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How to feel your swing fix

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I keep a collection of swing images and associated feels on hand to facilitate subtle adjustments for advanced players’ launch monitor data and ball flight. Let us define an “advanced player” as one who possesses a solid setup, consistent face strike and good coordination of in-swing movements. These players generally do not require dramatic mechanical changes and can quickly benefit from the well-defined images and task below.

Shallowing AoA (Angle Of Attack)

CONE UP 600 edit

Advanced players can often struggle hitting down too steeply with their short irons and wedges.

Feel: Most of us have tinkered with our swings while indoors, so I ask the players to take a wedge and make a few rehearsal swings. The players should feel a nice, shallow brush as if swinging on their living room carpet. I remind them, “You can brush the carpet, but you had better not take a chunk out of it!” Feel this, then apply. The angle of attack number will become more shallow and strike will improve.

Players can also hit down too much with their driver. An image that I like is placing an agility cone in front of the ball; then feel as if the club head is ascending along the inclined angle of the cone. Feeling like you are set up and swinging a bit “uphill” is another great sensation to achieve positive AoA with the driver.

Neutralizing an outward path

CONE 3 600 edit

Advanced players can hit hooks and blocks from their path moving too much outward, or traveling too much from inside-out in relation to the target line.

Feel: I place a taller cone inside the target line and about 2 feet in front of the impact area. I then ask the players to make a swing and feel as though they will knock the cone over. Sometimes the image is all that is needed, but sometimes we make practice swings while actually hitting the cone. Swing path and direction will quickly improve.

Tweaking face-to-path relationship

CONE 1 Heel Inset 600

Most golfers tend to be good at making adjustments to their swing path. Consistently controlling the club face, however, is a bit more challenging. I see many advanced players who struggle with misdirected shots that draw too much or too quickly.

Feel: I want you to imagine a race to impact in which the heel of the club wins. “Heel beats toe!” is the mantra. This image works well in conjunction with our cone drill. Rotate the chest open and the hands inward to give the heel the advantage of winning.

Conclusion 

Check your pre-swing fundamentals, then give these fixes a try. For advanced players, a little bit goes a long way, so pay close attention to your ball flight and/or measurement device to determine just the right amount 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

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. RT

    Oct 1, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    GREAT stuff, Michael! Keep it coming!

  2. Saevel25

    Oct 1, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Mike,

    You are asking golfers to make swing changes to their path and clubface control with out even talking about the fact that most golfers can’t keep their heady steady enough, or get their weight forward enough at impact for them to even attempt such control. These tips are very much for better golfers since they have a better foundation to actually tinker with the swing path and clubface.

    You also talk about these feels as if they would work with anybody. Golfers come in all different shapes and sizes. One golfer might feel one thing while another golfer might feel another. How would you instruct Phil Mickelson who is a right handed person playing left handed versus Rick Fowler who is right handed playing right handed? See what I mean. Putting out these articles with quote “Feel” of what they should do is not good instruction because it might not even work for a golfer who reads it. Heck it might even damage their swing.

    It’s better to give the commonalities of a good swing and then tell people to go find a good instructor to help them figure out what works for them.

    • Hawk

      Oct 9, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      There is not enough space here to account for every body type.
      That is just silly.
      What of the handicap golfer, (hearing, sight, blind, missing a limb etc.), are the instructors suppose to account for them?
      These are general statements/instructions for the average body type, better player.
      Most instructions are given for the average golfer.
      Golfers who are, shorter, taller, heavier, slighter etc., know what they are and I suspect adjust for it.
      Common sense must prevail.
      Hawk

  3. Kevin

    Sep 30, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Heel beats toe? I did that several times today, shank city. I’m swinging too much out and not enough down and left, I’d like to forget I read this. No offense…

    • Michael Howes

      Oct 1, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Substitute an empty water bottle for the cone drill on the range and start there. Get path under control first. From your description sounds like u started with, and were overdoing the face part. Hope that helps.

  4. Nathan

    Sep 29, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Great article!

    ‘Heel beats toe’ has been my swing thought recently and has really helped my game turn the corner.

  5. luke keefner

    Sep 29, 2015 at 5:45 am

    More of this please!!!!!

  6. Travis Saxton

    Sep 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Excellent article! I’m a feel player and 1 handicap and have always wanted instruction that can resonate with me. Thanks for the great article love golfwrx

    • Michael Howes

      Sep 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Appreciate it Travis!

      • Regis

        Sep 30, 2015 at 12:17 pm

        I’ve been playing 50 years and never been close to a 1 hcp and never will be. But the heel beats toe is something that is easy to pattern and I will like give it a shot. Periodically (read most days) my swing goes into a funk and one adjustment I’ll fool with during a round is to open the clubface slightly at address. Always seems to work as a stopgap measure but the heel beats toe seems comparable and less drastic of a fix. Thanks.

  7. snowman

    Sep 28, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Yes, Yes.. More of this and less Swing Mechanics Please. How bout some “Feel” Sugestions or images to cure over-the-top move and Poor Downswing Sequencing.

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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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