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A drill that can help every golfer find their balance



Golf, for most of us, is the greatest game there is. But let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much to tip the balance from greatest to most EVIL. It’s a fickle game, because there are so many ways to resolve the problem of executing good golf shots. What works well for one person in your foursome is frequently the kiss of death for the rest of the group, and that is arguably the greatest quandary for all of us.

So is there a medicine, or swing characteristic out there that seems to work for everyone? I think I have one that can make your good shots better, and your bad shots more manageable. It’s a characteristic that many great players on every major Tour that we have measured through BodiTrak and other pressure-measuring devices have in common. It’s called a linear Center of Pressure Trace (COP) and I’ve got a wonderful drill that I think can have an immediate impact on your ability to hit straighter golf shots.

So what is a linear COP trace? This is a trace of a golfer whose backswing and downswing COP motion is parallel to each other, while almost being directly on top of each other. It’s a characteristic of someone who is swinging wonderfully in balance.

Here is a wonderful example of 2 Time PGA Tour Winner James Hahn's linear COP Trace with his driver.

Two-time PGA Tour Winner James Hahn has a linear COP Trace with his driver.

One role of the golf club, which is frequently overlooked in the game of golf, is how the golf club helps or hinders a golfer’s ability to stay in balance. It’s safe to argue that if you can develop a linear COP trace, you will be able to improve your delivery of the golf club and stay in better balance.

Research has shown when a golfer’s COP trace is closer together for both backswing and downswing motions, this golfer’s shot pattern is more consistently accurate. When a golfer’s COP trace is wider apart, or disjointed, the golfer suffers more frequently with inconsistent results, due to being out of balance and needing to make more drastic, last-second “saves” to hit the golf ball solidly and straight.

Note How Wide the bottom and top lines are for this COP trace.  This golfer has to spend more subconscious energy staying in balance.

Note how wide the bottom and top lines are for this COP trace. This golfer has to spend more subconscious energy staying in balance and subsequently will have a less consistent ball flight.

So what is this magic elixir? This drill that can potentially help all of us? First, you need an alignment rod. Place that rod on the ground and stand on it, with the rod lining up with your mid foot. Next, try to maintain your feeling of pressure with 50 percent of your pressure on your toes and 50 percent on your heels throughout the entire motion of your golf swing.

Note how the model is standing on the shaft midfoot.

Note how I am standing on the shaft “midfoot.”

For many of us, this drill can be quite challenging! During different parts of your motion, you may feel more pressure moving to your heals, or your toes. That’s frequently your feet’s subconscious reaction to stay in balance, or counter balance, the motion of the golf club throughout your golf swing. If you’re unable to perform the skill set to your preference, practice again with a smaller, slower range of motion, like a chip shot. As your balance skill set improves, increase your speed and range of motion until you are making a full swing.

So give this drill a go. I think you’ll find that by improving your balance, a linear COP trace will help you improve your motion, and improve the consistency of your ball contact and flight. Good luck!

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Certified Teaching Professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, CA. Ranked as one of the best teachers in California & Hawaii by Golf Digest Titleist Performance Institute Certified



  1. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 12, 2016 at 1:36 am

    Great post Tim,

    There’s no doubt balance is a much neglected part of the golf swing. So many golfers I see are nearly falling over themselves at the end of the golf swing. Great balance is a common trait you see in all professional golfers on the worldwide tours.


  2. jonsnow

    Aug 9, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Would this drill work any differently depending on the type of golf shoe worn? I’ve got a pair of True zero drop shoes (no heel) & wonder if this would work better, worse or no real difference if I wear them when trying the drill. Thanks for the article, I’m 58 & as I get older balance during my swing becomes more & more of an issue.

    • Tim Mitchell

      Aug 25, 2016 at 10:57 am

      Jonsnow…I’ve never worn or used a True Zero Drop Shoe, but based upon it’s characteristics, I think it could give you better feedback. I love having my student’s try this exercise with their shoes off too. Good luck!

  3. CCshop

    Aug 6, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    True a linear trace is most balanced but those are just boditraks “perfect” balanced numbers. But that is so few people, even with tour pros. Worked with people at boditrak and even a third of the tour pros have that X or Z shape trace. And another third have swings in between not considered linear. If those guys are making “saves” in their swing they’re doing a hell of a job. Don’t see any issues with those guys making money. Everyone’s swing has a unique trace.

    • Tim Mitchell

      Aug 7, 2016 at 11:05 am

      Well said CCshop. A few additional comments. Traces need to match up to individual swing characteristics and talent levels. Touring Professionals are the most talented players on the planet. They get away with or manage swing “flaws” that most of us have little to no chance of playing good golf from. Case in point…there’s not too many players that play good golf with Bubba Watson’s foot work or trace. Also…as a general rule, irons traces are significantly more linear than driver traces on tour.

  4. Messico Smizzle

    Aug 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    how does this work if u have an open or closed stance? do u still put under the middle of stance but the trace will be straight in line with your stance line?

    • Tim Mitchell

      Aug 7, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Yep. That’s exactly what you do. This drill can still help you achieve a more balanced golf swing with an open or closed stance…the task is still the same. An additional note, the COP trace frequently matches your downswing swing direction. So, if you’re playing from an open stance, this COP trace can help you can deliver the golf club on a more consistent fade path. If you’re playing from a closed stance, you can deliver the golf club on a more consistent draw path.

      • Messico Smizzle

        Aug 7, 2016 at 10:04 pm

        Thank you for that response and an interesting article. I agree that this focus on balance seems very important to consistent golf. When u just causally watch an amateur vs tour pro the poise/balance is pretty remarkable.

        Thanks again.

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



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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Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots



Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions



Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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