 pm

          What I meant with ” Start there and learn to controll the draw” was that if he does that correctly he will notice that he misses left and then adjust.

    • Tom Stickney

      May 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Thx. Just like in the photo…face is rt of target and left of path. Shifting the path to the right can be achieved in many different ways…aiming rt can accomplish that.

  20. Ryan

    May 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    A draw is something I’ve been working on so I was excited to see this article. Do you have any youtube videos you might suggest?? I’m a visual learner and it really helps to see things. Thanks!

  21. Sims

    May 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I understand the basic principles that you are explaining, but I don’t know how you could possibly work on this without a trackman? I have no problem drawing the ball so I must be consistently in to out. But, I cant hit a fade to save my life. I open the blade, stance, shoulders and I hit screaming double cross pull hooks. Could you explain what I need to work on to properly hit a fade?

    • Steff

      May 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      You have to exaggerate. Open the club with the grip and exaggerate an outside-in path. Do this until you learn to control your swing path and the clubface at impact.

      • Tom Stickney

        May 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm

        Agree steff…go back to being a kid in the range. Hit big hooks and big slices to understand the feels.

    • RiesePING

      May 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Everything you have for a fade is perfect except for one crucial step. Your swing path should be outside to inside. With the aspects you have listed, an inside to outside swing path will still produce a draw/hook. Hope this helps!

      • Tom Stickney

        May 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

        Ries–

        You can curve the ball to the right with an in to out swing path if the face is right of the path.

    • Tom Stickney

      May 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Sims–

      Work on curving the ball around the stick from left to right. You will feel like you are holding on to it in efforts to curve the ball back to the left. If you double cross it your face is left of the path..could come from a grip or face issue at the top etc.

    • stephen lee

      May 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      to hit a fade, it must be right opposite to the draw.
      1) feet set up neutral to the target.
      2) club path left of the target at impact
      3) club face left of the target and right of the path. (so club face pointing in between target line and club path)

      you said you make draw shot easy so it must be a little hard for you to curve the ball the other way because even if you know the formula for the curvature, what you try to achieve the shot might not be enough to hit that shot. I bet you try to have path out to in but in reality you have in to out with face pointing to target or left of the target so you cant produce a fade. what you think and feel might not be enough in reality. you must have feed back on what you are trying such as a coach or trackman or at least a camera.

      • Tom Stickney

        May 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm

        I would suggest moving the aim more left…makes it easier to shift the path left of the face

  22. Dave S

    May 19, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Great article Tom. I suffer from the “straight draw” and “pull hook” as my natural ball flight is right to left. Everyone tells me this is a good thing and a sign that you’re close to being good since it’s a tougher ball flight to achieve (as you noted), but I tell them that a nasty hook is far worse than a nasty slice… the ball doesnt stop when it hits the ground!

    Based on your article, I assume my problem is that I’m closing the clubface too much relative to the path. I used to have a slice and one of the thing I did to get rid of it was to use a much stronger grip in conjunction with trying to eliminate my out-to-in path, which worked, but now I think it’s gone too far the other way. Any tips for keeping the face more open to the path to promote a more regular draw?

    • Tom Stickney

      May 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Dave–

      Go to the range and practice hitting big hooks and big cuts…then work on tightening the curvature up. It will take time but educating your hands will help.

      • Dave S

        May 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        Thanks Tom. Never thought about it that way, but sounds logical.

  23. chad ryan

    May 19, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Everytime i go to a golf store i hit balls and my flight says “push draw” and i always thought it was saying it was a bad thing. I feel relieved after reading this 🙂

  24. Tom Stickney

    May 19, 2014 at 11:56 am

    PS: this article was written as if your path was a constant in to out. The next part will address out to in paths with different face alignments. Maybe I should have made that more clear in the article?

  25. Sébastien D'Amour

    May 19, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Great article. I was thought that a pull hook was the result of a closed club face with a cutting swing path.

    • Tom Stickney

      May 19, 2014 at 11:53 am

      If you swing out to in and have a face that is left of the path you will hit the huge dive bomb hook as well.

      • Bobby

        May 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

        Tom, usually I get a natural fade with my driver, the ball starts left of the target and will then curve a little to the right towards the target.

        This is not something that I am doing, but just what I get with my swing.

        Is a draw better than a fade or should I just stick with the fade I have …

        • Tom Stickney

          May 19, 2014 at 12:42 pm

          Easier to stick with your natural swing pattern unless it poses a problem…ie lack of distance or poor consistency etc.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: Short game tempo

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One of my favorite things to do is observe golfers closely, watching how they go about things from well before the shot to the execution of the swing or stroke. Guess the golf course has become kind of like going to the lab, in a way.

One thing I notice much too often is how “quick” most golfers are around the greens. It starts with grabbing a club or two from the cart and quickly getting to their ball. Then a few short jabs at a practice swing and usually a less-than-stellar result at a recovery.

Why?

If you are going to spend a morning or afternoon on the course, why hurry around the greens? I tend to be a fast player and despise five-hour rounds, but don’t fault anyone for taking a few seconds extra to get “right” with their recovery shot. You can still play “ready golf” and not short yourself in the close attention to execution. But let me get back to the specific topic.

Maybe it’s aggravated by this rush, but most golfers I observe have a short game tempo that is too quick. Chips, pitches and recoveries are precision swings at less than full power, so they require a tempo that is slower than you might think to accommodate that precision. They are outside the “norm” of a golf swing, so give yourself several practice swings to get a feel for the tempo and power that needs to be applied to the shot at hand.

I also think this quick tempo is a result of the old adage “accelerate through the ball.” We’ve all had that pounded into our brains since we started playing, but my contention is that it is darn hard not to accelerate . . . it’s a natural order of the swing. But to mentally focus on that idea tends to produce a short, choppy swing, with no rhythm or precision. So, here’s a practice drill for you.

  1. Go to your practice range, the local ball field, schoolyard or anywhere you can safely hit golf balls 20-30 yards or less.
  2. Pick a target only 30-50 feet away and hit your normal pitch, observing the trajectory.
  3. Then try to hit each successive ball no further, but using a longer, more flowing, fluid swing motion than the one before. That means you’ll make the downswing slower and slower each time, as you are moving the club further and further back each time.

My bet is that somewhere in there you will find a swing length and tempo where that short pitch shot becomes much easier to hit, with better loft and spin, than your normal method.

The key to this is to move the club with the back and through rotation of your body core, not just your arms and hands. This allows you to control tempo and applied power with the big muscles, for more consistency.

Try this and share with all of us if it doesn’t open your eyes to a different way of short game success.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: The core cause of bad shots

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You are cruising through a round of golf, hitting it pretty good and then you somehow just hit an absolutely terrible shot? This isn’t a problem unique to recreational golfers trying to break 80, 90, or 100 — even the best tour professionals occasionally hit a shot that is just amazingly horrible, given their advanced skill levels.

It happens to all of us — some more frequently than others — but I’m convinced the cause is the same. I call it “getting sloppy.”

So, what do I mean by that?

Well, there was a USGA advertising campaign a while back feature Arnold Palmer, with the slogan “Swing Your Swing.” There’s a lot of truth to that advice, as we all have a swing that has — either frequently or occasionally – produced outstanding golf shots. While there is no substitute for solid mechanics and technique, I’ve always believed that if you have ever hit a truly nice golf shot, then your swing has the capacity to repeat that result more frequently than you experience.

The big question is: “Why can’t I do that more often?”

And the answer is: Because you don’t approach every shot with the same care and caution that you exhibit when your best shots are executed.

To strike a golf ball perfectly, the moon and stars have to be aligned, regardless of what your swing looks like. Your set-up position must be right. Your posture and alignment have to be spot-on. Ball position has to be precisely perfect. To get those things correct takes focused attention to each detail. But the good news is that doing so only takes a few seconds of your time before each shot.

But I know from my own experience, the big “disrupter” is not having your mind right before you begin your swing. And that affects all of these pre-shot fundamentals as well as the physical execution of your swing.
Did you begin your pre-shot approach with a vivid picture of the shot you are trying to hit? Is your mind cleared from what might have happened on the last shot or the last hole? Are you free from the stress of this crazy game, where previous bad shots cause us to tighten up and not have our mind free and ready for the next shot? All those things affect your ability to get things right before you start your swing . . . and get in the way of “swinging your swing.”

So, now that I’ve outlined the problem, what’s the solution?

Let me offer you some ideas that you might incorporate into your own routine for every shot, so that you can get more positive results from whatever golf swing skills you might have.

Clear your mind. Whatever has happened in the round of golf to this point is history. Forget it. This next shot is all that matters. So, clear that history of prior shots and sharpen your focus to the shot at hand.

Be precise in your fundamentals. Set-up, posture, alignment and ball position are crucial to delivering your best swing. Pay special attention to all of these basics for EVERY shot you hit, from drives to putts.

Take Dead Aim. That was maybe the most repeated and sage advice from Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book”. And it may be the most valuable advice ever. Poor alignment and aim sets the stage for bad shots, as “your swing” cannot be executed if you are pointed incorrectly.

See it, feel it, trust it. Another piece of great advice from the book and movie, “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days In Utopia”, by Dr. David Cook. Your body has to have a clear picture of the shot you want to execute in order to produce the sequence of movements to do that.

Check your grip pressure and GO. The stress of golf too often causes us to grip the club too tightly. And that is a swing killer. Right before you begin your swing, focus your mind on your grip pressure to make sure it isn’t tighter than your normal pressure.

It’s highly advisable to make these five steps central to your pre-shot routine, but especially so if you get into a bad stretch of shots. You can change things when that happens, but it just takes a little work to get back to the basics.

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Stickney: To stack or not to stack at impact?

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As you look at the impact positions of the best players in the world, you will find many different “looks” with respect to their body and club positions. Some of these impact positions might even appear unique, but don’t be fooled. They all have one thing in common: preserving the players’ balance throughout the impact interval! In fact, if you are not in-balance, then you will lose power, consistency, and have trouble controlling your launch dynamics from shot to shot.

This balance is a necessary key to playing well and one area that can be easily understood with a few graphics shown on GEARS 3D. As you examine the photo in the featured image, you can see a few things:

  • The player on the left has “fallen” backwards through impact slightly moving his head out of the circle established at address
  • The player on the right is more stacked at impact — meaning that his chest, zipper and hands are all in the same place at the same time (within reason)
  • The player on the left has reached this same position in the swing with different segments of the body reaching the ball at different times
  • There will be a difference of impact shaft lean between the two players due to one player reaching impact “together” and the other shoving his hands more forward as he falls back
  • The player on the right is more “connected” through impact…won’t be the longest hitter but will be able to find the ball in the fairway more often
  • The player on the left is putting more pressure on the rear portion of the lower back which could have a potential for injury if he’s not careful

Now, obviously there are pro and cons to both positions. Overall, if you want to be consistent and in-balance more often that not, I would suggest you try your best to focus on being “stacked” when you hit the ball.

Let’s dive in a touch deeper to show you what happens physiologically on 3D when you fall back through impact and I think it will really drive the point home.

  • At address notice the Vertical Spine Number 96.2, this is showing us where the spine is positioned at address
  • You can see the head is in the center of the bubble

  • On the way to the top of the swing you can see that the spine has moved “away” from the target laterally a slight bit to 98 degrees
  • The head has dropped downward and has also moved laterally as well- more lean over the right leg to the top

Now here is where the problem comes in…as you work your way to the top, it’s ok of your head moves a touch laterally but in transition if it stays “back” while your hips run out from under you then you will begin to fall backwards on the way to your belt-high delivery position.

  • We can see at the delivery position that the spine has continued to fall backwards as the hips rotate out from under the upperbody
  • When this happens the hands will begin to push forward- dragging the handle into the impact zone
  • Whenever you have too much spin out and fall back the hands move forward to accommodate this motion and this reduces your Angle of Attack and decreases your dynamic loft at impact
  • This will cause balls to be hit on the decent of the club’s arc and reduce loft making shots come out lower than normal with a higher spin rate and that means shorter drives

Now let’s examine impact…

  • The player on the left has reached impact in a more disconnected fashion versus the player on the right as you compare the two
  • The player on the right has a shaft lean at impact that is less than a degree (.75) while the player on the left has a much more noticeable forward lean of the shaft thereby reducing dynamic loft at impact

  • The player on the left’s spine has moved from 96.2 to 112.9, a difference of 16.7 degrees while the player on the right has only moved back a few degrees. We know this because his head has stayed in the bubble we charted at address
  • The hips have run out from under the player on the left in the downswing and this causes the head to fall back more, the hands to push forward more, and the impact alignments of the club to be too much down with very little dynamic loft (as also shown in the photo below)

Whenever the hips turn out from under the upper body then you will tend to have a “falling back effect of the spine and a pushing forward of the hands” through impact.  Notice how the hips are radically more open on the player on the right versus the left- 27.91 versus 42.42 degrees.

So, now that we can see what happens when the hips spin out, you fall back, and you fail to be “stacked” at impact let’s show you a simple way you can do this at home to alleviate this issue.

  

  • A great drill to focus on being more stacked at impact is to make slow motion swings with the feeling that the upper portion of your arms stay glued to your chest
  • These shots will be full swings but only 20% of your total power because the goal here is connection which allows everything to reach impact together and in-balance
  • The second thought as you make these swings is to pay attention to your head, if you can focus on allowing it to stay “over the top of the ball” at impact you will find that it will stay put a touch more so than normal. Now this is not exactly how it works but it’s a good feeling nonetheless
  • Once you get the feeling at 20% speed work your way up to 50% speed and repeat the process. If you can do it here then you are ready to move up to full swings at top speed

Finally, don’t forget that every golfer’s hips will be open at impact and everyone’s head will fall back a touch — this is fine. Just don’t over-do it! Fix this and enjoy finding the ball in the fairway more often than not.

Questions or comments? [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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