Short on time? Improve your game at the microwave
Having grown up in the Midwest, I less than fondly remember this time of the year, when the post-Thanksgiving weather would force me into the practice net in my basement until March. We might catch the odd day or two that would let us get outside to hit balls (or even play a few holes), but most of that stretch was spent doing whatever practice we could do indoors. This was coupled with the pain of watching early-season PGA Tour events from warm-weather locales in Honolulu, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Pebble Back and San Diego, leaving us chomping at the bit.
Here in Florida we can work year round, but I still have players who I coach that are successful in other parts of their lives and have limited time to work on their golf swings or short game. They might find only one day a week to hit balls because of business and family requirements, and being married for 25 years and raising two college age kids… trust me, I get it! This is where I give my players homework away from the course to help them improve. I call it “microwave work,” which are drills I give my players to practice when weather, life or a job keeps them from getting to the course, specifically, when they are in the kitchen heating something up.
So let’s get started. What is something that you would normally put in the microwave?
I am guessing that most answers are coffee and/or leftovers. How do you spend your time while your item warms up? If it is coffee, you probably stand there with your eyes half open in full zombie mode. What if you used that time to work on your golf game? If you use your time wisely, you will see a faster change in your game for the better.
Below are four of the basic drills I give my players.
Get in the Lineup
This is a good one for players with an overly active left hand that is passive and drags the club through.
To perform the drill, setup with your lead foot against the cabinets like you are going to hit a mid-iron into the microwave. Take a three-quarter backswing and turn through slowly until the back of your left hand hits the edge of the counter flush and flat (it helps to drape a hand towel over the edge of the counter so your hand makes contact with the towel instead of the hard cabinet). Hold and press there firmly for a count of 10.
Keep doing sets of these until the timer goes off. It is also a kinematic feedback drill and you will feel “after effect” when you finish, such that if you took a swing you would feel like you are still pressing against the counter when you reach impact.
Put a Bounty on Bad Putting
Full disclosure: I didn’t make this one up.
This is from one of my tour players who had his head moving all over creation when he came to me for help. We fixed all the other things in his stroke and went after the simple task of keeping his head still. One day, due to bad weather over the summer, he was stuck inside and wanted to hit putts and work on keeping his head static throughout the stroke.
He came up with the paper towel drill.
This one is easy! Get a paper towel roll and put one end on the refrigerator and the other on your forehead at setup. Then take practice strokes with your hands together focusing on how it feels to keep your head in place as you take a stroke. This is a huge error I see in about 7 out of 10 tour players. It is amazing how many golfers retreat their head at impact. Practice this and you will find your stroke produces many more solidly hit putts in the new season.
One of the things that drive instructors crazy is keeping their students’ rear ends from thrusting forward at impact and losing pelvis and spine angle. This is called early extension. Among other things, it is one of the natural results of the shoulders trying to seek the same orbit as the hips and turn at the same level.
To perform this drill, turn your back to the counter-top and put both cheeks against it. Now cross your arms and turn back and through to a balanced finish and hold. While you are turning, fight to keep the right hip on the counter as you go back. More importantly, keep the left hip on the counter when going to the full finish and hold. Do as many reps as you can before the timer dings! You will find, when done correctly, that you finish with your right shoulder slightly lower than the left.
How to Get Cleaner Floors While Fixing a Bad Takeaway
A huge backswing issue that I often see is active hands that rotate the clubface way too much early in the start of the backswing. This throws the clubhead behind the hands when the shaft reaches parallel to the ground creating all kinds of bad things.
Here is a fun drill that is also a huge challenge because it is fraught with disaster if you fail.
Grab a coffee cup from the cabinet before you start microwaving, and fill it a third of the way full of water. Take your setup and grip the handle on the mug so that the cup is hanging downward. Use as close to a real grip as you can. The water should be very near the lip of the cup at this point. Now, from this setup position, take a backswing to about 8 o’clock with your hands and stop. If you do it correctly in one piece, you won’t spill any water! If you spin the mug — look out, water everywhere! If you really want danger, use milk or orange juice!
This drill will encourage a solid one piece takeaway without any fast moving parts and the club face and hands will be positioned correctly early in the backswing. Here is what it looks like from face on (above) and down the line (below) when it is done correctly.
And done incorrectly.
These are just a few of the Microwave Drills that I give my players to do when they are in the kitchen. Pick one, or do them all during the winter and watch your game come alive in the spring!
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The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?
I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.
What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.
I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.
Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.
It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.
Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.
The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.
But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.
More from the Wedge Guy
- The Wedge Guy: It’s not all about distance
- The Wedge Guy: Are you really willing to get better at golf?
- The Wedge Guy: Anatomy of a wedge head
Clement: It’s hard to hit the driver badly when you’re doing this
Mu and I go through the swing of the driver in slow motion to show the difference between hitting at the ball and then trying to move it to target versus collecting the ball from the top of the tee and releasing it into the flight plan. Check out the video to learn what this means for your golf swing.
Also: Congrats on Savy getting another personal best of 337 yards at the WLD event in Mesquite!
How to hit a fade…according to YouTube, a robot, and GolfWRX members
How to hit a fade. At some point, if you aren’t a habitual slicer of the golf ball and are able to hit a draw with regularity, in your quest to become a better golfer, you’re going to want to know how to do this.
Without debating the relative merits of a draw versus a fade, it’s agreed that working the golf ball both ways is key to to scoring, positioning off the tee, and risk minimization. If you’re a golfer who is currently only slinging draws, we have some advice for you on how to hit a fade from three very different sources.
How to hit a fade…
…according to a robot (that is, A.I. language model ChatGPT):
A fade is a type of golf shot that curves gently from left to right (for a right-handed golfer). If you want to know how to hit a fade, follow these steps:
- Set up for the shot: Aim your clubface at the target, but align your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the left of the target. This open stance will help promote a left-to-right spin on the ball.
- Grip the club: Hold the club normally, but slightly weaken your grip by turning your hands slightly to the left (again, for a right-handed golfer). This will help you hit the ball with an open clubface.
- Swing the club: On your backswing, keep your clubface square to the target for as long as possible. Then, on your downswing, try to swing slightly from the inside to out, which will help produce the left-to-right spin on the ball. Finally, make sure to follow through towards the target with a high finish.
- Practice: Hitting a consistent fade can take some practice. Spend time on the driving range and experiment with different grip and swing adjustments until you find what works best for you.
Remember, hitting a fade is not about hitting the ball harder, it’s about controlling the spin and direction of the ball. With practice, you can learn to hit a reliable fade that can help you navigate tricky golf course layouts.
Hitting a fade takes practice, and it may take some trial and error to find the right adjustments for your swing. It’s also important to note that a fade is not necessarily the ideal shot shape for every situation, so it’s important to be comfortable with hitting a variety of shots on the golf course.
How to hit a fade…according to the most-watched video on YouTube on the subject
With more than one million views on YouTube, this video from Any and Piers of MeAndMyGolf not only covers hitting a fade but also discussing drawing the golf ball as well as hitting it high and low.
…according to GolfWRXers
And of course, our GolfWRX forum members have opinions on the subject.
The appropriately named PreppySlapCut said: “If the face is open to the path, the ball is going to fade. There’s several adjustments you can make to encourage that to happen, it’s just a question of what feels best for you and allows you to do it most consistently.”
Bladehunter says: “For me just the sensation of taking the club back outside your hands , and then swing left with a face square to target , while turning hard as you can makes for a pretty straight flight that won’t hook. Unless you stall and let your hands pass you.”
“That’s my take as an upright swinger If you’re really flat it’s going to be tough to time up and never have the two way miss Because you’re always coming from the inside and will rely on timing the face open or shut to see a fade or draw . For me it’s just set the face at address and feel like you hold it there until impact”
Dpd5031 says: “Had a pro teach me this. Aim a little left, stance slightly open, still hit it from the inside (just like your draw), but unwind chest hard letting handle follow your rotation so toe never passes heel. He called it a “drawy fade.” Ball takes off almost looking like it’s going to draw, but tumbles over to the right instead of left. Cool thing is ya dont give up any distance doing it this way as opposed to cutting across it.”
Scottbox says: “Jon Rahm is a good example. Watch the hand path of his backswing– his hands are not as “deep” as someone who draws the ball (i.e. Rory). And even though he has a slightly shut face, Rahm rotates his chest and hips very hard. Because there’s less depth to his backswing, the club gets more in front of him at P6. He’s most likely 1-2* outside in at last parallel. Brooks Koepka has a longer swing, but similar, in terms of his hand path– well above the shaft plane going up with less depth to his hands at the top, and slightly above the plane coming down.”
“Most good modern players rotate pretty hard with their hips and chest to stabilize the face, but the difference between those who draw it and those who hit a baby cut is often seen in the way they “engineer” their backswing patterns.”
Check out more of the “how to hit a fade” discussion in the forum thread.
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Jan 5, 2015 at 5:53 pm
Oh wow, the cup drill. I need this badly.
Jan 1, 2015 at 2:46 pm
Love it. Wonder why I just spent the cash on the Swing trainer tools.
Jan 1, 2015 at 2:39 am
These tips are so good. They are also great to practice while I’m in business travels.
Thanks so much!!!
Dec 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm
Great Instruction right there, Wish everyone could read this, Including the members at my club.
Dec 30, 2014 at 4:40 pm
This is awesome and useful.
Dec 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm
Creative article, I enjoyed it!
Dec 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm
You should do the cup one at AJ’s! I miss destin!!! Best 7 years of my life.
Dec 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm
agreed, i am able to golf year round when my back is in good shape but these should be a fun way to stretch and get back in the swing groove before i go back out there.
Dec 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm
These look like fun, although the climate where I live allows for year round golf, I will definitely have to give these a try.
Dec 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm
I like these a lot since I currently live in Missouri and am going through exactly what you described in the first paragraph! Excellent tips, and I would think that you could modify the first drill a little bit to work on weight transfer at the beginning of the downswing – or “bumping” the hips to the lead side as some would describe it.