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Improve your swing on the slopes this winter

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Winter weather means golfers are moving their clubs aside and picking up skis and snowboards. But springtime will be here before you know it, and there are still things we can work on indoors during the winter months that will help us prepare for next golf season.

If you are familiar with skiing, you know that the boots and binder systems are designed to limit rolling of the feet in both the heel-to-toe and side-to-side directions. They also allow the knees and hips to independently flex to different degrees so the skier can swing their pelvis side-to-side under a more stationary head, which helps the athlete to carve turns and absorb the contours of the slope.

The feet feel locked to the ski so they stay completely flat in all direction, which allows any heel-to-toe or side-to-side weight shift to be transferred directly to the left or right edge of the ski, improving turning and performance. This completely flat position, as well as the skiers’ balance, is created in most part by the flexing knees working in harmony with the motion of the hips of the pelvis. This is evidenced by watching skiers walk clumsily around the lodge with their boots on, since there is no rolling action of the foot in either direction. Walking turns into a robotic movement with each foot being in one of three positions — absolutely flat, on heel, or on toe — with the knees and ball hips driving the motion.

You would never see a skier walking “on edge” like in the front view in the second series of photos below.

Wind-and-Sling-Ski-Boot-Comparison-v1

In the golf swing I teach, WindandSling.com, we leverage a two-post turning and thrusting system driven by the knees and hips to generate the energy for the golf swing. While the ski boot allows the skier to flex each of their knees and hips independently, it sets them in a position of dorsiflexion, prohibiting the necessary amount of plantarflexion required to maximize the posting system in our golf swing. Note in the photo below on the left how the boot forces the lower leg into a dorsiflexed, forward-leaning angle. The photo on the right shows just how much plantarflexion we need to fully and properly post our right leg in the backswing.

Wind and Sling Ski Boot Comparison

The ski boot allows us to feel the correct, absolutely flat position of our right foot at the top of the backswing, as well as how much plantarflexion is required to completely post to the right side. This platformed position of the right foot and fully posted right leg then releases into the “on toe” position as the right knee hinges and drives in and under to begin the downswing.

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Tom Duke is the Founder of Wind and Sling Golf Swing (WindandSling.com) and The Original Golf Company, and developer of the No-Roll Release™ Swing Trainer. He is a swing coach and long drive specialist who has trained extensively under the tutelage of Mike Dunaway, who many consider the greatest driver of the golf ball in history. Duke holds a Masters in Business Administration from George Mason University, and is certified by the internationally recognized AO Foundation for Intraoperative Spine and Orthopedics. He earned Collegiate All-America, is an Ironman Triathlete USA, and a proud benefactor to the St. Judes' Children's Hospital.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Carlos Danger

    Dec 22, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Improve your swing this off-season by tearing your ACL and breaking your wrist on a tree while skiing!

  2. MARGIT

    Dec 20, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Living in Switzerland, I accept the different seasons.
    Give me a break, this is getting too muchg and too scientific for a woman I love Sking and I love Golf, there are other things to improve my golfswing rather than wearing the skiboot at home. Looks crazy to me

    • Tom Duke

      Dec 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

      Hi Margit..don’t wear those ski boots in the house, they will scuff the floors!..:). Thanks for your comment. This is not so much a drill, as it is to highlight the feeling you want to have with your right foot at the top of your backswing–completely “platformed” and flat on the ground both side to side and heel to toe–very much like your foot feels in your ski boot. My teacher Mike Dunaway used to try and grip the ground with his toes through the bottom of his shoe to emphasize this totally flat feeling. Also, the angle of the ski boot keeps your lower leg leaning forward by design. I instruct around a two post turning and thrusting system (verses a squat and turn) where the back leg posts (straightens) while the front leg hinges, and then reversing these–similar to when we walk. So this is not so much a drill, as it is to point out how the right knee is to draw back to straighthen the right leg in the backswing. In the last photo my foot is obviously not in the boot, but allows me to show how the lower leg needs to angle away from the ball at the top of the backswing, but then drive in and under and angle towards the ball on the through swing. As I mentioned to Jeff, check out Bubba Watson and John Daly–two great posters. Have a great winter season–I miss skiing down here in Florida!

  3. Jeff

    Dec 20, 2014 at 12:35 am

    At what point of the backswing are we supposed to be in that proper planter flexion position(straight right leg), and how does that marry with the flexed knee feel we’ll get from the boot drill? Seems like the two positions exclude eachother.

    • Tom Duke

      Dec 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Hi Jeff, thanks for the interest and comment. The “posted” right leg is at the top of the backswing. As the right leg posts, the left knee is flexing. Note the angle break of my left knee in the last photo. At the start of the downswing, the posted right leg hinges and begins to drive in and under much like a field goal kicker as the left leg posts (check out the impact position in my last article on “Lag”)-just like when we walk–the one leg posts while the other hinges and swings forward–with a hip vault and weight shift occurring each cycle. So the two positions don’t exclude each other–they work together. The hinging and driving right knee shortens the right side and levers our spine, shoulder and hip lines which adds to the wrecking ball action of the pelvis. Watch Bubba and John Daly–two great “posters”.

  4. Doug Fresard

    Dec 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    What a fantastic idea-training session for us snow BIRDS!!!

  5. Double Mocha Man

    Dec 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    There’s nothing more wonderful than being at a ski resort and being among the heel and toe walking crowd. Unless it’s being in a golf course parking lot 30 years ago and hearing the clicking of golf spikes on asphalt.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: Top 7 short game mistakes

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I’ve written hundreds of articles as “The Wedge Guy” and answered thousands of emails in my 30 years of focused wedge design. So, I thought I’d compile a list of what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevent them from optimizing their scoring.

So here goes, not in any particular order.

Tempo

Probably the most common error I see is a tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. That likely 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 stroke delivers more precision as you get closer to the green and hole.

Set Up/Posture

To hit good chips and pitches, you need to “get down”. Get closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand up too tall and grip the club to the end. And having your weight favored to the lead foot almost guarantees a proper strike.

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.

Hand position

Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV. Their arms are hanging naturally from their shoulders so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address and through impact. Copy that and your short game will improve dramatically.

Lack of Body Core Rotation

When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have to begin and 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.

Club selection

I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand or lob wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW or 9-iron 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 when given the same swing . . . then take that knowledge to the course.

Clubhead/grip relationship

This error falls into two categories. The first 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” the ball with the clubface, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.

So, there are my top 7. There are obviously others, but if you spend just a bit of time working on these, your short game will get better in a hurry.

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Clement: Gently fire the long irons out there

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The secret to long irons is the full range of motion while keeping the strain level below 3/10. this engages the kinetic chain of the human body and delivers UNAVOIDABLE power! We show you how the simplest of tasks will yield the full measure of the body’s self-preserving system to deliver ridiculously easy long iron shots! And as far as set up is concerned, many of you are missing a key ingredient compared to the short irons that we divulge in this video

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Davies: A takeaway tip you’ve never been told

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to start the swing correctly. How to get the club on plane. How to stop whipping the club inside, and all other takeaway faults.

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