Connect with us

Instruction

A simple drill to help you stick your wedges closer

Published

on

If you know nothing else about your golf swing, know this: the flight of your golf ball begins mostly in the direction of your club face at impact, and curves away from your club path so long as you contact a shot in the center of the club face. So obviously, controlling where the face points at impact is a major key in understanding how to hit the ball the way you want.

Many golfers have embraced this knowledge in their driving and iron games, but what surprises me is how many of them pay little or no attention to where the club face is pointed in their wedge games.

Let’s imagine that your path is 0, or neutral, moving directly in line with your target. If your club face is pointed left of the target at impact, then the ball will start left of the pin and curve farther left. In the same example, if your club face is pointed right of the target, then the ball will begin right of your target and curve farther right.

Most of the time when people are hitting their wedges offline, it’s almost entirely attributed to the club face angle at impact. That’s because wedges have more loft than your other clubs, so they won’t curve as much due to something called spin loft. That’s good news for you, because it means you really only have one thing to worry about at impact, providing you’re making clean contact.

Related: Get a better understanding of Spin Loft

OK, so now that we know the position of the club face at impact is the issue for offline wedge shots (for the most part). How do you go about fixing this issue on the range? Read on.

The Alignment Stick Drill

StickneyWedge

Place an alignment or two in front of the golf ball on your target line.

Start by placing an alignment stick a few feet in front of your ball’s target line (so you don’t hit it). Aim it so that when you stand directly behind your golf ball, the stick points directly at your target. It’s a simple drill with a simple setup, but it can have a big impact on your wedge game.

Begin with 20- and 30-yard wedge shots until you can hit the ball where you desire, and then work your swing speed up from there. At this point, don’t be too concerned about your distance control, because that will improve itself but only your starting direction. You will know when you start doing the drill correctly because the ball will start going very straight and shots will feel effortless off the face.

It’s always good to bring alignment sticks with you to the range. In subsequent articles, I’ll teach you a few more drills you can use with them, but for now, work with this drill until your wedge shots start to fly like laser beams toward the target.

Your Reaction?
  • 202
  • LEGIT28
  • WOW4
  • LOL8
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP7
  • OB5
  • SHANK144

Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: [email protected]

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. John

    Aug 15, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Your picture looks like a good way to either destroy an alignment stick or embarrass yourself walking into the range to retrieve it

  2. StartingDirectionVariesWithLoft

    Aug 5, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Although the drill is fine, I don’t think Tom stressed enough how increases in club loft change the relative influence of the club face angle for the starting path. With the more lofted clubs, the swing path has more and more influence on the initial ball direction. The putter starting direction is almost entirely based on face angle, whereas your 60* lob wedge is HIGHLY influenced by the swing path for the starting direction. I don’t believe that many golfers understand this relationship between loft and path and how it changes across the clubs in their bag.

    • re

      Aug 5, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      not true. SPIN is influenced by swing path in relation to face angle, but face angle alone with respect to the target determines the starting direction

      • StartingDirectionVariesWithLoft

        Aug 6, 2016 at 11:05 am

        Keep thinking that so that the rest of us can take your money. 😛

    • A

      Aug 5, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      The third and fourth paragraphs of the article don’t make sense.
      If you open your 56 or 60 so the face is pointing right even 30-45 degrees and swing in line with your target, the ball will go in line with the target.
      As loft increases, path influences direction more. And face direction matters less, and yes, less curvature too. Can’t slice a wedge really.

  3. Justin

    Aug 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Who would rate this article a shank? It’s a very simple drill that anyone can do and the wedge game is very important. I just don’t understand how negative some people can be and I hate it

    • Christopher Cahill

      Aug 4, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Tom was my first and last swing coach when I was a junior golfer. He is an amazing coach and was a very early adopter of technology, multi-camera usage, etc. I still work on the basics of what he taught me 25 years ago.

    • ooffa

      Aug 5, 2016 at 6:43 am

      I vote a Shank for your comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instruction

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

Published

on

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.

Your Reaction?
  • 146
  • LEGIT18
  • WOW3
  • LOL4
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP2
  • OB0
  • SHANK12

Continue Reading

Instruction

Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

Published

on

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.

Your Reaction?
  • 4
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP2
  • OB0
  • SHANK7

Continue Reading

Instruction

Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

Published

on

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.

Your Reaction?
  • 30
  • LEGIT6
  • WOW1
  • LOL2
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending