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Hamilton: A trick I give my students to make their ball position automatic

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The author, Scott Hamilton has created a comprehensive video series on his keys to hitting the driver. He has made the first seven videos of the series free to GolfWRX readers. You can check them out here or check out his website, OnTOURgolf.com.

A good setup is the catalyst to the chain of events in your golf swing that makes good impact possible. If you make a mistake early, you spend the rest of the swing trying to compensate for it. Instead of a good first move that sets in motion a chain of other good moves, you get a bad move that requires recovery throughout the swing. That’s why what you do before you hit your driver is so important.

I made a full series on how I teach the driver for my website, but I made all the pre-swing videos free because getting the start right will help a ton of people.

In the video above, I talk about driver ball position. Having your ball position up near your front foot is nothing new. It’s probably one of the few things you won’t find many Tour players or coaches disagreeing about. Even so, I see bad ball positions all the time.

There are lots of reasons why players might not follow the age old advice of playing the ball near their front foot. Having the ball way up in the stance for the driver can just feel funny when it’s the only shot played that way. That’s why it’s easy to let the ball creep toward the middle of your stance, where it feels more comfortable. Watch the video to learn the trick I give my students to make their ball position automatic.

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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.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Derick S

    May 3, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Mr Hamilton,
    Just signed up for your membership…
    Thanks for the video post.. Was straight to the point, easy to understand, and very helpful…
    Even though I’m 3 handicap, I still tend to put the ball back in my stance here and there….
    For long irons, say 3i-6i, do you set up differently or stay the same!!
    These are the clubs i have trouble with… I do got a 2 hybrid 16.5* and hit it like my driver and FW Woods…
    Any tips for the long irons would be much appreciated Sir…
    1SG Derick S.
    U.S. Army (retired)
    2nd Ranger Bn
    RLTW

  2. Mark H. Davis

    Apr 21, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    DAMN! That’s good advice. Much appreciated. (PS: this is exactly how I putt, to find that ball position too.)

  3. Michael

    Apr 20, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Great video Scott. So for guys who block or push the ball out to the right do you think on top of moving the ball well forward in your stance that also putting the ball writing visible on the back when you tee it up and then make sure you can read it all the way till impact is a good idea?

    • Scott Hamilton

      Apr 21, 2016 at 12:18 am

      Man- I don’t know. I can’t say that I’ve ever known of a good player telling me that they try to see the ball until impact. If I wash pushing it- I’d be looking to get the face more shut at impact or the path less in-to-out.

  4. Carter baker

    Apr 20, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I wish I had learned this trick much earlier in my career

  5. Shallowface

    Apr 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Really appreciating these tips. Thanks, Scott!

  6. Cory

    Apr 20, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Love the forward ball position except that it leads to open shoulders. How do you combat that?

    • mhendon

      Apr 20, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      You tilt your shoulders back in other words lowering your right shoulder. If you do it right you won’t open your shoulders.

    • Scott Hamilton

      Apr 20, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      You’re right, sometimes people open their shoulders when they setup to a ball in the front of their stance. Get a friend to check it for you or use your phone to help yourself.

  7. Ben

    Apr 20, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    this was a really good video Scott. Concise and short and to the point, would love to hear more.

    • Scott Hamilton

      Apr 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      There’s a free video in a course called “Solid Contact Series” that I did that gives another good system for ball position with your irons. You can get in on the homepage of my site.
      http://www.ontourgolf.com

  8. Matt

    Apr 20, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I’m guilty of this in my golf game. Ball position has creeped back towards inside of my left heel. True enough, my fairways hit % has dropped too. Thanks!

  9. Ian

    Apr 20, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Great, do you have any tricks for ball position throughout the bag?

    • Ben

      Apr 20, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      I wonder if you could take this same idea except right before you move your trailing foot back, move your leading foot forward a certain amount (depending on club).

      • Scott Hamilton

        Apr 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm

        That would just mean that your ball would be off your rear foot instead. For other clubs-I like when the ball is placed the same distance inside the front foot and then drop the rear foot. It’s similar to this technique.

    • Scott Hamilton

      Apr 20, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Hey Ian- I got a similar question above. There’s a video in my “Solid Contact Series” that goes over the rest of the bag. You get free access when you sign up for the free membership level. Just go to http://www.ontourgolf.com and sign up.

      • Ian

        Apr 23, 2016 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Scott. I took your advice and signed up on your site. When I saw your video on iron shaft lean/face direction something clicked. I used to have shaft lean but got rid of it over the last year (thinking that it was better not to have it). Played this weekend with shaft lean again and my ball striking was significantly better! 12 greens and 4 birdies (not a brag, just enjoying the game again). So thanks again! Oh and not a hint of a shank (which was starting to become common place).

        • Scott Hamilton

          Apr 24, 2016 at 10:03 am

          That’s really cool man. Thanks for joining the site. Shaft lean is critical for good iron play. Post your swing up in the Swing Review section and I’ll give it a look.

  10. Joe S

    Apr 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Thank you. This was very good and simple!

  11. Scott Hamilton

    Apr 20, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Hey GolfWrx-
    I didn’t travel to this weeks TOUR event in San Antonio. I’m teaching today but will check back here later to answer questions. So post em up!

    -Scott

  12. RS

    Apr 20, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Anyone else getting a privacy setting error when trying to play the video?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Apr 20, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Sorry, RS. Give us a few minutes to sort this out, and please check back.

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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 2)

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Golf is very much a monkey-see-monkey-do sport. If you ever go to the local range, you are sure to see golfers trying to copy the moves of their favorite player. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. While I understand the logic of trying to mimic the “secret move” of the most recent winner on tour, I always balk when the person trying to create their best impression fails to realize the physical differences between them and the best golfing athletes in the world.

Read part 1 here. 

In addition to most golfers not being at the same fitness levels as the best players in the world, they also do not have bodies that are identical to their favorite player. This single statement proves why there is not one golf swing; we all are different sizes and are going to swing the club differently due to these physical differences.

You have to understand your swing

The biggest reason I believe that golfers are better than they think is most golfers I meet do not understand what their swings should look like. Armed with video after video of their golf swing, I will always hear about the one thing that the golfer wishes they could change. However, that one thing is generally the “glue” or athleticism of the athlete on display and is also the thing that allows them to make decent contact with the ball.

We are just coming out of the “video age” of golf instruction, and while I think that recording your golf swing can be extremely helpful, I think that it is important to understand what you are looking for in your swing. As a young coach, I fell victim to trying to create “pretty swings”, but quickly learned that there is not a trophy for prettiest swing.

It comes down to form or function, and I choose function

The greatest gift I have ever received as an instructor was the recommendation to investigate Mike Adams and BioSwing Dynamics. Mike, E.A. Tischler, and Terry Rowles have done extensive research both with tour-level players as well as club golfers and have developed a way to test or screen each athlete to determine not only how their golf swing will look, but also how they will use the ground to create their maximum speed. This screen can be completed with a tape measure and takes about five minutes, and I have never seen results like I have since I began measuring.

For example, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a golf swing that tracks more to the outside during the backswing and intersects the body more towards the trail shoulder plane during the backswing. A golfer with a shorter wingspan than height will have a swing that tracks more to the inside and intersects the body closer to the trail hip plane. Also, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a more upright dynamic posture than a golfer with a shorter wingspan than height who will be more “bent over” at the address position.

Sport coats and golf swings

Have you ever bought a sport coat or suit for a special occasion? If so, pay attention to whether it is a short, regular, or long. If you buy a long, then it means that your arms are longer than your torso and you can now understand why you produce a “steeper” backswing. Also, if you stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your middle-finger tips touching the top of your kneecaps, you will have perfect dynamic posture that matches your anatomy. If it appears that you are in a taller posture, then you have your second clue that your wingspan is greater than your height.

Translation to improvement

Using this and five other screens, we can help the athletes understand a complete blueprint of their golf swing based off their anatomy. It is due to the work of Mike, E.A., and Terry that we can now matchup the player to their swing and help them play their best. The reason that I believe that most golfers are better than they think is that most golfers have most of the correct puzzle pieces already. By screening each athlete, we can make the one or two adjustments to get the player back to trusting their swing and feeling in control. More importantly, the athlete can revisit their screen sheet when things misfire and focus on what they need to do, instead of what not to do.

We are all different and all have different swings. There is no one way to swing a golf club because there is no one kind of golfer. I encourage every golfer to make their swing because it is the only one that fits.

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How golf should be learned

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With the COVID-19 pandemic, golf is more popular than ever. Beginners being introduced to the game often find that golf is very hard, much harder than other sports they have played. To simplify the golf swing and make the game easier, it needs to start with a concept.

Golf should first be learned from a horizontal position. If the ball was placed four feet above the ground on a large tee, players would naturally turn in an efficient direction with the proper sequence to strike the ball on the tee.

Take for example, a person throwing a ball towards a target. With their eyes out in front of them? having an awareness to the target, their body would naturally turn in a direction to go forward and around towards the target. In golf, we are bent over from the hips, and we are playing from the side of the golf ball, so players tend to tilt their body or over-rotate, causing an inefficient backswing.

This is why the golf swing should be looked at as a throwing motion. The trail arm folds up as the body coils around. To throw a ball further, the motion doesn’t require more body turn or a tilt of the body.

To get the feeling of this horizontal hitting position or throwing motion, start by taking your golf posture. Make sure your trail elbow is bent and tucked with your trail shoulder below your lead shoulder.

From here, simply lift your arms in front of you while you maintain the bend from your hips. Look over your lead shoulder looking at the target. Get the clubhead traveling first and swing your arms around you. Note how your body coils. Return the club back to its original position.

After a few repetitions, simply lower your arms back to the ball position, swing your arms around you like you did from the horizontal position. Allow your shoulders, chest and hips to be slightly pulled around. This is now your “throwing position” in the golf swing. From here, you are ready to make a downswing with less movement needed to make a proper strike.

Note: Another great drill to get the feel for this motion is practicing Hitting driver off your knees.

Twitter: @KKelley_golf

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Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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