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How your shoulder blades can affect your club face: Part 2

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This article was co-authored with Chris Gibson, an Australian AAA-rated golf professional. His teaching philosophy focuses on simplicity and longevity in the game, providing help for golfers at all levels. He focuses on interpreting information from technology and applying it in the simplest way possible to help his students

Before you begin reading this article, make sure you have read Part 1 in this series, otherwise not much of this is going to make sense! Here, in Part 2, Chris and I are going to offer solutions that will help you to develop better stability and control of those all-important shoulder blades.

But first, in response to requests for a more detailed photographic explanation, we will also show you the good and bad of scapula-positioning when standing upright and in a golf setup. The two models featured are an underdeveloped teen who has poor scapula control, and a top-100 player in the world who has five years of scapula stability training under his belt (in addition to other training).

You can see that in Pic 1; the teen had a lack of bulk and activation in the muscles surrounding the scapula and it appears to poke through the skin. This leads to the right shoulder sitting very low and internally rotated at set up (Pics 2 and 3), which as we suggested in Part 1 of this article, makes it ultimately more difficult to control the clubface consistently. Where as the more trained athlete (whilst still not perfect: right shoulder is low) holds his scapula better in standing and set up, which we believe gives him a better chance to repeatedly control the clubface efficiently in his action.

Pic 1

Scap Article Comparison - behind

Teen (left) and top-100 player in the world.

Pic 2

Scap Article Comparison - target

Teen (left) and top-100 player in the world.

Pic 3

Scap Article Comparison - face

Teen (left) and top-100 player in the world.

Hopefully that clears things up for you and we can finally offer you a solution to training those scaps. The scapula is notoriously difficult to control; instinctively, we generally have poor awareness and usually aren’t very strong or stable in the muscles that surround it. Training of these muscles can be be tricky and complicated, so we have tried to simplify it for you by delivering two sets of simple exercises that we use as a starting point for many of the players (elite or otherwise) that we work with.

These simple drills can be done using either a piece of rubber tubing or more ideally, the training piece you will see in the photos called the Gravity Fit Thoracic Pro.

We have created one mini program for home and one mini program for the practice range. The movements are simple and don’t require any kind of in-depth anatomical knowledge to perform them correctly. We have supplied photos and descriptions of how to perform the movements, but also welcome questions and queries.

Home Exercises

Circuit – 3 Rounds – 30 seconds of rest between exercises.

  1. Tubing Push Out – Thoracic Pro – 12 reps
  2. Wall Push Up – Thoracic Pro – 12 reps
  3. Set Up Posture Drill – Thoracic Pro – 45 secs
  4. Waist to Waist Turns – Thoracic Pro – 10 reps
1. Tubing Push Out
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance
  • Method: Stand tall, press arms forward keeping shoulder blades and spine connected to back paddle, turn palms up as you near end range. Control back to start position and repeat.

Scap Article 4

2. Wall Push Up
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance.
  • Method: Stand tall, lower your chest toward the wall keeping your shoulder blades and spine connected to back paddle. Control back to start position and repeat.

Scap Article 3

3. Set Up Posture Drill
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in golf setup.
  • Method: In golf set up with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Gently pulse hands against tubing.
Scap Article 5
4. Waist to Waist Turns

Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in rotation movement pattern.

Method: In golf setup with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Turn into backswing then turn into follow through. Maintain shoulder/elbow/hand positioning all the way through.

Scap Article 6 Range Drills

Circuit – 10 rounds – 20 secs rest between drills

  1. Set Up Posture Drill – Thoracic Pro – 20 secs
  2. Waist to Waist Turns – Thoracic Pro – 10 reps
  3. Preset, Backswing to Impact – 5 reps
  4. Preset, backswing to hit ball – 3 reps
1. Set Up Posture Drill
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in golf setup.
  • Method: In golf set up with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Gently pulse hands against tubing.

Scap Article 7

2. Waist to Waist Turns
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in rotation movement pattern.
  • Method: In golf set up with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Turn into backswing then turn into follow through. Maintain shoulder/elbow/hand positioning all the way through.

Scap Article 10

3. Preset, Backswing to Impact
  • Purpose: Practice first move, top of backswing and back to impact in controlled manner. Opportunity to discover what positions feel like with quality scapular control under low load (moving slowly).
  • Method: Set club parallel to ground with good shoulder position (connected scapulae), slowly swing up to top of 3/4 backswing and back to impact.

Scap Article 9

4. Preset, backswing to hit ball
  • Purpose: Taking the movement patterns and control of the scapula and applying it to hitting balls.
  • Method: Set club parallel to ground with good shoulder position (connected scapulae), complete rest of swing and impact at normal speed

Scap Article Last

The equipment featured in the exercises is called a Gravity Fit Thoracic Pro. It was conceived and designed by a world leading scientist in the field of physiotherapy. Designed for the specific task of training stability and strength in the shoulder girdle and scapula, it also works really nicely when applying that quality to dynamic rotation in a golf swing context. We love using it with our students and you can get one here: www.golffitproshop.com.

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter and Rehab Expert contracted by PGA Tour Players, Division 1 colleges and national teams to deliver golf fitness services. Via his Golf Fit Pro website, app, articles and online training services, Nick offers the opportunity to the golfing world to access his unique knowledge and service offerings. www.golffitpro.net

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Loui Cuppari

    Aug 13, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I’ve been working on scapula control and upper arm connection for about a year now and ball striking has improved considerably after 30 odd years of frustration. I believe setting the right scapula is the main key along with connection of the upper left arm.

    I think getting this scapula/upper arm control or bracing/setting right is the swing of the future.

  2. Allan

    Feb 10, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    I agree with Chris. It is not super clear to me what is correct and exactly why the scapula is having such a dramatic impact of club face at impact.

    • Lou

      Mar 19, 2016 at 12:50 am

      I believe it allows you to control the lift of the club and horizontal movement (thoracic rotation) using just your “scap muscles”….Doing this gives you a better awareness of the club face is throughout the swing because you won’t be using your hands for rerouting the club head into a proper inside path….the hands can do their job of just controlling the dynamic loft and face position (the handle)….

  3. Mike

    Jan 27, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I’ve been working out with the Golf fit regimen for a 6 months and it’s really helped my rotation and flexibility. I’m 63 and my game is improving from 22 to 15 handicap over this past year. I didn’t buy this tubing thingy because I think it’s over priced and you can do it with tubing loops effectively. I just want to say that they are knowledgeable and have helped my game.

  4. Chris

    Jan 25, 2016 at 10:48 am

    If internal rotation is bad, does that mean the shoulder should be externally rotated at address or during the swing? It is unclear to me from the article what the correct movement is. Any elaboration? Thanks.

  5. rob campbell

    Jan 25, 2016 at 9:46 am

    If a top 100 player has been working on “scapula stability” for 5 years and hasn’t got it right, why would any normal person think this idea is worth his time? You’ve taken a wrong turn.

  6. Ne26

    Jan 24, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Sooooo turns out to be another article written by someone pushing their own product.

    WRX is rolling in that advertising money.

    • Billy

      Jan 25, 2016 at 8:49 am

      Why not?? Seems like you don’t quite understand the article(which is quite interesting)… Lame response

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How To Overcome The Mid-Season Golf Blues

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Every Year around this time, golfers start getting tentative because they have missed a few too many golf shots and they immediately start to blame the faulty wires on the Pinocchio.

Of course, we are here to tell you that is not the case.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship: Outright Betting Picks

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With the PGA TOUR regular season in the books, it’s time to begin the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs.

Previously known as the St. Jude Classic and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the event will now serve as the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and is named the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

While the name of the event and the spot on the PGA TOUR schedule has changed, the course remains the same. TPC Southwind is located in Memphis, Tennessee and has been a regular TOUR stop since 1989.

TPC Southwind is a Par 70 measuring 7,244 yards. The course features Bermudagrass greens and rough. With 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards, there is potential trouble on almost every hole.

The FedEx St. Jude Championship will play host to the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings with the top 65 and ties making it through to the weekend.

FedEx St. Jude Championship Outright Bets

Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200)

Typically, the FedEx Cup playoff events are won by players who have been among the best overall players for that season. Matt Fitzpatrick is having the best season of his career and is undoubtedly one of the most impressive golfers of the year. For the 2022 season, the Englishman ranks third in Strokes Gained: Total, which trails only Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler.

Had it not been for Fitzpatrick’s incredible U.S. Open victory, TPC Southwind would have been a spot that I’ve always thought could be the perfect break through spot for the 27-year-old. Now that he’s won and gotten his first victory in the United States out of the way, it only increases his chances of being able to win a FedEx Cup Playoff event.

Talent was never the concern for Fitzpatrick. The former top ranked amateur in the world exploded onto the professional golf scene at nineteen years old and never looked back. Despite having eight European Tour victories by the time he’d hit his mid-twenties, many people questioned why he couldn’t win on American soil. Now that he’s a U.S. Open champion, there’s reason to believe the floodgates will open.

Fitzpatrick has had plenty of success at TPC Southwind in the past. In three starts at the course, “Fitz” has two top-six finishes including a fourth-place finish in 2019.

His success at the track isn’t all that surprising considering how well his skill set aligns with what’s required to compete at the course. It’s important to hit fairways, which is something he does at a high clip. He also is one of the best in the sport at limiting mistakes and ranks third in the field in Bogey Avoidance.

A FedEx Cup Playoff victory would add to what is already the best season of Fitzpatrick’s career and give him a chance to make a run at a being the FedEx Cup champion.

Will Zalatoris (+2500)

For the past few weeks, we’ve seen Will Zalatoris near the top of the odds board. Despite being one of the most talented players in the field, there was nothing about Detroit Golf Club or Sedgefield Country Club that made me interested in betting him at those spots. The opposite is true about TPC Southwind.

When targeting Will Zalatoris for an outright bet, it’s most prudent to look for spots on the schedule where his immaculate ball striking can set him apart from the rest of them field.  The Rocket Mortgage Classic rewarded driving distance and wedge play. The Wyndham Championship rewarded the best putters and most accurate drivers.

This week, the FedEx St. Jude Championship will favor the best iron players who can ball strike their way to the top of the leaderboard. In the past, Strokes Gained: Putting hasn’t been a strong indicator of who will play well at TPC Southwind; which is great news for Zalatoris, who often struggles with the putter.

As evidenced by his three top-six finishes including two runners-up at major championships in 2022, Zalatoris can absolutely compete in the strongest of fields. In fact, I believe his chances to win in a star-studded event are higher than they are to win a lesser event on TOUR. The 25-year-old is a big game hunter who does his best work when the stakes are high.

The first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs is an excellent time for “Willy Z” to finally break through for his inevitable maiden PGA TOUR victory.

Sungjae Im (+3500)

As frustrating as it was being a Sungjae Im backer on Sunday at the Wyndham Championship, his overall performance and current hot streak can’t be overlooked.

The South Korean has now finished in a share for second place in back-to-back starts. In those two events, Im has gained an average of 8.5 strokes Ball Striking on the field, which includes both Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach. At a course where ball striking is the most important factor, he should be in store for another strong showing.

Im had his best Strokes Gained: Approach day on Sunday at the Wyndham, gaining 2.0 strokes on the field in the fourth round alone. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the putter going and lost 2.2 strokes putting while Tom Kim gained 4.5 on the day. If it weren’t for Kim’s unconscious effort with the putter, there’s a good chance that Sungjae would have notched another PGA TOUR victory.

If the 24-year-old can get the flat stick going this week, we may have back-to-back South Korean winners on the PGA TOUR.

Tyrrell Hatton (+6000)

It appears as if Tyrrell Hatton is trending toward a victory, as he’s playing arguably the best golf of his 2022 season. He finished 11th at the Open Championship and followed it up with an impressive performance at Wyndham, finishing eighth. In addition to his top-10 finish, the Englishman was impressive with his approach playing and gained 5.3 strokes on approach, which was good for sixth in the field.

Hatton got hot in his final round last week, shooting a 64. Oftentimes we see golfers who go low on the previous Sunday carry the momentum into the following tournament. Hatton is a much better player than he’s shown thus far in 2022, and it seems as if he’s found something ahead of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

If he has, TPC Southwind should be a good course for him as he finished in 17th last year and was in contention prior to a fourth round 72 that took him out of the running.

Russell Henley (+6000)

It’s fair to wonder whether Russell Henley can close out a victory on the PGA TOUR after witnessing him blow leads at last season’s Wyndham Championship and this season’s Sony Open. Considering that the FedEx Cup St. Jude Championship will be comprised of a much stronger field than either of those events makes it perfectly reasonable to question it even further. However, at his number, I’m willing to give it one more shot.

Henley is in the best form we’ve seen him in this season. In his past two starts, the 33-year-old has finishes of 10th and fifth and has gained 11 and 9.7 strokes from tee to green in those events. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Henley ranked seventh in the field in approach, and at the Wydham Championship, he ranked first.

TPC Southwind is a course that should fit Henley’s game to a tee. With a premium on iron play and hitting greens in regulation, the former Georgia Bulldog is a perfect fit. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a course where he doesn’t have to gain a bunch of strokes with the putter to win.

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Equipment

Davis Love III was still using a persimmon driver in 1997?!

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The revolution of metal drivers was happening quickly in the early-to-mid 1990’s, but Davis Love III was set on sticking with his Cleveland Classic Oil Hardened RC85 persimmon driver. He wasn’t oblivious to the emerging technology, though. He knew exactly what he was doing, and why.

“The Cleveland has been in my bag since 1985,” Love III wrote in his 1997 book, “Every Shot I Take.” “It was given to me by a good friend, Bob Spence. I experiment with metal drivers often; I find – for me, and not necessarily for you – they go marginally longer than my wooden driver, but they don’t give me any shape. I find it more difficult to create shape to my drives off the metal face, which is important to me. …I also love the sound my ball makes as it comes off the persimmon insert of my driver.

“I’m no technophobe,” he added. “My fairway ‘woods’ have metal heads … but when it comes to my old wooden driver, I guess the only thing I can really say is that I enjoy golf more with it, and I think I play better with it…golf is somehow more pleasing to me when played with a driver made of wood.”

Although his book came out in 1997, Love III switched out his persimmon driver for a Titleist 975D titanium driver in the same year.

It was the end of an era.

During Love III’s 12-year-run with the persimmon driver, though, he piled on four wins in the year of 1992, including the Kmart Greater Greensboro Open — now known as the Wyndham Championship.

Love III, who’s captaining the 2022 Presidents Cup United States team next month at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., is playing in the 2022 Wyndham Championship in nearby Greensboro. In celebration, we took a look back in the archives to see what clubs Love III used for his win in 1992 for an article on PGATOUR.com. We discovered he was using a Cleveland Classic persimmon driver, in addition to a nostalgic equipment setup.

In our latest Two Guys Talking Golf podcast episode, equipment aficionado and co-host Brian Knudson, and myself (GolfWRX tour reporter Andrew Tursky), discuss Love III’s late switch to a metal-made driver, and why he may have stuck with a wooden persimmon driver for so long.

Check out the full podcast below in the SoundCloud embed, or listen on Apple Music here. For more information on Love III’s 1992 setup versus his 2022 WITB, click here.

 

 

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