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Video: Hudson Swafford’s drill to hit more fairways

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This story was selected as one of the 15 best GolfWRX stories of 2015!

The way I teach a golf lesson has changed a lot in the past few years. For 10 or more years, I had the same cameras and computers in my academy. Then, I got my first TrackMan in 2012 and ever since I’ve added more and more technology to help me find whatever small thing will help my clients play a little better.

I’ve got a SwingCatalyst and BodiTrak to check how players use the ground, a K-Vest to see how they transfer energy from one segment to another, SAM PuttLab and a Quintic system to see how the putter moves and the ball rolls. I’m lucky enough to help some really good PGA Tour players with their games. It’s nice to have all these fancy tools to find that “needle in a haystack” that can be the difference between a player missing a cut and contending on Sunday.

That being said, I still use old-school video more than anything. It’s easier for a player to understand their swing by looking at an image of themselves instead of looking at a number from one of my tools. I even like for my players to use video on their own. The cameras on today’s phones are so good that I can give my players check points to use during off weeks so they can check their swings themselves. Of course, it’s easy for them to send me a video for a second opinion, too.

The guy in this video, Hudson Swafford, came to me in the middle of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season. He had a hot start to his year with finishes of 8th, 18th and 12th in his first three events. After that, he began to drive the ball a little erratically and missed the cut in eight of his next 13 events. We started working together at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. We were able to right the ship and Hudson made 10 of his last 14 cuts to finish 81st on the money list.

To straighten out his tee shots, we started with a simple check point of getting the club shaft pointed parallel to the target line at the top of the swing. With the club laid off and pointing to the left of the target at the top, Hudson had to make some complex moves with his arms and body to get the club head traveling in the right direction to hit the “bomb fade” he likes so much.

If I’m not there to check it for him, all he has to do is put his phone in the right place (as described at the end of the video), hit record and look for his club head to appear “in the window” between his forearms at the top of his swing. If he sees that he knows he’s on the right track.

The author, Scott Hamilton has created a four-lesson video course with his keys to achieving consistent, solid contact. The Solid Contact Series is available for free on his website OnTourGolf.com.  

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Currently teaching 14 PGA Tour players, Scott Hamilton is a staple on the PGA Tour range each week. In 2015, a poll of PGA Tour players conducted by Golf Digest ranked him as the No. 2 instructor on the PGA Tour. His players like him for his ability to conduct a complete analysis of their games and return a simple solution to help them play better. “You get the result you want without all the big words.” as Scott often says.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Dr Troy

    Oct 30, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Scott has an awesome stable of pros. Amazing how that many studs come to little ol Cartersville here north of ATL for instruction. Keep up the great work Scott!

  2. Spencer

    Oct 30, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Can this apply to irons as well?

    • Scott Hamilton

      Nov 2, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Yeah Man. This applies to all clubs if it gets to parallel. If it’s a shorter swing the club head can point a little left. Bowdo does this.

  3. Jeff

    Oct 29, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Great article. Where should the club head be with an iron?

  4. Chipshot

    Oct 29, 2015 at 12:22 am

    Being 5’9″, this technique would feel super steep at the top of my backswing. The flatter plain feels more comfortable for me. I favored the Woosnam’s and Hogan’s with the lower center of gravity.

  5. Connor

    Oct 28, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    if the club is laid off at the top shouldn’t it be pointing to the left of the target?

  6. Birdeez

    Oct 28, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    what type of phone holder or tripod is being used? where can i find this online.

    those offered that attach to alignment rods sway or shake in the slightest breeze.

  7. Mike

    Oct 28, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks this was great.

  8. jesse

    Oct 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Great video, even better website. After watching the video I loved in and watched the videos on your site. Golfwrx can we please get more content like this.

    • Scott Hamilton

      Nov 2, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I’m working with a good friend of mine on this OnTourGolf.com site. It’s gonna have a lot of the other coaches on tour on there soon and I think more of these videos are supposed to be posted here too. I’ll check.

  9. Fred

    Oct 28, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Cool video. Thanks for posting.

    • B-man

      Oct 28, 2015 at 11:39 am

      One of the best articles I’ve ever seen here.

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Instruction

What you can learn from the rearview camera angle

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We often analyze the golf swing from the face-on view or down-the-line camera angle. However, we can also learn how the body moves in the swing from the rearview or backside view.

When seeing the swing from the rearview, we can easily see how the glutes work. The trail glute actually moves back and around in the backswing. This means the glute moves towards the target or towards the lead heel. Note the trail glute start point and endpoint at the top of the backswing.

To some, this may seem like it would cause a reverse weight shift. However, this glute movement can enable the upper body to get loaded behind the ball. This is where understanding the difference between pressure, and weight is critical (see: “Pressure and Weight”).

This also enhances the shape of the body in the backswing. From the rear angle, I prefer to have players with a tuck to their body in their trail side, a sign of no left-side bend.

This puts the body and trail arm into a “throwing position”, a dynamic backswing position. Note how the trailing arm has folded with the elbow pointing down. This is a sign the trailing arm moved in an efficient sequence to the top of the backswing.

Next time you throw your swing on video, take a look at the rearview camera angle. From this new angle, you may find a swing fault or matchup needed in your golf swing to produce your desired ball flight.

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How to stop 3-putting and start making putts

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When we are 3-putting we are ‘stuck in the box’. This means that when we are standing over the putt the second before we make our stroke everything happens to ‘go downhill.’ When this happens, depending on your playing level, things can become a bit erratic on the putting surface.

When a 3 putt happens, it is typically because you failed to do something before you made your stroke. The large majority of my 3 putts happen when I am not completely SOLD on the line of my putt, aka not committed. Questioning anything over the ball will lead to 3 putts.

Here is a breakdown/checklist on how to approach the green and get your ball in the cup without hesitation.

1. It starts with the approach shot into the green and the decision of direction you make to enter the hole. Scan the entire green with your eyes on the walk-up. Left to right and right to left. Look for a few seconds before you step onto the putting surface. This helps determine the high side and the low side, or if the green is relatively flat. Don’t be picky, just look and make a decision.

2. Once you get to the ball, mark it. Take 3 steps behind your ball mark. Now you must pick a line… Left, Center, or Right of the cup. (Skip step 3 if you know the line) It should take seconds but for those that are not sure it will take longer. Understand that every putt has a statistical level of difficulty. So to increase the odds, players must avoid putting in the unsure mind, and take the time to figure out a line. I also find that people who are 3 putting are overly confident and just not committed aka too quick to putt.

3. To commit, you must find the angle of entry into the cup. Walk up to the hole and look at the cup. How is it cut? Determine if it is cut flat or on a slope angle. This will help you see the break if you are having a hard time. Then determine how much break to play. Cut the hole into 4 quarters with your eyes standing right next to it. Ask yourself, which quarter of the cup does the ball need to enter to make the putt go in the hole?

I encourage using the phrases ‘in the hole’ or ‘to the hole’ as great reinforcement and end thoughts before stroking the ball. I personally visualize a dial on the cup. When my eyes scan the edges, I see tick marks of a clock or a masterlock – I see the dial pop open right when I pick the entry quadrant/tick mark because I cracked the code.

Remember, the most important parts of the putt are: 1.) Where it starts and 2. ) Where it ends.

4. To secure the line, pick something out as the apex of the putt on the walk back to the mark. Stand square behind the ball mark and the line you have chosen.

5. To further secure the line, place your ball down and step behind it to view the line from behind the ball. Don’t pick up the ball mark until you have looked from behind. When you look, you need to scan the line from the ball to the cup with your eyes. While you are scanning, you can make adjustments to the line – left, right or center. Now, on the walk into the box, pickup the mark. This seals the deal on the line. Square your putter head to the ball, with feet together, on the intended line.

6. To make the putt, look at the apex and then the cup while taking your stance and making practice strokes to calibrate and gauge how far back and through the stroke needs to be.

7. To prove the level of commitment, step up to the ball and look down the intended line to the apex back to the cup and then back to the apex down to your ball. As soon as you look down at the ball, never look up again. Complete one entire stroke. A good visual for a putting stroke is a battery percentage and comparing your ‘complete stroke’ to the percentage of battery in the bar.

8. Look over your shoulder once your putter has completed the stroke, i.e. listen for the ball to go in and then look up!

If you find a way that works, remember it, and use it!

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Golf 101: Why do I chunk it?

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Whether you are a beginner, 10 handicaps, or Rory McIlroy, no one player is immune to the dreaded chunk. How many times have you hit a great drive, breathing down the flag from your favorite yardage and laid the holy sod over one? It’s awful and can be a total rally killer.

So what causes it? It could be several things, for some players, it could be a steep angle of attack, others, early extension and an early bottoming out and sometimes you’ve just had too many Coors Lights and the ground was closer than your eyes told you…been there.

This is Golf 101—let’s make it real simple and find one or two ways that a new golfer can self diagnose and treat themselves on the fly.

THE MAIN CAUSE

With beginners I have noticed there are two main things that cause the dreaded chunk:

  1. Players stand too close to the ball and have no way to get outta the way on the way down. This also really helps to hit Chunk’s skinny cousin: Skull.
  2. No rotation in any form causing a steep angle of attack. You’ve seen this, arms go back, the body stays static, the club comes back down and sticks a foot in the ground.

SO HOW DO I FIX MYSELF?

Without doing all-out brain surgery, here are two simple things you can do on the course (or the range) to get that strike behind the ball and not behind your trail foot.

This is what I was taught when I was a kid and it worked for years.

  1. Make baseball swings: Put the club up and in front of your body and make horizontal swings paying close attention to accelerating on the way through. After a few start to bend at the hips down and down until you are in the address position. This not only gives your body the sensation of turning but reorientates you to exactly where the bottom of your arc is.
  2. Drive a nail into the back of the ball: This was a cure-all for me. Whether I had the shanks, chunks, skulls, etc, focusing on putting the clubhead into the back of that nail seemed to give me a mental picture that just worked. When you are hammering a nail into a wall. you focus on the back of that nail and for the most part, hit it flush 9 outta 10 times. Not sure if its a Jedi mind trick or a real thing, but it has gotten me outta more pickles than I care to admit.

As you get better, the reason for the chunk may change, but regardless of my skill level, these two drills got me out of it faster than anything all while helping encourage better fundamentals. Nothing wrong with that.

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