In Part 2 of Trackman tells us the truth about uneven lies, I will be discussing in detail why the ball tends to fade or slice when it is below your feet and what particular Trackman parameter is the influencer.
As stated in Part 1, I found that the biggest differentiator was the shaft plane at impact on uneven lies. On average, the shaft plane was 11+ degrees more upright for me when the ball was below my feet versus when it was above.
As a result, this moves the sweet spot to the right of the target and creates a situation where the face comes into impact open to the path. If we do not adjust our set-up or our swing, the ball will tend to start to the right of the target and fade more right, resulting in a poor outcome.
Here are some set-up adjustments to assure the ball will fly toward the pin as opposed to away from it, when the ball is below your feet.
- Knowing that the face is going to be open to the path, it is critical we aim our body enough to the left (for a right-handed golfer) to accomodate a fade back toward the target.
- Because the ball is below our feet, we need to position our body lower to get down to the ball. Do this by flexing your knees and bending more from the hips.
- On very severe slopes where your knees are heavily flexed, drop your right foot back to leave room for your arms to swing. It is very easy to hit this shot thin otherwise.
- Last but not least, focus on keeping your chest down throughout the backswing.
The Wedge Guy: Understanding versus learning versus practice
I’ve long been fascinated with the way the golf swing works, from full driver swings to the shortest chip shots. I’m sure that curiosity was embedded in me by my father as I began to get serious about my own golf around the age of 10. His philosophy was that the more you know about how something works, the more equipped you are to fix it when it breaks.
As I grew up in the game, my father and I spent hours talking about golf and swing technique, from the grip to positions at impact to conceptual aspects of the game and swing. I’ve continued to study and have conversations with knowledgeable golf professionals and players throughout my life. But back to my father, one thing he made very clear to me early on is that there is a big difference between understanding, learning, and practice.
Understanding and learning are two very different aspects of getting better at this game. The understanding part is where you actually grasp the basic concepts of a functionally correct golf swing. This includes the fundamentals of a proper grip, to the geometry of sound setup up, and alignment to the actual role and movements of the various parts of your body from start to finish.
Only after understanding can you begin the learning process of incorporating those fundamentals and mechanical movements into your own golf swing. I was taught and continue to believe the best way to do that is to start by posing in the various positions of a sound golf swing, then graduating to slow motion movement to connect those poses – address to takeaway to mid-backswing to top of backswing to first move down, half-way down…through impact and into the follow-through.
Finally, the practice part of the equation is the continual process of ingraining those motions so that you can execute the golf swing with consistency.
The only sure way to make progress in your golf is through technique improvement, whether it is a full swing with the driver or the small swings you make around the greens. There are no accomplished players who simply practice the same wrong things over and over. Whether it is something as simple as a grip alteration or modification to your set up position, or as complex as a new move in the swing, any of these changes require first that you understand…then clearly learn the new stuff. Only after it is learned can you begin to practice it so that it becomes ingrained.
If you are trying to learn and perfect an improved path of your hands through impact, for example, the first step is to understand what it is you are trying to achieve. Only then can you learn it. Stop-action posing in the positions enables your muscles and mind to absorb your new objectives. Then, slow-motion swings allow your muscles to feel how to connect these new positions and begin to produce this new coordinated motion through them. As your body begins to get familiar with this new muscle activity, you can gradually speed up the moves with your attention focused on making sure that you are performing just as you learned.
As you get comfortable with the new muscle activity, you can begin making practice swings at half speed, then 3/4 speed, and finally full speed, always evaluating how well you are achieving your objectives of the new moves. This is the first stage of the practice process.
Only after you feel like you can repeat this new swing motion should you begin to put it into practice with a golf ball in the way. And even then, you should make your swings at half or ¾ speed so that you can concentrate on making the new swing – not hitting the ball.
The practice element of the process begins after the learning process is nearly complete. Practice allows you to ingrain this new learning so that it becomes a habit. To ensure your practice is most effective, make several practice swings for each ball you try to hit.
I hope all this makes sense. By separating understanding from the learning process, and that from the practice that makes it a habit — and getting them in the proper sequence — you can begin to make real improvements in your game.
Clement: Easy-on-your-back 300-yard driver swing
Crazy how we used to teach to lock up the lower body to coil the upper body around it for perceived speed? All we got were sore backs and an enriched medical community! See here why this was pure nonsense!
The Wedge Guy: My top 5 practice tips
While there are many golfers who barely know where the practice (I don’t like calling it a “driving”) range is located, there are many who find it a place of adventure, discovery and fun. I’m in the latter group, which could be accented by the fact that I make my living in this industry. But then, I’ve always been a “ball beater,” since I was a kid, but now I approach my practice sessions with more purpose and excitement. There’s no question that practice is the key to improvement in anything, so today’s topic is on making practice as much fun as playing.
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the range, and always embrace the challenge of learning new ways to make a golf ball do what I would like it to do. So, today I’m sharing my “top 5” tips for making practice fun and productive.
- Have a mission/goal/objective. Whether it is a practice range session or practice time on the course, make sure you have a clearly defined objective…how else will you know how you’re doing? It might be to work on iron trajectory, or finding out why you’ve developed a push with your driver. Could be to learn how to hit a little softer lob shot or a knockdown pitch. But practice with a purpose …always.
- Don’t just “do”…observe. There are two elements of learning something new. The first is to figure out what it is you need to change. Then you work toward that solution. If your practice session is to address that push with the driver, hit a few shots to start out, and rather than try to fix it, make those first few your “lab rats”. Focus on what your swing is doing. Do you feel anything different? Check your alignment carefully, and your ball position. After each shot, step away and process what you think you felt during the swing.
- Make it real. To just rake ball after ball in front of you and pound away is marginally valuable at best. To make practice productive, step away from your hitting station after each shot, rake another ball to the hitting area, then approach the shot as if it was a real one on the course. Pick a target line from behind the ball, meticulously step into your set-up position, take your grip, process your one swing thought and hit it. Then evaluate how you did, based on the shot result and how it felt.
- Challenge yourself. One of my favorite on-course practice games is to spend a few minutes around each green after I’ve played the hole, tossing three balls into various positions in an area off the green. I don’t let myself go to the next tee until I put all three within three feet of the hole. If I don’t, I toss them to another area and do it again. You can do the same thing on the range. Define a challenge and a limited number of shots to achieve it.
- Don’t get in a groove. I was privileged enough to watch Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a golf lesson one day, and was struck by the fact that he would not let Tom hit more than five to six shots in a row with the same club. Tom would hit a few 5-irons, and Mr. Penick would say, “hit the 8”, then “hit the driver.” He changed it up so that Tom would not just find a groove. That paved the way for real learning, Mr. Penick told me.
My “bonus” tip addresses the difference between practicing on the course and keeping a real score. Don’t do both. A practice session is just that. On-course practice is hugely beneficial, and it’s best done by yourself, and at a casual pace. Playing three or four holes in an hour or so, taking time to hit real shots into and around the greens, will do more for your scoring skills than the same amount of range time.
So there you have my five practice tips. I’m sure I could come up with more, but then we always have more time, right?
More from the Wedge Guy
- The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better wedge player by doing these simple things
- Wedge Guy: There’s no logic to iron fitting
- The Wedge Guy: Mind the gap
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